Q&A with ^AH

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To The Promised Land

Monday saw the third in our series of creator Q&A sessions, this week with Anthony Haynes, writer of ‘The Promised Land’. As usual we asked the questions in the HTP channel on the FMSlack. If you are not signed up all ready it is a great way to speak to your favourite writers and content creators.

To start us off fm_adventure, who will be our next writer to appear on the Q&A asked who played FM first: you or your son?

“Sons. I moaned at Jonty and Simon for arriving late to meals because they were ’finishing a game’ and I criticised FM (not having experienced a single minute of it) for being ‘too easy’ – on the basis that they seemed to be forever taking over Nottingham Forest and winning every trophy in sight. So they decided to show me what it is was all about by including me in a three-team save on FM14. My strategy for managing Stoke City – buying players from Scotland and bringing back Rory Delap – revealed it wasn’t too easy: SACKED! And these days I’m the latest to the dinner table.”

Regular writer for the Higher Tempo Press Spiritedklopp asked you’re currently in Israel why do you always manage in the obscure leagues around the world? What is your motivation towards it?

“Well, they’re not obscure to the people who live there! But more positively: when, in I think my second-ever save, I managed Fulham, we played some matches in Greece, I was attracted by the warm glow of the sunlight on the FM14 match engine. Yes, really. That led me to manage teams on the Greek mainland and, especially, islands. I found that I enjoyed learning about how football works in other parts of the world. The structure of the game in Israel, for example, is quite different from England. For the same reason, I enjoy reading posts such as VivaLaVida’s on the Chilean leagues (link)
Also managing abroad prompts me to start learning about the places themselves, IRL. I guess the ultimate expression of that impulse is to visit the club in question: my favourite piece of FM writing is James Williams’s account of his trip to watch Amiens. So far, my only FM pilgrimage has been to watch Darren Lavery play for Berwick, but I’m working up to suggesting to Karen (my wife) that she might enjoy some visits to the eastern Mediterranean, which just happens to be my FM spiritual home. It may be that I happen to suggest visiting during the football season.
More negatively: ITRW I have very little interest in big football – international tournaments, continental competitions, top flight leagues, etc. I hardly ever watch telly, we don’t have Sky, and I don’t want to spend the time or money on travelling to big clubs. And I dislike managing in lower leagues in England because the seasons go on so long. I like everything – cups, transfers windows, and so on — to come round again soon.
The Williams piece on Amiens is available here

Do you feel that your time with Hapoel has been a success? Are you still motivated going forward?

“I don’t want to give any spoilers to either of my readers!
My goal is always to become the longest-serving manager in the league and I’ve achieved that. Motivation is a difficult question: I’m quite good at taking over a lowly club, making them safe, and building the foundations (e.g., backroom team, finances, facilities) for success. I’m not so good at kicking on to the next level. Has the time come to make way for big shot?”

New comer to the Slack channel going by the user name Fingers asked What badges and experience do you set for a new save? Always 0 and Sunday?

“I’m too much of a coward to do that – I let the game award me the badges/experience it thinks appropriate.”

You have tried some different tactics in the series. Do you take inspiration from real life for these or fit them to the team?

“I’m not at either extreme of the fit-the-players-into-a-structure vs pick-a-structure-to-suit-the-players spectrum. But I’m nearer the former. After a season or two of survival, certain favourite tactics re-assert themselves.
I try to learn from the history of football and have been massively influenced by watching sweeper based teams on midweek telly in the ‘70s. So organised, so difficult to break down: and also capable of great counter-attacking goals.
At the root of my tactical approach is a binary question: Can I find/develop a decent sweeper? If yes, use a sweeper-based formation.”

In your latest post you introduce the idea of using a Libero, do you think the Israeli league is ready for that?

“As I wrote above, Israeli football is different. There’re actually quite a few sweepers there – more than anywhere else I’ve managed.
Not all of them have the mentality or technical skill to develop from sweeper to libero though, so I’ve experimented with retraining more creative players (e.g. attacking midfielders). Sourcing a suitable supply of liberoes demands effort but isn’t too much of a headache.
I’d like to use this occasion to promote sweeper systems. I think lots of FM players don’t use them simply because they’re not common in the modern game ITRW. But I find they can be effective on FM.
At present, all three of the systems I’m training at Ashkelon are libero-based. for example

You have written a lot for HTP and release daily articles which are all great, but how do you find the time to do so many episodes? Do you have a set time table etc? asked TryingToBePep

“Well, the key point is that many of the posts are quite short. And, in the light of feedback, I’m making the average length even shorter.
But also, I work as a communications consultant and one of the things I help with is productivity. For example, I produced this resource: http://www.frontinus.org.uk/postcards/writing.pdf
My main insight into writing productivity is that I give myself to write a bad first draft and worry about trying to improve it later through editing. Quantity first, then quality.
I’m interested, by the way, that you refer to ‘episodes’: again in response to feedback, I’ve tried to present my Ashkelon save as a soap opera, aka ‘The Archers for Insomniacs’.”

