Could Blackburne be the new Fergie?

Sega’s Football Manager game has become somewhat iconic in recent years. Diligently updating hundreds of teams, players and national sides each year for fans to immerse themselves in their own football fantasies; it has very much become part of our sporting culture. Inter Milan’s coach, José Mourinho, is even rumoured to check how good a player is on the game before considering a bid for them.

Given the credence given to the Football Manager by some of the sport’s great and good, you would be forgiven for believing that a competent gamer therefore has some degree of coaching ability.

Alex Blackburne, who is in his second year of studying Journalism at the University of Lincoln, decided to put this theory to the test. He says he was inspired by the story of John Boileau, who applied to become Middlesbrough’s manager in 2006 after Steve McLaren’s departure.


Alex Blackburne

Alex said: “He [Boileau] had applied to be manager of Middlesbrough before Gareth Southgate was appointed based on his Football Manager achievements. Steve Gibson [Middlesbourgh Chairman] sent him back a really nice letter saying that if they hired him, he would probably be snapped up by someone like Inter Milan.”

Not deterred, Alex has drawn up a “Football Manager CV,” documenting his most notable successes on the game and sending them to the Football League’s managerless clubs.

In fact, Alex has an impressive roll call of Football Manager achievements, including two successive promotions with Ilkeston Town, culminating in bringing them into the Football League.  On another occaision, he took AFC Wimbledon to League One, with three promotions in four years.

Tranmere Rovers were the first club to be formally offered Alex’s services, after he had decided against Grimsby Town. Kettering Town were next on Alex’s list, but as he was about to apply for the position, it was announced that the Poppies had handed goalkeeper Lee Harper the reigns.

“I sent a letter to Tranmere Rovers, who had a caretaker manager at the time, and I wasn’t sure if they’d write back,” said Alex.

“I then tried with Cheltenham and Sheffield Wednesday, and they both wrote back. The idea is to beat the record for the most English football rejection letters, which is about 20.

“At no point has it ever crossed my mind that I’ll ever get these jobs. It was totally out of the question. I could probably bet every penny that I’ll ever have for the rest of my life that I won’t get the job, but there’s still part of me that thinks it could happen.

“It’s a possibility that I could be at QPR or Notts County before the season’s out,” jokes Alex, “I’ll be sending some more out soon.”

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