Never really wanted to be anywhere else, I suppose. You, sort of, look around at the stands and the stadium
and you, sort of, think yes this is, it’s a proper football club. Every season I just kept building this team, this squad. I actually had a philosophy with them as well.
I made sure that they played football and I, sort of, thought, you know what this is quite magical, this. I would never bawl and shout unless the players really need it, you know,
and then if I was shouting they knew they’d done something wrong. I ended up winning the Premier League and then the European Cup. And now I’m 50 years in.
85 years old I am… 85. It’s quite emotional, actually. Doesn’t feel real somehow. Football Manager
An Alternative Reality This, all about obsession, delusion and a general idiocy from a bloke who should know a lot better but clearly doesn’t, really. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to explain it to people
who don’t know what it is, sounds a bit weird to be honest. You know, you’re, sort of, talking to people going well it’s a video game where you play it on your laptop and your job is obviously,
rather unsurprisingly to be the manager of a football team. You can read a book in a couple of days
and be in that universe but you can’t affect anything. Whereas, with Football Manager every single thing you do
affects everything in the universe. It’s more than a game, isn’t it? It’s like a religion or something. It’s always just one more game.
If you lose it’s not enough you can’t leave it on that note. If you win you’ve got to keep it going you can’t leave it. Football admin that’s what it is, you know, and it’s strange
because I don’t really enjoy doing my own admin yet here I am spending hours and hours of my life
simulating the administrative duties of somebody else. This is a familiar scene, one that is replicated the world over. And whilst the protagonists may change and the locations may differ,
the goal always remains the same. There is no end to this scene,
the late nights, the studious application of a plan, but then there is no end to Football Manager. For in the player’s mind they’re all but a few clicks away from glory, a couple of signings away from creating a squad
to conquer the world. They are in charge, they set the agenda, they are the manager.
And I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t personally play a video game called Office Manager, if one existed, where you’re in charge of a small, independent office, maybe, and your job is to obviously restock staplers and maintain photocopiers
and negotiate Brenda’s pay rise, because there’s been a little news item come through
that, you know, she’s been making noises about wanting a new challenge and DHL have apparently been sniffing around. I think it’s safe to say the best we can hope for in Office Manager is
getting a little wonder kid, who is a work experience lad coming in who has been dubbed the new Bill Gates. That’s the best we can hope for, then. This is the story of how Football Manager has grown to become
an integral part of football culture. We know more about the players our clubs are signing.
It’s harder to pull the wool over the fans’ eyes and that’s partly because of Football Manager. How it has created a worldwide database of players
that has become so accurate it’s used within the game. You spot them early on and you can see he’s going to develop into a star and you can buy him as a 16/17 year old
and then later on, in real life, you just actually see them players. That’s nice. How it’s enchanted the lives of millions worldwide. If I had nothing else to do, or no other distractions, I mean, I could play that game all day. Including the players, the managers who make up the game. I can imagine that every manager worth his salt will be using it. To get started turn the computer on. Now type in the word load and press the Enter key. The computer responds with an instruction to press the play button. The ’90s, a social renaissance, a technological revolution, A world where the megabyte was a catalyst for change and football was on the cusp of a metamorphosis. In the embryonic days of the Premier League in the early ’90s, it was popular, more popular than it had been during the ’80s,
but it still wasn’t anything like it is now. Footballers were still, for the most part, earning sums of money that weren’t that far away from, you know, what your parents would be earning. So it was an altogether more normal experience. It was to be television that would shift the public perception of the game.
Football had hit the big time. Satellite TV money had boot-strapped it into the modern world and the modern world demanded entertainment.
If you think back to 1992 it was, you know, two years after Italia ’90 where we’d had this, amazing rise
of the English football team, Gazza’s tears, There was suddenly a glamour and excitement
around football that we’d not had. The late ’80s was a period of kind of doldrums for football. You know we’d had a series of stadium disasters, there was a problem with hooliganism and suddenly, in the early 90s football exploded as a, kind of, legitimate family entertainment. The elements for genesis were in existence
and in their bedroom in Shropshire brothers Paul and Ov Collyer had been studiously developing an alpha copy
of a different type of football game, one that placed the gamer in the hot seat. Miles Jacobson joined the team a couple of years later and, together, they would go on to change the landscape of the football gaming. If you go back to when we first started playing these types of games, football manager games, in about 1981 or ’82, we felt that
we could do something ourselves that was, kind of, in the same vein. They were pretty simplistic, weren’t they? They were limited and you felt that you wanted a more immersive kind of game. We thought, well this isn’t right.
Why not create a world and put the person in it? And then you’ve got a real game, you’ve got a real simulation, and a game that will actually carry on without you.
You were kind of the centre of the universe in the early games and we wanted something where you were part of the universe
and the universe was the football world. And that was our core philosophy from the start. It was certainly very noticeable for someone playing the first game.
There was that wow factor of going, I’m playing against this team and I can actually see who the players are and I can get a scout report telling me about their info. In fact, the other matches were actually taking place
between teams that weren’t yours and you could go and look at the results and, you know, click or whatever on the results and get a report and the ratings of all the players.
I think we just felt that that was the better way to do it. Then we were getting to the point where we were playing it with our friends
and everyone was having a great Saturday afternoon playing it and getting very competitive and then it’s time to start thinking,
you know, what can we do with this? The Collyers had this idea, worked on it alone in their bedroom,
sent out letters to, you know, 20 or so publishers to try and get them interested in the game and got turned down by everybody. I’m sure they’ve still got the rejection letter
they got from Electronic Arts which said, No, I’m sorry this idea is not going to work. You know, it’s, kind of, like, a Hollywood story, but with two, kind of, unglamorous guys rather than Brad Pitt. The game eventually did get taken up.
