Bolton goalkeeping coach Matt Gilks believes Wanderers could prove a key proving ground for talent from Manchester City in the future as he feels the League One side are trying to emulate Pep Guardiola’s men on a different level.
Wanderers boss Ian Evatt has made no secret of his admiration for City and sees Guardiola as the best coach in the world. The influence of the City boss and his philosophy of him are clear to see in Evatt’s coaching career.
Previous side Barrow were nicknamed ‘Barrowcelona’ owing to their possession based playing style and intense workrate. The same philosophy has been applied at Wanderers too and brought rewards in the form of promotion out of League Two as well as a ninth placed finish in their first season back in League One.
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A relationship with City is clearly there at Bolton after a successful loan spell for young goalkeeper James Trafford. He proved to be a hit at Evatt’s side, as he became the club’s number one goalkeeper in the the second half of the campaign in place of Joel Dixon and played 22 times for the Whites and kept clean sheets in his first four games.
Wanderers have made it clear they would like to have Trafford back from City at the University of Bolton Stadium next season. Gilks says there are ‘ongoing discussions’ between the two sides over making it a reality.
But moving forwards, Gilks believes Wanderers can have a positive relationship with City and that their style of play makes it more attractive for the Premier League side to want to send players their way in the future. He believes the education they will receive and the style of play will suit any prospects at the Etihad Stadium as Wanderers seek to nurture and foster relationships with the country’s big teams as he also reflected on how recruitment has evolved over the years and the importance of due diligence.
Speaking to the BBC’s Wanderer podcast, Gilks said: “Going forward we’re going to make a lot more connections with a lot of big clubs. We might get a lot more youngsters from the top clubs who have identified our style of play, how we want to play and it suits their club as well.
“For instance, if you compare us to Manchester City, on different levels obviously, but we’re trying to emulate. If City are aware of what we’re doing and obviously are, they’re more willing then to send players to us because they know they’re going to get an education being away from the club.
“There’s no point in them going to a lower league club who just hoof it, the keeper kicks it and the midfield gets it. Those kind of days are gone, and everyone’s trying to do it. The more people you can get that compliment that who already have got a base of that to add to what we can tell them, then everybody’s going to be better.
“But I think as well on the recruitment side of it, years ago yuo used to drive to a game and watch a player. There’s that much information now available to clubs via the internet on different platforms and scouting systemsm you know practically everything about them .
“For instance, I can ring various managers, coaches, players, chairman and you just ask them about them as a person as well as the football. That’s massively important now that their character, as well as their ability what we’ve seen fits into your ethos at the club.
“I know from my years in football that people have missed out because of certain elements of how they are as a person or how they are as a character because of phonecalls. So in football it’s quite a small family and when you get that phonecall about somebody, you have to be honest because you can’t send someone to a club because you’re never got to get that phonecall.
“That trust is there, so you do your due diligence and you’re almost slotting the people in rather than hoping they fit. That’s the difference now.”