(Full) Back To Basics: Football Manager 2013

Football Manager has become a sprawling and oft inelegant mass of statistics and screens, which is one of the reasons I love it so, but there are many people who don’t want to decide whether to wear a tracksuit or shirt and tie before every match*, or to spend time (allegedly) teaching their dog to embezzle funds*. Those people say things like, “I still keep Champ Manager 1846 installed on every PC I own because back then all you had to do was pick the handsomest team and you’d win every time”. The modern game has excessive detail and options, they say, and Sports Interactive have listened. FM 2013 will have a streamlined Classic Mode.

A press conference revealed details of the game, which will be released in November. I’m not convinced it was a real press conference because if it was I would surely have been invited, waving my credentials and shouting things like: “Is Football Manager 2013 in crisis before its season has even begun and will the game occasionally generate random news stories/prose-poems about Mario Balotelli that resemble the laudanum-induced fever dreams of a Coleridgean brain-stem?” Never mind. Here’s the video.

Steam-centric network play should make multiplayer easier to set up for those not allergic to Steam and there’ll be plenty of minor changes as always, but Classic Mode is the big talking point and Miles Jacobson, SI’s managing director, explained its inclusion to The Guardian:

“We were having a big meeting with everyone on the FM team just after the release of FM 2011 and I asked how many were playing the game at home. Pretty much all of the younger guys put their hands up, but very few of the older ones – the ones with kids – did. So we decided there and then to make FMC a mode in the PC game, rather than a separate release.”

If the mode can capture the simplicity of the older desktop and current handheld versions of the game without sacrificing the quality of simulation that the PC version has built up over the years, it could be a fine thing indeed. I’d quite like the option of enabling and disabling specific features rather than having two distinct modes, but that might actually be possible with the addition of further roles within a club, including Directors of Football who will take away responsibility for and control of contract negotiations. Then they’ll probably take away your responsibility for buying and selling players, speaking to the press, and turning up at the training ground and stadium, at which point you realise you are probably no longer the most important chap around and are most likely doomed to a future of meaningless punditry.

*not yet an actual option


  1. AmateurScience says:

    So classic mode is for old crusties who take one look at a modern FM game and run screaming? Sounds good to this old crusty*!

    *I’m 31

    • Zaxwerks says:

      …Well I’m 41 so I’m waaaaaaay beyond being “crusty” and into “totally scabby with a slight smell of rising damp”. The last Football Manager I played was Football Manager 1 on the Commodore 64… I’ve heard they’ve become slightly more complex since then…

      In defense of my age I can still scream “Die you mother-fudging alien scum!!!!!!” whilst blasting hordes of the aforementioned “alien scum” to splatty death on my PC… I just don’t play PvP shooters as there comes a point when being repeatedly killed in under 6 seconds by a 12 year old can be a little soul destroying.

    • Andy_Panthro says:

      I started out on CM 00/01, so not quite as crusty and old (I’m 29), but would love a classic mode. I’m currently playing a little bit of FM2012, but it takes so long to do anything it wears away my patience. Thankfully even in FM2012 you can turn off the 3D match engine and have flashing text boxes instead, which partially helps.

      • Gothnak says:

        Last CM/FM i sunk far too much time in was Championship Manager 3…. Since then all the stats have made my eyes glaze over and winning one match 3-0 and then losing three in a row 1-0 with absolutely no idea why my team of highly rated stars can’t play together makes me turn it off…

        The other option was to stick with the current game, but tell me WHY i lost, and then allow me to fix it, but this will do as a stop gap.

  2. jha4ceb says:

    Hoping for some commentary soon on the “pay for the cheat codes” nonsense they’re introducing, too: link to pcgamesn.com

    • Premium User Badge

      Adam Smith says:

      I’ll probably wait ’til I get my hands on it to write about that. It does sound like a load of nonsense, but it’s also nonsense I’d no doubt completely ignore and it should be entirely possible to do that. Seeing how Classic mode is implemented will show whether the unlockables and shortcuts are at the heart of it or not. Obviously I’m hoping not.

      And if having the option to pay for changes means cutting back on the possibilities of the editor I’ll be very unhappy with SI. We shall see.

    • NathanH says:

      Hopefully they’ll also include the ability to pay 99p to bribe the referee and the opposing team, for the fully authentic Olympiacos experience.

  3. Flukie says:

    I love Tycoon style games but can’t stand football, would I like this?

    • Guvornator says:

      It actually got me into football, so probably yes. The classic mode sounds just the ticket. Although it won’t be a proper classic mode unless you can only rage quit by restarting your PC. Risk technological melt down on your computer or have to spend the rest of the game with your 1st round defeat by a team worth the same a one of your superstars’ weekly wage? The choice is easy…

      • Ian says:

        FM got you into football? Was it a fairly gradual process of watching more as you got more into the game or once you realised you really liked FM did you just start watching football and it clicked?

