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Bruce v Parky

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Whose third tier side comes out on top?

Bruce Rioch the manager of Arsenal

I've spoken frequently and at length about the similarities I can identify between current boss Phil Parkinson and the footballing genius that was Bruce Rioch. Both came from lower league obscurity, steadied a sinking ship, and turned the fortunes of our club around.

Wanderers are in the third tier for the first time since 1993. If we put a run of form together, we could find ourselves back in the Championship just 12 months after the bitter taste of relegation. Last time we left this division, it was as league runners up. This time around, it is the best we can hope for.

I've put together a head to head between the side that defeated Preston North End at Burnden Park to win promotion in 1993, and the team that demolished Gillingham on Tuesday night, in the hope of creating a League One super team capable of beating anyone. Well, they might knick a point at Bramall Lane, but no guarantees.

A notable mention at this point to Wanderers' top scorer for that season who missed the game through injury, Andy Walker. Possibly the best finisher to play for Bolton in my lifetime, with a goal scoring record of 2 goals every 3 games.

Goalkeepers:

Branagan v Alnwick/Howard

I'm sorry, put either of them in, put BOTH of them in, and Keith Branagan gets the nod with ease. A man so good they named Ham and Mustard crisps after him, he would go on to play a huge role in that magical day at Wembley in 1995.

Rioch 1-0 Parkinson

Brown v Dervite

A natural right back against a centre half-cum-right-back for now. A few decent games for the Frenchman isn't enough to dislodge Sunbed from the side.

Rioch 2-0 Parkinson

Stubbs v Beevers

Two incredibly talented left footed centre halves, a real battle between two players who were/have been so influential in turning this club's fortunes around. However, Stubbs is a judas, whereas Beevers wears a magic hat.

Rioch 2-1 Parkinson

Seagraves v Wheater

Big Wheats. He's scored as many this season for us as Seagraves did in his 157 games for the Wanderers.

Rioch 2-2 Parkinson

Burke v Taylor

Andy Taylor, please. Listeners of the LoV Pod will know I feel about that man. He's no Lawrie, but he's a damn good full back.

Rioch 2-3 Parkinson

Lee v Morais

He's got no hair but we don't care! Morais has had two incredible games for the Wanderers this week, but until I see him get a standing ovation from the Spion Kop, I'm voting for David Lee. He's that fit, he could still do a job for us now.

Rioch 3-3 Parkinson

Kelly v Pratley

Ziko's ability to weave magic with a football at his feet beats the skipper here. Pratley might just see us over the line this year, but this team needs some Brazilian flair in midfield. It might be more Southport than São Paulo, but Tony Kelly takes the sitting midfield role.

Rioch 4-3 Parkinson

Darby v Derik

The battle of the versatile right backs/midfield utility men now. Darby even did a stint up front for the Whites. Sure, Derik has a footballing education from Europe's most successful club Real Madrid, but Julian Darby scored for us at Wembley.

Rioch 5-3 Parkinson

Patterson v Vela

Easy. Josh Vela. 10/10 every week.

Rioch 5-4 Parkinson

McAteer v Madine

An unfair comparison, perhaps. This is where the 4-4-2 vs the 3-5-2 throws up an awkward choice. McAteer was a big part of our rise to the Coca-Cola Cup final, whereas Madine is just big. McAteer played for Ireland, whereas Madine can only drink like an Irishman.

Rioch 6-4 Parkinson

McGinlay v Le Fondre

Alf is a goal getter, but Super John is an immortal. Did I ever tell you about the time he bought me a beer? He bought me a beer once, John McGinlay. It's never tasted so sweet. For his flawless finishing and generosity when it comes to getting a round in, Super John caps the team off.

Rioch 7-4 Parkinson

So there you have it. As Rioch's boys have the victory, I'll adopt a 4-4-1-1 formation, similar to the shape under Rioch in Andy Walker's absence. David Lee will have to do a shift on the left wing for me, with Darby in the less familiar right wing position.

Branagan

Brown Beevers Wheater Taylor

Darby Pratley Vela Lee

McAteer

McGinlay

How does the Team of 2017 compare to Rioch's Wanderers? Let us know in the comment section below.