Football Manager: A Personal Challenge

Recently, at work, I have been sneakily listening to podcasts and music, even though I technically shouldn’t be. The perks of having long hair and a usually positive work ethic I suppose. Anyway, I recently discovered the existence of a new podcast.

https://theathletic.com/podcast/237-the-football-manager-show-by-the-athletic/

It’s hosted by a guy named Iain Macintosh, someone who knows their shit when it comes to both Football Manager (given he has written several books on the subject) AND football in general, and it’s overall a really good listen, so I heartily recommend it.

I’m not here to plug a podcast though, I’m here to talk about the fact it made me want to play Football Manager again, given that I hadn’t for a few months. I’m still on the FM21 version, because I tend to buy every other version of the game, rather than every one, and I’ve sunk a comparitvely small amount of hours into it compared to some people.

Here’s my playtime compared to my most played on Steam!

Still, I’ve been rebitten by the bug, and now I’m well stuck in and can’t get out. Not that I want to!

Initially I was going to take over Bolton, given that it’s the team I support, but Ian Evatt is doing such a good job there IRL that I’d feel bad about deposing him in favour of myself, given that I’ve set my badges to zero and my footballing experience to Sunday League Player, because who doesn’t like a challenge?

Behold my stats and weep

So I decided to do something I’ve not done before, and start off unemployed! I fired up the game with a few leagues active:

  • England: Premier League to National League
  • Denmark: Superliga to 1 Division
  • Germany: Bundesliga to 3 Liga
  • Spain: First and Second Division
  • China: Super League and National First Division
  • South Korea: K League 1 and 2
  • Argentina: Premier Divison (Read Only)
  • Brazil: National First Division (Read Only)

There were 24 teams with vacant positions, and I applied for them all! Teams as varied as Wigan, Colchester, Australia Under 19’s, Hebei FC, and Arminia Bielefeld. I was rejected by most of them (understandable, look at my terrible stats!), but two teams at least offered an interview!

Wealdstone are apprehensive as I am unproven in the task of guiding teams out of relegation (and rather diplomatically not saying “unproven in fucking anything”), whereas NMG Hohhot see me ideal “due to the club’s scaled-back vision for the future.” The fact that the real life club was disqualified from the 2021 season (along with 5 other clubs!) due to financial difficulties, and thusly dissolved, is not a concern for me.

Of course, as soon as I leave my Wealdstone interview, the filthy jackals that are the media are immediately waiting for me!

One foot out the door and already they circle!

I tell them that I would be interested in the role, of course, why would I be there if I wasn’t? Gotta claw my way into management somehow! And lo and behold:

Shock!

Hohhot offer me the job! Naturally I ask for a delay of a week in my decision, to see if Wealdstone get back to me, but honestly the promise of a £62,000+ wage budget vs Wealdstone’s sub-£9k is a tempting lure! While waiting however, Dover get back to me!

They took their sweet time getting back to me

The interview starts with the chairman shading their former manager:

“he was shit, tell us if you will be” uh sure

The next day, Wealdstone also decide they want my “talents” and so now I have a decision to make. Ruislip, or Inner Mongolia? Hohhot have a particular ask of their managers, however:

Just goalie!

They have a policy of signing youth players, probably looking to build for the future. A good aim, that’s something I tend towards in Football Manager in general, signing youth, developing them, having them lead us to glory, then I sell them when they’re at their highest value! But the “cannot sign non-Chinese goalkeepers” amuses me, as they place such a strong emphasis on that, more than the youth policy!

In the end, Dover hire Steve Claridge (the manager of Salisbury FC, my old hometown team before I moved to Cardiff), so I went with Wealdstone.

The first step of many!

We’re in the same division, Dover and I. We play them on the 2nd of January, well into the season. I can’t wait to show them what they missed out on!

And here’s where the media think we’ll finish, out of 23 teams:

19th is where I am now! Because the pre-season table is alphabetically arranged

And as a quick send-off, here’s what the club wants from me, long-term:

A realistic vision!

Who knows, perhaps I can exceed these expectations! Prove EVERYONE wrong!

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