After success of Championship Manager Domark made an extension to the game, offering chance to run a club in Italy. Unfortunately few mistakes in basic concept of the game made it almost unplayable.
After success of Championship Manager, one of the best ever football manager games, Domark prepared a sort-of extension to the original game, called Championship Manager Italia, which was more or less copy of the original game adapted to simulate Italian league. Why Italian? Back in 1990s it was the league where all the stars played, including some of the top British players (like Paul Gascoine, David Platt), so it seemed like reasonable decision to simulate this particular league.
Unfortunately what seemed like a good idea on paper, proved to be quite tricky in practice. All the basics remained the same as in original game, so there was no problem with game as such, but in reality Championship Manager Italia was complete failure.
Only two divisions of Italian league were simulated (Serie A and Serie B), all other divisions were treated as non-league divisions with only basic informations available. Domestic cup and European cups were available, including Anglo-Italian Cup (a short lived competition that involved clubs from second league level of both countries).
Before each season you could play up to 4 friendly games against clubs from local teams (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 led to sometimes weird situations in which you could struggle in league matches and trash every single of the foreign teams.
Just like in original game national team was 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).
Same as in original game 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 you were handling some of the aspects of our players, like their insurance (to cover the costs of their wages while they are injured), you could fine player weekly wages and extend their contracts or offer pay rise. Often after promotion most of the players demanded raise.
One of the important factors in both Championship Manager games 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.
And that factor was one of the nails in the coffin of Championship Manager Italia - 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 (there was no option to release him from his contract and thus free the 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 (f.e. you could accept transfer offer for him, but he did not accept the contract terms from new team he was still in your team). While in original Championship Manager it was a nuisance, in Italia it was a horror.
First of all transfer window in Italia was only about 3 weeks long at the beginning of the season, so if you did not managed to sell the player you could not do anything about it for next 12 months. Also, since only 2 divisions are fully simulated (36 teams comparing to about 80 in English league), there are very little chance they will make an offer for any of your players, because... their squads are already full and they have no free slots either. How come? It’s easy to explain - unlike in English league Serie A and Serie B were more open for foreign players, so they did not have to obtain a work permit, they did not have to meet some particular expectations to be transferred, thus a lot of clubs are buying them in Champ Man Italia, thus filling up their squads with foreigners and without much chance to get rid of them quickly. After 2-3 seasons the game usually reaches the critical point, in which very few players are transferred, because they simply will not find a free slot in any simulated team.
There were no training options - you 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 scout in simulated teams and place direct transfer offers on players that were not on the transfer 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. Unfortunately the transfer window was very short (about 3 weeks), so you had to make up your mind very quickly.
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. Since Serie A was a very strong league at the time it is not a problem to find very good foreign players to sign, but the game weak spot made it harder than it should have been (see Player management section). Also loan options were available, but for same reason they were hard to use in Champ Man Italia.
Tactics settings were rather simple, you 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 you 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 you 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), but (again due to problems described in Player management section) it was hard to give youth player a chance.
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 Italia 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 Italia was more a troubled child of Domark - on one hand it was extension to their best game, but at the same time lack of clear concept (other than to sell some more copies) and lack of proper testing made this game a huge disappointment. Yes, it was Championship Manager, yes, it had the same options, but at the same time the atmosphere was below par and the problem with overcrowding in the teams was spoiling the fun.
Also the fact that only 2 divisions were simulated was a bit of a letdown - in original game it was challenge to reach the Championship division, in Champ Man Italia it is a matter of one good season in Serie B, in original game you could have dig out a talent from 3rd Division, here you can bring biggest stars in the world, but you most likely won’t find a free slot to hire them.
Rating: 3.5 based on 2 votes
Championship Manager Italia