The Start-of-Save Revamp
The examples in this article will be based around my experience trying to take over at Manchester United.
New Manager Reputation Problem: When we take over at Manchester United, it's because we want to emulate the Special One or prove that we could do better in his position. However, our reputation isn't good enough to attract players from the attention of other clubs. Us actually being at the club doesn't make any sense, because we don't have any sort of coaching experience. This is fine if we just happen to be a Professional or International footballer in our spare time like Zidane or Giggs, but otherwise our presence at a big club isn't realistic.
Arguments: "Pretend you're a Professional or International footballer then" - this is a workaround and not a fix. I'm not even an Amateur footballer and I want to be a manager in the future. If I tell the game this, my players look at me like I'm an idiot. Even with Pro/Int footballer experience, players sometimes feel you "lack credibility".
"Manage a smaller club first, and work your way up" - when we start at a club, it's because we want to manage the club as it is, not as it will be in 5 years' time.
Solution: Add the option for your new manager to have coaching experience. It doesn't even have to be at managerial level, we might just want coaching experience like Giggs, or youth coaching experience like the lesser-known David Wagner before he took over at Huddersfield Town. See how much more realistic that makes our takeover? At present, this can't even be added with the In-Game Editor (although friendships with players and clubs can be added (a workaround), which creates the illusion of formerly working together).
I'd also like it if the game removed "Past Playing Experience" from the managerial attribute calculations. The game should be adapting to the modern age where it's normal practice for a successful manager to have no experience on the pitch, but instead it's sending out a message that you can't be as successful without it.
With this, comes the prospect of being treated differently at our first club. We are no longer "inexperienced" or "lack credibility". We can attract most of the same players as the Special One, and command respect from our players right from the off. If we have chosen previous coaching experience at the club, we might already have knowledge of the club and therefore not require all the usual introductions. The possibilities aren't limitless but definitely makes the game that much more realistic.
The First Transfer Window Problems: (plural) This is easily the most unrealistic aspect of the entire Football Manager series, and the foundation of this post. When you watch a big club playing good football, it makes you want to manage them. So we jump right on Football Manager and load up a new game in one of two different ways:
Transfer Budgets Enabled (we do this because we want to form our own team from the get-go)
- Despite loading up the game at the start of the summer transfer window, all the club's summer dealings have already been conducted. This isn't a problem for some players, because the majority of the time, we are happy with our club's dealings in the summer and want to add our own. It would seem in this case that (in United's case) the game is assuming we have taken over the club in the place of José and made these signings ourselves. But we don't get credit for them and they don't show up in our Board Confidence overview? So it's like José showed up, made all the changes on the first day and then left.
- What about the players who wanted to conduct their OWN transfer business? You know, the players who wanted to prove they could do a better job than the Special One? Maybe they wanted to sign someone else instead of Bailly, or keep Valdes at the club.
- Then there's the issue with all the other clubs suddenly deciding that they need more players too. They might even make bids for some of your players, and you might have to accept some because your players decide that they would much prefer to play for that club. Sometimes this is very inaccurate (i.e. Antonio Valencia going to China) and leaves your players upset if you keep them against their will. By the end of the window, all the teams are different and you have long abandoned realism.
Transfer Budgets Disabled (we do this because we are happy with our club's transfer dealings, we just want to step into the existing manager's shoes, or we want to keep the game as realistic as it can possibly get at the moment)
- As well as making our progress through pre-season absolutely dead boring, and forcing us to "deal with what we're given" until January, the presence of existing summer transfers still leaves a question-mark over how long José was really around for, and we don't get credit for any of them, so to the outside world it appears as if we've taken over at the club and sat pretty for the entirety of the transfer window, opting not to improve the club in the slightest.
- It also fixes the above issue with other teams signing players... sort of. For some reason or another, teams can still loan players in and out freely which again gives realism a nice kick in the teeth.
Arguments: "Just play with Transfer Budgets off and deal with what you're given" - I've been doing this for over ten years.
Solution: By having two different options - one for either side of the Football Manager community - the game can be more realistic as a whole. The option would be whether or not to conduct your own transfer business in the first window. Ticking it activates the first option, while leaving it unticked leaves business to your DoF/Chairman.
Both options have all clubs begin in the state they were left in at the end of the last Football Manager game, allowing you to take over from the last manager (i.e. van Gaal, not José). Throughout the transfer window, you will see news about other clubs making the same bids (and eventually signings) that were made in real life, at the time they were signed. If it's too difficult for Sports Interactive to implement specific bids into the game, they could alternatively just implement the specific signings of players in real-time.
The first option allows you to conduct your own business throughout the first transfer window with the same massive transfer budget available to the real successor. If specific, accurate bids are implemented, you can beat other clubs to players that your team decided not to go for in real life, you can choose to bid on the same players that your club bought in real-life for the same prices, and you can accept the realistic bids for your own players as they come in. If bids can't be implemented then clubs would just sign players outright and you would only be able to buy players who don't move elsewhere (similar to the existing vanilla setting). This option is realistic (besides the changes you make), allows for a much more immersive experience, and would suit people who want to make their own changes at big clubs while retaining the same squads at other clubs.
The second option has all clubs in the state they're in at the beginning of the summer window. Similarly to disabling first window transfer budgets in the existing game, you personally have no transfer budget. The squad is not under your control and your Director of Football or Chairman brings the players in and lets them go in real-time. You get the credit, the club didn't sit on it's backside all summer, everyone's happy. This option is also realistic, and would instead suit people who like the club as it is and just want to settle in until winter.
Feel free to provide feedback in the comments, positive or negative. You may not agree with the solutions but you might agree with the problems. You might have your own solution, and it might be better. At the end of the day, I just want to help make the game as realistic as possible and the best way to do that is to provide your input
Thanks for reading!