I’ve been playing Football Manager 2019 a lot recently, because I love a game that’s basically a spreadsheet and databases!
I’ve been playing this sort of game for over 20 years now, all the way back to the Championship Manager 3 days, and I remember quite a lot of the teams I played as! I’d often do random choice and let the game decide where I go and what I do, and curiously this led to me following the IRL versions of the teams too, to see if they replicate the success (or failures!) that I had when in the hot seat!
So with that in mind, here’s some of the teams I’ve managed before:
Rochdale (England, currently League One)
Back in the Champ Man 3 days, this was the first team I took control of. A friend and I were doing a 2 player game, and they picked Torquay, while I picked a random Third Division team so I could be in the same league as them, which ended up being Rochdale (though looking up the 98/99 season, it could have potentially been Brighton or Cardiff, present day Premier League teams!). I was 13 at the time, and my statistical know-how and tactical mind was not fully developed, and we both ended up getting our respective teams relegated. Huzzah!
Also horrified to learn that because of a sponsorship deal, the Rochdale stadium Spotland is not named Spotland anymore, but the Crown Oil Arena. Yuck!
Arsenal (England, currently Premier League)
LMA Manager was the first console-based football manager game I played, back on the PS One, and I wanted to take control of a team that was already a powerhouse because I was a glory-seeking arsehole. In a topsy-turvy simulated world, one of the seasons I finished top, but Manchester United, often my biggest rival, ended up finishing 16th, because all their good players just got poached by me, Liverpool and (weirdly) QPR.
Odense Boldklub (Denmark, currently Superliga)
This one I played on Football Manager Handheld on the PSP, and again was a consequence of the random selection feature. Odense were the perennial mid table team, in a league dominated by FC Copenhagen, and Brøndby IF. In the 14 seasons I played as them, we won 13 league titles in a row, the Danish Cup 11 times, and never progressed beyond the Champions League group stages. Also FCK and BIF started to become mid table teams themselves, as Odense, Nordsjælland and Midtjylland vied for superiority!
I do like to check up on them every so often, because of my success as them in the game, and I’m always pleased to see them keep on keeping on. especially when I see this:
SUCK IT, MIDTJYLLAND.
Newcastle Jets (Australia, currently A-League)
Did you know that Australia, despite being in the continent of Oceania, do not play continental football with other Oceanic leagues, but in the Asian leagues? This is because the Australian Football Association grew frustrated with FIFA’s reluctance to give Oceania an automatic qualifier spot for the World Cup (the winner of the Oceanic World Cup qualifiers win A CHANCE TO QUALIFY for the World Cup by playing one of the lower placed teams from a different continent) which damages their qualification hopes, so they applied to join the Asian Confederation, as that was geographically close by, and had at least 4 automatic qualifying spots (technically they have 4.5, with the .5 being a possibility from the aforementioned intercontinental match between lower placed teams; North America, South America and Oceania also have x.5 qualifying spots, but Oceania has 0.5 meaning it’s the only football-playing continent that could theoretically not have a representative at the World Cup Finals), and the other Oceanic teams welcomed this as it gave more of them a chance to qualify for the World Cup themselves, because Australia were too dominant down there.
Anyway, a random selection picked the Newcastle Jets for me one time, and I did fairly well as them. Won 1 title, got absolutely smashed in the Asian Champions League by the Japanese and South Korean teams, faded into mid-table obscurity.
FC St Pauli (Germany, currently Bundesliga 2)
Now this one was not a random pick. I first learned about FC St. Pauli a few years ago, when a football magazine I read (Four Four Two) did a feature on them and their fanbase. It’s a club that is very specifically associated with left wing politics, and both club and fans are staunchly anti homophobia, anti fascist, anti-racist. They’re more well known and supported around the world than even most Bundesliga teams!
At the time of the rise of decidedly right-wing hooliganism among Hamburger SV fans in the 70’s and 80’s, left-wingers from the city (including former HSV fans!) flocked to St. Pauli (the other Hamburg-based team) to oppose them. St Pauli was the part of Hamburg that had a large proportion of punk residents, it had the country’s largest red light district, it was where the entertainment was found, and soon the area and the football club became so interconnected that you can’t really separate the two!
They are of course not the only left-wing football club, but they are probably the most famous of all of them.
Anyway they’re my most recent game in FM19, and we’ve won 10 in a row so we’re doing pretty well.
Salisbury City FC (England, currently A DIFFERENT TEAM!)
Before I moved to Cardiff, Salisbury, home of a nice cathedral and also Novichok, was my local team. They were also riding quite high in the football ladder, sitting in the then Vanarama Premier. Unpaid debts then led to their expulsion from the National League, but they reformed the following season as Salisbury FC (dropping City from the name), and they now play in the Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division South, which is a heck of a mouthful.
Anyway, when I took control of them, we made it all the way to the Championship, where I kept getting cockblocked in my attempts to reach the Premier League every season in the playoffs by the two Welsh teams, who spent the majority of their time alternating between getting promoted then relegated each season, and thusly kept beating me in the playoffs EVERY DAMN SEASON.
Fuck you Cardiff and Swansea.
Bolton Wanderers (England, currently League One)
Yeah we got relegated again in real life.
Do you know why I support Bolton Wanderers, despite hailing from Wiltshire and never having been to Bolton? It’s because I’m a dick. You see, years ago I went to school. as did most children, and one of my friends was a Blackburn Rovers fan. He mentioned that he considered Bolton to be their main rivals, and so I, as a Junior Troll Dickhead In Training, decided that I would support them out of (friendly!) spite. Possibly the earliest form of “MAD BANTZ!” I’ve ever participated in.
Anyway, that banter support ended up turning into genuine support as even when I moved away to Cornwall, I was still interested in how Bolton were doing, and I would cheer for them without it being in spite of someone else, and that’s how I accidentally became a football fan.
I mean I liked football before that anyway, but I just liked the spectacle of it all, I had never supported a specific team up until that point.
In FM19 Bolton news though, I am doing very well, though we have just dipped into the red financially, so maybe Fake Bolton will share the same fate as Real Bolton? Fuckin’ hope not!