Many of those, who watch football regularly, became an amateur coach right from their living room at least once in their life because they know exactly what the real coach did wrong in the match and they have the obvious right recipe for victory. If only they could tell him, their team could never lose again. Well, for many years, Sports Interactive has been giving all these “experts” a chance to prove their skills in their football life simulator, this year’s Football Manager 2021. Will you take the challenge?
Coaching with numbers and spreadsheets
If you like to draw graphs in your free time, analyze spreadsheets and your favourite program on your computer is Excel, you will feel at home here. Take me with a grain of salt, but the huge amount of data that the creators of Sports Interactive had to process into their title is astonishing.
After all, they have been working on their database and its improvement for many years, focusing not only on the most well-known and most watched leagues, but almost on the whole world. Their good work is an evidence of the fact that the Football Manager series is sometimes used by professional scouts and coaches for various model situations that they would like to try.
This minimalism will be greatly enjoyed by connoisseurs, who can’t even imagine their lives without footy, where on the other hand, an ordinary fan will probably be frightened by the number of statistics, charts and numbers in Football Manager 2021. Moving one day forward means studying all the fresh news from the team – training, pre-match analysis, interviews with journalists, finding reinforcements, selling players, negotiating with management, preparing tactics, youth competitions and many other more or less important things.
You can entrust most of your activities to your assistants and cut the administration to the bare minimum (unless you want to take care of everything by yourself), but artificial intelligence sometimes makes some unpleasant mistakes/decisions, so you have to keep an eye on it anyway. In that pile of possibilities, one could easily drown (whether in a good or bad sense), so before jumping into the new season, you must realize that the word “complexity” here does not serve as an ornament or an advertising motto but as a warning to naive players.
It will be very difficult for newcomers to jump on the running train, while veterans will find it difficult to find any major differences from the previous part, which is probably the biggest problem of the Football Manager 2021 project.
Coach with emotions
I consider gestures to be the biggest and most visible change, with the help of which you can add weight to your words in the dressing room, personal interviews or at press conferences. You can show your dissatisfaction with the game like Sir Ferguson and throw drinking bottles at the players, wave a finger in front of their face or pump your hands energetically while cheering. The individual actions thus bring life to the somewhat artificial dialogues you conduct. What makes up the feeling of making a fool out of a journalist you don’t like? Maybe just an angry slap on the table and a demonstrative departure. The media image you create around you will also be reflected in the atmosphere in the dressing room, so choose wisely.
Among other innovations, we have to commend the creator for better pre-match analysis, including of the so-called xG factor (number of expected goals) or the player’s mood on the field. So you can immediately read the impression the player gives on the field and whether your tactics work on your opponent or not. It gives you an option not having to watch the whole match in simplified graphics, in which you would sometimes close your eyes in horror (although less than last year). I understand that the match preview should only work demonstratively, but the actions of the goalkeepers and the execution of their movements will still make you think you’re having a serious ‘live streaming’ issues.
At the same time, the interface with statistics from the match and coaching options can be fine-tuned so well, which will certainly help you with clarity and quick decision making.
Quality series with very little changes
In all other respects, however, the new part of the football simulation is similar to last year’s predecessor. In addition to regular adjustments of statistics, the creators did not interfere much with the well-established system. The graphical interface has also been kept the same, and therefore Football Manager 2021 could easily be confused with the last year’s edition. Once again, we can see the right example of the curse of sports games and their price/performance ratio here, similarly to FIFA 21 or NBA 2K21 (these, however, can bet on a next-gen upgrade and thus partially justify the investment in a new version).
Fans of the Football Manager simulator reviewed today may argue that their favourite is not far from perfect, which I would be willing to agree with. However, the question is why minimal changes are not solved by releasing a paid update rather as a full-fledged new game.
Football Manager 2021: Verdict
Overall, I have to give the Sports Interactive and their Football Manager 2021 thumbs up.Some may be wondering why the game is getting lower reviewing points by many reviewers. This may precisely be because of the relatively small number of introduced novelties that will be appreciated only by the most ardent fans of the series. For others, the difference isn’t huge.
However, if you have missed the last two seasons of proper football simulations, this will crtainly get you back in the seat. You would hardly find a better simulator of the professional coach’s life.
Football Manager 2021 was released on PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X / S and as part of the Xbox Game Pass on November 23rd.