Domark published Collyer’s work. Championship Manager was to be its name,
a text-based simulation released on the Commodore Amiga and Atari ST. The game allowed players to play in all four divisions
of the English leagues made up of imaginary players. The first game came out in 1993
and I’ve now worked out I’ve played every single version, okay? So aged 34½, I’m classing this as my mid-life crisis show, right?
it’s breaking point now. So 20 years. 20 years I’ve been playing this game, which is a ridiculous amount of time. Obviously I was at school at 13-14,
also my parents got divorced at that time as well, so where my mum was having the tears and that I would go upstairs
and sort of go on the computer and she knew I wasn’t looking at pornography. She knew I was looking for wing backs. Safe up there, because let’s face it if I’ve played 20 years’ worth of Football Manager I have not been sexually active for 20 years, have I? Championship Manager 2 would take it to another level. Real players, in detail stats, it quickly became the stuff of legend. Then, in early 2004 things changed. The team the Collyers and Miles had built,
now called Sports Interactive, moved to a new publisher, SEGA, leaving their old Championship Manager name behind
to become Football Manager. Crucially they took the code and the database with them. I remember the first concerted attempt
to get mass research going was the fanzines. We basically, we wrote to all the fanzines, sent them a sheet
and said could you rate your players, please? The first version that I would say we made educated guesses about the attributes of the top division players.
We didn’t plan for the database to be any particular size. It was just, literally, this is the game we have, this is the leagues we’re simulating and we need a database. So as the game grew, as we simulated more leagues,
we obviously needed to expand the database and I guess the whole thing has become out of control
because, you know, we’ve had people wanting this league, wanting that league and we’ve expanded it so much that you need the huge database.
So it’s just a necessity really. We didn’t think, oh we’re going to end up with
this huge database it’s just happened. All of the artificial intelligence couldn’t exist
if it wasn’t for the tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of different character types
that we have in the game because of the data. Right from the beginning the Collyer brothers were absolutely obsessed with detail. It was an intricate detailed game, even before they had the scouting network, which they eventually put in place where, hundreds of fans around the world got together and started actually scouting teams and coming up with really realistic, authentic stats. And it, kind of, matched the desire of football supporters
to have something which made them feel as though they were, kind of, involved with the game. The scouting network, an integral part of any football club,
an integral part of Football Manager. And much like football the game spends countless hours scouting teams and players, except they are making sure that everything is accurate,
rather than just scouting for talent. Growing up in South Africa, at the time we only really had English football
and it was a rare game on television. The only team I used to watch back then was Liverpool
because Bruce Grobbelaar was born in Durban, so there was this natural affinity for them. Being a white boy in South Africa, I came from a rugby/cricket culture,
but I got introduced to the game because of cricket, actually. My brother was playing cricket at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth
and one of the grounds men one day said to me, listen, they’re playing soccer the next day why don’t I come watch? And I got to see Jomo Sono play live. I’d never seen anything like it.
He did things with the ball I didn’t know was possible and I think like any sportsmen if you see one of the greats as a kid,
that’s how you fall in love with the game. I spend my life in football, writing and editing. For the past four, five years I’ve been happily doing the South African research. I still focus on the local game and with Football Manager researching, it’s like I’m always out there trying to discover
those guys I fell in love with when I was a kid, trying to find the new ones. Every now and then we have a young player that I just want to keep track off, you know, to see what happens in his career. We’re at Vasco da Gama in Cape Town. It’s good to come to training because you get to see
whether they can show that potential skill that they have. There’s nothing wrong with seeing these guys in this environment. It’s certainly going to add to the data collected. We actually had one Nigerian guy recently sign in South Africa
who kept saying he’s 21 years’ old, but his entire professional career’s on record, you know,
he played in France at this age and he played in Nigeria for three years before that, which would have made him 12 and they’ve never had a 12-year-old professional in the Nigerian Premier League. It’s why we have to keep records because you can’t be 21 your entire career. Football Manager’s scouting network is worldwide and in its home country there is a researcher for every club. I’m a researcher with SI. I was also a professional scout for five years and I’ve worked for SI on and off for about 10 years. I remember being at games using Football Manager
to check a player’s attributes at half time and other scouts coming across to ask me, you know, how did I know all this information
about the player; where did I get it all? And saying, you know, it was just something that I’d thrown together
but in fact it was just the game. In terms of being an algorithmic database it’s unsurpassed and unsurpassable. I don’t think there’s any other resource that will allow you
to search for a left-footed goalkeeper that’s under five foot three and can also play right back and isn’t friends with Ryan Giggs. It would be impossible, but you can do that on Football Manager. We’re here today to take a look at some of Derby County’s players,
in particular Will Hughes, one of their most important playmakers. Me and my mate used to stay up until God knows what time in the morning, four/five for days on end just playing it. I think it’s the realism of it,
I think, how in-depth it is and to what extremes you can go to relate so much to the real game nowadays
and I think that’s what I and many other football fans love. I’ve heard of football players having it written into their… contractual clauses written in so that they can play Football Manager on a coach on the way to games. You get drawn into it that much that it becomes part of what you do,
especially when you’re playing it a lot and you’re travelling down, two or three hours,
you can find yourself playing it on the coach for most of the way. So we’re going to be assessing Will for the new Football Manager game. Later, I will be updating his histories and his statistics
and things like that but, in particular today I’m looking at his attributes to see how far he’s progressed since last year. I’m just looking at them here, some of them are quite generous, like pace on 13, I’ll take that all day long. There are 1,300 researchers in this world
all checking, all measuring, all ensuring that the information within the game is accurate.
It’s the database that makes the dreams seem real. Became aware of the game… mid-90s. We’d been playing this other game. We used to post it off to Chesterfield
and they’d write back and tell you what happened in your match and we used to do that for, like, a couple of years. And then suddenly, Footie Manager’s come and it’s, like, all happening in front of you. It was like a revelation.
We got into it dead early, six weeks’ holiday, maybe 95 could have been 96. We just hammered it, solid, six weeks’ holiday that were it, gone. Didn’t want to go to Skegness, none of that business this year.
We’re playing on Footie Manager. I were Chelsea, yeah, took over Vialli’s job. And we used to have to, like, invent a back… well, we used to, we still do. We have to invent a back story, you can’t just be a manager. You’ve got to, like, have a reason why, like, oh yes I used to play for Wednesday and then I moved to Chelsea in 80s and we’d, like, invent a back story for ourselves to make it a bit more realistic, you know what I mean? I were Chelsea. I won the title on the last day with a Mark Hughes header at Newcastle. Massive, still think about it now. The thing I like about the game is it’s all encompassing, isn’t it? There’s no, like, it’s not like something you dip into.
It just takes over your life. I’m a musician… I remember, like, playing Glastonbury, right? First time I’m playing Glastonbury there’s going to be, like, thousands of people. I’m like, back stage, like, need a new right-winger for Man U.
