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iPhone  header logo

Manage Your Football Club

For: iPhone   Also on: Android

No score draw

Product: Manage Your Football Club | Developer: Sports Director | Publisher: My Interactive | Format: iPhone | Genre: Simulation, Sports | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.2
Manage Your Football Club iPhone, thumbnail 1
No matter their subject, management games are fundamentally about providing you with the levers to manipulate interesting results from a statistical database.

Put this way, they don't sound very exciting, do they?

Of course, that's because the excitement is generated by the players' self-involvement with the subject in question.

As is made plain by its title, Manage Your Football Club is all about football: perhaps the prime subject for management games, at least for European sport fans.

Based on an existing database from its developer Sports Director - and previously employed in Football Director DS - MYFC's use of real-life club and player names certainly sets the scene for those fans who have had enough of playing as Manchester Reds, not to mention having to select Payne Ronnie and Michel Owens.

Here you have your pick of the clubs of the four English divisions and the players therein, the latter limited only by your ability to pay their transfer and wages. Verisimilitude is also followed in details such as clubs having their correct stadium names, as well as access to cup competitions - including European ones - and transfer windows built into the season's calendar.

The best way to start the game is with one of the smaller teams and try to work your way up the greasy divisional pole. (For the record, I choose Chester City and took them completely nowhere.)

Indeed, part of the reason for the lateness of this review - Manage Your Football Club was released back in April - was that the initial build suffered from a 'difficult to win matches' bug.

Quite how I didn't get sacked or relegated after a completely winless first season with The Seals remains a mystery. The meters of fan confidence and board confidence didn't seem to drop much, either. Maybe they're used to failure down Deva Stadium way, or perhaps there was a 'difficult to sack' bug?

Now, however, with version 1.2 of the game installed, and some wins under my belt, it's time to take a more considered view.

The first thing to note is MYFC offers a polished and fairly easy-to-use interface into its database, with the four main buttons located on the bottom of the screen, and an info icon if you need further help with any aspect of the game.

The main button you interact with contains details of your squad, training schedule, and match instructions.

Each player 'consists' of 12 attributes, ranging from Tackling, Passing, and Shooting to Fitness and Temperament. These are then combined into an overall statistic. Each player is also defined by position and whether he's deployed best on the left, right or centrally, which feeds into your best formations.

Training is split into various types such as five-a-side, free time, tactics and set piece practice, and each player has their own individual training menu split between skills, pace, strength and free time too.

These are the basic levers at your command, although as you get further into the game money becomes more important in terms of keeping your club in profit. You need to wheel and deal in the transfer markets, as well as tweaking your players' weekly wages if that sort of thing floats your boat.

Yet as you start to play your way through the seasons, you're actually given little feedback in terms of how activities such as training change these attributes, either in an individual or for the team. Some RPG-style levelling up menus would have be a nice option, for example.

Picking formations also felt akin to guesswork. You can check out how your next opponents are approaching the match in terms of their formation and team selection and try to second guess them, but again it's not very clear whether setting a 4-4-2 against a 4-4-2 is better than keeping to a more attacking 3-5-3, which was my formation of choice.

I would have liked some sort of system whereby the more times players play together the better they become as a unit as well. In real-life this sort of thing is crucial in terms of central defensive partners for example.

Which is why, after a couple of seasons bouncing around the lower half of League Two with Chester City, I didn't really feel that Manage Your Football Club was providing me with many options to improve our performance. Aside from replacing injured players and buying better one as finances allowed, the only other main option was hit the Next Match Date button.

For me, the most telling example of this lack of transparency, however was the option you have to view each match 'as it happens' with text commentary and a topdown 2D view of a pitch with a moving ball, or the Result Only option.

Now, I'm sure the database is deterministic in terms of the providing the same result whichever option you choose, but I always had a nagging feeling that a losing result would have been different if I'd chosen the other one.

Obviously, this is completely down to personal psychology but overall I just didn't feel that when pulling on my levers there was enough feedback to convince me they were properly connected to the game's database.

And that's why, despite its graphical polish and the obvious care that has gone into the interface and general flow of the game, it's hard to recommend Manage Your Football Club as an especially exciting addition to the world of iPhone management games.
Manage Your Football Club
Reviewer photo
Jon Jordan | 15 July 2009
It has the right clubs and player names, but Manage Your Football Club never convinces you're in full control of your team's performance where it really matters - on the pitch
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