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Football Manager 2022 Review

Verdict

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Football Manager 2022 packs in a number of new features such as the Data Hub, an expanded Transfer Deadline Day and new Staff Meetings which all help to improve the immersion of the life as a head coach. These new additions result in one of the best entries in the series yet, although owners of FM21 may want to hold off until next season if you want more than just an incremental upgrade.

Pros

  • Still as tactically deep as ever
  • Data Hub helps to pinpoint team flaws
  • Staff Meetings and Deadline Day improve immersion
  • Match Engine allows for more realistic player behaviour

Cons

  • Arguably not enough features to justify upgrading from FM21
  • Media conferences still feel like a chore

Availability

  • UKRRP: £44.99

Key Features

  • Release date: 8 November 2021
  • Platforms:Reviewed on PC. Available on Xbox, Switch, Android and iOS

Introduction

Football Manager 2022 is one of the finest sports games I’ve ever played, allowing for a ridiculous amount of tinkering to get your team in tip-top shape to challenge for the league title. 

It may all look like tedious spreadsheet faff from the outside, but in reality, it can create far more stories and narratives than the FIFA series could ever hope for – nothing beats the joy of taking a low-league team into the Premier League with a shoestring budget, after all. 

From attempting to bring Sunderland AFC back to the Premier League to taking on the Newcastle project with a whopping £200 million in the transfer kitty, there are endless opportunities here, each with seeing unique challenges. You could easily spend 100 hours on this game and barely scratch the surface. 

Football Manager 2022 is the latest iteration in the series, and while it hasn’t made sweeping changes like David Moyes did to his coaching staff at Old Trafford, it’s certainly made enough tweaks to result in an even more enjoyable experience.

Here are my thoughts after sinking over 60 hours into the Football Manager 2022. 

Create your own manager

  • New customisation options for your avatar
  • Still a huge amount of formations and tactics
  • Data Hub makes it easier to analyse performances

Every entry of the Football Manager series allows you to create your own manager with unique attributes rather than forcing you to slip into the boots of an existing coach. Football Manager 2022 takes things even further with a greater wealth of customisation options when creating your avatar. 

There are now more presets for the likes of eyebrows, hair and glasses, so every manager you create can look drastically different to the next. I appreciate the level of customisation here, although the plasticine-esque figures that you create usually end up looking like possessed dolls rather than lifelike humans. This certainly isn’t the best character creation I’ve used in a game, although it’s not really a big deal since you’ll rarely see your avatar aside from the brief cutscene ahead of a match. 

Despite the horrific avatars, Football Manager 2022 succeeds at making you feel like a proper head coach, allowing you to pick your own players, backroom staff and tactics. In fact, you can control every single aspect of your chosen football club, as long as the board supports you. 

There are a huge number of formations and football styles to choose from, allowing you to replicate the successful blueprints of the likes of Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola, or be original and create your own legacy. You can get even more nitty gritty by telling your fullbacks to make overlapping runs, or for your central forward to prioritize link-up play over scoring goals. Whatever tactic you dream up, you’ll most likely be able to implement it.

I have to admit, Football Manager 2022 hasn’t made any significant updates on the tactics front, aside from introducing the new ‘Wide Centre-Back’ player role that Thomas Tuchel popularised. But there are so many features here already that I’d really struggle to come up with a way for Sports Interactive to make significant improvements. 

I have noticed a few immersion-denting scenarios that would probably never happen in reality, such as Van Dijk out-scoring Mohammed Salah halfway through a season due to a corner exploit, but these unpredictable outcomes can arguably make a playthrough more exciting.

One new feature that Football Manager 2022 has introduced is the Data Hub. With professional football clubs becoming more and more reliant on data, Sports Interactive has decided to make it a big focus for this instalment. 

After a football match, your analysts will be able to make numerous pie charts and graphs to demonstrate various statistics. For example, I could check out the overall performance of my team to try and pinpoint a weakness. Maybe your team isn’t shooting often enough, or perhaps you’re allowing too many opposition shots just outside the penalty area – either way, the data hub will likely pick up on any recurring trends. 

The Data Hub can even compare all the league’s teams on a specific statistic, such as the quantity of shots on target and the succession rate of which your team is hitting the back of the net. If the former is high and latter is low for your club, you may need to invest in a striker with a superior finishing attribute. It’s always frustrating when your team is underperforming and you can’t work out why, so I really appreciated the Data Hub providing a better understanding of my team’s strengths and flaws. 

Staff and transfers 

  • Staff Meetings feels more natural than a flurry of emails
  • Journalist interactions are still a bore
  • Deadline Day adds more drama to transfer windows

Your backroom staff has always been vital for success in Football Manager, but they could be accused of just feeling like numbers on a spreadsheet rather than life-like characters. 

Football Manager 2022 has tried to address this by introducing staff meetings. Here your assistant manager and coaches can meet up with you periodically to make recommendations such as how to improve training, who should be taking freekicks and whether the current captain still merits their leadership role. 