        • Fishbreath says:

          For me it was the exposure to tactics: prior to FM, it was just a bunch of guys running around after a ball. After I’d played FM for a month or two, I started to see the strategic depth on real fields, too.

          Now, I’m what you might refer to as a Yank, so I still think your football is a sport that’s best when you just watch the highlights, but fortunately Football Manager does precisely that.

          • Premium User Badge

            Adam Smith says:

            Inverting the Pyramid by Jonathan Wilson is my favourite book about the history of football tactics. Absolutely fascinating. I mentioned it in the WIT of FM 2012, specifically how much I’d like to see FM introduce historical leagues and tactical evolution in the style of OOTP Baseball.

            Also, as someone further down the comments said, an American Football management game with SI’s depth would be incredible. Surely there’s a market for that.

          • Guvornator says:

            This, essentially, plus I really wanted to see what all these people actually looked like. in spite of it just being a spread sheet it really sucks you to believe your team is a bunch of human beings. A sign of a true FM fan is the happy glow when your (real life) club signs some obscure guy that those nitwits on MOTD haven’t heard about but has been banging them in on a regular basis for your FM team. It’s also why i have a soft spot for this guy link to en.wikipedia.org .

          • Fishbreath says:

            Adam, there’s actually some history with front office-style American football games: EA put out NFL Head Coach in ’06 and ’09; to my understanding, ’06 was crap because it was built on the Madden engine, which simulates a sport kind of, but not entirely, unlike American football. ’09 was actually a pretty decent game, since it had its own engine, but I guess ’06 had tainted the market so badly that ’09 flopped too, and so there’s been nothing since. Before EA got the exclusive NFL license, there was greater variety in the American football head coach/general manager simulation field; since EA got the license, there’s been a drought.

            Too, part of the fun of Football Manager is that there’s a ton of foot-to-ball played all around the world, so I can dive in and coach a Swedish part-time team to the extremely limited form of glory they are capable of attaining. With American football, your options are high school and college teams, which don’t have the contract/salary cap management fun, the NFL, which only has 32 teams and cost EA $300 million to secure**, or imaginary teams, which I’d play to death* but a lot of people would find dull.

            * Back in Madden ’06 or so, the last one I played for any length of time at all, there was a franchise mode setting called ‘fantasy draft’, which gave you a list of all the current players and had you pick a team. I remember my Gettysburg Generals with great fondness.
            ** It extends through 2013. Maybe the world of American football games will open up again?

      • Leandro says:

        FM also got me back into football after my football-less teenage years, and I’ve played every game since FM08. I agree it was the tactical aspect and the subtle interactions in the sport that FM forces you to pay attention to, and the way it slowly immerses you in the football universe.

  4. grimpunch says:

    Eww, football…

    • Marty123 says:

      Nothing beats American Football. SOCCER on the other hand is pretty awful to watch. Just awful.

      • spedcor666 says:

        I’m sure you’re right but I’ve never seen much of American football. It doesn’t seem all that popular outside of the USA.

      • jesse9o3 says:

        Are you really saying that American Hand-egg is better then football! Football is the most popular sport ever and american hand-egg is played by 1 country. In football you can have 3 goals in under 5 minutes in hand-egg you get 4 tries to run 10 yards. I’m British and could name players from the Argentinian second league however I can only name One Hand-egg player; Tom Brady and I only know him from Simpson/Fam Guy.

      • orionstar says:

        You should really affix this with a comment like, YMMV or something similar.

        I like both. I like football more than handegg though, and I feel like it’s weird comparing American football with football in the first place.

        A more apt comparison would be with rugby.

  5. luckystriker says:

    FM 2012 was probably the best in series so I certainly have high expectations for this year’s iteration. Classic mode should be pure win for playing network games with friends. Oh, the fun times I had playing 23 seasons with a mate over 1 year of real-time back in CM2.

    • jesse9o3 says:

      I think that FM 2012 was best and my 793 hours speak for them selves, They’re almost half my steam hours. (would be more but I have FM 11 and 12 as well)

  6. NathanH says:

    Once a year, at midnight, whe the moon is full, I sacrifice a virgin, howl at the moon, and adjust my Training Schedules.

    Hopefully the modders who added the English 7th and 8th tiers will go further down to 9th this time so I can play as Durham again.

  7. RogB says:

    the modern game? does it simulate ‘fergie-time’ ?

    • Andy_Panthro says:

      It’s a quick-time event, where you have to tap your watch to add/remove precious seconds (depending on current score) from injury time.

  8. DiamondDog says:

    Let someone else negotiate contracts? Are you mad? How am I going to save money if I can’t dupe that stupid over-the-hill midfielder of mine into taking reduced wages for a vastly inflated appearance fee and a goal bonus (a goal bonus! he hasn’t scored since 1998! idiot). Then just leaving the sucker on the bench until he starts crying and says he wants to leave.

