Over the past two years ‘Football Manager’ has evolved into a simulation of Football Management in the real world, each edition adding more details and ability to control your strategy as you would in the real game. Over the past couple of years the match engine has grown in its ability to recreate your tactical instructions effectively and long we hope this continues. This year’s Sports Interactive looks to build on the good work gone before the hold of tactics on the game is surely dead?
Football Management tactics are dead
Ok, so I have grabbed your attention with such a bold statement. But one thing you will discover if you watch football closely or have read the fantastic ‘Inverting the Pyramid‘ that tactics within football have stalled. There has been little change for the past 10 years of football tactically. No revolution in terms of football since Saachi’s universality system and application of zonal marking and pressing. Indeed we have had a slight evolution and adaptations of systems but nothing that has radically changed the landscape of football.
Obviously football tactics have their place, when you are looking to outwit your opposition. Gone have the days of system naivety where you could place your best players onto the pitch and just tell them to go out and enjoy themselves.
It could be argued that the biggest move in football has come from player preparation.
The importance of preparation
For the last few years as Sports Interactive have perfected their match engine and worked on their tactical wizard, it has become more and more important to get your tactics perfected. Often you will hear complaints that a Chelsea team is failing to break midtable, often the reply being “It’s your tactics”. I feel that 80% of success is based on match day, 20% on preparation as it currently stands.
But with football in such a mature state it is hard to see where innovation and advantage will come. But if you believe Roberto Mancini then the revolution of the game will be in preparation before games. At the top they need to be fitter, stronger, technically better and a lot more intelligent as a team than ever before. Michael Owen’s pure pace won’t cut it at the top neither would Duncan Ferguson’s sheer physical presence. Instead just like Didier Drogba need to be strong, but also possess pace and stamina to keep up with the game.
The training and preparation element of Football Manager have failed to keep up with the advances it has made elsewhere, could Sports Interactive be about to join football with its own revolution?
But can the new overhaul of training address this imbalance?
Miles Jacobson was first to admit that the reasoning behind the lack of development in training is that they never knew where to take it. For the game it performed its job, it was simple and it got simple results giving small advantages when used effectively.
But this has meant that gamers either left training at its defaults (the approach that I took), a schedule made at the start and left for the duration of your game or someone else do it for you (i.e. tubs). But these players spend are in training full-time, preparing and having meetings in order to get themselves ready for games. You’d expect more in return knowing that these full time professionals were working their binary hard.
Simulating this in the game will not only start to help rebalance what has effectively become the difference between the top clubs in the world. Milan’s last Champions League winning side was populated by players over 30 and still in great condition. The Milan Lab helping create a preparation plan to make the best of their resources
Going back to gameplay though, this new overhaul of training and match preparation will give us more depth and strategic approach to the game. Instead of pressing continue until match day, more thought and strategy into training and preparation that will hopefully be worth more on match day helping us immerse ourselves deeper into the game world.
Blending the team together has always been something you could only done on the pitch in previous years, but it is obvious that players will see each other each day in training, being able to bed them in their in an effective strategy could give us more advantages than ever before and could improve Football Manager 2011 twofold. It will be interesting to see what other information comes out from the game and how all this will practically play out in the future, but it is encouraging to see the game to continue develop as a strategy game. What I find most interesting though is the developments in Football itself and how Sports Interactive can identify and replicate the future of football.