Football Manager

For those who are wondering what I was up to in the past week or so, I was well, at work, and the rest of my time was spent playing Football Manager.

As the name suggests, one would take on the role of the manager of a football (aka soccer for those of you who use the North American term) club and be in charge of the team’s tactics, training and transfers (i.e., buying and selling players). It is noted for its amount of details (they have volunteers who provide information and stats of thousands of players and clubs around the world), its intensive use of the CPU (this is a game that would truly uses all powers of a quad core processor), and its lack of 3D-graphics (matches are still viewed in the 80’s-style 2D perspective). The last two points aside, it can be as addictive as any first-person shooters, given that you are a football fan, of course.

My history with this game goes way back to my high school days, when the previous incarnation of the game was still named Championship Manager (note that the comtemporary Championship Manager is not made by its original authors/team, as the publishers kept the name with them as the developers and publishers parted ways). Back then, matches were presented in text only (it is kind of like listening to a match on the radio) and processing was horribly slow (at times I have a book in my hand and read while waiting), but I still spent hours after hours on the game. I once led Stoke City to the Premiership title with 70 points (with an edge in goals for over Chelsea), won the Serie A with the likes of Palermo, Napoli, Bologna and Perugia, and took Malaga and Espanyol to La Liga titles and Champions League glory. You see, I like to take on smaller teams and work my way to winning something.

As for my favourite club, Liverpool, I have not played with them very often at all during all these years. The reason being that “managing” Liverpool is a particular frustrating experience, because losses were particularly hard to take because of the additional emotional attachment to the club’s real-world counterparts.

My current save game in Football Manager 2008 is played with Tottenham Hotspurs. Screaming and hollering from me can often be heard whenever the team managed to blow a 2-goal lead (at home, no less), which happens more often that I would have liked. I guess the game can double as a stress reliever. After a week and half (in real time), I have just completed season 3 (in Football Manager time) and took Spurs to a 3rd place finish (Champions League here we come!). However, the club’s finance is poor so I am given very little money to spend on new players (you do not need to buy a house to realize that financing through monthly payments would eventually financially cripple you).

Before I started playing Football Manager again last week, I did not know that I am still very much in love with this game. I guess what attracts me is that the game combines my passion for football with slow-paced gameplay (I don’t think quickly enough to play real-time games). I will probably get tired of my current save game some time next week (me coming on here writing this entry instead of playing is actually the first sign of fatigue). Then, I may abandon the game for a while and hopefully engaging in more meaningful activities (like finishing that short story that I started before I got the game). But surely, I will be back for some more in the future.

Champions League Final 2007

I went Downtown again to watch the Champions League Final, just like two years ago. However, the result was not what I would’ve liked. Milan was nowhere near the quality of 2005 and Liverpool is a much better side than two years ago, but the results were reversed. Such is football. Such is life.

The local Liverpool supporter’s club chose the Library Square Public House as the venue this time. It was a bigger place than the Lennox (the venue for last time). There were many more supporters this time around too.

The crowd is very loud and enthusiastic, as can be expected for a Champions League Final. At half-time, the pub played “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and everyone sang in full voice:

When you walk through a storm
Hold your head up high
And don’t be afraid of the dark
At the end of the storm
Is a golden sky

And the sweet silver song of a lark

Walk on through the wind
Walk on through the rain
Tho’ your dreams be tossed and blown
Walk on, walk on
With hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone
You’ll never walk alone

Walk on, walk on
With hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone
You’ll never walk alone

Needless to say the atmosphere was great.

I don’t have much to say about the match itself, other than the obvious facts like Liverpool desparately needs a game breaker (like Kaka), and Inzaghi miraculously did not go offside for once (and he scored). After years of building, Liverpool becomes a force to be reckoned with, but they still need that little bit of extra quality that set great European sides (e.g. Juventus in the 90’s, Real Madrid in the early 00’s) apart from good teams (e.g. Man Utd, Chelsea).

I am gutted at the loss, but I know that Liverpool will walk on, and will become Champions of Europe again. They’ve been there before and they will go there again. No. 6 awaits.

Walk on, walk on, and you’ll never walk alone.

Gerrard Wants Out

People who do not follow football (aka soccer) would not understand the following:

I wasn’t upset at all when I saw the news that Gerrard wants out. My first thought was: we’re getting 40 million pounds! This is Football Manager in real life baby!

Toe Kit is right, sometimes you need to step down before you can step up. Losing Gerrard is a step down, but I think if we get 40 million to spend, the team will end up stronger than it was when Gerrard is here.

Sending-Off Offences

From FIFA Laws of the game (I know, they are not always enforced…)

Sending-Off Offences

A player is sent off and shown the red card if he commits any of the following seven offences:

1. is guilty of serious foul play;

2. is guilty of violent conduct;

3. spits at an opponent or any other person;

4. denies the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball (this does not apply to a goalkeeper within his own penalty area);

The ball is played towards goal by the attacking team and a defender jumps and handles it as the attacking player moves towards the ball. The defender is sent off for denying the opposing team an obvious goalscoring opportunity.