Welcome to a continuation on the regular series on The 94th Minute, called “Starting XI”. This is where I ask various people, who are fans of football, a number of questions to get to know them better! The first few questions will differ for each person, but the final question will always be:
“Who would be in your all-time, favourite starting XI?”
This is a question where anyone can be put into their starting eleven, whether they are famous footballers, football legends, past or unknown players who had an impact on their childhood, or even players they have played with or coached. Anyone is acceptable in their XI providing they give a reason for their inclusion!
The tenth instalment of the series is an interview with MartinPlaysCM, the chairman of the CM 01/02 Super League. The Super League is described on Twitter as “the most competitive, entertaining and immersive online football tournament, based on the all time undisputed pinnacle of football management simulation“. Therefore I wanted to know more about the CM0102SL, how it came into being, as well players he would choose in his all-time starting eleven.
Q. Could you provide some history into the creation of the ‘CM0102 Super League’, as well as information on it? What is it all about?
In simple terms, the Super League is a competition based on the Australian league format in Championship Manager 01/02, where 14 teams made up of the best 336 players in the original database of the game, compete against each other as any normal football league. The teams are managed by a chairman based on information provided by the 14 managers, with matches taking place Sunday nights at 9pm (UK time) and broadcast live on our YouTube channel. For those old enough to remember these things, it is effectively everything you dreamed play-by-mail (PBM) could be when you posted off you team selection on a Wednesday after school.
The competition started back in 2016, was the brainchild of @cm0102legends, and the original Super League was much closer to it’s PBM roots than what you see today. Fourteen squads were created, managers were recruited via Twitter, and each had 16 players assigned to them based on the 4-4-2 formation. There were no transfers and limited manager interaction beyond selecting your starting 11. The games were broadcast on Periscope, but it was just a case of running through the games without commentary so the managers could see how their teams performed.
After a couple of false starts, season one kicked off in 2017, with Halle FC claiming the inaugural title. The end of season one saw the introduction of a transfer window and a general increase in the interaction between the managers. The game continued to grow in season two, which was won by Ferkham Hall, but the first real significant change happened halfway through season three when the original chairman resigned. The manager of Halle FC took over the running of the league and the level of interaction between the chairman and the managers stepped up a notch.
For the rest of the season (which was won by Rapid Apollo) the games were being broadcast with live commentary provided by the chairman himself and regularly supported by the Football Monologue manger. The clubs got their own dedicated Twitter accounts with artwork by our in-house designer and current BTEC Troopers manger @citizenedwards. We also started seeing some managerial changes as the new chairman implemented his own ideas about deadlines for submitting squads and participation in general.
At the end of season four, the chairman and Halle FC manager went out with a bang, winning the league and resigning from both jobs in July 2019. This left the league in an awkward position with no one to run it, several managers confirming that they were no longer interested, and basically on the edge of closure. Having only managed in the league for 6 months I couldn’t let that happen, so despite having no experience in using the editor, streaming, or running any kind of fantasy league, I decided to volunteer my services. It was agreed that I would reset the league back to year one, add more players and recruit four replacement managers, which bring us to where we are today.
Two games in to season five of the Super League, which is effectively season one in the game due to the league reset, and it’s the perfect time for potential new followers to get on board.
Q. What roles do you do as chairman of the Super League?
The chairman basically runs the league, keeps the squads updated, runs the YouTube channel and Twitter account, play the games, contribute to the blog and tries his hardest not to lose or corrupt the save file. It sounds like a lot of work, but most managers email their tactic files through, which can then be uploaded directly to the game, and provide screenshots of the line-up etc. If you are used to organisation, project management and most importantly clicking around in Excel, it’s not that big a deal.
There is some work involved in creating weekly update packs for the managers and preparing for the two weekly broadcasts, the live games on Sunday and the midweek review show, but it’s time I would normally dedicate to playing the game anyway. On top of that, it’s just making sure the mangers are happy and engaging with the league, and resolving any disputes on rules/regulations as and when they arise.
Q. Why did you choose to use Championship Manager 01/02, rather than use any of the modern Football Manager versions, or even the classic CM 97/98?
Because it’s the pinnacle of football management simulators. Additionally, the hot-seat multiplayer function works really well, it runs very fast on modern computers (which is vital when clicking through post season with 14 managers), and has a broader appeal than earlier versions. FM is probably good for single player, but there are far too many decisions and interactions to manage for 14 different clubs.
Q. If people wanted to know more, or even wanted to join the league, how would they go about it?
Firstly, they should have a look at our YouTube channel, here they can get an idea of what it’s like to be part of the league, and what we actually do. Secondly, the manager of Swindon Devils @FYFIE07 publishes a weekly blog where you can read all about the teams, what the managers are up to, who our sponsors/partners are and how you can support their content as well. Of course, there is our Twitter account which anyone can follow to get updates and link to upcoming broadcasts.
