Famous footballing quotes no. 78 - Tommy Docherty: "Well I didn't know she was your wife!"

Premier Manager 1 logo Amiga Computing Gamer Gold

GREMLIN * £25.99 * 1 meg * Mouse * Out now

When we learned that the kindly Gremlin person was to pay us a visit last week, a wave of anticipation swept through the office. We'd been looking forward to the arrival of the much talked about Nigel Mansell World Championship for weeks, and since I had long since scheduled myself to review it I was delighted at the prospect of a Friday afternoon swerving round the circuits and generally being a right pain in the aerofoil.

Somebody asked if he was bringing "that football management game" as well. I replied, uninterested, "Uh, yeah... I suppose so" - and promptly returned to that small place in my mind where I had already begun tuning my Williams.

Well, Gremlin Man duly arrived and I could literally smell the fumes from that ultrapowered engine as he neared the Gamer hovel - he swore blind it wasn't his aftershave With the Mansell box nestling teasingly under his arm we exchanged greetings, and then before I knew what was happening he hit me with the bombshell "All right, shall we have a look at Premier Manager first then?"

What? Premier who? Was this some kind of joke? Now, I'm happy to look at just about any computer game - it's my job after all - but when you have a massive license thrill-'em-up such as Nigel Mansell at your disposal, a football management game starts to look a bit poxy.
There was nothing for it - Biff was penciled in for this one, so over he came to be talked through it, while I perched impatiently beside him.

Up to four players can take part, we learned, and I was invited to join in this veritable managerial feast. This was at eleven o'clock. Six hours later, long after Gremlin Man had disappeared and Biff was arranging his lift home, I was still doggedly guiding the mighty Wycombe Wanderers through the league and cups - bladder full, lunch uneaten, and Nigel Mansel discarded and untouched.

Needless to say, some hectic workload juggling and rapid arm-twisting - not to mention bribing - took place in order that I could review this masterpiece, and thus further my excuse for playing it lots more.

I understand that Mansell has now been opened and will be reviewed by someone or other in this issue, but frankly I just don't care anymore... I'm in love.

Let's just clear one thing up before we go on. If this were a review of computerised chess, and you couldn't play, it wouldn't hold too much interest for you would it? Similarly, those who loathe football are unlikely to be swayed by even my enthusiastic persuasiveness - but hey - read on... you never know.

You begin your career as the manager of a GM Vauxhall Conference League team - the choice of exactly which is yours - and the basic aim is to achieve as much success as possible from your humble beginnings, hoping eventually to become Premier League champs and maybe even win the European Cup.

Not only will you utilise all of your mighty managerial skills, but a goodly amount of business acumen is required too, in order to ensure the overall stability of the club.

Premier Manager has got so many features that I really don't know where to start, so look at the boxes littered around this page for a run-down of the game's various features. This isn't all of it by any means - I haven't even touched upon the cup competitions or injuries or... I could go on.

Most people who do follow football are likely to support a league team, and may be disappointed that they can't jump straight into the game as Liverpool or Man United. In fact the only way in which you can change club is by being offered a new position at the end of a season - obviously dependent upon how well you fared. This doesn't detract form the game in any way, and if anything only makes the whole thing more realistic - let's face it - Liverpool versus Stalybridge Celtic in the Conference league isn't really likely, is it?

If you are a fan of this kind of thing, or have been disappointed by previous attempts - indeed even if yo are an Eskimo hermit living on a glacier above a Norwegian hamlet with no access to electricity - buy this game.
Buy it, buy it, buy it. I love Premier Manager so much I want to have its babies.


Premier Manager 1
OPERATION SCREEN
This is the mains screen, from which all the major features of the game are controlled. Finance, club staff, transfer markets, player profiles, league tables and more are all accessed from this point.

