Binary Brilliance: Tackling CM2 97/98 with an AI Co-Pilot! | @tjmitcham1983

Hello and welcome to my first blog as a bona fide CM2 97/98 addict. Let’s get the dull IRL stuff out of the way. I’m 40, a Burnley fan, and I blame my mediocre GCSE grades on nights spent playing Champ. Don’t we all?

While contemplating what challenge to embark upon, I was momentarily captivated by a Mark Goldbridge video on TikTok. Mr. Goldbridge is the kind of fan that didn’t exist when Champ was in its prime. He’s a “content creator,” devoting more time to dropping one-liners and faux-rants than actually watching his beloved Manchester United play during Youtube ‘watchalongs’. This time, he was ranting vehemently about VAR, and let’s face it, it’s a bit of a shambles, isn’t it?

This got me thinking. Despite having incredible AI tools at our disposal, top-level football hasn’t substantially benefited the average fan. VAR, the oft-failing referee earpieces, substitute electronic boards, and cashless beverage systems at my cherished Turf Moor—none of them offer anything but frustration and unnecessary time-wasting. So, perhaps it’s time we let this new wave of tech shine directly on a team; maybe it’s time for tech to become a manager!

But I’m not entirely mad. Like all top coaches, they need a mentor, a guru, someone to learn from and work alongside. Step forward, well, me. I’m decent at Champ, so let’s see how I fare co-managing with a robust AI assistant. ChatGPT will take the reins alongside me at a club, and together, we hope to make better decisions than the AI’s endearing VAR tech siblings.

So off I went, initiating a conversation with ChatGPT, seeking to identify a team to manage before disclosing to my robotic companion just how pivotal its role will be. Now, aware that some of you may be new to using AI, here’s a visual representation of how the conversation transpired…

Nice and polite, eh? I decided to ensure we had a real challenge on our hands, so together we opted for an underperforming team in the Portuguese second division after some deliberation. This is where we encountered the first stumbling block in human-robot communications. ChatGPT, being a relatively young robot, had some difficulty in identifying which teams were actually in the second division back when Windows 95 was still in use. Before we could find a suitable candidate, we went through the following options:

Boavista (top division, too good)
Leca (top division)
SC Farense (top division)
F.C. Marco (not even in the game!)
G.D. Chaves (top division)
F.C. Marco (not again, man!)

In frustration, I provided a list of the actual second division options. I spotted an amusing animal-themed team name and was pleasantly surprised when my robo-chum settled on this bunch:

Lamas it is. Then I dropped the bombshell on my shiny friend:

If you offer someone (or something) a job, this is the response you want. No haggling over expense accounts and transfer budgets; just puppy-like giddiness to get going!

My AI chum then delved into his ‘top ten tips’, but we’ll revisit that later. First, we needed to get our heads together. You can lead a horse to water, but can you and a complex algorithm lead a bunch of Llamas to footballing glory? Time to find out…

We needed names so the Llamas could recognize their new half-human, half-AI managers. The AI selected Miguel Silva and christened me Diogo Pereira. A more Portuguese-sounding managerial duo there never was! At this point, we needed to enlist our AI graphics department for the celebratory “co-managers taking over a team” image. Here we are in all our AI-generated glory: my uber-casual ‘could still do a job at centre back’ Diogo on the left, the sharply dressed tactics-man Miguel on the right. Quite the duo, you’d never know one of them wasn’t entirely as they seem!

Miguel, the AI manager, is in a suit – clearly, he means business. So, I let him decide on two important matters:

  1. The length of our contract.
  2. Three goals for this challenge, to be completed within that contract period.

Here’s what Miguel came up with:

A three-year contract, which we’ll extend for a further two years if the three goals can be met:

  1. Gain promotion to Portugal’s Top Division by the end of year two.
  2. Become at least a solid mid-table, top division team by the end of year three.
  3. Beat our local rivals, the mighty FC Porto, in any fixture, by the end of year three.

With our goals set, we wandered out into the AI-constructed stadium for the first time. Miguel removed his jacket to let his motherboard cool down, I took a swig of Lucozade, and basked in the still air of our new home.

Alright, it’s time to acquaint ourselves with the squad. We’ve got sixteen players on board, but there’s a noticeable shortage of centre-backs and strikers! Nevertheless, we have a budget of 250k to navigate the transfer market and a charming 18,000-capacity stadium to fill. I attempted to seek Miguel’s assistance in assessing the players, but he responded with a list of general football advice. It seems like this task falls on Diogo’s shoulders.

I hope my AI companion won’t turn out to be one of those all-theory, no-substance types. Let’s allow him to cool down and evaluate the squad using the good old-fashioned human approach. We’ll stick to THE formation, making our criteria for play/sub/sell quite clear.

In goal, we have the experienced Silvino, with Mota serving as a capable young understudy. Things look promising there. However, matters become a bit precarious at full-back; Marin possesses good pace on the left, but we lack a player on the right side. While our center-backs are decent at best, reinforcements will be needed in that area. Nevertheless, we have the foundation of a serviceable defense.

The real challenges emerge further up the pitch! We lack a CDM entirely, and deploying Tavares on the right means our lone forward is not an option up top. So, we’ll certainly be on the hunt for a CDM and a striker! The team’s focal point will be the 32-year-old Joaquim Pinto, who will assume the captain’s armband, penalty duties, and set-piece responsibilities.

Although Me and Miguel couldn’t find much information about our talisman, the AI graphics department has crafted a delightful image of him:

This man is set to lead us to glory! Miguel is certain of it.

While this initial venture into AI and human football co-management could lead to triumph, defeat, or even a robot uprising, join us next week when Miguel, the AI manager, takes charge of our initial forays into the transfer market. Hopefully, we can assemble an acceptable team for the upcoming season!

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