Guide to Developing Youngsters in Football Manager


Best ever and most detailed guide how to develop a promising youngster to a world class player in Football Manager.
Guide to Developing Youngsters in Football ManagerThis Article was written by SFraser from SI Forums for an earlier version of Football Manager, but it can still be used for newer releases.

Prepare yourself a cup of coffee and study this from word to word. I hope you’ll find some really interesting facts, just like I did.

Introduction to developing youngsters in Football Manager

I have written some threads on this before but they tended to be very user unfriendly, and I am also really enjoying the strides FM has taken recently towards being more “naturally football-like” rather than a good but very abstract simulation of football.

In that vein I want to produce a guide to developing youngsters on Football Manager that does two things:

  • A: Actually works and people can follow for success.
  • B: Discusses player development in a wholly “football-like” way.

Player development is one of the toughest parts of the game and for very good reasons.

It requires a lot more attention invested into the day-to-day going-ons at your club, it is very long term with very few quick results and quick feedback, and it requires a great deal of risk taking and faith in players.


While most of us will have developed the odd gem every so often, few of us will have managed to replicate the feats of Wenger and Ferguson when it comes to consistently developing First Team players as well as a whole raft of other players that can be found playing in teams slightly below the top 3-4 teams in European Leagues.

I think the reasons for this are obvious. First of all player development is not easy in and of itself.

It’s not necessarily difficult but it’s not a plug and play element of the game. You get back what you put in.

Secondly Football Manager itself in-game rewards football thinking while almost all player development debate and discussion revolves around min-maxing and mechanic busting and long complex discussion about abstract concepts.

No one has yet written a footballers guide to player development in Football Manager that is good enough to actually help people.

I will break this guide down into the following sections for ease of use and ease of referrence, and to stop myself wandering a bit towards the end like I tend to do:

  • Section 1: Why Develop Players? 
  • Section 2: What Can You Expect?
  • Section 3: What Do You Need
    • Subsection 1: Scout Network
    • Subsection 2: Club Composition and Relationship Between Squads.
    • Subsection 3: Mentors
    • Subsection 4: Feeder Clubs
    • Subsection 5: Staff Members
    • Subsection 6: Training
  • Section 4: Preparing Players
  • Section 5: Developing Players
  • Section 6: Conclusion/Final Thoughts.

Section 1: Why Develop Players?

The main reason why managers start to develop players is money.

Cristiano Ronaldo cost Manchester United a heck of a lot less than he cost Real Madrid and even if Ronaldo was earning £10 million a year at Manchester United in wages the club would still have made an overall profit in his sale on top of his contributions to the team.

This crucial financial element never changes and is one of the key factors that should always be taken into account when starting the whole development process at your club.

The manager should start developing players based on the idea that they can be sold at least for as much as they cost the club during their time at the club.

Youth Development is all about a zero sum game in terms of cash, with the odd gem that makes the entire process profitable whether he is sold for megabucks or kept as a first team player.

It is unearthing this gem from an overall no cost or minimal cost process that is the point of youth development.

Instead of spending £25 million on a winger, you spend £25 million and recover £25 million over a period of several years of youth development and eventually unearth that winger, or discover someone else that benefits your team and allows you to play with some other winger in your team or even without wingers.

It’s about improving your team for the minimal cost possible.

Some clubs are in a position not to have to do this due to having sugar daddies, some clubs are in a position where this is all they can do to keep competing at a specific level.

Other clubs are in a position where they don’t have to do this but can’t afford to let gems pass to their rivals and develop into players that become awesome for the opponent team.

Youth development is a key part of the whole football process going on in FM.

Believe me when I tell you that you will regret it when you arch rivals suddenly line up against you with some Off-The-Ball 18, Anticipation 18, Composure 18, Finishing 18 teenage forward that you hadn’t spotted in the game before.

In my current save precisely this happened recently.

A youngster that looked a bit promising but was very young and a bit of a risk turned up at some obscure Dutch club and the top sides in my league were all keeping an eye on him.

None of the top sides made a bid and he went to Tottenham.

