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Everything posted by Dong21

  1. Thanks @warlock, going to need it! Thanks @Jogo Bonito. Totally agree, I definitely have too many players. As I’m still not certain of my tactical approach I thought I’d give myself options and then trim the squad down in January.
  2. Bolton Wanderers - Season 6 - Premier League Preview With what is sure to be a very tough season competing against Premier League giants who seem to spend on average £40m per signing and with squads bristling with highly rated wonderkids, I set to work building a team I hoped would be able to avoid relegation back down to the Championship. With a modest budget of £31m and no players that I could sell to raise funds (last season's key men were all loanees), free agents and bargains were my transfer strategy. With the transfer window now closed on the eve of the league season, here is how my squad looks: Goalkeepers We conceded fewer goals than any other side when winning the Championship, so Pontus Dahlberg will feel hard done by to have been replaced, however I had to put sentiment to one side and strengthen the squad wherever possible. Luis Maximiano joined from Sporting Lisbon, where he had been their first choice 'keeper for the past three seasons, for £3m. Previous back-up Remi Matthews was loaned out to Stockport County and Aussie prospect Ryan Ryan was loaned to Blackburn. Defenders Last season's first choice right back was Ethan Laird, who returned to Man Utd after his loan. I have decided to give his understudy Donnelly the opportunity to start the season as first choice. This is probably the biggest risk I am taking as he still needs a lot of development technically. I have added Premier League experience with the free transfer signing of Matt Doherty, who may well be called upon against tougher opposition. Club captain Lenihan had been partnered at centre back last season by 21 year old Shaquille Browne. Although the youngster performed admirably, his technical ability still didn't match up to his impressive physical stats. I opted to loan Browne back to the Championship and bring in some quality in this position. Experienced Serbian defender Nikola Maras joined from Red Star for £2.4m and the younger Oumar Solet arrived from Lyon for £2.5m. At left back I had been tempted to give Boon the opportunity, having been with me since League One and not letting me down yet. The coaching staff advised that my other left back, the Brazilian Marlon, would not get a work permit for his next contract, so I sold him to Santos for £2.8m. This meant I did need to recruit in this area, so I returned to Red Star and new recruit Mihailo Ristic is a big upgrade on Boon. He signed for £3.1m and will also add experience to an area of the pitch that certainly needs it in the Premier League. Midfielders As previously mentioned, I was delighted to be able to secure James Garner on loan at no cost for the sixth successive season. He has been key to my success throughout my tenure and provides consistency in the middle of the park. Conor Gallagher was transfer listed so I met his asking price of £7.75m. I hoped he'd join us after being part of our promotion campaign whilst on loan. Unfortunately he chose to join Watford instead, so I looked to other options. I was surprised to find that former Bayern Munich playmaker Thiago was interested in joining us on a free transfer. All though he has waned physically his technical and mental stats remain first class. In pre-season the quality of his set pieces were apparent too, which may prove useful in our league campaign. He may not be first choice however, as on deadline day I was able to bring in Tommy Doyle on loan from Man City and my coaches now rate him the best player at the club. I want to be able to play two different ways this season; 4-1-2-2-1 (wide) against bigger sides and 4-2-3-1 against sides I think we might be able to beat. Garner has successfully played in the deep role of the 4-1-2-2-1 (wide) for me before, but I wanted to recruit and out-and-out defensive midfielder. I settled upon Kamal Bafounta, who cost me £3.3m from Wolfsburg. Attacking Midfielders We hadn't played 4-2-3-1 before, so I was starting from scratch when building my CAM options. I managed to find two quality players who were available on a free. Hannes Wolf was previously at RB Liepzig and Ivan Martin was at Villareal. Martin is a CAM, whereas Wolf is more of a shadow striker. It may be too ambitious to try and play an attacking system in the Premier League at this stage of our development, but I want to give myself the option. Inevitably one of these players will end up unhappy as I can't play everyone, I will deal with that when it happens. I also signed a third attacking mid, Aaron Ramsey, who came on a free but cost £1.2m in tribunal. I wanted to loan him out to develop but there were no takers. He will hopefully go out on loan in January. Wingers The wings was another area I knew I needed to improve in, so there was a lot of activity here. Andre Schurrle was sold to Goztepe for £3.1m and Carlo Holse was loaned to AA Gent. Former Saint Etienne man Arnaud Nordin joined after a period on trial and young prospect Petr Brezina signed for just £800k from Sparta Prague. Sparta are a team I often enjoy signing regens from. The biggest outlay of the transfer window was £4.3m on Jarrod Bowen, and I am hoping his quality can really add value to our squad. Finally, Danny Loader feels like a new signing after I recruited him from Reading in January but allowed him to remain on loan for the remainder of the season. Strikers Replacing Hirst was always going to be an unenviable task. That said, I have a lot of hope pinned on my new striking signing Jay Wearing. Signed on a free from Wolves, with only a £1.3m tribunal fee to pay, the England under-20 forward has bags of ability and potential. The other recruit in this area was young Portuguese striker Fabio Modesto, who is more one for the future. Tedic had a great season alongside Hirst last time around, so I will be hoping he can continue that. As I will likely only play one up top for the season, and the likes of Loader and Bowen can play here if needs must, I decided to loan out Brown and Bereton to give them more experience. Tough Start The fixture list hasn't been kind to us, with Spurs, Chelsea, Bournemouth (top 8 finish in last 4 seasons) and Man City in first five games. I have really enjoyed building this squad but a run of defeats could quickly sap the fun out of this save! I'm sure I'll keep persevering, whatever happens. Wish me luck!
