Bolton Wanderers had another season to remember in 2046/47, winning a second treble as they became 12-times champions of England and five-time European champions.
We’re hitting fast-forward on the save as our all-time highest appearances holder Lasse Hermansen and all-time record goalscorer Onur Kocaaslan both have the corresponding league records in their sights with FM22 looming large.
The summer of 2047 saw a nice touch as star midfielder Germán Martínez was given a testimonial after 13 years of service and 405 league appearances. Although why we played it against Ukrainian side Zorya is anyone’s guess. We began the season as 6/4 favourites to win the league, while Kocaaslan was 5/6 favourite to be top goalscorer for a third year in a row and Germán Martínez was 4/1 favourite to retain his player of the year award.
We began the season with more silverware as Kocaaslan scored four goals on his birthday to defeat Arsenal 4-2 in the Charity Shield. That saw me earn the “Trophy Hunter” badge on Steam for collecting my 20th cup trophy, which only 7% of FM players have won! And we followed that up by winning the European Super Cup by beating Man United 2-0.
Another title defence
The new season began with Kocaaslan bagging his 221st Bolton league goal in a 3-0 win at newly promoted Sheffield United. He scored again as we also won our first home game 3-0 against West Brom, in which academy product Ivan Bone also scored.
A crazy spell of games began with exciting midfield prospect Oumarou Meyong then scored the only goal at Arsenal. A first loss at Man City followed before Kocaaslan scored twice as we thumped Liverpool 4-1 then scored again in a 2-0 win over Chelsea.
Kocaaslan picked up a shoulder injury on international duty. That gave Bone an opportunity that he took by scoring eight goals in six games, including a hat-trick in a 3-1 win at Crystal Palace, and winning November young player of the month. And we still went on a run of six wins and a draw without our main striker before a terrible performance as we lost 2-0 at Man United.
Kocaaslan returned as a substitute at Villa and scored his 300th Bolton goal in a 3-1 win. We headed into the new year with a commanding lead at the top of the table with 49 points from 20 matches, 11 clear of Man United and 19 clear of Liverpool in third. We’d scored 46 and only conceded nine times, while Bone was the third-highest scorer in the league with 10 goals.
Departure of a legend
January 2048 saw a legend of the save leave as Martial Diaby refused to sign a new deal at the club due to “interest being shown from elsewhere.” The Ivorian scored 128 goals in 285 league games since signing for £95 million in 2038. And rather than lose him for free, we flogged him to Barcelona for £57 million.
However, I wasn’t that worried about losing him as our 18-year-old starlet Michael Patterson was playing better than him anyway. And we replaced Diaby with a younger version from his new club in Sergio Durán, for whom we met the £69 million buyout clause.
All-time record appearances holder
The new year began with Bone and Kocaaslan scoring as we came from behind to win 2-1 at West Brom. That game saw Lasse Hermansen make his 520th league appearance for Bolton, which made him the all-time leading appearance in club history. What a legend!
Another tough run of games began with a Kocaaslan brace inspiring a 2-0 win over Arsenal, which opened up an 18-point lead at the top. Four days later, we struggled to a 2-1 loss at Liverpool then a further three days later hosted Man City – who were occupying the relegation zone! And we piled the misery on as a Kocaaslan hat-trick led a 3-0 win. Next up was fifth-place Chelsea away after I accidentally gave the first-team a week of rest from training and a dreadful match ended 0-0. But we came through that tough run with a 17-point lead with 13 games remaining, so the title was basically already over.
That was pretty much confirmed as we went on a run of beating Brighton, Norwich, Watford and Palace. However, we then went to Wolves, who were three points clear of relegation and… Manchester City! So I unashamedly threw the Wolves game to try and help City go down.
Bone became our first academy product to win the NxGn award and only our second player ever after Kocaaslan won it in 2040. He scored in the game that clinched our 13th successive title, a 4-1 win at Leicester in which Kocaaslan bagged a brace. Kocaaslan then bagged a brilliant hat-trick as we beat Man United 3-0 on the day Hermansen lifted his 13th Premier League trophy.
I gave the kids some chances towards the end of the season but we wrapped up with a 5-0 win over Spurs on my 64th birthday then drew 1-1 with Newcastle. But I was more interested in a ridiculously close relegation battle that went to the final day.
Hilariously, City conceded a 91st-minute equaliser to bottom side Sheffield United while Brighton also drew 1-1 with Arsenal, which sent the 11-time English champions and five-time champions during this save down. Man City were relegated!! I’m not massively sure how they’ve managed to fall this hard but they did drop to 7th and 11th in the previous two campaigns. A lot of their better players have gotten old and it looks like they failed to replace them – and weirdly, half of their squad seems to be joining Empoli at the end of the season.
