1st July 2026
Morning all. As I mentioned last week, we’re going to have a big fat reset this Summer, so I’m going to skip this section again. We’ll catch up later as I’m anticipating a bit of a mad one.
5th September 2026
Alright, wow. I think this has been our most eventful Summer to date so we have a lot to discuss. Before we get to the ins and outs though, I should probably make a few things clear: Firstly, having spent the last 7 or so years living in our overdraft, we’ve now flown to the other end of the scale and we now have all the money in the World. We’ve got so much money that we could buy 15 of the clubs in our division outright.
But and this is the most crucial thing to keep in mind this Summer – This doesn’t change the plan. We’re still doing the moneyball thing. We’re still looking for talent we can bring in on the cheap and sell on down the line. What it has meant though is that we can afford to be a bit more picky about which transfer offers we accept and that we can afford to be a bit more hardball with clubs who try to take our stars on the cheap. Ok let’s dive in, starting with the outgoings.
We’ve lost some real stalwarts this Summer. I really wanted to rebuild the squad from scratch as much as I could over this last year or so and this window was where we did the lion’s share of our rebuilding. So goodbye to Pedro Justiniano, José Lara, Eddie Brown, Jacob Greaves, Regan Riley, Harry Brockbank, Kun Temenuzhkov, Ronan Darcy, James Walker (And James Walker), Patrik Gunnarsson and Marcin Bulka. Told you it’d been eventful! Overall we brought in £90M, which is an obscene amount of money and again gives us a lot of room to manoeuvre over the next few windows.
In terms of incomings, we’ll start with …
No 21 – Marcin Duda – Left Wing Back – £3.3M from Lech Poznan
Average ratings of 6.82-7.26, 5 goals and 7 assists per season over last 2 years.
I’d been watching Marcin for a while and at the start of the window I was thinking that I’d keep James Walker as one of our centre backs (I wasn’t planning on selling him, but when Newcastle came in flashing £23M, it was too good an offer to resist), so we’d need cover at left wing back. Marcin was a natural left back/ central midfielder who we’ve pretty much entirely trained to play as a wing back from scratch over pre-season, which speaks to his versatility. He’s a good quality player and has been very consistent over the last 2 years at hometown club Lech Poznan, but he also has a lot of potential to grow into, which we love around these parts.
No 18 – Victor Joseph – Striker – £1.9M from Bradford City
Last season, 7.33 average rating, 24 goals and 11 assists in 46 appearances
We’ve taken a punt on Victor as his attributes don’t look all that impressive, but he’s just come off the back of an absolutely electric season in League One. After leaving Chelsea to join Bradford last Summer, Joseph went on to become League One’s top scorer and blasted the Bantams to promotion. He very nearly bagged a hat trick in our last match against Cardiff, but was thwarted by that pesky linesman, who ruled out his third. Despite his lacking attributes, there’s something exciting about a player who against all odds just knows where the fucking net is.
No 17 – Eric Hallgren – Midfielder – £1.4M from Malmo FF
Last season, 8 assists in 41 games, 3.64 tackles per game, 7.02 average rating, 80% passes complete
Eric comes in to be our 4th choice central midfielder, behind George Dobson, Tomasz Lisowski and Kyle Manning. Technically, mentally and physically he ticks a lot of the boxes for me to think he can be a Premier League scuttling midfielder. I’m not entirely sure how much he’ll play this Season but I’ll give him minutes where I can.
No 12 – Saúl Pérez – Right Wing Back – £500k from Lleida Esportiu
Over the last 3 years, average ratings between 6.91 and 7.1, 4 goals and 7 assists per season, 2.58-2.91 tackles per game
My coaches don’t think much of Saúl’s ability to be honest, but I like him. He’s performed consistently in the Spanish 2nd tier, he’s quick and fit and has an excellent brain. I’ve brought him in to compete with Diego Mezzano.
No 7 – Steve Lyons – Attacking Midfielder – £2.3M compensation from Everton
Last season, 6.77 average rating, 3 goals in 20 games, 1.64 tackles per game, 89% pass completion, 1.04 dribbles per game
Steve’s someone I’ve been watching since the end of last year as his contract was running down at the Toffees and I couldn’t decide whether or not I liked him. This is probably the least moneyball of all of my signings this Summer, but he seems to do a little bit of everything without excelling anywhere and I’m certain that with that passing and shooting ability, we can make him into more.
No 5 – Federico Machado – Centre Back – Free transfer from Defensor Sporting
Over last 3 seasons, average ratings 6.83-7.01, 3.9-4.54 tackles per game
It probably comes as no surprise that with Justiniano, Brockbank, Walker and Greaves leaving, we needed some defensive reinforcements. Federico’s off to a really promising start with us too – He’s helped us keep 8 clean sheets in the 9 matches he’s appeared in and after 3 goalless years back home in Uruguay, he’s somehow scored his first TWO professional goals for us already! Very promising, this lad.
