9th July 2013
At last - it’s a dream come true. After sixty-eight appearances and twenty-two goals for my country I’ve retired and thanks to my position in the game I’ve had my pick of jobs in Premier League management. I’m now a Football Manager and can’t wait to get stuck into the close and pre-season. I had always expected that the club Chairman would set my transfer budget based on the way that club likes to work and its targets for the coming year and it turned out to be partially true - I was able to increase my budget a little when I suggested we could have greater ambition and qualify for the Champions league. The budget of course is still restricted - all the more important now that Financial Fair Play rules are in place. The club provided an initial status update of where we’re at regarding this challenge and have promised to update me monthly to ensure we’re on track to meet requirements from the various organisations backing FFP. What it means in practice is the accountants are very much on top of me and I can’t load a deal up at the back end to minimise spending from this year’s transfer budget - if I am making monthly payments over four years they know it and they act accordingly to this and future budgets. Unless you’re working for one of the rich clubs you have to act clever. That’s probably why they’ve included the type of players I sign (youngsters!) and the way I play as measures they’ll assess my performance against in addition to brute success in all competitions.
16th August 2013
The eve of the new season. What a wonderful time - it’s both unimaginably exciting and downright terrifying. Though I didn't say that to the press. No. It was all excitement, confidence and humility. But no cracks were presented. All was done in a calm or assertive way too - with the odd animated moment thrown in! Nothing reluctant, or cautious. No, I had to present myself as the rock-solid leader of this club. I’ve added to my squad over the summer both on the staff side and the playing side. Existing staff were accepting of my letting them go. I had to bring in folks who could see the potential of players both present and future. It’s one of the things the board want after all - new potential brought in to make this club great again, in the future. It’s a slow process. We can’t just spend that cash now.
17th August 2013
The game has moved on since my day as a player. I’ve tried to keep up, of course, but using the modern terminologies and ways of coaching is something I’ve struggled with over the close-season. To that end I’ve had my team focussed on learning three sets of tactics. Unlike the past where you could be very specific and numerical about it all and have the backline rigidly move up one, two, three steps as described to them using sliders, you now have to talk about the type of play you want a team or individual to make. Do you want them to push up, drop deep, retain possession or exploit the flanks? It’s easier to convey for sure and it allows for much more unique instructions per player given they’re not all encumbered by that slider number but oh my, it’s hard to get used to! My staff are extremely helpful though - offering their thoughts on all matters and at all times. I can ignore it if I want but whilst I’m learning I’m finding listening to them tends to be the best thing to do. I think I’m planning to learn this first season and try various things out then really get going next year. If I’m still here.
31st August 2013
I’m still not sure if I’ve made the right moves this Summer for players. I have had them scouted with a view to their potential but I had to keep one eye on the here and now, too, ensuring we can achieve this year what we need to do in order to push on as time goes on. I guess part of it is the dynamics of each deal. The player, their agent and I kept talking until we found some common ground which worked for them. Even then they’d go away and think about it depending on other offers from other clubs. When you’re in the mix of these discussions and you really want this player because you know they’re a wonderkid and could be the next star you sometimes go a little further than you’d planned. Especially given the number of things players look for now. It’s not just their salary but also what bonuses they can get and what assurances. It’s always been there before but they know to spread their rewards around a bit more than before and you do it all with them in the room so if you suddenly tell them they’re going to be a regular in the first team rather than used on rotation - just to get the board to allow a slightly higher wage - they then up their demands because the poker face has gone and they know how much I want them.
1st January 2014
The world today is so far removed from that which I learnt my trade in. The resources available to me after a game and during it - to make changes on the fly or respond accordingly - are innumerable. The videos we take today and the control over them we have really bring to life the tactics we applied on the day. It shows off all the good and the bad; the mistakes and the big wins. It provides feedback on what to change and what to keep the same. Frankly, it makes my job that much easier. It’s so accurate and fantastically helpful that I can’t imagine only having notes or rudimentary simulations of what’s happened anymore. I need this fully realised real-time action. I don’t think the information available to managers has ever been more helpful. It means any successes or failures I have now are that much more straightforward to pinpoint, and often I’m the root cause! Still, I’m doing well enough to think I can get through this year and really push on in the next. I’m top five right now and I said we’d aim for top four. I’ve signed multiple youngsters and I’m playing the bulk of them - all three or four at a time alongside the fairly young group I had anyway. The only problem with that is that they come and ask to renegotiate their contracts. Anyway, if I get another year and beyond we can grow together and become the very best.
