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Bolton Nuts » BWFC » Bolton Wanderers News » 'Things had to change' - Antoni Sarcevic on the great repair job at Wanderers

'Things had to change' - Antoni Sarcevic on the great repair job at Wanderers

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse

'Things had to change' - Antoni Sarcevic on the great repair job at Wanderers 12352214

Antoni Sarcevic has not been shy about voicing his opinion at Wanderers this season, so there is little chance of shushing him up when it comes to the prospect of promotion.

Even in moments where some footballers would have been grasping for the positives and flicking through the little book of post-match cliches, such as the late comeback at Barrow in October, the club skipper has been defiantly honest with his view that Bolton can do better.

Sarcevic has escape League Two on three occasions – once with Fleetwood and twice with Plymouth – so nobody in the Whites camp is better placed to talk about the prospect of a return to the third tier, albeit one that looked so unlikely a few weeks ago.

Just 26 days ago Bolton were 19th in the table with some fans urging Ian Evatt to focus his attention on preventing a slide towards the relegation zone, rather than entertaining thoughts of the play-offs.

Now, after an injection of quality in the January window, Sarcevic feels it really is game on.

“This league is the craziest it has been since I can remember,” he told The Bolton News. “We’re still a couple of points off automatic – and, listen, we’re not going to get carried away saying that but it’s nice to know that we’re in that pack.

“I thought a couple of months ago that Newport were nailed on to go up. They have been on a difficult run.

“We have a game in hand on Cambridge and if we win it we can go five points behind them.

“I think the level this year is not quite what it was last year, hence why everyone is still chasing the automatic spots. Last year there were three dominant teams but this time it’s up for anyone.

“It is crazy – but it is all about us. I am enjoying it and I hope all you guys are as well. We’ll keep going until the end of the season.”

'Things had to change' - Antoni Sarcevic on the great repair job at Wanderers 12352238

Sarcevic reckons the change in fortunes is entirely down to the boost in standards and confidence levels achieved by the club’s transfer business last month.

“They were lads we knew, we’d played against them, we knew what was coming in,” Sarcevic said. “MJ Williams – I played against him for years – Marcus Maddison, they are lads who have really raised the bar on the training ground and around the squad.

“It gave us a boost, a different level of quality that we didn’t have at the start.

“There had to be an improvement. We’re professional footballers and you can’t sit and sulk when you are 19th or 20th in the table. Things had to change, and they have done.

“Like the gaffer has been saying the atmosphere around the place now is a real buzz and we just have to keep this going now.

“And, yeah, it’s frustrating that it left us with a bit to do… But it’s exciting.”

Such is the competition in the squad at present that Sarcevic – whose presence in midfield has been so heavily leaned upon for the first half of the season - has his work cut out getting back into the team.

The 28-year-old Mancunian knows he has to queue up for a chance after spending a few weeks out with a groin injury.

“It’s not a case of being dropped, I’ve been out for four weeks,” he said after coming off the bench to score Bolton’s second against Scunthorpe. “I was on the grass from Tuesday and pulled the gaffer as said ‘I want to be travelling on Friday’.

“I trained with the lads and went down to Southend. He put me on and said yesterday (Monday) that I’d be on the bench. I’ve had one training session, so I need to be realistic. I don’t want to be breaking down again.

“The lads who came in have done brilliant and set a standard. I’m back in the fold now and staking my claim.

“It’s hard for the gaffer because training helps the lads who have been injured get up to fitness but at the moment it’s a case of trying to get me on the pitch as much as he can. Hopefully come Saturday I am in a better position.”

It is entirely reflective of the improving mood at Bolton that Sarcevic was able to laugh and smile about the upturn in form after a campaign where he has often looked to have the weight of the world on his shoulders.

“The first part of the season is one we can look back on, maybe learn from, but right now we’re looking forward,” he said. “And like the gaffer has said, with this squad, we know we are going to push.

"The teams around us in the table will be looking at us right now because, personally, I think we’re the team that will go all the way to the end.

“We’re professional and we know what we have to do. But I love that winning feeling, how good does it feel? And I hope the fans and everyone around the place feel the same way as we do at the minute.

“The table doesn’t lie. And you laugh – but there’s a big chunk of teams and those automatics are still in sight.

“It’s exciting and we just want to keep playing now.”

'Things had to change' - Antoni Sarcevic on the great repair job at Wanderers 12187900

Sarcevic took his tally to six for the season against Scunthorpe, tucking in behind strikers Nathan Delfouneso and Eoin Doyle in the top scorer stakes.

“I think I got 11 last year and we finished early so I’d like to get into double figures for goals and assists," he said of his personal target. "I want to do it again."

Wanderers host Barrow at the weekend hoping to avoid the nightmarish start they suffered at Holker Street.

“I hope we got 2-0 up after four minutes this time," Sarcevic said. "They have been struggling a bit of late but they are not easy games, believe me, we'll have to be right on it."


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