Dougie Freedman lifts the lid on civil war in Bolton Wanderers dressing room
DOUGIE Freedman has lifted the lid on conflict in the Reebok dressing room that destroyed Wanderers’ start to the season.
Speaking for the first time about the underlying issues that contributed to the club’s worst start to a campaign for 110 years, the Scot revealed how morale in the first 13 games was wrecked by a civil war.
Despite the problems, Freedman said he was proud to have settled the internal rift that set his side back significantly before mid-October.
Heavy defeats at Blackburn, Nottingham Forest and Brighton plus home reverses against Leeds and Reading put the Whites rock bottom of the Championship after eight games.
But within the Reebok walls, Freedman claims the influence of “certain individuals” – who the manager refused to name – became a negative issue on the pitch.
“Out of respect to certain individuals I’m not going to start highlighting specific things that have gone on,” he told The Bolton News. “Within time it will come out and rear its head, exactly what we have had to put up with in terms of the attitude towards playing for the football club and helping the club first and foremost, rather than themselves.
“But I don’t want to be disrespectful – they have got careers to be getting on with. And when they do get on with it, I think they will realise this place isn’t as bad as they thought.”
Freedman confirmed the disruption was coming from within his squad but that he redressed the balance after the introduction of loanees Liam Feeney, Kevin McNaughton and Neil Danns.
Before the loan trio’s arrival, the Scot admits some of his players were not mentally focused enough to cope with the pressures of scrapping in the bottom three, and that his team too often became a collection of individuals.
“Off the field came on to the field – that was the problem,” the manager said.
“Those attitudes and mindsets came on to the field and you were watching a side that was playing decent football in the first 13 games but as soon as anything happened to them, there would be no 'team' before themselves.
“I feel quite proud of how I addressed that problem. We didn’t sink. We didn’t go under. We kept on working very hard towards what we wanted to do, and that’s win games of football.”
Freedman has also taken his share of the blame for the poor start, from which Wanderers never recovered.
The Whites boss admits his policy of selecting players who were angling for moves elsewhere “backfired” – and that he could have turned to his younger players sooner.
“There have been so many ups and downs, we need that little bit of consistency from the off. We haven’t had it the last two seasons – and I have to take the blame for what happened in the first 13 games, if I could do my time again of course I’d pick one or two different people, or a couple of the youngsters who played the other week,” he said.
“But we were in a position where we were playing some players maybe to let them get an opportunity to get away for what they thought was a dream move and it backfired on everybody. ”