Sport

OPINION: Ian Evatt is in over his head at Bolton Wanderers

BOLTON Wanderers manager Ian Evatt is a football reporters’ dream, but that’s about as far as the compliments can go.

He walked into the club with his head held high having just won promotion to the Football League with Barrow but ever since, his verbal diarrhoea and public lambasting of his own players has laid bare his incompetence when it comes to the management of young players.

Evatt was preceded by Keith Hill; whose post-match interviews became a source of mockery for the fans and unpopular with the board – spouting a military-style rhetoric following a consistent stream of fruitless performances on the pitch.

Unfortunately, it feels a little like deja-vu at the University of Bolton Stadium.

His appallingly strong criticism of 20-year old goalkeeper Billy Crellin on Saturday afternoon was the latest in a long line of post-match pontification that only serves to make Evatt further look like a fish out water.

We aren’t talking about an experienced footballer here with skin like a rhino, we’re talking about – in sporting terms – a kid.

Crellin is on loan from Fleetwood Town and Evatt has been entrusted with giving their talented young goalkeeper minutes and developing him as a footballer.

It would appear Evatt has adopted the tough-love approach, which is fine so long as he isn’t destroying Crellin’s confidence simultaneously.

Talking of Crellin to BBC Radio Manchester after a score-draw at table topping Cambridge United on Saturday, Evatt said: “He cost us the first goal in my opinion at Barrow on Tuesday, maybe the second one as well and then [the goal] today.”

“So, this is me saying to him publicly, ‘man up’.

“I’ve had that conversation privately.

“This is a man’s game; three points were at stake and my team deserved to win today.”

Watching his interviews feels a bit like watching a slow-motion car crash in high definition, the way he shirks responsibility for results by deflecting blame onto the players he himself signed most of in the summer.

The week prior to this pathetic outburst, after guiding his team to a home defeat to bottom of the league Oldham Athletic, he described his sides mentality as “shocking”, and claiming “there are too many weak characters [at Bolton], too many that lack drive and lack desire.”

The most accurate thing he said in that particular interview was ‘I won’t be here very long’ – probably down to the drivel he keeps coming out with instead of fronting up and backing his players in the media.

If there is anyone coming across as a “weak character” and buckling under the pressure at the moment, it’s Ian Evatt.

It’s no wonder the team are struggling, they’re probably all terrified of being the next victim of Evatt’s full-time tirade.

He should be trying to instil confidence and belief into his troops, not hanging them out to dry.

Based on the evidence provided by his previous tenure at Barrow, he’s a decent coach, but whether or not he’s cut out to manage a club like Bolton Wanderers remains a contentious debate.

Evatt has made a rod for his own back, and whilst he’s apologised for his comments on Saturday, he should have broad enough shoulders to take the flack for what really was an appalling display of man-management.

Related Articles