Taking the reigns at Glasgow Rangers is not an easy job, but when this year’s Football Manager arrived for review, it was the only job for me. Never did I think that I’d be taking over the hotseat of my team as a fallen giant, but in a way it’s a dream come true, to take this once great team back to the heights they used to be at. Things didn’t quite go to plan.
While Football Manager 2014 offers a more streamline experience, making transfers easier and news quicker to digest, it doesn’t pick your team for you, or make you win. That’s down to you, and if you don’t have it then you’re going to be in for a long disappointing season. Thankfully you do have an assistant, dispensing extremely useful advise throughout your match, telling you that you need to close players down or change tactics to make more use of all the possession your team has. All of this advise is like gold dust, although not so much when you are 4-0 down to East Fife and your players look like they wouldn’t recognise a football if it hit them on the face.
What’s brilliant and equally frustrating about Football Manager is that you can go on a ten game unbeaten run and all of a sudden you’l lose the next game 5-0. Just as you think you had your tactics and players sorted for the season, injuries or loss of form come along and everything goes pear shaped. You’ll search the transfer market, but either you’ll have to pay too much or the player just won’t be interested in joining a team in the lower Scottish divisions, and who can blame them when it’s the throws of winter and the winds in the north of Scotland could cut through a sheet of ice.
So you struggle throughout the season with the same team, you should be able to win every game given that you have a budget 42 times the size of every other team in the league, but for some reason your team just can’t win. What’s most frustrating is that all of the tools are there. Football Manager 14 has a wonderfully streamlined system that allows you to select tactics on the fly, while also allowing players to select individual instructions, give team talks, give individual training and even teach players how to play in different positions. You also have access to both your under 19 teams and your reserve squad. So the options are there, the world is your oyster, however no matter whether you have a bigger budget than everyone else or not, at the end of the day it’s still 11 vs. 11 on the park and if you don’t have the tactical sense to win the match, then you’re not going to get very far.
What I love most about Football Manager is the matches. Each year the match engine seems to get better and better, allowing you to watch the match as it plays out in front of your eyes. My team plays with style, passing the ball fluidly, stringing passes together with ease before hitting the bar, firing over the cross bar or aiming the ball everywhere but between the sticks. I get the feeling that my team needs a new striker, though no matter what player I buy, the goals seem as illusive as ever.
Perhaps the greatest change to this year’s football manger is that is doesn’t keep you waiting. Previous games have always been full of information, although it was always a bit of a task to digest it all before moving on to your match. Now it’s easy, everything is in front of your eyes and then once it’s all been taken in you’ll be into the match, shouting instructions at your team and pulling your hair out at the same time. Now you’ll know why a real manager seems to get grey hair so quickly after taking on a new job.
Other areas to Football Manager 14 include the returning Online Mode and a Classic Mode, the latter of which allows for a lighter experience, although I’m more a fan of sticking to the main mode and watching all of the action play out, as often in Classic Mode it does feel like the results of the match are out with my control. As for the online mode, well I have to admit to trying it but not really enjoying it too much. For me Football Manager is a single player experience and I’ve always enjoyed playing it in that way, although I’m sure many will enjoy pitting their skills against other players.
There is no point in me going into all of the intricacies of Football Manager 2014 because if you’ve played before then you’ll no doubt be purchasing this game or at least considering it and you’ll certainly already understand it. So what you really need to know is that Football Manager 2014 continues to evolve the series in the correct direction, making this year’s version the most streamlined and polished to date. If you’re a fan of Football Manager then you won’t be disappointed, well unless you’re team are as useless as mine.
(Version Tested: PC)
+ More Streamlined
+ More Realistic than ever
+ Highly Addictive
- Highly Addictive