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Preview: The Freedman Derby

We entertain Bolton Wanderers on Saturday in what almost nobody is calling 'The Freedman Derby'. We caught up with our cousins from The Lion of Vienna Suite. No matter how bad you think our season is going, it could be a whole lot worse. Chris Manning was tolerant enough to put up with our questions.

Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

DM: I recognise you. You're the guy who scaled the TV camera gantry at Eastleigh aren't you? No wait. Aren't you the guy who ran onto the pitch and waved 'play-on'? Either way. How are you?

CM: I thought, hmm, y’know, how best to bring national exposure to our financial crisis and Portsmouth-style fire-sale....and then it hit me – why not climb some scaffolding?

I’m fine, if your version is fine is having your heart ripped out and stamped on. Why do I care so much about this stupid club? All I wanted is for the mid-2000s glory years to carry on indefinitely. It’s not much to ask.

Apart from that I’m OK. I’ve had a cold for a month, but I think that’s perhaps a metaphor for Bolton. How are you?

Yikes. A month? Calpol or Medised is good for that kind of thing I hear. Good climbing skills by the way. I'm fine thanks - just watching Martin O'Neill on the telly being all Martin O'Neilly.

That heart of yours, eh? But that's the thing isn't it with modern football these days - us fans want the moon on a stick, and by that, I mean a well run club that isn't going to implode due to a debt the size of a medium sized country. How in actual buggery did it come to this? I mean, a few million here and there on some players that didn't quite work out is pretty standard these days but £172M. Someone really has had their hands in the cookie jar.

I suppose that’s the answer – it costs a helluva lot just to stand still – our expenditure grew and the quality we brought in declined. I mean come on, it doesn’t take an expert to work out that £4m on David Ngog is hardly going to be the sort of deal that shoots you to the moon.

David Nslow more like. Am I right?

Now we know you have very little time for our present incumbent - Mr Douglas Freeman. But you know something? He's doing alright. He has somehow managed to bring in very decent players on loan and after a very worrying start to the season, we're riding the crest of a 'very difficult side to beat' wave. You've got Neil Lennon in the dugout (and also wherever else he's been recently).  Are you ok with that or are you reaching for something pointy?

I had noticed and you know what - I'm actually approaching indifference towards ol Douglas. I think it's because we have much much much much much bigger fish to fry now, but fair play to the bloke. The team looks settled and wouldn't you know it the guy himself looks like he's been spending less and less time sleeping under motorway bridges - whereas Lennon appears to have taken up the mantel of Bolton manager/heroin addict chic.

He's taking it to the next level. I know being the top man at Bolton is a far from easy gig at the moment but let's be frank, he's not doing very well now is he? By the way, thanks for taking Liam Trotter back off our hands...dodged a bullet there.

Well there's a school of thought that he's doing as well as anyone might given the circumstances.....but he's probably the only one who thinks that now. I've been reliably informed that he would have been sacked weeks ago and I quote "if there was anyone left to sack him". We're in a bad way.

As for Trotter. ...I believe he was said to have been out of his depth against Eastleigh at the weekend. I can well believe it.

Get your money on Trotter to score a last minute winner on Saturday in that case.

Thanks to Chris for going through the pain barrier of facing up to Bolton's woes.

In the meantime, here's a bitter sweet memory of a previous encounter with Bolton. Back in September 1993, we enjoyed a spluttering start to life in the second tier. Although we lost this game, Stan Collymore exploded into life and showed us a glimpse of what was to come from him. He scored around 89 goals in the exactly the style of his first here.