A glance at my Steam library shows that I have spent 7,986 hours playing Football Manager since the 2011 edition was released. That’s 332.75 days — roughly 11 months — of scouting players, tweaking tactics and scrapping plans when things go awry. This doesn’t even consider my pre-Steam gameplay. I’ve played the Football Manager games since before they were called Football Manager, my first being Championship Manager 01/02. Aging myself considerably there.
I’ve seen the introduction of the 2D match view, press conferences, the 3D match view and many other features over the years. Sports Interactive work tirelessly every year to find ways to improve the realism of the game and the scouting system they use to create the game is often so accurate you can predict the big stars in the real world many years in advance – Cristian Pavon of Boca Juniors has been a favourite of mine for a couple of years now. Every year, usually around September, SI announce the new features to the game and these are just a few that we’d like to see in Football Manager 2019.
1. Bring back the ability to create training programs
The skills required for a central defender are completely different to those asked of a winger, so why can’t we adjust their training accordingly? It’s true that you can give your players individual training regimes, but that’s not in-depth enough. Give your full backs speed exercises, your strikers finishing exercises and your central midfielders passing exercises. The mini-games available in FIFA are a great tool suited to that game but being able to create and then assign fully tailored training regimes would really help with those of us who micro-manage our teams on FM.
2. Allow managers to interact with fans
The social feed on Football Manager wasn’t met with much enthusiasm when it was launched in FM17. Mostly because it was pointless: you could see what people have to say but couldn’t interact with them. A way to improve this would be to add in functionality like the press conferences and player conversations. A fan doesn’t like the players you’re looking to sign? Reassure them that you’ve done your homework. A news story linking you with another job? Release a statement that you’re not interested. A player wants to leave the club? Post a vague meme relating to their behaviour (a sore point for me after a player at the club I support engineered a last-minute move just this weekend).
3. Improve the options in tactics
Tweaking a tactic is a tool all managers will use on a regular basis throughout a season. Get it wrong and you’ll face humiliating defeat but get it right and you’ve turned around that bad spell for your team and will begin your surge back up the table. The system available is good but it could be better. You select one system and a selection of instructions for your team, and then can personalize the system to each position on the park.
One improvement that would be great to see is if it were possible to choose a tactic for when your team has the ball and one when your team doesn’t have the ball. In possession, your fullbacks become wingbacks and rush up the pitch to create chances, out of possession they drop back and mark their opponents tightly. It would add nuance to the game that’s sorely lacking.
4. Allow managers to “tap up” players
It’s severely bad form for managers to tap up a player from another club. What that means is contacting the player regarding a transfer without discussing the deal with their club. It happens occasionally, but it’s not something that you can do in Football Manager. It’s not strictly within the confines of transfer rules but it would be a great addition to Football Manager. A manager can contact a player and discuss the prospect of their signing for your club prior to making a bid. The player could then begin to engineer a transfer from within, something that does occasionally happen with players becoming keen on a move to somewhere else, often a bigger club.
This could drastically affect the fee that would have to be paid to sign the player, in a positive manner for the player. It could also open the possibility of the manager getting caught by the governing body of whatever league they play in and then getting penalized, either with a transfer embargo or a fine. It would add another level of realism to the transfer market which SI have been steadily improving in recent years.
5. Introduce lucrative exhibition matches abroad
Every summer, the biggest clubs from Europe travel to the US and play several exhibition matches against one another as well as MLS clubs and occasionally the MLS All-Stars. It’s not something that is impossible in Football Manager now, but it is fiddly. It would make for a sure-fire money-making exercise for players as they try to build their clubs into the largest in Europe. The money made by Real Madrid and Tottenham this year was huge, far beyond the fees available to players of Football Manager when organising friendly matches in the game.
Adding this in as something which you could choose to participate in would really help in the growth of your chosen club and allow you to see players from the MLS that you may not have noticed before.
Every year Sports Interactive make improvements on the previous edition of Football Manager and every year we, the players, cry out for more. There’s only so much that the developers can do in 12 months and we have to be realistic in our expectations. That said, there’s nothing stopping them from adding in at least one of these suggested additions. We won’t know exactly what Football Manager 2019 will have to offer us until late September and I, for one, will be waiting with bated breath for the announcement.