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SFraser

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  1. Introduction Any of you that have been following my guided tour of my current save will have noticed that something has been missing. That something is a long, verbose post on the meat and potatoes of FM, what happens on the pitch. The reason for that is simple, I am going to receive a vast amount of flack for it because of who I manage. For those who you are going to say that it is easy to win with a club like Manchester United I say you are completely correct, but it is not easy to produce a quality of football so brilliant that you don't buy the next game in the series because you will have to start over again. For those of you who have been PM'ing me wanting to know my system, this is the thread you have been waiting for. Those of you who just follow my posts with interest, then I hope this one is as interesting as the others you enjoy. This thread is based on FM10 not FM11. FM11 is the first FM that I have not bought within a week of release, simply because my current FM10 save is a story I am in no hurry to finish. And the primary reason I am no hurry to finish this story is because every time I play a match I cannot fail to admire something my players do. I have built a team that plays a style of football that I actually enjoy watching, and watching in detail. My team plays wonderful football on a regular basis and that is precisely why I am writing this thread. Is it my excellent skills as a tactician? Is it my awesome players? Is it my loads of cash and the Reputation of my club? It doesn't really matter. What matters to me is what I have put together and what it does on the pitch. I don't know the differences between FM10 and FM11 in terms of Me behaviour and tweaks to instructions or attribute behaviours or any such thing. I'm quite sure FM11 is similar enough to FM10 that most of the fine details will still apply, but the fine details are just the icing on the cake. The most important aspect of this guide will hopefully be the thinking process I explain, the way in which I go about trying to build a working system. Some introductory detail to fill you out on. I manage Manchester United, this is my first 10.3 save, and it is January 2016. Yes I do watch all my matches in full match replay. This is going to be a tactical guide based on players you all know, with me having spent over a year real time watching them in detail. That's the big build up, it better be a good guide. Part 1: The Concept Every manager has an idea. It might be an idea that comes from a rigid belief in a certain way of playing, it might be an idea based on the players he has at his disposal, it might be an idea based on the opposition. The very best managers have ideas that are based on all three of these things, but this sounds like a terrifying and frightening amount of micromanagement and detail. It needn't be. The most crucial and critical piece of tactical knowledge in the game is that players will be players will be players. Take one position with one set of instructions and play ten different players in that position, and that position will be played ten different ways. This simple truth underpins all tactical behaviour in the game. When you understand that Nani will play X set of instructions like Nani, and Ji Sung Park will play the same set of instructions like Ji Sung Park then the seemingly all conquering power of the Tactical Instructions diminishes. The Tactical Instructions are still hugely powerful but the Tactical Instructions do not define a good or bad system. The Tactical Instructions define how a player plays, and that in turn defines a good or bad system. A lot of people seem to think that what happens on the pitch depends on the instructions you select. That's complete rubbish. What happens on the pitch depends on what players you select. What the players do on the pitch is in part defined by your Tactical Instructions. Understanding the true relationship between Tactics, Players and Performance is crucial. A team is a combination of attributes and instructions facing another combination of attributes and instructions. It's not a game of Chess that we are playing here. A Leftback is not a Leftback is not a Leftback. The Rook can be a King or a Queen or a Bishop or a Pawn. Instructions don't make teams, players do. A team is all about what you do with your players. That's "the concept" of most importance. In my save I have three "concepts". I want to play beautiful attacking football, I want to be strong at the back, I want to be able to change my team by changing players instead of radically altering the fine details of the my tactics. You want it to, so does he, so does everyone. It's what we all want. The question is, how do you go about building that? Well I obviously skipped the whole league 10 to Premiership deal and loaded up my save as Manchester United so if you are looking for details on how to build an ultra defensive system you are unlikely to find them here, but you might still pick a few pointers on how to build systems. This is where some knowledge of FM is very useful. Because FM is a game it suffers from a few limitations. Some of those limitations completely void certain types of tactics. Any tactics that involve one player tucking in and the line shuffling over are out, any tactics that involve a player playing in one "area" in attack and another in defence are out. Simply put any tactics that involve a change of shape between defence and attack are incredibly hard if not downright impossible to build. I have tried. And in my opinion this is the biggest tactical flaw that exists in the game. For those of you that have been here a while, no I don't want to see arrows back either. The solution to a gameplay flaw is not the return to a system of annihilation of any challenge possibly put up by a weak AI. But that is a completely different debate and I am getting sidetracked. Because FM has these limitations on shape changes during a match, the shape you choose is ultimately the one you are stuck with. You cannot pick an offensive shape and expect it to defend as good as a defensive shape, nor can a defensive shape ever attack as efficiently as an offensive shape. While Spain and Germany might have been the master exponents of shape change in the last World Cup, unfortunately us FM players are stuck playing with the same naivety as England or Mexico. Don't get me wrong Mexico were fun to watch, but they shape they lined up in should have been the shape they formed when altering from their defensive system. It's not a shape that you can use when the opponent has the ball in your own half. Unlike the top teams in Club and International Football, in FM you cannot change your defensive shape to an attacking shape. This means choice of shape is absolutely paramount and fundamental in your tactical decision making process. Shape is arguably more important than Tactical Instructions in football, and when it comes to FM when you can only pick one shape and stick to it, it becomes utterly decisive. Part 2: The Shape This thread is supposed to be me waxing lyrical about my awesome football and not a critique of FM, so I will attempt to get back on track here. No promises though. As mentioned before you cannot change shape so your choices are either to offensive/defensive in terms of numbers, or of skill. You can't be both. The choice is between a defensive shape that has attacking