With each iteration the Football Manager series gets closer and closer to portraying a realistic experience of being a football manager, as well as the football world in general. It shouldn’t be a surprise due to the sheer amount of data that Sports Interactive collects from clubs around the world, feeding every single stat they can imagine into the game’s simulation. There is no doubt the Football Manager 2022 is the most feature complete game so far, but rather than being a giant leap it is another small step on the journey to perfection.
I like to try out two teams from different tiers when playing Football Manager. The usual lower tier team is my local club Ebbsfleet United, which has all the unrealised potential of being a proper League club, and I typically match that with a Premier League club. Last year that was Arsenal, but for this year it was their big rivals Spurs. Each team has its own issues, like a small transfer budget for a lower tier club or being stacked with so many players in the same position that you have to work out who to keep, who to send out on loan, and who to sell. On top of that you have to manage the expectations of the Board for each club, a staple of the Football Manager games. For example, with Ebbsfleet the expectation is to gain promotion through winning the league. That is easier said than done, especially if you are not paying attention.
Football Manager 2022 comes with several headline new features and improvements. The first is an upgrade to the matchday animations, giving players a bit more fluidity allowing for some more realistic movement. This plays in to the updated pressing system which you will want to tweak quite a bit depending on your players and their performances. How your team presses could help with closing opposition down and getting the ball forward, but if the set up is wrong then the opposition can exploit the gaps left to breach your defence.
To make the most of this system you will be spending time with another new feature, the Data Hub. In FM 2021 we saw the beginnings of data diving with the addition of xG analysis as well as more analysis for each match. The Data Hub of FM 2022 there is a lot more to take in and you will need a team of analysts on your staff to get the best out of it.
On top of the xG rating, the data hub will let you delve into how effective your tactics are against different opposition, and then focus in further to individual player performances to highlight where they could do with improvement to help the team overall – this allows you to tailor their individual training. There is a lot of data to sift through and it really is down to individual preference on how much you want to get into it. You can focus on the key points or customise the hub to hone in on specific stats.
Having regular Staff Meetings is another feature, giving the backroom staff have a much more prominent place compared to previous games. You can select how often you have these meetings – I went for weekly to have regular updates – during which the backroom staff will go through different topics like recruitment, player development, and highlight any players that may need to be spoken to. Backroom staff will also suggest additions to all elements of staff, which can be a bit weird as in some cases they will suggest a hire even if you have no more space. They are basically telling you to sack someone who is in the meeting. There are no big relationship dynamics with the backroom staff, so there’s no real impact to this brazen backstabbing between colleagues, but who knows what future iterations of Football Manager will have?
Scouting is bit more in depth, with more data available when looking at potential players including their own data sets for performance. Regular scouting updates will highlight players, but an annoyance is when the same players keep appearing in these updates, even after you have added them to the shortlist or put a bid in for them.
While there’s no game breaking bugs that i encountered, one issue that I did find was that the scaling for full screen sometimes meant it didn’t display correctly. If I launched the game in full screen I would not be able to see the buttons at the bottom, while other buttons would not be aligned correctly making it guesswork for knowing where to click. Changing to windowed mode helped alleviate the issue, but there was still a slight alignment issue. It seems I was not the only one who had this issue with FM 2022, and it is something that has impacted people over different Football Manager releases. Hopefully it can be improved with updates soon.