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Bolton Nuts » BWFC » Bolton Wanderers News » Ian Evatt says Wanderers are primed for an assault on League One next season

Ian Evatt says Wanderers are primed for an assault on League One next season

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse

Ian Evatt wants the good times to keep on rolling at Bolton.

After sealing promotion on Saturday at Crawley the Wanderers boss now turns his attention to improving his squad for an assault on League One.

Evatt will not have the same rebuilding job he faced last year when 20 new players were introduced to his brand of football, with mixed results in the early days. But he is under no illusion that more quality will be needed if the Whites are to be just as competitive at the higher level.

“We have got something now that we didn’t have last summer and that’s a foundation and platform to build from,” he told The Bolton News.

“We started from scratch in the summer and we are not doing that any more.

“We have got a good group of players, a good spine and core who are mostly under contract. Obviously we need to improve, we won’t stand still and that is key. Sometimes when you think you have cracked it, you end up being found out.

“We are going to improve the squad, we have to because we want to compete at the top of League One next season.

“That work is already underway now. I’m going to let everyone in Bolton enjoy the promotion because we deserve it, we have all been through a lot, but we got there in the end.”

After honing his philosophy in a successful spell with Barrow, Evatt has been widely praised for the style of football he introduced at Bolton last summer.

He is confident, too, that the same style can bring success in the third tier when Wanderers will reacquaint themselves with the likes of Sheffield Wednesday, Rotherham, Charlton, Wigan and Ipswich.

“We wanted to give ourselves a sustainable chance of continuously improving and getting out of divisions and this style, this brand, this identity, you get seen from top to bottom,” he said. “Once you prove you can play this way you can have success at every level.

“Lets hope now, with a fair wind, that we can have our fans back in the stadium to really enjoy our players and the brand of football. Bolton Wanderers means the world to us all, we’re proud of it, and that is the first step towards a special journey for the future.”

Evatt arrived last June at a club which had been relegated in successive seasons, still coming to terms with the financial mismanagement of the previous owner and the pain of administration.

“It was just a shell of a club,” Evatt reflected. “We were all fur coat and no knickers.

“We had all the facilities in the world but we had no culture, no environment, no mentality, and we had to change all of that. I am so, so proud of the players that they managed to do it.

“Some Bolton fans were maybe thinking ‘this is the Bolton way’ and we always end up messing it up – but that was not in doubt. I think if they had seen the lads train during the week there would have been no fears, they have been absolutely incredible.”

After encountering problems with recruitment last summer, Wanderers restructured at the end of 2020 as Tobias Phoenix left his role as head of football operations, leaving Evatt in sole control of the department.

Business in the January window was impressive but Evatt is still at a loss for words to describe the change in fortune, as Bolton climbed from 20th with 20 games to go, to finish in the automatic promotion spots.

“I don’t think I can describe it yet,” he said. “But I know it is my biggest achievement in football.

“I played and scored in every division, got promoted with Blackpool and we had no right to do so to the Premier League – but this tops everything. “It’s no disrespect to the other clubs because I have had a fantastic career but this club was a big, big ship to turn around.

“At times it has been really difficult and challenging but I have been backed by some really good people that have Bolton’s best interests at heart – Sharon (Brittan), Michael (James), Nick (Luckcock) on the board, they have given me a platform to hopefully turn this club around and make this a journey we are all going to enjoy.”


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