Ahoy again, my manifold internet friends and acquaintances. Welcome!
I'd like to create a space to talk about Football Manager, specifically with a view to players and stories to do with Spurs. The reason I'm thinking about this is that right now I'm playing a game of FM11 which has extended to 2040, in which Spurs have created a real legacy. I'll share my story, in the hope that others will also share theirs. My guess is that a lot of us (demographic: Spurs fans, technologically competent, tactically aware) probably either currently play Football Manager, have played it in the past or are thinking about playing it in the future.
Any stories welcome, especially with screenshots. I'll see if I can upload videos of some special goals to YouTube, but I've not had success trying to do that before... If you can, do. For me, the thing that really makes FM a great franchise is the emotional connection you develop with players and members of staff. Seeing a 15 year old potential wonderkid develop into a true worldbeater is a thing of joy and satisfaction. To start with though, as promised, here's my current story... If you don't like Football Manager, you can choose to ignore this whole thing. If you're vaguely interested, dip in. Please try to hold back from starting an anti-Football Manager crusade or overly negative view. It's a bit of fun.
a01chtra's FM11 Spurs Side Story
So, I'm not going to waffle too much, but I am going to waffle. If you're not interested, keep on scrolling and then add your stories below! My format for discussing players is a picture of the face if available, a back story, career stats including a highlighted best season (numbers for selected season will appear at the bottom of the shot) and my memories.
I'm going to skip past the early years, before the NewGens (i.e. those players who the simulator generates) really kicked in. Suffice to say, Alexis Sanchez, Gareth Bale, and Edinson Cavani all had major parts to play in my early success, and I brought in Messi in 2016 on a free and Ronaldo at the age of 36 and I feel privileged and lucky to have done so. Cavani set some records, many of which lasted for decades after his retirement. One is still standing (he scored 48 goals for us in 2018/9, a season where he was essentially undroppable). He was our top scorer between 2013/14 and 2019/20, notching 30 goals or more in his last 5 consecutive seasons. Jimmy Greaves' outrageous 37 league goals in a season and 220 league goals for the club are also still standing.
My focus has always been on developing excellent youth prospects, and feeding them to the national side, who I used to manage. We play a 4-2-3-1 with two inside forwards and a player behind the striker who is variously either a Ronaldo/Bale or Messi/Modric type. Always have a THE up front.
Significant NewGens: Rowe, Vincent, Alexandre, Carballo, Lee
Now's the interesting part, at least for me. The story that takes itself forward, once the real players have moved on. The guys who took up the baton for the club as Cavani, Bale and Sanchez moved on were Chris Rowe, Steve Vincent and Alexandre.
Regrettably, I don't have any remaining information on Chris Rowe except that he's a recognised club legend, and was basically in the vein of Aaron Lennon. He didn't really finish chances, but he was an exceptional talent, and born in North London, reared through our academy. Never stole too many headlines (although he did win World Player of the Year in 2024), but always an important player. Vincent and Alexandre though... well, they were a class apart.
Steve Vincent was born in Brighouse, Watford on 27th October 1994. A product of Watford's academy, he broke into the Watford team in his first season at the age of 17, but only made 1 sub-standard appearance before he was snapped up into the Spurs academy for £2.5m on the first day of 2012. Not much fanfare, but he had potential. He was quick, he had a good finish on him. He was a left sided natural winger though, and there wasn't too much call for that in my side at that time because of a certain Welshman. So I trained him as in inside forward, almost a... Defoe from behind the striker. He flourished. Over time, he became one of the best players of all time, spearheading a quick and incisive Spurs side almost always playing a 4-2-3-1, playing either as an inside forward on the left, behind the main striker or as an advanced forward leading the line. He captained both England and Spurs for several years, and became the all-time highest international goalscorer with 90 goals from 153 caps. When he finally hung up his boots on 7th August 2031, he took up a post as my Assistant Manager of England, before taking on a coaching job at Birmingham (a recent powerhouse) and then finally rejoining Spurs in September of 2032, with a coaching post he's held to this day.
