So, with everything covered up to this point, it’s probably time to play a match.
The Match Centre will be accessible prior to every single fixture from the foot of the side bar and will allow you to plan ahead in a number of ways, beginning the serious preparation with the Pre-Match Briefing. The number of days remaining before your match are indicated within the icon itself.
If you haven’t settled on your team selection by match day, this is your final chance to put your plans into action.
In the build-up to a match, running through the items below as something of a check-list will serve you well ahead of kick-off:
- Are your players appropriate for the Positions, Roles and Duties defined in your tactics?
- Are those players fit and match sharp enough for the demands of the fixture?
- Who’s in form? Who isn’t? Does your team represent the best it can be right now?
- Do you have sufficient flexibility to change your tactic if it’s not working?
- Do you have the ability to change the game with your substitutes?
- What is the morale of the team? Are there players with higher morale not involved? Could they be a better fit for the next match?
- What does your fixture list look like? Do you need to rotate your squad?
- Are there any unhappy players who you have promised more first-team football to?
- What threats do the opposition carry? Have you successfully identified those, through opposition analysis reports, and made plans to counter them?
- How important is the match? Can you play a weakened team or give some younger players much-needed playing time? Board Confidence will tell you how important they deem the competition to be when appraising your performance.
Answer all these questions before confirming your match day team selection. Being able to provide a comprehensive answer to each question will stand you with a much better chance of achieving the desired result.
The Match Screen
The Pitch View takes you to a match screen designed specifically for the 3D match view. The primary and majority focus on the screen is, as you’d expect, on the pitch and what’s going on. The scoreboard is to the very top of the screen, and below in the action bar are a number of match day options designed to make your visual and managerial experience easier.
Along the top of the screen is the match time bar, which will log moments of note and incident for quick reference when playing the match back.
Use this menu as your shortcut to make any necessary tactical changes from the full tactics screen.
The Analysis section allows you to break down all of the match stats as well a number of incidents. Select different events to see them appear on the pitch graphic.
The basic range of match stats can be accessed from here. Use the Analysis section for more in-depth coverage.
Get the latest event updates and latest scores from elsewhere on this screen.
Along with the match speed slider, the manager can also toggle whether replays are on or not and the saturation of highlights they receive. If you’re ambitious and have some time on your hands you can view the ‘entire’ match (note, this is not actually 90 minutes), extended highlights, just the key events, or none at all and watch the game with just commentary text. The ‘Camera’ option presents a list of different views from which the match can be watched.
How can I see more of what’s going on? Widgets etc
Widgets are custom overlay panels that enable you to view a range of information about the match as it unfolds.
They can be enabled or disabled by ticking or unticking each box and repositioned by dragging them around the screen. They are extremely useful for being able to stay right up to the second on any number of stats, analysis areas, individual form, morale and fitness, and even scores and results elsewhere affecting the live league table.
Managing During the Match
Making tactical changes during the match starts and ends with watching the match. Whatever your preferred camera view and highlight mode might be, make sure it gives you a sufficiently complete view of the action, and allows you to be aware of every development as play unfolds.
The shortcut buttons allow you to make substitutions, tactical changes, mentality adjustments and set opposition instructions.
At every turn, you must decide whether or not your tactical instructions are:
a) Being carried out as designed, and
b) Whether the opposition are nullifying them, or
c) Whether the opposition have left something you can exploit
Let’s use an example. If you’ve adopted a 4-2-3-1 formation with your AML and AMR both set to ‘Inside Forward’ Roles and instructions to ‘Cut Inside With Ball’, you should be able to clearly see each of them leaving the touchline and moving into central areas in possession. However, if the opposition have seen this, and have decided to play two DMs with the express intent of blocking the very space your AML and AMR are seeking to exploit, you have a decision to make:
a) You could change their roles to ‘Winger’, for example, and attack the opponent on the outside, potentially rendering those two DMs useless.
b) You could adjust the team’s overall playing style; if the opponent has adopted a ‘low block’ with the two DMs ahead of a deep defensive line, it might call for a more patient passing game to probe for space and lapses of concentration, or a more direct approach where long balls are pumped into the penalty area, going over the heads of the DMs.
c) You could do nothing and hope that your players are simply better than theirs, and that quality will ultimately always shine through.
The same applies in reverse; if you’re stopping them from doing something, or have left an area of weakness for them to exploit, they might tweak their tactics and try to get on top that way. It’s a perpetual chess match, where each manager is seeking the upper hand, and the possibilities are nearly endless. You must know the versatility of your tactics and your players, be able to identify what’s working and what isn’t, and know when and when not to make a change.
Match Stats cover player ratings, key match stats like shots, possession, clear cut chances etc., as well as detailed totals for each player on each team in an array of areas.
Analysis is split into three main sections during a match, and can also be reviewed in full after each and every fixture. It is divided into Match Stats, Team Analysis, and Player Analysis, with additional information also presented in the form of Action Zones and Focus of Attacks.
Team Analysis allows you to select a type of match event – shots, passes, crosses, tackles etc. – and populate a chalkboard view of them. Each event type is then further broken down into situational specific totals, and clicking on the event itself on the chalkboard pitch view allows you to either view all events linked with it (for example, a pass that led to a shot on goal), or to watch the highlight of the event itself). All of these can be filtered by Pitch Area of Direction of play.
Player Analysis follows the same routine; use the ‘Views’ menu to choose the type of event, then select the event from the player and display it on the pitch.
These are extremely powerful tools than can be used live during a match for instant feedback and recognition of what’s happening, or in the wake of a match when reviewing performances and planning for the future. The key information will be distilled into reports from your Data Analysis team, if you have one, but you have the power to really dig into the fine detail of your team’s performances and use it to better understand why things are happening. This, in turn, will educate you more about how your players are executing your tactical instructions, and will arm you with more information to make improvements.
Assistant Manager Advice
On a match day, your Assistant can be more vital than ever. You have so much to deal with that at times you may not notice things, but your Assistant, with fewer responsibilities, may be more aware of these things. Your Assistant Manager will offer you detailed feedback on how the match is going at regular intervals, and advise on how to remedy any problems he or she has noticed. The feedback appears on the Match Screen, and can be actioned immediately from within the pop-up itself.