Bolton Back To Europa S3E2 – Set up to Fail?

Welcome back everyone, here we are again battling our way through the early parts of the EFL Championship with the mighty Bolton Wanderers. A solid start amassing 10 points after 7 games, we came out of August sitting in a healthy 11th place. A very long way to go however, but we will keep chipping away at my self set target of 50 points for the season to ensure our safety from relegation.

This episode will cover the months September to the end of November, with unhappy players being sold to leave in January, an interesting prospect being secured on a free transfer, a tactical shake up thanks to a fellow FM blogger and the board are at it again by making things even tougher for the rest of the season. So now you know the plan, let’s get stuck in!

September 2022

Carabao Cup 3rd Round and plenty of league action, including taking on two of the tougher teams in the league – West Brom & Norwich.

ANNNNDDD the penalty shootout curse returns. After a less than exciting 0-0 with Bristol City after 90 minutes, off the penalties we went and out the cup we went after losing 4-3 on pens. A chance of redemption straight after facing the same opposition in the league and this time getting the better of Bristol City winning 2-1 in a match with a bit more excitement!

After that win though, the rest of the month was tough. Whilst we weren’t blowing out of the water by two top sides in the league, we lost to West Brom (1-0) and Norwich (2-0). The difference in class was clear but we defended well in both games on the most part. My side then shared the points with Preston (1-1) which was a fair result however, we lost 2-0 to Luton who were bottom of the league in what was a poor performance in general but we have to stay positive to get out of the slump.

Not the greatest month by any means but some tough teams in there. We just have to crack on and see what we can do in October!

October 2022 (Part one)

Again, some of the tougher teams in Crystal Palace and West Ham who have been relegated from the Premier League, a derby vs. Blackburn and another tough team in Swansea.

The Palace game went as you’d expect losing 3-1, safe to say Wilfried Zaha should not be in this league! I needed some inspiration as my team were struggling and morale was dipping and a tactic from none other than CoxieFM got us going again as we used his ‘Back Attack’ Tactic in the derby vs. Blackburn winning 5-2 after being 2-0 down! And it also grabbed us a point vs. Cardiff (2-2).

CoxieFM’s ‘Back Attack’ Tactic

It was a tactic I hadn’t seen before, to be fair I wouldn’t of even had such an idea to design it but I was intrigued by it and how it could actually benefit the players I have because they have the capabilities to play the specific roles required for this madness of a creation.

To see exactly how it works and what it looks like, check out the link which will take you over to CoxieFM’s blog –

Make sure you check out his other content on there too and follow him on twitter @Coxie84! So you can see the effect it can have, this was the game stats against Blackburn. Very equal in terms of shots and possession was close too but my xG rating was 3.41 because of the chances we were able to create due to the set up of the formation with the tactical instructions. The width, overlaps and high tempo worked in our favour, something the team are already quite familiar with when I use my 4-3-3 DM wide wing play tactic.

DP-FM Tip – If you are on twitter, make sure you follow and talk to the FM community because there is always someone there to help. Set up or get involved in Discord chats to learn and share your ideas with other people around this great community – the above is an example of what it can do for you!

October 2022 (Part two)

Back to the results and up next was Nottingham Forest who beat us 2-1. I reverted back to 4-3-3 for this one as I believed I could expose them out wide which we did but we were not clinical at all and should have done better. Two big results followed vs. Swansea winning 3-0 and then beating West Ham 3-1 away! Both games I started with my vertical tiki-taka 5-2-1-2 for the first half to keep them at bay, the second half I would change to the trusted 4-3-3 wing play and they couldn’t deal with the curveball. Scoring 3 in the second half in both matches, absolutely mental!

A very good month beating some top teams and getting us back collecting valuable points. One player had an unreal month in on loan attacker Tyrese Omotoye who won the Championship young player of the month award for October making 8 goal contributions in 6 games! Top stuff from the lad.

New Signing – Shane McNeil

One of my trusted scouts recommended me 17 year old Shane McNeil who already had a 2.5 star rating. Playing for Northern Ireland’s Ballymena on a month to month contract with no compensation required, he agreed to join earning £300 p/w, bargain!

Positions wise the game rate him best as a striker however, his stats suit AMC in my opinion. Finishing work will need to be done regardless and with some more training in the crossing & dribbling department, he could be useful on the wing also. I will be bringing him into the first team squad in January.

The Board Issue

Before I take you through November’s results, I must explain how the board really put me up against it for the rest of the season. I made the decision to sell Dan Butler as he had 8-9 months left on his contract and wouldn’t drop his high wage demands. I was able to get a £250k fee from Oxford for Butler which was good going considering he had a higher league release clause of £140k so luckily it was a team from a league below. After I confirmed the deal, the board then decided to reduce our wage budget from £64k to £54k.

We are in the Championship with no transfer budget and now £8k in wage debt a week. Finances are still not great but at this point where they want me to avoid relegation and they are really trying to make it difficult. Not to mention captain and lead defender Ryan Delaney is out of contract at the end of the season and now I can’t afford his renewal. We’re going to be in some trouble soon enough and there is not much I can do about it. Simon Murray was sold to Doncaster for a mere £115k during all this mess as again he had no interest in dropping his wage demands either – what a twist to the tale this was!

November 2020

Still reeling from the ever worsening finances which is now affecting transfer and contract plans we had to crack on with the games. Only 3 in November due to an international break for the Qatar 2022 world cup preparations (again, absolutely ridiculous being in the winter!).

A decent month getting 5 points from a possible 9. Two draws against respectable opposition in Stoke (0-0) and Middlesbrough (1-1) before a very good win vs. Portsmouth 2-0 which we were largely in control which was pleasing to see despite the disruptions in match schedules everyone was experiencing.

A good build on October’s results and I was pretty happy with how things were going on the pitch but finding it difficult with the Bolton board as I didn’t know what they had up their sleeve next that could deteriorate us more!

League Table

Quite a few games in the last few months so let’s see where it leaves us for the winter months ahead.

So there we are sitting 13th just after the half way point with 33 points! 17 off our target already with a little cushion over the relegation places however, a lot can change and we all know how intense January and February can be game wise! I’m pleased with where we are and seem to be holding our own against teams you may not expect us to.

What’s Next?

Up next, we will take on the months of December, January and February including the January transfer window…not that we have any budget or wages to spend but who knows what can happen. As long as none of my big players ask to leave of course! Also it will be FA cup time which you should all know by now, I love that competition!

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’ which is currently on season 4. This entails Louis starting from the bottom of his management career with no coaching badges and low attributes to add to the fun!

To go from the start;

Or to go from the current season;

As always guys, take care and stay safe out there, I’ll be back soon with episode 3!

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