skill, or an attacking shape that has defensive skill. Or that is what you would think. There are however some interesting developing tactical trends in real life football, once you can pull yourself away from the whole Messi v Ronaldo debate. Perhaps the most tactically interesting sides of recent years are not club teams like you would have expected, but Spain and Germany in last years World Cup. These two sides showed us something remarkable and previously barely highlighted. The combination of these two sides is what I base my own team on. But that's getting a bit hubris-ish, if that's a word. Time for some pics. With the FM dichotomy of shape in mind my own personal choice was to go with a defensive shape that relied upon attacking skill. I don't think I am but perhaps I am a defensive manager. I opted for this shape: Why do I choose this shape? Well the simple answer is because I think it revolutionising football. It has always been heralded as the "defensive brother" of the Barcelona 4-1-2-3 but Barcelona were not in the World Cup, yet the vast majority of teams still opted to play it. The World Cup Final was 4-2-3-1 versus 4-2-3-1, and most interestingly the World Cup's top goalscorers played a 4-2-3-1. I don't think it is a purely defensive shape, but it's defensive shape is revolutionary. Amongst the common formations here are the lines of attack, or the lines of defence you have to beat: But there is also a crucial second issue to the defensive strength of the 4-2-3-1 beyond it's basic shape, and that is how the shape works during a flowing game of football as players move around and the opponent probes and passes and the defending side tracks and hassles and harries and positions itself. In this image here the shape has pushed the ball to Manchester United's left flank to the feet of Lionel Messi, and immediately the LW, LB, LCM and AMC all go to close the ball down from four different directions, while the rest of the team drops back and tucks in, ready to cover any attacking pass or cover any possession pass infield. If the ball goes towards the centre circle where the space is on this diagram then the LCM can take up a covering position infront of the defence while the AMC, RCM, RW and FC all close down the ball. Even when employing a high pressing game this shape still pushes all attacking space for the opponent towards the edges of the dense central block of pressing players and is an excellent shape to hassle and harry for the ball and push opponents to the opposite flank. Because the space is down the outside while the players sit in between the two zones of space, the defending side has less distance to move to take up good defensive positions than the attacking side has distance to move to support play on either flank. If the shift to 4-4-2 was the birth of the modern game then the shift to 4-2-3-1 is it's maturity. Holding a shape that forces opponents down the flanks and defends the flanks with both depth and numbers might seem obvious to us today but then we have the benefit of hindsight. The modern 4-2-3-1 is in my opinion a profound evolution in the understanding of defensive systems. The place on the pitch that matters is the goal. If the movement of Total Football can defeat the man marking systems of Catenaccio then the Zonal Marking system of the 4-2-3-1 that pushes opponents to the flanks is the closest thing to perfect defence in theory that has yet existed. Theory doesn't stop Messi, but the point made regarding shape remains. It's a point you fail to understand at your peril. The point that made this past World Cup both the most boring and the most fascinating World Cup seen in decades.
  2. Brilliantly said. It's a game that doesn't just try to encapsulate good looking football or fun to mess around with football, it's a game that tries to bring football to your PC full stop. It's a game aimed at a passion. I don't think success at FM reflects knowledge of real life football, I think success at FM reflects passion about football. Success is always subjective though, but that's one of the biggest points. What you get from FM directly equals what you put in to FM. It's not the real deal, it's just a game, and those that enjoy the game most are in my opinion passionate about the virtual clubs. FM has flaws but what it brings to the table is an attempt at the complete football experience. You can tell that this a game that has it's roots in some football fanatics bedroom, because when the end product ends up in another football fanatics bedroom it is the greatest game of all time. However that's not the point of the OP. The OP is talking about how to truly enjoy this mightily impressive simulation of football as a whole. It's not a question of how FM relates to the real world, but how you relate to FM. And on that point I think the best I thing I have to say is this: Four seasons after the Jaume I posted first, this is the Jaume that Jaume has turned in to. It's only four seasons later, his career is not done and dusted. I am watching the development and evolution of his career. And the path his career has taken is interesting: In my original system he was a young prospect that had no chance of usurping the combination I had between Berbatov at AMC and Rooney at FC. No chance. That combination was absolutely lethal. Berbatov then reached and passed his peak and started to decline rapidly and so I went on the lookout for a new AMC. Jaume continued to develop and started to give me real questions based on his ability. I refused to drop Rooney though as he was my best player at my club every season. You simply can't drop a well played Rooney. My quest for a new AMC ultimately resulted in a bunch of nearly men that are all useful but none of them fit the bill. At the same time Rooney is peaking and Jaume is turning into a God. I experiment with Rooney at AMC and Jaume at FC but in my system this combination is a dud. I could drop Rooney and build my team around Jaume or drop Jaume and build my team around Rooney, but I want both players and I don't want to sign any more nearly men. So I change my system. I start by testing out 4-4-2, which lacks the midfield strength of my 4-2-3-1. I consider Rooney or Jaume playing wide but they lack the legs to make the position work. Instead I find something completely subtle but radically different. My young hot prospect CM develops into a lethal deep lying playmaker with little pace, so I drop my midfield back slightly. At the same time I push Jaume forward as the Lone Striker so he is constantly on the shoulder of the last man, and this system of a deeper CM and more advanced ST gives Rooney at AMC the space his technical skills requires to work in. And it's working excellently. This is a football story. Simply by taking interest in my players and trying to manage them, I can come on here and talk about attributes, and tactics, and the creation of space. I can talk about different types of playmakers or the tactical options opened up to you by different types of strikers. I can talk about what kind of AMC is needed for X player, or how to use X player in order to get the most out of your AMC. Simply by paying attention to my clubs football story. By being involved in my clubs story. If you miss the story, you miss the entire game. I mean that literally. But it is just my opinion. By the way, your language is brilliant. More threads like these please. It's the best thread to strike right into the heart of FM as I see it, that this forum has had.
