So I ended up finishing top of the Championship, smashing the maximum points record. I never got any CF firing, but Trotta on loan from Sassuolo was the closest to a decent forward. Nasri, whose ban ended on new years' eve, was good but the superstars were the full backs (Douglas and Ayling) and Jack Harrison on loan from Man City.
At the end of the Jan window, I bought in some players I was surprised wanted to join me in the Championship - maybe the all-but certain promotion and team form played a part. I managed to bring in on loan:
Kyriakos Papadopoulos on loan fro HSV, who was disappointing
Etienne Capoue from Watford, who was unhappy, who I managed to extend for a 2-year loan with a 3m option (!)
Nahitan Nández from Boca as cover for Rico, who I managed to extend with an option
Facundo Colidio from Inter
Jordan Lukaku from Lazio with an option
I managed to bring in some new transfers too:
DMC Mikel Rico who was on loan from Athletic on a per-game transfer who was a rock in the middle of the pitch.
AM Xadas for 1.3m
DC David Garcia on a free as CB cover
TM Harlem Gnohere for 500k
TM Fabian Klos from Arminia Bielefeld, whose contract was expiring and I was able to bring in right at the end of the window for 250k
Hernandez, Dallas, Forshaw and O'Kane all left, bringing in 17m.
Coming into the Premier League, I knew it was going to be a massive step up and that to survive I needed at least:
Centre back depth
Central midfield depth
A top class GK
Having secured promotion by March, it gave me first dibs on expiring contracts, loan options and unhappy players. I had planned to bring in around 5 players and keep the core of the team, but the window got away from me a bit - as well as the 35m (which I got the board to up to 45m) I ended up selling 75m of players:
Nasri for 23m who became a disruptive muppet
Jansson for 15m to Newcastle - maybe a mistake but I was seduced by the cash and Cooper had been far stronger during the season
Barry Douglas for 14m to Watford on the last day of the season, only because Liverpool bought Theo Hernández from Read Madrid and put Moreno on the loan list with 30% wages.
Alioski for 14m
Dennis Diekmeier, who I'd signed for a free, for 7.5m
Roofe, De Bock, Berardi, Cibicki, Anita, Ekuban, Sacko, Huth and a few more all also went
Knowing Jansson and Huth were on the way out, and Garcia and Bressan weren't up to Premier League standard, I bought in Gian Marco Ferrari from Sassuolo for 5m and Juan Forlín on a free as he left Oviedo. Southampton listed Wesley Hoedt who I got for 7m (10m with options). I also bought Sídnei in on loan, but I got my squad limit math wrong and had to let him go before the season started. Right at the end of the window, Tin Jedvaj threw a wobbly and I snapped him up for 5m. With Cooper as well, I was a bit over-staffed in the CB department and so Hoedt went out on loan. Turns out, I got the balance of the squad a bit wrong and I'm one injury away from being in CB trouble now.
Trotta was a decent Championship striker, but not Premier League standard. Bamford wasn't performing and was now on 45k/w so he was sent to the exit (but, it turns out, is still with me). I had Klos from last season who I'd bought with promotion in mind, Gnohere as backup, both of this are Target Men. Roberto Inglese joined at the end of his Napoli contract, who is also a natural TM. My scouts found Maximiliano Gómez from Vigo for 8.5m (10m with add-ons) who seems to be an all-round great striker.
I'd decided I was going to play 4 at the back, a big man up top and, therefore, 5 in the middle in some configuration. Given that I (at that time) had Nasri, Saiz, Xadas, Marin and Foden on loan for another season, a 4-2-3-1 looked the best fit so I was looking for BWM / CM(D) / DLP players. Besic was surplus to requirements at Everton and so joined me for 5m, Nahitan Nández from Boca come over for another season, I took up Capoue's 3m option.
Postdrag Rajkovic was the obvious choice at a steal for 4m (6m with add-ons), but he didn't get the work permit and so is off on loan. Blackman wasn't going to do the job on his own do I ended up blowing the Leeds record on Gerónimo Rulli from Real San Sebastián for 15m (24m with add-ons).
At this point, I pretty much had the team and it wasn't even the end of the season yet, the board giving me my budget once promotion was secured. It then got a bit crazy with Nasri being a spoiled brat, big offers coming in for many of my key players and my scouts finding some really good players I ended up doing a complete revamp. Dennis Man from Roma joined full-time, I found Dani Olmo at Dinamo for 8m (12m), both Santiago Arias from A. Madrid and Almamy Touré from Monaco come in on loan at RB, and as Nasri went out for 23m Lovro Majer come in as a like-for-like for 15m.