Bolton FanZoner Gareth McCann analyses the first few games under new manager Dougie Freedman.
New boss starting to turn things around at the Reebok
We've now had three games under the rule of the new management team of Freedman and Lawrence, or Dougie and Lennie as I can't quite bring myself to call them because it sounds like a couple of characters from a 70's sitcom. And it has gone well, if not spectacularly well. I think that I would be more worried if we had gone on a spectacular run for a couple of games.
It would more likely be the effect of a new manager rather than anything solid, and would also forcibly pose the question, as it always does, as to why the players couldn't do that for the previous incumbent? The solid progress we seem to be undergoing is a lot more promising. But what have we learnt about our new leaders management style? Has there been any indication in these first three games of what we have to look forward to in the future (however long that future is)? Let me attempt to break it down for you.
Game 1 - Cardiff at home
In years to come I'll look back at this game as the first of the Freedman regime and my overriding memory will be that I wasn't there, thanks to a poorly timed spousal birthday. Lucky for me, then, that the game was live on Sky. And what a game! Against a team that were the league leaders at that time, though admittedly with a poor away record, Bolton started badly, conceded what was a very well-taken strike, and did not seem to be able to find a way back into the game.
However, on the hour, a couple of substitutions changed the game. We were a lot more attacking once Petrov came on on the wing and Ngog came on up front. And what a half hour Ngog had too- perfectly good goal ruled out for offside, scored the equaliser, went down too easy for the winning penalty, got two yellow cards and got sent off! What did we learn - Dougie is not afraid to make a decisive and attacking substitution.
Game 2 - Leicester at home
Leicester are another team near the top of this league but this game had none of the excitement of the previous one. Two teams set up not wanting to lose resulted in just that, no one lost but no-one won, no-one even scored. If only my wife's birthday could have been this night. To be fair, Leicester looked the more likely to score but a first clean sheet since the first home game of the season is not to be sniffed at. What did we learn - Dougie proves his point that Bolton are capable of keeping a clean sheet.
Game 3 - Blackpool away
Blackpool had a storming start to the season but have lost their form recently, not to mention their manager. They've replaced chatty chappy Ian Holloway with Michael Appleton, a man who could make a skull look cheerful. With Ince and 2x Phillips they still have goals in the side and so it proved in a 2-2 thriller that I have only seen the highlights of. However, an attacking result away from home means that Dougie's superwhite army is undefeated thus far. It also means that Bolton led twice and threw away that lead twice BUT...
What did we learn - "That's not like my teams at all and we'll make sure that doesn't happen again." Dougie Freedman on conceding an equaliser from a set piece.
In summary, we can see that Dougie isn't afraid to make decisions, defend first, attack second and he really, really does not like conceding set-pieces. These are hopeful signs for the future, but not ones to get carried away on, which is probably for the best. We also learnt that he's very good at getting David Ngog fired up for a game. Perhaps too good. But maybe that's a good sign too.