Football Fantasy Owner
Andy Hudson, editor of Gannin' Away has been on these pages before, but it has to be said, in happier circumstances. Hudson has written about the joys of watching football at FC St Pauli, FC United of Manchester and SV Austria Salzburg. Now, with a heavy heart, he talks about the goings on at his own club, Newcastle United:
Fantasy Football Owner allows you, a reckless maverick, the chance to take over your very own football club.
Turn despair to delight as you sack the incumbent manager for the princely sum of £4 million, bringing back a much loved former boss as part of your vanity project. It’s your club; why not employ your friends? Done. Give one total control over transfers (for full disclosure this idea is a rip-off of Fantasy Music Mogul, where you can send Katherine Jenkins to get singing lessons from your close friends the Cheeky Girls) then leave the squad depleted by only making signings he recommends - you can hardly expect a football manager to know what players he needs, can you?
Don’t worry as you draw the season opener at Old Trafford; you have a successful season planned. Sell another player and sign some guy on loan as a favour to an agent who promises to give you first dabs on some top, young South American talent which never actually materialises. It’s ok, the manager can see him in action on a YouTube clip to see how he fits into his team.
When the manager walks out because he can’t manage the club then just blacken his name and lie to the fans. You know someone with a heart problem and a destructive relationship with the media? He’ll keep the team in the league. He’ll do as a replacement.
The fans shout at you. Maybe the best option is to sell the club. There’s technology there to help; it’s called shiny new email. Let people bid using that. And you can have a jolly to Dubai and flog the club in hotel bars. Just set a ridiculous asking price. Someone will be drunk enough to agree, except you can't find anyone as drunk as you.
You decide to keep the club. That manager with the dodgy ticker is having a few problems. It’s ok, his assistant will do. Just tell him he’s covering for a bit. The players can’t be bothered playing but you don’t panic; just bring in a club legend. He’ll save the club. Just don’t leave it too late. Eight games to completely stop the rot will do it. Well, it was worth the gamble. You can tell everyone that he’s the right man for the club. Then just ignore him.
The assistant will have to do for the new season. You need promotion and he’s doing a pretty good job. The players are happy with him; the fans are happy with him; hell, the fans even seem happy with you. This isn’t right. You’d better try and sell the stadium name. The fans will be against you but it isn’t as though you care what they think. They’ll only protest for one game and you can always choose the name of another of your business interests to use. You don't even need to pay for it.
Give the assistant a new contract; appoint him as full-time manager. He probably won’t become popular with the fans. The fans chant his name as he gives you the league title. It’ll never last; you’ll never give him another contract. Best to leave him hanging. After all, it's stability you need.
The newly promoted club slaps some teams aside. There are a few losses but that’s to be expected, right? You’ve got away wins against big teams, battered your local rivals and beaten Aston Villa 6-0. The fans and players love the manager and finally there’s some stability at the club. You give the manager a rollicking for milking the crowd's applause after a 5-1 win. How dare he become popular and make it more difficult for you to give him the sack! You don't know much about football but you do know exactly where the team will finish this season. You know where points will be won and lost, because the best thing about football is it's so simple to predict in advance. You know whatever you do, the fans will still turn up. Protests against you will only last for one game. And this guy has no experience. If only you knew someone who has experience; someone who has delivered silverware before. That’s who you should get in as manager. You know that you always make the right decisions; history tells you that, right? You just can't fail.
Read more of Andy's work on the excellent Gannin' Away blog