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08th Nov 2014

12 Football Manager habits we’ve all fallen back into already

One night in, how many lives has the game ruined so far?

Conan Doherty

Have any of you even slept yet?

Last night’s official launch of Football Manager 15 would’ve stirred nostalgia in even the most boring, predictable, ‘we’re just thinking about the next game’ footballer in us all (no offence, James Milner).  It would’ve finally brought excitement back into our Friday nights (it gets lonely in the SportsJOE Towers, alright).  And, do you know what?  It would’ve given most of us that long-awaited meaning again.  Purpose.  A reason to live.

But it has also rekindled many an old flame around the country.  That first love you couldn’t shake just wriggled its way in again as fanatics far and wide last night fell back into the same, comfortable, and dangerously routine relationships that they know they’re better off without.  But, hey, it beats the loneliness, right?

Maybe it will be different this time.  Maybe the game has changed.  Maybe I have changed.  Stop kidding yourself.

Old habits die hard and all that.  But Football Manager habits?  Well they die harder than John McClane himself.

So we’ve said to hell with it and thrown ourselves back into this promise of love, knowing that no good could possibly ever come of this toxic relationship.  But, so what?  Let’s enjoy it whilst… oh wait, you’ve already stopped enjoying it, haven’t you?

Here’s some of the things we were all doing last night and probably still are right now.


Save game

It’s match day.  It makes sense to save it, doesn’t it?  Sure you don’t want all those automatically loaded days on the calendar to be lost if something happens to happen to the computer.  You’ll need to save it first.  Just in case.  We know you’re not one of them boys who would quit game and load it up again.  You’re just saving it before you play your match because… you know.


One more game

Sure how could you end in a defeat?  Play one more game (obviously you forgot to save it this time).  You don’t want to go to bed in a bad mood.  Jaysus, you won?  Sure you’re on a streak now, you’ve got it right.  Never stop when you start winning.  This is too bloody enjoyable to turn off now.

One more game, you can’t end in a defeat.  I’ll tell you what, continue up to the day of the game so it’s ready when you come back on in the morning.  Awk, you’re at match day anyway, how easy is it to just click Play Match?  See how it goes sure.


One more season

Right, the season’s over so just fish around for a few players before heading to bed.  You already know who you’re after and sure you have seven new recruits landing in on July 1 on a Bosman.

Okay, just play this transfer window and get the team assembled for next year.

“Christ, I want to see some of these boys in action.”  Play the first match with the new boys.

One more game.  Sure how could you end in a defeat?


The custom formation

What’s the matter?  Can’t figure out a way to fit nine attacking midfielders into your team?  You have three new top signings there to play up top and all of them given the thumbs up from your scouts.  But how are you going to keep them all happy?

Alright, so we’ve established that 2-3-5 isn’t going to work.  Neither is 4-2-4 or 2-2-2-3-1.  Nope, neither will 2-3-2-3.  Listen, I don’t care how many defensive midfielders you want to play, it’s not going to happen with two defenders.  And I’m sorry those DMs seem to automatically pick up and 8 rating in every game.  Choose one of them.

Right, you’re leaking too many goals.  Time for the old Jim McGuinness blanket.  Three centre halves, two wing backs, two defensive midfielders and three midfielders.  What?  You’re still conceding?  Well, I don’t know, you might as well try 2-3-5 then.  But make sure this time you change your mentality to all out attack.

Just start a new career, you’ve fecked this up.


This game is programmed

What complete garbage.  Every time you’re losing, the clock just flies by, there’s no action and no added time but when you’re up by any amount, you’re not getting out of there without at least five different tactical changes to see you through.

Coasting against a West Brom or someone like that, 2-0 up and then bang, bang, bang, they’ve found something from absolutely nothing.  Three crap goals as well, weren’t they?  No matter what you do, your players are stuck in their own half.

Try playing it again courtesy of your old save friend, but you are not meant to win this match.



We need to buy him

I bet you never thought you’d see Gabriel Agbonlahor playing for Manchester United.  But he ripped you apart that Boxing Day in Villa Park so January 1 is a different story altogether. 

