BRADFORD, ENGLAND - JULY 24: Darren Pratley of Bolton Wanderers in action during the pre season friendly match between Bradford City and Bolton Wanderers at Coral Windows Stadium, Valley Parade on July 24, 2011 in Bradford, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
...Yes. Let's back up for a little though and see just how I came to this (what some of you would call obvious) conclusion. It's not even close to a secret that the vast majority of Bolton fans dislike Darren Pratley as a player. He's a central midfielder that is about as neutral as you can get on the central attacking / defensive midfielder scale. Of course that scale exists, don't be silly. Pratley is too attacking to be considered a defensive midfielder like Nigel Reo-Coker but he doesn't attack nearly enough to be considered a midfielder with offensive flair.
If one was to ask the fans their opinion of Pratley, you would get responses ranging anywhere from "meh" to "he's the worst player to ever wear a Bolton Wanderers shirt." While I certainly wouldn't go that far, the statistics don't provide much of an argument that's in favor of his case. A central midfielder should be fairly well rounded in both defensive and attacking aspects. Because of this, there were three key statistics that Pratleys performance will be judged on: shots on target percentage, successful pass percentage, and successful tackle percentage.
Darren Pratley has made an appearance in every match this season except West Bromwich Albion away. Despite that a couple of the appearances came as an 89th minute substitute, Pratley got at least two touches on the ball in every single game he's appeared. The vast majority of his appearances saw him make at least 21 passes with the average number of passes per appearance at 21.8125. That's a pretty good sample size for one player in his first season.
After crunching the numbers, here's how Pratley looks in terms of passing success, shooting prowess, and tackles won:
Successful passing: Darren Pratley has completed 258 of 349 attempted passes this season. A successful pass percentage of 73.92%. This means that he will misplace about one pass for every four he plays which is an unacceptable statistic for someone spending a lot of time in Bolton's defensive half.
Shots on target: When Pratley first signed for the Trotters, we were optimistic that he was bringing the 12 goals he scored in all competitions during the 2010/2011 season with Swansea to the Reebok. To date, Pratley is yet to score a goal for Bolton. In the 16 appearances he's made, 8 of which were starts, Pratley has taken a total of 10 shots. Only 5 of those were on target, making his shots on target ratio 50%. For a team that already has issues taking chances, this also has to be better. For comparison, Mark Davies has made 15 appearances so far this season. In those appearances, he's taken 13 shots, 9 of which have been on target, for a ratio of 69.23%.
Tackles: For some reason, and I personally never understood why, a lot of fans refer to Darren Pratley as a defensive midfielder. A defender has got be able to make tackles. In his 16 appearances, Pratley has been part of 54 tackles. Only 28 of them were successful. That leaves him at a success rate of 51.85% meaning that he will lose out on half of his attempted tackles. Nigel Reo-Coker has also made 16 appearances, albeit with more minutes. In that time, he's made 85 tackles, having been successful on 64of them. A success rate of 75.29%, nearly 25% more successful than Pratley.
Darren Pratley has made an appearance in every match this season except West Bromwich Albion away. A staggering statistic for a player that, as it turns out, simply isn't good enough.
All of the statistics were compiled using the Guardian's Chalkboards feature.