Football Manager 2022 review: Top of the table
Football Manager 2022 builds off of Sports Interactive’s ever-evolving foundation to create one of the best sports games of 2021, by making smart changes to all of the best parts of the franchise.
For all of the plaudits that FIFA and other annualized sports franchises get, there’s always been something magical about Football Manager. That’s partly because of its deep, simulation gameplay with hundreds of thousands of variables – nothing really comes close. But it’s also because of the magic of securing a famous win against a bigger team, a team avoiding relegation on the last day of the season, and, well, anything you see on a weekend of football.
It’s that romanticism of the game, all of its best parts, squished into a download on your PC that you can play in half-hour chunks or for weeks on end. And Football Manager 2022 marks the franchise’s best entry yet, building off of the already stellar Football Manager 2021 to offer our new favorite way to spend hours in front of a PC yelling at the screen.
Football Manager 2022 – Key details
- Price (Standard Edition): $49.99 (USD) | £39.99 (GBP)
- Developer: Sports Interactive
- Release date: November 9, 2021
- Platforms: PC (Xbox Edition also available)
Football Manager 2022 trailer
The appeal of Football Manager can roughly be divided into three sections – picking and managing your team, finding a star out of nowhere, and transfer negotiations, and each of those core pillars has seen plenty of attention in Football Manager 2022.
For one, the match engine is much improved. Sure, it’s not exactly FIFA 22, but players move more freely and less like they’ve been out a little too late the night before. Turning circles and inter-player animations still feel a little on the stiff side, but pressing is much improved, with players squeezing in to fill the space and close down passing angles.
Of course, success ultimately comes down to tactics, and there’s good news here. After a few years of there being two or three “meta” formations, the system is much more flexible. The new Wide Centre-Back option helps hem in the opposition, allowing for much more progressive passing displays without continually sending it backward.
You’ll still have instances where you’ll lose to a late winner, or be humbled by your local rivals, but the good news is that you’ll have somewhere to turn for answers. Football Manager has always been built on data, but it’s not always been a franchise that serves it up in the most appealing or efficient way.
Enter the data hub, which is a tinkerer’s dream. Football Manager 2022 is less the heavily teased “spreadsheet simulator”, but now offers graphs, charts, and passing maps, too. That lets you more easily identify which of your central midfielders keeps giving the ball away, and which of them needs to cover more.
This emphasis on making data more accessible extends to scout reports, too. No longer will you need to request multiple reports to get a clearer picture of whether that South American wonderkid is worth your team dropping almost all of its transfer budget on – you’ll get one, tidy, constantly updated report that factors in multiple prior reports.
Splash the cash
One of Football Manager’s biggest inconsistencies has been its transfer market, with player values decided by a variety of factors that saw promising young players sold for extortionate amounts. Thankfully, Football Manager 2022 makes changes to that rubric, offering more realistic values that won’t break the bank.
There are still plenty of negotiations, though, and FM22 has overhauled Deadline Day – as key a fixture in the football season as anything that happens on the pitch. Now, agents will recommend their clients to other clubs, players will angle for moves, and your own targets may receive late offers that turn their heads. In prior games, deadline day felt like a standard day, just with more emails, but this time around it’s much more engaging.
It’s also easier to see at a glance which of your players is attracting interest, without having to jump into each player’s profile or hover over an icon. That means you can “wheel and deal” more effectively when the clock ticks down.
Football Manager 2022 is the kind of Football Manager game many would have dreamed of. It fixes almost every weakness in the team, and had us thinking “just one more match” long into the night.
It’s the best approximation of the drama and passion of football yet, and it’s downright essential for football fans.
Reviewed on PC
Where to buy Football Manager 2022
For more on Football Manager 2022, be sure to check out our guide content.