Bolton Wanderers boss Dougie Freedman keen to avoid a poor start to the season
DOUGIE Freedman is fed up to the back teeth of playing gracious host.
Two weeks after Leicester City’s team bus loaded up with celebratory beers and left the Reebok with speakers blaring following their title win, it was Birmingham City’s turn, with Lee Clark’s men rejoicing after avoiding relegation in the final three minutes of the season.
All the while, Freedman and his side were reduced to also rans, post-scripts to a season in which they have failed to make a dent.
The Whites boss has the room to make changes after shedding big earners such as Zat Knight, Chris Eagles and Tyrone Mears.
And he hopes to avoid the slow start that put Wanderers at such a disadvantage in the first quarter of the campaign.
Summing up the season, Freedman believes it is high time his own club’s fans have something to celebrate.
“It was a difficult start, we pulled it round a bit, it was difficult in the middle, but the second half of the season was very encouraging,” he told The Bolton News.
“If we show any sort of form like we have recently in the opening half of the season then we’ll be in the top six, simple as that.
“I’m fed up of watching celebrations for Birmingham and Leicester – I want that here.
“Our club deserves that. We have had a couple of difficult seasons, everyone included right from the chairman down to the players and myself.
“We do need a good start, we need the right people to stay fit and then we can break into the top six. I think we’ll be a force when that comes.”
There might have been nothing riding on Saturday’s game but that did not stop the feeling of disappointment felt at another home draw – either in the stands or in the dressing room. The number of dropped points at home – 40 out of a possible 69 – has been a real bone of contention with the Wanderers boss.
But he was surprised by the players who did not perform at top level on the final day.
“I’m hurting massively because there were certain players who let themselves down – not as people, but in their performance,” he said.
“There were performances out there that I didn’t see coming.
“When you are 2-1 up and get numerous chances, three on two at the back, you’d like to think at least one of them would be taken.
“When you miss them it gives them (the opposition) more confidence and that then builds up, and builds up, and towards the end it was extremely disappointing to concede the second goal.”
Even at 2-1 up, Wanderers spurned chances to put the game and Birmingham’s Championship survival to bed. And so it was with a familiar air of resignation that Freedman reflected on another missed opportunity.
“We ground, worked hard for each other for about 75 minutes, but didn’t pass the ball well enough in their final third,” he said.
“We did okay out from the back but there was no penetration. When we went 2-0 up I thought we were a little bit lucky. I don’t think we deserved to be that far ahead.
“In the last 15 minutes they threw everything at us but ultimately it does sum us up – the home draw specialists – which is disappointing when you have been 2-0 up.”