DOES Ian Evatt have a reputation when it comes to dealing with referees? And has it affected him this season? They are questions that even the man himself struggles to answer.

The forthright Bolton Wanderers boss rarely hides his opinion on any subject, officials or otherwise, but says he has learned to be more diplomatic during the confines of a game in an effort to avoid picking up unnecessary cards, fines and suspensions.

This season he has picked up three yellow cards – which amounted to a one-game ban and led to him sitting in the stands for the Bristol Street Motors Trophy game at Stockport County – and also became the first manager in EFL history to be sent off for the ‘mis-use of technology’ in a home game against Fleetwood Town.

But Evatt maintains that his touchline behaviour has improved from his early days at Bolton, which is why he took the red card issued by referee Jeremy Simpson at Northampton Town so personally.

Making no apologies for sticking up for his players, nor expressing his disappointment at Simpson’s decision to send off George Thomason for a foul on Aaron McGowan at Sixfields, Evatt insists his protests were conveyed in a cordial manner.

Indeed, when the message arrived at the Wanderers dressing room just before the start of the second half that the referee ‘wanted a word’ – the Bolton manager thought he was about to get an apology!

Evatt spent the weekend considering if he could have gone about things differently – but he remains adamant that he has toned down his dealings with referees and fourth officials from previous seasons.

“That is one part of my own personal development that I have worked extremely hard on,” he told The Bolton News. “This season has been no different.

“I have to remind people that this season I have been red-carded for mentioning technology, not swearing, I literally said ‘I have seen the footage’ and I was made an example of, which is fine.

“People that know me and see me on a daily basis will know I am extremely passionate about my team, I always stick up for what I believe is right – but I try to it in the right way.

“In the past, and I will be the first to admit this, it has spilled over a bit. This season it certainly hasn’t and that is why I was so disappointed with Saturday because I articulated my argument in a fair way, in a way I thought was right.

"Again, what is the level of tolerance? Have I gained a reputation for it? I don’t know. Only the referees can answer that question.

“I don’t think it was fair for me to be sent off on Saturday and maybe I just need to stop engaging, full-stop? But is that me? Is it what I stand for?

“I believe my team was harshly treated on Saturday and I believe I have the right to express that in the right way. If I stop doing that, I lose a bit of myself, of who and what I am.

“I don’t believe that is right. I have thought about it over the weekend and the only solution I can think of is to not engage at all, and is that just accepting mediocrity? I don’t know. Maybe that is how I start to look at it?

“I was disappointed with many incidents on Saturday and we have made our feelings known.”

The Bolton News: Stevenage's Manager Steve Evans has words with Bolton Wanderers's Manager Ian Evatt after the final whistleStevenage's Manager Steve Evans has words with Bolton Wanderers's Manager Ian Evatt after the final whistle (Image: camerasport)