Bolton manager Ian Evatt has been blasted by fans after telling 20-year-old goalkeeper Billy Crellin to ‘man up’ following a howler in League Two on Saturday.
Under-pressure Evatt called out the rookie stopper for punching a cross into his own net and reeled off a series of mistakes made by Crellin as his side extended their winless streak.
A recording of the scathing post-match remarks made by Evatt, who has led struggling Wanderers to a single win in eight league matches this season, received a fierce backlash on Twitter.
Bolton boss Ian Evatt publicly singled out Billy Crellin after the goalkeeper made a bad mistake
On-loan Crellin (left) gifted Cambridge the lead in League Two before Bolton earned a 1-1 draw
Frustrated Evatt told BBC Radio Manchester: ‘He’s a fantastic young goalie with lots of attributes and assets, but we cannot afford for him to keep making mistakes. It’s that simple.
‘He cost us the first goal, in my opinion, at Barrow on Tuesday – maybe the second one, as well – and then this today.
‘So this is me saying to him, publicly, “man up”. I’ve had that conversation privately. This is a man’s game. Three points are at stake and my team deserved to win today.’
Critics fired back at Evatt and accused him of being cruel to Crellin, who has made fewer than 30 appearances during the first two years of a career that has seen him loaned to FC United of Manchester, Chorley and Bolton from parent club Fleetwood.
Fans turned on beleaguered Evatt on social media, scolding him for blaming the young keeper
One fan said that the coach’s remarks showed a lack of awareness of mental health concerns
Others claimed that the withering post-match interview demonstrated a boss out of his depth
Stunned presenter Jake Watson said: ‘This is shocking management from Ian Evatt to a young goalkeeper. He’s been entrusted in developing a talented player, not to crush his confidence.
‘Listening to this, [Fleetwood] should immediately recall Billy Crellin from his loan.’
A fan thundered: ‘Awful – his mental health awareness is shocking. The phrase “man up” should be eradicated from football and the world.
‘Football is a game for everyone. [Evatt] needs to go on a course and be educated.’
Crellin is on loan from League One Fleetwood but some on Twitter felt he should leave Bolton
Twitter was awash with supporters who suggested that Crellin’s confidence may be damaged
One critic noticed that Evatt seemed to have suggested that he had kept his criticism in-house
Former striker Marvin Sordell, who joined Bolton for £3million in 2012, said Evatt’s remarks were incomparable to Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder’s high-profile remarks about a blunder by on-loan Manchester United goalkeeper Dean Henderson last year.
Sordell argued: ‘Nobody is saying that criticism shouldn’t exist but the choice and manner of the words used are so important. In this case, they’re very different as well.
‘I can’t see how saying he cost them points in other games is helpful. Football is a team sport.
‘The moment players start playing to protect themselves from this kind of thing, it’s a slippery slope. This will affect more than just the keeper.
Former Bolton striker Marvin Sordell was among those to express serious reservations in reply
Sordell mentioned expert analysis which has repeatedly shown that fear does not help players
Blackburn’s performance psychologist pointed out that the outburst could have helped Evatt
‘It baffles me so much. If he thinks his performances have been shaky so far, what does he expect will happen now?’
Troubled Bolton were a Premier League club until 2012 and in the Championship in 2019, but a spectacular fall has seen the Trotters sink to the fourth tier for only the second time in their history after almost going out of business.
Another supporter said: ‘Bolton [are] paying top dollar, heavily in debt, massively underperforming [and] conceding for fun, yet it’s all on the goalie?
‘Sounds like the words of a manager out of his depth and already under pressure. He’ll be gone by Christmas.’
Fans accused defender-turned-manager Evatt of being a poor leader who was stuck in the past
Evatt guided Barrow to promotion last season and one respondent predicted his later apology
Evatt guided Barrow to the National League title last season but is enduring a run of five matches without a win after joining Bolton in the summer.
Issuing an apology on Sunday, the uncompromising former Blackpool and Chesterfield stalwart claimed that Crellin had agreed with his assessment.
Ex-defender Evatt told The Bolton News: ‘The terminology should have been better. I apologise for that if any offence has been caused.
‘What I’d meant was that there is a big step up between junior football and senior football and that Billy does have to get to grips with that as soon as possible.
Crellin had never made more than 10 appearances for a senior side before the start of this term
‘I have spoken to him this morning and he understands what I meant. He agrees with the sentiment, in fact. So there is no problem there at all.
‘Nothing I said in the media was any different to what I said to Billy in person. Bolton Wanderers fans will know by now that what you see is what you get with me, honesty and clarity.
‘I won’t hide anything. I fully accept, though, that it wasn’t the best choice of phrase and I can’t take that back.
‘And I am disappointed that we’re sat talking about this on a Sunday rather than what was a good performance at Cambridge.’
Evatt apologised for his words after seeing his side earn a point at their high-flying opponents
Crellin had salvation for his 72nd-minute misfortune after Bolton captain Antoni Sarcevic fired the equaliser 10 minutes later.
Blackburn performance psychologist Dr Andy Hill told Sordell: ‘I wouldn’t want to comment on specifics but singling out someone in that way is often rooted in high levels of emotion, whatever that may be.
‘It won’t help the player but may help the manager feel better in the moment.’
Bolton are currently 18th in the table after their second successive draw following a 3-3 draw at Barrow on Tuesday.
Crellin has played for England at youth levels and has made eight appearances so far for Bolton