Following his appointment in June, Pre-Season gave Phil Parkinson his first taste of life at Bolton Wanderers and allowed him to experiment with what squad he had been left with by Neil Lennon.
Parkinson clearly wanted to put his own stamp on the team right from the off and was quick to act in the transfer market, immediately bringing in Jamie Proctor on a free from former employers Bradford City.
Bolton had all six pre-seasons fixtures scheduled in July giving Parky the chance to impress at various levels before the season started. Parky’s first official game in charge came against Danish side FC Helsingør at the end of Wanderers’ week-long training camp out there which saw Phil’s side come out on top, winning 2-1 thanks to a late Jamie Proctor header on his debut.
Parky’s first game in charge of Bolton on English soil ended in narrow loss despite Zach Clough managing to grab his first goal under the new gaffer early in the second half. However, three days later, Parkinson, eager to get his first domestic win, took Wanderers to Prenton Park to face a determined Tranmere Rovers side where Phil managed to record his second win from three games, once again, courtesy of a late goal from our new number 10, Zach Clough.
Just a few days later, galvanised by the recent win at Tranmere, Wanderers travelled to York City where once again, Bolton took the spoils, the goals this time coming from Mark Davies and Jamie Proctor.
A solid start to pre-season immediately gave Bolton fans hope of a strong domestic season, the final two games of pre-season, however, offered two real tests against local rivals Preston North End and Sean Dyche’s newly promoted Burnley at the Macron.
With his work cut out, Parky gave the fans a taste of what was to come as he fielded two very strong teams for both of these games. Burnley were the first visitors to the Macron, an extremely close game in which the two sides fought tooth and nail for the bragging rights, but on the night, Premier League Burnley proved too much for Parkinson’s men with the game finishing 2-1 to the Clarets.
Constantly on the lookout for signings to call his own, Parky used this game as a scouting mission which saw him snap up striker Chris Long in January, who featured in that game back in July.
The final pre-season game was against Preston on the club’s annual Family Fun Day. Once again, Parky fielded what looked like his strongest team, a side which matched Preston for the whole 90 minutes which anticlimactically saw the game end 0-0.
A relatively positive pre-season in terms of results then it can be said. Parkinson’s initiative to bring Jamie Proctor over with him from Bradford as the first of his numerous summer signings, initially looked to be paying off, bagging two goals in three pre-season appearances.
July not only gave Bolton fans faith in Parky, but were also encouraged by team performances and were excited to see how we would fair against sides of a lower standard than those we were used to. All of which meant excitement and expectancy was at an all time high looking ahead to the first game of the season against Sheffield United.