14th January 2014
Oh. I might not have much say in the matter in the future. Of who we buy that is, anyway. The Chairman suggested today we look at getting in a Director of Football. I like the idea in principle. Someone to help negotiate transfers, new contracts and so on. But I need to have a say in who comes in still. I also need to be sure I’ll have a say in playing those who come in - rather than that DoF just taking over at the first sign of trouble. I think we’re on the same page here; we all agree it can work but it needs to be a personality fit with me. Hopefully if they persist in the request, or I decide it’s the right thing to do, I can search for the right partner and bring them in. It’s much better than having someone foisted on you, isn’t it?
25th January 2014
I think I’m going to find a DoF as soon as I can - definitely by the summer. This window, given my limited funds, I’ve detailed various players as transfer targets for my Chairman to go after but he’s failed each time. He hasn’t got the skills. But I don’t have the time, frankly, to manage such things. I’m looking at creating some alternative tactics to fit not only the new folks I’ve got coming in but also to help with that mid-season slump when whatever you’ve been doing just gets found out. It always seemed to happen to the teams I played in and here it’s the same. Whether it’s the formation, the strategy or the players, something’s up and I need to balance against that if I want top four come season’s end. It’s looking harder and harder to maintain that as we carry on.
17th March 2014
Well, the season is coming to an end. I’m still top six so the question is can I get there? It’s harder now than it was during those first few months but is that because of my training regime, the number of new and young players I’ve tried to integrate or just my tactics not working against teams recently? Truth is it’s probably a mixture of all three and probably more. I need to look into it and make one final push. I’m definitely getting hassled by the board to do it all. They keep engaging me in more ways and the conversations we have are more subtle than ever before. It’s not just the big things like “why did I not play so and so last Saturday”, but also that the youth facilities will not be upgraded since the recent assessment, or would I like to change the club’s philosophies bearing in mind that changes the assessment measures for next season. It’s mind-blowing how engaged the board are in all things these days, and how open to my thoughts they are. They might not do what I want or need but they will explain why not. Normally they understand and agree we should be spending our cash on this or that even when we don’t actually then spend any. They make their priorities very clear and if mine are different or on an alternative timescale, well, I have the option to influence their thinking but then of course it’s binding. Do I want to tell my bosses we’ll get the title when they only want continental qualification?
12th May 2014
The season is over. Oh my. I never knew that management could be so much better than playing. It really is though. I’ve gotten my team to sixth place in the end. Yes it’s not that mystical top four with Champion’s League qualification, but we’ve learnt a lot together. I have them playing multiple formations at will; I’ve brought into the first team squad multiple youngsters and blended into the team those I could as best I could. I’ve reviewed the season with the board and they’ve seen enough promise and success against most of our targets that they’ve asked me to stay on for the next phase of this club’s growth. As a result I have a new fund to look at incomings for the summer. We’ve not had a sugar-daddy come in and take us over but we have had them come for our players. But you take the time to chat with them one on one or as a group and they’ll act maturely and make the right choice, all things considered. This job is magical and something I am so glad I got the chance to do. I can’t really imagine doing anything else. I am immensely happy that I can take everything I have learnt and plug it into a simulator over the summer whilst I’m travelling around Brazil watching the World Cup. It’s simple and strips out a lot of what I’ve done and utilised this year but the raw challenge is there - to win something and develop the team. It’s classic really, that I have this option as otherwise I’d have to stay where I am and that in turn might hinder this coming year. Yes, it will change based on things we learn and bugs we need to iron out but that’s an ever-happening occurrence. All told it’s really rather good. I really am the Football Manager and long may it last!