Listing Life Dangerously – The Four Most Hatefully Difficult Parts of Football Manager 2012

The football team I support have not exactly covered themselves in glory this year. In fact, they’ve covered themselves in something far more brown and sticky than glory. Not sticks. As such, it’s the time of year when I turn to Sports Interactive’s Football Manager series, in an attempt to right the wrongs of my team’s season.

I used to have a fairly solid grip of Football Manager. I’d mastered its forebear Championship Manager back in the day (by simply buying Gabriel Batistuta for all of the money and then winning everything), and my most recent foray featured some decent success albeit peppered by saddening episodes of misfortune.

This year though I have struggled more than ever with the newest installment in the series, Football Manager 2012. I have listed the four hardest parts of the game below. They’re not key components or anything, but they do affect things a little.

Also – please remember that, even if you don’t like football, misery is also a universal language so read on.

4. Training (or “Why can’t you all just be better at football and leave me alone?”)

I don't know what any of it means. One of my coaches is called Vizolli – does that help?

Player training in Football Manager 2012 is more complicated than a thousand entwined balls of string watching a David Lynch film about calculus.

You have to construct tailored training schedules for each position/role within your team. Then, you have to assign players and coaches to those schedules. Coaches have attributes and specialties, and can’t really work on more than one schedule at a time, so you have to juggle them around until the schedule ratings look pleasing enough to the eye. Once you’ve spent 14 hours doing that, you can set individual players to have a specific focus on top of the schedule you’ve already assigned them to. Once you’re happy that all those plates are spinning correctly, you can still screw it all up by selecting too high a setting for the percentage of your squad’s training time that you want them to spend familiarising themselves with your tactics and formation.

By that point it won’t matter though because, if you’ve taken the time to configure every aspect of your player training in the intricate detail that the game demands, civilization will have ended and the small mole-man creatures over which you will have dominion will care little for the fact that you had the foresight to ask Steven Gerrard to concentrate on making better decisions.

Friend? Brains? What is Steven Gerrard? Friend?

3. Interacting with Players (or “Why do you hate our team so much?”)

Oh yeah, he's wrapped around my little finger alright.

You remember that episode of The Simpsons where Krusty reads on the auto-cue that he has to talk to the audience and he says, “Talk to the audience?! Oh, this is always death”? Well, I feel about a million times more anxiety than Krusty when I have to talk to my players in Football Manager 2012.

New for this year is the ability to set the tone of what you want to say, be it when talking to players one on one, or to the entire team. I always get the tone wrong. It’s as simple as that. Always. Wrong. Tone. Wrong. Always.

Also, while you're here, would it kill you to be better at football?

2. Tactics (or “Do as I say for once in your muppet lives, or so help me I’ll sob like a little girl.”)

The Team Instructions screen. Also known as the Exploded Brain screen.

Setting tactics and strategies in Football Manager 2012 is a perplexing and time-consuming way to simulate what it is like to have ungrateful people balls-up their lives because they didn’t listen to you. Sort of like raising children.

There are countless trillions (I’ve counted them) of ways to configure your team and player instructions. You can tell players how often you want them to run with the ball. You can tell them how often to take long range shots on goal. You can tell them how aggressively you want them to tackle opponents. All of this is pointless because individual player “Preferred Moves” will override your instructions. Does your central defender like to abandon his post and go pointlessly marauding up the field every five minutes? Hard luck, nothing can stop him.

I'm not naming names or anything, Daniel Agger.

1. Playing Matches (or “Aaaaargh why does the searing failure burn my eyes so acutely?”)

I re-loaded and re-played this match 17 times. This was the best result.

During matches, you can edit your formation and tactics in just as much depth as at any other time. You can give pre-match, half-time and post-match team talks. You can monitor your players’ performance in intricate detail, even down to their body language and general demeanour. You can issue shouts from the touchline.

You can flick peanuts at the screen and wear your pants on your head too, if you like.

None of it matters. None of it helps. Apart from the pants. They give you a unique perspective on the whirlwind of misery that Football Manager 2012 has brought into your life.

A perspective that smells faintly of something brown and sticky. Not sticks.

You can follow Simon (@MrCuddleswick) on Twitter here and also slowly by car if you want.

Last time on Star Trek: Listing Life Dangerously we learned all about the seven things I’d forgotten about Resident Evil 4







One response to “Listing Life Dangerously – The Four Most Hatefully Difficult Parts of Football Manager 2012”

  1. Conners avatar

    Utterly brilliant, Sally.

    “Why do you hate our team so much!?” Love it!

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