We all have a different way of playing Football Manager. Perhaps you follow the ways of Moneyball and statistics, maybe you spend hours and hours poring through youth academies looking for the next Cherno Samba or Mark Kerr, or perhaps you enjoy turning Barcelona into tough-tackling, hoofball merchants. However you play Football Manager, it is a game that drags you in, and provokes you into long-term plans, sowing seeds for the future. You find yourself muttering in the shower about your ‘Five-year plan’ for Fleetwood, or analysing the French Invitational youth tournament.
Likewise, I like a long-term plan when it comes to my virtual management careers. Those days are over.
Welcome to The Fixer, a Football Manager career based on short-term targets. The timeframe for these targets may be as short as a month, or perhaps a season or two long. But there will be almost zero long-term planning. In this career, I will be given very specific jobs to do. The first opportunity arrives on the 25th December 2016, Christmas Day.
Almost exactly five months after handing David Moyes a four-year contract and espousing the need for stability at the Stadium of Light, Ellis Short remembers his record for chopping and changing his managers and pulls the trigger on Moyes, with Sunderland bottom at Christmas. He ignores his book of managerial contacts, ringing the first name he thinks of, his absolute top target. Unfortunately Ryan Giggs informs Short that he has recently taken over at Ipswich.
He picks up his battered contact book, and spends an entire evening exhausting each option. No-one wants the job. Not even Paulo. Short, weary of this nonsense, rings the League Manager’s Association and asks if there’s anyone, literally anyone, that needs a job.
Which brings us to me. Nathan Lewis, the 34-year old Welshman with little to no experience, a whiteboard and a whole heap of optimism.
So then, here we go. One target, plain and simple. Keep Sunderland in the Premier League, by hook or by crook. This won’t be easy.