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Fraizer Campbell: The Unbelievable Forward of FM 08

If I were to make a combined XI of my all-star Football Manager finds, it would be led by the filthy BAGSMAN that was Fraizer Campbell on FM 08.

As I mentioned in this article on Pablo Piatti, the game changed forever in 2008.

Not like a year later when the game finally went to a 3D match engine, but this was the year when the skins changed from the elder green and orange livery to a clean, slicker blue and white combination.

As with all change, I was initially reticent to accept it and would have sent a strongly worded letter to Sports Interactive in protest had I not been eleven years old, but in the end, I adjusted to it, and now I can’t look at the older versions without it feeling deliberately ancient and/or nostalgic.

So, maybe they were right to change things after all!

Anyway, this game also ushered in a new (and horrible) era for Manchester United who, still managed by the great Sir Alex Ferguson, were having to deal with the gross, indignant and unwelcome financial limitations placed onto them by their new ‘owners’ – The Glazer Family.

You should have seen the look on my round, pimply face when I started a save with them and saw they only had £10m to spend. I felt like Ralf Rangnick! So, Road to Glory Save it was…

As ever, I picked Walsall – the lovely little club stationed down the road of our new family home.

And immediately, my transfer search took me to the loan market which, in turn, took me back into the now-more-welcoming arms of Manchester United. More specifically, their reserve squad.

Jonny Evans and Lee Martin were too of my favourite recruits, and the United hierarchy were always quite happy for me to pay a nominal loan fee in return for guaranteed first team game time.

Dong Fangzhuo was a solid choice too, with a finishing statistic of 15.

But I couldn’t ignore Fraizer Campbell right next to him. A natural ‘advanced forward’, with 17 for acceleration and finishing, and 16 for pace. Absolutely perfect for League One.

In the real world, Fraizer Campbell was reportedly on his way to join a struggling Tottenham side, where he would actually play about ten times with a rough 10% goal return to show for it.

For my Walsall team, he was my starting striker. So I gave him the number ’17’ shirt – because it looked cooler than ‘9’ in my eyes, and I think this was before the time FM became sophisticated enough to make players shout at me for this sort of thing – and the English starlet never looked back.

All I had to do was provide him with the right service, and Fraizer Campbell simply did the rest.

And if I was lucky enough to sign Pablo Piatti for the club as well, then all I had to do was fill out the rest of the team sheet and let nature take hold. I couldn’t get Enyeama though, which sucked!

In his first season, I distinctly remember that Fraizer Campbell scored in every game. Yes, every single match in which I played him – which was a whopping 40 times.

The forward was absolutely deadly for me and only had two years on his contract at United, so when I renewed his loan in the 2008/09 season, I signed him on a Bosman the next year. Remember, he was only about 19/20 years old, so he was mine for about 10 years. And I never sold him.

I ended the save when I faced Barcelona in the Champions League Final (God, I love FM) and never looked back when we lost 4-3 with a last-minute Iniesta winner. But what a journey it was.

Did you ever use Fraizer Campbell in your FM 08 save?