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Everything posted by SFraser

  1. You have it perfect, and you have nailed down the exact question I have as well. The truth of the matter is that can I only "theorise" and "experiment". What happens in matches is what is going to tell me how well these ideas work. If I don't miss Sandro in the middle then that's fine, if I do then I will have to adapt. That adaption may be as simple as playing Sandro in midfield when the opponent has good headers in midfield, it may be something different. Maybe I learn to live with a few missed interceptions and tackles because the new guys attacking ability is much superior to Sandro's defensive ability. It's true that the new guy wont physically dominate the midfield like Sandro does, but I have to say many kudos to you for spotting in six matches some of the precise details of my teams performances. That midfield combination is good though, isn't it?
  2. You should see him play! The guy is an absolute genius with a football. It's amazing what a difference of 18 technique makes to him compared to the 15 technique of Ramirez who looks like he should be the better playmaker. Some of the stuff he did in the Pre-Season was like nothing I have seen before, and I play probably the most flamboyant, creative system that's ever actually worked in FM. My left back is a converted midfield playmaker that can tackle a bit. That's the whole point, the name of the game The truth is that even now the more I enjoy the game the more I do in the game and the more I learn about the game, which means I enjoy the game more by putting my new found knowledge in practice and so I do more in the game and then learn more. These threads are as much about me learning to get more out of the game as they are threads to help others get more out of the game. And have no fear, the next time I find something else cool you can do in FM, I will tell you about it. I don't use these terms to boast, I use these terms as they are principles I play by. The easier you can make the game on yourself, the easier it is to do all this stuff. The name of the game isn't about how "crack" the perfect "whatever", the name of the game is how long it takes to see past the complexity and actually see the vast amount of football in the game. And the best way to do this is to make the game easy for yourself by setting up youth conveyor belts and using smaller squads and inventing small rules for your entire management approach. Because it is a game it is theoretically possible to "crack" it, and that's what all my old threads used to be about. Crack this, that and the next. But it's so complex that you can't possibly "crack" it all and trying to completely misses the point. Stop trying to "crack" it, start trying to play it, and it's an absolutely, rediculously brilliant game.
  3. The Big Start The 1st of August is a big day, the transfer window opens and it's the first day of the first proper football month. I get my monthly report and it turns out all of my squad have returned fit (a first for me) barring Jonjo Shelvey who has returned bloated and slightly hungover, so he gets sent home for two extra weeks going by the advice of my physio. It's three days untill my first "warm up" friendly against Port Vale, with seven days recovery before we play the American tour. It's also the day when a bunch of players join my club and leave my club, their transfers having been all sorted weeks or even months ago. It's always a nice surprise when some youngster you signed in mid February and then forgot all about turns up on the 1st of August, and alongside the much anticipated Francisco a few of these forgotten youngsters pop up in my First Team. Sweet. The first guy looks like he could be a real player, the second lad also has a fair bit of potential. £8.5 million for them both, but that cash was spent last season and doesn't come out of this seasons kitty. It's going to be fun giving these lads starts in the Pre-Season, I am looking forward to it. I also get a few scout reports coming in around this time, give or take a few days, and I raid Blackburn and Sunderland for these two midfielders for my under-18's: In and around this time I also ship out a whole bunch of players, probably for a lot less than I could have got but I was in a hurry to get the cash to try and finalise my purchase of Koray from Bayern. Gourcuff gets sold for £27 million and alongside the rest of my sales my total transfer income this August is around £45 million pounds. The bidding for Koray is going well, I have got Bayern to start negotiating. But the lad is going to cost a lot no matter how friendly the manager is towards me. The £45 million income added to my transfer budget should certainly make this transfer achievable, if a little brutal. Ultimately I get my man for the bargain price of £63 million pounds. Ouch. My total transfer spending this season is £97 million, my transfer income is £45 million for a net transfer spend of £52 million. However the transfers of Francisco and a few of my youngsters were done at the end of last season and the money came out of last seasons budget the instant the deals were agreed. So a good £20 million of this seasons spend was spent with last seasons remaining budget. MY actual spend this season is closer to £32 million net, which means I have a few quid left over for signing any youngsters or exploiting any contract opportunities later in the season. All in all a good summer of business. The relationship with Bayern is amusing. As soon as Koray is sold there is a massive uproar from the fans. My relationship with the manager can be seen in the following: Looks like someone realised they got taken for a ride. Never mind, I just signed possibly the best midfield playmaker in the game and he is only 21. I sign a few dodgy under-18 goalkeepers on the cheap while I wait for my scouts to find me better players, and I am all set for the Pre-Season friendlies. Pre-Season Friendlies Ideally I like to have all my transfer business done and dusted by the time the first few friendlies are over with. I absolutely hate transfers dragging on into the start of the season, and this time I got everyone I wanted in and everyone I wanted out by the time my second friendly was about to kick off. The Pre-Season is all about getting Fitness and Condition, and then slowly ramping up to match conditions. Working backwards from the Charity Shield I have a six day recovery period after my Warm Up match against Ramsgate, which itself is six days after my first "competitive" match away to Celtic. The friendlies before Celtic are about getting the majority of my team match fit. The Celtic friendly is about getting the last few match fit under competitive conditions, the Ramsgate friendly is about keeping fitness levels up before the Charity Shield and then the start of the season. It's also a time when I can start introducing players to their new positions, most notably Sandro who thanks to my signing of two new defensively minded playmakers is now firmly in the frame for getting a Centre Back position. Chiellini is 31, Vidic is 34, Evans is 28 and Sandro is 27. If I can retrain Sandro quickly enough then he will slot in right next to Chiellini. If not then Sandro and Evans should be my partnership for a good 4-5 seasons once Chiellini starts to decline. This planning has been there for many seasons already, I have planned this long in advance. And it also presents me with the opportunity to send my young but excellent 17 year old Centreback out on loan. He is already packing Determination 17 from previous mentoring, and should slot straight into the Stockport first team who will probably be fighting against relegation from the Championship. Should get plenty of the right experience at that team. In the meantime though my Pre-Season friendlies progress well. My youngsters all get plenty of games and I am quite impressed with some performances. Wijnaldum looks to be an ideal replacement for Gourcuff down the right flank, and his performs excellently setting up a fair few goals for my young lads I have playing through the middle. In particular Santamaria and Allsop impress playing as either an AMC or FC and I am thinking of keeping them around in my First Team for the entire season. My new signings will probably go on loan while I give these two lads the opportunity to impress me further and give me clues as to what to do with them in the future. By the time the Charity Shield comes along everyone is fighting fit and raring to go. My only injury is a promising young lad that did his cruciate in last season, ouch. He was impressing me before he wrecked his knee, so I have him in my first team and I am going to manage him personally back from his injury. The Charity Shield comes along and Manchester City look like they have had a dire Pre-Season with their fitness all over the shop. I opt to field a team that is part experience and part youth, all match fit and well conditioned, and I go one up in the First Half completely dominating the match and playing good football. The second half kicks off and City look a different side, pressing hard high up the pitch and injuring themselves all over the place to prevent my young lads playing their good football. Two stunners from Tevez and we lose the match... And so competitive football returns with a bang, and a well timed wake up call. Conclusion I am not sure how much "guide like" stuff there is to take from this thread, or even if it is in the right forum, but it has been a remarkably fun and active and detailed and enjoyable "Off" Season period for me and I have revamped my team and my club entirely without ever once feeling like it was a chore to do so. I guess the main thing to take from this thread is again just how much playing the like as if it actually was football reaps rewards both in terms of positive outcomes and complete enjoyment and immersion. Anyway, my Pre-Season is finished. I'm off to go build those custom schedules for each individual player I forced myself into with my CTRL-A delete much earlier in the Off Season. Joy. See you in a few weeks.
