IT will be a tale of two young Scottish managers in the derby dugouts tonight when Blackpool’s Barry Ferguson comes face-to-face with Dougie Freedman’s Whites.
Both managers have had to ride out criticism this season with the two famous Lancashire clubs under-achieving after high hopes for both as promotion contenders in August.
But, like his compatriot Freedman, Ferguson has started to enjoy better fortunes of late with two wins for the Seasiders in their last three matches – their first taste of victory since late November.
Freedman believes the addition to the Bloomfield Road coaching staff of ex-Blackburn and Scotland under-21 coach Eric Black has been a contributing factor to that upturn and is not about to take the visitors lightly.
The Whites boss told The Bolton News: “Barry is turning things round and Eric Black has gone in there and helped him out a lot.
“He is a fantastic coach who I have worked with before. He has managed and played at the top level and he is helping Barry a lot, as you can tell by recent results.
“The history of the two clubs and the form they have come into makes it a difficult match for us.
“It is a match we feel we can do well in if we can get back to the performance levels we have shown at home.
“We can impose our game on them and there is no reason why we cannot win because we have only been beaten once in seven games.
“At Yeovil, we struggled at times with their movement in the first half but we gave one or two players a bit more freedom in the second half and I am disappointed we didn’t go on to win the game.”
Blackpool are likely to hand a debut to new arrival Robert Earnshaw in attack and Freedman has been impressed with Ferguson’s acquisitions for the Seasiders.
He added: “I think Barry’s signings have been good. He has gone for a bit of experience in defence with (Tony) McMahon and brought Ricardo Fuller back in who wasn’t in the team and now he has got Earnshaw.
“They are all very capable players.
“He is starting to get the ship in order and sailing the right way.”
Before a home win against Millwall three games ago, Blackpool had gone 18 matches in league and cup without victory – a run which included a 2-1 FA Cup third-round defeat at the Reebok in January.
But the Bloomfield Road board have continued to stand by their man – much like they have at Wanderers.
Freedman is happy to have a supportive board and owner – something another Scottish manager suffered from not having when Nottingham Forest sacked Billy Davies yesterday despite his team still sitting just one place outside the play-offs.
The Wanderers manager sympathises with Davies, as he says he would with any manager losing their job.
But he says the situation at Forest, who have spent big money on transfers in the past 12 months, is entirely different to his at the Reebok.
Freedman said: “It is disappointing to see any manager losing his job.
“Billy was in a different position to me, though, because they spent big in the summer.
“You can get a bit jealous of clubs like Forest as both managers and fans when they spend on one or two big players.
“But you have to look at what you are doing at your club.
“We are trying to put our own house in order, having one eye on the pitch and one eye on the finances.
“I try to make sure we bring in the right loans and transfers at the right wage.
“In time I want to build a team at the club that’s a winning one not just a collection of individuals.
“That’s where the patience is being given at this club as opposed to others and I am sure we will see the benefits in the future.”