The Offside Rule Treble – Football Manager, QPR’s new coach and a Chelsea legend under the spotlight

As a glorious summer of surprisingly clement weather and World Cup excitement draws to a close, the shortening days and return to Biblical weather events can mean only one thing – the return of the football season! Having spent the last half of the 2013/14 season reacquainting myself with the Premier League and discovering the correct pronunciation of “Maracana”, apparently I can now be trusted with assessing three “real” news stories every week. Welcome, ORPers, to the Offside Treble.

Football Management, Of Sorts

According to reports this week, Premier League clubs are to start using the same database used by computer game, Football Manager, to help make new signings. For those who aren’t familiar with Football Manager and its boring work, you don’t even do anything as exciting as pretend to play football. Instead, you make pretend “strategic decisions” about a pretend football team and it became the bane of my life as a teenager, commanding hours of my brother’s attention every day, thus preventing him from hanging out with me. Hard not to take that personally.

Football Manager, you either love it or you hate it: The statistic based football management simulator allows every player of the game to live their fantasies of managing their favourite team to success

Football Manager, you either love it or you hate it: The statistic based football management simulator allows every player of the game to live out their fantasies of managing their favourite team to success

The game’s creator, Sport Interactive, will apparently begin to feed its intelligence into Prozone Recruiter’s platform, which is already used by many clubs to scout talent. I can understand why my brother would need this guidance in his long-standing attempts to steer his bastardised, digital version of Charlton Athletic to fictitious Premiere League glory, and maybe I’m underestimating it’s analytical value, but I’d hope there might be more to it over in the real world. Why not just grab a copy of last season’s Panini sticker album or a game of Top Trumps?

Familiar Faces

Not that I want to make boredom the focus of the Offside Treble’s maiden voyage, but as one door closes with great sadness on my beloved Match of the Day pundit, Alan Hansen, another opens to, what, Phil Neville? Yes, the BBC’s Match of the Day has announced its new punditry team for the 2014/15 season and what delights it brings, too. And by delights I mean alongside Brazil 2014’s Twitter road-kill, Neville (who’s Google profile, incidentally, lists an almost mind-blowing number of “Nevilles”, it’s like a Magic Eye picture), fellow World Cup pundits Rio Ferdinand and Ruud Gulit (who, conversely, I adored during the World Cup coverage) will also return to mark a big year for MOTD, which turns 50  and sees the return of the FA Cup to the BBC after a six-year hiatus. Not returning will be Robbie Savage’s ponytail, which has been lopped off and kindly donated as an exhibit to the National Football Museum *vomits in own mouth*.

There will be familiar faces on the pitch (and in the dugout, for that matter), too, with Didier Drogba due to make a Chelsea comeback and Glenn Hoddle returning to Premier League touchlines, after an absence of 8 years, as QPR’s first-team coach. He’ll be bringing with him his 1980s haircut, if his turn as ITV pundit over the summer is anything to go by.

Guess Who's Back? A familiar face will be gracing the pitch at Stamford Bridge this season

Guess Who’s Back? A familiar face will be gracing the pitch at Stamford Bridge this season

Tough at the top…

But even tougher is mid-table obscurity, as Manchester United recently discovered. The world now awaits, with breath that is bated, for new manager Louis Van Gaal’s start to the season, in the wake of this transfer season’s bloodbath at Old Trafford which saw the former Netherlands’ bruiser kiss goodbye to Javier Hernandez, Marouane Fellaini, Wilfried Zaha, Will Keane, Nani, Anderson and Rafael. Hanging on in there by the skin of their teeth are Juan Mata and Shinji Kagawa, eighth and ninth place, respectively, in last season’s top ten most popular players (based on shirt sales), as recently revealed by the Premier League. Leaving a gaping hole in the list this season will be third-placed Luis Suarez, who’s off to sink his teeth into La Liga with FC Barcelona, probably in a literal sense, this season.

Will Louis van Gaal return Manchester United to winning ways? Can Didier Drogba prove he’s still got what it takes to score goals in the Premier League?

Read more from Jen Offord here!

Follow @inspireajen

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