    Which in reality is what I wanted in the first place, but apparently offering him around for the princely sum of £0 was too steep for all those other bastard managers in my league. The guy is the size of a fridge and can barley walk but thinks he’s slumming it in League Two because he’s the embodiment of fucking Ossie Ardiles or something. So oh no a mutual termination is out of the question. And severing his contract would cost about fifty billion pounds. The utter bastard.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      I’ve found the worthless lumps will usually offer mutual termination about a year after you’ve listed them as unwanted and tried in vain to shop them around. In the meantime, you might be able to loan them out and get 50% of their wages.

  9. sonofsanta says:

    The man on the left in the still frame of that video is doing an excellent impression of Max Payne 1 there.

  10. Jac says:

    The major thing I’d want for this version is the ability to switch to touch fiendly controls in anticipation of win8 intel tablets.

    Other than that I pray they’ve worked on the press conferences so it isn’t just the same pointless questions. I think the ability to select stats from the past match and build them into a response would be good. Or even have the questions use them.

    Similarly when random manager X suddenly spouts off about all the riches at my disposal. Would be good to able to select the net transfer spend stat o show that I’d actually spent -5m compared to his 50m.

  11. Atic Atac says:

    Am I the only one thinking this shouldn’t be a full price release every year? I’d go for it if it was 30 Euros and not 50 on Steam.

    • Dark Nexus says:

      50 Euros? Wow… It’s $40 USD on Steam in North America.

    • pertusaria says:

      This is the only game so far that I’ve bought via Amazon’s well-known blind spot about where you actually live; I paid about 30 dollars. Its price seems to drop fairly quickly over the year if you don’t buy directly from Steam, even if you don’t catch it on sale.

      Also, I think they kind of price in the idea that only the most devoted fans will buy a full new version every year. 50 zorkmids every two years is not *that* expensive.

  12. Jubaal says:

    Please someone do a kickstarter for Blood Bowl type version of Football Manager. I would literally pay monies for it!

  13. tangoliber says:

    Make something to this level of depth for American Football please. Thanks.

    • Sparkasaurusmex says:

      I love Football Manager, but I would never stop playing if there was a US Football manager game.

    • Guvornator says:

      I think it has the potential to be even deeper than FM. Do you call the plays or let your assistants do it? Let your QB tweak on the field plays or make the flash bugger stick to the script? 4th and 1 – go for it?

    • Ian says:

      A thousand times this. I bounced off the interface of whatever ancient version of Front Office Football I downloaded at the time. In conversations about this you hear about there not being a market for it in the US but I refuse to believe that’s the case.

      Doesn’t help that there isn’t even Madden on PC at the moment for me to indulge my NFL-gaming needs.

      As Guv says above me, it’d probably be even deeper than FM to boot given how much more micro-management you’d need to do during the game.

    • Temple says:

      Someone go play this for me please and let us (meeeeeee) know :)
      link to sportsmogul.com (supposedly free…)

      Ah, 2007 is its latest? link to solecismic.com
      (ah but apparently he release updates)

  14. JiminyJickers says:

    I bought FM2012 after the write up here but sill havent played it, haha.

    Maybe I should wait until or FM2014 or -15 before I move to the next one.

  15. Unaco says:

    Whither Ian Football, by the by? I thought Alec was going to “go the distance” with that one?

    I don’t think he realised it was a game of two halves.
    With the first few parts, it was a dream start for Alec. But at the end of the day, he stumbled on the home stretch.
    He didn’t give it his all, certainly not the 110% needed to finish the game diary.
    When he set out his stall, his head was in the right place, but I’m not sure his heart was.
    There are no easy games (diaries) at RPS, and on paper, it should have been finished, he should have gone the distance, and got to the final whistle.
    But, at the end of the day, Alec must have been sick as a parrot to be going down that easily.

    • ocelotwildly says:

      I was pretty excited by the prospect of Ian Football as well, but alas by the second article I thought Alec’s weariness towards the round ball code began to show through. I think unless football is a passion, either prior to playing or developed as you get to grips with the game, its hard to engage with the FM series. It must be pretty wearing to suffer defeat after defeat and not be sufficiently versed in tactical lore to address it.

      Also, in the first 3 parts I think we had only been taken up to the first competitive game of the season. In FM terms that is barely dipping your toe in the shallow end. A season by season game diary would probably give you a lot more in the way of narrative ups and downs, but obviously requires the kind of wild abandonment of spare time, social life and sanity that only a true FM veteran can understand.

  16. Jimbo says:

    Yes plz! I really enjoyed these games circa Champ Man 2, but just bounce off them whenever I try to play the new versions.

    Might be a neat idea to have another mode where you could start at ‘Classic’ level of complexity, and gradually introduce the other mechanics as the seasons progress or as you take tougher jobs. Kinda like a career / RPG mode. It would be a good way of letting the players they’ve lost over the years get back up to speed with where the series currently is.

  17. MacTheGeek says:

    Maybe Sports Interactive can finally make enough money this year to develop a new version of Eastside Hockey Manager. Pleezpleezpleezpleezpleez….