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Do Pre-Season Results Matter?

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Chris takes a look at our recent pre-season results and wonders whether we can apply anything to our current form.

Say whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?
Say whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?
Ben Hoskins

In the light of last night's defeat away at League One outfit Carlisle United, and digesting the outpouring of panic on forms, the Official BWFC Facebook page (a place that I would only recommend visiting if you are a patient person) and Twitter, I set to wonder whether you can really take any notice of pre-season results.

Of course it's always nice to go into the season full of confidence on the back of a solid pre-season winning streak, and in an ideal world this would happen every time.

So I decided to take a look back at previous pre-season games and results, to see if there is any sort of correlation between the form that Bolton Wanderers showed, and their final league position at the end of the season.

2008/09 season - Premier League (Gary Megson)

25 July 2008

Rochdale

0-0

Bolton Wanderers

Spotland Stadium

26 July 2008

Macclesfield Town

1-0

Bolton Wanderers

Moss Rose

29 July 2008

Tranmere Rovers

A - A

Bolton Wanderers

Prenton Park

1 August 2008

Doncaster Rovers

0-5

Bolton Wanderers

Keepmoat Stadium

2 August 2008

Chorley

0-2

Bolton Wanderers

Victory Park

4 August 2008

Aris F.C.

1-1

Bolton Wanderers

Kleanthis Vikelidis Stadium

8 August 2008

AEK Athens

1-0

Bolton Wanderers

Olympic Stadium


As you can see, this pre-season brought two wins, two draws and two defeats from six games. Wanderers would struggle for the majority of the 2008/09 season and would ultimately finish 13th in the division following a late run of form which brought them another season in the top flight.

2009/10 season - Premier League (Gary Megson)

21 July 2009

Leigh Genesis

1 - 4

Bolton Wanderers

Leigh Sports Village

25 July 2009

Borussia Mönchengladbach

1 - 1

Bolton Wanderers

Borussia-Park

25 July 2009

Altrincham

3 - 3

Bolton Wanderers

Moss Lane

28 July 2009

Den Bosch

1 - 2

Bolton Wanderers

De Vliert

31 July 2009

FC Eindhoven

2 - 2

Bolton Wanderers

Jan Louwers Stadion

3 August 2009

Fleetwood Town

2 - 0

Bolton Wanderers

Highbury Stadium

4 August 2009

Hearts

1 - 1

Bolton Wanderers

Tynecastle Stadium

8 August 2009

Bolton Wanderers

0 - 0

Hibs

Reebok Stadium

9 August 2009

Chorley

2 - 3

Bolton Wanderers

Victory Park

Again, a mixed pre-season under Megson garnered three wins, five draws and a defeat, away at Fleetwood Town, then of the Conference. The season itself however started off on a much more troubled footing leading to the manager's sacking in December and his replacement Owen Coyle leading the club to safety in 14th place.

2010/11 season - Premier League (Owen Coyle)

14 July 2010

Charlotte Eagles United States

0 - 3

England Bolton Wanderers

Transamerica Field

17 July 2010

Charleston Battery United States

0 - 2

England Bolton Wanderers

Blackbaud Stadium

21 July 2010

Toronto Canada

1 - 1 (3 - 4 p)

England Bolton Wanderers

BMO Field

24 July 2010

Rochdale England

1 - 1

England Bolton Wanderers

Spotland

28 July 2010

Oldham Athletic England

3 - 0

England Bolton Wanderers

Boundary Park

31 July 2010

Falkirk Scotland

0 - 0

England Bolton Wanderers

Falkirk Stadium

2 August 2010

St. Johnstone Scotland

0 - 2

England Bolton Wanderers

McDiarmid Park

6 August 2010

Bolton Wanderers England

2 - 0

Spain Osasuna

Reebok Stadium

The 2010/11 pre-season saw Wanderers head across the pond to America and Canada, as well as a home game against La Liga outfit Osasuna at the Reebok Stadium. The early games brought in five wins, two draws and a defeat, but again a mixed season would see Wanderers finish in 14th position which was a disappointment following a good start and middle of the season, but a heavy FA Cup Semi Final defeat to Stoke City pushed the side into a downward spiral of poor form which in hindsight was a sign of things to come.

