One football programme on telly stands out as an all-time classic. Which one? Here's a clue -
it's got Jimmy Hill and Desmond Lynham in it, and its initials are MOTD. Another clue - it's
written below in hugh letters.
And it's half time here at Tranwell Park. Liverpool are trailing six - nil to James Leach, who
slotted in all six, and also saved penalties from Barnes, Rush and Pelé... Ah well, we can
Anyway, while we're dreaming, we can load up Match of the Day, pausing only to stroke the
lovingly-crafted BBC logo embellishing the front of the lavish box. Let your fingers drift over
the beautifully-written note informing you that Match of the Day is a BBC trademark, then caress
the fine... (Get on with it! - Ed.)
Er, right. The idean here is to take what is sometimes known in footballing circles as a
'completely rubbish' team - like Carlisle or Wrexham, for instance - and transform them into a
world-beating side capable of hammering Bayern Munich, Red Star Belgrade and Dynamo Kiev in
one go. Easy! Er... no it's not, actually. It's darned difficult.
The main menu for the game takes the form of a diary. You have to flick through the pages,
making appointments. You can set up five appointments per day, starting at 9am and continuing
every couple of hours to 5pm. You don't have to fill up every moment of your waking hours with
these appointments, but as Brian 'the Brian' Clough always says, "You've got to give a hoondred per
cent." Translated, this means you're a fool to yourself if you only make one appointment per day.
To get things rolling, all you need to do is drag icons across from the right-hand side of
the screen and drop them into the correct time-slots on the diary. Then, when you're happy with
your work schedule, you simply advance the time on until you start having these so-called meetings.
When you get to them, the screen changes.
For example, if you've decided to meet the scout, you
advance the time until the meeting, then, as if by magic, the scout appears in your office. You
can then get him to do all sorts of interesting things, like checking out who's worth buying
and who the biggest threats are on the other teams.
The realistic thing with this diary system is that you get people into your office and ask
them to do things for you, then they agree, go away, and, some time later, they turn up and give
you the results. So you've always got to be planning ahead and using your time efficiently. It's
a novel twist to what's become a rather standard game format.
As the hours and days go by, you actually start to feel the pressure of the forthcoming
match on Saturday. If you've got a couple of men injured, you'll tend to spend a lot of time
trying to get them fixed up in time, which could mean that you're not hassling your guys to
do enough training. It's a delicate balance, and justifies you having a massive Jaguar to
drive, loads of chunky, gold jewellry to flash about and cigars the size of London tube trains.
Of course, the tension mounts to almost unbearable levels when Saturday finally comes around.
Nine o'clock, and you're up and about with the larks. 11 o'clock, and the larks have got bored
of you and have flown off to build a nest or something. One o'clock, and you can meet up with
team for a light pre-match meal of roast beef and yorkshire pudding, washed down with several
pints of Coke and a couple of massive slices of Black Forest gateau.
Three o'clock. Time to play. Your team waddle on to the pitch, having just woken up from a
refreshing kip on the coach to let the meal go down. They put out their massive cigars and
wait for the kick-off. The scene changesd to Jimmy Hill and Des Lynham sitting in a studio.
They natter for a bit, then show the goal-mouth highlights of your match. It's viewed from the
top down, like Kick Off, and you get to see all the goals along with any classic saves or
deflections. Exciting stuff indeed.
Overall, Match Of The Day is pretty good. It's a classy management sim, and, while it's tougher
than most, you can have lots of fun with the flexibility of it, and the highlights bits are great.
But at £9.99 you'd have to be seriously wealthy to throw that sort of dosh around on a management
sim with knobs on.