The Football Manager Live Diaries - Part Three
Last time, Dukla Patrick made friends with a Leeds fan, racked up their first couple of friendly wins and chose a new club captain. With the season approaching, I was conscious of the need to improve my initial squad - but quickly learning that every other manager thought exactly the same thing.
Now read on…
Jim Starling, manager of Dynamo Dorset, is on the phone again. Having failed to offload Djimi Traore to me in exchange for my “cultured” Icelandic midfielder Birkir Bjarnason, he’s now offering Italian winger Alessandro Noselli, valued at £30,000. I decide to fire up a comparison window and see who’d be getting the better deal.
Hmm, there’s not a lot to choose between them. I’ve been looking for another option on the left – but, while Bjarnason hasn’t played the last few games (I’ve preferred Boris Rieloff on left midfield), I’m not sure I want it to be at his expense rather than simply supplementing him. Noselli isn’t bad, he’s better in some respects and weaker in others – but I’m not sure what’s to be gained from this swap. He’s slightly higher-valued, but significantly… look at the difference in wage demands. I’m not sure I can afford to spend an extra £5,500 per day for no immediately-perceivable benefit. Bjarnason is also one of the few decent younger players in my squad – so I think he’s going to stay. I reject the bid, leaving the comment that “Noselli’s wage demands are too high, but I would consider a cash offer”. Let’s see how much Starling – or indeed any of the other three clubs (!) that have him shortlisted – really wants the kid.
… okay, that’s how much. Starling hits back with an offer of £28,000. I think I’m going to stall on this one for a bit – I set my status to “Away”, and decide that I’ll come back to him a bit later on. The money would be useful, but would I be able to spend it on someone decent? I take a look at Starling’s squad – and wow, the guy’s struggling. He only has 15 players, and two of them are currently injured. You can’t view another club’s finances, but I can see that he’s “in debt”. He needs players, clearly – but where’s he getting this £28,000 from? Presumably he can’t afford the £40,000 that I was considering making as a counter-offer.
This is the dilemma of FM Live, really. In the regular game, you can blithely turn down bids from computer opponents, because you don’t care about how it affects them. Here… well, if you’re a hard-hearted bastard you can just play entirely for yourself, but I don’t want to see other clubs go under if they’re struggling to field full teams. On the other hand… I don’t know anything about this bloke. Maybe he’s a bit of an arse. Maybe he knows that £28,000 is underpaying for a player that he clearly wants (and that other teams want too). And… well, he’s doing quite well (currently ranked 100th in the game world – by comparison I’m 545th), and it’s his lookout if he chose to spend his money on acquisition fees like £100,000 for Felipe Teixeira, £95,000 for Iain Turner, and £250,000 for Benoit Cheyrou. So I think I am going to go back to him with that £40,000 offer. If he doesn’t like it… well, there are plenty of other players out there for him to bulk out his squad. Adriano Rigoglioso is still without a club, after all.
Only… ah. Fly in the ointment, spanner in the works, Voronin in the starting eleven. It turns out that because of an “early-sale tax” rule, if you sell a player within the first week of their contract, you have to pay 100% of any profit you make as tax. In the second week it goes down to 75%, and then so on until the end of the month. So it doesn’t matter what the bid is for Bjarnason, because I won’t get the profit if I sell him right away. After a back-and-forth over email (where he helpfully explains the early-sale tax rule – I’d initially thought that you lost the ENTIRETY of the fee to tax!), Jim agrees to make me an offer of £22,000, plus a 25% sell-on clause – which is fair enough, really, as I’d have to wait weeks to make any kind of profit on him anyway. But I’d like to have a replacement lined up, so I tell him I’ll wait until I find out whether I get Rezes before accepting the bid. This is my first bit of actual human interaction over a transfer bid, and once again, it’s an aspect of the game that feels much more enjoyable than the usual faceless transfer bidding of management games. In fact, it reminds me of the brief spell a schoolfriend and I had of playing a play-by-mail football management game (we wound up with an obscure European team called Ilves Tempere), where you paid by sellotaping pound coins to your weekly entry forms, and if you wanted to do transfers, you actually had to ring up rival managers. Great stuff.
To my next match, then, and Lokomotiv Stockholm manager Viktor Karras is the first opponent not to wish me good luck before a game. An omen? Something strange then happens after 4 minutes, with the match hanging mid-animation. Eventually, Victor leaves the match, and I’m left to play against his AI – which presumably means there’ll be no substitutions or anything. It doesn’t stop his team scoring after 6 minutes, mind – but the game then hangs again a minute or so later, as it transpires that he’s rejoining. Does he give me an explanation? An apologetic “sorry, lost connection” or anything? Does he shite. But then he asks me if I’ve been playing for long. Oh, now you want to play nice? Especially when your team go two-up on 25 minutes? “I like what I see, another goal!” I bet you bloody do. I’m pondering drastic attacking changes when Buchanan, Roni and Garcia all combine and somehow force an own goal to make it 2-1. “Ouch! What did you say about defence?” says Viktor. I like him, now. I switch to 4-3-3 for the second half, and have a great spell of pressure and chances in the latter quarter of the game (“This is not good for the heart”, declares the Swede), but fail to make a breakthrough – even after a moment when, thrillingly, my keeper goes up to join the attack in injury time (why can’t you set an instruction for them to always do that?) – and it ends in another defeat.
