UPDATED: 01 Jun 2018

From Football Manager to Football Management: winner of FMWEC Daniel Fry led Norwich City Legends out against Inter Forever

Written by bidstack

Football Manager has always prided itself on being the most accurate football management sim around. Playing this particular beautiful game, with its deep database and thorough tactical match engine, should – in theory – prep you well enough to deal with the demands of real-world management.

But how can we test that? One way bidstack is doing so is to offer the winner of the Football Management World esport Championship (FMWEC) the chance to take their digital management skills into the physical dugout.

Daniel Fry, the winner of the inaugural FMWEC tournament, was the first person to take on the transition. He entered the dugout for Norwich City Legends, as they took on the formidable Inter Forever on the 20th May 2018.

So, how did he get on? Let’s find out.

The teams

Even before the game kicked off, Dan had been dealt a tough hand. As any FM player knows, the team you start with pretty much sets the difficulty level.

And in his case, the assembled sides suggested that his Norwich side would have an uphill battle. While Norwich Legends boasted a deep bench, Inter were able to line up with the likes of Marco Materazzi, Javier Zanetti and David Suazo. They even had Jurgen Klinsmann ready to come on if he was needed.

Norwich would need a good start to the first half to get into the game. And that, unfortunately, didn’t happen.


First half

Inter Milan dominated the first early proceedings. With Zanetti slotting into central midfield alongside Ousmane Dabo, Norwich struggled to get hold of the ball and failed to register a chance of note.

It was therefore pretty unsurprising that Inter took the lead. Although Bryan Gunn had managed to overcome his slightly reduced mobility to make two early saves, he was unable to keep out Marco Materazzi’s sweetly hit free kick in the 23rd minute.

Things then went from bad to worse for the Canaries. A good effort from Houssine Kharja was palmed out of play by Scott Howie – who had replaced Gunn after the free-kick – for a corner. The resulting set piece was then headed into the back of the net by Norwich defender John Polston, making it 2-0 to the Italian side.

From then, things improved for Norwich. The arrival of Darren Huckerby and Grant Holt presented a different challenge for the Inter defence, leading to one good chance that FM legend Sebastian Frey had to deal with.

But with Norwich unable to pull one back, Inter looked well set to build on their 2-0 lead in the second period.


Second half

However, Inter Forever were not ready for a revitalised Norwich Legends to take the game to them. Following Dan’s motivational team talk, the Legends picked up significantly in the second half and put the Italian side under real pressure.

Although Jurgen Klinsmann arrived at the start of the second half, Grant Holt was arguably the most impressive forward on the pitch. The number 9 might have lacked mobility, but he was a repeated threat in the air – forcing Frey into a number of great saves and missing one chance that he really should have converted.

However, Norwich did pull one back in the 64th minute. A weighted through ball from Darren Eadie set Darren Huckerby free behind the full back on the left hand side. His cross was touched on by Iwan Roberts and Paul McVeigh finished into an empty net.

Inter, naturally, responded to the challenge. Klinsmann almost immediately flashed an acrobatic volley just past the post, while former Greece international Giorgos Karagounis saw a delicately weighted 30 yard chip bounce off the top of the bar.

And though Norwich would then go on to have the better of the end of the match, they weren’t able to claw back an equaliser. It finished 2-1, with Inter Forever recording back-to-back victories on their tour.

But Dan was able to leave the stadium with his head held high. Having been put in charge of a side expected to struggle, he helped them record a respectable result against world-class opposition.

bidstack supported the game and Norwich’s efforts to raise money for to build its new Community Sport Foundation. Please donate generously to their efforts here.

Written by bidstack | 01 Jun 2018