Du Malone writes: In a previous post I mentioned that, like some other bloggers, I hadn’t engaged as passionately with my FM20 saves as I’d hoped — and that I’d decided to return to FM14.
And so autumn 2020 (real time) found our manager, Grigor Pasha, travelling to the small coastal town of Pazar, in the north-east corner of Turkey, to take charge of Pzaraspor in the Turkish third tier. He’s now two years into his career there. In the second season, the team blew the play-offs, but since they hadn’t been expected to reach them, nobody seemed to mind very much — least of all Pasha himself, who was rewarded with a new two-year contract.
But the point of this post isn’t to relay the details of the save, It’s to convey the experience.
The fact is that, soon after the save began, I rediscovered the passion. For a start, I found I was again playing the game not merely with my mind, but also with my body. My feet under my desk started to twitch involuntarily as I ludicrously tried to help my players win 50:50 balls. When, as happened time and time again, we conceded in the dying minutes, I found myself holding my head in my hands. And when my magical poacher, ilker Avsar, would get us something from the game with an impish finish, I’d punch the air.
As this went on, FM broke loose from the computer screen and began to encroach on my life. Whilst brushing my teeth or lying back in the bath, I’d catch myself constructing imaginary press conferences. In the morning, I’d wake up in bed with the thought running in my head that it was time to abandon the hipster asymmetric formation I’d been toying with.
And at the end of the day I felt obliged to update my wife on my pursuit of the prodigiously promising 19 year-old goalie my scout had alerted me to. Even though she’s long since given up even feigning interest.
What explains this revivification? In part, it is perhaps the specifics of the save. We’ve developed a squad that has character. It has character because it has characters, as diverse as the pilgrims on their way to Canterbury.
There’s Erhan Namli, the 40 year-old enganche and vice-captain. Hasan Kukkuk, dimunitive playmaker. Wise 35 year-old skipper, Orhan Terzi. Kemet Alaeddinoglu, magician and now first-choice enganche. Attila Yildiz, the almost-wonderkid trequartista from the youth intake. Even Alkan Acikalin, uncomplaining young 3rd choice goalie and model professional.
And it’s also the back story, which suits me (and Mr Pasha) down to the ground. The Black Sea coast. A very modest outfit in a very modest town, in a poor agricultural (tea-growing) region — the region that, as it happens, was explored in East of Trebizond, the travel book I reviewed earlier this year.
Pazarspor: One of those clubs that, even now, it’s difficult to discover much about, at least on the Anglophone web. Though YouTube helps to convey that their ground, Pazar ilce, isn’t Wembley: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Kx69nfApnA. FM captures the fact that the pitch isn’t the best. Not that I’m going to ask the board to do anything about that: I like the fact that opposition managers complain about the pitch in pre-match press conferences, getting their excuses in early.
But I don’t think it’s just a function of the save specifics, this diriltme. It’s also a function of Fm14, which allows you simultaneously to be very hands-on, delegating little, and to zip through the game. The pace at which events arrive means that I’ve developed a much more vivid sense of narrative. Hence those bathroom press conferences.
According to the King James Bible (Luke Chapter 5, verses 36-38), And no man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish. But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved. An argument for a continuing process of new editions of FM, one might think. But verse 39 adds: No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better.
Image: Still Life with a Turkey Pie, by Pieter Claesz (1627), kindly made available by the wonderful Rijks Studio.