How a room full of Bolton Wanderers die-hards helped restore Phil Parkinson's faith in the club
AFTER a testing week, Phil Parkinson’s faith was restored by a hardy bunch of Wanderers supporters who just wanted to know who’d be playing right-back against Walsall.
As warring owners Ken Anderson and Dean Holdsworth slugged it out with statements over the last few days, it was easy to forget there was a match going on at the Macron Stadium this afternoon.
Try as he may, Parkinson could not stop the uncertainty from creeping into the training ground at Lostock and was forced to seek the help of senior players like David Wheater and Jay Spearing to keep his squad informed.
These are worrying times for supporters, which could have made the manager’s appearance at Thursday night’s BWSA social an unfortunate piece of timing.
But instead of upping the stress levels and answering awkward questions about his superiors, Parkinson was delighted to get back to talking about what he knows best.
“All people wanted to talk about was football – what team we’d go with, how the players were, there was a genuine excitement about the position we’re in,” he told The Bolton News.
“I can’t hide what has been going on away from the lads, it’s out there in the media, it’s impossible.
“Everything that has been thrown out there in the newspaper but it needs to end now.
“We need to start concentrating on what is happening on the pitch, so when me and Steve went there the other night it was really refreshing because you could feel the passion for the club. That is great and we need to embrace it.
“This is a really tough job and I knew that when I came here. All this going on at the moment intensifies it again but we will keep working hard to make a success of it.”
There has been no shortage of hurdles placed in Wanderers’ way this season, from long-term injuries to players like Darren Pratley, Mark Davies and, now, Lawrie Wilson, to a transfer embargo which has severely limited the manager’s recruitment.
The feud between Anderson and Holdsworth has been bubbling under the surface for some time, yet only in the last seven days has the extent of the bitterness between the two men hit the public domain.
Though the team is going through a bad patch and is yet to win a game in 2017, there has been little reason for gloominess on the pitch. And Wanderers remain handily placed for an automatic promotion spot going into a pivotal run of games against some of their immediate rivals.
Parkinson believes his players can prosper in adversity. After getting a history lesson from some of the supporters who have seen their club at a really low ebb, the current situation faced by the manager and his staff can be put into context.
“I am getting to know some of the Bolton fans now, the die-hards, and they absolutely love their club. They have been through thick and thin. This is a troubled time but my job since the first day I walked in here is to put a smile back on people’s faces.
“I use the expression a lot but I need to get the pride back in the shirt. If we can keep giving people a reason to cheer us on the pitch, maybe their attention will be on that, rather than what they are reading in the newspapers.
“We are working together and trying to pull that siege mentality together.
“There are a lot of lads who are trying to rebuild their careers after last year. Some have got contracts that are up in the summer and they need to be in the best possible position, whether that is here or an attractive proposition for somewhere else.
“Everyone can benefit from us keep producing performances, keep training well. We have to pull together for ourselves and for the supporters who are spending hard-earned money to watch us.” [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]