You know what I mean? Like, mental isn’t it? I’ll show you physically how I approach the game, right? So, like, I’m married, right?
So Laura gets in bed, she falls asleep before me, right? So I’m, like, here, right, like this. Laptop on belly… she’s asleep, bum on leg.
Get her bum on my leg, so she’s facing that way. I can always, like, turn her over so she won’t, like… I’ve had a couple of weird incidents where she’s, like, turned over in middle of night
and, you know, like, when we kick the legs over it’s bosh! Knocked me game flying, disastrous. Worst bit is thought, if you’ve been listening to music…
so I play it on silent, right? But if you’ve been listening to music and you’ve forgot you’ve listened to music and you’re laid in bed at night and everything’s dead quiet,
just having a little sneaky game and it games on, WAH! Oh… terrible. And you have to snap your laptop.
It’s like being caught watching porn by your mum. Sorry babe, sorry babe, I’ve woke her up a few times. It’s grim. I’ll get back up. I shouldn’t be down here, should I?
But yeah, that’s physically how I play. That’s my vibe, it’s like, flat on me back, laptop on belly, bosh. But, like, one time I had this game on, Man U, right? I’ve signed a right side. I’ve got, like, a proper side together. I’m unbeatable.
I’ve won the Champions League final in, like, a 4-3 thriller. You know what I mean… I’m losing, I’ve come back and won.
I’ve gone nuts. I’ve like lost my… all that. Proper woke missus up, she’s got something important to do next day.
Dog house. I tried to work out, like, how long of my life I’d actually spent playing this game. For example, if I’d spent one hour of every day over 20 years, right, this would equate to 7,300 hours of my life, right? Now I know, fella, you’re thinking “There’s 20 years, there’s five leap years, where’s those other five hours?” Don’t worry, they’re in there as well.
Accuracy 20, now. But that’s not possible. That’s not possible.
everyone in this room who has played Football Manager knows it’s not possible to only play for one hour a day, right? One hour on Football Manager is barely long enough
to meet your staff and players for the first time. Maybe a more realistic timeframe would be, maybe, three hours a day. Now if we take 7,305 hours, we multiply that by three, that comes out at 21,915 hours. I know! How depressing is that?
And it gets worse when you divide it by 24, the number of hours obviously in every day. It comes out at a rather alarming and depressing two and a half years of my life. Yeah, two and a half years, right? I could have got my coaching badges in two and a half years.
I could have learnt a second language. That would have been helpful, you know? Rosetta Stone reckon it only takes 96 hours on average
to learn a second language. That would have been really useful. I could have gone and managed in a different country and everything, then.
We were about a year away from getting married and we were looking at honeymoon locations
and, at the same time, I’d just started beta testing the 2008 version of Football Manager. The English leagues were all taken, so they needed somebody to test the Bulgarian league. I found the team in the lowest league available, called Nesebar. So I started playing with them, enjoying testing with them and getting into the game and I started really looking into the actual team themselves in real life and found, they were based on the east coast of Bulgaria,
near the Black Sea… a holiday resort called Sunny Beach. And I thought, I wonder if it’s possible to, sort of, like, get there? So I mentioned this to Fay and she said, “Okay let’s have a look.” So we decided now it was going to be our honeymoon and it was also going to be
my first time actually going abroad on a holiday. I was really determined to try and get to see the team
because I’d put so much effort into finding out about them and playing them in Football Manager
and I thought how am I going to do this? It took a bit of working out trying to think of the logistics behind it and things just panned out perfectly, really,
because we made friends with other English holidaymakers out there. And the wives and girlfriends all decided one day they’re going to go off together. And I went with the lads and said, “You know, I’ve got an idea for us. Let’s go and watch some local football.
And there we were watching Nesebar playing in the Bulgarian Second Division. The wife at the time didn’t know. She knew we were going to football. And it was all because of Football Manager, really, that we were there. For the uninitiated, this behaviour is very strange indeed. Why would a player construct a life based on a bunch of stats?
And why did the early versions of the game attract so many, despite being graphically challenged? You know when you used to get text back in the day?
They were all right but you have to, like, use your imagination. I’ve got a good imagination, so… that’s fine. I really miss the very old ones where it was just…
it was a text report and your imagination had to fill in the gaps. There was something beautiful about that
that you pictured everything in your head, season in and season out. I think I’m a bit sad in that respect,
but I could watch Teletext for hours and just wait for a digit to change and a goal scorer’s name to come up.
And that was what that version was like. That, I think was my favourite. Probably caught me at just the right time.
Sort of in between girlfriends and before pub. There was a certain charm about the original version,
but times evolve and thus it followed, so did the graphics. I remember first playing it when there were little circles for players on the pitch. Then the dot came out, best thing I’ve ever seen. Oh you can actually see who’s played him onside now,
so you know who to shout at. That was brilliant. And then it went through stages of having, kind of, 3D images.
You could watch a, kind of, real game. As soon as they brought that 3D pitch business in,
I was gone me, sold, in… in love forever. And now a new development, more realism to add to the simulation. Today we’re in Horsham at their motion capture facility
and we are capturing new motion capture data for inclusion in Football Manager 2015. We’re using real professional players provided by AFC Wimbledon. Previously in the past we had hand animation,
so those would have been created completely from scratch by hand. And we’re now replacing that with real, believable data from real footballers. Real human motion and that will add to the immersion and believability
of the actual match engine itself. Good, good, good very nice. This is going to look good in the game, really good. There’s a lot of nuances that you pick that people naturally do. I mean, every take is going to be an individual take
because no-one does the same thing twice. What we have here is we’ve got
a 48 Vicon Optical Motion Capture System, 48 cameras. Each one of those will pick up, up to 53 markers on each character, which identify the joints on a character and how they move. So you’re going right, low first Jase.
Maybe one of you come out of there to here a little bit more for these cameras. All right, let’s go then. Great save, that’s beautiful. The volume that we use, which is the space that people work in,
is 11 by 12 metres which gives us a nice size for people to be moving around in, running about so they’ve got a lot of freedom. This is more like, you know, a possible counter attack.
You know, you might be about to throw the ball to a full back. That’s then captured as basically a bunch of dots on the screen.