Premier Manager 1
TEAM
OK, so we're Wycombe Wanderers, and here is the motley crew that constitutes our team. A team is ranked through five varying levels of fair, good, very good and superb, and through world clas, exceptional and finally The Ultimate.
As you can see, we've got a long way to go - think we'd better check out the transfer market.

Premier Manager 1
FINANCE
BEfore we can splash out on any new players, it might be an idea to consult our finances. It might look like a lot of money - but good players don't come cheap, and wages, bills and ground repairs won't take care of themselves either.
Loans are availabe, but interest rates are high, so be warned.

Premier Manager 1
TRANSFER MARKET
Having kidded ourselves that we can afford to spend, it's time to see just what's for sale. All team details are correct to within a few months, and there are plenty of famous names up for grabs.
By clicking on the magnifying glass icon more detailed information - and the asking price, gulp! - can be learned.

Premier Manager 1
SPONSORSHIP
This is the most frequent and lucrative form of income available. COmpanies will be queuing up to sponsor you at the beginning of the season (even the odd quality magazine!) but a string of poor results will soon see the support drop.
Check for new sponsors after every couple of matches.

Premier Manager 1
OPPOSITION
Once you have made sure your team is training hard, you're almost ready to play the first match. Have a look at the opposing team first - they're ranked in the same way as your own team - and set your formation and playing style according to your strengths and their weaknesses. This should be a walkover!

Premier Manager 1
THE MATCH!
Yes, I know the game is small, but it's the result that matters. The match can be played at six speeds: the slowest is about 1/4 real time, the fastest 30 seconds.
The name of the player currently on the ball is displayed, as are those of the scorers. Substitutions can be made at any time and - oh... I've lost.

Premier Manager 1
TRAINING
You could be forgiven for thinking that you had a team of slackers after that performance! Phone the coach to ensure your players are being properly trained.
All players can train to either shoot, tackle, pass or handle (advisable for goalies only!). On returning from injury, a player will not train until instructed to do so - keep a check.

Premier Manager 1
LEAGUE TABLES
Hang about - what's all this? We're in Division 1! Well, I did tell you I spent a lot of time on this game. It's all very well being in Division 1, but a look at my finances at this stage would show a balance that's £7 million in the red.
Excuse me while I go and sort it out. Oh, by they way, Gremlin Cheat 1 is just my nickname - honest!


Premier Manager 1 logo

Football management games have almost been as unpopular as footy managers are in real life, but that's about to change...

Earlier on in 1992 there was a conversation in the Amiga Format office that went something like this:
"Never, no chance, no way will anyone bring out a decent football management sim."
"Er... who cares. Get on with some work."
But there are good flight and driving sims, there's even a good submarine sim, but there isn't a good footy management sim!"
"So what?"
"There are millions of people all over the country who know they can do a better job than their team's manager. So why is there no decent footy management sim yet, eh?"
I don't care and it's a deadline!"
God, you've got about as much perception as Graham Taylor, you have."
"Watch it!"

And so it went on
Then comes Premier Manager. It looks great, it doesn't crash when you get to a decent level of attainment, and it includes aspects of 'The Game' other sims of its genre pass by.

Premier Manager puts you in the shoes of the most-hated and most-loved figures in football. Defenders might blunder, strikers might fluff open goals, midfielders might play hospital passes, but only managers can pull Lineker off with 20 minutes to go to howls of derision. But managers have to start somewhere, and here you start in the GM Vauxhall Conference.

You begin with a budget of over £200.000 - a sum dreamt of by real-life GMVC clubs. This is not to be blown on the first decent libero you see on the transfer market. You have to improve the stadium's facilities and safety, plus you have to employ backroom staff, coaches, scouts and so on.

Once the 'money out' is sorted you have to turn to the 'money in'. In this case there is stadium advertising to work through. You have 48 ad placings, and making the right deals might keep you clear of your £300,000 overdraft limit.

