After securing the League 2 title, knowing who will be joining us in League One, I want to celebrate the successes of this season in the form of player awards and Best XI’s, Also sharing the end of season club finances and the state of them. I will share my plans in terms of the squad in what I want to do tactically to ensure the team adapts well to the higher league.
So let’s start reflecting and celebrating what we’ve done in season 1 through FM21’s great end of season review that the game takes you through when its all said and done!
To start we will recap our league title success, something we secured in the penultimate game which allowed us to have the trophy lift at the home ground.
We win the league by 8 points after a back and forth with Grimsby all season for top spot but ultimately we pulled through with our consistency. Eoin Doyle carried on his scoring reputations in League 2 with finishing top scorer with 17 goals, a reliable player for us when we need goals. Attendance was under half the stadium’s 28,018 capacity but that is expected for a team who have slid down the leagues in recent years. The board are quite critical so I will take the B- grade but should have been more as I didn’t fail any objectives!
Moments to Remember
There was a lot of good times during this season but let’s have a look at what the game gauged as our moments to remember.
In all fairness, I agree with the match to remember and goal of the season (Biggest win is self explanatory). The 4-0 win away to Oldham really gave me confidence that we could see out our objectives, just a completely dominating away display where we stayed in control. Goal of the Season from young Ronan Darcy was a scorcher, unfortunately I didn’t record it as I’m not tech savvy in that area (feel like a dinosaur!). Some context, we had the ball outside the area retaining possession but couldn’t get the ball in the box. Sarcevic rolled the ball to Darcy who unleashed a first time 30 yard strike into the left top bins, the ball travelled like a bullet!
Bolton Best XI (Avg. rating)
Let’s take a look at what our best team was based on their average rating over the course of the season.
This was more or less my preferred starting line up, before a drop in form for Folarin Balogun was my starting left forward. Ben Cottrell came in and took advantage with 9G/8A which is impressive considering he had the most appearances off of the bench. Delfouneso (16G/10A) & Ali Crawford (9G/12A) very impressive going forward, with Sarcevic racking up most of his 9 goals from the penalty spot.
My defence more than chipped in with assists Gethin Jones with 7, Jordan Spence with 4 and centre back Ryan Delaney grabbing 4 as well. Delaney also held the highest average rating with 7.28 in 38 starts which is very impressive.
Club Player Awards
Any player at any level hopes to grab an award at the end of season presentation (been a good few years since I’ve had one!) and I was looking forward to seeing who got what.
Manager awards…baring in mind we were top 2 for the majority of the season surprisingly I didn’t get one manager of the month award which but the title beats all that any day.
Ryan Delaney sweeped Fans Player and Young Player of the Season (Yes even at 24?!) with starting right back Jordan Spence being signing of the season which is justified. Ronan Darcy already got goal of the season as we know, with Eoin Doyle’s 20 goals in all comps making him the club’s golden boot winner!
League 2 Awards
There was also a some League 2 awards to be had by some of the players, lets take a look!
Ryan Delaney took the Sky Bet League 2 POTY with a league rating of 7.29 in 34 league appearances (games missed to suspension, injury and when rested). Eoin Doyle sweeped the League 2 golden boot.
League 2 of the season Bolton have 4 players in Delaney, Crawford, Delfouneso & Doyle. For their contributions this season it’s more than deserved in my opinion, and congratulations to the Grimsby players. Predicted to finish in the bottom half but grabbing second place is a great achievement.
That rounds up the celebrations, now the more serious stuff in the dreaded finances..
End of Year Finances (June 2021)
As documented in earlier episodes and something that is in the press nationally, money wise Bolton aren’t in a good place which will make the challenge a lot harder by the time we reach the Championship if the situation doesn’t change. Profit was hard to come by but there is a reason for that
Balance is -£4,103,289, it was just above £0 at the start of the season. The reason for the downfall is the loan repayments sitting at £531k a month. The first issue is in league 2 you’re not making that back in gate receipts and shirt sales. This also a chairman loan where Sharon Brittain invested a big amount into the club (between 30-40m) to clear existing debt but now the club pays her back this high amount every month. With everything else needed to run the club the expenditure sat at around £1.2M monthly which is a problem that can’t be improved at this moment in time. The income seen is from winning league 2, season tickets and League 1 TV money.
I can’t see much changing unless a takeover of some amount is done but at the same time getting to the Championship as soon as we can will help a lot. However, we have League 1 to tend with first.
The squad as you all know is massive (Episode 2 of this season), there is no U23 squad so once an U18 is too old, into the first team they go. My plan will be to note down all players in their main position and decide who will be sold to cut the squad down. There are no players who are worth hundreds of thousands due to most being on 1 year contracts but we will shift who we need and look after our high potential youngsters.
Loan wise, Balogun & Cottrell will go back to Arsenal, GK Billy Crellin is due back to Fleetwood but I will be trying to keep him on loan for 1 more season. Tom White who you haven’t heard much of is out of contract at parent club Blackburn, he wasn’t more prominent due to a hernia keeping him out for 4 months but I was a fan of his work rate. Peter Kiosi (RB) will go back to Luton which is fine by me, a very inconsistent player and Isaiah Jones will not be retained either.
The budget will be £0 again so I will aim for end of contract signings and loans. It is all about making smart signings when being promoted and I’m not looking to sign loads of players, just simply what we need which will be a RB, CB, LB, LW & a CM. That’s the plan anyway!
Tactics wise – the formation will remain the same with 4-3-3 DM wide and the wing play tactic. This is due to the similarity in standard between League 1 and 2. Some tactical instruction changes will be needed, I don’t believe we will have as much freedom on the pitch and the positive mentality may expose us against certain sides. A lot of pre-season friendlies will be arranged for tactical review and ultimately full squad fitness so it will be interesting to see how we unfold!
I have thoroughly enjoyed Season 1 and I am really looking forward to Season 2 where the first episode will be released on the 14th January which is all about the squad and pre-season performance, setting us up for the League 1 season ahead. I hope you’ve enjoyed Season 1 as much as I have enjoyed playing it and blogging it, appreciate all the views you’ve given over these 7 episodes.
As always make sure you check out DP-FM’s co-creator/blogger’s challenge of Unemployed, Unskilled & Inexperienced it is full of twists and turns, it really shows how low you can start before the big success come. Check out the link right here https://atomic-temporary-187110868.wpcomstaging.com/2020/12/21/unemployed-unskilled-inexperienced-season-1-episode-1/
And lastly, thanks for reading and I’ll be back with the next season in a few days time 🙂