  4. Marching Towards The 1st of August A mere four hours later after my first press of Continue, I get a whole bunch of news. Some of my youngsters have signed new contracts almost instantly, while a few of my players have taken the huff at being knocked down a notch in the pecking order. There are also a whole bunch of contract terminations and much to my annoyance it turns out I forgot to check the age of my young goalkeepers who have been promoted to the Reserves without me noticing and I have sacked all my remaining under-18 goalkeepers. Makes my previous advice all the more relevant. So once I settle my main transfer target one way or another it will be time to go out hunting some young goalies. The most interesting piece of news is that while my initial transfer bid for Koray was rejected, it seems his manager thinks the two of us could become friends. My mind games have worked and a transfer now looks possible this season. Poor guy. I make a new bid of £45 million to show I am deadly serious and set about hunting for spare cash in the guise of players I don't need. I have quite a few youngsters that simply wont get much attention this season, including two 18 year old goalkeepers. I already have a First Choice and Backup goalkeeper, I don't need four. I do however like to have three, possibly with one out on loan for a while, so I put the weakest up for sale, and do the same with a lot of other youngsters. This is where some astute investment a few seasons ago can pay off. There really isn't a whole lot else that goes on between the 24th and the 1st. Once the European Championship Final is past I put the unlucky Gourcuff up for sale and set about sorting out my scouts. The Scout network After Koray managed to slip through my net in the past few seasons by moving from Turkey to Germany, I decide that this season I am going to focus on maximising my knowledge of all European and surrounding regions. I not only want to know what is coming through the ranks, but spot anything else I have managed to miss in Europe. And I decide that this time I am going to take my scout network deadly seriously and extract every inch of scouting potential I possibly can from my group of scouts. Something I have neglected in recent seasons is the fact that Scouts can scout a competition and a region at the same time. It's time to make my scouts work for their bloated wages. Every single scout at my club is going to get told to scout an active competition in my save as well as the region of the world they have most knowledge of but is not yet complete. Here are a few examples of the new, improved "sweat for your supper" scouting workload I have decide upon for my team. Roberto Bettega is going to be piling up those air miles this season. There are a few overlaps but I am happy with that. I want to scout the major regions intensively for as long as it takes to increase my knowledge to the point where I stop missing absolute gems like Fritz Michels to Tottenham or Koray to Bayern. Not much else happens over the next few days. There are a few media comments aimed at my unsettled players and a few cheeky bids, but these quite laughably all backfired on the hapless manager involved. This is what happened when Real Madrid tried to coax my unsettled left back David Alaba: Slick Pellegrini, real slick. Handled that one well. I'm tempted to comment that Marvin Martin is a player I really admire and really set the cat amongst the pigeons at the Bernabeu. Hopefully it might even get David Alaba to rethink his whinging. Clever boy. On the plus side though it did have the other effect I was hoping for: I would like to thank Pellegrini for giving me the opportunity to improve the morale of my squad while destroying his. A suitable Whisky is in the post, you will be needing it.
  5. Part 3: The First Few Days On the 24th of July all hell breaks loose in England. Quite literally everything that could possibly happen to do with football happens simultaneously. The FA releases fixture lists for every single competition at every level of football at precisely the same time as season transfer and wage budgets are finally calculated by clubs, at precisely the same time as thousands of youngsters are found for the first time, at precisely the same time as every player in the entire footballing pyramid returns for Pre-Season training. The managers office is a maze of faxes pouring out from every direction as hundreds of phones ring and coaching staff and players and scouts and tea ladies came running in and out of the office all day long. The younger managers deal with this by deciding to go and have a kick about with the players, the older managers simply go home for a lie down. The way I deal with all this, well, mess is to start with the basics. The first thing you want to handle is Fitness and Pre Season Friendlies. Experience has taught me two things, one that a specialised Pre-Season schedule is a very wise tool to have, and two that early Pre-Season tours are a complete disaster when it comes to fitness. Pre-Season Training Pre-Season training isn't something you can "tick" or "choose". It's something you have to invent yourself, and you need to know why you are "inventing" it. The biggest challenge a manager faces during the Pre-Season is preventing as much Physical Decline as possible while you race to get the players Match Fit. In terms of training this means you want a reasonably low Overall Workload to recover condition quicker, but with a huge bias towards Physical Training so that these attributes have the biggest resistance to change. Remember it is not maximum levels of Physical Training you are after, but maximise bias towards Physical Training without injuring players or reducing their ability to recover condition. My Pre-Season schedules look like this: It's pretty much what you would expect a Pre-Season schedule to look like, but it wasn't until I realised what was actually going on during Pre-Season that I built any. They are a fairly recent addition to my management process, and once again without specifically coding in "Pre-Season Schedules" SI have made a game where they are completely relevant. The Overall Workload of my schedules is significantly less than my usual schedules, but the bias in favour of Physical Attributes is significantly higher. These are Ronseal Schedules. The next thing I did, because I have been complacent in the last couple of seasons, is CTRL A every schedule barring my Pre-Season ones and then hit delete. I am going to rebuild individual schedules for my players from the ground up after Pre-Season is finished, most of you can skip this step but the benefit imo is worth it if you have the patience and the ambition. Pre-Season Friendlies The timing of these is important. Start off too intensive too early and you will knacker all your players. Start off too late and your players will fester and rot, literally. I have a basic template for friendlies that goes something like this: Warm up game -> Rest -> Four Match Tour of US of A -> Rest -> Big Team -> Rest -> Warm up game -> Rest -> Charity Shield. That's seven matches between now and the Charity Shield but I currently have a big squad and it will contain a whole bunch of players that will be going on loan after the Pre-Season. So long as I don't get bored and rush and screw up all my plans, so long as I take the Pre-Season slowly and properly, then plenty of my young guns will get plenty of matches while my main players achieve and maintain fitness. That's what it's all about. So when do you start? Well what I do is start with the Charity Shield and work backwards. Seven days rest is a bit much, three days rest is far too little. So say 5-6 days is the ideal rest period between games. This puts me at a starting position somewhere around the 3-4-5th of July for the first "warm up match" or ten days to two weeks from now. This will give players time to "cool off" after their International exhertions, it will give me time to poke Bayern a bit and see what they want for their player, it will give me some time to flog Gourcuff, and it will give me time to sort out a whole bunch of other stuff. Sorting Out Your Squads The next thing you want to do is make sure your squad is in tip top shape as a squad right on day one of the new season. Your First Team Squad should be pretty hale and hearty anyway but it is always a good idea to turn your view to "Contract" and set out the squad status levels for the coming season, and to make sure there are no contracts running out soon that you have forgotten about. It's possible you may ruffle a few feathers adjusting squad status, so get it out of the way early and use the usual management of tricks of being sickly nice to everyone that has a problem for as long as it takes for them to shut up. Your Youth Team is a different story and is likely to be in a complete mess. A bunch of players will have been promoted to the Reserves so check them out and decide who and how many you want