IAN Holloway has hailed his inspirational twin towers Ian Evatt and Craig Cathcart.
The Pool manager believes Manchester United will eventually re-sign Cathcart, who has helped Evatt find the form of his life – but Holloway thinks both centre-halves will be even better when the midfielders are “scared stiff” of them.
Even in the 4-0 defeat at Wolves last weekend, Holloway felt they were two of the best players on the pitch.
“Put it like this, if you had told me at the start of the season that Alex Baptiste would have been fit and not been playing, or that I had to put him full-back because Cathcart and Evatt were playing so well, I’d have thought you had completely lost the plot,” said the manager.
“Baptiste was probably my player of the season last year, apart from Charlie. He was just faultless, so it shows how well the other pair have done to be at the back almost every week.”
Holloway had been chasing Cathcart for 12 months before eventually signing him from Manchester United in the summer for what now seems a bargain £500,000.
Evatt has been at the club since August 2006, picked up by Simon Grayson from QPR. His arrival coincided with the Seasiders’ rise up the divisions.
“Evatt is unreal at the moment because he’s doing so well,” said Holloway.
“That hasn’t surprised me because I took him to QPR when I was manager there. I knew then he was a good, ball-playing centre-half.
“But he has come on in leaps and bounds and I am delighted.
“He is starting to lead people now. He is starting to tell them what to do and to boss them around. And he means it, which is great. You need your centre-halves to do that.
“As a midfield player you’ve got to be scared stiff of your centre-halves. You need them screaming at you all day, and I need my two to start doing that, especially given the way we play.”
Holloway believes Cathcart, 22, is destined for a big future, saying: “As long as he keeps working hard, Craig is going to be fantastic. You don’t stay at Manchester United as long as he did if you aren’t any good or you don’t have any promise.
“I have never had a more senior or older pro read things as well as Cathcart does. He was outstanding against Tottenham. He did very well, funnily enough, at Wolves too. He and Evatt defended well.
“Craig has been a bit frustrated. He feels a bit isolated sometimes but that is just the way I want to play.
“Instead of telling them where he wants people, which he should do, he is a little bit quiet. He isn’t dominating. This time next year I think he will be screaming at people. That’s his job – he has to organise those in front of him and not let them wander.”