Football Manager 2021, the review in the role of Fabio Caressa

No jolt but a decisive step towards current events: F definitively marks the entry of the series into modern football, in which statistics, algorithms, VARs and expected goals (xG) are the masters inserted in a football struggling with the aftermath of the coronavirus. Sports Interactive has made sure not to demean the player with too many technical notions by making the experience accessible even to hit and run users, while as already announced in unsuspecting times on the official blog Miles Jacobson and associates have decided to leave the virus out of the game so that it remained an oasis of escape from reality in which not having to fear empty stadiums, social distancing and full infirmaries (a stress already poorly digested by fantasy football) with the exception of the contractions of the market, realistically impoverished due to the global crisis that forces companies to cut wages and fall back on the zero parameter.

Not being particularly knowledgeable in statistics, I decided that in order to better deal with the news of Football Manager 2021 I would have to choose a guide, a new Virgil who would escort me like Dante inside the hellish circles of the football macrocosm to teach me how to achieve success by living on bread and xG, a decision that fell on the most obvious of names: Fabio Caressa, legendary bard of the 2006 World Cup and host of the Sky Calcio Club, a Sunday lounge where he and his guests love to show off statistics and more or less visionary comparisons on Serie A teams and players.

Having decided on the name and modeling the avatar using an editor (which allows you to recreate your character from a photo with acceptable results), a company was missing so courageous as to engage the former commentator in this crazy challenge. The only one so reckless was theUdinese dei Pozzo, full of young people and loans from Watford.


Having taken possession of the Juventus bench, the first thing was to take stock of the situation by analyzing the squad between loans, expiring contracts and redundancies. Although Udinese is a Serie A club and has a mid-table expectation, there is very little money on hand, about five million transfer budgets that allow for a minimum margin for action on the market. Caressa from the height of her thirty years of experience in the world of football immediately recognizes the value of the Watford colony, an English team also owned by the Pozzo family, which guarantees the loan of the attacking outsiders Deulofeu e Pusset in addition to the outright return of Roberto Pereira.

Going into the tactics screen you immediately realize that nothing has changed in terms of settings compared to Football Manager 2020, the applicable playing styles remain the same (gegenpress, fluid counterattack, play on the flanks, etc.) as well as the instructions for the three attack phases , transition and defense. Two changes, however, stand out: the first is theabsence of green, yellow or red dots that indicate the predisposition of a player for that role, a strange move because it makes the positioning of the players less clear which is now evaluated exclusively with the stars that indicate their value in relation to teammates; the second is the disappearance of the percentages of form and condition of athletes, replaced by a more generic heart-shaped icon that returns a less faithful and therefore more likely perception of the players' health status.

To make the most of the two external players and team star Rodrigo De Paul we opt for a 4-2-3-1 which if necessary becomes 4-3-2-1 to take advantage of Kevin Lasagna's speed.

At this point we have a game module based on the interpreters, we could limit ourselves to looking for some young players by emptying the small pockets of the club, but Football Manager 2021 gives me another possibility: to make a hiring meeting with president Pozzo, sports director Marino, assistant coach Savini and chief observer of the Carnival to decide together what are the gaps in the squad.

This meeting consists of the soffer oneself on the roles indicated by the company as lacking or who are at risk because the interpreters are in the odor of being sold, leaving us carte blanche to start a scouting for that role by indicating the research time, potential and current ability of the target. In my case I was convinced of the pair of full backs Samir-Ouwejan and Ter Avest-Stryger Larsen so I decided not to sell them and focus on midfield and backs.

In a healthy transfer market, the golden rule would be to sell young talents hired to make a capital gain, but selling and buying in the first post covid market is not easy at all. And this is how Udinese found itself selling dead weights from the cumbersome contract to two pennies in order to raise cash and reinvest the meager profits.

Arslan, Prodl, Nuytinck and many others go away to make room for Christian Zapata (used super safe, taken because being part of the Friulian nursery it allowed the registration of an extra player), Daniele Baselli, Niccolò Rovella, Lovro Majer and Andrea Papetti - mark the latter three because they are very young but already very strong and sure of future, also useful for those companies like ours that require the purchase of children under 23 - which with a cost of about twenty million (with IOUs, spread over three years) has even allowed us to market and strengthen ourselves.

On the other hand, last year it was already mandatory to defer payments in many small installments to buy players, a method that this year has become essential due to the economic crisis. And here the recession leads to some limit cases encountered by users such as Gigio Donnarumma released after the first season or Neymar sold by PSG for less than thirty million, anomalies that I personally have not found. An interesting addition is the possibility of ask the attorney for information about the interest of the client, about the desired salary and the amount necessary for the expense.

Another trick to optimize the market is to keep an eye on players on course with the company, sold at a preferential price. An arrangement that allowed us to replace the starters Okaka and Nestorovski with the redundancies Sanabria and Lammers.


Once the team has been assembled and the tactics set, it is time to move on to the facts. Got into the game there UI is radically different from that of the last few years since instead of the top bar full of settings now only the result of the match appears in the top left while the settings icon is headed on the right. The commentary bar traditionally on the bottom becomes smaller and rounder but above all it is centered and leaves room for quick substitutions which now show the previews of the players on the field and their state of form, while on the left we find the slots for tactics, mentality and instructions from the sidelines.

The new tactics screen deserves a particularly negative mention, as it is really uncomfortable to use and represents a marked step back from previous years.

