Championship Manager 2007

Tuesday 10 October 2006
As a slightly bemused-looking Alan Pardew bleated while unveiling rent-a-players Tevez and Mascherano, "nobody likes change". And in football that's certainly true.

Just look at how the good folk of Milton Keynes trumpeted the arrival of the Wimbledon franchise, and how the Manc faithful welcomed beardy Mormon Malcolm Glazer... with empty seats and torn-up season tickets, respectively. Like or loathe the changes, there are a few new faces in Champ Man's dressing room for this season.

But then how many punters really remember - or care, for that matter - that Champ Man is the new boy mimicking the brilliance of an original that became Football Manager when creators Sports Interactive split with publisher Eidos? That it's a game built around a name and has been playing catch-up with its rival since 2004?

Either way both titles are back for the busy Christmas period, alongside the also-ran LMA Manager, and most fans are only interested in which calculator-bustingly realistic management sim they should spend their pennies on.

Unveiling its new line-up first is Championship Manager 2007. A change of strip means it looks noticeably better that last year's game, even if it's still not Miss World material.

The whole affair is tidier than its predecessor and doesn't let up in terms of the myriad tactical options and mountains of signable players. The match engine is as gloriously retro as FM's 2D offering, using Subbuteo-style players to represent some of the greatest soccer talents on the planet.

Actually, for all that Champ continues to look like a game from a long-forgotten age, developer Beautiful Game Studios has made some brave signings in an attempt to bring the series bang up-to-date.

The inclusion of a licensed version of ProZone, the match analysis software used by professional managers such as England coach Steve McClaren and Arsenal's Arsene Wenger, is the first new boy to strut on to the managerial pitch.

This bold addition to the CM roster is a statistical device of undoubted promise. It enables you to look deeper into the facts of each encounter, giving a visual representation of the info: possession, shots, etc.