Team Talk: Football Manager 2014 Mid-Season Chat

By RPS on March 19th, 2014 at 7:00 pm.

RPS used to be a bunch of foot-to-ball fearties, but times change, and Adam and Graham are on a mission to make sure there’s no one left at the site who doesn’t understand the offside trap. Adam wrote the WIT. Graham made us into regens. They compared notes.

Now the pair have gathered again to discuss their thoughts after a further six months of intensive training. How does the match engine hold up? Has the new tactics system ever felt limiting? How has the mid-season update changed play? All this and more awaits below.

Adam:

Adam: The referee has checked his watch. The whistle approaches his lips.

The season is almost complete and Football Manager 2014 is fully updated and in its final form.

What have we learned? It’s been a buggy season, that’s for sure. Odd results, the downfall of giants, a pile-up at the bottom of the Premier League table.

But that’s the real world.

Graham: FOOTBALLS.

Adam: Calm down!

Graham: I have left behind the banal modern reality of Premiership football. I exist now in the near future, the year 2018, where my favored Football Manager 2014 career trundles on, where I am a tournament-winning hero, where Man United aren’t shit. I only ever play one career in each yearly iteration of the series. And I would like to talk about that journey a little.

BUT.

I think you have more technical, measured, update-related chatter we should cover first, for it’s the more useful and interesting part.

Adam: Yes – first of all, and you no doubt noticed this one yourself, but the crash related to Turkish player names has been fixed as part of the final update. PHEW.

The match engine, which is routinely mocked and insulted, is in the best shape of its life. Goalkeeper AI, in particular, seems to avoid some of the excessive daftness that would occasionally cause problems in the first release.

The gap between the most skilled and the least skilled has also been exaggerated further in some instances – clearest example is dribbling, where a pacey player is now much more clearly rocket-like. Play an FA Cup game with non-league opposition against global superstars and it’s painfully obvious which side is which.

And who has eaten all the pies.

Graham: Question: how much of the match engine updates apply to existing saved games? Because just yesterday De Gea gathered up a ball, kicked it off the backside of a defender, and chased it into the back of his own net.

That might just be De Gea though.

Adam: Indeed. Mistakes aren’t eradicated completely – and I think the changes to goalkeepers were less about distribution and more about their habit of dropping balls and letting them ooze into the net. Or scoring own goals with the back of their head from corners.

But, yeah, the changes should work in save games. The only thing that won’t work is the transfer updates, obviously.

Graham: No Mata/matter joke joke, etc.

Adam: Fiddly as the match engine changes are, they seem to be working toward a common goal that so much of this iteration is directed at. And that is to replicate the experience of a manager at different levels rather than replicating the experience of a person sitting in front of a computer clicking on a series of databases and sliders.

Graham: Example?

Adam: By making the difference between skill levels broader and more immediately noticeable, the engine forces the lower league manager to concede that he is going to have to adapt to route one sooner rather than later no matter what. There’s less chance of a flukey run down the wing – Hefty Johnson, the part-time fullback who works as a Butcher’s Apprentice, simply doesn’t do the whole running thing.

You know how in Civ a bunch of spearmen would occasionally kill a tank? And that’s certainly within the rules of the game?

Graham: You’re saying Ewoks now have no chance of destroying the Empire?

Adam: That’s an example we can all understand. It’s possible. It’s always possible. But the chance of something similar happening in FM14 is reduced because there are so many more variables and they are being stretched. I think – and some people will argue otherwise – that SI are attempting to eliminate the one-size fits all tactic.

But at the same time, tactics do feel less immediately flexible than in previous versions. Sometimes it takes a good twenty minutes of a game to work out if anyone is actually listening when I tell them to play deeper or wrap the cables around an AT-AT’s legs.

Incidentally, my current game is with Welling United. I started unemployed and am trying to fashion a place for myself in fitbah history.

