Ahhh - Football Manager. Every so often I kick the habit, but then I play football or watch a game and I suddenly relapse. Recently embarrassing shambling real-life matches with Rich, Graham and Tom S. have knocked me well off the wagon. But if I'm going down, I'm taking you all with me.
Here's a list of the five essential updates, graphical tweaks and utilities to tempt you back in.
FM Genie Scout is one of the better known utilities in the Football Manager world. It's a simple little program that lets you peek behind the curtain and see a lot of the invisible stats that keep the game running. The most obvious use is to check the potential ability of new young players to find the best talents. But it can also be used for other purposes, like checking your managers reputation to figure out why you aren't getting any job offers. Some may consider this cheating, but I'll leave the decision to use it up to you and your conscience.
When you're searching for the best cheap young players, bigger is always better. Back in ye olden days, Football Managers could select an extra large database called 'huge', which would retain an enormous amount of obscure players, at least for those whose PCs could handle it. Nowadays Sports Interactive prefer to let you load players from different nations manually. But if you're feeling nostalgic, or just want a broad selection of different players, you can download this little fix and restore the huge database to it's former glory.
Very few players in Football Manager actually have a decent photograph on their profile. Sure, high profile players like Wayne Rooney and Christiano Ronaldo might, but what about all those unknown Peruvian wonderkids you've been signing? Don't you wonder what that promising Botswanan defender actually looks like? This enormous facepack adds over a hundred thousand new pictures for players and staff members, bringing the real world and the FM world closer together than ever.
Skins are small graphical mods that overhaul the menus of Football Manager. Since Football Manager consists almost entirely of menus, this is one of the biggest visual changes you can make to the game. There's a variety of skins available, and many of the ones we mentioned in our Football Manager 2011 Skins Roundup have been updated to work with the new game. Our favourite is Steklo , pictured above, which gives a darker, more streamlined look to the UI.
Training has always been the most niche aspect of Football Manager. Try as Sports Interactive might, they've never quite made it as engaging as tactics and transfers. For those who aren't that interested in crafting a personalised training regime, but still want to optimise their players' development, we recommend Maestro Ugo's training regime . It comes with a variety of schedules for different roles, so just assign the appropriate one to each player, get some quality coaches in and let the Maestro do the work for you.