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'Composed' Parkinson in a league of his own after first year with Bolton

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karlypants

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse
The Calmness with which Phil Parkinson walked into Bolton Wanderers a year ago was not mirrored by those he greeted on his first day.

Talk of an immediate promotion was uttered more in hope than expectation, and after 12 months of financial trouble, stability seemed a compromise most supporters were willing to accept.

When Parkinson came through the door from Bradford City, some of the footballing fraternity thought him mad. Leaving a stable club for one still saddled with major issues on and off the field looked to some likely a foolhardy move.

The manager promised nothing on his opening address, other than to put pride back into the Bolton shirt.

There was no talk of Premier League past, of under-achievement or sweeping changes of personnel. Parkinson portrayed a man still assessing his environment.

Within a few weeks he had privately started to fancy his chances. From the outside, the team relegated into League One must have looked a mess but Parkinson and his staff were pleasantly surprised by the attitude and quality of the players who reported for pre-season duties.

Of course, fixing the money worries, the transfer embargo and the boardroom battles which were in full flow between Ken Anderson and Dean Holdsworth were beyond his remit – but shaping a team to be competitive in the division was looking a strong possibility.

Parkinson has told how the summer tour of Scandinavia doubled up as a group audition. Ten days in close proximity with his players helped him assess which characters would be up for the challenge.

The manager had impressed on the ownership how important signing Mark Beevers would be, as rivals queued up for the centre-half’s signature. Likewise, he did some extensive homework on David Wheater before offering him a chance to sign again.

By the start of the season his team looked solid, dependable, if lacking in a touch of imagination. A best start for 82 years made sure any criticism quickly disappeared into the background.

A glance at Parkinson’s record will show he knows how to build a consistent team. Chairman Anderson had sought a man who knew the League One course and would not need to experiment – but more impressive has been the manager’s ability to handle change.

Asked on his first day about the lingering transfer embargo, Parkinson answered confidently he had been assured it would soon be lifted.

A year later, nothing has changed on that front. It sometimes appeared Wanderers were living by the seat of their pants as Anderson bartered with the EFL to add and subtract players from the allotted quota, catering for some hugely unfortunate injuries to the likes of Darren Pratley and Mark Davies.

On the eve of the opening day of the season Parkinson sat looking at a sheet of paper in his office with two teams, not knowing whether the EFL would sanction his new signings in time to face Sheffield United.

Such distractions have been commonplace. The embargo would have had less impact at a club in mid-table but Wanderers bucked the trend by leading from the front. As such, every time a favour was needed from the authorities, the Whites' rivals at the top of the league registered their displeasure.

Under those pressured circumstances Parkinson continued to keep his cool. There were occasional dips in form - notably after each window when a raft of last-minute signings were rushed in - but the manager rarely let an inconvenience lurch into a crisis.

Constantly reinventing the team through personnel and formation, accusations levelled at Parkinson for being tactically inflexible were hard to fathom.

He did have to rely on a simplified approach and there was no question Wanderers were a direct team when they needed to be, relying heavily on the set pieces which were drilled repeatedly on the day before every game.

But Parkinson did find some sparkle in Sammy Ameobi, Zach Clough - both of whom left in January - and then later Filipe Morais, Adam Le Fondre and Jem Karacan.

Constant making do and mending may have put a different character into a tailspin. The pressure would most certainly have told in the demeanour of some of his predecessors in the Bolton hot-seat.

When bigger problems emerged – such as late pay, or brief talk of administration – Parkinson sat his troops down, explained the situation and got on with his preparation. There was never a time when Wanderers’ players jogged out of the tunnel weighed down by concern, as they had the previous campaign.

He also relied heavily on a backroom staff he had brought over from Bradford, which knitted well with the existing dyed-in-the-wool Wanderers already in situ at Lostock.

Bolton’s town motto, Supera Moras, translates to ‘overcoming difficulty’ and whether it was playing Filipe Morais as an auxiliary wing-back or timing Pratley’s first team return with clinical precision at Fleetwood, the manager consistently did just that, winning 52 per cent of his games.

Wanderers finished the season having conceded just 46 goals, the calmness spreading right the way from the management team when the players needed it most during a frantic run-in.

But as he looks back on a first year in charge today, Parkinson needs some help. To compete in the Championship the Whites boss needs to be able to operate with budget being his only restriction.

The window officially opened yesterday, and this week the financial accounts have been officially flagged as overdue at Companies House.

Anderson appealed for patience in his column dated May 16, shortly before a winding-up petition against Sports Shield BWFC was due to be heard in London.

After an adjournment was granted, the case is due to be heard once again on Monday.

Though the outcome does not directly affect the club - more so Dean Holdsworth's company - it does have an overall bearing on the struggle for control of shares, which will form the basis of any business plan put forward to the league.

These are complicated times. Seeing Parkinson's name linked with a vacant post such as Leeds United should come as no surprise given his achievements at the Macron. The story has been played down on both sides of the Pennines but goes to show the manager's stock is high.

He too has a point to prove in the Championship. Previous spells at Charlton Athletic and Hull City in the second tier have not been successful and Parkinson will be just as keen as his players to show he can handle the step up in class.

Wanderers fans will hope he gets the right tools for the job.

Source

Natasha Whittam

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse
karlypants wrote:Wanderers fans will hope he gets the right tools for the job.


He's already got plenty of tools in this squad.

wanderlust

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse
He did really well shaping a bunch of former premiership players into a side that finished second in league one just 14 points behind the winners.

But tbf not being able to buy a load of players with no money due to an embargo has worked against him.

Hopefully the embargo will be lifted so he can buy as many players as he wants with no money.

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