Football Manager is quite the personal story for some. A few of us write about our stories, but this is a recent phenomenon for a lot of us. We all have stories untold, that are lost in the mists of time. These stories were not.
I could ramble on about my time at Osasuna with Paraguayan wrecking machine William Burgos; a midfield at one point of Otegui, Emyr Huws and Joe Allen and Europa League qualification; I’ll stick to my main man from that series – Mo Yattara.
He’s not a regen or some young gem. Mo was a reject. A striker discarded by Standard Liege after about 16 games in 5 years. He was to be our saviour though.
He was a punt, a desperate signing in March by a desperate manager in a desperate situation. Staring relegation down the barrel and selling the perpetually pish Marcus Berg, Mo arrived on a short-term deal and bagged 7 in 14 to keep us up.
No way he could beat that right? Wrong. Mo would hit 20 La Liga goals and finish as top scorer in the league ahead of Aubameyang and Depay. He would plunder all three in our historic 3-0 win over Barcelona and had a habit of just belting things in the top corner.
He was truly phenomenal despite being our worst player on paper.
By Eion Smith (@LongBallFoot).
A Confused American
I first got into Football Manager with FM14. I bought it on sale after FM15 came out because I was reading the description and it looked like an intriguing game. As I’ve said before, I’m an American. I didn’t know anything about the rules, didn’t know much about players, formations, or anything. My experience with soccer was “you kicked a ball around, there was a team called Manchester United” and there was a Messy guy. I went to YouTube to see how the game worked, and I remember my first gameplay experience was FootyManagerTV’s FM14 Chelsea save. I soaked it up trying to understand how the game worked, but that still barely touched the surface.
My first team on this game was Oxford United. I picked them completely randomly because the ox head logo looked cool to me, and from there it was history. I must have restarted that save three or four times after getting fired trying to drop players into random slots, tinkering with tactics I made (and that others made when I found out those were downloadable). Eventually, I fired up the game and it all clicked right after about 200 hours. Oxford United went up to League One with the title, in the 2013/14 season we lucked their way into the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, and we immediately finished top-half of the League One table. We went onto winning it and going to the Championship before I left them in the save to try international management for the first time.
I’ve still got that save, and from time to time I’ll pop back into it with things I’ve learned in other games. Right now it’s 2022 with a Leicester City that’s still in the Championship, but I still am just as in love with the memories of that save.
This save has really influenced how I view Football Manager and how I manage. The board expected me to develop youth during that save and I’ve always carried conscious desire to develop youth as a manager. This has served me well both with Oxford and Leicester, where I developed players that are still with the club or have moved on. Particularly FM17, where I was instrumental in the development of Ozcan Gunes and Ivica Buric, who you’ll remember from “The Land Down Under”. They became national team regulars and stayed there while playing in Europe’s top flights, even after I resigned from club and country to return to America and go to the Seattle Sounders.
In a time where I was down on my luck, mentally and emotionally needing support. I was watching soccer matches, and playing this game. Thanks to being recommended a game that was on sale for cheap, soccer is now very much an everyday part of my life and something that I’m still passionate about, even if there’s still a lot to learn!
By Damon McKnight
The Scout in the Stands
My favourite FM story of recent times happened this season at Mill Farm. I do the research for Sports Interactive on AFC Fylde (I call myself a scout but researcher seems more appropriate) and I was standing there at the match watching Fylde play Torquay United. I’m fairly conspicuous, I keep myself to myself and I’ve got a plethora of tiny notepads for me to make a discreet note or two. After the teamsheets, positions and initial player notes, there’s not too much to write down aside from anything extremely new, goals or events that take place such as Josh Langley’s ACL injury very early in the season.
The date of this game was 18th November 2017, an important date, because Football Manager 2018 was released on 10th November a week before as I’m sure you are well aware. I’m stood watching, minding my own business, when I overhear a conversation behind me between three teenagers. This isn’t verbatim but close enough.
“Played the new Football Manager yet?”
“Yeah, got it on release day, mate.”
“Seen what they’ve done with Fylde?”
“I know, mate. They’re shit.”
“I bet they don’t even send anybody to watch them, just get it off the ‘net.”
Now at this point, I started to turn around to confirm that indeed they do send somebody here to watch Fylde and it’s me but as I did look behind me, one of the young lads started howling with laughter. Proper creased over holding his stomach laughter. This is obviously ignored by most people around me because a ball went out of the ground and that’s the funniest thing ever at a non-league ground.
“Tell him what happened.”
“No, don’t mess about.”
“Go on, tell him.”
“No, come on.”
“If you don’t, I will.”
“I got sacked in December. I’ve started again with Arsenal now.”
I had to turn away quickly and stifle a chuckle of my own by digging my fingers into my shoulder to the point where it went numb as if I’d slept on it overnight and covering my face with my programme. It’ll stay with me for some time, the sound of his voice as he tried to muster what little pride and dignity he had left; “I got sacked”.