  3. Here is mine: At age 21 I have only just begun to start him regularly with Rooney dropping deeper into AMC, but I have high hopes for him. Doubt he will oust Felipe there as goal scoring god but he will give it a bash. Swiftly becoming one of my favourite players after just scoring a hat-trick against Liverpool.
  4. I'm a very likeable chap, what with all my "expect a performance" and "angry" teamtalks. In all seriousness though I take the time to pay attention to my youngsters and treat them like you would expect young players to be treated at a football club. Introduced slowly in low pressure matches, show a bit of faith in them, observe when they play really well in the youth team then give then a bench spot or a start in the Carling Cup and so on. This is incredibly hard to do with a 30 man first team, a 30 man reserve squad and a 30 man youth team. That's why I try to keep my entire club down to around 50 players or so. You will never get totally aware of your youngsters as you do your first team stars, but atleast this way you have some comprehension of what is going on at your club. Much the same. The thing about the youth team is that you don't have to have it chock full of awesome high potential youngsters. If you are strong at rightback anyway in your First Team you wont be needing the next Gary Neville for a while. I like to keep a strong youth team as I believe that competing well in the youth competitions helps players develop but I wont panic if I don't have a three star rightback in my under-18's unless I foresee a First Team rightback problem in the future. Ultimately I keep an eye on scout reports and I will pore through the transfer lists a couple of times a season, and I will sign players that look good. Sometimes that means I then have to go and release someone I poached last year to make sufficient room for the new guy to thrive, but these are the decisions you make. You can't make every decision a perfect one. And if you keep an awesome scout free from any assignments and just send him to scout players you tell him too, he will pop up in backroom staff feedback reminding you about international competitions or countries you have missed out scouting for a while etc. etc. I will still keep him free, but I will send someone else to get on the case. The key is keeping yourself aware of the footballing world. Scouts are, obviously, a huge help here.
  5. The main attributes I look for are Man Management, Working With Youngsters, Tactical Knowledge. Then ideally you also want Judging Player Potential and Motivating. You are looking first and foremost for a good manager to keep players happy, get them playing well on the pitch, and is good with youngsters. However like every other attribute profile in the game there is nothing that doesn't have it's uses, and you are unlikely to find some theoretical perfect manager. But certain managers stand out in the game. Owen Coyle did excellent at Burnley, he is doing well at Bolton, and he is getting Daniel Sturridge firing on all cylinders. It's a no brainer to look up these managers in game, and Coyle is still manager of Burnley in the Championship in my save, so I get them as a feeder club. As Phnompenhandy says, these are decisions you have to make based on your own circumstances. Sticking to hard and fast rules when making these kinds of decisions might make it easier for you, but it is likely to weaken your overall club as you don't adapt to what is actually going on. The important thing is to understand the framework you are working within, understand the "environment" so to speak of a successful youth development process, and then make your decisions based on what is happening at your club. You could say that a two star youngster gets shipped out quickly because he will never achieve sufficient growth for your team, but what if that two star youngsters is only one of three Leftbacks at your club? What if his core positional attributes are rock solid? What if he happens to have the attributes to be able to make a high Reputation for himself far above his actual quality level? That's why I emphasise in my original posts that the most important thing to do is to mesh your Youth Team with your First Team and build a coherent club. You will have some weak links, some outstanding prospects, some areas you think might be a bit weak and some other areas you have a few too many players, but in looking at your entire club this way you can then make decisions that benefit your whole club and not just individual players. You can decide to strengthen the rightback slot not by selling your current first choice and splashing out on a new megabuck signing, but by selling Young Joe Average and investing your cash in the future First Choice rightback hot prospect youngster. Generally speaking when your First Team Squad is strong in some area, focus on youngsters for that area and through a process of elimination slowly build up a good selection of potential future players. When your First Team is weak in an area don't risk relying purely on youngsters but look to go out and make that one key signing. Once you get in to the habit of viewing your Youth Team and First Team as a whole large squad with maybe four or five players per position then everything will slot into place. You will know which parts are weak and need strengthened, which are strong and need pared down a bit, where the potential stars are and where the potential problems are. Then you can start selling or sacking your third or fourth choice players in much the same way you would handle your first and second choice. Remember that your youth team is a team, a team for the future. Don't neglect it just because you don't see it every day. Altering that mindset is the single biggest thing you can do to start developing youngsters efficiently.
