For previous A-Z entries, please visit: The A-Z of Football Manager.
Today’s guest author is @MustermannFM!
The relationship between Miguel de Cervantes’ 17th century novel and Football Manager is tenuous at best, but Q is a peculiar letter and it only seems fitting that the topic should, on the surface at least, be itself quite peculiar. Nonetheless, a quixotic approach – both idealistic and impractical – can help breathe life into your Football Manager saves.
“All those who see me, say that I am mad, but it is they who are mad, for they see not the great possibilities that lie before them.”
At its heart, Football Manager is a game about stories; there is no victory condition. When you finally topple the Old Firm’s dominance in the cinch Premiership, there are no end credits under an emotional orchestral score. When you FM-ed FM by winning a game with only 1 shot, and 4.86xg against, Miles Jacobson doesn’t appear at your door and hand you the keys to SI. And when you finally ensconce Indonesia’s Persiwa Wamena as the greatest team in the world built on a steady supply of homegrown youngsters you’ve nurtured since the day you joined 72 years ago, there isn’t so much as a bus tour to commemorate your achievements.
So where does Don Quixote fit into all of this? When he charged at windmills, perceiving them instead to be ferocious giants, it was undeniably due to his madness. A madness rooted in his desire to recapture the chivalrous glories of bygone eras, but madness nonetheless. And do we not partake in madness on a daily basis, choosing to spend our free time playing nothing more than a glorified spreadsheet simulator? If we’re going to embark on these journeys, we can enrich our stories by controlling the narrative.
To Dream the Impossible Dream
There are many ways we can go about doing this. The most common, arguably, is to impose our own set of restrictions upon how we choose to play the game. Maybe, like Don Quixote, you yearn to recapture the glory days of the past – dogmatically recreating the style and formation of some of history’s great managers, or building a team around players who remind you of your footballing heroes as a child. Maybe you’re a staunch supporter of Marxism-Leninism and choose to stage a hostile takeover of your local club and instil an equitable wage structure. It’s your game, no judgement here.
Armies of Enemies
The urge to make the “right” decision can often be hard to ignore. That can manifest in finding the optimum training schedules to ensure perfect development of your wonderkids, or choosing the best options in press conferences to keep your players’ morale high. There is no doubt that doing those things will improve your chances of winning, but they also risk making each career feel the same. As Cervantes wrote, “The road is always better than the inn” – find ways to experience the journey rather than staying inside your comfort zone. Replace every training session with Chance Conversion the week after your strikers failed to hit the rear side of a cow with a banjo. Pick a manager you don’t like, and slag them off at every opportunity. Sell your promising newgen because he doesn’t agree with your staunch Marxist-Leninist beliefs and has asked to earn more than £1,000 per week.
Whatever Happened to Sancho Panza?
Don Quixote would be nothing without Sancho Panza – the sceptical, pragmatic sidekick who offers contrast to the titular characters’ increasing madness. I would normally advise hiring an Assistant Manager who shares similar tactical preferences to yourself so that their advice would be suitable for helping you achieve your goals. Instead, consider a “Director of Football” save where you hire your own Sancho Panza – a sensible, competent manager who will be responsible for getting results on the pitch – whilst you pursue a ridiculous transfer policy of signing only players whose surnames are also nouns. Or maybe find your own Lenin, who can help overthrow the existing power structures at the club whilst you focus on establishing your ideological culture.
Just as Alan Partridge misquoted Don Quixote: “The proof is in the pudding and the pudding in this case is a football”. Football Manager is about the journey. So, dare to be deluded, revel in the absurdity, and celebrate the triumphs and misadventures along the way. Maybe even write a blog about it. Better still, start a blog and then convince others to write the content for you!