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12 Reviews

Football Manager 2011

Review: It's all kicking off

Football Manager's trademark chaotic transfer deadline days are still very much present in the 2011 edition. Try signing that Slovakian reserve goalkeeper you so desperately need, and it all comes screaming back.

The meticulous attention to detail required to coach successfully also makes a predictable return - not least when it comes to eking out the last ounce of invention from your mercurial but temperamental Argentinian playmaker on a cold November night away at Wolves.

But, in other, no less vital aspects, the latest addition to the series feels noticeably different than before - making it the freshest and most vibrant iteration in years.

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The most obvious update in FM2011 is the new and improved contract negotiation mode. For the first time, agents are employed to negotiate on behalf of their clients.

The fact that these bottom-feeders are a key part of the real-life football world is a discussion point for another article and another publication. But the fact that each negotiation is now a unique transaction in itself brings a gritty realism to the transfer section.

The game's four unique character agents add an element of chance, meaning that your financial acumen will also be put to the test. Managing your budget - from wages down to the agent's fee - will impact upon your standing with your chairman, as well as the fans.

You have to judge if it is better to walk away from a deal or potentially lump your club with an expensive failure for years - probably long after you have been shown the door.

Although this negotiation technique screen does bring an element of 'real time play', those wishing to really push that transfer through can get the deal done there and then.

Then again, if you have a good poker face, call the agent's bluff and drag out those negotiations to get the best deal for your club.

Obviously, the risk here is that your prospect decides to take his step overs and clever shimmies elsewhere, but this is obviously dictated by the club you play with.

A true world power will obviously have more sway and offer greater pulling power than Yeovil Town - but don't underestimate the greed of some of the agents, who will happily take their starlet to Turkey for a bigger share of the financial rewards.

This presents a new and uniquely challenging aspect to negotiations - with the back and forth aspect giving it a real 'round the boardroom table' feel.

As with agents - treading carefully round some and playing hard ball with others - you have the same type of relationship with their charges.

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Player interaction is vastly improved in FM 2011 from FM 2010 - with players having a much more 'human' feel to them as they challenge your authority, bear long term grudges and if it all goes wrong, request a move.

There's an upside, too: Some players will end up fighting for you, responding to your requests more willingly, taking your suggestions - and, ultimately, winning you games.

Players come to you with their concerns. The ways you react and respond to them has a crucial impact on your reputation, which in turn influences the type of players who want to join your club. I means the pressure on every decision is more pronounced than in any previous - but you hardly play FM to bring down your blood pressure.

Your interaction with the press has also been updated. Along with your built-in responses, you also have an option to add your own unique comebacks to questions - enhancing your character and developing personal relationships with journalists who can make or break your career.

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