Video Game: Football Manager

Football Manager: because the guy in suit is always the one that matters.
Football Manager, formerly known in the USA and Canada as Worldwide Soccer Manager, is a football management sim where, unlike games such as the FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer series, you control all the management aspects of the club rather than actually controlling the players on the pitch itself. It's up to the player to buy and sell players, control the finances, tactics and setup of the team as a whole.

The series is the successor of the hugely successful Championship Manager series of the 90's and early 2000's before the split between Eidos and Sports Interactive in 2004. Sports Interactive managed to retain everything but the name and Football Manager (now distributed by Sega) displaced the Championship Manager franchise as the number one Football Management sim in the world. Championship Manager by contrast fell behind as Eidos had to start everything from scratch, and was discontinued from the 2010/11 season.

At least part of the game's success is due to the fact that almost any real life player can be loaded into the game, no matter how unaccomplished.

The games composing the FM series began with Football Manager 2005, which covered the 2004/05 European Football Season and so on up to the most recent release. They all ultimately have roots in the Ur-Example, 1982's Football Manager on the ZX Spectrum.

  • Football Manager Handheld (2006)
  • Football Manager Live (2008) - MMO style game with a dismal launch, was a huge failure for the company and was shut down in May 2011.

The games have examples of the following tropes

  • The Ace: Maxim Tsigalko in CM 01/02, the one player that almost everyone signed. He became so notorious for this, they even put it on his Wikipedia page.
    • To Madeira.
    • Your player character, if you are good enough. It reaches the point where you can apply for, say, the Barcelona job as the current Real Madrid manager and they will still beg for you to join them.
    • Of course, any of the best players in the world in real life, as they will be accurately modelled in the game.
  • Always Male: True for the actual footballers, but clubs can have female staff and players can play as female managers.
  • And the Adventure Continues: Forever!
  • Asbestos-Free Cereal: A variant of the trope is the the game being promoted by talking about an outlandish number (in the hundreds, and in the later versions, over 1000) of changes and updates, even if 99.99% of those updates are mere bug fixes or generic UI changes.
  • Audience Reactions: Many of these are played In-Universe by way of the News section.
    • And the Fandom Rejoiced: Whenever the player's team wins a significant cup or the player does a significant sign-up. invoked
      "As <Team>'s boss <Manager> completed the transfer of <Position> <Player>, delighted <Team> fans gathered outside the ground to rejoice."
    • Win the Crowd: Winning any official competition (such as a Cup or even the League itself) when the main objective is "stay clear of relegation". In the first management year. invoked
    • Win Back the Crowd: Whenever the player's team achieves something important after a bad season. invoked
    • 8.8: When the Board are only mildly happy about massive achievements like winning multiple trophies. invoked
    "The board revealed they always expected the team to win the competition. The board are keen to impress on the manager that celebrations are kept to a minimum in order that the club may focus fully on future challenges."
  • The Beautiful Game: What it's all about.
  • Bland-Name Product: Football Manager includes a lot of leagues and cups around the world, but a more believable amount of licenses, so there're competitions like the European Champions Cup instead of the UEFA Champions League.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Every team, as in Real Life.
  • Competitive Multiplayer: Any number of players can join in at any time, either on the same computer or on a network game.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Sorting your players by value, you'll often find most of the injuries happening to those listed higher up. The teams you face for international and continental competitions, however, don't have to worry about injuries in most installments and if they're part of a league you haven't selected. And they never have to worry about squad rotation either, since their players never get tired playing in their "ghost" league.
    • Losing a match after leading at half-time when the opposition go from horrible to playing like Brazil, and seeing the opposition players "praise their managers team-talk" in the news item brings up this reaction in people.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The player's team can can easily rout opposing teams if it gets good enough. It's usually much more common in friendly matches where the top teams play with the weaker and lesser league/non-league teams.
  • Difficulty Spike: Once SI took over, and all of the brilliant players that would go to Conference clubs were systematically axed, the game obviously got much harder. It still doesn't stop people from taking clubs from said Conference to the Champions League, though...
  • Down to the Last Play: Can happen quite often, as it can in real football.
  • Endless Game: Double Subverted. The player character manager ages, but will eventually stop ageing and is immortal.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin
  • Expy: Because of copyright disputes the un-modded German national team only selects "greyed-out" fictional players while German goalkeeper Oliver Kahn was renamed Jens Mustermann (the German equivalent of John Doe). Similar problems have existed with France and Japan among others.
    • This can easily be fixed by simply deleting a particular file.
