Hello and welcome to the latest instalment of Football Manager Ambition.
This time, I'm going to give you a quick update on my FM18 campaign, as I have finished the 2026-27 season.
Also, with the hype already starting about Football Manager 2019, I'll share a few hopes and fears.
As most of us FM gamers will already be turning our thoughts to FM19, even though it's a quarter of a year away, I thought it might be appropriate today to have a particular type of...
GREAT FOOTBALL MANAGER QUOTES
"There are only two ways for me to leave Chelsea. One way is in June 2010 when I finish my contract and if the club doesn't give me a new one. The second way is for Chelsea to sack me. The way of the manager leaving the club by deciding to walk away, no chance!"
~Jose Mourinho on changing jobs. Eight years later, only one game into the new season for Jose and Man U, and we're already wondering if season three syndrome is kicking in.
Fortunately for me, it doesn't look like I'm in line for the sack on my FM save. The Sheffield Wednesday board are delighted with me.
Perhaps this is because - apparently - I have won a "quadruple"! Really? Erm... not quite...
I don't think many football fans would seriously try to count the Community Shield and the World Club Championship as part of a quadruple! Still, winning the Premier League and the Champions League again is a pretty awesome achievement. However, it was far from straightforward. Man City pushed me all the way in the league, and I fell lucky when they slipped up against West Ham near the end of the season. I needed to beat Southampton on the last day to win the league. I drew 1-1, but somehow Man City conspired to lose 2-3 at home to ten-man Wolves! I won the league with a bit of a whimper, really. Still, the league table doesn't lie, as they say...
I had real disappointment in the domestic cups, losing home and away to Liverpool in the League Cup, and getting thrashed yet again by Spurs in the FA Cup. Spurs are becoming my bogey team on this save!
I was probably a bit unlucky at times in the League Cup, and probably a bit overconfident. But the way Spurs seem to be able to cruise past me in the cups is something I need to address.
In a future post, I'll update you on how the pre-season goes. But for now, it's time to talk about FM19!
HOPES AND FEARS
First, let's talk about FM17. Yes, 17. Football Manager 17 was a beautiful game. By far the best iteration of the game so far. The matches played well, tactics worked, player personalities seemed realistically balanced. It was possible to get great results if you put your mind to it, and possible to be humiliated if you didn't concentrate. Importantly, it never felt like there was hidden manipulation in matches. Great game.
When SI played up a huge fanfare about FM18 and it's slew of new features, I like many FM gamers was pretty excited about it. However, FM18 was, by comparison with 17, a huge disappointment. The number of bugs in the game that still remain unresolved (or 'under review' if you look at the bugs forum) is astonishing. There are certain elements of the game I simply refuse to use - the match plans feature has proven an epic fail (if you haven't experienced the bugs on this, just go to SI's FM18 bugs forum). Pre-match tactical briefings seemed like a great idea, but the way they work means they are less useful to managers like myself who always clear team selection after a match, and do not pick the team again until the last minute. Furthermore, the content of the briefings is a bit vanilla. It looked like it would be a great addition to the game in principle, but in execution added little or nothing to game play. Tactical familiarity was changed so you could only see it when a team selection was picked. I kind of understand the reasoning behind that, but again, for managers like me who use a lot of squad rotation, it became redundant. There was also the well-documented problems with trying to get highlight packages uploaded to YouTube etc (again, see SI's bugs forum).
The worst part of FM18, for me, was what appeared to be a change to the match engine. Now, as I've said in an earlier blog post, I do not understand or want to understand how the game works 'under the hood'. But the matches in FM18 feel very different to FM17, and one particular thing I noticed was this: My team over-performs. I often beat teams that, on paper, are better than my team. But on the occasions I lose against better sides, it seems to be because my Europe-conquering SWFC team suddenly play like a Vanarama league's youth team reserves, rather than the other team out-playing me. My players will, for no apparent reason, put the ball out of play, or stand still and let an opponent tackle them, or just play the ball to an opponent, etc. It feels as though some 'balancing mechanism' was introduced into the match engine to try to make it more difficult to beat better teams, that works by making the lesser team worse than they actually are. I know people will disagree with me on this, but I am simply making an observation based on twenty years of playing CM / FM very intensively.
My fears for the upcoming FM19 spring from the fact that SI failed to spot the bugs in 18 before releasing the game on sale, and then failed to correct them - which is why many of the bugs are still marked as 'under review', nine months after the game was released. SI make a lot of money from these games. They need to address this issue if long-time players are not to lose loyalty to the brand, and if newer players are not to be lured away by games like FIFA.
As for my hopes - what would I like to see from FM19? If you've read my previous blog posts, you'll know I have a pretty idiosyncratic approach to the game. So this is bound to inform my hopes. Things I'd like to see include:
Greater complexity and choices in team talks, press conferences, and interactions with staff, players and agents.
A better, less 'forced' match engine.
A new tactical interface. I'd like to see an end to giving players named tactical roles and duties, and simply cover all that with player instructions. Every player instruction should be open to choose for each player. This will allow huge innovation, but will also make it more of a challenge for gamers. The pre-sets just don't reflect how the game works in real life. Real footballers don't come with pre-sets.
But most of all, my hope is that SI get the new game properly playtested, and iron out the bugs before full release. It's morally reprehensible to sell a product knowing it doesn't work properly.
Having said all that, I have eventually enjoyed FM18 very much - once I accepted the fact that certain parts of the game had to be avoided because of the bugs. Let's hope FM19 is a classic.
Thanks for stopping by. See you next time!