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Ian Evatt explains why data won't be king at Bolton Wanderers this summer

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IAN Evatt says Wanderers will not be going exclusively down the ‘Moneyball’ route again this summer.

Much was made of the club’s data-driven recruitment policy on the manager’s arrival from Barrow, a strategy which had been pushed by the former head of football operations, Tobias Phoenix.

But Evatt believes lessons have been learned from the patchy quality of players who came through the doors and has vowed to have the final say on any talent recommended to him for next year’s League One push.

Ex-Huddersfield Town analyst Chris Markham was hand-picked by the Bolton boss to draw up a shortlist of players who could suit his style of football – and the pair are currently working to whittle down their options.

The approach will differ from 12 months ago, however, with the club focusing on “evidence-based decision making” to minimise the risks on incoming transfers.

“You are never going to reinvent the wheel with this kind of stuff,” Evatt told The Bolton News.

“Data is data, and I love it more than anybody. But it shouldn’t make the decision for you. It should only inform and help you make the right decision.

“Human eyes and my eyes have to be the most important thing. The manager should always have the final say on who we sign. And that is how it will be, moving forwards.

“We have now got a better structure in place to help us make the correct decisions.

“Chris Markham is fantastic at what he is doing, he has been a huge help to me since he came in over February.

“We are constantly having meetings, looking over things, doing reports, video analysis on talent ID, shortlists, who is achievable and who is not, and we are quite far down that process already.”

Barely a fortnight into the off-season and with the play-offs still ongoing, Wanderers have already been linked with a string of players.

Some of the names have entertained Evatt, who insists none of his actual transfer targets have yet hit the headlines.

“I have seen some speculation already and I love it because, really, none of you know anything!” he laughed.

“People can speculate all they like. I might even feed a few rumours or dangle a few carrots, but at the end of the day only myself and the inner circle around the football club will know who we are going to sign and who we are going for.

“It’s great that you can speculate and that people are actually looking forward to who we are going to bring in to improve the team.

“Everyone is speaking about Bolton Wanderers for the right reasons again and that is amazing, I love it.”

Evatt is also not shy about his intention to challenge for a second successive promotion with the Whites next season.

He says January recruitment was geared towards players who could play at the higher level – and that will be the same with those he brings in over the coming weeks.

“When you are playing at this club, with what we have to offer - fanbase, facilities, the journey going forwards, we should be aiming for the highest possible place we can,” he said. “And if that means signing Championship players in League Two, why not? We did it with Kieran Lee and Declan John, we can attract these types.

“In my mind, and this comes down to my mentality which some have probably called me deluded this season, but I always believed we would be in League One next season, it’s always where I was looking.

“That is what we’re looking at right now – who’s out there, who’s achievable, and who can help us get out of that division?”

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