People who haven’t been put off by any of the above, and would like to contribute and potentially manage in the league, are encouraged to join the community. As in real football, it’s impossible to say when jobs will become available, but it’s all about keeping the community alive. So those who shows willingness to support the league either by creating content, watching the live stream and interacting in the comments or lending their talents (webpage designers wanted, urgently!!) will obviously have a big advantage in the recruitment process.
Anyone looking for more information or advice on starting their own league, are welcome to contact us either via Twitter or using the email in the links section.
- Twitter: @cm0102sl
- YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZ7cPbHvP5Tw-h0FBnhDoZg
- Blog: https://smfyfe.wordpress.com/
- Chairman: @MartinPlaysCM
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sponsors of the Super League:
Q. Finally, who would be in your all-time, favourite starting XI?
Goalkeeper: Peter Schmeichel
The easiest position to pick in an all-time, starting 11 for any Dane old enough to remember that glorious June evening in 1992, is the goalkeeper. People often underestimate the quality of the squad, and while that is slightly unfair, it is also the case that Denmark would have been nowhere near the final without Peter Schmeichel between the sticks. Not only the best ever Danish keeper, but arguably the GOAT! Throughout his career Schmeichel dominated the opposition with spectacular saves, 60-70 yard throws and a presence in the penalty area, which no other keeper has ever or will ever replicate. Physically as well as mentally imposing, with unrivalled agility for someone his size, he performed consistently at the highest level for 17 years from his international debut in 1987 until his retirement in 2003.
Central defenders: Aldair and Lilian Thuram
Clearly not everyone’s first choice Brazilian, or even Brazilian defender, Aldair was part of a moderately successful Roma side, losing the 1991 UEFA Cup final to Inter (after knocking Peter Schmeichel’s Brøndby out in the semi) and winning a Scudetto in 2001 being the highlights of his 13 years at the club. Similarly you couldn’t blame anyone for leaving his space blank in the 1994 World Cup winner’s squad, but Brazil only conceded 3 goals in 7 games, and Aldair was a key player for them with his composure, accurate passing, strength, and ability to read the game. Anyone watching Serie A during the 1990’s will remember him for his composure and, frankly, ridiculous technical ability for a central defender.
Alongside Aldair, I’ve gone for the household name option in Lilian Thuram who some perhaps would like to see in the role of right back, where he also excelled. However the quick, hard tackling and downright scary Frenchman would be the perfect ‘Mr Hyde’ to the Brazilian ‘Dr Jekyll’. Thuram is probably best known for his achievements with Juventus and France, but many will also recall his time at Parma in the late 90’s where he won UEFA Cup in a team literally bursting with current and future superstars. Thuram always stood out though and his performances at the World Cup in ’98 and at the Euros in 2000, when he was arguably at the pinnacle of his career. He will live long in the memory of football fans everywhere!
Full backs: Javier Zanetti and Paolo Maldini
Down the right flank, the tireless Javier Zanetti would be operating. The Argentinian developed into a bit of a utility player later in his career, but I remember him for being the best right back in the world for years, thanks to his versatility and consistency. At a time when wingers were still a thing, to some extent, few would have fancied their chances against him, and he could exhaust both his direct opponent and the full back with his tireless running. Playing his international football for perennial underachievers Argentina (post-1986), he has surprisingly little to show for his 140+ internationals, but I suppose the 9 major national trophies, the UEFA Cup and Champions League with Inter goes some way to make up for that.
On the left, Paolo Maldini – simply the best defender in the world, no further justification required! Honourable mentions go to Roberto Carlos and Andy Brehme, but no one comes close.
Defensive midfielder: Patrick Vieira
Ask any Arsenal fan who should play central midfield in the best team ever, and while they stare at the empty shelf in their trophy cabinet marked 2006-2012, chances are they’ll tell you about Patrick Vieira. Having won 2 Premier League titles and 3 FA Cups in the previous 4 seasons, the ‘air went out of the balloon’ in 2006 culminating with a defeat in the Champions League final, in a game where the lack of a Vieira-type midfield general without doubt cost them the trophy. Vieira excelled at pretty much every task that other teams would require at least 2 players to address, whether is was providing defensive cover in front of the centre backs, being the ball-winning midfielder starting counter attacks, controlling the midfield with his passing and vision, or bursting into the opponents box creating space for his team mates or scoring the occasional goal. Vieira was the most complete central midfielder of his generation, and a crucial member of the successful French team around the turn of the century.
Central midfielders: Andres Iniesta and Clarence Seedorf
A product of the Ajax youth academy, Clarence Seedorf is perhaps not the most obvious choice, but if you are looking for a creative and athletic player who can help out defensively, create chances, and dribble past opponents while having an absolute rocket launcher of a right foot, you can’t do much better than the Dutchman. Probably best remembered today for his highlight reel of 25-35 yard screamers, Seedorf was much more than that for all the teams he played for. Thanks to his stamina and ability to use both feet, he could take up almost any role in the attacking half, being as effective on the wings as he was in the centre of the park. With more honours and trophies than you can shake a stick at, it’s interesting to note that his first Champions League winner’s medal (which he won as a 19 year old kid) was against AC Milan, who he then went on to win the last two of his four Champions League winner’s medals for in 2003 and 2007.
