Since Phil Parkinson was appointed as Bolton Wanderers manager two summers ago he has been given exactly zero pounds to spend on new players. He’s also been under a transfer embargo for the vast majority of his time in charge of the club, and we’ve never actually officially been told that the club is no longer under an embargo.
However, in the face of those limitations, Parkinson has not only become the first manager ever to achieve promotion under a transfer embargo, he’s then only and gone and managed to keep the side in The Championship for another season.
At times it’s been far from pretty, to say the least. Losing 2-0 at Burton, throwing away a win at Barnsley, opening the campaign without a win in the first 11 games, going nine games without a win at the end of the season, and only one away win all season - yet somehow, somehow we’ve survived. And I have absolutely no idea how.
But Phil Parkinson deserves so much credit for this achievement.
I don’t mind admitting that I questioned the manager’s selection for the final game of the season - mainly picking Aaron Wilbraham up front on his own. But Parky will take so much satisfaction from seeing the striker hit the winning goal that not only keeps Bolton up but could also be worth millions from a supposed prospective buyer of the club.
At the start of the season I said that 21st place in the table would be a success. I didn’t even slightly expect it then, 11 games in I thought it was impossible, going into the final game of the season I couldn’t see it happening, and three minutes from time today I KNEW we were doomed.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve looked at the opposition’s bench this season and not only thought most of them would get into our team but they had players sitting on the sidelines who would be our best players. Yet with a raft of loanees, a load of free transfers and the vital mid-season addition of Karl Henry in particular we’ve managed to do just about enough.
Somehow Parky and his team have turned things around against all the odds time and time again. I think I’m still in shock writing this, but I’m so proud of all the lads who have achieved what I thought was impossible.
At times I’ve questioned their belief - like, when Forest made it 2-1 - but today is a time to forget all that and enjoy an amazing achievement from Phil Parkinson and his squad.
Onwards and upwards, and let’s hope for a successful, cash-rich summer to build on this. And bring on Wigan, Blackburn and Stoke.