Meanwhile, I get an alert telling me that my Fowler bid is about to expire. While looking to extend it, I realise just how high his wages are - £10,000 a day. I’m now wondering if he’s worth it, before deciding that yes, he’s Robbie Fowler – he’s worth it in my eyes, even if in no-one else’s. I decide to give Havenpool’s manager, who hasn’t signed in since yesterday, an extra 24 hours to look at the bid – and if I still hear nothing, I’ll drop it and look for another player instead. But I’m trying to look at strengthening my defence as well – putting in a bid for a Romanian called Adrian Iencsi – so I decide to take the Bjarnason cash straight away in an attempt to help out. It’s weird selling a player for the first time, and he’s a decent prospect – but I feel like the squad still needs construction work, and I can’t do that without cold, hard cash.
Since I’m here, I might as well play another match – so with my now-18-man squad, I head off to the opponent finder. My last few games have been away from home, so this time I tell it I want to play at Ganymede Park – and it brings me Rafa’s Barmy Army, pitting me against a fellow Liverpool fan, Toby Murray, for the first time. He’s even got Sander Westerveld in goal! With my new 4-5-1 formation, we take the lead through – appropriately enough – Luis Garcia, a cracking strike from the corner of the box on 17 minutes. The Barmy Army equalise on 75 minutes after another defensive mix-up, but substitute Kevin Sancho is the hero, powering through to get the winner with three minutes left. Hard luck on my fellow Red, for whom a draw would have been fair, but it felt like we had the win in us. Toby is magnanimous in defeat (although grumbling about his team’s inability to hit a barn door), and after the game declares that “sure we’ll play again”. Indeed, it’d be nice to find a team to play more regularly (outside of the league environment), so I might challenge him again in future. Meanwhile, after the game, I also notice that my team’s “star rating” has gone up from one to one and a half. We’re going places!
In between games I’ve been browsing some of the players put up for sale by clubs (as opposed to the unattached guys, with whom you still get stung by “acquisition fees”), both on regular transfer lists and also in special transfer auctions (which are basically eBay for footballers – complete with a “Buy It Now” option!) A few bids have been made, none have come off, and it’s all seemed a bit frustrating and slow. All of a sudden, though, I find myself signing a player in approximately thirty seconds flat! Young manager Jamie Smith, clearly desperate for cash, sends an email round to everyone, saying “sellin players for cash - if intrested mail me”. I have a look at his squad, and am quite taken with midfielder Nikola Vujovic. Wages of £2,500, market value of around £16K, I decide to make a bid of £15K, thinking he’d be a good option to play on the left. To my amazement, barely moments later a message arrives in my inbox declaring him to be my player! Blimey. It’s a good signing, but I am now concerned about how it’ll work with some other bids I’ve got in play. Things don’t look too bad on the finance page, but I don’t know how frequently it gets updated. I’ll have to see at midnight, I suppose – but it’s frustrating that I can’t now withdraw my wages bid for Rezes, who I don’t really want or need any more. I decide that the safest thing for all concerned would be to withdraw my bid for Fowler. If I’m playing 4-5-1, I’ve got enough strikers as it is – and £10K wages are just too excessive. A new centre-back is more of a priority, so I need to leave in the bid I’ve got for Belgian 36-year-old Olivier Doll. With a heavy heart, I resign myself to not being able to sign “God” – at least, not yet.
Possible salvation then arrives, however, in the form of a mass email from someone desperate for an AML of their own – I send him a quick message telling him about Rezes, and how if he bids higher than £1200 for wages, he’ll get him for £12K. Will he get me out of this mess? I’ll only find out at midnight unless he decides to reply to me… which he does. Straight away. Saying that he’s “nov [sic] bovvered pal..sorry…” WELL FINE, THEN. You’ll never get higher than one star with THAT attitude, miladdo. Bloody 15-year-old Man Utd fans. Even if you do have former Marine and Southport striker Terry Fearns in your squad.
And with that, it’s time for bed. Hopefully I won’t wake up tomorrow to find my club entirely destitute…
Will Dukla Patrick run out of money? What the heck is a 4-6-0 formation? What exciting new record will the team set for length of time between scoring goals? Find out in the next intriguing episode of the Football Manager Live diaries.