Tasting more glory with Football Manager 2017

The assistant manager is a great help but you still need to make your own decisions sometimes.
The assistant manager is a great help but you still need to make your own decisions sometimes.PHOTO: SPORTS INTERACTIVE

Football Manager (FM) is the long-running football-management game franchise that lets you manage a football club.

To some critics, it is just an over-glorified spreadsheet with tonnes of players' statistics. But, for football fans, FM is the only way to taste glory.

Like annual iPhone or Fifa game releases, the new versions of FM often offer only incremental upgrades.

When you first load up the game, it looks and feels like FM 2016. But once you create your avatar and start playing as a manager, you will find that there are many changes.

The graphical interface may look the same, but it is now much easier to delve into the colossal statistics the game presents.

You now have data analysts that will help you consolidate, before and after matches, information such as players' performance, tactics and assist type. Everything is in one single page for easy reading.

  • 9/10

    RATING

    PRICE: $55 (PC, version tested; Mac)

    GENRE: Football management simulation

The best thing to do is to hire a great assistant manager to advise you on how to make tactical changes, as tactics that worked well in previous FM games won't work in every match.

For instance, your assistant manager can counsel you on formation, tactics, mentality and so on. It is presented in an e-mail option. All you have to do is to click Apply to his suggestions. No more having to go back and forth to the tactics section to make changes. I found this a much-needed time saver.

The opposition manager's artificial intelligence is also much improved. He will change formation, play mentality and make timely substitutions to counter your changes. There is no way you can start a match, grab a cup of coffee and expect a win.

Again, having a great assistant manager helps as he will prompt you about the changes required. So you can act on them quickly.

That said, your assistant manager is not always right. There are times when my instincts took over and made decisions counter to his suggestions. And I was proved right in the end. So, you still need to read the game well.

The graphics quality of the matches has been improved in FM 2017. While clearly not on a par with Fifa or Pro Evolution Soccer, the players' movements, build-up play and goals are more realistic than in earlier editions. This allows you to read the match better and react faster with better decisions.

For example, if your defender is making too many mistakes, you might want to substitute him.

On the downside, the before- and after-match interviews remain the same. It presents the same conversation options that I have been answering in the past versions.

On the upside, there is a new social media feed, whereby you can read about fans complaining or rejoicing over your decisions or buys. It adds some realism to the game and provides some feedback to your reign.

But ultimately, just like in real life, you will ignore these social media comments and concentrate on picking your best 11 for match day.

•Verdict: There is no other game that will make you think which player you want to buy during your daily commute or while in the bathroom. Get Football Manager 2017 if you are a football fan.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 23, 2016, with the headline 'Tasting more glory with Football Manager 2017'. Print Edition | Subscribe