10 minutes to play, game is tight, drawing with Preston North End at Deepdale. Rain is pelting down making the surface very slippy, and passes are going astray.
I glance over to see Alan Kelly, my ever enthuasitic assistant, and he informs me that Chris Wood, who is our complete forward, is making a lot of mistakes and should be substituted. I agree, his passing and shooting percentages are in the low 50’s, not to mention his poor distance covered over the last 80 minutes. I prep Simone Palombi, a 19-year-old loanee from struggling Seria A side Lazio. " I’ve got every faith in you to make a difference out there" I tell him. He nods in agreement, happy with the faith shown.
The 89th minute ticks over on the clock and Palombi, the kid from Tivoli, laces one into the top right-hand corner. Giving Leeds United the three points needed to take the sleeping giant of English football back to the big time - to the promised land of the Premier League.
This is not a dream, this is Football Manager 2016. For fans of the series, this scenario has been played out hundreds, or in my case, thousands of times. Be it Leeds United, AFC Wimbledon or Fleetwood Town, the FM addict has aimed to take a chosen team, with a select few signings and honed management skills, into the upper echelons of football. It’s a game that has its own subculture, a talking point over beers, be it friend or colleague. This year Sports Interactive have returned with a beauty.
They have listentened to the online forum feedback and have improved the animation engine with over 2000+ new motion captured animations, adding a sense of realism to the game play, look and feel.
Simplifying the user interface without removing the statistics and attributes has been done wonderfully, so that every budding “Ange” can quickly and accurately locate where the next deep-lying playmaker is going to come from.
Aside from the interface and user experience enhancements, the revamped competition layout screen takes the stats, the movers and shakers and visualises them in a way that would be more akin with Fox Sports than a game, letting you dive into the FM2016 universe just that little bit more.
Also new this year is ProZone loader stats, so that in between load screens there are statistics and information from around the globe. This is a very enjoyable add. For example, if your style is a high pressing Marcelo Biesla-esque game plan, noting that Lassana Diarra covers the most ground and has the highest tackle win percentage in the Ligue 1 might help you find the last piece in the puzzle.
Injuries, goalkeepers and match highlights have all been redesigned and rethought. Real life physios and doctors have been consulted to attribute the right type of injury and the accurate time of recovery. Along with this they have linked player specific type injuries. So if you have a young pacey forward, excessive game time and tiredness could impact his hamstrings, or give him trouble in the area that is the strongest asset - his pace.
In summary, Football Manager 2016 is the best instalment of the immensely addictive series. It caters for every user. Game modes such as Mobile, Challenge, Touch or Classic all add to the games playability and longevity. This allowes the manager to be a casual user, or gives them the chance to completely immerse themselves in the running of their chosen club.
Whether you are a casual user or like to completely immerse yourself in the running of your chosen club, the game grabs hold of you. You will soon find yourself on your morning commute, in a lecture or a work meeting, slightly dazed after a long pre-season the night before, staring longingly into space asking yourself…"I wonder if I could beat top of league using a 3-5-2 pressing game".
Now let’s see how long I can keep Leeds in the Premier League!
Football Manager 2016 is on sale now order here.