Dougie Freedman has Bolton Wanderers squad learning crisis management
Call it preparing for the worst, or crisis management even, but Dougie Freedman and his backroom staff have been galvanising their players for the eventuality of something going wrong against Yeovil Town at the Reebok tomorrow.
Everything was going well at Brighton last weekend until the home side drew level with a fortuitous own goal off Jay Spearing, after which the confidence visibly drained and an inevitable collapse ensued.
And with the pressure hiked up on the outcome of the Glovers’ visit – that is exactly the kind of response that Freedman can ill-afford in front of a home crowd of frustrated and expectant supporters.
Wanderers are rock bottom – a situation shared by Crystal Palace when the Scot first took the reins from Paul Hart at Selhurst Park in January 2011.
Freedman led the Eagles, then crippled by financial problems, to safety by the end of the season, and those experiences are serving the Glaswegian well after the Whites’ shocking start.
“It is a horrible place to be but I have been here before, and so have my backroom staff,” he said. “I know what is needed and we have had to change a couple of things.
“Yes, that first win is important, but to get that we have to stop conceding straight after scoring a goal. That sounds simple but we have worked on a lot of scenario work to break this down very simply for the lads.
“I also want the lads to know how effective body language can be after you have let a goal in. Again, we have worked on that a lot this week.
“I break it down very simply – we are in this position and we have got to get ourselves out of there as quickly as we can. There is enough in there to suggest we can do that.
“We have worked on stopping the setbacks and hopefully that will help them.”
Back at Palace, the uncertainty of administration meant the weight of expectation on Freedman was very different from the challenge he has on his hands at the Reebok.
This, as is frequently pointed out, is a squad boasting several players who were recently playing Premier League football.
There has been no shortage of critics in the eight-game winless start to the season but the Scot believes the support of his vastly-experienced assistant Lennie Lawrence and first-team coach Curtis Fleming will be enough to see him through the recent hardships.
“I don’t let anything affect me. I have got a good backroom staff and we have done this all before,” he said.
“We have to do our jobs regardless of what people outside say about what we should be doing with finances or anything like that.
“I don’t take any of that on board. I just go in and train with the players every day.”
Yeovil have impressed many with their fighting spirit so far this season but their only win came against Millwall on the opening day, after which they have managed just two goals from seven games.
Freedman refuses to underestimate his opponents but feels his team are close to turning a corner.
“Gary Johnson was the manager of the year getting Yeovil into the Championship last season,” he said.
“This is a very tough game for us because they will be looking at it and thinking ‘if we are going to stay in this division then we have got to beat the sides in and around us.’ And that’s us right now.
“Being at home, and if we continue to play the way we have been doing, then I feel very strongly that we can get that first win.”