The Premiership title is already sealed and the season's barely begun, so what's a football fan to do to fill the remaining months with any excitement? Sports Interactive think they have the answer with the imminent release of Football Manager 2006.

The latest in SI's legendary series of footie management games (they created the Championship Manager titles), FM2006 sets out to move the goalposts again. Once more you will have the challenge of taking your rag-tag bunch of no-hope Conference rabble to the dizzy heights of Ferrari-driving, model-dating superstar success, with only your managerial talent and trusty camel-hair coat to guide your way.

This time, however, there are a myriad of improved tools at your disposal to make the journey that much more enjoyable. A very shiny new interface puts the day-to-day running of your club at your fingertips, with updates filling your in-game inbox with everything from the team physio's reports on injured players to the taunts from opposition managers before your next match.

Pre-match preparation is as complex as you want it to be - down to setting the individual training regimes for your players if you want to. There seems to be a slider for everything.

It's on the pitch that the improvements really stand out though. Tactically the game is leaps and bounds ahead of anything else available. On-the-fly formation changes, substitutions and plain old touchline shouting give you control over your team, but ultimately all you can do is watch the match play out and shout at your monitor as your gifted but wayward striker puts another perfect cross over the posts.

Dot-watching has never been so gripping. At half-time you get the opportunity to administer a team-talk: it's up to you to decide if praising your team to the skies or hurling threats at them will get the better response. Of course, individuals can picked out (or on) - you'll quickly learn which of your players responds well to the carrot or the stick.

First Impressions

There doesn't seem to be an option to kick boots at players in the post-match talk, but there's still time for SI to implement that before release in November.

All in all, FM2006 is looking like another glittering trophy in SI's cabinet. The season opens on 4th November, but if you can't wait until then, a beta demo is now available from

Pocket-lint is giving away

five copies

of the game this month. Follow on the instructions to win.