Scouts can also meet up with you on a frequent basis to discuss what kind of player they should be looking for. You can pick out which positions need improving and what kind of player attributes you want to prioritize, and then scouts will make recommendations on who they feel could fit the brief. It feels a lot more realistic than just having hundreds of scouting reports being sent via email sporadically. 

The way you interact with staff on a whole feels far more realistic, although the same can’t be said for journalists. Meetings with the media feel very formulaic, becoming tediously repetitive before you’ve even finished one season. Your relationship with journalists will develop over time which is a nice touch, but such interactions rarely have any major consequences, feeling more like an annoying distraction than an important component of the game. 

And now for my personal favourite aspect of the game: transfers. Agents were given a larger role for Football Manager 2021, but the latest entry has expanded the options of interaction even further. You can now try and persuade an agent that a player is a good fit for your team, while also being able to improve your relationship with them in order to make future transfers smoother. You won’t want to upset a powerful agent, that’s for sure. 

Scouting has also been revamped, with players now graded with a letter (such as B+) rather than a number out of 100. Again, this feels far more realistic while preventing you from splitting hairs over the difference between an 82 and an 84 rating. 

Football Manager 2022 has also tried to recreate the excitement of Deadline Day, slowing down the hours just before the window slams shut so you’ve got more time to secure a last minute signing, or for agents to offer you an unhappy player who’s desperate to leave. As Newcastle’s manager, I ended up signing Asensio on the last day of the Summer window – it’s really hard to resist a panic buy in those circumstances, giving me a little bit more sympathy for Solskjær’s decision to sign Ronaldo. 

Sports Interactive has also made further improvements to the AI to make more logical decisions when it comes to transfers. For example, Newcastle won’t be able to sign Mbappe even if they offer him a mouth-watering salary since he’ll want to compete in the Champions League. AI-controlled teams will now be far more likely to pay transfer fees in installments too, as clubs make sure they’re not breaking any Financial Fair Play rules. 

I often like to pause my progress to see what players all of the rival Premier League teams have signed. I rarely ever spotted an unrealistic event, but they still deviated enough from reality to keep things interesting – Steven Gerrard swapped Rangers for Brighton, while Manchester City managed to snap up Mbappe on a free contract. 

On the pitch

  • 3D models look decent, with more realistic animations
  • Player behaviour has been improved with new match engine

The Football Manager series has come a long way from the days where 2D dots would pass the ball around the pitch. Each player now has a 3D model in order to create a more immersive match day experience.

Of course, those 3D models have been around for numerous entries now, but FM22 has introduced a new animation engine that makes players look far more natural when dribbling with the ball. Players are also smarter than before, as they are now more likely to pass the ball backwards rather than running into a congested area, while also being more aware of their ‘sprint capacity’ to prevent them from chasing down a ball if there’s no chance of reaching it before an opposition player. 

The actual graphics of the players and stadium haven’t seen major enhancements since the preceding entry, and it’s still difficult to recognise players from looks alone, but I think the improved realism for players still improves the on-pitch action by a considerable degree. 

As always, you can adjust the speed of the match and the quantity of highlights you want to see. It’s also delightfully quick to alter tactics, as you can change to a more attacking mentality by using the bottom-left panel rather than having to dive into the main tactic screen. 

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Should you buy it?

You’re looking for the ultimate Football Manager experience:
Football Manager 2022 is the absolute best game in the series, adding great new features to already solid foundations. The likes of the Data Hub and Staff Meetings may not alter the fundamentals of the game, but they do help to heighten the immersion while also making some quality-of-life improvements.

You’re looking for a substantial upgrade on FM21:
I’m a big fan of all of the new features in Football Manager 2022, but there’s no getting around the fact that it still feels very similar to its preceding iteration. If you already own FM21, it may be best to skip this season and wait for its successor.

Final Thoughts

Football Manager 2022 is the best entry in the series yet, building on the superb foundations that came before it. There haven’t been many major improvements for on-pitch tactics, but the likes of staff meetings, the data hub and expanded deadline days all help to make the experience even more immersive to keep up with the modern duties of a head coach. 

The match engine has also seen numerous improvements, adding more realism to both player behaviour and dribbling animations. The visuals are still a far cry from the likes of FIFA and eFootball, but that enables it to be playable on a greater number of devices. 

As expected, Football Manager 2022 doesn’t really introduce any big-scale features that makes an upgrade from FM21 essential, but all of the improvements are still very much welcome.

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How we test

We play every game we review through to the end, outside of certain exceptions where getting 100% completion, like Skyrim, is close to impossible to do. When we don’t fully finish a game before reviewing it we will always alert the reader.

Played campaign with multiple clubs

Spent over 60 hours with it

Tested on PC

FAQs

Can my PC run Football Manager 2022?

Most PCs can run FM22. However, the power of you PC will determine how big the database can be. Check out the system requirements on Steam.

Does FM22 work on Windows 11?

Yes, Football Manager 2022 can be played on Windows 11.

Do I need a gaming laptop to play football manager?

Not necessarily. I played FM22 on an LG Gram 16, which is a lifestyle laptop. As long as your laptop has a decent CPU and integrated graphics, you should be fine.

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