First modern football manager, but not for the reasons you might expect - it did not offered animated situations from the match, it still was pretty much text based, but there was one thing Championship Manager had that none of its competitions had - it simulated entire world of your game.
I know it sounds like pompous marketing gibberish, but Championship Manager actually was offering a world to fiddle with while other games of the genre offered simulation of your own club and the rest of the world was just mocked to look like it is simulated.
What was the difference in practice? In Championship Manager you could have take over any club in simulated divisions, so you could start in Premiership and fight for the title or start in any other professional division and fight for the promotion. It doesn’t sound like much, but in fact it was rare for the British games to allow you such choice. But the real distinction was with your job - you could have quit your club and remain unemployed, while rest of the game was just going on in the background. Also, while employed or unemployed, you could have apply for job in different clubs and (if chosen) take them over. Again it doesn’t sound like much, but back then it was a great deal.
Another huge difference between Championship Manager and other games of the era was that you constantly had feeling that there are no random factors involved in your game world - you find player that scored 30 goals last season in 3rd Division, you buy him to Premiership and with some time he can be great striker again, which shows that his record in lower division was not accidental. Similar story with you players - you could use them in case of emergency and if the player did well you could have been sure he will be good once he will be promoted to first team.
Just like in 99% of British football manager games Championship Manager was simulating only professional divisions of English league. Apart from league games we take part in FA Cup and League Cup, also in 1st Division you can take part in Anglo-Italian Cup (a short lived competition that involved clubs from second league level of both countries).
Before each season we could play up to 4 friendly games against clubs from England (including non-league clubs), but also from other countries.
International competitions where simulated (European Cup, UEFA Cup and Cup Winners Cup), although foreign clubs were not really simulated, which sometimes led to weird situations, where you could struggle to maintain championship title in the league, while beating top foreign teams with great ease.
National teams for all federations of United Kingdom and Ireland were selected from time to time, although actual matches of the national teams were not simulated (players did get the statistics for their international games, but games were not listed anywhere).
Basic player data included passing, tackling, pace, heading, flair, creativity, stamina and influence, but also (for search purposes, not visible in player details) goalscoring parameter was used. Also his character was described (f.e. selfish, unselfish, arrogant) plus his morale (or rather how does he feel in the team right now). Technical skills had value between 1 and 20, where 20 is the best skill and 1 is the worst.
While the detailed statistics from matches were not available each player had complete history of his career - where he played in each season, how many game he played, how many goals scored, what was his average rating, even if he left for an abroad team.
Apart from transfers we were handling some of the aspects of our players, like their insurance (to cover the costs of their wages while they are injured), we could fine player weekly wages and extend their contracts or offer pay rise. Often after promotion most of the players demanded raise, but surprisingly none of them ever demanded pay cut in case of relegation (imagine that).
One of the important factors in first Championship Manager was the Bosman Ruling, which was not yet implemented. The Bosman Ruling means that if player contract expires he is no longer employee of the club and is free to sign up for any other team. Now it is obvious, but in early 1990s it was one of the weird details in football. The Bosman Ruling is called that because the case involved Belgian player Jean-Marc Bosman, whose contract with his club RFC Liege has expired, he wanted to move to French team Dunkerque, but Liege demanded transfer fee stating that Bosman is still their asset even though he had no contract with them, so he was not able to seek employment elsewhere. In 1995 (two years after this game was published) it was ruled that employment of the player ends together with the contract.
Because of that factor in Championship Manager it was sometimes hard to find free slot for new players - the maximum limit for each team was 26 players, if player did not wanted to extend contract with you he was, in a way, outside your team, but he was still using a slot. To make things worse if no one wanted to buy him and he does not agree to be released from team he could be in occupying the slot for years and there is nothing you can do about it.
There were no training options - we could hire staff members (including coach and physio), but since there were no reports about player skills changes it is impossible to notice if they actually had any influence on the team.
Transfers were possible through transfer list, but also you were able to rummage through all simulated teams and place direct transfer offers on players that were not on the list. As part of simulating the world players were often observed / shortlisted by other clubs, so usually you had to overbid other teams in order to sign the player.
The transfer list also contained foreign players, but since it was 1990s still the regulations were limiting use of foreign players in the teams (also players from European Union were treated as foreigners), so only 3 such player you could use at the same time during the match, but also it was very hard to sign them in first place. Only foreign players that play in their own national teams and in theory are better than domestic players are given the work permit.
Another nice option in Championship Manager were the loan options - you were able to loan in players unhappy in their own clubs for the remainder of the season or loan out your own players that need some experience and have no chance to play in your team. Of course not always they did get the chance to play, often loaned out players were not used in their new clubs.
Abroad teams played important part in the game outside of the international competitions - the top players at some point in their careers were deciding to move abroad to Spain, Italy, Japan or other countries, where they could get far better money or play for more established clubs. This was a clever way to get rid of the players that would for years dominate the domestic division, but the really nice touch was that the players remained in the simulated world, so at some point it was possible to bring them back home.
Tactics settings were rather simple, we simply define the team formation and the general idea what to play (long passes, long shots, continental). The only "advanced" tactics option available was to assign player on his position if he will play offensively or defensively, but since we could not see the match itself it was hard to determine what influence it actually had on the player performance.
Match engine was not that impressive - through bars of different height we were informed which formation was doing well in recent minutes, few rather short goal situations were implemented describing goal attempts. In general it gave vague idea who had upper hand in the duel, but without much details. It does not sound great, but because of that the game was played rather quickly, so you could concentrate on the player management side of your club rather than analyze tons of data.
Player performance was rated between 1 (very bad) and 10 (excellent), apart from goals scored, man of the match titles and disciplinary points there were no more player statistics available.
Apart from the main team management options (transfers, player insurance, contract extensions) there were very few management options available. Youth team was available so you could fill the gaps in starting lineup (there was 26 players limit in your squad, so in case of wave of injuries there was no other way to have full starting eleven). Youth players were described only by their talent evaluation (average or promising) and age, when they reached 18 they were moved to first team.
There were no options to improve your stadium, club board of directors made the decisions to improve the stadium if you had enough money available, but you had absolutely on influence on their decision.
Your club could hire head coach, physio, three scouts scouts and one youth scout, but in practice it is hard to tell how they influence your team. Scouts were of course used to observe players in other teams, youth scout obviously would improve the youth team, but since there were no skill progress reports it is hard to tell if this is true.
Championship Manager had sort-of multiplayer option - up to 4 players could use the game on same computer at the same time, they would make their decisions in turns.
Championship Manager was simply amazing game (and still is) - you could have started in one club, end up in completely different and build the new team almost from the scratch or bring the top players to your new place of employment. With time the players you have trained as youngsters retire or become national team stars, you have your own career to take care of, your reputation and your managerial record.
Even with limited data available it was very easy to dive into Championship Manager and spent hours building your dream team. Since each season did not took long (thanks to simple match engine), the non-random feeling of the game and different approaches you can take to your career it was hard to simply stop playing. Lack of training options, economy options and stadium options could be seen as flaw, but during the gameplay it is hard to complain that they are missing - you can concentrate on the essentials of your team and build long term strategy instead of micro-managing the tiny details of your club.
Even after almost 30 years from premier Championship Manager is still a game I like to return to and very rarely I’m disappointed.
Rating: 5 based on 1 votes
Championship Manager 1993/94