The Macron Stadium, Saturday 16th August 2014, kick off 3pm
- Bolton have started the season poorly with a 3-0 defeat away to Watford, followed by a disappointing show against League 2 Bury in the Capital One Cup. They did scrape through,though, thanks to an extra-time brace from Neil Danns. Forest’s opening to the campaign has been altogether more comfortable, a 2-0 victory on Saturday and 1-0 win on Tuesday has breathed fresh optimism into the Club.
- The last meeting between the two sides ended with a 1-1 stalemate in January this year. Jamie Paterson opened the scoring for the Reds, but they were pegged back 15 minutes from time by a powerful Matt Mills header.
- The Trotters have endured a difficult summer with a lack of new signings due to financial restraints, according to boss Dougie Freedman. Forest, on the other hand, have enjoyed the arrival of many new faces, former Hamburg midfielder, Robert Tesche being the most recent of these.
Bolton have had a difficult couple of seasons back in the second tier of English football, and look set to continue that trend this time around. Following relegation from the Premier League, manager Owen Coyle failed to provide the instant Championship success and was sacked, his replacement: Dougie Freedman. After Freedman’s arrival from Crystal Palace in October 2012 things improved, notably in the 2012-2013 season as the Club only missed out on the Play Offs on the final day to Leicester City. However, last season the Whites only managed to hold a mid table finish after heavy expectations were placed on the shoulders of the squad. Therefore, you would have to conclude that the last two years have not been as Bolton fans would’ve hoped.
This summer has seen a number of players depart from the Macron Stadium, Chris Eagles, Alex Baptiste and Marvin Sordel being to most eye catching of the exits. In terms of incomings it’s been a quiet summer for Bolton, much to the frustration of fans. The loan acquisitions of Kevin McNaughton, Joe Mason and Alan Hutton have bulked up the squad but Freedman still feels his team is lacking the required quality and depth to make a challenge this season.
There are still things that fans of the Lancashire club can be excited about for the 2014/15 season. The strike force consisting of Joe Mason and Craig Davies, on their day, can strike fear into any Championship defence and Forest will have a job on keeping them quiet for the full 90 minutes. People also tend to forget that the Championship is one of the most unpredictable leagues in world football; who would’ve expected Burnley’s promotion last season? Anything can happen in this incredible league. Also, Bolton fans just need to look down the road at neighbours Blackpool and think ‘it could be worse’.
It’s been a good start to the new season for Forest, achieving exactly what was expected of them with two solid wins. Blackpool fell short at the City Ground and could not prevent the new Red’s signings, Michail Antonio and Chris Burke firing Forest to a simple 2-0 victory. The atmosphere on Stuart Pearce’s return to the East Midlands Club was nothing short of incredible. As Pearce strolled out of the City Ground tunnel chants of ‘Psycho’ could be heard all across the banks of the Trent, it was a special occasion for every Red. This was followed by a rather more challenging trip to Tranmere, where they had to deal with the majority of the second half a man light due to Michael Mancienne’s red card. However, they made in through thanks to a second goal in three days for Antonio and will face Huddersfield away in the 2nd round.
It has been a relatively quiet week compared to the shenanigans of the previous 7 days. Just one new signing has been made, the fairly unknown Robert Tesche on a one year deal. Many fans see this as a sign that talisman Henri Lansbury may be on his way out, following Burnley’s interest in the midfield playmaker. In my opinion, the former Arsenal man is an integral part of the squad and would be a big loss.
With the wealth of options available at Pearce’s disposal you would expect the Reds to be in and around the top six come May. The depth in the squad would even cover an injury crisis on par with last season’s due to a number of versatile options at the Club, such as Mancienne, Danny Fox and Ben Osborn. Many Forest fans would agree that this is a squad capable of achieving promotion this time around, it has stability in the back, a creative and vibrant midfield and a formidable front line which should provide goals galore. Bolton should be worried.
Will Dougie Freedman be able to overcome Forest, who he once played for, with his squad assembled on a shoe string budget? Or will the Reds make it three wins from three to plummet Bolton into more early season woe? I think this Forest side will have too much for Bolton to handle and run out comfortable 2-0 winners.