Adam: I realised how much I’d come to rely on backroom staff in other jobs – when you don’t have the people in place, or they’re cack-handed, it’s like playing with a stripped down interface. I’m playing in the dark, Graham, and I don’t like it one little bit.

(I love it)

Graham: Do these new changes diminish the likelihood that you’ll be able to take your Wellies all the way to the Champion’s League?

Adam: The fact that I am me diminishes that possibility. It eradicates the possibility and then devours the scraps of the possibility and later voids them into a stinking pub toilet that hasn’t been cleaned for weeks. I have never been very good at getting the best out of a bad bunch. I intend to jump ship as soon as anyone comes calling. Stockport even.

It would take far more patience and, yes, I think the possibility of those glory stories is reduced this time around in general, not just with the latest update.

Graham: I just looked it up and Welling United’s nickname is The Wings, not the Wellies. Which seems like a wasted opportunity, but then their logo is of a winged horse.

Adam: I call them The Stumps. If they ever had wings, those wings were sold to hungry revellers in a Chicken Cottage long ago.

One thing that I’ve observed is that United seem to do quite well. Which is fine – real events would have been hard to predict. But the in-game media reckon they’ll win the 2013/14 league, and they often do, and don’t seem phased by the management change.

Adam: For all the cleverness of the player stats, skills and personalities, I can’t help but feel that the AI managers are less well-formed. Even though the game is called Football Manager, it’s a game about players and clubs rather than managers, in some ways. I’m not sure how dramatic a difference a managerial change makes.

Graham: In my game, I displaced Moyes by taking over United. He ended up at Napoli a few years later, was sacked after a year, and is now manager of Stoke. This seems in some way a more likely reality.

Adam: Let’s talk about player roles because they are, I think, the most important part of tactical setup now.

I can never make Van Persie do anything worthwhile – in times gone by, I would have found a system that worked with him in it, on an FM forum somewhere. But now, I feel like I need to build a system from the ground-up with every change because the links between one area of the pitch and another are separated out.

My natural instinct is for Van Persie to play as an advanced forward but without the right support, that leaves him isolated. And when I play as United, my formation doesn’t make room for him. So I drop him.

How do you manipulate the Dutch?

Graham: Well, this overlaps with another thing that I wanted to touch on. But basically, aren’t strikers broken in general? I’ve found some success with False 9s and Deep Lying Forwards, but if you want them to be a Poacher, or a main goal-scoring threat, that doesn’t seem to work out.

Alec: FOOT-TO-BALL IS FOR BABY-MEN
Alec has left the room
Alec has entered the room
Alec has left the room

Graham: Oh Alec. Such a hooligan.

Adam: Was he streaking? It looked like he was streaking.

Graham: All I saw was a tiny picture of a Skyrim man’s face.

Adam: Chewing a pepperami.

Graham: I’ve been reading on forums and there’s accusations that this is a match engine thing. That wingers are overpowered and SI have nerfed strikers to stop games featuring a glut of goals.

Graham: Based on my own anecdotal experiments, strikers certainly don’t seem to get the goals you’d expect. You only need to look at stats for real players like Messi to see how, as soon as the FM engine takes over, the number of goals they get drops by a third.

And so I, too, have struggled to make Van Persie do anything for me. I’ve only had slightly more success with Rooney, by dropping him in that F9 role.

Adam: The striker thing does fit in with my experience, yeah. I think it’s the weakest part of the engine and the one that requires the most work, from players to succeed and from SI next time around. Through balls are much more effective, at the centre of the pitch, than crosses. Which tend to go to defenders much more often than not.

I think FM will always struggle with players like Messi. he’s such an outlier that if you DID design him in-game, he’d seem like a cheat. A hack.

Graham: The Matthew Le Tissier problem. It’s just not believable that he’d score that many.

Adam: My most successful tactic with strikers is to have the more advanced player in a support role with an attacking false 9 behind. It doesn’t immediately make sense on paper but essentially, it’s asking the player deep in the box to act as a creative target man of sorts, looking to make runs and drag the defense out of position.

