So, with everything covered up to this point, it’s probably time to play a match.
The Match Centre will be accessible prior to every single fixture from the foot of the sidebar and will allow you to plan ahead in a number of ways, beginning the serious preparation with the Pre-Match Briefing. The number of days remaining before your match are indicated within the icon itself.
On/before the day of your upcoming match, you’ll have the opportunity to sit down with your players and prepare them for the task at hand. The focus of this briefing is to emphasise the particulars of your intended tactical approach to the preliminary match squad by going through a process very similar to a team talk.
Topics are divided into a range of areas including Tactics, Team and Player Instructions, Match Squad, and Opposition Instructions, and will be populated with the most common/sensible suggestions for each match situation. Selecting any one of them will present you with a pop-up displaying basic information about the topic as well as a number of statements to issue to the players.
In having the chance to explain your decisions to the squad in advance, you’re able to see how well received they are, and in turn have the opportunity to make further adjustments to your plans before kick-off so as to ensure you’re as prepared as possible.
What are the options and what do they achieve?
The Pre-Match Briefing allows you to speak to your team about your specific approach for the upcoming match. You can discuss the following areas with them:
Formation, Mentality, Fluidity, Team and Player Instructions, Opposition Instructions, Match Squad, and Match Plans
It gives you the opportunity to tell your team why you’ve chosen to adopt a certain style or implemented a certain instruction, and lets you talk to each player about what you expect of them during the match. The players will react to each topic accordingly, ranging from positive to negative with very little reaction a possibility too, and their morale will also be affected as they listen to your reasoning and thoughts ahead of kick-off.
The benefit, in the best possible scenario, is that the players’ morale is lifted to a higher level, and the likelihood of them carrying out their instructions as specified is increased if they react positively. This is more common when morale is already high and the players have a strong level of trust in you, but if morale is low and the players have begun to question your leadership, a more negative reaction might be the most likely outcome. It is, in essence, a brief moment for you to reinforce a message to the team shortly before the match, with each outcome relatively minor in the big picture, but still effecting the result in some way regardless.
If you haven’t settled on your team selection by match day, this is your final chance to put your plans into action.
In the immediate run-up to kick-off, your Assistant Manager (or appropriate member of staff if you don’t have one) will send a message to your Inbox with a suggested team selection for the next match. Each selection will come with a reason for picking that particular player, and the same advice can be generated at any time by visiting the Tactics screen, and then using the ‘Selection Advice’ option. This screen allows you to choose any member of your backroom team to provide the advice.
In addition to the advice on offer, running through the items below as something of a check-list will serve you well ahead of kick-off:
- Are your players appropriate for the Positions, Roles and Duties defined in your tactics?
- Are those players fit and match sharp enough for the demands of the fixture?
- Who’s in form? Who isn’t? Does your team represent the best it can be right now?
- Do you have sufficient flexibility to change your tactic if it’s not working?
- Do you have the ability to change the game with your substitutes?
- What is the morale of the team? Are there players with higher morale not involved? Could they be a better fit for the next match?
- What does your fixture list look like? Do you need to rotate your squad?
- Are there any unhappy players who you have promised more first-team football to?
- What threats do the opposition carry? Have you successfully identified those, through opposition analysis reports, and made plans to counter them?
- How important is the match? Can you play a weakened team or give some younger players much-needed playing time? Board Confidence will tell you how important they deem the competition to be when appraising your performance.
Answer all these questions before confirming your match day team selection. Being able to provide a comprehensive answer to each question will stand you with a much better chance of achieving the desired result.
Team talks give you a tremendous opportunity to have a positive impact on your players before, during and after each match. A good team talk can lift spirits, sharpen focus, and improve performance. A bad one, however, can do the exact opposite in each regard.
The pre-match team talk is your chance to ensure the players are ready for the task at hand; that they know what’s expected of them, and are put into the right mind-set before going about their business.
The half time team talk is a chance to react to the first 45 minutes of football and instruct them accordingly. They might need some encouragement, or waking up, or a reminder that their standards have dropped, or any number of similar things. It sets the table for the second half and can make or break a result.
