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Manchester Evening News
Manchester Evening News
John McDougall

Bolton boss Ian Evatt on facing Burton Albion, systems, team selection & formation discussion

Bolton Wanderers take on Burton Albion aiming to make it two wins from two in League One.

The Whites host the Brewers at the University of Bolton Stadium. It will be the first of two home games in the space of five days for Wanderers.

They will be aiming to build upon the dramatic 3-2 comeback victory against Accrington Stanley on the road over the weekend. The three points ensured Wanderers crept back into the top six in League One, their target for the season and where they will be hoping to be in May.

READ MORE: Bolton Wanderers wing-back to miss Burton Albion clash as Liverpool loanee update given

Before the clash, here's every word Bolton boss Ian Evatt had to say to broadcasters prior to the encounter at a pre-match press conference.

What’s the latest availability?

“Obviously, Conor Bradley is back available. He is raring to go. Lloyd is feeling a bit stiff and sore in his hamstring after Saturday.

“We will probably give him a couple of days to recover. Two first team fixtures in a week for the first time in 10 months is obviously challenging, so we will look after him. Other than that, everyone is available.”

With the way things went on Saturday, you’ve had a difficult job so far this season selecting teams, does that help?

“Selecting teams is always difficult and some things work, some things don’t. What I will say is I don’t think people can become too focused on formations. We have an idea of what we are trying to do in possession and an idea what we try to do out of possession.

“Just because on paper it looks like 3-5-2, it doesn’t really mean to easy it is going to stay like that. In games, we can rotate and move into 4-3-3, we can change and build out with four at the back, three at the back, sometimes even two.

“It doesn’t really matter about formations and people shouldn’t be concentrating on it too much. The most important thing is what we are trying to do in possession, our idea of how to affect the opposition and then how we are going to press against the ball, not necessarily meaning we are going to stay in that formation for 90 minutes.”

Does that change game by game?

“Yes, but also players have the responsibility and the flexibility to be able to do that in game themselves. We can easily just move slightly to change into a back four or back three, there’s no issue with that and there’s no complaints from me if the players decide to do that because they feel like they’re not getting the right solutions in a certain structure.

“We want the players to have the flexibility and the confidence to be able to do things and rotate and move themselves. We’ve got a clear idea of what we’re trying to do in possession and a clear idea of how to affect the opposition and also out of possession, what our idea is in the high press and high regains.

“What that looks like in terms of systems is irrelevant really.”

We’ve talked about the expectations before a ball had even been kicked - with the win at Accrington and two home games to come, is that understandable?

“To be honest we’re just concentrating on the next game and that’s that. A lot’s been made of the last few weeks and people are entitled to their own opinions.

“The facts are we’re in the top six and the facts are if we win our game in hand, we would be above Peterborough which would take us to fifth or fourth, which by my book is doing okay, so I think we just need to breath.

“We’re allowed to lose, we’re going to win games, we’re going to lose some, it is what it is. It’s the course of the season that we’ll be judged on and at the moment, we’re where we want to be.”

Is that the most satisfying comeback of your managerial career?

“Comebacks are always great. The feeling and emotion of football is a fantastic thing, and it is an amazing game sometimes. Just when you think you are down and out, momentum can shift and special things can happen. That happened on Saturday, and it didn’t happen by chance. It happened because we changed things, we moved, we brought on substitutes that affected the game and we went and won it.

"Not many teams could do that to Accrington the way we did second half, the way we built a head of steam. I read John’s comments after the game and he was very gracious in defeat. He said we deserved to win, and I believe we did deserve to win the game.

"The two goals we conceded were really poor, disappointing and we made it really difficult for ourselves. But to do what we did – especially when everyone had Forest Green and Cheltenham in their heads. Historically at Accrington by the way, we lost 7-1 there and lost last season, so it is a pretty good result I would say and hopefully we can build on that this week.”

How satisfying was it to watch the second half back?

“It was satisfying because you know that you have won the game. But for me it is about improvement and how we can improve as a team. I didn’t think we were brave enough in possession first half, I thought we caused our own problems. Accrington didn’t create very much at all.

"The goal we gave them was really poor from a throw-in. After that, we had all the control and we had one or two moments, some good chances – Dion and Jon in particular – but we didn’t take them, it has been going that way for us. We came out second half and had five minutes of complete madness, almost went three behind.

"Thankfully, it was only two and then we managed to get the changes on and change things. Once we got that first goal, you could feel that relief in the stands and on the players’ faces. You could sense momentum completely shifted, but to make the most of that momentum is a difficult thing and I thought the players were outstanding in doing so.”

Do you feel you put the ‘ghosts of Cheltenham and Forest Green’ to rest?

“A win is a win, but it only counts for three points. We are going to win games, we are going to lose them. It is just the nature of football seasons. If you look at every league in English football on a Saturday you will always see strange results and results that aren’t predicted. We haven’t got a right to go to these places and win, and football wouldn’t be football if you won every game you were supposed to – it just doesn’t work like that.

"I think people need to just relax and breathe a little bit, just bear with us. We are going to win, we are going to lose - it happens in football seasons. But the most important thing is the end goal, and the end goal for us this season is to be in and around that top six, and at the moment we are there.”

Can faith from the fans be key in the next few matches?

“To be honest, it is not about the faith from fans. Fans are fans and they are emotional all of the time, but that is why you love your football club. I am the same, I feel the same emotion. You go from hero to villain pretty quickly in football, it is just the nature of the industry.

"What we have to do is keep composed, calm heads, keep focused on what we are trying to do and achieve, keep working really hard on the training pitch, stay humble and grounded in good and bad results. Then, hopefully we will be where we want to be come the end of the season.

"But it is a long way off – it is only October. The last time I looked, you don’t achieve anything in October. We are doing better than we were last season, so that is progress at this stage. That is all we are looking to do – keep progressing and moving forwards.”

What are you expecting from Burton?

“I think it is going to be a really difficult game. They have a way of playing which is awkward and difficult to play against. Obviously, they have got the weaponry of the long throws and set-plays, which caused us problems towards the end of last season. However, we are at home.

"I think we are a much better team here because the dimensions and the surface suits us here. We are happy to be at home again and we are going to try and do our very best to win the game.”

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