Might as well chuck in a Chris Markham (Technical Performance Director) here as well -
Speaking to The Bolton News, Markham – whose pedigree includes spells at Huddersfield Town and with the Football Association – explained how his new, young team of analysts are hoping to give Ian Evatt and Co the best possible chance of success.
“At first the situation was such that staff were having to cover a myriad of jobs that weren’t really their own. We were missing the specialism,” he said.
“The club, back when they were in the Premier League, had a history of excellence in the backroom. I had high expectations when I came in – although that’s a bit tongue in cheek because I know what the club had gone through. But ultimately there was nearly nothing here.
“When I first sat down with Ian and Sharon Brittan, we decided that the priority would be recruitment, then performance. We had to get Ian as many strings to his bow as quickly as we could.
“On recruitment, we had a blank canvass. There was no database, no reports, no scouts, no staffing. So, we had to get that going right away.
“At the time that was players in League Two with an eye on League One but it evolved quite quickly and we then started looking at players who could not only play in League One but also push us towards the Championship.”
January saw an influx of new blood who would be key to the rapid rise through February and subsequent promotion from League Two, such as Dapo Afolayan, MJ Williams, Declan John and Kieran Lee. But one of the untold stories of last season’s success was how hard support staff had to work to keep the football department ticking over.
“It is quite well documented that Ian only had Pete Atherton (assistant manager)
on the training ground,” Markham said. “That has been addressed now, and Ian brought in Sam Hird
. We’re delighted with him and I think he’ll continue to add a lot to the coaching environment.
“Everyone was being stretched to the absolute limit last season. Lewis Duckmanton
did an excellent job being a support for Ian, providing information. He was effectively doing everybody’s role because we were so short-staffed.
“It was difficult for him to spend as much time on opposition and then analyse our own performances, then before I came along there was a little bit of recruitment work to do as well. He was so thinly spread it was difficult to provide what he wanted to provide.
“By adding another member to that team, he is now able to focus solely on opposition and pre-match. We now have Judah Davies
, who has huge potential, and he focuses on our post-match and training data.
“We have every session filmed, we have improved facilities at Lostock, got a fixed camera on the match pitch, mobile solutions so that we can film in any conditions with a decent height so we get a good view the manager can use to analyse technically and tactically.
“As part of that we’re trying to improve the use of that bespoke data to pass on to Ian in a way that will be meaningful to him as well.”
Whereas the use of ProZone to track players on the pitch once looked such a futuristic addition to the training ground, these days the use of GPS tracking is commonplace, even further down the football pyramid.
But Wanderers are still determined to do things their own way. Strength and conditioning coach Matt Pelham
has been given an extra pair of hands in Alex Donnelly
, and the club has secured some support from Bolton University
as they seek to provide better feedback on players’ physical data to the medical and football staff.
“A lot of these lads are young but that’s exciting because we can help mould them into really good practitioners and that can benefit the club and themselves in the long run,” Markham said. “With Matt, can that data help him look for different things beyond the generic? How do we take the information from the GPS trackers and make it more specific to the game of football, or to what the manager needs to see?
“Maybe last year we only had time to do standard reports because everyone was flat out, being a one-man band. We feel like with extra support, it enables us to tailor things to help Ian and the team do the best possible job they can do.
"From the very outset we have said it - but our aim is to be in a league of one.”
Now that the rush job is over, Markham and the whole Wanderers team will have chance to draw breath and look forward.
Planning for the future has not been a luxury this club has been able to indulge during several years of living hand to mouth but with the first ‘phase’ of the rebuilding job complete, Markham hopes to start planning in other areas safe in the knowledge that there is a framework of staff to sustain the progress.
“Now the transfer window is done I will get the chance to be a bit more strategic,” he said. “And that is where the role changes for me.
"It isn’t fighting fires, working things as hard as we can for the here and now.
"We have done that, and I think the evidence points to us doing it successfully, so the next part is succession planning, trying to look at what will be coming in the next two or three windows and asking questions about where we position ourselves."What transfer strategy do we want as a club? What are our markets? What are our beliefs on player trading?
“These are important questions and discussions the club hasn’t been able to have for half a dozen years."[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]