What do you see your writing style as?

“I used to enjoy reading Alan Gibson’s cricket reports in The Times: [https://www.amazon.co.uk/Didcot-Demon-Cricketing-Times-Gibson/dp/0956070256]. His reports were as much about getting held up at Didcot Junction on the way to matches as they were about the cricket. Regular readers came to feel they knew the Didcot station staff in person, so often did he quote them. His sense of humour pushed him to playfully break the conventions of the genre he was writing in.
I also love the writing of Robert Byron, who wrote about travel and architecture in places such as Greece and Iran – most famously, The Road to Oxiana: [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Road_to_Oxiana]. Direct speech, wry humour, and iconoclastic views. I hope there’s a bit of that in there!”

How did you come to write for The Higher Tempo Press?

“I enjoyed reading the Johnny Cooper stories written by Chris Darwen editor of HTP
Also, having written a sole-author professional blog for years, I knew I didn’t want to do that. Group blogging is the way to go.
Group blogging: takes the pressure off each author; combines the audiences/followings.”

Asking the next question was FM_samo, are you on Twitter? If not, why? How else do you keep up to date with what other FM content is being produced (other than visiting HTP everyday)?

“I joined Twitter in 2010 but have now left it. I only used it for professional purposes, mainly as a discovery tool. I’ve decided it was time-inefficient and I found the negative-emotion aspect of Twitter off-putting.
My discovery tools for FM are my WordPress reader account (I follow several blogs and also have searches saved by tags), Higher Tempo Press, and Slack (e.g., the Wearethecommunity channel).”

So away from FM and regarding something you mentioned in Slack the other day. Slack user Dannykjr wanted to ask Is there any movement on that website idea to catalogue all the FM articles yet?

“I’m glad you asked. The answer is yes.
I expect to launch Curator of Football [https://curatoroffootball.org/] within a fortnight.
The idea is that the website will, instead of publishing content of its own, link readers to content published elsewhere. All the content we link to will be peer reviewed first to ensure it’s of sufficient quality
Recently published content will be published (that is, linked to) by our journal, the International Journal of Football Management (IJFM): https://curatoroffootball.org/journal/. Older material will be linked to from our catalogue, the Catalogue of Football Management (CFM): https://curatoroffootball.org/catalogue/.
The catalogue will be organised according to our classification system https://curatoroffootball.org/classification/, so that readers can access specifically the kinds of content they’re looking for (for example, content about sweeper keepers or 4-3-3 or AC Milan).
The cornerstone of the website is peer review, so as soon as I’ve published the peer review guidelines I will be inviting people to volunteer as peer reviewers. I’ve already published (though haven’t tested) the contact form for volunteering: [https://curatoroffootball.org/journal/peer-reviewing/].”

What’s next for you, will you wait until FM18 for a new series?

“I wish you hadn’t asked me that question!
Up to now I’ve been content at Ashkelon. But to research an answer, I’ve just loaded FM17 and discovered that it has the Egyptian league and the C Division of the Greek league.
Where did they come from? Has Steam just added them or have I downloaded them from somewhere else? Anyway, I’m itching to have a go on FM17.
Also attracted to Turkey (Basaksehir, anyone?) and the Israeli second tier (Hapoel Katamon? Hapoel Jerusalem?) – I have a feeling that Israeli second tier may be my FM18 home.
Overall, I see myself living out my FM days in the Eastern Med, from Alexandria round to the Ioanian Sea, catching ferries from club to club.”

Thats all we had time for but please do check out ^AH’s articles so far, they are funny, insiteful and won’t take you long to read in most cases. He can be found on his author page

or also pop into the Slack channel and ask him a question, he will always have an answer for you.

Next time we will ask questions to FM_ Adventure, so please head over to Slack and ask a question.

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I’ve been playing football management games since the days of the PS1, where you needed a full memory card to save. Since then I played a lot of Champ man 4 and it nearly cost me my A levels. -Winner of 3 UEFA cups with Villa on CM4 -Statue outside Villa Park -FA cup winner with Chelsea on FM05 -guided Crewe to Championship mediocrity on FM16 Now a father of two I picked up FM17 and decided to start writing about it I hope you enjoy