Bolton Back To Europa S6E1 – Welcoming Present

We are finally back and it is time to prepare for Bolton’s first season back in the Premier League after their fall from grace. If you need a reminder of how we secured promotion to the Premier League, check out the Season 5 Finale to get your mind ticking with the save again.

Of course when you get promoted back to the big time, there is so much that needs to be addressed which we’ll take a look at as we progress through this episode. Off season news, the transfer window, the new look squad, pre-season results and the first month of the league season are all included so safe to say there’s a lot to get through so let’s get on with it!

General News

As the team were enjoying their pre-season breaks, I was in the office scouring the transfer market and judging where we needed to improve. However, out of nowhere German club Hoffenheim were interested in my services..

It is an attractive job but we’re only one step away from the goal at Bolton and I am not going anywhere.

Due to our promotion to the Premier League, it means that we are no longer able/required to have a parent club so our ties were broken with Chelsea from here on out.

The current owner has been very supportive since coming in and tries to give me the tools to be competitive.with Owner Scott Campbell decided to boost a couple of areas in the backroom to closer align us with Premier League clubs.

Summer Transfer Window

I will run through the transfer window now due to a number of changes with players coming in and some former key players leaving the club. I was given £40 million to spend however, it wasn’t all about going out and buying 2 players for £20 million. There was parts of the squad that needed work for this league and with the club not able to be competitive wage wise with clubs in the Premier League, the business had to be smart.

Wing back Carlos was signed on a Pre-Contract from Leganes and will start with the U23s but at 2.5 stars, he isn’t far from first team contention although his dribbling ability need work. Experienced creative midfielder Alex Santana signed for £1.2m from Gremio which I thought was a good deal for the 30 year old. If I can get the best out of him whilst he is in his prime then it will be money well spent. The biggest signing was young centre back Ruben Aranzo for £7.25m from Valencia. Our biggest investment but for an area that has needed improvement for some time, it was a good price for someone who will only get better. Young striker Kyle Caldwell signed for £110k from Middlesbrough and looking at his stats he’s a very intriguing prospect, he has already been loaned out to Scottish club Airdrieonians for the season to aid his development.

Another addition to defence was free agent Nicholas Opoku, the 27 year old looks a very solid player and I’ll be looking to partner him with Ruben Iranzo throughout the season. Mexican Uriel Antuna joins for £600k from Cruz Azul to provide competition on the right wing. His technicals aren’t fantastic but I’m all about trying to get the best out of players in training, coming into his prime and I believe there is still some more to get out of him. Wing back Jude Russell comes in for £325k from Crystal Palace as we lack in this position in terms of quality, I will be looking to bring in another right wing back over the course of the season.

After Callum Richards’ loan spell ending at the end of last season, I needed a left winger and one of my trusted scouts provided Lucas Da Cunha who signed for £1.4m from OGC Nice. I’m very excited about this player and hope he will build on his attributes on the next few seasons. Lastly another player who can still develop is wing back John Kitolano who signed from Union Berlin for £500k. Left back is a position that needed improvement and to get another player who can still develop will only improve the team year on year.

£11.5m spent on 9 players with 7 coming into the first team, pretty good going if you aske me! You can check out each player’s attributes below.

In terms of sales, I’ll address the names who have become frequent over our time at Bolton. My first sale was Daniel Kemp to Rotherham (£500k). I got Kemp on a free a few seasons ago but unfortunately he just hasn’t progressed as I would have thought, he dropped to a 2 star rating at Premier League level so it was time to go. Young prospect Hari Harvey joins Reading on a half season loan. Harvey really showed his ability last season but needs consistent play time and development before stepping up to this league. Kai Fotheringham will return to Scotland on loan at St. Johnstone for the season. Great player on his day but with the signings made, he falls down the pecking order. I also want to retrain him on the right wing which is the position that was agreed as part of his loan.

The next two sales is actually the sales of who are now former captain and vice captain. Up first is Ryan Delaney who has been with us since the start of the save in League 2. Delaney joins Coventry for £3m in a heart breaking move but he is just not at the level the Premier League requires – thank you and all the best big man.