  3. After not looking at it since late May, I have decided to dust off my Bolton save and pick up where I left off. It actually took me a little while to familiarise myself with where I was up to after four months away. I knew we had just secured promotion to the Premier League and had a summer of squad rebuilding ahead, but not much more than that! I have taken some time to look at my squad in depth and reading my previous updates in this thread actually came in very handy (my detailed updates have finally paid off!). The memories of this save to date have all come flooding back. I have now completed the 2024 pre-season and have made a large number of signings to rebuild the squad. The squad was not particularly strong by Championship standards and we were reliant on a large number of loanees, none more so than Tottenham wonderkid striker Jimmy Hirst who had bagged 26 league goals for us, so a lot of work was needed to be done for there to be any chance of us being competitive. Full update coming shortly.
  4. @Ronaldo Beckham Quite surprising to see PSV finish all the way down in 7th! Interesting club AZ, they employ a ‘Moneyball’ approach as Billy Beane is an advisor. A couple of years ago I took the train to Alkmaar, when visiting Amsterdam, and watched AZ beat NAC. I recall they played good football and have a nice stadium.
  5. It’s a good suggestion @Ronaldo Beckham. I’m currently playing a United save for a bit of fun and although it’s not youth only, it’s certainly youth focused. Haha yes @warlock, you are certainly more prolific than me when it comes to saves! I still have a mind to go back and revisit my Bolton career. I got them promoted to the Premier League and then never played it again. I should really give the Prem one crack, after all the hard work to get them there. Agreed @DefinitelyTaylor. This forum went a bit quiet for a while but great to see it pick back up again recently!
  6. I keep thinking about all the saves I want to do on FM21 (many of which are EFL clubs), now the season has ended, but I think we are likely going to have to wait till December for the new game... Probably need to get stuck into one more interesting FM20 save to pass the time 🤔
  7. Great job @warlock, season is going very well 👏🏼 Good luck for the end of season run-in. Very respectable performance that @Ronaldo Beckham, in a tough group.
  8. I’ve had something similar. Man City just finished 5th first season on my save (update above) and the majority of their squad are unhappy about missing out on Champions League football. Sterling, De Bruyne, B.Silva and Gundogan are all transfer listed by request! I’m hoping this leads to the club capitulating 😂
  9. Season 2019-2020: Part 5 We began March with a draw away at Man City, which saw Liverpool overtake us into 2nd. We picked ourselves up with a Cup win over Blackpool that Gomes shone in and a thrashing of Watford. I rested some players against Torino and ended up regretting it - Rashford missed a penalty and we drew the first leg. Up next was Southampton and I was again left frustrated; we scored what I thought was the winner in the 91st, but Ings equalised in the 94th. We righted our wrongs in the home leg against Torino, winning comfortably. Around this time I was proud to see Henderson, Wan-Bissaka and Tuanzabe get their first England caps, and bemused to see the bald fraud Pep get sacked by City. It's worth mentioning how well the youth team have done - they won the Italian Youth Cup Invitational, beating Juve 5-0 in the Final, and only a few days later they also won the EFL Trophy, beating Peterborough 3-1 at Wembley. I did sprinkle a few squad players into the team for the EFL Trophy and it was that touch of class that made the difference as Macias, James and Dalot all got on the scoresheet. The only shame was Gomes picked up an injury playing, that would rule him out for 5 weeks. The U23s would go on to secure promotion to U23s Division 1, capping off a great season for them. We beat Roma in the EL Quarter Finals, shutting up shop in the away leg (a game which Maguire was suspended for) and then attacking them at home to secure a 3-0 win. Competing in multiple competitions was starting to compress the fixture list, so I was particularly pleased when we were able to beat both Chelsea and Roma in the space of just three days. I signed Vidal on loan in January as a utility option but due to knocks to McTominay and Bellingham he played more than expected in April. I think his experience was