ON the 10th anniversary of Bolton Wanderers dropping out of the Premier League, Ian Evatt has predicted he will be the man who leads the club back to its former glories.

Exactly a decade ago, Owen Coyle’s team failed to beat Stoke City on the final day of the season to end an 11-year spell at English football’s top table.

An expensive gamble to bounce straight back the following season failed – and the club’s gradual decline ended with administration and fourth-tier football for only the second time in its history.

Evatt, and owners Football Ventures, have since corrected Bolton’s course and many supporters are looking towards next season in League One with a great deal of optimism.

The Wanderers boss, who has been in charge for just under two years, believes the club is steadily being rebuilt with a view to gaining promotion to the Championship and, eventually, the top-flight.

"I have said it a lot and people can mistake this for arrogance but it isn't, it is just confidence and belief,” he said. “I believe I will be a Premier League manager and I believe Bolton will be a Premier League football team again.

"Now there are a lot of things that have to go on before that becomes possible but the reason I took this job in the first place was that I didn't want stepping stones, I wanted a club I could develop, set up a brand and identity that could take us on that journey. That is still the case now.

"There are so many exciting things happening - B Team, Academy, here at the stadium - it is an amazing time to be manager of this football club.

"I have been able to re-engage with the fans because we've reached the end of the pandemic, at least in football terms.

"It is a big vision of mine to get this club back there. It is where we believe it should be.

"It is OK having those end dreams and goals but you have to have the foundation and structure to get us there. It can be baby steps along the way.”

Evatt wanted promotion this season but saw his side fall 10 points short of the play-offs despite an impressive run of results post-January.

He admits, however, that the process of restructuring the business – still just two-and-half years out of administration and the more recent effects of a global pandemic – may have left Bolton vulnerable had they stepped up a level.

"As much as we all wanted to get there - and me more than most - I don't think we were ready,” he said.

"When we get there we want to stay. We want to be competitive in that league too.

"I don't think we were right on or off the pitch but I do know Sharon is getting us into the position where we will be competitive in the Championship, improving the infrastructure.”

Evatt’s own success at Bolton and his previous club Barrow has garnered its own attention – and, inevitably, his name has been casually linked with jobs higher up the football pyramid.

He is adamant, however, that pledges made by chairman Sharon Brittan and the board make him confident the club will match his own determination to compete at a higher level.

"I know Sharon and the board share the same ambition. It is aligned,” he told The Bolton News.

"That is why I love my job. I love working with them because they share the same vision and dreams.

"It is the nature of the beast that when managers are successful, and I have had success while I am young in management terms, or if the way you play is considered attractive that you get linked to other things. But I am not interested in other jobs, this is my job and what I want to do.

"I love every minute of this job and my motivation is getting the club back to where it belongs. That is how it will stay."