Dougie Freedman playing the long game
To the outside world, the Whites’ base just off the M61 looks exactly the same, but inside the compound you could easily be visiting a different football club altogether than the one once presided over by Owen Coyle.
The mood is now more clinical than jovial, though not in the least unpleasant. Rather than feel like a youth club, this is a place of work, where things are done in a precise and scientific manner that very much mirrors the man in charge.
From the furniture and pictures hanging in reception to the wholesale changes in backroom staff and training regimes, Freedman is now getting things the way he wants them.
But such is the unpredictable life of a football manager that results on the pitch threaten to put all that hard work in jeopardy.
Freedman talks proudly of the revolution he has kicked off behind the scenes at Bolton, one he believes will serve the club well into the next decade.
And though he is looking towards a long-term future at Wanderers, the Glaswegian is canny enough to know that another poor 90 minutes against Yeovil this afternoon could damage even the best laid plans.
As admirable as Freedman’s plans are to change the way of life at the Whites, he knows the club cannot afford to be hanging around in the bottom reaches of the Championship table for much longer.
“There has been a big change here,” he said on the eve of the game. “We are more forward thinking now. There is more being done outside the box.
“It has been a huge turnaround but I felt that the way football is going, we needed to go a different route.
“Of course I need time. But I kind of take for granted that I will be here for a long time, I really do.
“That is why I have put all this in place and spent so many hours putting it together piece by piece.
“I think this club will flourish from what we have done. In the longer term it will be in better hands.
“But I am not naive enough not to know that fans pay good money and they need to see short term results. There is always that aspect.
“Just by my very nature I am a team-builder. I look long term. And there is no doubt in my mind that the chairman, Phil Gartside, is behind that plan.”
Though Freedman appears to have the backing of the majority of Wanderers fans, he is not oblivious to talk of him losing his job.
The Scot is happy enough to talk about his vision for the future but with such a crucial game on the immediate horizon, he appreciates the people flooding through the Reebok turnstiles this afternoon want to see an immediate remedy to the club’s early-season problems.
“I’m a big boy and I have been in this game for 25 years,” he said. “I understand people are trying to fish round the question and say ‘I might not be here to see all this happen’ but I can’t think that way.
“We are in a difficult position but I don’t think all of a sudden I have become a bad person or a bad manager. But I appreciate that we do need to get out quickly.
“I believe I will fix it. I have to keep my eye on that ball longer term.
“The fans are not thick. They can see what is happening and how we are changing things but results are not there so, of course, they are not happy. I’m not happy – you are not happy – but we are doing our best to put it right.
“There is a message and that is that behind the scenes the club is in a healthy state, whether that be education, buying back the hotel, the Academy. I know it doesn’t look great news now but if you really care about Bolton Wanderers Football Club as a fan then I think that is really huge.
“I am proud and whether I am here or not, we will see the fruits of all that in three to five years time.”