Hello, and welcome to Football Manager Ambition.
Really? Another Football Manager blog?
Well, yeah, but this one is going to be good to read. So buckle up, you can be reading these blog posts while your FM game is saving, can't you?
I've been a fan - and addict - of Football Manager since the 97-98 version, when it was still called Championship Manager. Now, some of the younger players of the game might be wondering what I'm talking about, after all Championship Manager is a completely different (and inferior) game to football manager, innit? Well, yeah, it is these days, but back then when dinosaurs roamed the earth, and computer games were running on something called DOS, there was only one of them. Much later, the brand split, with Championship Manager going one way, and Football Manager going another. I think most gamers agree that the spirit of the brand actually went along and grew with Football Manager.
Anyway, for long-time addicts like myself, Championship Manager 97-98 is still legendary. And we still fondly remember spending £50,000 on Bjorn Heidenstrom, possibly the greatest midfielder to grace that version of the game. Don't get me started on Ibrahim Bakayoko...
So, twenty years later, with my retirement just visible on the far horizon, and more grey hairs appearing every day, here I am still an addict, still playing football manager daily. What is it about this game that keeps me coming back?
I guess psychologists would talk about a reward feedback system from winning matches on the game, a bit like the endorphin rush some people get from "likes' on Facebook, or retweets on Twitter. For me, there's also the constant intellectual challenge of trying to outwit the game, along with some other stuff I'll talk about shortly.
One important aspect of playing FM, for me, is a genuine sense of enjoying myself. And when you enjoy doing something, there's usually a backstory behind it - why do you enjoy it? When I was a younger man, and my son was still at junior school, computer games used to come on cassette tapes. You'd load the games onto games consoles which are now so obsolete they'd leave today's kids rolling around laughing. Me and my lad had a couple of these old cassette games based on football management.
One was called Final Whistle, the other was called Tracksuit Manager. They look a bit basic now, to say the least, but back then I used to sit at the games console with my lad, and we'd play together, and we bonded over football games almost as much as we bonded going to Hillsborough to watch our beloved Sheffield Wednesday Football Club, or playing football together in the park.
When my lad was a bit older, he introduced me to Championship Manager 97-98, and soon I was hooked. He was a teenager at this point, and we both led busy lives, but we'd still find time to play the game together. And that progressed through every incarnation of the game, even after the brand split into two, and we followed Football Manager. Now he's all grown up, left home, settled in his own place, and living a great life. We're still close, but we don't get to play computer games together. But I still get my laptop out and play, and when I do... I get a feeling somewhere that puts me in mind of when my lad was younger, and we spent so many special hours together, watching football, playing football... and playing football manager.
I've got to a stage where I'm good at this game. I get a lot of success with it. I'm not one of the techno-geeks, who professes to know how the game works "under the hood". In fact, the way I play the game would probably have the more technically savvy-minded gamers laughing in despair. But hey, it works for me.
I'm currently playing FM18, even though my thoughts are already turning to whatever FM19 will look like later in the year. I'm in season 2025/26. It's March, 30 games played, and I've got SWFC sitting 3 points clear of Arsenal at the top of the Premier League. I've already won the League Cup, but got knocked out of the FA Cup in an unexpected and humiliating 3-0 tonking from Spurs. But I've got a juicy Champions League quarter-final against PSG coming up shortly. Can I make it to the final and retain - yes, RETAIN - the Champions League?
As this blog goes on and grows, and I discuss and dissect various aspects of Football Manager, I'll also give a few progress reports on my SWFC save, and share what I'm learning.
Next time, I'm going to be talking about player positions and roles on the game, the "role-playing" aspect, and how it relates to real life football. But for now, thanks for stopping by for this quick introduction, and I hope to see you soon.