Bolton Wanderers should have, providing there hasn't been yet another twist in the tale in this long drawn out quest for a manager, have just announced or are just about to announce Bradford City boss Phil Parkinson as their new manager. If you're like me and had no idea who the fella was up until two weeks ago and don't actually know an awful lot about him then you're in luck! Bantams fans and fellow journalism student, Nikhil Vekaria, has kindly written some for LoVS to give us all the low down on the new man:
Who is he?
Phil Parkinson is a Reading legend, having spent 10 years there playing in the heart of their midfield. He took over Bradford City back in 2011 and has transformed the club's recent fortunes. He has also had managerial spells of varying success at Colchester United, Hull City and Charlton Athletic. Despite being a legend at Reading, he is originally from Chorley, not far from Bolton, who he will now take over.
A few doubts were raised about the future of Parkinson at Valley Parade when new German owners Edin Rahic and Stefan Rupp took over in May, although he was still expected to remain in charge in West Yorkshire, with the news of his departure coming as a shock to many. Neither the new owners or Parkinson himself had given any hint that they wanted a change in interviews given after the takeover.
What's he done at Bradford?
Parkinson took over a Bradford City side who were staring into the barrel of oblivion. Having twice suffered administration since their Premier League days, the club was flirting dangerously with dropping out of the Football League altogether when Parkinson took over. He has since turned the club's fortunes on its head, taking them up to League One through the play-offs, in the same season that they had an extraordinary cup run all the way to the League Cup final, beating Arsenal and Villa (over two legs) on the way.
The Bantams have since consolidated in League One and finished fifth this season, with the best defensive record in the division (and the whole Football League) in terms of clean sheets. They then lost out to Millwall in the play off semi finals.
Parkinson also took Bradford on a memorable cup run to the FA Cup Quarter Finals in their second season in League One, before losing out to Reading in a replay. The Bantams famously defeated Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on another extraordinary cup run.
Perhaps Parkinson's main strength is the atmosphere and mentality he has built at Bradford. The side have won countless games in which they were huge underdogs in recent years (Arsenal, Wigan, Villa, Chelsea, Sunderland) and they are a side who never know when they are beaten. Packed with experienced pros and with an exceptional use of the loan market (See Lee Evans, Reece Burke and Josh Cullen), The Bantams turned into a very hard side to beat and break down.
He has also set up a very solid defensive unit, meaning that Bradford are a side more than capable of scraping out a 1-0. You only have to go down to Valley Parade to see the relationship between him and the fans, and the players seem to be a tightknit group. Parkinson has built a squad with a never say die attitude, who are there for and play for each other.
Despite the praise and love that ‘Parky' has had at Valley Parade, it would be a lie to say that it has always been an easy ride for him in West Yorkshire. Two long runs without victory during The Bantams first season back in League One led to many people questioning his future as boss and Parkinson also has other faults which many fans have raised concerns about in the past.
A failure to replace Nahki Wells with another goal scorer raised many concerns and a lack of exciting, attacking football means that sometimes City haven't been the most attractive side to watch in recent years. The long runs without victory have also been challenging and at times, Parkinson has looked out of ideas to turn the side around.
However, Bradford's record with him in charge is hard to ignore. It shows a complete transformation of the club and Parky has legendary status at Valley Parade.
Style of play:
Parkinson has often been criticised for his style of play at Valley Parade but one major point has always stopped it becoming more of an issue: it gets results.
The style can often be slightly dull to watch and lacks attacking freedom, with Parky building his teams on defence and prioritising being hard to beat. This has often led to a cagey approach and 'hoofball', being set up around James Hanson, but also happening when he isn't in the side.
This approach has led to some criticism, as although The Bantams are hard to beat as a result, they often can be dull to watch and often use the approach of 'let's not lose the game', rather than attacking and trying to win. however, the style has been effective in recent years and there have been some changes with the use of a more flexible diamond system, although the old system is usually returned too.
Parkinson is unlikely to win any prizes for his style of play, but it makes his teams hard to beat and break down, even if it isn't particularly attractive. A focus on hard working players who can do a certain job, as opposed to flair players has also often led to this, but Bradford have become incredibly compact and well organised in recent years.
One of the major disappointments that Parkinson will be remembered for is a failure to replace Nahki Wells, the true natural goal scorer who Bradford had in their ranks in the last few years. His big wage signing of Aaron McLean simply didn't work out and it would be fair to say Parkinson often made the wrong move in the transfer market with many player's careers at Bradford simply not working out/not fitting his system.
However, he has managed to bring a core of League One players into the club to replace outgoing City heroes such as Gary Jones, Nathan Doyle and Andrew Davies. He has built a solid if unspectacular Bradford side who are hard to beat and break down, and even though his transfers can sometimes be criticised, he tends to get the best out of the players at his disposal. His use of the loan market has also been exceptional with Adam Reach, Reece Burke and Josh Cullen amongst the best players seen at Bradford in recent years.
His methods in the market have tended to be to bring in well trusted professionals, who will do a solid job for the club and that he can rely on. Those with a bit more about them but who are often inconsistent (see Billy Knott) have sometimes struggled.
Is he a good appointment for Bolton?
Overall, I think Bolton have done very well to bring in a manager who has proven himself so well in League One in recent years. In terms of stopping the drop and ensuring that they won't follow down the same road as sides such as Portsmouth and Blackpool, Parky is the perfect man. It is unlikely to be spectacular football, and at times the tactics may even get him stick. But what he will do is a build a side who work hard for each other, play for each other and he is likely to build a relationship within the club that helps to grind out results.
You certainly won't be going down again anytime soon.
You can follow Nik on Twitter at @NikhilVekaria
Well Bolton fans, now you've heard all that, what do you reckon to Parkinson's appointment?