Jake – My History

Turf Moor, The Home Of My Burnley Side
Turf Moor, The Home Of My Burnley Side

Supports: Leeds United

Clubs Managed 

FM11 – Rotherham United, Southend United, Liverpool, Barcelona

FM12 – FC Halifax Town, Burnley, Swindon, Man Utd

FM13 -Rangers

FM14 – Anderlecht, Cagliari

Major Trophies

3 x Premier League

1 x Primera División

2 x Jupiler Pro League

1 X Club World Cup

1 x European Super Cup

2 x FA Cup

4 x League Cup

1 x Russian Cup

3 x Sky Bet Championship

5 x Sky Bet League 1

2 x Sky Bet League 2

2 x Johnstone’s Paint Trophies

1 x Blue Square Bet Premier

1 x FA Trophy

3 x Blue Square Bet North/South

Preferred Formation

Now I will get a lot of stick for saying this but I favour a 4-4-2. I have looked at trying other formations such as 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3, even once played a very attacking 3-4-3, but I always end up going back to the 4-4-2 system. I think this is because I like my teams to score goals. Lots of goals, and in my own eyes I can only see my teams doing this by having two strikers up top. People can then say “but why not 3-5-2/5-3-2 so you can then gain an advantage in the middle?” It’s because I also want to have wingers at the club that have no real defensive duties. Fundamentally I do get more success from playing this so called out of date formation.

With the 4-4-2 formation I like to attack teams. As this is football you want goals, however this does come at the expense of conceding a lot of goals and my friends then go on to compare me to Kevin Keegan. I like playing with width, basically ending up playing a 2-4-4 with the ball. In the centre of the pitch I have two Ball-Playing Defenders, a Ball Winning Midfielder and normally either an Advanced or Deep-Lying Playmaker.

How Do I Play

Normally like to start unemployed with little/no reputation.

Favourite Club

For me the greatest careers I had were both on FM12. I started one season in League 2 with Swindon and got them to the Premier League in 7 seasons. Sadly this included 4 years in the Championship without really doing anything. I then got relegated in my first season in the Premier League, however we dominated the Championship the following season. I then got a job offer to take over at Manchester United. As a Leeds United fan part of me was saying ‘No I can’t go there’ but if I wasn’t going to give it a go then, I never was. Now I only had 2 complete seasons and 5 games of this save, as I got fed up destroying everyone with Manchester United. This included going 63 games undefeated in the league, as well as giving me my worst moment in Football Manager. But I will talk about that later.

So with looking to move on from that club, I started a New Game and took over FC Halifax Town, in the Blue Square Bet Premier Division. Promotion to the Football League took 3 seasons and our start in League 2 was fantastic, being in the top 6 after 11 games. My big chance then came; I was offered the Leeds United job. We lost in the play-offs. The following season the board demanded that we win the league and after 20 odd games we were 3rd, 11 points off top. I was sacked. Heartbroken, I was there looking for a job knowing I had more to give to a team if given a chance, and that chance came in the form of Burnley. I took over with them in mid-table, a slight chance of the play-offs but it didn’t look likely. We finished 14th.

An overhaul of the squad took place the following summer, so that it would allow me to get rid of what were supposed to be top players. As these players had a high value price to them, I sold them, and signed two future legends of the club. Yiadom Boakye was signed on a free and all my transfer budget was put into signing Serbian U21 central midfielder Boban Krcmarevic for £4.2m. With these two running the club promotion was easy, winning the league in our first season. Whilst this was our first season in the Premier League, Leeds were in their 2nd season in the top flight after going up in the play-offs the year they sacked me. My aim was to either stay up or at least be above them. The season ended on a very sad note. On the last day of the season we just missed out on a European place, drawing 0-0 at home versus West Ham. A win would have done it for us. A win would have given us a Europa League spot. Boakye and his teammates were fantastic that season and played out of their skins, just missing out on Europe. Not put off by that season, we strengthened and made our first big money signing of Ramon Parra from Barcelona for £17million.The Spaniard gave us what we needed out wide with pace and had fantastic crossing ability. We went on to have a fantastic season and somehow improved on the previous campaign finishing 4th to take Burnley into the Champions League. We only made it as far as the Last 16 before losing to Lyon but another good season in the league saw us finish 5th and make it into the Europa League. Sadly halfway through this season is where my Burnley story ended as FM13 was then released. But I will always have that save. 1 Championship title, 1 FA Cup win, 2 League Cup wins, and a fantastic chance to play in the Champions League. Meanwhile Leeds got relegated back to the Championship, if only they had stuck with me.

