Dougie Freedman trying to help Bolton emerge from Owen Coyle's shadow

The Championship managerial merry-go-round is hard to keep up with but the Scot is trying to persevere at the Reebok

Bolton Wanderers v Burnley has a historic ring. Really it should be in the Premier League. Three seasons ago it was. Then Owen Coyle, who had given Burnley their first taste of top-tier football in 33 years, jumped ship to Bolton and both are now part of the underbelly of the Championship, rumbling with memories and dreams as nine points cover the 15 clubs from eighth to 22nd. Bolton's 2-1 win at the Reebok took them from 20th to 17th and denied Burnley a climb to seventh.

Presumably it was the derby element that brought a Premier League referee here. In the event Chris Foy had an easy ride or made it so. Despite the match being sponsored by Mercedes it did not catch fire until 10 minutes after the interval. The visitors' Chris McCann headed back a corner and David Edgar nodded in. Burnley head the division in headed goals.

Dougie Freedman abandoned 4-2-3-1, over-cautious for a home team and toothless to boot, and put on two strikers, Craig Davies and David Ngog. Both were booed, both scored, Davies glancing on a cross from Lee Chung-yong, Ngog reacting to Jay Spearing's shot into a crowded area just after Kevin Davies had entered a mounting fray and set up the chance.

"He's a chancer," said one wiseacre to another of Freedman. "No," said the other. "Those substitutions, it wasn't who he put on so much as who he took off." Freedman almost agreed. "I'm a professional guy making professional decisions," he said. "Sometimes you get them right, sometimes you get them wrong. I made the subs to try and change the dynamic of the game. It was tight in midfield so we went a bit longer, over the top." No one goes over the top for Bolton like Kevin Davies.

Freedman by contrast is feeling his way after a startling start in management at Crystal Palace. If Ian Holloway's Palace had kept up Freedman's strike rate to late October, they would be second in the division. Bolton's three-match interregnum after Coyle's sacking has been their most prolific period, as was Palace's shorter one. Nowhere is the managers' merry-go-round madder than in the Championship. A window for them in June might be the answer; or they could all move one club round every five games. At least Burnley's change, also in October, came about when Eddie Howe chose to fly again at Bournemouth. But even Sean Dyche has not harvested points as heavily as the stand-ins.

He was still the manager in form. At the turn of the year Burnley were a point and a place above Bolton in mid-table. Ten points from five games to Bolton's two from four had separated them by 13 places. "My frustration is after we scored we didn't keep the ball," Dyche said. He also said of Bolton: "Their substitutes are greater than our wage bill." Ngog cost £4m from Liverpool in 2011, Craig Davies £300,000 from Barnsley last month.

Freedman played the window for loans, bringing in Craig Dawson from West Brom, whose debut made Charlie Austin irrelevant, and Steve De Ridder from Southampton to supplement that of Spearing from Liverpool. When Brendan Rodgers went to Anfield he said of Spearing: "He has the soul of the club in his heart" and sent him out on a season's loan. The way he played, making up for the injury absence of the midfielder Mark Davies, suggested the soul of Bolton might be muscling in.

It was De Ridder's substitution that prompted particular upset. Wide of the three on the right, he had threatened more than he achieved with a conjuror's footwork, losing opponents but not always finding team-mates. With unequivocal strikers to pick out, he may have a big part to play. As Freedman has realised, Bolton cannot have too many Davies.

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