Bolton Wanderers boss Dougie Freedman's delight at keeping clean sheet
MANAGER Dougie Freedman picked out the back four for special praise after his side ended a nine-match winless Championship run with a 2-0 victory against Watford.
Freedman accepted post-match goalscoring loan duo Lukas Jutkiewicz and Joe Mason would grab headlines after a switch to two up front by the boss was rewarded.
But he preferred to focus on a rare clean sheet at the back – only a second on home turf this season in 18 league and cup matches at the Reebok.
The Whites boss said: “I felt the difference on Saturday was that we defended when we had to properly and we continued to create good chances right to the end – four or five throughout the game.
“That is what you need in this league – you have to stay switched on.
“Anybody will have a 15-20-minute spell and they did near the end but we defended well.
“The two strikers did well and they will hit the headlines.
“But I really want to talk about the back four who got a clean sheet.
“That’s what we need – we need to get back to the bread and butter and keep clean sheets.
“Even before I came to the football club I was aware the clean sheet record needed to be better.
“It has disappointed me for the last couple of months because I have felt we have had goals in us and been on top in certain matches.
“I think we worked so hard to get a clean sheet on Saturday with great discipline in the back four.
“And Adam (Bogdan) was fantastic when he had to be.
“We have been working on playing with more calmness and simpler when we have the lead. I felt we did that on Saturday and because of that we picked them off at the right times.
“Rather than being one-dimensional, we chose our moments.
“It was good and I felt we created a lot of opportunities.
“The margin of victory was the least we deserved.
“We were hard-working and we asked the players to play in a different lob-sided way.
“But it wasn’t the system, our players worked hard and that bred the success.”
Freedman’s decision to revert to two orthodox strikers clearly worked and he stressed it is something he would like to do more often now he has options available he feels allow him to do that.
He added: “Many will point to the fact we had two strikers but I have never really had the opportunity to play two of the type I really like.
“When I have two in the building, I can play two.
“Beckford is injured and Andre Moritz has been injured so it’s been difficult to do that.
“But that’s always the plan.
“Joe is a young player who is good and did well on Saturday but he still has a lot to learn.
“The combination with Jutkiewicz helped him as well.
“Lukas is a very level-headed young guy and I like that in my players.
“He also has more to learn but he’s doing all right.
“But there were other big performances on Saturday.
“I thought Medo Kamara was the best player on the pitch and without him and Jay Speaing supporting the likes of Mark Davies, you don’t get to see the forwards getting in as often.
“The result gives everyone a lift. But even when we haven’t been winning games, we have been tight and often we were the better side and didn’t get what we deserved.
“For once, on Saturday, we did.”