Whilst we’re at it, to show you that not all of us are just about doom and gloom and given that I feel a certain someone gave him a hard time last week, it seems only fair for me to make a case for young Ronan Darcy. Ronan is an exceptional talent and an unforgettable member of the newly proclaimed 19/20 ‘Bolton Babes’.
Who could forget when the club that we know and love, found itself facing oblivion with no money, no kit, no owners and next to no senior players available, for one reason or another, yet it was the noble juniors who stepped up to the plate, making us all hugely proud, a period in the club’s history that our ever so loyal fans will never forget and cherish, purely for their efforts, determination and desire to ensure this club could continue to fulfil its fixtures and subsequently, put themselves on the map, and in some cases, in the (transfer) shop window.
Ronan in particular was a standout member of that squad and has rightly given opportunity to continue to feature in the Bolton Wanderers first team, he’s shown us he is capable of being a real asset against the most physical of teams and most tactically testing of sides, he hasn’t let his head drop once and has showed a burning desire to succeed when others haven’t.
For me, Ronan epitomises what we are about. That will never not earn him a place in our team for me for as long as he’s with us. That old ‘first name on the team sheet’ saying if you like.
Before you slate me for being pig ignorant in terms of what players are required for certain games, what tactics need to be implemented and how it’s not always possible for him to feature, I’ll boldly say I think he can.
Whilst experienced heads and physical presence continues to be important in the modern game, Ronan’s attacking mindset, pace and low centre of gravity compliments this and provides us with an eagerness to get in to good positions that only the likes of Mark Davies and Zach Clough were able to do, some more successfully so than others, yet Ronan has a knack for always being in the right place at the right time. He always makes us better going forward aesthetically and literally, there’s just something about him that I feel we can’t allow to go to waste.
Yes, the physical games are a strain on him, but it’s the only way he’ll learn, and he’s willing to where others aren’t. He’s passed Keith Hill’s strict requirements of being a first team starter and retaining your place on the pitch after half an hour test with flying colours where others have been dragged off or gradually phased out, I’ll let you decide who I’m eluding to there respectively. He naturally fits Keith’s style of play, the number ten role allows him plenty of time on the ball and gives him the freedom to roam into striker-like positions, especially with anchors in the form of Jason Lowe, Luke Murphy and/or Ethan Hamilton sat behind him.
This brings me on to my next point, you only need two of those three, regardless of what formation, regardless of the game plan, regardless of the tactics, there’s no benefit in having all three on at once without Darcy ahead of them. Even whilst the likes of workhorse Chris O’Grady and wonder-kid Dennis Politic continue to impress and there’s tough competition for offensive places, I feel we need Darcy as he slots in perfectly between them and wants to the ball more than any other player who we know we can rely on to be creative with it, something we’ve dearly missed in recent years.
With plenty of old heads around him who can and will take the brute of the hits physically and metaphorically, and a now somewhat more compact and assured defence, it only needs two sweeper-like holding midfielders in there to ensure we’re not left wide open and still allow us to play with attacking intent which features Ronan as the figurehead. Darcy can always play and I’m sure he will as long as he’s fit.
Another nice segway I’ve created for myself there, the lad’s injured. Should he walk back into the side when he’s fit? Yes. Will he? I don’t know, is the honest answer. With seemingly limited patience with players who’ve had spells on the sidelines and a keenness to find a team which produces results consistently, its yet to be seen as to whether Keith will allow him the luxury of slotting straight back in, potentially in a bid to improve our attacking presence in the pace department particularly.
In a period of uncertainty that we still find ourselves in and has lasted for what seems like forever, its impossible for any one squad number to attain any form of security where their starting place is concerned though I feel Hill & Flitcroft will give the lad the benefit of the doubt and make an exception for him, especially as our inevitable fate that is relegation draws nearer, with little to nothing to lose, chances are, he’ll be given another shot, or at the very least, he should be and I bloody hope he gets it.
Providing we don’t lose him in summer with his contract fast approaching its expiry date, he’d be one hell of a player in league two. I think he’s done more than enough to prove himself this season and he just needs to be guaranteed game time next year to retain his services, oh and however much he wants a week, just give it him, please.
Ronan, I think you’re ace. You’re the future of Bolton Wanderers. Please don’t go.