10 times Football Manager predicted the future

Football Manager 2017 was released on November 4, 2016

Football Manager is a series of football management simulation games developed by Sports Interactive and published by Sega. The game takes you on a journey where you start from scratch and assemble world’s brightest talents and build an invincible team.

It gives you the steering wheel of your club and generates real-life managerial situations for you to face. Player management, injury issues and budget allocation are some of the obstacles which you need to confront on your road to creating a legacy for yourselves.

FM is the most famous football simulation game. The reason behind this is that it is very realistic and rates the players accurately.

But sometimes it feels like a time machine because, in its 13-year long history, the game has predicted some of the world’s best talents even before they burst onto the scene.

Here, we look at ten such predictions Football Manager made that changed the course of the beautiful game forever.

#10 The Wimbledon Prediction

AFC Wimbledon’s historic win against MK Dons was predicted by the game

Sports Interactive, the creator of the Football Manager series, played a very important part in AFC Wimbledon’s history, ever since its inception in 2002. The interactive game was the sponsor of club’s home kit while SI displayed on the away kit of the club.

At the start of the 2016/17 season, Football Manager ran a simulation which predicted that Wimbledon would finish in the 13th place in their debut season in League 1. The game also predicted that they would win 3-1 against rivals MK Dons in their clash at the Kingsmeadow.

As of March 2017, the real Dons were at the 13th place and had defeated Milton Keynes 2-0, proving that the Football Manager developers had psychic powers.

#9 The -10 Wonderkids

Lionel Messi in Football Manager 2005

In 2006, many youngsters from all around the world were becoming hot prospects. A young Vincent Kompany was thriving in Anderlecht, Sergio Aguero and Radamel Falcao were South America’s most talked-about players, Sergio Ramos earned his big-money move to Real Madrid.

And of course, a certain Lionel Messi was becoming a regular starter for Barcelona.

But a common link joining these stars was that all of these players were given a -10 potential on Football Manager. Those who are unfamiliar with how the game works, a -10 potential means that the player can have a minimum of 170 and a maximum of 200 potential, ensuring that they would become one of the world’s best.

And boy did the game get it right as all of them have proved themselves at the world’s biggest stage.

Fair play, FM.

#8 The Italian Metronome

Marco Verratti during his days at Pescara

One of Europe’s hottest properties, Marco Verratti at 24, has his best days ahead of him. But it was Football Manager who spotted the potential of the Italian playmaker.

Verratti’s rise to stardom began when he was playing for Italian third division side Pescara. But, in Football Manager 2010, at 17 years of age, he was already a certified Tre Qu Artista. The game even predicted that Verratti would become one of the world’s greatest midfielders, three years before his international debut. Spooky.

The game was also spot on about boosting Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s ratings when he was not shining very bright in Italy.

Just like Verratti, FM predicted other Italian stars’ potential such as Giampaolo Pazzini, Antonio Cassano and Ricardo Montolivo.

Mamma Mia.

#7 The Bald Magician

GRONINGEN, NETHERLANDS  - JANUARY 24: Arjen Robben of PSV warms up before the Dutch First Division league match between FC Groningen and  PSV Eindhoven at The Oosterpark Stadium on 25 January, 2004 in Groningen, Netherlands. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
Arjen Robben came a long way from PSV

We all can agree that Arjen Robben is one of the best wingers in world football. The Dutch wizard has been tormenting Europe’s top defences all his career, but little did anyone know that a young, non-bald Robben would play at the highest level. Except for the Football Manager team.

Robben was 16 and was playing at his boyhood club Groningen when FM developers spotted him and gave him a rating of 19, almost same as the Brazilian legend Ronaldinho.

Premier League scouts noticed his rise in potential in the game. Manchester United and Chelsea approached him during his time at PSV Eindhoven, and Robben chose the latter one. And I guess we all know how that turned out.

#6 The Manager’s Son

BARCELONA, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 2: Leo Messi of FC Barcelona gestures during the UEFA Champions League group C match between FC Barcelona and Panathinaikos at the Camp Nou stadium on November 2, 2005 in in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Luis Bagu/Getty Images)
What if Messi had played for Rangers?