You will probably only check on the upkeep of ads every four or so 'weeks', and once you've set up work on ground improvements, you have to wait for their completion which usually takes two months. This is an area in which you'll be in for a bit of a shock to the bank balance. Working your way from a single safety star rating to two stars costs £50,000. Moving from two to three stars leaps to an awe-inspiring £250,000.

But you're not here for the dosh. Oh no, you're here for the thrill of the game (or the jewelery if your management technique comes from the Allison/Atkinson school or the Lyall/Keegan).

There are two areas in which the game excels. Team selection and training: you don't get lumbered with players who are simply midfielders, defenders and so on. If this was the case in real football, there would be no Rijkaards, no Platinis and no Pearces - players who can play all over the pitch.

You are given players who are graded on the way they handle (what would Maradonna get?), tackle, pass and shoot. This enables you to create players who can specialise, while being able to play elsewhere - you could get attacking left-backs, keepers who (at a pinch) can hold their own in defence and so on.

You improve players by training them, or by getting your head coach to do it for you. This is where a great touch comes in, you can coach and train the players individually. You don't have to look on each of them as merely parts of a faceless section of the team. As is essential with any simulation, this adds those elements of personality to the game.

But of course, as a GMVC manager, you haven't exactly been given AC Milan's squad to muck around with. And no matter how much training, they will never be able to beat Arsenal with its squad of 'Ultimate' players. 'Ultimate' is one of the ratings given to players on the transfer market. Other ratings are Fair, Good, V Good and Workd Class.

To buy players you can use a scout (£90 a week, cheers Guv!) but this limits you to poaching players form your division and vision(s) below you. Or you can go on to the transfer market where you have to bid against other managers.


An excellent addition to Amiga games

Premier league?
You will normally find Conference and 'part-time' players will go for a song - sing £25K and up when you're winning - but as soon as you leap into the Second Division (or Third, if you forget BskyB and Premier League rubbish) you find yourself staring in the teeth of £600,000 bids. A little unrealistic really when my local Div One club were able to pick up two QPR players form the Premier League for £370,000 the pair in real life. But I guess that this is all about gameplay.

So once you've chosen your team, dabbled in the transfer market and worked out the finances, it's time for a game. With PM you get to see what your opposition is like in terms of strengths and style of play. Playing styles range from the dastardly 'Long Ball' or 'Route 1' via Attacking, Defending and Passing.

You can also alter your team's formation, so balancing your formation and playing style against the opposition's can take time and thought. But then it's time for you to get on the field of play and suffer as your boys forget everything you've told them. It is here I would like to see a 'team talk' module. I would also like to see better sound than white noise (talk to the Sensibles, Gremlin!) and far better in-game graphics.

No matter how much you think that management sims are for footy-addicted trainspotters, the game is still the thing and not the number crunching. Better graphics could and with the A1200 replace 'could' with 'should') be included in a game that is supposed to simulate high-adrenaline action.

What we get are some tame vignettes of players in shirts (that you haven't chosen) where the opposition seem to be playing the same colour, tapping balls around in close up in the top tenth of the screen. This is why it falls short of a Format Gold.

One other grumble: when you think you are financially stable, you get hit for absurd fines (bringing the game into disrepute - why? Food hygiene! Faulty floodlights!) That apart, Premier Manager is an excellent addition to the pantheon of Amiga games. Nicely worked, well thought out, and playable on an A500!



Majestätisches Management?

Premier Manager 1 logo

Für gewöhnlich geben sich die Briten ja so absonderlichen Vergnügen wie Cricket oder Autofahren auf der falschen Straßenseite hin, doch in einem Punkt zeigen sich Kontinent und Königreich einig: Fußball!

Unter den Computerkickern ist das nicht anders, und gerade Manager-Games erfreuen sich auf der Insel wie am Festland gleichermaßen großer Beliebtheit. Das weiß man natürlich auch bei Gremlin und hat nun entsprechend reagiert. Nicht irgendein Managerprogramm sollte es werden, sondern das Managerprogramm schlechthin! Soweit der Anspruch der Programmierer, und selbst wenn die Realität da nicht ganz mithalten kann, vermag ihr Baby doch durchaus in der Oberliga mitzumischen...

