Bolton Back To Europa S4E3 – Touching Distance

Welcome back everyone, very busy one this episode with a few bits going on. As mentioned in episode 2 I will show you my preferred starting XI, along with that there is some team news regarding our parent club, new deals and a new player coming into the mix before the transfer window.

Speaking of the transfer window, there are some temporary new faces and some outgoings after some stellar work from my Director of Football and of course we cover December, January and February results wise where there is plenty of points to play for. So let’s get it going!

Best XI/Team News

It has taken me a few months following quite a few signings at the start of the season to settle on my trusted XI. I got to a point of knowing my go to team around November and this is the team who got us back on track this season.

This is what I see as my best XI. In forward areas we definitely have a talented front 3 who have an average of 19 between them. Its a shame two of them are on loan but maybe there will be an opportunity for permanent moves in the future.

The midfield 3 as you can see have a great understanding but don’t be fooled by Kai Fotheringham’s 2.5 star rating. The 20 year old chipping in with 11 assists (By the end of February) and is currently training in this position of being an advanced playmaker in centre midfield.

At the back and in goal, it is a decent enough backline however, Gethin Jones, Ryan Delaney and Toti Gomes have all dropped 0.5 in star rating as the season has gone on. It may be the level of the league but Delaney & Toti Gomes have had a solid partnership for a third season in a row. George Long also dropping 0.5 of a star rating but to me he plays like a 4 star player with some of the saves he makes!

Still a developing squad with a couple playing at their peak, still plenty more young prospects to come into contention as well.

Contract news now as interest swirled in 18 year old star winger Shane McNeill and up & coming full back (also 18) Sean Elstone-Coyle. McNeill had 15 clubs interested and S.E.C had 12 clubs, all high end Championship and Premier League clubs. Both had release clauses at £7 million and £5 million respectively. It was too low for my liking, essentially when they do inevitably leave in the future I want the money to be able to clear our debt unless a takeover comes first.

Both agreed new contracts but wouldn’t drop their release clauses so we bumped them up for a sizeable combined price…

So when the big guns come calling again in the summer window (probably), I’ll gladly take £23.5 million for both of them. I should become the Chief Financial Officer for this club if these deals ever happen!

Another prospect joins as we welcome Hari Harvey to the team, a young 17 year old winger/striker who was found floating about the free agency market following leaving Welsh side Connah’s Quay.

A respectable 18 goals in 27 apps while he was there. For us, Harvey will train with the first team but feature for the u18s for the time being. I will look to give him chances when suitable opportunities present themselves.

Lastly, I have decided to change the club’s senior affiliation from Arsenal to Chelsea. As we all know Chelsea are the kings of loans and they have a lot more prospects who we can bring in on loan, whereas Arsenal’s are either hitting their first team or moving on to new clubs with their regens only being League 1/2 level at best. The annual fee Chelsea pay us will be around £118k a season.

So that’s you all updated on the team news, lets look at some games!

December 2023

7 league games to get amongst, some good opposition in there to contend with but again it will show if we’re still on an upwards curve.

Tough first game losing 2-0 to Crystal Palace which we take and swiftly move on. And we move on to better things as we move on to a 5 game winning streak, first up we keep up our good record vs. Blackburn winning 4-2 – Tarrelle Whittaker taking care of business there as usual. On loan winger Callum Richards gets the goal to despatch Preston 1-0 and Conor Chaplin gets a long awaited 2nd goal for the club in a tight 1-0 win vs. Bristol Rovers.

A crazy match vs. Middlesbrough ended as a 3-2 win, with two prominent scorers this month in Callum Richards & Tarrelle Whittaker (2) getting us through that one after a lively first half that finished 2-2! The win run was ended by Derby who beat us 2-0, in a rather lethargic performance. Maybe some over confidence had crept in.

A great month with a massive 15 points on the board as we continue to fight against the odds in this league.

Another tempting job offer came in at the end of December from a highly regarded Premier League team, I just hope I will be in there with Bolton one day to contest against them!

January 2024

We’ll take a look at the results before talking transfers as we all know how busy January can be with the league and FA cup.

