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Phil Parkinson: A Look Beyond Tactics

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Parky has received some criticism for his tactical approach this season, but was that ever going to be the key to Bolton’s success?

Bolton Wanderers v Crystal Palace - The Emirates FA Cup Third Round
Two Bolton managerial greats
Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images

Firstly I think on the tactical front Parkinson should take a lot of praise for setting up an incredibly solid team. The clubs defensive record speaks for itself in that regard. Some may say that Phil Parkinson’s tactics this season in an attacking sense though have been a little one dimensional. His reliance on long ball tactics who ever plays up front has boarded on the ludicrous, and it is a shame considering the strikers he has had at his disposal this season, especially in the later half when Gary Madine has been injured.

But were his tactics ever going to be the key this season? I would argue not.

The most important factor in any Bolton Wanderers managerial appointment was always going to be whether he could galvanise the team after a disastrous Championship campaign. No one can argue that Parkinson did an expert job at that as Wanderers sped out of the blocks. Even as form dipped and it seemed like things may be getting away from the team Parkinson was able to once again get them firing.

Maybe Bolton could have landed a manager with more tactical flexibility in the summer. But could they have lifted the team? Who knows, as anything like this is mere speculation. If they had not managed to change the mindset of the squad what Parkinson achieved this season would not have been possible, of that I have no doubt.

So yes we can dream of what might have happened with a more flexible, attack minded man in charge. But as ever in football you have to be careful what you wish for, and the way Parkinson changed the mindset of an entire football club in a matter of months was a marvel and proved that despite his flaws he was the right man at the right time and thoroughly deserves the comparisons to the great mangers we have had down the years.