Hello and welcome to the latest Football Manager 2014 'FM Friday' video blog. This time we're looking at every manager's favourite day of the week – match day.
One of the most important things for a manager to get right on match days is, of course, the team's tactics - so before we look at the match day experience itself, let’s have a look at the new tactics system in FM14.
The most obvious difference over previous games is that we now have one unified tactics system, replacing the two separate systems we had previously.
Having spoken to lots of people in football, we decided that a change was needed to make the system as realistic as possible.
As a result, managers no longer deliver a player’s instructions by the use of sliders – instead it’s all done by setting and tweaking the player’s roles and instructions in advance.
Take the position of left back, for example. You can now choose from a variety of roles, with the ability to set separate roles for different players when you select them in that position, as well as setting instructions (formerly known as touchline shouts). Or just use the instructions for the role.
Also, if a player is comfortable in a variety of positions, it's now possible to issue him with a role and a separate set of instructions for how to operate when he's playing in each of them.
It’s worth spending a little time on these pre-match instructions, as they come in really handy over the course of a season. Also they can be saved and reused as required.
Better still, thanks to Steam Workshop, they can be shared with other FM players.
Other pre-match changes include the addition of substitutes to the pre-match formation panels.
We’ve also changed the way the timeline works so that it's possible to see exactly when specific incidents happen within a match, through the inclusion of ‘fluidity’ to the pre-match tactics screen.
In addition to setting these instructions in advance, it's also possible to change instructions to individual players while a game is in progress. This is useful if you decide that one player in your team should disregard the overall team instructions – for example, if you're playing a pressing game, but don't want your centre forward to close down on the opposition goalkeeper whenever he has the ball.
We’ve also added eight new player roles - Half Back, Limited Full Back, Complete Wing Back, Regista, Enganche, Flank Forward, Shadow Striker and the False Nine – each of these have descriptions in game to ensure that you know exactly what the roles mean.
On top of that we have introduced the emerging 3-4-2-1 DM tactic, be warned though, you won't be the only one to benefit from the introduction of new formations, You can, of course, still come up with your own formations – but with the ones that are in Football Manager 2014, and the different roles that you can set for each player in each position, there are already thousands of possibilities.
There are some small, but important, changes to the tactics screens too – with roles playing a much larger part in FM14 overall, a player's suitability for a particular role is now instantly delivered by way of a five-star rating from the 'quick tactics' screen.
The introduction of 'stacked' icons allow the manager to see multiple pieces of information about an individual player at a glance, while it's now easier to see when a player is unavailable through holiday or international duty.
And so, on to the match day itself
The first change that a manager will notice on match day is that the match preview screen is much more comprehensive.
In addition to containing the two teams’ respective league positions, the preview screen also contains plenty of new information including ‘key men’ for both teams.
To complement the match preview, we’ve also introduced a comprehensive pre-match 'stat pack' which shows a head-to-head comparison between your team and the opposition. This shows a huge range of information, including player comparisons, recent results and a view of the two clubs' records over the past ten seasons.
Another addition to the pre-match information is that managers can now see a list of their forthcoming fixtures, rather than just information on the next game. This will be a big help when managers are deciding when to rest key players for important upcoming fixtures.
Players now respond more realistically to the manager’s talks and we’ve made it easier for a manager to understand why players respond in the ways that they do.
We’ve also improved the team instructions which relate directly to dealing with specific threats from the opposition.
But the change that will possibly have the biggest impact on how matches look in FM14 is the improved lighting. This has improved for all conditions, whether a game is being played under floodlights, in torrential rain or in overcast conditions.
You’ll also find that the match ball is easier to see, particularly with the yellow winter ball which is used in many leagues during the colder months.
The presentation of in-game information has also become more televisual. Notable incidents – including goals, offside decisions and red and yellow cards – are now highlighted by the appearance of prominent, centre-screen captions, while replays are now clearly marked as such.
We’ve also changed the way the timeline works so that it's possible to see exactly when specific incidents happen within a match, while the ‘action zones’ graphic has been updated so that you can now see what’s happened both in the past five minutes and through the game as a whole at the same time.
And speaking of time, we’ve tweaked the match clock itself so that it can either display the elapsed time as part of the entire 90 minutes, or as two separate 45-minute halves, which is how it’s displayed in certain countries.
Away from the purely visual, another major change to the match day experience is that managers can now receive a lot more help from their assistants if they want it.
Advice offered by the assistant during a match can now be acted on instantly, while a manager can also choose to ignore the assistant’s advice. And they are on hand to work with the manager after the game too, offering explanations as to the players' post-match reactions.
The assistant also offers feedback from team talks, allowing the manager to fine-tune future interactions with the team.