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A UK Journeyman Story

Oct 4, 2017
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We’re now in June 2029, nearly 8 full years into the save, so I thought I’d take a look back at some of the clubs I’ve managed so far to see how they were getting on

The long story cut short is that none of them are faring any better since I left…

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Ever since winning the Welsh treble with them in 2024, Colwyn Bay have not been able to hit those heights since. They finished 4th in the league last year and seem to be in a never-ending pattern of finishing in 3rd one season then 4th the next season.

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They still have quite a lot of players at the club who were there when I was in charge, including Tra Lucas who was top scorer in the Welsh Premier League last season - the very same guy who scored 2 hattricks in the Champions League preliminary qualifying rounds before we left to take the Oldham job.

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Speaking of which…

Since winning the National League with them 4 seasons ago, Oldham have established themselves as a middtable League Two side and finished in a solid but unspectacular 14th last season.

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Last of all, Lincoln narrowly avoided relegation to League One by finishing 20th in the Championship last season.

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That’s actually a decent finish considering they sold 3 of their best players for £17m, all of whom I bought to the club for under £500k. It’ll be interesting to see if they can stay in the division next season though!

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The only player I’ve had at multiple clubs so far is Gary Griffiths, who has most recently had a loan spell at Championship side Reading.

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He’s not even played for Sheffield United since signing for them for £4.5m, but with them being in the Championship next season he may get some game time.

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Thinking ahead, I was considering just how far I can take Blackburn and how quickly I can do that as we still have a squad that’s low on Premier League quality. So I had a quick peek at the job market.

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Absolutely nothing worthwhile is available, so it looks like we’ll be staying at Blackburn for now!

A busy summer transfer window awaits…​
Oct 4, 2017
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It’s our second season in the Premier League with Blackburn and after spending £80m last summer, we’ve spent another £60m this time around as we look to build a competitive Premier League squad.

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Along with the pre-arranged transfer of Noni Madueke, we’ve also splashed the cash on Hannibal Mejbri from Championship side Norwich. £25m is a lot of money but he adds real quality to the squad and also counts as homegrown from his time at Man United.


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Next in was Dani Vivian for £8.5m from recently relegated Southampton - so many quality players for Southampton were available after their shock relegation, but he was the only one who we could afford.

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After Luke Shaw returned to Atletico after a less than impressive loan spell, another area we needed to improve was left-back.

I nearly spent £20m on 30-year-old Josh Tymon, but instead opted to go with youth and signed İbrahim Uysal for £17m from Galatasaray.

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Last in was another youngster, Jesús Aguilera, for just £8m. He’ll be behind Shakur Omar in the pecking order at the club, so might become a bit unhappy as we promised him a lot of game time despite only being 18 years old.

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With no significant outgoings, I’m pretty pleased with how the squad is looking all things considered.

The only worrying thing is that our best player and goalkeeper Janjetovic is being linked with Bayer Leverkusen because of a £44m release clause.

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If he leaves before the transfer window shuts then we could be in trouble!

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I did actually have the opportunity to manage him at international level after being offered the Croatia job in the summer.

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I’m not really interested in international management though as my focus is firmly on progressing with Blackburn. However, if the pre-season prediction is anything to go by then we’re in for another relegation scrap!


Our first game of the Premier League season is at home to Spurs - they beat us 6-0 and 4-0 last season with 6’7” striker Lorenzo Lucca scoring 7 goals against us, so I am not looking forward to it one bit!

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The season will be tough, it always is in the Premier League, but we have a better squad than last year so I do expect to stay up.​
Oct 4, 2017
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The first game of our second season as a Premier League manager was a pretty successful one, as we twice came from behind to draw with Spurs 2-2.

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Two goals from Shakur Omar vindicated my decision to stick with him as our main striker this season whereas Lucca’s 2 goals for Spurs mean he’s now scored 9 in 3 matches against us…

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Our next game was a far more easier one on paper but we were lucky to get the win against recently promoted West Brom. A goal and two assists from new signing Hannibal was enough for the win despite a very nervy ending.

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We then followed that up with 2 away losses, in the League Cup to Leicester and in the league to West Ham.

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So that’s us 3 games in and on 4 points - it feels like it’s going to be a very midtable campaign for us again but that remains to be seen.

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There was also no late transfer business either, with goalkeeper Janjetovic signing a new contract after Bayer Leverkusen’s interest in him fizzled out. It was a big increase in wages for him, but importantly his contract has no release clause.

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And to celebrate his new deal he got injured straight away!

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Despite his increase in wages, we are still spending the lowest amount on player wages in the Premier League.

