Seeing as we’re about to end the season as we know it and move to our summer schedule, your friend and mine CM_Hints is here to draw a line under the past 3 months. Like most of us, he’s spent it playing Championship Manager but he’s played more versions than most…
Over the past few months, I’ve had the good fortune to play my fair share of football management games from Championship Manager 2 right up to Football Manager 2020. I’ve had the chance to reconnect with past nostalgia as well as reassess and revalidate some of my views. Here are some of my musings:
Championship Manager is better than Football Manager
No doubt I’m being subjective with this claim but I’ve never been a fan of the more contemporary Football Manager titles. I enjoyed FM05 and then was hooked on that for a long period of time. By the time I bought my next Football Manager CD years’ later I was asked to download ‘Steam’ and when I eventually got into the gameplay it just seemed overly complicated. Having dined on the CM titles in my youth I didn’t want to get bogged down with excessive detail. I just wanted to set up my team and play matches! I reacquainted myself with FM when I took them up on their free-to-play offer for Football Manager 2020 but I didn’t enjoy it. Maybe it’s an age thing, but ask yourself this -would you rather complete an entire season in a full day (as you can do in many CM titles) or do you want to spend almost a full day fiddling about with pre-season and then getting fed up after a few games?
Championship Manager 3 is the most under-rated CM
Having seen my CM3 CD sit idly by in the back of my cupboard for years, I thought it best to see if it still worked. To my delight it not only installed but launched via compatibility mode. The memories came flooding back on what a fantastic game this was. As much as I like CM97/98 (in the past as well as now), CM3 has a different and fresh swagger to it. Aesthetically it was a welcome improvement. It also has lots of enhanced features without being overly complex. Best of all, the simulated game play is challenging without being too difficult. I was hooked on CM3 once again. To put this into context, I reinstalled the much coveted CM01/02 the month before and I simply lost interest in playing that after one season. Yes, CM01/02 is the polished version of CM3. But sometimes you have to go to the proto-version to appreciate it in its nascent state, especially when many retro gamers choose to overlook it.
Playing Championship Manager on my mobile phone
Ever since I heard rumours in the early part of the last decade that CM enthusiasts had managed to play old CM titles on their smartphones it was something that I also wanted to follow up on. But all of the previous instructions I had seen appeared to have too many steps. That’s when I was finally made aware of a relatively easy way to install CM97/98 on my Android phone. This took CM to a whole new level for me to the point where I stopped playing CM on my laptop. If only my teenage self could see what was possible in the future! My save was going very well until I accidentally broke my mobile phone and had to wait before it got replaced. Since then I haven’t played CM on my mobile phone. However, I’ve also done research on phone based football management games, such as Retro Football Management, which are contemporary alternatives to CM that are available in Google Store or Apple Store.
Buying players on CM for nostalgia’s sake
One of the main reasons I still play CM is simply due to the fact that I can still buy players in the year 2020 that retired many years ago and who I watched live on TV back in the day. It’s why I bought Stan Collymore and Paul Gascoigne in my CM3 Real Madrid save.
Sure, I didn’t win La Liga with them and I could have better spent the transfer kitty. But sometimes I especially make a point to buy players who were superb in their day but had an unfortunate demise in their playing careers with sole aim of creating alternative pathways for them to see what could have been.
Managing England to glory
Obviously the bulk of my CM gameplay is club-based. But at times I do enjoy a bit of international management. Whether that’s experimenting with Norway’s amazing group of players from the late 90s or getting the Republic of Ireland to France 98 with John Aldridge and Tony Cascarino up front. But I also enjoy managing England. Again it comes down to creating an alternative history and answering many what ifs. I recently manged England in CM2 as ‘Terry Venables’ and it felt great when we won Euro 96 and reached the final of France 98. What could have been with Jason Wilcox on the left and Chris Sutton up top. Of course, CM2 is far easier than CM97/98 but that feeling of guiding England to championship glory is priceless.
CM during unprecedented times
The fact CM has kept many people busy at home during a time when it wasn’t safe to go outside means a lot. Retro gaming, particularly CM, skyrocketed over the past few months, beyond ardent enthusiasts. It offered a sense of virtual escapism when we were restricted in what we could do. No doubt many would have stopped playing CM once the lockdown eased. But the fact it kept people occupied and indoors is reassuring.
The CM community
I initially created a CM-related Twitter handle almost as a screen dumping repository so that I didn’t spam my FPL followers on my main account with football images that were 20+ years old. But over the past two and a half years I’ve had the good fortune to connect with likeminded retro gamers and it’s nice to see that the CM community on Twitter has grown so rapidly. The annual CM Cup that Dave organises brings many enthusiasts together and is testament to the fanatical passion that still exists for CM. Long may it last.
Thank you to the Collyer brothers
Last but not least if it wasn’t for Paul and Oliver CM wouldn’t be what it is today. I wanted to give them an honourable mention as they’ve had a substantial influence in our football management gaming choices till this day.