Keith Hill said Bolton had earned some respect after winning 2-0 at Bristol Rovers, their first League One win in 12 games this season.
Goals from Luke Murphy and Daryl Murphy had Wanderers fans in a rare mood of celebration and gave the experienced manager huge satisfaction.
Hill said: “We have earned some respect from the football world tonight.
“I’m so pleased for the owners, the players and the fans. A lot of hard work has gone into getting that result.
“Remi Matthews has made a brilliant early save, but then we grew into the game and in the end have merited the points.
“With so many injuries, we were down to the bare bones. Our two centre-backs had barely played together in a training session, let alone a match.
“I think the football world will look at that result and realise we are not down and out. It will earn us respect and that is important.
“I have belief that we can overcome our points deficit and it is shared by the players. But it is a huge job because we are rebuilding a club.
“Recently, we have been playing well for an hour in games, but paying for not taking our chances. We could have had more goals tonight and got our reward for all that has been going on behind the scenes.”
The visitors went in front when a neat interchange of passes on the edge of the Rovers box ended with Luke Murphy beating Anssi Jaakkola with a right-footed shot from 12 yards.
Daryl Murphy doubled the advantage midway through the second half, running onto a through ball from Ali Crawford and confidently firing past the advancing Jaakkola to provoke a storm of boos from disgruntled home fans.
Rovers started brightly and hit the bar in the second half from an Ed Upson free-kick, but manager Graham Coughlan admitted: “We didn’t turn up.
“It was a poor performance. We cannot afford to carry three or four players and there were more than that off their game.
“We knew Bolton were not the team that started the season and would be tough opponents. But their goals seemed to suck the life out of us and it wasn’t good enough.
“I will take the flak, rather than transfer it onto the players. If I had been a Rovers fan tonight I would have been critical, but let’s keep things in perspective.
“We have now had three poor halves in our last two games, but that is after a positive start. We have a small, young squad and it is all part of their learning curve.
“I will urge the lads to bounce back on Saturday and put smiles back on faces. Let’s get this under the carpet as soon as possible.”