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If I could have anoth­er life to live, sim­ul­tan­eous with my own, I would prob­ably spend most of it play­ing Sports Interactive’s Football Manager (aka Championship Manager). While I tend to scoff at those who get excited at Beatles Rock Bands and am baffled but impressed by those who take games ser­i­ously, I can­not deny my achilles heel and so every year I down­load the demo of the latest ver­sion and then force myself to not buy the full game in order to stay sane.

The 2009 ver­sion intro­duced half-time and full-time team talks, allow­ing you to gee-up or dress-down your team depend­ing on your psy­cho­logy, theirs, and the state of the match. Motivational options included “Show your dis­ap­point­ment at the team” or “Tell your play­ers to do this for the sup­port­ers” and you could single play­ers out for cri­ti­cism or praise (“Tell Cole that you are delighted with him”).

What I really wanted to say (fairly often, in fact, as I watched my beloved Hammers real­ist­ic­ally ship late goal after late goal) would be more like this:

And you ask Colin Boulton, ‘You want to give me the fuck­ing sack, do you?’

No Boss,’ he says.

Well, you fuck­ing will because you’re a use­less cunt of a keeper.’

You ask Ronnie Webster, ‘You want to get me the fuck­ing sack, do you?’

No Boss,’ he says.

Well, you fuck­ing will because you’re utter fuck­ing shite. Bloody rubbish.’

You ask John Robson, ‘You want to get me the fuck­ing sack, do you?’

No Boss,’ he says.

Well, you will because you’re the worst fuck­ing defend­er I’ve ever seen.’

You ask Colin Todd, ‘You want to get me the fuck­ing sack, do you?’

No,’ he says, ‘I don’t’

Well, the bloody amount of money I fuck­ing paid for you, I must have been bloody pissed out of my fuck­ing skull. You can­’t even keep on your fuck­ing feet.’

You ask McFarland, ‘You want to get me the fuck­ing sack, do you, Roy?’

No,’ he says.

No, what?’

No, Boss,’ he says.

So where the bloody hell were you this after­noon? You might as well have fuck­ing stopped at home, use you were to me out there.’

You ask John McGovern, ‘You want to get me the fuck­ing sack, do you, John?’

No, Boss,’ he says.

Well, you remem­ber that open goal, that open bloody goal you should have stuck that fuck­ing ball in?’

Yes, Boss.’

Well, that looked like a delib­er­ate miss to me, to get your man­ager the sack.’

I’m sorry, Boss.’ he says. ‘It wasn’t.’

Fuck off,’ you tell him and turn to Archie Gemmill. ‘You want to get me the fuck­ing sack and all, do you, Scotsman?’

No, Boss,’ he says.

Come on, admit it,’ you tell him. ‘You liked it bet­ter back in the Third Division, did­n’t you? Come on, admit it.’

No, I did­n’t,’ he says

You shake your head and turn to John O’Hare and ask him the same ques­tion: ‘You want to get me the fuck­ing sack, do you?’

No, Boss,’ he says.

You point at Hinton and ask O’Hare, ‘You know how many centres he sent in?’

I’m sorry, Boss.’ he says.

No, you’re not,’ you tell him. ‘Or you’d be out there now fuck­ing practising.’

You ask Kevin Hector, ‘You want to get me the fuck­ing sack, do you, John?’

No, Boss,’ he says.

Really,’ you ask him. ‘Didn’t bloody look like that to me. Not when they took the lead and you had that chance – not chance – that fuck­ing sit­ter when you landed flat on your bloody arse. They’ll be laugh­ing about that in bloody Huddersfield all fuck­ing season.’

You turn to Alan Hinton. You tell him, ‘You played well, Alan. Thank you.’

That’s from page 131 of David Peace’s nov­el, “The Damned United”: Brian Howard Clough giv­ing his Derby team what-for.

And now they’ve made a film of The Damned United, my favour­ite English nov­el of this cen­tury, and sim­ul­tan­eously SI have just launched Football Manager 2010. I’m down­load­ing it as I type this and I may not emerge into the light until some­time early tomor­row morning.

Bonus: Blackburn man­ager Paul Ince reveals how simple the game is in the dugout against West Ham last year. He lost 4–1.


  • Jimmy says:

    Ah Championship Manager, a beau­ti­ful waste of count­less hours of my life. But the ways it bene­fits, I relate to my Scottish girl­friend’s par­ents by talk­ing about all the dif­fer­ent lower divi­sion teams. Teams I only know through tak­ing Albion Rovers to the Scottish Premier League.

    I could­n’t handle the later ver­sions after 01/02 though; the game got far too com­plex for me, so in the odd occa­sions i’ve gone back to the game I just down­load a data­base con­ver­sion to bump it up to today’s players.

    Unfortunately the trail­er for ‘The Damned United’ is yet to inspire me to want to trundle along and check the film out. Should I change my mind?

    • dano says:

      You could eas­ily wait for the DVD. Or for it to turn up on Sunday night TV. But if it crosses your path you should check it out. Full-ish review to be pos­ted shortly.