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[FM21] Bolton Back to Europa (DP-FM)


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Hello and welcome to the journey! 

The Challenge

This will be a one club save where we attempt to take debt-ridden Bolton Wanderers of League Two back to the last 16 of the Europa League reminiscent of their 2007/08 run and overall glory days under Sam Allardyce.  

I will post screenshots and brief updates on here but you can read detailed update posts of all our ongoing saves and challenges over on our FM blog here: https://dpfmblog.com/.

The Club

Long journey ahead but lets see what we're working with...

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Stadium capacity of 28,018 is a big plus in the long run but due to the financial situation we start with £0 in the transfer budget.

Managed to get a great senior affiliate to help us out with some loan signings without having to contribute towards wage.

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Club facilities are very good for the level we're at currently. 

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So that's the background... let's see how we get on! 

 

If you want to read the detailed post behind this update click below: 

https://dpfmblog.com/2020/12/21/bolton-back-to-europa-s1e1/

To checkout another challenge we have on the go, which entails starting unemployed without any coaching badges and awful attributes - a complete nobody basically and seeing what happens then click below:

https://dpfmblog.com/2020/12/21/unemployed-unskilled-inexperienced-season-1-episode-1/

 

Edited by DP_FM
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Into Pre-Season we go!

Backroom Staff & Squad

Couldn't make changes to the backroom staff due to the financial impact this would have. Fortunately they were good enough for league two level so I will review when their contracts expire at the end of the 2021/22 season. 

As Bolton do not have an U23 squad the amount of players I had was insane! 

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Talented players already in there include Ryan Delaney (CB), Ali Crawford (CAM), Nathan Delfouneso (AMR), Lloyd Isgrove (AML) and Eoin Doyle (ST). 

Tactics & Pre-Season

I worked on a 4-1-4-1 DM direct counter attack system originally, but after the performances in pre-season (coming up below) I didn't like it at all and decided to change to a 4-3-3 DM wing play system. 

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Pre-season results using the old system below. Changed to the new system following the match against Leicester:

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Transfers

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Some good signings ahead of the start to the league season. Francois & Sheaf are both capable of playing CM & CAM, Isiah Jones was brought in to cover injury prone Lloyd Isgrove at LW, whilst Jordan Spence would be a good RB & CB option. 

The star signings for sure were Balogun & Cottrell on loan from Arsenal, due to the affiliation no wages or fees were paid as part of the deals. 

 

If you want to read the detailed post behind this update click below: 

https://dpfmblog.com/2020/12/25/bolton-back-to-europa-s1e2-pre-season/

To checkout another challenge we have on the go, which entails starting unemployed without any coaching badges and awful attributes - a complete nobody basically and seeing what happens, then click below:

https://dpfmblog.com/2020/12/21/unemployed-unskilled-inexperienced-season-1-episode-1/

Edited by DP_FM
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6 minutes ago, Polski97 said:

Loans make the game too easy 

I have to disagree to be honest mate.

Having no transfer budget meant I didn't really have an option and in real life League Two & League One loans are such a massive part of clubs success! 

Plus in this case it was only the affiliation with Arsenal that made some of the signings possible, as well as being such a reputable club in League Two. 

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Right, into the season we go! 

The aim for the board is to gain automatic promotion, but despite our lack of funds we should be winning this league. Let's get into it...

Domestic Matches

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Decent start to the league season with 2 wins out of 3. A loss to league above Crewe in the Papa John's Trophy and In the Carabao cup despite making it through the first round we were knocked out at the second stage by Middlesbrough of the Championship, both results were understandable. 

8 games in October...

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We win 6 out of 8 in all comps against some tough opposition. Losses in the Papa John's Trophy Group and to Ian Holloway's Grimsby (at the time). Table after the first 2 months:

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Sitting top at the moment with a 5 point gap - a great start! 

 

If you want to read the detailed post behind this update click below: 

https://dpfmblog.com/2020/12/28/bolton-back-to-europa-s1e3-marks-set-ready-go/

To checkout another challenge we have on the go, which entails starting unemployed without any coaching badges and awful attributes - a complete nobody basically and seeing what happens, then click below:

https://dpfmblog.com/2020/12/21/unemployed-unskilled-inexperienced-season-1-episode-1/

 

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Getting towards the turn of the year now as we go into November 2020.

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An unbeaten month! We cruised into the 3rd Round of the FA Cup after victories over Altrincham & Stockport.

Into the knockout rounds of the Papa John's Trophy as well after victory over League One Shrewsbury. 

Into December and the busy winter schedule begins!

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A good month overall, 14 points from a possible 21 wasn't great but wasn't bad either. Knocking out Man City's U23 side was a nice achievement as well as we continue in the Papa John's Trophy. 

