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Interview with Calin, owner of www.footballmanagerfreak.com

Football Manager community includes a lot of interesting persons, fans and freaks. I’m glad to present you interview with one of them. Welcome Calin, owner of www.footballmanagerfreak.com!

Calin and his footballmanagerfreak.com

Frozy: Hi there!

Calin: Hello Frozy, nice to meet you! I am Calin, I’m from a little down below on the map – I am from Romania.

Frozy: So, how long do you play Football Manager? Since CM?

Calin: I started a long time ago – back in 1997 I guess when I first played CM 1996-1997. And since then, I kept playing the game yearly… and never got bored of it!

Frozy: Do you remember first team you managed?

Calin: Oh, yes, I could never forget it: I started as the manager of Newcastle (it was the Shearer Era), but kept playing and ended up to finish the game 16 seasons later with a team made up completely of regens. A team of champions I might add.

Frozy: And then came CM01-02, right?

Calin: Yes… there were a few more games until there (including CM 3), but CM 01-02 is another in the series to remember – probably the best game that SI released with the Championship Manager game.

Frozy: Why do you have such opinion about CM01-02?

Calin: I can still remember that jewel T? Madeira, I did everything I could to have him in the teams I managed.  And I can’t really say why I consider CM 01-02 the best in the Championship Manager series… probably one fact that matterd was that I was getting older and started to understand the game better and probably the entire simulation thing was so well done that made you realize that you’re playing something more than just a game and it’s as real as it gets.

Frozy: “More than just a game” is a great slogan 🙂

Calin: And of course, it was still a “text only” game – something I don’t think many would play nowadays, but those who experienced and enjoyed the early Championship Manager titles certainly would still appreciate.

Frozy: You’re right. CM01-02 fans are active and their site (http://www.champman0102.co.uk/forum/index.php) is still alive.

Calin: Wow, that’s really interesting- I never knew that it was so alive still.

Well, I remember CM4 when it was released with the graphic engine (the 2D match engine in today’s game), that was a total surprise for me and I considered it one of the biggest achievements ever, even though it made my games last a lot longer than they did and I wasn’t able to play 40 seasons or more per year  During that time, I was playing with one of my close friends, Alin, who still is a Football Manager fan, and he used to come by at my house (we were playing on my computer) and spend several hours per day playing in Italy – he was managing AC Milan, I was with Inter. Oh, how nice it all was back then!

Frozy: So you’re a “hot seat-style” fan?

Calin: I was back then. In Romania, the quality of the internet was not that great back then and playing online was never an option. It’s a lot more fun when you have another manager near you to manage a team, learn from his mistakes and have somebody near you to have a laugh with. Because, as you show in your blog, there are a lot of funny moments that make Football Manager and CM games so great.

Frozy: How did you like the next versions of the game?

Calin: Well, I guess that they were just getting better and better. I don’t really have any specific memories to note – except for that CM 4 with the match engine, but the games always seemed to deliver something new each year, something exciting that I couldn’t wait to try.

I was a bit confused when CM and Football Manager appeared – and I actually eneded up playing both the games (CM 5, if I remember well) and I understood that the game I wanted to stick around with was Football Manager and I am really glad that I did so.

Frozy: As I see from your site, you actively began to play since FM2009? Or it was just a moment when you launched http://www.footballmanagerfreak.com?

Calin: I launched a blog about Football Manager in September 2008, actually – it was on the blogspot platform and later moved to another “free domain” – fmfanatic.co.cc before actually moving to my own Football Manager Freak address and really start blogging  I can’t say that it was the time when I actively started to play the game – I played it at the same pace always, but only in late 2008 I decided to write about my career as a virtual football manager in the game.

I also post some tips and strategies and things about downloads, but a place on the internet where I post about my manager career is what FM Freak is mostly about and I was actually inspired by another person from Ukraine, Vitaly who still blogs about the game on truefootballmanager.com.

Frozy: Well, all FM freaks and addicts know Vitaliy Mokosiy 😉

Calin: Yes, I guess so – he’s actually been an inspiration for us all. I remember reading his posts and saying – Man, I also play and I also have success with my teams and I also love to write (and read other’s stories), so why not give it a try?

