Bolton Wanderers are looking for home rule to escape relegation
THERE cannot be any middle ground for Dougie Freedman if he is to stop Wanderers’ season slipping further into the mire.
Winning back the affection of supporters looks a tall order for the Scot, who has found himself increasingly the target of fans’ ire in the last few weeks as results continue to fall well short of expectation on the terraces.
But if he is to stand any chance of changing a gloomy mood, he must quickly find the winning recipe at the Reebok, which has proved a difficult task so far this campaign.
Asked after Saturday’s game at Portman Road if he was concerned about a run of form which has seen Wanderers win just one of their last nine league games – Freedman’s response, “no, I am not,” served as a red rag to a bull for many supporters listening at home.
He went on to explain a timely run of home games, four out of the next five in fact, should give ample chance to put some points on the board.
Ordinarily, he would be right. Wanderers’ form at home since dropping into the Championship has been relatively solid and the club have lost just five out of 30 home league games under Freedman since he took charge.
This season, however, a run of perplexing draws has served to steadily build up the frustration to tipping point.
A point from games against Charlton, Sheffield Wednesday, Ipswich Town or Yeovil Town at home would be all well and good were Wanderers to be riding high in the top half of the table.
But with the club climbing no higher than 15th place since the opening week, each one of those results was received as if it was a defeat.
Wanderers have lost just three times on home turf in the league but the eight draws mean their overall points haul of just 14 is among the worst in the Football League.
Even Northampton Town – currently propping up the 92 – have taken marginally more on average from their home games than Freedman’s side have managed in the last six months.
Freedman says he would be “concerned” about relegation if Wanderers fail to take enough points from their run of Reebok games, which starts with Bournemouth this weekend and also takes in Burnley, Watford and Blackburn Rovers.
Sandwiched in between is a game at Millwall – the venue at which his predecessor Owen Coyle met his managerial demise in October 2012.
But the manager’s first task will be to try and get an even break from an increasingly frustrated home support, who will regard anything but victory this weekend as a negative.
Draws are no good to the embattled Whites boss anymore and he must hope his side start finding some home comforts as quickly as possible.