Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughCan computer games land you a job in professional football? One man says yes - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Can computer games land you a job in professional football? One man says yes - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Can computer games land you a job in professional football? One man says yes

When 21-year-old student Vugar Huseynzade was offered the assistant manager job at Azerbaijan Premier division side FK Baku, more than several eyebrows were raised at the decision. Whilst there are now cases of young managers achieving success in their early thirties, Huseynzade’s appointment was surprising not because of his age but because of his credentials, or rather, the lack of them. The reason the club believed that he was the man to be given this important role; his success on the Football Manager computer game! So, can someone learn the skills required to manage a club without ever actually stepping onto a training pitch?

After gaining the assistant manager role, he was then promoted to become manager of the club, although he admitted that he had problems in the dressing room as the players didn’t respect him and believed that he was incapable of making proper decisions. However, as time went on and they could see how dedicated, passionate and knowledgeable he was, they began to appreciate his talents.

In fairness, although he was appointed as manager, his actual role is more like a director of football. He is responsible for scouting, transfers and other admin based jobs, whilst someone else will actually take the training sessions.

Regardless of what his exact position at the club is, it has left thousands of hard-core gamers suddenly believing that they also have what it takes to become involved with a professional football club due to their hours of dedication to similar games.

FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer have managerial elements to them but ultimately they are designed for a person to choose a team and play matches whilst controlling all the players in that team. However, there is still the option to change personnel, formations and tactics in the hope of giving yourself an advantage over your opponent. Management simulations, such as Football Manager, are much more detailed and you are not able to control the players during a match. Instead, giving advice, team talks, changing philosophy, etc are all necessary if you harbour ambitions to win trophies.

Obviously it is more difficult to win the English Premier League with Sunderland than it is with Chelsea, for example, because of the difference in class of the playing squad and the finances available to bigger teams. This is what makes the game so addictive and so challenging; carefully controlling finances, making astute signings and getting your tactics right is all that is required to cause an upset. The dedicated gamer will spend hours upon hours tinkering with line-ups for every match, just as a real life manager would make changes depending on the situation and the opposition. For a football gamer there is no greater feeling than being able to lead a relatively small club to glory and many of us have achieved this over a lifetime of playing these types of games.

Whilst there is certainly merit in winning competitions in a football computer game, especially with a smaller team, it can never compare with the real life setting of working in a football club. The first thing that becomes very easy to do in a computer game is to sell players you don’t require and buy those that you desire, without having to consider the social effect that can occur of committing such actions within a fairly close group of players. It is extremely easy to have no attachment or personal involvement whilst playing a game, whereas in real life you would get to know the characters and personalities of every player, making such decisions much more difficult.

The ability to assess hundreds, or even thousands, of players quickly through the use of attribute filtering is another option that doesn’t exist to an actual manager. Whilst the football manager series rates every attribute on a scale from 1 to 20, it is not so easy to categorise every player so clinically in real life. It takes time and effort to scout just several players properly, significantly reducing the chances at an actual club that you would be able to pinpoint the finest talent and future stars from countries across the world so easily.

Ultimately, a game can never fully replicate the experience of actually being involved with a team on a daily basis. It can, however, provide a good base from which an enthusiastic amateur can develop their talents. Good luck to Huseynzade!

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