Best Moment

My best moment on Football Manager could be one of three things. Either the whole Burnley experience, going 63 League games unbeaten with Manchester United or another of my greatest saves which could have gone on to surpass that of the Burnley save was my Anderlecht career on FM14. I took over after impressing the Belgian club with my performances at Blackburn, without being too spectacular. During my time with the Brussels club I managed to win the Belgian Pro League in both of my seasons there, but this was not my greatest moment. This came in the Champions League where we managed to finish 2nd in our group which included Real Madrid, Liverpool and Molde. After somehow getting that second spot, we then faced the previous year’s finalists Borussia Dortmund, beating them on away goals 3-3 after Orhan Soylemez scored in the 120th minute. We then faced Marseille in the quarter-finals. The first leg was played in France and I was scared. Never had I won in France, never had I even drawn a game. But it was this moment where we drew 1-1, to my slight annoyance as I am still yet to win a game on French soil, which will haunt me forever on FM (I will explain more in my Worst Moment). With the score at 1-1 we came back to Belgium and we destroyed them winning 4-1 leading us to face Manchester City in the semi final. Sadly we got beaten and crashed out of the competition. Then halfway through pre-season the game refused to load again. RIP Anderlecht of FM14.

Worst Moment

It was Manchester United. It was Football Manager 2012. It was the Champions League Final of the 2021/22 season. We had just won the Premier League with the record of P38 W34 D4 L0 GF113 GA15 Pts 106. We had won the FA Cup and the League Cup. We played Arsenal in the final having beaten them home and away in the League. I was confident. We lost 5-3. Five. Three. FIVE-THREE! We had not lost to a single English side all season in all competitions, 15 goals conceded in the league and we go on to concede 5 times in a Champions League Final… I look at where the final was played. It was the Stade de France… How I hate France on FM.

How did I get into FM

The first Football Manager I played was actually Championship Manager back in 1999/00 season. It was great just having the text flashing up along the bottom, having it on the fastest speed so you could hardly see what was happening then suddenly, goal. Moments staring at the screen, not saying a single word, as any word said or a movement that caused noise equalled goal for your opponents. This was my first time I had played the game, this is where my childhood was spent, and it was fantastic.

Top 5 players

A special mention here for the goalkeeper Andy Marshall on CM 99/00 who I always used to sign wherever I was at, as he was a fantastic keeper for whatever reason.

#5 Ramon Parra (Burnley FM12)

Ramon, signed from Barca at age 22 for £17million, the first big money transfer I made. I felt it might have been too much at the time, but he gave us a constant threat down the left and was always up there on the assists boards and one of our greatest creative sparks in the side.

#4 Michele Di Bari (Manchester United FM12)

This guy, I spotted when I was previously at Swindon, he was at Empoli. I never could afford him. The when I joined Manchester United he was my first signing. I signed him for £70million. He went on to play 54 league games scoring 50 goals for the club, 86 games played in all competitions scoring 85 goals. Di Bari was a goal scoring machine.

#3 Boban Krcmarevic (Burnley FM12)

The spine of my Burnley side. His passing stat was 20, an ultimate metronome player.

#2 Branquinho (Liverpool FM11)

Sadly I have removed FM11 from my Steam account so could not look at his stats or his record but it took me 5 seasons to win the Premier League with him as my main striker. He scored so many goals, and then followed me to Barcelona where we won La Liga.

#1 Yiadom Boakye (Burnley FM12)

Burnley Club Captain and Goal Scorer in Chief. 265 appearances in all competitions scoring 179 goals. Signed on a free from Juventus.

