If you're not into football or think watching a group of circles round a screen sounds dull then maybe you haven’t played a Football Manager game. If you have then forgive me as I’ll start from where every manager needs to, and that is the beginning.
While FIFA or Pro Evolution focus on controlling players on the pitch in Football Manager you are the... well manager. You choose a club from the huge database of teams from across the world and you genuinely have this choice. You could play as a top club like Manchester United or do what I once did and take charge of a team of semi professionals in Blue Square North or South. If you want you can even start unemployed and see what happens. The one time I did that I ended up managing a club at the bottom of the Dutch second division. The key point I'm trying to make is that you can take charge of anyone and there is the potential to do anything.
So how do you go about doing this? It's all about using your mind. You need to buy and sell players, choose your coaching staff and decide your training regime, pick the team and choose the pre match tactics. You then take charge of your team during matches, changing players, tactics and formations when you want to. Of course you don't sit there for 90 minutes watching your players do their thing, the game selects the match highlights which usually consist of goals, chances, and bookings. Win matches and you'll see your team going up the league and the board will be pleased. You could attract the interest of other clubs. However if the board feel you're not doing well enough you'll get sacked. But as in the real game of football this isn't the end. Eventually another club will come along and you can start again. Or you can just start the game again.
This may not sound too appealing to some, and I wasn't interested until I first played Football Manager 2005 but once you're hooked, you'll be hooked for life. I believe an addiction to Football Manager cost me a better mark in my university degree. But starting a career with Exeter in the Conference before eventually taking Liverpool to the Premier League and taking Wales to two World Cups. But enough of my personal achievements how is 2009 different to the previous incarnations?
First of all there's a lot more interaction with the press. Now it's not just a case of one journalist asking you one question before a match. You'll now have to do the occasional press conference where questions come thick and fast. The journalists will remember what you have said in the past and will try to use it against you if they want to, so you need to be careful with what you say to the press. So it's just like being Sir Alex Ferguson or Rafa Benitez! You can also storm out if you so which.
The biggest improvement has come with help from your assistant manager during a match. Click on his report at anytime and he'll give you a rundown of who is playing well and who is playing badly, weather players look like they are comfortable with positions and tactics and he'll suggest weaknesses of your opponents that could be exploited. It certainly gives you much more to think about which arguably makes the game more involving.
The only new feature that hasn't worked so well is the introduction of a 3D Match engine. I found it slow and unresponsive so players on lower end PC's may find they want to use the option to switch back to the traditional 2D Match Engine.
At the end of the day if you're already a Football Manager fan, it's very likely you will buy this game and get addicted. If you\'re not into football then the game probably isn\'t for you. However, if you've never played the game but enjoy football and discussing managers decisions in the pub, then maybe you should try your hand at management yourself.
You won't regret it.