It’s a new era then, Ian Evatt was finally announced as the new manager, sorry, head coach of Bolton Wanderers yesterday.
Fans waited all day for confirmation, while finite details were signed off by the lawyers as Evatt’s move from Barrow to Bolton was completed.
Evatt has signed on with a three year deal, and as part of the move, Bolton cannot approach any Barrow players under contract for the next two years. Given we’re still under a transfer embargo anyway, this wasn’t going to be an issue this season at least.
‘We want to see a packed stadium and we want to be challenging and competing for promotion at the top of the division,’ Evatt told the official site.
‘This club doesn’t deserve to be in this division, but it is. We have to be realistic with that, we are in League Two now and obviously we are going to be a big fish in a small pond – that’s going to bring its own problems because teams will come to this fantastic stadium and raise their game.
‘We need to make sure that we raise ours as well, and like I say play that brand of exciting, attacking and expansive football that people really want to see.
‘There’s no two ways about it, we can’t beat around the bush – we need to be getting promoted, there’s no doubt about it.’
Evatt will get a virtual blank canvas to assemble his squad, there are 11 players signed on for next season, and there’s still the chance to sign up some players from last season who as of yet haven’t signed a new deal, the likes of Remi Matthews and Ali Crawford would be the two most likely or desired. But otherwise, Evatt, the first head coach in the club’s history, will be able to work with Tobias Phoenix to try and get the players he wants.
Evatt will want to sign ‘footballers’ and you only have to listen to any interview or read any feature about him to know how his commitment to an attacking, passing game is evident, with players comfortable in possession. At Barrow he often played a 3-4-1-2 or a 4-3-3, with influences from Pep Guardiola and Evatt’s former manager at Blackpool Ian Holloway. Some Wanderers managers in recent years, including Keith Hill, wanted to introduce an attacking brand of football but it never ever really executed well or come to fruition.
There are also some old-school elements there, Evatt demands his players run off at half time as well, to give the picture of relentlessness.
Unlike Hill, Evatt will get a couple of months to get the players he wants in, train them, imprint his ‘style’ on them and even have a pre-season (what that will consist of given the coronavirus situation nobody knows yet) – but most of all we’ll start on an equal footing to everyone else.
Of course, any appointment is a gamble, and we could sit here in six months, it all having gone wrong. But Evatt comes off unprecedented success at his last club, and offers a style of play that many fans will be excited about. Bring it on.