Nowadays, if you want to play a football management game, the only real option you have is the Football Manager series, but back in the early 2000s there were a whole host of different football management games to choose from.
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The most similar game to Football Manager was of course Championship Manager. In fact, they started out as the same game until the developers, Sports Interactive, and the publishers, Eidos, split in 2003. Sports Interactive kept the game, engine and database and launched Football Manager whereas Eidos kept the name and paired up with a new development studio to continue making Championship Manager.
The gameplay was very similar to the original game, but it didn’t quite match up to the familiar game that everyone already loved. It had a similar 2D match engine and even had a licensing deal with Adidas, but fans quickly started switching over to Football Manager.
After sales began to fall year after year, Eidos decided to pull the plug on Championship Manager, and after a failed Mobile-Only relaunch in the following decade, they finally gave up. The last full PC Championship Manager game was released in 2011, with the mobile game lasting 5 years before Championship Manager was cancelled for good.
One of the most popular football management games of the 2000s was LMA Manager. The console focused game was easily available on the PS2 and offered a 3D match engine which Football Manager didn’t have at the time. The graphics were similar to that of FIFA and PES and this opened up the market to people who didn’t like the spreadsheet look and feel of Football Manager and Championship Manager.
The game allowed you to build and upgrade your stadium, create your own team and even had a Match of the Day style highlight show with commentary from Gary Lineker himself.
The game was canceled after the release of LMA Manager 2007 as the software the game ran on had issues with newer hardware, but LMA Manager will always remain a fond memory of players in the early 2000s and who could forget some of the great songs used in the intros to the games.
FIFA Manager, or Total Club Manager as it was also called, was EA Sport’s attempt at entering the management simulation market. Utilising the game engine from their popular FIFA Football games, FIFA Manager offered fans something recognisable when playing, compared to the 2D match engine of Football Manager.
A big thing for players of FIFA Manager was the official licenses the game had due to EA Sports deals with the FIFA organisation. Leagues and Clubs around the world had their official badges and kits, and the game used real player faces compared to other football management games who had very few official licenses.
The game also had a sort of role playing element which allowed the player to spend their managers wages on things like houses, cars and other goods, even if they couldn’t actually do anything with them.
EA Sports announced that after the release of FIFA Manager 2014 that they would be canceling the series after poor sales compared to Football Manager. Some fans of the game still play it though, with a small community providing seasonal updates each year so that the game lives on.
Pro Evolution Soccer Management
Most people who played football games throughout the 2000s probably aren’t even aware there ever was a Pro Evolution Soccer Management game, but in 2006 Konami released their entry into the genre. The PS2 only release was supposed to rival FIFA Manager, just as Pro Evolution Soccer had been the main rival to the FIFA series, but only the 1 instalment was ever released.
The game featured the same match engine as PES and shared the few official licenses that game had, but errors in spelling and a slow gameplay put players off. Pro Evolution Soccer Management did feature some role-playing aspects such as having to hire a secretary and having face to face meetings with various staff members and new signings but it wasn’t enough to challenge the already established football management franchises.
Konami did release a mobile version of the game during the 2010s, which featured official licenses from various teams each season, but when they rebranded PES to eFootball, they decided to discontinue updates and remove it from the app store.
Let’s Make A Soccer Team!
Probably the strangest feature on this list is Let’s Make a Soccer Team! The game was more like a football club chairman simulator but did let you control the tactics of the team as well. It was very similar to Pro Evolution Soccer Management in how it looked and played, and released in Europe in 2006 as an adaptation of a Japanese game.
Let’s Make a Soccer Team! was unlike all the other games available in the fact that it had a storyline, in which you had an antagonist who was the chairman of a rival club and who you came across throughout the game. You also couldn’t manage a real club in the game, hence the title. The start of the game also made you take part in a play-off, and if you lost you had to start again, which annoyed players because you couldn’t just instantly start like the other football management games.
Only the single instalment was ever released, as publishers SEGA, who also publish Football Manager, decided to focus on the already popular franchise instead of publishing new competitors.