Advertisements

Kris – My History

Thanks To FM One Of My Favourite Teams
Thanks To FM One Of My Favourite Teams

Supports: Crystal Palace

Clubs managed: Football Manager 2008: Crystal Palace, Kettering Town, Tottenham Hotspur Football Manager 2012: Burnley, Real Madrid, Wimbledon Football Manager 2013: Nottingham Forest, Southampton Football Manager 2014: Crystal Palace, Fiorentina

Major trophies:  None.

Preferred Formation: 4 -5-1 with a holding midfielder and attacking wingers; 4-4-2 narrow diamond. It often depends on my opposition; normally I would go all-out attack and play 4-4-2, but when playing teams such as Juventus or Manchester City, the extra midfielder and width offered by my 4-5-1 allows me to man-mark their attacking midfielders and wingers much more conveniently, and without upsetting the shape of the team.

Playing style: Start at an English club in one of the top two divisions (normally Championship) with a national reputation and see where things go from there. Play style wise, I always play attacking, possession football with direct, penetrating elements in the final third. I try to play through the middle, or break with pace down the wings depending on opposition strength. Always play attacking full backs.

Favourite club:  Fiorentina Crystal Palace in real life, Fiorentina on the game. I have read many posts on forums talking about how difficult it is to manage the Viola, and how they can’t seem to find a formation that clicks. Initially, neither could I; I wasn’t conceding much and always created a load of clear cut chances, but the finishing wasn’t there. A switch to a 4-4-2 narrow diamond worked a treat; I was able to get both Mario Gomez and Luciano Vietto scoring and Sofiane Feghouli was moved to the tip of the diamond from a wide right position and he really flourished. It also allowed my full-backs, in particular Mauricio Isla, to bomb forward and chip in with goals. Once I’d cracked the nut I felt a connection with the club the likes of which I have only felt with Palace, and every dropped point from then on felt like a dagger to the heart.

Past Experiences Of The Game   At Crystal Palace on FM08 I finished my first and only season in 8th place in the Championship. I took a break away from the game and returned to it for Football Manager 2012. After two seasons at then-conference side AFC Wimbledon and the disappointment of failing to gain promotion to the Football League via the playoffs, I began two new experimental files. The first was at Real Madrid, where I used my transfer budget and money from player sales to build my ultimate sentimental XI. Unfortunately, the likes of Roman Pavlyuchenko, Semih Senturk and Denis Kolodin failed to perform and I was sacked mid-way through the season. The second was at Burnley, where I aimed to gain promotion to the Premier League only using players I had signed on free transfers. Jeremie Aliadiere proved to be an inspired signing, scoring 27 goals in a season that saw us fall just short in 8th. The 2013 edition saw me score my first achievement as I won automatic promotion in my first season with Nottingham Forest with a 2nd place finish. Omar Bravo proved to be an immense signing at that level, scoring 25 times. Tom Hateley was a revelation when called upon at right back or right midfield, and Asier del Horno and Cristiano Zanetti were shrewd pickups on free transfers. The next season, my joy turned quickly into disdain, being relegated on the last day of the season. This also marked my first sacking as a manager. I made a quick return to management with Southampton, saving them from relegation from the Premier League. Before I had a chance to build my legacy, Football Manager 2014 was released. I decided, as Crystal Palace were a Premier League side once again, that I would try and keep them in the division as a challenge. A victory over West Brom secured an historic 7th place finish and Europa League qualification on the final day. The next season, I finished in 11th place, but the squad was in much better shape and things were coming together. University took over my life and I took a hiatus. My most recent job was as part of a network game. The game was at the dawn of its third season when I entered the fray as the new boss of Fiorentina. I quickly went about freshening up the squad and my reward was a 5th place finish, having lost players to injury and form in the final stretch and dropping from 3rd. Football Manager is possibly one of the greatest games on the planet. No other game has such intense attention to detail that it can have such real life implications as being used as a scouting database for real-life football clubs. It’s so engrossing; it takes someone with a strong mind not to want to burn valuable hours scouting the next wonderkid or winning obscure divisions in Europe and beyond. Sure, FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer have the playability factor, but both titles feel so empty and heartless. I have seen myself become a fan of Fiorentina just because I managed them on Football Manager, such is the level of enjoyability, addictiveness and pleasure I get from playing this game. I may not have as expansive a CV as the other writers on this site, but I intend to keep you up to date whenever I get the chance to spend some time with one of my favourite games.

