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Guide to Managing in South America on Football Manager

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Guide to Managing in South America on Football Manager

Managing in South America is a completely different experience from anything you can find in Europe, so here’s a guide to get your South America save started on Football Manager.


It’s a highly competitive environment with high-quality players and big teams, but very different in regards to world reputation, economics and challenges. If you’re tempted to start a save in the land of Messi and Neymar, be sure to pay attention to these tips.
 

1. Manage your fees


Remember that time this South American team broke the transfer fee world record? No? Well, I can’t blame you, cause it only happened once in the last 100 years, when River Plate paid the equivalent to £23,000 to sign Bernabé Ferreira from Tigre. The fee was so out of the extraordinary it actually got River Plate the nickname of “los millonarios”, the millionaires.

High transfer fees don’t usually happen in South American football. Look at Argentina and Brazil, two of the biggest economies in the region. Argentina’s all-time record fee is the €11M that Boca Juniors paid for Juan Román Riquelme’s return from Villarreal in 2007. Brazil is only marginally ahead, with Flamengo having paid €17M for Gabriel Barbosa from Inter.

The South American game lacks the financial backing of the big European leagues or even those outside of the highest echelons. This means clubs have to be smart when recruiting. Loan signings are key, as are free transfers, particularly if you’re managing outside the better founded Argentine and Brazilian leagues.

There are many ways to keep tabs on players that could become available for you on a free transfer. You can keep a scout looking for first-team level players who are on expiring deals, to swoop in and sign them for free.

You can also use the Transfers screen on the continents tab by entering the World menu in the upper right corner. There, you can filter by interest countries and select the Released Players to see all the players that have been sacked on any given month. 

FM22 Search for Free Transfers

Always keep in mind that most leagues in South America play on a calendar year season, so most players will be ending their contracts in December. Pay special attention to young players being released by top teams in each country, as they can provide something perhaps your own academy can’t, especially if playing on a smaller or second division side.

You can also use the Player Search screen and look for players with both “Unattached” and “Expiring” contract status, and use the “International Caps”, which always improves your chances of finding top talent. Be aware of the “Youth Apps” filter as well, as it is often the case that players who were once top prospects fade over time, but can still become to players on South American leagues.

 

2. Play the Kids


It is often the case that youngsters in clubs from the top European leagues struggle to get playing time, as economically sound clubs can often choose against giving young players a chance and instead sign a more accomplished player. In South America that is, more often than not, simply not possible.

Club academies play a huge part in South American football as producing a generation of top youngsters can often mean competing for the top titles, and the money injection from juicy transfer deals. That’s why you should always be watching your country’s youth players.

Don’t focus just on your own youth intakes and players. When you start a save, go through clubs on your division and any divisions you’ve got loaded and identify the top academies at each level. You can do this by going to the Club Screen for each rival and looking at the Facilities screen. There, you can check each club’s Junior Coaching and Youth Recruitment, which (largely) dictate how developed academy graduates are when first signed and how much potential they’ve got, respectively. What you’re looking for depends largely on your league, with different countries having differing infrastructures. “Good” of each is a decent starting point, but curb your expectations if the vast majority of sides in your league and country are below that level.

READ ALSO: Clubs With Best Youth Academies  

When you’ve identified your target clubs, get to work. Using the “Get Team Report” option under the Team Report tab you can get a quick report on every player on the targeted youth squads. After you get the report, you may want to assign a scout to watch over the most interesting prospects at any club. You’ll want to repeat this process every year after the youth intakes come. Depending on when you scout the players, you can also sign them during their trial period after they come through. Always be mindful that when signing youth players you may be subject to the payment of a compensation fee, which can be hefty.

3. Know when to sell


South American clubs are selling clubs. At least at the beginning of every save. Even the financial might of Brazilian clubs and the Argentine giants can’t really compete from the get-go with more economically powerful clubs from Europe, Asia and the USA.

