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A Football Manager Warning For Bolton Wanderers

A worrying thought for any fans that think League One will be a doddle next season

Chris Moyses, the Lincoln City manager, certainly won't be the only one not wanting to watch his Bolton side in the Vanarama National
Chris Moyses, the Lincoln City manager, certainly won't be the only one not wanting to watch his Bolton side in the Vanarama National
Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Yesterday, having guided my Sheffield United side to safety in our first season in the Premier League, my mind turned to how Bolton Wanderers were faring in the fantasy world of Football Manager.

Having achieved promotion from The Championship the previous season I knew full well they weren't in that league, so turned my attentions to League One - no luck - and then to League Two - and still could see no sign of Bolton Wanderers.

I don't know whether to be surprised or not by Bolton being relegated out of the Football League in May 2019, but the sheer desolation of the club has been pretty shocking.

On their league exit Bolton only earned 22 points from their 46 League Two fixtures, winning just seven and drawing 13 - moving down to the non-league along with Forest Green, who were my feeder club incidentally.

Bolton's record in the previous season, as they bowed out of League One in May 2018, was even worse. They amassed just 21 points from their 46 fixtures - racking up just four wins and 33 defeats, and scoring 15 goals less than any other side in the league.

The previous season Wanderers had managed to stay in League One, finishing in 14th place on 59 points - nine clear of relegation - as they stabilised, having been relegated from The Championship in the opening season of my game.

That opening season saw Bolton demoted to the third level of the English game along with Preston North End and Rotherham United, having finished level with 21st placed MK Dons and just three points behind 20th placed Blackburn Rovers on 42 points.

A virtual lesson

The club endured a swift decline from the Championship through to being a non-league outfit, within just four years of virtual game play.

Their squad is now filled with young academy players that are nowhere near good enough, current academy players Jack Everest and Cole Lonsdale are already their captain and vice-captain at the age of 20, and their manager Chris Moyses  sounds like an irritating former Radio One DJ (he's the current Lincoln City manager, in real life).

I also can't wait to see what Bolton's attendances will be like in the Vanarama National, given they are still in the 28,723 capacity Macron Stadium.

I know from all too personal experience that Bolton aren't great on Football Manager 16, but I think this is the worst I've seen them fall apart - just look at that downward spiral on the chart above.

While this obviously isn't real, it serves a lesson to all of us that League One next year will be extremely tough. Of course we can't take FM for granted, but it does have a nasty habit of making half-decent predictions - albeit for every success there's one that doesn't quite make the grade, just ask Freddy Adu or Cherno Samba.

But hopefully the real life Wanderers will rally with new ownership in place and manage to avoid the embarrassment of my current Football Manager adventure.