  6. What I do with them is instantly release them. The lowest I keep is a decent looking two and a half star and then I do what all big clubs do, I go and poach the best youngsters off of other teams. Teams not in my position can wait untill the player comes looking for a professional contract on his 17th birthday and then release him, but I always feel bad about doing that to players. It has zero ingame relevance but I don't like giving a youngster the 17th birthday present of the boot. I'm a softie. But it's completely viable and you can do this if you don't want to pay the costs of releasing them early. Keep in mind though that making sure good youngsters have enough space to develop is essential. It's worth releasing your 5th under-18 Left Winger early if you happen to have some awesome hot-shot. I personally would release the 5th, 4th, and 3rd and leave only one back up left winger in such a context. It will place demands on the player but I find that players improve the most when they play regularly and when they negotiate testing circumstances. Mentoring in particular sees to come on leaps and bounds when a player rises to a challenge. Yes you can once you have been at the club for a while. Once you reach that position of being able to choose your own feeder teams I highly recommend you go into the Staff Search part of the transfer list and head hunt your ideal managers. You can't shortlist staff but you can keep notes on them. It's very worthwhile doing this, and it gives you something a little bit different to do in between matches as well. If the player says no the first time I wont force him a second time, but I will keep a mental note (or a real note if that's easier for you) of it and this lad is likely to be on the receiving end of no contract if I don't see good improvements.
  7. A quick update post to show some results I have had recently. Feeder Club Loveliness In my first few posts I explained how my choice of Feeder Club for my youngsters depended on the clubs manager more than anything else, barring perhaps the level of football the club played at. And for this reason I picked the best manager I could find in the Championship and asked the board if I could have his club as my Feeder Club. The manager in question was the very excellent Owen Coyle. Some two months game time after I wrote this thread I have entered the start of December, and after an early period of having to show what they can do before nailing First Team spots, my two players out on loan at Burnley have some fairly interesting results to show. Results that are unsurprising but very, very welcome. Andre Allsop I expected Andre Allsop to do well at Burnley under Coyle as he is a player of excellent quality for the Championship and has the mental attributes you would expect someone like Coyle to look for in spades. The results of his first three full months at Burnley are about as good as I could have hoped for. He did have to play his way into the team at the start, as you would expect from a manager like Coyle, but since doing this he has performed very, very well. Ten starts, eight goals, one assist, one man of the match and an average rating of 7.48 in the league. This player regularly pops up in my scout reports having played really well and banged in a goal or two. But what is even more remarkable is that in only 3 full months of the season Allsop already lists Coyle as favoured personnel and Burnley as a favoured club, and he is enjoying playing for the club. He has developed an awesome relationship with his manager and his team and he is in-form. There are still six full months of the season left to play. You will notice that there is a bit of an "old boys club" forming in his favoured personnel list. I poached him from my chum Steve Bruce, who is a very solid and sound manager in the Premier League, mentored him up a bit with Jonjo Shelvey and got himself and myself listed as favoured personnel, then loaned him out to my feeder club and Coyle became favoured personnel. This player is doing the "old boys club" rounds but is also completely buying into my clubs little footballing world. It's great stuff to see. Fred Deeney I took a huge risk with this lad sending him on loan with 12 Determination but I needed to free up space at my club for another young striker I thought had greater potential and needed my attention, so I shipped him off to Burnley for a season not expecting much. Shows how much I know huh. Twelve starts, ten goals, four assists, five man of the match and an average league rating of 7.71, this lad is firmly back on my radar. The trend of excellent club and Manager relationships alongside brilliant performances continues with Burnley and Owen Coyle again listed as favoured club and favoured personnel. There isn't much to say about this lad other than he completely surprised me. All in all these two players are forming a formidable partnership upfront for Burnley, under the excellent watch of Owen Coyle. The question you have to ask is "are these players of such a high quality they would do this anywhere" or "is this the best Feeder Club I have ever picked"? The answer would appear to show up in these players Personal Panels, with the club and the manager rated very highly by two on fire players. I don't know about you but I would consider my management of this small area of the game to be a resounding success.
  8. My personal favourite is this one: http://community.sigames.com/showthread.php/220742-Creativity-and-Flair.
  9. It means his reputation has grown faster than his ability, and it's a fairly big issue I have forgotten to discuss in my guide. There is plenty of post space though so I will squeeze it in somewhere. It's quite possible to have a player develop too quickly, by that I mean exposing him to too much first team football so his Reputation accelerates away and leaves you in a position where he wont go on loan or refuses to be mentored by "lesser" players. If someone with Determination 13 becomes "the best player at your club" Reputation wise because he bangs in a lot of goals then he is stuck at Determination 13 because there is no one of a higher Reputation to mentor him with. I was bound to forget a few important things with so many other points floating around my head, so thanks for bringing it up. Be assured that Reputation is another important thing to keep your eye on, and I will at some point go back and add it to my guide. Take heed about what I said about Reputation. If these 35 year olds don't have a high enough reputation your plan wont work. It's a pretty big omission from my guide, sorry about that.