to keep. If you want to keep some and loan them out stick them in your First Team for now and give them the odd Pre-Season sub appearance to generate some interest. Sell the rest. Now go into your Youth Team and look at some of the really dire players that have come through your youth Academy. Anticipation 1?? You should be an accountant not a footballer, out you go. Be ruthless and get rid of junk now, but try to keep some semblance of an actual team around. You can sack other players once you find adequate replacements later. Bits and Bobs Unless you always keep a checklist there will be things you forget to do and just pop into your head throughout the Pre-Season, it happens. This time I nearly forgot to hunt out a second feeder club as my link with Burnley was terminated. I'm opting for Leicester as they have a great manager, but will they be keen? The Transfer Saga Begins Now for the fun bit, trying to get Bayern to sell me their amazing young midfielder. I just checked out their manager and it would appear he has a fairly poor opinion of me, oh yes the wind is at my back here... I think I need to try and butter him up, but with an evasive and short tempered personality I am starting to find this whole thing quite amusing. Oh how you mock me football gods. So that's how it looks. He doesn't like me, he does like FC Bayern and the options are not exactly self evident as to what to choose. If I comment on him I am likely to get short shrift, so that leaves me with commenting on his team. There is one that sticks out for me, it is complimentary yet aggressive. It could provoke outright hostility as well as provoking a positive reaction, but it's the one that feels most natural to me and that one is "Tell Augenthaler you think FC Bayern are the biggest team in Germany". Probably not a clever choice to imply his side is weak outside Germany if I am trying to pinch one of his key players, but then relations can't really get a whole lot worse. So lets go for it. Complimentary and aggressive, praise and provocation, give with one hand and take with the other. It's the perfect choice for me. I'm a football manager not a chat show host, and above all else he should respect that. Or so I hope anyway. End of Day One I keep feeling there is something I have forgotten to do, something niggling away at the back of my mind. I'm wracking my brain trying to think what it could be. There is probably a lot I have forgotten to do but one thing is niggling more than most. Ah I remember, the perfectly timed £37.5 million bid for his player. Let the games begin.
  6. The "Off" Season The name taunts me because as sure as anything I will end the season with a fully fit squad and one or two injuries and the players will come back to me with a bunch of Key Players having torn hamstrings or broken ankles or other such inevitable injuries that comes with International Managers refusing to drop Wayne Rooney when he is 75% fit. By my calculations he has only had about six months rest in ten years, and ofcourse it's up to me to make sure he doesn't become jaded or I don't play him to exhaustion or to make sure he is maintaining a good level of form. You chaps in the lower leagues have an easy ride. The main focus for me this "Off Season" is to strengthen my midfield and/or defence. I play with two defensively minded playmakers but I only have the two right now. I have a few good attacking CM's and this works well in squad rotation against the meat of the league, when I can rotate and keep my two defensive playmakers fit and fresh for the big games, but if one gets injured then I don't have that same midfield strength in the big games. Plus I have one of these defensive CM's shoehorned in to become a Centreback in the future, so although I am getting Francisco I wouldn't say no to another defensive playmaker, or a quality Centreback. That's what I need but I am not averse to taking a punt on some interesting young random player that catches my eye. My scouts are in place and ready, I have a few matches hunted out I want to watch in person that have a bunch of my shortlisted players playing, it's time for the big kick-off. To cut a long story short a player pops up that causes equal parts excitement and frustration. How the f*** did I miss this lad? I am tempted to sack my German scout on the spot, but I make a mental note to send someone to scout Turkey from now on. Quite simply this player is the one. He is the absolute perfect player for my team, my needs, my plans. There is only one small hitch, £26 million value on a four year deal at FC Bayern that don't like me very much. Ouch! Well choices have to be made and the choice here is obvious. No matter what it costs me I have to have this player. If I cannot buy him this season then I will spend only what I absolutely must and I will save up for him next season, or the season after, however long it takes to purchase this absolute, ultimate gem of a player for my team. My transfer budget this season is hefty, and I mean hefty. But even then, even with balancing budgets and selling off a lot of young talent I doubt if I will be able to raise enough cash this season to prise him away from Bayern. It's such a shame because he is utterly ideal for my team. But then a plan begins to form. I wonder.... Gourcuff has been a fabulous player for me, even considering this feels like adultery, but last season he started to lose his place to younger and better suited players down his traditional right flank. Most of last season I used him as a CM but he is not exactly suited to that either. I think if Gourcuff stayed he would not be a genuine First Team regular and at 29 he is not going to get better. With a value of £29 million I could sell him for maybe £40 million and then I would surely have enough to buy Koray. I already have Francisco coming in so I wouldn't be a man lighter if my attempt to buy Koray fell through, but with the Gourcuff transfer fee I doubt it would. I wont enjoy selling Gourcuff but if sacrificing him means I will significantly improve my team then there is no room for nostalgia and ceremony. You have been a great player for me Gourcuff and I will always think kindly of you, but now comes the time when the team comes before the man, now it is time to make you want to leave... It's a harsh business this. However Gourcuff is with the France side and they have reached the Final of the European Championships. It's not yet time to put him up for sale. I will wait and see if his stock rises even further before parading him around the marketplace. What? You think that because I like the player I wouldn't exploit every opportunity to maximum advantage? That's a skill you need learn then isn't it? With England inevitably knocked out of the European Championships early, and the promotion of my young and high potential Centreback from the under-18's, two messages appear in my inbox from Wes Brown and then Rio Ferdinand. Both intend to Retire from Football at the end of the season. I have kept these players on my books because they are excellent Mentors and until last season were both capable of filling in when needed. Both players got few starts last season, and seem to recognise that their time has come. I have planned all along to offer them coaching jobs and have managed their contracts accordingly. I have a rule at my club that anyone 30 or over only ever gets a two year deal, basically a continuous stream of one year extensions year after year so I can manage their wages in line with their abilities, or even outright release them with little penalty if it's desirable. Because both players are on low wages, and because both players intend to retire at the end of the new season, I have no problems offering both players instant Youth Coach roles at my club. For the pricely sum of £1,500 per week I get Wes Brown, a four star Tactics and Defending coach. For the slightly higher £3000 a week I get Rio Ferdinand, a 4.5 star tactics and defending coach. Both players disappear from my playing lists although they keep their playing attributes. Perfect. Age had caught finally up with them but I rewarded these excellent servants with Youth Coaching roles, and they in turn have rewarded me with their excellent defensive Coaching abilities. This could not have been managed better, or come at a better time. They join the ranks of Neville, Van der Sar, Giggs and Scholes as players I have kept on as coaches after they retire. Quite a good collection I am building up there. While I am in the coaching screen I might as well sort my coaches out and see if I can maximise the star ratings, workloads, and coverage by my Assistant/Reserve/Youth Team Managers. I do that fairly easily and I am left with a slight surplus of coaches. Lo and behold the next day the long serving Tony Whelan announces his decision to retire as Coach. Like a river flowing into the sea, a well run club just flows along with minimal fuss. I wonder if this is why it's called the "Off" Season?
