Regardless of when it started, we have all embarked on that same absorbing journey of perfecting football management from the comfort of our own couches. Needless to say, the journey has changed significantly since Championship Manager’s release in 1992, and since Football Manager changed the game in 2004. With a lot of major gameplay changes and the general development of a whole host of features over the years, it’s interesting to look back and see which features have changed the most.
Of course, if we wanted to compare every change in management games since 1992, we’d be here all day and I’d need a far superior knowledge of computer specifications than I currently have. In the interest of covering the main points, let’s have a look at the top 5:
Championship Manager 01/02, still a favourite for many to this day, was a perfect example of the classic game engine in action. And what’s not to love… We have the Referee, Attendance, Weather, as well as the main space reserved for goalscorers and match events.
For years, this was the way to watch your team play, waiting with bated breath for the text to flash up with ‘Inzaghi!!!’ before your whole street would be illuminated by flashing colours of Milan. As times progressed, and we moved on to the Football Manager series in 2006, we had evolved into passionately supporting small numbered dots, emblazoned with our club’s colours.
Fast forward to present day and we have a realistic, 3D match engine with a range of features we could only dream of as we lay in bed in 2001, flashing text blocks still burned into our retinas after playing until 3 am again. With more visuals than ever before, of your tactics and team selection in play, the vastly improved match engine has given us levels of control and strategy like never before.
The most recent instalment of Football Manager includes step by step guides to building any type of tactic, meaning there is something for everyone. Tailoring your play style to match your strengths or your opponent’s weaknesses, customising your tactics to emphasise individual player ability or weakness, and countless other options are now available to all.
Want to play a Cautious Counter-Attacking style against an intimidating attacking side? A steady possession game to match your controlled 4-4-2? All-out attacking via the wings to utilise your overlapping Wing Backs? The only limit is how long you want to spend tinkering!
Leagues & Competitions
Part of the appeal of the game has always been the ability to lose yourself in your own immersive version of world Football. The sheer depth we now have available to us means that the world can start and end wherever you want it to, for just about anyone who cares to play the game. Besides, if you haven’t found yourself 3 seasons deep and battling through the Dutch second division, have you ever had the true Football Manager experience?
What started as a database of 1500 featured players in the first instalment of Championship Manager, has grown into potential player databases of over 500,000 throughout the 2,500 clubs. Dependent on the number of leagues being run at any given time and the number of seasons progressed, this number can grow and grow.
Can you imagine sorting your way through that lot on the old-style ‘Player & Staff Search’?!
Needless to say, Football Manager is now equipped with a sophisticated scouting tool which allows for heavily filtered searches through player databases, allowing managers to track down exactly what they are looking for. This is particularly essential once the game has progressed a few seasons, and Regen players begin to shape the future of your game. Scouting assignments are now in-depth reports, with a wide range of comparisons, recommendations and observations, giving managers everything they need to make an informed decision on a player.
So, next time you unearth a 15-year-old regen from the depths of South America who looks to be the next Lionel Messi, maybe give your scout a new contract to reward him for all the progress he has made over the last 20 plus years!
Proceedings are rarely so simple now. In fact, your standard transfer experience will now likely be inclusive of, but not limited to:
- Transfer Fee negotiations
- Transfer bid add ons, instalments, sell on fees etc
- Player contract demands including clauses, sign-on fees, appearance fees etc
- Agent contract demands
- Player role
- Player promises
Finances and the scope for successfully purchasing new players are now huge considerations when taking over a new club, and can shape the type of game you have. Whilst you will always have the option to take control of a PSG or a Manchester City and have the extensive budgets at your disposal, adding to your squad is no longer as simple as raising the funds and placing a bid. Plus, starting your career at a club where wheeling and dealing, approaching free agents and scrounging loan deals is your only chance of success (I‘m looking at you Bolton!), is something every manager should try.
So there we have it, the Football Manager Journey has changed pretty significantly over the years, but it’s as exciting and challenging as ever. I’m sure many would agree with me when I say we cannot wait for the next instalment, so we can see what new curveballs have been thrown our way!