Bolton Back To Europa S4E4 – The Turning Point

Yes guys, we’re back and its the season finale. Let me tell you that this will be one of the busiest episodes yet of this series. I’m not just talking results either. The takeover stories intensify, we keep some of our star loanees, the youth intake and a certain player sweeps up in the end of season awards for the EFL Championship.

One thing to remember before we get amongst it, a play off place is very possible going into the last 10 games of the season!

As each month is busy, we will tackle the fixtures first and then any further updates will follow on from that in each month…so let’s begin!

March 2024

5 games to tend with in March, this included current table toppers Birmingham with the rest of the opposition sitting in the bottom half.

We took on Birmingham and got a deserved 1-1, Toti Gomes headed us in front with Birmingham scoring just before half time. An even game with a fair result. Then we got going on a 3 game win run, picking up 1-0 victories vs. Coventry and Reading, goals from ‘The Bagsman’ Whittaker and forgotten striker Jonathan Afolabi in each game.

Up next was Barnsley which brought us a big 4-0 victory. Barnsley fell to bits after two straight reds for kung fu kick type tackles and we made the most of it, scoring 3 in the last 6 minutes (Whittaker [2], Greenwood). My side finished the month with a 2-2 draw with Peterborough and I can’t believe we didn’t win. 20 shots to their 6, yet we were the team scoring the late equaliser through that man Whittaker with other loan star Callum Richards grabbing the first goal.

Another solid month with no losses and 11 more points on the board.

Tarrelle ‘the Bagsman’ Whittaker picked up another Championship Young Player of the Month award for March and I finally got some recognition as I picked up the Manager of the Month award.

March 2024 News

First bit of news was Callum Richards agreeing another season on loan from former parent club Arsenal. To sweeten the deal we don’t have to pay any monthly loan fee or cover any of his wages, result!

Takeover talks begin to pick up however, it is very early doors at this stage with no transfer embargo in place at this point.

Youth Intake

We break off into the youth intake, to be honest its probably the worst I’ve had on this save so far, compared to other intakes I’m not convinced that any of these lads will see the first team bar one or two.

Your probably thinking Iyseden Littlejohn (class name haha!) looks like he could be decent but he actually turned me down on the contract offer. 1 star ability and he thought he deserved £600 p/w a week! I’ll put this into context, first teamer Sean Elstone-Coyle came in on the season 2 youth intake at a 2 star rating, his first contract was £200 p/w and he’s earned his beans since then! George Tanner did sign so I’m hoping he’s the diamond in the rough.

April/May 2024

I’m combining April & May as there was only one game in the latter and it was a big final 5 games.

Nottingham Forest had been in the top 4 all season and I always struggle against them, I just can’t pinpoint what it is! Forest beat us 2-1, despite ‘The Bagsman’ Whittaker drawing us level in the second half, my defence just couldn’t take the late pressure and disappointingly we conceded in the 86th minute. We had to bounce back and we did with a huge result beating Crystal Palace 3-2. 2-0 up we went through Captain Ryan Delaney & Louis Thompson, quite rare for two of our more defensive players bagging but Palace brought it back to 2-2. The main man Whittaker at it again, scoring in the 74th minute to grab us a big 3 points. The 0-0 with Blackburn was a terrible watch, it was boring and we had no real clear cut chances but a point is better than none.

2 games to go and 5 teams still within a chance of automatic promotion and an amazing 10 teams still could find themselves contesting in the play offs. The plan was simple for us, win our last two games and we will at least make the play offs!

A crazy performance gave us a massive 5-1 victory over Preston, we dominated in attack and it paid off with braces from Conor Chaplin & Tarrelle Whittaker, Toti Gomes also got in on the action. Our final game of the league season was vs. bottom side Bristol Rovers who gave us a go but we ran out with a much needed 1-0 victory, do I even have to tell you who scored now? (‘The Bagsman’ in case you didn’t know!).

That meant we were in the play offs! Joined by Birmingham who will face West Ham and that left us to play Watford…A team I’ve not beaten so far on the save!

