The City Ground, Saturday 9th August 2014 3pm kick off
Last season’s meeting between these two at the City Ground ended with Blackpool taking all three points back to the seaside. A late Stephen Dobbie strike condemned the Reds to a rare home defeat last November.
Both teams have been busy in the transfer window with numerous ins and outs. Blackpool were left with just 6 players following last year but have rebuilt their squad in the last few weeks. Meanwhile, Forest’s transfer dealings have been well documented over the last week with the departures of Karl Darlow and Jamaal Lascelles and the arrival of Britt Assombalonga and Michail Antonio.
Both clubs appointed new managers over the summer as Stuart Pearce made his Trentside return, whilst former Charlton boss, Jose Riga, made the journey up north to Blackpool.
What a week in the ongoing footballing saga that is Nottingham Forest. Monday brought Reds fans despair, the exit of Karl Darlow and Jamaal Lascelles to Newcastle for a cut price fee of 5-7 million pounds left them wondering where the clubs ambition had gone. This wound was then filled with more than a few pinches of salt when Stuart Pearce revealed on local radio that the deal was completed without his sanction and that he found out from Lascelles himself as he left for a medical! Fans, justifiably, began to question the intentions of owner, Fawaz Al-Hasawi, who promised there would be no intervention from himself earlier in the year. Despite this disastrous transfer dealing, Al-Hasawi has moved on and insists there remains no rift between Stuart Pearce and the mega rich Kuwaiti.
Now onto the positives, of which there are many. Wednesday was the perfect antidote for the horror two days earlier. Al-Hasawi announced two new signings, Michail Antonio from Sheffield Wednesday, and Britt Assombalonga from Peterborough. The deal for Antonio is believed to be worth in the region of £1.5 million, the pacey winger should add an extra dimension to the Reds’ in attack. The acquisition of Assombalonga has smashed the Forest transfer record previously held by Dutchman, Pierre Van Hooijdonk. The £4.5 million record, which had stood for over 15 years, has been beaten by the £5 million deal (rising to £8 million) for the powerful Congolese hitman. He could be the illusive ’20 goal a season man’ whom the Midlanders have been craving for years.
Prior to this week it has still been an eventful summer for Forest. Signings such as Michael Mancienne from the Bundesliga and Chris Burke (whom Forest had previously chased one and a half years ago) have helped lift the gloomy cloud which had been left from the last campaign, which ended in inevitable disappointment. The Trentsiders will be hoping they can avoid an injury crisis like last season and will be optimistic that they can push for promotion this time around.
Blackpool Chairman, Karl Oyston.
This Summer has been no less incredible at Bloomfield Road, Blackpool’s preparations have been as far from ideal as you could imagine. Rows within the Club’s board regarding reinvestment in playing staff have resulted in continued turmoil beside the seaside. It had take until last week to finally acquire 11 players to wear Tangerine colours next season and even longer to sign a goalkeeper, Joe Lewis on loan from Cardiff. This led to Blackpool fans observing a team full of trialists throughout the majority of pre-season.
It hasn’t just been the past few months where fans unrest has resulted from the ownership of the club, for a few seasons the Lancashire Club’s fans have been questioning whether Chairman Karl Oyston’s heart is in the right place. Sales of players such as Charlie Adam and Matt Phillips left the club with perfect opportunities to re-invest, which were not taken. Last season, tennis balls were thrown onto the pitch and banners parading the message ‘Oyston out’ at one particular game at Bloomfield Road, which is an example of just how the fans are currently feeling.
Blackpool survived relegation by the skin of their teeth last year after a disastrous run in the second half of the season which saw them fall from 4th to the brink of League 1. Incoming manager, Jose Riga will be looking to gel his team quickly enough to fend off the drop zone, but it’s a tough task. However some would argue that the new men coming in will have no recollection of last season’s woes and can start afresh, the Tangerine faithful will be hoping that’s the case.
The City Ground will be rocking on Saturday with the return of club legend ‘Psycho’ and Blackpool will have a tough job on to avoid intimidation from the Reds’ faithful. Maybe former Forest man Ishmael Miller can spoil the party? Or will Britt Assombalonga begin to repay that hefty transfer fee? Personally, I can see Forest taking this opportunity to make an early statement of intent, I’ll go with a 3-0 Forest win.