  10. Not the most fun Saturday ever. Still Sunday was much better though. The world of football turns once more.
  11. Whichever team you are most likely to get involved with. It's important you get excited about what you are doing instead of feeling like it is dull chore. Excitement is key. I think there is a lot can be said about how I constantly manage the same team and also constantly write about what is going on in my saves. If you don't get interested you wont get interested. Personally it's more important that you can look at a player and see how you think he is likely to develop. Low Determination might hold a player back in his attitude, but this might be made up by the fact he has the attributes to score 30 goals in the under-18's at the age of only 15. Or maybe the opposite is true and the player looks like he needs a lot of work to develop but is packing 18 Determination. FM is a funny game in that there are "rules" but also "no rules". There are certain things every manager wants, certain things that work in each position, but a manager has to be able to recognise talent in players rather than hunt for the ideal, because the ideal might not exist. It's about being able to look at a player and see what he actually is, and then asking yourself what you can turn him into and if you can use that in your side. Sometimes players will become more than you expected, sometimes they will be less but that's football. That's why it is so important to organise your club into a managable whole, so that you can keep yourself aware of players and get to know them as players. Here are two of the strikers I have out on loan: Dave Batchelor. Nothing special and some big flaws in this dude, but I sent him to League 1 at Stockport and his alright attributes plus immense Determination means he is tearing up that league. Fred Deeney. I took a big but calculated risk with this guy because I needed space and mentors to develop another player and I trust Owen Coyle. He is on loan at Burnley in the Championship with 12 Determination and Four Decisions. Frightening stats. But take into account he always picks the wrong choice, then combine it to his immense Flair, amazing pace, agility and fitness, excellent Anticipation and Composure and very good technical stats. His Pace, Power, Fitness, Sharpness and Composure plus his Flamboyancy and horrible decision making makes him a bit lethal upfront for Burnley. I'm guessing he has a horrible habit of trying the holywood shot against knackered defenders after he has terrorised them with direct running for 85 minutes. A bit like sticking SWP or Aaron Lennon in the Championship. These guys probably wont ever make it far at my club, but if they keep this up I'm pretty sure I can find some interested buyers to take for a ride at the end of the season. This next guy is the reason why I sent Fred Deeney on loan: He is a much more rounded pacey forward than Deeney already, with much more general intelligence and a great team player. This player is someone that could potentially do well at my club because he has the attributes to be a dangerous striker, but even more importantly he has the attributes to play a very clever game of football in a team.
  12. That's the basis of my man management techniques. Criticise players when they are not performing to the standard I demand, praise them when they achieve it or surpass it. I don't actually understand the logic behind other approaches. Why would you be nice to someone that doesn't look like he can be bothered? I do understand that some personalities require a different tact and can be quite tricky to man manage, but I personally am not a "softly softly" manager.
  13. I would sell players that are definately doing nothing more than taking up space but I wouldn't go hacking at your First Team too much in your first few seasons at a club like Arsenal. The whole point of youth development is bringing youngsters into the fold of your "squad plans" so that can rely on cheap youth to plug gaps and save up your cash for those big signings. One of my best ever signings was a player I saved up ages for, for a particular new tactical role in my team I was looking to experiment with, and that has awesome mental stats. He joined the club and performed that role to perfection so a mega plus for the whole "improving the first team" side of transfers, but the guy also came with 20 Determination and is an epic mentor. What you don't want to see is players in your reserves. If they are not good enough to be brought into your first team squad and used in rotation then they are not good enough for your club. I have quite a few players over 30 at my club but I still trust them to do a job. Good development at a young age will vastly improve players. The question is are you canny with your purchases or do you take risks in the hunt for a gem? It's important to realise that if you can run a profit when transfer dealing in your first team then the youth team offers even greater potential for growth of ability and reputation. It's all about being active and organising a club so that your youngsters become a part of your "squad view". All of that and more. Most of the players in my youth team I hand picked from scout reports and other clubs so I already know what they look like and I already know how I hope they will turn out. Then it is a matter of keeping an eye on them, seeing if they are growing, getting the right mentors, and hopefully they put in enough performances and enough good signs that you start to get excited about them and pay them even more attention. I could tell you the Jumping stats for my Youth Team Centrebacks right off the bat, I already know these things. Same for the flair for my strikers and the creativity and work rate for my midfielders. I could tell you the weaknesses of the players I have sent on loan without having to load up the game. You are unlikely to get a good "manager" style backroom staff member that will take up a youth team role. If you don't plan him to work with your senior players then give him the cheap contract if you can, but keep in mind you don't want these people being poached because you are tight fisted. What I would say is that if you intend a staff member to take youth team matches, involve him in youth team training. It might not do anything but the greater exposure might help foster positive relationships.
  14. No worse than mine after a few beers, and I like beer
  15. Personally speaking I don't like any "holes". Some weaknesses are better than others but any true "holes" I don't bother with. Having siad that it's not always so easy to tell. What you think is weak could be god of football in ten years. Because it's up to you to sign the guy, your eye matters. Look at the first post with Michels, he signed for Tottenham..
  16. Section 4: Preparing Players 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 environement. 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 preperation 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. Section 5: Developing Players 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 damndest 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 beneficia; 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. Section 6: Conclusion/Final Thoughts. 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.
