As the Ten Hag era starts sputtering into life, it’s worth remembering that the reason there’s so much pressure and expectation on the new boss is simply because Manchester United are one of the biggest clubs on the planet. As Casemiro said, he’s “joining the biggest club in England“, and we’re well aware that with TV having taken the EPL global that there’s United supporters clubs from Bombay to Bangkok. You’ll see fans in Red Devils shirts across the world and retro shirts are popular too – even the infamous grey kit from the 1995/96 season can set you back north of £100 on eBay, and Eric Cantona’s jersey from that Southampton game auctioned this May with an asking price of £12,000.

One spin-off that’s been a little thin on the ground of late, though, is football video games. EA’s FIFA franchise has dominated the consoles for so long that increasingly developers are turning towards mobile gaming for new spins on the beautiful game. Of course FIFA itself has a mobile incarnation, but there’s also games where football is the theme, if not the core of the action. Cristiano Ronaldo: Kick’n’Run employs an endless running mechanic (think Subway Surfers) to have CR7 booting the ball across various cities. Gala Spins have an online slot game called 11 Champions that trades heavily on football imagery and sounds. Miniclip’s Football Puzzle Champions adds animated goals to a basic Bejeweled style puzzler. Back in the day (when licenses were cheaper, or oftentimes ignored altogether) there was a bit more creativity in football games. Kick Off 2 employed a top-down style that turned football into pinball at times. Football Champ let the player recreate Scottish lower division football with punches and flying kicks. One of the best though was Krysalis’ Manchester United Europe.


1990’s initial Manchester United game was an unqualified success – legendary magazine Computer & Video Games rated the Atari ST version 92% and it sold 100,000 copies across all formats – with the 16 bit version retailing at £24.99 it was quite the moneyspinner. Given United were still three years from the first title of the Ferguson era and his job was only saved that year by taking the FA Cup over Crystal Palace (in a replay!) it proved both the pulling power of the club and the quality of the game. Thus, a sequel was inevitable and given the FA Cup win gave United an entry into the European Cup Winners Cup for the 1991/92 season – the first time English clubs had been allowed back in after being banned in the wake of the Heysel disaster – Europe seemed a perfect scenario.

The sequel tasked the player with guiding United – or one of the other featured clubs – to glory in the aforementioned ECWC, European Cup, UEFA Cup, Super Cup and long forgotten Intercontinental Cup. Krysalis listened to fans and it tidied up some of the confusing aspects of the first game. A timer that counted down from 1,000 seconds was replaced by minutes that added on. Players names were displayed when they took the ball – while we were still some way off today’s games where each virtual player’s skills reflect their real player’s ability, you’d still rather have Mark Hughes taking a penalty than Mike Phelan. A four player mode meant groups of mates could gather round the computer to play. It was released for more formats too; with a PC version meaning that you can still find the game on abandonware sites round the net. The more eagle-eyed might have noticed Krisalis added a quid onto the price too, at £25.99. Bit cheeky. Three further games followed but by 1996 and Manchester United Championship Soccer we were well into the FIFA vs Pro Evo (at that time called International Superstar Soccer) battle for supremacy and it was only released for the Super Nintendo. Indeed, in Germany it was released as Lothar Matthäus Super SoccerReally cheeky.

These days, the best way of controlling the squad (short of ousting the board) is by picking up a copy of the latest FIFA installment. That could change later this year when UFL hits on PC and consoles. But for those of us of a certain vintage, Manchester United: Europe still brings back fond memories.