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Ian Evatt on learning from 'mistakes' and being a better manager

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse

Ian Evatt on learning from 'mistakes' and being a better manager 12802228

Ian Evatt says he is a better manager than he was 12 months ago – and doubly determined to avoid the mistakes which left his Wanderers side playing catch-up.

The Bolton boss has set high standards for his squad since returning at the end of June and will allow no let-up this weekend as they go to FC United of Manchester for their third pre-season friendly.

Much has changed at the UniBol since Evatt first walked into the building from Barrow but he looks back on elements of his pre-season preparations in the summer of 2020 and admits he must do better if the Whites are to avoid the early-season issues they experienced back then.

“The one thing I will say is that I am a very young manager and I feel like I have achieved a lot in a short space of time,” he told The Bolton News. “But I am far from the finished article. I am learning all the time.

“I am a much-improved manager now than I was this time last year. It is about not making those same mistakes twice and making sure I am improving myself as well as improving the club and the team.”

Evatt makes no apologies for setting his targets high, just as he did a year ago.

He drew criticism in some quarters for inflating expectation among supporters, which was not met until after the January transfer window when some inconsistent recruitment was rectified and third spot seized on the final day.

Looking back on his bold statements of intent last summer, Evatt explained: “Some of that was psychological. Some of the stuff I say to you guys and in public is for psychological reasons because I want the players to believe they are the best team. If they don’t they are not going to be the best team.

“We might not be – but you have to believe you can be.

“It is the same with the fan base and support, I can’t come out as Bolton Wanderers manager and say ‘I’d be happy with top 10, I still think we have got a lot of work to do’. This is Bolton Wanderers. We have expectations, embrace them.

“This season I do expect us to be challenging at the top end of the table, but that’s me. I can’t stand mediocrity. I would hate it if we finished mid table, it would eat me alive. And I am not saying it isn’t going to happen, I am just going to do everything in my power to make sure it doesn’t.”

Fans got a close-up view of Evatt’s team talk at Atherton Colls on Tuesday night, where he told his players straight that a goalless first half had not been good enough.

“It wasn’t ideal but I guess it is the nature of the beast,” he said of the video clips, which have since done the round on social media.

“I tried to refrain from using as many expletives as I could but my role as manager is to set and drive standards. And I found – because I was one for 21 years – that if you give players an inch, they’ll take a mile.

“They have to understand what is required from them day-to-day, whatever they are doing, they are representing the football club. It isn’t the name on the back of the shirt, it is the badge on the front. That is important to me.

“They have to give the best of themselves whatever we are doing, in training or on a matchday. And in that first half we weren’t quite doing what I wanted us to do. We were a bit safe, I thought we kept the ball well and limited them to very little but we weren’t penetrative enough and we didn’t take enough risks. It was playing around the outside, rather than through the middle.

“Once you have brought those defensive screening midfielders out of position it is important we go into those pockets at number 10 or nine, but we didn’t.

“It was more about trying to drive standards and improving than anything else.”


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