  17. Section 3: What Do You Need? In the words of Roy Keane "Fail to prepare, prepare to fail". Preparation is king in FM 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 thread is about ultimate success at a more marginalised area of the game and is thread for the hardcore FM gamer. 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: Scout Network. 2: Club Composition and Relationship Between Squads. 3: Mentors. 4: Feeder Clubs. 5: Staff Members. 6: Training. Subsection 1: Scout Network 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 definately 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 likelyhood 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. Subsection 2: Club Composition and Relationship Between Squads. 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 heirarchy 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 recognise 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: And here is my club, i.e. all the players I am managing this season: 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. Infact 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 defence to my two 17 year old hot prospects taking turn about in the under-18's. I went slightly overboard with the Rightbacks because my Rightback 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 heirarchy 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. Subsection 3: Mentors 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 FM. 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 year olds 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. Subsection 4: Feeder Clubs 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 represenation 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 are: 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. 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. Subsection 5: Staff Members 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. Any long term member of this forum will agree with me. 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. 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. Subsection 6: Training 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 an FM 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.
  18. Introduction 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 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 FM itself ingame 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 FM 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? 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 atleast 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 megabucks, 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. 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 moulding, manipulating and interacting with regularly to push your club forward. It's only when the majority of your time in FM is spent moulding 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 behaviours. And once you get to this level in FM 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. Section 2: What Can You Expect? 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 atleast 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: Defenders Midfielders 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 £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 underperforming 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 games 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 calibre on a regular basis. It is entirely up to you.
  19. Heaths point here is crucial. The fundamental barrier to performance in Lower Leagues is a players Mental state and his confidence rather than his ability. Clearly ability is important, but in the lower leagues the reduced average level of Personality Attributes means that all players are significantly more temperamental and teams very rarely respond to events as a unit. Likewise the reduced average level of Personality Attributes means that negative responses to events are in much greater abundance. In the lower leagues not buckling under pressure is equal to a Premier League team becoming highly motivated when conceding a goal. In the lower leagues a players theoretical ability that can be seen in his attribute profile is vastly modified by the vast range and temperamental nature of lower league players. A top quality Lower League side in terms of attribute panel ability can quite easilly collapse utterly in terms of Motivation and receive a hefty thrashing. This simply does not happen at the top of the game. Developing a players Mental Strength not only helps him perform closer to his ability, it also helps to stabilise your team in the face of "mental pressures" like away games or going a goal down. It helps you to adequately man manage players and get the response you desire from them. It stops Centrebacks from becoming utter hazards and nightmarishly bad simply because the opposition fluked a lucky goal. Developing a players Mental Strength is a major asset to any player at any level, and I believe it functions the same at all levels of the game. Developing a players playing Attributes is however a completely different kettle of fish. There is a "triangle of player development" as I call it, these are multiplicative factors that determine the rate at which a player improves his attributes. The triangle is Personality x Match Experience x Level of Football. By definition Lower League Football is a vastly reduced level of football, and this has the multiplicative effect of vastly reducing the growth of player attributes. And this vastly reduced level of growth in the Lower Leagues due to Level of Football cannot be avoided. It can be slightly mitigated by maximising Personality and Match Experience but these are not additive factors, they are multiplictive factors and so maximum growth rate in Lower Leagues is several orders of magnitude less than at the highest level. It's a gameplay mechanic, there is no working around it so long as the player plays for you and you play in the Lower Leagues. This grinding prison of development that is Lower League Football has two clear implications: 1: Cup Competitions are now twice or three times more valuable to your players than your previous view of sheer financial gain. Not only are Cup Competitions themselves viewed as a "Higher Competition" than your Blue Square North league, but you can achieve a double whammy of player development greatness by drawing yourself an away game to Manchester United. The Reputation of the FA Cup combined to the Reputation of Manchester United means your players suddenly find themselves playing at a Level Of Football that is some of the highest possible in England and for that one match your players will receive the same development boost (or even higher) than any Premier League Team achieves in a single match. It might not be much on it's own, it might not even show up in some players, and if it does it might only be a single extra green arrow, but if you can do this a few times throughout the entire career of some protege you have developed since his birth then you will reap the rewards. It's lower league football, scratching for the crumbs of the footballing world is what you do. So make sure you heed my advice and scratch for these crumbs too. 2: Developing a players Personality becomes all the more important. Not only to milk every meagre drop of Attribute growth you can from your sterile surroundings, but particularly because attribute growth doesn't really work down here. Developing a players Mental State is the only real "proactive" thing you can do to literally improve a player, other than become a mastermind at cup runs. Developing a players Personality is a fiddly, slightly counter-intuitive and slightly complex issue. As far as I can tell there is no Age limit for Mentoring a player. In my Manchester United save I have the 26 year old Aguero Mentoring the 24 year old Pjanic. If there is an age limit it's not very low. What does most definately, absolutely, certainly matter is that the Mentor is viewed as a better player than the Mentored. To Mentor a player the Mentor simply must have a higher reputation than the player to be mentored. If not, then the potential mentor wont show up. And what else most definately, absolutely, centrainly matters is that the Mentoring works, and the only way it works is if the Mentored player either Respects the Mentor or can relate to the Mentor. What this means in FM terms is that a Mentor must either be someone the Mentoree likes, has a good relationship with, views as favoured personell OR has a Personality that is relatively similar to the Mentoree. If you try to Mentor a light hearted player with a Leader you will fail, there is far too big a Personality difference and their personalities will clash. One is a happy go lucky chap with smiles and cheerfullness aplenty, the other is a footballing Warrior of steel, it simply aint happening unless the footballing warrior of steel is the happy chaps Idol. While this is the closest thing I can get to a "scratch every inch of possible development out of the lower league sand" type post, keep in mind that it wont always work. Sometimes you will find awkward players that annoy everyone with their arrogance and this means you can't find an idol and trying to pair them up with someone in a similar mental state is likely to end in violence, or more likely angry text messages and both players refusing to train. Keep in mind what level of football you are playing at when it comes to developing youngsters. It's not your fault their attributes don't go up. By the same token attribute increases in Lower League Football is significantly less influential precisely because so many players are gibbering mental wrecks. Improving a players Mental State is not only the equivelant of +1 to all attributes, it also helps to prevent your team from collapsing under pressure when the tea lady shoots a harsh look at them. That said I haven't spent a significant amount of time playing Lower League Football. It is a good challenge, but the football isn't as nice to watch.
