Richard Moss is an award-winning writer and journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. He has written extensively about video games and technology for more than two dozen publications, including Ars Technica, EGM,, Mac|Life, and Rock Paper Shotgun. He is the author of The Secret History of Mac Gaming and Shareware Heroes: The renegades who redefined gaming at the dawn of the internet as well as a producer/co-writer on the upcoming documentary FPS: First Person Shooter. Richard also produces the podcasts Ludiphilia and The Life and Times of Video Games.

Football Manager, One Day at a Time by Richard Moss

This is the story of Juan Day, a first-time football manager making it big at a little club called Lincoln City, and a critique of the game series that has broken marriages, forged careers, lost jobs, stolen social lives, and thoroughly consumed its players' attention for the past 20 years.

Football Manager, One Day At A Time is an experimental hybrid of diary and long-form analysis of the football management game Football Manager 2012 in which author Richard Moss subjected himself to a strict limitation of one day in game time for each day of real life. For 309 consecutive days.


As a video game historian who has a penchant for going off the beaten path of beloved classics to write about niche topics, I have an affection for books that surprise me. Richard Moss's Football Manager is one of those books I never knew I wanted until I found it, and I'm delighted to share it with you. – David L. Craddock



  • "It is Richard's writing style that makes the piece a compelling read...Juan Day becomes a vivid and down to earth character within a virtual world, and the players of Lincoln start to grow on the reader, really personifying what are ultimately statistical icons."

    – Dan Bolas, Soccer Gaming
  • "This is something that you should definitely check out! It will change your perspective about the game. Even though you have no idea about football, it's still a good read."

    – Reader review




I am, for the purposes of this experiment, Juan Day, a 40 year old former Sunday League Footballer with a Scottish father and Puerto Rican mother. I am a football manager, in my first job at Lincoln City—a small club in the fifth-tier of the English football league. I know nothing of this club or its players. But if I take it one day at a time, I might just succeed.

I'm no stranger to this game, however. I am also, for real, Richard Moss, a 25 year old freelance writer and Football Manager addict. This is my experiment in playing the game under a strict limitation of one in-game day for every real-life day.

I hope that you'll join me.

Why am I doing this?

Sports management games, more than most other kinds of video games, are predicated on wish fulfilment and role play. Many sports fans wish they could control their favourite team; we all want to believe that we'd do a better job than the person in charge, even if that person is as successful as Alex Ferguson. We despair when key players or promising youngsters leave, scream obscenities and call for management blood when our team falters, and insist we know the best players to sign, tactics to play, and substitutions to make

And we like to think our successes in games such as Football Manager prove we could do it. But we play these games under highly unrealistic conditions. We expand and contract timelines to fit our wants and needs. We stop halfway through a match to study tactics online for two hours (or think about how to turn the score around over lunch), then fly through three weeks in an hour.

What if we couldn't do that? What if we could only play one day, per day, and never pause matches? How would this affect the experience? Would it feel more or less authentic? Would player engagement increase or decrease? I can't wait to find out.

The Rules

I have three rules for this experiment:

1) I may only play one day in-game on any given day of real life. When the game clock ticks over to the next day, I must exit immediately. I have autosave set to daily and a fixtures screen showing up every morning to ensure this works.

2) I may not spread one day in-game across multiple days of real life. It must always be a one-to-one relationship.

3) I may not pause matches, but I can alter the match speed and highlights level (text commentary, key, extended, full) however I wish. I also have a self-imposed twenty minute time limit for half-time breaks, in keeping with real life.

The Method

This story is written in two voices, from two perspectives. One is as Juan Day, a clueless manager thrust into managing a real team when he's only versed in the fantasy world of video-game football. The other is me, speaking as a veteran player of the game. I will step outside the story to provide analysis of Football Manager 2012 and its peers, to explain the finer points of a football management game, and to talk critically about both this experiment and the lessons I've learnt. Whenever I'm talking, the entire paragraph will be italicised like this sentence; Juan Day's diary gets the standard formatting.