So sind die gebotenen Möglichkeiten schonmal recht beeindruckend: Bis zu vier Rasenkapitäne können gleichzeitig antreten, um ihren englischen Lieblingsclub aus den Niederungen der 5. Divisionen zu erheben. Wer sich dabei profiliert, wird freilich am Ende der Saison auch von anderen Vereinen Angebote erhalten, die nach Belieben angenommen oder abgelehnt werden können. Stadionausbau, Transfermarkt, Tabellen jeder Art und Sorte (wobei Siege gemäß der Landestradition mit drei Punkten gezählt werden), Mannschaftsaufstellung, Training, Werbeverträge - all das und noch mehr ist vorhanden, und zwar meist in der Luxusausführung.

Bei soviel Spieltiefe bietet sich natürlich ein kleiner Seitenblick auf dem deutschen Tabellenführer "Bundesliga Manager Prof" an, doch die beiden schenken sich kaum etwas. Was der Premiero etwa in Training voraushaben mag, macht Bundi z.B. bei der Aufstellung wieder wett. Gut, im strengen Punkt für Punkt-Vergleich hätte vielleicht sogar Gremlins Schützling die Nase um eine Stollenlänge vorne, wenn da nicht noch anderes zur Beurteilung anstünde.

Beispielsweise das Handlung, ein Bereich, in dem der Brite mit der nahezu optimalen Maus/Icon-Steuerung des Königs der teutonischen Ballerverwälter nicht konkurrieren kann.

Da schleicht sich nämlich (Maus hin, Maus her) schon mal der eine oder andere Schönheitsfehler ein, und die Handhabung der Bandenwerbung ist sogar ausgesprochen umständlich gelöst.

Und auch optisch muß der Neumanager eine klare Niederlage wegstecken, denn Aufwendigeres als karge Tabellenscreens findet sich kaum im Angebot. Ja, selbst beim eigentlichen Match wird nur ein arg stilisiertes Fußballfeld präsentiert, auf dem sich der Bild hin- und her bewegt, während sich ein animiertes Schrumpfbildchen im Streichholzschachtel-Format verzweifelt abmüht, dem Spielverlauf zu folgen - kein Vergleich zur Torszenen-Methode des deutschen Konkurrenten! In puncto Sound wird schließlich neben einer mäßigen Titelmelodie auch nur gewöhnliches Stadionrauschen geboten.

Somit bleibt also zu vermuten, daß hierzulande doch kein Regierungswechsel bei den Kicker-Managern bevorsteht. Aber ein Elfmeterschießen (z.B. gegen "Starbyte Super Soccer") um den Thron des Kronprinzen wäre sicher im Rahmen der Möglichkeiten... (jn)



Premier Manager 1 logo

Welling United? Well, everyone's got to start somewhere.

Soccer management simulations seem like a strange idea don't they? If playing arcade soccer games is a sad alternative to playing the real thing, are management sims sad alternatives to playing the real thing? I mean, you don't even have to wiggle joysticks. The fact is that management games have a completely different appeal from soccer arcade games, and have more in common with god games.

The satisfaction comes from manipulating parameters in the game world and watching the results. This can be enormously satisfying, as anyone who's played Populous 2 knows. The fact that it's set in a football environment gives it a different flavour, but that's the appeal.

Premier Manager is the latest football management sim to tempt you to dip into your pocket, and let me say right now that it's a good one. Too often management games are overly complex, which although adding realism, does take away from the enjoyment rather.

While you're wading through screen after screen determining what shoelaces your team are going to wear during the match, you start to lose any interest in whether they're actually going to win or not. Premier Manager avoids this by giving you the option to tweak parameters but still making it easy to get stuck into a few games and make a few changes along on the way.

