Who makes the all-time Football Manager cult XI?
The Football/Championship Manager game has brought our attention to some of the best players around over the years, but it’s also responsible for some of the biggest flops (sorry Freddy Adu).
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To celebrate the launch of Football Manager 2020 last week we’ve assembled an all-conquering team of bona fide cult legends and gems who have graced the franchise over the years.
GK: Dionisis Chiotis
In reality, Chiotis enjoyed a decent career and even managed to win one cap for Greece. However, his FM alter ego quickly became an unbeatable giant betwixt the sticks in the 2001-02 game after he was plucked from AEK Athens.
RB: Anthony Vanden Borre
Available from Anderlecht for a minimal fee in the 2007-08 game, Vanden Borre proved more than strong and versatile enough to build a Champions League winning side around — which is quite an accolade for a right-back.
CB: Michael Duff
The definition of rock solid. Teenager Duff was easily procured from Cheltenham Town in the earlier Championship Manager games and routinely became a staple of countless Football League back fours.
LB: Taribo West
Available on a bargain free transfer at the beginning of the 2001-02 edition, the Nigerian behemoth quickly became even more dominant and foreboding that his real life counterpart who played for both Inter an AC Milan.
CM: Mark Kerr
Kerr was the stuff of legend in 2001-02. A hard-working Scottish central midfielder who was available for peanuts from Falkirk and could soon out-run, out-pass and out-play almost all of his contemporaries.
CM: Nii Lamptey
One of the original hidden gems in Championship Manager 1993-94, attacking midfielder Lamptey boasted a 20/20 pace rating with flair and creativity stats to match. It didn’t require much cash to lure him to your club either but the Ghanaian ended his real life career in South Africa after disappointing spells at Villa and Coventry.
AM: Tonton Zola Moukoko
One of the most renowned and revered cult heroes in FM folklore, once recruited from Derby County, Moukoko could almost guarantee you at least 20 goals a season from his advanced midfield position. In real life, he never played for Derby once and he spent most of his career in Scandinavia.
FW: Kennedy Bakircioglu
It took less than a couple of million to sign Bakircioglu from Hammarby in the 2000-01 game and, deployed properly in his preferred position just behind the striker, he’d soon repay you with a consistent glut of goals. Arguably, he had the best real career of anyone on this list with success at Ajax and Hammarby IF on his CV.
FW: Freddy Adu
One of FM’s most famed wonderkids, Adu was just 14 years old in the 2003-04 game which made securing him a work permit a fruitless nightmare. However, patience and perseverance were eventually rewarded when he blossomed into THE GREATEST PLAYER IN THE WORLD BAR NONE just a few years later. Then everything went wrong.
ST: Maxim Tsigalko
Those 2001-02 managers who scoured Belarus for talent were able to unearth Tsigalko, who was capable of hitting triple figures for goals in the space of just one season. Well worth the £2m investment it took to pinch him from Dinamo Minsk, but the real life stirker ended his career aged 26 because of injuries.
ST: Cherno Samba
Also known as the first player you signed after loading up Championship Manager 2001-02 for the first time. The Millwall schoolboy soon developed into an insanely powerful target man, capable of ravishing even the strongest of opposition defences on his own. But he was nowhere near that in reality and retired in 2015 after a stint in the Norwegian Second Division.
Neymar celebrates Flamengo win
PSG and Brazil star Neymar certainly enjoyed Flamengo’s Copa Libertadores victory over River Plate on Saturday night.
Brazilian side Flamengo produced two last-gasp goals to overcome the defending champions 2-1 in the final in Lima, with Gabriel Barbosa, known as “Gabigol” and on loan from Inter Milan, netting the vital goals to give the Rio de Janeiro giants their first Libertadores crown in 38 years.
But why is Neymar so excited, you may ask? Especially seeing as he used to play for Santos, and won the Copa with them in 2011.
Neymar seemed to enjoy that Flamengo winner 😂
(via neymarjr/Instagram) pic.twitter.com/DiNScNvDU5
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) November 23, 2019
Well, never underestimate the power of Brazilian nationalism, especially when playing against eternal rivals Argentina, plus his sister is Gabigol’s girlfriend.
Neymar is also something of a Flamengo fan and told Canal Esporte Interativo back in 2017: “I have a lot of desire to one day play for Flamengo, with the Maracana full, playing in the Copa Libertadores. I still have strong sentiments towards Santos. But they went to court against me [after he left to join Barcelona] and I still don’t know why. There is a lot the people don’t know about.”
Viva O mais querido do Brasil (The most beloved of Brazil).
Chivas goalkeeper scores goal
It’s always fun when a goalkeeper scores at the other end and Chivas goalkeeper Antonio Rodriguez can write his name in history now alongside some of the greats.
Here’s the Toño Rodriguez goal from his own penalty area!! #ligamxeng 🐐
— Tom Marshall (@mexicoworldcup) November 24, 2019
Rodriguez scored from his own penalty area with the Veracruz keeper Sebastian Jurado up for a late corner and the score standing at 2-1.
Top marks for accuracy.
Bundesliga clubs make statements with shirts
There were a couple of special team jerseys seen on show in the Bundesliga this weekend, so here’s a brief summary.
Fortuna Dusseldorf once again sported the famous “Die Toten Hosen” skull and crossbones logo in the 4-0 defeat to Bayern Munich. The German band were sponsors of Dusseldorf over two decades ago when the club ran into financial trouble in the lower leagues and had the logo printed on their shirts.
— Fortuna Düsseldorf (@f95) November 23, 2019
Singer Campino, a friend of Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, is a die-hard supporter and one of the band’s biggest hits is called “Bayern” — a song about how no-one should ever join Bayern Munich — but sadly Saturday’s result didn’t really hold up.
Elsewhere, Frankfurt wore a shirt against Wolfsburg showing all the flags of nations where their players come from to combat discrimination.
— Eintracht Frankfurt (@eintracht_eng) November 23, 2019
The shirts also contained the hashtag “Platz fur Vielfalt” (room for diversity) but, again, the team were unable to match their club’s commitment on the pitch and lost 2-0. A noble effort anyway. — Stephan Uersfeld