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So it could get interesting further into the campaign with various managers leaving and getting sacked.

If a more lucrative job becomes available, I might be tempted away from Blackburn…​
Oct 4, 2017
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September started with 2 wins in a row against Chelsea and Brentford. With those results, I was beginning to think that we were capable of pushing for the European places this season

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So of course we then got smashed 6-0 by Arsenal!

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Losing so heavily against Arsenal at home also began to ring a few bells…

It turns out that 3 and a half years ago we lost 7-1 to them as Oldham manager in the FA Cup 3rd Round - Martinelli must love facing me!

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Then it got worse.

After 5 goals in the opening 8 games, Shakur Omar was ruled out with injury for a month.

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Soon after, Juanjo Tejedor was ruled out for 2 months meaning that both our top scorer and top assister were on the sidelines!

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Luckily we didn’t go on a losing spree after that, but we didn’t go on a winning spree either. It turns out that we love a draw!

4 draws in a row made it 5 games without a victory although one of those matches was a 2-2 draw at Anfield (for the second season in a row) where only a last-minute penalty stopped us from winning.

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So what happens when we’re under a bit of pressure? We go and get a huge win!

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I have no idea how it ended 4-0 but another away win at Wolves saw us go into the international break in the top half of the table

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A big reason for that is because of the form of 18 year old Eddy Ortiz. The Ecuadorian has 4 goals and 3 assists already and is surely going to become one of the best in the world.

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Our win at Wolves actually got their manager the sack and we were immediately linked with the vacant position

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Gennaro Gattuso was also sacked by West Ham on the same day… the managerial merry-go-round has started!

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Do I start looking elsewhere? Or is patience needed with this young Blackburn squad?​
Oct 4, 2017
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I love the name Tony Moxon (Arsenal player)
A very good player as well, Arsenal signed him for £58m from Leeds in the summer transfer window!

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It is lovely to see how you and TheNotSoSpecialOne like Shakur Omar very much.
He's a solid player for a mid-table Premier League side in this save, so to get him for £18m whilst in the Championship was a great deal!
Oct 4, 2017
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A 2-0 win at Elland Road against a strong Leeds side was exactly the kind of result needed to convince me to keep the faith with Blackburn and the team I have built here.

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It also resulted in Roger Schmidt getting sacked as Leeds manager.

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That’s a Leeds side in the Europa League and predicted to finish in 8th, with a managerial vacancy. A very tempting managerial vacancy.

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But ultimately it was a job I didn’t apply for in the end as I’m not interested in a relegation scrap, with Brendan Rodgers ending up with the gig.

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That result against Leeds also made it 7 unbeaten for us.

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So, naturally, we lost our next match at home to Watford. The winner was scored by Omari Forson, a player we signed at Lincoln for £81,000 who is now a Premier League player!

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A tough run of fixtures followed in December where we got just 1 win in 5 games.

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We’ve actually only won 3 of our last 14 Premier League matches, yet sit in 9th in the table!

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It’s an impressive position to be in but we’re not going to finish any higher than that. At the same time, we’re not going to be dragged into a relegation fight either.

I’m pretty confident of that because of the defensive performances of the team - goalkeeper Mile Janjetovic has the 3rd most clean sheets in the league.

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And whilst the goals aren’t exactly flowing, our main striker Shakur Omar has 8 goals in 16 appearances which is all you can ask for.

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But I have to admit that I'm getting itchy feet at Blackburn.

With 1 day until the January transfer window, this is what the job market looked like

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Ernesto Valverde’s job was very insecure and Arsenal went on to lose their next match against Championship side Cardiff in the FA Cup.


That resulted in a very appealing vacancy opening.

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Even though I still have a 3 star reputation, a job like Arsenal is the natural next step for me as we’re turning Blackburn into a solid midtable Premier League side

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So I instantly applied for the job.

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We couldn’t, could we?​
Jul 30, 2017
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IMO, you should have taken the Leeds job. They were still competing in European competition, but I will admit Arsenal looks like an intriguing prospect.
Oct 4, 2017
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IMO, you should have taken the Leeds job. They were still competing in European competition, but I will admit Arsenal looks like an intriguing prospect.
Yeah at the time I wasn't really convinced by the Leeds job, but I probably should have at least applied for it in the end...
Oct 4, 2017
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One thing I’ve learned in this journeyman save is just how long the job application process takes, so I knew I’d take charge of Blackburn’s next game at least.

That game happened to be against our local rivals Burnley, who we comfortably beat 4-1 thanks to a hattrick from Noni which doubled his tally for the season.

