Welcome back guys and welcome to the season 3 finale. As usual, the curtain call is always a busy one and this is no different from past seasons. As we get through March and April results, the youth intake, we look to secure contracts for two of our main players who don’t have long left on their deals, the board change the wage budget once again, I still grab some pre-contracts and I pull of a deal to get our bank balance out of the red.
As shown in episode 3, the boys made a recovery from the hellish form in January with a decent February, leaving us knocking around mid-table and 3 points off of our self set target of 50 points which should secure our safety for next season.
Only 4 games in March and all in the league as we are out of cup competitions and first up the local derby with Blackburn who we beat 5-2 in the reverse using the ‘Back Attack’ tactic.
As that very tactic was so successful in the reverse, I used it again and what do you know we stick another five past Blackburn winning 5-0! It was just an unbelievable performance, 10 goals against our rivals this season – you love to see it, especially when it got us to our 50 point target.
Up next was a draw with Cardiff (1-1), I find them an awkward team to play so was happy with the point. Another difficult team is Nottingham Forest, they usually have good quick attacking players but then so do we. An entertaining one for the neutrals but we beat Forest 3-2, could say it was fortunate as they had more chances but if you don’t finish your dinner you don’t earn your dessert…or 3 points in this case. Last match of March was against Swansea who were below us but we really struggled and fell to a 2-0 loss. To be fair, they are a team who are lower than they should be, the quality is still there.
Injury problems persist as usual though as Matt Crooks ruins his achilles by….jumping, frustrating as he’s a very good player on his day. See you next season Matty lad.
Still, I’m happy with the month, got some good points on the board there, we’re as good as safe now too so we will be in the EFL Championship next season! We caught more interest from a Premier League club with another appealing interview offer which of course was declined.
Lastly, Tyrese Omotoye’s great form earnt him a second Young Player of the Month award this season. 6 goals in 3 games (4 of which in the Blackburn win), unreal bagsman! Would love to keep him but the price will always be too high unfortunately at this stage.
The 2023 Youth Intake
I’ve been fortunate with youth intakes so far with Bolton, one player (Lloyd Greenwood) is solidified in the first team and one or two more will be pushing for next season. But let’s see who we’re looking at this season.
Very good potential on this intake, obviously Eddie Hillier stands out but the potential of most of the others shown look very good, I don’t expect all of them to reach their potential but hopefully some of them develop over the next couple of seasons.
Last month of the season and I just wanted a strong finish, there was still chance of a 12th place finish which would technically be top half so that was my short term aim at this point.
We do have a tendency to stutter a bit form wise in April, to be fair the last two seasons were different circumstances but I wanted a bit more of positive finish. And the opening few fixtures started in that very manor with a 1-0 loss vs. West Ham followed by 3 draws vs. Stoke (1-1), Middlesbrough (1-1) and Portsmouth (0-0). Probably lucky to come away with a point in the first two games but the game against Portsmouth was very dull, both teams looked very reluctant to take risks.
I wanted some wins and our last two games were against sides that came up with us. One thing for me is, whichever teams I get promoted with I like to beat as it shows that we’ve stepped up a level in a sense. We done exactly that, starting off with a 2-1 win vs. Ipswich who were battling relegation but to be fair you could tell they were fighting to stay up. Our final game of the season was against Blackpool which was 1-0 to us. Blackpool have secured safety and there wasn’t much to play for so 3 points was a nice way to finish the season.
To reflect, we exceeded our set expectations and my personal expectation this season results/points wise. Whilst at this point I’m uncertain about our financial future, I am keen to try and keep building this squad.
A great first season back in the Championship finishing 12th with 63 points, a positive goal difference and equal on the wins and losses. Finishing an impressive 23 points above relegation when all in all we have a high end League One squad. Ipswich, Wycombe and Luton were relegated from the league, Brentford join West Brom and Norwich in the Premier League next season. Barnsley, Coventry and Bristol Rovers (impressively) will join us from League one. Lastly, Reading, Burnley and QPR are all relegated from the Premier League.
There will be a few changes when the boys come back from pre-season in late June. This is partly due to the finances with the wage budget but then the realisation that some of the players just won’t ever cut it at this level. Some players who got us up the leagues will be let go which is a shame and others will be transfer listed but I’m not managing this club to keep players for the sake of it.
