Friday, 24 February 2012
FM Anonymous: My Addiction
I have certain friends that I know are as enthusiastic about the great game of Football Manager as I am, these friends that when we get together, pretend to listen to the success of others, waiting patiently for their turn to share what player they’ve just bought on a free, who they’ve offloaded for mega bucks, which youth starlet has come through the ranks to become the clubs top goal scorer. I am the worst, I almost forget that sometimes this game is not real life. Jason Manford once said in his comedy sketch, that he met Micah Richards at a Man City training session, only afterwards to realise that he’d been really ‘off’ with the player as on his Football Manager game, Richards had requested to be put on the transfer list! I’ve had friends (with lots of time on their hands) that have got suited and booted for their team reaching cup finals, university pals who have almost failed their degrees due to FM addiction. In fact, one of my greatest achievements, not just in the game, but in my life, was that as Tottenham Hotspurs most successful ever manager, the club named their newly built stadium ‘Bysouth Arena’, no amount of Champions Leagues or World Club Championships could match the proud feeling when the stadium was unveiled.
So this got me thinking, I’ve built some great teams over the years, but who would make my all time greatest!? I’m not just looking for the players labelled ‘world class’ but for the players who had the biggest impact on their club.
In goal I’ve gone for the Russian, Igor Akinfeev. It’s rare that I splash out big money on a player, but with Gomes worrying me between the sticks I decided the big Eastern European would be a sound investment. In a deal spread over 48 months (any experienced FMer knows this allows you to spend more whilst still keeping money in your wallet) I parted with nearly £20million, Akinfeev went on to become club captain and clocked up a record number of appearances for my Tottenham invincible.
Taribo West is the first of my 3 centre backs, the Nigerian was infamous on the game for being picked up on a free transfer and with a number of teams over a number of different games I snapped up the weirdo with 5 colours in his hair to grace leagues from the Championship to MLS.
My second centre back is a big Jock, signed on the most recent game for my Stevenage team, Kirk Broadfoot became my second top scorer in a League One conquering season. Broadfoot was able to capitalise on the ‘long throw’ set piece I has set up and finished the season with 18 league goals!
The back 3 is completed by a certain Ivan Cordoba, bought as the final piece of a Roma jigsaw ad making up a defence that only conceded 9 goals in the Serie A season 2001-2 on a game pre-Football Manager. Championship Manager was at fault for my original addiction and this Roma team provided 2 more players for my all time XI, Rui Costa slotted into the midfield and Martin Palermo led the line up front. Palermo will go down in FM/CM folk law as perhaps the finest ‘poacher’ the game has ever created. Another centre forward from the Champ Manager days was Leo Fortune-West. Leo was far from one of the greatest players on the game, but in an age before ‘scout report cards’ I decided to gamble on the big man due to his ‘20’ rating for finishing. Leo went on to become a Rushden and Diamonds hero, leading the line for 4 seasons on their journey from the Conference to the Premier League. The strike force is completed by someone starting the game as a young Argentinian with 1 cap and 2 goals to their name. Javier Saviola was hot property as a 17 year old on the game, and if you could sneak in before the likes of Barca and Madrid bid for the player, then you had a real ‘wonderkid’ on your hands!
You’re forgiven for thinking at this stage that Rui Costa played in midfield by himself, like all FM enthusiasts I get a little excited at picking up a ruthless striker on the cheap. My greatest/favourite ever left midfielder has to go to the Italian Fabio Grosso, revered most often as a left back, I would player Grosso in midfield for his superb crossing ability, but it was his set pieces that earn him a place in this team. A free-kick specialist Grosso could be seen as a 2D dot, curling the ball into the net at almost every attempt. Kim Kallstrom slots in alongside Rui Costa in centre mid, the Swede needs no explanation having blessed the game for years with his reliable, hard work ethic. At right midfield is possibly the biggest surprise selection. John Welsh was a utility player, gracing Liverpool reserves until an ambitious Tottenham manager (myself) decided to gamble on the relatively unknown player. Welsh went on to dominate the right side of my Spurs team for over a decade and I can only thank him for his service to the club!
FM XI: Igor Akinfeev, Kirk Broadfoot, Taribo West, Ivan Cordoba, John Welsh, Rui Costa, Kim Kallstrom, Fabio Grosso, Javier Saviola, Martin Palermo, Leo Fortune-West. Subs: Guilhermo Ochoa, Winston Bogarde, Franco Zuculini, Steffan Ishizaki, Ivan Zamorano.
Gaffer: Alex Bysouth.