Alexandre da Costa's career was rather less straightforward. I regard him as the Brazilian THE that we almost missed out on. We certainly missed out on several of his best years. Alexandre da Costa started out life on 14th August 1999 in Cidade Ocidental (GO), at the club Atletico Goianiense. Scouted by Corinthians, he was picked up for £180k and stuck straight into the first team despite never having played a game. He was awful, and found himself farmed out to Goias on loan, where he was marginally less awful but still pretty poor. He came back to Corinthians, was poor again and was sold to Porto for £425k. Unsurprisingly, he was poor again, and earnt himself a loan bizarrely out to the German second (or third?) division with FC Augsburg, where he scored 15 goals and contributed 6 assists in 23 games. This didn't convince Porto, who sold him for £5m to FC Zurich in Switzerland. He stayed there for four seasons and steadily scored about once in every two games, before heading back to Germany with HSV for £5.25m. Here, his form improved still further, and in the second of his two seasons at HSV, he managed an impressive 7 goals in 10 games.
Porto had clearly not given up on Alexandre, though, and they took the punt for £10.5m and bought him back. It really, really paid off. He scored 48 goals and contributed 13 assists in just 52 appearances over two seasons for Porto in his second stint, winning them a bunch of silverware and getting his first Brazilian caps and goals - and at that point, in 2025/6, we crossed paths by chance in the Champions' League. My scouts hadn't reported anything about him, but he looked unplayable, and I glanced at his stats and his records and resolved to take him to Spurs. I doubled Porto's money (£21m) and took him home to White Hart Lane. He scored 135 goals in 231 games in 11 years at his final footballing home. After retiring, he took a couple of coaching jobs elsewhere before joining us again last year. During his career, he won the World Golden Ball twice, was twice runner-up World Player of the Year, and twice English Players' Player of the Year. He scored 88 goals for Brazil in 112 caps, including once 12 in a year, making him both their all time and single-year top goalscorer. He is also both Brazil and Spurs' oldest goalscorer, playing at the top level until he was 37. He was also a huge, huge influence on Kevin Sylla, who we'll see later.
Again, unfortunately I have no game record remaining of the now-retired Steve Lee, but he was poached from United's academy. Short, weak and technical, he had the makings of a decent little player. As he developed at our academy, he became on of our key players, playing in either deep midfield (when we had more experienced players playing "in behind") or later playing behind the striker, running the game. I thought of him as the English Messi, and that's pretty much what he was. He won the World Golden Ball once, World Player of the Year twice and basically consistently ran the show for Spurs between 2019 when we lost Messi and 2031 by which time Alex Southern (see later) had really come of age.
Alvaro Carballo was born on March 27th 1999 in Sevilla, and joined their roster in 2015/6. Before making any appearances, he was poached by Spurs for £625k. He finally broke into the first team in 2019/20, though with Vincent, Rowe, Cavani and co. enjoying such excellent seasons, he had few starts. His absurd average rating though meant I had to make space for him, and within two years he'd become possibly Spurs' best player, in one season scoring 42 goals and contributing 18 assists with 15 man of the match awards in just 45 starts and 6 substitute appearances, ignoring his 5 goals and 3 MOTMs from 8 international caps that season... He stayed at the club throughout his career, always keeping his head down and working hard for the side, playing the Vincent role of inside/left side forward, driving forward behind the striker and/or complete striker up front. His lethal pace was never overshadowed by even his quickest colleagues, who variously included Bale, Vincent, Cavani, Southern, Rowe and other such terrifying speedsters. In 2033/34, his place on the roster was under threat and he left on a free to Stuttgart, where he scored 19 goals in 33 appearances before retiring and taking up a coaching post at Spurs 5 years ago.
My Favourite NewGens: Southern and Sylla
There are those who would argue that by 2040, I should have moved on from this game. I've already bought FM13, and Coulibaly is coming along nicely. But I can't leave this game. Why? Alex Southern and Kevin Sylla.
Alex Southern is, in my opinion, the greatest footballer ever to have... lived(?) He's currently 32 years old, and his stats even now look like this:
Born in Kendal in September of 2007, he was rapidly pinched by the Spurs academy. Under the tuition of Steve Vincent, Alvaro Carballo and Alexandre, he developed and developed - from a position of immediately coming into our first team and scoring 6 goals at the age of 17. Over the last 16 years, he has dribbled past players he has no right to beat, picked passes even I don't predict with my bird's eye view and knowledge of the match engine, scored outrageous wondergoals and... well, just basically taken my breath away. He's a leader, a genius, a real Tottenham legend. The kind of guy who takes a game by the scruff of the neck and absolutely does whatever he wants with it. The kind of guy everyone, but EVERYONE pays to see.
