Football Manager. It seems like it’s everywhere. There’s probably a weather-beaten, 80-year-old Sherpa half way up Mount Everest working on some save or other in his windswept tent – that’s how much this computer game has seeped into football and gaming culture. I was a sporadic addict back in the day when it was Championship Manager. 97/98 to about 2001 were the darkest days: little sleep, takeaway pizza and taking on the world. Me and Tommy Svindal Larsen were invincible.

Then it all changed. It got too serious; too involved. I kicked the habit and moved on. Others didn’t and they were joined in their legion by new devotees, and so now, we have this phenomenon that has moved out of the realms of cult to the point that the game is used by Sky Sports analysts on transfer deadline day and by real club scouts looking to source players. It’s been quite some ride.

Now, we have decided to get in on the act of setting ourselves an almighty FM challenge. Ross Bell – chief commandant of the award winning Man On The Post podcast amongst his other guises – has volunteered to take on the daunting task of restoring his own club, Leeds United, to the Premier League and onwards to glory. The idiot!

We invite you along for this five-year ride. Follow his story with us as his hair goes greyer, his family life suffers, and his life turns to shit – all in pursuit of that electronic job satisfaction. – MARK GODFREY, EDITOR.

Tuesday 8th May, 2001.

Leeds United lose 3-0 on the night in Spain and 3-0 on aggregate to Valencia in the semi-final of the Champions League.

Saturday 11th August, 2007.

Leeds United win the opening game of the season away at Tranmere Rovers 2-1 thanks to a last minute goal from Tresor Kandol, a recent signing from Barnet. The win takes them to -12 points, and the revival begins.

Those two waypoints in Leeds’ recent history barely hint at the gross financial mismanagement that occurred at Elland Road in the six years between those games. Various owners have come and gone, countless managers have tried to lead the once great club back to the promised land, all of them to a man have failed…. until now!

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The overall goal of this save is to awaken this sleeping giant and get back to the top table of the Champions League within just five seasons. That on its own would be hard enough but The Football Pink overlord has decided to add a caveat to my challenge: I also have to turn a profit at the end of every season. So just one more thing to add in my in-tray after promotion and European qualification. Easy…

For this to be a success, promotion to the Premier League in my first season is essential; I can’t afford to fall even a year behind at any stage of the process. Here is my timetable:
Year 1 – Promotion from the Championship to the Premier League
Year 2/3 – Survive and consolidate
Year 4 – A top 7 finish
Year 5 – Champions league qualification

Beyond those five main season goals, a cup win wouldn’t go amiss if only to raise the reputation of the club to make it more appealing to major transfer targets.

It looks like I’m going to be busy, so that’s all for the intro to the save for now. Look out for the opening squad assessment soon.

ROSS BELL – @RossBell1984

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