While Ben Brereton (who has had a torrid time since joing Blackburn) and Adam Armstrong (remember him?) were condemning Bolton to another defeat yesterday, minds may have turned to what we have to do next season to try and turn things around.
A lot of more pressing concerns are still needed. Laurence Bassini hasn’t paid the outstanding wages yet, although it should be rectified this week if all is well. There is still another court date on 8th May to come as well, those bills need to be sorted. If that is all sorted out maybe we can look at sorting the football side of things out…
Time for a change. Phil Parkinson has done well. The first season saw us promoted under an embargo, the second season saw us stay up when we didn’t have a divine right to do so. This third season has been dire though, and while if things were more stable on the pitch, results on it may have been better, the amount of apathy should he stay may be counter-productive. He does have a good League One record, but it sounds like a similar argument to when Owen Coyle kept his job when we dropped into the Championship. Two months into the season, he was gone.
There will be a lot of change. The two senior keepers are tied down for another year, part-third-keeper-part-coach Ben Williams could be kept around I suppose although he is out of contract. It’s either him or retaining Jake Turner while loaning him out for experience when possible. Ben Amos will be leaving us for good.
The defence will be much changed. Pawel Olkowski is the only senior player not out of contract, and much as it would be good to keep him around, frankly it’s hard to envisage him playing in the third tier, two seasons after playing in the Bundesliga. David Wheater would probably want to stay, while Mark Beevers was linked with a move to Major League Soccer a few weeks ago. Wheater and Harry Brockbank aside, it’s therefore time for a whole new defence.
In midfield, Erhun Oztumer, Sammy Ameobi, Jason Lowe and Luke Murphy have a year left. Oztumer could flourish under a new boss, while Ameobi, for all his frustrations, should be perfectly good in League One, like he was a few years ago. Lowe and Murphy would probably still be here whatever you think of them, while new ownership might persuade Luca Connell to sign a senior contract. As for those out of contract, would you keep Josh Vela? Apart from him, and maybe Joe Pritchard, it’s difficult to justify keeping anyone else. Gary O’Neil won’t be here.
As for the strikers, Josh Magennis, who has a year left, has reached double figures in this league, while Connor Hall, who was on loan at Accrington in League One earlier this season, could be involved for our first-team a bit more. I’m sure nobody wants a new deal for Clayton Donaldson.
What do we need, then?
A proper goalscorer, with a couple of recruits out wide, and an entirely new defence. And arguably that’s the absolute minimum. As for names, I’d be a useless judge.
Potential team next season?
Matthews; Brockbank, Wheater, new signing, new signing; Connell, Vela; new signing, Oztumer, Ameobi; new signing – with subs being Alnwick, two new defenders, Lowe, new wide man, Hall and Magennis.