Graham: Have you found any roles you felt particularly over and underpowered? Does the Trequartista actually work?

Adam: With the Welling Stumps I’m currently managing, I chuckle every time I ask one of my players to adopt the Trequartista position. They don’t know what I’m talking about and think I’m either speaking in tongues or having a stroke. But, yeah, I find it works but I tend to use it when I’m packing the midfield and pressing for a goal against a team with a leaky defense.

Adam: One of the biggest eureka moments I had was realising that setting the mentality to ‘attack’ is often less productive than keeping it ‘balanced’. Those settings aren’t helpfully named, although I understand why they range from ultra-defensive to overpowering attack

Graham: What does “attack” actually do in practical terms? I did abandon using it eventually.

Adam: Really, they’re about positioning – a replacement for the old arrow system in a way – so an ‘attacking’ mentality means players push up the pitch quickly when the ball is with their teammates. That’s not a good attacking strategy AT ALL if you want to play small passes to feet through a strong midfield. Everything breaks down far too quickly.

That’s my interpretation of it, from an embarrassing amount of playtime. Attacking works if you’re playing the ball into space for people to run onto, or hoofing it toward the box.

Do you miss the old tactical options?

Graham: I miss the arrows. Those little dotted lines were both gloriously simple and absurdly overpowered.

My experiences in the more recent Football Manager games are few and far between though, sadly. I don’t miss the sliders, that’s for sure.

Adam: It’s odd – in some ways there’s much less micromanagement now that the sliders are gone. But it’s also the case that one player in the wrong role can make entire movements fall apart, again and again.

Graham: I like that they’ve switched to using the language of actual football. It’s not just more intuitive, but there’s a bit more of the fantasy about it. FM is always about the push/pull of the realities of the match engine and the fantasies that you project upon it. Being able to deploy someone as a False 9 or Target Man or Box-to-Box Midfielder sells the idea of my tactics to me just through the word, regardless of the reality of the simulation.

Adam: I said this in the review, way back when, and my feelings have been confirmed over the months – this game is much more about managing individuals within the context of a team and squad, whereas previously FM and CM felt like adjusting cogs in a machine.

As you say, it captures the fantasy better and I love it for that. It’s a role-playing management simulation.

Graham: Do you find it easier than before to spot tactical problems? My main issue with the game – and it’s an issue with me as much as with Sports Interactive’s design – is that I can’t tell what’s a match engine problem, what’s my own anecdotal bias, and what’s a tactical problem I need to resolve.

Adam: I quickly conform to the match engine’s idiosyncracies, which perhaps makes me too lenient. Mostly, it looks and behaves like a football match, with all the variance involved in the real thing. But where it doesn’t, as with the strikers, I find ways around the problem based upon the engine’s own previous displays rather than an attempt to find a ‘real-life’ solution.

I watch every match, comprehensive highlights, which does give a great overview of which particular relationships aren’t working. And also means I can change a role, switch things around, and then swap them again five minutes later if another problem rears its head.
There’s a lot of experimentation involved but, on the whole, I do find it easier to make an impact with decisins during a match, for better or worse.

Graham: I think you’ve said before that you prefer to go for the lower league minnows, and often start careers as a jobless vagabond. What’s the longest career you’ve played? Do you stretch off into the future, or prefer to linger around present day scenarios?

Adam: I am the man of tomorrow. Not literally – that would be daft – more like the man of 205x. I’m petitioning SI to have the game transition into Speedball by the end of the 21st century, as an Easter Egg but also an entire cyborg murderball management game.

Graham: I like to play one career and change teams throughout that career, and I enjoy the process of discover new, skillful regens and adopting and training them. But I find my interest waxes and wanes with that career over the year I’m playing the game. I’ve only recently returned to it after a long period away.

Adam: Sadly, in this version I haven’t found time for a good long run because I spent so much time experimenting with different leagues and nations, to get a feel for the whole thing. My Welling Stumps are the future though. I’ve just finished my first season with them. Media reckoned we’d be relegated back into the Blue Square South but we finished a respectable 9th.

