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'Twitchy and nervy' - Ian Evatt on fans' concern after poor run

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karlypants

karlypants
Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse

'Twitchy and nervy' - Ian Evatt on fans' concern after poor run 13160951

It was a bittersweet feeling for Ian Evatt when he flipped the calendar over on Monday to reveal the month of November.

With any luck the Bolton boss opted not to hang the club’s official merchandise in his kitchen at home – for the player on display this month is former captain, Antoni Sarcevic, who has now left the building to sign for Saturday’s opponents, Stockport County.

Evatt was glad to see the back of October, a month which started well with victories against Shrewsbury Town and Liverpool’s Under-21s, then deteriorated fast.

Wanderers’ excellent start, which had seen them miss a chance to go third at Sheffield Wednesday, has now waned to 14th spot, four points from the relegation zone and eight behind the top six.

“There’s a sense of relief putting October behind us on the football front,” said Evatt. “But not for me, I turn 40 this month.

“It was a bad one but we are fortunate we had a very good start which gave us a bit of leeway. And we know we are better than we showed in October, so we need to get back to showing people what a good team we are.”

With a dip in form comes the inevitable criticism. Evatt and his players could hardly complain about the vitriolic response to a 4-0 home defeat to Wigan Athletic, nor the 3-0 rain-lashed beating at Plymouth Argyle which felt such a pivotal moment in the campaign.

Saturday’s meek performance at Portsmouth was – in Evatt’s view – a product of a month where everything that could go wrong, did so. But he remains confident the club’s struggles are only temporary.

“We’re in a bad moment right now, not quite ourselves,” he said.

“We lacked a bit of confidence and belief with our football on Saturday and that is understandable, I suppose. We started the game OK and controlled the first half but we have to score, and when you don’t you become more nervous and panicky when you are on this type of run. When we conceded the goal it made things even worse.

“We need to keep our focus and concentration because things turn quickly in football as you have seen because we had a fantastic start – and it is a good job we did, by the way – then a really poor October with a perfect storm of injuries, suspensions, difficult fixtures and long journeys. It all came at once.

“We are calm and composed. We know we have got some good fixtures coming up and people returning from injury. And we know we are capable.

“It is easy for me to sit here and be calm because I have a firm belief about myself and everyone in that changing room.

“Supporters get twitchy and nervy and they have every right to do that because they are not with us day to day. But what I will say is stick with us, because it will change and chance quickly.”

Twelve months ago, Wanderers were smarting from a 4-0 defeat against Leyton Orient in League Two which dropped them to 19th in the table.

The late run to promotion, and fanfare that followed, raised expectation that the Whites would again be competing at the top end of the table – but Evatt hopes judgements will be reserved for the time being.

“When the fixtures came out, me and Chris Markham were discussing the list and said it was a tough run of games and if we were anywhere close to where we want to be we’ll have a decent opportunity,” he said.

“Do I think we should be closer? Yes, of course.

“A lot of teams come the end of the season will say that and seasons are 46 games long, not 16. Going back to last season we showed what can be achieved when things click and you get things right with some momentum.

“In times of adversity it sometimes brings you closer together and this team has been through that. Some of the lads who have been through it before are calm, have belief it will turn and we have two nice cup matches to go out there now and rebuild some confidence.”

Tonight's game at Spotland - currently set to go ahead despite overnight rain - will see the customary sprinkling of changes with the likes of Matt Gilks, Alex Baptiste, George Thomason, Liam Gordon and Harry Brockbank set to start.

Wanderers need to avoid defeat to guarantee their place in the knockout round.

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