This column aims to give the reader a checklist of five steps that they can follow to feel that they have Football Manager under more control. Hopefully, even the veteran FM players can find something useful in these steps.
This would not guarantee you an unbeaten season with your club, but I believe it will most definitely give you the feeling of being at least in the driving seat.
After playing a save with Paris Saint-Germain, I realised that I enjoy playing the save so much I do not want to start a lower league save yet. Maybe it is because the club is a mega-rich club with thousands to spend on players, staff and coaches.
When I gave it a thought, it was not the case as I still have over 100 thousand pounds left in the transfer budget. I realised that the main reason for my enjoyment must be down to how I approached the season and went about my business and planning.
Therefore, I will use this saved game as an example in this blog to demonstrate the five steps.
Step 1 – Observation
Just as most clubs in real life, there is usually a trial day at the start of the pre-season as well as gaining full knowledge of each player at the club. This applies to Football Manager as well.
Step 1 is to get the best possible idea of the players at a proposal, their strengths and their weaknesses. Make sure to include your youth players in your assessment, as it is vital for future success to ensure you know their potential ability.
Step 2 – Stick with your philosophy
Depending on your philosophy, combine that with the ability and strengths of your players. For example, I prefer playing a 3-1-4-2 formation. At the club, there is that score high for determination, work rate, commitment and passing ability. Also, Football Manager even display your team’s strengths and their weaknesses in a full team report ( that makes it easy).
For step two I need to ensure I combine my preferred formation with a high passing, pressing and high tempo instructions, although I do like a nice easy and slow build-up. Therefore, I only opted for a “short passes”, “push higher up” and “play out of defence” team instructions.
I prefer playing with one Box-to-Box midfielder, one Advanced Playmaker and one Ball Winning Midfielder. The rest of the team only need to suit the players.
Step 3 – Fit the players into YOUR tactics
This is critical, although managers sometimes feel that their tactics should suit the players at their disposal, I slightly disagree.
When you completed step one and two, it becomes the managers’ responsibility to assure the team performs every match for the full duration of the season. If one player does not fit into the majority of the team’s general strengths, they should be shown the exit.
Step 4 – Plan your entire Football Manager season
This sounds like hard work, but a wise man once said that if it is going to take you 2 hours to chop down a tree, you should take an hour and a half sharpening your blade. This step for me is the most important.
Either you can make notes on a piece of paper or use the notebook system on FM. What I usually do is I decide on each player in my final 25 man squad. For example, I select and check each player’s status, “First Team”, “Rotation” or “Back-up”.
I then make a decision when looking at the schedule for the coming season, which squad will I start or play for this upcoming match. Either I will play my First Team squad or will I opt for my Rotation or Backup squad? This depends on the upcoming season.
PSG competes in Ligue 1, with two local cup competitions and the UEFA Champions League. Therefore, I decided that my Back-Up players would start for all local cup competitions with a couple of Rotational players being in the mix.
Secondly, my Rotational players will start against opposition we play within four days before a Champions League tie (Excluding “Rival Matches”). My First Team, especially the three first-choice centre-backs, will play almost every single Ligue 1 tie and only be rotated if they get fatigued.
After you are done with your planning, you now have a framework to work off. This should not limit you, as the form are dynamic in nature, and injuries are a part of the game. There will be challenges but stick to this planning as much as possible, and you are set up for an enjoyable season.
Step 5 – Go BIG
Do not be afraid to make that big signing (trust your gut), as long as the player fits your tactical plan. If you have the gut feeling a certain player will develop into a real gem do not let that moment slip away and take a calculated risk.