  7. Introduction So another season has been and gone. The last kick of the ball in the last game of the season has passed, the squad has gone on holiday, and the manager is now left with a period of one or two months free from matches in which to put all his slowly fermenting plans from last season into motion. It is a time of reflection, a time of invention, a time of analysis and reconstruction and revamping. Maybe rebuilding or rethinking. There is always something to do in the Off Season, always something to be tinkered and changed, indeed for the virtual manager that takes pains to actually be a virtual manager this is a time to do everything. To tweak every fine detail of every area of your club to ensure that you are as ready to meet next season as you were to meet the last, if not more ready. But OMG I hear you cry, that is such a vast quantity of mind numbingly intricate attention to detail. Well you are wrong, because in FM when you run a well run club from top to bottom, all the tiny little details and tweaks to every inch of the team occur naturally. Improvement flows inexorably like water into the sea. But when you are clever about it, when you forget about micro-management and think about football, not only does improvement flow inexorably forward but the Off Season becomes a time where fun and improvement become one and the same. All that is required is that you stop thinking about a computer game called FM that can somehow be "cracked" and instead think about being a Football Manager. It's easy. Part 1: The Final Days All new seasons begin with the end of the old and as soon as my last game finished I made two decisions that were already made for me. My 41 year old backup Goalkeeper Frank Rost and 35 year old backup Striker Dimitar Berbatov had both expressed their unhappiness at lack of football at my club. While I was keeping them around to offer them Coaching roles once they retired, neither player was hanging his boots up yet, and so in the best interests of everyone these two players were released, and done so after a few cleverly placed media comments about their suitability as coaches. Everyone was happy, a very natural decision was effortlessly and painlessly made. Ofcourse I added both players to my shortlist and subscribed to their news items. I plan to have them back as coaching staff when they retire. I am running an old boys club here. The next thing to occur was that both my feeder clubs got promoted, Burnley to the Premier League and Stockport to the Championship. Glad to see my youngsters had fun seasons, and so when I recalled them I had a bit of a smile to see each of them expressing sadness at having to leave and hoping their good experiences would help them break into my First Team. And of course I now have more space in my First Team. This was the perfect opportunity to look through my Youth Team and pick out those players I want to take with my First Team on the Pre-Season tour. And these two lads were the obvious choices: I have a sneaky suspicion Stockport County might be interested in their services to avoid relegation next season. With my First Team Squad for the Pre-Season Tour filling out rather rapidly and that is before any potential signings and before the 18 year olds get promoted from my Youth Team, it was time to make some tough but necessary decisions on the careers of a few players. I had a look through all those players that were on loan that season but had failed to impress me, and I transfer listed them and sent them to the Reserves. Transfer Listing them will not only bring in some cash if I sell them, it will not only provoke a reaction and tell me who is "Determined to Prove His Worth" but it is also a handy way of knowing who got promoted from the Youth Team when it happens, because everyone else will be Listed. So with a bit more room opened up in my First Team Squad, it was time to allow myself a little think about which of my transfer targets I should go for. Also with the European Championships starting up soon I had some interesting decisions to make, move quickly or wait and watch and observe players playing in unusual and different circumstances? Hmm decisions. However when spending a while to trek through some of the more interesting news items in my inbox I came across a message that made up my mind instantly. "Francisco rejects new 5 year contract". Francisco is someone I have been keeping an eye on, a young and decent DM with adequate playmaking skills, the ideal kind of player for my team. And if I can find a playmaking DM good enough for my First Team I can then set my long term plan of retraining Sandro as a Centreback into motion. This is exciting news, because if he is rejecting a five year deal he must be wanting out. So I pull up his profile and check out all his contractual details. Minimum Fee Release Clause of £14 million for a 22 year old player valued at £11.5 million? Someone mucked up there, I will have a shot of that thank you very much. So £14 million bid sent and accepted and we head into contract talks. Francisco is currently on £22,000 a week and is Indispensable to club. He is asking me for £70,000 a week and First Team status. How about £40,000 a week and Rotation with a 10k appearance bonus? Yeah happy? Deal. And so Francisco will be joining us on the 1st of July. Ugly brute with a few flaws, but with with a bit of training he can atleast be a really useful squad player, if not a potential First Teamer. We shall see. I could always retrain him to play Right Back for when I play teams like Burnley at Old Trafford. One of the sad things about football is that people retire and as I inch a few days closer to the European Championships my long serving Scout Martin Ferguson retires from football. Excellent at spotting youth and he will be missed. As with all things in football though this presents me with an opportunity. At the end of this season one of the chunks of the giant loans my club is saddled with will be paid off, an entire £1.8 million per month will stop going to loan sharks and so at the end of the season my club will start making an extra £21.6 million per season ontop of everything else. I have been waiting for this year for a long time. I decide that because of the position I am in just now I will replace Martin with one of the best scouts in the world. I have heard a rumour that Scout Reputation plays a role in the quality of their reports, so I decide to look for the highest reputation, best quality scout I can find for a non utterly rediculous wage. I settled on this chap to join Oliver Beirhoff et all in my scouting staff, you might have heard of him: I reckon he will cost me around £600,000 a year in wages, but at the end of this season my club will start making an additional £21.6 million a season. Overpaid? Or worth it? Well I'm not going to notice his wages eating into my cash once I start making £21 million more a season. Seeing as I am sorting out my scouts anyway I thought this would the ideal opportunity to sort out my scouting assignments for the upcoming European Championships. I cancel all scout assignments and I select my two best scouts to go scout the entire Championship as a whole and the other to go scout the Under 21 European Championship Qualifiers. I then decide to have a look through all the squads taking part in the European Championship, there is only 16 of them, and any players that show up blue for being on my short list get one of my scouts watching them for 3 matches. This way my best scouts are watching the competition for any gems I might have missed, while my good scouts are specifically watching all the players I am interested in, and watching them closely. And that is the last few days of my season, the club is ready and rocking to go for the European Championships, I have a new player already signed up and waiting and a new top notch scout I am about to put through his paces. Not exactly a chore was it?
  8. What is their Creativity at? Being able to see a pass is a skill. It's not an attribute people look at for fullbacks but there is a world of difference between Creativity 7 and Creativity 14 for a Fullback that gets forward. Personally I like Creativity 16 or 17 in my fullbacks, but I'm a bit different. The better option would be to reduce their RWB, or their Mentality. A lower mentality fullback will get forward a bit later but still get forward, however crucially he will look for the less risky option. So a pass back to your MC's might be more appealing than a slick dribble and a first time cross to your Centreforward. I would be looking at their Creativity and Mentality, unless you have RWB set to Often.
