How many times have you watched your favourite football team lose a match that they probably should have won and thought to yourself, “I could do a better job than Ole Gun- I mean, THAT football manager”? Prove it… on your Nintendo Switch.
Football Manager Touch 2021 brings the trimmed down but still feature-heavy management sim back to the Nintendo Switch with some new additions to spruce up the experience for those returning after last year’s release. Want to know what isn’t present? COVID-19, thank god. Yep, you can dive straight into the world of virtual football management and escape the uncertainty that affects the sport in the real world, giving players a relaxed and enjoyable means to engross themselves fully in the sport that they love – whether that’s when playing on the TV or the comfort of your bed (or toilet, be honest) with the Nintendo Switch’s portable mode.
Football Manager Touch 2021 allows players to become the manager of their favourite team (provided it is in one of the leagues included in the game) and lead them to footballing glory, all whilst handling day-to-day tasks like choosing your team’s tactics, setting up training sessions, handling transfers, and so forth. It’s a lot more streamlined than in the full Football Manager experience, but nothing significant is missing to make you feel any less like a legit football manager; you really can be as hands on as you like as you fine-tune every small detail of your team.
Don’t fancy taking care of all the aspects of the day-to-day running of the team and just want to handle transfers and tactics? You can do that too, with tasks able to be assigned to your assistant manager if you don’t want to overcomplicate the experience for yourself too much. Believe me, it’s something I resorted to after a few hours play, but it ensured that I could have the Football Manager experience that I wanted.
I don’t really think it’s necessary to go through all the ins and outs of Football Manager Touch 2021, because let’s be honest, just about EVERYONE knows what to expect from a football management sim. However, it has brought with it some improvements that do see it feeling a lot more impressive than last year’s entry in the series.
The most significant comes with the presentation of matches, which don’t only look slicker from a footballing perspective but also allow you to see more data about your team on the fly. With your team selection displayed on the bottom of the screen, it’s easier than ever to assign actions to them quickly without even having to pause the match and slow down the pace. A quick shoulder button press will allow you to assign tactical changes with ease too, whilst the new ‘Touchline Shouts’ system allows you to spring quick tactical advice upon your team to get them inspired or motivated. We’ve seen that the best managers in the world bark out commands from the side of the pitch, so it’s only fitting that you get to do the same here, right?
Plenty of stats are on display as you play that’ll give you an idea of how well your team is performing, so there’s a good indication as to whether or not you’ll need to make some swift changes to sway the tide of the match in your favour. Your assistant manager will actually give you pieces of advice during the match that support this, whether it’s a tactical change or to sub a player off – these can be applied with a quick button press, which again shows how streamlined and accessible Football Manager Touch 2021 is. Of course, you can ignore the advice and just do what you want, but it’s ideal for newbies to the game.
Another interesting addition comes with your team’s performance data, with the analysis offered in your Team Reports allowing you to see the strengths and weaknesses of your team and how they stack up against your rivals. This really allows you to see the ins and outs of your performances and see just how well your players are doing, and, of course, whether you need to fix the areas where you’re weak in by bringing in new additions or maybe promoting some of your younger squad. Add to that the new ‘Expected Goals’ system that assesses your team’s scoring compared to the chances they’ve created and you’ll quickly find that there’s plenty of data to analyse in Football Manager Touch 2021 to really refine your team and get them playing to a higher standard.
It might sound a little daunting, but it’s all presented in a very accessible and easy to understand manner in-game. Don’t get me wrong, Football Manager Touch 2021 will demand plenty of patience from the player and there’ll be a lot of reading and tactical fine-tuning to take place depending on the opposition you’re facing, but it never feels overbearing and adds a much appreciated sense of tactical realism to the whole experience. Believe me, there’s nothing more satisfying than taking all this information on board and making your team into champions…
Outside of that, there’s more of the same in Football Manager Touch 2021 that you would have seen in previous entries – for better and worse. Everything is there for you to dive right into the fine art of football management and the menus are relatively streamlined to make it easier to flick between tabs when using a controller.
However, the controls never feel that great to use, with flicking between the finer points of menus often feeling like a little bit of a chore (especially during those first few hours when you’re getting used to the game). There are a lot of different options to flick between when performing tasks for the club, and honestly, there were times where I could get pretty frustrated when I couldn’t quite find exactly what I needed and instead found myself awkwardly patrolling menus and hoping for the best… or just giving up and hoping my team will be fine anyway. There are touch controls in place that can make it a little easier, but even that lacks the finesse and can see you tapping the wrong player time and time again.
Despite these frustrations, the controls do get easier the longer you play the game – especially since you’ll eventually start figuring out where exactly everything is in the menus. It’ll never feel as accessible as using a mouse and keyboard, but the Nintendo Switch UI does function well and offers everything you need… you just need to put a little bit of practice in to get used to it.
Football Manager Touch 2021 might offer a more streamlined version of the game, but it’s still an utterly engrossing and entertaining way to look after your favourite football team. There’ve been plenty of improvements made to this year’s entry to allow for a more streamlined match day experience and there’s a stronger emphasis on more refined data analysis too, which helps make the experience a lot more accessible and thoughtful than in previous entries.
It’s still a little clumsy in the menus and it’ll take some time to get used to the controls but, once it all clicks, you’ll find that Football Manager Touch 2021 is as addictive as ever. Now, let’s see if we can get Manchester United back to the pinnacle of the Premier League…
Developer: Sports Interactive
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PC