On Saturday Bolton Wanderers will begin their home campaign for the 2014/15 Championship season. The start so far has been disappointing, with a surrender on opening day at Watford, and then a scrape past League Two Bury in the League Cup. However, Saturday gives Bolton the chance to get the season up and running with the visit of Nottingham Forest to the Macron.
Last season's meeting with Forest saw Bolton roll over at the City Ground but then produce possibly one of their better performances at home in a 1-1 draw. After a strong start to last season Forest faded badly and finished in 11th with Billy Davies losing his job along the way. This Saturday's match will see a Nottingham Forest team enjoying a strong start to their season under the leadership of fans favourite Stuart Pearce. They have enjoyed two wins so far, a comfortable 2-0 against Blackpool and an easy 1-0 at Tranmere in the week, despite playing the majority of the second half with ten men. Forest have recruited heavily in the summer, especially in attacking areas. They have brought in the likes of Brit Assambolanga, Matt Fryatt , Chris Burke and Michail Antonio, signings of the calibre Bolton can only dream of making at this current time. Add these players to an already strong looking squad and Forest will expect to be among the promotion chasers from the division. Early team news suggests that centre backs Kelvin Wilson and Jamaal Lascelles will not be fit enough after returning from injury, whilst summer signing Michael Mancienne is banned after his sending off in midweek. Henri Lansbury may return to the squad to bolster Pearce's midfield options.
As for Bolton you would expect changes to be made from the heavy opening day defeat at Watford and all that "uncharacteristic" bad defending. We may see Tim Ream shift across to left back with David Wheater or Dorian Dervite alongside Matt Mills at centre back and Adam Bogdan back in goal. In midfield Liam Trotter and Liam Feeney may be in line to start after being the best of a bad bunch on Tuesday night. Joe Mason should start and it has to be alongside another striker, playing as a lone front-man is not his game and this was proven during his first loan spell at the club. My vote would go to Craig Davies, who can provide the physical presence and create the space for Mason to work in. Whether Dougie Freedman will abandon the safety of his beloved 4-2-3-1 system remains to be seen. Faced with the level of attacking power from Forest he may well just stick to what he knows best.
Personally I'd like to see Freedman go with the following 4-4-2,
Kevin McNaughton Mills Wheater Ream
Feeney Jay Spearing Trotter Neil Danns
Most of last season's best results were achieved playing with two up front, Forest have had a fairly comfortable start, if we can put them under pressure early on who knows....?
Trying to remain optimistic as a Bolton supporter is difficult at the moment, the opening two games have shown very little to be positive about and far too many negatives. However, an unlikely win on Saturday may just be the kick start Bolton need and give us a season to start looking forward to again.