Soccer fans tend to be a knowledgeable lot – more so than even the most diehard followers of other major sports. I'm not exactly sure why; perhaps it's the lifelong connection that they make with their team. This is not a knock on the dedicated American sports nuts we all know (as I am one of them, much to my wife's chagrin). There's no doubt we can rattle off all sorts of statistics, random moments of heartbreak and joy, and invariably our mood is lightened or darkened by our clubs' fortunes – especially at playoff time.
With that said, though, we're not worthy of comparison to the denizens that pack places like Old Trafford, El Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, or Stadio Giuseppe Meazza each weekend to live, die, and drink to their respective teams' success and failure. If you've ever had a sober conversation with one of these people, you realize that their love-hate affair goes way beyond that of even the most ardent North American sports fan. They can trace each important moment of their lives directly to correlate moments with their team, and, perhaps more telling, are almost as well informed about the personnel, tactics, and future prospects of their club as the people who run them.
These are the people for which Sega's gem Worldwide Soccer Manager 2007 is designed. Simply put, it's the deepest, most realistic sports simulator I've ever played. It doesn't require thumbs of steel or sublime motor skills; instead, it demands careful thought, planning, and a keen management style. Thankfully, you don't need to know the difference between a 4-4-2 and 1-4-2-4 or grasp the intricacies of the global transfer market to enjoy the game – and, by the way, if you don't know what those are, you will by the time you've piloted a team through a season or two.
Worldwide Soccer Manager 2007 is a gigantic game – more than can be reasonably discussed within the confines of a single review.
Therein lies one of the dozens of beauties of the game – longtime series fans will be able to dive right in and take over any club they choose without so much as a primer. On the other hand, newbies (like yours truly) can start slowly, take their time, learn all of the basics of team management, and build their acumen using a combination of a strong manual (remember manuals?) and an excellent in-game tutorial. It's rare for a series like this to cater to both sides of the spectrum, and it is quite welcome. Even though I consider myself to be decently versed in the language of the Beautiful Game, it was clear to me that I needed a bit of handholding in order to bring my side to the top of the League.
Running a team is a massive affair. You've got to handle every single aspect of a club, from top to bottom. It starts with you and your coaching staff, all of who report to the Board; these grumpy fellows control your respective employment and dictate your short- and long-term goals. Your Assistant Manager can be relied upon as much or as little as you'd like, depending upon how many detailed player and tactical issues your feel like dealing with personally. Coaches, physiotherapists, and scouts round out the staff, each playing key roles in the day-to-day management of the club. They're simply indispensable when trying to get inside information on your players, as well as others around the world. Ignore them at your own peril (as I found out the hard way).
Speaking of players, they're your most valuable assets. Of course, your squad is full of all sorts of characters in various states of happiness and depression. You'll need to understand their capabilities, name your captain, and even talk to them about their opinions on club issues and such. Just for kicks, you could choose to be a total jerk to their faces or the press (whether it's called for or not), but beware of the consequences. Ticking off the best player on your team can tear apart a squad pretty darned fast.