Du Malone writes: I much enjoy reading FM Stag’s online content, not least because of the sheer quality of his writing, so I was very pleased to have the opportunity to interview him for site.
- Before we focus on FM, I’d be interested to hear about your involvement, in whatever role, with non-virtual football…
|Outside of writing about real football a wee bit, not involved at all! Five-a-sides on a Monday night, that’s all! I work for an investment bank in my ‘real’ life.|
- What’s the story of you ‘coming to FM’?
|As a child, I used to sit with the fantasy football sections of the newspaper and pretend I was managing a real-life team.
I’d write out their squads;, who I would sell, who I would buy, scribble some formations down of how I’d want them to play and even try to draw some of the home kits with the new “signings” names and numbers on the back. Then I’d scrunch up the paper and start the “game” again. I was always fascinated.
Couple that with watching Italian football on Channel 4 and the highlights of Brazilian, Chinese and MLS football my Dad used to record for me overnight, and my passionate support of Rangers and Manchester United (there’s context) and I was always football-obsessed.
I played Anco’s Player Manager 2, but then had the chance to play CM97/98 (still the greatest game of all time) at a friend’s house. One burned CDR of it (sorry SI) and 22 years later I am still ploughing in hundreds of hours a year into the game, and sometimes writing about it.
- What kinds of enjoyment do you derive from playing FM?
|It’s the immersion. The ability for one save to be like a different footballing universe, not just to real life, but also to every other save by every other player of the game, globally.
It’s quite unique in that regard.
- How would you describe your brand of FM management?
|I have dabbled in a variety of strategies, but currently I “am” Fernando Teixidó, a passionate yet statistically-minded Peruvian who favours a narrow, counter-attacking 4-3-3 which has strictly no wingers, and relies heavily on ‘la palanca,’ or ‘the lever,’ i.e. a central defensive midfielder who acts as the key pivot between defence and attack.|
- What explains your fascination with enganches?
|I am fascinated by South American football in general. I love the romance of managers having a very specific definable strategy (like Teixidó’s) and to the same degree by players who come to be considered synonymous with their position or role on the pitch (like Pirlo as a Regista, Del Piero as a Trequartista, Beckenbauer as a Libero or Juan Román Riquelme as an Enganche.)
For enganches in particular, I love players who are so gifted and elegant, have quick feet, perfect technique and a brilliant footballing brain means that they are more likely to play the position with a nonchalant cigarette in their mouth, than to break a sweat. I love it.
I just wish the role in FM played out a bit more closely to how it does in real life.
- Your online name is @FM_Stag: how come?
|I chose ‘Stag’ as I am Scottish!
I also have a large stag tattoo on my inner left arm and a decorative silver stag’s head on my kitchen wall. My 3 year-old daughter loves that! My wife not so much.
- You’ve created an ambitious project called the Football Philosophy Index. What, in essence, is it and where can readers discover more about it?
|It’s a squad-building strategy that allows you to recruit (or sell) players, based on a perceived tactical DNA suitability.
I’ve always leveraged spreadsheets when playing FM. Originally just to map out squad preferences, but I found myself looking to build a specific tactical DNA for my sides (“hardworking, determined and aggressive” may be one, or “pacy, technical and agile” could be another).
Well, the Football Philosophy Index allows you to condense that combination of attributes which are key to whichever strategy you adopt, into a single comparable number. With this ‘philosophy value’ you can then rank your squad based on how closely their attributes suit the tactical DNA, and even export a list of transfer targets to see which of them also fit best.
I wrote a piece on my site (FMStag.com) about it, but it is not currently not posted anywhere. Watch this space!
- For readers who don’t yet know your work, what other kinds of content do you create and where can they find it?
|I am primarily a story writer. I completed a 30-episode European Journeyman recently, and due to embark on a new written adventure soon.
I also like to write a little about real life football, mostly in the form of my ‘football stat of the day,’ where I try and uncover an unusual statistic that might switch more people on to a little-known prospect, or shed new light on an already established player.
- What kind of enjoyment do you derive from creating content?
|It keeps me immersed in my own saves. I’ve always loved creative writing, and this keeps me going. I love reading story pieces written by other creators, especially when they make me laugh, gasp and most importantly, feel truly immersed in the writer’s very own FM universe that they are allowing me to visit.
Reading other people’s FM stories has a certain romance. It gives an immediate feeling of familiarity, because it’s still Football Manager, but different enough to my fictional universe to hook me in with all the drama and alternative timelines that people create.
- Which three malt whiskys would you most recommend for drinking whilst playing, or reflecting on, FM?
|Glendronach 12, Auchentoshan 12, Spey Tenne. In that order!|
- What would you change about Football Manager for FM21?
|Ideally, the ability to choose a different formation shape for the attacking, defending and transitioning phases separately.
Also, an expansion on the animated tactical representations would be good, where you could see the movement of a particular role in combination with another, for example how a WB-S moves in relation to playing behind an IF-A. I had a project set up to build something like that, but unfortunately it fell away.
Lastly for the available memory to be increased internally within the game, to allow for statistics (chances created, assists per 90, etc.) to remain available when you move into a new season. I appreciate that’s a massive technical challenge, but hey; you did ask!
My website is FMStag.com and I’m FM_Stag on Twitter.
Come and follow me if you are a fan of charts, statistics, late 90s Italian football or Juan Román Riquelme.