Football Manager 2020 Touch (or ‘FM20 Touch’ as it’s being marketed) is the latest offering to armchair managers from Sports Interactive and Sega. For those of you unfamiliar with the ‘Touch’ editions of FM games on Nintendo Switch, they sit between the more comprehensive version of the game on PC and the more condensed less detailed edition on mobiles. One of the first things that I noticed is how good the games looks compared to last year’s edition. The colours on the menus pop out of the Switch screen and first impressions of the game are positive.
After picking a club to manage (Norwich City) I was immediately introduced to one of the new features of this edition: the ‘Club Vision’. Whether it’s the Club Culture of ‘playing possession football’ or the 5 year plan to work within my wage budget, I like that it’s not a case of just winning. Which is something I was going to need as my league objective was to ‘fight bravely against relegation’. A balance between possession football, spending little to no money and trying to stave off relegation seemed to be what was needed.
And that’s kind of what the Touch editions of these games are, a balance between the stat heavy PC version and the almost ‘lite’ edition on mobile devices.
I wanted to delve into what was new this year and looked around my club at what I could do. What Sports Interactive have done this year, is make sure that new players are looked after. Every aspect of your club that you can manage is introduced with a brief tutorial. I’ve played the game a few times over the years, including last year’s edition on Switch but I found it helpful to be reminded how everything worked and it’s something that I feel has been pushed with new players in mind.
One of the biggest strengths to this game is how accessible it is. There’s a lot of versatility to how you can play the game, depending on how involved you want to be. Every aspect of your team management can be delegated to someone if you don’t want to take it on. Don’t want to sort out individual training regimes? Let your assistant manager do it. Don’t fancy going back and forth in negotiations for that player you really want to sign? Leave it all to your Director of Football.
There’s a level of realism to this too. Football clubs are huge entities and if you look at any of the larger clubs in England, they’ll have various responsibilities delegated to these people. There’s no shame in just managing the team and using your backroom staff. This is what I told myself four weeks into the Norwich job anyway.
But if you do want to get involved in the finer running of the club, then you can. And as much as the game will hold your hand if you want it to, there’s depth if you want it. Take the newly added Development Centre, which allows you to keep an eye on your youth prospects and be more involved in their development. This isn’t something you’d get involved in if you were just playing casually – this is for the players who are going to be ten seasons deep and wanting to bring their wonderkids through.
I liked this game more the longer I spent with it. Which is a huge compliment because playing last year’s edition on my Switch I found myself not playing beyond a season. I do have some grievances though, which will make or break it for a lot of people I think. The loading times pre-match are just unnecessarily long. At best it was about 30 seconds and considering what’s being rendered, it stopped me from playing most games. I found myself experimenting with the instant result tactics and sometimes just delegating duties to my assistant manager.
Then there’s the ‘touch’ aspect. While the touch screen on the Switch is criminally underused in many games, here I really don’t like using it. There’s no comfortable way to hold a Switch using both joy-cons and using a touch screen – unless you detach the joy cons and then you’re looking at a small tablet screen effectively. And then I just want to play this on an iPad with a bigger screen..
I like to think that I’m the kind of person who will sit down and play Football Manager on my PC and carefully take my own team Oldham Athletic out of League 2 and into the dizzy heights of the Champions League. And while there’s definitely something here for the more hardcore players on the go, this is a game for the casual manager. Which I think is fine, that’s what the Switch should be for football manager players. It should be accessible and despite a few issues with it, I think I’ll be coming back to it this year.