By Leander Schaerlaeckens
Admission: Football Manager plays a pretty big part in how I form opinions on soccer players.
I’ve been playing the unfathomably detailed simulator since long before I discovered girls. And – thanks to an actual network of scouts rating many thousands of players around the world – it’s proved uncannily prescient. I knew about many a promising young player long before he surfaced in real life thanks to the game. And more often than not, how a young player developed within the game more or less corresponded to his career trajectory in reality. The clubs he went to and stats he put up weren’t exact, of course, but the sort of career he had was accurate an astonishing amount of the time.
So when Football Manager’s makers SI Games sent me a simulation of how David Beckham would do at the various clubs that are rumored to be interested in signing the free agent who recently departed the Los Angeles Galaxy, I actually took it more seriously than the idle speculation of pundits and such. As these last U.S. presidential elections showed us, our grasp of the numbers has outpaced our ability for cognitive predictions.
Here then, some highlights of the predictions made by SI Games:
Beckham at Monaco
“Beckham is easily Monaco’s best player after he joins the club. He averages 7.98 [game-day rating out of 10] in 17 appearances and creates an incredible 11 assists for his team-mates as Monaco easily win Ligue 2. He also becomes a key player for the team in Ligue 1, as Monaco finish 10th, averaging a rating of 7.58 across 27 appearances. By the end of the simulation Beckham has become a fan favorite at the club.”
Beckham at QPR
“Beckham helps QPR stay in the Premier League with some superb performances, for an average rating of 7.38. Redknapp changes his formation in the second season to a diamond 4-4-2 which means that Beckham very rarely makes an appearance. By the end of the simulation, Beckham is unhappy with life at QPR and wants to leave the club.”
Beckham at PSG
“After a high profile arrival in the French capital, Beckham makes regular first-team appearances until the end of the 2012/13 season. The team win the Ligue 1 title with impressive performances from Beckham against Bordeaux, Lyon and Marseille. His second season is less enjoyable as he loses his right midfield position to Jeremy Menez and Ezequiel Lavezzi, who are both currently at the club. Beckham made just 5 appearances in his second season as he faded into the background at PSG.”
Beckham at Shanghai Shenhua
“Beckham’s arrival brought higher attendances and higher jersey sales to the Chinese Super League. Shenhua have a disappointing season and finish down in 9th place with only Beckham and ex-Chelsea player Didier Drogba performing above average. Beckham provides an incredible 17 assists in his debut season which earns him 11 Player of the Match awards. By the end of the simulation Beckham is still playing regular first-team football, something that he hasn’t done at any of the other clubs, although his season is cut short through injury.”