IF Radhi Jaidi’s Bolton Wanderers experience is anything to go by, lockdown could be hindering manager Ian Evatt when it comes to getting the most out of his team.

Jaidi had never played outside of his native Tunisia when he signed for Wanderers from Esperance in 2004, a month or so shy of his 29th birthday. He was unfamiliar with the culture, his new surroundings and his new team-mates.

The Bolton dressing room he first entered had players from Finland, Israel, France, Jamaica, Nigeria, Spain, Greece and Denmark, to name a few.

But, speaking to the Bolton News The Buff Extra podcast, he says the weekly team bonding that Sam Allardyce encouraged was significant in his settling in process, and consequently the team’s success when they earned qualification for the UEFA Cup for the first time in their history at the end of Jaidi’s first season.

For Evatt, it’s a different environment as the bulk of his squad is British. But having made more than 20 new signings since his summer appointment he is facing a similar battle to get individuals to gel as a team.

With socialising not permitted in large or even small groups under lockdown rules, and players not permitted to mix outside of their training ground/stadium ‘bubble’, his squad is not yet able to adopt the Allardyce approach that Jaidi says he benefited from. “For a bunch of superstars and internationals who come from different places in the world I think the most difficult task was how you can bond these players together and give them the opportunity to perform as a team, not as individuals,” said the former defender, who went on to play for Birmingham and Southampton.

“That was I think the most challenging task and I think at that time I learned a lot from that, how to bring players together – individuals – to bond as a team and have the right environment in the changing room and then make them perform the way we performed. But also tactically to adjust to the team and then make sure you make the most of the individuals.

“It’s not easy to get the most (out) of individuals. What was successful at that time was two important things - outside the pitch, bonding the team and bringing them together in the changing room and make sure everyone is heading in the same direction as a team, not as individuals, but on the pitch is performing as a team.

“Of course the way the club did it was amazing, the support they provided outside of the pitch, the culture we created outside of the pitch, then taking it onto the pitch was amazing.

“I remember we had to go for a dinner with most of the players with their wives and girlfriends once a week, during the week. I didn’t understand that at the time, I wanted to stay in and stay at home. But now going back from a coaching point of view it’s so important that you bring the players together, get to know each other and that will create a bond and a connection between the players outside of the pitch.

The Bolton News:

“At that time dinner was an opportunity to help the team to gel together. You’re in a different environment and not supervised. There are no coaches or staff around so you feel comfortable with your mate.

“That had a positive impact on us. We started to go (out) without the encouragement of the club, and then we started to create team bonding as players and the families as well know each other which makes it easier for people like myself coming from Tunisia to connect and help me and make sure I’m comfortable and confident on that aspect.

“That gave me a little boost to go on the training ground and go and perform 100 per cent, and in the game of course to go and perform 100 per cent. These are small details that make a big difference.”

It is just one element of Allardyce’s style of management, and man-management, that Jaidi has taken into his own coaching and now managerial career.

Having become a coach at Southampton’s Academy once his playing career had ended at St Mary’s Stadium, he worked his way up to manager of the club’s Under 23s, and earlier this year moved to America to take charge of their affiliate club Hartford Athletic in the USL, one level below MLS.

And he admits there is a nod to Allardyce – among other managers – in his style.

“The whole Bolton experience gave me a baseline of what I want to a certain extent from a team,” said the 45-year-old, who is based in Connecticut.

“I’m a mixture (of styles). Sam Allardyce’s style was a definite advantage to us at that time. It’s rare when you can find a big team as Bolton Wanderers (was) nowadays. It’s rare you find the quality headers nowadays. What you can find now are players who are really comfortable and good with the ball.

“Throughout my time at Southampton and being around (Mauricio) Pochettino, (Ralph) Hasenhüttl I’ve learned having witnessed and worked under different styles of play.

“We’ll be a very intensive team, press high but good on the ball and good in keeping possession.

“I would definitely encourage my players to play out from the back and realistically make sure we progress through the thirds.

“It’s very important that my team is organised, that my team and my players individually each one of them knows what he needs to do in his position, so for them to always have an impact on the team.

“We will try to be creative in the set plays and use the weaknesses of the opposition.”

The Buff is available on Apple, Spotify, Soundcloud and The Bolton News website.