 

 

If you want to read the detailed post behind this update click below: 

https://dpfmblog.com/2021/01/02/bolton-back-to-europa-s1e4-race-for-xmas-number-1/

To checkout another challenge we have on the go, which entails starting unemployed without any coaching badges and awful attributes - a complete nobody basically and seeing what happens, then click below:

https://dpfmblog.com/2020/12/21/unemployed-unskilled-inexperienced-season-1-episode-1/

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Into 2021 we go!

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An unbeaten month in the league was a nice sight, winning 5 out of 6 matches. However our FA cup & Papa John's Trophy runs came to an end within 3 days of each other. Couldn't be too disappointed considering the quality of the opposition. At least we could put the full focus back on the league now heading into February.

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Another unbeaten month, yes. Happy? Not really. Salford was always going to be a test but we have to be beating 23rd place Barrow at home if we want to win this league. 

Here's the league table after the first fixture in March - sorry forgot to screenshot at the end of Feb!

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Grimsby were starting to falter but more important than that was the massive 22 point gap between us and the play off places with only 13 games to go. 

I'm still aiming to win the league but it would take a monumental collapse for us not to be promoted automatically at least. 

 

If you want to read the detailed post behind this update click below: 

https://dpfmblog.com/2021/01/05/bolton-back-to-europa-s1e5-the-fight-for-pole-position/

To checkout another challenge we have on the go, which entails starting unemployed without any coaching badges and awful attributes - a complete nobody basically and seeing what happens, then click below:

https://dpfmblog.com/2020/12/21/unemployed-unskilled-inexperienced-season-1-episode-1/

 

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Final 3 months of the season, let's get into it!

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Happy with the month overall. The game against Walsall was always going to be a test and so it proved. The players may have taken their eye off the ball as we had some good news ahead of kick off.image.png.7f4fa9a532f23f0644cd3a5728454e26.png

Secured a play off spot with 9 games to go, and with Grimsby's poor form continuing it hopefully wouldn't be long before the title was confirmed as well.

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6 games in April leaving just the 2 in May, this should be the month we secure promotion and the title.

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It was actually after the first game against Colchester that automatic promotion was sealed.

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Going into the final 2 games in May the table looked like this.

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Very simple - 1 win from the last 2 would secure the title regardless of what Grimsby do.

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In fact a win was not needed. The draw against Exeter proved to be enough after Grimsby failed to win their game. Which meant one thing...

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LEAGUE TWO CHAMPIONS!!!! 

Final league standings show that we also set a new record with 103 points in a single campaign.

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On the transfer front we did make a couple of pre-contract signings for next season. 

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Simon Murray will join from Queen's Park. Bit of a journeyman north of the border in Scotland, I feel he can do a job for us across the front 3 next season. 

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Saxon Earley will be joining as well. 3 star rated at 18 is promising for the future. 

 

If you want to read the detailed post behind this update click below: 

https://dpfmblog.com/2021/01/07/bolton-back-to-europa-s1e6-league-2-completed-mate/

To checkout another challenge we have on the go, which entails starting unemployed without any coaching badges and awful attributes - a complete nobody basically and seeing what happens, then click below:

https://dpfmblog.com/2020/12/21/unemployed-unskilled-inexperienced-season-1-episode-1/

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End of Season Review

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The League

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Moments to Remember

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Best XI

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Club Player Awards

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League Two Awards & Team of the Season

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End of Year Finances (June 2021)

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If you want to read the detailed post behind this update click below: 

https://dpfmblog.com/2021/01/10/bolton-back-to-europa-s1e7-season-1-review/

To checkout another challenge we have on the go, which entails starting unemployed without any coaching badges and awful attributes - a complete nobody basically and seeing what happens, then click below:

https://dpfmblog.com/2020/12/21/unemployed-unskilled-inexperienced-season-1-episode-1/

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Into League One we go! Let's take a look at the squad ahead of pre-season.

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As you can see it's much smaller this time around. Let's see how we got on in pre-season:

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Results were mixed, main concern was the 3-0 loss to fellow League One side Wigan. Hopefully this is not a sign of what's to come this season. In terms of transfers...

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5 signings over the summer. Happy to have secured Miguel Azeez on loan from Arsenal. We also moved on some fringe players to help us stay within the wage budget. I decided with the signings we made and players we held on to that I would stick with the same formation as last season:

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However I did make minor changes to the tactics by moving the line of engagement to standard so we didn't get exposed in behind and I also instructed for GK kicks to go long so we don't invite pressure whilst we're adjusting to the new league. 

 

If you want to read the detailed post behind this update click below: 

https://dpfmblog.com/2021/01/14/bolton-back-to-europa-s2e1-lets-get-ready-to-rumble/

To checkout another challenge we have on the go, which entails starting unemployed without any coaching badges and awful attributes - a complete nobody basically and seeing what happens, then click below:

https://dpfmblog.com/2020/12/21/unemployed-unskilled-inexperienced-season-1-episode-1/

 

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Into the league matches! Season starts on the last day of July 2021. 

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Unbeaten in the league, 2 wins and 3 draws. Knocked out of the Carabao Cup by Rotherham who are a league above and a good start in the Papa John's Trophy group stages. 

