I’ve fallen out of love with football. Hard. And I’m not quite sure what’s caused it.
It could be because the off-field pace of the game has been raised so much with the rise of the 24 hour football news cycle and social media culture, which has given football clubs a “NOW NOW NOW” mentality and in all but very few cases has made concepts like “training players to be better” and “giving managers time” things of the past.
It could be the over-saturation of the conversations around football, with the rise of podcasts (especially daily ones) over the last decade causing subjects like off-field drama, transfer sagas and managerial sack races to be conversed into the fucking ground.
If you know me or you’ve read my work before though, you’ll know there’s an elephant in the room. I’ve been slowly falling out of love with football ever since 2013, when my club, Everton, lost their manager David Moyes. It wasn’t that I thought Moyes was the greatest tactical genius in the World or that his signings were always spot on. To be honest I tore my hair out with the way he’d go through the motions at the start of the decade, making the exact same substitutions at the exact same time every single fucking match like clockwork, never once catching on to the concept that Steven Naismith is NOT A RIGHT MIDFIELDER, DAVID, FOR FU…
Sorry. Anyway, I had my peeves with Moyes, but the fact was that while he was our manager, we were one of the last of a dying breed of old fashioned clubs. Everton, Manchester United and Arsenal all had long serving managers who had relationships with their clubs and with the fans. They had stability. They had varying amounts of trust. Everton fans could sigh with contentment as Fulham fired their 2nd manager of the season, because we at least were still run the right way. We weren’t a part of this new-fangled “Sack the manager after 3 consecutive losses” movement and I really, really loved that. Our players left it all on the pitch for Moyes, we brought through the youth and we never stopped fighting, like every Everton team I’d known my entire life. I also knew that it would come to an end, however and eventually, inevitably, it did.
Admittedly we had an insanely good season immediately after his departure, but since then it’s been a story of stubborn, idealistic but seemingly tactically inept managers, washed up players looking for a last big pay cheque, confused strategy (nice way of saying “no strategy”) and embarrassments too many to list. Nowadays, we hardly leave anything out on the pitch, our youth players are routinely stunted because there’s no progression plan and we’ve got zero fight in us. What I’m saying in my trademark roundabout way is that my team are shit, but even worse, I don’t even know who the fuck we are anymore. I think that’s probably the main factor that’s made me so apathetic towards the sport I used to obsess over.
So since I’ve so far failed to reanimate the festering corpse of Franjo and Slumberland didn’t exactly give me the creative pay off I’d hoped for, I thought I’d let you in on my current FM20 save, where I’m using the retro 1999/2000 database. It’s a fucking work of art and massive kudos to everyone that’s worked on it. I thought this database was the perfect opportunity to fall in love with football again. I could go back and immerse myself in a World where Everton are still shiny and new to me. They’re arguably in an even worse state than the current day side and throughout the late 90’s and early 2000’s were routinely staving off relegation, but at least I can identify with them. At least they still uphold the values that I associate with my football club.
I’ll be doing an episode every now and then, probably summarising an entire season in a single episode as I attempt to turn a loveable team of scruffy battlers into the Global force they never became. See you then.