What happens then is the software will joint those dots together, create a skeleton, put that in place and then in turn that skeleton is transferred onto a character within, you know, 3D software and an animator will do an animation pass on that. And then that goes straight into the game. What they can gain from this is having a whole set of movements for one person, which will be different on the screen to a different player doing the same thing. Nice, nice, really nice. It’s these small, little intricacies that we’re trying to capture, basically. It’s to give the game a bit of texture, really.
It’s just to add these little minute details that fans will hopefully pick up on, because a floated in cross will look a lot different to a cross
that’s drilled into the box, basically. I’d say float it a little bit more on the next one. The difference is more than we even imagined before we started.
It was obviously the first time that we’ve worked with professional players and the gulf in technical class and execution of the actions is enormous. And that’s going to have a really, really big impact on Football Manager
and the animations in the game. Good save. The game like football itself has constantly evolved. For some it’s a second job,
whilst for others the Handheld or Classic versions allow them to fit in their football management responsibilities around a busy lifestyle. It’s come a long way from a text-only simulation. The atmosphere at football, particularly when you’re seven, eight years old and you’re growing up, there’s nothing like it. Vicarage Road is a really special place to me. I’ve spent so much of my time there. I’ve been going to Watford now for 35 years,
so it’s a place that’s full of emotion. Lots of highs, lots of lows, but mainly highs. Maybe because I wasn’t as good at the game as I wanted to be, but my brain knew what should be going on,
that’s why I started studying the tactical side of things. And also playing a lot of the games that I did at the time, playing the original Football Manager made me more interested in that element. Managers do all manage in different ways, so we have to reflect that in the game. The tracksuit versus more suited manager. There are some managers who are down on the training ground,
who are literally running the training session. Whereas there are other managers who are a bit more hands-off who give directions to the coaches of what they want the coaches to do. I like to learn more about what’s going on and it is important for my work. I’ve been fortunate enough to go to team meetings,
learn a lot more about the terminology that’s used and that kind of stuff does end up making it into the game. Things like the player roles, for example, there was a time where, you know, if you went into the post-training team meeting there’d be two boards there, one of them with ball, one of them without ball and some clubs probably still do that,
but I’ve learnt from being at training that player roles have become so much more prevalent now and it’s the same inside the game. The player role does tell you what the player is going to do with the ball
and when they don’t have the ball. It’s amazing the access that we get, not just from watching the training and learning what goes one during the sessions, because even just working on set pieces like they are now means
that I can go back and talk to the guys who do the set piece creator inside the game about what we’re doing, go back and talk to the match team about the way that things are being done. For example, just there you saw the team that were attacking the ball running back and running forward which isn’t something that we’ve got in the game at the moment. And that’s something that could go in, in the future. I don’t think that people form an emotional bond with the game itself, but they do form an emotional bond with the team and with the players. I believe that the relationship that people have with their own team inside Football Manager can actually be greater
than the relationship that they have in real life. Basically, I was in the Cup Final. It was a big deal to me.
I’d not been in a Cup Final before, this was exciting to me. I thought, you know, I might as well get as immersed in the game as I could, so I did.
The sound of the stadium filling the room and I thought it’s going to feel like a real match,
so I decided to play it as a real match, it was going to be the full 90 minutes. It just felt like being an actual football manager for the night. I thought I’ll commit to it, I’ll go in two-footed on it. And then I thought, well if you’re going to be in that kind of environment, you’d probably wear a suit, wouldn’t you, you’re the manager after all. And the game was predictably quite an exciting one.
There was thrills, spills. They scored and we scored. And I was going through the full gamut of emotion, you know, I wasn’t really holding anything back. There was yelling at the little dots to do things I’d told them to do before. Six weeks work on this thing in training…
Looking back on it now it seems silly, but at the time it was probably the most fun I’ve ever had. With about ten minutes to go in the match there was a knock at the door,
which sort of brought me back to reality and when I went to open the door, a blue light just made its way in to the room and there were two policemen flanking my next door neighbour either side. And they were just making sure that I wasn’t being robbed or burgled or assaulted. I had to stand there, in front of two policemen
and explain, in pretty much this amount of detail, that there wasn’t nothing wrong, I wasn’t in any immediate danger. I was just getting really overexcited playing in a Cup Final on Football Manager, which was probably one of the most sobering moments of my life. Then, of course, is the way I explain that to people, who play Football Manager, which is just “Yeah, Cup Final, wore a suit, full game, got excited, police were called.”
And they’re always like, “Oh yeah, I can understand that.” I’ve never suited personally. My brother’s suited. My brother’s suited. My funniest one, I know a fella called Dan the Man, right, lives in Nottingham. And this geyser’s like 50-odd year old. He’s got four kids, pretty respectable feller, Liverpool fan. Got Liverpool to the Cup Final, suited and booted. Weirdly though, he’s playing it early hours of the morning,
like, half four in the morning. He’s got Liverpool to the Cup Final. They’ve had a drought trophy-wise, Liverpool. It’s a big moment for him, so he’s put a suit on.
He’s even got himself a little flower, right? The missus has come into the room and he’s like proper suited and booted.
How do you explain it? Looks weird, doesn’t it? Looks like you’re having an affair or, like, you’ve got some weird thing going on. I don’t think people understand. Some guys really take playing the game to a whole new level. It’s become something of a cliché to put on your very best suit for a Cup Final. I’ve done that myself and with great success. But some people took it even further than that. There was one guy who was actually shaking hands with the door knob, pretending it was Princess Michael of Kent and he was introducing his team. There was another guy, a really worrying development,
who, before an away trip to Istanbul, opened his bedroom window and set the waste paper bin on fire just to really create the right atmosphere. This is Croft Park, home of Blyth Spartans, brings back a lot of memories.
The best one must have been the Champions League Final, I mean, how they’ve reclassified this as a UEFA Category A stadium, you know, big club privileges, I suppose. I remember it clear as day, I mean, you can imagine this on a European night. This is going to be rocking, okay?
So I remember the third goal, that was the one that sealed it. We’re 2-0 up, we’re playing Valencia.
