Thank Evans for Wanderers' foundations

First published in Headlines The Bolton News: Photograph of the Author by , chief football writer

CHRIS Evans is sure that Owen Coyle will get a smoother start to life at the Reebok than he and Gary Megson enjoyed.

The genial Welshman walked through the doors 27 months ago to begin rebuilding a club still on the ropes after the messy departure of Sam Allardyce and the turmoil of the brief Sammy Lee era.

And while Megson’s reign came to an end last week, he is convinced that the foundations put in place over the past two years will make life easier for the incoming manager.

Evans has yet to confirm his own future at the club, having been placed in temporary charge with Steve Wigley. But if Coyle, as expected, brings with him a new backroom staff, then the 47-year-old former Wolves Academy boss says he can be justifiably proud of what he has achieved with the Whites.

“In my 27 months here, enough went on to sit back and say I definitely enjoyed it, loved it, and I know that Gary felt the same way,” he said.

“In that first season, to have recovered from what was a difficult position is admirable and a real highlight.

“But what people didn’t realise in the second year is what was going on behind the scenes. This is where I probably had a bigger part to play than is usually the case.

“I conducted a status audit — an intention of where we wanted to go, and a pathway and time frame of when we wanted to get there.

“I presented four business plans to the board at various times which have given us every opportunity of growth, not just in the short term, but in the long term.

“Football is very much about the short term but we have given the club long-term foundations and put a lot of systems in place that will serve the club well in the future.

“The game should be about succession and we have put things in place that if one, two, three or four people left, the best interests of the club would still be served.”

While most Wanderers fans were left with mixed feelings over Megson’s tenure, which ended a week last Wednesday morning, Evans believes that his time at the club will be viewed differently in the future.

Pointing to accrued assets, such as Gary Cahill and Mark Davies, the caretaker boss insists that the club is in much better shape than when he first arrived in November, 2007.

“We conducted the biggest cull in the history of the Premier League — some 34 players in 17 months, the average age of the squad fell quite significantly, and the club has created some positive assets,” he said.

“To finish 13th was creditable and to have used 17 players, these are the little things you look back on and hope that people don’t forget. And we are quick to forget in football.

“If you take time to reflect, things are not quite as doom and gloom as people sometimes make out. There has been some decent work that has gone on.”

Evans reckons one of the most telling contributions he helped to make over the last two years was a complete overhaul of the club’s scouting network.

The work, carried out almost immediately after his arrival at the club, saw the likes of Colin Harvey, Clive Richards, Terry Darracott and Alan Harper installed as full-time European and worldwide scouts.

And it was the last man on that list that helped identify the talents of Chung-Yong Lee, who has been a massive success since signing from South Korean club FC Seoul in the summer.

“I’m a great believer that football is often dictated by one word, ‘recruitment’,” he said.

“The greatest teams of the last 100 years were recruited, and while the coaching, the training, the tactics, the physical and mental preparation is crucial, it is the recruitment that is king.

“Very early doors here we looked at what we had in terms of scouting, and strategically the vast majority were ill-placed.

“We started with a clean sheet of paper and demographically sited experts in the field, not friends, or family, but people with a proven track record of identifying talent.

“From Scotland to the south coast and Galway to the Norfolk coast, we have ensured that domestically we are well placed to bring forward options.

“Seventy per cent of players were coming in from continental Europe and yet we didn’t have any expertise there. That was significant.”

Evans insists he does not know if there will be a role for him at the Reebok under Coyle’s management, and has chosen instead to concentrate on the task handed to him by Phil Gartside in the wake of Megson’s departure.

“I really won’t have a big say in what people say about me, or what I have or haven’t got to offer,” he said.

“I’ll do the task that was given to me until such time that someone tells me it is going to change.

“I’ve got a wife and three children at home and as I said to the players and staff, we’ll all be thinking ‘what might happen’ but you can’t affect it.

“I am fairly pragmatic about the situation. This is my 31st year in football and it’s one of those situations where you have to concede that your future and destiny is in the hands of other people.

“When that time comes, I’m sure the football club will sit down with me and let me know what their thoughts are.”

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