The full time team talk can be celebratory in the right circumstances – even in defeat – or it can be a stark reminder to ensure complacency doesn’t creep in, that the outcome was unacceptable, or that they were perhaps lucky. It ensures the team go home with plenty to think about before returning to training and playing their next match.
Your Assistant Manager will offer advice on the best team talk to give and this can often reveal something about the players, particularly if they’re somewhat nervous or complacent. It might act as a warning that you should take heed of and address directly with your team talk. Alternatively, you can ask the Assistant Manager to take the talk directly.
Team talks may be issued in one of six distinct tones:
Aggressive, Assertive, Cautious, Reluctant, Calm, Passionate
They each carry an emotion to be transmitted from you, the manager, to the team and it should be appropriate for the situation you find yourself in. A calm tone issues considered, well-gathered instructions and is probably the most advisable ‘base line’ tone to adopt the majority of the time.
The rest of the scale can be used when you feel the team need a stronger dose of emotional reasoning; each player will react differently depending on their personality, morale and body language. For example, an Aggressive approach might work well for a player who is ‘Fired Up’ while being either Spirited or Resolute in character, but it wouldn’t be successful if given to a player who is Easily Discouraged as a character, and is displaying Nervous body language. To repeat a common theme from throughout this manual, using common sense when dispensing with team talk advice is a sensible approach, and will likely return good results.
In addition to those six tones, team talks as a whole cover six more basic sentiments:
Angry, Disappointed, Encourage, Sympathise, Pleased, Delighted
You might be Delighted after a big win, but Angry or Disappointed at a below-par performance. You might want to Encourage the team to perform pre-match, Sympathise with the way the game has gone at half time, before returning Pleased at full time with their application and the outcome. The combination of tone and sentiment creates a multi-layered device that can truly affect each and every fixture you play.
Try to take as many factors into account as you can before you issue a team talk:
- What has your recent form been like?
- Are you expected to win this match?
- How is each player’s morale?
- Is this your strongest team? Are there any inexperienced players involved?
- How important is this match in the context of your season?
- How did the team perform in the first half? Could they have done better?
- Have you seen signs of the team playing as you want? Has luck simply deserted them?
- Have the team been lucky? Are they focused enough?
- Does the outcome match the performance? Are you happy with the result?
- What does the fixture list look like after this match? Do they need to avoid complacency?
- Is there room to boost morale? Do the players need to come back down to Earth?
The questions might well be endless; the above is just a top-level list of suggestions that can form the basis of a comprehensive approach. Team talks matter more than you might realise, and it is definitely worth spending time getting to know what works for your team, in order to get the best possible results.
The Match Screen
The Pitch View takes you to a match screen designed specifically for the 3D match view. The primary and majority focus on the screen is, as you’d expect, on the pitch and what’s going on. The scoreboard is to the very top of the screen, and below in the action bar are a number of match day options designed to make your visual and managerial experience easier.
Along the top of the screen is the match time bar, which will log moments of note and incident for quick reference when playing the match back.
Use this menu as your shortcut to make any necessary tactical changes from the full tactics screen.
The Analysis section allows you to break down all of the match stats as well a number of incidents. Select different events to see them appear on the pitch graphic.
The basic range of match stats can be accessed from here. Use the Analysis section for more in-depth coverage.
Get the latest event updates and latest scores from elsewhere on this screen.
Along with the match speed slider, the manager can also toggle whether replays are on or not and the saturation of highlights they receive. If you’re ambitious and have some time on your hands you can view the ‘entire’ match (note, this is not actually 90 minutes), extended highlights, just the key events, or none at all and watch the game with just commentary text. The ‘Camera’ option presents a list of different views from which the match can be watched.
How can I see more of what’s going on? Widgets etc
Widgets are custom overlay panels that enable you to view a range of information about the match as it unfolds.
They can be enabled or disabled by ticking or unticking each box and repositioned by dragging them around the screen. They are extremely useful for being able to stay right up to the second on any number of stats, analysis areas, individual form, morale and fitness, and even scores and results elsewhere affecting the live league table.