Best Moment: Coming from 4-1 down to register a 5-4 win away at Norwich with Crystal Palace, FM14. I brought on Ivan Klasnic, who proceeded to serve justice with four goals in the last 20 minutes of the game.

Worst Moment: Despite having a 14-0 loss to my name (I talk about this later), nothing is worse than getting relegated immediately after a promotion. Finishing 19th with Forest on FM13 after all my hard work therefore ranks higher.

How I Got Into FM: My first run in with Football Manager was in 2009, where I picked up a copy of Football Manager 2008 on a school trip in Llandudno. I didn’t have a particularly good initial run; after spending my entire transfer budget on Nihat Kahveci at Tottenham Hotspur, he immediately dislocated his arm. I left the club after 3 games after the board refused to give me more transfer funds. I started a new file at Kettering. Things went off to a great start; I won my first pre-season match and signed Maruoane Fellaini on loan to bolster my midfield options. I resigned from the position after suffering an embarrassing 14-0 lost to Morton in my next game.

Top 5 Players:

5) Marco Van Ginkel, Fiorentina, FM14

The Dutch midfielder that has spent much of his club career looking from the outside in, he became an ever-present force in my Viola midfield when I signed him on loan from Chelsea. His outstanding levels of fitness meant he could play in every single game he was available, and his tenacity and creativity allowed me to play the dominant brand of football I became renowned for. He takes time to become a natural in the M(C) position (he starts out as accomplished), but once he does his value skyrockets. I have signed him on loan again, as Chelsea still deem him surplus to requirements. Their loss is my gain.

4) Tom Hateley, Nottingham Forest, FM13

A cracking talent I picked up for 350K after I realised I needed a right-back with more attacking quality than Greg Halford. He has solid pace and mental stats, but he was an excellent crosser of the ball and a very accomplished set piece taker, having 16 for all crossing, corners and free kicks. He ended the season with double figures for goals and assists. From right-back.

3) Ivan Klasnic, Crystal Palace, FM14

I picked him up on a free transfer as back up to my main strikers: Chamakh and Denis Straqalursi with Dwight Gayle not being ready to make a push for a start, so I used him as a super sub to bring on when I needed a goal. With 17 finishing, he proved to be a huge asset and ended the season as my top scorer with 14, a mighty return for a substitute player. I re-signed him for a second season to compliment my European efforts, and he became a coach at the end of that season.

2) Dan Gosling, Newcastle, FM12

Newcastle was a team I managed for a short while on a network game. I did quite well for myself there, but the injuries I had to deal with were just horrendous. Enter Dan Gosling. Over the course of the game, he made the most appearances for my side, as others faded or picked up injuries. He played on both wings, full back, centre mid, attacking mid, even centre back; basically wherever I didn’t have a player available, he played, and he always played incredibly well. A club hero.

1) Omar Bravo, Nottingham Forest, FM13

What can I say about this guy. It was a real struggle to sign him from Cruz Azul as his club held out for a hefty £4m fee. Eventually, Bravo himself demanded the move, and I picked him up for 400K in what will go down as the greatest signing I have ever made. It took him a little time to get going, but once he did, his pace and finishing became too much for Championship defences to handle, and our form spiked. He managed to keep pace in the Premier League, scoring 10 goals in our relegation campaign. He is the sole reason I ever got promotion, and I will forever be grateful for his services.

Interesting segue: I told a friend of mine about what I had achieved with Nottingham Forest, and he went on to sign all the players I signed and also finished 2nd in his first season. He stayed in the Premier League the following season after discovering a formation that got the best out of Radoslaw Majewski, who he went on to sell for an eight-figure sum.

Tom – My History

marto_682x400_826186a
Me taking over at Wigan on FM11

Supports: Manchester United

Clubs Managed: Manchester United FM08, Wigan Athletic FM11,

Malaga FM11, Newcastle United FM12, Southampton FM12, Fulham FM12, West Bromwich Albion FM13, Southampton FM13, Nottingham Forest FM14, Napoli FM14, AC Milan FM14, Inter Milan FM14

Major Trophies 

I can’t remember the exact figures, but below are the trophies I’ve won and how many times I’ve won it.

