Ian Evatt’s appointment as the new Head Coach of Bolton Wanderers was today confirmed. The 38 year-old former Barrow boss spoke to bwfc.co.uk for the first time since his move to the club from the Vanarama National League Champions.
Evatt who played in the Premier League against Wanderers with Blackpool, was keen to affirm his stance on the way he likes football to be played and how he plans to implement it as soon as he possibly can with his Bolton side, with the goal of immediate promotion from Sky Bet League Two.
‘It’s a fantastic football club and a great opportunity for me. Hopefully I can bring a brand and an identity that people enjoy watching – attacking and scoring goals, that’s what we want to see.
‘We want to see a packed stadium and we want to be challenging and competing for promotion at the top of the division.
‘This club doesn’t deserve to be in this division, but it is. We have to be realistic with that, we are in League Two now and obviously we are going to be a big fish in a small pond – that’s going to bring its own problems because teams will come to this fantastic stadium and raise their game.
‘We need to make sure that we raise ours as well, and like I say play that brand of exciting, attacking and expansive football that people really want to see.
‘There’s no two ways about it, we can’t beat around the bush – we need to be getting promoted, there’s no doubt about it. We need to be up there challenging. There isn’t any point sitting here saying it’s a project, this club should not be in League Two and it’s my job to make sure we get out of League Two as soon as we possibly can.’
Despite the success he achieved in guiding Barrow to a Football League return for the first time since the early 1970s, Evatt says he was immediately very interested in coming to Bolton as soon as the opportunity arose.
‘I see so much potential in the club and that’s what excites me. Obviously I was in a fantastic job at Barrow and we’d had a lot of success last season but as soon as I heard of the interest from Bolton, it was something that really interested me.
'I wanted to come here and get the club moving back in the right direction, but most importantly playing the right way in my opinion, and that exciting brand that I keep speaking about.’
It’s been over thirty years since Wanderers last played in the fourth tier of English football but it is a level that Evatt has a degree of familiarity with having played and caretaker managed in League Two with Chesterfield. The former central defender detailed the requirements of a successful team at this level.
‘It’s a difficult league because every game brings different challenges. The football is going to be Saturday, Tuesday and there will be some long journeys even though in general I think the league is quite local this season.
‘It’s physically demanding and it’s intense so you do need a strong, integral spine. We'll get some quick and energetic players around that and really excite our fans by hopefully being free-scoring, and making this place a fortress again.
Evatt’s job at Barrow wasn’t a straightforward one. To turn the team into one worthy of promotion, he had to completely change the style of play to fit his own footballing philosophy. The Wanderers boss says it’s a brand he will implement at his new club.
‘It was great at Barrow. I’ve been doing this for two years now and it’s been a whirlwind. I had a fantastic time there and I can’t speak highly enough of that football club; the way the fans took to me and our brand. They needed re-educating at first because they were used to seeing direct football, we did that pretty quickly and then took to what they saw.
‘We ended up achieving what we did last season, but that’s done now and I have to concentrate on what I’m going to do here. I want to bring that brand and identity to Bolton Wanderers and make sure we’re up there and challenging for promotion from this division.
‘At the end of the day, football is an entertainments industry. People pay their hard-earned money to come and watch their football team on a Saturday, so they have a right to be entertained. My view is that goals, and attacking, expansive, attractive football is what they want to see.
‘Hopefully we’ll be bringing that this season and we can get the right results along the way. If you get the two together you’ve cracked it. If we do that I’m more than confident we can be at the top end of this division.
‘It’s important for my team to develop an identity because it’s what I believe in and it’s what I enjoy watching myself. I enjoy working with players on the training ground and working on patterns of play, different shape systems and being able to throw curve balls at opposition.
‘We’re going to have a lot of strings to our bow and that’s what I want to see, because we’re going to need to have that. There are some tough away fixtures and definitely at home, teams are going to come and make it hard for us.
‘We need to have different ammunition for different games, but that is something we will have. We’ll work very hard in pre-season and make sure that we’re ready come the start of the season.’
Having spent seven years as a player with Blackpool and two years as a Manager with Barrow, Evatt knows all about the North West and is hoping to do his best to install pride into the Bolton fans and the Town once again.
‘The North West is a great part of the country for football and this club is a massive part of the town and the community. It’s my job to reengage with the town and the community again; we want to make them proud of their football club again.
‘We can only do that by setting our stall our pretty quickly and show them what we’re about on the pitch.’
‘We’ve done enough talking now, we need to make sure we reengage with everybody again and make them proud of this football club.’
Football clubs are sure to find themselves in a unique situation following the economic effect the Coronavirus pandemic has had on the country and the sport with a raft of players finding themselves out of contract and in search of employers. The 38 year-old says the prospect of having to rebuild the Bolton team is one that actually excites him.
‘I get to more or less have a blank canvas and that’s exciting for me. I have the opportunity to build a team how I see fit. We’ve drilled down in a lot of detail in terms of recruitment and we are position specific, I have an idea of what we need for different positions. We’ll be looking at all sorts of recruitment to make sure we fulfil that.
‘It’s a good time in many ways because there will be a lot of players out of work, out of contract and looking for football clubs. With what we’ve got here, we are going to be at the top of a lot of players’ lists.
‘Hopefully we’ll get the right ones in, play the right way and work very hard in training. We’ll engage with the community again, get ourselves out there and make the fans proud of Bolton Wanderers again.’
Unfortunately in the last couple of seasons, the club has become accustomed with losing games of football with back-to-back relegations, and Evatt spoke about how the mentality must be changed in order for the club to achieve success in the near future.
‘The mental side of the game is a huge part of it. It cannot be underestimated. You have to initially behave like winners and champions before you start to win games consistently and start winning promotions. You have to have that culture and environment set on the training ground and we’ll do that really quickly from the first day.
‘We’ll have pretty much a new squad to work with and they’ll understand how we do things and what I do on the training pitch, and they have to abide by that. Once you behave like winners and Champions on a Saturday, you’ll do it naturally.
‘I see so much potential here and it’s so exciting to be able to have the platform to come here and use these wonderful facilities. I’m very much looking forward to recruiting a team that’s capable of exciting this town, and that’s what we want to do.’
The interview with Ian Evatt is available to watch in full on the club’s official YouTube channel, and also on the club’s official social media platforms.