He has collected 92 competition wins and counting, including three World Cups, plus an English Player's Player of the Year, English Footballer of the Year, three-time World Golden Ball, five-time World Player of the Year, and seven time European Midfielder of the Year among dozens of other personal awards. I can't describe how good this player is, or what a genuine joy it is to watch him do the things he does. It's why I love the Football Manager game so much. In amongst all the details and the processing that go into it, you just get these... incredible stories, and in this case - the best player I have ever seen. He's just... magical. I love you, Alex Southern, you imaginary god.
Kevin Sylla is THE. Born in Chatham in 2008, he's a half-English half-Ivorian who I gave a debut to as the then England manager (I now manage Italy, having resigned out of boredom and unsuccessfully reapplied out of regret).
He was mostly influenced by Alexandre, although some credit must go to the stolen Barcelona centre-forward Juan Carlos, whose stats were magnificent and whose Barca record was phenomenal; but who never quite made it at Spurs. Between those two, Sylla developed into essentially the all-round complete forward. A bit of a late bloomer by my academy's standards, he made the his breakthrough into the England team and Spurs team simultaneously in 2028/29 at the age of 20. He has since scored 101 goals in 126 appearances for England, and 208 goals in 349 league appearances for Spurs - though he's scored 382 for us in all competitions in 12 seasons, of which the current is unfinished... Bear in mind that his 208 league goals put him just 12 behind Jimmy Greaves' all time record for Spurs. With this season still yet to finish and surely another couple to come, I wouldn't bet against it. It would be fitting, too, for such an outstanding player. Twice named the English Players' Player of the Year and English Footballer of the Year, he's been the Premier League Golden Boot three times, Champions League Golden Boot three times, European (all competitions) Golden Boot once, the European Striker of the Year a whopping six times and has won both the World Golden Ball and World Player of the Year once.
His pace, directness and outstanding composure under pressure in addition to his high-power bending long-range free-kicks, devastating long shots and phenomenal movement off the ball make Sylla impossible to mark out of a game. If you stand off him, he'll blast a shot past you. If you come too tight, he spins off you and fires a shot in from close range. Both are frequently deadly. He's good in the air as his mentor Alexandre was, and has been as quick as it's possible to be. Even now at the age of 31, he's one of the quickest players in the world, with a great burst of acceleration. He almost never disappears out of a game, and is often the game changer, scoring a ridiculous goal out of nothing in a tight spot. If it weren't for Southern, I'd say Sylla was the best player of all time. A kind of English Drogba with the pace, long shots and freekicks of Cristiano Ronaldo/Bale, the unerring finishing of Luis Ronaldo in his prime, and the leadership qualities and calm head of Ledley King. A real beast. The real THE.
Perhapsthe oddest character story from my game was that of David Milner, a 2011 Man United NewGen. After a barely noticeable start to his career, and a quietly successful loan to Burnley in the Championship, Milner was released on a free to Lazio in 2018, where he immediately became one of the greatest midfielders in world football. After three phenomenal seasons (the last of which: 33 appearances, 22 goals, 19 assists, 12 MOTM, 8.34 AvR) I signed him for £27.5m. He had a moderately good first season, but didn't quite fit my high-pace style, being more of a glorious pass-machine than a dribble-merchant. He won World Golden Ball without breaking much of a sweat or being the best player even on my team, then had a dreadful second season (0 goals, 6 assists) and was sold to none other than his boyhood rejectors Manchester United.
He won the World Golden Ball again, and a World Player of the Year, notched a number of impressive goals and assist tallies, then ended his career by rejoining Spurs on a free and never playing (i.e. tutoring the youth). He's now the Assistant Manager at Bristol City.
So, there it is!
I hope you enjoyed these obscure references and stories, and that when you have some time, you can put your stories in the comments below! Thanks for your time, guys, and thanks in anticipation of your fascinating (to me at least) FM stories. Way excited. COYimaginaryS!
Imgur originals (better resolution: http://imgur.com/a/ZbpVL)