Bolton Wanderers started the 2041/42 campaign in sensational form, only dropping four points after 20 matches. And they were led by 21-year-old Turkish striker Onur Kocaaslan, who bagged 35 goals by the mid-way point of the season and was eyeing up the club’s all-time league goals in a season record!
We’d also not lost any match that mattered (i.e. not the Carabao Cup) in nine months since being knocked out of the Champions League by PSG in April and no domestic match in 10 months since defeat at Man City in March. For that reason, for what I’m pretty sure is the first time ever in this save, we didn’t buy or sell a single player during the transfer window. While Spurs, who were down in 15th, bought two players for a combined £207 million. And are still somehow crap.
Young guns star in FA Cup
2042 began with an FA Cup third round clash at home to League 2 Scunthorpe for which, as customary, I threw in all the kids. And, as usual, they showed off their talents. Exciting academy product centre-back Martin Preston gave us a great start, heading home an Adrian Jules corner after 14 minutes. Three minutes later, his defensive partner José Jesús Martínez did the same to double the lead. Another exciting talent Ibrahima Touré, who’s off to Catania on loan, made it three before the most exciting of them all Adam Nolan made it four inside 26 minutes. They got one back but another homegrown talent Luca Godden, now 24, and Touré’s second made it 6-1 late on. However, they were then really unlucky to lose 2-1 at Luton in the next round.
Title defence resumes
A welcome 12-day break ended with a trip to eighth-place Crystal Palace, who were playing an outrageously defensive 7-2-1 formation. But we started superbly as striker Dragan Andric finished off a superb team move after three minutes that proved enough for a simple 1-0 win. Kocaaslan bagged consecutive braces in a 3-1 win at bottom side Bournemouth then a 4-1 thumping of eighth-place West Brom.
Another bright start at home to Derby saw Germán Martínez create goals for both centre-backs Gonzalo Pereyra and Lasse Hermansen in the first 13 minutes then Kocaaslan raced through for his 40th of the season and doubled his tally inside 20 minutes. Diaby bagged a fifth before the break and Kocaaslan wrapped up his hat-trick from the penalty spot after it. We won 6-0 but it could easily have been 10 or 12.
We took that great form into a clash with struggling Everton, who’d just hired Wayne Rooney as manager! They scored with their first shot but that man Kocaaslan quickly responded. Despite us laying siege on Everton’s goal with 22 shots they somehow kept us out until Kocaaslan slammed hom from close range on 88 minutes after substitute Casemiro Gallas’ cross.
Champions League knockouts
The Champions League first knockout round offered a tough test against Barcelona. A trip to Camp Nou was first up and we restructed them to just three shots but missed a couple of great opportunities to nick it. Barca scored with their first shot in our home leg – it’s just obscene how often that happens – then Martial Diaby got us level with his first goal in ages but, despite battering Barca, we somehow couldn’t score again and went out on away goals.
Assists king Martínez
Martínez broke the Premier League assists record with his 20th in setting up Kocaaslan’s 45th goal of the season in a 3-1 win at Leeds, in which Nolan scored his first league goal of the season. Then, nearly one year since our last league defeat we returned to the place where it happened, the City of Manchester Stadium. Kocaaslan picked up a knock in Europe so I went a little more cautious, which worked despite City dominating until they scored after 69 minutes. But a substitution worked wonders as young midfielder Jack Bickley came off the bench to earn us a point.
Kocaaslan returned to bag a second half hat-trick in a 3-0 win at home to Spurs, which saw him smash the club’s all-time league goals in a season record of 38, set by Joe Smith way back in 1920/21. But we finally lost our unbeaten record as, without an injured Martínez, we suffered a 2-1 defeat at sixth-place Aston Villa, who scored with their first shot then one of those ridiculous corner breakaway goals. However, we recovered to defeat Chelsea 3-0 led by, you guessed it, a Kocaaslan hat-trick. He is absolutely ridiculous.
Chasing a record league season
With eight games remaining, we were surprisingly only nine points clear of Liverpool, who hadn’t lost since we beat them in December, but had Man City’s record of 100 points in our sights. We got away with a wasteful 1-0 win at Stoke but hugely improved to thump relegation-threatened Burnley 4-1 with an Andric hat-trick, which ended a 10-hour goal drought, and another Kocaaslan goal. While Liverpool lost 1-0 at Villa – who’ve now beaten both the top two – to extend our lead to 12 points with six remaining.
Two of our academy stars Nolan and Andrei Olesk scored in the first half at Newcastle, which we won 2-0 and finished with seven academy products on the pitch. Then a Pereyra header put us ahead early on against West Ham before a brilliant Andric strike. Olesk smashed home a 25-yarder after an hour, Godden came on to score before Kocaaslan bagged goal number 50 (FIFTY!) of the season in injury-time to seal a 5-0 thumping. That put the pressure on Liverpool but they won 3-1 to keep us 12 clear with four remaining.
We entertained relegation-threatened Southampton knowing a point was enough for the title. We amde a great start as Kocaaslan coolly finished after 12 minutes but we were a little wasteful until Nolan slammed home a penalty on 58 minutes to settle any nerves. Kocaaslan bagged another to seal a 3-0 win and the league was done.
