Arsene and his transfers- Part Un
January 31st, 2016.
It was a misty morning as Arsene drove through London on his way to meeting the newest signing of the transfer window. It had been a hard couple of days since the window opened, he regularly checked Twitter on his secret account regularly. @LondonisRed96 was not a particularly original handle but then he was trying to blend in to the crowd and there was no better way to do so than the ID. His bio also said ITK, but then so many others do too. Elneny’s signing had gone down as expected, the moaners had been moaning and Arsene had been busy all night refuting claims using the fake account. Even so, the lad looked like a bargain for a squad player in this crazy market.
As he got out of the car and strode through the hallway past the data analyst offices, he wondered whether he might get a quick peek at what was up on the screens for today. Arsene loved the analysts dearly, they were people of his ilk- the people who played with and understood the numbers in football, and he almost felt like they were one of a kind. The offices were empty but a terminal at the far end was blinking as he made his way through the door. He walked to it as his shoes clicked on the floors and the noise echoed in the empty offices.
The terminal was displaying a screenshot of Football Manager 16. “The kids we recruit are a bit too young”, he said to himself smiling as he started walking back to his offices. Suddenly, he turned back and decided to check something on the nearest terminal. It was on sleep and as he powered it on it immediately shot into FM16. A sudden thought crossed his perfectly economised mind. Were they all playing FM16? Was that all they did? He rushed from terminal to terminal switching each on as he went. “No… Non non non… This cannot be. The $2 Million company cannot be a game. NON. NOO”, he rushed across the stations, his voice rising with every passing second.
All of them were played under the same conditions as he soon discovered. The analyst team all had Arsenal as their team and were simulating the next seasons to differing effects. They had fantasy boards of players strung up and under every mousepad he found a list of names, the same list of names. Mkhitaryan, Ibra, Vardy… All names crossed off in a horizontal strike that ripped through his heart. He immediately called the chief analyst and asked him to come to his office immediately in a stern voice.
Arsene was on the phone with Ivan Gazidis about when he would be coming in and suddenly, an idea flashed through his brilliant footballing mind and he cut the call as he remembered discussions with the ITK and gamer communities on Twitter. FM was the simulation those annoying Squawka.com accounts used to make up shitty articles on days with no news. Somehow they were always talking about wonder-kids and the future, both of which intrigued Arsene deeply being a student of economics and all around sharp bloke who considered the future implications of every move he made. The idea was brilliant, he could see it manifest in his head- a gleaming training ground with shiny new players from all over the world. All of them so young, some barely out of their teenage snogging years. It was all a bit too heady for him to take and he poured himself some wine, which he had to keep for Thierry Henry every time he came around asking for help with the coaching badges.
There was a knock at the door which shook Arsene out of his reverie and a young man poked his head into the office.
“Is there a problem with this week’s training data sir?” he asked timidly, very much intimidated by the thought of being alone in a room with the great man.
“I see you’ve all been hard at work down in the terminals. I just wanted to thank you personally,” said Arsene dryly as he waved him in and gestured at him to take the seat in front of his desk, hurriedly shuffling the wine into another drawer.
“We do our best for the club Mr. Wenger, we’re all fans here,” the young man said excitedly as he took it all in. He had never been inside Arsene’s office before and it seemed to be turning out as a very nice morning indeed.
“Yes yes, enough about that. I have a secret project for you. And you must not speak of this to anyone”, he said with a strange glint in his eye.
The analyst took a moment to calm himself. This was it, he thought, ‘He’s gonna make me run the data on our next big striker. Calm yourself brain!’
“Of course Mr. Wenger, anything. Say the word”, he tried sounding confident lest Arsene bought some scout bloke from Leicester to do it for him.
“Sorry? I didn’t get you”
“Football Manager. The game you’ve all been playing it day and night. I know everything.”
“No but si-”, the man began in alarm as fear rushed into his lungs with each breath he took.
“No buts, I went down there this morning and I saw it on every terminal”, Arsene said with certain finality about his tone.
“We do our work befo-”
“Keep quiet. I’m not firing you. I need you to teach me”, whispered Arsene across the table looking left and right after each word as if someone were listening in on him.
“What is it sir?” the kid was intrigued by now.
“Are you a top, top quality FM16 player?”
“There’s no such thing sir. It’s a simulation. Luck, chance, permutations and an algorithm crunching the data. That’s all it is”
“You mean anybody can play it? And it’s all about the future and wonder-kids?”
“What? The future? No no no, it’s a simula-”
“IT IS ABOUT THE FUTURE AND WONDERKIDS IS IT NOT, mon garcon?”
The man shivered in anticipation. It was well known within the compounds that Wenger only ever broke out in French if he was having one of his big ideas such as buying Ozil. Or when he was talking to Flamini around Ozil, but Flamini wasn’t around today as he was busy being a billionaire and that. It must be a big idea.
“IS IT NOT ABOUT THE FUTURE?”
“It is sir; it is all about the future!”
“Show me how to run a season. A season of top, top quality.”
“That’s not how it works sir, let me ju-”
“A SEASON OF TOP, TOP QUALITY AND NOTHING LESS”, bellowed Arsene standing up and bending over the young man now.
“Yes sir,” the clearly terrified young man managed to utter.” Let’s get to work.”
The analyst left around noon, finally having sated Wenger with explanation after explanation about the game and its data and the data behind the data and so on. Arsene really was a brilliant man, sharp as a razor with the heart of a boy. At least it would help him relax in the crunch times he chuckled to himself. Arsene Wenger, FM16 player- such are the times.
Elsewhere Wenger was cancelling every appointment in the day as he drew the curtains and shut the door. Finally he sat down at his desk and dialed Gazidis.
“Hello, Ivan? Yes no need to come in today… No no it was a scare. Sanchez was using my car for resistance training again… No no he’s fine. Just don’t come in today. Yes. Very busy, yes. Talking to… agents. Yes, all day. Sorry, see you tomorrow.”
The hours flew by as Wenger struggled to get a grasp over the mouse and the fancy new ergonomic keyboard the young man had brought up for him. The keys were all wrong and the mouse had 6 buttons and looked like something from a fighter jet.
Finally having managed to get a basic understanding of the keyboard and mouse functions after some trial and error he got the simulation running. Suddenly a box flashed up on screen. Arsene fumbled with his reading glasses as he peered down his nose at the screen, squinting and trying to read.
Arsene looked at his watch, it was February the 1st now. He picked up his phone and dialled… “Ivan, I’ve got one for the future, yes in July.”
Sohum Sen is a half Bengali-half Gujarati Gooner from Kolkata, India. He lives the highs and lows with Arsenal and has a soft spot for Wenger. The things he loves most in the world are as follows- his little sister, his girlfriend and the Arsenal. Always available for a good debate, he fancies himself as a bit of a philosopher and as a tactician. He happens to be studying for a degree in Electrical Engineering, while simultaneously dreaming of writing a blog. He hopes to be a ST holder one day.