Frozy: I wonder how many FM bloggers can tell the same story about their start J  But let’s return to yourself. If you’re blogging for more than 3 years already, then you must be a real FM freak  Do you?

Calin: Yes, I really consider myself a real Football Manager freak and probably like most of the hardcore FM players out there, Football Manager is the game that I play the most throughout the year even though now, being an adult with other things to care about – like a job and a family – I don’t have as much time to play the game than I’d like. Last year, for example, I only finished 9 seasons combined, which is an all time low for me. But hopefully last year I’ll be able to do better and get the most out of the game. Because, yes, I am still a Football Manager Freak.

Frozy: Was it true about 40 seasons in a year you wrote recently?

Calin: Yes, when I was younger and had time only for Football Manager (I guess that the 97-98 version), I had played around 40 seasons combined: I first started with Newcastle (again) and played a fair amount of time, then started a new game with Torquay in the lower leagues and brought them all the glory – stopped playig in 2020-something.

I remember that I had a notebook then in which I wrote all the stats for the players to track their progress and their careers – back then, if an uncapped player was called to the national team, caps didn’t start to count, so I wanted to have all the info there – I might even have that piece of history somewhere around, it was really nice.

Frozy: Wow, that’s sounds really freaky!

Calin: lol, yeah…I had a lot of time on my hands back then. And I had to bring the glory to Torquay!

Frozy: What is your favourite team? Maybe Torquay? 😀

Calin: Hehe, no, I don’t think that I have actually seen them play ever, like most of the lower league teams that I love to manage. And regarding my favorite team, I am not such a hardcore fan as some might think I’d be: I am a fan of a Romanian team, Steaua Bucharest but mostly because all of my friends are fans of this team  And I also hold Newcastle in high regards since it was the first team I managed.

Frozy: What do you think about FM2012?

Calin: Well, I think that it’s the best game in the series so far. At times it seemed to be a little too easy since I kept winning with the team I am managing now (Chieti), but things soon changed after we’ve won promotion and I saw that indeed it’s a really good simulation.

And all the things that are there – like the lack of money most of the teams struggle with, the players with different approaches to the game and who have “feelings” of their own – these amongst many other things are what makes FM2012 (and FM games generally) such a nice thing to have and to enjoy. It’s almost real and you actually end up caring about your players and feeling extremely connected to the team that you are managing. And that, for a “simple” computer game is almost unnatural.

Frozy: Do you think the harder Football Manager is the more interesting it is? That’s what you mean talking about “good simulation”?

Calin: Not necessary – I think that the simulation is as close to real life if it makes you feel it’s real. I don’t want the game to be too easy and let me win just because it’s a game, but I don’t want to feel that the computer is “cheating” in order to make things difficult. The entire flow of the game should seem to be natural and that’s exactly what FM manages to deliver. It all seems to be real: I make some tweaks to the tactics, I actually see things happen differently during the game. I change the instructions, players react differently. I upset my players, they start to have some poor performances. This is what makes a good simulation in my opinion, no matter how hard or easy it actually is in the end.

Frozy: As I understand, you like crap-styled games? Taking weak team and manage it until the world domination, right?

Calin: Yes, this is actually the way I play Football Manager for quite a while now – the satisfaction of taking a team nobody has ever heard of and put it at the top of the world table can’t be described in Words. And personally, I consider that it’s much more of a challenge and makes things a lot more interesting and exciting than simply taking a top team and destroying everything along the way. If I were to take Barcelona, for example, I would have absolutely no fun winning the titles because that’s what Barcelona does anyway. But taking a cash-stripped team from the lowest division and eventually beating Barcelona in the Champions League final – now that’s something I will really enjoy.

So basically I enjoy the challenge – of fighting against better teams, of fighting with the lack of money and winning everything. It’s not easy and not always happens as planned, but it’s certainly a really nice ride!

Frozy: Have you ever played Llama-styled games? What do you think about this way that makes FM even harder?

Calin: Well, I must be honest and say that I never tried playing a Llama styled game (it’s actually following this question that I found about this type of playing and did a bit of research to see what it means).