April/May 2024 news

Just before we get into the play offs, just a few bits here and there to update you on! Toti Gomes will spend his 4th season on loan with us from Wolves, who still only make us pay 10% of this wages. He’s not guaranteed to start next season but is still a very good player to have in the squad.

I have removed ‘loan cannot be terminated’, this is just in case we manage to overhaul the defence in the summer, he is down as a regular starter but Wolves were not happy with anything less.

More takeover talk as the race to buy the mighty Bolton Wanderers heats up as a triple threat match looks to take place between three consortiums causing a transfer ban in April.

Takeover talks did continue in May as valuations again cause issues like it did earlier in the season. Scott Campbell seems the favourite but at this point it wasn’t looking good.

However, a few weeks later it heated up again between Scott Campbell & Martyn Starnes. It seems Campbell has big plans including a new stadium so come on Scotty boy, get the offer on the table!

Play Offs 2024

Were we ready for this? probably not but did we deserve to be there? results say we do. I wasn’t looking forward to playing Watford but I was all in for this because you never know what can happen. Away from home in the first leg, I wanted to keep the score as close as possible.

We fell to a 2-1 loss in which we gave Watford a game, missing Captain Ryan Delaney & starter in defensive midfield Louis Thompson due to knocks in training didn’t help. Despite leading through Callum Richards, reckless defending saw Watford have two penalties with George Long saving the first but not the second. A late corner allowed Watford to grab a painful winner.

We had to put it all on the line in the second leg, I didn’t expect anything less.

I just don’t know how we didn’t win, we threw everything at Watford but just couldn’t get the job done. A bad day for the front three but Kai Fotheringham scored to equalise at 1-1 but again Clarke scores for Watford from a set piece. It was all Bolton in the second half but we just couldn’t finish, a 2-1 loss meaning a 4-2 loss on aggregate. That second game hurt more than the first leg as we genuinely played better but we were punished for being wasteful.

Maybe I’m being harsh but we were so close yet so far from the prize. Defensive improvements is a must in the summer.

Final League Table

We finished in an amazing 4th and when you look at it, 5 goals off promotion – fine margins. Derby, QPR and West Ham who were 10th with 2 games to go all get another crack at the big time. Cardiff, Coventry and Bristol Rovers crash down to League One.

There’s a lot to build on for us and this amazing finish. With some defensive reinforcements and some work in midfield, maybe we’ll be good enough to go one better next season.

End of Season Review/Awards

Feel free to scroll through the end of season review below for the facts and figures! (For clarity I’m not really that old! I just set my age higher for ‘realism’ which isn’t very real..)

Tarrelle ‘The Bagsman’ Whittaker sweeped up 3 EFL awards receiving Young Player of the Year, the EFL Championship Golden Boot & a place in the Team of the Year. Safe to say I’m very happy he’s staying next season! 32 goals in 43 apps is an unreal strike rate in this league.

New Ownership!

It has happened ladies & gents, we have a new owner in place with the favourite Scott Campbell taking over from former Chairwoman Sharon Brittan.

The man we hope for Scott Campbell takes the reins and he seems to be all about the club and the fans which is all you can hope for in a new owner. Thankfully I’m keeping my job too so the quest to the Europa League continues!

Finances look a lot better than what we’re used to seeing with the old Chairman loan cleared. There is a new bank loan but at £82k month, that’s not going to upset any plans financially and could easily be cleared with some player sales.

Very happy with this, looking like finally the future will be positive for us!

What’s Next?

Up next will be season 5, which is take 3 in the Championship. Hopefully we’ll have some new faces to boost and send us to the Premier League! The next episode will cover pre-season, transfers and the start of the season.

I will be taking a week’s break from posting, I’m still enjoying this save immensely but as its been quite intense posting over the last couple of months, I just need a quick breather!

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 6. 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 –

Thanks again guys for reading this monster of an episode, take care out there and stay safe, I’ll see you in a week!

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