It's 3am and the scene is all too familiar. Another year, another Football Manager, another reason to lose sleep.
It's been interesting to follow the reactions to this year's Football Manager online. The game has always provoked strong emotions, not particularly surprising given the feelings football gives rise to. Steam reviews and other fan commentary reveal a split player base. There is a bit of unrest, even if there's nothing majorly wrong here. If it doesn't get censored by the almighty editor-in-chief (who bears the burden of being an Arsenal fan) we'd say Football Manager finds itself in the same situation as the Gunners. There is a great deal of potential here, but there's also the sense that a revolution and renovation is overdue.
We're not saying there haven't been changes made to Football Manager 2018. The new Dynamics feature helps illustrate squad building issues, social groups, and is a great tool for aspiring desktop gaffers.
Same as last year our first campaign was for a club we don't really have any strong feelings towards: West Ham United. We have a relatively good grasp of their players and it felt like there was room for improvement and growth there. The first season was largely disappointing, but having signed players like Jack Wilshere, Divock Origi, Claudio Bravo (a veteran keeper isn't a bad choice short-term) and a couple more, while managing to retain the best players already in the squad, we started to climb up the ranks the following year. It felt very familiar, which in itself is not a bad thing, Football Manager is a quality product, but much like Arsenal, as fans, we're itching for decisive changes.
As you'd expect you're getting a copy of Football Manager Touch, the more casual variation of Football Manager 2018 as part of the package. What's not included and instead exists as paid DLC is the data editor. Bad news if you're a fan of a smaller more obscure league where the scouting isn't of the same standard as, say, the English league system or the major leagues on the continent. It feels a bit petty to be honest, not that it costs a lot, it's just that it used to be included. Apart from the standard RPG-like career mode, there's a fantasy draft mode, online career, and create-a-club.
The scouting system has been updated, but we're not sure we're that keen on it. It's supposed to reflect real-world scouting, but we're not sure it does (other than that Man Utd scout who traveled to Iceland instead of Qatar to see an international friendly). There's simply a better level of knowledge of footballers around the world thanks to various video services and analysis software. It sometimes feels like you're unfairly punished for having rubbish scouts whereas there's a better base knowledge overall of what players are capable of as you'll soon google for the most talented wunderkids and bargains instead of doing the work inside of the game. Then again, that's always been the case.
A few areas persist as problematic in Football Manager. Press interaction gets repetitive and boring almost immediately as very little has changed in recent years. Sure, there are more transfer rumours plucked out of the air (a pretty accurate reflection of reality), but overall, there's the feeling that you only engage with it cause you don't want to risk your assistant saying something that will affect player or squad morale.