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Football Manager 2021: All The New Features Revealed Ahead Of Release Date

Jack Kenmare

| Last updated 

Football Manager 2021: All The New Features Revealed Ahead Of Release Date

Football Manager 2021 is just around the corner and, after what feels like an eternity of waiting, Sports Interactive have dropped a number of exciting new features ahead of the November 24 release date.

In the upcoming months, you, the manager, will be able to celebrate like never before after a famous title win. You'll have the chance to build relationships with journalists and players in a brand new press conference environment, using positive and negative gestures to set the tone. *Bangs table*

You even have the ability to throw a water bottle inside the changing room after a rotten first-half performance.

The people behind Football Manager have been hard at work during the pandemic to bring fans an even greater FM experience. Here are some of the key features to look forward to ahead of next month's release.


Football Manager 2021 will see a "significant" overhaul to the interaction system.

The way you communicate with your players and the media has changed considerably this year. From match days and transfer windows to press conferences, gestures and team talks, here are the major additions and improvements in terms of overall interaction within FM21.


The creators of Football Manager have ditched the previous system and brought in the 'Gestures with open arms' feature. Basically, Gestures are a brand new way to expand on what you are saying and help create more detailed interactions with players and the media.

With the new Gesture system, you are able to emphasise communication through non-verbal signals like:

  • Outstretched arms
  • Smile warmly
  • Open arms
  • Wag finger
  • Bang Table

You have different Gestures to choose from depending on the situation you're in. And don't worry, you can still lose your temper when you're trailing at half-time, only now you'll be throwing a water bottle (Yes THROWING a water bottle) across the room to show how annoyed you are.

Gestures pretty much give you more control over the relationships you want to build in-game - a great addition that adds more depth to the personal aspect of Football Manager.

Image: Football Manager 2021/Sports Interactive
Image: Football Manager 2021/Sports Interactive
Image: Football Manager 2021/Sports Interactive
Image: Football Manager 2021/Sports Interactive

Quick Chats:

Quick Chats are a more detailed and personal method to talk to players, journalists and opposition managers.

For example, you might have a Remote Quick Chat with a journalist who is trying to get the inside story on a transfer rumour surrounding your club, or you'll have an In-Person Quick Chat with a player to praise them for how they've been performing in training.

During in-person Quick Chats, you'll be able to select a Gesture to greet the player you're talking to and they will react to that gesture in turn.

"Gestures enhance the FM interaction experience, allowing you to try to define the type of atmosphere you want a conversation to take place in." says Tom Davidson, PR manager for Sports Interactive.

In additon to Quick Chats with journalists and first-team stars, they can also take place with players who are out on loan. You can check in with your wonderkids to see how happy they are with their loan spell or, if you're disappointed with the amount of minutes your player's getting, you could have a remote quick chat with the team's manager to sort it out.

They are essentially Football Manager's version of WhatsApp.

Image: Football Manager 2021/Sports Interactive
Image: Football Manager 2021/Sports Interactive

Press Conferences:

If you like to send your assistant to do your weekly press conferences (guilty), then think again. This year, Football Manager have "radically" redesigned the press conference from top to bottom.

Before you head in to face the waiting media, you will be given a briefing by your Press Officer as part of the pre-Press Conference news item. This briefing will list any notable journalists in attendance, the expected topics of discussion and any topics that your Press Officer either wants you to expand upon or avoid.

When you step into the press room, you'll see the journalists displayed on screen in the form of icons with details of the publications and sources they represent and your Press Officer will join you in the press conference, chairing the session and deciding which journalists get to ask questions.

And on the odd occasion, You will also be joined by your captain or a team leader occasionally, usually around big matches.

Gestures have been incorporated into press conferences too, giving you the ability to either physically demonstrate how you feel about certain questions or play it cool and give nothing away.

You will also be able to read a journalists' body language and their reactions to your comments and gestures, while Press Atmosphere helps you gauge the mood of the room and see the effect your answers are having.

You will NEED to give insightful and interesting responses to their questions to keep them engaged and interested.