  9. A lot of it depends on having the right AMC for the match because an AMC with roaming and good attributes will constantly be on the move and this will open up spaces for wingers and striker to run into, and open up good passing angles for your CM's. I think the most important thing is good control of the play down your flanks because you are going to get a lot of space down the flanks, and if your fullback keeps dribbling down the flank and crossing the ball to no one then you are wasting possession. I think deeper CM's actually improves my flank play because my CM's are a much more open and better option for my wide men now. Also playing very attackingly intelligent fullbacks is a massive benefit. These are my fullbacks. I had to pay through the nose for Alaba and he is clearly not a defensive rock but he is a pacey battler with bags of playmaking ability. My version of the attacking fullback. Magno is a player I pinched at age 18 for a whole £5 million and I am developing him myself. The guy is turning into a special fullback, his technical abilities are excellent and his mental abilities are not too shabby if a bit unrefined. They are not "perfect" players and so playing defensive CM's is just sensible for my team, but I was already playing that before I got these lads. So these fullbacks compliment my defensive Playmaking CM's and really do an excellent job at keeping the whole "amazing passing football" philosophy ticking over. Personnel is a vitally important part of any team. You can't really claim to have a good team if you don't have the right players playing the right tactics for their own abilities. Btw, did you watch any of the PKMs? Definitely and highly. Composure is what it is and players that buckle under pressure are never ideal. However you can get away with low composure in certain areas a majority of the time. The two areas you can't get away with low composure is CF and CM. In the middle of the pitch Composure is the equal to any other attribute in importance. For fullbacks it's less vital but still highly desirable.
  10. It's caught me out a few times too. Nice coach by the way, young too. Make sure no one pinches him.
  11. Yeah it does look like he should be quite high. How many players do you have training Ball Control at the moment? If you don't have many players training in a category it gives a low star rating. All my youth goalkeepers have become old enough to take Senior Training and so my four star Senior Goalkeeping Coaches have 2 stars for taking Youth Goalkeeping. Just double check for me and make sure you actually have a decent amount of players taking Ball Control Training.
  12. What do you mean his attributes don't match up to his star rating? What is his training bar level in his Personal Profile? Infact, do you have any screenshots?
  13. 19 Creativity and 18 Movement combined to 16 Workrate? Who wouldn't want him? I am always on the lookout for players and although I wasn't keen on Wijnaldum this save he developed into a weapon and wanted to move clubs. So I felt it was my duty to rescue him. Three main things have changed. My CM's were playing too high up the pitch so I dropped them deeper but increased their Creative Freedom by choosing Advanced Playmaker. My Striker was dropping deep, which was great for four/five seasons, but now I want my new striker to play more direct, play higher up on the shoulder of defenders and create space for my AMC so I put him onto a more attacking role. The wingers was a purely practical issue. As teams continue to play ever more defensive so my wingers had an ever increasing tendency to dribble down the wing and cross. So I ask them both to Cut Inside to negate the rather large bias to decisions caused by oceans of space down the flanks. It's all just fine-tuning and tweaking, it never stops. While my basic formation has been the same since the start of my save, my actual tactics within the formation changes season by season. Certain specific instructions change match by match. Here are some PKM's for you all: Manchester United v Liverpool : http://www.mediafire.com/?ai3civ2vol673bk Liverpool v Manchester United : http://www.mediafire.com/?niklydw4rxhz7zk Fulham v Manchester United : http://www.mediafire.com/?bl8lx7kq8bfbid9 Everton v Manchester United : http://www.mediafire.com/?g65s3asplur9k7t Manchester United v Sunderland : http://www.mediafire.com/?fsbcq62b4ai9qy2 Manchester United v Barcelona : http://www.mediafire.com/?k3l1jlo9zkfdnao Barcelona v Manchester United : http://www.mediafire.com/?l64qowe602wz7zd The first five PKM's show my side at it's free flowing best. The last two show my side contesting an extremely tight, cagey European Cup Semi Final against the mighty Barcelona. I narrowly get through, but those two matches were in my opinion two of the best matches I have been involved in. Real cheek clenching stuff and a couple of slices of luck. Watch them how you like, but I would always recommend full match 2-D replay. You wont really see the strengths and weaknesses of this team just watching the highlights.
  14. Right well the main thing is to know what your players are good at, so you know what they will do on the pitch, and so you know how to use them. Imagine you have two strikers, a pacey striker and a bulldozer centreforward. You also have two right wingers, one is a pacey crosser and the other likes to cut inside and is more of a playmaker. The pacey striker will work better with the playmaker, the bulldozer will work better with the crosser. Playing the crosser and the pacey striker is not the ideal combo. Squad rotation is just about making sense of the players you pick. If I play at home against a side near the bottom of the league I wont pick my "best team" but instead my most creative team and play my best striker. If I am playing away in Europe I will play my two Defensive CM's and a high workrate AMC and try to make sure I take my chances away and deny chances at home. The main thing is just to put together a team that works. When you are aware of how each player in your squad performs then you don't have a "best team" any more, you have lots and lots of tactical options you can use without having to do much to your tactical instructions. The team I have put together in terms of players and ability means I can make big changes to how my team plays by selecting the right players without having to change anything in my tactics other than the shouts I use.
  15. Defending Here you can see how the midfield and forwards press while the defensive line is a bit more cautious, and you can also see that the centre tight marks while the flanks are more flexible about their defensive duties. This set of instructions came about automatically through the TC and is pretty effective for starting off most games. However I do tend to adapt these instructions via shouts particularly early on in the match once I get an idea of the how the opponent has set up to play. Ball Usage And here is my Philosophy of playing football. Bags of Creative Freedom, mainly Mixed Passing with a slight hint of direct for the attacking players, and everything else mixed barring a few exceptions. Centrebacks don't dribble, players hitting longshots need to be good at them, my CM's pump throughballs all day long, and no one is to cross the ball unless it's an absolute certainty because my team is rubbish in the air. This set of instructions pretty much equates to a "Passing Game Mixed" instruction. A passing game is on equal footing with a dribble choice or a throughball for every player barring CB's and CM's. It's then up to the player to be able to see the match around him and act intelligently. Conclusion And that is my system pretty much. It's a system that combines a particular view on a particular tactical system with a personal playing philosophy, combined to significant attention to detail in instructions but also combined to immense flexibility in match. It's a system that has taken me ages to design, is never finished, and produces some of the greatest football I have ever seen from the ME. There are the details on shouts to go into but I will leave that for a further post. Also if anyone would like some PKM's please let me know, but keep in mind this is for FM10 so you will need to have that game installed and patched to 10.3.
