Exclusive Interview With Miles Jacobson: “FM 2012 is the best in the series”
written by Johnny Karp
I know that you are all happy to know that we’ll have another Football Manager version to enjoy by the end of this year, Football Manager 2012 will be released before Christmas as we have already announced moments after the official announcement from Sports Interactive and Sega. Miles Jacobson is still the man who leads the team that creates the game, he is both a football fan and a football manager fan so we took the opportunity to have a chat with him about both our favourite computer game and football in general.
Who Is Miles Jacobson?
Position: Studio Director at Sports Interactive
Honours: OBE (Order of the British Empire)
Favourite team: Watford
Favourite game: Football Manager :)
“I ended up winning the Champions League in the mid 2020’s”
Hello Miles and thank you for accepting this interview, we know that you are a busy man these days. Let’s get straight to the questions:
Johnny Karp: I assume that you managed Watford again in FM 2011, how did your career go?
Miles Jacobson: Very well – I started with the plan of staying up and building slowly, so it wasn’t til the 5th season that I got promoted, but I ended up winning the Champions League in the mid 2020’s. Then got the England job alongside it.
JK: I recently read that, in your view, every player has his own way of playing FM. I definitely agree with that and I want to know more about your way of playing the game. For instance, do you use different tactics for home and away games or do you stick to one tactic for all games?
MJ: I have 2 tactics that I tend to use, and build the team around them. One is a 442 with wingers, a ball winning DMC and a box to box MC, and the other is a 532 with wingbacks, a ball winning DMC, a box to box MC and a deep lying playmaker. I’m mainly a wheeler dealer though. Lots of loan players when managing Watford outside the Premiership, and young players for the future, mainly.
JK: Enough about FM 2011, it is a great game but now it’s time to look forward to FM 2012. How would you describe the new game in a few words?
MJ: I’d describe it as a football management simulation type of game. And the best in the series. But then it’s not surprising I’d be saying that, as I think it’s true of each new iteration, or else we wouldn’t bother.
Football Manager 2012 New Features
For the hardcore fan who likes playing career games we’ve added in the functionality to allow you to turn leagues on and off. So if you’re managed in England for a few years and decide you want to go off and get a job in Spain, you can put the Spanish league in and start applying for jobs there.
We’ve made huge improvements to how you see the match being played, there’s new animations, new crowds, extra stadiums, a couple of new cameras. That’s all looking really good. We’ve got something for people who like technology in the adaptive layout, which means if you’re playing in a high resolution you actually get more information on the screen.
We’ve improved the way you can talk to players and your staff inside the game by adding in a tone system, so now there are six different tones that you can use to talk to players. Which will have a massive effect on conversations you have with them. Some people like having an arm put round them and other people only see sense if you shout at them, so you have to be careful what you use for which person.
There’s also loads of changes to contracts. One of the changes being for contract negotiations, if you’re in the midst of a negotiation and the agent keeps coming back asking for £6,000 a week and you can “only” afford to pay them £4,000, you can lock that £4,000 so the agent will know you’re not going to budge from that and might come back asking for different contract clauses to make up the difference.
We’ve worked with scouts with a few different clubs to come up with the kind of report that a manager would get in real life for the next opposition reports. There’s all kind of information in there, including where goals have been scored, what time of play they were scored, analysis of the squad, tactical information. And the tactical information goes as deep to show you how you’ve performed against particular tactics, and how particular tactics have performed against you.
And for people who have never played the game before there’s a brand new tutorial mode, which will actually give you a little hand-holding guide into how to play the game when you first start. Which is something we haven’t managed to do successfully before, but this year we think we’ve got there. (Miles Jacobson about the new features in FM 2012; excerpt from an interview for The Telegraph – full article here)
JK: I noticed that one of the new features will be a tutorial module, that could be quite useful for new players and not only. We have released a guide for FM 2011 (http://www.footballmanagerstory.com/2011/04/fm-2011-handbook-your-way-to-victory-in-football-manager-2011/), do you think that the new tutorial module will eliminate the need for such guides?
MJ: No – the tutorial mode is there to teach the basics. The new “how to” system is there to show you how to navigate to things that you already know you want to do. The guides that the scene put together tend to be a lot more advanced than that, based on advice from people playing the game and their experiences, with many throughout the community chipping in, which is a very good thing. We regularly turn down commercial deals for doing these kinds of guides because we believe the community do a better job, and provide them for free too, which is great for everyone. The sites doing the good guides get a lot more traffic than they would do without them too, which helps them get a bigger community going, and can only be of benefit to the guides moving forward.
JK: How do you feel about players that cheat in FM in an attempt to get better results quickly?