At the end of each press conference you will now receive a summary from your Press Officer. This will include any notable highlights, changes to your relationships with individual journalists based on how they responded to your answers, and feedback from the board on how they feel you handled any discussion topics you were advised to avoid.

"Interaction between you and the assembled journalists within the room looks and feels more meaningful and realistic." Davidson says.

Face to Face Conversations:

In FM21, Face to Face Conversations have seen "extensive improvements."

Conversations can now include more than one other person, with multiple attendees now present in many interactions. For example, if you are in a meeting to discuss playing time with a first-team player, they may look to bring their agent into the meeting, while you might have your Assistant or Director of Football sitting beside you.

You can also observe how each person in the meeting reacts through their personal body language.

At the end of these face-to-face conversations, you'll receive a meeting summary from a relevant staff member to recap how the meeting went, any actions that have been taken as a result and any promises you made over the course of the chat.

In a brilliant addition, Football Manager have also expanded the number of 3D background locations in FM21 to bring "a sense of location and realism" to all your interactions around the club.

That means you'll have conversations with players and backroom staff in your very own Manager's Office. You can even sit down with potential new employers in the Boardroom at clubs wherever your career takes you.

Image: Football Manager 2021/Sports Interactive
Image: Football Manager 2021/Sports Interactive


Matchdays in Football Manager 2021 have been enhanced to provide "a more realistic and immersive experience."

The match action itself now incorporates broadcast elements, the new Dugout view for simple, powerful managerial control and looks better than ever while the incorporation of new stats and xG adds an extra layer of analytical insight to the effectiveness of your play.

Pre-Match Build-Up:

Football Manager pride themselves on using in-depth conversations with real life managers, staff and players to enchance their game and this year, Sports Interactive have used that knowledge to build a detailed and modern system to improve the overall match-day experience.

As always your first interaction will be a pre-match tactical meeting with the matchday squad and your backroom team. Here, you can scrutinise key opposition analysis and weigh up pre-match advice that you can easily put into action to increase your chances of exploiting the opposition's weaknesses.

When you arrive at the ground and head into the dressing room, you'll be presented with the confirmed team sheets for the game - a new feature that adds a more realistic dimension to the match-day package.

That being said, you won't be able to make any changes to your starting line-up to react to your opponent's starting eleven but your backroom staff will point out any variation to their expected line-up and make tactical suggestions in response to team news.

Your Press Officer, who will be key in your journey to the top, will also provide highlights of the overall reactions from social media to confirmed line-ups and major talking points to give you more of a sense of being part of the drama of matchday.

Image: Football Manager 2021/Sports Interactive
Image: Football Manager 2021/Sports Interactive

Team Talks:

Team Talks in FM21 have been upgraded in line with the changes to interaction elsewhere to better simulate those tense moments before, during and after a match.

The Gesture system, as seen in press conferences and interactions with players, is also present in your team-talks.

Here, there are a range of expressive and motivational gestures to choose from to help to inspire your players or allow you to demonstrate your frustration to them after a particularly shocking display.

For instance, you might point your finger emphatically at the squad during a pre-match team-talk but hurl a water bottle (I still can't get over this feature) across the room in anger after a heavy defeat.

The layout has changed too. You will be in the centre of the room while the starting goalkeeper to your left, the subs to your right and the other outfield players in-between in squad number order - much like a modern day dressing room.

Football Manager have also made some changes to team-talks in extra-time. Like in real life, you can give a team-talk on the pitch and unlike any other version of the game, you can give your team an additional team-talk ahead of a penalty shootout.

In fact, before the shootout gets underway, you'll even be able to see your players' body language to help pick your penalty takers. That means you'll be able to spot the players who don't fancy the pressure of a spot-kick and drop them right down the order to improve your chances.

In-Match Presentation:

When the match gets underway, you'll notice some redesigns to the match UI.

In the bottom left corner of the screen, you have the ability to make quick changes to your team's tactical style, formation, mentality and instructions. Running along the lower central part of the screen, you'll see your starting XI laid out in formation order with their condition, body language and match rating visible.

Clicking on the 'Subs' button will give you the same information for the players on the bench so you can make an informed decision on who to bring on if you're contemplating a substitution. Then switch back to the players on the pitch by clicking the 'Pitch' button.