  • Game Mod: There are extensive user-created additions to every game in the series, although none would be considered a true 'mod'. These additions range from updated databases, better logos and team shirts, additional leagues, expanding leagues below the currently playable leagues, and the creation of entire fictional countries such as the "Koana League".
    • Championship Manager 01/02 has an extensive modding site available that aims to keep the game up to date with the Squads, leagues and seasons of 2010/2011.
  • Guide Dang It: Some elements of the game require the user to look up detailed information to understand, like Training and Tactics. Quite a few nations have unusual playing conditions and rules and going in blind is a sure-fire way to get sacked. These can include:
    • Odd qualifying and playoff systems to decide champions, promotions or continental competition places. Holland's Eerste Divisie (2nd tier) has a promotion/relegation system where the 18th team in the 1st tier is replaced by the champions, but then has a promotion play-off that includes the 16th and 17th team's from the 1st tier, and then the best team in the four quarters of the seasons, and then next 4 highest clubs that weren't one of the top 4 from the quarters of the season, giving a 9 team playoff.
    • The Argentinian leagues have the average points system, where the two teams with poor average points are relegated to the Second Division.
    • Belgium has a system so bizarre across the entire league pyramid that you're better off just trying to win every match than bother trying to understand it.(TL:DR version: Everyone plays each other twice, then the league cleaves into 3 groups of six, deciding in order; The championship[1-6];mid-table[7-12];and who gets relegated[13-18])
    • Major League Soccer in the USA and the Australian A-League have atypical drafts, salary caps, squad size and nationality restrictions, play-off systems and special 'marquee' player slots.
    • Brazil's league system has multiple league competitions running as national, state and local competitions. Some of these also have splits and playoff systems not determined solely by final position. The main useful difference compared to European & Asian leagues is that the season takes place via calendar year.
      • An example for a 3rd division team playing in the Ceara State league. At the start of the year this team along with the rest of the country will play in the state league. The Ceara State League is split into an 'opening stage' and a 'closing stage', of 11 games each. After these 11 games the top 4 teams play in a straight knock-out to determine the winner of the stage. If the same team wins both the opening and closing stage finals, they win the State League title, but if not, then there is a final between the two teams. After this State League season, there is a three month gap for the 3rd division team, then the 3rd division starts. 3rd Division is split into 4 groups of 5 teams who play a total of 8 games. The bottom team is relegated to 4th Division, and the top 2 of each group then enter a second group stage comprised of two 4 team groups. The top two in each group are promoted to the 2nd Division, but there is a final played between the top team in the two groups to determine the champion.
      • If you play as a first or second division side, you still have to deal with your state league, there is also the Brazilian Cup, the very top teams play the continental competition Copa Libertadores instead of the Brazilian Cup, and then you play a typical 38 game league season for the First or Second Division trophy, making a season that can be over 80 games long. The season will start mid-January, the state league finishes in April, the 1st or 2nd Division starts in May, and doesn't end until early December with maybe a two week break at the end of the season before it begins all over again. It's not just tiring for the players, it's mentally tiring for the human manager especially towards the end of the season, as the manager has to juggle running the team in the current competition while simultaneously working toward improving the team for next season (which Division the club will be in may not even be confirmed yet), under the tight deadline of the quickly oncoming season.
    • The Korean leagues force the some of the teams' players to be sent to the military team at a given point every year. Luckily, however, this does not apply to the Korean players competing in non-Korean leagues.
    • Team talks are a major bug bear for many players, although once mastered they become extremely predictable, because there are only really a handful of typical variations on the match status, and some are simply obvious (such as a leading a weaker team to victory, you just praise the team for their win). Effectively there are two sets of three variations, the two sets being dependent on if your team is better or equal, or worse than the opposition.
      • If better, you assertively or passionately demand performances before the game, tell them not to get complacent if they are winning at half-time or won the game, and if they went behind or drew you can generally go apeshit nuts and yell at them angrily at half and full time.
      • If not as good as the other team, then calmly tell them to relax or not to fear the opposition, and then encourage or sympathise with them depending on how the game went at half-time or full time.
  • Immortality: The player character can technically live forever in the game and can only be removed from the game by retiring; see Endless Game above.
  • In Name Only: The current Championship Manager-descendants share the name of what was arguably the original football management sim, Addictive Games' "Football Manager". Massively successful when it came out in the early '80s, it spawned countless ports and a number of sequels before the series fizzled out in the early '90s. The current series is not directly related, although it is arguably the original's spiritual heir.
