When fantasy becomes reality in football, it’s generally a one off and something that people recognize is being as such. But for any Championship Manager fan, fantasy is in fact becoming reality with the latest transfer moves within the Premiership. With Tottenham completing the signing of Danish midfielder Christian Eriksen and Argentine Erik Lamela, Crystal Palace capture of Jose Campana, Swansea signing Jordi Amat and the arrival at Liverpool of French defender Mamadou Sakho from Paris St Germain, fans are starting to see the influence that the game is having on the beautiful game. All five players are stand outs in the game and some are now wondering if there is in fact a link between current transfers and the world’s most popular fantasy management game.
The truth is that link between Football Manager and real life is hard to quantify. Managers insist that it is down to improved scouting networks and the availability of data from sources like Prozone and OPTA that helps them to identify good prospects. But for a computer game to be so right about the players targeted and signed this summer, especially in the Premiership is uncanny. Some will argue that the players signed were well known and have impressed over the past few seasons enough to be considered for signature. Lamela, Eriksen and Sahko are all fairly well known but Jose Campana, Jordi Amat and Nicklas Helenius have hardly been at the forefront of European football over the past few season. Indeed Campana only started a handful of games last year for Sevilla and a few for Spain’s under 21 side but surely not enough to gauge the player’s ability and promise? Helenius’s goal scoring exploits for Aalborg caught this blogs attention early on in the season but did he catch Villa’s scouts as well or perhaps Lambert has been spending his spare time engaging in a computerized format of club management.
Maybe it’s just me, thinking about this as a long term fan and player of the game, but it’s too much of a coincidence. In the past managers have spoken about using the game and its data to check out and review players adding to the argument. Giovanni Trapattoni once said in an interview that he had used the game for research purposes during his time as manager of Fiorentina whilst Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted to using Football manager to develop his understanding of the tactics he uses at Molde so surely other managers have done the same? Or are we honestly to believe that it’s just good scouting that have led to some of the best unknown talents across Europe being snapped up this summer. With the latest version of the game due for launch in December, players won’t have to wait long to see if any hidden gems in the game are unearthed by the established premiership scouting methods or by any other means not revealed.