After 30 years of managing Bolton Wanderers in Football Manager 2021, we’d absolutely turned this club on its head. Having taken charge with the club in League 2 and financial turmoil in 2020, we’d gone through the leagues to become 15-time Champions of England, seven-times European Champions and World Champions by 2050.
But with FM22 about a week or so away, it’s time to bring this adventure to a close. However, we’ll take the time look at the state of the squad we’re leaving behind and review our time at Bolton, our all-time best 11, the current Bolton squad, and the football world in 2050.
Trotters Talent review
My 30 years at Bolton saw me spend 10,946 days in charge, none of which were on holiday. I took charge of 1,619 matches, of which I won 956, drew 335 and lost 328 with a win percentage of 59%. We scored 2,939 goals and conceded 1,521. In doing so, I won 17 league titles and 26 cup competitions.
I bought 198 players at a total value of £1.2 billion and sold 279 at a value of £3.42 billion. So just the £2.22 billion profit! My highest fee paid was £95 million for Martial Diaby from Lyon in 2038 and the highest received was £170 million for Dragan Andric to Barcelona in 2043. While I only paid £37 million to agents, which I’m always really tight about. We also broke near enough every club record available during the term of this save.
And, over my 30-year career, I’ve accrued a cool £226 million in earnings. Not bad for a kid from Bolton.
Trotters Talent star players
It’s safe to say we’ve had some legendary players in our time at Bolton. My two all-time favourites are midfielder Germán Martínez and the club’s all-time greatest striker Onur Kocaaslan. While the likes of homegrown talents like captain fantastic Nigel Turner, who was the star of our first-ever youth intake then played 444 league games for the club, defenders Jack Salter and Darragh Bonner and striker Solomon Suraka will always be remembered fondly. But the unfulfilled promise of exciting academy starlet Adam Nolan, who basically didn’t improve from the age of 16 onwards, will remain a massive frustration!
However, the fans’ all-time best Bolton 11 from the last years is:
Darlan: A brilliant Brazilian goalkeeper who’s amassed nearly 400 Bolton appearances.
Jack Barlow: Homegrown full-back who racked up 412 appearances and played for England, before getting greedy and leaving for Aston Villa.
Gonzalo Pereyra: Uruguayan centre-back who arrived early in the Premier League days in 2031 and stayed for 12 seasons. He moved on to Spurs then Watford and just retired in the summer of 2050.
Lasse Hermansen: The all-time Bolton appearances holder with 644 games in all competitions and 527 in the league. He spent two seasons with Cádiz and also just retired.
Nana Martin: A homegrown left-back who came through our academy in 2024 and became a mainstay for 13 years, captaining the club after Nigel Turner departed.
Jack Bickley: Another youth academy product who flattered to deceive at times but still amassed 218 league games for Bolton. He left for Liverpool, where he was awful before a quick spell in Celtic then, like a total scumbag, moving to Man United.
Germán Martínez: The greatest midfielder of all time. Too strong? Maybe. But in my eyes, the Argentinian absolutely the greatest player to have ever existed. He’s overtaken Hermansen with the most Bolton appearances in all competitions with 661 and continues to perform to an exceptional standard aged 34.
Sean Caldwell: A key player in our bid to reach the Premier League and stay there. We signed him for just £7,000 from Shamrock Rovers and he developed into one of the best midfielders in the country, playing more than 350 games for us. He later played for Spurs, Derby, Southampton and Stoke, with loan spells at Estoril and Slovan Bratislava. He’s now the Bolton Under 18s Manager.
Martial Diaby: An exceptional attacking midfielder / winger who was brilliant for several seasons and was our only Ballon d’Or winner of the save. He scored about a goal every other game before moving to Barcelona, where he remains aged 31.
Onur Kocaaslan: Bolton’s greatest-ever goalscorer and he’s still only 29! His consistent goalscoring has been a key fixture of our dominance since he signed from Bayern in 2039.
Ryan Cassidy: The only player on this list who never signed for Bolton permanently. We loaned Cassidy six times from Watford while we were in the Championship and he was exceptional at leading the line as we consolidated ourselves in the division. He banged the goals in for Watford then Krasnodar, and is now our Under 23s coach.