A couple of seasons later he turned up in the Tottenham line up looking like the following image and the top four let out a collective d’oh. Klinsmann is in charge of Tottenham with his 20 Motivating and I play them next with one first choice Centreback suspended and the other first choice Centreback unfit after just returning from injury. Yay.

Promising Youngster in Football Manager

He might only be third choice forward with those stats in my club, but I would still rather own him and then sell him to Valencia or Roma rather than see him line up for Tottenham and potentially move to Chelsea, Arsenal, Barcelona or Milan.

Regardless of whether I want to develop players, am any good at developing players, could be bothered developing him etc. let Tottenham develop him was a management error on my part.

It was a player development error. 

Player development can also be a very active and front line part of the contest between clubs.

It might start off as a financial issue but as you spend more time with this area of the game it starts to grow and develop itself in terms of importance and function.

The financial basis for player development starts to evolve, into a battle for who can find the next gem and for who can deny the competition access to the future stars of the game.

The financial issue might be the basic reason for developing players, the race for the next generation of top players and denying rivals the next generation of the top players might be the “mid-game” aspect of player development, but eventually when you spend even more time on this area of the game the reason why you should develop players evolves again and take the game to a whole new level.

The truth is that the main reason why you should develop players is remarkably simple. It vastly improves the game as an interactive experience.

It radically enhances the experience and enjoyment of the game.

Once you start getting youth development and player development working well then your club literally becomes a group of players that you are molding, manipulating and interacting with regularly to push your club forward.

It’s only when the majority of your time in Football Manager is spent molding and developing and evolving both your players and your team that FM truly spreads it wings as the greatest management simulator around.

Players turn from spreadsheets into characters, characters you can radically adapt along certain lines while along other lines retaining key crucial traits that are a nightmare to adapt. Thus, players can greatly grow under your management yet still retain their own individuality and unique behaviors.

And once you get to this level in Football Manager you no longer see dots or dodgy looking stickmen in your replays, you see people, you see individuals, you see carefully sculpted and brilliantly simulated players. And this is when FM becomes a work of utter genius and a computer game that for a football fan is without rival.

Me enthusing loudly and prolifically about FM is nothing new and so the question “that’s all great and all but does it actually work out that way?” is completely valid.

It is important to know whether or not the effort and attention required to involve yourself in Player Development can actually pay off, and indeed what sort of returns can actually be expected?

Because surely if one gem is developed every ten years, a First Teamer every five, and someone for Backup every 2 then it is hardly worth the time and effort getting the sleeves rolled up and micromanaging a whole bunch of extra players.

This is one hundred percent completely valid and so this section of the guide is devoted to showing what can be done in game when you commit to the player development process.

This section will show what I have achieved in my current save obviously using the very approach I am writing about in this guide.

I will tell you that what you can expect from Player Development is very, very impressive at least in the first decade or so of a long term save.

What I have achieved in my current save is beyond anything I have achieved before by a large margin and I take great pleasure in stating that this save was done 100% “pure” with no sneaky peaks at hidden attributes or PA values or any of that sort.

It is actually quite interesting to me that the save where I put down the utilities that enabled me to see the guts of the game, see the workings of players and formed some of the basis for all my previous guides on different areas of the game is the save where I have run my club almost to perfection.

I was at the heart of a lot of discussions on mix-maxing and this and that, which I now find ironic because although it did furnish me with a lot of knowledge about how things work, I have found that how you achieve maximum success in FM is by treating it on entirely footballing terms.

All my recent guides and threads now follow in this vein, and it is because I am thoroughly enjoying this football game even more by treating it like football.

What you can expect from youth development when you approach it with detail and commitment and on footballing terms is the following:

These are all the players in my First Team Squad I have personally developed in my six seasons at Manchester United in my current save:


Football Manager Defenders


Football Manager Midfielders


Football Manager Forwards

The oldest player here was 19 at game start, the youngest was 12 and is therefore a pure newgen, infact I believe only two out of the six here are real players but I could be wrong.

I personally hunted out each of these players and had to buy them all. They cost me a grand total of £25.8 million altogether and are now worth £98.6 million altogether.

That is an increase of player value of £72.8 million in six years. 

