Bolton Wanderers manager Ian Evatt is predicting a thrilling game in the Papa Johns Trophy Final this weekend in a fixture which pits two promising young bosses against each other.
Evatt and Plymouth Argyle’s Steven Schumacher joined this week’s edition of the Official EFL Podcast ahead of Sunday’s showdown at Wembley.
Here’s what the Trotters’ chief had to say…
‘Ticket sales are through the roof’
“It’s a fantastic Final for the EFL and for League One football. Both Clubs’ ticket sales are through the roof which speaks volumes for the connections we’ve both got with our fanbases. At the moment, we’ve sold 9,000 more tickets than what we did for the 2011 FA Cup Semi-Final.”
‘I hope the best teams wins’
“If you understand the game and understand what our two philosophies are about, we’re backing ourselves regardless. We’re not going to change too much for the opposition. I know pretty much how Plymouth are going to play and I’m sure Schuey (Steven Schumacher) thinks the same about how we’re going to play. What I will say is, on the day, I just hope the best teams wins.”
‘We’re both very ambitious’
“Especially for young managers who are making their way in the game – myself and Schuey are both young manager who have had a lot of success early on – I have an admiration for the way his team plays against the grain of the division. Both teams are trying to do things in what I believe is a sustainable manner; it’s very similar. There’s a clear strategy and a clear plan
“To be at the top of this league with the Clubs surrounding them is an amazing achievement. I do hope, hand on heart, that they get promoted. We’re both very ambitious and want to get to the top of the game.”
‘Both Clubs have a lot riding on this season’
“I was fortunate enough to play in Play-Off Finals as a player, but that’s the end of the season and the whole season rides on that, whereas, arguably, both Clubs have a lot more riding on what’s to come post-Sunday. It’s been hard to focus this week. It’s just managing the players’ energy levels and making sure that doesn’t boil over and keeping them focused. Sunday is the next fixture and arguably the most important one.”
“The signings that we made in January, we’ve got three players who are cup tied. The squad is the squad pretty much because we’ve got two or three long-term injuries that can’t be involved. We played against a game against Rotherham on Friday because we needed a game with the international break. The break has probably helped us to re-energise, but we’ve had to sit tight and be a bit patient and we didn’t want to go into the game on Sunday having not played a competitive game.
“Both teams are prepared. It’s going to be small tweaks rather than big ones. I try to remember one or two things that Schuey said after our games this season and probably likewise for us and try to play accordingly.”
‘I’ve had some dark days’
“I’ve had an incredible personal journey in my own life. I’ve gone through lots of dark times and dark days. Management has given me another chance and another opportunity; it’s completely reformed me and my character. As you get older, you start to mature and want different things. I’m as hungry as anybody to try and get to the top of this game and be successful.”