valuable and surprisingly he picked up no red cards (aggression 20!). We lost to Liverpool in the FA Cup Semi Final, ending a run of 36 games undefeated. I can't complain, they were the better side on the day. Then, with eight or nine games left to play, De Gea was ruled out for three months with a hip injury. This meant Romero had to deputise, who had previously only played once all season. I had concerns about his reliability, but these turned out to be unfounded. We immediately bounced back from the Liverpool defeat, demolishing their neighbours Everton 5-0. The five goals were important, as this was a game in hand and having won it we went back ahead of Liverpool into 2nd, on goal difference. Perhaps we will have the last laugh over them. We finished the league campaign in strong fashion, winning four out of our last five games. When we drew with Leicester, Liverpool once again regained 2nd place, but they then lost to Chelsea when we beat Bournemouth so we were able to reclaim 2nd place. I was so focused on our battle with Liverpool for 2nd place that it almost passed me by how close to the league leaders we ended up. On the final day, we could have even won the league as we were 3 points behind Arsenal, with a better goal difference. In the end we both won, but I am delighted to have finished 2nd in our first season. Particularly as I have had a strong focus on playing youth. We only lost once in the league all season, we just had too many draws, particularly at the beginning of the campaign. We conceded the least amount of goals and only scored one less than top scorers Arsenal. The way we finished this season gives me a lot of hope we can challenge for the title next season, without wholesale changes needed. Note - Interesting sub-narrative, Newcastle were taken over by a new owner who spent £88m in January yet they were still relegated to the Championship! They are joined by Southampton and Villa and have been replaced by Leeds, Swansea and Millwall Pogba had the highest average rating of any player in the PL (7.81) and as such was named the Footballer of the Year and Players' Player of the Year. In April PSG players began publicly tapping him up in the media and I began to worry I may lose my star performer. Luckily when we secured Champions League football he announced he was happy to stay and I was able to agree a new four year deal with him. Pogba and Fernandes shared the league record for most chances created. Martial was the Premier League top goalscorer with 25 goals and not far behind in 4th was Rashford with 22. Pogba, Martial and Wan-Bissaka were all named in the PL Team of the Year. Lazio proved to be easier opponents than Roma or Torino in our tour of Italy, as we beat them 4-1 on aggregate in the Eruopa Semi Finals. Our opponents in the Final were to be Arsenal, who had just won the Premier League. I would have prepared non-English opponents. Martial, who had scored 36 goals for me in all competitions, was ruled out with a knock the day before the Final. My worries disappeared though as the game commenced, it turned out to be one of our most convincing wins of the season. So the Europa League is my first trophy of my United tenure (well, if you don't include the EFL Trophy!). We were top scorers in the Europa League (40 goals) which was pleasing as we often played a lot of youth. This focus was demonstrated when McTominay won EL Player of the Season.
  10. I have stuck with the 4-2-3-1 wide formation with a customised gegenpress style and it is going well. Fernandes plays AM (support) and Pogba is DLP (support), sitting behind him next to a BBM (support) - usually McTominay. Unfortunately Bruno was injured for two months so has only played in 24 out of a possible 45 games so far (I’m at the start of April) but he’s done well when he’s played and created a lot of chances for his teammates. Gomes has been great for me in the Europa League. He’s had 14 starts in all competitions and 9 goals. Unfortunately he’s just got ruled out for 5 weeks, which likely ends his season given where we are in the calendar.
  11. @Smaldini I was also able to pick him up for a similar price (see my update above) and was equally baffled why they don’t want to hang onto him! I was also wondering this. I’ve been considering signing another striker for the second season (with Haaland high on my list), like Smaldini has done with Milik, but as I play a 4-2-3-1 currently I worry how this will limit Greenwood, Rashford and Martial’s playing time.
