Further tweaks have also been made to the match day experience, with your assistant manager providing far more feedback and information both pre-match and during proceedings. This is a good thing, but at times his advice can prove infuriatingly cryptic since you’re only ever told about problems, not how to fix them. This, in a sense, is understandable, since it would remove a level of challenge, but for the sake of realism it seems odd to deliberately limit the feedback he provides. For instance, it would be good if your assistant could provide more feedback on your tactics, making suggestions about things you might be able to improve upon or things you’ve overlooked – something that can happen given the sheer number of options available to you.
All this said, not all of his advice is without benefit. During games he’ll tell you if a player isn’t getting on with your tactics, sometimes telling you a player is used to playing a more direct style, or prefers to close down players more or less often. These kinds of touches are very useful and he also offers excellent advice about which players you should sign, identifying weaknesses in the team and sugggesting players you could sign to rectify them.
On occasion this can help you uncover some real gems and also underlines the importance of experience among your staff. At Coventry, for example, Steve Kean spent some time in Spain, so regularly gives you suggestions of players there due to his knowledge the region. This means there’s more value in thinking about who to employ based on what experience they have. You can also routinely request a report on players that are available for loan in specific positions, so if you find yourself in an injury crisis you can save trawling through lists of players and just go straight to your assistant. This, you’ll quickly realise, is an absolute godsend and every now again you can find a player to sign at bargain basement prices, too.
Another area of interaction that has been further developed is media relations. Now you’ll be subject to regular press conferences where you have to answer questions from the assembled press, enquiring about your tactics, your transfer targets and the threats posed by forthcoming opposition. Your responses, as ever, will have an effect on your team, either improving morale or angering players depending on what you say. This extra level of depth is a welcome one and makes perfect sense given the role the media plays in the modern game and if you tire of questions you always have the option to leave, storm out in anger or send your assistant instead.
Another element of the media relations that’s been cranked up are transfer rumours. This also reflects real-life, in so much as you’re regularly linked with players you’ve never even heard of and have no intention of buying. Thankfully there’s a transfer rumour section, too, so your regular inbox isn’t constantly clogged with annoying reports – something that did become a problem in previous editions.
As it does every year, the transfer system has also seen some tweaking. Teams are more willing to negotiate several times before settling on a final figure and there’s a greater emphasis on season long loans, as has become the fashion in real life. Just like the other changes this further enhances the realism in the game and it’s rare that you ever feel that a transaction hasn’t panned out in a logical manner. In a more general sense, we also found it far easier to sell the players we didn’t want. Offering your players to others proved far more effective than in the past, so if you need to unload some deadweight to fund a transfer then you can do so pretty quickly. You can also adjust your budget, shifting money from the transfer budget to fund wages, or vice versa.