|Gazette opinion: The Blackpool job might come too soon for Barrow's Ian Evatt 14:00 - Feb 13 with 29 views||BringBackTheRedRoom|
but it's a risk worth taking
Football, as we all know, is a fast-moving beast.
The ink on Simon Grayson’s P45 will have barely dried by the time Blackpool supporters were speculating over who’s next.
Neil Warnock, Sam Allardyce, Ian Holloway, Owen Coyle, Nigel Adkins – the usual suspects as I like to call them – are names that have all featured somewhere or other since Wednesday afternoon. I’m just surprised no-one has mentioned Alan Curbishley yet.
As is usually the case, you can disregard the majority of them in an instant. But where exactly do the Seasiders go from here?
Former Barnsley and Leeds United boss Paul Heckingbottom shot straight to the summit of the bookies’ odds owing to his previous working relationship with chief executive Ben Mansford, who is now calling the shots alongside Simon Sadler at Bloomfield Road.
Nathan Jones, who played a leading role in Luton Town’s rise from League Two to the Championship, is another leading contender.
But, ask the majority of Blackpool fans, and they will give you one name and one name only: Ian Evatt.
I was told only a few weeks ago that any move for ‘Evo’, at this early stage in his career anyway, is considered unlikely.
If that is to be the case, let me explain why I think that approach would be a mistake.
The 38-year-old is destined for big things. This isn’t a case of harping back to the ‘good old days’ and wanting Evatt installed simply because he’s a former player with legendary status at the club.
Yes, it helps that the former defender knows the club from top to bottom and is so highly thought of by the fans.
He simply ‘gets’ Blackpool and was one of the more vocal former players with his criticism of the Oyston regime.
With 230 appearances for the club over seven seasons, and having been involved in two promotion campaigns, Evatt has nothing to prove to Blackpool fans. They know that and he knows that.
But maybe, just maybe, having Evatt in the managerial hotseat at Bloomfield Road would be a match made in heaven?
Now in his second season with Barrow, having taken over after the club survived relegation by a point, Evatt has the Cumbrians four points clear at the top of the National League with a game in hand.
But it is not just the results that have been hugely impressive, it is also the style of play that has caught so many admiring glances.
The former centre-back is performing miracles at Holker Street.
The club, it’s said, has a bottom five budget in the National League.
Yet Evatt has them on course for a return to the Football League for the first time in almost half a century. Just imagine what he could do with Sadler’s backing.
Inspired by Ian Holloway’s flowing 4-3-3 system, Barrow are defying the doubters that say you have to play direct, ‘ugly’ football to succeed in non-league.
Evatt, who describes himself as a “modern-day coach with old-school values”, has the principles and philosophy Blackpool fans are crying out for.
If the Seasiders can’t win, then at least have a go and play some attractive and brave football in the process.It’s that sort of positivity that would see supporters flocking into Bloomfield Road.
But it isn’t just Holloway from whom Evatt takes inspiration, the Barrow chief also bases much of his principles on the work of Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola.
His approach of high pressing and the determination to win the ball back within six seconds of losing possession is clearly paying dividends, Barrow even winning 7-0 on consecutive Saturdays last month.
“It’s massively ballsy,” Evatt said of his approach in a recent interview with The Athletic.
“But what is football? What do you believe in? I believe that football is there as an entertainment industry.
“Supporters work hard, 9-5, five or six days a week, to be able to afford to come to football.
“If my team are just going to set up to win games by set pieces and long balls, it’s not what I would want to spend my hard-earned money to watch.”
These words would come as music to the ears of many Blackpool fans, who are quite unique in wanting to be entertained first first and foremost. If you can marry it together with winning football, even better.
It’s probably too soon for Evatt to be taking on a job as big as this given his lack of experience.
For Evatt, it's win-win. He either gets the dream job or he remains at Barrow, where he's onto a good thing, and gets them promoted.
In an ideal world, he’d have a promotion on his CV with Barrow before sealing a famous return to Bloomfield Road. But we don’t live in an ideal world, do we?
It’s undoubtedly a big step-up. But if anyone can make that step-up, Evo can.
|‘Where there is harmony, may we bring discord. Where there is truth, may we bring error. Where there is faith, may we bring doubt. And where there is hope, may we bring despair’|