After an impressive start to this season’s campaign, Dougie Freedman became a wanted man. An ex-player for Crystal Palace, the 38-year-old was assistant manager to Paul Hart and George Burley before taking full control as manager in 2011.
In two seasons, Freedman managed to preserve the club’s Championship status, added to that feat was a Carling Cup run last season which stretched all the way to semi-finals, defeating Manchester United at Old Trafford in the Quarter-Finals.
This season, Freedman’s Palace started well and occupied a place near the top of the Championship table. But when fellow Scotsman, Owen Coyle was sacked by Bolton Wanderers, Freedman was identified by Chairman, Phil Gartside as the man to lead the club forward.
Many saw this as a bizarre step in his managerial career at the time. Crystal Palace are on the up thanks to his guidance and with big prospects such as, Wilfried Zaha and Jonathan Williams emerging through the academy, moving to Bolton was questionable. Although a Premier League set-up from last year was in place, many made the comparison between the two teams and felt he made the wrong decision – something which he may be proving wrong.
When Freedman signed for the Trotters, the club was massively underachieving in mid-table. Possibly still carrying the disappointment of relegation to the Championship last year, Freedman’s task was to revitalise the players quickly and push further up the table towards the play-offs.
It has taken some time but now Bolton are on the mend. A good run of results in February and March saw the club surge up the table, added to that was an FA Cup third round win over Premier League club, Sunderland in January. The players are hitting their potential, with Craig Dawson coming up with a return of four goals during his loan spell from West Bromwich Albion.
A derby double against Blackburn Rovers done wonders for confidence and two wins in April against relegation-threatened, Huddersfield and Wolves has put Freedman’s side two points of the play-offs and six points behind his old club, Palace.
With five games to go, anything can happen in the play-off race. Nottingham Forest have also endured upon a successful run of games like Bolton, putting them into contention under Billy Davies. But by trailing his old club by just six points, Freedman’s decision to leave doesn’t look as odd as it was first made out to be.