In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Manchester United enjoyed a run of form in the Premier League that few teams could even hold a candle to. Sadly for the team’s fans, however, losing legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013 saw something of a dip in quality, as the club cycled through four managers in just a few years.
After the departure of Jose Mourinho earlier this year, former Manchester United and Norway player Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was drafted in as caretaker manager, despite his only previous Premier League experience being a short-lived and unsuccessful period at Cardiff City. Solskjaer’s arrival, however, seems to have reversed United’s fortune, with a nine-game unbeaten run. And it’s all thanks to Football Manager.
In an interview with Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet in 2013 ( which you can check out below, via Kotaku), Solskjaer said that during his time as a player, he would relax by playing games like Football Manager, and that through them “I have learned a lot about football, I have learned a lot about players.”
When he was younger, Solskjaer says “I didn’t care about the games where you play the matches yourself,” like FIFA. “I was in manager mode.” His virtual management career began on the Commodore 64 at the age of seven, with retro management sim The Boss.
In the interview, which you can check out in the video above, Solskjaer says that many of his players (the interview was conducted while he was managing Norwegian club Molde) played both FIFA and Football Manager, and that he felt “it helps them understand football better.”
Whether being manager of one of the biggest clubs in the world still affords Solskjaer the time to play Football Manager isn’t clear. But given his recent successful run, I’d say the real thing might be more fun than its virtual counterpart.