Graham: I’m wondering whether you experience something similar, what keeps you playing or coming back, and where you find the boldness necessary to move teams? Because I get simultaneously bored of my current job and too attached to certain elements of it to change.

Adam: I’m a mercenary little urchin. I’m more likely to aim for a job offer from a top club than work my arse off trying to take a non-league club to glory.

But, yes, I’ll spend weeks without playing and then binge for an entire weekend.

I may have mentioned this before as well, but I really enjoy just observing the simulation. Seeing what’s happening elsewhere in the world. I love watching matches at world cups and picking a favourite to follow when England are inevitably knocked out. I always watch the Champions League and FA Cup finals, even if I am toiling away in the conference and nowhere near them.

The existence of a world outside my own reach is a constant fascination in games of all types and CM was one of the earliest examples – and FM continues to be one of the best

Graham: Agreed. In 2018, I’m just about to watch the World Cup. I’m looking forward to it.

It’s giving me something to do in my off-season, when there’s not really anyone around that’s worth buying. Because I’m already so great.

Does your enjoyment in playing the game dribble away as regens become a larger fixture and recognisable players retire?

Adam: Good question – if the game started with regens and no real players, I’d be less interested. As I would be if I simulated into a regenerated future. But I love seeing the world develop so watching known players retire and take up managerial and coaching roles fascinates me, as does watching their replacements come forward.

The transition is the thing. Like, I noticed that Frank Lampard was a 56 year old Scout at West Ham once, in a previous version, and that made me happy for some reason.

Graham: It is great, watching old players become managers. I remember in an old game of Champ Man 2 Italia, in which Gianluca Vialli switched from being my best player to being my greatest managerial rival. I’ll never forgive him for getting the Italy manager job ahead of me.

The regens, I realise, are why I only play one career. If I find a good, real player, I know I’ll only want to buy them again in the other career. If the game creates a great regen, I’m hurt at the idea of switching to a new database where they don’t exist and will never exist.

I get unreasonably attached to the players, and soon can’t tell the difference between the real and the regens.

Adam: Which game does the series most remind you of? It’s obviously not FIFA, despite the feet and the balls and the haircuts.

Graham: I always think of it in terms of grand strategy. It’s Crusader Kings, for me. The pace. The slow cultivation of people and stats. Putting plans into action across generations/seasons. A world to noodle with, which starts in reality and twists and turns until its wholly and uniquely yours.

Adam: Agreed. So let me put this to you: Crusader Kings seems to be far more popular with RPS readers than Football Manager – why does our audience prefer murder and incest to sporting occasions and sweary men in shorts?

Graham: There’s a certain snobbery at work, for sure. I get that, I relate to that. I share in it, even as I watch literally any football I can find, be it English, German, French, Italian, Spanish or, recently, Brazilian.

But more than that, I can understand why the high drama of murder appeals more than the abstraction of football scores.

Dagenham & Redbridge F.C. 1, Fleetwood Town 2. Doesn’t exactly have the same exciting ring as, oh, your plot to kill a neighbour has failed and now you’re rotting to death in prison but no worries, your idiot son has taken over.

It’s maybe worth noting that I didn’t care about football at all till a few years ago. I’d been away from the sport for over ten years, and I got back into it via a football game, albeit FIFA. That led me to start watching a little bit on TV, which led me to Football Manager, which led me to watching a whole lot more of it on TV.

But when I started back on FM, I didn’t really know who any of the players were or what the recent storylines were. It didn’t matter.

Any more than my enjoyment of CK2 is tied to knowledge of the middle ages. (Because I have none).

Adam: I once said that Crusader Kings II might be more successful (before I knew how successful it would be) if it had an orc in it. I was being facetious to an extent but there’s some truth there. And, similarly, I think Football Manager would be of interest to a different crowd entirely if it were Bloodbowl.

Graham: Yeah. But it’s purely thematic. The mechanics and the simulation and the stories and the drama, I think they’d appeal to RPS readers.

