Veteran players of football management games, bow down and tug your collective forelocks: LMA Manager is about to trounce the opposition and lift the silverware. Codemasters' first foray into this now overcrowded genre will have the dedicated PSX footy fan grinning from ear to ear. And it's not solely about management, oh no. You get to have a say in stadium development too, as well as deciding which staff to hire and which to fire.
The real deal, however, is when you take control of your favourite club, organise the training schedules, and build up to the first game of the season. And then, after half a dozen indifferent performances and poor results, a tentative dip into the transfer market after advice from your club scout, or maybe release some of the dead wood clogging up the reserves. There's always a club willing to take your unwanted staff, and the transfer market is enormous.
When you're ready to play the match, the action unfolds in full-pitch view with a scrolling commentary at the foot of the screen. This is a very neat touch, as you get to see for yourself who is playing a blinder and who's going to be substituted if they don't pull their socks up. Best of all though, are the highlights at the end of the match. Match Of The Day's Stubbs and Hansen describe the key moments, displayed in lovingly rendered close up, and with genuine variation in the goal action
This type of game has had a rough old time since Gremlin's Premier Manager 98, the first genuine management title on this platform, popped its head above the parapet. For some, there are no truly bad football management games, but LMA Manager is head and shoulders above the rest, simply because of its attention to detail and user-friendly playability.