Sharon's stance is the right one

By Liam Hatton

Ever since the Wembley nightmare three weeks ago, there has been radio silence from most people associated with Bolton Wanderers. 

That is par for the course, because there does not always need to be an immediate post mortem when things do not go the club’s way.

Of course, it does not stop fans asking the question about what is next because as both paying customers and being emotionally invested in the future of the club, the fanbase can be impatient.

The manager took a break away after comments in the media had some thinking he may not be here next year, whilst the players also enjoyed well deserved holidays (because failing to get promotion does not mean they should have to cancel their breaks, as that would be ridiculous).

As chairman of the club, Sharon Brittan also wanted to wait before making comment on the past season, admitting that it took several days to process what had happened.

It is all fair, because the notion that an immediate statement on social media from the captain, for example, will not make the hurt go away, nor will it solve any of the issues Wanderers need to rectify in the summer transfer window.

What we gained from Sharon speaking out this week is that both Ian Evatt and Chris Markham will remain, with her describing both as “very smart, very driven and loyal”.

I think that is what we already knew regardless because it would have been a tough sell for Sharon to convince herself that finishing third, getting beat in the play-off final and narrowly missing out on automatic promotion would mean it was time to rip it all up and start again.

Look, I understand that is a positive and simplistic view which many will not agree with. We did not finish second because we were not good enough, just as we did not win at Wembley because, you guessed it, we were not good enough.

I feel that Evatt deserves another shot, although the pressure on his shoulders will increase tenfold this year. He will be backed by an increased playing budget, which will be needed with more financial muscle being flexed around the league with the teams coming both up and down.

You may be Evatt in or Evatt out, but he has the board’s backing and the time to put last season behind us has been and gone. Maybe there will be a period of reflection for the manager and what went wrong, and I personally would like to see players added which can aid in switching the formation if needed, offering more flexibility.

There are other positions to focus on, but you would be naive to think the squad is not in a situation to be competing once more with a few additions.

“I need the supporters to trust me and know that every single thing I am doing is for the very best interest of the business,” Sharon said.

I feel she has earned that level of trust.

Have faith in Sharon's judgement

By Tony Thompson

(Image: Camerasport)

When you read about some of the wrong-uns that are running football clubs up and down the land, it does make you feel good that your own club is in the hands of someone who cares about it.

Now I am not saying Sharon Brittan and Football Ventures are perfect. They have made mistakes since they took charge. I wonder what Tobias Phoenix is doing right now?

I have even found myself asking if Ian Evatt was the right man for the job from time to time, and most recently as I drove back from Wembley in a huff.

We can all remember a time when the owner of Bolton Wanderers would write three statements a day and post strange rants at ungodly hours on the official website. They were entertaining for a while until they were not.

Sharon Brittan doesn’t seem like someone who wastes words. She seems as genuine as anyone in her position can possibly be. She seems to care about BWFC, care about the fans, and while she might not have the backing of an oil-rich state in the Middle East or an eccentric American billionaire, you can at least see logic in the things that she does.

When she tells me that the manager is the man for the job, then I am inclined to respect her decision. I do think he is under a lot of pressure this season, particularly if we were to get off to a bumpy start, but if she thinks he is the best chance of getting into the Championship then I think most fans would back her judgement, at least for the short term.

Most of us change our opinions like we change our socks and if we win the first 10 games of the season everyone will be comparing him to Big Sam and Bruce Rioch again. I am really chuffed to see the manager might get some money to spend this summer as well because there are some deep pockets coming into the division next season, and it will be hard enough getting over the play-off final without having to rely completely on the same squad.

I predict that he will bring in four or five players and that by August we are all secretly thinking that we have a chance of automatic promotion again. But like I say, a couple of bad results and I don’t think some people will be able to hold their tongue.

People keep comparing Ian Evatt to Phil Neal and I can remember how bad that got. I actually like Evatt more as well. Neal came across as a really grey and uninspiring bloke even though he was an excellent player.

Personality goes a long way and that is why Sharon Brittan’s interview has cheered me up a bit. I might still have some reservations about next season but at least I now know what I am meant to be supporting, and that’s a start.