Why I love the surprisingly tactical thrill of cheating in Football Manager

Very few football fans will be familiar with the career of former Barcelona manager Bart Celona. Only those who lived within the savegame of my Championship Manager 2 career were there to witness his brief but eventful three-week stint at the giant, during which time he broke concurrent transfer records on several unheard-of English teenagers from York City and brokered staggeringly generous deals on Barca players going the other way. 

As the years went by, it wasn’t so easy to cheat at Champ Man. It’s always been possible to conjure up a new manager and add them to any club in the world, but over time their rampant recklessness was tempered by higher-ups. Try to siphon away Real Madrid’s fortunes and boards got involved, casting a suspicious eye over the transfer targets of their newly appointed Ray Almadrids, and stepping in to block moves that they deemed ‘unrealistic’. 

Of course, that only made the cheating more delicious. It’s one thing to player.additem your way to riches in Skyrim, ticking up an arbitrary number with a console command, but breaking the game in Football Manager requires a level of lateral thinking that goes way beyond finding the command that makes your number of goals go up.

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(Image credit: Sega)

The classic cheat move, series-long, is save-scumming. I found myself doing this in the particularly unpredictable Football Manager 2005. Here’s how it works: let’s say you’re particularly aggrieved by the way Arsenal beat your Middlesborough side—two late penalties, for goodness sake.

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