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Preview: Nottingham Forest vs. Blackpool

Sports Mole looks ahead to Saturday's Championship clash between Nottingham Forest and troubled Blackpool as the new season gets underway.

Blackpool go into their 2014-15 Championship season opener against Nottingham Forest on Saturday as a club in turmoil.

A shambolic campaign last term saw them plummet down the table courtesy of a club-record run of 18 matches without a win in all competitions, lasting more than three months.

Paul Ince came and went as manager, while Barry Ferguson struggled to steady the ship, eventually doing just enough to maintain their Championship status for another season at least.

Belgian manager Jose Riga is the man tasked with ensuring that things go a little more smoothly this time around, although the signs are already pointing to another tough campaign.

A mass exodus of players at the end of last season has left the Tangerines with a threadbare squad, so much so that they only had 11 signed players at the start of the week and only managed to recruit a goalkeeper on Tuesday.

A number of other new faces have come in, although the desperate nature of Blackpool's recruitment policy is sure to impact on the quality of players at their disposal.

However, while the second half of the season was undeniably dreadful at Bloomfield Road, it is worth remembering that they made a strong start to the campaign and even looked like playoff contenders at one point.

It would be a surprise if they were to repeat that feat this time around, but Riga already has experience of battling it out at the wrong end of the table having saved Charlton Athletic from relegation last season.

It remains to be seen what sort of shape the squad are in after a number of the club's pre-season friendlies were cancelled due to the lack of players, while those who have come in will need to gel quickly.

It is hard to imagine a worse build-up to a season, and Blackpool's plight may at least make Nottingham Forest fans feel a little better about their own situation.

Confusion has reigned over the City Ground this week, with new manager and club legend Stuart Pearce expressing his displeasure at the sales of Karl Darlow and Jamaal Lascelles to Newcastle United.

Both players are expected to be loaned back to Forest, however, so Pearce will have them at his disposal this season.

They will join a host of other new signings, including Michael Mancienne, Michail Antonio and Britt Assombalonga, the latter of whom joined for more than £5m earlier this week.

Despite the unrest around the squad, Forest will go into the campaign amongst the favourites for automatic promotion, with a buzz surrounding Pearce's place at the helm.

A win over relegation candidates Blackpool is expected, but defeat could make a tense situation between the manager and owners even worse, despite it being so early in the season.

Recent form

Nottm Forest: WWLLWW

Blackpool: LDWLWL

Possible starting lineups

Nottm Forest: Darlow; Hunt, Mancienne, Hobbs, Fox; Vaughan; Burke, Osborn, Reid, Paterson; Fryatt

Blackpool: Lewis; McMahon, Clarke, Mackenzie, Dunne; Lundstram, Perkins, Mellis, Cywka; Delfouneso, Grant

Sports Mole says: 2-0


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Nottingham Forest owner Fawaz Al Hasawi looks on during the npower Championship match between Nottingham Forest and Leicester City at City Ground on May 4, 2013
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Norwich CityNorwich41279565283790
2Watford412410759273282
3Swansea CitySwansea412291050311975
4Brentford402013771403173
5Bournemouth4120111066402671
6Barnsley412181254441071
7Reading411991356451166
8Cardiff CityCardiff4116111457451259
9Millwall411416114140158
10Middlesbrough41169164845357
11Queens Park RangersQPR411511154850-256
12Stoke CityStoke411413144546-155
13Luton TownLuton40158173546-1153
14Bristol City41155214055-1550
15Nottingham ForestNott'm Forest411213163439-549
16Preston North EndPreston41146214155-1448
17Blackburn RoversBlackburn411211185247547
18Coventry CityCoventry411112183756-1945
19Birmingham CityBirmingham411112183150-1945
20Huddersfield TownHuddersfield411111194362-1944
21Derby CountyDerby411110203046-1643
22Rotherham UnitedRotherham39116224153-1239
23Sheffield WednesdaySheff Weds41118223454-2035
24Wycombe WanderersWycombe4189243064-3433

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