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Player Manager

player manager game

Player manager was the first game to combine football simulation and management into one game, which has given it a bit of a legendary status among retro gamers. In this guide, we will explore if the game should be remembered as the birth of this genre.


Since the game had some of the same development team of the kickoff team, player manager used very similar graphical development that had been put in place with the Kick Off games. This was not a problem at all because this game was very well received, and there were enough updates to keep this game fresh in terms of graphics.

Due to the developments with Kick Off and Player Manager, when Kick off 2 was released, players could transfer their own teams (created in player manager) over to the Kick off 2 systems. This development was one of the first of its kind.

The game was released originally for the Amiga and Atari ST but found its way onto the PC and even the Playstation. Currently, the game is being developed as an application on the iPhone.


Unlike other management games, there was only a single league that you could choose from when you started playing. Your team had to come from a third division side (currently league two). You then had the choice of selecting if you would be a player, manager or both. You also had the choice of controlling the whole team or a single player if you wanted to get involved in the football simulation.

If you do decide to whip out the game now, remember that it is pointless not to play as a player-manager because the management side of the game is rather limited. While you can buy and sell players, control tactics and make very basic changes, there is not much else. However, at the time, these changes were the first of their kind. Furthermore, many players find it much better to play as the whole team rather than just a player, because as you may know with modes like 'become a legend' playing one position can be annoying.

In terms of playability the game was rather limited. Leagues only had 44 teams spread out across the top four divisions, which meant that some teams did not even make it into the game. You could only play one cup competition across the season and there were no European competitions due to the Heysel stadium disaster which banned English clubs from European competitions for five years.

Because of the recent troubles with English football, the game was the first to add rather strange occurrences to any game. For example, crowd trouble and fires could get your team fined, and this was the first time anything like this was seen in a management simulation.

The game was well known for its fast paced action and good level of difficulty, which made sure you did not win the premiership inside four seasons.


Player Manager is not without its errors, but at the time they were accepted as part of the game. If any errors were found like this in a game today then there would be an uproar, but when this game was released it was almost expected. In fact, there were plenty of competitions around the time to point out errors in games like this.

Some of the errors include:

  • The game does not regenerate players very well, which means that teams have to put out generic reserve players who have been developed to only be good enough for the reserves. The positive point about this is everybody is in the same boat.
  • When a player wants a transfer you can grant it to him, set the transfer fee ridiculously high and offer him a contract just one week later which he will invariably accept because he is content about you granting him his transfer request. You then take off the transfer listing and have a happy player on a long contract.
  • Sponsorship in the game is randomly allocated. This means a team that finished mid table in the first division could get a better deal than the team that won the championship (premier league).
  • You have to play the player-manager in your team, and he does not retire. This means you may have a 95 year old striker with no pace or acceleration, in fact, no decent stats at all, but he will have to remain in your team.


The game scored amazingly well at the time because it was ground breaking and allowed players to experience both sides of management and simulation. The game rarely scored below 90% (9/10) in any magazine.


There is no doubt that this game was the birth of future management games, which is why we have to salute it as the godfather of management games, and while player management games are making a comeback with FIFA and Pro Evo, we will probably never see a game quite like this one ever again.

Game Analysis


The game does not do anything wrong in the slightest but is not known for ground breaking development. As mentioned, the game used the same graphical interface as Kick Off but with a few alterations. The game works on a 2D layout symbolising one blue and one red team.

Game Controls and Play

In terms of playability, making this game start out in the third division was a stroke of genius. This makes players challenge themselves to try and win the championship, which takes time. The current management games can get a bit boring because too many people pick the top clubs and win everything in just a couple of seasons. Player Manager also has excellent game play and good graphics, and this is a game that you will not put down for a while once you get started.

Unique Concept

This game was the first to test the management/player game genre in the history of football games. This instantly makes the game the most original on the market. Various other additions to the game like the lower league start and the ability to control one player or the whole team are developments previously unheard of as well.

Game Detail

Unfortunately, when you only have 44 teams across the top four leagues the game loses some of its depth. However, for the time it was released its game depth was very good. It seems that this change was made due to memory issues, but the simple fact that you can manage across 4 leagues outdoes all other games on the market at the time.


Until you win the championship and the cup you will never truly be satisfied that you have completed the game, and this will take you a long time. Working your way through the leagues has an extra sense of excitement because you act as a player as well as a manager so you are controlling every aspect of the team.


If you were to buy the game now you will pay less than $16/10 for a copy. Of course, you then have to find your system or buy a new one which could be difficult or more expensive, but if you are a retro gaming fan then it is well worth the price/effort.


Some of the technology that this game employed is only now coming back into the mainstream with FIFA and Pro Evolution. In terms of development, Player Manager was well ahead of its time.

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