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When Does League Position Actually Start to Matter?

We are seven matches in to a 46 game season and some are already starting to panic. Should they panic now, and if not, when?

Chris Brunskill - Getty Images

It is Tuesday, September 25th, 2012. The world is not going to end in a few months. I am actually in Guatemala, surrounded by Mayans, and I asked them. They laughed. Soooooo, I wouldn't max out all the credit cards over the next few months if I were you, because the world is not going to end.

Unfortunately, there are no Mayans in Lancashire to bring comfort to wild-eyed Wanderers supporters. Some are more reasonable than others. Comments about the defense improving since the start of the season are fairly common on Twitter. Questions about giving Marvin Sordell more of a chance were easy to find this week. General support of young players like Marcos Alonso. And, of course, several supporters of Bolton Wanderers pining for the return of Mr. Stuart Holden.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Looks weird not seeing any Coyle out tweets recently. Might be because slowly everything seems to be improving. <a href="https://twitter.com/search/%23bwfc">#bwfc</a></p>&mdash; Rhett Morris (@Rhett_M88) <a href="https://twitter.com/Rhett_M88/status/250236600217391106" data-datetime="2012-09-24T14:13:49+00:00">September 24, 2012</a></blockquote>

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All true, all reasonable. And most important, not even a mention of the league table. We are seven games, or 15%, into the season. I never looked at the Premier League table before November, and I think I will wait even longer with the Championship table. Some disagree:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>We are down to 14th now <a href="https://twitter.com/search/%23coyleout">#coyleout</a></p>&mdash; B.W.F.C Monk (@Danny_Calow) <a href="https://twitter.com/Danny_Calow/status/249982806070009856" data-datetime="2012-09-23T21:25:20+00:00">September 23, 2012</a></blockquote> <script src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

What Danny doesn't mention is that 4th place and 15th place are separated by 3 points. In fact, 4th place and 21st place are separated by 6 points, or two wins. And in this league, two wins can come in four days.

I wrote a piece the other day with some mild criticism of Owen Coyle's post match comments, and some people took offense. But what I wrote was nothing like this:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>owen coyle better not be thinkin his job is safe I still want him out .. 1 win in so many games isn't gonna change a thing! <a href="https://twitter.com/search/%23coyleout">#coyleout</a></p>&mdash; Martin Jackson (@Martinbwfc) <a href="https://twitter.com/Martinbwfc/status/249819641537495040" data-datetime="2012-09-23T10:36:58+00:00">September 23, 2012</a></blockquote>

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Martin's mind is made up. But what will he say if we win our next two matches. Both are at home, and both are very winnable. If we do pick up six points we will be on 16 from 9 matches. That's a good return. And I don't have to look at the table to know that.

If one looks at the past several seasons in the Championship, it has taken roughly 75 points to get in the playoffs. In fact, a club with 75 points has not missed the playoffs in the last decade. I would love to get automatic promotion, anyone would, but the reality is that making the top 6 is the goal. 75 points is the goal. And if you do the math and look at the ratios, in order to be on pace for 75 points, after 7 matches a team should have (drumroll please), 11 points.

Admittedly, football doesn't work quite that way, but my point remains. Bolton have plenty of time to get plenty of points. And we will.

Mark Davies is starting to play better. Jay Spearing appears to have settled in nicely. It is only a matter of time before young Marvin Sordell and Benik Afobe get their chances to show what they can do in front of goal. And, of course, over the horizon we can see the golden-hued tips of Stuart Holden's lovely hair approaching. So, to my friend in the #Coyleout crowd, relax. Sit down, have a pint (I suspect you have already had several) and take the long view. Talk to me about the league table in January. If Bolton are more than three points away from the top six, you get a full refund for this column.