Children of the 90s recognize the allusion from the headline immediately. In the sports simulation Bundesliga Manager Professional by the German developer Software 2000, published in 1991, there was a secret trick to improve the account a little. If your own club ran out of money again, all you had to do was click the door sign of the bank building on the finance screen and 100,000 D-Marks rolled onto your savings account. One minute clicks made me a virtual millionaire back then.
When Bundesliga Manager Professional appeared, I was twelve years old. My own football career was not very successful: lazy in training, stubborn and on top of that not particularly athletic, I was only substituted twice – once as a left winger, once as a defensive midfielder. One of the games "my" team lost 1:13, and it felt like I was sidelined a hundred times.
In short: I love football, but very quickly switched to the virtual version in the form of titles such as Kick Off, Microprose Soccer or business simulations such as Bundesliga Manager Professional.
At that time I already knew the predecessor Bundesliga Manager published in 1989, which was developed by Werner Krahe and Jens Onnen and their Stadio KRON simulation software. The archaic game scenes burned into my memory. A small, white ball jumped from left to right on a stylized soccer field. This is how the events on the field were shown schematically. A lot of imagination was required here so that tension really came into play.
In Bundesliga Manager Professional, which I played on my beloved Commodore Amiga 500, it was different: There were over 30 pre-calculated highlight moments with alternating endings. In the iso perspective, the pixel men ran after the leather, shot at the goal or fouled. The presentation was not quite at the sports show level, but came pretty close for the conditions at the time. Even if after countless hours with Bundesliga Manager Professional I knew every scene inside out, I never turned it off. They were the technical cabinet piece of the rather dry economic simulation.
Bundesliga Manager Professional – or "BMP" for short – simulated the first, second and third league, had the original player data, and there were even competitions such as the UEFA Cup and the European Cup, the forerunner of today's Champions League. My job was to lead my club to fame and glory. This included putting together the squad and training plans as well as managing the finances. Thanks to the simple tile surface and clear symbols, I quickly found my way around.
I admit: I used the cheat mentioned at the beginning quite often. Simply because I wanted quick success and enjoyed big player transfers. After all, I always wanted to bring the best players onto the pitch. BMP presented their abilities with the help of the values for stamina, technique and form. On the line-up screen I pushed my stars back and forth like on the drawing board: two or three strikers? With or without a Libero? Or would you prefer a chain of four defenses? For this purpose I arranged training camps and was able to see how young players matured or established stars became even better. Here I was the coach – and imagined that this is how the management of a real Bundesliga club works.
For a manager that is very simple from today's perspective, BMP had a high level of traceability. If I demanded too much intensity from my troops, injuries rained. If I didn't train certain areas of the team enough, their values would stagnate. After the matches, I also received newspaper clippings based on the kicker, which rated the performance of my players with school grades. As a coach I was tough, but fair: if you left the field twice with a "6", you landed on the bench first.
My own stadium was a good indicator of my success. Almost like in the classic building game Theme Park, I set the entrance fees, built floodlights or expanded seating and standing areas. On the associated stadium graphics, I could see how my former football field grew into a real cauldron.
A simple economic system provided the necessary financial resources: I sold perimeter and jersey advertising in return for it at face value. Here too, Software 2000 focused on recognition value. As an avowed Amiga fan, my team always had to wear the Commodore symbol on their chest. And Onnen and Krahe also immortalized themselves here with KRON Software as a possible advertising partner.
Alone the game is already fun and literally ate up countless hours of my youth. But it really got down to business in local multiplayer with friends. I still vividly remember the emotional competition and how heatedly negotiations about possible new signings were sometimes carried out.
In hot seat mode, up to four hobby trainers took turns: each participant made his or her line-up and took care of financial matters. But we then experienced the match day at the same time. You can certainly imagine the trash-talking at "Derbies". The hot seat gave Bundesliga Manager Professional a social component.
Incidentally, this was repeatedly put to the test. My friends and I had a "gentlemen's agreement" that the aforementioned cheat was only used after consulting the others. As a man of honor, of course, I always stuck to it and never cheated. So … almost never.
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