Ian Evatt’s response to if he regrets claiming Bolton Wanderers are League One’s best team

Ian Evatt insists he has no regrets over his comments earlier this season where he suggested Bolton Wanderers were the best team in League One.

Evatt vowed his side were top dogs in the division based upon performances and made the comments following a narrow 1-0 loss on the road to Sheffield Wednesday.

Wanderers sat just outside the play-offs at that point in the campaign, but have since slipped down the table and are 18th as things stand heading into today’s home encounter against Ipswich Town.

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Evatt has now reflected on those comments he made pitchside at Hillsborough but insists he does not regret making them and reaffirmed the context surrounding them, that they were based on performances on the pitch.

The Bolton boss made similar claims around this time last year when the club was in the lower reaches of League Two, but went on to achieve promotion.

Though Evatt is not saying that will happen again for certain, he has reiterated that based on what he saw then, his side was performing as good as any in League One, though results were not reflected in that.

And he shrugged off the jibes from away fans over those comments as he believes, in time, Bolton will be top dogs in the division.

He said: “No, no I don’t (regret saying Bolton are the best side in League One). I said the same thing last year and Jeff Stelling and all the Soccer Saturday lot laugh and joke, but we ended up getting promoted.

“I am not saying that will definitely happen this season but there is context to it, we were talking about performances. It wasn’t just my opinion at the time – if you spoke to Darren Moore after the Sheffield Wednesday game, or after we’d gone to Sunderland and annihilated them but lost the game 1-0. Performance-wise, I believed we were playing as well as anyone.

“I know that doesn’t necessarily mean you get results. We didn’t then and we haven’t got them now but if you don’t believe you are the best and can be the best then I don’t think there is a point in turning up in the first place.

“A lot of the things I say are for the benefit of the club and the players. The way we play, how brave you have to be, they need the self-belief and the air of arrogance and invincibility, and if I can help that with some of the press I do, I’m happy to take all the criticism in the world.

“You can all laugh at me for saying we are the best team in the league, away fans can sing it, because I know eventually, we will be. I know that.

“You can say what you want about arrogance, confidence or ego. You can say I don’t listen to anyone else – well I don’t.

“I trust and believe in myself and I know where this club is going.”

One of the big, if not the biggest, high point of the season so far came against today’s opponents Ipswich Town with a remarkable 5-2 victory away at Portman Road in September.

On that day, Bolton went behind early on thanks to Macauley Bonne’s strike, but got back on level terms thanks to Dapo Afolayan.

Eoin Doyle then put Wanderers ahead from the penalty spot, before Ipswich leveled after Bonne’s shot went in off Ricardo Almeida Santos.

Afolayan then grabbed his second of the game on the stroke of half-time, before Josh Sheehan added a fourth after the break, as George Johnston netted a fifth to cap off a remarkable game.

Wanderers are a different team now to how they were then, both in terms of personnel and confidence levels, and Evatt believes his side must break their current cycle of five defeats on the bounce in all competitions and get a result against the Tractor Boys.

He said: “We have had some real high points and a lot of low points so far this season and we’re only halfway through. Ipswich feels like forever ago.

“It was a wonderful performance and this is what those players are capable of doing.

“We are a different team. We are functioning differently at the moment but that is down to confidence, we have only really got the same players and are recruiting better ones, I believe.

“We will get back to that but, for now, I want to break the cycle and get back to winning games no matter how it happens.

“No matter what it takes, we have to find a way to get a result on Saturday.”

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