Possibly the greatest football game series of all time, produced by Sports Interactive, released its latest edition – Football Manager 2016 – last week. I have been an avid Football Manager player since I was only ten, when I was playing Championship Manager, as it was once called, on my PSP. I have gone through all the emotions as a manager on Football Manager, from relegation to lifting the European Cups, and I am sure all the game’s players have had similar experiences.
I have decided this year to start my managerial career at Aston Villa, a club close to my heart and one I love dearly. I am quite possibly the most passionate manager ever to take the reins at B6 and I was prepared to see what Tim Sherwood and Rémi Garde have had to deal with this season…
In real life, Aston Villa is a club at which managers are known to have one of the toughest budgets to work with in the Premier League – and this season is no different. At the start of my career I was given a budget of £0, selecting my ambitions as being a place in the sixth round of the FA Cup, a mid-table finish and a quarter-final place in the Capital One Cup.
This called for some quick sales to bring in the money needed to sort out a side that looks typically beleaguered.
- Charles N’Zogbia – £2.3 million
- Gabriel Agbonlahor – £5 million
- Philippe Senderos – £1 million
- Ashley Westwood – £5 milllion
- Alan Hutton – £2 million
- Kieran Richardson – £1 million
I made some rash decisions in the transfer market. This year the board has taken even more control, with the revenue from transfers affecting your budgets further.
At Villa, I started with £0 going to me from the budgets. Following a request, I now get 95% of transfer revenue to work with.
The staff at Aston Villa are a laughing stock on Football Manager with the Villans having some of the worst coaches in the game compared to other clubs in the Premier League on the averages tables for each area of coaching.
For this reason, I have dismissed Chris Larkin, Kevin MacDonald, Tony Parks and Terry Glennoe as I look to revamp the Villa structure. I am undecided on whether I want a Director of Football yet.
I was unsure of the approach to take with the Villa squad. The reason for this is that the board’s main philosophy is defensive play and tactics. I have set up my main formation as a narrow 4-2-3-1. It is a tactic I have used previously to great effect and one that I feel suits Aston Villa’s players, with the likes of Gil, Veretout, and Grealish all fitting in.
I was slightly concerned by MacDonald telling me that the best player at the club though was Joleon Lescott. Soon after, I realised why Garde’s job is so hard as Villa manager. The squad has no depth to it and it is lacking in any real quality in many areas. For this reason, I am just delving into the transfer market armed with a £12 million bounty to make a difference to the side. High on my list of priorities is acquiring a solid central midfielder, a right-back and another forward.
The initial gameplay is superb. I believe the game has, unlike Aston Villa Football Club, come on in leaps and bounds in recent years with the realism of the board’s decisions enhancing what is already the greatest game to exist, in my opinion.
Join me next time, when you will see what I have done with my budget and how the first month of the season has panned out.
If you have any suggestions for this feature, please tweet me: @mattlyynch.