AS Wanderers celebrated a second successive clean sheet for the first time in nearly a year, Dougie Freedman hopes fans can look forward to plenty more in the future.
Joining Hull City, Burnley and Premier League Stoke City as the only clubs to have stopped Crystal Palace from scoring this season, the Whites will have every reason to be pleased with their defensive efforts of late.
They shut out Sunderland with comparative ease in midweek, and though they had to rely on a smidgeon of luck to keep Palace at bay – the post coming to Adam Bogdan’s rescue on one occasion – Freedman believes the hard work done on the training ground is beginning to pay off.
“Credit to the lads,” he said. “This challenge I have put myself up for isn’t going to be done in 12 or 13 games. But I see signs that we are getting to be a team that are working for a cause.
“I felt today there was a fantastic gameplan that very nearly worked. We looked solid, didn’t give much away and there was concentration in the back four. It all happens on the training ground because these lads are putting themselves up to be worked and to be coached.”
Much of the manager’s early work at Wanderers has been on establishing a pattern of play and a shape to his side.
The components within have often proved interchangeable, as witnessed by the five changes made to the team after the midweek cup win at the Stadium of Light.
But Freedman feels that establishing a system of play, which served to frustrate Palace at times, is vital for Wanderers’ future success.
“You cannot open up in this division because there are good players down here,” he said.
“I feel we need a structure to our play. I don’t want to talk about the past or how many goals we have conceded in however many years but I do want to talk about a future where we have got a solid base to work from.
“That will let us get our front players to go and play from that platform and allow us to bring young players with a confidence and a structure.”
Wanderers remain 16th in the Championship and though Freedman’s arrival has seen little by way of progress in the league table, he insists that the changes he has made will see the club move forward in the future. “To be honest, I’ve been happy with seven or eight of the 13 games that I’ve been here,” he said.
“This is a difficult division. I have to change a few things but again the away fans have been terrific and I think they can certainly see a different spirit about the place.
“I have got to get some younger players in the team, to get some new blood in the team, but I feel in most of the performances we are getting there.”