  16. Part 5: Building The Team A team is not a set of instructions working in harmony, it is a collection of players working in harmony. Nor is it a shape and a basic strategy that can be tweaked. This is what is commonly referred to as a "framework" or a basic set of simple principles that govern certain aspects of a team. A team is something much, much deeper than that. What I have set out already is a basic shape for my team, a set of basic fundamental principles for my team to play by, and a capability for my team to be immensely flexible in it's approach to different matches and different match contexts. I haven't yet put together a team. Putting The Team Together This I suppose is the closest thing I have to a "First Team" and I have them here displaying their roles and duties and their key attacking attributes. Ignore the roles and duties just now, they are actually nothing like they appear to be from this screenshot. It's the highlighted attributes that are most important. From left to right they are Determination, Decisions, Creativity, Flair, Off The Ball, Teamwork. The first thing that is noticable is that they are all Mental attributes, and the second thing is that they are all Attacking attributes. This is my overall gameplan in a nutshell, a defensively solid system that is easily adapted that is being carried out and played by 11 highly intelligent, very attacking, very cohesive set of players. How this is obviously a fabulous group of players, but just how fabulous is it? Determination - Green across the board. The majority are packing 18 Determination with a few above and a few below. This is an absolutely resolute, relentless side. Decisions - A crucial attribute for a team that is given freedom to play. Decisions are 15 or higher for all players, with most of my best decision makers playing through the spine of the team. Creativity - Another vital attribute for my particular style of play. I have two 19 Creativity players , a CM and a winger, and bags of creativity throughout the rest of the team. But look who I didn't pick, two 20 Creativity players and two 18 Creativity players. I can change the game with ease and bring on four players that will transform the match into a game of pure superior vision. Flair - Good quality Flair down the flanks, but absolutely immense levels of Flair in my three most dangerous "forwards". Off The Ball - My four most advanced players have immense levels of movement, precisely what is needed in conjunction with high levels of Creativty and Flair. My two central attacking players are both packing the maximum levels of movement possible in the game. Bingo. Teamwork - High levels of Teamwork throughout the team, reaching it's maximum levels in my two central attackers that both have the highest movement. My most lethal movers are both played through the middle and are both my best team players. Bingo again. Even dealing with just six offensive Mental attributes this team is a thoroughly cohesive unit. Now as I said before it is unlikely a manager is ever going to get a perfect set of players but that is not the point, it's not even the fun of the game. The point is to put together a team that makes sense, that is actually a team. You can be assured that regardless of variable strengths and weaknesses in my players, all combinations of attributes for players in my team will be likewise as cohesive as I can get them, that is what a good team starts and ends with. But it's not the be all and end all. Because a team will always be built of different players with their different strengths and weaknesses, played in a system of the managers choosing and with his particular philosophies and plans in mind, the task is always about building efficient and effective relationships between players on the pitch. What I have listed here is a set of excellent players with all the right attributes to be a ferocious team, but now I have to build that ferocious team, I have to put it together with the Tactical Instructions. By now you should be seeing my team starting to take shape, you should be realising that I am putting together something particularly potent. But I have only outlined the basic shell of my team. The Guts of a Team : Building Behaviour and Relationships I am not going to go through each position one by one, for two very good reasons. First it would require several additional posts and multiple images. Second it deals with players as individuals and not as parts of a cohesive unit. It's not how I make my tweaks, it's not how I build my teams, it's not how I think about tactics and players. What I am going to do instead is explain how I build my teams, and explain how I instruct and tweak my teams, as a team. The image above does not describe what I am comfortable tweaking and what I am not comfortable tweaking. The image above shows the way I have split Tactical Instructions into Player Specific and In-Match Dependant tactical instructions. One set of instructions fits a player into a team, the other set of instructions defines a team. Now this does not mean that the unticked instructions are not tweaked specifically for my team, this could not be further from the truth. Instead the truth is that my initial Team Philosophy is combined to the Role and Duty options and I choose the initial Role and Duty based on the shape and balance and structure of the Mentality, Creative Freedom and so on. By doing it this way I can change things quickly and easily, say changing my AMC from Attacking Midfielder Attack to Advanced Playmaker Attack for a quick and complete change to Mentality and Creative Freedom, but still have these options directly alterable by the in match shouts. This is a way of maintaining complete control over what a player does, as well as getting maximum benefit out of the In Game Shouts. I am not going to explain the thinking behind this particular set of instructions right here and right now because as I said before it will give the completely wrong idea. Instead I am going to talk about something much deeper. Mentality Structure Although Mentality is unticked, the selection of my Roles and Duties is aimed specifically at achieving the ideal internal shape for my system. By internal shape I mean the shape the players actually employ from their initial starting shape. Despite choosing a "Balanced" initial philosophy you will notice that my Mentality Structure is almost perfectly identical to a "Very Fluid" philosophy, barring a couple of clear exceptions. This is the view where I actively design my teams shape and coherence in terms of risk taking. Because none of the options are ticked it means I can alter these "on the fly" during a Match. However it also means that if I want to make subtle changes to this shape I have to go and flick about with a bunch of Roles and Duties untill I find the ideal combination. It's not perfect, and I said the TC was not perfect, but it is still very achievable if a little time consuming. The shape here is quite simple. It's a completely fluid attacking set of Mentalities, barring the midfield partnership and the centreback partnership who each play a bit more conservative. This has the result of my midfield duo sitting slightly deeper than they otherwise would in a pure Fluid system, and hence why my Dual CM 4-2-3-1 is still a true 4-2-3-1, and they also play a slightly less risky game when in possession of the ball. My Centrebacks sit deeper yet and play even less risky yet but then I automatically start off playing with a High D-Line and tend to push forward even more against most teams, so it's an ideal trade-off. It's not the most convoluted Mentality framework in the world but it doesn't have to be. My two CM's are fast, positionally excellent, good in the air, intelligent and great technical footballers so they drop off, protect my Centrebacks and absolutely dominate the midfield. My Centrebacks sit behind and because players rarely get through my midfield and even rarer with two forwards, they mop up in a nice intelligent combination of pressing and covering whichever side is being attacked. The simplicity of the relationship between my two centrebacks and their relationship with my two CM's again belies the potency of their behaviour. When the ball is down one side of the pitch I have effectively a DM ahead of two Centrebacks playing down the other side. Counter-attacks are not very effective against this system because I have four amazing defensive players playing in a square. One man goes to the ball, the other three adopt excellent defensive shapes like seen in my Tactical Images in the first post. But defence is not the only benefit from this Mentality Structure. My deep CM's are excellent playmakers, indeed one of them has 19 Creativity and 20 Passing, and so the opponent has to the difficult choice to make of whether to leave the worlds best DLP free to dictate the match, or to press him and leave space in behind the midfield for my AMC to exploit. It's a subtle question asked of the opponent and it's incredibly powerful. Rather than go through each of these views in isolation and take ages while losing the idea of cohesion, I will group together different views under different tactical ideas and flesh out the details of my system in relevant context. Positioning and Movement The very Fluid attacking Mentality structure with the CM and CB "box" dropped deeper is again present here. This time though you can see that my Fullbacks are asked to bomb right forward, while my box doesn't make any forward runs. My fluid attacking four are tasked with making runs "by percentages". Neither too early or too late, but ideally right on the button. However all players outside my back five are given Roaming instructions. This is because the movement into space and exploitation of space is crucial in my attacking philosophy. There are sometimes some weird results but overall my players Roaming behaviour is excellent. The wideplay is crucial because with my Fullbacks pushing really far forward, my wide players don't have to play like wingers and nor do I want them to. I ask them to weigh the option to move infield as much higher than any other. Ofcourse sometimes they still pull wide as that option is supreme, but on the whole they tend to move infield and feed the ball through the centre. This can often mean a quick long ball from my CM pinged out to the Fullback down the flank who now has much more space. Or it can mean Aguero dribbling infield and sticking one in the top corner. It can also lead to a cunning short ball through to Rooney who has moved up from AMC into a striking position behind the fullback that the winger has dragged wide. Ultimately the combination of advanced fullbacks, wingers that cut inside and an AMC that pulls into the channels has a really powerful impact on the opponents fullback positions, very much like the tactical images I put up in my original post. Jaume doesn't move into channels, his job is to pin Centrebacks and exploit the slightest error with Hernandez esque movement.
