Gaming | Football Manager | The Tempting Mistress

By Jay Vilarrubi-Smith

“Just one more game”

We’ve all said it. Inevitably we never stick to it.

But for me there’s a tempting mistress for which one more game has never been enough.

This article is almost like therapy. You are the people sitting around the circle, and I’m standing up introducing myself. “Hello, my name’s Jay. I’m 23 and I’ve got a problem.”

Football Manager.

I’m sure a lot of you are familiar with it. It’s a PC game in which you take charge of all aspects of a football team, from the backroom staff to the on-pitch decisions.

But this article isn’t designed to be an advert, or in any way a review of the game.

In fact I want to re-call my experiences in the hope that you don’t have to go through what I’ve been through.

Okay I’m being dramatic.

But here’s a little story about my relationship with Football Manger, or as it’s referred to in my life- “It-which-shall-not-be-named”.

I played a version of the game as a youngster during sleep-overs at a football friend’s house.

It was then called ‘Championship Manager’ and the evening would be spent with him playing the game, and me standing behind him pretending like I’ve got any sort of influence over what’s going on.

It wasn’t until I was about to start University that I came across “it-which-shall-not-be-named” again.

I remember declaring at one point that I was no longer a full-time student. I was a full-time football manager, and a part-time student.

I can’t quite remember the exact scene in which I saw it online, but I remember thinking it would be good fun to see how the game has changed over the years.

You know, to use when I’ve got any spare time between working hard at my studies.

And that’s how laptop number one was broken.

It just happens that the game ticks every little geeky, football box of mine.

Before I got the game, I was that guy who bought Fifa but never actually played any matches. Just assembled teams, made transfers and simulated the season.

But here provided was the ability to do that, but in every minute detail you could imagine. We’re talking spending hours devising a training schedule, hiring staff, making small tactical adjustments.

I know.

How am I not single?

The ability to sign a youngster, and see him grow into the next Messi; or take charge of Plymouth Argyle and lead them back up to their rightful place of Champions league winners, was just too damn addictive.

Playing it when I was wasn’t studying for my degree, soon became studying when I wasn’t playing the game.

There were actual days in which I didn’t turn the game off; just had the laptop on the bed, clicking the space bar and progressing week-after-week in my virtual football reality.

It turns out that laptops don’t like sitting on a bed for days at a time. They over-heat. They can’t handle the pressure’s that being a top-flight football manager throws up.

Time to get a new laptop. One which has a bit more back-bone to it than the last. One which isn’t as weak.

The beauty of the game was that I could play it on the laptop whilst still interacting with my fiancée. We could watch a film, or read a book together. If we wanted to go out for a walk, I could just start a new match and leave the game running.

I remember declaring at one point that I was no longer a full-time student. I was a full-time football manager, and a part-time student.

It turns out that my prestigious managerial skills did not stretch as far as I imagined.

I kept losing. I would get angry. I would win a bit. I would be happy.

If I was writing an essay or revising for an exam, I would start a match, change windows to whatever I was doing and then flick back to check how the match was progressing.

(Sorry to anyone who was paying tax during 2012 and 2015; your money was helping to fund this.)

I would always lead Plymouth Argyle up to becoming champions of Europe. And then the next year’s edition of the game would come out, boasting a few small changes, and the process would start again.

By the end of University, laptop number two was coming to the end of its life. It helped me get my degree, but more importantly it was the vessel on which I performed managerial miracles.

Having finished my degree, and as most of us do at that point, I started to think about my situation and in which direction I was heading.

So I decided I would change. “I have a degree now, I can achieve more.”

And so I booted up the game and instead of taking charge of my beloved Plymouth Argyle, I took the plunge and became the new manager of Bath City FC of the Conference South.

Bad move.

It was almost the end of me.

It turns out that my prestigious managerial skills did not stretch as far as I imagined.

I kept losing. I would get angry. I would win a bit. I would be happy.

My third laptop bore the brunt of this. As did my lovely fiancée. I would be prone to random outburst of bad language. I would flick the screen of my laptop with such malice that it’s a wonder it didn’t start crying.

I gradually got the hang of it. I was now studying for a Master’s so had even more freedom to play the game. Slowly, slowly I led Bath City to glory.

And then I treated myself to the 2015 version of the game and for everyone’s sake reverted back to taking charge of Plymouth Argyle.

After actually getting a life and a full-time job, I started to play the game less and less, until it reached the point that I hadn’t touched the stuff in months.

But sadly, this story has no happy ending. I wish after the 1,000 words you’ve just read that I could tell you I’m still clean from the stuff.

Yet here I am, in our therapy session, admitting to the group; “I’m back on it man, I wish I could stop man, but it’s just too damn good man.”

Kids, don’t ever start playing Football Manager.



Jay Vilarrubi-Smith

One thought on “Gaming | Football Manager | The Tempting Mistress

  1. I’m liking this because I can relate… if you get a few moments check out my most recent post. It deals with Destiny rather than Football Manager but there will probably be some familiar themes. Good luck!


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