This is a story of how a Football Manager prediction changed the history of the beautiful game.

Scottish manager Alex McLeish, during his time at Rangers, was looking to sign talented youngsters in the transfer window, when his son and a Football Manager fanatic Jon McLeish, came to show him that he had signed a youngster in the game and was performing incredibly well.

Jon wanted his dad to sign the youngster in real life but Alex patted his son’s head and told him that it was just a game. The youngster was none other than Lionel Messi.

Later, Alex McLeish tried to sign Messi on loan from Barcelona but, of course, that didn’t happen. Messi went on to become one of the greatest players, if not the greatest, of all time and left Alex regretting the decision all his life.

If only parents could hear their kids out.

#5 The Belgian Superstars

Belgium have one of the best squads in the world

Belgium has produced some of the world’s most talented players such as Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Yannick Carrasco. Although they are yet to showcase their talent on the international stage, their golden generation has won many trophies for their respective clubs.

Football Manager was the first scout to pick out the likes of aforementioned Vincent Kompany, Kevin De Bruyne and Thibaut Courtois. While Kompany was the player to look forward to at Anderlecht, FM made Courtois and De Bruyne superstars before they even became one in real life.

Courtois was touted as the next Buffon as he had incredible stats for a 16-year old during his days at Genk while De Bruyne continued to improve every passing season.

#4 The Escape to Glory

Leicester City pulled off a miracle in the 2015/16 season

The most well-known footballing fairytale occurred in the 2015/16 season when Leicester City miraculously clinched the Premier League title. But what makes it all the more special is that the Foxes escaped relegation just the previous season. And guess who predicted it? Football Manager!

In early 2015, Football Manager ran a simulation when Leicester were rooted at the bottom of the league table with just 17 points. The simulation saw them finish just above the relegation zone, similar to what happened in reality.

The Foxes had a great business end of the season, in which they won seven of their last nine Premier League outings and finished in the 14th spot.

The next season was, as we all know, madness.

#3 Rise of La Furia Roja

Spain were the World Champions in 2010

Before 2008, Spain were known to be a squad full of young talent but they were ineffective at the international stage. But one of the writers of Football Manager Stole My Life, Iain Macintosh, played a simulation in an old edition of Football Manager which predicted World Cup glory for the Spaniards in 2010, way ahead of Paul the Octopus.

Cut to 2010, Spain were absolutely killing it in the World Cup and were strong favourites to lift the trophy. The side went on to defeat Netherlands in the final and went on to become world champions for the first time in their history.

Football Manager, you’re doing it right.

#2 The Late Bloomer

Deco won the Champions League with Porto

In 1997, a young Deco arrived at Portuguese club Benfica trying to make it big. But poor performances saw the 19-year-old go to second division side Alverca on loan. The Football Manager team saw the young boy’s amazing technique and labelled him a future superstar even though he displayed patchy form.

The game again got it spot on as Deco’s late rise came at Jose Mourinho’s Porto where he won the Champions League. And again at Barcelona. He also won league titles in four different countries.

FM turned Deco into Midas, touching silverware everywhere he went.

#1 The Welsh Dragon

MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 28: Gareth Bale of Southampton looks on during the FA Cup sponsored by E.ON Fourth Round match between Manchester City and Southampton at The City of Manchester Stadium on January 28, 2007 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
A young Gareth Bale playing for the Saints

Evolution of Gareth Bale from a defender to a forward is really admirable. The 16-year-old Welshman was just getting some first-team action at Southampton when in 2007, Football Manager made some astonishing claims. The game went on to predict that Bale would transform into a forward and an explosive one, as well.

But, once again, the developers were not disappointed as at Tottenham, Bale pushed into an attacking role which turned him into a beast. His performances in England and in Europe earned him a record transfer to Real Madrid in 2013, where he is bullying with defences alongside Cristiano Ronaldo.

Oh, and did I mention that he is also a three-time Champions League winner? I must’ve forgotten.