Four World Class players and two highly excellent young defenders that look as if they too will become World Class. That’s over half a first team for a World Class club like Manchester United in only six seasons, and the sixth has barely started.

You will notice that these players are all busy players. By busy I mean that when they play they tend to do something.

My fullbacks both have assists from two starts, my striker has 8 goals from 5 starts. Even the under-performing Douglas Costa has two assists in 7 appearances.

These players are not for show they are for winning football matches and you will notice that every single player barring the youngest has a Determination score of 18 or higher.

I am infact packing two 19’s and a 20 Determination in a bunch of players that came to my club at age 19 or younger. These players are top, top level footballers.

If I can do this so can you, but I will be honest and say I do not expect the vast majority of you to pour over the details of the game like I do.

I do pay an enormous amount of attention to detail and consider every weakness anywhere in my club to be an error made by me. But like I said the game gives back what you put in, so it is up to you.

Take a year to play six seasons and you too can produce players of this caliber on a regular basis. It is entirely up to you.

In the words of Roy Keane “Fail to prepare, prepare to fail”.

Preparation is king in Football Manager, but is all the more so crucial when it comes to Youth Development because the pre-existing youth team mechanics are awful.

The best, top level, maximum quality pre-existing youth team setup in FM is a bunch of players sometimes playing a few really poor games that are kicked into the reserves when they are too old and replaced by a bunch of randomly generated teenagers.

That’s the greatest youth system in the world if the manager doesn’t get involved and sort it out. It is horrific.

I will tell you a few other things about “inherant“ youth development in FM.

The average club setup is not merely not conducive to Youth Development, it actually inhibits Youth Development.

If your first action when you take over a club is not a root-and-branch re-organisation of the club and you just go along tweaking a few things here and there to the basic setup of your club then you will never be able to develop youngsters remotely well.

The truth of the matter is simple. To develop youngsters to the level I have done in the preceding post you must turn your entire club into a Youth Academy with a First Team sitting at the apex. This more than anything else is the real challenge in youth development.

To consistently develop World Class youngsters you need the ability to turn your club into a World Class youth Academy. If that sounds like too much effort that is fine.

This post is about ultimate success at a more marginalized area of the game and is thread for the hardcore Football Manager players.

You get back what you put in and there is no wrong in putting in great or little and getting back great or little. It is your choice.

Keep in mind that lower level clubs are not going to be able to achieve high level results, so scale appropriately. I don’t play much lower level football. I perfect my management ability at the club I support.

Because this section contains the meat, the guts, the main content of this thread I will subdivide it into further sections for clarity:
  • 1: Scouting Network.
  • 2: Club Composition and Relationship Between Squads.
  • 3: Mentors.
  • 4: Feeder Clubs.
  • 5: Staff Members.
  • 6: Training.
Youth development begins with building up a scouting network capable of finding you good high potential young players.

Make no mistake that the usual influx of random youth players will cost you money and take up starting positions that better youngsters could use. You are not running a charity here.

Most of your youth team really should be made up of the best players you have spotted around the world and managed to pinch on the cheap and you should be willing and even eager to get rid of any dead wood in your youth team to make room for better players.

If you keep rubbishy players at your club and then sell them, away goes a Homegrown slot from your First Team Squad.

A quality player signed early from abroad will become Homegrown and actually play in your First Team Squad. Keep this in mind.

A scout network is basically a “net” of eyes to quickly find lots of youngsters, backed up by a few trusted scouts to send out to give back detailed reports on their actual qualities and potential.

The key is to find and highlight youngsters as quickly as possible, as early as possible, and to try and not leave any gaps in your “coverage” for gems to slip through and for opponents to find first.

Coverage is relatively simple and quite sneaky.

Assume that many tens of thousands of other scouts are out trawling through the world looking for gems and that players prefer to go to the better clubs in the higher reputation leagues.

So in theory quality players should slowly filter up through the leagues and eventually find their way to the top clubs. This means that you want to put good scouts to work watching the best leagues for any players that filter up through the football pyramid.

If you put a scout to work scouting La Liga then you are pretty much getting the benefit of every scout in La Liga, albeit the player you find will probably cost you more. However this means you are unlikely to “miss” the rise of top talent completely. You might just be a little late to the party.