There’s a little, sort of, different coloured bit of grass. We had that deliberately put there
because that was where the right winger was going to cut in. He then pulled it straight back to Milos Georgijev,
who’s a Serbian centre forward, I had, absolutely clinical he was. He moves 20, 25 yards from goal, arrows it right into the top corner. Everyone goes absolutely nuts. The big screen is flashing. It’s goal, it’s goal, it’s goal. It’s 3:0. We’re going to be the European Champions for the first time ever. That’s the moment that you dream of, isn’t it? That’s the Champions League. That’s the goal that wins you the first European Cup and what a night… what a night. We won the Champions League and I thought this is amazing. This is genuinely fantastic, the best experience I’ve ever had in my life. The next day I booked myself onto one of those
city sightseeing buses they’ve got in Newcastle and I gave myself an open-top bus ride of the town to celebrate. The obsession with reality is a common theme for the Football Manager player. To be real you have to act real, but what about those who are real? I have to say I’ve been into computer games and football computer games
since I was eight or nine. But back in the old days, it was only a Commodore 64. When Football Manager came out it was like proper football for me. I was 19 then. I could play 24 hours a day, more or less, when you didn’t have training or school. I’m organising my squad, trying to save a tactic here. It says 3-2-2-2-1, but I’ll call it the 3-4-3. You know when you’re a professional footballer, you have loads of time spare.
You travel a lot so you’re on the coach. You stay away in hotels the night before a game and you need to be able to fill your spare time. Me and Jordi Cruyff played a lot against each other
and he got me into the Spanish league and all those players while I was more into the English league because that’s always been my interest. But me and Jordi spent hours and hours
and you can ask our wives or girlfriends at the time, they weren’t happy with us. I always bought myself whenever I had a chance, when I had the money to and Man United let me go… not very often. Players, then, are as obsessed as any other fan
and over in Italy there was one who wanted to take his involvement to another level. He is Demetrio Albertini, AC Milan, an Italian legend. When I bought the game I read the instructions and saw that there were researchers.
So I got in touch with the executives and the developers of Football Manager in Italy, and when they found out that I was Demetrio Albertini of AC Milan I immediately joined the research team. We felt that the various characteristics would be more accurate if they were written by a real football player. Albertini was involved in the game and the game became integral to his teams. The Italian national side, multiple World Cup winners,
cult heroes, Football Manager players. Trapattoni headed the coaching team and in those years there were many of us who used to play. Pirlo, Massimo Oddo, almost the whole team was playing the game, and at that time we all passed on information to the coach and his assistants about our opponents’ characteristics because it was likely to be accurate. The realism of the game was making a tangible impact within football,
scouting teams, researching players. But what about influencing signings? Could a computer game really arm a real life manager
with the information he needed to buy a player? Rangers are a fantastic institution, beautiful stadium. When I took the job over, you don’t know what it’s all about until you actually experience an old firm game. It was mind-blowing. If I was starting a new game I always went for the tried and trusted players
that had served me well in the other clubs. I suppose otherwise, take the job that my dad was currently in. Rangers appoint John McLeish as manager that means you’ve been sacked. Thank you. I was living in Glasgow at the time and I think it was about 2001/2002 season and I used to like Barcelona because I always knew the B team and the C teams had great gems that you could pluck
for a bargain or get them on loan. And then this one kid stood out, you know? I was drafting him into the first team already
and giving him a few games and he’d score a couple of goals. And I think he must have been 13 or 14 and his stats
for someone that age were just incredible. The first thing I did was tell my dad about it. He told me that this guy is going to be the best player in the world
and I said, “Aye, okay son.” You know, pat on the head and let them get on with it, you know? Back in the early days of the game there was some players that you felt they weren’t incredibly realistic to real life in terms of where their careers ended up. But this just felt like it was something different about this kid, you know? Why was he in at 13? Surely they couldn’t have made this mistake?
And the kid was called Lionel Messi. For them to actually say this is the guy who is going to be the best player in the world
and then that happens, you know, I should have made them my chief scouts right away, my two boys. Funny enough, two, three years later,
Rangers enquired about signing Messi on loan and another player that I’d seen from the game I’d recommended to my dad… I said to Jan Wouters, “Phone Henk ten Cate at Barcelona and see if Barcelona have any kids coming through.” We actually asked if Lionel Messi was available on loan
and they said “No chance.” They did say, though, that Iniesta could come on loan. So he told us that Iniesta, this boy was very lightweight,
but nobody could get near him on the pitch. He was playing in the Barcelona B team. And then ten Cate phoned back on the Monday and said, “Can’t do it. He played in the first time at the weekend
and the coach is going to take him into the first team squad.” So we had a near miss but the kids flagged these up when they were, like, 14. I think at the time, you know, being a kid you laughed and thought well this is just a computer game, but I think I was the one that was right in the end. Scotland may have missed out on Messi, but it does host a start of a different kind. He is the stuff of legend, part of a select group of players that excite every player. The unheard of gems that reside inside each copy of the game as laconic talents, but are nurtured into heroes by each loving click-by-click of the mouse. Most, like Messi, will become heroes in real life, but some end up having more success in the virtual world. Mark Kerr, what a player, he just became the pivot
upon which the whole of your square could be based. He was the man who never ever let you down. Built my title-winning Juventus team around him, in the centre of midfield. He’s travelled hasn’t he?
A genius player in the game and he’s still playing these days at Queen of the South. Best £40,000 you would ever spend, right? It’s Scotland’s Mark Kerr. He was a diamond in the game, right? Brilliant. You bought him, right? You bought him. He was the Claude Makélélé role before Claude Makélélé was invented. I started off just at a local team, just get involved
and I made some friends and my dad was involved in it. I moved into Glasgow, into Celtic, played there for about five years which was a good experience as a kid growing up. I was lucky enough to get took on by Falkirk. I managed to get training with the first team pretty early on and I got in the team just before the end of my first season really. I’d just started to play and I’d hardly really made a name for myself in the game of football, like, in real terms. And then the Football Manager was, kind of, coming into the club. I had done a couple of things round about 2001, a couple of interviews on the rise of the game and how good I’d done in the game. The funny thing about Mark Kerr was that it wasn’t that
any of his stats were particularly amazing. He didn’t have the best shot in the game, he wasn’t the quickest player in the game. It was his work rate and determination, his ability to follow orders.