  12. Season 2019-2020: Part 4 January Transfer Window The board injected £40m into my otherwise empty transfer budget in advance of the January window. However, I had little intention to add to a squad that I thought was already a little bloated. In addition I am focusing on giving youth opportunities, so didn't want to make a large number of signings that will block pathways to the first team. The exception to this was if an opportunity arose that was too good to ignore. This happened when I saw Man City and Spurs bidding for Juve centre-back Merih Demiral for what looked like a bargain price of £20.5m. I matched their bids and was delighted when he chose us. He's 21 years old and rated a better player than Lindelof and Tuanzabe. I loaned out Phil Jones (would have preferred to sell, but no suitors) and tried to do the same with Bailly, but no interest. I was extremely frustrated with Pereira who 'opted to stay' turning down three Chinese clubs who had each bid £27m for him. Eventually I sold him to Schalke for £21m. There was interest in Lingard, but not for a reasonable price. He will go in the summer. I wanted to loan Mexican prospect Macias out to get game time but he had unfortunately already played for two sides (us and Chivas). Luke Shaw expressed his unrest over his lack of playing time - I've been prioritising Brandon Williams - however I managed to stop that from escalating, for now. Fred handed in a transfer request due to a lack of playing time. I'd have kept him around as an option but he was firmly at the bottom of the pecking order for his position, so I was comfortable letting him go. Unlike his Brazilian compatriot, he was happy to move to China and so joined Jiangsu for £19.75m (that should rise to £27m). To fill a short-term gap, providing cover and experience, I brought in Arturo Vidal on loan from Barca for the rest of the season. Next summer Garner may well get the chance to join the squad, or I will turn to the transfer market for a longer-term solution. I was disappointed to get the youth intake preview and learn that our next crop sound very underwhelming. Luckily there are already a great number of talents to develop. I have just given one such prospect, Hannibal Mejbri, his first pro contract. Twenty Five Games Undefeated The first match of 2020 was a classic Football Manager match; we had 35 shots, Norwich had 1 shot, the full time score? 1-1. Everything else went our way in January though. The fans were certainly happy as we won away at Anfield and won the Roses Derby comfortably in the FA Cup. I really did not expect to be beating Liverpool home and away in the League this early into my United career, having seen how dominant our rivals can be on other saves. I won the January Manager of the Month, and used this as leverage to get the board to offer me a two year contract extension which I duly signed. We scored goals for fun in February - in fact we have scored four goals per game on average over the last seven games. The blip amongst the wins was a 3-3 draw with Sheff Utd - annoyingly we had been 2-0 up, pegged back to 2-2, took the lead again and then conceded in the 95th minute to draw. We beat Standard 9-2 on aggregate in the Europa League and go on to face Torino next time out. After beating Newcastle 4-0 we went second in the table for the first time. We have City up next though, so things could change again. Arsenal are the surprise runaway leaders. Latest news is that Martial won the February PL Player of the Month and media speculation that PSG will bid for Pogba in the summer is building. The final thing to mention is we are on course to achieve a niche objective of mine for the season; to with the EFL Trophy (Leasing.com). I have been making the younger players in the first team available for these matches, sometimes at the detriment of my own bench, as often the EFL Trophy fixtures have fallen the day before our first team has played. Experience against Football League sides can only help their development. We have beaten Man Citys U23s (2-1), Blacpool (5-0) and Burton (6-0) in the knockout rounds and will now face Peterborough in the Final at Wembley. Greenwood is the competitions top scorer, Bishop has the most clean sheets and Mejbri has the most key passes.
  13. Season 2019-2020: Part 3 When I last posted an update we were sitting in 7th place in the Premier League and Bruno Fernandes had just been ruled out for two months. It's fair to say business has picked up since then... Bellingham filled in for Fernandes in our next game and scored the match winner, instantly putting me at ease that we have good alternatives in attacking midfield. This was coupled with Gomes grabbing a goal from the same position against PSV in the following game. Gomes took things to another level in our next Europa League game, bagging a haul of four goals against Getafe. Greenwood was the hero against Bournemouth, rescuing a point after we conceded in the 87th minute. A 5-0 thrashing away at Watford in mid-December (including a McTominay brace) was particularly pleasing, however this was eclipsed in terms of enjoyment by our 3-0 win against City. This was achieved despite both Fernandes and Pogba being ruled out injured (Pogba was ruled out for 6 weeks just days before the game) and saw us leapfrog our local rivals into 4th place. Out form was strong in a busy Christmas period. Sancho scored his third in four games against league leaders Arsenal on the last game of the calendar year, but frustratingly we drew after an own goal error from David De Gea. The point meant we ended the year in third, and Arsenal remained top of the table - with Liverpool sandwiched in between. Europa League - Group Stage We concluded the Europa League group stage with a 100% win record. This was particularly pleasing as I selected primarily a youth based side throughout, and on paper the group hadn't looked the easiest. McTominay, Chong and Gomes were the standout performers for us in these games. Somehow Bayern, Dortmund and Atletico all finished third in their respective Champions League groups, meaning they drop into the Europa for the knockout stages. This makes winning the tournament a tougher proposition for me. That said, we were lucky and drew Standard in the 1st Knockout Round. Year-End Sancho ended 2019 on a high as he picked up both the European Golden Boy award and the Premier League Young Player of the Month for December. Pogba was named in the World Team of the Year and De Gea came second in the World Goalkeeper of the Year rankings. I was also informed that in a year's time, due to Brexit, all EU players would require a work permit. As far as I can recall this is the most hassle of all the possible scenarios, so I was disappointed to discover this. I'll follow up shortly with another post on how the season has continued, as I'm conscious of not making this update too long!
