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'I didn't like him!' - Why Stevenage boss Evans changed his mind on Ian Evatt

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse

'I didn't like him!' - Why Stevenage boss Evans changed his mind on Ian Evatt 17912216

Steve Evans says he has changed his mind on Ian Evatt – especially after hearing he’d tipped him as manager of the year in League One!

How long the respectful discussion lasts after kick-off on Friday is anyone’s guess but, for now, both Stevenage and Bolton managers have given glowing praise to the job one another has done so far this season.

The experienced Evans has kept Stevenage around the top six for several months in their first year after promotion from League Two.

Evatt has taken Bolton on the same upward course, albeit with very different pressures, challenges and resources, and is now hoping to lead his side into the Championship.

Asked what he thought about being put up for the top management prize by the man he will be looking to better at the Lamex Stadium, Evans smiled: "I've always said Ian was a bright guy, he really knows what he’s on about!

"I remember Ian was a tough, big, strong centre-back at Chesterfield and I was a local rival at the Millers.

"I didn’t like him [then] but he's gone into management and he works incredibly hard, works long hours like I do and he is disciplined.

"I’ve seen the progress he’s made and the quality of the signings he's made.

"And I've had other people, other managers sit in my office after a game and they say Bolton are one of those clubs where the budget is this or the budget is that.

"I don’t care what your budget is, you still have to deliver against it, you still have measurements.

"I think he's a really good manager and capable of taking Bolton into the Championship and higher, they are a Premier League club for me.

"But Ian is a bright guy and he'll make sure his troops are at it tomorrow for sure.

Wanderers will start as favourites and know there is considerable pressure on them returning to winning ways after their defeat at Derby before the international break.

Stevenage, a point behind Oxford United in seventh, are also looking to recover their best form having snatched a late draw at bottom club Carlisle United last time out.

Bolton have bettered Stevenage once this season, back at the Toughsheet in October, and Evans still feels somewhat sore that his side did not get more out of the game.

Knowing Kyle Dempsey from his Gillingham days – Evans says the fact he has been nudged to the bench in recent weeks is an indication of the challenge his team comes up against.

"It's unusual for me to get messages from clubs around the top six that are higher than us wishing me good luck,” he said.

"That’s because we're playing one of the favourites for promotion, not the favourite, but one of them.

"It’s not a free hit for us. We have to be competitive. We went up to Bolton earlier [in the year] and lost a five-goal thriller that was one of the games of the season.

"I hate games of the season when you lose, it is usually a game of the season if you win.

"But we should have got something from the game. There were circumstances that night, that I won't go into, that really annoyed us. "But the one thing that we faced when we went there was a team packed full of talent, full of quality and the options on the bench were incredible.

"And they have one of the best midfield players that played for me in recent years, Kyle Dempsey.

"He has been on the bench recently and I know how good Kyle is, so if that's the standard to get in, Ian's recruitment has been absolutely wonderful."


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