"It's now also much easier to manage each of your players individually on the pitch." Football Manager say.

Clicking on any of the player icons will also bring up a sub-menu allowing you to change their role, give individual player instructions, direct a touchline shout or sub them off.

The brand new 'Show Me' menu will also give you information during a match. From this menu you can bring up match stats, player stats for both teams, the opposition's formation and, once your analyst is able to work out the information, the roles the opposition are using, as well as latest scores from games elsewhere and a live league table.

The captions that appear for in-game events such as goals, yellow and red cards and substitutions have been updated in line with the modern broadcast style.

In competitions where VAR is used, you'll now not only see the VAR call displayed on the stadium screen - just like in real-life - but the in-match caption now also reflects how it's displayed in the real world. That caption also contains information on what's being checked specifically and, once a decision has been made, it will be more visible too.

Image: Football Manager 2021/Sports Interactive
Image: Football Manager 2021/Sports Interactive

Animation and Graphic Improvements:

The match UI isn't the only area of match visuals that have been enhanced in FM21.

There is a new lighting system in FM21 and they have introduced shadow casting across the three different light types in the game. This means that shadows in the stadium including stands, pitchside equipment and players will look more lifelike.

Animations in FM21 have been improved too. Previously, there were moments where players would be "sliding" between animations but with the improvements to blending in FM21 that will no longer be the case as character models now behave accurately and shape up to move into the next animation in a realistic manner.

Stadium environments look more realistic with pitchside furniture; so you'll see new camera types including jib cranes, seated cameras and steadie cams on the sideline that reflect that big match environment.

xG and Post-Match Reaction:

Perhaps one of the biggest talking from the Football Manager 2021 trailer was the addition of xG within next month's release.

"xG has become more widely used in recent years but, for a long time, we felt that none of the current systems would work effectively with the FM match engine." Football Manager say. "This is why, this year, we've created our own xG system, with the help of our friends at football data intelligence specialists, SciSports, who work with real clubs across the sport."

You can view in detail xG in both the half-time review and full-time summary where you'll be able to see the xG match story and how each team's xG has fluctuated over the course of the game.

As well as adding xG, the full-time summary has been expanded to include more of the stories that matter in relation to the match.

Your Press Officer will include the best media clippings from the immediate aftermath of the final whistle and you'll see reactions from fans on social media too as well as the updated league tables and final scores coming in from around the grounds.

The End of Season Experience:

For those who enjoy looking back on a successful - or not so successful - season on Football Manager, the end of season experienced has been enchanced to give you a more detailed look at your campaign.

Trophy presentations have been significantly improved in FM21 and now, you can watch your players celebrate the moment and collect their medals before the trophy-lift. Confetti cannons are also new feature, not to mention the lap of honour.

"And don't worry, if you win a title away from the pitch because a rival drops points, your trophy celebrations will be kept on hold until your next game. So you always get to witness that magical moment, however it's secured." Davison says.

The overall post-match experience has also been tinkered with. There will be more media hype around you and your team, with broadcast interviews and tailored questions from the media on your latest achievement, emulating the 'in the moment' nature of the real-world press.

Image: Football Manager 2021/Sports Interactive
Image: Football Manager 2021/Sports Interactive

A few days after that final game of the season, you will have access to a 'full season review'.

You will be able to browse through the highs and lows of the campaign, as well as revisit key games, review your best starting XI and scour over your previous transfer business.

"We know how focused a manager needs to be when it comes to winning trophies and now we're giving you the much-needed time to reflect on your achievements and revel in your successes." Davidson says.

"Every season is different and so is every end of season review you receive, making each achievement feel different, giving those managers who get lightyears into saves a chance to pause and recall those memorable moments.

"Seasons now end with a bang, giving you not just a more visual conclusion to each campaign but all the crucial data and information needed to make adjustments before we go again."

Thoughts on the new Football Manager 2021 features so far? What team will you be in your very first save?

Let us know in the comments.

Featured Image Credit: Image: Football Manager 2021/Sports Interactive

Topics: Football Manager, Football, FM, Release date

Jack Kenmare
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