Brexit turned my Football Manager 2021 journey into absolute hell
After making my sixth unsuccessful attempt to sign a player from the Spanish Second Division, it was probably time to accept that Brexit had ruined my chances of glory in Football Manager 2021.
It wouldn't be wise to make any bold predictions (of how Brexit will play out in the real world) based on the algorithm of a computer game.
But I'm going to make one anyway: we're f***ed.
This is how Brexit ruined my hopes of Football Manager 2021 glory, alongside some insight into the other features you can expect to see from Sports Interactive's latest release.
I've played this game since 2008, and every year I begin a new career with Swansea City, the team I support.
I normally rage quit by the third week of the season, so I was eager to see how this year's new edition would pan out (or more to the point, how long I'd last after losing to Plymouth in the first round of the Carabao Cup).
The UK voted to leave the EU in 2016, if you hadn't noticed. The day that finally becomes a reality is looming upon us, like Dwight Gayle's inevitable equaliser against Liverpool in 2014 that made Luis Suarez cry.
With each passing year, Sports Interactive do their best to ensure Football Manager mirrors real world events. The advent of VAR was a new inclusion in last year's edition, for example.
While Brexit has occurred in the second and third seasons of previous editions, the authorities generally responded by making no changes to the transfer market.
That seemed a little unrealistic, and unfortunately for your career in Football Manager 2021 - Brexit really does mean Brexit.
For a bit of context, I had agreed a deal to sign Rodrigo Tarin, a ball-playing centre half from Leganes.
His contract was expiring, which represented great value for a team still feeling the ill-effects of paying Andre Ayew £80,000 per week to run rings around Rotherham United.
The deal was agreed a few days before the transfer window slammed shut with all the might and gusto of Peter Odemwingie's car door closing outside Loftus Road.
Shortly after the window passed, Brexit became a reality. It didn't quite get to the stage where my squad were fed on cheaply-imported chlorinated chicken from the USA, but any players joining after January 2021 were affected.
I was informed I wouldn't be able to sign Tarin, as he didn't meet the new post-Brexit eligibility criteria.
There is a new Australian-style points-based system standing in the way of any transfers from outside the UK and Ireland.
Having only played for Barcelona B before joining Leganes, the closest Tarin got to winning a league title or making an international appearance was eating his lunch in the same canteen as Lionel Messi.
Football Manager 2021 has diversified the number of positions in which you can pick players. This was initially rolled out last year, but in 2021 is more detailed.
This sounds good, and is meant to enhance your team selection. But I've only just got my head around the concept of a deep-lying playmaker.
Trying to figure out whether to play Morgan Gibbs-White as a Mezzala, Carrilero or out wide as a Raumdeuter left me feeling like Ralph Wiggum trying to use a computer for the first time.
To assess a player's compatibility with a position, FM versions of old used a colour scheme.
Light green denoted a natural fit and darker green meant he could fill in there, whereas yellow or red made him an awkward or unnatural selection.
This year's five-star system is arguably more accurate, as it is there to reflect how some players are marginally better in certain roles within a position. The half stars also help if you're finding it difficult to choose between two equally-capable players.
Interaction between manager and players has become increasingly detailed over the years. However, with Football Manager 2021 you've got the chance to express yourself beyond words - with actions.
You've got the simple handshake, which is perfect for one-to-ones with your vastly-overpaid star man. If you're lucky, a firm handshake may even turn their disgust at having to talk to you into mere ambivalence.
When it comes to team talks, you also have the ability to get even more animated.
You now have the ability to thrash your arms around like a giant, shrieking baby - which in some bizarre way may motivate your players to perform better.
Post-match, or at half-time, you also have the option of kicking chairs over or throwing a water bottle across the room.
I'm a big fan of these nuances, but if Football Manager 2021 wanted to be even more realistic, they should have added the ability to headbutt your star striker in the changing rooms while naked. Which I'm legally required to say is definitely not the behaviour of one former Stoke City manager.
The nerds have got their wish. A feature of real world post-match analysis for some time, expected goal (xG) statistics have now made their way into FM.
This is an accurate representation of the inner workings of my brain upon seeing such data.
So... you're telling me 2-0 was an accurate scoreline because I was expected to score two goals? How does that work, or add anything?
I genuinely didn't know how to interpret the data. I normally switch off by the time football pundits reach this stage of the analysis.
Instead, I asked JOE Football Writer Reuben Pinder to elaborate. Reuben's tactical nous is slightly more detailed than my "pick 11 players with the best stats and hope they win" gameplan.
According to Reuben, xG "effectively works out an average of how many goals a team 'should' have scored in a game based on quality of chances."
The quality of chances is assessed according to the volume - how many chances you create - and where your shots come from. Any effort in the penalty area is ranked higher than a speculative Charlie Adam strike from the halfway line, for example.
Last but not least, Neil Warnock is present in Football Manager 2021. 'So what?' I hear you cry - he's still employed.
True, the current Middlesbrough boss is one of the longest-serving managers still working. Warnock isn't a new feature in Football Manager 2021 by any stretch of the imagination.
But as you can see from this pre-match conference, his portrayal is one of the most realistic aspects of the game.