Football world divided over two-word critique of star goalkeeper

Bolton manager Ian Evatt has issued an apology for telling goalkeeper Billy Crellin in public to “man up”.

Evatt earlier this week gave his keeper a very public serve following his howler in Bolton’s frustrating 1-1 draw against Cambridge in League Two.

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The 20-year-old on Monday morning (AEDT) came off his line to punch a loose ball in the box, but committed the cardinal sin of hitting the ball across the goal into his own net.

After the game, Evatt singled him out as the reason for why the club missed out on all three points and also suggested he cost the side in its 3-3 draw with Barrow last week.

“I’ve just spoken to Billy in there. He’s a fantastic young goalie with lots of attributes and assets but we cannot afford him to keep making mistakes, it’s that simple,” he said.

“He cost us the first goal in my opinion at Barrow on Tuesday and maybe the second one as well, and then today. This is me saying to him publicly ‘man up’.

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“I’ve had that conversation privately. This is a man’s game, three points are at stake and my team deserved to win.”

The scathing criticism caused a major stir on line with suggestions Crellin’s original club Fleetwood Town would even attempt to re-call Crellin after he was loaned to Bolton.

The BBC reports former England defender Micah Richards was among the first to question Evatt’s approach — claiming the scolding should have been done in private.

“The phrase ‘man up’ we don’t like to hear — especially with everyone’s mental health at the moment and what is happening around the world,” he said.

Billy Crellin of Bolton Wanderers had reason to celebrate Wednesday.Source:Getty Images

“The only criticism I have for him is to keep it in the changing room. Your manager and your teammates are supposed to be the ones to tell you when you need it and be there for you when you need it as well.

“Coming out in an radio interview and outing him, I would not have any respect for a manager who did that to me.”

Evatt’s comments sparked a social media pile on with fans criticising the Bolton boss for “throwing Crellin under a bus”.

The draw against Cambridge left Bolton with just one win from eight league games this season — but Evatt had the last laugh on Wednesday morning (AEDT).

Crellin clearly responded to the public rocket because he starred for Bolton as the club recorded its first clean sheet of the season and picked up its second win with a 1-0 result against Bradford.

The had-fought win included a penalty save from Crellin.

Evatt addressed his controversial comments again after the win.

Ian Evatt is a straight shooter.Source:Getty Images

“Firstly again, I can’t reiterate enough and apologise for the ‘man up’ comment itself,” he said.

“I didn’t mean that in any derogatory way. The terminology was wrong and I accept that and I’ve learnt from it. But what I will say is sometimes when you’re a manager, you have to recognise people’s characters.

“It’s part of management in any form of life, in any form of business, to manage people you need to understand people and I understand Billy Crellin and I understood what needed to be said without the man up comment, which was wrong and again I must reiterate it was wrong.

“But I understood that he needed a kick up the backside and I knew that was coming tonight, I knew, and it’s great that he’s done that. It was written in the stars that he’s done that and I wonder if this will be played 700,000 times that I’m praising my keeper for being outstanding and he deserved that performance tonight because I know what he’s like as a character.

“I believe in him as a goalkeeper and that was never in doubt. Simple as that.

“I am talking aside from the comment because again I must reiterate I was wrong to say that phrase and we all know the context I said it in and I’ve learnt from it and that won’t happen again. But in terms of the criticism, it was just.

“It was deserved and he knows that and I’ll always tell him and all my players the truth to their face and to you guys because that’s what I believe in and he’s responded and he’s saved a penalty and he was excellent tonight and I don’t need to say anything more on that subject.”

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