A couple more transfers to tell you about...

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Ryan Cassidy (ST) joined on loan due to an injury to Eoin Doyle that would keep him out for 4 months. One of my starting CB's Ricardo Santos decided he wanted to leave on deadline day which left us with 3 hours to secure a deal for a replacement. Fortunately I managed to get Toti Gomes in on loan from Wolves with less than an hour to go!

Back to the football and into September 2021 we go...

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What a result against Fleetwood! First loss of the season against Doncaster but bounced back immediately against Sheffield Wednesday. Schedule started getting busier in October...

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Another very positive month! Disappointed to have drawn 2 games at home but overall I was happy enough. Unfortunately some bad news followed the last game of the month:

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Nathan Delfouneso suffered a long term injury that would keep him out for 5-6 months! 

We secured a couple of free transfers in October as well:

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33 year old Lewis Stevenson would be good LB cover until the end of the season and Kieran Wallace can play in defence and midfield and with wages of only £170 p/w he was ideal for our budget. 

Let's take a look at the table after the first 3 months of the season.

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We sit just inside the play offs after 15 games. Pretty happy with this to be fair as we have only lost 2 out of 15 - if we can turn those draws into wins we'll be flying!

 

If you want to read the detailed post behind this update click below: 

https://dpfmblog.com/2021/01/17/bolton-back-to-europa-s2e2-standing-our-early-ground/

To checkout another challenge we have on the go, which entails starting unemployed without any coaching badges and awful attributes - a complete nobody basically and seeing what happens, then click below:

https://dpfmblog.com/2020/12/21/unemployed-unskilled-inexperienced-season-1-episode-1/

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So we're about to enter the busy winter months that come with League One football... wish me luck! 1379123138_Screenshot2021-02-06at17_00_20.png.900fb7740d86d0c7a96df0f78c898336.png

I said we would need to turn those draws into wins but unfortunately we couldn't do that against Blackpool & Barnsley. Unbeaten month in the league again though which is positive. 

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December was an INCREDIBLE month!! 8 wins out of 10 overall and 6 out of 7 in the league... yet another unbeaten month. This great form left us in an incredible position at the end of the year:

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1 point behind league leaders Ipswich with a game in hand. Our chances of promotion have to be taken seriously at this point. Could we keep up the charge in January 2022? 

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Seeing far more green dots now than we were earlier in the season! 

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Made a couple more moves in January. Eoin Doyle came back from his injury and his ability had dropped so we took the opportunity to get him off the wage bill. Nick Clark joined to replace him as a backup attacking option. 

Youngster Hurford-Lockett had just broken into the team and that sparked interest from Swansea. I managed to get £150k and have him loaned back for the rest of the season to avoid another deadline day scramble. 

Only League games to focus on in February 2022:

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Huge result to beat Ipswich at the start of the month but disappointed to drop points against Doncaster and Coventry at home. With 9 games to go the table looked very interesting...  

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Can you believe it?!? With all the other sides around us struggling we have managed to build up a 12 point lead at the top! We had one job now, go and secure back-to-back promotions.

 

 

If you want to read the detailed post behind this update click below: 

https://dpfmblog.com/2021/01/20/bolton-back-to-europa-s2e3-is-this-actually-happening/

To checkout another challenge we have on the go, which entails starting unemployed without any coaching badges and awful attributes - a complete nobody basically and seeing what happens, then click below:

https://dpfmblog.com/2020/12/21/unemployed-unskilled-inexperienced-season-1-episode-1/

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Objective was simple - secure two promotions in a row and take this great club into the Championship! 

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Another 2 wins was enough to secure a play off spot following the loss against Gillingham in mid March.

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Following that we had a pretty exciting youth intake this year:

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Remember these names - we may be seeing them in the first team in a few seasons! I had already integrated one of the players from my youth intake last year...

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There were just 6 games remaining in the league and we only needed 6 points to win the League and secure consecutive promotions:

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Talk about crawling across the line! It was not a great finish but 7 points were secured which means one thing...

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GET IN!!!! Final league standings:

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We win it by 7 points in the end and only 6 losses across the season - delighted! Blackpool won the play-offs to join us and Ipswich in the Championship next season. 
Can't believe Charlton got relegated!! 

We celebrated by making 2 pre-contract signings for next season to prepare for Championship life.

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A few of my players made it into the League One team of the season:

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Finances were still not great at all with the loan repayments to the chairman taking it's toll...

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If you want to read the detailed post behind this update click below: 

https://dpfmblog.com/2021/01/23/bolton-back-to-europa-s2e4-two-in-a-row/

To checkout another challenge we have on the go, which entails starting unemployed without any coaching badges and awful attributes - a complete nobody basically and seeing what happens, then click below:

https://dpfmblog.com/2020/12/21/unemployed-unskilled-inexperienced-season-1-episode-1/

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We head into the Championship with £0 transfer budget... this should be fun! Here's the squad we're working with at the start of pre-season.

