McClaren defends under fire Bolton boss

Bolton boss Dougie Freedman
Bolton boss Dougie Freedman

Steve McClaren gave Dougie Freedman a welcome confidence boost after Derby’s 2-0 Sky Bet Championship win heaped pressure on the under-fire Bolton boss.

Angry Wanderers fans turned on Freedman and chairman Phil Gartside after striker Chris Martin, who also missed a penalty, scored twice to move the Rams into the Championship top six.

Twice the game was halted by three fans invading the pitch during the second half while fans continued with their protests outside the main entrance after the match for more than an hour.

“This is management and it can be cruel at times,” said McClaren after Derby’s first victory over Bolton in 12 years extended their unbeaten run to eight games.

“You live and die by results. But Bolton were unlucky at Wolves last week, were terrific at Chelsea in midweek and today we played very well.

“When the pressure is on you need a performance from your players. We have all been in that situation and we all feel for each other.

“I will have a beer with Dougie and hope performances and results improve because he has good players.”

McClaren was pleased with Martin’s response to seeing an eighth-minute spot-kick saved by Andy Lonergan.

“Chrissie is a goal scorer so if he gets the right service he will score goals,” he said. “He is lucky because he is playing in a team that gives him the ball in the right areas.

“People around him and behind him played very well. All he has to do is stick it in the net.”

Bolton have made a horrific start to the season with just five points from nine games and are languishing in the bottom three with a midweek game at fellow strugglers Fulham to come.

Despite the chorus of disapproval, however, Freedman refused to quit though he admitted:”I have to take full responsibility.

“I tried to out-football Derby and I got it horribly wrong. But you cannot legislate for us playing football suicide.

“Derby are the best side in the league and if I was a betting man I would put my money on them winning the league.”

Freedman said he was “disappointed” by the on-pitch incursions but agreed: “I fully understand they have opinions and have frustrations.

“This job is proving more difficult than I ever thought it would be. But I am not hiding away from it and I will make the tough decisions.”

Asked if he still had stomach for the fight ahead Freedman said: “Yes. Whether that’s a good or bad thing, I have.

“I am very proud of being the manager of this wonderful football club. I will take full responsibility for the results and I got it wrong so I have to look at my performance.”

Martin put Derby in front eight minutes from half-time with a right foot finish from six yards and punished sloppy defending for his second with his left foot after 58 minutes.