No 4 – Ryan Gaillard – Centre Back – £8.75M from Paris Saint-Germain
In loan spells to Serie A and the Premier League over the last 3 seasons, average ratings 6.72-6.84, 3-3.84 tackles per game, 78%-86% pass completion
Ryan’s been brought in as a direct replacement for Harry Brockbank – The deeper, ball playing defender in the heart of our backline. We actually broke our club transfer record to sign him, a record that dated back to June 2008 when we signed Johan Elmander for £8.2M. As Gaillard got injured before the Cardiff match, he’s actually gone one better than Machado and we haven’t conceded any goals at all in the 720 minutes of football in which he’s played.
No 30 – Jean Guillaume – Goalkeeper – £5M from Angers SCO
Over the last 2 season for Angers SCO 2, conceded 35 goals in 45 games, average rating 6.92-6.93
The plan for Guillaume was to come in and get loaned straight back out so that he could get more game time before we needed him. As it turned out though, Arsenal came in with big money for Bulka after I’d already sold Gunnarsson, so now Jean’s my first choice. It’s going to be a bit of a baptism of fire, learning his trade in the Championship, but he’s already kept 4 clean sheets in 6 games so that bodes well.
No 23 – Stuart Tamplin – Centre Back – £3.1M from Charlton Athletic
Over last 4 seasons, average ratings 6.64-6.97, 1.09-3.77 tackles per game, 75%-80% pass completion
Well I’ve already shown you 2 of my centre backs. The other one that I have in mind to start most games this season is young Gareth Burrows, while we also have Ben Kerr and Jordan Boon in reserve. I wanted a 6th centre back option that was young enough to not mind being sat on the bench or in the stands, developed enough to hold his own, but not so good that he’d derail the progression of the young centre backs we already have. Stuart seems to thread that needle pretty perfectly and was available on the cheap as Charlton got relegated last season (That was when his average rating was 6.64, but to be fair the whole team was just awful. I’m willing to call that a one-off).
No 14 – Jacob Hansen – Striker – £6.5M from Arminia Bielefeld
Last season, 12 goals and 3 assists in 31 games, 7.22 average rating, 2.54 dribbles per game.
Jacob’s the last of our signings this summer and provides us more depth up front. He’s a natural target man and that’s a nice option to have in the squad, but mainly he’ll play understudy to Rafael Perez in the deep lying forward role. He’s had a good career so far but has yet to settle anywhere, moving from Randers FC to Dortmund, to Bielefeld, to Bolton in the space of 2 years. Hopefully he’ll settle here and we’ll see even better form than he’s shown in Denmark or Germany.
See, this is why I love Moneyball so much. We’ve made a £57M profit this transfer window and I feel like the squad’s 10 times as strong as it was! Or in fact, perhaps more importantly, maybe it’s more like we’ve got 10 times more potential. It’s also starting to feel like our transfer strategy is building inertia. The conveyor belt of talent has been shuddering and creaking for years, but it’s finally begun trundling along.
So after all of the ins and outs, this is where we stand now, squad-wise.
We’re looking the thinnest we’ve looked in goal for a long time, but I’m still confident. Jean Guillaume has a lot of potential, Josh Vickers is safe as houses as his back up and David Andrew’s a promising kid that’ll be 3rd choice.
I’m very happy with our centre back options. We’ve got 3 home grown lads, including the last remaining member of the Bolton squad I inherited, as well as 3 we’ve bought in, which is a nice mix. There’s plenty of ability, but more importantly, plenty of potential here.
Likewise at right wing back, I’m happy with our options. Diego Mezzano, Saúl Pérez, Saul Stern – All 3 of these players are decent and can still improve.
At left wing back, we’re very well stocked. Álex Centelles and Marcin Duda are both real quality players and we’ve got Paul Doherty in reserve too.
We now have an extremely young and hungry midfield, lead by club veteran George Dobson. Tomasz Lisowski and Kyle Manning are now on about the same level, so they’ll be battling it out for the 2nd midfield spot next to the captain. Eric Hallgren’s a really solid 4th choice and Billy Johnson from our academy is here if injuries start to pile up.
I’m intrigued to see what kind of performances we get out of Steve Lyons, but I’d be a bit on edge if we were depending on him week in and week out. Luckily, we’ve got the brilliantly talented and consistent Felix Nmecha ahead of him in the pecking order. We’ve also got Matt Dean in the queue, who earlier this Summer turned down a £5M move to Watford. It’s lucky we’ve got cash now because 2 years ago I would’ve attacked him viciously for that.
And up front we’ve got probably the best selection of strikers we’ve had to date. They’re all jacks-of-all-trades too and can do a bit of everything, but they’ve also got their specialties – Rafael Perez is the creator, Nicklas Jensen’s the skilful man mountain, Jacob Hansen’s the incredibly rounded one, Victor Joseph’s the enigma and Ross MacAskill’s scored 9 goals in 15 pre-season/U23 games so far this season, so he’s one to watch.
So where did the bookies put us this year? 19th? 18th? No, 7th! Which is such a dramatic leap from the days when we used to routinely get into the play offs that I reckon we might just win this league this season. Of course, there is another reason why I think that and you’ve had a sneak peak of it already…
We’ve started off in absolutely dazzling form, dropping points only once in a 0-0 draw against Sunderland. We’ve only conceded in the league in 1 match – our 4-2 win away at Cardiff and we have been worth every single point we’ve picked up.