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Decent size squad and a few youngsters to send out on loan in there. Toti Gomes & Scott Banks remain on loan for another season and George Long (GK) has been signed as our new number 1. 

Keeping the tactics the same for now and will see how we get on. Let's take a look at pre-season form:

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Nice little tour of Scotland in June before returning to Bolton in July. Decent results and performances overall. 

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Not the best screenshot so I'll just tell you what happened. We signed George Long as mentioned earlier, Charlie Patino (CM/CAM) was loaned from Arsenal. Matt Crooks (CM), Ed Hurst, James McClean (Winger) & Alex Gogic (CB/CDM) all joined on free transfers after they were released by their previous clubs. Finally Tyrese Omotoye (RW/LW/ST) joined on loan from Norwich. 

Pretty much all outgoings were loans except for Brandon Comley who I sold for £500k to Huddersfield. 

Right let's get into the domestic season shall we? Wish me luck!

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2 losses out of 2 to star the league. Not ideal! But we're through to the next round of the Carabao Cup. 

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August was a much better month in our quest to avoid relegation. 3 wins and 1 draw out of 5 was a great way to put points on the board. This meant after the first 7 games of the season the table looked like this:

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Very respectable 11th place after 3W/1D/3L. The aim is to try to get to 50 points and avoid the drop so to have 10 points after 7 games is very promising.

 

If you want to read the detailed post behind this update click below: 

https://dpfmblog.com/2021/01/26/bolton-back-to-europa-s3e1-calmness-is-key/

To checkout another challenge we have on the go, which entails starting unemployed without any coaching badges and awful attributes - a complete nobody basically and seeing what happens, then click below:

https://dpfmblog.com/2020/12/21/unemployed-unskilled-inexperienced-season-1-episode-1/

 

Edited by DP_FM
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September did not go to plan...

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Losses to West Brom & Norwich I could take, but defeat to Luton was tough. A win against Bristol City keeps adding points to the board however. 

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October saw some fantastic results! Big wins over Blackburn, Swansea & West Ham added another 10 points to the league tally! Omotoye was involved in 8 goals in 6 appearances and that was enough to earn him an award...

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We also had a regen recommended to us by one of my scouts. 17 year old Shane McNeill was already rated 2.5 star and was playing for Northern Ireland's Ballymena on a non-contract arrangement so no transfer fee was involved, plus £300 p/w wage demands - bargain! 

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I managed to get £250k in for selling Dan Butler and £115k for Simon Murray. However straight after doing this the board reduced our wage budget from £64k to £54k... so we were now over our wage budget by £8k. 

This save just keeps getting harder and harder! But we persevere and keep trying to get points on the board. Only 3 games in November due to the international break for the Qatar 2022 world cup.

1118409719_Screenshot2021-02-06at20_14_05.png.1ecf84574af1494c903e453138e13ad1.png

Technically an unbeaten month! Plus another 5 points added to the league table. 

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We're sitting 13th just after the halfway point - very happy! Only another 17 points needed to reach the target of 50 and we have a 14 point gap between us and the relegation places. I would have snapped your arm off to be in this position at the start of the season! 

 

If you want to read the detailed post behind this update click below: 

https://dpfmblog.com/2021/01/29/bolton-back-to-europa-s3e2-set-up-to-fail/

To checkout another challenge we have on the go, which entails starting unemployed without any coaching badges and awful attributes - a complete nobody basically and seeing what happens, then click below:

https://dpfmblog.com/2020/12/21/unemployed-unskilled-inexperienced-season-1-episode-1/

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December was another month that was interrupted by the World Cup, but football returned with 3 games in 5 days towards the end of the month. 245720963_Screenshot2021-02-06at20_22_27.png.9678cac0a5400c23a10da13bbb75817c.png

1 win, 1 draw and 1 loss in the league. Not bad at all. Plus we're into the 4th round of the FA Cup. Would we get to our 50 point mark in January leaving the rest of the season to focus on a top half finish?

594645981_Screenshot2021-02-06at20_25_05.png.6df6dc290294fe836cf6afa210b4efdd.png

Not exactly... a sea of red! This was definitely the worst run we have gone through during this save. I think the amount of games was just too much for our squad and it showed. Still a couple of positives to take, another 3 points towards safety and an experience against Pep Guardiola's Man City where we certainly didn't embarrass ourselves. 

Not sure the form made this appropriate but it was certainly welcome recognition - an offer for a job interview from Premier League Burnley:

1831539497_Screenshot2021-02-06at20_28_31.png.9e5ecc38259ad843919eac61b950e12e.png

As I said right at the start of this challenge though, this would be a one club save so I declined it immediately.

