Come on ye greens

Player Manager logo Amiga Computing Excellence Award

RECENTLY I sent a messenger pigeon to good old Green, the pipe-smoking wheelchair bound Reviews Editor, with the following message: "Listen spongehead, I've got hold a copy of Anco's Player Manager, it's wonderful, do you want a review?"
Back came his carrier sparrow (anything to save money) with the reply "Um, ahh, well, that be the question laddie. Now then, don't be getting all hasty like, I'll have to consult me Old Fogeys Almanac first".

Many days later I visited his feather and dropping-festooned office and shook him awake. "Well you dozy old retard, what's it to be. A brilliant and witty review of the best management-with-action-bits game ever or a poke in the eye with a blunt stick?"
"Eh, what did you say your name was sonny?" he muttered while brushing away the cobwebs covering his pipe.

Lacking the requisite patience for dealing with the old and infirm I grabbed him by the tweed lapels and screamed, "Do you want a review or not you dozy half-wit?"
"Eeh, ar suppose so then lad. We'll have 400 words by tomorrow's pigeon post then."
With a growing sense of horror I suddenly realised that I'd written over 200 words already, and that there was scant room left to wax lyrical about this most magnificent of management games. Enough scene setting then, on with a particularly terse review.

You are the player manager of a Third Division club, with a decent size squad, money enough to raid a very large transfer market (there are more than 1,000 individually detailed players in the league), a cup competition, coaching tactics, and the chance to play in the Kick Off style game (which only last six minutes in total).

A board of directors monitors managerial performance, giving you the boot if you cock it all up, vetoing transfer deals if they involve running up a large overdraft and actually suggesting you spend some money when you have a huge cash mountain.

Players are rated on physique and skills out of 200. These include pace, stamina, endurance and violent tendencies. Be aware that players with poor stamina virtually give up moving towards the end of a game.

Passing, shooting, tackling and goalkeeping are the skills, and are relevant according to position played. Some skilled players may be better off being retrained to be a striker instead of say a midfield player.

The transfer market is excellently done, involving limited time per week and price haggling. Selling players requires them to be placed on the transfer list, and you having to wait for offers from interested parties. It is invariably mpossible to shift a player for what the board seems to think he is worth.

Tactics are everything. There are the standard 4-2-4, 4-3-3, 4-4-2 and 5-3-2 formations, but any of these can be replaced with your own custom formations and tactics. The pitch is split into 12 sections, and the players can be re-arranged regarding what positions to try and take when the ball enters each one. Corners and kickoffs are set piece plays that can also be designed.

When playing the actual games you can sit on the sidelines (eventually you have no choice because of retirement) or play in the games in Kick Off fashion. There are substitutions and injuries, disciplinary points for yellow and red cars, the ability to change tactics at certain points, and the ability to just control the player-manager and stay in position.

The gameplay is much harder than normal Kick Off, and it features pitches and goalkicks from Extra Time. Watching the game is tense and nervy stuff (you can always skip this part and have the computer generate the result only), and knocks the so called match highlights of other games into touch.

Needless to say its totally fab, and makes Football Manager I and II look like total plop. Why delay, buy today, football heaven... and other slogans Anco will use in its adverts with us, etc, etc.

Player Manager logo Format Gold

ANCO £19.95 * Keyboard and Joystick

So what can you do to improve what is already the best football game ever to have appeared? Even Anco, publishers of Kick Off, tripped themselves up when they tried to enhance the excellent original (Amiga Format Gold Award, Issue One) with an expansion disk called Extra Time. That went down like a lead balloon because, to quote our review, "it is almost like you can take all the good bits out of Kick Off and play a very average football game". But now there is Player Manager.

There are two very major differences between KO and PM. Kick Off is the best one or two player arcade footy game whereas PM is for the solo player and contains not only an enhanced version of KO, but a whole management game as well.

The management side first. Starting the season as the newly appointed manager of a division three club (called whatever you like) the long-term aim of the game is to take your bunch of hopefuls to the top of the first and win several cups along the way. Each season is made up of 24 matches and doing well involves not only juggling your players and picking the best side for each match, but also overseeing the training, scouting for new players, putting players you are not happy with on the transfer list and the all-important on-field tactics.

There is a whole section of the game that lets you decide where players should be on the pitch at any one time: during corners, in attack and so on. All the player-designed tactics and modifications can be saved to disk so your team really can play as you want them to. And statistics freaks will be pleased to know there are reams of them to wade through should you so wish.

