DOUGIE POINTS THE FINGER OF BLAME AT HIS 'LOSERS'
Mentality is wrong says the manager
BELEAGUERED Bolton boss Dougie Freedman admitted too many of his players had a “losing mentality” after seeing them squander a two-goal lead.
Leading through strikes from Chung-Yong Lee and Lukas Jutkiewicz, the Trotters were punished for taking their foot off the gas as first Lewis Grabban and then Simon Francis netted for the Cherries.
And it was all too much for Bolton fans, who have seen their side win just two league games at home all season.
Having echoed with the sound of fans chanting ‘Attack! Attack! Attack!’ for much of the second half, full-time saw the Reebok erupt in a chorus of boos, and Freedman admitted he would have done the same in their place.
“I can understand that, no problem at all,” said the Bolton boss. “They pay good money and they want to see better.
“And I share their frustration. When we’re on our game we’re a decent side, but we’re just a bit fragile right now.
“There’s no need to lie here. I think there are long-term scars with certain players at this club. And I think they’ve got to shake them off, because they’ll never move on if they don’t.
“With certain players, there is a losing mentality. But I don’t think you can blame them all because they haven’t been here long enough. Jutkiewicz was fantastic, so you can’t include him. But some players need to be stronger mentally.
“For the first 25 minutes, we were great value for money. But what seems to happen is that any little set-back affects us big style. That’s what happened to us here.”
Freedman – whose side sit fifthbottom of the Championship – is desperate to cull his under-performing players but will need to wait until the summer.
“The board and I understand where we are right now,” he added. “I wouldn’t say there’s a lack of funds, but I wouldn’t say there are enough to improve the team drastically. I have to work with what I’ve got, plus hopefully get one or two on loan.”
Coming on the back of four straight defeats – including a 7-1 hammering at the hands of Reading – this had the air of a pivotal game for Freedman.
And when the teamsheets arrived at 2.30, it appeared chairman Phil Gartside had taken pre-emptive action – the Scot was bizarrely described as Bolton’s ‘acting’ manager. Thankfully for Freedman, it was simply a mistake by the printing department, who had accidentally used an 18month-old template.
To be fair, Bolton’s players have often looked like ‘acting’ footballers this season, but for 20 minutes at least they looked the real deal.
Having seen Andrew Surman scuff wide from six yards and Grabban denied by a great stop from Alex Bogdan, Bolton went up the other end and took the lead, Lee calmly lashing into the top corner from a tight angle.
Ten minutes later it was two as Jutkiewicz – signed on loan from Middlesbrough in January and a powerful, menacing presence throughout – outmuscled Steve Cook before lobbing Lee Camp from 18 yards.
That, though, was when their problems started. Almost from the kick-off, Bournemouth worked the ball to Grabban, who unleashed a rocket from 20 yards that seared into the top corner.
And as Bolton, suddenly uncertain and seemingly shorn of fluency, fell into a malaise in the second half, Simon Francis stooped to head a deserved leveller at the near post.
“It’s mixed emotions really,” said Cherries boss Eddie Howe, who saw his side dominate possession for long spells and almost net a winner when Yann Kermorgant’s flick was saved by Bogdan.
“When you’re 2-0 down, you’re happy to get anything. But I thought we dominated the majority of the game and created more chances so I’m disappointed not to win. But I’m happy with the progression. We took a couple of heavy beatings earlier in the season after losing early goals. But we’ve learned from that.”