BY STEPHEN BRANDT
We are 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, Mansfield Town.
Chris is just like everyone else who has played these games; they build up a backstory for their 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 League and won the title with Carlos Tevez spearheading the side. Ah the joys.
A word of caution for 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 of 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 are like now? You can almost walk home while reading this on your phone. The prose is very flowing, especially if you are used to the style of how people talk in changing rooms.
Plenty of historical references act as reminders to this version of the popular management game. In this book, we hear a lot of Manchester United going for the treble, Bryan Robson gets fired at Middlesborough and we even see Zidane leave Juventus for AC Milan; and other fantastical 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 and we get to see the day-t-day scouting of young players, 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 playing the Championship or Football Manager games, 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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