The arcade side of things is in two main parts. You can play properly, as one man in one position or you can control the whole team just like the old days. Do the latter, however, and your team will suffer a slight loss of form, The matches are in the classic viewed-from-above style and each lasts three minutes each way.

Play the matches, deal with the problems, enjoy the victories and remember to save your position when you have had enough for one day.


There is not much to listen to, just the occasional whistle blow and crowd noise during the match. The graphics though are much better as every Kick Off veteran will know. They are smooth, quick and well animated. During the management section, too, all the menus and windows are big and bright so it is not easy to make a mistake.


You will be playing this for months to come: there is so much to do!


After the disappointment of Extra Time, this is cracking stuff. The mix between management and arcade is the best to have appeared in any football game, making it enthralling and addictive. There is a whole mess of extra options and choices that, added together, make this a worthy upgrade to Kick Off. If you own KO already and are fed up with having to play the computer the whole time this is a must. If you do not own Kick Off, Player Manager should be near the top of your shopping list.

The version we played did contain the odd bug, however (the corner-kick one from Kick Off is still there) and it did crash occasionally so make sure you save your position often.

Player Manager logo

Viele Sportfans haben sehnsüchtig darauf gewartet, daß zum dem Kultspiel "Kick Off" endlich auch eine Manager-Variante erscheint. Nun, jetzt ist sie da und muß zeigen, daß sie den großen Erwartungen auch gerecht werden kann!

Anfangen tut's mit - einer Kaffeepause! Um ein neues Spiel vorzubereiten, braucht der leidgeplagte Amiga nämlich stolze acht Minuten (das Programm ist wahrscheinlich in Kick Off-Basic geschrieben...). Aber dann geht's richtig los: Man gibt die gewünschten Namen für Mannschaft und Manager ein, und schon ist man im Hauptmenü (der Spielmodus muß zwar auch schon festgelegt werden, aber dazu kommen wir später).

Das Hauptmenü enthält seinerseits wieder neun verschiedene Untermenüs: Beim Mausklick auf "Mannschaft" erfährt man naheliegenderweise alles über seine Spieler, wieviele und wen man hat, wer verletzt oder gesperrt ist und so weiter. Das "Club"-Icon verrät die errungenen Titel und wie es einem kohlemäßig und überhaupt so geht.

"Taktik" erklärt sich wohl von selbst, alle Einzelheiten wie Anpfiff, Eckstoß etc. lassen sich getrennt festlegen und speichern. Weiter gibt es "Trainer", "Pokal" und "Speichern"; interessant ist noch der Punkt "Transfers": Hier werden Unmengen von Spielern zum Kauf angeboten, nach Preisklassen geordnet wie auf dem Wochenmarkt. Dabei kann auch gefeilscht werden - im Dutzend gibt's die Kerle natürlich billiger!

Das Spiel selbst wird in den Varianten "schnell" bzw. "langsam" offeriert; in der flotten Fassung darf man 22 kleinen, nicht einmal cursorgroßen Pünktchen bei ihrer hektischen Verfolgungsjagd zugucken. Außer ein paar taktischen Korrekturen in der Halbzeit gibt es für den Manager hier wenig zu tun (na gut, man muß zuvor eine Grundstrategie festlegen und darf auch Trikotnummern austeilen...).

Ach ja: Eine dritte Möglichkeit wäre, auf die ganze Spielerei zu verzichten und sich nur das Ergebnis ansagen zu lassen - schnell und schmerzlos halt.
Wer aber im Actionteil selbst mit aufs Spielfeld will, muß die langsame Fassung wählen; hier kann er entweder die ganze Mannschaft (sprich, den Spieler im Ballbesitz) oder einen bestimmten Spieler steuern.

Wichtig: Der gewünschte Spielmodus musß am Anfang festgelegt werden, nachträgliches Umschwenken ist nicht mehr möglich. Der Manager-teil ist schon eine ausgereifte Sache, aber das allein genügt eben noch nicht. Bei einem guten Spiel muß auch der Rest stimmen!
Und der sieht hier leider ziemlich düster aus: Die Grafik ist unter aller Kanone, im direkten Vergleich zu "Manchester United" eine glatte Katastrophe, und der Sound besteht nur aus wenigen FX. Auch die Handhabung verdient sich eher das Prädikat "umständlich & langwierig", durch die vielen Menüs wird alles noch unübersichtlicher. "Kick Off" wurde zwar eingebaut, aber in einer verkrüppelten Minimalfassung; man kann nur fünf Minuten spielen, die übrigen Optionen (Zwei-Spieler-Modus etc.) fehlen ebenfalls.

Es macht den Eindruck, daß die Macher von Player Manager in erster Linie vom großen Namen "Kick Off" profitieren wollten, ich habe mir jedenfalls mehr erwartet. (mm)

Player Manager logo CU Amiga Super Star

Price: £19.95

How many times have we lost at Kick Off and said "Oh, I must have had a bad team"? How many times have we been faced with a far superior computer team and wished we could have done something about it? Wish no more, Player Manager has finally arrived, and it is far better than I ever expected.

A logical progression from Kick Off, the core of the game remains basically the same. After all, the centre of any football management game is the match itself, and what better thing to play than Kick Off?

As the title suggests, you are a player-manager, much along the lines of Kenny Dalglish's role in Liverpool, so really you have two games for the price of one. Make no mistake, it is Kick Off plain and simple, with one or two variations. For a start, each player is now strongly affected by injury and stamina levels. Bring a player down once too many and he will limp off the pitch and be rendered out of the game for a few weeks. Stamina is another crucial factor, as your number 9 striker may be able to out run anything on the pitch, though he may have trouble keeping up with the opposing defenders after half time. For the first time in a football game, those rows and rows of little statistics actually seem to mean something.

You only play one player against the computer, which is a bit of a let down where Kick Off is concerned, but the computer is no push over. Each team plays differently and is composed of different skilled players, so studying form and playing strategies is of vital importance if you want to get anywhere.

But where PM really holds it own is on the management side. Here, in amongst all the detailed form sheets and generous assortment of menus, is where all the important decisions are made, starting right off with who you are. There are basically two roles you can play. The first, and possibly the easiest, is the true managerial role, in which case you can play the whole team, as in Kick Off. The oter role, and one I find a bit odd, is the role of a true player manager, where you still make all the managerial choices, but can only play football as one member of the team. No more passing to yourself across the pitch, as it were. In this mode, you can only play your chosen position, and have to work with the computer operating the rest of your team for you. Tough to play, but infinitely more rewarding.

As management games go, Player Manager is definitely a step in the right direction. A lot of the menus and options cover old ground, but in the case of player transfer markets and financial details, that is unavoidable. However, possibly one of the most impressive options yet seen on a managerial game, and the keystone to addictiveness and involvement of this game, is the Tactics option. Forget selecting 4-24 or 4-3-3, PM lets you plan all your set pieces just the way you want them. An infinite amount of different strategies are available for you, the only limit is your imagination. By placing the players in the best positions for your style of play, and marking out approximate 'trace' lines, telling each player where they should be for any given moment, you will never be able to say that you are not in full control of your game.

At last a management game that requires true management skills. Add to that the most addictive arcade soccer game ever, and if you do not have a winner, I will buy you a drink.

Football is quite a popular subject at the local EMAP water hole, and there are many usually quiet members of staff who suddenly become amazingly articulate at the first mention of Astroturf. A night in the pub with Mike Pattenden can turn into quite an educational one. For example, did you know:

The fastest own goal in league history was scored by pat Kruse of Torquay United in around 6 seconds after kick off?

Or did you know: Tony "Donkey" Adams is the only player in footballing history to score a goal for both sides in both a national and an international match?

The smallest crowd ever to turn up for a full international match was 2,315 adoring fans of Wales vs. North Ireland in May, 1982.

And two small, though significant facts: the smallest paying crowd for a league match was on the 7th May 1921 at a match at the Old Trafford ground between Stockport County and Leicester City. The total number of paying punters was 13.

Get paid less for doing two jobs - sounds familiar...

Player Manager logo Zzap! Sizzler

Anco, Amiga £29.99

Being the manager of a football club is a stressful occupation - it's easy to get laryngitis screaming at dozing players. Some enraged bosses even make regular pitch invasions. You're one such boss, but unlike Cloughie, your place on the pitch is entirely legitimate. As player manager of a Third Division side you can inspire your team to victory by playing alongside them. Do well and you could gain promotion or even with the FA cup; do badly and the club's board of directors will soon let you know!

