To celebrate the release of the 2016 edition of the game, we look back at Football Manager guru Iain Macintosh's 21 symptoms you need to look out for in your battle against Football Manager addiction...
1: You shout, “Where’s the passion, lads?” at a big screen in a crowded pub. You receive at least three sombre nods of fraternity from strangers.
2: The shopping list on the family blackboard now includes the names of three French U21 footballers and a reminder to appoint a South American scout.
3: It’s not the fact that you’re conducting post-match interviews in your head that worries you. It’s the fact that you’re sterner with “Geoff Shreeves” than you are with “Gabriel Clarke.”
4: When losing a cup game, you silently convince yourself that ‘the league is your bread and butter’ and you repeat that maxim to yourself as the clock runs down.
5: You develop irrational superstitions, believing that a quick check of the live league table will invite an opposition goal, or that holding your breath will keep one out.
6: In one particularly dark run of defeats, you convince yourself that the game is making you lose deliberately. You never ask why any games publisher would include this feature as standard.
7: You’ve seen dawn break too many times because of your conflicting beliefs that you cannot go to bed on a defeat and that it’s silly to save and exit when you’re winning.
8: You have relatives whose lives you follow with less interest than the career of a player who once scored 30 goals in a season for you on Football Manager 2007.
9: You have perfected the ‘silent, internal roar’, used when playing FM in a room full of people who don’t know you’re playing.
10: You’ve started taking your laptop on the school run, so you can play in the car if your kids are late out. Yesterday, you arrived at their school at 11am.
11: You are far angrier about the influence of agents in football since they started asking for fees in Football Manager.
12: You are incapable of reading a football manager’s autobiography without feeling a desperate urge to start a new game at their old club.
13: Other people count sheep, you fall asleep by silently running through your preferred first and second elevens.
14: You keep elderly players in the reserve squad because you can’t bear to let them go and, besides, they might be a good influence for the kids.
15: You amaze your friends with your knowledge of an obscure real-life transfer target. Halfway through your assessment, you realise that you’ve never, ever seen him play in real life.
16: When your goalkeeper makes a howler, you tell a room full of imaginary journalists that, “he’s got us out of jail so many times, he’s allowed a clanger.’ You imagine the journalists nodding approvingly.
17: You once spent eight hours editing the game to include all of your friends. You know that you cannot rule out ever doing this again.
18: Your partner catches a cold and you can’t go out as planned. They apologise for leaving you with nothing to do on a Saturday night. You assure them that this really isn’t a problem.
19: You put three members of the U18 squad on the bench for the last game of the season, but you have no intention of using them. It’s for ‘experience.’
20: While watching Sunday Supplement, you’re impressed with one of the journalists. A week later, you’ll find yourself imagining them ghost-writing your autobiography. You may even have a book title.
21: You’ve had relationship break-ups that have upset you less than than the sight of a player who is “looking complacent.”
Read Iain's New Book, The Football Manager's Gude To Football Management