It was hard to turn down considering the financial mess we are in, I mean look at how we rank in wage expenditure:

255212254_Screenshot2021-02-06at20_30_16.png.46c350792720afc8bf4b6909a026e469.png

770831093_Screenshot2021-02-06at20_30_23.png.911db9dcc21e3d28a5e09a2c8e574abe.png

And we now only have £56k per week... Blackpool are the next side up from us and have almost double the weekly wages available to offer than we do. 

February brought much improved form...

1686122824_Screenshot2021-02-06at20_35_21.png.dfb3b80503661677ae0ec67ad5ef3ae7.png

3 wins and 2 draws out of 6 games was a complete 180 from the previous month and left the table looking like this:

1091863264_Screenshot2021-02-06at20_38_12.png.9fd3d813d7ef1675d2f13e18efe4bddb.png

Not at our 50 point target yet but with 47 points and 10 games to go I'm sure we'll get there. More importantly there was an 18 point gap to the relegation places so unless we completely collapse I was pretty confident we had done enough to avoid relegation this season! 

Our form in February also earned Scott Banks the young player of the month award in the league. 

1932757113_Screenshot2021-02-06at20_40_52.png.4ed1498d97313dc75428ca40348f8ca5.png

 

If you want to read the detailed post behind this update click below: 

https://dpfmblog.com/2021/02/01/bolton-back-to-europa-s3e3-sink-or-swim/

To checkout another challenge we have on the go, which entails starting unemployed without any coaching badges and awful attributes - a complete nobody basically and seeing what happens, then click below:

https://dpfmblog.com/2020/12/21/unemployed-unskilled-inexperienced-season-1-episode-1/

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yowser! 56k per week isn't even full peanuts! more just the dregs left in the dish at the end of the bar! 

how much longer do you have on the chairman repayments?

hopefully you can consolidate into a top half team next season. 

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Only 10 games to go! 4 games in March...

1802253291_Screenshot2021-02-06at20_51_15.png.88af0629b279c6f987ca22460d8768cb.png

The game against Blackburn was an emphatic way for us to bring up the 50 point mark! 

But there was yet another long term injury to contend with for our already depleted squad... 

1849227938_Screenshot2021-02-06at20_52_36.png.f8d3f20c5b846a9524a3596a2cdce2f0.png

And even more interest from premier league clubs that was rejected...

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Omotoye was named young player of the month for the 2nd time this sesaon. Great signing he has been on loan from Norwich!

758005218_Screenshot2021-02-06at20_54_34.png.691d77be8a845c578d972adb9c875763.png

Before we get into the final months of the season let's take a look at our youth intake this year:

1515897644_Screenshot2021-02-06at20_55_19.png.c4e05f93320faf741011d6da1c315720.png

Eddie Hillier - remember the name! 

Final 6 games in the league all take place in April...

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9 points from the final 6 games will definitely do to wrap up our first season in the Championship! We were expected to be relegated and in the end we finished...

168412726_Screenshot2021-02-06at20_57_51.png.b2f185d4dab5f466efa08c373f953520.png

Bang on mid table in 12th with 63 points. Really impressive achievement considering the positions of the other teams promoted from League One with us last year (Blackpool - 20th & Ipswich - 22nd), with Ipswich being sent straight back down. 

Ahead of next season here is some squad news:

888929760_Screenshot2021-02-06at21_00_09.png.34813e546e5409686b82b04c2269847e.png

The board also increased the wage budget to £73k which is what allowed me to keep Ryan Delaney & Lloyd Isgrove. Transfer budget will still be £0 in the new season.

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We sold a couple of players at the end of the season, first to go was Kieran Wallace for £400k to Sheff Wed & Jordan Spence for £100k to Swindon. This free'd up a bit of room in the wage budget and I decided to get in 2 players who are young but able to play in the first team straight away.

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We also signed Tarrelle Whittaker on loan from Spurs for the season to replace Omotoye who returned to Norwich. 

622211802_Screenshot2021-02-06at21_06_51.png.2093f7fe2fd3f6cf2391c09e8b561e32.png

However the biggest news of the transfer window was selling Ed Hurst to Everton for £7.5m! This finally got us out of the red financially for the first time in this save!!! 

1574911186_Screenshot2021-02-06at21_09_17.png.737312d31fc2d1c1621c87fcd34a5305.png

Not only were we now nearly £5 million in the plus but we also had a transfer budget for the first time in this save! £115k may not sounds like a lot but it's a lot more than I've had until this point. 

Unfortunately there is still £17 million left of the debt from the chairman loan to pay off at £500k a month. So it probably won't be long until we're back in the red unfortunately! 

If we don't have a takeover then it will be another 3 seasons until all that debt is paid off if we stick with the current loan repayment structure. 

 

If you want to read the detailed post behind this update click below: 

https://dpfmblog.com/2021/02/04/bolton-back-to-europa-s3e4-safe-and-financially-sound/

To checkout another challenge we have on the go, which entails starting unemployed without any coaching badges and awful attributes - a complete nobody basically and seeing what happens, then click below:

https://dpfmblog.com/2020/12/21/unemployed-unskilled-inexperienced-season-1-episode-1/

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13 minutes ago, Mandy42 said:

yowser! 56k per week isn't even full peanuts! more just the dregs left in the dish at the end of the bar! 

how much longer do you have on the chairman repayments?

hopefully you can consolidate into a top half team next season. 

