DOUGIE Freedman boldly predicted Uwe Rosler would make “four changes” to his Wigan side for today’s derby – and reckons the Latics boss would be foolish not to keep shuffling his pack.
While Wanderers virtually guaranteed safety with victory over Blackpool in midweek, their opponents at the Reebok this afternoon need to bounce back quickly from defeat at QPR to continue their hunt for a play-off spot.
Freedman was full of praise for the impact Rosler has had at the DW Stadium, where his squad rotation seems to have been met with a bit less resistance than it has here in Bolton by players and fans alike.
“Maybe it has been explained better possibly by their manager than me to our fans but it is just the modern way,” said the Scot, tongue planted firmly in cheek. “They have got the biggest squad in this division and the manager knows what he is doing when it comes to rotation.
“There will be four changes from the side that played QPR to play us.”
While some of Freedman’s selection decisions have met with a mixed reaction on the terraces, few fans will dispute his assessment that talented Manchester United loanee Nick Powell was the inspiration for Wigan in the last derby back in December.
“I thought Powell was the difference because we coped very well over there,” he said. “I have done a lot of work on him, his movements, how he comes from out to in.
“We just need to make sure we start the game properly and don’t concede early doors like we did against them at their place.
“We need to stay strong in the middle and, as you have seen at the Reebok, we are always good for a finish.”
Freedman bristled when it was suggested three points were “ground out” against Blackpool on Tuesday night – nevertheless, the Scot would accept a similar outcome today as he looks to make it a hat-trick of derby wins.
“I would take a win,” he said. “You would like it to be more entertaining than your chosen words of ‘grinding it’ out.
“The first 25 minutes (against Blackpool) I thought we were outstanding, It was crucial we got a goal in that period. We are all a bit guilty of thinking we can play like Barcelona and sometimes if you can grind out a result now and again it will put you much higher.
“In the last 15 minutes we had chances to kill the game off. I wouldn’t say it was perfect but there were signs of a very good all-round performance.”
Rosler has used a vast squad to his advantage this season while competing in the FA Cup and briefly in Europe since he took over from Owen Coyle in December.
Freedman believes the fresh squad he inherited from Coyle did work to his advantage – but reckons the German’s way of working is proof a squad rotation system can work in the Championship.
“He knows all about working in the lower leagues,” he said.
“In the Premier League, the mental side of it is difficult but in the Championship it is very physical and he has changed that a lot. The majority of fans can understand what we are doing but they would probably like to keep the majority of the team. But that’s not the case, you can’t do it.
“It proved in the last 10 games of last season, when it really mattered, we were really fresh. Uwe will do the exact same. With six games to go, he will get a settled team.
“But they are playing Saturday-Tuesday all the way to the end of the season. So, he will be a fool if he doesn’t change a few during the season. And I know he is not a fool so he will be rotating.
“It is the only way the modern game can work. To get up to the top of this league you have got to have 14 first-team players ready to play. Wigan probably have about 18 with his six loans.
“I know Uwe well enough. There is huge respect there because, as I know, it is a difficult job to come in and gather players that have played in the Premier League and get them to buy in to what you want.
“He was very fortunate that when he went in he had players new to the club. Owen Coyle was only left with about eight players.”