When Bolton persuaded Ian Evatt to leave Barrow in the summer it created a real buzz around the place, a buzz that had been missing in recent times following the club’s well-known struggles, both on-and-off the pitch.
Bolton, who were relegated to the fourth-tier last season under the points-per-game model, headed into the new campaign as the ante-post favourites to orchestrate an instant return to League One.
Any initial excitement was swiftly extinguished following five straight league and cup defeats, four of which came on home soil.
There was some brief respite in a 2-1 win away to this season’s surprise package, Simon’s Weaver’s Harrogate Town. The victory ended a 13-game winless run that had stretched over from the previous term under Keith Hill, and was made sweeter by the fact that summer signing Eoin Doyle stamped his name on the scoresheet for the first time.
It looked like Bolton had turned a corner and started to warm to Evatt’s ideas and playing philosophy, which had worked wonders at Barrow.
However, the Trotters have since lost in the cup to Shrewsbury, fired a blank against then rock-bottom Grimsby, then over the weekend they hit a nadir in a last-gasp defeat to Harry Kewell’s Oldham, who had failed to win all season.
One win from nine games in all competitions is certainly not the return anyone expected a couple of months ago, while the Latics loss left Bolton 20th in the table; already seven points adrift of the top-seven.
In the aftermath of the defeat, a frank and honest Evatt; lambasted his players, questioned their match-day mentality, their character, called them gutless and threatened to get shot of those who won’t perform.
Evatt, who believes he still has the backing of the board, then used an interesting balloon analogy to describe the club’s current circumstances (via BBC Sport):
“I am always concerned. I feel like a balloon because I get pumped up during the week with what I see out there on the training pitch and then every Saturday someone deflates me, they deflate me. That’s how it feels and it’s on repeat. It feels like Groundhog Week.
“It has to change fast because either they will be changed, or I’ll be changed. It’s as simple as that.
“This is a football club which should be doing better. It won’t change my belief, what we are doing and what we are trying to implement but some of them are not good enough, simple as that.”
So, who have Bolton got next (Tuesday)?
Barrow, of course.
The very club Evatt propelled into the Football League for the first time in nearly 50 years….