Tell me about it mate! 

£17 million left on the chairman repayments at £500k per month so about 34 months left! Hopefully we have a takeover in the meantime so they can just clear it once and for all. 

Thanks for the support, aim again for next season will just be to avoid the drop, but as you said if we can get a mid-table/top-half finish 2 seasons in a row that could attract some investment! 

We actually post all of our challenges first on our blog called DP-FM (https://dpfmblog.com/) so if you want to find out as soon as I post it go and check out the website. 

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Start of the season 2023/24 and our second season in the Championship.

The board objectives were pretty straight forward but they cared quite a bit about the FA cup 4th round!

targetsbudget-july-2023.png?w=789

You will see a transfer budget of £786k following the Ed Hurst sale (£7.5 mil) and a bump in the wage budget but we stay mindful of these as there is still a lot of debt to pay off.

The board were also kind enough to send us to Portugal for a training camp in pre-season (3 games). All results are below

pre-season-results.png?w=659

A good start in the first 4 games, not sure what the Accrington result was all about. Remaining games were respectable score lines against reputable teams.

Quite optimistic at this point for the season but there was some business to be had first!

sos-transfers.png?w=1024

So before the season started 6 players were signed boosting weak areas in defence and midfield. The notable leaver was McClean and youth prospect Conor Ware felt Derby was a better place for him.

All players signed were 24 or younger bar one as I look to transition the squad over the next season or so. Tactics remain 4-3-3 DM wide wing play (main), 5-2-1-2 Vertical tiki taka (defensive), 2-3-2-3 back attack (alternative).

The squad that's starting the season is here

squad-1.png?w=1024

squad-2.png?w=1024

For context, Fotheringham and Kemp will be MC (AP), Whittaker will play striker. Gomes and Greenwood are centre backs for me also.

We got straight into August and get amongst the opening matches.

aug-2023.png?w=724

Not an ideal start, not too worried about going out the EFL Cup but one win in 6 in the league shows the team will need time to get going with the new signings.

One positive was centre back Toti Gomes bagging player of the month after some eye opening stats for a defender!

gomes-potm-aug-2023.png?w=822

Transfer window rounded up, we signed attacker Conor Chaplin (3 star C/A - 3.5 Star P/A) on a free and sold injury stricken winger Harry Chapman

sales.png?w=471

After August this is where we lie in the table...

aug-2023-table.png?w=1024

19th is not what I want to see but with some tactical focused work in training, hopefully we will get the squad up to speed and starting building form.

Too close to the the relegation places for my liking but it's early days.

If you want to read the detailed post behind this update click below: 

https://dpfmblog.com/2021/02/07/bolton-back-to-europa-s4e1-early-inconsistences/

To checkout another challenge we have on the go, which entails starting unemployed without any coaching badges and awful attributes - a complete nobody basically and seeing what happens, then click below:

https://dpfmblog.com/2020/12/21/unemployed-unskilled-inexperienced-season-1-episode-1/

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50 minutes ago, Mandy42 said:

be typical that you did great with nothing. Then started to struggle when the 1st bit of cash came into your hands! 

Yeah it’s so tempting to spend the cash but I know what’s going to happen, the board will probably nab it back

the start wasn’t what I expected but it is a younger squad, think the average age is 23 so games between the players isn’t high, I just hope the work in training pays off and we’ll get going soon as relegation fights can be brutal!

Thanks for reading again though, appreciate the support

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September was quite similar results wise to August..

sept-2023.png?w=700

5 points from 15 but at least the players were slowly giving it a bit more in the matches

The inevitable takeover talks that are usually expected started up 

takeover-talk.png?w=831

But then literally a day later faded away with our transfer embargo being lifted

takeover-off.png?w=827

Happy days really as Di San Pietro sounded like a nightmare owner plus he didn't even want me to be in charge!

October only had 4 games but made for better viewing compared to the first two months of this season

oct-2023.png?w=711

7 points from 12 and to be fair the results against Portsmouth and West Ham were good points on reflection

November we continued to build momentum as the work in training started to show some more

nov-2023.png?w=715

Very good month, including October we made it 4 wins in a row which was a very good run

Essentially we are picking up more points month on month which is a positive

Now that we've racked up some points and wins, lets see where we are sitting in the table..

nov-2023-table.png?w=1024

We rise to 14th with a positive goal difference and a much better win rate, leaving a lot to build on in the winter months

If you want to read the detailed post behind this update click below: 

https://dpfmblog.com/2021/02/10/bolton-back-to-europa-s4e2-adapt-overcome/

To checkout another challenge we have on the go, which entails starting unemployed without any coaching badges and awful attributes - a complete nobody basically and seeing what happens, then click below:

https://dpfmblog.com/2020/12/21/unemployed-unskilled-inexperienced-season-1-episode-1/

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Mandy42 said:

12 points off relegation and only 7 points off the playoffs! definitely starting to turn things around! 

