Inter305 Investigate: How the game simulation Football Manager influences recruiting

In one of of first articles, we pointed out the fact that Inter Miami CF ownership were building a “Football Manager” team. For those not familiar with the double decade simulation game, we immerse you in the way it impacted professional football over the years. Not always on the good side

The winter transfer window is now open. What is generally seen in Europe as an adjustment transfer window for the end of the season, but crucial for the MLS and especially for Inter Miami CF, having to build a competitive team. But this year, with the UEFA Euro 2020 in mind, it could also be an opportunity market for some clubs and players. Some teams are working well on this period and have prepared their list of players in advance to strengthen and add to their workforce. The ways of working are very different from one club to another and some are sometimes very surprising.

Indeed, it happens that recruiters and clubs rely on statistics or even on video games to work and find solutions. Speaking of video games, since November 18, 2019, Football Manager 2020, the installment of Sports Interactive, published by Sega, is available. In this game, you put yourself in the body of a coach and you can decide your assignments, namely train the teams, see how they evolve, but also participate in recruitment and therefore in the transfer market.

Ante Rebic is confirming, not Cornelius

For that, you have a large base of players, of course, but also statistics. The fans loved signing a 17 years old Andreas Cornelius, that would end up scoring 50 goals per season. Other prepared the future of their midfielder and bought Ante Rebic. Both players were young picks made by the FM team but while Rebic is showing to be a real confirmation with AC Milan, while Cornelius has matured into a less than average striker with Parma. But what credibility does FM has for football professionals today? Do clubs and recruiters use it?

In 2009, the English club Everton signed a partnership with the game to consult the database. Nemanja Pejcinovic and Fabian Monzon had been recruited by Nice with the help of the game, according to a scout from the club at the time. In 2014, Bafétimbi Gomis signed to Swansea and admitted, on the website of the Welsh club, to have played the game to have a more precise opinion on his club: “before signing here, I spent a month playing with Swansea for get to know my future teammates. It is true that the game helped me learn a lot about the characteristics of my teammates.

Players use it constantly

Watford is a special club in the history of the game. The creator, Miles Jacobson, is a fan of the Hornets. After two complicated seasons at Tottenham, Étienne Capoue is recruited by Watford a little thanks to FM. “Capoue, we know him from Toulouse. We followed him to Tottenham. We trust him, he’s a great player who will be able to play at a great level this season. Being strong on FM is not necessary to be a good scout, but it does help a lot. The game gives you a lot of useful data. It is important to know the players, “explained Watford’s chief scout in 2015.”

Because, it is true, the strength of Football Manager is its exceptional database with regard to the players and the attributes of its latest players (statistics, level score, etc.). Fulham, for a time, recruited according to statistics. It didn’t necessarily pay off in the Premier League since the Cottagers went straight down to the Championship. If the game is a beautiful tool, it is necessary to know how to use it and if, from time to time, the clubs use it, that is still far from doing everything and especially not unanimity.

We have seen Carranza and Pellegrini in action. They are good players. The fact that they are listed as “wonderkids” in this year’s Football Manager cannot hurt. We have seen less from Makoun, but he is also part of this list.

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