You start the game as manager of a Conference club and you have to get yourself into the position of manager in the premier league. This could be taking your team up the divisions, but it's more likely that you'll be offered jobs on other teams if you impress with your ability as a manager.

You can play with up to four players at once, which is a nice idea in theory but I can't see it being the most rivetting of multi-player games. Nah, put the kettle on, load it up and kiss your social life goodbye - it's the only way with a game like this.


A very enjoyable and addictive gaming experience

After entering your name and choosing a conference club to manage (from such glamorous luminaries as Welling United or Stalybridge Celtic), you're taken to the main screen. There you'll find 12 icons which you click on to get into various parts of the game and tweak things.

The first icon takes you into the ground improvements and sponsors screen, where you decide how much to spend on your pitch and stands, and what sponsors you want for the boards around the ground (you can even be sponsored by AMIGA POWER).

Other screens enable you to transfer players and buy up talent from other teams, look at the league tables, rearrange your squad, work on your finances, look at future fixtures (in all leagues) and - wait for it - play a match.

You decide what formation your team will be playing in and what kind of playing style they'll be adopting, and then you get going. The match is played out for you in a small box in the corner of the screen, with indications of who has the ball and where it is on the field. The play is watchable and definitely adds something, but you can speed it all up if you just want to get straight to the results.

You get results from all divisions, so you can check on other teams' progress. It all gets very exciting, especially when your team starts winning.

There are plenty of management games out there, ranging from the tedious to the compulsive, and this one definitely falls into the latter category. It's not as complex as Graham Taylor's Soccer Challenge, but it doesn't suffer for that and certainly succeeds in giving a very enjoyable, and somewhat addictive, gaming experience. If you fancy yourself as a it of Kenny Dalglish, this game's for you.


HOW TO RUN A FOOTBALL TEAM
Premier Manager 1
  1. Load and save games by clicking on the disk icon.
  2. Improve the condition of your ground and choose your sponsors.
  3. Buy and sell players. You have to bid against other teams though.
  4. Here you view the league tables for all divisions and see how your team is doing.
  5. This gives you all the information about your squad and their playing style.
  1. The cup icon gives you details of forthcoming cup matches.
  2. The fax machine gives you news of transfers.
  3. The printer gives you the match results.
  4. Click here to play your next match. You're also shown all the other teams playing that day.
  5. The telephone icon enables you to get in touch with your scouts, coaches, and physiotherapist.

Premier Manager 1 logo

Gremlin £25.99

Premier Manager adds little that is new to the football management genre, other than updating the league structure. Ground improvement, scouting for talented players and organising transfers, selecting a squad which maximises players' skills and the playing style that suits them best, and juggling the income and expenditure figures upon which a wary eye must be kept - all are present here. Training and physiotherapy are also available to keep your lads in peak condition.

Up to four players can simultaneously manage teams, all starting their careers in the Conference League. Success will bring offers of contracts from Third Division teams, possibly heralding a meteoric rise to the top of the Premier League itself. Failure could lead to you being sacked and desperately search for some part-timers who will give you a chance ('Accrington Stanley? Who are they?').

The players' and managers' names listed for each team are correct for the start of the 1992/93 season and each player is allocated a rating for his skills in shooting, tackling and passing. Further realism appears in the form of a safety rating for club grounds, generally requiring improvement following the recommendations of the Taylor Report.

If you want to expand your ground's crowd capacity, for example, existing terracing needs to be converted to seating. Upgrading costs money, and one valuable source of revenue is to sell advertising space on the 48 hoardings surrounding your pitch. A variety of well-known companies and magazines will stump up plenty of cash so that you will display their logos. CU Amiga's name makes an appearance, as do those of publications more in need of the exposure.

Premier Manager is very well presented and easy to use, although, by its nature, it is not particularly exciting. This will almost certainly appeal to fans of the genre, but will leave most other gamesplayers cold.