IAN Evatt admits the pain of play-off defeat at Wembley in May made him question his future at Bolton Wanderers.

Failure to secure promotion to the Championship after a season focussed on nothing but was, in his own words, the biggest upset in his life to date.

The manager’s own talk of change in the immediate aftermath of defeat to Oxford United had fuelled speculation that he could walk away before a fourth year in charge.

But speaking for the first time about his mindset in the weeks after the final, Evatt admits he wondered if he could carry on at the Toughsheet Stadium having gone so close to promotion.

He told The Bolton News: “Did I look myself in the mirror and think: ‘Have I taken this as far as it can go?’

“The honest answer is I had those thoughts, but every time I came back to the fact that I love being manager of this football club, I love working with the people I work with, Sharon and the board are incredible people.

“The fans, the majority of them have always been very supportive of me. And I am not a quitter. I don’t quit. I haven’t finished the job I set out to do.

“I am not here to gain friends, I’m here to win. We didn’t get the job done last season but I feel it is my job to make sure it happens. We have to get better, we have to improve, and after those initial thoughts there is only one place I want to be and that is here.

“Now isn’t the time for more words, it’s actions. There is a lot of work to do now before we achieve what we want to achieve.

“We will have the conversations about Wembley. After that, we move forward. It is my job to pick the players, the fans, everybody up. That is where my mindset is now.”

Conversations about the future between chairman, Sharon Brittan, and Evatt did not take until more than a fortnight after Wembley – both feeling it was right to provide some separation after an emotional occasion.

A week later, Ms Brittan told The Bolton News that extra funding would be diverted to the playing budget in an effort to make the club as competitive as possible this season.

Evatt accepts there is now a pressure on him to assemble a squad that can challenge for promotion and is confident he can alter last season’s gameplan to go one better this time around.

“The position this football club is now in, financially, is incredible, and that is down to Sharon and the board, they need great credit for that,” he said. “Football is becoming a very expensive industry and League One is one of those leagues which has become crazy.

“We had an honest and open conversation. The board has been incredibly supportive since I have been here and never more so than this summer.

“We are going to be given everything we need to improve and achieve, and that is all I can ask as a manager. I am excited and we are in the best place, on and off the pitch, since I have been here in the off-season. Now we have to put it all together.

“There have to be changes, tweaks, but we have a clear idea of how to do that.

“We will improve. That is my aim. If we improve on last year then you don’t need a rocket scientist to tell you that’s what we all want, so that is the focus. We have to execute now.”

Avoiding a ‘hangover’ has not been historically a simple thing for beaten play-off finalists, with only a quarter going on to secure promotion the following season since the system was introduced in the late eighties.

Evatt is will to accept the responsibility of getting his players’ minds back on track.

“After the initial two or three weeks, post-Wembley, I was finding it harder to move on,” he said.

“I am a strong character, I have belief in this team and this club, and I have to use that now to motivate me. How the others choose to use it is down to them. Some will choose to forget and move on, some will definitely use it as motivation.

“One thing is for sure, whenever we have been knocked down we have managed to find a way to stand back up. I think that is what we will do.

“The players have come back in really good shape, the mood was more positive than I envisaged it to be. I think we understand now the challenge we have ahead of us and what we need to do to get better.”