Adam: But, as you say, the knowledge isn’t necessary. Like any game, it’s about systems, and FM works on a higher level than any football punditry on TV. You can’t, for instance, tell your players to “want it more” and expect to win, even though that’s the constant among commentators on Sky – ‘they just wanted it more’. No they bloody didn’t. They are tactically superior and more talented, with a sprig or two of luck on the day.

That said, I would absolutely love a Bloodbowl type game done in FM style.

Graham: What with the database editor and Steam Workshop, I’m surprised there aren’t more fantasy-themed mods.

Adam: Probably to do with the gargantuan size of the thing more than anything. I wonder if it would be possible to make a single league with a completely overhauled theme.

ADD LETHAL INJURIES

Graham: Luis Suarez bit you for +4 damage. You have contracted: Cholera.

The ability to infiltrate enemy teams with spies would be perfect.

Adam: John Terry tackled you for +1 damage. You have contracted gonorrhoea

Can I say that? IT’S A JOKE.

Graham: Gary Linekar. Preferred Moves:
Moves into channels.
Wipes bum on pitch.

Adam: When I spoke to Miles Jacobson, the Big Cheese at Sports Interactive, he said the new dialogue and ‘story’ systems were a strong focus for the next instalment. Only a tiny percentage of that side of things was implemented, so I suspect we’re heading toward a deeper roleplaying experience next year, with more personal interactions to go along with the tactical roles.

Graham: I hope so. I agree with you that Football Manager is a role-playing game, but I also agree that it’s mostly about the players thus far. I would like more simulation of managers, and I’d like that to include more ways with which to act like a person within that world, and less like a manipulator of databases. Conversations welcome, stories even more so.

But as of right now, I think Football Manager is better than it’s ever been. There are niggling match engine issues that frustrate me, but I suspect there always will be. As it is, I never close down the game, it’s always running.

Six months after release, I only like it more. I guess that was the point of this, to work out whether we’d changed our minds.

Adam: Same. I think some long-time fans might be frustrated by the new direction but I doubt many of them will actually go away or burn down Sports Interactive’s offices as they sometimes threaten to.

Any simulation on this scale will have problems and there is an adjustment period, particularly for people thoroughly engaged with actual football, but I’ve found it a joy this year. And intend to stick with the Stumps right through the summer.

Graham: I suspect as the real season winds up, my FM2014ing will only increase. I’ll endeavor to stick with the same career also, even if I resign from United.

Adam: Remember earlier? The spearmen against the tanks? The Ewoks topping the Empire? Man Utd vs Olympiakos. I’m just not sure which team are the Ewoks anymore.

Graham: I suspect I can guess.

I THINK IT’S ALL OVER?

Adam: IT IS NOW
BOSH
BACK OF THE NET
FOOT LIKE A TRACTION ENGINE
GOAL PIE

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15 Comments »

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  1. Edgar the Peaceful says:

    Thriker!

  2. Premium User Badge

    amateurviking says:

    I haven’t played Football/Champ Manager since 02/03 I think? Took Montrose on a glorious march to the dizzy heights of the SPL. Good times. Whenever Adam or, laterally, Graham mention it I go and download the demo, have a snoop, think ‘fuck me this looks complicated’ and invariably never go back. Which is an enormous shame because it remains one of my favourite game series.

    Fucking brilliant for hotseat multiplayer + beer, snacks and no lectures ’til tomorrow afternoon and we’re probably not going to those anyway.

    Oof: nostalgia overload.

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      Yep, so many “hmmmm, breakfast will be open in a few hours, might as well stay up” nights with the last Champ manager and the first Football manager for me too.

  3. Premium User Badge

    Andy_Panthro says:

    Every time I read such articles about FM I long to go back to it. But I haven’t spent much time with it really since CM4, back in 2003, even after buying a couple of more modern versions over the years.

