Ian Evatt is targeting a 100th win as Wanderers’ boss to get the Whites’ promotion push back in top gear, writes Pete Oliver.
Evatt’s side faces Leyton Orient at the Toughsheet Community Stadium on Saturday on the back of a three-game winless run in League One.
But Evatt still boasts the best win ratio of any Wanderers’ boss in modern times with 99 victories from his 193 games in charge.
That record comes despite a tricky start to his reign when it took a home win over Orient in January, 2021 to kick-start a surge up the league ladder.
Evatt is now seeking a repeat to reach three figures and kick off the festive period with the points which could see the Whites go back to second place in the table.
“Personally, I'm on 99 wins as Bolton manager so it would be nice to get to 100. Fingers crossed we can take the game to them on Saturday and get the three points we want and need,” Evatt said.
“When you have these match-ups it's sometimes important to have some perspective. I think we were 19th in League Two at the time (of the last win home win over Orient) and went on a crazy run to get promoted from League Two.
“Now we sit here in a strong position in League One, competing at the top end of the table with a really good squad of players I'm excited to work with every day.
“A lot has changed in a short space of time and sometimes you can easily forget that. That was the start of a great run and hopefully this Saturday can be the start of another good run.”
Wanderers were unbeaten in 11 games before back-to-back defeats at Portsmouth and at home to Bristol Rovers last weekend.
Those results saw the Whites slip out of the automatic promotion places but they remain just two points behind second-placed Peterborough with a game in hand as they prepare to take on the mid-table O’s.
“It's just about getting our heads down and getting on with it,” added Evatt, who will be without suspended skipper Ricardo Almeida Santos for the Whites’ final home game of 2023 but will welcome back midfielder Josh Sheehan to his squad.
“We don't need to be worried about a couple of results. A lot can be made of that and there's always an overreaction, but it's just the nature of the industry. For us it's keeping calm and carrying on.
“This isn't a sprint. It's a marathon and you have to stay the course and this is part of the course. You are going to come up against hurdles and obstacles and you have to overcome them.
“We know we're going to have bad moments. We're going to have challenges and tests. If you look at every team that's been promoted they've had those tests and, as I said at the start of the season, how you come through adversity defines what you are and who you are as a team.
“At the moment we've had a bad few days, but let's not start thinking the worst. It's only a few days. We've had a really good two months and it's just getting back to winning ways and who we are and what we are as a team.
“We’re still in a really strong position. I have a huge amount of belief in this group of players and I'm sure we'll bounce back. We just need to get back to who we are and what we are and hopefully we can do that on Saturday.”
Over 21,000 tickets have already been sold for Saturday’s Community Day fixture. You can still get yours, priced just £10 for adults and £5 for concessions, HERE
Watch the manager's full pre-match interview HERE