Video games retailers had professional footballers queuing round the block last night as the sportsmen sought to get their hands on the latest edition of EA Sports renowned workplace management game, Office Manager 2012.
‘I’ve been counting down the days to its release,’ said Theo Walcott, camped outside Gamestation on Oxford Street. ‘After the drudgery of training, playing, dating beautiful women and being pursued by the paparazzi, it’s great to escape into the world of purchase orders, staff rotas and VAT returns. I mean, who wouldn’t want to take the reins of a small provincial electronics firm and guide them into the big time of being Horsham’s third largest employer – it’s what every young boy dreams of.’
Players of Office Manager 2012 face all the challenges you would expect from a realistic management simulation, including developing business plans, dealing with incompetent IT suppliers and hiring and firing staff in a bid to build a team that can compete for silverware at the regional small businesses awards.
‘Anyone will tell you that man management is the key,’ said regular gamer and Manchester Unit star, Michael Carrick. ‘You’ve really got to get the best out of your people, so we’re talking clear, measurable objectives and regular performance reviews. But the real test of a manager is how they respond under pressure. So when Sheila from accounts started taking 10 minutes too long for her lunchbreak, I wasted no time in giving her the hairdryer treatment and putting her on the transfer list. My next fixture is away at the employment tribunal.’
Many footballers say it is the ups and downs of professional office management that they enjoy most. ‘Last season I had a cracking line-up at my outfit, Chelsea Drain Clearance Specialists,’ said Frank Lampard. ‘Then all of a sudden I lost the spine of the side to international duty – my secretary went to the Costa del Sol with her boyfriend for two weeks, and the lads in the warehouse went on a booze cruise to Calais. But it’s a year of four quarters, so after a strong Christmas and New Year period I’m still confident we’ll be there or thereabouts come April 1st.’
But the wives and girlfriends of many premier league footballers complain that they seem to have lost the men in their lives to Office Manager. ‘It’s not right,’ said John Terry’s wife, Toni. ‘He gets home after training and just disappears into the world of the office. I can’t remember the last time he so much as looked at another woman the wrong way or got charged for racist abuse. It’s like I’ve lost him.’