Life As A Football Manager

I have always been more interested in becoming a manager more than a player. Don’t know why but I have.

In my early school days my friend and myself would have two hobbies. If it was dry outside then we’d go out and play football and if it wasn’t, we would stay in, write down a list of players from a team and then manage that team. (Its Scotland, it wasn’t dry that often!)

We would offer each other bids for players, buy whoever we wanted from other teams, arrange friendlies and then start the season. Obviously we never lost, we might have allowed a draw or two. Plus whatever team we were had an unlimited budget. It was very basic but were about 7 or 8 years old.

When I was in my first year of secondary school I started my own fantasy football league for classmates. It would be a league where they could be any team in the world and face each other. They would also buy players off each other and they would right down the deal and both sign it like it was a contract, then they’d give me the wee bit of paper. I was like the FA and returned home with my bag and pockets full of small pieces of paper!

I would then guess who would win and return the results at registration the next morning. I am sure I told my pals that the results were done by compute, oh well they now know it was all just me guessing.

I would only manage this for about a week.

I also tried one of the manage by mail games. They would give you a club, I was Sampdoria and you would get results through the post. Again this got a bit tedious after a while, I wanted instant returns.

I then discovered a game called ‘Kevin Keegan’s player manager’ for the Super Nintendo. Now I can’t remember everything about it but can recall it had fake players with similar surnames to real life footballers, you could only start by managing a 2nd or 3rd division English side and the game play was so, so slow!

Seriously I think I got bored after three games as it would take about five hours to get through them. I certainly didn’t get through a full season.

The pic of Keegan used to do my head in. It was pretty cool to design the kit but that was about it really.

Then came the best managerial game ever.

Sensible World of Soccer is still head and shoulders better than anything else in the managerial sim genre. Maybe my opinion is based on a bit of nostalgia but I loved it.

It was the first game that I had played with, that seemed to have every real player in the world. You could manage any team, and play in any competition. Then after the season finished you would be offered jobs, in later versions you could manage national sides. I was offered the Indian and New Zealand jobs, it was great.

The very first edition had the three foreigner rule and there was realistic budgets. I remember buying Pierre Van Hoojidonk for Rangers for £1.8m and a young Dominic Matteo for £1.5m. Both were terrific and not long afterwards Pierre joined Celtic in real life, so I sold him in the game.

You could play the game too, it was easy to score, as long as you were just outside the box and slightly to the left or right from the middle and hit it straight then you scored.

Fact is I didn’t have the game originally, my neighbour did. He was four years older than me and I would constantly hassle him to let me have a shot. I swear he used to let me play the game just to get a break from me moaning at him.

So my parents had to buy me an Amiga just so I could play it.

I did flirt with Championship Manager during this time but I religiously bought the Sensi series up until they stopped making it, that was a sad day I can tell you.

So once Sensible World of Soccer had become defunct I got fully on board with the Championship Manager train.

I enjoyed the fact that they concentrated on bringing managerial games to a more realistic platform. Introducing board confidences, arranging pre-season friendlies, deal with player contracts and added new laws like the Bosman rule.

By the turn of the century football managerial sims on the PCs were huge. Championship Manager 4 broke all records when it came out. With this title you could play your mates online but it was extremely slow and to get through a season it took an age.

I liked ‘Champ’, they were consistenly trying to improve it and for all that they still managed to keep the gameplay simple.

Then the two main companies involved in making Championship Manager, Edios and Sports Interactive (SI) split.

Both came out with their own games. Edios had kept the Championship Manager name, while SI brought out Football Manager (FM).

I bought both titles and SI’s Football Manager won the battle hands down. They clearly had been the ones with the innovative ideas. It also helped that their game was out months before the Edios one.

Now for the past two/three years I haven’t bought a manager game.


Every updated game seemed to mean a new laptop or an upgraded operated system. After the first year of not buying the new Football Manager on the day or week of its release, I found out I didn’t really miss it that much.

