With the game now released – many people ready for another year of procrastination, pain and sporadic doses of pleasure – the attention will turn to how players are rated. Like them or loathe them, the ratings require a great deal of studying and deliberation to create the greatest football management simulation on the planet. And going by the judgement of assistant manager Steve Holland, here are the highest rated Chelsea players in the game...
Juan Mata (Attacking Midfielder) – Four and a half Star Rating
Notable attributes: First Touch 19, Passing 18, Technique 18, Creativity 18, Agility 18
Mata – like so many people have suggested this season – is Chelsea's best player according to Football Manager. Jose Mourinho had been reluctant to play Mata earlier on this season, but if you're playing as Chelsea in the game and you want to succeed, Mata has to be the first name on the teamsheet. Whether that's on the left, right or in the centre of the attacking midfield trifecta, is up to you...
Eden Hazard (Attacking Midfielder) – Four Star Rating
Notable attributes: Agility 19, Dribbling 18, First Touch, 18, Technique 18, Acceleration 18
Another key player in the attack, Hazard is best suited to playing out on the left hand side, but can also play in the centre or on the right hand side. At just 22-years-old, Hazard has the potential to be a “world class left winger” according to the Chelsea scouts in the game. His best role is as an inside forward, where he can cut inside and wreak havoc with his right foot.
Ashley Cole (Left Back) – Three and a half Star Rating
Notable attributes: Determination 18, Work Rate 18, Natural Fitness 18, Acceleration 17, Stamina 17
Cole is the undoubted starter at Stamford Bridge and is still one of the best left backs in the world despite approaching his 33rd birthday. Cole's backup Ryan Bertrand represents a large drop off in ability, so Cole's Stamina and Natural Fitness ratings will allow anyone who plays as Chelsea to play Cole repeatedly without him tiring.
Frank Lampard (Central Midfield) – Three and a half Star Rating
Notable attributes: Natural Fitness 20, Penalty Taking 19, Composure 18, Determination 18, Leadership 18
Despite being 35-years-old, Lampard is still rated as Chelsea's fourth best player. His average stamina rating may limit him to the occasional games should you choose to play as Chelsea, but there are enough midfielders to fill in, such as John Obi Mikel, Michael Essien and Ramires. With his high ratings in finishing, long shots and penalties, you can expect Lampard to contribute plenty of goals from midfield.
Samuel Eto'o (Striker) – Three and a half Star Rating
Notable attributes: Leadership 19, Finishing 18, Determination 17, Natural Fitness 17, First Touch 16
Experienced striker Eto'o is considered a better option that Fernando Torres and Demba Ba, and considerably so in Football Manager. Also able to play as a central attacking midfielder, Eto'o still has great finishing and mental attributes, and whilst his pace stats have decreased in recent years, he is still the best striking option at the club on Football Manager 2014.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald