Football Manager 21: Beta Review

Thousands of Football Manager players, like me, were left frustrated and at the edge of our seats after SI delayed the release of the early access to the game. Throughout the wait, we had to bear with the incessant teasers from the FM Twitter account. Nevertheless, the wait was worth it, and the fans finally got a taste of the new game.

As previously reported, sections of the game underwent significant reforms, and these were very noticeable to those who had played previous editions of the game.

Press conferences

Press conferences on FM21 now have a vague similarity with the pandemic style pressers. If you have watched a pre-match presser during the pandemic, you will notice that the press officers cue in journalists. Similarly, in FM21, managers attend press conferences with their press officers who introduce the journalists before they ask questions. This subtle change was one of the pleasant surprises I met when I attended my first presser.

Also, you can now see the journalists’ responses to comments you make during the press conference. Some answers you give will encourage them, or vice versa, which will, in turn, be compounded to provide you with a press summary–presented by your press officer.

The new gesture system is present in press conferences. Unfortunately, you do not have complete freedom of them. There are still no gestures to mimic fiery conferences like Jose Mourinho’s infamous ones. However, you still have the option to storm out of pressers, now dull, like in previous versions of the game.

In match changes

In contrast to gestures during press conferences, the in-match gesture system encompasses extreme gestures, and as such, allow you to tell your players exactly how you feel. Now when your team is losing a cup competition at half-time to a second division team, you don’t have to settle for ‘I am disappointed with your performance so far.’ However, you must tread carefully while experimenting some of the gestures to avoid adverse reactions from the players–in some cases, ‘no gesture’ is the best option.

Sports Interactive had mentioned that the match engine was going to be augmented. This improvement is evident, and you will undoubtedly notice after a couple of games–that is except you play(ed) the game in 2D. Off the ball, players make more dynamic movements. You may see players make runs to create space for the ball carrier or opting to recycle possession in the final third when the final ball isn’t on. The consequence of these improvements is a greater variety of chances created hence a unique assortment of goals.

Recruitment Processes

Hands-on managers will love the new recruitment processes the game affords. Periodic recruitment meetings are held with select board members and the chief scout where positions with sub-optimal players are identified, and potential transfer targets for those positions discussed. It is a feature new to the franchise and allows you to be in greater control of the recruitment system.

Managers can also now ask agents about player availability, which will give you an idea about the player’s willingness, the wages he will demand, the transfer fee estimate and general player expectations upon arriving at the club. This feature was overdue, and it is exciting to see SI finally implement it in the game.


The game is in its Beta testing, so glitches are not absent. You may notice issues with mouse sensitivity as you play the game: you may drag a player from the bench to a position only for the game to move the one adjacent to the player you selected. This issue of sensitivity extends beyond this instance. In numerous drag-drop processes across the game, you will notice similar faults.

SI, in response to demands by managers, added more payment options for loan deals and claimed to have increased the likelihood that a loan-with-future-purchase deal will be accepted. However, for managers who handle all transfer negotiations themselves, this added feature will make loan-with-future-purchase deals more complicated– your Director of football cannot help out with loans, even if you wanted. There is also no apparent ‘willingness’ by teams to accept loan deals, although this may not be the case with other managers playing different saves.

The game is already a success and a clear improvement on the previous versions of the franchise.

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