Well that was fun, wasn’t it! Bolton Wanderers, despite coming off the back from the week from hell (thanks Richard Lewis), the supporters’ pre-match fears were confounded in the end by a great second half performance as the three points came home.
Intro waffle aside, let’s crack on.
1) No Parky No Problem
Suspending the Bolton manager has been something that a lot of fans have wanted for a good while and, in the midst of takeover talk, it was mooted by some that we may well have seen the manager in a lovely Wanderers tracksuit top for the last time.
His actions against Leeds United gave him the chance to view the game from another angle and I do wonder whether that change in perspective perhaps gave him the opportunity to see things differently.
Our usual lull after the half-time break was nowhere to be seen as Wanderers flew out of the blocks. Was this down to Parkinson noticing, as we all did, that Millwall were hopeless and that we could get to them? Who knows, but it certainly worked.
We know he’s going to be in the stands again on Tuesday and whether that’s his last game in charge or not only Parminder Basran knows, but I fully expect Wanderers to win the game and hopefully to do so with more of what we saw on Saturday.
2) Welcome Back, Pav
Whilst at the start of the season you could forgive some for losing their heads over the performances of our new Polish right back. it had been some while since we had all seen him at his absolute best.
Well, in the second half of yesterday’s game we saw that old Pav. The real Pav. He was marauding up that right flank as though his life depended on it. Having sat through another anonymous Will Buckley performance it was thrilling to see someone attack on the wing with such desire and such quality.
He scored a cracking goal and might’ve had another but for a good save from the Millwall goalkeeper. I hope he keeps up this sort of form because when he’s on his game he can be our most potent attacking weapon.
3) Jack Hobbs
It’s such a shame that the former Liverpool man is made of biscuits because he is clearly our best central defender.
Hobbs put on a dominant performance and kept the Millwall forwards quiet throughout. His capable distribution was also a welcome sight from the usual mince that David Wheater and Mark Beevers often display.
I also thought that by the sheer quality of his performance he dragged the latter up a notch in his own performances and this sort of impact is very much welcome. More of the same on Tuesday, please.
4) Finally, Our Best Midfield?
Wanderers’ midfield woes have been well documented this season. The loss of Karl Henry and Darren Pratley at the end of last season was a crushing blow to the level of quality that our midfield could bring about. The form this season of their replacements has been patchy at best but the second half yesterday showed just they are capable of when everything goes in their favour.
Granted, Millwall were the perfect opponents - someone as poor as we are and with little to no attacking ambition - but Wanderers certainly stepped it up in the second half and the three midfielders certainly contributed to that.
Callum Connolly brought a calmness to the midfield with some considered and accurate passing - no more so than when he helped set up Pavel Olkowski for the opener. Joe Williams for once channeled his furious Incredible Hulk style rage in the right manner and was aggressive but focused in the second half. Then there’s Gary O’Neil who rolled back the years and scored a brilliant individual goal and was, by common consensus the best player on the park.
I hope Parkinson isn’t tempted to rotate on Tuesday night and that the team can start that game as they finished this.
5) Big Week Ahead
As I type the takeover of the club has yet to be completed but I am extremely hopeful that this happens as soon as possible to give Wanderers a fighting chance to stay in the Championship this season.
Outgoing chairman Ken Anderson has, whilst no doubt working as hard as he can to get the club sold, has by his actions tarnished the name of the club in the minds of some supporters but, the important thing is, such actions will soon be forgotten once we have a new man at the helm and a fresh injection of that great commodity in football, blind hope.
Whether that means Phil Parkinson following Ken out of the door remains to be seen but one thing is certain that when Wanderers win everything in life feels better.
We don’t expect to win every week and we don’t expect anything like massive success but when we see graft and endeavour from our team - like we did in the second half yesterday - we can at least go some happy.
No doom and gloom here. We are on the cusp of something exciting and I, for one, cannot wait to see what it brings.