But then all this is hardly a surprise. Football Manager 2005 has been created by the team behind the Championship Manager series, and whilst they no longer have the rights to use the brand name, the actual games origins are never in question. Frankly, there are so many improvements, its impossible to scratch the surface of them.
So well focus on two. The media section really hangs together properly for arguably the first time, with intriguing options that allow you to play mind games with other managers for instance. And the match day segment has come on at speed, with a smooth and useful highlights option that feels far more natural and integrated than previously.
Does it have flaws? The odd one or two, which are minor niggles caused more as a result of extreme ambition on the part of the developers rather than sloppy work. Yet the real worry is the amount of time the game will sap. Make no mistake, for any armchair football fan who has ever dreamed of taking their team to glory, Football Manager 2005 will rob them of months of their life. In short, its easy-to-use, its desperately challenging, incredibly addictive and downright unmissable. Accept no imitations.--Simon Brew