Real football or a computer game?
TC Freisenbruch a team based in Essen, playing in 9th German division has been playing extremely well in the first half of the season. They have won all their matches except one, lost zero games and conceived only 4 goals. Sadly the second half of the season did not start well for them, as they suffered a loss at home. Nonetheless, they are holding an exceptional record. But why I am talking about this team? Well to put is simply, this team is.. different from all other teams. The thing that separates this team from all other is that they currently have 384 managers. Yes 384, and you can become one as well. For anyone who has been playing Football manager, this could be your chance to do so in real world, for a fee of 5$.
Let me explain how it works.
Once you pay the fee, you will get an access to the interface quite similar to one in Football manager and with that, you will have a chance to dictate anything regarding the team with other managers. Your decisions (or to put it better, the decision of the majority of the 384 managers) will be implemented regardless of the decisions made from the “real” coach Mike Mollensiep.
The story behind the team trying this approach is an interesting one. TC Freisenbruch was at first financed by their town, Essen, but 8 years ago that changed, so the club was forced to finance themselves and with that, they dropped down the divisions fast. So the decision had to be made. Either they close down the club or they find a way to save it. Peter Schafer was the man behind this idea and he did acknowledge this idea was somehow crazy. He stated: “Some people think it’s perverse but I think it’s open and transparent. Everyone knows where they are.”
“The board had to decide if the club was finished, or if there was anything crazy we could do to save it,” Schafer told ESPN FC. “We wanted to do something crazy. We planned it for two years, one technical guy, one financial guy and me, the football guy. And this is what we came up with.”
The interface of the program is well designed and as stated before it reminds me of Football Manager. Once you become a manager of the team you can log on and instantly get the news, details of each player, important reminders etc. You basically get all the information a manager is entitled to. Next step is deciding about the changes you want to be implemented into the play style of the team. To help you out, you get a message from Mollensiep, telling you how he thinks the team should play, but this is not the final decision. As stated before, you (the manager) with all other managers have the final word, Mollensiep’s message is more or less just a recommendation, which does not need to be followed. The most contravention concept of this idea is that the managers (not Mollensiep) decide which player will be dismissed at the end of the season. It works like a rating system, where any player with less than 60% approval from the managers needs to leave the club. The Same concept is used for coaches, the only exception is that if their rating goes below 15%, they are sacked immediately. This for me is outrageous as it means Mollensiep does not have any power over the team and it’s a major flaw in this system.
Mollensiep is actually a “no one” at the club, to put it in other words, he’s only a puppet who does how other people tell him to do. Because of that, he has decided to leave the club at the end of the season, stating: “I want to work in a club where I can make all the decisions.” I personally understand his decision and I would probably do the same. If you thought the 384 managers have too much power, you are in for a surprise. They even decide on ticket prices, pre-season friendly matches, items sold in the club shop etc.
I must say, when I first heard of this concept I was skeptical of how does it work, but looking at their results, it seems as it actually works and it does with exceptional results. However, I do not fancy the concept. The reason is clear; coaches do not have any power to lead their team. In addition, coaches arguably know their players better compared to those sitting behind the computer, deciding on how will the team play. Even though they get all the needed information, I do not see this concept working for long. You might disagree with me, but a team lead by 384 people cannot get the optimal result in a long run.
Anyway, if you want to try it out here is the link to their site and check it out for yourself: www.tc-freisenbruch.de