Bolton Back To Europa S2E4 – Two In a Row!

Here we go then, the final months of the League 1 season and what a performance it has been so far. The aim was mid-bag but the continual upheaval in form has progressed us to the top of the league unexpectedly. If we were to make it to the Championship, we’ll have some job on our hands to stay up as that league is different gravy to League 1 & 2.

This episode we’re going tackle March through to the finale in May also including the squad’s injury issues, the much anticipated youth intake and also any pre-contract that we have secured for next season so let’s get it going!

Injury List

Whilst we made more amazing progress in episode 3, it came at a price. Whilst some injuries were minor it didn’t help having 4 out of 5 wingers injured all at once (Delfouneso, Banks, Isgrove & Hurford-Lockett). Delfouneso’s was long term as we already knew but losing Banks & Isgrove was not ideal when they are my starting wingers at the moment. Toti Gomes is a starter at centre back with wing back cover and again that loses us a bit of stability in the back line but the good news is all players will be back for the run in as long as there is no further setbacks!

March 2022

March was a short month with only 3 league fixtures due to international breaks so just the 9 points up for grabs.

We started the month well with two very good away victories against Accrington (3-1) and the very difficult and stubborn Lincoln (2-1). A test against Gillingham was up next who had worked there way up to the top 3, taking advantage of Blackpool’s and Ipswich’s stuttering form. Before that though, a positive step towards promotion.

A play off place secured this early is always a bonus as it sets up well for securing automatic promotion but we had to keep performing in the league.

And Gillingham got the better of us winning 3-2 however. By no means stellar from my side as we really struggled defensively and ultimately didn’t deserve any points but if we’re up there these are the games you’d want to win. 6 points from 9 in the short month but it still leaves us in a good position going into April.

Youth Intake 2022

One of the things I want to do in this save is develop youth players. Bolton already had quite a few youth prospects but I do find that developing a regen has its benefits as you have no idea how they will look attribute wise just based off of their potential. Training a high potential regen on the right things in my experience, it can go along way.

Not a bad intake at all, the players inside the box will be signed on and its a solid 7 players who could get to first team level. Obviously I’m excited about Lloyd Gribbin with his 3.5 potential and a maybe another star in that potential too.

I have had success with youth intake from my first season (apologies I didn’t showcase the intake in season 1) but I’ve had one player who has developed at a fast rate for his age. Lloyd Greenwood came in with 2 star ability, can play all across the defence and the kid smashes training on a weekly basis, always the best performer. Now he’s pushing a starting place and has made his way from the U18s to our defender on the bench in 1 season, phenomenal progression!

Don’t get me wrong, his technical skills need work along with his strength but on the most part he looks like he can be a very good player for us.

April/May 2022

I’m combining April and May as there is only one game in May. This is how it is, 6 more points and we win League 1 and we secure consecutive promotions, plain and simple.

We get 3 points closer straight away with a tight 1-0 win vs. Northampton stage fright slowly setting in with that one but we get 3 points away from the title. Then the stage fright really kicked in as we struggle to a 1-1 draw with Blackpool and literally hung on for the whole second half for a point vs. Wigan (1-1). I was getting a bit scared at this point as I thought we were about to fall to pieces. Our old nemesis Grimsby, we draw 0-0…but them 4 matches added up to the magic 6 points we needed..

Relief!

LETS GOOOOOO! It was becoming a rocky finish but we secure the League 1 title with two games to spare and we will be fighting in the Championship next season! A lot of work will need to be done to survive next season but at this point, I do not care, we celebrate and we celebrate good!

Penultimate game, I told the boys to go and enjoy the match and it was a show for the neutrals. 3-3 draw with Barnsley and it was one crazy match! Back and forth, end to end and full of goals, just want you want from a football match. The season finished with a 1-0 loss to Oxford, I gave some youth and fringe players a run out so the result was always going to be tough.

Here we are though, going up again in what has been one amazing season of constant progression that has sent us to be champions!

Final League Table

How are Charlton getting relegated by the way?!

My mighty Bolton Wanderers win it by 7 points and only 6 losses over the league season which I did not expect back when it all started…saying that I didn’t expect to win it back then either! Ipswich clawed their way back to the 2nd automatic promotion place and for those wondering 3rd placed Blackpool won the play offs and will join us in the Championship next season.

Pre-Contract Signings

After the season finished, I got to work straight away and got a couple of players in on pre-contracts skipping my annual in game 3 week holiday…no really.

First up is young striker Jonathan Afolabi who will be joining us from Celtic. Spending the season on loan in the Scottish Championship and scoring a very good 21 goals in all competitions. Decent stats for a striker, he will provide good competition for Simon Murray.

Harry Chapman will be coming in too, my scout was raving about this player for a good 3 months. I see Chapman as the heir to Delfouneso’s right wing throne personally. Of course stats wise Chapman isn’t an out and out winger with poor crossing and passing but I usually use an Inside Forward role on the right where he will fit in nicely.

League 1 Team of the Season

My players take up an amazing 6 places in the League 1 team of the season! Crellin (GK), Delaney (CB), Butler (LB), White (CM), Crawford (CM) & Murray (ST). A proud moment to see as a Manager especially when your players get plaudits. Simon Murray was also the league’s top scorer with 18 goals.

Best XI

My trusted formation and tactic that has served me well so far, the XI is more or less correct but I would’ve chosen Sarcevic over Comley. Crawford sensational again this season as the teams playmaker with 11G/14A although he is slowly declining ability wise. Butler (10A) and Jones (8A) both supplying the team from the wing back roles. Banks (11G/10A) and Isgrove (12G/5A) done the business out wide, both double digits for goals and being creative too. Isgrove slowly putting the injuries behind him and has stepped up in Delfouneso’s absence.

Finances

The debt is worse than last season, the loan repayments to the chairman is taking its toll putting us in the red by over 6 million pound. A takeover is needed for sure as it won’t be until about 2025 until the debt is paid off and who knows how bad it will be by then. The board have upped the wage budget by £20k but £0 in the transfer kitty going into the Championship is really not ideal but we know this would happen from the start of this series so bring it on!

What’s Next?

Season 3 will be the start of the EFL Championship adventure! It’s not going to be easy and we just have to fight for survival and try to find us some players who can keep us competitive in that league. This is where this series will get turned up a notch because its going to be a tough old season! Check out our twitter @DP_FMblog to keep up to date with episode releases and anything else we get up to!

While you are exploring the DP-FM site, go take a look at Louis’ (Co-blogger/creator of DP-FM) challenge where he is embarking on his series ‘Unemployed, Unskilled & Inexperienced’. This entails Louis starting from the bottom of his management career with no coaching badges and low attributes to add to the fun! The link is right here – https://dpfmblog.com/2020/12/21/unemployed-unskilled-inexperienced-season-1-episode-1/

Well guys, I hope you enjoyed this season 2 finale and our League 1 exploits. Catch you all for the Championship adventure! Stay safe my people

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