Football Manager: Meet the man given a job at the club he managed on the game

Andrej Pavlović

Back in 2019, Andrej Pavlović made headlines after using his Football Manager achievements to get a job at a football club.

Pavlović was offered a job as a data analyst at FK Bežanija in the Serbian second division after he sent them a list of his accolades on the hugely popular computer game.

Over the course of 16 virtual seasons, Pavlović led FK Bežanija to 11 league titles and guided them to the Champions League semi-final.

So, convinced that Pavlović could help, FK Bežanija decided to bring him on board.

Pavlović, 22 when he joined, took to Reddit weeks after his arrival to share an update on his progress – and he was working miracles.

FK Bežanija won five out of their next six matches and went from 13th to sixth in the table.

So, what happened after that? 

We decided to catch up with Pavlović to find out.

Pavlović joined as a data analyst

Pavlović left FK Bežanija in 2020 but he speaks fondly about his time at the club, where his role quickly expanded from just data analysis to handling merchandise and PR activities as well.

“At the beginning my job was simple – analyse the play of our team and sketch out a report that we will read together as a backroom staff and see which area needs improving,” Pavlović says. 

“I would analyse the play of our wings for example, trying to figure out through the numbers which side was more efficient with their chances, and also from where did most of our clear cut chances come.   

“I also analysed the defensive success of the system, sometimes isolating the problem through the numbers again which wasn’t really visible with the naked eye.

“Sometimes we were surprised how good or bad one of our full backs, for example, is doing based only on numbers.”

Pavlović continues: “Later down the line I took many more responsibilities in the club. I basically became their PR and also I managed to get them their first ever sponsor at this level of football. 

“I sold kits of the club all around the world as well, it was amazing to see that people were buying our merchandise. 

“But it was all really exhausting. I once spent the whole day at the post office sending those kits.”

On the pitch, FK Bežanija’s impressive form after Pavlović’s arrival continued and had the club eyeing promotion. But unfortunately the season was declared void as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We didn’t lose a single match in the remainder of the season, looked great for promotion but COVID rules nulled the season and nothing really was the same after that,” Pavlović adds.

In 2020, Pavlović received an offer from a hospital to work as a nurse. He planned to divide his time between the hospital and FK Bežanija but the club’s owners decided to go in a different direction.

“I got a job offer from a hospital to work as a nurse and I decided I would work with FK Bežanija part time from that point on,” Pavlović says.  

“In the meantime the owners had a different philosophy for the club’s future. They decided that data analysis isn’t important, and they didn’t want to pay me for my services. 

“Because of that I decided to focus on my calling. Shortly after I got the job at the hospital, I got another offer from the school where I work right now and I took it.”

What is Pavlović doing now?

Pavlović is now a professor at a medical school – although he insists he would return to football in an instant if the opportunity came up.

“I have my own class, but I would drop it all in a second if I got offered work as a data analyst or a scout for a similar pay,” he says. “Gotta pay those bills!

“Don’t get me wrong I like the job I have right now, but I know what my true calling is.”

Pavlović’s talent for analysing football was helped by his experience with Football Manager, where he learned the value of thorough, in-depth research.

“Football Manager itself is a really complex game, something that is much more than a simple computer game,” he says. 

“When I play Football Manager I do it in a specific way. I always scout, scout and then scout some more. 

“I believe that our instinct can be really powerful sometimes and you need to feel the player, you need to feel that there is a connection to him and your system, but also that has to be helped by numbers, where data analysis come to light. 

“I would say the best thing FM taught me is to be thorough and look for every single detail before making some kind of decision.”

And does he still play the game?

“Yeah I still play but much less than before because of my job, and that adventure with Bežanija in the game is really hard to top, so I lost a bit of inspiration,” he responds. 

“I’m trying to light that flame again though with some other clubs placed lowly. I enjoy playing in English lower divisions the most.”

Pavlović remains close to FK Bežanija in real life, visiting the club throughout 2021, and he forged many close relationships during his time there.

“I would say the best thing in all honesty was the relationships with the rest of the backroom staff and the players, i am a very good friends with most of them still,” he says. 

“It was an amazing ride all the way!”

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