Championship Manager 2007
Bidding the market value for a player, discovering the
coffers aren’t that full, then bidding less and having your lower offer accepted. World-class-centre-back-come-centre-forward Lucio leaving the security of Bayern Munich for an Abramovich spare-change figure just short of 4 million pounds. The option
to delay the completion of transfers for week upon week, keeping other clubs’ dirty hands off a particularly coveted talent. Offering almost £11M for a certain star right-winger, having that bid rejected on the grounds the player’s only just joined his current club, proceeding to put in an astronomical
bid before having it blocked by your board as they ‘don’t want to pay more than £8.9M at this time’. Barcelona accepting simultaneous offers for Samuel Eto’o, Carlos Puyol, Ronaldinho, Lionel Messi, Rafael Marquez, Deco,
Xavi and Javier Saviola, an act that would decimate the squad and might create just a tad of unrest. The fact that, with one or two exceptions due to heated rivalry between clubs, every
player can be prised away from their club for their exact current value and not a penny more.
Wait, wait, there’s more; the fact that not a single man within the game is valued at more than 20 million pounds. Almost every player (read: all in our entire review time, except one)
having no loyalty issues whatsoever when discussing personal terms with a potential new club – the size of the cheque matters, nothing more. With such low player values, most of the world’s top talent actually moving to Chelsea, rather than just being rumoured to be. Players asking such trivial questions as why they were substituted when the team was winning a game comfortably, then becoming upset when you tell them fresh legs needed to be introduced. Just ten of the many paragraph-mutilating reasons why Championship Manager 2007
is about an accurate a simulation of football management as Noddy – A Day In Toyland is of street crime. However, this can carry some benefits.
While Sports Interactive’s history and attention to detail has resulted in Football Manager 2007, featuring a transfer market so exclusive there’s little movement even among mediocre players (going so far as to put Premiership loans out of most second-tier clubs’ reach), matters are different here. Action is swift and constant, prompting a return to the management sims of a decade ago in which players might have a chance of capturing an entire first-team squad before deadline day, with a little wheeling and dealing. As the ‘little child in a sweet shop’ aspect of management titles is clearly its greatest strength, the increased emphasis on this certainly makes for an entertaining ride, regardless of how much the back of your head is screaming at you to do something more credible. It’s certainly an interesting point: just as there’s room for an NFL
Blitz alongside a Madden, or a RedCard alongside Pro Evolution Soccer, is there a place for a management sim that focuses on the job’s more enjoyable roles? Most of the answer to that is
for another time, apart from this bit: if there is, this isn’t going to make the breakthrough, due to it not being the
intention and several technical flaws. You see, CM 2007’s problems stretch beyond some curious player valuations. The match engine, for starters, suffers from a wealth of available options for viewing the action, none of them adequate. Instead of offering a useful mixture of relatively fast progression and key incident highlights, the game forces you to watch the entire game at nausea-inducing speed, replaying goals when they fly in (and hence removing all tension), or try to slow
down proceedings when it looks like something might happen (practically impossible, and makes matches last an absolute age when you inevitably give up trying). Either way, the match engine offers neither entertainment nor enough information to actually make decisions on your players’ performance, which
are both pretty essential functions. The short opening coaching sequences, challenging managers to answer six questions and obtain a knowledge score that affects how chairmen deal with
them later on, is an interesting addition to the genre – one that trumps choosing your own past experience, hands down.
Unfortunately, like much of what’s on offer here, such window-dressing isn’t matched in-game. So, we have a management sim lacking one of the most fundamental
features of the genre – a believable transfer system – that offers a little fun in spite of itself during the window and none, outside. A bit like supporting Newcastle United, then (ho, ho!).
Seriously though, Football Manager 2006 is the way to go.