January ended with the sale of the talismanic figure known as Gary Madine. Hi departure accompanied several seemingly inadequate replacements; it deflated sections of the Wanderers' support. However, the month did not pan out negatively.
8 points from a possible 18 left the Whites level with 18th placed Reading who we face in early March at the Madjeski. Home victories against high-flying Bristol City and relegation rivals Sunderland complimented valiant displays against Fulham and Norwich City to create a respectable points tally. The Trotters' have discovered another tactical shift under Parkinson; the man who makes miracles happen.
The switch to a 3 at the back with wing-backs coincides with what happened at a similar time last season and added a much needed boost to the promotion push. This year, the loss of target man Gary Madine has meant there has been an ability to play Sammy Ameobi and/or Tyler Walker/Zach Clough running in the the channels. This switch of focus has meant Wanderers are now unpredictable going forward whilst also still having substance. The early part of the season also saw the implementation of this system but with a midfield that was too sterile and immobile and wing-backs who couldn't run. Robinson, Morais, Little and even to a certain extent, Taylor, have come in to act as real threats as well as narrowing well enough to keep enough clean sheets for the Whites to make up for lack of goals.
I truly am looking forward to the debut of Jan Kirchhoff as, let me tell you now, he is a lot better than Derik. He will compliment Henry alongside him as both are composed in play and read the game immaculately for 2nd tier standard. Alongside them, the usefulness of Karacan and Clough to add intricacy and invention despite the absence of Vela is crucial to linking the play.
Next week; win, lose or draw against Preston, I'll be taking stock and writing a reflective piece about what Wanderers can achieve in the next couple of months. The relief and elation could well match the scenes at Southend, Port Vale and Peterborough last season. This is a miracle but you know what? It's absolutely on; the Whites are staying up.