Alongside the Dutchman, I’ve gone for Andres Iniesta, simply because you can’t have the magician without his master (who we will get to later) and vice versa. His vision, passing, composure and ability to effortlessly go past people with simple but incredibly well executed dribbles, is the main reason he features in my selection. For someone in such a free scoring team, Andres doesn’t have the most impressive numbers when it comes to goals and assists, but his importance to the development of the fast, free flowing short passing style, which became so prevalent especially in Spain this decade, owes a lot of its success to the ability of Iniesta both for the national team and Barcelona. An elegant player, with the strength to hold off opponents and with probably the highest level of consistency in the quality of his performances, Iniesta was an obvious choice to complete the three-man midfield.
Attacking midfielders: Ronaldinho and Michael Laudrup
Introducing the ‘human highlight reel’ also known as Ronaldinho Gaúcho or just simply Ronaldinho as the first of the attacking midfielders. In the best starting XI of all time, you need someone to make you smile, and if Ronaldinho doesn’t do that, you probably shouldn’t even bother watching football. If you doubt that he meant to lob David Seaman in the 2002 World Cup, same thing. With his free kicks under the wall, ridiculous ball control, being equally capable of lobs, overhead kicks, 30-yard screamers and cool 5-yard tap-ins, Ronaldinho has delighted football fans and YouTube compilation creators for many years, and his legacy is unlikely to diminish over time. No one will forget his toe poke against Chelsea, his triple sombrero against Bilbao, or his no-look passes accompanied by his trademark incredible grin. Whether you are a national team coach or picking players for a game of fives in the park, he’d be your first choice every time.
Next to the grinning Brazilian is a player who exemplifies effortless brilliance, perhaps because as Johan Cruyff said, ‘he never really put in that much of an effort’. The magician’s master, Michael Laudrup just wanted to play football the way it should be played. After honing his skills in Italy with Lazio and alongside Michel Platini at Juventus, Laudrup joined Cruyff’s Barcelona side in 1989 and embarked on a 5 year journey which would see him win four La Liga titles in a row, after which he moved to Real Madrid and immediately won a fifth. Anyone finding themselves in awe of the passing of today’s footballers should sit down and spend an hour or two watching Laudrup’s through balls or chips over the top to Begiristain, Bakero, Romario, Stoichkov and Ivan Zamorano.
Not only was he the best ever at these particular passes, he also had incredible vision, movement and ball control as illustrated by his unrivalled execution of ‘la croqueta’. As a fellow Dane I already rate him as the best player in the modern era, having never seen much of Pele it’s hard to tell if he was the best ever, but perhaps his old manager and another all-time great Johan Cruyff was right; “Had Michael been born in a poor ghetto in Brazil or Argentina with the ball being his only way out of poverty, he would today be recognised as the biggest genius of the game ever”.
Striker: Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima
For the rest of the list I’ve judged the players on their career achievements, and their contribution over a couple of decades, but for my lone striker I have chosen a player based on his performance over two years from 1st July 1996 to 11th July 1998. Most people first heard of ‘El Fenomeno’ when it was announced that Barcelona had signed a young Brazilian who had averaged a goal a game with PSV Eindhoven. The same was true for Romario some years before, and just like Romario, his young countryman took to La Liga like a duck to water. He only lasted a season at Barcelona before being sold to Inter where he initially continued his incredible upward trajectory. Of course it all came crashing down in spectacular fashion in the 1998 World Cup final, and although Ronaldo went on to have a great career, those two seasons should never be forgotten by anyone who loves football.
You know that CR7 can do step-overs, you know Lionel Messi is fast with the ball, you know both of them are brilliant free kick takers, you know Sergio Aguero is a lethal finisher, you might remember Thierry Henry and his skills, and the list goes on. You can mention any attacking player in any team from any year, and the Ronaldo of 1996 to 1998 will be better than all of them, at everything, by a mile!
A massive thank you to Martin for answering my questions and being a fantastic guest on the Starting XI series! I certainly have learnt a lot about the Super League, and was impressed with his starting eleven, especially with having Michael Laudrup in the side! To find out more about Martin and the teams of the CM0102 Super League, or even want to take part in some form or another, they can be found at the links shown previously.
To read or catch up on the previous Starting XI episodes, they can all be found at the following link HERE.
If there you have any feedback, comments or suggestions who I should interview next in the series, let me know either below in the comments box, tweet me @The94thMin or email me at email@example.com! It would be good to hear what you think about the series, and what have been your favourite episodes so far!