Bolton have at last announced the appointment of Blackpool favourite Ian Evatt. We’ve taken a look at the news in more detail, in addition to seeing what the Wanderers’ fanbase reckon to their new gaffer.
My first thought upon hearing this news was a memory of Evo’s goal in the Premier League in the 2-2 draw at what was then known as the Reebok Stadium. Those who were also there will remember it was a ‘don’t scratch your eyes’ moment as we sat in the top half of the Premier League. The 6ft 3in defender rose highest to nod home from a corner to send the Seasiders into a 2-0 lead going into half-time, but ultimately, as became the theme for that season, we conceded a couple of late goals to drop valuable points.
The plight of the two clubs
Those were heady times indeed for us, but also for Bolton who had become a regular Premier League team after rising from the Championship under former Pool manager Big Sam Allardyce in 2000. It would be rude not to mention that they beat PNE in the Play Off Final en route at the Pool’s second home, the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff, at that point. Bolton went on to record some strong Premier League finishes over the early 2000s, with a UEFA Cup run in 2005-06 after a 5th placed finish.
Allardyce left for Newcastle and another ex-Pool manager in Gary Megson took the hot seat. By the time Owen Coyle was in charge, Bolton had slowly started to drop towards the relegation zone and it was on Coyle’s watch that they finally succumbed to relegation in 2012, a year after our Premier League season.
The plight of the two teams over recent years has been just as traumatic for both sets of fans. The difference with Bolton’s is that they massively overspent in a bid to try and get back to the Premier League which didn’t pay off. They’ve spent a lot of money over the last few years with no real return, plunging into financial difficulties – first in 2014 when they were relegated again into League One – and then they came even closer to the brink last year when they were thought to be just days away from being wound up. Fortunately that didn’t happen and Wanderers fans still have a team to support, albeit at their lowest league position since 1988.
Evo’s career post Pool
Meanwhile, Evo went back to Chesterfield in 2013 after leaving Bloomfield Road at the end of his contract (unsurprisingly). He made 148 appearances before they unfortunately dropped out of the Football League in his first role as caretaker manager in 2018. The then-36-year-old did enough however to get himself his first full role in management after the brief spell at the helm of the Spireites, taking over at Barrow in June that year.
In his two years at Holker Street, Barrow went from midtable obscurity to being referred to as ‘Barrowcelona’ , as they returned to the Football League for the first time in 48 years. They led the way in the National League for all of last season, with plenty of EFL clubs sniffing around Evatt including us; surely Evo wouldn’t have turned us down had Simon Sadler called. But we opted to go in a different direction with the appointment of Neil Critchley, and now Evo has got his move up the pyramid – in stature if not league – with his move to Wanderers.
Will he succeed, and do we want him to?
I believe Evatt has enough about him to make it work in Horwich, having shown he can do it on a shoestring budget and can also galvanise the squad in Holloway-esque fashion. But how will he deal with being the favourites for the title, and the inevitable tricky run that will come with the fixture congestion at that level?
We know that Evatt has got Barrow playing the style of football we played under Holloway when we became many football fans’ second team and entertained the nation. While Ian Holloway was great when form was good, he often came unstuck when we were in a bit of a rut and that’s the risk with the open, expansive football. It worked more often than not for us, but was his undoing in his various jobs since. Not having a plan B can often be some managers’ undoing. Hopefully Evo has learned from the drawbacks of the gung-ho approach which inevitably led Holloway to Grimsby.
It will be a difficult one for Pool fans in terms of willing a legend like Evo to do well in management, but also managing a direct rival who we clearly don’t want to overtake us in the next couple of years. In my opinion, the best outcome would be for Bolton to do well and either get promoted or come very close, giving Evatt a strong reputation as an up-and-coming British manager, enabling him to move up and maybe even manage us one day. But the key is for us to continue on an upward trajectory and leave Bolton behind in our push up the leagues. If we’re in the Championship in a couple of years, surely most Blackpool fans won’t begrudge Evo of winning a promotion from League Two.
BWFC reaction from the-wanderer.co.uk
Tony Domingos – “We’ve no way of knowing, of course, but this feels like a good appointment. I’m looking forward to getting to a few games whenever we are able to.”
Harry Genshaw – “Very happy. To be fair, only the appointment of Megson left me underwhelmed in the past 20 years but this guy seems to know what he wants and expects from his players and doesn’t seem like a guy to cross. He’s got my full backing for the next 2 years. I’ll decide on a 3rd depending where we are.”
Bedwetter 2 – “I’ve got to say that this is the first appointment I have had a positive feeling about since Allardyce and before him Rioch. Very different in football philosophy but he appears to be confident in himself and comfortable in his own skin. That marks a huge change to the chancers we have seen far too often as managers. I’m not getting my hopes too high but think he can get us competing again. So much so that I may well be buying a season ticket for the first time since that halfwit Coyle departed.”
Nelson 66 – “I’m delighted with the appointment — it fills me with positivity about the future direction our club is going to take. I can’t wait for our climb back up to the Premiership to begin.
Roll on happy times again”
Athertonian- “He wouldn’t have been my choice but hey ho what di I know. May have well as brought in Cleggy ex Athy colls manager, he won a few promotions in recent seasons. Hope I’m proved wrong again.”
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