Football Manager 2020 is the 16th instalment in the series after it kicked off in 2005, and it's safe to say the game has come a long way since then. Practically every other football management sim has ceased to exist (FIFA Career Mode doesn't count) and with the recent announcement that FM 2020 will be on Google Stadia, it's time to take a look at everything we know about the next instalment of the famous franchise. Here's our complete Football Manager 2020 guide, including our Football Manager 2020 wishlist for features we want to see announced in the run up to the release.
Football Manager 2020 release date and platforms
Sports Interactive hasn't disclosed much information about the Football Manager 2020 release date yet, but I can make a very educated guess. Previous Football Manager games have released at the start of November each year, and it's always been on a Friday. Sometimes it's been the first Friday of the month while other times it's been the second, but it's always a Friday. Therefore, if I was a betting man, I'd wager the Football Manager 2020 release date will be November 8, 2019. It could be November 1, but the second Friday of the month is slightly more common.
Of course, for eager beavers who pre-order the game, there will no doubt be the beta version available a few weeks before launch on PC/Mac. This has been the case for previous releases and there's been nothing to indicate it won't happen again this year.
What platforms will Football Manager 2020 be available on? Football Manager Touch is a streamlined version of previous instalments available for Nintendo Switch the sales for that platform are "far from a success", according to Miles Jacobson, studio director at Sports Interactive. We're expecting FM Touch to return for 2020 but Jacobson has said there won't be any platform confirmations until "either August or September". It's also been announced shortly before E3 2019 that the full version of Football Manager 2020 will be on Google Stadia this year, though the drawback to that is the lack of mods, downloadable tactics, face packs and the like.
Jacobson has also confirmed that there are "no current plans" to bring the game to either PS4 or Xbox One so that rules out a surprise console announcement prior to release.
Football Manager 2020 wishlist
Aside from the Google Stadia support and confirmation the game actually exists, Sports Interactive has been tight-lipped around Football Manager 2020 so far. So in lieu of confirmed features, why not take a look at our Football Manager 2020 wishlist of features we want to see in the next title, and future games as we enter a new decade?
The women's World Cup is taking place in France this summer - it kicks off today (June 7) in fact - so FM 2020 would be the perfect time to introduce women's football to the game. The female version of the sport has surged in popularity in the last few years and FIFA introduced women's football a few years ago, so it's about time Football Manager followed suit.
There's just one problem; this is still a distant pipe dream. Jacobson is asked time and time and time again when women's football will be added to the game, and his answer has remained the same: When it becomes financially viable. In a November 2018 interview, Jacobson explained that when they eventually do women's football, they want to do it properly.
“The majority of people who play Football Manager are male, just as the majority of football fans are male,” Jacobson says. “But, just as there are more female football fans, what’s been encouraging over the past few years has been the fact that more female players are playing the game. We very much hope that one day this will be commercially viable and, when it is, we’ll do it properly. All elements of the professional women’s game will be included.”
So I guess that's that. Including women in the game would be a huge undertaking and while it's definitely something to strive towards, it doesn't look like it's coming any time soon.
Improved 3D Match Engine
When you look back at Football Manager from 10 or so years ago, there's a huge difference in the quality of the match engine. But when you compare Football Manager 2019 to other leading football games, the match engine is light years behind. Animations frequently glitch out, there's very little sense of realism when you watch the matches play out. Anyone who plays FM knows that the 3D match engine is in dire need of some work.
It's time to implement those changes with Football Manager 2020. A lot of the time, you can instruct players to do something in a match but when you're watching it play out, your player will visibly defy orders. The match engine needs to implement features like players dribbling round goalkeepers when in a one vs one situation, multiple players need to stop closing down the same player on the same path, that sort of thing. Football Manager is repeatedly lauded as the most accurate football game - praise that is definitely warranted - but the match engine needs to be brought up to scratch.
Improved Assistant Manager Feedback
We've all been there. You've kicked off against a bigger club and you're playing a defensive formation, only for your assistant manager to kindly inform you five minutes in that you're being overrun in midfield. That's great and all, but how are we being overrun? What effect will that have on the game if I don't fix it? How can I fix it?!
The quality of your assistant manager's feedback will always depend on their stats and the level of your club, but it would be a welcomed change to have more detailed feedback. "We should change to a shorter passing style" followed by 10 minutes later, "We should encourage our players to play a more direct style of football". Make your mind up, ass man!
Training in Football Manager has always been something only the most dedicated of players dive into, but it would be incredible if we could spectate training matches. When you've just implemented a brand new 3-2-1-1-3 asymmetric formation inspired by Sir Alex Ferguson's St. Mirren days, it's somewhat risky to use it straight away in a league match.
Aside from pre-season friendlies, there's almost always something at stake when testing new tactics in Football Manager. Being able to organise an intra-squad friendly to watch your tactics in action before you jump back into the title race could be crucial, because if your starting XI lose 6-0 to your youth team, you know it's probably not going to help you win the league.
Throwback Career Mode
This is another one that doesn't seem likely to happen but since Football Manager runs on the same engine every year, it could be a possibility. Have you ever dreamed of managing the 98/99 treble winning United squad? How about Arsenal's invincible 03/04 season? Or Derby County in their record lowest points season in the Premier League?
A throwback mode would allow you to do all that and more. You could jump in at the start of any season in history - within reason of course, it's unlikely you'd be able to manage Real Oviedo in 1925 - and see how you perform with legendary players. Cultivate Bebe into the great he was destined to become, prevent Michael Johnson from succumbing to his mental health problems at Man City, or see what happens if you poach Lionel Messi before he makes a first team appearance. I can dream.
More Question/Answer Variety
Press conferences and tunnel interviews don't have a huge impact on a Football Manager season - that boils down to your players' performances and your tactical capabilities - but it can affect your relationships with other managers, players, the board, etc. A lot of managers tend to skip press conferences and the like, but for those of us who like to attend, there needs to be some more variety in both the questions asked and the responses available.
There's only so many times I can say that I have belief in the abilities of my players to end this run of bad form, or decline to disclose my tactics for an upcoming match. There's only five options to select for any question and it rarely has the response you actually want. A dynamic response system where you can construct a reply from sections of pre-made phrases could work, especially since the "Additional Comments" section rarely has any effect.
Youth Team Management
This was a feature in earlier Football Manager games that was only recently removed, and it's left avid players baffled as to why it's no longer a thing. In real life, almost everyone starts their management career at a youth team, building up the under-18s, followed by the under-23s, until they get their lucky break in first team management.
Being able to do this in Football Manager would be absolutely huge for those dedicated players. It won't be for everyone because it would likely take years in-game until a first team management role is offered, but for those who want a 50-year long career rising to the top, being able to start in youth management would be the ultimate enabler.