Released list (Notable players) – Nathan Delfouneso, Ali Crawford, Ronan Darcy, Dennis Politic.
Transfer listed – Jordan Spence, Kieran Wallace, James McLean, Harry Chapman
Loans ending (no extensions) – Charlie Patino & Juan Larios (Arsenal), Tyrese Omotoye (Norwich) and Scott Banks (Crystal Palace).
There is some good news as we were able to get contracts across the line for two important players and extended a loan for a certain someone for a third season!
Retained – Ryan Delaney, Lloyd Isgrove and Toti Gomes (Loan extended).
Wage Budget Adjustment
After I renewed Lloyd Isgrove’s and Ryan Delaney’s contracts, I had put us £18k in debt with the wages and to be fair I was half expecting my job security to dip but then the board reverse their decision from earlier in the season…
So despite my recklessness to keep my better players, for once the chairman done me a favour and equalled our current wage budget, this would be backed by the £4.82 million pay out from the EFL from finishing 12th but at this point we are still in red with around -£3.5 million.
As soon as the season finished, straight away I was working on signings and player sales. As mentioned earlier a few players were transfer listed. Either because they were not good enough, they were ageing or in Harry Chapman’s case he just spent most of the seasons with injuries and I just need players who can be available as much as possible physically.
First to go was Kieran Wallace, sold for £400k to League One’s Sheffield Wednesday. Slightly below his £475k value but considering we got him on a free it was good profit. Next was Jordan Spence, £100k fee to League Two’s Swindon. Very good the last two seasons but the Championship was a step too far for him unfortunately.
With the two sales freeing up around £5k in the wage budget, I went into the the pre-contract market. The plan over the next season or two is to refresh the squad with talented young players. We got in early for two sought after players who fit in perfectly with what I’m trying to do.
Kai Fotheringham joins from Dundee Utd and Michael Baxter (regen) joins from Man City. Both great talents for their ages and are only going to get better, no compensation was needed for either as they were both set for release. Very pleased to get both deals done quickly and can’t wait to get them involved.
Young attacker Tarrelle Whittaker joined on loan from Spurs for the season to replace Tyrese Omotoye for the season. Whittaker is rated at 3.5 stars up front or out wide so good versatility there.
One more huge sale you’ll see below was made which I will talk about in the next section and young striker Bright Amoateng is spending the season at Scunthorpe Utd but this will effectively run down his contract.
Financial Recovery (Out of the Red)
So you will all see we sold Ed Hurst for a massive £7.5m to Everton. Massive transfer price for this young prospect. For those who remember, at the start of the season I got Hurst on a free from T.N.S in Wales. 2 star rated with 4.5 star potential, the suitors came streaming in and when I realised the fee I could command, it was too good to say no. The board didn’t interfere and let me reject any offers that I deemed unacceptable. Everton were one of a few clubs who offered the money up front and its done wonders to the bank balance.
That sale has left us on nearly +£5 million in the bank! I even have a transfer budget for the first time in the save and they’ve bumped the wages to £115k! This is the most money we’ve had all save. There is still £17 million left of the debt to pay off however and still at a premium of £500k a month so I will be careful with the budgets as they may decrease.
I’d like to shave off the debt though and there are a few players I can afford to lose to do this so pre-season will be very interesting. But regardless, this is a big step for us as a club. If I can get us out of debt with no takeover then that is a massive achievement in itself so let’s see what we can do.
Well firstly, I hope you enjoyed all of that, it was a lot so if you made it all the way through – congrats! Next up will be the beginning of season 4, where we will tackle pre-season, transfers, the start of the season and anything else that is thrown our way. Check our twitter page @DP_FM_ to keep up to date with new releases!
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 5. 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 – https://dpfmblog.com/2020/12/21/unemployed-unskilled-inexperienced-season-1-episode-1/
Or to go from the current season – https://dpfmblog.com/2021/01/30/unemployed-unskilled-inexperienced-s5-ep-1-semi-pro-to-efl-league-one/
As always guys, thank you very much for reading and supporting us, we appreciate you all. Take care and stay safe out there.