There’s a phrase in football, particularly concerning managers, that can never be more applicable to Bolton Wanderers, than it is now. And that is, “In Parky do we trust!”
I doubt that many would disagree with that sentiment. Surely, without him at the helm last year, promotion would have been no more than an idle dream. And without him now, remaining in the Championship could be very difficult, to say the least. It’s going to be arduous anyway. And I say that fully in the knowledge that our manager does not have a good record in that league.
What he and his staff have produced since they arrived has been nothing short of miraculous. No doubt, he would simply explain it away as good, solid professional work. And a bit of luck! But I think it’s a lot more than that.
When you consider the constraints that he and Ken Anderson have been under from the embargo and all that entails, since last February, we had no right to expect such success last season. But in spite of everything, we made a fist of it and came out on top. And much of it is due in no small measure to Phil Parkinson, ably abetted by chairman Ken Anderson. Let’s not forget, the man who signed him!
For me, Parky possesses the right ingredients to be a successful football manager. His forte is good man-management; an eye for a footballer and slotting the right player into the right spot; an ability to adapt to differing situations under pressure, all cemented in place with an inexhaustible, hard-working ethic.
His ability to gel the group together is also paramount. There can be no doubt that since he arrived, Bolton has had a happy dressing room and we all know that can make up for a number of other deficiencies. And let’s face it, there are plenty of those!
Obviously, footballers want to play for him. Hand on heart, can that be said about some of the previous managerial incumbents at the Reebok/Macron! For example, look at the change in attitude of someone like Madine. He is a very different character now under Parky than he was under Lennon.
One thing that stood out for me last year, was the bad injury to Lawrie Wilson and the problems that entailed through a lack of reinforcements. The lad was in excellent form (who can forget his screamer against Port Vale!) and had forged a good understanding down the right with firstly Ameobi and then Morais.
With his demise we looked to be in a little bit of trouble. Derik wouldn’t have been the answer. Some suggested Vela playing at full-back once more. But he was badly needed as an attacking mid-fielder. Switching to three at the back instead was a touch of genius and certainly brave.
Again, Parky had obviously practised that system and it was therefore in his locker. The fans were probably more than a little worried about how Dervite would perform in a back three. But in the end, it was the making of the team at an important juncture in the season. We never looked back.
However, having said all that, it’s not all sweetness and light. It never is! What does concern me is the ‘hoofball’ that was apparent for so much of last year. Whether by choice or having it thrust upon the manager through a lack of talent, only time will tell. But I do hope that when we are able to do so, we can buy lads who will play out from the back. It is the only way forward (forgive the pun!).
At the moment, it may just be a case of expediency. But Parky does seem to have built up a reputation for ‘route-one’ football in the past. It won’t do in the Championship that’s for sure! And at the end of the day, we need to put our trust in him and Ken Anderson to do what’s necessary and best for Bolton.
By Barney Grumble