30+ Premier League titles

10+ League Cups

10+ FA Cups

8 UEFA Champions League titles

1 UEFA Europa League

6 FIFA Club World Cups

2 Serie A

2 Coppa Italia

1 Championship Promotion (Southampton FM12)

1 Championship Playoff Final win (Nottingham Forest FM14)

I could of won more trophies in other countries, but I just get comfortable I and like spending so many years/seasons at one club

Preferred Formation 

At first when I take over a team or start a new career I adopt a tactic to fit the players that I have at my disposal at that current time. However in the grand scheme theme of things I always get my players learning my philosophy. I usually play an attacking 4-2-3-1/4-3-3/4-2-4 formation, very fluid, very creative, always looking to score goals. I look to play with a mix of strong, commanding central midfielders, explosive strikers and quick skilful wingers. Its all about the technique with players for me, I’m very ‘Dutch School’ when it comes to my tactics. To quote Brian Clough, “Football is a beautiful game, it needs to played beautifully”. I adopt this style every time I play Football Manager.

Favourite Club 

My favourite club that I’ve ever managed on Football Manager is Wigan Athletic. My achievements with Wigan are legend and my mates will probably tell you how much I bang on about it. The football season at the time was 2010/11 and at the time I had a soft spot for Wigan Athletic, I don’t know why. I think maybe it was because I liked their manager Roberto Martinez and I also kind of admired them for being completely rubbish but still managing to stay in the Premier League every season. Also they actually attempted to play football despite being favourites for relegation every season.

Anyway, after messing around and getting a feel for the game I decided to start a save with Wigan Athletic. What I always do on Football Manager is instead of being myself as the manager, I always go under the alias of the manager of the club I’m managing. Don’t know why. I guess being 17 at the time, 1993 wasn’t available as a birth year on the game when creating a manager. So I started as ‘Roberto Martinez’.

The target with Wigan was to turn them into one of English football’s greatest clubs. For the first couple of seasons I didn’t really set high standards, just survival in the premier league. Being a premier league club you do get a favourable transfer budget. One thing I’ve always prided myself on in Football Manager games is my ability to find absolute gems for cheap prices. In these first couple of years Hugo Rodallega was fantastic for me, scoring 15+ every season. After selling players like N’Zogbia, my first big signing was Axel Witsel for 10 million pounds. I also bought a Mexican left-winger called Miguel Layun from Club America; I got him for 2 million. A bargain. We were slowly progressing as a club. Then in 2015 I won my first trophy, the Carling Cup.

We were quite fortunate as lots of big Premier League teams were knocked out in the earlier rounds. This left me with a nice easy run in. I can’t remember who we beat in the final. Anyway this put the mighty Wigan Athletic into Europe.  In the 2015/16-season summer transfer window I signed some legendary players. I signed an Australian Centre back from Hearts called Ryan McGowan, a solid player. I looked at his personal information and discovered he had a brother, Dylan, so I signed him up as well. They did fantastic for me. The combination of bargain buys, the odd big transfer (Axel Witsel) and the odd free transfer helped me build my team, such as  Alex Smithies who was my goalkeeper.

Amazingly with a bit of good fortune we won the 2016 Europa league, beating Inter Milan in the final 2-1, Rodallega with the winner. We then went from Strength to Strength. We won our first Premier league title in 2020; we then went onto win 7 more throughout the 20’s. By this stage I had the money to go out and buy the worlds best. My greatest ever signing in the history of all the Football Manager games I’ve played was an Argentine striker called Ramiro Solari. He was at Real Madrid Castilla when I paid 10 million for him. By the end of his Wigan Athletic career he had scored well over 300 goals for the club.

Solari's best record
Solari’s Best Season

The above screenshot shows Solari’s total for his best goal-scoring season, 73 goals with 26 in Europe. Solari was the complete striker. He could pretty much do everything.

