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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 run the tactical & club management aspects rather than actually controlling the players on the pitch. 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 began as the hugely successful Championship Manager series of the 90's and early 2000's. In 2004 developer Sports Interactive left the Eidos publishing stable while retaining everything from Championship Manager but the name. This lead to the release of Football Manager 2005, with subsequent yearly releases and various spin-offs into console & handheld markets. The built from scratch, heavily delayed Eidos funded Championship Manager 5 was widely panned, however the series limped on until the series final release in 2010.

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, within an extremely deep structure that involves multiple tiers of leagues from across the planet. It also has widespread editing support allowing people to create leagues & player sets even deeper than the game itself is built with. It is also quite simple to edit in new graphics, logos, player faces to increase immersion.

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 Mobile, originally called 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.
  • Football Manager Touch (2016) - the Classic Mode of Football Manager 2013, 2014 and 2015 as a standalone game. First appeared in 2015 as Football Manager Classic, only being available for tablet devices.

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.
    • The same edition also featured Cherno Samba, a cheap player who would become one of the best a few years down the line. He became so popular that a mobile phone provider cut the delivery time on a new phone to next-day delivery, rather than the normal two to three months, upon learning who the recipient would be.
    • To Madeira.
    • Eder Álvarez Balanta is a modern example, being the best defender in the game in the 2014 and 2015 versions, and one of the most cost-effective in 2016.
    • 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.
    • Anatoli Todorov. He had godlike scoring ability, and paired with Supat Rungratsamee (a near Ace himself) they were good enough to virtually assure the title wherever you played.
    • Of course, any of the best players in the world in real life, as they will be accurately modelled in the game.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: Almost all news titles in which the press criticizes or praises a player's form. That is, when it's not an Incredibly Lame Pun.
  • Always Male: True for the actual footballers, but clubs can have female staff (prominent example: Corinne Diacre, manager for French Ligue 2 team Clermont, who later went on to manage the French women's national team) 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."
    • What the Hell, Hero?: If you apply for another managerial post while you have a job. Do it constantly, and you can get sacked.
    • Win Back the Crowd: Whenever the player's team achieves something important after a bad season. invoked
  • Bad Boss: You can be one, but don't expect to have a happy squad if you don't treat them well. Before the 2016 version, the AI was an unintentionally good example of this, with it simply being incapable of dealing with unhappy players well.
  • Batman Gambit: You are managing one of the teams with the most reputation in the game, and you've spotted an ambitious player at a weaker team that could be a great asset to your team. You try to buy him, but the team's manager states he's not for sale. So what do you do? You make a laughably bad offer so that it's turned down, or they ask so much money you stop negotiating - the ambitious player gets angry at his manager for not letting him go to a big team, and is transfer listed by request... where you can get him for far less money than what they wanted at first.
  • 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.
    • Not anymore: one of the main selling points of Football Manager 2023 is the addition of fully licensed UEFA competitions, complete with intros, presentation and lifelike draws.
  • Boring, but Practical: The Natural Fitness stat. It does not provide anything in terms of performance during games, but it's tremendously useful in ensuring players can be part of multiple games without getting too tired or requiring rest, reducing risk of injuries, or, when they start getting into their thirties, ensure their physical stats decline much slower (a good player with a very high Natural Fitness stat could very well be able to play at top-flight level until retirement).
    • Stamina simply determines how long a player remains fit enough to perform during a game. Expect players with low stamina to fade quickly during matches and requiring to be substituted a lot. This is one of the stats that diminishes the fastest when players grow old.
    • Work rate and determination. Players with high scores in these stats will put more effort in and are less inclined to abandon plays such as chasing the ball or dispossessing an opposition player.
  • Call-Back: Classic Mode (A standalone game called Football Manager Classic since 2015/2016) is this to earlier games in the series, as it lacks most features of modern Football Manager games, making it more similar to a polished Championship Manager 03/04.
  • 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.
    • If the opposition has players who are celebrating their birthday, have previously been contracted to your team or have been loaned out by you to the opposition, there's a seemingly big chance of them scoring or putting in a very solid performance. The goal-commentary will often let you know that they have scored on their birthday or "came back to bite the hand that feeds him".
    • Players choosing to join another club over yours, despite your transfer/contract offer being superior to the other club's. While this can be justified with clubs that have a much higher reputation than yours, players will commonly join clubs of similar reputation over yours without good reason, accepting significantly lower wages and bonuses which they will often not accept during your contract negotations with them. Especially jarring if the other club is currently in a much worse league position than yours.
  • Compliment Backfire:
    • The players have always been extremely prone to getting angry when you try to talk to them in a private conversation to the point where most human players simply stopped bothering with the private talk function unless there was a truly major reason to do so.