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The talk in the press was not about that emphatic result though. Instead, it was about a certain former manager of Colwyn Bay, Oldham, and Lincoln, being the favourite for the Arsenal job.

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What a way to sign off! After seeing I was favourite with the press, I could not think of a more fitting end for my time at Blackburn than by beating Burnley!

It’s been 18 months of disappointment for Arsenal, with them currently in 7th position in the league after also finishing in that position last season.

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They have a quality squad but a lot of their players are past their peak, so some new blood on the pitch is also needed to regenerate the club.

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The prospect of a Europa Conference League run with them was also appealing.

There was just one problem…

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It turns out that a job like Arsenal is still very much out of my reach!

They can go and pluck Zidane from Real Madrid despite being 7th in the Premier League.

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So the wait to move to another club still goes on, maybe we are going to stay at Blackburn for a few more years after all!
Oct 4, 2017
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Knowing I was staying at Blackburn for the rest of the season, I decided to get to work in the January transfer window.

I was forced into the first transfer with Dani Vivian, our holding midfielder, picking up an injury that could potentially end his season.

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So with that I decided to splash £5m on 33-year-old Scott McTominay from Everton to add some more experience (and quality despite his age) to midfield.

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Then we had the second unexpected transfer after our starting right back Jorgen Kampenhøi insisted on moving to Bayer Leverkusen

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He’s been awesome since signing but there was no way we could persuade him to stay and £27m was a good price for him, although Chelsea did get £7m of that.

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Getting a replacement for him was extremely difficult. So I went for a short-term option in signing Mason Holgate for £2m from Sheffield United.

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Signing another 33-year-old might seem odd, but his attributes were better than Kampenhoi so I decided to do it.

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Another player to leave was backup Jellando Duncan to Championship side Crystal Palace for £7.5m. He scored a crucial goal in our promotion season but did very little other than that during his time at the club.

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Then we had unexpected transfer number 3, although this one was probably more predictable.

Sebastian Frankle had wanted to leave for over a year ever since causing a fuss because we didn't sign another Croatian player for him. I was happy for him to leave if somebody paid his £47m release clause, but when I managed to negotiate £45m with a 15% of the next fee clause with Villa I decided to accept that too.

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It’s a good signing for them but a £35m profit for 18 months of mediocre performances is solid business in my eyes

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So what did I do with all that money? Nothing of course

Despite being in the relegation zone, Leeds were willing to let Jack Harrison leave on loan with just 6 months remaining on his contract.

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He’s the 3rd 33 year old to join in the transfer window but again it made sense to get him because he is considered to be our key player!

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I was actually very close to signing Nikola Milenković from Man City, but signing a 4th player over the age of 32 in the same window seemed ridiculous.

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So instead we went back to the loan market and secured Giorgio Scalvini on loan from Leicester

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Weirdly, that made it 2 players we signed on loan from clubs below us in the table!

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We’re still spending the least amount on wages in the division which again emphasises just how well we’re doing.

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But those sales should mean that we get an even bigger transfer budget in the summer, so even if we don’t move clubs soon then we’ll be able to go on a spending spree with Blackburn.​
Oct 4, 2017
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I’m not saying that the rejection from Arsenal is hurting… but losing 2-0 at home to a poor West Brom side was not the kind of result I needed

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It also highlighted an ever-growing issue of us struggling to score goals from open play.

Luckily we scored 2 against Spurs in our next match… which we lost 5-2!

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Lorenzo Lucca scored just the 4 goals in that game. We’ve played Spurs 4 times since promotion to the Premier League and he has scored 13 goals - yes, 13 goals in 4 games! The hatred I have for him cannot be matched

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That result made it 5 without a win in the Premier League and the critics were really lining up - calling us hapless is a bit harsh though!

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It didn’t get any better after that either, with a big injury to key player Eddy Ortiz

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And then a 2-2 draw against Villa in a game that we dominated.

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Something had to give.

And finally it did in an absolutely mental game against Bournemouth where a 5-4 victory ensure that we reached the FA Cup quarter finals.

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Young Mexican Aguelira won the game by himself with 3 goals and 2 assists to finally announce himself after a poor start to life as a Blackburn player.

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The result means that we’ll play Brentford, who are bottom of the Premier League, in the quarter-final. So we actually have a decent chance to get to Wembley!

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The league form means we’ve dropped a few places but with 9 games left there are too many teams below us for us to get seriously dragged into a relegation battle.

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Elsewhere, club captain Alex Mowatt was sold for £200,000 (his contract was due to expire anyway) because he really wanted to join Toronto…

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Who then released him literally one day after signing him!

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I have no idea when it comes to the MLS registration rules but even so, that’s a really bizarre transfer!​