    The last time I really played through a couple of seasons was in CM3 01/02, with the fan-made patches to get the leagues up-to-date. It was fun, but then I missed some of the more recent features.

    I just don’t have the patience to sit through highlights of a CGI-created match, I like the old text which flashed when there was a goal (but wait! He was offside..).

    The recent one has a sort-of classic mode though, right? Has anyone played with it enough to know if it’s worth getting for that? I’m just not sure I have the time or inclination to play the full thing for hours on end like I used to (too many other games to play these days).

    • Graham Smith says:

      Classic Mode is what got me back into it, and what I play most of. It doesn’t simplify the match engine, but the manner in which you interact with it. You can still watch games in the text-only way. You can watch it with just 2D highlights. And Classic Mode means you can finish a season in a day of play. That’s still 6-10 hours, less if you use the “Instant Result” to skip watching matches entirely, but down from, like, 30-40 hours for the main mode.

      • Premium User Badge

        Andy_Panthro says:

        Thanks for the info!

        If the match engine is truly less buggy than release, I may have to give it a shot. I think it’s on offer at the moment on the Humble store, so that’s convenient.

  4. Gothnak says:

    I worked on Player Manager 2 Extra in the mid 90’s, hell, it even has my commentary in it, and i used to LOVE Championship Manager back then. But I’ve completely fallen out of love with any of the modern day series.

    They have gradually become more and more complex until i have no real idea of why i’m losing matches and what to do to fix it. In the old day, you had 11 players with stats, and to get better, you replaced the guy with a rating of 73 with the one of 75 and hoped for the best.

    Now, each player has 25-30 stats, each having some bearing on how they will perform, and the engine is reasonably realistic. All i want to do, is stick a fast guy on the wing, a tall guy in the middle and see if it will work, and the game tell me why it doesn’t. Sometimes, i win 4 matches in a row, and then immediately afterwards with the same team i lose 4 matches in a row, and i have absolutely no idea WHY. So i get annoyed and stop playing.

    Crusader Kings 2 i LOVE. It might be partly because it’s all medieval and such, but i think it’s because i generally know how to do things. It’s as slow as Football Manager, but i see an uprising, and i know i need to form an army, send them off and squash them. I know how to make England not attack my Scottish borders but marrying my daughter off and helping them in a war. I don’t have to understand how to run a castle successfully, i just upgrade it’s stats, i don’t want to manage the baggage train as it travels down to York, it’s abstracted out.

    How do i break down Arsenal’s defence, how do i stop Van Persie, How do i ensure my team correctly springs it’s offside trap? No fecking idea. I want to be told HOW to do these things easily, and then i CHOOSE which one to do, but FM is so much about making you understand every intracacy, that i can’t be bothered.
    I find it much easier to achieve these things in Fifa than i do in FM.

    I have a plan for an F1 management game where you don’t have to understand HOW to build the aerodynamics for a car, but you tell the engineers to concentrate on ‘speed’ over ‘downforce’, but too many games want you to adjust angles and gear ratios… hrmpf…

    Anyway, rant over.. :).

    • Graham Smith says:

      I actually agree with this. Football Manager gives you a glut of information and makes it almost impossible to discern which pieces are relevant to whatever problem you’re having. I’ve found my way beyond those problems, in playing the Classic Mode, but I’m still frequently at a loss as to why certain things are happening.

      I can see why they offer so much detail and information; they’re trying to build a world as much as a game. But it also can feel like kitchen sink game design, where more and more and more things are added until, as a player, you begin to lose some of the sense of agency that the older games had.

      • Gothnak says:

        I think as computers have got more powerful, they can create more realistic simulations and get closer and closer to real life. That is good for something like graphics, which is always an advantage, but for Gameplay there reaches a point when making something 100% realistic actually makes it less fun. I’m sure if most Football Management game players were put in control of a Blue Square Bet side, they’d be bloody awful and yet FM is making the experience require more and more of the necessary skills.