  20. It's not the most utterly vital topic in the world and it is a topic that regularly gets discussed anyway so alot of people will be comfortable in how they train these PPM's, but I wanted to give my 2 cents on this topic based on my experience of using these PPM's for different players playing in different roles. The general concensus is that with lower Finishing accuracy, blasting the ball is more likely to beat the goalkeeper. With higher Finishing placing the ball is more likely to find a corner the goalkeeper can't reach. That's a completely sound point of view. However I think that there is more tactical depth that can be drawn out of these PPM's. I believe that to get maximum results from use of these PPM's within tactics it is vitally important to consider a players position as well as his ability. No Keeper In The World Would Have Saved That Shot! That's what you get with "Shoots With Power" and it says a lot. What it says is that within a reasonable distance, if this player can get the ball between the sticks and somewhere other than straight at the goalkeeper then it is hitting the back of the net. Anyone that has ever kicked a ball knows that hitting a ball with power reduces accuracy. It's a great way to score penalties, it's an extremely difficult way of scoring from the corner of the box. My point here is that while a player that blasts the ball has a slightly increased risk of missing, a player that shoots from central positions has a much higher chance of hitting the target than a player that shoots from wide. A player that shoots with power has a much higher chance of scoring if the ball is on target. Excellent finishers that play centrally and close to goal are much more likely to score if they shoot with power. Their chance of missing is slightly increased, their chance of beating the goalkeeper is hugely increased. For full chances, half chances, or complete snapshot chancer chances in a reasonably central position, if your player is a decent finisher and shoots with power then it is very likely to go in. Think Alan Shearer. He Showed You Don't Have To Blast The Ball! Scoring a goal is ultimately about putting the ball in the net. Putting the ball in the net requires accuracy to get it between the sticks, and enough pace on the shot so that it beats the goalkeeper. When close to goal and with a good angle power is king. When faced with a difficult angle and at a bit of range then what is needed is accuracy. Power will make the already increased risk of missing even higher due to the angle. And due to the angle there are only a few places the ball can go to beat the goalkeeper anyway, because he will naturally "cover the angles". When approaching a goalkeeper at an angle he has the maximum level of advantage. Both sides of the goal are vastly reduced in size compared to his size and position. The actual availability of goalscoring areas is tiny. This requires not simply accuracy to score, but a shot that uses the instep to curl the ball because a goalkeeper can easilly reach a straight shot aiming at uncovered corners. Further, when the ball has been played across the box quickly to someone lurking at the back post, catching the keeper out and presenting a goal on a plate, what you want is not a power shot but a carefully aimed and accurate shot into the net. The goalkeeper will never reach it and it is highly unlikely to miss. "Places Shots" is for players that regularly get into goalscoring positions but from awkward angles or at the back post. Conclusions While you can base the PPM's "Shoots With Power" and "Places Shots" on Finishing accuracy, my point is that to fully take advantage of these PPM's and of players in certain roles is to base these PPM's on the positions payers regularly take up. Players that regularly get into the box in a central position should be considered for "Shoots With Power". Players that regularly get into the box in wide positions should be considered for "Place Shots". Players that regularly shoot from outside the box should be considered for "Shoots With Power". This is not an absolute rule, it is an additional and important factor for you to consider when dealing with players that regularly hit shots.