  17. Part 4: Getting Down To Details, My Brand Of Football I understand the system, I know the general philosophy I wish to play by, I could punch it all in to the games menus and produce a spectactular fail. Or I could produce a great success, it would be equally as random. Football isn't about finding a good defensive system with decent lines of attack and then telling your players to go play creative football. That's the Kevin Keegan way. That might be a bit harsh, but you can be absolutely sure it's not the FM way. FM doesn't forgive those who do not design systems. You don't have to have microscopic attention to detail to design formations in FM but you absolutely must be capable of designing coherence into your team. It is absolutely vital that you can put together a team, based on all the old and never dying footballing concepts. Centreback and midfield partnerships, overlaps, supplying strikers, freeing up playmakers, doubling up on flanks, to cross or not to cross? That is the question. Creating space, denying space, balancing your lines, building your lines. It sounds complicated but it's not. Or atleast you don't find it complicated if you enjoy it. And you certainly don't have to do it all at once. I find these things to be continually ongoing processes, indeed once you get into the swing of the game this is what tactics, substitutions and squad rotation is all about. It's about tweaking all the little "modules" in your team. The groups of players. Playing a slow but immense Centreback this game? Then play a speed merchant box-to-box in midfield and a quick witted, creative forward. That's cohesion. These things take time to learn and time to develop, but they never have to come at the expense of your overall concepts. Get your signings right and these things enhance your overall concepts. You are still playing the overall brand of football you want to play, but you are improving the ability of players to play together. The question is, where do you start on such a vast and elaborate issue? Overall Plans The first place to start when it comes down to the actual details of building a team is to realise that regardless of your own preferences and philosophy for football, you are still going to be playing your football against many different teams. Each opponent will have their own strengths and weaknesses as a team and as a group of individuals. Each opponent will give you at the very least a slightly different game to the previous opponent and some opponents will give you a radically different game. And while the manager may have the aim of building a "perfect footballing team" the manager must also be acutely aware that the fans and the board demand results. The team playing "perfect football" must be the team that's achieving. Style and philosophy must be effective. In FM as in football, effectiveness tends to be an issue defined not by the absolute ability of one team and the excellence of it's initial formation, but by the changes a manager makes to adapt to different teams and then to different circumstances throughout the match. One of the most effective tactical concepts in recent years on this forum has been the idea of "Tactics Sets". These are essentially different "versions" of the same fundamental system to be used when you need to be more attacking, more defensive, keep possession, play counter-attacking football or to completely "shut up shop". Prior to FM10 there were pretty much two completely different ways of playing FM from a tactical sense. The first was absolute precision engineered, multiple tactical sets that was the equivelant of designing four or five systems for your team, the second way was to pick one formation and one tactical system and more or less stick to it, barring the odd tweak here and there. Unsurprisingly the vast majority of FM players including myself fell into the last camp. Building four or five independant systems that each required testing and ironing out was something that required an immense amount of patience and tended to be done by a very few people. FM10 brought us a middle way. One that was neither as inch perfectly custom designed as the Tactical Set approach, but nowhere near as stale and inflexible as the "one tactic + odd tweak" approach. That middle way is ofcourse the TC and it's shouts, and it is one of the greatest ever additions to this game from a tactical point of view. It's not perfect, but it is truly excellent and perhaps even game changing. What the TC and Shouts offer is the ability to take one starting system and then make a lot of changes to it very quickly and easily. It takes only a couple of turns of the mousewheel to radically alter how a particular position performs on the pitch, a few clicks to completely change the defensive or offensive nature of your team. The TC brings the true dynamism and variation and pro-active/reactive decision making of a football match to FM. It changes the complexion of tactics themselves. Now in FM my core plan is not simply to build a good formation with good tactical ideas, but to build a good system with good tactical ideas that offers the greatest range of options for change and offers the greatest results when employing the Shout changes. My core plan is to build a system that I know how to change quickly and easily, and that performs effectively in the desired manner when I make those changes. My core plan is to build a basic system that can be three, four, five different but equally effective things on the pitch with a few easy clicks of the mouse. The starting position for My Brand of Football is therefore a starting position of relative neutrality based on what I want to do. Because of the team I am and the philosophy I have my starting position of relative neutrality is going to edge towards an intelligent, flamboyant system. I can then adapt this system to become more offensive or defensive, more or less direct, more or less aggressive in closing down, more or less aggressive in the tackle, more or less wide, more or less creative. Precisely because I know that what I am starting with is a relatively neutral version of my system and philosophy I can then become more or less offensive/defensive in a variety of ways as the match dictates, or even diverge completely from my philosophy if I need to. The TC offers me many immense tactical weapons to use. The key first issue is therefore to build my relatively neutral system that employs my philosophy. Building The System This is the basic shape of the team and the basic set of Team Instructions. Technically speaking the shape is considered by FM to be a 4-4-1-1 due to the two CM's. However the system I have built is the closest to what I would consider a pure 4-2-3-1 system in function. I will go into more detail later in the post about the midfield. The basic shape is the 4-2-3-1 system that I have chosen, and the basic Tactical Instructions reflect my relatively neutral starting tactics. Philosophy - The philosophy chosen here does not reflect my philosophy of football, it is chosen based purely on the impact it has on player tactical instructions. It is therefore one of the more complicated decisions I have made. Ultimately the "Balanced Philosophy" is the philosophy that gives me access to the range of different Mentalities for my individual players that I want to work within when designing specific individual roles. Starting Strategy - The control strategy chosen here reflects my actual Philosophy, a relatively neutral slightly attacking game with Creative Freedom and limited risk taking. Passing Style - Passing Style Default. Passing Style can ofcourse be changed through Shouts so I would leave this untouched in order to have maximum options for shortening passing or making it more direct. However I tend to prefer a Passing game that is neither short nor direct anyway. My personal passing preference is an intelligent passing game of good choices that is free from any undue manager influence that may provoke players to aim for inferior options. Sometimes I do Shout "Get Ball Forward" but only when I am desperate for a goal. Creative Freedom - More Expressive is a core component of my attacking philosophy anyway. I want my players to have freedom to express themselves regardless of what else is going on the pitch. While I set up the team, instruct the team, design the team, pick the team, I'm not the one that has the ball at my feet and passing options around me. One of my core philosophies in FM is that the best attacking football comes from giving intelligent players the freedom to play. Closing Down - Default, to be increased or decreased or left alone depending on the match. My initial system will be neither aggressive nor back off closing down but relatively intelligent closing down in a Zonal Marking starting system. Tackling - Default, again to be reduced or increased depending on what is happening. "Inferior" teams tend to fall over a lot and play for free-kicks, "superior" teams tend to get on with it and go for the kill. Tackling is a key match-by-match tactical decision, as are most options in this list. Marking - As I explained earlier the 4-2-3-1 is a key shape, and a key shape requires Zonal Marking to keep shape. I wont always require the pure defensive quality of the 4-2-3-1 and so I wont always require Zonal Marking, but I start off with Zonal Marking by default and alter that if I want to put opponents under pressure. Infact the combination between marking, pressing and tackling has a radical effect on many different ways your team plays. Zonal + High Pressing + Light Tackling = World Cup 2010 defence in depth. Man Marking + High Pressing + Hard Tackling = local derby match. From this basic starting position a few good Shouts makes a vast difference to how your team plays it's defensive game. And that's the whole point of these initial options. Crossing - Default. This option is different from the rest in that it has no impact on my tactics because Crossing is something I individually tailor for each player. Roaming- Default. Same as above, individually tailored for each player. The Specific Instructions are not touched on this screen. They show how this arrangement of instructions works at the minute. All of these options can be tweaked in match via shouts, and so I do not touch them in this screen. What is important though is to be aware of them, make sure you understand completely where you start and then you can be completely confident in what you Shouts List is telling you and what options it is offering you. If I want to tuck my inside forwards infield and focus play down the flanks then I will shout that, I will shout "Play Narrower and Exploit the Flanks" and so on. Shouts are an immense boon now, and this basic system is set up to make use of them. I also do not choose Set Piece Aims because it is far too easy to exploit the AI. I will set up some basic set piece orders that give my team a good rough shape without exploiting anything specific, and then let my players pick the options. Basically my set piece setup is to make sure my team is not all over the place and leaving gaps in defence rather than an attempt to gain an advantage over the AI. Conclusion That is the basic system set up, not the whole package by any means. What has been done here is simply to define a shape and a basic template for play that gives me a wide variety of options in how to adapt the actual detailed system I am going to build along logical, team based lines. This overall system is designed to be able to make maximum use of the Shouts in line with my basic system and philosophy ideas. It's a very simple initial team setup, but the simplicity belies it's basic practical soundness as an overall system as it is, and belies it's immense flexibility when the manager is standing at the side of the pitch shouting orders at his players. This is the rough basic system I line up with in every match, it is by no means the meat and potatoes of the team.