  14. Season 2019-2020: Part 2 Pre-season is all about building match fitness, squad togetherness, tactical awareness and team morale. In a busy period of games we scored more than four goals in seven out of eight pre-season fixtures, so I was certainly pleased with how things went. We carried our electric form into the start of the league campaign, thrashing both Sheffield United and Aston Villa. Martial got a hat-trick on the first day of the season and Rashford bagged a brace on matchday two. Fernandes was great in both fixtures. What followed was a frustrating period of four draws. They came against decent sides, but I felt we deserved so much more from the period. Spurs parked the bus in classic Mourinho style. We had 29 shots, 15 of which were on target and 63% possession, but only drew 0-0. To add salt in the wound, Sancho got ruled out for two months with an injury incurred only four minutes into the game. Then we were 2-0 up against Everton, when we capitulated and conceded in the 89th and 95th minutes to draw. The win against Getafe in the Europa League was a real highlight as I played a very young side and we won comfortably with Greenwood, Chong and Bellingham bagging the goals. Another young player, Macias, got his first goal - a late equaliser against Leicester. A 7-1 trouncing of Norwich was very enjoyable, but even more pleasing was the 3-0 win against Liverpool that followed. Hometown hero Marcus Rashford stepped up when it mattered scoring a hat-trick against the Scousers. This win was made more impressive, I thought, due to the fact that I had to start Lingard and James as Martial and Sancho wer both out injured. Although we'd had a few too many draws, I was very pleased we made it to late October without losing a match. Defeat finally came when we lost to Arsenal in a frustrating game in which we were the better side. I knew luck was not with us that day when David Luiz smashed in a world-class free kick. I played a younger side against City and we lost, exiting the Carabao Cup. Rashford won Premier League player of the month for October.At the point of writing this update we sit in 7th place, six points off 4th with a game in hand. I'm not disheartened as I knew this would take time with a very young squad. The defence needs reinforcements but that is a job for another transfer window as securing Sancho and Bellingham took precedence. A couple of our draws could easily have been wins, and that would have seen us into the top four. Plenty of season still to play. Update: I'm gutted to report that Fernandes has just been ruled out for two months with torn ankle ligaments. On the bright side, this creates opportunities for the likes of Bellingham and Gomes.
  15. Season 2019-2020: Part 1 After spending much longer than expected on an EFL save managing Bolton, I've finally got round to starting my annual United save. Generally I like to wheel and deal at whichever club I manage, but I'm going to try to be a bit more hesitant in the transfer window with this career as I'd like to give our many talented youth prospects the opportunity to develop. Here is how I've got on so far... Backroom Enhancements I believe a quality Head of Youth Development is essential, therefore I was delighted to secure my first choice for this position Bernhard Peters. Some managers don't see value in having a Director of Football but I sometimes like to utilise the 'suggest transfer targets' function to get fresh ideas - I hired ex-Barcelona and Milan Director Ariedo Braida. I cleared out most of the coaches, including Carrick who sadly just isn't good enough, and brought in a raft of replacements including Miguel D'Agostino and Danny McGrain. I was surprised to find that the standard of goalkeeping coach was poor across all levels, so I brought in six new goalkeeping coaches. Tactical Intentions I intend to play a 4-2-3-1 (wide) formation, with a secondary but similar 4-5-1 formation familiarised in case of the need to be more defensive. The desire to play Bruno Fernandes in a central attacking midfield position was a major influence when deciding on a tactic. Pogba would play deeper, hopefully building up a strong relationship with Bruno. Pogba had expressed an interest in leaving early into my tenure, however our private discussion went well and he has been settled thus far since. Player Recruitment My two primary transfer targets when commencing this save were Jadon Sancho and Jude Bellingham. Right wing is for me probably the biggest weakness in the squad and Sancho is a quality player with great potential who I wanted to secure before my rivals. Bellingham, on the other hand is a prestigious talent who I want the opportunity to develop. With a budget of £50m I decided to try something new and ask the board to handle signing for Sancho. To my delight they got the job done, securing him for £90m. I had a deal for Bellingham agreed, but that fell through when my budget was depleted to £0. I sold experienced players Mata (to Wolves) and Matic (to Leicester) for a combined £25.5m. This allowed me to renegotiate with Birmingham and complete a £22m deal. I offered out Periera and Lingard as I would prefer to give Greenwood, Chong and Gomes opportunities, however the bids I received were below my valuations of the pair, so I elected to keep them, for now. I pulled off what I believe to be somewhat of a masterstroke though, recalling Marcos Rojo from his loan and then selling him to Guangzhou Evergrande for £16.5m. My final deal of the window was for Mexican wonderkid striker José Juan Macias for £16.5m from Chivas. The only downside was I had to pay him £80k per week wages in order to secure his work permit. I tried to sign 17 year old Anderlecht winger Jeremy Doku during the transfer window, however his club wanted a deal totaling around £15m and we just didn't have the money so had to step away. After the window had closed Doku became unsettled and handed in a transfer request. I was frankly shocked to see him listed for £1.3m so I swooped up and signed him. He joins in January. Youth Focus One of my first order of business was to renew the contracts of Tahith Chong, Aidan Barlow and Angel Gomes (if only we could have done this in real life...). I asked the board for a feeder club and selected Derby from the options presented due to their excellent training facilities and the chance for my players to play alongside Rooney. I sent Garner and Laird there and I am really hoping they get a lot of game time. I intend to give some of the younger players opportunities in the Europa League, where we have drawn PSV, Getafe and AIK.
