The Football Manager Live Diaries - Part Two
In the first part of the series, I unleashed my club, Dukla Patrick, on an unsuspecting gameworld. I assembled a crack squad of not-quite-superstars (building the first eleven around former Liverpool mini-legend Luis Garcia He Drinks Sangria He Came From Barca To Bring Us Joy He’s Five Foot Seven From Football Heaven So Please Don’t Take Our Luis Away), joined a Football Association, and played a couple of friendly matches - scorelines 2-2 and 1-2 - enjoying the social element of playing matches against real people.
Now read on…
Heading over to my mailbox, a couple of interesting bits of news await me. The first one is that my previous opponent Luke has left me “extremely positive” feedback. Aw, isn’t that nice? I like Luke, he’s my FRIEND. I have no idea what feedback is or how it works (I’m getting images of eBay), but I make a mental note to figure it out at some point and return the favour. Meanwhile, a side called Acetabulum Athletic have made a £10,000 bid for my three-goals-in-two-games hero Liam Buchanan. I reject it flat-out, of course, and consider this a good time to make my first “comment” while carrying out an action. I tell the gentlemen of the press that “Liam is very much a part of my plans here at Dukla”, and hope that that’ll be an end to it.
Meanwhile, although I’m in a good mood and making friends, my team are in need of a bit of a morale boost having played two, drawn one, lost one, and conceded four goals into the bargain. I decide to make use of the overdraft that I apparently have and put in a £12,000 bid for Fowler – if I can team a lethal finisher up with Buchanan’s pace and workrate, we could be on to something. I also contemplate looking for another defender (putting Sami Hyypia’s name into the search box tells me that he’s playing for Colchester Town F.C. and valued at £65,000), but decide that it’s best to wait until the next day’s money has been distributed, so that I can work out how long it’ll take for me to be able to afford the £200,000 for Mrtn Skrtl. I also head on over to my Feedback page, where I can then click through to my opponent – he’s a 20-year-old Leeds fan, but we won’t hold that against him – and leave him some of my own. “Friendly and sporting opponent”, I say. There, that hopefully doesn’t sound too much like I’m stalking him.
Having made the Fowler bid, meanwhile, I now see that his transfer fee and wages have been added to my finance page as “projected” outgoings. I think I’m getting a handle on the finances, now – if I’m reading it right, it reckons that in four weeks I’ll have made profit of almost half a million quid. Which is of course enough money to buy terrifying skinheaded Slovakian centre-backs. Unfortunately, I don’t have enough of an overdraft to go straight in for him, so I’m just going to have to hope that he doesn’t get snapped up in the time it takes me to save. Cor, it’s just like REAL LIFE. And actually, once again, a bit more fun than the way the transfer market works in regular Football Manager.
Next up, I notice an email reminding people about the “Primetime Football Association”. I hadn’t noticed this one before, but I prefer the look of it – the peak time for matches is from 7.30 to 10.30 every evening. This seems better suited to me than the Weekend one, so I leave the WCA and join the PFA for the upcoming season instead. Marvellous. I’m also noting that in news reports about my team, adjectives being used to describe us are “sporting” and “good natured”. Awww.
Signing in later in the evening, the first message that greets me is bad news – Skrtel has been signed by a club called Need FC. Ah well. Carragher’s still on the market, and I’m sure there’ll be other decent centre-backs kicking around, as well. There’s still no news on my Fowler bid, so I decide to give my side a bit more playing time and set up another friendly. I also realise that I’m still no closer to being able to set Team and Player Instructions on the tactics screen – so I head on over to “Skills”, and change it so that I’m learning “Tactics” level one. I hope these RPG elements don’t become too important – I’ve never been very good at the character-building side of games. Final Fantasy VIII is one of my favourite games, but I’ve never completed it, because my stats are never good enough to get to the final disc battle. I’d love it so much more if it were just a point-and-click adventure.
So, anyway, on to my next game – and the first at Ganymede Park – against FC Tikkie Terug, a team with a Dutch manager (and clearly an Ajax fan, if his team’s kit is anything to go by). I’ve shuffled the team around a bit this time, and it pays off when Dukla take the lead for the first time in their history, a 25-yard screamer from recalled Brazilian striker Roni in the fourth minute. We continue to dominate the first half, and that man Buchanan once again gets on the scoresheet, drilling home from the edge of the box after 21 minutes. This brings Tikkie out of their shells a bit, but debutant keeper Mark Oxley shows good command of his area, and we go in at half time two up. Second half, Tikkie get a bit more of the game, but they’re lacking cutting edge, and it’s a great performance from the youngster in goal. After a slightly drab second half, it finishes 2-0, for my side’s first ever victory. Hey, maybe my defence aren’t so bad after all!
While I spend some time pootling around adding various players to my shortlist (and wondering whether Adriano Rigoglioso, possibly the only ex-Marine player in the game, is worth buying for £4k considering he’s probably nowhere near good enough), my chosen skill has been happily learning away – and I can now set some Team Instructions in a rudimentary fashion (that is, a smaller number of “notches”, marking distinctions, on the various sliders). Since I’ve got this ability, I may as well try and play a match with my desired instructions (a fast, attacking, wide, direct-passing game – although I can’t yet choose the “counter attack” option) – so off I go to the opponent finder, which this time matches me up against a side called heysham fc (their lowercase, not mine). I stick with the same eleven that pounded the Dutch side, but in a game so tepid I switch on to “fast speed” for the second half, we lose to a 20th-minute goal.