Slowly but surely mate, hopefully we’ll be able to boost the squad in January in a couple of places. 
 

Will include the my starting XI in the next update, thanks for reading again 👏🏼

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8 hours ago, Domoboy23 said:

Do people feel that Boltons academy has far too high a rating on FM21? Considering they are cat 3 IRL?

I think the game just bases it off the facilities for Bolton but it did drop to Cat 3 when I got to League one then went back to cat 2 in the championship. They do have a lot of youth prospects but most are not good enough for this level 

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Before we get into the results of NOV-FEB, a look at our starting XI..

best-xi.png?w=1024

The attack is dangerous and with an average age of 19, the midfield is forming a good partnership with Fotheringham training in a new position and excelling with 11 assists (by the end of this update), star rating should improve too

The defence/GK is average however, a good relationship between to two centre backs. An area we'll look to improve in the future

Two young prospects contracts renegotiated with higher release clauses (wouldn't allow removal) after interested mounted - one being a starter for us

elstone-coyle-ext-dec-2023.png?w=845

mcneill-ext-dec-2023.png?w=841

A new signing in the form of a 17 year old winger/striker (regen), free agent after leaving Connah's Quay FC

hari-harvey-signing-dec-2023.png?w=1024

Hari Harvey will get opportunities in the first team but will start off playing for the U18s

Chelsea are now our parent club after I broke ties with Arsenal, purely based on the fact Chelsea have more players who can help us on loan

chelsea-affiliation-dec-2023.png?w=1024

Let's crack on with December's results..

dec-2023.png?w=793

A very good month, 5 wins and 2 losses getting us a big 15 points on the board

It brought a very appealing interview offer but this is a one club save

leicester-offer-dec-2023.png?w=840

January was more of a mixed month results wise

jan-2024.png?w=793

Got to the fourth round of FA cup (highlighted games) but crashed out, 5 points in the league - went 3-0 up in that draw with Burnley too...

Need to start getting results against big teams to start progressing the team towards the main goal of this save

Tarrelle 'The Bagsman' Whittaker sweeping an award which is positive

whittaker-ypotm-jan-2024.png?w=841

Our January business was completed with more outgoings than incomings

transfers-in-out.png?w=604

Sean Forde is right back cover (2.5 stars) as current back up Joe Kendrick was loaned out for game time/development purposes

Finlay Robertson (3.5 - 4 star role dependant) came in to boost the midfield amongst the starting places - can play all 3 central midfield positions

Bright Amoateng sold with his contract running down, didn't reach the heights I expected. My DoF done well loaning out the youngsters

Whittaker's loan was also extended for a further season - buzzing about this!

whittaker-loan-ext.png?w=825

Lets see if we can get going again in February

feb-2024.png?w=796

Another massive 15 points, could have been 18 but a late collapse cost us vs. West Ham

That leaves us in a very promising position in the league

feb-2024-table.png?w=1024

2 points off the play offs! 10 games to go, I'm going for it and hoping we can sneak into the top 6

Not sure if we're ready to hang with the big boys but I'll certainly give it a go

Great progression again as we keep building - but I'll leave you with this as the talks start again...

takeover-talks.png?w=839

If you want to read the detailed post behind this update click below: 

https://dpfmblog.com/2021/02/13/bolton-back-to-europa-s4e3-touching-distance/

To checkout another challenge we have on the go, which entails starting unemployed without any coaching badges and awful attributes - a complete nobody basically and seeing what happens, then click below:

https://dpfmblog.com/2020/12/21/unemployed-unskilled-inexperienced-season-1-episode-1/

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don't play coy with me! you swapped from Arsenal to Chelsea because you saw my avatar badge ;)

Fingers crossed for some playoff magic! Even if you're not ready to stay in the Premier league, surely the increased money / parachute payments can only help if you yo-yo a time or two

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8 hours ago, Mandy42 said:

don't play coy with me! you swapped from Arsenal to Chelsea because you saw my avatar badge ;)

Fingers crossed for some playoff magic! Even if you're not ready to stay in the Premier league, surely the increased money / parachute payments can only help if you yo-yo a time or two

Well Chelsea are loan kings so thought I’d try and take advantage 😆

yeah I mean there’s every chance, but need to keep losses to a minimum in the last 10 games, but yeah may get a pasting if we went up but like you say finances are definitely a step up!

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Here we go then, let's get through the final months of the season!

5 games in March, one tough game vs. current leaders Birmingham but the rest should be winnable

mar-2024.png?w=869

Not a bad month, 11 points on the board although it should've been 13

Can't even work out how we didn't beat Peterborough after 20 shots on goal...yet we were the team grabbing a late point!