    • Likewise for the Team Meeting function, which was something players would usually try once, get a horrific negative reaction that tanked the morale of the entire team no matter what the reason for the meeting (a form slump, needing to win x games to win the league, wanting to praise them for a good run), what you say in them or what the team Captain says, they then ask other players what to do, only to get told "yes, that's what always happens" and never use it again.
  • Creator Cameo: Search "faceinthegame" and you'll get computer-generated players and non-playing staff that take the name, nationality and a few other traits (such as birthplace and favourite teams, among others) from people involved in the making of the game (such as researchers for each country). In earlier games, some of them (the Sports Interactive staff in particular) even had strange personality traits based on pure Rule of Fun (especially if you scout said player). Depending on the amount of credited people, don't be surprised if you find multiple "faceinthegame" people based on the same person. At the same time.
  • 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 cups and friendly matches where the top teams play with the weaker and lesser league/non-league teams.
  • The Determinator: One of the player stats is "determination", which decides how determined a player is to succeed on and off the pitch. A player with high points in this stat will not abandon a play quickly. Youth players tend to have above average levels of determination, but this stat may drop quickly if they are not properly motivated.
  • Developer's Foresight: The availability of certain actions can vary when some uncommon events happen:
    • You cannot have a Private Chat with a player that has been reported absent from training.
    • You may tell the press that you disagree with a certain player being called up for his national team. This cannot be done if you manage said national team.
  • Down to the Last Play: Can happen quite often, as it can in real football.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: If you want fans to strongly appreciate your success, said success must be very long-term. It does not matter if you took your team from the fourth (And lowest playable) tier in the country to top-flight (Where it had never been in the past) in less than 10 years, you will merely be Favoured Personnel. The fans' stubbornness also happens with players, as they need several seasons at a very high performance to be Favoured Personnel, and even then it may not be enough. The manager's situation is averted with the board, however, as they are much more willing to appreciate what you have done. But they will still not expand or build a new stadium, or increase scouting range, sorry.
  • Early Game Hell: The first transfer window's budgets are often much smaller than the team's quality may suggest. Once you get to the second transfer window, said budget can rise drastically if your team is one of the richest. Going from less than 20 million pounds to over 100 is not unheard of.
  • Endless Game: Double Subverted. The player character manager ages, but will eventually stop ageing and is immortal.
    • The Championship Manager-era games did have a technical limit, as eventually the save file would grow too large for the game to load; this could take about 100-250 seasons, depending on your chosen settings. More recent games are genuinely endless.
  • Every Man Has His Price: Can be invoked by offering so much money for a player that said team's board will accept without letting the manager do anything.
  • 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. These can easily be fixed by simply deleting particular files.
    • Unticking the "Use real players" option when creating a game actually replaces players with expies that have the exact same stats and age and play in the same positions with the same proficiency, and play on the same team. The only differences are their names, their lack of career history, their favourite personnel being replaced with their equivalent expies, and their generated faces. Occasionally the nationality changes, but, more often than not, it doesn't.
  • The Faceless: The Manager is never seen above the mouth in the cover art. When he appears as a playable racer in Sonic & All-Stars Racing: Transformed, he wears a motorcycle helmet that conceals his upper face.
  • 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, which span three seasons. The two (Four in the Primera B Nacional) teams with the worst average points get relegated.
      • Exaggerated in Football Manager 2015. The first six months feature the Primera División the way it has been known for years, but the Primera B Nacional involves two groups of 11 teams, in where five teams of each group gets promoted. Starting in 2015, the Primera División has thirty teams playing one time against each other, bar rival (Or close) teams, which are played twice. It will be very complicated again when the 2016 January transfer window patch is released. The thirty teams will be split in two groups of 15 (rivals or close teams are not placed in the same group), playing once against each other, plus two derbies, and only one team is relegated. Then it goes back to the 2015 format, though starting in mid-year instead of spanning a single year.
    • 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. (In short: Everyone plays each other twice, then the league cleaves into 3 groups of six (and the points obtained at that point are halved), deciding in order: The championship [1-6]; mid-table [7-12]; and who gets relegated [13-18].)
    • Promotion from the Dutch second division to the Eredivisie is rather convoluted. The top two of the second division get promoted immediately, taking the place of the Eredivisie bottom two. Then there's a playoff system for a possible third club to get promoted, however. 7 teams qualify for these playoffs: the no. 16 of last Eredivisie season, 4 period title winners (for "period titles" the second division season is split into 4 segments, with the best performing team of each period being awarded such a title) and the two highest ranking teams that did not win a period title. The 6 seeded second div. teams then play each other in a two-legged tie, followed by another round where the three winners are joined by the Eredivisie side. After said round a final round determines who gets to be the third promoted club (or keep their Eredivisie spot). It gets more convoluted with the knowledge that performing well in just one quarter of the season can technically set you on a path towards promotion, meaning a club that starts the season very well, but then falls away completely can get promoted. What's more, the Dutch second division includes a number of second teams of generally big Eredivisie sides (Ajax, PSV, AZ, Utrecht at present), and these can't get promoted nor earn period titles (they will get awarded them, but their spot in the playoffs will be given to the next best eligible team). With all of these factors in play it is entirely possible for a team that finishes in the bottom half of the table to get promoted to the Eredivisie.