But finally, let's talk about football and the match engine. Big proclamations have come from Sports Interactive in recent weeks regarding the match simulation engine and actually something different is noticeable above all in the attack zone where the fate of our team no longer depends exclusively on the attacking outsiders but finally even the central striker seems to have a more active role. In the case of our Udinese Kevin Lasagna he managed to finish the championship with eighteen goals, finishing on the second step of the podium as regards the top scorers, behind Duvan Zapata of the Italian champion Atalanta.

Observing the realization data of Lasagna (deployed as an attacker who presses in offensive projection) it emerges first of all the simplicity with which long balls often manage to overcome the defenses - despite the statements of Sports Interactive on having retouched the intelligence of the defenders to limit these situations, but it must be said that its enormous speed is suitable for this kind of movement -, in secundis we finally notice the tendency to finish at the near post with shots that often turn into nets.

Let's talk about football and the new match engine

It may not seem obvious but in Football Manager 2021 the attackers are really lethal, Okaka's eight goals demonstrate this having played a dozen games, demonstrating evident improvements in understanding the various attacking situations and how and when to shoot. This change of course is very noticeable in the other roles as clearly unrealistic shooting attempts have decreased. Playing with 4 2 3 1 Caressa's Udinese made extensive use of the attacking outsides and above all of Deulofeu's serpentines, practically impregnable for many defenses, still a very useful pick in the match engine which among other things enjoys many new animations including that of the lob that finally gives a little more show to the coaches since it was previously used with a dropper.

All that glitters is not gold, however, since there are still some flaws related to long throw-ins that when thrown in the air often surprise the opposing goalkeeper who systematically misses the exit and allowing us to score with an empty net.

Chapter VAR: in principle, every time the VAR is recalled, the outcome of the review is already known and this ruins the sense of immersion, whenever there is a suspected offside and the review is called, the goal is canceled, ditto if it is of a doubtful foul in the penalty area, the maximum punishment will practically always be granted.

Speaking instead of xGDAfter each match, the performance analysts, the new figure in the locker room, will provide us with in-depth data on the playing areas, on the percentage of dangerousness of the shots and their frequency. The graph of the expected goals is in plain sight both during the matches and at the end of the match and was created specifically for the Football Manager 2021 match engine in collaboration with the SciSports specialists, in principle if our team it has a low xG value which means it produces few net actions compared to the championship average, but this does not mean that the figure corresponds to what we actually create. It has often happened to me to capitalize much more than I should have compared to the statistics, the culmination was a Udinese-Sampdoria finished 5-0 in which my xG was even 1,0, proving that the figure is in after all a pure indication that does not affect the actual performance of the team.


Starting a new career, the first thing that Football Manager 2021 makes explicit is the importance of knowing how to relate to staff, players and the press. First of all the old and rather sterile settings “calm”, “assertive” etc. have been replaced by gestures, body language is now the main vehicle to emphasize one's words whether it is an angry reply to the annoying journalist or that we decide to throw a bottle in the locker room to wake up the team after a bad first half.

To be honest, this new interactions remain very tied to those of last year, the shape changes but not the substance given that the interviews are practically carbon copies of those of the last chapter it remains disappointing that it is enough to click the first options on the left to escape unscathed from the questions of journalists during press conferences, which can turn out to be inconvenient traps capable of making us launch promises that are impossible to keep or lower the morale of our children.

The new interaction system has benefited private conversations with players and journalists, with which you can talk using quick chats that do not require you to enter a special page for dialogue, a small addition that however improves the quality of life.

Obviously our Caressa, thanks to her predisposition to stay in the press room, has participated in practically every conference, which will save you from possible unforeseen events that could happen to the deputy.

Is Football Manager 2021 recommended? Of course, even at full price. Anyone who is a football fanatic has the moral duty to take it, and I refer to those who watched the entire Amazon Prime series on José Mourinho and Tottenham "All or Nothing", the climb to the Premier of Loco Bielsa in "Take Us Home" or that Greco-Roman tragedy that is “Sunderland 'till I Die”. This is because the news compared to the last chapter are substantial in relation to the match engine, the squads and the transfer market (very different from that of a season ago) which, however, stumbles with the new UI in the game and with the system of gestures, a fake change in step with respect to the tones of last year.

The general difficulty is set towards medium-low, given that with a Udinese expected to be abundant in the middle of the table, our Fabio Caressa managed to bring theFriulian army not far from the Champions League, beating Naples, Lazio and Rome home and back and drawing away with Juve and Inter, locking the Europa League with a sixth place far from seventh place.

One is available on day one eight hundred megabyte patches which should correct some small UI and translate several lines of text remained untranslated into English, while from the point of view of performance we are facing the fastest chapter both in saving the game and loading the matches. In short, an obligatory purchase like every year.


The call from the Friulian sports director came thanks to a print code while the workouts were carried out thanks to a PC assembled with a RX580 Nitro + Sapphire, a Ryzen 5 1500 and eight gigabytes of RAM.

  • Much of your quarantine
  • Management of your own football team by setting tactics, training and transfer market with simulated matches
Game Card
  • Game Name: F
  • Release date: November 24, 2020
  • Platforms: PC
  • Dubbing language: Not present
  • Texts language: Italian review

The usual game interface with some new menus for press conferences and a revised UI for games that slightly improve the visual experience while remaining within the limits of the sober, in terms of functionality, however, we are a step back. Added new animations during the racing simulation which are a nice addition


Virtually absent audio sector, the only sounds are those of the pitch made by the shouting of the players, the referee and cheering


New match engine substantially improved compared to last season strongly conditioned by attacking outsiders while this year the work of the tips stands out more. Particular emphasis on statistics thanks to the addition of new figures linked to the analysis of the race and new features such as expected goals, useful for perfectionists

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