BWFC Guest Article: Put The Knives Away
In this guest comment/article, robmoss has not only done his homework, he also gives a convincing argument why we shouldn't turn our backs on Dougie just yet. Absolutely brilliant stuff, robmoss and yet more proof, the Vital Bolton site has the best members... Enjoy.
Alright, put the knives away.
It's very easy to look at a small set of results in isolation and jump to the conclusion that it's the end of the world (even though we're unbeaten in five games). Let's just take a few things into consideration. Firstly, the current manager's record compared to those who've previously held the post.
Dougie Freedman is averaging 1.37 points per game so far. That compares with 1.19 for Owen Coyle, 1.29 for Gary Megson and 1.14 for Sammy Lee - so he's doing better than the previous three managers. Sam Allardyce chipped in with 1.55, Colin Todd 1.57, Roy McFarland 1.11 and the mighty Bruce Rioch trumps the lot with 1.69. So he's not doing better than Bruce, Todd or Allardyce, but we already knew that - but he's doing better than all the other recent managers in terms of his points return.
Then there's the squad to consider. Of the current playing staff, Sam Allardyce signed Joe Riley as a youngster, Sammy Lee signed Ádám Bogdán, Gary Megson signed Zat Knight, Mark Davies, Josh Vela, Chung-Yong Lee and Sanmi Odelusi, Owen Coyle signed Tyrone Mears, Matt Mills, Tim Ream, Chris Eagles, David N'Gog, Darren Pratley, Stuart Holden, Andy Lonergan, David Wheater, Jay Lynch, Chris Lester, Oscar Threlkeld and Andrew Kellett, and Dougie Freedman signed Jay Spearing, Jermaine Beckford, Robert Hall, André Moritz, Alex Baptiste, Kevin McNaughton, Neil Danns, Marc Tierney, Craig Davies, Ján Gregu, Conor Wilkinson, Arran Lee-Barrett, Medo Kamara and Tom Youngs. I'm not sure who was responsible for Michael O'Halloran, Hayden White, Zach Clough or Luke Woodland, but I'm guessing all four were Owen Coyle's work.
Considering the fact that Dougie Freedman has had less to spend in total than Owen Coyle spent on David N'Gog or Gary Megson spent on Zat Knight, one would expect to see the team littered with Owen Coyle's signings. Mills, Ream and Pratley are putting in a shift when asked at the moment but the rest seem to have completely lost the plot.
Megson's signings, then, perhaps? Knight is terrible, Mark Davies is injured, Vela apparently can't regain his fitness, Lee is doing okay and Odelusi seems to be flattering to deceive.
Sammy Lee's players, then? Well there's only one left - Bogdán - and he's something of a regular, but then Lee was always a better assistant than he was a manager, so let's give him the benefit of the doubt and say he spotted a reasonable player.
And the only player remaining from the Big Sam days is Joe Riley, who never actually played for Allardyce but was signed to the youth books in the same season Allardyce took over. So far, his professional career spans nine games and two injuries.
That's 25 players in the first team squad, of whom at the moment you could arguably only pick (if fit) Bogdán, Mills, Ream, Davies, Riley, Pratley, Holden, Lonergan, Vela and Lee, and amongst them, Bogdán, Davies, Riley, Holden and Vela are injured, with the root of four of those injuries arguably down to the poor fitness regime implemented by Coyle. That's five players who were at the club when Freedman arrived who he can currently legitimately give a first-team start to and expect some sort of performance. And the rest, signed by the incumbent, cost less put together than Zat Knight or David N'Gog.
So what sort of a job is Dougie Freedman doing? Is it a complete, total and unmitigated disaster, spiralling down towards the lower echelons of the football league, or should we be prepared to stick by him as he waits for the contracts of his completely unsaleable lazy army of pre-DF-era players to expire and hold some hope for the future that he'll get it all right once he's got a bit of money to spend?
I, for one, absolutely do not want to see DF go - not only because I think he's a good manager, but furthermore because, given our current dire financial and playing staff situation, I can't see anyone even a quarter as good agreeing to take on the job - and I'm perfectly willing to be patient. Don't get me wrong, the football we're playing is not good, but we don't have the same level of player we used to. And don't get me wrong, I'm not happy down where we are in the league, but I still expect us to end up with a points tally in the mid-60s, perhaps a few points short of the play-offs but reasonably comfortably ahead of the relegation zone. And then at the end of the season, when the contracts of Knight, Mears, Eagles and N'Gog are up, I shall do a little dance and then look forward to seeing who we bring in over the summer. And the summer after, when Bogdán, Lonergan, Mills, Ream, Pratley, Vela and Lee will have their contracts up for renewal or otherwise, I'll look forward to that too - either these players will be taking massive pay cuts or they'll be moved on. And that's what I'm looking forward to at the moment. I know it's a long way off, but Owen Coyle left a very serious mess to clear up, and I believe Dougie is the man to do it.