  • Just One More Level: Lampshaded in that there is a status screen which rates your addictiveness level the more hours you play, usually to play that extra game or win that cup final or make sure you have signed that star player. It is common for players to rack up hundreds of hours of playtime on the game, having games which span several in-game decades. The longest styled games such as the Country Hero challenges can last over a thousand hours.
  • Lethal Joke Character: RGOUR Minsk is a team in the fourth division of Belarus, a division so low that it is physically impossible to play in without a custom database, and the best player from their academy is probably the Zenit goalkeeper Yuri Zhevnov. However, this tiny club in a usually inaccessible league has a perfect 20/20/20 score in Youth Coaching, Facilities and Recruitment. To put this in perspective, Barcelona (producing Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas) have 20/20/19, Ajax (who produced Johan Cruyff and Marco van Basten) have 19/19/19, and Boca Juniors (with Diego Maradona and Carlos Tevez) have 18/19/20.
    • Taken to the logical extreme with the PowerGen Game Mod for the recent games - it gives every club - that is, every club, from Barcelona to Ajax to defunct Brazilian non-league club Novorizontino the same 20/20/20 scores.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Although this trope applies to all team sport games this one is probably the king of the trope, if you played football professionally or even semi-professionally anywhere in the world during the last season its more likely than not that you are in the game, considering football is the most popular sport in the world, that's a lot of people. The game also features the Managers, Board Directors and Members, Coaches, Physios, Scouts and even the guys who relay the pitch. Only somewhat subverted in that even with a cutting edge computer it may be impossible to load all the players in the database for a game and play at a reasonable speed. It's only somewhat subverted because even just loading a few leagues will still provide a lot of characters - you don't only get the first team, but the reserves and youth players at the clubs as well. Too add to that, certain free agents and the bigger players from leagues you haven't loaded may also appear in the game depending on what database size you choose. As the game progresses more and more "regens" (fake players) appear in the game world as well). The game itself recommends a maximum of 75,000 players, though depending on your computer you might be able to load twice as much without seriously impacting performance.
    • In terms of players included, the only significant omissions from the game are the those playing in the J-League system (regardless of nationality) since they don't have the license to the names (held by Konami as of 2012). Japanese players signed to foreign clubs are all included, however.
    • This also means that for every one wonderkid that SI/Eidos actually got right (Falcao, Aguero, Messi), nine were incredibly wrong. Madeira didn't even exist, Tsigalko ended his career due to persistent injuries, Cardenas, Cerrajero, Millan, Samba, Kerr, etcetera are all still unknowns...
  • Loads and Loads of Loading:
    • Loading times depend on how many leagues the current game has loaded. Loading up all of the available leagues can take up to 8 hours of loading time on a decent computer.
    • The passing of days, and how the player gets to matches. Usually done quickly so this is not a bad thing.
    • The march of computer technology has made modern versions much faster, especially when lesser levels of detail are used.
  • Nostalgia Filter: Championship Manager 01/02 is still arguably the most popular installment of the game (following whichever one was recently released).
    • One of the most popular fan-made skins is the Flexion theme (discontinued for 2013, sadly). It is actually the 2007 game's skin with the attribute hexagon included.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: The board and chairman can often feel like this. There are a range of options that require the human player to ask the AI board, and they will often deny them for no apparent reason. These can include: Denying the player a larger coaching staff. Refusing to build a new stadium when the old one is packed to capacity every match. Not allowing your scouts to visit other countries. Refusing to upgrade training facilities. Not entering into useful partnerships with other teams. Giving you a tiny wage or transfer budget. The ultimate example of this would be when a new chairman takes over a club, they may fire the human player from the team and replace them regardless of how well the player does with the team.
  • Sturgeon's Law: Applicable to young players. For each 10 young players the scouts find, only one of them is a great fit for the player's team, and the other 9, well...
    • It could be circumvented in earlier versions of the game (back when it was still Championship Manager). You see, the "newgens", or youngsters created by the game, were just younger versions of retired players. They had the same Potential Ability, position, nationality and a couple of Mental atributes. So, when Zinedine Zidane retired, a new French Attacking Midfielder would show up, with potential to be at least as good as him.
  • Wide Open Sandbox: The games apply this philosophy to the world of football/soccer, letting the player choose from any of thousands of clubs from anywhere in the world to manage. The victory conditions, such that they are, are framed in the form of "this is what the board/fans expect". There are no win conditions as such, meaning that the game can go on for decades of game time and months of real time. The player makes all the decisions the manager would in real life, making the game ideal for anyone who's sat down in front of Match of the Day and said something like "well, I'd have played him there" - this likely accounts for its popularity even in spite of the fact that it's complex enough to make Paradox Interactive think twice.
  • The World Cup: Of course.

Alternative Title(s):

Championship Manager