We’ve come through some tough ties so far, seeing off teams that have been going for promotion and playoffs alike in recent seasons with relative ease. This month is going to be the real litmus test though. Before September is up, we’ll have faced both sides that were relegated alongside us, Brentford, who are always dicks to play against, Newcastle and Leeds, who are strong teams, and… Preston. But still, tough month.
My God, that was a lot of writing to say the season’s only a month old. See you in February when we’ve seen a bit more of what this new squad can do.
1st February 2027
Well, we’ve slipped to 2nd, but I’m still counting this as a win so far. It’s been interesting to see how injuries to Ryan Gaillard have affected our form so far – After that winning streak at the start of the season, a twisted ankle kept him out for 3 weeks in which we won just 2 of our 5 matches. Once he was back, we won 6 out of 9 and then he tore his thigh muscle in November and we went on our worst run of form of the season, winning 5 of our 13 games until he returned 2 days ago and helped us beat Bradford. Once you put it down on paper like that, the centre back’s become a really crucial piece of the puzzle already.
Elsewhere we’re getting really awful luck with Cup draws at the minute. Last season we had Mansfield, Man City, Southampton and Arsenal in our short cup campaigns and this season we’ve had Lincoln, Sheffield United (Beat us on pens) and Man City again in our even shorter runs. Once we establish ourselves in the Premier League I really want to actually start putting some cup runs together.
In terms of transfers, we’ve had 1 in, 1 out this window. Young and pretty hopeless right back Will Stuart has joined Rotherham for £250k and yet another young Polish lad has joined our ranks.
No 13 – Wojciech Pacholarz – Goalkeeper – £2.9M from Lech Poznan
Over last 4 seasons, average rating 7.16-7.62, conceded 0.63-1.07 goals per 90, conceded 87 goals in 105 games, keeping 42 clean sheets
Although Guillaume’s coming along nicely, he’s not been thoroughly convincing and I decided that I wanted an option to replace him should we need to. Wojciech’s been absolutely solid for Lech Poznan since coming through their academy and I’m really confident that he’ll do a job.
8th May 2027
In an unbelievable end to a really good season, we’ve gone and won the Championship at the 5th time of asking. And my God was it close. We’ve been scrapping for the automatic promotion spots since the start of 2027 and it finally came to a head on the final day, when we and West Brom were both on 97 points but they just had the beating of us on goal difference. So we went and battered relegated Sheffield Wednesday 6-0 to clinch the title.
It feels good. It feels like we’re now ready to take on the Premier League. We’ve got a good squad of players, lots of money in the bank to improve, our academy is now Category 1 for the first time and our youth and training facilities are (I think) about to reach “state of the art” status in the next few months.
We weren’t perfect this season though and there’s certainly still areas we can improve upon. I expected Nicklas Jensen to absolutely obliterate this division after he was our top Premier League scorer, but the Dane only managed 6 goals this season – The lowest of all our strikers. His compatriot Jacob Hansen had a good debut season though and was our top scorer. Victor Joseph wasn’t too bad either, having just come up from League 1.
Álex Centelles had a stellar season, equalling Jordon Boon’s 22/23 record of 13 assists from left wing back. I was also pleased with all the new lads who chipped in creatively – Lyons, Duda and Pérez all impressed in their first year.
Once again, our defenders lead the way in terms of overall ratings. Gareth Burrows was our star man, which for a home grown lad is incredibly pleasing in his first year as a first team player. Gaillard and Tamplin both really impressed at the back in their debut season, Centelles and Duda were great at left wing back and Hansen did the job up front.
I’ve already agreed a deal to sign a striker this Summer, but he’s not actually coming in to be a striker.
Franck Coulibaly – Midfielder – Free transfer from ASEC Mimosas
In 4 years since coming through their academy, average ratings 6.95-7.17, 44 goals and 13 assists in 138 games, 1.69-2.1 dribbles per game.
The thought of having a potential strike partnership with a combined finishing attribute of 16 is really not sitting well with me, but from the look of Franck’s personality and attributes, I think he’ll make an absolutely superb box-to-box midfielder. George Dobson’s approaching 30, so I’ll be looking to sell him this Summer while I still can. Hopefully the Ivorian can fill his boots.
In terms of transfers, I think we’ll be having a relatively quiet Summer by recent standards. I want to replace Jordan Boon and Nicklas Jensen, so we’ll need a new centre back and striker, plus Diego Mezzano’s torn his cruciate ligaments and might be out until Christmas, so a new right wing back might be on the cards if I can shift Saul Stern. Other than that, I think we’re alright.
So that’s it! Hopefully our last season in the Championship is done. Last time we came up I was already planning for relegation, but this time I want us staying up, adding to the squad and establishing ourselves amongst the elite. See you next time for the bloody 27/28 season! I think this is now the longest term save I’ve ever written about, by the way. Including Franjo. Mental.