WANDERERS WERE WRITTEN OFF
I had this article planned from last week anyway, however, the 3-1 home defeat against local rivals Preston has made it seem even more important. There is significant importance on remembering Wanderers' expectations at the beginning of the season.
Across the board; media, bookmakers, commentators - Wanderers were favourite for relegation and strong favourites to be 24th. We now sit approaching mid-March in 5 points above the danger zone and 7 clear of rock-bottom. We could probably get 10 more points, 3 wins and a draw, and avoid relegation. That is simply astonishing. An inability to invest in the squad, despite promises made to Phil Parkinson, and a perceived functional yet archaic, ineffective tactical gameplan.
Wanderers started the season with a 3-2 defeat at Leeds. Albeit, following their battering at home to an out-of-form Wolves last night, it looks like a bad result made even worse by our home form since. However, at the time, that was a Lilywhites side managed by Thomas Christiansen that led the way at the end of August. We were a newly-promoted side coming up against one of the biggest clubs in the division; yet, unbelievably, our supporters' had a sense of entitlement. A few hundred heading downstairs as Leeds extended their lead to an apparently unassailable 2 goals just before the half-hour mark. We were outfought and outplayed whilst looking extremely nervous but to have had a 46-game season resulting in promotion to be forgotten about within half-an-hour of the new season due to a not out of the ordinary circumstance is emblematic of what social media is right now.
We have a below-Championship standard squad that would probably still get out of League 1, if we retained the services of the current manager. Yet, due to being a Premier League club 6 years ago, our fans' insist that this isn't good enough. Comments made on Twitter this week such as "Parkinson's tactical naivety being the reason we are where we are" suggesting that where we are is a bad thing. We are top of our mini-league. A table of Barnsley, Sunderland, Burton, Birmingham and Hull emerged around the Christmas period and now, after a horrific start, the Whites lead it and have dragged more clubs into it such as Reading and Sheffield Wednesday,. That is seriously impressive.
Now, I do understand some of the reasons for moaning. Parkinson's style of play is basic to say the very least but his organisation of a defence and efficiency in collecting points since mid-October has been of a similar ilk of 2016-2017. The style has its limitations and relies on acute marginal gains such as the time goals and the narrowness of our fullbacks.
However, this is a squad that should not stay up. It has reasonable talent but it is as journeyman and injury-prone as you'd like. The manager is making a huge difference in finding effectiveness at key times. Wanderers should and probably will comfortably survive; possibly even mid-April it could be confirmed, once again, that is simply astonishing. Admittedly, it isn't good to watch at times but when it works, it is very effective.
Wanderers are on the cusp of a miracle. Remember that.