How Football Manager changed my life

Written by Harry Butler

January 28, 2009 | 16:44

Tags: #football-manager #management

A few years ago, I had nothing but a casual interest in the coming and goings of the world of football. Sure I'd pay attention when the World Cup or European Championships rolled around every couple of years, but the inevitable seasons of the British Premier League, or even football in general, were about as foreign to me as a healthy snack to a drunkard.

That was until a friend convinced me to try Football Manager 2007, Sports Interactive's masterpiece of management, something which he had to do a great deal of arm bending to accomplish.

In the past I couldn't have given a toss about footballers, thinking they were a bunch of overpaid, over hyped idiots who's job it is to simply run around for 90 minutes. And yet here was a game that centred entirely on tracking individual players form, managing egos to get the best out of players and paying ludicrous amounts of money to secure the services of a greasy teenager.

And I bloody loved it. [break]

In my world of gaming that, for years, had centred around reflex driven first person shooters and split second decision strategy, here was a game that moved at almost tectonic-plate speed in comparison. You could spend quite literally days (and I have) pouring over players stats trying to find that illusive speedy right back with high work rate and stamina or a new wonder kid in waiting, and while you do the game applies absolutely no pressure.

It doesn't hurry you along or speed you towards the next match. If you want to nip off for some food or watch a movie while your playing, Football Manager doesn't mind. It'll sit there patiently, waiting for you to click that "continue" button to progress the passage of time.

And yet, while it can be undemanding, its able to deliver incredible elation. In one of my numerous games I chose to manage Bristol City, earning promotion from League 1 in my first season and then scraping into the FA cup final against Arsenal with a lucky set of draws. I didn't give my team much hope, and set out to play a ludicrously defensive game. Come 85 minutes and the scores are somehow still 0-0, only for my plucky on-loan Striker, Tomas Pekhart, to pop up at the back post and head a bullet of a goal in. 1-0, job done, and I was literally dancing around the room in elation, praising the football gods for my gift of a win.

Of course, chances are these names and competitions don't mean much, or even anything to you, and they once didn't mean anything to me either. But through the gloriously polished world of Football Manager, I've been drawn utterly into the world of football. I read the BBC football pages many times a day to keep up on the gossip, play fantasy football and find myself eagerly awaiting the Premier League scores every week. I've even got tickets to an England game. All thanks to Football Manager.

The game has, quite genuinely, changed my life, and given me a huge appreciation for the beautiful game (much to my fiancé's chagrin) . It's something completely different to the frantic and fast pace of modern games, and even if you've never shown an interest in Football in your life, you should definitely check it out - you never know where it might lead.
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