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Life as a virtual football manager



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“Dad remember that chunky lumbering striker who you said was crap but always seemed to score?”
“What the Italian?”
“Yeah I just signed him!”

Its fair to say my Dad isn’t the greatest fan of football manager. Whenever I ridicule him for watching science-fiction on television the same response always bounces straight back.

“Well your not a real football manager.”

My skin has still not grown thick enough to not get riled by my Dad’s ill-thought out response, after all he doesn’t know what he is missing. Despite his pessimism I was still pretty chuffed with my signing of Christian Vieri on a free transfer.

The Football Manager series has to be one of the only games that can immerse somebody so much that their ‘real-life’ moods are affected as a result. I recall my parents inquiring about cracks and dents in the wallpaper, deep down I think they had an inkling that I hadn’t scraped the chair up against the wall and that the culprit could well of been a Mateo Brighi own goal late in a Champions League semi final which pushed me to my violent outburst.

My football manager career has taken me to all corners of the globe, featuring a trip to Rio De Janerio to take the reigns at Fluminense, hopping over to Argentina to lead Chacarita Juniors to the top flight as well as a trip beyond the fallen iron curtain to Hungary to rejuvenate the bankrupt giants that are Ferenvaros. I cannot help but feel that FM has made me an incredibly useful pub quiz team member, never before did I posses the geographical knowledge that I now do. Bringing in players from far flung continents has certainly taught me a lot about the global map.

But how to battle this addiction that takes up every second of spare time available to me, as well as the dark hours of the night when I can’t help but think I really should be asleep?

Phillip Doherty, a 39 year old long time fan of football manager fights the same demons as many across the world.

“I used to play FM or as it was Championship Manager non-stop. It was getting bad for my health. I used to ring in sick to work when I was younger just to play it & go in bleary eyed on Mondays as I got little sleep on weekends. I never was very good apart from playing 01/02 when I was Barcelona & played for about 15 seasons which took one hell of a lot of my life!”

As the latest in the gaming series, FM 2010, continues to boast impressive sales figures and many people like me neglect family/friends/partners and social lives in general, us addicts are greeted by one huge decision upon purchasing the game. Who to be? 

It’s fair to say I had been waiting a long time. Skinned for months on and I only managed to accumulate enough disposable income in February, for a game released in November.

Ready and raring to go I was greeted by the new fresh-looking menu screen and was immediately stumped. Shit who am I actually going to be? Months of anticipation and mental countdowns had finally expired but I sat, like a badger in the headlights frozen in both thought and movement.

The team I follow is always a no-go, I have my favourite players in real life and tend to use this bias when I control my beloved Plymouth Argyle, needless to say this is not easy decision!

Eventually I opted for the fallen giant that is Newcastle United. With a squad boasting premiership veterans such as Geremi, Alan Smith and problem child Joey Barton, leading the Tyne back to the top flight can’t be that hard can it?

Yes it can. Despite a promising start and the goals of my Dad’s favourite player Christian Vieri, high expectations got the better of me as my side found it exceedingly difficult to escape a rut of bad form. Perhaps unfortunate, in that in both cup competitions I drew premiership opposition and subsequently bowed out.

Boardroom pressure got the better of me and I decided to jump before I was pushed and pursue the task of carving out a reputation in the lower leagues where the expectations are lower with very little to lose.

So back to square one, which team am I going to lead to glory and prove my self-undoubted managerial ability with? All I know is that I have extreme difficulties balancing work and play and I will have to force myself return to the real world sooner or later, hopefully later!