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The Case for the Wizard of Oz

Is he really a wizard or just a little man behind a curtain?

Northampton Town v Walsall - Sky Bet League One Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images

It was mentioned on the LOV chat that a player’s legend can grow by him not playing, as people remember the good with rose tinted spectacles and filter out the bad. The case and point is when people call for Jonjo Shelvey to play for England as our ‘midfielder who can pick out a pass’.

One could argue the same is happening with Bolton fans for Erhun Otzumer, as he is seen as the one man who is going to drag us out of the creative mire and fire us back up the table. It’s possible that he isn’t up to it at this level, but he at least needs the chance to show that he is or isn’t, rather than having his legend grow whilst being sat on the bench for seventy minutes.

The reason Bolton need him (and perhaps Wildschut as well) is that they need players with real attacking instincts. Oz’s record shows that one of his strengths is scoring goals, and to score goals like that from midfield needs belief in yourself to take a risk to get advanced positions or take shots others would not take on. The recent Wanderers line ups, Sammy Ameobi excluded, have been so devoid of risk takers that I can’t remember the last time I saw a Wanderers midfielder break the line and run beyond the striker since Wildschut scored against Reading.

Parky’s recent plans seem to have involved just pushing central midfielder such as Williams, Vela or O’Neil closer to the central striker. In my opinion this will never work because they aren’t natural attacking players with the instincts to take a risk with the absolute conviction that the risk they are taking will result in a goal. Parky, perhaps for the first time in his reign, has the players in the middle of the park to play incisive forward passes, but its painfully clear there are a lack of players making runs to advanced positions with great conviction, resulting in players being forced to pass backwards, such as the disastrous pass back that lead to Boro’s first goal on Wednesday evening.

Such conviction is vital to score a goal, even more so when you are a midfielder than a striker. You need to be able to make runs into the oppositions penalty area without caring for a moment about what potential gap you are leaving behind you. If you care about the gap you are leaving behind, as a more defensive minded player probably would, you will hesitate for that half a second giving a defender an extra half second to track the run and snuff out the danger. You also need to have absolute belief that your shot is going to break the net, and as you could see from Josh Vela’s weak finish against Boro, he clearly doesn’t hold that sort of belief right now.

To be clear, I am not expecting Parky to throw off all shackles on Saturday and play a gung-ho approach, but I do expect that Parky plays a side with players capable of taking a risk by getting around and beyond Magennis. As Dave’s five things pointed out, we have conceded 9 goals in 5 games with the defend for our lives approach, as the defence is far too porous to sit and withstand a barrage of attacks for 90 minutes. The other way to keep an attack out is to give them something to think about at the other end, so that when the oppositions players make a run forward they may well be thinking about the gaps they are leaving behind.

The last thing is I would implore that Wanderers fans don’t lose faith in Parky just yet and turn on the team if things don’t go our way after twenty minutes. An angry and toxic crowd is the last thing that will give the players the belief to take a risk and provide the magic to score goals. Parky should not be immune from criticism and he must make a change to stop the rot, so let’s keep the faith that we see a more positive Wanderers team selection and performance on Saturday.