You may have feelings of deja vu after Wanderers' opening day defeat to Leeds United. After all, recent history warns us to be cautious of the second tier. However, there is no need to fear. There are reasons to be cheerful, and I believe these will be the main factors behind Bolton Wanderers' survival this season.
1) Team Spirit
Leeds United scored three goals with their first three efforts on target. That in itself is a worry. However, our reaction in the second half shows why Parky can succeed where Neil Lennon failed. Though defensively vulnerable, the side found it in them to reinvigorate themselves, and very nearly came away with a point.
We didn't, and I understand the frustrations of fans that were there or watching on television. There are areas for improvement, we all know that. However, I saw enough in the second half to believe that this side, led by this manager, have got enough in their lockers to see Bolton to safety.
2) New Players
We are stronger than the side which beat Peterborough on April 30th, and stronger than the side which limped out of The Championship in the calamitous 2015/16 season. That cannot be denied. Wanderers have dabbled well in the transfer market, and these improvements will show as the season progresses.
Josh Cullen will settle into the side given time, and Stephen Darby will prove to be a solid acquisition despite his error for Leeds' third goal. Will Buckley proved a refreshing introduction in the second half, though to be used effectively he must be utilised on the wing.
Reece Burke looked impressive once he came on, and added some much needed pace to the back line in the second half. Adam Armstrong looked dangerous off the bench, and will be a goal threat in games to come.
This side is stronger than the one which won promotion to The Championship. It will do itself proud over 46 games. I know it.
Under Neil Lennon, Wanderers would have lost that game by a comfortable margin. Just when Gary Madine's header got us back into the contest, we conceded a third goal. It was to prove a crucial setback despite our second half efforts. In seasons passed, it'd have been a 4-1 walk over. Not now, not under this manager. Wanderers pulled their socks up, and made Leeds graft for their win. This team won't be brushed aside; any points won at The Macron Stadium will be earned rather than given.
Parky won't let this side's collective chin drop. He's built a side which the town is proud of; he's constructed a team that performs in line with the expectations of its fans. He's everything Neil Lennon wasn't.
The performance in the second half was encouraging, despite our inability to pinch an equaliser in the latter stages of the game. The back line played the ball to Madine much more intelligently in the second half, and the creative spark of Josh Vela began to show. Adam Le Fondre came into the game, and offered a second outlet ball from defence. If we could just have offered more in the middle of park earlier, we might have come away with a draw. Parky did go to four at the back in the latter stages, but he could have done so sooner. It'll be a lesson learned for the gaffer in games to come.
That game was the first in Parky's tenure in which we'd conceded three league goals. I don't expect it to happen all that often this season under Phil Parkinson. He's earned our trust, and I don't expect him to abuse it.
There you have it; reasons to be cheerful; part one, two, three (credit - Ian Drury and The Blockheads).