DOUGIE Freedman is confident he can ride out the pressure on his position as Wanderers manager going into tonight’s crunch Lancashire derby against high-flying Burnley at the Reebok.
The Whites threw away a two-goal lead to draw with Bournemouth on Saturday – a ninth home draw of the season, which increased angst among supporters and ramped up the strain on the Scot.
Freedman says he understands the inevitable flak that comes his way with the Whites languishing down the wrong end of the Championship table, but remains committed to turning fortunes around, starting tonight.
Having suffered criticism in his playing days as well as in his fledgling management career, the 39-year-old is confident in his ability to retain self-belief in difficult times.
And as he prepares his team to face second-placed Burnley, he hopes a derby win will ease tension on the terraces.
Freedman said: “Football fans only want to win and if they don’t they are unhappy.
“As a professional standing on the touchline I have to be single-minded in the team I pick, the way we play and take the good and the bad.
“This time last year everyone said we were brilliant.
“You have ups and downs and I am capable of handling that. I have played in front of crowds a lot worse than Saturday’s.
“They are frustrated because they see us 2-0 up and then draw.
“When you have played 20-odd years in football you understand fans’ frustrations. Trust me, as a striker, and one that wasn’t at the top level, you get a bit of stick and have to deal with it.
“If anything, I would rather it come my way than the players’, and I am really comfortable with that.
“I have learned to deal with it and stay focused.
“I cannot manage from the stands; lots of people have their opinions about two or three up front and that is a decision I have to make and stick by. When you get a few groans and moans you have to stay focused with your beliefs.
“We have a very good team from boardroom right the way down and things have changed behind the scenes and that has helped.”
Freedman is determined to build a team in his own image at the Reebok with young and hungry players the base to work from.
And he cites tonight’s opponents as a good example of how to achieve that.
He added: “Burnley were in the same position a couple of years ago and their model is one I am very impressed with.
“Their manager at the time, Eddie Howe, had the right idea by bringing in young players like Ings, Trippier and Mee – and they cost a bit of money at the time.
“But those young players have grown into a team.
“We are in that boat coming down from the Premier League and the financial impact.
“We have to try to copy Burnley’s model and invest in younger players.”