TROTTERS TO REDEM

Parky’s re­born troops out to fin­ish job

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Chris Dunlavy

THERESA May isn’t the only leader spout­ing a metro­nomic mantra this spring – just ask Bolton’s own strong and sta­ble man­ager. An­swer­ing ques­tions in the Macron media suite on the eve of his side’s do-or-die clash with Peter­bor­ough, one word es­capes Phil Parkin­son’s lips again and again. Re­con­nec­tion. When the 49-year-old ar­rived in June, the re­la­tion­ship be­tween play­ers and fans was about as cor­dial as the Korean bor­der. As fi­nances con­tracted in the post-Premier League melt­down, the per­cep­tion grew that big names on fat wage pack­ets were sim­ply go­ing through the mo­tions, un­per­turbed by em­bar­rass­ing de­feats or loom­ing rel­e­ga­tion. When the Cham­pi­onship trap­door fi­nally opened last May, most Trotters fans were ready to bid good rid­dance to bad rubbish. But the clearout never hap­pened. Fallen idols like Jay Spear­ing, David Wheater and Liam Trot­ter stayed put. Now, those men are at the ful­crum of a side that will seal an im­me­di­ate re­turn with a point at the Macron this af­ter­noon. “When I ar­rived, my first ob­jec­tive was putting build­ing blocks in place,” said Parkin­son, right, who took over a side that won just five games last sea­son and none at all on the road. “And the big­gest block was the con­nec­tion be­tween the sup­port­ers and the club. “So when I met the lads on the first day of pre-sea­son, I said I wanted to help them re­build their rep­u­ta­tions. That was our con­stant mantra. “Last year was a ter­ri­ble sea­son. Rel­e­ga­tion, em­bar­goes, all the money prob­lems off the pitch. I think too many play­ers got caught up in the demise of the club and let it af­fect their per­for­mances.

“Like ev­ery­one else, I had pre­con­cep­tions. But me and my staff very quickly re­alised that it was fun­da­men­tally a good, hon­est set of play­ers who were de­ter­mined to turn things round – both for them­selves and the club.

Im­por­tant

“Ev­ery­one un­der­stood how im­por­tant it was to re­con­nect. To send our sup­port­ers home on Satur­day with a smile.

“They’ve pulled to­gether. The pro­fes­sion­al­ism and at­ti­tude has been spot on. We’ve put a bit of pride back into the Bolton Wan­der­ers shirt and I think the sup­port­ers have iden­ti­fied with that. It will be a great re­ward for ev­ery­body if we can fin­ish the job.”

If things were bad on the pitch last year, events off it were cat­a­strophic. Hav­ing bankrolled the Trotters’ Premier League ad­ven­ture, owner Ed­die Davies was no longer will­ing to cover costs.

As ad­min­is­tra­tion beck­oned, only an 11th-hour takeover by Dean Holdsworth’s Sports Shield con­sor­tium saved the day. Davies gen­er­ously wrote off £171m in in­ter­est free loans to fa­cil­i­tate the sale, yet Wan­der­ers re­main in fi­nan­cial jeop­ardy. A board­room dis­pute saw Holdsworth sell his shares to chair­man Ken An­der­son, whose com­pany In­ner Cir­cle In­vest­ments was part of the con­sor­tium. How­ever, BluMar­ble Cap­i­tal – the com­pany who loaned Holdsworth £5m to com­plete the takeover – this week filed a wind­ing-up pe­ti­tion against the club. An­der­son con­tends that Holdsworth and Sport Shield, not Bolton Wan­der­ers, are re­spon­si­ble for re­pay­ing the debt. A High Court date is set for May 22. Meanwhile, the club is los­ing £800,000 a month and has been un­der a trans­fer em­bargo since 2015. All of which high­lights the ster­ling ef­forts of Parkin­son and his play­ers. “It’s not ideal,” he ad­mits. “It’s made a lot of head­lines. But we’ve tried as much as we can to block that out, con­cen­trate on train­ing and per­form­ing at the week­end. That’s all we con­trol.

“The chair­man has done great in terms of try­ing to sort the club out be­hind the scenes and let me just fo­cus on the team.

“As things have come out in the Press, we’ve had meet­ings with the play­ers and ex­plained the sit­u­a­tion to them. That’s re­ally im­por­tant be­cause they need to know what’s go­ing on. I’ve got a lot of ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers who un­der­stand the sit­u­a­tion and there’s no point hid­ing things from them. They de­serve to know the score. I think that’s helped them fo­cus on the foot­ball.”

Mes­sage

And that will again be the mes­sage at at noon to­day. Don’t worry about money. Don’t worry about Fleet­wood. Just com­plete the job and mend those bro­ken con­nec­tions.

“It’s about con­cen­trat­ing on the process,” says Parkin­son, who last won pro­mo­tion from this level with Colch­ester in 2006. “Not think­ing about the prize. That’s what be­ing a pro­fes­sional is all about – play­ing when there’s a lot at stake and block­ing the pres­sure out.

“That’s what we’ve done for the ma­jor­ity of the sea­son and we’ll be re­mind­ing the lads of the qual­i­ties we’ve shown.

“I be­lieve we’ve got the play­ers to fin­ish the job off.”

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