Can Phil Parkinson keep Bolton in the Championship?by Mike Holden / 02 August 2017, 13:37Tweet
Phil Parkinson navigated a successful path to automatic promotion in his first season at the Macron, despite some testing conditions under a new (fragmented) boardroom regime. The first half of the season was built around the mercurial talent of Zach Clough, then a switch to 3-5-2 followed his January sale to Nottingham Forest. Parkinson will need to be even more pragmatic this time around. The financial landscape isn’t looking too clever and Wanderers will be severely hampered by new measures imposed on teams operating under a transfer embargo.
Even in this era of performance data and hi-tech video analysis software, Parkinson will think nothing of getting in his car and doing a 300-mile round trip to scout forthcoming opposition. He is a stickler for tactical detail, primarily finding the ideal system to suit his personnel, but then working hard to negate the particular strengths of any given opposition. He has an uncanny knack of boiling games down to one area of the pitch, or a single individual battle, where the odds are in his favour.
"If we have to go into the season with the mentality that it’s us against the world, and we’re the underdogs, then so be it. The salary cap thing is difficult for me to comment on because it’s unfathomable how they came to it. I’m going to stay out of that debate for now. But it does mean we’ve got to be smart in the way we do our business. There are a lot of restrictions being put on us but we are willing to meet them head on."
Bolton are going to be a tough watch this season. They will probably be niggly, scrappy and defensive. But Parkinson is perfectly entitled to bore the world to tears because mental strength and organisation are the only departments in which they can realistically compete. Amusingly, you get the impression he is stimulated by the challenge and actually quite excited for the season ahead. It’s the air of a man who truly believes he has what it takes to keep his team up against the odds.
Prediction: survival battle