  16. Just stumbled across this thread @Jogo Bonito and enjoyed reading about how you’ve been doing. I can tell by the pace you are going at you are liking this save! Although a long-term visitor of the forum I’ve never really ventured much into the Career Updates section. Your thread has made me think I might like to give it a go, I think I’d enjoy posting more detailed updates.
  17. I’ve managed Bolton for five seasons @wattzy, although I started the game before the January update. I’ve wrote regularly about my save in this thread if you’re interested. Will keep an eye out for how you get on with The Trotters!
  18. Bolton Wanderers - Season 6 - Preview Not a single ball has been kicked since I last wrote an update, but already there have been some interesting developments heading into our first season back in the Premier League: Taking advantage of my 100% board confidence status, I persuaded the board to commit to investing in upgrading our youth facilities, youth level and training facilities. I don't want to just spend all the money generated by promotion on players, I am looking for long-term success for the club and that includes continuing to develop our own players. I've agreed a new three year contract with the club. This will give me a bit more security if we struggle next season. The board set us a target to look to bravely battle against relegation. To my surprise and delight Man United have allowed me to take James Garner on loan for the sixth successive season. This is, once again, without us contributing anything to his wages. Spurs have no interest in letting me take Hirst on loan again. As you are only allowed to take two players on long-term domestic loans in the Premier League I will look to move away from a heavy reliance on loan players this season. I have decided to not renew the contract of club captain Tom Lockyer, meaning he will depart on a free transfer this summer. First choice centre-back the season before, he has barely featured this campaign. I've also made the decision to release my young French CM Eric Junior Dina Ebimbe as although when signing he had great potential, a five month injury this season has taken that away from him. I've decided I'll take my chances on a replacement in the transfer window. Shortly after the season ended I tried to make an offer for a player and was told I could not make any signings as we were under transfer embargo with the club being in the process of being sold. The media said two different consortiums were battling it out. This has come at an unfortunate time when I was looking to rebuild the squad in advance of the big step up to the Premier League. In early June it was announced we had been taken over by Ryan Ryan. This caused me some bemusement at first as my second choice regen 'keeper who is out on loan at AaB is also called Ryan Ryan. My goalkeeper is an Aussie and my new owner is English however, so there fore I'm assuming I don't have a Player/Owner scenario! The new owner doesn't appear to be a tycoon type owner. He has modestly increased the standard £38m promoted team transfer budget by £3m up to £41m. I feel no feeling of excitement regarding this takeover as I'd already successfully balanced the books. I could have done with a new owner who would clear the club debt any time during the first four seasons. Feels a bit like shutting the barn door after the horse has bolted 😂
  19. Thanks @Jogo Bonito! You know me, I like a challenge! Quite often I'd want to get my back-up striker John-Jules on but didn't really want to lose Hirst or Tedic so I'd sub off my right midfielder and switch Hirst there to utilise his pace.
  20. Thanks @karanhsingh! Here he is: He's already an England international, scoring on his debut in March of the season just completed, although England manager Dyche hasn't elected to take him to Euro 2024. I think it is virtually impossible for me to get him back next season - Tottenham have just renewed his contract and he is clearly good enough to get in their first team. I wouldn't be able to afford signing him permanently either. So there is quite a void to fill going into the Premier League campaign!
