Rotherham United will (virtually) hand over the managerial reins to current First Team Analyst Matt Neil, for tonight’s involvement in the EFL’s Football Manager Cup.
Matt has kindly offered to temporarily relieve his own day-to-day boss Paul Warne of his duties, as he fires up the laptop for tonight’s clash with Wigan Athletic.
However, having had the virtual managerial job for just over 24 hours, Matt admits he is already feeling the pressure-cooker environment of his new post.
“I’ve been incredibly nervous all day, I have to admit, matchdays as a manager are as stressful as the Gaffer makes out,” he told www.themillers.co.uk.
“I have also joined him in having my team selection on my mind all night, I’ve woken up this morning and changed my set pieces for the game yet again.
“The guy I’m playing against for Wigan has a great track record and I’ve done my due diligence on his style of play and how he’s likely to set up.”
For anyone that would dare to accuse Matt of not taking this job seriously, they would be hard-pressed to finds grounds on which they could do so.
His laptop, which often runs for hours at a time as he sits and plots the downfall of real Sky Bet League One opponents with Paul Warne, Richie Barker, Matt Hamshaw and the rest of the coaching staff, has remained equally busy over the last couple of days.
“Our set pieces do bear some resemblance to those the first team use, but I won’t be giving Hammy [Matt Hamshaw] any credit if they do come off,” Matt joked.
“I’ve had a good couple of hours on the virtual training ground with the lads this morning.
“This game is an ‘away’ fixture at a neutral venue, so I’ve taken the lads overnight. We’ll leave no stone unturned in our preparations,” Matt added.
“I’ve employed a virtual version of Carol, who is our cook on a day-to-day basis at actual training ground. I see her every day in my role with the club and she’s someone that I can trust, and you need that when it comes to employing staff, even when they aren’t real.”
Matt continued to add that his smart attire will remain sidelined until he earns his stripes in virtual management, explaining that he will proudly don his Millers tracksuit for tonight’s 6:45pm kick off, before continuing to pay lip service to the virtual fans tuning in.
“As I’m a rookie virtual manager, I’m going to go with my Millers tracksuit tonight,” he explained.
“I think you have to earn the right to a smarter look on the virtual sidelines. Should we reach the serious stages of the competition, I’ve got my suit and a club tie pressed and ready.
“I’m sure the Millers fans are buzzing for this one, it’s a lovely day and you can’t beat midweek football under the lights. I’m sure there will be some rowdy terraces, and by that I mean living rooms, for tonight’s game and who can blame them.”
When asked about his previous successes on the popular football management simulation game, Matt was quick to point to an impressive CV, with particularly fond memories of his stints elsewhere in Yorkshire as the highlights on his resume.
“I’m a Plymouth lad and supporter, but funnily enough, my most prosperous Football Manager saves have been up here in Yorkshire,” he revealed.
“On FM2020, I started out with Weymouth in the non-league before getting a move to Havant and Waterlooville before Barnsley gave me my big break. I feel like I’ve repaid that faith though because I’ve lead them to the virtual Premier League and brought some real talent to Oakwell.
“My greatest save though, was over in West Yorkshire with Huddersfield Town, where I am fairly sure I have the freedom of the town, although I haven’t tested that theory in real life.
“The Terriers were three-time consecutive Champions League winners under my leadership, which prompted the hierarchy there to build a new stadium and name it after me, which I was quite touched by.”
We are aiming to stream tonight’s fixture live from 7pm on our official Youtube channel.