After trying to get my head around finances a bit further, I decide to put in a bid for a left-winger. Former Liverpool youngster Besian Idrizaj is tempting, but I plump for a Hungarian named Laszlo Rezes. His stats look decent, and his acquisition fee is only £12,000 – with a starting wage bid of £1,000. I decide to bid £1,200 for his wages, the idea being that whoever bids the highest for him after 24 hours gets him. If the deal comes off, it’ll mean that I’ll have a Hungarian named Laszlo playing on each flank – although at the moment I’m not sure about Meszaros, who hasn’t hugely shone in comparison to Kevin Sancho. And with that, I head off for a few more matches. Luis Garcia gets his first goal for the club with a 25-yard scorcher against Norwegian side Frigg OFK, but it’s not enough to prevent a 2-1 defeat. I then switch to a shorter passing game for the next match against AC Revlon, but we concede another early goal, this one from a set-piece. For the first time, though, the reply is instant, Roni heading in from a corner to equalise. In the second half, Boris Rieloff taps in a rebound to put us in front, before I get my first experience of dodgy refereeing – having already booked my striker Araboni for diving, the ref then gives Revlon a penalty despite the commentary remarking on their player going down like he’d been shot. But justice is served when Araboni surges through on 81 minutes and slots home from 20 yards, giving us a brilliant 3-2 win after a pulsating second half. After a couple of good performances in a row, meanwhile – including two assists in that win – I decide to make Sebastien Sansoni my new captain, AND NOT JUST BECAUSE HE’S CALLED SEB, ALRIGHT?
Having played through a few friendlies now (P6 W2 D1 L3 F9 A9), I decide to make a couple of tweaks to my team and profile – I’m not hugely keen with how the red-and-black away kit comes out during the game (and as anyone who knows me knows, I’m stupidly obsessive about things like kit design), so I switch to a red and yellow combination, in tribute to Melchester Rovers. And although I usually use my full name in games of FM, I decide that the more social atmosphere of Live would be better-suited to my more commonly-used nickname – and so “Seb Patrick” I become.
Taking to the field in our new away strip at the brilliantly-named Gary Glitter Bowl against Dale FC, I discover a more talkative opponent than previously – David Pearson is keen to chat about how our respective sides are doing, hunting for youth players, that kind of thing. It’s a good job, really, as the game itself is fairly dull, nil-nil at half time. I decide that, as it’s a friendly, I’ve nothing to lose by going more attacking in the second half, so I shift Luis Garcia to a three-man front line. It pays off on 50 minutes, when Sansoni pops in a rebound. I don’t reckon Dale look like they have a goal in them, so I then pull back more defensively. Araboni gets injured after 56 mins, which is a disappointment, but we hold on in a scrappy second half (three bookings for my side, which I’m not pleased about) for the win, which apparently ends David’s good run of form. While the game itself wasn’t as open and free-flowing as the 3-2 win over AC Revlon, it was a good indicator of what the FM Live experience can be like – making tactical decisions on the fly (and it’s higher-pressure than the “pause at any time” environment of regular FM), knowing there’s a real person on the receiving end of your team’s actions, and having a bit of a chat about football to someone in the bargain. It’s a good experience, and makes me far more inclined to want to play matches.
Another interesting facet of the game is seeing just what people come up with when given free reign to create their own club. A large percentage of people go down the route that I have – taking the construction of an existing team name and personalising it, whether it’s with their surname (as with Real Richie), something to do with their supported team (Dale FC’s manager David is a Rochdale fan), or just something comical (I spot “FC Athletico Pathetico” in my FA’s members list). Someone else has called their club “Krypton FC”, playing matches at the Fortress of Solitude, which is something I almost wish I’d thought of first, as indeed I do with “The Springfield Isotopes” – but my absolute favourite team name so far has to be “Suffragette City”. One lucky Dream Team fan has managed to be the first to nab “Harchester United” (each name can only be used once in the entirety of the FM Live “universe”, irrespective of which gameworld you’re in), but if there’s a Melchester Rovers, they must be in a different world. Beyond these names, though, there are the ones that have no pretence towards being a vaguely “real”-sounding football club, veering instead into the realm of Fantasy Football team names. “Stephen Hawking’s Football Boots” is an amusing reference, but it snaps you out of the game “world” somewhat. Still, at least it (and the likes of “The Cupid Stunts” and “Obi Wan Kenobi Nil”) is punctuated and capitalised properly – which is more than can be said for “Rsca4ever”, “PhSyCoTiiC F.C.”, “pistols007” or “dodeeeeeee fc”. I mean, when you pick a team name, you’re stuck with it for the entirety of your subscription duration – is that really the best you can do?
Anyway, enough of this, I have more pressing matters to hand. Like! A bid for one of my players that might actually be too difficult to turn down…
Will Dukla Patrick sell one of their best players before the season even begins? What does “early sale tax” mean, anyway? What happens when two Liverpool fans go head-to-head in a so-called “friendly” match? Find out in the next strangely incomprehensible episode of the Football Manager Live diaries…