Until you can build sufficient clout to keep your best players at home, you’ll be regularly getting offers for them, and more often can not you’d be clever to take them. For once, player sales are frequently a club’s only economic sustain. Gate Receipts are more often than not enough and TV Revenue is much smaller than their European counterparts. Factor in the fact that most leagues don’t have a competition prize, and you’re looking at a dire picture.

Player sales can not just provide a lifeline to your club, but also be the platform for growth. The income from those sales should allow you to improve and maintain infrastructure, as well as improve your squad.

With this in mind, you can see why it’s important to sell at the best possible moment. A key aspect of this is to keep your players, particularly your younger starlets, on longer contracts. This way you can maximize returns and avoid having to fire-sale those on expiring deals.

Also, be sure to avoid selling players without several clubs chasing their signature. Having a bidding war can turn a regular sale into a top piece of transfer business and multiply your returns.

Last but not least, you’ll want to add a percentage clause in there. I often try to set a fifty per cent next sale clause, particularly if selling to a club in the top five European leagues. This means if they ever sell the player, fifty per cent of whatever they get paid goes to you. Even if they don’t sell him, you can often sell the clause to the buying club, at an increased price.
 

4. Read the rules


What’s the first thing you do when starting a save? Check your squad? Fire the staff? Create your tactics? Well, if it’s your first time managing in a South American league, your first step should always be to read the league rules.

Not two leagues play under the same rules. Some, like Perú or Chile, deduct points to teams that haven’t played a number of young players over the season. Others, like Argentina or Uruguay, determine relegations not by table position, but by a points average system that goes back two or three seasons.

Brazil and Chile play a two-legged league, but Colombia, Uruguay and Perú play two one-legged stages (Opening Stage and Closing Stage), yet Uruguay and Perú crown a single champion, and Colombia crowns two… confused yet? Well, avoid any last-minute surprises and read the rules.
 

5. Mind the altitude


A distinctive aspect of managing outside Europe, and one of the defining characteristics of South American continental competitions, altitude is one of the trickiest factors to managed when playing here.

Teams based in cities close to sea level (think Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil) get a massive disadvantage when away at high altitude based clubs, like those in Bolivia, northern Chile, parts of Perú, Colombia and Ecuador. Not every club in these countries has the altitude advantage and the game does not inform you of this, so when facing a club from these countries, be sure to check where they’re based and search for information on their home city. Alternatively, you could check the altitude value for the city on the FM External Editor, by going to Cities and searching by name. Any city with an altitude value above 7000 is likely to affect your players seriously.

What is this effect? Well, your players will lose fitness much more quickly than in regular conditions, meaning you’ll be struggling to reach the end of the match. This of course affects performance and injury chances. There isn’t a lot you can do about it once you’re in the game, but there are measures to prevent a complete meltdown.

For starters, check the calendar to know in advance of these matches. You’ll want to rotate heavily for the previous match to ensure your players arrive as rested as you can. Avoiding any heavy training during that week can also help in that way.

You’ll also want to adjust your tactics. Particularly if you’re playing a high-intensity setup, create a low-intensity variant, reducing tempo and pressing and counter-pressing. A lower mentality, low tempo, possession-based style will help you, and if you have any set-piece weapons you might want to play to that advantage. You’ll want to focus on tactical training that week to maximize familiarity with this new approach.

Once in the match, keep a close eye on your players and their condition. Don’t rush into changes, and with exhausted subs as well. When you can’t sub off any more exhausted players, look to move them into a more defensive duty, as this lowers their individual mentality and will reduce the amount of work they’re doing.

Final Thoughts


One of my all-time favourite saves was a journeyman across South America. It provides such a different experience and there is so much variety to enjoy. I hope that, if you decide to try it out, this guide and these tips can help you succeed. Check out Rock's End FM website for more Football Manager content.

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FM Blog: Guide to Managing in South America on Football Manager
Guide to Managing in South America on Football Manager
Managing in South America is a completely different experience from anything you can find in Europe on Football Manager, so here's a guide on it.
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