“YOU try and gain an advantage the best way you can - but someone seems to leak everything we do on Twitter, which is frustrating.”

On Saturday evening Ian Evatt once again cut the figure of a frustrated man. His team had – for the second time in a week – taken points off one of League Two’s promotion contenders but in the same breath, shown up why they are not currently considered in the same bracket.

An off-hand comment about his ‘surprise’ loan signings, Zack Elbouzedi and Ben Jackson, provided a first public clue into a matter which has been bubbling under at Wanderers for several months, pre-dating his own arrival as manager.

On Friday, a message was circulated among some Bolton Wanderers supporters via a well-known Twitter account with the details of Evatt’s side due to face Cheltenham Town the following day.

Ordinarily such information would be passed off as speculation, even when it turned out to be true. On this occasion, however, the notable inclusion of Elbouzedi and Jackson - signings that had not yet hit the public domain – made the breach a potentially damaging one indeed.

Internally, such leaks are taken very seriously. And though it may reasonably be questioned how much notice Cheltenham Town’s boss Michael Duff would have taken of social media on the day before a game, or whether said information influenced his team selection or tactics, one can also ask why the information is being shared at all.

Transfer gossip and injury news is woven into the fabric of the game, helping to fill column inches, increasing engagement and interest with supporters. The rise of social media has given such distractions an entirely new platform and one which can spread further, quicker, than the traditional press.

But whereas the newspaper game has always been about selling copies, or latterly getting people to read stories online, the motives behind a social media leak are less obvious.

With almost all ‘ITK (in the know)’ accounts remaining purposely anonymous, responsibility for spreading commercial and often sensitive information is diminished and, therefore, open to abuse.

And though most people would consider transfer tittle-tattle as relatively harmless at League Two level, there have been gripes aired behind the scenes that names that have been circulated too early have been picked up by rival clubs and signings lost elsewhere.

There was a time when the Bolton Wanderers team, and that of the reserves, would be printed in Friday evening’s newspaper. Indeed, Leeds United’s boss Marcelo Bielsa – seemingly a role model for Evatt in terms of style and training techniques – has made a quite habit of naming his side prior to a match.

Generally speaking, however, modern clubs prefer to keep their line-ups in-house until an hour before kick-off, so as not to offer any sort of advantage to a watching opponent.

Evatt is a firm believer in such “marginal gains” and has not been beyond dropping his own nuggets of misinformation into press conferences to try and misdirect those potentially listening in.

Whether it be changing his dugout, pumping in crowd noise, re-establishing a pre-kick-off huddle or wearing a lucky pair of boxer shorts, the Bolton boss cannot be accused of not exploring every conceivable avenue to try and get his team to find some consistency, however illogical.

If trust issues persist in the camp, though, there may be wider negative ramifications. Football remains a team sport which extends well beyond the pitch and the successful clubs are the ones who foster close relationships between everyone from chairman to kit man.

Developing those bonds has been difficult in a pandemic and unwanted distractions such as the team and signings leak on Friday cannot possibly help.