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Boosting pre-season match sharpness


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Is there a trick to upping match sharpness of players in pre-season? Playing first team friendlies it seems to take my players forever to gain match sharpness, but those players on the squad's fringe that play in U21 pre-seaosn friendlies get huge boosts to their match sharpness.

I'm managing in the Swedish Second, so my facilities aren't the greatest, but that would also go for the U21s. I'm training fitness and have upped the intesnity to high.

My main first teamers have played three friendlies now (all against lower level opposition) and many some small amount of substitute appearances in U21 games. Most have gained little over 15% more match sharpness in that time.

Surely it shouldn't be such a slog to up match sharpness, so am I doing something wrong?

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3 minutes ago, CountyAdam said:

I’d recommend training fitness and teamwork on a high intensity and trying to sign a good fitness coach. Use squad rotation wisely and try not too play too many friendlies, that seems to work for me.

Fitness coach is a hiccup. I can't employ any more coaches and I'm currently training fitness for my team with a rating of 5. Getting the best coaches I can for what I can afford or who wants to join my club

Maybe I just have to accept it's going to be slow going...or beg my board to let me have another coach.

 

Does fitness improvement generally come much easier at higher levels? Probably just the level I'm at, and me expecting too much from semi-pros.

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Just now, anagain said:

Fitness coach is a hiccup. I can't employ any more coaches and I'm currently training fitness for my team with a rating of 5. Getting the best coaches I can for what I can afford or who wants to join my club

Maybe I just have to accept it's going to be slow going...or beg my board to let me have another coach.

 

Does fitness improvement generally come much easier at higher levels? Probably just the level I'm at, and me expecting too much from semi-pros.

It’s going to be a tough one then without a recognised fitness coach, and the fact that your players are semi pros mean they don’t train that often. It becomes much easier at higher levels as players train everyday in better facilities with better coaches.

Keep at it and hopefully it improves slightly for you.

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In my saves with semi - pro clubs I had (almost) good match sharpness after first 5-6 games, of course it cost me many times in European games, in fist 2-3 games I change my whole start XI in half time and then around 75th minute  + send my bench players to play friendlies with B team, of course like Adam said as many-better staff (fitness coaches)  and better - professionalism squad you have so better- faster results you will have, generally you must try to work like a professional club, I know is difficult now but in some years it will be  more easy.. 

Edited by Sheriff7
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There's only one thing which directly affects player Match Fitness - playing them in matches.

For pre-season, set a friendly match every 3 or 4 days.  This usually gives around a dozen friendly matches all told (don't start pre-season too late).  During each friendly, substitute all 11 players (I tend to do it at half time).  For the first 3 or friendlies you probably won't notice much difference, but very quickly you'll notice match fitness increasing.

It may take longer if: you have a particularly large first team squad; players keep picking up knocks; and/or you're managing a part-time team.

Fitness Training (which should really be rebranded Physical Training) focuses player General Training on developing their Physical attributes.  Selecting Teamwork as your Match Prep provides a small boost to Teamwork and Team Blend (a Match Engine modifier) for the next match only.

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I've found that my Match Sharpness numbers are much better throughout the squad as a whole, now that I've started managing the preseason fixtures as well.  (I'd previously always left to my assistant.) 

But, as others have said, about ten preseason friendlies and you should have a great level of fitness throughout your squad.

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I suspect that leaving your pre-season friendlies to the AM is one of the core causes of poor levels of match sharpness.  Despite excellent attributes, every one that I have used over many game versions has always badly misused match squads when running friendlies.  My personal favourite is when you have a first-team squad of 25-30 needing game time and he picks squad players from the reserves to take part in first-team friendlies and doesn't play the first team players!

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If you want an alternative to managing your own friendlies as suggested above (which is probably the best option given the AM always act like AI managers, who don't believe in rotation yet also play your worst 16 year olds instead of Messi in a friendly), I had this setup:

First team friendlies with 3 days between them, match training 3rd "notch" from the left, rest day after match (but not before), team cohesion / tactical training - high intensity.

u21 / u18 friendlies 2 days after 1st team friendlies (no need to schedule both u21 and u18 friendlies, just pick one whose schedule you're going to alter for the first team's needs, I would choose u21 as you don't really want u18s playing that many games anyway given training is more important at their age).

Your AM will play a team for your first team friendly, the next day you'll get the message for the following day's youth friendly - pick the guys with full condition / low match sharpness as they haven't played, probably don't go for the full 90 minutes though - and they'll get played on the following day, meaning over a 3 day period (1st team match - rest - reserve match) your entire first team squad should get at least 45 minutes. If you have three goalkeepers it might be worth setting one to play for the youth team whose schedule you haven't altered as the AM probably won't sub your goalkeeper.