It was at Falkirk where it first started. It was probably about, maybe, three, four years after I left Falkirk that the game got bigger and then I had, kind of, stayed
as, like, one of the best players in it. He used to go, sign for Arsenal, for the Real Madrids of this world, for Juventus. He was always the captain of Scotland
and I’m sure Mark would have loved that to be reality, but within the game I know that he was a real legend. The boy Kevin Bridges, I think he does an interview
and he says he won the Champions League final with Dortmund and I scored the goal. It’s pretty cool, but it would have been better if I had done it
in real life, I suppose, to match it. There’s them fellas who… they never make it in real life,
but in Football Manager terms they’re Gods, aren’t they? Tonton Zola… I’ve never seen what he looks like. I’m going to Google him right now, where’s my phone? I want to know. I think my favourite was Tonton Zola Moukoko who was obviously
the legend of the game for a number of years. If you had him in your side your side was virtually unbeatable. You could pluck this guy, I think he was maybe from Djurgården in Sweden,
for about £20… £35,000 and no matter what club you put him at, he would score a hat-trick, four goals, five goals. Within two seasons he was probably the best player in the game. I remember back in the day it was all about Freddy Adu. If you had Adu you were jamming.
But now, I didn’t know if I really… you know, when you see somebody that never lived up
to their Football Manager potential… he kind of disappeared. No-one will ever replace Mike Duff in my affections. He was in one about 12 years ago.
He cost £20,000 from Cheltenham Town. You could throw him in the Manchester United team,
you could throw him in the Southend United team, he would be the best player. He was the greatest bargain that game has ever seen
and I can’t tell you how happy I am to see that even in real life, though he hasn’t quite matched that, he is now back in the Premier League with Burnley. To me, I see those players as mistakes.
They’re data errors. They’re things that should never have happened. I’m not cruel enough to want to take those memories away from the people who love those players and, you know,
I’ve got a big soft spot for Mark Kerr, as well, he did very well for my Watford team for many years,
was the player that you could afford to buy. But then on the other hand as the game’s director I see them as negatives because they’re not true to the simulation that the game is meant to be and is what we want the game to be. People message me all the time saying, you’re far too good,
you’re an FM God and stuff like that. There’s been a book recently.
Obviously the players in that were all the players I signed as a kid and the stuff I’m getting on Twitter I can half expect myself to be in that book soon with the way it’s going on and people obviously sending me references saying I’m getting 26 in 27 and stuff like that.
It’s great to see my play is doing well for them. I try and sign myself but I’ve been let down, if I’m honest. It happened where it weren’t doing well enough for my standards and I ended up just being there because I was a manager and I didn’t like that. It’s easy to have that little click chat, you’re dropped, and to tell myself that I’ve been dropped. I always seem to sign myself. As the years go on I’ve got more expensive so it’s been difficult. I bought myself for PSG, I bought myself for £25 million, I think, and then didn’t cut it because obviously I had Rodriguez, Bale
and Di Maria… all those sort of players. Didn’t cut it and I sold myself for £10 million after one season. So I’m ruthless as well, if I need to be. I don’t even know why but I’d have to dominate the Italian league
and win the Champions League, maybe five or six times and then I’d probably work in the conference. Got one at the moment, Stalybridge from Conference North and we’re top half premiership tied at the minute. Third season in the Premier League and we was trying to push on from there,
but it’s making hard for us because the chairman’s not that willing. When we’re on the plane, like, we’re always on Football Manager. We’re always looking over each other’s results.
We’re always celebrating when the other team scores. So, yes, there’s definitely a lot of rivalry. I think two of my teammates are Spurs
and I’ve obviously gone for PSG because I like just spending money. I’ve punched the screen many times when the results are not going right and obviously it does happen in games where you batter a team all game and they go up the other end and score in the last minute. The laptop’s got a few right hooks from me and a few straights. It’s just one of them things that happens in football
and obviously it happens in the game because it’s probably the best replication of that. I don’t think we ever consciously said we’re going to tap into
this ‘everyone wants to be a football manager’ thing. I think it was just that we… It was the kind of thing that we realised afterwards, wasn’t it? I think we wanted to be but… Yeah, exactly, we did it for ourselves, didn’t we, and our mates
and then it just turned out that we were quite normal. The game is more than just man management.
it is a test of skill, a tactical master class. My management style is 4-1-3-2, attacking with the full backs pushing up and the right and left midfielders pushing up to support as well. You know, a lot of the time I find myself trying to retrain an attacking midfielder, setting, you know, as a central midfielder, because I don’t play with anybody
in behind the strikers. I just play with a false nine. Very attacking, as you know from my playing style.
I don’t have too much emphasis on defence. At the moment I’d play a 3- 5-2,
but the two wingers are high up the pitch so it’s more like a 3-3-4 and just go out, an all-out attack. I like to start with a 4-4-2 but with one midfielder and, kind of sat back more and more defensive and then one target man striker and a faster striker
who can play off a target man. I generally like to have a very defensive-minded player here,
almost a Makélélé role, sometimes a centre back actually in front and that would give a lot of structure for the rest of the team to bomb on. Four at the back, one defensive midfielder,
two central midfielders, two wingers, one striker. Following football is quite a geeky pastime, you know? The amount of knowledge we have about irrelevant players
and irrelevant stats and irrelevant goals going back decades, you know, if it was anything else apart from football,
if it was trainspotting or something, people would consider you a massive geek. So it’s perfect that Football Manager appeals to that demographic, I think. What the game did was give people a certain empathy
with what football managers were going through. It never ceases to amaze me when I see fans talking about players in other countries, you know, and having really good knowledge
so I know where that influence has come from. Football Manager has brought out a whole new vocabulary that I never knew existed. I know defenders are there and I know midfields are there, but are we playing an Enganche? And I don’t know what one is. When we signed… Newcastle signed Tioté nobody had heard of the lad, absolutely fantastic Regista, he’ll blow your mind. He’s a what? Like the Makélélé role. There’s no question that fans now, because of games like Football Manager have a more… they’re more familiar with tactics. They seem more approachable
and more, kind of, accessible than they ever used to. You understand the choices of systems.
You understand the changes that have been made. It’s all added to our knowledge of the game.
I think it’s a two-way street, you know? People want more knowledge to help them play Football Manager, to help them sign good, young players or use very intelligent tactics. And it happens the other way around. I think the knowledge you get
from Football Manager means you may be more interested in the tactical side of things, maybe know more about foreign leagues.
So I think it’s cyclical really. I think Football Manager has given people an understanding of the intricacies of football
that they never would have had before. And I’m sure football commentators must play the game.
