Mark Hudson was only sworn-in as the new Under-23s coach at the John Smith’s Stadium on Tuesday having hung-up his boots in the summer.
The former centre-back had been working as a pundit on Sky Sports when he caught the attention of Wanderers defender Mark Little, watching at home as part of a side which had taken just two points from its opening 11 games.
“I remember maybe two months ago sat watching telly and two pundits – Keith Andrews and Mark Hudson, who I rated as players – completely wrote us off,” he told The Bolton News. “They were doing some sort of interview and said they didn’t know where Bolton were going to get their next result from, they’re rock bottom, that’s it.
“I remember thinking ‘nah, that’s not right’. Lots of people wrote us off like that but as you can see now after a few dogged performances a bit of focus, determination and desire, it can work wonders.
“Now we have got three or four months now to do that again and then happy days.”
Wanderers take on Premier League Huddersfield tomorrow having won three of their last four games in the league – their best run of form this season.
After defeat against Burton, Little says the need to improve was stressed upon the dressing room in no uncertain terms by Phil Parkinson and his staff.
“Christmas is always an important period,” he said. “Every single season your manager says ‘this is massive, we need points’ but sometimes it goes in one ear and out the other.
“This time we took it on board and we’ve got vital points, dragging a few more teams into the bottom half of the table. It’s exactly what we wanted.
“The literally gaffer demanded some points two or three weeks ago but when you saw the run-up – Cardiff, Middlesbrough, Sheffield United and then Hull City you thought ‘that’s going to be tough’.
“But we dug in, everyone played their part, and even the lads who have not been playing that much did tremendously. It is really tough to do that.
“We have got that never say die attitude and it’s the kind of thing that wins you leagues, let along stay in them. We can bounce back from bad results, like the one on Boxing Day, and then go and grab more points.
“And having got out of the bottom three we need to stay out of it now. If we can kick on now – get points off teams at the top of the league and the bottom – then we can climb the table.”
Wanderers will rest some of their first team players in the cup tomorrow, even if upsets some of the traditionalists.
Little appreciates the sensitivity involved in making major changes in such a revered competition and is just glad he is not tasked with making the decision.
“No comment – whatever I say I’ll offend someone,” he smiled, when asked if the cup should take a back seat to Championship football.
“It’s important for the club for us to do well in the cup. It’s also important to stay in the league. It’s completely up to the gaffer what he expects from us.
“He changed things up over the weekend, recognised the lads needed to freshen up a bit and it worked well. He’ll make that decision again but we’ve got a full squad and everyone wants to play games. It’s not my job, thankfully!”
The January transfer window is now in full swing and the likes of Josh Vela and Gary Madine have already been linked with moves elsewhere. Little is confident Wanderers will cope with anything thrown their way over the next few weeks - even if he refuses to predict which way it is likely to go.
“You have got younger lads here who are playing well – Gaz is on fire at the moment, so obviously there will be clubs sniffing around,” he said.
“Bolton are in a different situation and won’t have millions and millions to spend. You just don’t know what will happen – we could come in tomorrow and have three new players, or we might have lost three. We have players who can comes in and play the system.
“For me, personally, I have got a game Saturday and a game the Saturday after that. I don’t think about anything else”