AFTER years of seeing the name Bolton Wanderers prefixed by words like ‘struggling’ or ‘cash-strapped,’ Ian Evatt arrived yesterday with a promise to get people talking about the club in glowing terms once again.

Some have billed his decision to leave behind a cast-iron job at Barrow, whom he had just led to the National League title, to take up the reins at the UniBol as a gamble.

Others have pointed to the fact that Evatt himself has just two full seasons of managerial experience, with practically none at Football League level.

But the nay-sayers and gloom-mongers may have to take a back seat, for Evatt is on a mission to do something that perhaps no manager since Sam Allardyce has managed to achieve – and that’s to get the whole town interested in watching their team again.

It had been a nervous day, with Evatt joining the whole Wanderers fanbase in scanning his phone on a minute-by-minute basis to see if his deal – signed until summer 2023 – had been officially announced.

But as he drove back home to Chesterfield, text messages of congratulations pinging regularly in the background, The Bolton News was able to ask the man himself why he is confident he is the right man to get Bolton moving back up the leagues once again.

“So many things attracted me to the job in the end, the history, the size of the club, the facilities – which are top drawer – but mostly the fact that I just don’t think Bolton Wanderers should be where they are right now,” he told us.

“I feel like it needs a fresh outlook, a change of direction and someone to get people talking about the club in the right terms again.

“I can compare it to Barrow, not in terms of the size of the job, but in as much as there was a disconnection between the fans and the club. It was too distant.

“I’m here to make the fans proud of their club again and I’m going to do that by playing a brand of football they want to watch.

“There’s a lot of hard work ahead to regain that trust, it doesn’t happen overnight. But I believe it comes from being entertained by what you see out there on a Saturday and in knowing that the team and the staff care about the club.

“When I first spoke to the owners, and then Andy Gartside and Tobias Phoenix they said the message was ‘one club, one community, one town,’ and that stuck with me.

“A football club is at the heart of a community and people have to trust it, believe in it. We want to help regain that.”

The 38-year-old has been practically prophetic when discussing the style of play he brought to Barrow and the ‘non-negotiables’ that have helped create ‘Brand Evatt’.

And he has no doubt whatsoever that the same principles can be applied on a slightly grander scale at Bolton.

“I have an unwavering belief in my ability as a coach and that’s not arrogance, it’s confidence,” he said. “The idea that I can change all that around motivates me.

“This isn’t ‘Ian Evatt coming in and changing things,’ this is a whole team of people, right across the club, trying to make this work.

“Excuses are off the table. Football is an entertainment industry. It's an entertainment business, and people pay their hard-earned money to come watch their football team on Saturday so they have a right to be entertained.

“And my view is, goals, attacking, expansive, attractive football, is what they want to see. And hopefully we'll be bringing that this season and we can get the right results along the way.

“And if you get the two together, you've cracked it. And if we do that, I'm more than confident, we can be at the top end of this division.”

On the topic of leaving Barrow, there is a slight departure in the positive tone.

“The timing wasn’t ideal because we’d just won the league,” he said, before reverting to more upbeat conversation. “I have only been a manager for just over two years, so it is a bit of a ‘pinch yourself’ moment when you realise you are in charge of Bolton Wanderers. But what an amazing opportunity and I back myself and my staff 100 per cent to make a success of it.

“I have got a blank canvas. I have got an opportunity to recruit a team according to how I want to play.

“We’ll do the homework, do the research to the best of our ability, and bring in players who will change the way that Bolton have been playing football for some time now.

“But I can sit here all day and tell you about tactics and how I want players to do this, or that, the proof is in the pudding.”

Evatt was unveiled as Bolton’s first-ever head coach. And much has been discussed among supporters as to what that might mean.

The division of labour between Evatt, and the head of football operations, Tobias Phoenix, has been particularly scrutinised by all but the new man himself.

“Head coach or manager it doesn’t matter, the job spec is exactly the same,” he said. “I’ll be working extremely close with Tobias and all the staff.

“This isn’t a dictatorship. The more information you have at your disposal, the better decisions you can make.

“This is a team effort. It’s not my way or nothing else.”

Evatt inherits a squad of just 11 professional players – which is a step up on the eight he had on the books when first walking into Barrow. But he insists he is well prepared and already knows what each of the players could add to his squad.

“I’ve done a lot of research on the players who are still at the club and together we’re now looking to sign players who are position-specific,” he said.

“Every signing will be made according to the qualities they have and how I see they can fit into the team.

“I back myself as a manager to be able to take those players and improve them – but again, until the season starts, it’s talk. People will rightly want results.”

Wanderers found their freefall into League Two cut short because of the coronavirus pandemic and still do not know exactly when they will be starting the new season.

There are question marks over whether clubs will be restricted in their spending because of salary caps, and Bolton have a non-negotiable transfer embargo from the EFL as a result of going into administration in 2019.

All of which makes planning difficult and starting a new job somewhat of an unknown. Again, Evatt is determined to take it in his stride.

“We’ll have to plan the best we can for all the potential outcomes,” he said.

“I will be working 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and I’m sure my wife will back me up on that.

“We will be making sure our players are as physically prepared as they can possibly be, and then wait for the outcome of when the season will start up.”