Although we still grabbed Manager of the Month and that man Tarrelle Whittaker took another young player of the month award

whittaker-ypotm-mar-2024.png?w=1024

Another loan star agreed to stay another season and just look at the finances involved

richards-loan-extension-mar-24-2024.png?w=1024

Takeover rumours picked up again..

takeover-talks-mar-12-2024.png?w=830

The youth intake was poor this season, with only 1 or 2 players who have any chance of reaching the first team

youth-intake-mar-2024.png?w=779

Iyseden Littlejohn (madness of a name haha!) actually rejected the contract with us, seems to think 1 star ability deserves £600 p/w?! 

Jog on mate, We will work with George tanner in the hope he reaches his full potential

Time for April/May results, combined both months as there was only match in May, still in play off contention at this point too

apr-may-2024.png?w=795

Had to pick up as many points as possible, little wobble vs. Forest but 10 points was enough for 4th place and a play off semi final!

Before the play offs kick off, another loan star stays for his 4th season in a row!

gomes-loan-ext-09-apr-2024.png?w=829

May not play as much next season but still a good player to have in the squad (regular starter playing time as Wolves wouldn't accept anything less)

Takeover talks heat up, the leading consortium wants to potentially replace me too..

takeover-talks-apr-16-2024.png?w=827

Transfer embargo was put in place but then the issues started

takeover-talks-10-may-2024-1.png?w=826

Valuations cause issues like they did earlier in the season, embargo is still in place however.

But a few days later, it ignites again! Scott Campbell still the favourite but hasn't named any potential manager he'd replace me with which is normally a good sign

takeover-talks-28-may-2024-1.png?w=826

But we had the play offs to think about now, first leg away at Vicarage Road

watford-first-leg.png?w=1024

Painfully we concede from a set piece in the 93rd minute despite a decent performance from the boys

Second leg we had to go all in and attack

watford-2nd-leg.png?w=1024

Clearly we were the better of the two sides and we were all over them in the second half but just couldn't get the 2 goals that we needed

It was nice to make the play offs but the truth is, we're not ready. We need to improve the defence to get us to the next level

Final standings looked like this, Derby, QPR and West Ham go up, Cardiff, Coventry and Bristol Rovers drop to League One

final-table.png?w=1024

In terms of competition awards, Tarrelle Whittaker took EFL Championship Young Player of the Year, Golden boot and a place in the best XI

And then we finally got what we've been waiting for in these first 4 seasons...

screenshot-227.png?w=831

Scott Campbell buys the club and keeps me on as manager which is positive! Finances look a bit better too

finances-post-takeover.png?w=1024

Healthy balance, the chairman loan has been paid off. There is a bank loan of 9.5 million however, its only £80k a month to pay off which is a lot better that the £500-600k we used to pay each month under the old ownership.

Finally have some sort of transfer budget too!

The wraps up season 4, I'll post again in a week or so with the start of season 5 (having a small pre-season break of my own!)

If you want to read the detailed post behind this update click below: 

https://dpfmblog.com/2021/02/18/bolton-back-to-europa-s4e4-the-turning-point/

To checkout another challenge we have on the go, which entails starting unemployed without any coaching badges and awful attributes - a complete nobody basically and seeing what happens, then click below:

https://dpfmblog.com/2020/12/21/unemployed-unskilled-inexperienced-season-1-episode-1/

 

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On 19/02/2021 at 12:45, Polski97 said:

Loans have made this save way too easy 

Appreciate your opinion mate but until now we’ve had no money to spend, youth players aren’t up to scratch and we’re punching above our weight admittedly in the league. 
 

got to use the resources available to us in order to progress

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3 hours ago, Andy1979 said:

Don't they make every save easy ?

So if you done a save in the EFL leagues you wouldn’t loan any youngsters from prem clubs which is normal for championship down to league 2?

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I didn't say that did I? Its a part of lower league management. Over the last few years irl most l1 and l2 clubs have lots. All I'm saying is due to the weakness of the ai loaning players makes it alot easier to rise through the leagues. 

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30 minutes ago, Andy1979 said:

I didn't say that did I? Its a part of lower league management. Over the last few years irl most l1 and l2 clubs have lots. All I'm saying is due to the weakness of the ai loaning players makes it alot easier to rise through the leagues. 

I do think the wage side of it needs sorting in the game, if a player has got better over the season and is retained a club should want more coverage of the wages especially at championship level

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9 hours ago, DP_FM said:

I do think the wage side of it needs sorting in the game, if a player has got better over the season and is retained a club should want more coverage of the wages especially at championship level

not sure about that, if a player hasn't received a new contract, then their wage demand is the same for a better quality player all because they have been able to play on loan. If they demand more money then the loan club might not want to continue with the deal and thus the players time is cut short.

But then I have a whole issue with contract demands based upon "i'm not the player I was when I signed it" ehm... you signed a 5 year deal, why are you surprised you improved as a footballer after 2 years of constantly playing and training? Stop being greedy and get out of my office

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