2011/12 season - Premier League (Owen Coyle)

14 July 2011

FC Tampa Bay United States

1 - 0

England Bolton Wanderers

Al Lang Stadium

17 July 2011

Orlando City United States

1 - 3

England Bolton Wanderers

Citrus Bowl

20 July 2011

Houston Dynamo United States

0 - 2

England Bolton Wanderers

Robertson Stadium

24 July 2011

Bradford City England

1 - 4

England Bolton Wanderers

Valley Parade

27 July 2011

Bury England

0 - 2

England Bolton Wanderers

Gigg Lane

30 July 2011

Newport County Wales

1 - 3

England Bolton Wanderers

Newport Stadium

1 August 2011

Hereford United England

0 - 3

England Bolton Wanderers

Edgar Street

5 August 2011

Bolton Wanderers England

0 - 1

Spain Levante

Reebok Stadium

Bolton Wanderers and manager Owen Coyle again headed to America for the club's pre-season tour, visiting Tampa, Orlando and Houston along the way. Results were again excellent, with six wins and two defeats from the eight game schedule. However this run would not continue into the regular season as Bolton Wanderers were relegated in 18th position following a forgettable season.

2012/13 season - Premier League (Owen Coyle)

18 July 2012

Ayr United

1 - 1

Bolton Wanderers

Somerset Park

21 July 2012

Hamilton Academical

2 - 0

Bolton Wanderers

New Douglas Park

25 July 2012

Falkirk

1 - 1

Bolton Wanderers

Falkirk Stadium

28 July 2012

Crewe Alexandra

1 - 1

Bolton Wanderers

Alexandra Stadium

1 August 2012

Morecambe

0 - 2

Bolton Wanderers

Globe Arena

4 August 2012

Portsmouth

3 - 0

Bolton Wanderers

Fratton Park

7 August 2012

Tranmere Rovers

1 - 3

Bolton Wanderers

Prenton Park

10 August 2012

Bolton Wanderers

2 - 2

FC Barcelona B

Reebok Stadium

With relegation from the Barclays Premier League (bingo) came about a tightening of the belt as a trimmed down Bolton Wanderers squad eschewed a costly but no doubt luxurious pre-season tour of North America instead heading to Coyle's native Scotland. Results however did not improve and the Whites won only two of their eight games. Most embarrassing of all was the heavy 0-3 reverse away to Portsmouth, who at the time only had a man and his dog playing for them, and the dog was injured. The club would terminate Coyle's contract in October, bringing in Crystal Palace's hot young buck Dougie Freedman who managed to work a miracle and brought the club to the cusp of promotion, ultimately finishing in 7th position.

2013/14 season - Premier League (Dougie Freedman)

16 July 2013

Rotherham United

2 - 1

Bolton Wanderers

New York Stadium

20 July 2013

Shrewsbury Town

3 - 3

Bolton Wanderers

Greenhous Meadow

23 July 2013

Carlisle United

1 - 0

Bolton Wanderers

Brunton Park

26 July 2013

Bolton Wanderers

-

Real Betis

Reebok Stadium

So far, a truncated pre-season schedule sees Bolton Wanderers only playing four first team friendlies, as opposed to eight/nine that had become the norm. Defeats to Rotherham United and Shrewsbury Town, mixed in with a high scoring draw away at Shrewsbury. Pre-season will finish with a home game against La Liga side Real Betis.

So what can we learn from these games? From a total of 42 matches in pre-season, Bolton Wanderers only won 18. My personal view is that the pre-season is a time for players to get a base fitness to last through the season, and this combined with the integration and cohesion of new players within a squad always means that it is possible for results to be erratic. Indeed as the Dougie Freedman said following the Rotherham game:

"These games are all about players getting minutes under their belts. It's a fitness exercise, one in which I'm able to assess where players are at"

Therefore whilst it is normal for the modern fan to treat every result as if it is the most important in the history of the club (e-cries of Freedman Out came last night from the usual suspects), the above hopefully shows that there is no real correlation between pre-season form and how the season will progress. We have seen fantastically successful pre-season campaigns end up with dire "proper" season form and results.

I think we, as a fan base, largely realise that pre-season is about fitness and about teammates learning how the manager wants them to shape up and to play.

That said, I'd love us to absolutely pump Real Betis five-nil.