  21. Bolton Wanderers - Season 5 - Part 4 Our red hot January form continued on in the beginning of February as we put Sheffield United, Middlesbrough and Oxford to the sword, without conceding against any of them. Perhaps predictably, our forward in electric form, Hirst, scored in each game, but goals also came from throughout the squad. On the night we beat Oxford, our closest rivals Burnley slipped up losing 5-3 against a Millwall side who occupied the relegation zone. We had Millwall up next and I mistakenly took their result against Burnley as a fluke and approached our game in the usual manner I would against a team in the bottom half. This mistake cost us as we lost 4-2. This was much more than a fluke for Millwall, in fact it was a resurgence as these wins commenced a run of seven wins in nine which ultimately would see them avoid relegation comfortably. This loss saw us slip to second in the title race and was confounded by draws against Portsmouth and Derby, two matches we could and should have won. March was magnificent. We begun by thrashing our local rivals Blackburn 4-1 at their own ground. We then traveled to the Molyneux in the FA Cup, having already knocked out, another Premier League side, Bournemouth. We more than held our own, drawing 1-1 but eventually losing on penalties. This gave me promise for if we were to make it to the Premier League. The match was subsequently voted the best FA Cup match of the season. Otherwise it was all victories in the League, including beating Playoff contenders Brentford and Crystal Palace. The win against Palace took us back top of the table as Burnley slipped up with a draw. With only seven games left apiece it was extremely tight at the top. Then the unthinkable happened as we were beaten by third place Birmingham. This was the first time all season I can recall us being beaten resoundingly, and it couldn't have come at a worse time. I hoped that it was a blip but we lost again, to Stoke, and then again, to Fulham. The loss to Birmingham had given the upper hand in the title race to Burnley, but the following two losses had me looking over my shoulder and fearing we would drop out of the top two for the first time since the first week of October. Our late collapse in form didn't bode well if we were to compete in the Playoffs. Next up was Sheff Weds and the pre-match press conference did my nerves no good as the reporter informed me we had failed to beat Wednesday in seven previous attempts. I rallied the troops though and they stepped up to the plate with a big win. We won and Burnley lost to Palace, reducing their lead at the top to just three points, but they had superior goal difference. We still could influence the final outcome though, as we had Burnley to play up next, followed by fourth placed West Brom. When we visited Turf Moor I took the pressure off the players, telling them nobody expected them to be anywhere near promotion so don't worry if we don't win. Burnley dominated the game in terms of shots and possession but we got the all in important goal to win the game. It was scored by James Garner, a player who poetically has been with me every step of the way over the past five seasons. Next up was another dangerous trip, this time to the Hawthorns. We won again through narrow margins, though this was a much closer game. To my delight I saw post-match that Burnley had drew with Stoke sending us top. All we needed to do was beat Bristol Rovers and we would be champions. In a surprisingly stress-free final day of the season we beat Rovers with goals from each of my strike partnership, Tedic and Hirst and were crowned winners of the SkyBet Championship. Promotion to the Premier League seems even sweeter after five seasons at the club, which in the early stages felt like somewhat of a slog. It was a joy to manage this team, all of whom I had recruited except for academy graduates Boon and Browne. Having a supremely talented forward clearly made a difference. Jimmy Hirst scored 26 goals to pick up the Golden Boot and his average match rating of 7.43 was not only the best in the Championship this season, but the best in Championship history. Hirst was voted man of the match on 14 different occasions, therefore it was not exactly a surprise when he was awarded both the Championship Young Player of the Year and Player of the Year. We were by no means a one man team however, with five of our players making the Championship Team of the Year: I was surprised not to see Correia also make the league's Team of the Season as he had a stellar campaign, he may have missed out though as he played just under 30 games due to his injury early in the season. Five seasons in a row I have wrote the same thing; James Garner was absolutely essential to the success of my team. He does not get many goals or assists, but he is the link in the team that starts off the attacks - like Scholes in his later years at Man United. Tedic was a great signing for me, he may have only bagged 11 goals but his partnership with Hirst was invaluable. When switching to 4-4-2 I made the unorthodox decision to play players who were traditionally inside forwards on the wings in positions they were not natural in, purely so that they could provide crosses with their natural foot. This paid off as we had the best crossing completion in the league (26%) and best heading completion (67%). We set up with a primary focus of looking to get the best out of Hirst and Tedic. The defence deserve praise too as we conceded fewer goals than anyone else in the league (just 36). Dahlberg looks even more of a bargain at £300k after delivering 21 clean sheets, but of course all of the back four deserve praise. I began the season expecting Lenihan and van den Berg to be my centre backs but I gave 21 year old academy graduate Shaquille Browne (previously fifth choice CB) an opportunity and never looked back. He played and starred in 23 matches. The experience of Lenihan alongside him surely helped his development.
