WHEN it comes to last-day survival, Dougie Freedman has already been there and got the T-shirt.
The Wanderers boss has twice found himself needing to take points in the final game of the season – and proudly boasts a 100 per cent success record.
And that is why he knows exactly what to expect from a Birmingham City side who arrive at the Reebok this afternoon knowing their Championship future is on the line.
Even victory might not be enough for Lee Clark’s Blues, who have plunged into the bottom three on the back of five straight defeats and the worst home record in the country.
That desperation, says the Whites boss, makes this afternoon’s game no mere formality.
“I have been there before and I expect Birmingham to play a very attacking team – wingers, two up front, all that,” he told The Bolton News.
“A draw might not be good enough for them, it isn’t in their hands, so they really need to win. I expect them to come out with their lives on the line.
“So if it was me in that situation, I’d be going all-out to try to win that game.”
In 2001, Freedman scored a famous goal against Stockport County that kept Crystal Palace in the division at the expense of Huddersfield Town on the final day.
Nine years later, Freedman was assistant to Paul Hart at Palace as the Eagles secured a nervous draw against Sheffield Wednesday, condemning the Yorkshire club to League One.
“The reason I have always got out of that situation is because the manager at that particular time set us up in a very attacking way, as if we didn’t have anything to lose,” added the Scot, who also performed the feat himself at Palace, guiding the club to safety at the end of the 2010/11 campaign.
With that in mind, Wanderers are primed to withstand an early onslaught from the visitors who will be backed by 3,700 vocal fans.
Freedman has pledged to make minimal changes, which appears to mean a second start, and a home debut, for Oscar Threlkeld on the right side of defence.
After the dominant performance at Hillsborough seven days ago, such a decision is entirely understandable, and the manager has no worries the side will again apply themselves properly.
“There is no problem on that front at all,” he said. “I will be focused as will the lads, who have been great in the last dozen or so games.
“They have been very professional with the way they have gone about the end of the season, where there has supposedly been nothing to play for.
“I won’t be making lots of changes, in fact I think I will only make one from the team that played against Sheffield Wednesday – and that is because of an injury, or rather it looks that way.
“I sympathise with where Birmingham are but Lee Clark knows, just as every other manager, that you have to maintain a professional attitude.”