We've got belief now, says Freedman
WANDERERS threatened to use up their full season’s quota of good fortune the last time they met Brighton – but Dougie Freedman is happy to report that a lot has changed since then.
Just four games after taking up the reins, the Whites boss watched his team snatch an undeserved point in their first-ever trip to the Amex Stadium with a David Ngog strike deep into stoppage time.
The Seagulls had missed a penalty and hit the woodwork no fewer than three times, leaving Freedman praising his players’ resolve but privately feeling disappointed with the performance.
That result also signalled the start of an inconsistent spell either side of Christmas in which the manager would be forced to bite his lip amidst criticism as Wanderers slid as far as 20th in the Championship table.
Fast forward a few months and the mood is significantly different.
Seven undefeated, four wins on the bounce and talk of play-offs now circulating around the terraces; no wonder, then, that Freedman is effusive with his praise of both the way his side are playing and the way they are being backed from the terraces.
“I sensed even before this run there was a turn in fortunes for us and we believed we could grind out results,” said the Scot, whose record as Whites boss going into the game actually reads just six defeats in 26 matches.
“Three or four months ago we were giving up on that 0-0 draw scenario. We have got a belief about us. Everyone is buying into what we are doing. The fans are right behind us.
“Bolton fans right now must be the best in the country with the support we are getting home and away.
“It’s a huge part we’re all playing now.”
Tuesday night’s last-gasp win against Blackburn Rovers meant Wanderers have jumped 11 places since the start of their current unbeaten run, and victory tomorrow could conceivably see them climb another two into seventh.
Freedman insists that it was the spadework put in during the so-called uncertain spell at the start of the year that is currently paying off.
And though he has also claimed this week that another couple of loan signings will be necessary to maintain momentum, he says the burgeoning belief that the season might just end up with a silver lining is having a huge affect around the club.
“They have been small changes made,” he said. “But they come together to make a huge difference and I think that is what we are experiencing right now.
“A long time ago we worked very hard on the training ground. Results weren’t going our way and few people were scratching their heads and asking questions.
“But we believed in what we were doing. We worked extremely hard and I felt I had a responsibility to show to the fans that there is a plan there and togetherness.
“Brighton is now another big test. They all are. We put in a lot of effort against Blackburn so we will need to freshen up and prepare properly.
“But there is such a great belief at the moment that we can win football games.”