Luca Connell will be waking up this morning with the world at his feet.
The young midfielder was the star of the show last night as Bolton Wanderers bowed out of the FA Cup away to Bristol City.
Already a player who’s name has been whispered amongst the fans for a while now, Connell’s performance exceeded even the most fervent Wanderers’ fans’ expectations. As a group admittedly prone to hyperbole, amidst this current landscape of misery and unhappiness we can be forgiven for getting excited about the latest, greatest next big thing.
Thinking of the bigger picture, could Connell’s performance have an effect on the club at a larger level?
With incumbent manager Phil Parkinson currently, somehow, incredibly, mystifyingly holding on to his job despite 5 wins in 30 games and demonstrating every week that his particular brand of safety first football is getting us precisely nowhere, it was fascinating to see two young players, both with time spent under David Lee, thrive in the first team.
Joe Pritchard and Luca Connell showed an attacking drive, a purpose, a flair and, most excitingly enough, a complete absence of fear when going forward. This should be unremarkable but given the dross that we have had to watch every week this season it came as blessed relief.
The likes of Craig Noone, Will Buckley, Sammy Ameobi and pals should have taken a look at the way that the two lads played and then consider why their own fears hold them back so regularly. Has that attacking verve been coached out of them? Are they being stifled by Parkinson’s reluctance to unleash them? Possibly.
In a time when we wonder how the manager has remained in a job for so long it is something to consider. Yes, David Lee has zero experience managing a first team and yes, it’s a massive step up from where he is now. However, given we are facing relegation more as a certainty than a possibility and given that the underperforming experienced professionals in the first team clearly need the sound of a new voice then surely the performance of Connell (and Pritchard) must give Wanderers chairman Ken Anderson food for thought.
Perhaps the answer to our problems - be they this season or next - lie within.