I’m 32-years-old this year. I should have stopped playing Football Manager by now. It’s really time to grow up, isn’t it? And yet when my birthday comes around, I know what I want my girlfriend to get me…
For those of you who don’t know, Football Manager (formerly Championship Manager) is a management simulation game whereby you get the chance to live out your dream of becoming a football manager, the boss of any club, anywhere. You sign players, try to coax money out of your stingy chairman and attempt to win trophies. To the naked eye, the game looks pretty shit – a series of screens with numbers on, and some match day graphics that wouldn’t look out of place on a Spectrum. But by God this game is good. In fact, this game is BEYOND GOOD. This is the greatest of all games. It’s a legal addiction that doesn’t give you lung cancer or ruin your liver and it’s yours for a one-off payment of thirty quid. It’s heaven on a laptop.
I have had some tremendous games on Football Manager. I guided Dutch club Go Ahead Eagles to Champions League glory. I turned Leyton Orient into a Premier League and European force. I’ve won the World Cup with England. And I’ve led non-league Bishop’s Stortford to an FA Cup double.
But for all this game’s qualities, it is actually incredibly dangerous. It’s a danger to your relationship – married couples have sought divorce as a result of Football Manager. It’s a danger to your job – you can now get Football Manager on your iphone and play it in the bogs for hours on end when you should be filing that report. It’s a danger to your social life. It’s a Friday night for God’s sake! Go out and meet your mates, stop trying to sign that fictional Italian with a goal-to-games ratio so good that it makes you orgasm at the very thought of him joining your club.
It’s truly the most addictive thing I have ever experienced. I think about my current game ALL THE TIME – how I am going to transform my side from a top six outfit into Champions League regulars? Is my chairman going to sell any more of my team without consulting me? When will he build me a new stadium? It’s all encapsulating, pure fantasy, premium entertainment, and its appeal is worldwide – you can take over Manchester United and try to emulate Sir Alex Ferguson, or if you’ve got a hankering for some Chliean second division action – then that’s fine too.
I grew up on Football Manager. It was a hugely important part of my childhood and something I will always remember. Friends who played it then still play it now. It’s better than ever too.
I recently promised myself that once I finished my latest game that would be it. I wouldn’t buy the next edition and I would retire from fictional football management forever. I’m currently in my 15th season. Apparently it only goes on for thirty seasons and then that’s it. A lifetime of football ends. It will be a sad day should I stick to my promise. And it’s not too far off either.
So in essence I suppose Football Manager doesn’t hack me off. Not the addictiveness, not the cold-hearted chairmen, nothing at all. It’s actually my impending retirement that’s wound me up. Perhaps age is no barrier after all? Perhaps there is yet more joy to be had out of clicking through identikit excel spreadsheets? Fergie retired once and he was allowed to change his mind. He’s still going strong and I’m half his age.
So what do you say honey? Want to buy me the new FM for my birthday?!? PLEASE?