It is a well-known fact in the footballing world that fans know more about making their team successful than the man in the manager’s position. Every weekend millions gather around a pint or light up phone-ins and forums telling them how they should change their tactics, their formation and their line-up.
Thanks to the Football Manager video game series we have been able to put our dreams into practice, taking our team to world domination or guiding a club from non-league obscurity to greatness. The game is now incredibly realistic with so much to do and the triumphs that we have during our game time prove to us that we are capable of emulating Sir Alex Ferguson, Bill Shankly and Brian Clough and writing our name into football history.
We have all found a diamond player and produced match-winning performances through our immense knowledge. We are masters of the transfer market, able to spot a hot prospect. We know how to deal with the media and keep our players happy, something that others can only dream of and that’s why the power of the game should not be underestimated by chairmen.
When the unimpressive tenure of a manager comes to an end, rather than poaching somebody from another club or scouring the managerial merry-go-round, the game should be used to find the top candidate for the hotseat. There have been global competitions to find the next star player and offering them a contract so why not set up a worldwide competition to find the next ‘Special One’?
In 2006, 25-year-old Football Manager addict John Boileau tried to put this theory into practice when he applied to become the new manager of Middlesborough following the departure of Steve McClaren. In his CV he described his career on the game, showing his success with Nuneaton Borough and Rushden and Diamonds, who he had guided through all the divisions. He detailed his experience of managing in different countries, dealing with work permits and even offered to drive the team bus to away games, all of which would make him an outstanding candidate. His credentials were so impressive that he received an amazing reply from Steve Gibson. Although he wasn’t offered the job it should have been the start of something big and having seen the decline of ‘Boro since that time, Gibson has lived to regret not giving him the job.
For starters, employing a Football Manager legend would be a much cheaper option. The brilliant Boileau asked for a “reasonable” £80,000 starting rate to take over at the Riverside, by far the smallest wage in either of the top two divisions. It would free up huge sums of money that could be used in the transfer market or help balance the books while still being a great pay packet for somebody who was in a run-of-the-mill job just days before.
Picking a new boss from a group of people who had dedicated hours at a time to playing the game, beating people worldwide to show their skills and desire so that they can create a managerial legacy would guarantee that the incoming chief is be more passionate than an established manager that has had more clubs than Jack Nicklaus. If somebody has been offered the opportunity of living the dream then they will give everything to prove themself whereas many managers are just looking for their next job and don’t care who it is or how important the team is to their fans. They will wear their heart on their sleeve and be able to turn around a failing squad with their motivation and it is more likely to last long-term rather than be a quick fix.
Those who would get involved in a Football Manager selection process are also more likely to be fans of that club so they will bring the enthusiasm of their fellow supporters to the hotseat and will echo this in the dressing room. They will have put the footballing world to right over a pint in the pub with their friends and will have spent hours on the game going over their club with a fine-tooth comb to turn them from average to awesome. Unlike other contenders, a man on Football Manager can pick any club to manage so if they have experience of coaching your team to glory they can replicate that in real life and it shouldn’t be ignored.
They will bring fresh views to the role too, choosing different places to scout for players, who to bring in, how to play. Their ideas may never be considered by somebody who has never visited the virtual world of management but this outside view may pay dividends. Midfielder Sherman Cardenes is a god of the game, bagging goals and playing brilliantly. He holds a starring role in most success stories along with Febian Brandy, but no manager outside of South America has ever taken a chance with him. It is these ‘out-of-the-box’ moments that would see a new approach to the game and could make the difference.
Chairmen will say that they cannot take a risk by employing somebody that has developed ‘managerial skills’ by playing a computer game but the millions of us who have spent hours battling in front of the computer screen know that we have what it is to succeed. Offering wannabe managers the chance to put their hat in the ring by demonstrating their ability on Football Manager would be a brilliant idea. With the game now hugely developed we know how to negotiate contracts, hold team talks, deal with problem players and alter our tactics in the style. Given the chance, gamers could create the next fairytale rise through the league for their club. Don’t rule it out.
Fellow gamers, could we manage a side to greatness. Let me know your thoughts by commenting below or following me on Twitter @jrobbins1991.
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