  21. For my 4-2-3-1 formation I tweak all the instructions for my roles barring the 20 notch sliders, so I can use the different match strategies to adjust global mentality, closing down, passing directness etc. to affect general aggressiveness of my football without disturbing my specific preferred style and preferrered tactical options. The AM is without a doubt the key to this formation. Player choice can have a radical influence on the type of performance from your AM and therefore the entire style and pattern of your attacking play. In my experience the most crucial element in the game for a player in the AM slot to perform as a focal point of the attack is his Teamwork attribute. High Teamwork is what distinguishes a builder and constructor of team moves from a mere Second Striker. Clearly closely related to this is Creativity, a players ability to see options. Regardless of Tactical Instructions, high Creativity and high Teamwork is what produces the core ability of a Playmaker. I had great success playing Berbatov behind Rooney in a 4-2-3-1. Berbatov has the abilities of a playmaker and a forward while Rooney is slightly more biased towards being a Striker. The combinations of Teamwork between these two players produced excellent link up play and for several seasons they sliced defences apart. The instructions I use for my AMC are the Attacking Midfielder Attack role, giving high levels of Mentality and Creative Freedom with Mixed Passing, in conjunction to these I use the instructions RFD Mixed, RWB Mixed, Long Shots Rare, TTB Mixed, Crossing Rare and Roaming ticked. This effectively gives my AMC the instructions make runs when it is a good option and to balance throughballs and dribbiling with a normal passing game. In short I give my AMC the freedom to make the best options according to his abilities and I restrict none of his Creativity. If he thinks a chipped throughball is the right option, I don't tell him otherwise. This "theory" of balancing options to enable players to play according to their intelligence is something that applies throughout my entire side. The only instructions I move away from Mixed are those instructions my players are poor at such as Crossing because my side is not the best at crossing and is poor in the air upfront. My striker, wingers and AMC all have RFD Mixed, TTB Mixed, RWB Mixed and huge quantities of Creative Freedom. This style of play requires particular players, players with Creativity, Flair, Decisions, Teamwork, Off The Ball and plenty of technical accuracy. It produces some immense attacking play, but rarely of an individual variety. I rely upon the ability of my players to open up teams with passing and movement throughout my attacking unit. The right AMC is crucial. He is the fulcrum of this play and should be blessed with immense levels of Creativity, Teamwork, Decisions, Flair. Since Berbatov has started to decline I have opted for Mesut Ozil to play in the hole. I use the MC version. Defensively speaking you can never get tired of players with high Anticipation and Positioning with the ability to win headers in the MC slot. Players like this will be able to nip in first before the opponents to nick the ball and generally dominate the pitch whenever there is a threat of a counter from the opponent. Liberal quantities of Acceleration and Pace to help recover if a player gets past your midfield is another major asset. My CM's are effectively Centrebacks with high Creativity and Passing ability to distribute the ball around well. I may sometimes opt for a less defensively able CM but then you do notice a reduced defensive solidity of your midfield, so it's a matter of choice. That's the nature of the system though.
  22. Very interesting stuff. It looks like a greatly enhanced system. I still havn't played FM11 but when a thread like this pops up it gets the cogs whirring. There were two things I wanted to talk about; my experience of man managing top players in FM10 where I was really getting some awesome results, and the effect you guys are seeing of diminished returns from unsettling opponents as you climb the leagues, because I think these are linked and quite understandably so. My experience of man managing a top side in FM10 was simple. Opposition comments tended to upset my own squad for limited gains and it was often best to let the opposition do my work for me (Wenger/Benitez). The second thing is that my squad performed at their best when pushed to the limit of pressure and demands. I always had one or two players "unhappy with recent teamtalks" but managed these issues carefully, which basicly means I was ultra demanding of my players to the point where I was treading a fine line between motivation and excessive harshness. I would walk this line by taking risks with my demands and then toning them down if I received a bad reaction, effectively operating at the borderline of intensity of demands. For my squad this kicked players into maximum performance mode, regardless of score I would tear into players at half time playing less than 7.0 including those that were nervous and had made mistakes. This approach with my top side did the trick. The downside was the odd "feels you are too harsh" etc. The way I think it ties into what you guys are saying here is in terms of the level of personality attributes. At low football levels there are low personality attributes so achieving a "negative" result is much easier than a "positive" one. So you comment on the opponent and disrupt his squad while you try to talk your own players into not collapsing. If you try to get a "positive" result i.e. motivating your own side they will likely just crumble under the pressure. At higher levels you have higher personality attributes so players respond better to a "positive" approach while a "negative" approach will backfire. Slandering an opponent will provoke a reaction from high professionalism attributes in your own squad for example. But so will trying to fire them up through teamtalks, ripping into poor performances at half time. This means that there is a level of football where both start to come into play. Where there is a combination of positive and negative effects and reactions throughout club and league as opposed to the mainly negative at low level and mainly positive at high levels. This mid tier where high and low personality attributes combine should be the toughest man management challenge of all.
  23. While I agree training is linear I am unconvinced that each category has the same effect per attribute regardless of quantity of attributes. If you look at the schedules I produced there were massive differences in the category workload which never corresponded to massive differences in the rate of increase of attributes. My radically unbalanced shedules produced very balanced attribute growth. Indeed some minor mistakes early on in this thread produced some fairly obvious poor results, such as Strength gains for goalkeepers. What I did for FM10 is what SI did for FM11, I balanced the training categories, so that the linear progression could be managed more accurately. Half this thread is now irrelevant for FM11 because the training categories are now +/- one attribute relative to each other. Goalkeeping has been split into two groups and the rest have been reorganised so that the effect of X slider level is now equal across all attributes in all categories. It is X/4 for all, no balancing is required. The assumtpion that X level for all categories has the same overall quantitive effect on all attributes is now true. That is the real major update to training in FM11. After 3-4 releases the basic assumption that everyone starts out with in regards to Training is now true ingame. There should no longer be such things as untrainable goalkeepers which marred every release and training theory over the past three years untill this thread came out.
  24. Well in theory the changes to the number of attributes per category should make downloadable schedules obsolete, but I would definitely expect to see an FM11 Training Thread from me at some point. I can't tell you when though, I'm still playing FM10.
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