That doesn’t get them early though, that just stops you being completely unaware of them.

To get players early you need to go scouting as many Youth Leagues as you can afford to send scouts to, and you definitely want to scout those youth leagues/nations that have a tendency for producing excellent youth. Like Brazil for example. Even if they are not loaded up they will still produce regens and newgens.

A top class scout network might be allowed 18 scouts.

I would distribute them like this:

Truly awesome ultimate scout with superb reputation is your “Head Scout“ and I would send him to scout “World” while his real job is to go and watch three matches of every interesting player that turns up in another scout report.

I have two of these guys for increased speed of compiling multiple scout reports and for double the likelihood of a “World” search actually finding a good player. It’s quite rare.

Good scouts in all of the top leagues in your game; Premier League, La Liga, Serie A are no brainers.

You can quite feasibly stop there with scouting the top leagues if you like.

In theory all the best players in the game should eventually end up there. For early spotting you might want to go for Brazil, Argentina, Holland as well although the Dutch seem to be underwhelming in FM for youth production. Having said that our friend Fritz Michels is Dutch so you might want to ignore me on that point.

The rest of your scouts should be set to scout as many youth leagues as possible, including a couple from your own domestic leagues.

The key here is not so much the quality of the reports but your scouts viewing a huge amount of youngsters in a short period of time so you can use the Transfer Filters to find good targets.

It’s far more effective to be able to look through the attribute panels of hundreds of players rather than waiting for good reports on tens of players, albeit a lot more time consuming for the player. The filters help though, and you can find players for positions easily enough.

However you choose to set up your scout network, scouting is utterly vital. A club that is very good at developing youngsters is a club extremely active in the transfer market. You are just buying and selling for your youth team.

While all youth development begins with an effective and efficient scout network, the most vital, crucial, core aspect of youth development is how the manager organised his club. This is what separates the wheat from the chaff, literally. Do you have a handful of wheat or several piles of chaff?

A club is not composed of two or three different clubs. A club is composed of two or three different types of matches and a whole bunch of players trying to improve themselves and win football matches.

The most important thing by far when it comes to Youth Development is to completely wipe away the prior conceptions of “First Team, Reserve Team, Youth Team” and instead have a single united club where every player is known by the manager, understood by the manager, developed by the manager, and has a place in the overall hierarchy of the club.

The worst thing a manager can do is have too many players for the amount of matches his club plays, or have too many players for his management ability.

There is a simple test to find out if your club is poorly organised:

Go into a save that is at a very busy time of the season, such as Christmas in the Premier League. Go into your First Team Squad and click the filter options and show Reserve Team, Youth Team and tick “Hide Unavailable“.

If there are any players that Lack Match Fitness in your entire club that are not just back from a serious injury then you have far too many players for the amount of football at your club.

If there are any players you don’t recognize and know nothing about then you have far too many players for your personal ability to manage. It’s that simple.

Youth development relies entirely upon having a club size and club composition that you can manage. If either of the two apply to you then you need to start taking the axe to some contracts if you want to effectively develop youngsters.

The next thing to realise is that the only difference between all the different squads at your club is that First Team Players wont get picked for the Youth Team, and the Reserve Team Players wont get picked for anything but the Reserves.

Having players in the Reserves is a bad idea.

Players in your Youth Team will be picked for Reserve Matches and players in your First Team you select for Reserves will play in the Reserves. This means more football for these players, and football is good for footballers.

The only difference between players at your club should be those players that will play Youth Team and Reserve Team football but are unlikely to play many First Team games, and those players that will play First Team and Reserve Team football but not many ( or any ) youth team games. That should be the only difference. And between all those players you should have a nice, balanced, deep squad of say 4 or 5 players per position to play all the football your club is involved in.

Let me show you what my Reserve Team looks like:

Football Manager Reserves

And here is my club, i.e. all the players I am managing this season:

Football Manager Reserves

Now this isn’t Christmas time this is September, a month after the season kicked off. The only players at my entire club that are not match fit are Vidic and Evra who got injured a good few weeks ago.