I first played Football Manager as a… what was I? 11? 12? Early teens, maybe? Probably one of its first incarnations and I absolutely loved it. Whiled away the hours… well, wasted the hours you might say,
instead of doing homework and I love that game. I always play as York City, the team I support, my local club.
It’s not just for that reason, though. It’s because I think you’ve got to start at the bottom and work your way up. You don’t start as Liverpool and start in the Premier League
and have everything there on a plate and be able to go out and sign somebody for £30 million. No, no you’ve got to start by building something yourself,
a feeling of accomplishment as you go up the leagues. I’m sure, if I was better at it, it would be much more fulfilling.
I’m sure that’s the right way to play it as well. I find the game these days… an aid and a hindrance. It’s a good research tool in a way, but only once you start the game. You can’t get into it too far because then it becomes a hindrance. I remember once getting very confused with Edgar Davids. It’s a few years ago now. He was a Juventus player, but I was absolutely convinced he was at Real Madrid. It didn’t cause me any problems in a commentary,
because obviously when you start doing the preparation for a commentary you do it properly, but if I’d just strolled to that game
without doing any preparation, Champions League commentary as well, I would have been surprised to see Edgar David’s name on the Juventus team sheet because I would have thought well he’s at Real Madrid.
No he’s not… only in my kitchen. The other thing is, Jeff, I think it was a good performance from the lads, to be honest. We went a goal down after ten minutes.
We were defending atrocious really first 10, 15 minutes. We could have been 3-0 down, but thankfully, the lads all stuck in. They’re good at what they do, they’ve got a great team spirit in the camp. And, you know, once we got the equaliser,
I think there was only going to be one winner from there… Let’s get the training, let’s get the tactics together. This could be…
You see if I had this then I would be in trouble. I wouldn’t get anything done.
I’d be, like… I wouldn’t put the thing down. I’m a big football fan anyway and I like to watch, you know… Even in my spare time I watch Bundesliga football and I watch La Liga football, as well as the premiership and as well…
I mean, my team’s Celtic so they’re always at the… They’re the games I love to watch the most. But usually I’m Celtic and I was managing Celtic at the time and I got to go in and they were kind enough on one of the occasions to invite me and I got to go into the dressing room. I got to meet the team and hang out. There was one guy I never warmed to at all
and I couldn’t figure out why. And it was… It turns out, I think he’d missed training three weeks in a row in the game, to the point where I had to go to the weeks’ wages fine.
And I was holding that against this poor guy in real life that his imaginary counterpart was lazy. On May 28, 2002 we already knew that we’d lost the fight to stop Wimbledon FC relocating to Milton Keynes. At the time there was lots of rumours about clubs being bought and moved. There were a couple of clubs that were looking to move to Dublin
and we just thought that the whole thing was completely wrong. You can’t buy a club and move them 20, 30, 40 miles away. I was doing lots of TV and radio interviews because we announced on that day that we would start again. A lot of people in football were sceptical that fans could actually run a football club
and I think that I spoke quite passionately that day about how we could do this and how we would do this and we were going to make it happen,
even though we didn’t have a ground, we didn’t have a kit, we didn’t have an official name, but we were going to make this happen. So we heard Ivor Heller, the commercial director, talking on 5 Live when the decision had been made and I gave him a call. He said that he’d enjoyed listening to the interview and that he was inspired by what we were going to do. I said, “Good let’s get together and see what we can do,” because it just had the right feel. The first call to Ivor was literally to find out how much money they needed to set up the club and we signed the deal a couple of days later. The money in the early days was critical to us, there is no doubt about that, because we needed and have needed every penny that we’ve ever been able to raise. The funniest thing when we first started working with them, they didn’t actually have a kit so for their first match they wore our office five-a-side kit. We’ve always wanted to be part of the football community and I don’t think there is a better way to be part of the community than to be associated with Football Manager. Football management is a totally strange and unique job and I think unless you’re sitting in the hot seat you can’t imagine what it’s like. It’s a pre-season friendly at the end of the day,
so whatever happens I’m not going to beat myself up or get down about it if they are too strong for us which might be inevitable. I always wanted to play against the best
and, you know, I’ve got a study at home with photos of me playing against the best and today I get to be in the opposite dugout against probably the best or one of the top three coaches in the world, which is fantastic. We came from nothing and then nine years later we made it into the Football League. We’re on the verge of a new ground back at Plough Lane. It just proved that if you’ve got a good enough community and if the fans have the spirit then you can come from nowhere
and end up back playing in the Football League. It’s proper Roy of the Rovers stuff. The Wimbledon Story resonates amongst football fans worldwide. This is real football. But the simulation has gone on to have a more widespread effect on the game. The database, so informative to fans now has a real world impact,
thanks to a deal with Prozone. Anecdotally we’ve heard over the years, of course, that football managers dip into Football Manager the game’s database, to scout players. But this has, kind of, been legitimised now. It’s all official. The Prozone deal with Sports Interactive basically means that all of the knowledge that Sports Interactive have acquired over the last 20 years
of producing Football Manager is available to clubs. They’d been talking to us for a while about their systems and about Recruiter and about what they were trying to do with the product. And then turned round and said that they needed our help which was just bonkers. The data provided has become part of Recruiter, a software package that clubs like Huddersfield Town can use to help scout players. This is Huddersfield Town’s third season in the Championship. We have a good budget, but there are some clubs with significantly more money than us to spend so we have to be intelligent in the marketplace. We’re one of the only teams in this league probably that’s not been in the Premier League at some stage,
so we’ve never had the parachute payments or the TV revenue. So when you’ve got teams who are able to spend £8 million, £11 million on strikers, our record transfer is just over £1 million,
so, you know, it goes to show what you’re up against. Recruiter is the programme developed by Prozone
which includes Sports Interactive’s Football Manager data. And it enables clubs basically to do their due diligence on players. It’s not the case that clubs will be signing players from Football Manager. They won’t be opening up a game, and seeing who is good in 2017
and thinking, “Right, we’ll buy him.” You can do everything you would need to do to scout a player apart from the one crucial thing, and it will always be crucial,
which is actually go and watch the player. Prozone’s Recruiter had 80,000 players in it and the link with Sports Interactive has widened the net to include 250,000 players. We provide all the biographical data before a club steps over, or a team steps over the white line, whereas, Prozone provide all the analysis afterwards. It just seems such a simple partnership to come together because they have such a vast experience of player database and it just goes hand-in-hand with what we want to do in the professional space. We have over 1,300 scouts worldwide. We’re in a great position to provide that data and clubs are looking further and further afield to try and find talent that’s within their price range. Dan and his squad have flagged up a player in France,
so immediately I connect him with that player’s agent, find out what’s his value likely to be, what’s his contract, what’s his wages. Is it worth our while following that player? If the answer’s yes then we will then send one of our guys from here, one of our senior guys, to France to watch that player. The best thing for me and for the club is the fact we can really make it bespoke to us. So we input the indexes behind the data, all of which can be weighted which gives us a real ability to fine-tune exactly what we’re looking for, so that we can see a set of players and names that nobody else is seeing. The analytical staff can compare those player statistics
and information, video footage and everything like that and it can help the manager make a more informed decision as to which of the players we decide to recruit to Huddersfield Town. We now do a search and we sit there and say,
Right, that’s the exact sort of centre midfielder we want. And that’s something that we take a lot of pride in.