The bench includes four Bolton academy products in goalkeeper David Roberts, probably our greatest product ever Martin Preston, midfielder Turner, and attacker Suraka. While Marco Brunori, the best left-back in the world, somehow doesn’t oust Martin at left-back! It also includes star striker Guilherme, who was pivotal to us getting into and staying in the Premier League, and current forward Ferre Naessens.
Bolton squad in 2050
I honestly think the current Bolton squad is probably the best we’ve ever had in terms of all-round ability. Last season, our first-choice 11 featured seven players with at least 4.5-star ability in their role, which is pretty phenomenal. The current Bolton squad is as follows:
Darlan: Darlan has made 301 league appearances since signing in 2040, only conceding 173 in that time! He’s probably the best keeper in the world and just won best goalkeeper at the World Cup.
Fabian Gómez: We snapped up Gómez as a backup in 2040 and he has the potential to become better than Darlan.
Martyn Cannon: We’ve had a rich pedigree of producing our own great keepers and Cannon is the latest to step up to the first-team at the end of the 2049/50 season.
Ross Bentley: We snapped up Bentley when City went down and Barlow left for Villa. And he’s been excellent for us in the last two seasons.
Victor Sebastian: We snapped up the Nigerian for just £1.8 million and he’s impressed in support of Bentley. I think he’ll go on to be a world-class full-back.
Martin Preston: Probably the pick of our homegrown players, Preston has 76 caps for England and just won the World Cup with them in 2050! He came through our academy in 2038 and has gone on to make 252 league appearances.
Marcos Roberto: Stepped up as replacement to Hermansen when he left and, despite not having the best attributes at the club, is regularly the best performer.
Gerardo Álvarez: Our highest-rated centre-back and with phenomenal attributes, but he never quite established himself as first choice with me.
Gustavo Canosa: We signed him last season and I think he’s going to go on and be one of the best defenders in the world.
Carlos Humberto: A promising centre-back who probably won’t make it at Bolton but will be a decent top tier defender.
Marco Brunori: An absolute legend of a left-back, Brunori has been amazing since we signed him from Milan for £65 million in 2042. He’s now the club captain and the second-best player at the club.
Esteban Almada: He’s probably a centre-back but we’ve used him as backup whenever Brunori needed a rest. I think he’ll go on to be a fantastic defender though.
Germán Martínez: Just an unbelievable player who’s racked up 198 assists in 506 league games for Bolton, having signed for just £9.5 million in 2035. He’s probably the best midfielder I’ve ever had on FM.
Kris Bridges: Signed from Middlesbrough for £60 million and he’s quickly become the best player at the club and one of the best midfielders in the world. I think he will become the best midfielder in the world.
Michael Patterson: We snapped him up when he was just 16 from Forest for £39.5 million and he immediately impressed in the first team. I’ve gradually moved him back into midfield, and he should step up as a starting midfielder after the likes of Dyonatas and Rangel moved on.
Koen Hoekstra: A few loans have done him the world of good as he returns ready to step straight into the first-team.
Rondinelli: His attributes don’t look the best but my coaches love him and he should finally get a chance in the first team, albeit as a backup.
Peter Kelly: An exciting player from the Bolton academy, who’s performed well in Champions League games and scores screamers.
Onur Kocaaslan: An absolute God of a striker. The Turk is Bolton’s all-time top scorer with 288 league goals in 342 Bolton games since signing for just £14 million from Bayern in 2039. And don’t forget he scored five goals on his debut!
Ferre Naessens: A quietly effective striker with outrageous attributes but largely played second fiddle to the main man Kocaaslan. He has scored 64 in 140 league games for Bolton though.
Malek Ziani: Signed for a huge £115 million from PSG in 2047, but hasn’t really delivered consistently. We usually played him in the hole behind the strikers, where he struggled, but still a deadly player when on form.
Jacob Wangen: Another exciting prospect from the youth academy, who’s scored loads of goals in Europe and chipped in with a few in the league. He’s also scored 3 in 6 caps for Norway and I think he could become a great striker.
Ivan Bone: Wangen’s predecessor as exciting youth prospect, he has tailed off a little in his performances this season. But he’s still a fantastic young striker who’s scored 27 in 89 league games for us.