In fact, my current management decision is to play the unfit Vidic because Chiellini is suspended or to not risk someone who will be badly off form even if he is awesome, and wait for a reserve game to get him fit? But that is for a different thread.

The composition and relationship between squads at my club is absolutely key to my success at player development.

If you look through my club you notice it is extremely strong without being superfluous and unwieldy.

I have five Goalkeepers at my club playing all the football at my club ranging from my 42 year old decrepit backup veteran that barks orders at my defense, to my two 17 year old hot prospects taking turn about in the under-18’s. I went slightly overboard with the Right-backs because my Right-back slot was weak, but I found a few peaches in that pile and it’s no bother to me to send a few packing.

That’s 50 players at my club playing in 3 different types of matches, or slightly under five players for each position on a football pitch with three games a week on average. That’s a good squad. That’s a really well organised club. That’s a proper hierarchy that is reaping immense rewards.

This, in my opinion, is the biggest difference anyone can make to their club, whether it is youth development or squad discipline or competition for places or club morale or finance or anything.

This mind-numbing “first load” trawl to actually set up a football club is in my opinion the best and most important thing I do in any save, and once it’s done the first time it’s oh so simple to keep going and keep running and really rewards with vast dividends in almost every area of the game.

You don’t have to manage the Youth and Reserve Team matches ( I most certainly don’t, I would only be starting season two if I did ) but always remember your job is to manage a club, not a squad.

This is a crucial part of developing individual players and this is one of the areas where a well organised club like shown above reaps absolutely immense dividends.

Mentoring is crucial because it develops and improves a players personality and attitude to all aspects of football, from on-pitch “Determination” to pre-match handling of “Pressure” to media “Controversy” and such things.

Mentors are the key to maturing players because players tend not to mentally mature much on their own in Football Manager.

Maturing a players personality and attitude is crucial to improving his performances, which not only makes a great deal of difference once he turns into a £40 million superstar, but also actually enables him to get there instead of becoming a “nah can’t be bothered today boss, and by the way I want to leave because you said I played poorly last week” dud.

A well organised squad like the one above, with on average five players per position and most players in the First Team Squad, will automatically give you nearly one mentor for every youngster at your club.

This means that the vast majority of your players in your Youth Team will be getting mentored for as long as they are at your club.

This is another truly vast asset to player development, and is produced and enabled purely through intelligent and rational club organisation.

It makes sense to have five goalkeepers at your club and so your two youngest goalkeepers can automatically be mentored by your two most mature, and so on.

This is where you start to see signs of the “conveyor belt” system I described for Arsenal and Manchester United in real life start to appear in your own save.

The “rules” for mentoring seem straight forward and I can tell you that I know for a fact they are different to the general consensus.
  • 1: There seems to be no age limit for mentoring a player. Maybe 30 but I have not seen that as I have no 30 yearolds that need mentored.
  • 2: A mentor can be the same age or older than the mentoree, but it doesn’t look like it happens if the mentor is younger.
  • 3: A mentor must be considered “better” than the mentoree in the eyes of the footballing world.
  • 4: They must play in similar positions.
  • 5: Players that fit all the above but where the Mentor has a really different personality to the mentoree, will fall out.
  • 6: If you mentor a player with someone with lower Determination, it will drop. This can sometimes be okay if you want him to mature in other mental areas, and then mentor him with a Determined chap later.
I’m not going to speculate on what the different options do. I pick “perfect model” for all my players because my First Team Squad is so awesome and we have such a great relationship. That’s still the most important part of the club and I know that well.

The feeder club is a huge asset for the manager.

It allows you to keep more players than you can effectively manage on your books, while offering furthered development for those players that gain little from youth and reserve football but are not good enough to get many First Team starts.

Look through your own club for players “severely lacking match fitness”. Those are places in your squad that could be being filled by youngsters on loan to a feeder club of your choice.

There are two “types” of feeder club to the youth development manager.

These have nothing to do with ingame representation or “mechanic module” or anything else, but are entirely based on the practicality of managing a squad.

Once you learn to develop youngsters you start to understand what a club needs to have even if there are no obvious clues in the game or the manual to tell you this before hand. That’s why I’m here.