Frozy: Ok, but now you know what is it 😉

Calin: It seems to be very interesting and I might even try to do it some time – but it indeed seems like something for the really hardcore players only and would make one’s job a lot more difficult. Also, I saw that the rules stat that you are not allowed to modify the database and I usually love to create myself in the game and see how “my” career goes: some times I put myself in the team that I manage, sometimes not. However, I do not cheat with editing the my team stats or stuff like that: I usually decide what team to manage after starting the game only, so I wouldn’t know what to edit. And again, editing would make no sense because I like the challenge of achieving a lot after starting with little…

So I can say that I might be playing a semi-LLAMA game right now and I am seriously considering starting a full LLAMA now that I’ve heard about it.

Frozy: I think it’s hard to find FM player who haven’t created himself in the game  How successful were you as a football player?

Calin: I try to create my player as real as possible. But since I totally suck at playing football in real life, I certainly cheated a bit – there are some 18’s there at the stats and a pace of 14 is the minimum even though in real life I’d probably be a 5  So I do pretty well as a football player in the game – I end up being one of the best players in my nation (Romania) and the biggest clubs in the world battle to sign me.

Frozy: Tell me please about the most memorable moments in your FM/CM career. That’s the things I like to read the most, and I’m sure other FM gamers like it too.

Calin: Well, there are quite a few of those even though many moments, at their respective time, were memorable. I remember winning the World Cup and Euro Cup with Ireland in CM 97/98 after signing half of the national team for my team to make sure that the players are well rested but also play enough games to be fit. I ended up loving those players (even though most of them were regens and I still remember, so many years after that happened about Robbie Keane, who ended up a top scorer and amazing player).

Another great moment was when I won the champions cup with Torquay – I had built that team up from scratch and never lost hope and it was the first actual trophy that I had won and really cared about.

Back to more recent terms, I was completely amazed in 2006 (if my memory serves me well) after playing for a few seasons with Steaua Bucharest: it happened that in real life, the exact first transfers that I brought to the team were made by the real life manager. That was a really strange and awesome feeling! 🙂

Frozy: Cool 🙂 What else?

Calin: There was a player in the 00/01 or 01/02 version of the game, an AMC (but I can’t remember his name unfortunately – I tried a few days ago and still couldn’t do it) that had some really crappy stas and I signed him as a back-up once when my players were injured and I had nobody else to play. The thing is that this guy managed to become the superstar of my team – I recommended him to my friends and they thought that I was crazy, but still decided to give it a try. He had incredibly crappy stats but played like a superstar all the time, game after game. Maybe a bug, maybe something else, I don’t know – but that player was certainly my biggest find and one of the biggest surprises in the game!

Frozy: What plans regarding your site do you have?

Calin: First of all, I hope to start bringing some useful information and tips to the community – I want to start writing some more guides and tips about how to play the game and how to get the most out of it. Probably that the most of my readers are already hardcore players and know most of the things, but we should never forget the beginners who might feel overwhelmed by the complexity of the games. I will try to think about them and deliver these helpful articles. And, of course, I will continue my storytelling there and hope to be able to provide some really interesting inshight on how the game really works – to do that I started a few challenges that will hopefully let us learn a bit more about how real FM actually is how the unseen engines work.

Frozy: Our FM experience is the most valuable thing we can share, I suppose.

You know, I like fun FM screenshots very much. Can you share your most interesting FM screenie with me and my readers?

Calin: Yes, I know you do and you actually do a great job on posting those amazing screenshots (and I’m glad to see that you restarted to post them).

I, on the other hand, didn’t get to see so many funny things in my game or at least I haven’t been inspired enough to save them. However, I do have this one screenshot from my Macclesfield story: transfer record of 5 euros

A record high of 5 euros 😀

Frozy: Thanks! I’m grateful for such interesting story of your FM life! I am sure that it’ll be interesting for many FM gamers.

Calin: Thank you to for spending so much time with me  and for the entire experience,  it was really nice to talk about it! 🙂

Read also: Interview with Ix Techau, owner of www.mantralux.com

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