BRAND Evatt’s stock has rarely been higher, but the Wanderers boss freely admits he could easily have been cast aside in the impatient world of football.

Seventh in League One with ambitions to climb higher, Bolton have reinvented themselves in 2021 to cast off those crisis club shackles and become a team that everyone is talking about for the right reasons.

A big part of that comes from the attractive brand of football Evatt and his coaching staff brought to the club 15 months ago, one which incubated on the muddy outposts of League Two and is now flourishing after promotion.

The journey from Mansfield, Stevenage, Harrogate and the like did not run smoothly, however, and at this time last year there were serious questions being asked about whether Evatt was really the man for the job.

A goalless draw at Grimsby at this time last year was followed by defeat at home to Oldham Athletic – and a performance denigrated by the Bolton boss.

Since Evatt took his first step in management as a caretaker down the road in Chesterfield in April 2018, today’s opponents Sheffield Wednesday have been through five different managers.

Dutchman Jos Luhukay had followed the relatively durable Carlos Carvalhal and lasted for 48 league games. Of his successors, only Garry Monk managed more than 50, with Steve Bruce and Tony Pulis barely stretching into double figures.

The appointment of ex-West Brom boss Darren Moore was considered a solid move, given his work at Doncaster Rovers, but after leading the table after a few games results have slipped away leaving an air of discontent around Hillsborough as the winter approaches.

Evatt saw plenty of well-known names chucked on the scrapheap during his own times of trouble at the UniBol but believes the club has benefited from stability.

“I am under no illusion, that could have been me last season,” he told The Bolton News.

“But the board bought into what I was trying to do and knew it would take time, “We realised from August to January what we still required and the improvements we needed to make, did it in January and ended up getting promotion.

“We have added to that in the summer and this January will be the same thing. We’re looking two or three windows ahead already.

“I am extremely fortunate to have the board I do, and Sharon as the owner.

“The most important relationship at any football club is between the manager and the owner and if they get on, things can work.

“There is trust and belief there, so that simplifies my job because I am not looking over my shoulder every five minutes. Those managers who are worried when they get a poor result who is going to ring them every Saturday night, how are they supposed to thrive in that sort of environment? They can’t.

“Sharon and the rest of the board give me a platform which allows me to focus on improving our team and squad over the long term, not the short term. And when you have got that security you can really drill down into the finer details of making us a better team.”

Although the expression ‘Brand Evatt’ followed the manager in from Barrow, the aim of all concerned is to ensure it lasts longer than any individual involved.

Improvements made to the recruitment, analysis and sports science departments were absolutely crucial in a club which had been paired down to the bone by administration and previous poor owners.

Having done the groundwork, and with further expansion to come as the club continues to push forward, Evatt feels he is finally in position to make a lasting impression.

“We have this discussion all the time – myself, Chris (Markham), the coaching staff – we are quite an easy team to recruit for because we have a brand and identity. We know what each position-specific individual should look like,” he said “All of a sudden that is a huge filter and it is specific to how we play. And even though there are millions of players out there and recruitment is difficult it is simplified because we have a brand and identity we can recruit for. It is when you keep chopping and changing styles it becomes harder and that is where mistakes can be made.

“You look at the very top teams – Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool, for example – they all have a specific brand and they recruit to it and that is what I want here.”

Evatt has always been open about his admiration for Pep Guardiola, Marcelo Bielsa, Jurgen Klopp and the other famous names at the top of the coaching ladder, and freely admits they have helped shape his own ideas on how the game should be played.

Applying them first over a few years in the National League with Barrow and then building a squad from scratch at Bolton was the hard part – but Evatt says he will continue to make notes and try to learn from the best.

“I have been doing that since I wanted to become a coach and manager. I am always taking notes, reading, logging things and looking at new ideas,” he said.

“I watch a lot of games and then try and interpret that into how we can do things here.

“That is what coaching is – stealing ideas and turning them into your own.

“We’re not copycats. We love what Pep does at Man City and Klopp does at Liverpool, tactically and technically it is exceptional, but we have to try and make that work here and interpret their ideas to help us get three points on a Saturday.

“That kind of thing is ongoing, you should always be learning, and as a coach and manager you can’t stand still because if you do, you’ll fall behind.

“It comes down to belief and backing yourself to improve players to believe they can play that way.”

Evatt is by no means the only manager at League One level to try and play out from the back, or employ an expansive brand, with MK Dons and Lincoln City two notably similar rival sides.

“There is no right or wrong answer,” he said. “It’s all down to interpretation and down to what you prefer to see. I see the game and understand and believe it should be played this way, but at the end of the day it’s about winning football matches.

“For me the holy grail is winning playing this way and if you can do that consistently then we’ve cracked it, but that’s what coaching is. It is watching other people, putting your own interpretation into things and how they fit your team and your squad.

“We’re not reinventing the wheel, we’re just implementing our own ideas and taking bits and bobs from other people to try and best fit our style and system and that’s what it’s about really.”