November is here, and with it comes Football Manager 2024. The latest release in Sports Interactive's franchise marks the 20th anniversary of the FM name and is also set to be the last of its kind.
With a move to the Unity engine and big changes already announced for FM25, this year's game has been positioned as a loving send-off to Football Manager as we know it. With some big new features and more leagues to play in than ever, has SI sent this era of Football Manager out with a bang?
A whole new world
There are new features before you even start a new game in FM24. You can choose between Original (FM as it always has been), Real World (where the save follows real-world transfers as your summer progresses), or Your World. This final option starts with squads as they were in real life on your start date but does not include future transfers.
We dived right into Your World, and the ensuing chaos was marvellous. Lionel Messi, a free agent, signed a £1.9m-a-week deal with Al-Ittihad, we were able to bring Dusan Vlahovic to Arsenal, and Man Utd dropped £123m on Randal Kolo Muani.
This option really opens up possibilities for players to establish their own will on a club. While some transfers, like Kai Havertz to Arsenal, were agreed early enough to still be in Your World the mode saves you grinding through that first season before you can make real changes to the squad.
It's an excellent addition even if on the surface it is very minor, and should make the replayability of FM24 higher than it has ever been.
The X's and O's
As you don't control the players directly in Football Manager, tactics have always been a huge talking point within the FM community. This year sees the introduction of the inverted full-back as a new player role, as well as sweeping changes to how set pieces are drawn up and managed. Both are excellent additions to the game.
Tactically, Football Manager 2024 is a step up from last year. The inverted full-back lets you create different shapes for attack and defence, and with improved positional play from the match engine you can really go for that 4-4-2 without the ball and 3-2-4-1 with the ball that has become so prevalent in the Premier League. The best tactics in Football Manager 2024 haven't changed much from last year, but you can tweak more and get creative in ways you couldn't last year.
The biggest difference though, is with the set pieces. We've already found a great corner routine and the CPU opposition has shown some set piece inventiveness too. You can create patterns of play from set pieces as well, resulting in some inventive goals. Corners are a little overpowered still, but that's been the way with FM for a while now, so make sure you've got some size and strength in your team!
Despite the big changes planned for next year, Sports Interactive has made some good changes to its match engine for Football Manager 2024. Not only does it look better, with improved lighting, but the players are smarter.
They anticipate movement more, filling channels and rotating, rather than sticking strictly to positions with roles only making a small difference. Box-to-box midfielders will get from one byline to the other if they are fit enough, inside forwards will attack the six-yard box.
Perhaps the biggest sign of this is at set pieces. When recycling the ball your players won't immediately sprint back to their usual in-possession position. Instead they will find space, and stay there until a good moment to rotate back home.
It all makes for a more fluid and dynamic match-day experience that gives you an improved ability to make the right tactical changes at the right moments.
Outside of matches, transfers are the part of FM players will interact with the most. Wheeling-and-dealing like peak Sam Allardyce or throwing money around like Todd Boehly is what makes FM so much fun.
At the top end of the sport the impact of Saudi Arabian money is huge. While you can't manage in the Saudi Pro League, its teams can offer big money for your players. High-reputation players coming to the end of their contracts are a particular target, so don't be afraid to offer out at high prices just to see if a Saudi club comes calling.
This can cause a bit of chaos, but does accurately reflect the state of football right now! Of course, this will only impact you at the highest level. They are unlikely to come after your players at Wycombe Wanderers or Montrose.
The addition of Intermediaries has been a nice touch too. While TransferRoom just puts a new name on an old function, the Intermediaries really can be a life-saver. While they can't solve all your problems with moving deadwood players they can drum up some interest. Just don't expect big ones!
AI transfer logic doesn't seem to have been drastically overhauled but it is improved. You will still have to pay through the nose for stars and players on long contracts, but there shouldn't be too many moments of teams randomly stacking four great right-backs in a squad.
Bad day at the office
So what drawbacks are there in FM24? Well, injuries are more frequent and now hit goalkeepers. This is realistic but a shock to the system after going years with bulletproof keepers. Having a decent backup and putting your #2 on the bench again is a must.
Player interactions seem to be a little janky this year. Or at least, the go-to answers that worked in previous years are not always the right ones this year. After raising an issue with goalkeeper depth early in our save, Martin Odegaard then refused to sign a new contract with us despite having won the Premier League. We suspect the full release and early patches may correct a few bits of the player interactions, but just be careful with what you say to players!
While there are more deflections and blocks in FM24 this year, the ball can get a bit bouncy, especially off the post and crossbar. You'll see it come rocketing back into play without much loss of momentum.
So far though, that's about it. You are still going to get FM'd in this game, but that's never a negative for us. Football is just a cruel game sometimes!
If you love Football Manager, you'll love this game. If you felt FM23 failed to move the series on then you will really love this game.
Football Manager has long been the most in-depth sport's title out there and this year is no different. FM24 offers the usual thrills and spills of a management journey but with refined processes and an improved matchday feel.
If this really is the final game of Football Manager as we know it, then SI has done a brilliant job. Football Manager 2024 is a game every football fan should try.
For more articles like this, take a look at our Football Manager page.