Better Than the Best It’s Going to Get
The year is 2024. And to put it bluntly, I am one level short of being God. Everybody loves me. I am a genius. I’ve looked over legends; Gareth Bale, Danny Wilson, Carlos Tevez, Marcus Fenton. I have taken Tottenham Hotspur to seven Premier League titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups, two Champions Leagues, and a host of other pointless trophies. I’m so brilliant, they even named a stadium after me (There’s also slight failures managing England and Spain, but who counts them anyway?).
I’ve made some brilliant transfers, £500k for the then 16 year old Marcus Fenton from Huddersfield, who started playing full time three years later, and has had the team structured around him by the age of 25. Casemiro for £5.75m, a sturdy Tom Huddlestone-esque midfielder capable of holding the ball up. £2.2m for Paul Casey, now one of the regular three center-backs at the club.
Of course there have been failures, £37.5m for Leonadro Rosales, who I didn’t really need. £35m for Juan Manuel Mata, who was a transfer deadline day panic buy after, for some reason, I thought I needed a new left midfielder (I didn’t).
But they don’t matter. I have taken Tottenham to new heights, I have eclipsed the greats. I am the greatest manager of all time, even ahead of Roberto Mancini. Oh I hate that man, taking charge of Manchester City and Arsenal (twice). How dare he. But at least I know with Andre Villas-Boas, manager of the plucky Aston Villa team who went to the 2023 Champions League final, that he will side by me and we’ll get along just in the League just fine.
I’ve seen great games and great goals. Beating Wolverhampton Wanderers 6-4 after being 5-1 up was dramatic and tense. The 2015 FA Cup Final against Blackburn Rovers, 3-2 AET, it was back and forth, my favourite game as manager. Goals from Miguel Angel Perez Garcia (which was not a fluke):
I look down the leagues. I’ve played against Rotherham in the Premier League, Swansea in League 1, only a few years since they graced the Europa League.
But now it is time to prepare myself for our next league game at the Reebok Stadium, the 11th February 2024, against Bolton Wanderers. Under Landon Donovan they reached the Champions League, now they are managed by former Liverpool man Markus Babbel, once again competing for Europe.
I’m down two men, key Brazilian centre-back Fabio, as well as the ruthless, likes-a-tackle, Adam Pitman. Two players who have been crucial this season. I change to 4-4-2. Andreas Hinz in goal, compatriot Sokol Sadiku as left back. Across the defence is Paul Casey, captain Danny Wilson and Bradley Baker. In front of them are the centre midfielders of Marcus Fenton and Sylvian Jezequel, on the wings the third German Murat Akman and Steve Burton. Up front is Charlie Harding, and the scoring-f0r-fun Iban Erkizia.
In the dressing room I tell them to do it for the fans, then I send them out the tunnel to play Bolton.
14 minutes. Raphael Calvet hacks down Steve Burton inside the box. Marcus Fenton steps up, smashes it down the right. 0-1.
24 minutes. Charlie Harding through on goal, composed, placed it into the net. Poor all season, showed up today. 0-2.
36 minutes. Corner. Fenton swings the ball in, headed by Casey, off the post, across the goal, hits Ryan Bennett off his head, own goal. 0-3.
It remains the same until full time, another win. 6 points ahead of Arsenal in 2nd, eleven games left to play, 5th Premier League title in a row is on the cards, best team Tottenham have ever had, along, of course, with the best ever manager.
And then I look up, off my computer screen, realise that it isn’t real life. Marcus Fenton doesn’t exist, just a man generated by the beautiful game which is Football Manager (shame, because he would be a perfect replacement for Luka Modric).
It’s taken six months to get to 2024, easily the longest I’ve had a single game on any Football Manager (second longest was 2022 on a Football Manager Handheld game, in which I won every single League Cup with whichever team I was at). Of course I’ve stopped playing at times because I sometimes actually have a life, but Football Manager is something I just go to play and waste far too many hours on. The addictiveness rating on the game itself says ‘Nothing to see here. Move along…’, my hall of fame though still isn’t anywhere near Jose Mourinho who is miles ahead of me.
Why do I do it? I’m sure on paper it sounds like a boring, strategy game. In fact, describing it to a friend the other day he seemed shocked that anyone would find this interesting. But it is, famously ‘I’ll play one more game’, turns into another four hours of playing before you fall asleep on the computer, usually after you accepted a stupidly low price for one of your best players. I find myself keep on playing because it is so in-depth, so technical, so good for getting your attacking midfielder as a trequartista or wondering if its pointless for anywhere but Italy.
One better, that is what I want to do, always do one better than the year before. Of course I can never do that. My ultimate aim is to win seven trophies in one season, but considering my previous best is just four, I’ll find that a bit hard.
But you know what, I don’t care. Through the medium of technology, I’ve proved that we can do better than Harry Redknapp, and the best that its going to get isn’t 5th place and European games in Kazakhstan.
There is still a lingering feeling you know it isn’t real, after all, Arsenal have won several trophies and Lionel Messi is a member of the backroom staff. But still, when Redknapp pops off across London to take charge of England, I have a pretty good feeling that Daniel Levy will know who I am and think I’m a worthwhile candidate for the Spurs job. If I’m mates with Messi in game, can’t be that hard to get him in real life.