        What i’d like to see is something to go with the quickmatch option. At the end of the match, you have a data sheet for the team as a whole, and potentially for each player explaining WHY you lost. Let’s say I’ve got 2 fast wingers and Crouch in the middle, and i scored no goals. Here are the reasons WHY i might have failed to score:

        1. We barely got the ball, so the wingers didn’t get any chances. -> Solution, have better pressure in midfield.
        2. The wingers got the ball, but their full backs were faster & great tacklers -> Solution, don’t play this tactic against a team with great fullbacks, or get better wingers.
        3. The wingers crossed the ball often, but were inaccurate -> Solution, get wingers with better crossing.
        4. The wingers crossed the ball often and accurately, but Crouch was always in the wrong place – > Solution, get a forward with better positioning (or train Crouch)
        5. The wingers crossed the ball often and accurately, Crouch headed the ball but always missed -> Solution, Don’t try and get Crouch to be the chap who gets the headers.
        6. The wingers crossed the ball often and accurately, Crouch headed the ball well, but the goalie saved it -> Solution, Only use this tactic against goalies who are bad in the air.

        If i was told why i failed, and how to succeed, i can then, as the manager decide which of the solutions to fix. Of course, in the example above, that is just one small part of the match. Why did the opposition break my offside trap too much, why did we only get 25% possession of the ball, why did they score 3 goals from only 5 shots?

        If i’m given a bunch of explanations and i can’t immediately fix all of them (or don’t have the budget to) I need to decide which gets done first, that is what the game is for me, not trying to decipher the game engine running behind the visuals i am given.

        • Graham Smith says:

          In fairness, you can kind of do this. You can use Instant Result to skip watching matches, but it still generates a report showing the stats for the match and individual players. You can then look at your Assistant Manager’s advice from during the match, where the yiwll say things like, “We’re hitting a lot of crosses but not getting on the end of them,” or “We’ve been dominant in the air today,” and highlighting specific threats from the opponent, and so on.

          Your Asst. Manager isn’t perfect though, the accuracy of their advice depends on their own stats. It’s also still never a straightforward fix; you never just make a tweak, and now you don’t have that problem anymore. If nothing else, you’ll play against a different team, and your players might be more tired this time, or have better or worse morale, and so on.

          But the building blocks are there for what you’re after. It’s just you need to know where to look for it.

          • Gothnak says:

            Thanks for the reply… Maybe i’ll check out the simplified version. After Age of Wonders 3 and Qvadriga though :)

        • Moth Bones says:

          I’ve played most of them and I really like this one. if you watch games on extended highlights, checking assistant feedback and player stats, you really can get this information implied. I tweak formations in small ways, have varied instructions according to who is playing in a particular position – it sounds like spreadsheet madness but it has actually built up naturally and incrementally. It’s a terrific game, despite the media and player interaction remaining very flawed. But, it is still a timesink.

  5. lfcpops says:

    2018?? Wimps – Just won the title in the 2028-9 season…Wayne Rooney manages Man Utd, and Chelsea play at the John Terry stadium…

  6. reosarevok says:

    Graham: as a test to your claims of watching any football you can find, I give you our dear Estonian Premium Liiga’s live online broadcast calendar! http://jalgpall.ee/premium/otse.php (I’m a Tammeka fan. We are fully amateur and we’re going to get our asses kicked).

    Also, I really need to get into FM again… although with the talk of more role-playing next year, maybe I’ll wait for that. I’m fairly sure it’s a bad idea to start an FM game while on thesis-writing period anyway.

  7. battles_atlas says:

    Always impressed by how different others experience of FM can be to mine. I haven’t had problems with strikers in this version, in fact I’ve had a lot of success using strong but skillful target men (of the Drogba sort) at the tip of a 4-2-3-1. Rescaldani bagged me 30 goals a season for my promoted Notts Forest.

    My eureka moment was realising that the only way to get good ratings from a great midfield is to play them as box-to-box. For a long time I held to keeping one in a deep-lying-creative role, but their ratings were always poor. Allow them to bomb on and everything changes.