MJ: I don’t agree with them doing it, but people can play the game any way they want to. If they enjoy it more by cheating, then that’s fair enough – I just don’t understand why someone would want to do it!
JK: The game is getting better with every version in my view but do you think it’s getting more difficult too?
MJ: I don’t think it’s getting more difficult, no. More in depth? Yes. Is there more to do to get the best out of it? Yes. But it’s still more than possible to do well in the game letting your assistant do the things you don’t want to. Over the last few years we’ve diversified a bit with FMH, so if someone wants a quicker management game to play, then we’re hopefully still making a game that they will enjoy too. I don’t think we’re reaching everyone who might like to be a football manager in their spare time yet, so that’s something we’ll be looking at, long term, as we want to be able to entertain as many people as possible.
JK: Did you ever receive angry letters or emails from wives complaining about their husbands’ addiction to Football Manager?
MJ: No. I’ve had a few people complain when I’ve met them, but no letters or emails.
JK: We already know that Everton and a few other clubs are using the game database as part of their scouting network, do you have an estimate on how many clubs are using FM to improve their chances of finding players?
MJ: We have absolutely no idea, outside of Everton. They’re the only club we’ve had an official deal with.
JK: Do you have any examples of real football managers and players that like to play FM?
MJ: Yes, lots. But we don’t talk about it, or else it would ruin our relationships with them. No one has come to us yet and said they’d be happy to talk on the record about it, although some people have in press conferences and the like.
JK: There are a few examples of FM players that went on to aplly (unsuccessfully) for real football manager jobs (http://soccerlens.com/from-playing-football-manager-to-being-a-football-manager/66668/). Do you think that a club, big or maybe small, should hire a manager based on his FM experience?
MJ: No. They should hire a manager based on his or her ability to do the best for the club. Not enough FM players do their coaching badges, for a start!
JK: That last question is a good opportunity to move to real football, who do you think will win the Premier League this season?
MJ: I hate judging these things before the transfer window closes, as I think it’s impossible to judge until you can see full squads. From their starts to the season, it’s looking like the title will be heading to Manchester, but at the time of doing this interview, there’s still two weeks for Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs & Liverpool to improve their squads. And for City & Man United aswell.
“Barcelona will win the Champions League with a dodgy penalty”
JK: Which is the best Premier League signing so far in your view?
MJ: Ever? Dennis Bergkamp. A master of football. This season, Sergio Aguero. He’s a player well known to those who play Football Manager, and has been for many years, and a very welcome addition to the Premier League.
JK: How about today’s Barcelona, are they the best football team ever? If not, which was the best football team ever in your view?
MJ: They would be the best team in the world if they didn’t dive around so much. I’m one for sportsmanship, so that doesn’t work for me, however good they are technically. There are far too many great teams to pick one anyway – it’s a bit like asking someone who the favourite of their children is. But the Watford team of 92 were pretty special.
JK: Which is the football manager that you admire the most?
MJ: Of current managers, Jose Mourinho. An obvious choice, but not only has he had success everywhere he’s gone, he’s also managed to deal with the extra rigours that being a modern day manager has. I can’t think of anyone who manages to deflect the pressure away from his players than him, and he seems to be able to absorb all of that pressure, as well as the pressure on him.
JK: Who do you think will win the Champions League this season?
MJ: Barcelona. With a dodgy penalty.
JK: Does SI plan to do more to support the fan sites?
MJ: The affiliate scheme has moved back in house as of a couple of weeks ago. Whilst we’re very grateful for the work that Laurie at SEGA, and Joe before him, did, Laurie is now looking after a lot of games and no longer has the time to be able to look after the affiliates in the way that either SEGA or us would like. So Rob Barns-Graham, who is well known to the community via his work on FML, will now be looking after the scheme and the sites, alongside his other work at SI, to try and improve communication and involvement. He’s already been in touch with the admins of the sites to talk about a webmasters meet up, so that should be a good way to get the ball rolling again.
JK: Thanks a lot Miles.
As always, Miles was kind enough to take some time to answer my silly questions and I guess I can’t thank him enough for that. I hope that you enjoyed the interview but the best part is yet to come: let’s comment Miles’ answers! :)
The founder and co-owner of the website, a Romanian Football Manager addict. He’s been playing the game since CM ’97-’98, never missed any of the versions since then. His footballing career stopped before it began, he liked playing the game but disliked having to run around like crazy during the pretty harsh training sessions. He’s a supporter of the Romanian national team, Universitatea Craiova, Arsenal, Barcelona and… the Blyth Spartans! You can contact him at johnny[at]footballmanagerstory[dot]com