Chesterfield legend Ian Evatt reveals his "ballsy" Barrow tactics - inspired by Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola

Spireites legend Ian Evatt has given an insight into his “ballsy” Pep Guardiola-inspired tactics which have led Barrow AFC to the top of the National League.

By Liam Norcliffe
Wednesday, 5th February 2020, 6:03 pm

The 38-year-old made more than 250 appearances for Chesterfield over two spells and had a short stint as caretaker manager in 2018 after Jack Lester’s departure.

The former Blackpool and Queens Park Rangers defender was linked with a return to the Proact when John Sheridan was sacked last month but Evatt said despite his love for the club “that ship has sailed.”

With 13 games to go the free-scoring Bluebirds are seven points clear of second-placed Harrogate Town and are playing an attractive style of football.

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“We’ve scored some good goals,” he told The Athletic. “One of them was after 24 passes. And we had another where every player touched the ball before it went in the net. Our fans started nicknaming us ‘Barrowcelona.’”

Evatt encourages his team to play out from the back even when under pressure, press high and rotate positions.

They play a 3-4-1-2 formation and have two of the league’s top scorers in Scott Quigley and John Rooney who have 35 goals between them so far.

Explaining a move they put together in a recent match against Solihull Moors, Evatt told the subscription-based website: “The keeper has it. He rolls it out to the middle of the three centre-halves, who steps out and raps a pass through the lines into the forward, who has come deep and rotated with the midfield player. He then switches play out to our left-sided centre-half, who has stepped in. Our left wing-back then makes a flat run behind their right-back and the ball gets threaded in behind and he plays a square pass, and Dior misses from two yards out.”

Former Chesterfield defender Ian Evatt is manager of National League leaders Barrow AFC.

The ‘six-second rule’ is also a big influence on how they play.

Again, that’s Pep’s influence,” he added. “If we’re not winning the ball back in six seconds, there’s something going wrong. Especially at this level. No disrespect but the more pressure you’ve got on the ball, the more people struggle with it.

“It’s massively ballsy. 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.”