Bolton striker Josh Magennis was the hero for Northern Ireland last night.
The forward scored an 87th minute winner in a Euro 2020 qualifier against Belarus.
The 2-1 win leaves Northern Ireland top of their group that also features 2014 World Cup winners Germany.
Back on planet Bolton
Magennis is Wanderers’ top scorer so far this season. He’s netted a not-so-magnificent seven goals in all competitions.
But does Magennis’s Northern Ireland heroics highlight the issues at Bolton?
His meagre goal return for the Wanderers hasn’t been helped by the role he’s played under Phil Parkinson this season.
All year long, Magennis has been used solely as a target man and spends most of his games battling for headers from goal kicks. The trouble is, if he does win a header, there’s rarely anyone around him to keep possession of the ball.
As a result, Magennis, and by extension Bolton, get very little chance of an attacking move developing. This means Magennis never gets a chance to show off his impressive finishing as he never gets the ball in the box.
It’s hardly surprising to see that Bolton have the worst attacking stats in the league.
The nature of the problem
What his late winner for Northern Ireland reveals, is that he’s far more skilled than he’s being allowed to show.
In a post-match interview with the BBC, Magennis explained how Northern Ireland’s success came from their manager’s insistence on the team playing football, rather than the hoofball we’ve been treated to at Bolton this season.
The fact that Magennis hasn’t scored for Bolton since January, but has scored a goal for Northern Ireland, shows that his club side are going about their attacking build-up in completely the wrong way.
Granted, you can’t expect Bolton’s players to emulate the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva at Man City, but less of the hopeless long balls we’ve seen this year surely can’t hurt.
The trouble is, Phil Parkinson seems incapable of changing his side’s playing style and that seems to have doomed Wanderers to relegation this season.