The two types of feeder clubs:
  1. The holding club for players that are not great but you don’t want to sell yet. Players you think have awesome potential but need a vast amount of your attention to develop and you can’t give them that attention yet.
  2. The development club for players that are good but need regular football at a level much higher than your reserves to kick on and start fighting for a place in your first team squad.
Alot of people give the choice of league a heap of consideration.

The choice of league is easy, a league below you for the development club and two leagues below you for the holding club. Choice of league is obvious, what really matters is choice of manager.

Owen Coyle Football Manager

My players go on loan to develop, and the last thing I want is a manager that can’t see their skills and has a habit of constantly falling out with players.

I want a manager that can the best out of these players, and in Owen Coyle I have picked a gem.

Best manager in the league bar none, and the perfect man to manage the guys I send on loan. It doesn’t matter how the club does, I know the manager will do my players well. That’s what matters.

It all seems so simple doesn’t it? You get back what you put in.

Staff members that are involved with Youngsters follow the same principle as above, they must be capable of handling youngsters and motivating them, and either training them well or helping them to results in their matches.

Good performances and good results equals increased development. A good run the Under-18’s Cup is worth it’s weight in gold development speaking.

Youngsters tend to be a difficult bunch to handle. Their personalities are not developed and they are rash, brash, bold and pretty stupid.

It’s important to surround your youngsters with the right people, not simply people with the attitude you want to see in players but people with an attitude that is forgiving to youngsters, that works well with youngsters.

And perhaps the most important facet of this issue is the man you pick to manage the Youth Team Squad.

Youth Coach Football Manager

This is the man I specifically headhunted to be Youth Team Manager at my club.

He plays a similar style of football to me, Adventurous with Zonal Marking and Mixed Pressing. He plays 4-4-2 while I play 4-4-1-1.

I can be confident that the Youth Team match feedback I get and pore through makes sense to my team.

But most importantly he is a perfect judge of potential, a great handler of people, a good disciplinarian and motivator with sound tactical knowledge whose forte is youngsters.

I consider myself extremely lucky, privilaged, and potent to have this man managing my Youth Team, but it was me that hunted him out.

This is a test of two things: Your patience and your desire.

Training is far from the most user friendly area of the game but that doesn’t diminish it’s importance. Training is crucial in the development of young players.

There are two points to this process:
  1.  Finding and training the position that best suits his attributes.
  2.  Highlighting and focusing on both his greatest strengths and his greatest weaknesses.
Some players emerge in such a way that they are clearly not suited to their initial role. You can either write these players off or you can train them to perform in the role they are built for.

All it takes a good eye and the patience to look through your players profiles do to the latter. And often the latter is worth it.

I have seen many horrible Centrebacks that look like excellent Fullbacks. Same in midfield with many horrible CM’s looking like ideal WF’s.

It sounds like Football Manager weakness but complaining doesn’t achieve results unless you are lucky enough to be listened to for the next version. Either way it doesn’t help your current save.

Highlighting strengths and weaknesses however is more “natural” and more “important”.

You are not trying to train a “God of football” from the youth team, your task is to shift meagre attribute changes around in such a way that this player is capable of doing some kind of job in a better team.

The bottom line is that if he can’t do any kind of job well then he is doomed regardless of PA, he simply wont perform well enough while he sucks to gain the required increases.

Your job is to take an epic potential youngster and turn him into a rather one dimensional useful player, because that’s when he can start racking up starts and performances that carry him forward.

In the previous section I explained what you need to develop players.

Now I will explain what comes after the ground work has been set, and that is the fundamental, crucial, integral elements of actively developing them.

The first and greatest of these is Preparing Players. After you have turned your club into a Youth Academy and set your mind to task of developing players, the first and most vital active thing you do with any player is prepare them to develop.

This is by far the most important step you take with indvidual players.

The club you build gives you the greatest environment for development, but hoe you prepare players is what defines whether or not each individual player can achieve his potential in that environment.

Understand what I am saying here. You have build an evironment that is productive for youth development, a significantly potent system for guiding players through every stage of their development.

But for each individual player nothing matters more than you how well your prepare them to undertake this journey. Preparing players is the most crucial element of any individual players journey.

