Bolton Wanderers manager Dougie Freedman defends decision to attack Leicester City
WHILE Nigel Pearson played down the importance of leading the Championship at the turn of 2014, Dougie Freedman was singing from a very different hymn book.
The Wanderers boss was hailing Leicester City as champions-elect – “a million miles” better than any other side in the division.
But whether the praise he was throwing out was more an attempt to deflect his own side’s glaring deficiencies is anyone’s guess.
Freedman had come under fire for being too negative from his own fans but set about trying to flatten the Foxes by making six changes to the side that beat Barnsley, naming one of his most attack-minded line-ups in memory.
What transpired was a chaotic 45 minutes in which six goals were shared.
Unfortunately for Wanderers, they ran out of ideas when it really mattered most in the second half.
“We decided to set our stall out because I knew we needed to score goals at this place to win,” the manager told The Bolton News after the final whistle. “First half I thought we were excellent; the best I think we have played under me attack-wise.
“We scored three goals, it could have been more. The problem for me today was we came up against a team who are a million miles from what we have played in this division.
“They will win the League. Every time they attacked they looked as though they would score.
“They are the best team and I like to think I am a decent judge because we analyse everybody. They will win the league because they are such an attacking threat. They have got energy, pace and desire and are always going to score goals.
“So, we thought if we come here today and attack them then we might score more than them but it wasn’t to be.”
Though two of the changes to his line up were forced, with loanees Neil Danns and Kevin McNaughton no longer available, the decision to rotate a winning side has perhaps inevitably drawn criticism from some quarters.
Freedman explained his reasons after the final whistle – and hinted that, perversely, it had been some of the defensive players who had been part of the winning side at Oakwell who had failed to meet his expectations.
“I wanted to freshen things up,” he said. “We were forced into one or two changes with Mark Davies and Joe Mason feeling exhausted.
“McNaughton and Dannsy were missing so there were another couple of changes there while we had to try to get hold of midfield so that’s why Medo came back into the team “I think the attack minded players worked very well but we didn’t do our defensive duties well enough.”
Freedman had spoken in the build up to the game that Leicester were providing a blueprint he wished to follow in his rebuilding job at Wanderers – but the second half in particular showed the distance he has to go.
“Leicester have a young energetic team,” he said. “They play a high tempo. It’s something we tried to match. We did in the first half but in the second half the game ran away from us.
“In the second half we couldn’t defend in the right fashion. We didn’t press the ball enough in the middle of the park and we gave away possession too much and we didn’t create enough.”
“We are always in the game, playing decent football, scoring goals but we can’t keep a clean sheet. That’s what is frustrating for me because if we can keep a clean sheet we have a decent enough team to climb the league.”