The nineteenth of September 2019 turned out to be the day that Football Manager fans everywhere had been waiting for. When the game’s social media accounts announced that the new features of FM20 would be made public, I, just like many others, became glued to my phone. Whilst giving my thumb a much-needed rest after refreshing Twitter for hours, I finally received the notification I was waiting for, and the new features were released.
Five main features were explained. They all will be ones that hugely impact the player’s experience of the game, as once again Sports Interactive have found things that we didn’t even know we needed. With that being said, here’s my reaction and opinion of the five main new features in FM20.
Playing the Pathway
This feature re-imagines the concept of the player role. For many additions of FM, a player has been a ‘Key Player’ or a ‘Backup’ option. However, with this new system, much more depth is given, and more clarity is allowed in communicating your plans for a player’s game time. This completely changes the dynamic of contract negotiation in the game, as a player who is just a touch away from being first team quality, can see their path into the first team.
You now can explain to them that for their first season they may be a squad player, but as they develop over the year and other players maybe deteriorate in ability, they will become a regular starter in your team.
Signing young players will now make much more sense, as you are able to explain to the player your long-term ambition for them. Before, you would have only been able to offer one single role to go with their contract, but by adding to the recently formed ‘Promises’ system during contracts, FM have added some much needed and hugely beneficial detail to the contract system.
Feature Rating: 9/10
As someone who gets quite attached to backroom staff members, and actually gets quite offended when my ninety-eight-year-old scout decides to retire to spend more time with the great-grandkids, I am happy to see more detail and interaction involved in this area of the game.
This new feature seems to be centered around the idea of more suggestions and more useful advice from the members of your backroom team. They will now suggest starting elevens for upcoming games, based on position suitability, form and tactics. This will make the decisions you make in terms of team selection a lot more informed by your colleagues.
In my Football Manager saves, I do tend to use staff a lot, and with new drop-down menus and new advice from them, this new feature seems to be a handy, if not revolutionary change to the way that backroom staff work in the game.
Feature Rating: 7/10
Perhaps the biggest addition to the new game, this is similar in theme to the Playing the Pathway feature. Adding much more detail to the objectives given to you by the board, this negotiation based feature allows you to suggest a long-term vision to your club.
You can discuss an overarching ‘Club Culture’, which defines how your club will work in a more general way. The example given in the screenshot is ‘Sign players under the age of 20 for the future’. This allows you to define the long-term trajectory of your playing squad, with the board expecting you to purchase younger options to develop your team.
Also negotiated with the board will be smaller, more specific objectives such as ‘work within the wage budget’ and ‘sign players to develop for profit’. These promises can be discussed, which prevents the previous issues of unfair objectives, and allows you to suggest smaller goals that are do-able and still lead to success, but aren’t going to jeopardise the future stability of your perhaps financially restricted club.
Finally, the ‘Club Vision’ feature adds a new five-year plan concept. This means that you and the board will agree upon a long-term direction for the club, setting on-the-field objectives for you to reach within a certain period. This gives the game much more of a long-term based feel, and will allow players who like doing one-club saves the ability to set out goals with their board for the distant future. The new five-year system will allow you also to limit the expectations of your employees early on in the save. Perhaps you don’t feel the squad is good enough currently, so only set a first season goal of staying in your current division. However, with the exciting young prospects you have, maybe you think that within three seasons you will be able to develop the squad enough to achieve promotion.
This new feature adds a long-term element to football management that fits in with the way modern football seems to be going. Clubs like Liverpool and Spurs are seeing the benefits of buying into the long-term philosophy and vision of a particular manager, and it’s great to see FM attempt to add that concept into the game.
Feature Rating- 10/10
A development in graphics was also announced by SI. This is something that may be important to others, but I am not too fussed by. I suppose an improvement is better than not having an improvement, but it’s not an element of the game that particularly matters to me. With that being said the players and managers certainly look better, with developments to their models.
New kit textures and new realism added to the clothing changes the way that the players, referees and managers look within the game, allowing more natural looking fits to everything they wear. So, from November, my in-game manager will not only be richer and more successful than me, he will also be better dressed and more fashionable than I am.
In addition, the pitch graphics have also been developed, allowing different grass colours, and along with the new crowd developments, the match day will look better than ever I’m FM20. Overall, these developments are great for people who are put off FM due to the graphics, but for me (a better human than them) they are minor, but still appreciated improvements.
Feature Rating- 6/10
The final addition to the game is a new area to view information regarding the youth at your club. The ‘Development Centre’ allows you to view the development of the most promising youngsters at your disposal, with new ‘first team candidates’ menus offering you advice as to which young players would be most suited to a step up to the senior squad.
The progress graphs will make it clear to see who is developing the most, and also who has had a dramatic and perhaps unexpected rise in ability and potential. You are also advised as to which members of your youth squad ‘needs attention’ and which ones should be watched, with the usual staff predictions made about which current senior player they could overtake in footballing ability.
This feature develops the concept of a youth department, and offers more depth and more information about the youngsters at your club. This will make it clearer and easier to see which players will develop into first team stars.
Feature Rating- 8/10
With these new features announced, my excitement for the new game has shot through the roof. Roll on November.