I had achieved my goal, was I bored of all the success? No not at all, Ramiro Solari scoring all of these goals was theatre to me. I eventually left Wigan in 2036 to manage the Spanish national team and then went onto to manage Malaga where I signed a 36 year old Solari. I didn’t achieve anything with Malaga. But in 2045 I noticed the Wigan Job was available again so I took it, all my old players and staff were still there. It was a magic moment. So there you are Wigan Athletic, up there with the Real Madrid’s & Bayern Munich’s of this world. I’ll always have a soft spot for Wigan Athletic and I’ll always want them to do well. I went mad when they won the FA Cup in 2013.

You can check out some videos from the legendary Wigan Athletic career here 🙂

https://www.youtube.com/user/Hittheroadjack1000/videos

Best Moment 

Football Manager is special. I get a little buzz in the morning because it means playing FM for an hour or two before actually doing proper things like work. So many memories of the Wigan Career in FM11, the moment when going back to manage my beloved Wigan for the second time on the same save was a magic moment. All my friends were playing FM round my house when this happened. We called these ‘FM days’, where we would all sit round a room with our laptops playing FM.  Great moments for me are the goals, the players and the stories. Ultimately the ‘Alternative reality’ element gets me every time.

Worst Moment

Resigning and leaving the incredible Wigan save on FM11, I resigned in 2055 as there were no real players left in the game, most regens had even gone on to be coaches and then retired. I left the career sometime in August 2011.

How did I get into FM

FM08 was the first FM I played, my cousin used to play Championship Manager a lot and he was always telling me how great these games were. So I decided to buy a Football Manager game, it was around November 2007. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing when I first started playing it. I started with Manchester United as I’m a Man United fan. I still remember the first goal going in, watching my team score with me as the manager had some kind of effect on me. I suddenly had something to do when I came home from school. I’ve been playing Football Manager ever since.

How I Play 

I like to manage middle of the range Premier League/Championship clubs and forge long careers, eventually creating a footballing dynasty at these clubs in my own style. I just love seeing football clubs develop and get stronger. One of my favourite things to do is to develop my players who are aged 30+ into coaches and then bring them in as staff. My friends will probably tell you I prefer signing staff members to players.

Top 5 Players/Staff

5) Ryan McGowan FM11, I signed this Australian Centre back from Hearts for a very cheap fee, 500k or something like that. He was solid for my Wigan team and he held his own when I could of gone out and bought any other centre half for big money. The magic moment though was when I signed his brother, Dylan McGowan. Dylan wasn’t as good but he was a good backup player. It was hilarious whenever the two of them played together.

4) Gary Caldwell FM11, Gary was the captain and heartbeat of the Wigan side in the early pat of my Wigan save. I still remember him scoring an equalizer at Old Trafford, which put us well on our way to winning our first title in 2020. Gary retired before all of the big successes in the Wigan career. I didn’t want to lose him, so I offered him the Assistant Managers job and he stayed with me until the very end.

3) Luke Shaw FM13, In my Southampton save on FM13 he was my stalwart, I kept all of the homegrown Southampton players on that save. By the time I left the save, Luke Shaw had well over 100 England caps and 600+ appearances for Southampton.

2) Christian Grindheim, numerous FM saves, On football manager games he was always very cheap but solid. He was a colossal figure in midfield for many of my teams. On FM I usually have the faces/graphics for most leagues on the game, Grindheim’s face was so funny to look at, he didn’t look like a footballer. He looked like a wrestler.

The man that is Grindheim
The Man That Is Grindheim

1) Ramiro Solari, I have already gone into detail about this quite incredible regen. I really didn’t expect him to be so good. I wished I had kept screenshots of his face and all of this statistics; they have gone missing from my laptop over the last three years. It’s a shame this Argentine will never be real. After thinking about it, I definitely will purchase a Wigan shirt with the name Solari number 10 printed on the back.

