Life got in the way of doing this particular article but here we are so let’s get stuck in.
- Phil Parkinson. Now I think it’s fair to say that I’ve been a stalwart supporter of our manager this season. Parky has seemingly taken turd polishing to new mastery levels with the squad provided. Okay, maybe an exaggeration, but the simple fact is that we are still in there fighting relegation rather than looking on from a distant bottom place a la Lennon’s 15/16 season. Nevertheless, I have to say I was absolutely bloody fuming when I saw the starting XI for Fridays game. Had Parky given up or just taken leave of his senses since Madine’s sale? The fact that it was confirmed Wilbs would’ve been a certain starter, if not injured, did not help matters. Ninety odd minutes later and I, along with the majority of Bolton fans it has to be said, was happily tucking in to a large serving of humble pie. Yes Brizzle City didn’t turn up, yes we didn’t look really threatening until Clough came on and as per normal we had a measly ball possession percentage rate. But we didn’t concede, we didn’t really look like we missed Madine, the players obviously wanted to perform for Parky, nobody was hiding and some of the football was a joy to watch. That win was mostly down to our manager. Well done Parky.
- Zach Clough & Sammy Ameobi. A couple of post match stats stood out for me. One showed that our passing in the final third, for once, was more accurate than the opposing team. The second showed Bolton’s vastly superior dribbling stat (stop sniggering at the back!) with an 85.7% success rate. Ameobi took the plaudits as MOTM but from what I saw, it was Clough’s arrival that sparked the team. I’d forgotten just how exciting it was to watch Clough play, when he’s not injured of course. Should’ve scored with his chance but it’s half a game in and Zach is ring rusty. Sammy was a pleasant surprise as a striker. Just how good was the breakaway leading up to the goal. Just how good was the goal! And of course he was a gnats tadge away from scoring an even better one. It’s only one game of course but we’ve seen an option work that wasn’t really thought viable before the match. We saw edge of your seat stuff that has been missing for so long. There will be much tougher tests but these two get fans wanting more. And that can only be a good thing.
- A solid central defence aka David Wheater. Ameobi was the runaway MOTM but for me it should’ve been Wheats. He put in an absolutely outstanding defensive performance and was the main reason we didn’t concede. He saved Dervite especially and Beevers on occasion (sorry but I didn’t think they were all that being caught out of position, losing markers and hoofing when a simple pass was the better option). I’d like to see Burke in this line-up and hopefully now Reece is back, he’ll get his chance.
- Wing backs. I’m not a fan of 352, particularly as Bolton’s small squad includes no less than 10 full backs and wingers. Ten into two seems like a waste of players to me. Furthermore, I didn’t think our squad was very good at fulfilling this specialist role and that shocking start to the season seemed to prove the point. However, both Little and especially Robinson were outstanding on Friday. Morais also put in a good 20 minute shift later on. Robinson really is going to be some player and it’s a relief that we quickly got him back for the second half of the season.
- Gary Madine. Yes he obviously didn’t play but the prematch talk was almost all about him. Always going to be a marmite player when it comes fans affections. However, I think few can deny that someone who was written off in preseason as unable to perform at the Championship level, has since proven his doubters wrong. I thought it a bit unfair that Madines transfer request was used as an excuse for some to batter him with abuse. Whilst I’ve said myself that Madine owed Parky a full season to repay the backing he got to revive his career, I’ve no real complaints re him wanting a move. And Bolton needed the money. Let’s not forget that. The lad is in his prime, on a reported £6k per week with Bolton and was being offered a reported £15k per week with Cardiff, a club chasing promotion I might add. If Bolton can’t offer competitive salaries then players have almost no choice but to move on. As Anderson said, it’s a short career. Not only that, Madine will almost certainly have had to forgo his bonuses due this season and unconfirmed reports on social media alleged that was around £500k. So if BGM can afford to lose that (assuming it’s true of course) then the difference between what Bolton could offer in a contract extension and what Cardiff could offer must have been huge. Good luck to him in his time at Cardiff and let’s just say that Bolton are in with a fighting chance of avoiding relegation thanks to Madine’s efforts. Whether Bolton can survive without him remains to be seen. But the Bristol game was a bloody good start. Let’s hope it continues. COYWM.