Following the release of Football Manager 2014, LS Sport decided to tackle the toughest job in football – succeeding Sir Alex Ferguson.
The surprises start before you’re even appointed. Scrolling down to Manchester United, I notice how the media prediction varies between reality and the game. While United began the season third favourites behind Chelsea and Manchester City in reality, the expectations for my team would be to finish first.
Once ‘appointed’, I receive a message from Ed Woodward. Immediately, the improvement to the interactions between manager and board are noticeable, as you are asked to comment on the philosophies, expectations and budgets presented to you upon appointment. Where it was once a necessity that you breed attacking football into your new side, the chance is given to express the advantages of an Andy Carroll and Peter Crouch strike duo.
The message I receive, though, is one probably not dissimilar to Moyes’ upon his arrival – “ignore the media’s claims that you are too inexperienced for this job”. Being listed as ‘former Sunday League footballer’ probably didn’t help my cause.
This didn’t stop me passing judgement though, as I quickly understood why Moyes’ backroom staff was due a rapid overhaul. My scouts top recommendation – Petr Cech. Steve Round’s team report lists Fellaini, Rooney, Van Persie and Carrick as my best players (despite my first intention being to sign a central midfielder). As for pre-match preparations – a feature introduced last season – I cannot help ignore Ryan Giggs’ advice, hypocritically feeling that he is not experienced enough to be worth listening to.
I begin to understand the magnitude of Moyes’ task, and this is before I even enter the transfer market.
The revamp in transfer negotiations should have only served to help. Back-and-forth interaction with managers increases the ability to gauge ballpark figures, more similar to the contract negotiations that go on with agents.
This did not help me though, as deals for Alaba, Varane, Dembele, Hamsik, Subotic, Draxler and Iker Muniain (who ended up at City) went begging.
Eventually I snapped up Kurt Zouma, an 18 year old centre-back who will certainly be a world beater in three season. As for now, my budget was gone, and all I had to show for it was a new sixth-choice centre-half.
Under the circumstances, the season began as expected. Back-to-back losses to West Brom and Everton, and dropping points at the Liberty Stadium, I was lingering in ninth.
I knew a change was necessary. As much as I ignored Giggs off the pitch, I trusted him on it, and filled the left wing slot with some up-and-comer who was obviously not English. I think it was Janu-something.
Sure enough, despite victory, Giggs was injured after 22 minutes while Januzaj (listed as Belgian) was ruled out for four months.
It was at that moment that I could have used the new in-game editor feature. An add-on costing £3.99, the pack allows changes to finances, player stats and club reputations, for the player less interested in realism, and more interested in seeing Northallerton Town in the Champions League.
It was then that I saw Morgan Schneiderlin had gone to Real Madrid for £10 million, while I slotted Anderson into a starting position in the next league match.
Fortunately, Anderson is not the same man in virtual reality. He’s the 18-year-old who cost Manchester United £25 million.
The results came pouring in and, despite a poor start in the Champions League, United began to climb.
Sitting behind only Everton, United are second after 10 games.
So, despite being in a far more comfortable position than Moyes’ United, one goal continues to evade the both of us.
Despite many years of trying to get Everton above United in the table it seems that, now it has happened, neither of us can turn the tables back.
Image courtesy of NST