James – My History

The flag of my Hodd boys
The flag of my Hodd boys

Supports: Macclesfield Town

Clubs Managed: Welling United FM 11, Newcastle United FM 12, Redditch United FM 08, Brann, FM 08, IL Hodd FM 11, Asane Fotbol FM 14, Boca Juniors FM 12 , Standard Liege FM 13, Anderlecht FM 12, Inter Milan FM 12, AC Milan FM 11, Napoli FM 13, Amiens SC FM 14 , Real Madrid FM 12

Major Trophies

1x Premier League

1x League Cup

1x Tippeliegen

1x Norwegian Cup

1x Copa Libertadores

1x Copa Sudamericana

3x Argentine League

3x Belgian Pro League

3x Belgian Cup

3x Serie A

1x European Championship

1x Copa America

1x French Cup

1x La Liga

Too many Conference titles to count and my crowning glory one Singapore League Cup

Preferred Formation

Traditionally starting in the lower leagues of English football I’d be quite happy to play a 4-4-2, without worrying about the tactical aspects of the game, as at the time I didn’t understand tactics. I followed my managerial idols on the terraces of the Moss Rose, whose main philosophies consisted off lumping it up to the big man and hoping for the best. well, who can argue with that when you have Jon Parkin up top? While I still retain a lot of my defensive sensibilities from when I first picked up the game I have now become a lot more refined in how I play and prefer not to rely so much on draconian tactical measures. Predominantly I play a counter attacking, Mourinho style 4-3-3, relying on a rigid defensive shape to soak up pressure and then breaking with pace and power from wide areas. Therefore rather than necessarily choosing players for their technical ability I look for strong physical midfielders who are able to break the play up in the middle of the park and intelligent defenders whose positional sense matches their pace, strength and height. I often change tactics with regard to the opposition we are facing and adapt when I feel my teams can show a more attacking edge. Thus I consider myself to be tactically robust, drawing upon the analytical side of my game to ensure the best possible result when I play Football Manager.

Favourite Club

My favourite ever club on any Football Manager game is IL Hodd, a team that are currently playing in the Norwegian First Division. I have bored my friends to death numerous times regaling them with tales of Norwegian glory and how I progressed this small semi-pro Second Division side through to a Norwegian League and Cup double within seven seasons. Helping me along the way were Michael Karlsen, William Ekong and Orjan Nyland. The team had everything, built largely around younger players who needed to drop down from a higher level to get their careers back in order. Hodd progressed to the First Division after just one season. One of the most wonderful things about this side was the fact that most of the players who were at the club at the start of the game came through three seasons pressing for promotion to the Premier League. They would fight and battle for the club like their lives depended on it despite playing in freezing cold temperatures against far richer and experienced sides closer to Oslo. Michael Karlsen most embodied this ethic, who rose as the side grew and never lost his place as number ten. He grew with the club turning from youngster to man and scoring goals like it was nobody’s business. Even when I started taking more of a business-like approach with the club, bringing in talented youngsters from Africa to develop and sell, Karlsen was still there on the end of every cross to head the ball home. It was only after four seasons in the Premier League that he was there to lift those league and cup trophies high to his adoring fans, who had followed the club in the wilderness years where there was nothing but grey skies across their pokey Hoddvoll stadium. Only two seasons later I sat in front of my laptop on a freezing cold Sunday in November 2012, screaming my head off as I watched Andreas Rekdal, a member of that side I’d managed, score the winning penalty against Tromso to win the Norwegian Cup for the first time in the clubs history. I dream one day of wearing the blue and white at the Hoddvoll making that FM pilgrimage to my favourite club that so many fans of the game end up doing in real life.

Best Moment

It’s hard to pick a best moment with Football Manager, you can pick winning important trophies or building a club over a long period of time such as I did with Hodd. For me however, my favourite memories of the game are stolen hours as a teenager finding any time to play the game waking up extremely early when stopping at my mum’s boyfriends house on weekends to play FM 08, discussing the merits of Pavel Pogrebnyak on FM09 at school while failing GCSE German or drinking wine and eating a ton of pasta with mates on a Serie A network game dressed up in a various manager guises. It’s all these little things, the talking, the stories and the obsession that are the best moments for me.

Worst Moment

Every single time my laptop decides that it can’t handle FM, overheats and shuts down (always use weekly autosave), every gut wrenching defensive error leading to dropped points or cup defeat and specifically the time I went 4-1 up in a Champions League quarter final as Newcastle United at home v Real Madrid only to lose 7-1 in the Santiago Bernabeu.

