Ian Holloway has praised the achievements of Ian Evatt and explained how he helped the Barrow boss to develop his game at Blackpool.
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In his recent interview with The Gazette, former Blackpool manager Holloway revealed that he has kept in touch with his legendary Seasiders squad, who won promotion to the Premier League and enjoyed an unforgettable 2010-11 season among the elite clubs in the English game.
Central defender Evatt was a cornerstone of that side, making 230 League appearances for Pool over seven seasons, including 38 in the Premier League.
Now in his second season as manager at Barrow, Evatt’s Cumbrians are three points clear at the top of the National League, with a game in hand on the chasing pack, and looking forward to a Boxing Day/New Year’s Day double-header against AFC Fylde over the festive period.
Holloway told The Gazette: “We’ve got this little chat going with all the old lads from the team.
“All the lads are all praising Evo for the job he’s doing as a manager. Good luck to him. I hope it all goes well.
“I hope he tries to produce a way of playing that is Ian Evatt’s way only and I’ll be watching his career with very proud eyes.”
The forthcoming games against Fylde have acquired added spice as Evatt was first-choice to replace Dave Challinor when the Coasters sacked their long-serving manager in October.
Holloway recalls the part he played in adding an attacking element to Evatt’s play.
He said: “I always told him how I wanted him to play the ball to the full-back and run forward like a centre-forward, not a centre half.
“It took him about three months to score his first goal in open play!”
“But it’s amazing how ideas can sometimes bring some surprising results.
“I knew he was a brilliant footballer and he fitted in with the way I wanted to play.
“I just had to give him the confidence and a licence to maraud forward when we had the ball.
“I was really proud of what everybody at Blackpool achieved.
“I thought it was a team effort, with the fans singing their song about this being the best trip they’ve ever been on.
“They played a massive part in making our lads believe. Even if we were only drawing or behind, we would still come back because it was a team effort.”