Here at View From The Touchline, we like to conduct interviews with people from inside the footballing world. We like to mix these interviews with real-life and Football Manager questions, to see how realistic Football Manager is. Not only for the realism though but to see if there is anything the game could do better or that could be added at a later date as a feature or something.
Last time out we spoke to a player recruitment analyst for Barnsley FC and a fan of the Football Manager series, Matt Trevillion. That interview can be found here;
We are staying in South Yorkshire for this interview too. We recently reached out to Northern Ireland and Rotherham striker, Conor Washington. Conor has played 470 games at club level and scored 158 goals. At an international level, he’s played 35 games scoring on 6 occasions.
Conor has kindly agreed to us sending him some questions. We hope you enjoy the interview.
Hi Conor. Is it possible to give us a little insight into what an average day for a footballer is like?
An average sort of day for me involves waking up and having some time with my family in the morning and eating breakfast, we are usually due in around 945 but I like to get in for 9 am after dropping my son off to give myself enough time to get ready for training.
Usually starts around 10.30 am with some gym-based prehab exercises before heading out to train, dependant on where we are within a week relating to games the sessions can be from 1-2 hours.
Lunch is straight after training and usually some gym-based exercises after this. Head home from there and spend some time with my family before bed, that’s about it!
Growing up how did you go about dealing with pressure from a young age and the expectations?
I was never at an academy and didn’t turn professional until I was 20 so I never experienced any of the pressure of that luckily! Dealing with it when I turned pro was incredibly tough and has been throughout my career but luckily I’m much better at dealing with it now.
As more and more people are now finding the confidence to start speaking up about mental health, we are hearing stories about how young players are struggling with the idea that a club has rejected them or just from the pressures of being a young footballer at an academy. Do you think more should be done to provide help for footballers of all ages?
I think so, it’s not so much that we need more help it’s more the whole narrative and culture of football that needs to change. We are all human beings and no matter how much money you earn it doesn’t change the fact that we want to do well and are more hurt than anyone else when things aren’t going right.
Do you have any techniques you do, to try and unwind and shut off from football when you’re at home and trying to relax?
I’m a big fan of Wim Hof and his breathing techniques and have dabbled with meditation, also just being with my family and enjoying their company!
Recently there seem to be a lot of players 27-30 years of age, who seem to be taking up sports science. I think this is something you’re doing/have done yourself. Why do you think more and more players are starting to look at other avenues inside football and thinking more long-term, past being a player?
For me it’s a case of building for the future but also my body is my ‘tool’ if you like and I wanted to understand as best I can why we do certain things in football and how to get the most out of myself and my body.
Jack O’Connell of Sheffield United, who you know, is currently doing a similar thing while sadly being injured for 2 years.
I believe Jack has finished his degree now and may be on to his master’s! Absolutely a top professional and a great guy. Also gutted for him regarding his injuries but I’d bet anything on the fact he will be doing everything he can to get back to fitness
How long have you been playing Football Manager and what is your greatest achievement in the game?
I’ve probably been on and off for about 15-20 years but have played the last 7 or 8 years pretty religiously! My best achievement would probably be the treble with Arsenal or Roma from last year’s game. I’ve never been a huge fan of lower-league management but I would like to give it a go.
Do you ever buy yourself?
Never ! I always like to check to see where I’m at or how I’m doing but I’ve never done it
Agents have been given more influence In FM23 with us now being able to approach them before contract offers and transfer offers, does this feel more realistic? Would your agent know what you were looking for in terms of the contract and the movement either way?
Yeah from personal experience I’d say this is pretty realistic, to be honest. Agents will be sounded out by someone from the club usually before any official approach is made.
Staying on the topic of agents on FM23. If a player is unhappy we can now speak to their agent and ask them to talk to the player rather than just asking a teammate. How do you feel about this addition?
Not something I’ve ever come across, to be honest. Unless the agent has a close relationship with someone from the club Id be surprised to see this.
On FM, there doesn’t seem to be much difference between a fee-paying transfer and an end-of-contract transfer apart from agreeing on a deal with the club. Having experienced both would you say that’s reflective of real life?
As players, we are only really party to the contract negotiations so I’d say this is pretty accurate, to be honest. There can be issues around wanting to leave and clubs wanting more money etc but this is pretty well reflected in FM.
What is it like when leaving a club? It seems to happen so quickly from the outside, but I imagine that’s not always the case for the player.
It is very quick, to be honest, a lot of the time. There may be rumblings over a few weeks etc but in my experience, it’s all paper talk and then bang, you’re driving up to a new club to do a medical! I think people would be surprised if they could get a proper insight into how things like this work.
Some people love the last day of the transfer window on FM and like the last-minute wheeling and dealing. How realistic is deadline day on FM and how does it compare to real life?
I’ve moved relatively close to the deadline day but never on it. I can’t imagine it’s too different to moving in the window in general as I alluded to earlier it’s all very quick. The main difference may be that clubs who weren’t necessarily interested in you may be scrambling as their main targets haven’t worked out.
When a player is sold, what kind of care do the buying club give you in moving to a new area/county and helping both you and your family to integrate successfully?
Most clubs are great and some better than others, having moved around quite a bit I like to do everything myself to be honest in terms of housing etc but it is always nice to be given a few pointers as areas and things like that.
Player traits, how do you feel about them? Has anyone ever asked you to do something specific? For example, something silly like hugging the right wing when you dribble and have you then kept doing it for the rest of your career? I guess what I’m asking is, how realistic do you think they are?
I think they’re pretty realistic. For example, when playing up top Id say ‘likes to beat offside trap’ would be a realistic one for me. Also, I naturally gravitate towards the left side of the pitch which would probably be a trait also. I’ve also played with some midfielders for who I make runs more than others as I know they like to ‘try killer balls’!
What type of manager are you in the game, do you have a particular style and philosophy you try to instil at the club?
I like to mix it up. I’m definitely better at being pragmatic than I am trying to play total soccer though, I like to see goals and attacking play rather than sexy pass maps – however it is something id like to try in my next save.
Is there an aspect of Football Manager you dislike and if so why?
I’d like a bit more customisation with set pieces and individual player roles, being able to work short set plays and be a bit more inventive and also being able to control individual roles with regards to pressing etc.
If you were asked to be in charge of Sports Interactive and you could remove one current feature what would it be?
It would probably be dulling down the player’s power. Getting 5 players in your office telling you they’re not happy with how you treated their mate is unrealistic and a bit annoying at times.
The same goes for adding a feature that is not currently in the game, what would you add?
I think as I said earlier it would be the set pieces and player roles feature id like to add.
We’d like to thank Conor for his time and honesty in answering the questions above. Conor can be found on Twitter giving updates about his own save game. Be sure to check him out and give him a follow.