Evatt | Enjoy The Moment

Evatt smile Cambridge

Cool heads and enjoyment are the name of the game as Wanderers go into one of their potential highlights of the season, writes Pete Oliver.

The Whites face promotion rivals Derby County at a packed Pride Park on Saturday – with Ian Evatt’s men again being backed by a sell-out support of over 3,000.

The sides are separated by just a point with the second-paced Rams currently sitting in the automatic promotion places.

And Evatt is delighted to be in striking distance of Derby after a run of 20 complete fixtures, and two abandonments, in the 11 weeks between New Year’s Day and the up-coming international break.

“It's been hard work,” said the Wanderers’ boss. “We've had highs, we've had lows, but we needed to get to this international break in touch and still in with a shout and we will be in with a shout, regardless of what happens on Saturday, which is really important.

“Hopefully we will then get some bodies back over the international window, the players will be able to refresh and regenerate a little bit and really look forward to the last seven games.

Evatt applause Oxford

“But we know we've got a big game to come with Derby on Saturday first. We know we need to play really well on Saturday because Derby an excellent team with a manager who knows how to get out of this division and sets his teams up so well. We're very respectful of that but also have some inner belief to go there and believe that we can get the job done.”

Evatt takes his side back to the club where he started his playing career on the back of a thumping 5-0 mid-week win over Oxford United, which extended the Whites’ unbeaten run to four games and took them beyond 100 goals for the season.

Derby also collected maximum points on Tuesday night as Paul Warne’s outfit made it a hat-trick of wins to set up one of the domestic matches of the day.

With plenty at stake it's an occasion that will require a calm and measured approach but also one that should be embraced, according to Evatt, as two clubs with a proud history and a shared tricky recent past battle it out near the top of League One.

“That's my responsibility really as the manager and one of the leaders of this football club. I have to be calm in the highs and the lows,” added Evatt, who has the Whites knocking on the door of the Championship five years after Wanderers were within hours of going out of business and three since he led them out of League Two.

Pressure is an absolute privilege when we've had the recent history that we have had. Embrace it, enjoy it, and be proud of our football club again. I certainly am."
Ian Evatt

“Tuesday was a high, of course, and great that everyone can enjoy the way that we played but we need a calmness to know that we have to replicate that eight more times to give ourselves a good opportunity of getting out of this league and that starts on Saturday.

“To be able to perform in that way, in that manner, we need to have calm heads. Obviously fire in our bellies, as well, because you can't play football without emotion, but calm heads to know what we need to do to execute and get a good win.

“It's a big game and the message to everyone is just enjoy it. Enjoy the pressure. Pressure is an absolute privilege when we've had the recent history that we have had. Embrace it, enjoy it, and be proud of our football club again. I certainly am.

“Perspective is a word that gets lost in football because you don't tend to have it. But I try to keep some perspective. We've tried to improve in this season and I feel that we have. I think we're 10 points better off than we were at this stage last season and we’ve been in the top three for the last 25-26 match days, which says we're in the automatic race which we never really were last season.

“For me that's progression. Obviously, we want to finish strongly and get the job done but we have to enjoy these days. Where this club has been, where we've come from in recent years and how quickly we have progressed and evolved, just really enjoy it, go out there and be proud of our football club again and do the best we can to get three points.”

Watch the manager's full pre-match interview on Wanderers TV HERE

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