Anderson Hoffmann: Signed for just £1.2 million from Flamengo and just had a great loan at Villarreal, which has seen him promoted to the first-team on his return. He looks better suited to being a winger but has exceptional talent.
Best hot prospects in 2050
Toby Trueman: We just snapped this kid up from Southampton for £17.5 million and he has the best potential at the club.
Denis Hanslimann: Just arrived from Benfica for £900,000 and looks like becoming a fantastic centre-back.
Felipe Pinto: Signed for £3 million a couple of years ago and my coaches love him.
Riccardo Piccione: Snapped up from Juventus for £15 million and looks like becoming a superb defender.
Nick Inness: Another academy product who had a great year on loan at QPR and played well in some European games. But he probably won’t make it at Bolton.
Marvin Collinge: A 2049 academy product who’s suddenly come from nowhere to have 4.5-star potential.
Football World in 2050
Juventus, PSG, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich. All national champions. No, it’s not 2020, it’s 2050. While many things have changed, predictably, most things have stayed exactly the same as they were in the Football Manager world of 2050.
England: Bolton, of course, have 15 Premier League titles during this save. Prior to that, Man United won seven, Man City won five and Liverpool won four. There’s no surprise team up in the top tier (other than Bolton!) and no ‘big team’ has really fallen from grace. But Notts County have been the biggest change, reaching the Championship, and Wrexham have made it to League 1, while Harrogate and Salford are down in the Vanarama North and Newport are in the Vanarama South.
France: PSG have won every title, bar the very first one in 2021, which Lyon won. An interesting development is FC Bourg-Péronnas, who I’ve never heard of, finishing second in 2050!
Germany: Bayern won every title until 2028, but only seven since. Hertha BSC took over as the dominant force with 11 titles in 22 years, while Dortmund didn’t win the league until 2036 but have added four more since. Dynamo Dresden are now established in the Bundesliga while Monchengladbach, Wolfsburg, Frankfurt and Hoffenheim are all in the second tier, and Schalke and Werder Bremen are in tier three.
Italy: Juventus have won all but five titles and the last 12 in a row. AC Milan have two titles and Inter have three. The likes of Catania, Hellas Verona, SPAL and Chievo Verona have made the top three over the last 15 years, but the biggest surprise is Pordenone, who just finished fifth. Roma just got relegated to Serie B, where they’ll be reunited with Lazio, who just finished 11th in the second tier, Genoa, Cagliari, Bologna and Sampdoria, who’ll be my first FM22 challenge! While Fiorentina and Torino are down in tier three.
Spain: La Liga has been owned by the big three, with Barca winning 16, Real 9 and Atlético 4. The biggest surprise is relegations, with Sevilla and Valencia in tier two and Celta Vigo in tier three.
Champions League: Bolton have won 7 Champions Leagues, followed by Man City and PSG (4), Arsenal, Barcelona, Chelsea, Juventus, Liverpool and Real Madrid (2) and Dortmund, Inter and Man United (all 1). No Spanish side has won it for 14 years and no Italian side for 10 years.
Europa League: An English side has won this in 20 of the 30 seasons during this save, including wins for Leeds, Everton and West Brom, as well as Leicester winning the first two. Man United have won it 4 times while Liverpool and Spurs won 3.
World Cup: England just won their first World Cup since 1966 in the summer of 2050, with three of our players (Bentley, Preston and Bridges) in the squad. They beat Ukraine 2-1 in the Final. Spain won it in 2022, then Portugal, France, Argentina, Belgium in 2038 and 2042, then Italy.
European Championships: France have won 4 of the 8 Euros, including the most recent in 2048. Italy have won two, Portugal won it in 2032 and Austria won it in 2044.
I was intrigued how Bolton would fare in the future after we left, so I attempted some form of simming into the future. But, in truth, it just took too long. I managed to get up to 2057, which saw mega-rich Bolton win the title every single year and win two more Champions Leagues. So it’s safe to say we changed English football for the considerable future.
And that concludes the Trotters Talent wrap-up! Thank you for reading this Bolton Wanderers series, I hope you enjoyed reading about our 30-year adventure in FM21. And please do join us for new exploits in FM22!