Du Malone writes: In the previous post I introduced my experience of FM20 by establishing the context. Thanks to a month or two of playing FM19 in the autumn of 2019, I arrived at FM20 with an appreciation of the benefits — short, medium, and long term — of the team training functionality.

FM20 saves

With FM20 I played a beta save in Bulgaria, managing OFC Pomorie. When the gamma version arrived — presumably that’s what you call the version that follows the beta, though somehow I never seem to hear the phrase — I remained (or rather I should say our manager, Grigor Pasha, remained) on the Black Sea’s west coast with a succession of saves: Neftochimic 1962, Chernomorets Balchik, and FC Farul Constanta.

We then moved north, to Ukraine, with MFC Mykolaiv.

Overall, it’s proved an interesting time. I particularly enjoyed the Neftochimic save, until resigning in exasperation over the chairman’s tendency to sell players against my will.

But

So, interesting enough. But somehow I haven’t felt the passion that previous editions of FM have produced. With one of the saves (Balchik) I even resigned out of a sense of ennui.

Over the summer, I had a four-month break from the game (whilst publishing a backlog of blog posts). Now, in October, I’ve started playing FM again. But to do so I’ve returned to FM14, on which I’m managing Pazarspor in the Turkish third tier — but that’s another story.

What explains the relative lack of depth in my engagement?

Approach to FM

To some extent it might be the way I played. Psychologically, on FM and indeed ITRW, I’m by nature a salvager. Give me a project involving some entity that is struggling, having fallen on hard times, and I tend to rise to the occasion. But once things have begun to go swimmingly, I tend to disengage. Sunderland fans should be begging for me to be appointed; PSG fans shouldn’t.

The problem here has been that the leagues I’ve chosen have (at least on FM) only two tiers — so if things go well, I tend to reach the stage of ennui fairly quickly.

Not just me

But I’m not sure it’s just me or the way that I’ve played. I note with interest comments from other bloggers. The excellent FM Eadster, for example, writes

“I’m not really enjoying FM20 as I once was. Don’t get me wrong, I love the game but this year I have felt the match experience just doesn’t pull me in as much as previous editions.”

And the also excellent From Eleven, One writes:

“I’m not much of a reviewer of games, particularly annual releases like Football Manager. Clearly it’s a game I’ve enjoyed, given my hours put in, and from the fact this blog keeps on going.

However, I think it’s been a fairly underwhelming edition of the series.”

Diagnosis

I think a major problem has been that, as new features arrive, the amount of time required to engage fully grows. After all, each edition tends to add some things without subtracting others. Now, I’ve always tended to move through saves very slowly — a result of what I call 360-degree management — but this year progress has sometimes slowed to snail’s pace.

“Delegate!” I hear you say. When I have a suitable (ideally, “level-headed”) member of staff I do delegate press work. But beyond that, I hate delegating. I hate colleagues making ridiculous decisions (I can do that myself, thank you very much: I’ve years of experience of doing so). I even hate the mere possibility of them making ridiculous decisions.

So I’ve returned, for the time being at least, to FM14. Logically I should be bemoaning its poverty of features: in practice, I’m relishing it. Half a season in, I’m already feeling the emotional engagement beginning to kick in a little.

I see excitement mounting online about the advent of FM21. In truth I’m not feeling it. I’ll continue to enjoy playing FM and I’ll buy FM21 of course — but I’ve an open mind on whether that will be the edition I major on.

I rather wish that databases were transferable, so I could take the latest one available and plonk it onto a previous edition. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite work like that.

Credit for the header image: ‘Black Sea — Bulgaria — Seascape’ by Zybo Sylvens, generously made available under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 licence.

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