Alan Biggs: When a break isn’t as good as a rest

Alan Biggs
Alan Biggs
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Football managers must look forward to international breaks as eagerly as turkeys await Christmas. It’s not much fun for any of us, mind you.

In fact, an infernal nuisance if all you want is proper football rather than meandering international friendlies.

But for others it’s more about dread than frustration. It’s that time when some clubs, those who think that four or five matches is long enough to judge a manager, “take stock.”

No hanging around at Carlisle and Colchester where Graham Kavanagh and Joe Dunne were bundled onto the street as soon as the shut-down started.

Now, albeit no surprise, Jose Riga is dangling from the Tower at Blackpool where where his replacement might see it as a “last resort.”

And a sandcastle on the beach might confidently expect to last longer than Leeds United’s next incumbent.

Which brings me to one of many other endangered managers, Bolton’s Dougie Freedman, for the very good reason that Sheffield Wednesday are at the Macron Stadium on Saturday.

And, with absolutely no ill-will intended towards an immensely likeable character, it also brings me to the point that sometimes there is good reason to sack a manager.

We often forget that in our collective throwing-up of hands.

On Freedman’s record in Lancashire he could, I feel, have no complaints. Just as I believed the same was true when the Owls parted with Dave Jones last season.

In fact, chairman Milan Mandaric admitted to me in the aftermath of that decision that he had perhaps over-indulged patience on Jones and waited too long.

By the nature of what usually follows a sacking (an upturn, as happened immediately at S6 under Stuart Gray), I hope – as I write in midweek - that there are no headlines coming out of the Macron before Saturday’s game.

Freedman’s perilous position and the festering of fan discontent must give Wednesday every chance of making a minor blip of losing, unluckily, at home to Nottingham Forest and ensuring that remains the team’s solitary defeat. In fact, the expressive style Gray is adopting home and away suggests the emphasis will be on winning rather than drawing.

Bolton are third bottom with a single point under a boss who was headhunted from Crystal Palace nearly two years ago on a not unreasonable mission to return them to the Premier League. In that time Freedman has a win ratio only fractionally over one-third of his 95 games.

As a man, I’ve always found him to be a class act, certainly with the media. He’s calm and objective, never taking a tough question personally.

His building of a Crystal Palace team that went on to the top flight also suggests he has real talent in the job.

But sometimes what works at one place doesn’t come off at another and I can find no reason – except for the touted explanation that Bolton might struggle to part with him financially – to argue that his job is not justifiably on the line.

There is a balance in all things.

What we must hope is that, in a game without sentiment, a settled-looking Wednesday take full advantage this weekend.