 

Edited by zlatanera
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Thanks for the replies.

I started pre-season later this year. We get a lot of time for pre-season in Sweden so I started as early as possible last year, only for half my squad to complain pre-season was too long. It gave me a better start to the season than other teams in the league though. My players were fitter and we won 8 in a row against teams struggling with sharpness.

I tend to use U21 friendlies to give players a second game in a week in pre-season. Still have players that have played plenty of minutes struggling to make 75% match sharpness. League fixtures for U21s starting midway through pre-season doesn't help, as it limits how many first teamers can play.

I'll put things down to experience and start pre-season earlier next time, regardless of the odd complaint. I should probably trim squads more too. I'll echo @FrazT in saying that bad use of squads by reserve team managers doesn't help. I have one young player who is easily better than my youth, yet my U21 manager never plays him enough. When I have less first teamers needing reserve matches I'll have to select him for U21 matches over the manager's head.

 

I suppose there's always going to be some lack of match sharpness at the start of a season, even for top clubs. I am at a very low, almost amateur, level, so it does fit in realism, even if it is frustrating. Just lost my entire left sided back up to injury because I wanted them to have time in an U21 friendly. Live and learn.

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12 hours ago, herne79 said:

During each friendly, substitute all 11 players (I tend to do it at half time).

I agree with herne's post, particularly his observation that Fitness training has no bearing on match fitness - only playing time does. However, I've discovered that the received wisdom about each player playing 45 mins of a pre-season friendly is unnecessary. What I've found works at least as well is this: Saturday - play first-choice XI for 90 mins, even if their condition drops to under 50%.  Wednesday - play second-choice XI for 90 mins. For each player about 5 matches of 90 mins should render their fitness levels adequate to start the season. However, the advantage of doing it this way is that your best XI have had more time playing together per match and seem to increase their cohesion more rapidly.

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the trick is to make sure your players are on full match sharpness before the season ends.

make sure all your first team players that arent playing regular are being selected to play 45/60 mins in the reserves and make sure your reserves are playing at least once a week.

then when pres season starts all you can do is manage your condition/sharpness by rotating players depending on their levels. 

sub player as soon as he hits 70% condition

prioritise playing the players with the lowest match sharpness

select the players you will use the least to feature in reserve games

do something like: friendly(play first 11) -4 days training- THEN friendly (play rotated squad) -3 days training- THEN friendly(play first 11) 4 days training and so on. by the time you get to your first league game all your squad should have 95+ sharpness.

Edited by MagicHat
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I will usually have at least 9 friendlies before season starts.  By which time I would expect my uninjured players, in the first team squad of 22 to be fully match-fit.

I don;t bother with much fitness training if any - but am at full time club with top notch facilities.

My team selesction for the friendlies is simply done on match fitness alone - lower match fitness gives the player a starting place and at least 45 mins action.

Rotation is done with players that need it, and general training would usually be Cohesion or balanced.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 02/09/2018 at 01:40, FrazT said:

I suspect that leaving your pre-season friendlies to the AM is one of the core causes of poor levels of match sharpness.  Despite excellent attributes, every one that I have used over many game versions has always badly misused match squads when running friendlies.  My personal favourite is when you have a first-team squad of 25-30 needing game time and he picks squad players from the reserves to take part in first-team friendlies and doesn't play the first team players!

 

On 01/09/2018 at 15:35, herne79 said:

There's only one thing which directly affects player Match Fitness - playing them in matches.

For pre-season, set a friendly match every 3 or 4 days.  This usually gives around a dozen friendly matches all told (don't start pre-season too late).  During each friendly, substitute all 11 players (I tend to do it at half time).  For the first 3 or friendlies you probably won't notice much difference, but very quickly you'll notice match fitness increasing.

It may take longer if: you have a particularly large first team squad; players keep picking up knocks; and/or you're managing a part-time team.

Fitness Training (which should really be rebranded Physical Training) focuses player General Training on developing their Physical attributes.  Selecting Teamwork as your Match Prep provides a small boost to Teamwork and Team Blend (a Match Engine modifier) for the next match only.

Pre-season friendlies are one of the things I enjoy most, purely because I always use them in part to try out youth players. If you're at a top team, half your squad is going to spend an overlap into pre-season on international duty or being rested, so I tend to draft in younger players with decent potential, and give them a half and then see how they do. First team players who need match fitness of course have priority, but 30+ players including under age reserve players is common.  If they do well, I keep them in the first team but make them available for reserve games. I'm on my seventh season (with Man U so admittedly the pool is good) and I have regularly fielded teams for competitive games with six/seven players who have come through the system, and of them two or three will be under 22.

 

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