Without any shadow of a doubt the most crucial thing in the preparation of each individual player is the development of their personality.

There is a player development “rule” that I follow to the letter, that is borne out from several years of investigation into development and training and reputation and myriad other “under the hood issues”.

You don’t need to know the detailed mechanics because I don’t pay attention to the detailed mechanics. What matters is the core footballing principle. Player development depends on the relationship that follows:

Personality x Match Experience x Level of Football.

This is the player development “triangle” as I harp on about at great length. It matters.

Nothing matters more to the development of any individual player. Regardless of which league you play in, who you want to improve, what you are doing, anything. Regardless of all things whenever you want a player to actually improve this is what matters.

And because it matters so much it has two clear consequences:
  • Players benefit most from their time in your Youth Team and Reserves when their personalities are developed as much as possible.
  • Players benefit most from their time on loan when their personalities are developed as much as possible.
In short players benefit the most at any level with any quantity of football when their personalities are developed as much as possible.

This makes preparation both an easy and a nailed on “you-must-do-this” issue.

You simply must develop personalities as soon as possible.

Developing personality doesn’t require match practice, it doesn’t require a level of football, it requires only mentors.

Mentors are key to all development. Mentors define youngsters.

I have an unwritten rule at my club ( Manchester United, I’m sure most of you spotted that ). That rule is that anyone under Determination 13 will fail, anyone over Determination 16 will succeed.

Failure might be he is sometimes awesome but usually ****, success might be he is always average, but anyone between 13 and 16 is a loose cannon and anyone under it someone I cannot trust. At any stage of development and First Team behaviour.

This is a profoundly crucial issue. I have sent many Determination 17 players to my “holding feeder club” because their skills sucked, and I always get messages about “League One Player of the Month”. I have sent a lot of quality youngsters with Determination 13 to the Championship and they come back saying they would have learnt more at Old Trafford.

Because of that I have a simple rule now. If your Determination is under 15 you don’t go on loan.

This matters, Pay attention to it. It’s one of the reasons why a well organised club is king.

This section is where most people start their development of Youngsters and I end my development of Youngsters.

It’s also where most people end their development of First Teamers and I start my development of First Teamers.

You see most people take a profoundly narrow view of development of players, from the age of 19 to 21 roughly, while my view of development of players ranges from 15 to 41. That’s the youngest and oldest players at my club.

Developing players is not a race. It is a marathon.

Developing players is not consigned to the young, it is more than possible in the mid-career players providing your club has the “assets”.

Player development might start with doing your damnedest to get some youngster into first team contention, but it only ever ends when you have built the perfect player in every way possible. And this doesn’t happen.

I think it is important to understand that player development is an integral part of gameplay with every player you have. Whether young or old it doesn’t matter, the point is the same. But seeing how this is thread on the development of youngsters I will go with that vein.

The most beneficial thing you can do for a youngster, after you have done all what I described before, is take risks with him.

If you followed my advice and scaled down adequately then quite simply nothing is more beneficial; to player in your club than a first team appearance. And this sole fact produces a great deal of strategy and usefulness.

For example I play a 4-4-1-1. I have two quality strikers of reasonable age and a third backup striker that is an OAP. I am quite comfortable in going 4-4-2 when the opposition goes 4-4-2 or has an inferior midfield. This means I have a slot for a fourth striker.

My fourth striker is obviously a chap from the Youth Team, but he isn’t my best youngster. My best youngster is on loan, this fourth spot is for a lad I want to pump his attributes personally. It’s for that “if/but/maybe” forward I want to both observe closely and also give the maximum opportunity to.

My best young striker plays for Owen coyle, he will get to be under my management next season. This season I’m comfortable to take risks with a guy I like but that hasn’t made the advances I want.

If he doesn’t develop with this opportunity at his back then he never will.

And that folks is how I develop youngsters. It’s not short, it’s not simple, it’s not plug and play but by God is it football.


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FM Blog | FM24: Guide to Developing Youngsters in Football Manager
Guide to Developing Youngsters in Football Manager
Best ever and most detailed guide how to develop a promising youngster to a world class player in Football Manager.
FM Blog | FM24
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