IAN Evatt is convinced that no team in the second division can live with Wanderers – once they master the Manchester City-like approach.
The Bolton boss openly admits that he borrowed a page from Pep Guardiola’s handbook when he set out to reinvent his page last summer.
And with an unbeaten streak of 11 games, the signs are that Evatt is making headway at the University of Bolton Stadium, which has turned into an unexpected late shot for the auto-promotion.
The latest success means Wanderers’ reputation as a possession footballer has now preceded them – and after Port Vale was frustrated for a long time last week, Evatt expects tomorrow’s opponent, Walsall, to offer similar stubborn resistance.
“We worked on it and gave the team some pictures of play patterns that we believe can cause problems for the teams if they sit deep and try to defend themselves,” he said. “We have to have more than one string on our bow. Yes, we want to score in a certain way, but if we can’t and the teams band together, what is the next scenario?
“We have to be more patient sometimes because I think we’re trying to score in the same breath and there is a time for that. The time for this is in transition, when the ball is high up on the field, the opponents are more vulnerable and we can play forward faster. But when the teams are topped up, it comes down to more complicated moves where the ball is moved from side to side until it opens – then it’s time to go in. We need to better recognize the difference between transitions and know when teams are sitting. ”
If Wanderer gets it right – as they did in their previous home game against Cambridge for a long time – they will now prove to be one of the division’s great entertainers.
Doing this more consistently, Evatt says, is the next trick.
Bolton will have to do without skipper Antoni Sarcevic, who will be out for several weeks due to a thigh injury and could bring Lloyd Isgrove as a replacement.
Evatt believes that either side at this level will struggle to contain their team if they can more consistently deliver what they want.
“It’s really about our rhythm, the pace of transition from back to front, our movement and the teams struggling to cope with it,” he said. “I think it’s a high level, a high tariff, and we’ve had some comparisons with Manchester City lately – and obviously we’re not anywhere near them – but the way we try to play , is very similar and the teams are not used to playing against this type of team in League Two and League One.
“I keep talking about nailing those fine details down to the training ground, and that’s where we’re going to improve things. If we do that right, the teams will fight us because the weight of the pressure means we should score – but it has to be wave after wave.
“When you’ve achieved that goal, the teams should come out, and at that point we should start picking them up.
“Sometimes we have problems scoring that first goal this season. We’ve done better lately and we have to be better than Port Vale on Saturday. ”