Lastly, wing back Brayan Vera signs for West Brom (£8m) as attempts to give him the tools to play the wing back role just didn’t get him to the standard we needed. With Kitolano coming in and youngster Sean Elstone-Coyle still in the first team, I decided to keep the youngster as their was a better development opportunity there.

As the transfer screen doesn’t show released players, notable leavers was the second last original wing back Gethin Jones and defensive midfielder Louis Thompson.

We actually broke even transfer wise, sales brought us in £11.5m which counters what we spent.

The Squad

Now the business has been completed, let’s check out what the squad is looking like.

For me its a solid squad with some great potential in there. I would have liked another striker and right wing back for sure but just couldn’t find what I was looking for or for a decent price. Cover at defensive midfield is probably needed but former player Louis Thompson is still a free agent so may bring him back for the season if required.

Pre-Season Results

I booked 8 friendlies for a busy pre-season as I knew quite a few new faces would be coming in so essentially I wanted everyone to get straight amongst the matches as soon as they arrived whilst the core squad were building match fitness at the same time.

So this year’s tour was to Bern in Switzerland and maybe its because of our Premier League status but finally we played our 3 tour games at a decent ground, no other than BSC Young Boys’ stadium – Wankdorf Stadion (if you’re laughing don’t be ashamed, I sniggered slightly too!)

Good for the team to get away but aside all that it was a pretty successful pre-season, it all started with 3 draws in succession but then suddenly the performances went to another level when new players started to arrive. Notable wins against some teams you’d see in European competition in Basel, Frankfurt, Zenit and RB Salzburg. I’m very happy with how we were looking in the last 5 games.

August 2025

Here we go then, our first 4 games back in the Premier League with a 2nd round Carabao Cup game however, the fixture list wasn’t too kind to us going into the season…

It was all set, Newcastle come to a sold out University of Bolton Stadium and what a start it was winning 1-0. My analysts/scouts told me Newcastle play a park the bus mentality (this post Steve Bruce as well!) which suited us nicely having most of the ball and the main man Tarrelle ‘The Bagsman’ Whittaker opens his Premier League account! Nothing better than returning to the Premier League with 3 points.

As you can see a tough run of league fixtures was coming up and it started with Liverpool who beat us 3-1. It wasn’t the full story as Shane McNeill put us 1-0 up with a 45 yard sledgehammer following a dodgy Allison kick – cue the screenshots!

How d’you like them?! However, it kicked Liverpool into gear and they went on to dominate the last 40 minutes of the game but what do you expect?

Chelsea then handed us a 3-0 loss and to be honest it should have been more, we were really poor regardless of the difference in class but at the same time Chelsea looked absolutely unstoppable in periods of the game. We then turned our attention to the 2nd round of the Carabao Cup vs. Derby who were relegated from the Premier League last season. I did rotate and gave quite a few new signings their first starts and it was an eventful match with my team winning 3-2. The goals were courtesy of Jonathan Afolabi, Uriel Antuna on his full debut and Tarrelle Whittaker came on to save our grace.

The month ended with a 2-1 loss to Manchester City however, I was really pleased with this performance. The team went out a caused City a few problems at times and Uriel Antuna got a second goal for the club in the process. Nothing to be ashamed of from the squad in this match.

It was always going to be a tough month no doubt but we showed glimpses of what we can do in a couple of the matches against the big boys, at least we’ll get some of the hard games out of the way early in the first half of the season.

League Table

After 4 games, we lie 17th on 3 points which I expected after the matches we had. We have Spurs up next who sit a place above us but that will still be tough regardless. Man Utd and Man City having early wobbles too. The fixtures over the next couple of months are a bit kinder in some capacity.

What’s Next?

As I finished August, this popped up which I was surprised to see. Surely not again?!

Our current owner has been in charge around 14 months, is he happy to leave after we’ve reached the stardom of Premier League football? Let’s see how it unfolds!

The main part of episode 2 will of course be the run through of September, October and November as we brace ourselves to fight for Premier League survival. I’d love a cup run of course but I need to keep this team up as we’re just one step away from what we’re here to do!

Whilst 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 8. 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/2021/03/22/unemployed-unskilled-inexperienced-s8-ep-1-premier-league-preparations/

It’s good to be back and to press on with this amazing one club journey again, I’ll be back soon with some more of the league action! Take care all.

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