by James Oddy

I`ve a confession to make:  I was, and maybe still remain, a football manager addict.

I`ve made it twelve months, cold turkey, so far. But while in a recent retail outlet the other day, I saw this season’s copy, shiny and new, beckoning me. Only twenty pounds. Like a siren lounging on some hazardous rocks, it attracts me towards personal ruin, boasting all new weather effects in its 3D match engine. You can even speak in tones.

It wants to leave me broken and dishevelled, cursing my luck that Charlton have recalled the central defender who averages a 6:52 rating in a defence leaking goals for my York City team.

It wants to delude me into thinking that wearing a shirt, tie and blazer (but no trousers, which would be absurd) when my team makes it to the FA cup final is acceptable.

It wants to convince me that buying World Soccer is worth it, not for the excellent articles, but simply to scour the back pages looking for goal machines in the Ghanaian second division.

It wants me to watch real football, and view it as an imposter. Nikola Klanic really is the future of Croatian football, you understand, chased by European big guns, not the timid looking Premier League flop I saw before my eyes. Cherno Samba has had a distinguished career at the top, and Adebayo Akinfenwa has cemented his place in Brentford folklore for firing them to back to back promotions. Notts country are still riding the crest of an exciting adventure, fuelled by Sven and the millions.

But worst of all, it makes me go all Meta. In my football manager universe, how would, say, FIFA 14, rate my wundkid regen whose been banging them in for fun? 78? Fuck off, he`s at least an 85 with massive growth potential.

So you see why I had to stop. I hit bottom after a ten hour binge that left my ranting at my main striker, Tom Craddock, who had missed a sitter, leaving me with no chance to break into the play off places. Seeing his tiny pixalated legs, comically swing at the ball which ballooned over, I wondered why this was more important than finishing off my university dissertation, job hunting, or returning my friends and family’s phone calls.

It`s been a long, hard road, but I’m getting there. Now, when I watch `real` football, I appreciate it for what it is. I`ve come to terms with the fact that half time team talks probably consist of more than four or five phrases, and that I’m not a legendary figure at Bournemouth. Scott Dann doesn’t consider me a father figure for giving him his first cap. I have come to terms with that. Although, I`ve got a free afternoon.  I`ve just been paid. Who cares about those rocks?  Cherno Samba’s voice does sound enticing.