Bolton Wanderers begin their League Two campaign on Saturday against Forest Green Rovers.
The Green Devils travel to the University of Bolton Stadium for a 3pm kick-off as the fourth tier of English football gets under way.
Wanderers boss Ian Evatt held a pre-match press conference ahead of the fixture and here’s what he had to say on several topics ahead of the season opener.
The biggest challenge of being the Bolton manager?
“I think just winning games consistently and obviously getting this club back to where it belongs. It isn’t easy when a club’s been used to losing games to then suddenly come in and wave a magic wand and everything be okay again.
“We’ve chosen to start again with the playing squad. We’ve got 17 new players. Now we’ve said many times, just because I’m saying it’s going to take us a while to gel and to see the best of us, doesn’t mean to say I don’t think we should be getting results now.
“We should, and if you take the two proper games that we’ve had into context, we should have got results in both. We didn’t, so there has to be room for improvement. We’re working very hard on that in training, but it’s more minor detail than big things that are wrong.”
Have you got the competition for places in the squad with the starting XI in mind that you would prefer at this stage?
“I think we probably need one or two more. We are quite far down the line with certainly one of those. Now, for reasons I can’t really say or speak about, he won’t be here just yet but in principle we’re getting there.
“We found it hard at times to be quick with recruitment because players’ expectations change. One minute they’re asking for the world, you move on, and then all of a sudden, this player comes back around again and he comes available because he hasn’t got a club.
“But by that time, because of the salary cap, our places are full, so there are challenges with recruitment, there’s no doubt, but am I happy with the ones we’ve got? Yeah, of course. Do I always want more? Yeah, of course, I’m a manager but we’ll never put this club’s finances at risk and we’ll do the best we can to limit the risk in terms of what we’re bringing in the building.”
What has been players’ reaction to the two games that have been played so far?
“I think their ears will be ringing this morning because we cannot keep shooting ourselves in the foot and blowing our own feet off by lack of concentration, more than anything else.
“As I said on Tuesday, I wouldn’t mind if Crewe had played through us, because Crewe are a good football team, they’ve got some fantastic football players who will end up playing a lot higher than Crewe Alexandra.
“At the minute, we are conceding set pieces, we are conceding from dead ball situations, goal kicks and from just switching off defensively, lack of concentration and long balls that are getting in behind us when they shouldn’t be, not with the pace and power we’ve got back there.
“So it is just switching the minds on, reminding defenders that you’re there to defend first and foremost.
“Yes, we’re asking you to build attacks and to play out from the back, but that is an added extra to the basics and the basics are head the ball, win tackles, defend properly, defend for your lives and keep the ball out of our net. If we do that, we’ll win games consistently.”
Looking ahead to Forest Green Rovers, would it be a weight off your shoulders when the first win arrives?
“I’ve got no weight on my shoulders, none at all. I’m more than confident in us getting results. I’ve seen enough in the first two games to know that.
“We’ve just got to fine tune our mindsets, fine tune the defensive side of the game and once we do that, we’ll score goals and we’ll beat teams.
“Hopefully that starts Saturday. We all know this league campaign’s a big campaign for us. We’re not under any illusions with that one. We’ve got to make sure that we’re at the top end of this division. I expect us to be.
“We’re going to improve as the season goes on but I think I’ve seen enough to know that consistency, once that comes, we’re going to beat teams and beat teams on a regular basis.”
Any knocks ahead of the game on Saturday?
“We’ve picked up some and I think going back to the situation of when players are coming in late into pre-season and you’re chucking them in the deep end, they are going to pick up niggles.
“I’m not going to name names, but we’ve got probably three or four that have picked up knocks and niggles (on Tuesday against Crewe) which could potentially keep them out of Saturday.”