  22. @karanhsingh Congrats. Just surviving in the Premier League is an achievement, let alone winning the league by 10 points! I’d be interested in seeing a screenshot of your tactical set-up? It might be useful if I somehow manage to steer Bolton to the promised lands! Now the big question; where next?
  23. Bolton Wanderers - Season 5 - Part 3 Our form continued into November, with Hirst once again the star as we defeated Cardiff. The win against Derby marked 13 games in a row without defeat. This would unfortunately end in our next game though, as we lost to Sheff Weds in a game that we dominated. We then lost to Reading and I started to fear that this would be the start of a negative run of form that would see us plummet down the table towards the sort of position we had been expected to finish in. My fears were allayed though in a busy December in which our form returned to being very satisfying. A win against local rivals Blackburn certainly lifted morale. Avenging their 3-2 win from last season with one of our own. A draw with Brentford saw us drop to 2nd, just behind Burnley in the table. A 2-2 draw with promotion chasing Brentford was by no means a bad result however. We lost to Bristol Rovers who have quickly established themselves as our bogey team, but otherwise won the 4 other matches that followed the Brentford match. The 4-0 destroyal of Nottm Forest was a particular highlight. The Christmas period was as hectic as ever and meant that our emphatic victory over Forest was followed just two days later by our game against Cardiff. I played a very changed side and unfortunately they could not get the win. The 6-0 win against Luton in the FA Cup 3rd Round was one of the most enjoyable of the season, to date. This was not just because of the scoreline, but because I gave opportunities to a lot of squad players who all stepped up and performed. Third choice striker John-Jules got a brace and utility option Mbenza delivered a hat-trick from left wing. We had been interchanging positions at the top of the table with Burnley, but our 1-1 draw with Barnsley, coupled with a defeat for The Clarets, saw us take the lead at the top of the table by a point. Two wins apiece since then has meant the margin has stayed the same. Carlo Holse has proven to be a key player over the last three months as the winger has stepped up to score important goals when it has mattered most. We are well placed in the table but this is over a third of the campaign still to go, so I don't intend to start getting complacent. The month ended with a victory against Bournemouth in the FA Cup 4th Round. It was reassuring to be able to beat Premier League opposition, with promotion potentially on the cards, particularly as it wasn't a 'smash and grab', we were the better team. The next round see's us face Wolves who are 7th in the Prem; an even sterner test. Transfers It was an uncharacteristically quiet transfer window by my standards, primarily as things were going so well I didn't see much reason to change things. Eddie Brown was not seeing many opportunities due to the great form of Hirst, Tedic and John-Jules, therefore I loaned him out to Bristol City to continue his development. There were a couple of sales of youth players, but neither of them had much potential so it was nice just to receive a fee for them. There was only one incoming player; someone who is quite popular on this forum! In one of my press conferences a journalist asked me for my views on Reading manager Maarten Stekelenberg transfer listing Danny Loader. This was the first I had heard of this. Reading were having a good season (at that time they were 7th in the league) and Loader was in good form with 7 goals from the left wing - I therefore assumed he must be transfer listed by request due to ambitions to play for a club of greater stature. This was not the case however, as I discovered he was listed due to the club's financial status. In fact, the entire team was transfer listed and the club's financial position was listed as 'In Debt'. I don't recall seeing something quite this extreme before. He was transfer listed for £8.75m. I liked the player but I was well stocked on the wings and did not really need to change a winning team. I thought I'd be kind to Reading and see if they would accept a reduced offer but with the big benefit to them of keeping him on loan for the rest of the season. They accepted £6m with the loan and the deal was agreed. When the summer comes Correia will return to Man City and Schurrle will be a year older, so Loader will see opportunities on the wing at Bolton more plentiful. Reading ended up selling 14 players in January, with a few loan incomings to plug the gaps, it will be interesting to see where they finish in the league.
  24. @Parmie I’m impressed at the rate at which you get through seasons! It’s taken me about 6 months to find the time to get 5 seasons in with Bolton 😂
  25. @karanhsingh Looks like you are on course for another cracking season! Balancing performing well in Europe and the league is impressive. Looks like some solid recruitment there @Jogo Bonito with the signing of Abraham certainly a coup. I expect him to be a real threat at that level. Good luck for the upcoming campaign. @serg__23 I might be biased but Bolton have some quality youth and, for me at least, the academy has continued to produce. Just up to you if you want to start with the challenge of starting on -12points!
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