We started with Cardiff in the league who had clawed their way out of the relegation zone following a manager change, the bagsman Tarrelle Whittaker gave us early lead but we eventually caved into the pressure drawing 1-1 with ‘the Bluebirds’. Then off into the FA cup 3rd round versus League One’s Rotherham who we beat 3-2 and it was a tough game. After flying into a 2-0 lead (Harvey & Isgrove), Rotherham batted back with two of their own straight after half time. I brought on some of our ‘big guns’ but on his full debut, cometh the man, cometh Hari Harvey! The 17 year old fires in the winner and he certainly wants the world to remember his name…complete teenage Wayne Rooney vibes!

On paper you may think us drawing 3-3 with Burnley is class but we were well and truly FM’d (if you know, you know). Tarrelle Whittaker’s first half hattrick had us in control at least I thought but Burnley pulling it back to 3-1 just before HT was the catalyst for their comeback and painfully in the 89th minute it was 3-3, gutted. Watford beat us 2-0, not too much to say about that one as we were useless but we bounced back with a convincing 3-0 win vs. QPR thanks to Tom White, Conor Chaplin & Callum Richards. We had a chance of redemption against Burnley in the FA cup fourth round but ultimately couldn’t get the job done losing 2-1.

Not the greatest month by any means, I’m starting to get the feeling that we may not have enough to beat the top teams in the league which may slow down our progression. Some good news though as ‘the bagsman’ Tarrelle Whittaker wins Championship Young Player of the Month. He did also come 2nd in the main Player of the month award too. Just an absolute beast up front!

January Transfer Window

So a couple of players brought in on loan, Sean Forde was brought in loan from West Ham as Right Back cover as young right back Joe Kendrick was loan listed due to struggling at this level and just needed him to get consistent match time. 21 year old Finlay Robertson came in from new parent club Chelsea as a boost to the midfield. Robertson can play in all 3 positions in the middle of our 4-3-3 formation which is great versatility to have.

Only permanent departure was Bright Amoateng to Swindon for £50k. Amoateng was in the last 6 months of his contract and his last two loans have ended in recalls due to lack of game time ultimately stunting his development. I was a big fan in our early seasons but it wasn’t meant to be. A lot of outgoings loan wise thanks to my DoF who is a regen, taking care of the majority of the development list! Top work from the man known as Kieran Cross.

February 2024

First big news of February was extending ‘the bagsmans’ loan for another season on low wages…Thank you Spurs!

6 games in February all league and big points to be won…I hope!

And we embark with seeing off Millwall 3-0, the bagsman doing what he does best with Chaplin grabbing a goal. Stoke are high flyers this season but Tarrelle Whittaker didn’t care scoring another brace and we hold on for a 2-1 win vs. ‘The Potters’. An entertaining match saw us see of Blackpool 3-2, Callum Richards, Shane McNeill and Jonathan Afolabi with the goods. Afolabi has become a bit of a forgotten man after poor form this season and Whittaker’s dominance up front, hopefully this goal will show a turn in fortunes for Afolabi.

We then had a couple of 1-0 wins vs. Bristol City and Portsmouth, Daniel Kemp & Shane McNeill scoring in each game, it was proper Fergie style grinding out the wins to keep the run going – another 5 win run for us and we were looking very good. Unfortunately what could have been a perfect month was ruined in 4 late minutes. 1-0 up vs. West Ham – the Bagsman at it again, we concede in the 89th minute and then the 93rd…shattering us to a 2-1 defeat vs. ‘The Hammers’. Water bottles came out, I couldn’t believe we threw a game we seemed to have a hold of but if you don’t take your chances, you get punished.

Still, a big 15 points on the board and we are really driving forward now but we need to count out these occurrences of craziness in matches and just get the job done.

League Table

Take a look of where we have risen to now, you may be surprised…

As the title suggests, we are in ‘touching distance’ of the play offs lying now in 7th place coming out of the winter months. The football is great, the team have gelled and we may just be able to upset the odds. I can’t get carried away but the last 10 games could be very big for us!

What’s Next?

Last day of February, this has started again…

So we will see in episode 4 if this takeover goes through but it looks like our Chairwoman has had enough and we are on the market! It will be seen if we can make an unlikely play off push or will the pressure get the better of the boys – a lot to look forward 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’ 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 –

Or to go from the current season –

A busy one this episode so thanks for reading guys, episode 4 will be coming as soon as possible!

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