It’s not changed the way that we use the scouts, it’s changed the way we make our decisions
and the risks we can afford to eliminate. Scouting will always have a role in football,
but the recruitment tool really supports everything that we try and do. From our perspective, we’ve always been extremely proud of the database and the realism it reflects, so to have real football managers now using our data to bring in their big, new signings… it’s fantastic from our perspective. I work on the Steven Pienaar scale, I guess.
If Stephen Pienaar’s our most high-profile player that overseas guys will recognise, I’ll work from there. I have seen Pienaar since he was at the school of excellence which was before he joined Ajax Cape Town which is before he joined Ajax,
so I can relate things to how he was. The easiest for me is always comparing to the player who is playing directly with him. As long as I get it right at the beginning, it should be pretty accurate. We’re at the Athlone Stadium in Athlone in Cape Town and tonight is a PSL match between Ajax Cape Town and Bidvest Wits. I’m keeping an eye on a couple of teenagers in the Ajax team. The Wits team is very well scouted. I think three-quarters of the team is 30-plus, so they’ve been in Football Manager for a decade or so. One or two of the Ajax kids, you know, we’re obviously still monitoring them. There’s Rivaldo Coetzee… Even the captain of Ajax Cape Town is young, 21, 22 years old. It’s pretty much a team of development players that’s come through the Ajax system. Rivaldo Coetzee, the number three, has been doing his job pretty well so far. He’s been marking number 11, Chris Katongo. He’s a dangerous striker and Rivaldo has been marking him out of the game. At 17 it’s obviously hard to judge where he’s going to go from here, but the truth is that there’s a good chance he won’t be in the PSL for more than two years. Ajax Cape Town are connected to Ajax Amsterdam and they have already had a look at him, but, of course, until he turns 18 he can’t leave the country. Wesley Ngo Baheng Baheng, he scores goals again and again. He scored 149 of them, Ngo Baheng Baheng. I think it’s beautiful I’m a worrying man. I took the reins at Gateshead on Football Manager 2010 in dire need of a striker.
I consulted my parent club at Newcastle who had a man called Wesley Ngo Baheng in their reserves. I took him on loan for a season and he finished as top scorer. His contract ran out so I sent him back over the river on a full-time contract and he stayed there for the next 10 years
as we made our ascent up to the Premier League. And he scored in every single division along the way,
which made him a bit of a cult hero at the club. I decided to buy a Gateshead shirt and then get his name and number printed on the back. So I had to contact the club secretary and I arranged for them to send it off to their official club printers
to add the name and number of a man that had never appeared for their club onto the back of the shirt. About six months after I last played that save, I got a bunch of notifications through on Twitter. So I check them and it turns out that Gateshead had genuinely
taken Wesley Ngo Baheng on trial, but they didn’t sign him and the story ends there, sadly for him. I did have a Wikipedia page that I’d edited for Wesley Ngo Baheng
to detail all his exploits while he was at Gateshead. They left it there for a good month or so, maybe two months,
before they noticed that it featured, apparently, fictional information based in the future, which goes against their terms and conditions for articles. What is reality? Is it using a computer game to help win your real-life match? Is it the top flight manager who listens to his teenage son’s advice? Or is it taking your virtual team’s success so seriously
that you have to dress up for the occasion? In a way, all of these are real. The football fan our game caters to is the football fan who wants to be the manager. They’re the person that rather than going into the pub after the game and getting drunk and complaining about it, is actually sitting there going, “Well if I was the manager, I would have bought an anchor man in the transfer window and here’s a list of 20 Chileans that we can be looking at.” That’s the, kind of, common theme with football fans, isn’t it? I suppose our game gives these people the chance
to try out their ideas and see if it’s true. I chatted to this guy and I said how long have you played this game for? And he gave me the best answer to this question I’ve ever heard. He just looked me straight in the eye and went, “I’m five years’ clean, mate.” That’s wonderful. Brilliant. There’s nothing quite like vanishing for three to four hours in this abstract universe armed only with a notepad, a biro, a bag of mint imperials and a pot of tea. It drives me made that people do, kind of, write it off as it’s just a database. You know, it’s just like looking at the novel Anna Karenina and just saying, Oh it’s just a collection of words on a page. It has honestly made me stop and think, many, many times… no I’ve got that wrong, is that a game, is that real?
And that’s just too many hours playing it. You could stick me on a desert island. If I had me missus and Football Manager… I’d be all right. I’d need electricity, obviously. It’s an amazing escape, you know, I think it’s… There’s a reason so many people love it, right? It is made by football fans, for football fans. It sounds cheesy, but we do make the game for ourselves. I like it better than some people I know. Do you know what I mean? I’ve got friends who if someone said, “You can lose this friend,
they, like, emigrate to New Zealand or you can never play on Football Manager again.” I’d send me friend to New Zealand. I like anything with competition, I just love winning.
Just having the control of the team and, kind of, guiding them, hopefully to success, even though it’s only a game. And hopefully I’m preparing myself
for one day when I do retire and, fingers crossed, do it for real. I know it’s a game. I know it’s a game, but you can’t help but feel a little bit proud
when it’s a Champions League night in Blyth.