Karacan Speaks of Broken Relationship With Phil Parkinson

  • May 26, 2020 | By Chris Mann
  • URL Short URL: http://b-ac.es/470e6

Jem Karacan looks back at his Bolton career with a sense of regret and believes things would have turned out better had it not been for a broken relationship with Phil Parkinson.

After joining Wanderers on a free transfer from Galatasaray in March 2017, Karacan played a key role in the club's promotion to the Championship - playing five times and scoring once as the Trotters finished as runners-up to Sheffield United.

A new contract followed and Karacan was handed the captain's armband in the early part of the 2017/18 campaign, only to fall out of favour after a 1-0 defeat at Aston Villa just a matter of weeks into the season.

Speaking to the Lion of Vienna Suite podcast, Karacan admitted the uncertainty over his position within the squad was unsettling and things came to a head when he was effectively frozen out of the first-team picture.

"It was so frustrating," Karacan said.

"It wasn't like I hadn't really played and not involved in the squad. I'd been involved in every game and been given the armband, to then not even be travelling to be on the bench.

"There were a couple of games that passed where I wasn't involved. A lot of the away games, I knew I wasn't going to be involved.

"You travel on the Friday so don't have a good session, don't play Saturday so you might have a little run and then you have Sunday off.

"You're effectively missing three days of training when you're not going to be involved so I spoke to him (Parkinson) and said 'if I'm not going to be involved, I think it's best I stay here and get some good sessions under my belt so I'm ready for you for the next game'.

"We both agreed and then we had a chat a few weeks later and he said I didn't want to be a part of the team because of that issue, where I'd said I'd rather keep myself fit than miss three days of training. I'd rather keep myself going than go to watch a game and not get anything out of it.

"I guess that didn't go down too well, even though from my understanding it was a mutual agreement that would be best for both of us.

"Time was ticking by and there wasn't a relationship there. Even in the January when you're expecting a game in the FA Cup and he put a couple of young lads on the bench.

"It's a tough situation to be in when you don't see yourself having any future at a place you want to be at, which was so frustrating."

After three months out of the first-team picture, Karacan was made to train with the under-23 squad at the club's Lostock training base - saying he was made to feel like a child.

"I remember Christmas time, there were situations where I wasn't being treated correctly," he added. "I was going away and training with the kids in the dome.

"I was one of those who would always give 110% in training. I'm there to help the group and at the end of the day I want to be in the team. I'm not going to pick up my money and not give everything I've got.

"You're trying as hard as you can to give everything you've got to the group but to be told you're training with the kids on the 3G when the team are out on the pitch, you don't expect to be treated like that.

"It was so confusing when he gave me the armband at the start of the season to have then been in that situation in the space of two months. I was just thinking, 'what have I done?'.

"The decision to stay back was purely on the basis that I'd been told I would not be on the bench, so why would I spend three days not kicking a ball when I could stay and train.

"It was so frustrating and I think the most frustrating was when I was effectively a substitute in training. I would have to go off and do some running and come back and join in for 10 minutes. I felt like a 10-year-old."

Despite his growing frustration, Karacan insists he never once looked to leave Bolton - instead putting all his focus on proving Parkinson wrong and earning back his place in the squad.

After appearing to win the battle and featuring in several games throughout February and March of that season, he was soon back in the wilderness and admits that was when he realised his Wanderers career was at an end.

"I'd moved so much" he said. "I'd been to Turkey and back and was really settled in Manchester.

"I didn't want to move again and I thought 'I should be in this team'. I'm going to work hard, prove him wrong and get back in the side. That was always my mentality.

"There wasn't even a discussion in January between us or the club and my agent to move on. Nothing really got spoken about and I wasn't in the frame of mind to move because I wanted to help the team stay up.

"The first I heard about potentially moving was when I read it in the newspaper, which you never want to see.

"The relationship was just very strange. It wasn't fun and then before you knew it I'd been thrown back into it again, so my head was everywhere.

"It was killing me. I was so happy to get back and be a part of the picture because you start questioning yourself.

"I wasn't even in the squads for about four months and didn't even feel part of the group anymore.

"So for him to then say 'you're in, you're starting', without even an explanation with how I'd been treated. It purely comes down to how you are as a person, a professional and how you're going to put yourself out there.

"I was always going to give my all and had a good game. We had Norwich the next game - I'd played the Tuesday and Saturday so was already off my feet - but I felt back in.

"Then we had Preston on Sky. It was a horrible game. It was tough, we didn't start off well and that was it again. I was gone!

"After a bad performance I was back in the stands.

"You're not going to keep anyone. I was obviously with the boys and the club, but he had lost me at that point."

Karacan left Bolton following their relegation to League One in 2018, departing the club with a return of two goals in just 23 outings.

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