Bolton Wanderers won a 7th successive Premier League title!!
It was lucky we did win it then as we had a crazy tough conclusion to the season. The next game after the title win was at Anfield, where in 10 visits we’ve drawn once and only won for the first time last season. I gave the boys two days of rest, which worked a treat as we got off to a flyer with Diaby finishing off a brilliant team move before Kocaaslan slammed home yet another goal. But Liverpool deservedly got back into it and earned a 2-2 draw. We then went to Arsenal, who just beat Real Madrid to reach the Champions League Final, and had the better of a fairly dull 0-0.
We finished the season at home to managerless Man United, who’ve weirdly had a caretaker manager since January, on 98 points, meaning a win would break the all-time Premier League points record. We started terribly, gifting United two goals either side of an Andric strike and a third early in the second half but rallied late on with a Nolan penalty and an own goal to claim a 3-3 draw.
That meant we again finished the season with just one defeat, one point better than last season on 99. Liverpool lost at Southampton on the final day, which saw the Saints escape relegation, so we won the title by 11 points and were a huge 25 clear of third-palace City and 34 ahead of fourth-place Chelsea.
Kocaaslan was the runaway top scorer in the league with a ridiculous 47 in 36, followed by Liverpool’s Morales with 37. He also broke the league record for player of the match awards with 15 and had he highest average rating with a sensational 7.88. Martínez topped the assists chart with a record 24.
Kocaaslan rightfully took a clean sweep of the English Football of the Year, English Players’ Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year, as well as the Top Goalscorer award and the European Golden Shoe, for the first time for one of our players since Guilherme won it in 2036. While summer signing Darlan became our first player since David Roberts in 2035 to win the Golden Glove award for 18 clean sheets and only 27 conceded in 38 games. I won a seventh successive Manager of the Year award and six of our players, including homegrown Olesk, were in the Team of the Year, along with five Liverpool players.
Kocaaslan was, of course, our main man this season with an incredible 53 goals in 42 games in all competitions (plus 3 in the Club World Cup). After three seasons at the club, he has 109 goals in 106 league games and 134 in 134 in all competitions! He also got 10 assists and set a new club record average rating of 7.82. He also smashed the club’s all-time records of league goals in a season and his own overall goals in a season, alongside a new club record 18 player of the match awards. He also won fans’ player, young player of the season and goal of the season and was inducted into our all-time best 11 ahead of Ryan Cassidy.
Aside from him, Martínez impressed once again as he racked up 24 assists, which was double the tally of any other player at the club. Andric scored 17 in 37 and seems to blow hot and cold, while Diaby scored 15, Olesk scored nine and Nolan and Godden both scored seven. Behind Martínez, Diaby got 12 assists, Kocaaslan and Barlow got 10, Andric got nine, Olesk and Johnson got eight and Casemiro Gallas got seven. Impressively, 16 of the 24-man squad averaged 7.00 or higher.
Trotter Talents update
Barlow scored his first goal for England this season and now has 13 caps. While Iwan Sinnott scored twice on his Wales debut in March and scored again on his second cap and Nolan, still only 17, has four England under 21 caps. Young striker Ken Cooper won the EFL Young Player of the Year on loan at Brighton and we have plenty more exciting players waiting to step up for the first team.
We also had another good youth intake and the youth candidates announced themselves by beating our under 18s 6-0! They include exciting attacker Rob Irwin, as well as Ghanaian left-back Luther Ansah and striker Luke McLoughlin.
A look around England
Bolton, of course, won a seventh Premier League with Burnley, Bournemouth and Leeds going down. Watford won the Championship, with Fulham and Wolves coming up and Sheffield Wednesday, Peterborough and Bristol Rovers getting relegated. Our feeder club Oldham finished just outside the playoffs in seventh!
Charlton won League 1 with Barnsley and Nottingham Forest going up and Coventry, Crawley, Gillingham and Plymouth going down. Wigan won League 2 and were joined by Walsall, Oxford and Northampton, while Lincoln and Carlisle dropped into non-league. They were replaced by Hartlepool and Stevenage, with Newport, Hemel Hempstead, Spennymoor and Dartford going down. FC United of Manchester made it up to the National League along with Halifax, Dagenham & Redbridge and Sutton, while Worcester, Harrogate, Banbury, Lowestoft, Grays, Frome, Hayes & Yeading and Poole all dropped out of the system.
There were surprises in the cups as West Brom won the FA Cup, beating Derby 5-2 in extra-time in the final, and Southampton won the Carabao Cup, beating Chelsea 1-0. And there was total English domination in Europe as Arsenal won the Champions League for a second time, beating City on penalties after a 2-2 draw, and Liverpool won the Europa League, beating Spurs 2-0 in extra-time.
We also had 11 players compete at the 2042 World Cup, including academy product Jack Barlow and attacker Adrian Jules with England. Barlow came on as a sub and, despite only playing 25 minutes, bagged a hat-trick (triple his club tally this season) as they thumped UAE 7-0! However, England lost in the third round against Germany and Belgium defended their crown by beating Spain 2-1 in the Final.
Join us next time as we look to continue our domination of the Premier League and look to go further in the Champions League.