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End of teather reached - end of an era.

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As far as strategy games go this one is really very easy, and if you're having trouble with it maybe you should look at what you're doing wrong rather than pointing fingers elsewhere.

While I agree that the game is easier than it should be, I don't think FM is really a strategy game. It's a simulation and its main goal is to emulate a realistic game world. With very few exceptions, most PC strategy games create a challenge by giving special advantages to the AI, but as a simulation, FM is committed to creating a balanced playing field. To use the recent example of Shogun 2, the AI is challenging because it gets to produce armies faster, mostly ignore the happiness of its provinces and amass large amounts of territory without being subjected to the "Realm Divide" mechanic. If Shogun 2 sought to be a simulation in the sense of Football Manager, it would be ridiculously easy because, ultimately, its AI (like most strategy game AI) is rather terrible compared to a human.

Moreover, match results are primarily a consequence of player quality, so naturally, if you just keep buying better players, your team is going to get significantly better over time. As you said, there's nothing really to "figure out" in regards to tactics. There are probably hundreds of perfectly functional tactical arrangements that you can make with the tactic creator alone, and as long as you follow the role guidelines and have the maturity to stomach the occasional loss, you'll do well in the long term. In this sense, FM is more like Sim City. In Sim City, as long as you keep everything in balance, your village will eventually become a sprawling metropolis.

So if played as a strategy game, FM has got to be rather boring. Where FM succeeds is in providing a sandbox platform where players can emulate the pains and joys of following a football team.

However, as you rightly point out, there's a bit too little of the "pain" and unpredictability at the moment and it's a far too easy to go on auto-pilot and watch the AI fall behind on its own.

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I've learned a lot from this thread but, having just this evening experienced one of the slumps being discussed, I have a couple of points. For the record I am managing Birmingham in the Championship in season 13/14, I took them over in October in 15th, had a slightly shaky start and then went on a 10 match winning streak (9 league, 1 cup) which rocketed us into first (I think I had two of the ten wins after hitting first). The last 4 games of the run saw three times where we scored 4 goals and we're generally strong in defence. I play a 4-4-2 which gets most of its goals from the wings and a pacey striker, but goals are fairly well distributed around the squad. After the 10 match run we played Premier League West Ham away in the FA Cup and lost 1-0. It wasn't a great performance, but I told them not to worry. The next game we played 4th placed Derby at home, had no worries in defence, but never looked like scoring despite a lot of chances. The game after that everything went bad and we lost 3-1 at struggling Sheffield United with no section of the team playing well. Since then it's been up and down for 3 games - we've won 2 and lost 1 but haven't played particularly well (I'm interested in performances in this case - I've had less able squads where such poor performances would probably have resulted in a 4 game losing streak). I've tried to stay sympathetic and encouraging although I did go for 'disappointed' after the Sheffield game. Morale is generally green. I am perfectly happy that good runs can't last forever and will breed problems of their own, but I have two issues with this:

1) I had one game where one element of the team wasn't working and by the next game EVERY element of the team was a disaster. Attackers couldn't finish, defenders couldn't mark or tackle, midfielders misplaced simple passes. I'm not looking for advice on how to mitigate these issues - wwfan has done a great job of providing it in the thread already - I just think part of the problem with streaks of form is that it seems to affect the entire team at once (and in a very exaggerated manner - ie strikers slashing shots 20 yards wide) rather than a few players at a time.

2) It seems logical to me that a 10 match winning streak should breed complacency, but if anything I think (I'm far from sure) that my problems are down to nerves (possibly due to going top). My squad is fairly experienced and has lots of determination, it just seems that they are remarkably fragile. My limited experience with professional players is that they tend to be full of confidence when they are comfortable in their surroundings/coaching etc. A friend who works in a shop in Norwich spoke to the centreback Elliot Ward just after we won promotion last May and he said that the squad had had their first meeting where they discussed promotion in December. Paul Lambert tends to buy players of a certain character and mindset, but I can't imagine that the Norwich squad was radically different to most successful Championship sides and I'd like to see this sort of confidence reflected a little more in FM. Just my two cents on that.

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