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Football Manager, known in the USA and Canada as Worldwide Soccer Manager, is a Football management sim where, unlike games such as the FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer series, you control all the management aspects of the club rather then actually controlling the players on the pitch itself. It's up to the player to buy and sell players, control the finances, tactics and setup of the team as a whole.

The series is the successor of the hugely successful Championship Manager series of the 90's and early 2000's before the split between Eidos and Sports Interactive in 2004. Sports Interactive managed to retain everything but the name and Football Manager (now distributed by Sega) displaced the Championship Manager franchise as the number one Football Management sim in the world. Championship Manager by contrast fell behind as Eidos had to start everything from scratch, and was discontinued from the 2010/11 season

The games composing the FM series are the following (the bracketed years is the European Football Season each game covers as it's starting point):

  • Football Manager 2005 (2004/05)
  • Football Manager 2006 (2005/06)
  • Football Manager 2007 (2006/07)
  • Football Manager 2008 (2007/07)
  • Football Manager 2009 (2008/09)
  • Football Manager 2010 (2009/10)
  • Football Manager 2011 (2010/11)
  • Football Manager 2012 (2011/12)

Spinoffs:

  • Football Manager Handheld (2006)
  • Football Manager Live (2008)

The games have examples of the following tropes

  "As <Team>'s boss <Manager> completed the transfer of <Position> <Player>, delighted <Team> fans gathered outside the ground to rejoice."

    • Win the Crowd: Winning any official competition (such as a Cup or even the League itself) when the main objective is "stay clear of relegation". In the first management year.
    • Win Back the Crowd: Whenever the player's team achieves something important after a bad season.
  • The Beautiful Game: What it's all about.
  • Bland-Name Product: Football Manager includes a lot of leagues and cups around the world, but a more believable amount of licenses, so there're competitions like Champions Cup instead of the UEFA Champions League.
  • Cash Cow Franchise: Including the pre-split Championship Managers, the series has been running since 1992.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Every team, as in Real Life.
  • Competitive Multiplayer: Any number of players can join in at any time, either on the same computer or on a network game.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Sorting your players by value, you'll often find most of the injuries happening to those listed higher up. The teams you face for international and continental competitions, however, don't have to worry about injuries in most installments and if they're part of a league you haven't selected. And they never have to worry about squad rotation either, since their players never get tired playing in their "ghost" league.
  • Curb Stomp Battle: The player's team can can easily rout opposing teams if it gets good enough. It's usually much more common in friendly matches where the top teams play with the weaker and lesser league/non-league teams.
  • Doing It for the Art: Researchers who help put together the enormous database generally do it on a volunteer basis.
  • Down to the Last Play: Can happen quite often, as it can in real football.
  • Endless Game: Subverted. The human player can keep going until he gets bored or dies in real life. The player character manager will eventually stop ageing and is immortal.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin
  • Expy: Because of copyright disputes the un-modded German national team only selects "greyed-out" fictional players while German goalkeeper Oliver Kahn was renamed Jens Mustermann (the German equivalent of John Doe). Similar problems have existed with France and Japan among others.
  • Game Mod: Championship Manager 01/02 has an extensive modding site available that aims to keep the game up to date with the Squads, leagues and seasons of 2010/2011.
  • Guide Dang It: Some elements of the game require the user to look up detailed information to understand, like Training and Tactics.
    • Quite a few nations have unusual playing conditions and rules and going in blind is a sure-fire way to get sacked. These can include:
      • Odd qualifying and playoff systems to decide champions, promotions or continental competition places. Holland's Eerste Divisie (2nd tier) has a promotion/relegation system where the 18th team in the 1st tier is replaced by the champions, but then has a promotion play-off that includes the 16th and 17th team's from the 1st tier, and then the best team in the four quarters of the seasons, and then next 4 highest clubs that weren't one of the top 4 from the quarters of the season, giving a 9 team playoff.
      • The Argentinian leagues have the average points system, where the two teams with poor average points are relegated to the Second Division.
      • The Major League Soccer in the USA and the Australian A-League have multiple atypical drafts, salary caps, squad size restrictions and special 'marquee' player slots.
      • Brazil's league system has multiple league competitions running as national, state and local competitions some of also have splits and playoff systems not determined solely by final position.
  • Immortality: The player character can technically live forever in the game and can only be removed from the game by retiring; see Endless Game above.
  • In Name Only: The current Championship Manager-descendants share the name of what was arguably the original football management sim, Addictive Games' "Football Manager". Massively successful when it came out in the early '80s, it spawned countless ports and a number of sequels before the series fizzled out in the early '90s. The current series is not directly related, although it is arguably the original's spiritual heir.
  • Just One More Level: Lampshaded in that there is a status screen which rates your addictiveness level the more hours you play, usually to play that extra game or win that cup final or make sure you have signed that star player. It is common for players to rack up hundreds of hours of playtime on the game, having games which span several in-game decades. The longest styled games such as the Country Hero challenges can last over a thousand hours.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Although this trope applies to all team sport games this one is probably the king of the trope, if you played football professionally or even semi-professionally anywhere in the world during the last season its more likely than not that you are in the game, considering football is the most popular sport in the world, that's a lot of people. The game also features the Managers, Board Directors and Members, Coaches, Physios, Scouts and even the guys who relay the pitch. Subverted in that even with a cutting edge computer it may be impossible to load all the players in the database for a game and play at a reasonable speed.
  • Loads and Loads of Loading:
    • Loading times depend on how many leagues the current game has loaded. Loading up all of the available leagues can take up to 8 hours of loading time on a decent computer.
    • The passing of days, and how the player gets to matches. Usually done quickly so this is not a bad thing.
    • The march of computer technology has made modern versions much faster, especially when lesser levels of detail are used.
  • No Export for You: Thanks to EA Sports, the games aren't available in Germany and Austria.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: The board and chairman can often feel like this. There are a range of options that require the human player to ask the AI board, and they will often deny them for no apparent reason. These can include: Denying the player a larger coaching staff. Refusing to build a new stadium when the old one is packed to capacity every match. Not allowing your scouts to visit other countries. Refusing to upgrade training facilities. Not entering into useful partnerships with other teams. Giving you a tiny wage or transfer budget. The ultimate example of this would be when a new chairman takes over a club, they may fire the human player from the team and replace them regardless of how well the player does with the team.
  • Sturgeon's Law: Appliable to young players. For each 10 young players the scouts find, only one of them is a great fit for the player's team, and the other 9, well...
    • It could be circumvented in earlier versions of the game (back when it was still Championship Manager). You see, the "newgens", or youngsters created by the game, were just younger versions of retired players. They had the same Potential Ability, position, nacionality and a couple of Mental atributes. So, when Zinedine Zidane retired, a new French Attacking Midfielder would show up, with potential to be at least as good as him.
  • Wide Open Sandbox: The games apply this philosophy to the world of football/soccer, letting the player choose from any of thousands of clubs from anywhere in the world to manage. The victory conditions, such that they are, are framed in the form of "this is what the board/fans expect". There are no win conditions as such, meaning that the game can go on for decades of game time and months of real time. The player makes all the decisions the manager would in real life, making the game ideal for anyone who's sat down in front of Match of the Day and said something like "well, I'd have played him there" - this likely accounts for its popularity even in spite of the fact that it's complex enough to make Paradox Interactive think twice.
  • The World Cup: Of course.
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