A game of two halves: half term and half time

A personalised avatar on the start screen of Football Manager 2019.

I’ve been playing quite a lot of Football Manager lately. Once everyone else is asleep, I fire up the computer and play a few matches, handle press conferences and try to keep in control of finances.

Yes, this sounds both geeky and not particularly fun at all but I love it. I completed my second season last week, claiming the title with an unbeaten league record. I’ve never done that before and will surely never do so again.

I’ll also admit that it was a tad unrealistic as I was Spurs. They don’t draw matches, so perhaps the zero was in the wrong column of the league table. The virtual version of me doesn’t have white hairs in his beard either.

Anyway, last week was half term here and, as a result, I noticed a fair few similarities between the game and keeping my ‘team’ on an upward trajectory.


It goes without saying that my three are wonderkids. They all have the necessary attributes to become superstars with the right coaching.

And, yes, that’s a blatant example of domestic player bias, but I don’t care. Plus they’re already good at collecting cups in their rooms, so trophies will surely follow.


A team is nothing without tactics. With two of us and three of them, marking individual ‘opponents’ is no longer an option. Particularly as youngest is now pretty much done with pushchairs. This means our game is very much dependent on zonal marking.

We also needed to make plenty of touchline shouts while they were out on their scooters. Particularly in the form of praise and telling them to remain focussed.

Team dynamics

A good dressing room atmosphere can help achieve great things in Football Manager. The same is true at home. Unfortunately, there have been some issues among my squad. The boys have inevitably got on each others’ nerves after the fixture congestion that was term three.

Similarly, their sister has been a classic ‘threenager’ lately. As a result, the dynamic between them has shifted from ‘Excellent’ to ‘Good’. I better keep an eye on that.

Contract negotiations

In the game, the demands of some players and their agents can be quite staggering. My three represent themselves but are nonetheless vociferous in their negotiations. Particularly youngest.

There’s very little in the way of movement from her conditions for any agreement. That said, she does eventually settle. Chelsea’s goalkeeper should take note.


Balancing the books is, of course, essential everywhere. During half term, this was a challenge both in Football Manager and real life! While I’m not out of the woods with regards financial fair play on the game (pesky annual player wage rises), I fared better at home.

An expensive trip to the cinema – basically a key player signing – was balanced out by a couple of free transfers in the guise of family walks.

Media handling

I did plenty of this on the game and, indeed, for real. Last week, I appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live, no less.

And the topic of conversation? Well, I was talking about how to keep my ‘team’ happy without breaking the bank. True!

Do you play Football Manager? How does managing your team compare to managing your kids? At half term or whenever!

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