IGN UK writes: "Perennially topping the PC bestseller lists, the Football Manager series is one of those rare gaming dynasties that exist in their own culturally mainstream vacuum away from the rest of the gaming world. It's commonplace to hear people refuse to acknowledge themselves as 'gamers', but then freely admit to playing marathon, relationship-ending 15 hour FM sessions on a regular basis. You either get it or you don't, and the normal criteria for judging a game barely apply when analysing the latest FM instalment.
Instead, the best way to judge a new Football Manager game is to compare it to its immediate predecessors. Every year there are both subtle and significant improvements and additions to the basic, turn-based formula that has, essentially, stayed the same since Sports Interactive's first Championship Manager emerged back in 1994. For many, what's changed beneath the bonnet in this latest iteration is likely a moot point – after all, it's the promise of that annual update to the game's player database that provides the biggest draw to repurchase on a yearly basis. However, while it's true that Football Manager 2009 uses the same game engine as FM08 and, on the surface, plays almost identically, there are a number of significant upgrades lurking in the bowels of FM that aficionados are likely to get excited about."