If you're starting your very first season, the computer takes a few minutes creating an unique game environment of teams and players which is saved onto a blank disk (also used for saved game positions).

Management menus are accessed with the mouse and include:
Squad: Gives full details of players, including their physical abilities (pace, agility, stamina etc) and skill attributes (passing, shooting, tackling, goal-keeping). Players can be sold by putting them on the transfer list (unhappy players may request a transfer).
Transfer: Here you can buy players on other clubs' transfer lists. After selection of the desired position and priced bracket, a suitable list of players is displayed. You can view full details of any player and attempt to buy him by haggling the price with his club.
Club: Includes club records, finances, managerial assessment, and the season's complete fixture list.
Tactics: Here you can create (and save) new team formations, using the tactics designer. A map of the pitch is divided into 12 square sectors. You can determine the target position of each of your players for when the ball is in each of the sectors, as well as for goal kicks and corners. A useful aid in evaluating your formation is the Ray Trace facility which shows how far your players have to run as the ball moves from sector to sector.
Coach: There are three types of training: Squad Training allows you to change the specified position (goalkeeper, defender, midfielder, forward) of a player by retraining him in a new one. Tactical Training allows you to modify one of the team's four formations or replace it with one previously designed with the Tactics option. Extra Training simply improves the squad's performance, but if overused can lead to low morale.
Match Day: Time for the big match. After viewing the opposition's squad, you can pick your team. As well as eleven starting players, two substitutes must also be selected along with your starting formation.

The match itself is a slightly altered version of programmer Dino Dini's arcade footy game, Kick Off, with the action taking place on an overhead-view, scrolling pitch. If you're in the selected team, you get to play either in your chosen position or for the whole team, flicking from player to player as they get closest to the ball - this choice can only be made when you start a new game of Player Manager. Either of your two subs can be put on at any time and a change of tactics made simultaneously.

If you're in a hurry, you can play an accelerated version of the match (with a static pitch and dots of players) or just get the final result.

Being a player manager is an exciting job, but as your physical fitness wanes with age you may decide to hang up your boots and become a normal manager - complete with 'sick as a parrot' facial expression and hoarse voice!

Phil King I'm overjoyed to say that Player Manager has been well worth the anxious months of waiting. The mixture of management and arcade games works very well indeed with the players visibly performing according to their abilities. All the management menus are very easy to use and neatly presented. Rather than just pick your team, there are great coaching and tactics options which can really pay dividends on the pitch. The transfer system is particularly impressive with plenty of players to choose from and a neat bidding system. The match action is an improvement on Kick Off with cleverer computer players making for a more skilful game - especially when you're playing in one position. And with the long term interest offered by league and cup competitions you'll never want to hang up your boots.
Robin Hogg This really is an incredibly realistic simulation of every aspect of football. Players behave just like their real life counterparts, becoming unhappy if they don't get to play for a while. Even players' private lives can interfere with their career: they can get killed in a car crash or be arrested on drugs charges! Another realistic aspect is the board of directors who'll stop you from buying a player if they think he's too expensive, and sack you if the team performs badly. As for the match action it's an improvement on Kick Off with more intelligent computer players and fewer bugs! And the great news for Kick Off fans is that the soon-to-be-released Kick Off II will allow you to play two-player games with any of the sides and tactics created in Player Manager!
Scorelord Football has always seemed to me as yet more proof of the complete idiocy of Mankind - 90 minutes of whacking a leather ball up and down a bit of pitch rivals cricket as the most tedious activity in the know universe. But Kick Off was different, offering mind-blurring speed which tested arcade reflexes to the limit. A superb test of fast-action skill and a minimum of complex tactics. Now Dino Dini has miraculously taken the best arcade game of '89, improved it, and added one of the best football management games ever written.
The ability to spend hundreds of thousands on new players, sell off the OAPs (i.e. P. King), develop your own unique formations, and control substitutions/tactics during matches is great. The burden of keeping your finances in the black and spotting the right players to bring in and who to sack (via in-depth profiles) is very realistic. The core Kick Off game is sadly lacking the two-player mode, but compensates with a role-playing option where you control just one player - risking injury and sending offs. Football fans will find this an absolutely essential purchase, but anyone else who appreciates a great arcade game and an in-depth strategy game should enjoy it just as much.