Football Manager was just about the best football management simulation available in the mid 1980s on the Commodore 64, and is still enjoyable for nostalgia buffs or those simply overwhelmed by the depth and steep learning curve of today’s football manager iterations.
The premise and execution of the game were simple, but the addictiveness was high. We played for hours and ignored that fact that the “highlights” consisted of 3 potential scenarios, the players were the same in every game - and mysteriously lost or gained skill in the off-season – and that no matter what team you chose to manage, you were always going to start in the old Division 4.
Games were won and lost on the highlights screen. Every game a random number of highlights came up for review. If you got the highlight where your player started with the ball on the bottom corner of the screen, you were a good chance to score.... and then you’d scream as, with the goal mouth wide open, your forward would hit his shot straight at the keeper. The highlight where your forward started in the middle of the screen almost never ended in a goal, and the one where he started at the top was only marginally more successful. Nevertheless, every now and then, a player scored when not expected to, and it was this that kept you on the edge of your seat.
Tactics were non-existent,
player trading was pure guesswork, and matches seemed to be resolved fairly randomly, but enough of these things went your way to make sure you came back once more to see if you could drag Arsenal from the depths of the Football League.
Compared to today’s management simulations, this one is primitive in the extreme, but if you were after the latest football manager you wouldn’t be on this website! Regardless, I can see myself right now, 18 years ago, hunched in front of my computer at 2am debating over just one more season. More often than not I gave in. Heck, I’d just won the FA Cup on the one and only highlight for the game, so maybe I can go the repeat....
Eventually I bought the Emlyn Hughes soccer simulation, which was a quantum leap of the old football manager, but who plays Emlyn Hughes these days? Not me, for one, but here I am reviewing football manager.
Go on, download it. And see how you go against Bury in the first game!