BY STEPHEN BRANDT
We areÂ the generation of football fans who are playing games like FIFA, PES and Football Manager. Before Football Manager there was its predecessor, Championship Manager. Chris Darwen’s creation, Johnny Cooper, takes us through an outstanding and funny book about his time with perennial journeymen,Â Mansfield Town.
Chris isÂ just like everyone else who has played these games; they build up a backstory for theirÂ alter ego and then a love of certain players, tactics and formations with their ultimate aim of computer generated glory. I for one took Preston North End to the Premier LeagueÂ and won theÂ title with Carlos Tevez spearheading the side. Ah the joys.
A word of caution forÂ readers, if you have a delicate consitution or can’t take dirty language, then this isn’t the book for you. Johnny uses a lot ofÂ colourful vocabulary in his daily dispatches. This is just how footballers are believed to talk among themselves. So you have to come into the book expecting pub-like talk. If you can cope with that then you will be plesantly surprised.
The book reads like a diary; like he’s sitting at his desk during the season and giving us this thoughts. None of the dispatches are more than a couple paragraphs, so it’s really easy to read in short spurts or on your mobile app. And isn’t that what all books areÂ like now? You can almost walk home while reading this on your phone. The prose is very flowing, especiallyÂ if you are used to the style of how people talk in changing rooms.
PlentyÂ of historical references act as reminders to this version of the popular management game. In this book,Â we hear a lot ofÂ Manchester United going for the treble, Bryan Robson gets fired at Middlesborough and we even see Zidane leave Juventus for AC Milan;Â and other fantasticalÂ stuff that can only ever happen in games.
Just like Football Manager, Johnny has to meet with his chairman monthly to see whether his job is hanging by a thread andÂ we get to see the day-t-day scouting ofÂ young players,Â transfer deals and how a virtual manager has to live his life.
This is a wonderful story, and for people who have spent more hours than they care to admit playingÂ theÂ Championship or Football Manager games,Â it’s a book that everyone will be able to relate to. With the explosion of these games over the last 15 years, there could be ever more people writing entertaining books like this about their fun with their game saves.
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