EAGLES columnist SAM ROSS is urging his fellow Palace fans not to boo Dougie Freedman when he returns to SE25 for the first time this weekend since quitting for Bolton.

SATURDAY sees Dougie Freedman return to Selhurst for the first time since his controversial departure in October to Bolton and the former manager is expected to receive a hostile reception - but not from me.

Despite my frustration and disappointment at his exit three months ago, Freedman deserves to be applauded by Palace fans when he walks onto the pitch come 3pm on Saturday.

I know I will be in the minority but when you look back at what Freedman has achieved at SE25 it is hard to justify booing him or, worse, shouting and singing abuse towards him.

To many Palace fans there are two Dougie Freedman’s - the player and the manager.

The player is still loved but Freedman the manager is loathed.

It is too easy to side with that point.

Those who think this way need reminding Freedman the manager has never left Palace when they were struggling.

He didn’t need to get involved in the coaching set up when the Eagles were in administration turmoil three years ago before helping them escape relegation.

He was also willing to pick up the pieces from George Burley’s disastrous reign when Palace were deep in relegation trouble before successfully guiding them out of it, again, in 2011.

While his latest move away from Palace drew a lot of criticism, from me included, he didn’t leave Palace in a troubled state.

In fact, quite the opposite - he left Palace in great shape.

Ian Holloway was so impressed by the set up at Palace when he took over he described his appointment as ‘winning the lottery without buying a ticket.’

With Palace flying high at the top of the Championship and everything looking upbeat, Freedman’s decision to move to Bolton was a puzzling and confusion one, which quickly changed to anger for many.

But for Freedman, whose heart I believe is still deeply attached to Palace, it was perhaps the best time to leave and if he didn’t take the chance then when could he?

I still believe he made the wrong choice and let a great opportunity of reaching the Premier League with Palace go but he could already be regretting the decision to leave himself.

Who knows?

I imagine Freedman will delay his pitch arrival until just after kick off on Saturday so the attention doesn’t fixate on him.

All I hope is those who do boo him have actually given it some thought because it could risk losing him from where he belongs forever.

Follow us on Twitter @NewsShopperSprt