From playing Football Manager to being a Football Manager

From playing Football Manager to being a Football Manager


Back in 2006 a guy named John Boileau made a courageous move and applied for a vacant job as Middlesbrough manager. You might remember that Boro were a Premier League club back then but you surely don’t know who John Boileau is, right? Well, this guy took Nuneaton Borough from Conference North to the Championship in eight seasons and also won the Swedish top flight with small club Kalmar FF but you surely didn’t read about those achievements in the papers because all that happened in the 2005 version of the popular computer simulation game called Football Manager.

John sent a letter and a CV to Middlesbrough Football Club chairman Steve Gibson and was honestly hoping to be invited for an interview. You can see his letter and CV in the pictures below.

Well, he didn’t get that interview but he did get a reply from Steve Gibson, a pretty humorous one:

This story is quite entertaining and I guess you can admire both John’s courage and Mr. Gibson’s sense of humor. Being a Football Manager fanatic myself and also being recognized as a pretty good virtual manager, I was encouraged by some of my friends to do what John Boileau did and apply for a real football manager job. I didn’t because I probably lack John’s courage but I did think about the possibility. Miles Jacobson, studio director at Sports Interactive, has recently revealed that there are some clubs that are using the Football Manager 2011 game as part of their scouting network (Everton confirmed that), and it’s no secret that most modern managers are using computer analysis to improve their teams’ performance on the pitch. So why shouldn’t a real football club consider such applications from Football Manager aces? Here’s a list of pros and cons.


1. A Football Manager player is more likely to think outside of the box than Roy Hodgson for example. I know several virtual managers with great analytic minds and loads of creativity and I guess I would hire one if I would own a club.

2. Most Football Manager players know a lot about football tactics, maybe as much as most real managers.

3. Football Manager players are avid football fans, they love this sport and their passion could be a great asset for any club that would take the leap and hire one.


1. Football Manager players might not know too much about the physical aspects of training, they might ruin the squad from that point of view and quite fast! This is the main reason that stopped me from applying for a real manager job, I don’t know anything about training and I guess I’m too old to start learning now.

2. The players might not respect the new manager, especially at a high-profile club. Would Drogba listen to me if I’d tell him to press more or come deep to link play? I seriously doubt it. Does he listen to Ancelotti? I don’t know, but he probably does.

3. A Football Manager ace might not be such a convincing person in real life. He is able to make top-notch tactics and analyze football in great depth but most of them might not really be able to motivate a team because that takes talent and charisma and some people just don’t have those.

The list of pros and cons could be expanded, of course, and I am looking forward to reading your suggestions in the comments. I don’t know if the pros outweigh the cons or if it’s the other way around but in my view a Football Manager fanatic should never be a solution for a top-flight club. However, I think that semi-professional clubs might want to look into that, their players don’t train too much anyway and a great tactical mind on the bench could make a difference now and again.

Do you think that you have what it takes to move from pixels to the pitch? Then you could start sharing your FM 2011 stories on my website,, and maybe give the interested clubs a better look inside your manager mind.

About The Author

Johnny Karp is the owner and founder of, a football manager fan blog that started in 2008 and grew to become one of the most popular blogs in its niche. The website has mostly Football Manager career stories but it also provides tactics, guides and downloads that can help people to enjoy the game even more. Johnny’s managerial feats include winning the Champions League with the Blyth Spartans, getting Dorchester Town to the Premier League and also dominating English football with Notts County. He is currently taking Vauxhall Motors FC all the way to the top.

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  1. Hey Johnny

    What a fantastic article, I didn’t realize someone actually applied for such a position just from FM experience. Love the Boro reply though, excellent humour.

    I personally don’t think that any club will ever hire an FM gamer. If they took the time to interview every candidate they’d be waiting to fill the position forever.

    However, I used to think I could walk into management when I was a teenager. Unfortunately that optimistic lad is in the past and I’m now more of a pessimist. Still fun to dream though mate. :) And again love this article, you are the perfect person to carry the torch for FM on sites like Soccerlens!

  2. Hi Mate. Nice article – good to read something other than current top 4 news. Anyway, I am trying to get a new website called ‘dont tell me the score’ up and running and was just wondering if you could look at it and give me some feedback, or mention it on your blogs/twitter page. Its a website that helps you scale down all of the football on TV to the best games/bits only. Its particularly good for the games you need to sky plus because of work, family, weddings etc and is good for fans in different time zones. Its found at – thanks for looking! – Matt

    • That’s an interesting idea Tim and I know that some people will like it. However, not finding out the scores is quite difficult nowadays, the news come to you from just about anywhere. Good luck with the website!

  3. Great article Johnny, I wish that guy had got the Boro job, that would have been unbelievable! I hope that a club will eventually employ an FM gamer, however that is pretty unlikely.

    • Thanks mate. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility, I hope that an FM gamer would get a management job someday and I’d put my money on you since age is on your side :)

  4. Hi Johnny,
    Its very interesting you should have decided to publish this article this week. My local non-league team AFC Telford United, who play in the Blue Sq North, today played a friendly match against a PFA select XI (including Ray “two-thirds” Parlour, Ade Akinbiyi and Paul Merson among others) to fill a dearth in the fixture list caused by the winter weather disruptions. An announcement was made on the club website this week about the appointment of a special ‘assistant manager’ for the game, as our usual manager, ex-England Pro Andy Sinton decided to give himself a run out. As you can see from the link below, Darren Jeffreys proved himself as the best candidate after winning the league several times as Telford manager on LMA manager 2006. I know this is not quite FM, however it’s pretty damn close to what you were forwarding in your article. Good Work!

  5. What I’ll say to this is that tactically, football manager is a little limited. Especially considering the things you don’t do as a footie manager fanatic.

    – Plan training each and every day, including customised drills for your players, including noting flaws in their game on the training ground rather then getting them in stats.

    – Watching endless videos of how an opposing player is poorly positioned, rather the simply knowing his positioning as fifteen out of twenty.

    – Knowing how to motivate each and every player in accordance with how they are mentally tuned.

    – The half time speech. Not just five options, a veritable mindfield of psycological warfare and charisma.

    There are endless ways in which just coaching a non league team is all kinds of steps up. BUT, if people love football manager, then theres no reason why they can’t take the first steps into professional coaching. England needs good, european class coaches – the gap in the job market is very much in pro football coaching. Might write somethign about that actually.

    • You are right, a good Football Manager player can not become a good real football manager overnight but I think that FM is a good starting point.

  6. Nice article though. Albeit I hope this doesn’t open pandora’s box where millions of people apply for every possible league job.

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