Managing During the Match
Making tactical changes during the match starts and ends with watching the match. Whatever your preferred camera view and highlight mode might be, make sure it gives you a sufficiently complete view of the action, and allows you to be aware of every development as play unfolds.
The shortcut buttons allow you to make substitutions, tactical changes, mentality adjustments, touchline shouts and set opposition instructions.
At every turn, you must decide whether or not your tactical instructions are:
a) Being carried out as designed, and
b) Whether the opposition are nullifying them, or
c) Whether the opposition have left something you can exploit
Let’s use an example. If you’ve adopted a 4-2-3-1 formation with your AML and AMR both set to ‘Inside Forward’ Roles and instructions to ‘Cut Inside With Ball’, you should be able to clearly see each of them leaving the touchline and moving into central areas in possession. However, if the opposition have seen this, and have decided to play two DMs with the express intent of blocking the very space your AML and AMR are seeking to exploit, you have a decision to make:
a) You could change their roles to ‘Winger’, for example, and attack the opponent on the outside, potentially rendering those two DMs useless.
b) You could adjust the team’s overall playing style; if the opponent has adopted a ‘low block’ with the two DMs ahead of a deep defensive line, it might call for a more patient passing game to probe for space and lapses of concentration, or a more direct approach where long balls are pumped into the penalty area, going over the heads of the DMs.
c) You could do nothing and hope that your players are simply better than theirs, and that quality will ultimately always shine through.
The same applies in reverse; if you’re stopping them from doing something, or have left an area of weakness for them to exploit, they might tweak their tactics and try to get on top that way. It’s a perpetual chess match, where each manager is seeking the upper hand, and the possibilities are nearly endless. You must know the versatility of your tactics and your players, be able to identify what’s working and what isn’t, and know when and when not to make a change.
In addition to being able to make more comprehensive tactical changes, you can give a series of ‘Shouts’ to your players – either individually (using the drop-down option next to each shout) or collectively - from the technical area.
Encourage, Show Some Passion, Push Forward, and Praise all contribute to the players being pumped up more if successful. If unsuccessful, they’ll become more frustrated.
Concentrate, Tighten Up, and Demand More increase each players’ individual and collective focus if successful. If not, they’ll lose focus.
Calm Down and No Pressure seek to relax the players but, in some situations, can burden then with additional pressure.
Get Creative loosens the shackles on the players and encourages them to be more expansive with their passing.
The success of a touchline shout depends on the morale, motivation and body language of each player, and so it pays to ensure you’ve checked this information (from a widget or from the main tactics screen) before making a shout.
Analysis is split into three main sections during a match, and can also be reviewed in full after each and every fixture. It is divided into Match Stats, Team Analysis, and Player Analysis, with additional information also presented in the form of Action Zones and Focus of Attacks.
Match Stats cover player ratings, key match stats like shots, possession, clear cut chances etc., as well as detailed totals for each player on each team in an array of areas.
Team Analysis allows you to select a type of match event – shots, passes, crosses, tackles etc. – and populate a chalkboard view of them. Each event type is then further broken down into situational specific totals, and clicking on the event itself on the chalkboard pitch view allows you to either view all events linked with it (for example, a pass that led to a shot on goal, or to watch the highlight of the event itself). All of these can be filtered by Pitch Area of Direction of play.
Players Analysis follows the same routine; use the ‘Views’ menu to choose the type of event, then select the event from the player and display it on the pitch.
These are extremely powerful tools than can be used live during a match for instant feedback and recognition of what’s happening, or in the wake of a match when reviewing performances and planning for the future. The key information will be distilled into reports from your Data Analysis team, if you have one, but you have the power to really dig into the fine detail of your team’s performances and use it to better understand why things are happening. This, in turn, will educate you more about how your players are executing your tactical instructions, and will arm you with more information to make improvements.
Assistant Manager Advice
On a match day, your Assistant can be more vital than ever. You have so much to deal with that at times you may not notice things, but your Assistant, with fewer responsibilities, may be more aware of these things. Your Assistant Manager will offer you detailed feedback on how the match is going at regular intervals, and advise on how to remedy any problems he or she has noticed. The feedback appears on the Match Screen, and can be actioned immediately from within the pop-up itself.