  18. Part 3: The Attack As I explained before due to certain limitations in FM in terms of tactics I have chosen to opt for a defensive shape that attacks rather than vice versa. However while some 4-2-3-1 systems can be convoluted in attack and regularly change shape in real life, the two most outstanding 4-2-3-1 type systems in the last World Cup were pretty simple yet rather profound in what they did. Those two were Spain and Germany. While there is some debate over the exact system Germany played, that's kind of the point. The Spanish and German systems were both very similar yet completely different, and both showed us some spectactular new ways of understanding how to attack with the 4-2-3-1. The Spanish system was based on patient, probing, "tiki-taka" football that ground opponents into submission and seized on opponents switching off for a second. The German system was based on lightening fast surgical incisions in vast numbers into the opponents weakest areas. Neither system employed much in the way of radical shape changes between defence and attack. Both systems exploited a certain property inherent in the 4-2-3-1 system, that property is asymmetry. The previous thinking behind most 4-2-3-1 systems was you defend amazingly but when you attack it's pretty much up to your awesome AMC to carve out chances for your lone striker. Your two wingers can help with the counter-attack, help get the ball upfield quickly and maybe cross for your striker or AMC/Second Striker or maybe play the ball to your AMC and let him work his magic. The logic then follows that two AMC's would be better than one, that the Barcelona 4-1-2-3 formation which pushes two players forward behind the striker would be much more offensively potent because it has an additional AMC type player. That's not entirely untrue, it is sound logic. The problem is that as more and more teams employ 4-2-3-1 systems to defend against you, you are increasingly going to be trying to attack through the middle of teams set up to defend through the middle, and you will be ignoring the space they actually give you. In the World Cup we saw Spain and Germany line up with systems that absolutely tore apart the space teams were giving them, by turning the attacking weaknesses of the 4-2-3-1 into strengths. Spain Here is a rough example of the average Spanish line up, with some artistic effect in the back line. The Spanish didn't actually use wingers in the World Cup. They used Iniesta who you could argue is a winger but more accurately is one half of the Xavi - Iniesta footballing carousel of infinate doom. They also used David Villa who is a lethal goalscorer. Basically what is going on here is that the defenders and strikers are down one side of the pitch, through the middle and down the other side of the pitch are the playmakers and supporting cast. Watch what happens when the team starts attacking: A humongous quantity of attacking threat is built down the right flank, the opponents defence shuffles along to try and cope with the numbers, the defenders have to be at peak concentration and organisation to prevent Xavi and Iniesta working an opening between them, and sooner or later somebody takes their eye off of David Villa... And guess what, Germany played their completely different style exactly the same. Germany While the Spanish system was premised on dominating possession and probing open teams, the German system was based on counter-attacks. For this reason Ozil tended to play more advanced so he could off Klose more as the ball was cleared quickly. There was always that threat of Klose holding the ball up and Ozil receiving it on the counter. That wasn't really the main threat though, infact although Ozil had an excellent World Cup he was more of a distractionary figure in the German system. The critical point in the German system was to do precisely what the Spanish system did tactically speaking, but do it quickly. When Germany won the ball it would be played wide right quickly. Lahm, Khedira and Mueller would quickly work the ball between themselves down the right flank and attack at pace. Klose would pull wide and/or deep causing the Centrebacks problems, and Oezil would punch straight through the channel between Centreback and Fullback. The plan here was to swiftly dissect the opponents left back position with counter attacking wingplay and channel bursting runs from the AMC, leaving the opponents Centrebacks in a mess. If the inside Centreback was on Klose no one could mark Oezil, if the outside Centreback was on Klose and the inside Centreback on Oezil then Podolski could make blind side runs on his fullback at the back post. Most of the time the technical, tactical spare man at the back post didn't matter because the oppositions defence was usually in complete disarray long before then. Germany scored a huge amount of easy goals from unmarked positions simply by overloading one flank at pace. They cut many teams to ribbons doing this. My Attack The attack I want to build for my team on top of my defensive base is, ultimately, a marriage of all the best things offered by the 4-2-3-1. I want the potential to play slick "Tiki Taka" possession football in small areas with multiple players eventually carving out a cunning chance. I want the piercing counter-attack using the same tactical overloading as "Tiki Taka" as employed by Germany. I want lethal and explosive Inside Forwards that carry out the role of "backpost unmarked striker". I want an exceptionally exciting AMC, ideally one that is a cross between Eric Cantona and Lionel Messi. I want the talismanic spearhead forward that doesn't simply bury hundreds of goals in his career but makes this whole system tick perfectly. I want the now obligatory world class deep lying playmaker that can land a golf ball on the head of a pin from 60 yards anywhere on the pitch that provides the ammunition for all my weaponry. And finally I want to knit all this together with a style of football that is built on style, flair, panache and self expression of the highest order. These are things to aim for, to be built into the team, and it's quite possible that throughout my time as manager I will never find a combination of players at X moment in time that produces all of these things in one team. I might build two or three different teams each with a greater or lesser ability at certain things I want to have in my team. My desires and ambitions and philosophy are ideals, they are preferences. They are not the practical issues of actually putting a team together. They are the paths down which I will guide my teams, but I may not always be able to reach certain destinations. None the less it is still my goal to one day put together a team that I consider to be "perfect".
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
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