Blackpool v. Bolton Wanderers

Chris Brunskill

Blackpool's new manger will get his first test as Dougie Freedman looks to continue his extremely positive start at Bolton Wanderers.

Michael Appleton. That name should sound familiar to you as the former Portsmouth man was heavily linked with the Bolton Wanderers job before Dougie Freedman was offered it and accepted. Another young manager, largely inexperienced, that made the best of a bad situation. Freedman is a fan of Appleton's, and has experience with the Pompey man's managerial style:

"He had his hands, his feet and sometimes his mouth tied up but got his opportunity and you have to take your hat off to him.

"I know a lot about him. I went to watch Roy Hodgson's coaching sessions at West Brom quite a few times and Michael had been doing bits and pieces.

"I played against his Portsmouth side in the Championship last year and he did a fantastic job, he was unlucky really. But now he's got the opportunity to work with what I believe is a Premier League squad."

Bolton, on the other hand, have now had two games under their new manager and it's been a very good start (even though some of the fans, rather inexplicably, aren't happy). After consistently allowing two goals per game and losing more games than winning or drawing, Dougie has shown that this team can in fact compete. Over the last two games (both against teams that have been in the top two this season), Bolton have kept a clean sheet, allowed a total of one goal, and are undefeated.

After being left out in the cold under Jimmy Phillips and Sammy Lee, Zat Knight made his return to the starting XI under Freedman with a point to prove:

"It has been very frustrating going from playing every game this season, to not even being in the squad to playing a reserve game a week ago to being in a winning side under the new manager.

"The manager spoke to me as soon as he came in and said to me that he wants me to be part of the team. He wanted to use my leadership and experience, and he told me that it was now my shirt to lose.

"Now I just want to stay in the team. We have got a tough week this week and hopefully we can get many more performances like that on Saturday."

Zat Knight has come good on his fresh start thus far and will look to continue a good defensive streak against the Tangerines.

David Ngog is another one that's come in out of the cold and played phenomenally in the 27 minutes he's had on the field since Dougie's arrival. Ngog scored two goals (one wrongfully disallowed), drew a penalty, and got sent off as Bolton beat Cardiff at home on Dougie's debut. Freedman seems determined that Ngog may very well be the difference-maker for Bolton Wanderers:

"In my humble opinion, David Ngog could be the difference that takes this team to where we want to be or not.

"That's how important he is.

"I can see the potential in him and I am actually very excited to work with David, now I know what he is about.

"When he come on against Cardiff he was fantastic. His movement and desire was there.

"He did overspill it; there is no hiding that fact and I won't stick up for him on that. He stepped over the line a bit and got himself sent off.

"But I would rather see that than see somebody who doesn't make any impact at all."

It's been a little while since Bolton and Blackpool last player each other with the last of their meetings coming in the 2010/2011 season. Both matchups that year proved to be entertaining affairs thanks to a 2-2 draw at the Reebok with that Mark Davies goal (30 seconds into the video below) and a 4-3 thriller at Bloomfield Road at season's end.

Should Bolton win, it will take them to 22 points on the season, leapfrogging Blackpool who currently sit 12th in the table.

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