I have never liked playing these types of games on a console, it was always better on a PC or a Mac. So I was never going to get FM for a Playstation or an Xbox plus I haven’t even touched my console in over a year anyway!

I did get FM on my iPad last year and it didn’t offer all the features the regular game did, so I never got into it.

Then last month I bought the 2012 edition as it was on sale, I was bored and I craved being a manager again. I have loved being back, abusing the press, falling out with fellow bosses, playing an attacking 4-3-2-1 formation and dealing with agents for the first time.

There have been other games.

The first one I got for the playstation was horrendous, I am sure it was called Onside and its release date was delayed all the time, when it eventually came out it was shockingly bad. To think I hassled staff at Electronics Boutique for a year or so, all because of that crappy game.

Also I had a game where you sold advertising for the boards around the pitch, improved the stadium facilities, changed the ticketing price, fixed the price of hot dogs and offered other teams bungs so they would throw games or perform better against rivals.

These games brought players to your attention before they became stars in real life.

I signed two 16 year olds from Lyon, Karim Benzema and Hatem Ben Arfa, both were in my Rangers squad in their first year and tore up the SPL. Others like Helder Barbosa, Wilfried Bouma, Kennedy Bakircioglu, Stefan Selakovic and Per Ciljan Skjelbred were all great cheap gems.

By the way if you signed Pedrag Djordjevic you were guaranteed 20 odd goals a season from midfield.

I’m not going to lie I have geeked out playing these games.

As a youngster I would shake imaginary hands of opponents after games, I would stick on a suit jacket or a shirt for big finals, use bottles of juice as trophies should I win cups (I often would as I would just restart until I did win the bigger games), I would throw and break TV remotes plus swear like a trooper if a game was going horribly wrong and before they had interacting with the media functions I was having convos in my head during imaginary press conferences I had made up pre/post games and when unveiling my new signings. I would actually make arm gestures as if I was issuing the team instructions and when I arranged a pre-season tour of a country I’d often get an atlas out and pinpoint a town or city and only play teams within a decent distance from that place so travelling was easier for my squad.

I was mental, clearly I was but I loved it. Every single minute of it!

I am back but only on a part time basis.

4 Responses to “Life As A Football Manager”

  1. The screenie at the top brings back some memories!

  2. I played the game where you sold the advertising boards and built the stadium too. I think it was called Ultimate Football Manager. You could start off with a smaller team and build the stadium to be bigger than the Nou Camp. I must have had a cheat on the go, because that sounds impossible now.

    Hot dog stands, programmes, stands and advertising boards took the game to an artificially high level, because the management side wasnt that good.

    George Weah and Papin in Sensible World of Soccer were ace. I felt privileged that I seen Papin in the flesh at the recent Rangers vs Milan legends match. Seeing him all those years after cheering his name was superb.

    I never broke any tv remotes during my Champ Man days, but the power button was often used when the game cheated me. Dominating all game, only for a last minute goal to beat me. That isn’t fair, so a restart was required and I would win the next time.

    I remember a way back near the start that they had the transfer fees in K. You could only bid a maximum of 9,999K, yet someone bid for 16M for my player – Martin Taylor. The computer even cheated at transfers. Anyway, I didnt sell him and had him from 16, all the way until he retired at 34. That was a sad day indeed.

  3. Yes it is indeed Ultimate Football Manager I was thinking of Craig.

    Weah & Papin were fantastic players.

    Haha the old switch it off before it saves routine was great.

  4. Enjoyed reading this and the comment. It was Ultimate Soccer Manager, I had the demo out of an Amiga mag. Played all the games you’ve mentioned pretty much, Onside Soccer was awful. Didn’t have a PC and it was a long wait for management games on the PS1. All I can remember about it was if you pressed a certain button when you scored you could do a Fjortoft style plane celebration! Also remeber Player Manager being quite bad. LMA had a few decent games mind. Champ’s the King though. As you say SWOS was and is the greatest but being ten when it came out probably helped. Still wish I had an Amiga now though…

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