For once, when I say Eagles, I’m not referring to our player-of-the-season-elect Chris, who scored yet another free kick at the weekend as the Whites cruised to a comfortable, never-in-doubt victory against Bristol City at the weekend.
No – on this occasion the Eagles are Crystal Palace. The “pride of south London”, they proclaim. And it’s a claim that Dougie Freedman has done his best to give substance to, steering the blue and red army to 4th in the Championship, and this after several seasons battling it out in the lower echelons of the league. They got to a cup semi-final as well, you know.
As you no doubt also know, Bolton approached Crystal Palace for permission to speak to the young Scot – a request that was initially dismissed out of hand by the Palace powers. “Permission has not been granted for Dougie to speak to Bolton,” read the blunt club statement.
However, fast-forward a few hours and a new statement appeared: “Following further discussions throughout the day, Crystal Palace Football Club can confirm that permission has been granted for Dougie Freedman to speak to Bolton Wanderers regarding their vacant managerial position.”
So – it’s all falling into place. Talk Mr Freedman into the job and we know who our new manager is. Fail to convince him that we’re better than Palace, and the search goes on.
To me, it all sounds eerily familiar. I mentioned the Freedman approach to a Palace supporting friend, and he said: “Why would he go to Bolton while we’re above you in the league? It would be a sideways step at best.”
Now I’m sure you all remember the situation when Owen Coyle made the “sideways move” from Burnley to Bolton. Here was a young Scottish manager, full of ambition, who chose to go to the club that he felt on paper offered him the best chance of Premier League football. Well, we’re back here again. The question is, does Freedman see it the same way as Coyle?
Through my biased eyes, there’s no doubt that Bolton are a stronger team on paper. Yes, we sit a few placed further down the league, but nearly every bookie is still offering shorter promotion odds for Bolton than for Palace.
However – despite the similarities between Coyle and Freedman, there is one glaring difference. Coyle was a former Wanderer, and made no secret of the place in his heart for Bolton. Freedman? His CV has Palace all over it. In fact, he played for the 334 times.
It will, of course, boil down to ambition. But if I was in Mr Freedman’s shoes, I’d be using this situation to negotiate a better deal, and a longer contract, at the club I love. In this situation, that club is Crystal Palace.