An Intro to a Football Manager Blog – Part 2: Stop Acting like a Child and Grow Up

I continued playing Football Manager on and off in the years following my graduation from the University of Sunderland, the receiving of my BA in Journalism postponed after my flatmate and I were burgled a couple of months before the due date for our final major project.

With our laptops stolen and without being backed up, we had to go back to the drawing board to start our final project again, adding on an extra six months which meant that we graduated separately from the rest of our classmates, not collecting our official degree until late December 2008.

By this time, any notion that I had prior to attending university of being a professional sports journalist, coupled with my two biggest passions – football and writing, which essentially the main reasons why I had gone into further education in the first place – had been kicked out of me from an educational institution that prided itself on churning out a conveyor belt of endless bodies who were qualified to work for the local press, which in this instance was the Sunderland Echo.

My local Metro stop was the ‘Stadium of Light’, which was where my university campus was based. But, I never actually went to see Sunderland play (although I did make the trip to St. James Park to see Newcastle United vs. Middlesbrough, my hometown club, in a match that was billed as the biggest between the two for over 20 years).

And not that there’s anything wrong with either the Sunderland Echo or a career in the local press. Far from it.

But because I had graduated around the time of the 2008 recession, it was difficult to get any meaningful skilled job from an entry level perspective. Furthermore, the University of Sunderland had exceeded beyond belief in two confidence-crushing aspects; not only had they failed to provide an adequate framework in which young adults could explain their thoughts and ambitions to their superiors that may result in something approaching gentle support, their education was also aimed at making sure that any originality or flamboyancy linked to creative writing and journalism was ripped out of you.

By the time I left university I didn’t want to be a football writer or soccer journalist anymore, although in all honesty I had no idea how I would go about such a thing anyway, such was the absence of career guidance councilors that may help us create our own path in a world that was about to enter into a recession.

On top of the fact that 2008 was also a time in which media conglomerates were making staff redundancies to keep their bottom lines intact, it was something that they glossed over during my three-plus years of education. As such I went full-time in the hospitality sector, working 60-70 hours a week over two jobs so I could start to save money and travel the world, hoping that I forge my career in writing and journalism down a path less travelled.

I was still playing Football Manager at this point, but after a short eight month trip to Australia in 2009, I returned to the UK and moved to Edinburgh at the end of 2010 to pursue a professional career in bartending, eventually realizing that all my time spent working part-time Saturday jobs was going to count for something that my education failed to set me up for.

Taking my career seriously meant that I had less time for video games at home, and I didn’t pick up Football Manager again until I downloaded the FM Mobile version around 2012, which proved especially handy when I was on the move.

When you try and explain to someone that Football Manager Mobile is actually like playing the original Championship Manager 1997/98.

By the time I moved down to London in the middle of 2012, it was my main source of soccer management simulation. My love for the game was slowly returning, especially after a period in the game which included enormous wage rises and and even bigger transfer fees, as well as a lot of media coverage in which footballers were in court, in the press or heavily affiliated with allegations of lewd sexual acts and the seductive power that comes being a privileged millionaire athlete in the 21st century.

I turned blind eye to most of these stories but delved back into the football management side of the game, finding it easier to get to grips with and once again updating to the new version of the game every year.

This love affair with FM Mobile continued through 2010s as I moved to New York (2014), met my future wife (2015), got married (2017) and eventually moved down to Miami (2018).

FM Mobile kept me cosy during those cold winter nights in New York, and it was comfortable to be able to dip in and out of the game a rifle through a bunch of seasons in just a couple of hours. But by the time I arrived in Miami, I was looking to expand my Football Manager experiences beyond me myself and I.

After getting back into actual football in Miami, playing six-aside during my free time in the view hope at being able to recapture my teenage athleticism and prolong the inevitable agony of getting older (I have recently just turned 34), I suffered a ACL/meniscus tear in my left knee on New Year’s Eve 2019, which was swiftly followed by a 10 hour shift at work, all of which was spent standing up in absolute agony.

A nice stock image of some surgeons performing knee surgery. Once they had performed routines which may or may not have looked like this, my knee was the size of a melon. Which wasn’t saying much, as it had been swollen for about seven weeks before I had my surgery towards the end of February 2020.

With the proposition of surgery and probably a 10-12 month lay-off, as well as a recovery period from work in which I would be off for a minimum of four to six weeks, I decided that I wanted to start a Football Manager blog, telling anyone who would care about the trials and tribulations of fictional football management.

Instead of just playing the game for the sake of playing the game, I wanted to create something worthwhile that I could share, mainly so I had the feeling that I was doing something productive and not just wasting my 30s playing a video game that first came across 25 years ago.

However, buying the ‘full fat’ version of the game to run on my laptop was never going be an option, unless I wanted to stay at home, give up my job and enter swift divorce proceedings with my wife. The time it takewould getting to grips with the game again, only to realize that the complexities of the game have changed drastically, would have meant my life would have been eaten alive. This would actually would be a fucking dream, assuming of course that I was between the ages of 11-18, which I am not; I’m a gross ass man with a marriage, two dogs and a mortgage

And so after wondering what the ‘Touch’ version of FM was all about, I bit the bullet and said goodbye to the Mobile version, acknowledging the fact that my football manager realism factor just got dialed up all the way to 11, and that the data and statistics I could gleam from this more in depth version of the game would serve the purpose better in terms of creating content that your average FM fan might be fan of.

And so here we are. The perpetual struggle on having ‘Just One More Game’ is a content battle, the urge to just shoot through another half season sometimes so overwhelming that, well, it’s difficult to put the actual iPad down and walk away from it.

In its simplest form, is just an online blog in which one FM rambles on about his saves and ideas. Nothing more than a tool to charter his progress so that he actually spends less time playing and more time doing something constructive, the site exists so that other FM fans can read and share their own stories, their own tactics and insights, in a community that’s as weird and obsessive as those who play World of Warcraft.

I guess it seems fitting that after failing to play football professionally because I was too lazy to turn up to matches past the age of 16, coupled with the fact that I had a journalism degree that has never really seen the light of day, the idea of a video game soccer management blog chartering my progress through the eyes of an avatar brings together two thing that I dear love but failed to be any good at.

As it is, is a window on the world of one mans journey into creating multiple storylines with different characters within an alternative timeline in a parallel soccer universe. And hopefully, its a window in which you guys will enjoy looking into from time to time.

Literally a Window on the World

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