Player Manager was developed by Dino Dini and Anco and released on the Amiga and Atari ST, way back in 1990, sequels were later produced but none came close in terms of gameplay. Player Manager consumed hours of my life most days during my early teens and even again on occasion as an adult.
The game engine was practically identical to Kick Off which was released a year earlier only this time rather than playing as a National Team and controlling all the players you take charge of an English League team as you guessed it, a Player Manager. You play the part of Alex Reeves (You can change the name) a 29-year-old ex-England International and take charge of Anco United (Again you can change the name) and try and work your way up the divisions. At the end of each season your players stats gradually decrease with age which makes things harder and almost means you want to make the most of the early couple of seasons to gain promotion and build a solid squad.
Some of the gameplay is comical in this day and age but still great fun. I love running down the wing to cross in a high lofted ball, to then run with the same player (As you only control one) and head in my own cross. Yes, Alex Reeves is overpowered but you need to be early on as your team mates are mostly awful and that’s being polite about them.
Unfortunately, at the time of the release English clubs were banned from Europe owning to the Heysel Stadium disaster as a result the ultimate prize in this game is winning the league although back in 1990 the Cup was important and nice to win. How I miss the magic of the FA Cup, English FA if you are reading give the winners of the FA Cup a Champions League spot rather than the team finishing 4th to bring the magic back.
Moving swiftly on, this game sparked something in me and from this point on I’ve been hooked with numbers, I know I’m sad and management style of games especially football ones. I’ve lost track on the number of Football Management games I’ve played in the past, some great and some just plan awful. Championship Manager and then the Football Manager series are now the bench mark of great football manager games and sadly the dominance of Football Manager has killed all competition in the market and is the only one worth playing nowadays.
Player Manager has made a comeback on Android under the name The Soccer Player Manager 2016, although the lack of a joystick to play the game with limits it. For those of you that have an Amiga I highly recommend this game especially if you’re a fan of the first Kick Off game and want to play a slightly different version.
This is a tricky one to rate do I go with a rating from 1990 or 2018? In the end I’ll with a mixture of both and score it an 8. A 10 from 1990 and a 6 from today.