Football Manager 2023 Erling HaalandFootball Manager/Getty/GOAL composite

'Haaland has redefined 20 strength' - How Football Manager 2023 deals with 'ridiculous' Man City goal machine

Erling Haaland has been giving defenders nightmares thanks to his scintillating form for Manchester City and the striker is causing a few headaches for game developers, too. Football Manager 2023 is set for worldwide release on November 8 and, as is the case in real life, one player virtual tacticians will definitely be frightened to face is the Norwegian.

The 22-year-old's record-breaking exploits since joining City have prompted jokes that he is an alien or a lab-produced goal machine and accurately simulating his real-world ability has thus proved challenging.

Ahead of the launch of FM23, Miles Jacobson, studio director at Sports Interactive - the developer behind the game - revealed some of the difficulties that have arisen with assembling Haaland’s profile this year.

While Jacobson says the game can certainly handle insane talents like the City striker and Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe, the fact that they will only improve as they get older creates something of a conundrum.

'The main problem with Haaland is his strength'

"Haaland is like a machine," he told GOAL. "We had a few problems with Haaland during the development phase because sometimes [the quality assurance team] will report he hasn't got enough goals.

"Last week, one of the screenshots that was sent over to me for approval had him scoring his 60th goal of the season and I had to reject the screenshot, because people just wouldn't believe it if that happened, but he's on track to do that. I mean, he's a ridiculous, ridiculous player."

Football Manager 2023 Manchester CityFootball Manager

For those who are unfamiliar with Football Manager stats, each player's ability is determined by a matrix of technical, mental and physical attributes which are rated from one to 20. Technical attributes include things such as dribbling or passing, while 'determination' and 'composure' are among list of mental attributes. When it comes to Haaland, the physical side of his game is remarkable.

"The main problem for us with Haaland is his strength. He's just redefined what 20 strength is for footballers," adds Jacobson. "It's going to be interesting to see, because he's still only young. He's going to get better - as is Mbappe.

"Will that affect every player in the game world? Will every other player in the game be worse because they're better?"

Do players complain about their Football Manager stats?

When the ratings for EA Sports’ FIFA games come out each year, there are always instances of players complaining about their numbers – with plenty making a point to publicly argue their case for increased attributes.

Lots of high-profile footballers enjoy Football Manager too, from City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan to Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann and Liverpool’s Diogo Jota. So do those stars who play FM ever complain about their stats?

"Yes, but they tend to message me directly, because we know a lot of them," Jacobson says. "I've got over 2,000 footballers who help us test the game, to give us feedback before the release.

Ilkay Gundogan Football Manager 2023 statsFootball Manager 2023

"The first [player that reached out about their stats] - and I'm not I'm not going to reveal his name, but it was a player in the top flight - they turned around and said, 'I'm faster' than this other bloke that played for the same team.

"And I said, 'Okay, have a race and film it'. And he did. They had a race, they filmed it and he was faster. But to be fair to that player, he did turn around and go, 'Yeah, but you've got my dribbling as better than his and he's a better dribbler than I am'. And I didn't ask for that to be filmed, I just made the change.

"When it comes to players' heights, weights and things like that, if anyone reaches out to change those instantly, not a problem. When it comes to attribute ratings, we have our scouting team and if they disagree with the stats that our scouting team are giving them, we will pass that information on to our scout who will either say yes or no.

"But I tend to go back to the player and say, 'You just need to work harder, mate! You need to be doing more'.

"Thankfully, when they're [complaining], they're not as public, sometimes, as the FIFA ones. But they're always quite funny when it does happen."

'I've got an incredible team'

The team behind Football Manager have, like those in other industries across the world, had to adapt to changing circumstances, with disruptions such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the fallout of war in Ukraine altering the dynamic of work. With another game ready to be delivered, though, Jacobson paid tribute to his team.

"Before the pandemic, I think we were between 130 and 150 people, now we're at 280 in the studio. Some of that's for new projects, some of it's for women's football, some of it is for making sure that everyone can have a good work-life balance in what are really, really, really difficult times," he notes.

"It's been another difficult cycle from that perspective, but we get through it. I'm very lucky. I've got an incredible team here who work really, really hard."

How can I play Football Manager 2023?

FM23 will be released on November 8, 2022 and will be available across more platforms than ever.

As well as coming out on PC/Mac, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, App Store and Google Play, players will be able to enjoy the game on Apple Arcade and PlayStation 5 for the first time, too.

A 20 per cent discount applies when you pre-purchase the game and early access will be available around two weeks before the official launch date.

You can find out more information about buying the game on the official Football Manager website.