How did I get into FM

The first Football Manager game I ever played was FM08. It was one of those weekends when I was stopping over at my mum’s boyfriend’s house down in Stoke-on-Trent, me and my sister both had to sleep on the floor on cushions of the sofa in his living room and thus it was always hard to sleep. I must have awoken at around five in the morning and decided to turn the computer on which was handily placed there which meant I could occupy myself without having to disturb anyone else. There was Football Manager 2008 on the desktop, so I thought to myself ‘well let’s give this a go’ as I’d previously enjoyed LMA Manager on my PS2. So I got it loaded up and decided to start a career with Brann in the Norwegian Premier League (the main reason why I love managing in Norway so much). With little idea of what I was doing I had started the save in the middle of the season and Brann were down in the dumps battling against relegation. I ended up playing all the way through to the end of the season that day and sadly wasn’t good enough to keep Brann up. After taking the game home that Sunday evening I got it installed, and started a new career with Sparta Sarpsborg, another Norwegian side. The rest they say is history…

How do I play

Simple, minimal reputation, unemployed. Just take it from there.

Top 5 players/staff

#5 Sammy Ameobi (Northampton Town/FM12)

On FM12 Jake (who runs this Blog) and I both had Sammy at very similar times. Me for Northampton Town, Jake for Swindon Town. It was so funny just watching him score game after game for both out sides and thus developed a bond over the youngest Ameobi brother with his electric pace and power. For me he was the heartbeat of my Northampton side that went from League 2 to the Championship in three seasons. For Jake he ended up playing in the Premier League with Swindon Town and it was this shared progression that we both enjoyed together that made him such a special player. That and the fact that he scored an absolute ton of goals.

#4 Paul Bolland (Uruguay/FM13)

Paul Bolland for my beloved Macclesfield Town was one of my favourite players at the club for a couple of seasons in our concluding Football League years. An industrious midfield workhorse Paul was never afraid to put himself about on the pitch and it was this ethic that made him such a wonderful assistant manager on FM13. With a low reputation and pretty solid staff attributes I took a punt on him while managing STVV in the Belgian Second Division. Bolland followed me everywhere I went providing advice and support whenever necessary, until the day I left the lower league journeyman midfield in charge of Uruguay during the Copa America while I jumped ship to an already knocked out Brazil. Paul took Uruguay to a respectable third place before joining me in Brazil, a wonderful and loyal servant.

#3 Franco Di Santo (Boca Juniors/FM12)

Franco Di Santo for my Boca Juniors side was not the man you once saw languidly trotting around the Premier League a few years back skying easy chances and being an utter waste of space up top for Wigan. A more mature Di Santo was already at the Boca side I took over on FM12. His scoring ratio was decent prior to the beginning of my reign in the 16/17 season. All this changed with the return of Carlos Tevez to La Bombonera on a free transfer and  a wonderful partnership was born. Tevez became the catalyst to Franco and my Boca side winning every single trophy in South America within the space of twelve months. Franco ended up having an unbelievable record of having scored 59 goals in 67 games, during the 16/17 sesaon. A phenomenal transformation for a phenomenal player.

#2 Jackson Ramm (England/FM12)

It was the build up to the 2020 Euros and I like many foolish men before me attempted to return England to international glory, however from the start it looked like the cards were stacked against us with nearly every single one of my right backs succumbing to injury. I’d gone through the national pool and not a single player was available. Other managers may have reverted to a continental back three, but not me, we are England, we will go to this tournament playing 4-4-2, cos that’s the English way. So up stepped Jackson Ramm, a rapid young right back developing in the Championship with Blackburn Rovers. Little did he know what a hero he would become fitting in to that side that had been together since the start of qualification, like he was born to own that #2 shirt. As the competition progressed so did Ramm, his lightning pace meant he was lethal on the overlap and equally good at tracking back. So there were England who had bested every team that had stood in their way to reach a historic final against France. Against all expectations England won 1-0 thanks to a Wayne Rooney header and Ramm was able to lift the trophy high above his head for the whole of Europe to see. Sadly Jackson Ramm’s career hasn’t progressed this way in real life; he is currently playing at Northern Premier League side King’s Lynn Town.

#1 Michael Karlsen (IL Hodd/FM10)

The star of my all-time favourite FM side, I spoken about him enough in my favourite club section but there will never be enough words to describe what this man means to me.