Championship preview: Dougie Freedman can make the difference at Bolton


Click to follow
The Independent Football

Dougie Freedman takes charge of Bolton for the first time on Saturday and we reckon his prior knowledge of the two teams can make all the difference against top-of-the-table Cardiff. Back the Trotters to bring home the bacon at 11/8.

The former Crystal Palace boss has sat in the stands for the past two matches since his appointment was confirmed, and though Wanderers could only muster a solitary point from trips to Wolves and Middlesbrough, we should assume the canny Scot picked up plenty of pointers for his first training session on Monday.

Freedman is in a position of strength having masterminded victories over both teams with Palace on successive Saturdays in September. The Eagles overturned a two-goal deficit to beat Cardiff 3-2 at Selhurst Park six weeks ago before pulling off a smash-and-grab 1-0 win at the Reebok seven days later.

Speaking after the latter game, he said: "We've played Cardiff, Nottingham Forest and Middlesbrough over the last few weeks and this was by far our toughest challenge. There is no doubt in my mind that they (Bolton) will be in the top two or three at the end of the season and this has to be our biggest scalp so far this campaign."

So we can rest assured that Freedman's pre-match pep-talk should inject the necessary belief to topple a team now 13 points better off after 13 matches, and we should also put faith in his ability to find a tactical edge, be it from the outset or via the substitutes bench later in the day.

Freedman has had to prepare for this game without the assistance of Lennie Lawrence and Curtis Fleming, both of whom remain contracted to Palace for the time being, but that xxx should be compensated by the players' willingness to impress in his sixth match against Malky Mackay's men over the past 12 months.

The Bluebirds are worthy leaders but it's their formidable home form they have to thank for that. Convincing defeats at Bristol City and Nottingham Forest demonstrate a vulnerability on the road, something that victories at Millwall and Ipswich have done little to dispell. The trip to the Reebok promises to be their toughest test of the season to date.

Meanwhile, Peterborough have sorted their act out in recent weeks and they look big at 7/2 for the trip to Sheffield Wednesday. The Posh were bottom of the table six weeks ago after starting the season with seven straight defeats, but now sit above the Owls following a sequence of four wins in six.

It's remarkable turnaround - particularly when cast in the light of player contracts running down and internal bickering between Darren Ferguson and Barry Fry - but, to his credit, Ferguson never panicked, insisting the tide would turn and fortune has subsequently reaffirmed the belief that they were always going about things the right way.

Victories over Hull, Barnsley, Huddersfield and Derby have all been achieved with something to spare, whereas defeats to Nottingham Forest and Watford were narrow and, in the latter case, unfortunate. An aggregate score of 11-4 across that sample tells the story.

By contrast, Wednesday might have lulled themselves into a false sense of security with last weekend's emphatic 3-0 win over an abysmal Ipswich side at Portman Road. Dave Jones' desire to declare it as a turning point is understandable but the Tractor Boys were lacking all sense of direction and the fixture was a gift in all honesty.

Prior to that, the Owls had picked up just two points from the last available 27, suffering humbling defeats at home to Huddersfield, Bolton and Hull before the events of a raucous televised clash with Leeds served as a timely distraction from their miserable form.

Betting advice...

2pts Bolton to beat Cardiff at 11/8 (Coral)

Freedman knows both teams well and can find an edge in his first game as Bolton boss.

1pt Peterborough to beat Sheff Wed at 7/2 (Bet Victor)

Owls' win at Ipswich could lull them into a false sense of security against tidy Posh outfit.

For more betting advice, visit Best of the Bets by clicking here.