    • 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 and 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. For the massive amount of games a season in Brazil has, there can be an advantage: If your team plays in a weak state league and is also playing the Copa Libertadores, you can use a reserve team for state matches and keep your best players resting for the difficult matches.
    • The Korean leagues force the some of the teams' players to be sent to Sangjum, the military team, at a given point every year. Luckily, however, this does not apply to the Korean players competing in non-Korean leagues.
    • France's fourth tier (Championnat de France Amateur, better known as CFA) has a strange points system, in which you get 4 for a win, 2 for a draw and 1 for a loss. The Ligue 1 reserve teams also play in this tier, although they cannot be promoted.
    • 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.
  • It Will Never Catch On: For every player who was much better in the game than they were in real life, there's a player who was much better in real life than they were in the game. A prime example is Wayne Rooney in 01/02: in real life, he went on to become one of the greatest strikers of his generation. In 01/02, his stats aren't good enough to break into the Everton team and he'll usually sink into the lower leagues.
  • 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 Loading: The game has to do a lot of number crunching. Unfortunately, even as of Football Manager 2022 most of the game is still single-threaded, resulting in said number crunching taking a lot longer.
    • 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.
    • Championship Manager 4 and Championship Manager 03/04 suffer this really badly on modern computers, due to them being unable to work properly on multiple-core CPUs. The average modern CPU core is weaker than the average single-core CPUs from the times those games were released - as a result, they run much slower than both older and newer games of the series.
    • As a save game goes on and the number of players increases (even in non-playable leagues), the game steadily slows down. This cannot be avoided, but it takes a long while before it's noticeable.
  • My Rules Are Not Your Rules: In the 2013 edition, when you are managing an amateur team, if a player you want to sign decides to remain at his team, you have to wait a certain amount of time before trying to sign him again. The computer doesn't. This reaches its logical extreme in transfer deadline days, where you try to keep one of your plays, you do, but during the loading screen, they do another offer and the player leaves... and of course, he won't want to come back.
  • Nostalgia Filter:
    • Championship Manager 01/02 is still arguably the most popular installment of the game, following whichever one was recently released.
    • Football Manager 2012 out of all the modern versions has a cult following and is considered the last full version before the game began to increase the amount of micro-management bloat. In particular, it is the last version to have the old training module.
    • 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.
      • Starting in Football Manager 2015, if you have a request refused by the board, you can leak that event to the press. It almost always ends with the player being sacked.
    • 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.
  • Putting the Band Back Together: If a player has played at a club for 10 years, you have the right to organize a Testimonial match for them, a special friendly all about recognizing them and their stalwart service to the club. Since it's about honoring a player, some former players will return for that match, putting on the kit one more time.
  • Red Herring:
    • Can happen with players that were not previously scouted. If there is a minor knowledge of the player's country, one may be lured by one or two amazing stats, when the others are actually terrible.
    • This can also happen with young players. Even with the best scouts and a great team to measure their potential, it's still inaccurate to an extent. It's only up to around the age of 22 where their potential can be more accurately determined (i.e. the "white" stars get removed).
  • Self-Deprecation:
    • Sometimes, when a manager leaves a team and they don't have any replacement candidates, the related news post might mention that they'll be looking for candidates once they get rid of all the Football Manager applications.
    • Newgens very rarely might get an injury from playing too much Football Manager.
  • Silliness Switch: Some events can only happen to newgens, and not real players. For instance, they can get injured by falling over a cone.
  • So Last Season:
    • Expect more teams to use defensive tactics against you if your team has been successful recently. If you don't take this into account, you can get some surprise defeats and draws.
    • Quite strangely, the way the AI sums up teams based on results and reputation can result in newly-promoted teams having a much easier time in their first season in the new league than in their second. In the first season, almost all the other teams in the league will see them as easy pickings and play too aggressively, leaving them open to being counter-attacked, but once the new team stays up for a season they are treated like other teams on that level, and the AI teams will play defensively, preferring to control the possession and be patient, which is harder to defend and counter-attack with the likely inferior players a recently promoted team will have.note 
    • It also happens when a new edition of the game is released, or when an update makes changes to the match engine. That successful tactic you've used to dominate for several seasons suddenly does not work anymore.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • Rarely, personal events can drastically increase a player's mental stats, more often than not Determination. Inversions can also happen through this method.
    • A club can take multiple levels in badass if a rich chairman takes over the team and keeps investing on it, but if not properly managed, once the chairman leaves they may end up in square one again.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: In the 2015 version, players are very prone to negative responses, even when congratulating them for scoring their first international goal. Even if the player is a club legend and you tell him he's welcome to come back anytime he wants.
  • 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.