His stats might not be all that but you’ve seen it first hand, you’ve done your own scouting and you know the damage he can inflict.  Get him in, nice and cheap, solve all your problems.

Obviously it doesn’t work.  I mean, let’s face it, it’s Gabriel bloody Agbonlahor.  But at this stage you’re about to take control of your reserve team because you’ve put together a pool of half decent names whose careers you’ve ruined.  So you wouldn’t mind a tinker around with the like of Gabby, Andy Carroll, Shane Long and the rest of them you’ve shipped in, you shopping addict. Get them playing the same formation as the seniors, show them they’re in your future plans.  


Request more funds

So you’ve had your fun filling out the B Team but, by God, it has sucked the life out of your financial resources and actually has done nothing to help you in the league.  It’s time for that big-money buy again that’s going to get the fans excited.  Someone you need to break the bank for.  Just one problem, the bank’s empty. Go to the board, promise them the league, promise them cups, anything for some more dough. 

You’re doing well, if they reject you sure you can always press that deadly ultimatum. What?  You got fired?  You really should’ve saved game beforehand.  



The 40-strong squad is taking its toll.  The wage budget is back down below the 25k per week region and just isn’t attracting the sort of clientele you’re after. 

What if you offered him €10,000 for every goal, assist, and appearance? Oh, you can’t afford him in the first place?  But could you not give them 90 million euro whenever he scores 700 league goals and another 10 million on top of that whenever he makes 40 international appearances?  I know he’s 34 and all but still.  


Player exchange

They’ll have to accept something.  Alright, Messi is invaluable but you’re offering them the required amount as well as three of your U21 players who can all play in the same position.  What’s their problem?  You might never have heard of any of them but… three of them.  They’re robbing you blind (I mean, it’s clearly an extra €0.6m added to the total transfer cost).  



Right that’s not working.  Time to bring out the filter.  Search for… contracts.  There’s bound to be some Bosman beauties coming up in the next few months.  Then, just to make yourself feel better for signing up another three 36 year-olds, you can search for U18s, ascend them by age and find the dearest 15 year-old in the game.  He must have a promising future.  He must.  


Half time talk

Come on, we’ve all done it.  For some reason, it’s socially acceptable now to say you stick on a shirt for Football Manager cup final day (remember when we used to have pride) and, even though none of us actually do it, we say it anyway.  Sure how could we when we’re saving game beforehand not knowing if we’ll ever get to see the day after cup final day with the right result – the deserved result, of course.

We’re all at the half time talk though.  Maybe not out loud, maybe not even in depth but we’ve looked through our team and asked serious questions of them at the interval.  We’ve asked questions of ourselves and did a lot of searching for answers together.

Let’s face it, the computerised individual team talk doesn’t give you enough to work with.

“JT, absolutely super back there.  Keep that going, keep them boys tight.”
“Nigel (Reo Coker of course, who else), you’re a warrior.  You’re doing exactly what I want.  45 more minutes, pal.” (You’re an arm around the shoulder manager)
“Cristiano, you’re on fire but I know you have even more in you.  Don’t bloody stop here.  Remember the Emirates in January?  Make them pay.”
“Gabby, come on, man.  I need more from you.  You’re getting 10 minutes out here to show me what you can do.”
“Shane Long, get warmed up.”  


Why are you talking to me?

At this stage, the sun is breaking through, you’ve built a rapport with your soldiers and you’ve come through battles, bloodied and victorious – depending on how many times you’ve used the save game option.  The connection now runs deeper than just the click of a button, you’ve created a family here and no-one in the real world could ever understand that.

That’s why their banter isn’t funny this morning.  That’s why their chirpy, happy, “oh look at me, I have breakfast and I get dressed and I go to work” act isn’t washing with you anymore. You’re not in the mood for any time-wasters and especially not anyone looking to pass comment on how long you’ve been playing it.  After all, the settings’ addiction rating still has you at “needs more work” so they know nothing. Forget them, this is your life now.  So you stay wired in, unshaken.  After all, what harm could one more game do?