We finished with 88 points, 15 clear of Liverpool and 17 ahead of Chelsea. But Kocaaslan was the top goalscorer in the league for the third year in a row with 25 goals in just 25 starts, Marco Brunori had the highest average rating of 7.47 and Darlan equalled his own clean sheets record with 24.
Brunori won the English Footballer of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year and striker Ferre Naessens won the Players’ Young Player of the Year despite not being great this season.
Carabao Cup Final
Amazingly, a team of backup players with an average age of 20 beat Man United over two legs to reach the Carabao Cup Final. There were even players starting that I’d never heard of! Yet they somehow won 1-0 at home then nicked a 1-1 at Old Trafford, which shows just how good this squad has become. I threw the first-team back in for the final considering we’ve never won it before and we were playing Liverpool. A dull 0-0 was followed by penalties, which we lost 5-4.
We breezed through a Champions League group with Dinamo Zagreb, Lyon and Dortmund, despite losing our opening game at home to Dinamo! We then eased past Catania before taking on Real Madrid in the quarters, beating them 2-1 at home then a late Kocaaslan equaliser nicked a 1-1 away.
Juventus were up next and a Bone brace led us to another 2-1 home win. The away leg marked by “incredible” 1,500th match in management and another late Kocaaslan earned another 1-1 to send us into another final.
Our fifth final in six years saw us take on PSG at London Stadium. We had centre-back Marco Roberto not fully fit after a long injury so we lined up:
Darlan; Barlow, Preston, Álvarez, Brunori; Rangel, Pedro Sousa, Martínez; Patterson; Kocaaslan, Naessens
Subs: Bone, Testoni, Hermansen, Nolan, Sergio, Dyonatas, Duarte, Poletti, Yamashita, Lallement, Muniz, Marcos Roberto
Darlan made two big saves early on before Pedro Sousa scored one of the all-time great Champions League Final goals, running from his own box to score his first goal of the season just before the break. Kocaaslan won and missed a penalty, and of course PSG scored immediately and nicked it with an undeserved late winner.
Another brilliant season saw us lift a 13th consecutive Premier League with a squad average age of just 23. Kocaaslan was the main man with 33 goals in 34 starts in all competitions and his now only 10 goals behind Nat Lofthouse’s all-time league goalscoring record of 255. He’s scored 245 league goals in just 286 games. He is incredible!
Brunori and Martinez topped the assists with 15 each while homegrown Bone scored an impressive 19 goals in all competitions, of which 14 were in the league.
But a special homage has to go to our long-time captain Lasse Hermansen. The Danish centre-back joined us for just £2 million way back in 2032 and, 16 years later, has become Bolton’s all-time record appearances and league appearances holder with 28 goals in a ridiculous 644 appearances in all competitions and 23 goals in 527 league games. Now 34, he’s leaving the club this summer as he wants a new challenge to conclude his career. Farewell to a legend, and you will be missed Lasse.
Trotter Talents update
The Bolton youth development conveyor belt may have slowed down a touch lately, but its latest product Ivan Bone has been absolutely brilliant this season. I think his 19 goals is the most an academy player has scored in the Premier League era and I’m excited about his potential. However, one established academy product will be leaving as right-back Jack Barlow is demanding an obscene £575,000 to stay at the club this summer so I can’t afford to re-sign him.
We’ve also got three 5-star potential players coming through the ranks in this year’s star man Jacob Wangen plus striker Peter Kelly and right-back Nyle Fleming. Our under 23s won the Checkatrade Trophy for the fifth year in a row while the under 18s won the UEFA Youth League for the first time!
A look around England
We won a 13th straight title and, of course, Man City hilariously got relegated and were joined by Watford and Sheffield United. Southampton, Derby and Portsmouth were promoted with Rotherham, Ipswich and Luton going down.
An interesting story saw Notts County win League 1 with Cambridge and Barnsley getting promoted. Wigan, Swindon, Mansfield and Southend went down. Coventry won League 2 with Leyton Orient, Brentford and Chesterfield going up and Dulwich Hamlet and Chester going down. Torquay and Grimsby replaced them with King’s Lynn, Salford (GNev won’t be happy), Kidderminster and Nuneaton going down. They were replaced by South Shields, Spennymoor, Bath and Salisbury while Ashton, Hyde, Worcester, Stalybridge, Chippenham, Bishop’s Stortford, Margate and Truro dropped out of the system.
Join us next time as we look back on the 2048/49 campaign. Can Kocaaslan break the all-time league goalscoring record? And how will Man City fare in the Championship?