What is happening to English football? (Video)

Dougie Freedman’s recent move to Bolton will certainly hurt Crystal Palace fans across the country.

The Scottish manager spent 11 of his playing years at Selhurst Park, scoring 106 goals in the process, and perhaps even more famously, was on hand to help the club through one of the hardest times in their history.

He joined as assistant manager in March 2010 after a coaching role at Southend, and assisted then manager Paul Hart to keep the ‘Eagles’ in the Championship, albeit on the last day of the season. When Freedman eventually took over as manager of the club after George Burley’s sacking in early 2011, he once again saved the club from the drop, as well as developing an ethos at the club which will surely be maintained for many years, developing young players from the academy and nurturing them alongside experienced pros.

This ethos Freedman developed at the club may have been forced, with financial struggles at the South London club almost putting the club out of business. Freedman, along with others, stuck by the club, which makes this move even stranger to Palace fans – he was even a member of the Supporters’ Trust, involved in the plans to build a new training ground.

Crystal Palace’s new found sustainability and improved results (they are currently sitting in 4th in the Championship), makes it an attractive club for any manager coming in (perhaps also a daunting one though, managers are used to coming in under a ‘nothing can get worse’ kind of atmosphere, a lot to lose at Palace), so why has Freedman left for a club that is £110 million in debt?

Ambition. Freedman admitted he had a burning desire to get to the promised land that is the Premier League, and believes that Bolton have a better chance of getting there than his former club.

“I’ve got a long-game strategy where I feel this club will give me the tools that will get us to the Premier League.

“Crystal Palace have been fantastic for me. I was there as a player and as a manager and I’ve got a real bond with the fans.

“I feel that I owed this opportunity to myself and my family. It’s not really what they (Palace) are lacking, it’s what Bolton have got.

“I don’t feel embarrassed or ashamed to say that promotion is the key to the season.”

Where is English football going if this kind of thing keeps happening though? We keep seeing young managers develop squads, and just when they start to get a return on the football pitch, they are snapped up by a seemingly ‘bigger’ club. This runs throughout the whole footballing hierarchy. What used to be a ‘big four’ (now a big 6/7?) have first pick on players, managers and arguably young supporters.

Bolton were just relegated from the Premier League, and although they received parachute payments, they are surely a team on a downward spiral, with plummeting crowds and overpaid players – comparable to what we see with Middlesbrough when they were relegated, they’ve only just got certain players off the wage bill and starting to look like promotion contenders. Bolton are still able to pick from the ‘little guy’ though, once they spot a manager with potential.

Will we see Michael Appleton rebuild Portsmouth and then move on to a richer (I don’t want to say bigger) club? Probably.

It must be hard to understand as supporters why cases such as Freedman and even Lambert at Norwich happen, one of your own, moved to a team in the same division with seemingly similar intentions.

Crystal Palace fans must try and remember the good old days though, and Freedman’s finest moment as a player came in this last day of the season clash with Stockport County (weird to think they were in the Championship), saving the South London club from relegation – not for the first time – with a fine last minute strike. Enjoy.