So, with everything covered up to this point, it’s probably time to play a match.
Pre-Match Staff Meeting
The Pre-Match staff meeting is the last chance to go over everything in-depth before kick-off. Your backroom team provide an opposition report that includes the expected line-up you’re set to face, and key tactical advice for the match ahead.
If you haven’t settled on your team selection by match day, this is your final chance to put your plans into action. Armed with the information from the staff meeting, you should be well set.
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 them, 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 tells you how important the Board 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 gives you a much better chance of achieving the desired result.
Having submitted the team and informed your players of the approach you want to take, they then give you instant feedback on how they feel going into the match. Pay close attention to both the positive and negative reactions and try to use them to your advantage once the match kicks off; confident and happy players are likely to go out and play with positivity, while those disappointed by your choices could struggle but might equally have a point to prove.
The Team Sheet is in and there’s bound to be a reaction, so your Press Officer gathers the very latest from social media. Your staff, meanwhile, advise you of any changes that might need to be made if your opponents have sprung a last-minute surprise.
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 and commentary are at the top of the screen, while your managerial actions can be made from the bottom.
The bottom left of the screen is dedicated to tactical adjustments, allowing you to make quick changes to shape, style, mentality or instructions, as well as delivering touchline shouts to your players. ‘Full Tactics’ takes you to the Tactics screen for complete control.
Running along the bottom of the screen is a list of your players currently on the pitch. You can select any of them to change their position, role or instructions, shout directly to them, or make a substitution.
The Dugout is where you can ask members of your backroom team for specific information. The Touchline Tablet requests information from your analysts about either team, as well as the latest scores and information from other matches being played at the same time. Advice from your Assistant Manager is readily available throughout.
Along with the match speed sliders, the manager can also toggle whether replays are on or not and the saturation of highlights shown. 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’ options offer a list of different views from which the match can be watched, both live and in replays.
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.
If you’re watching a match on a condensed highlights mode, there will be spells where there is no action to show. When this happens, you have access to key information highlighting how the match is going, and advice arrives from your coaching staff for you to take on Board and action as you see fit.
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:
a) your tactical instructions are being carried out as designed,
b) the opposition are nullifying your tactical instructions,
c) 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.
At Full Time, your Press Officer returns to deliver a round-up of events elsewhere, as well as a summary of the media and social reaction. Then it’s time to fulfil your post-match media requirements if you’ve retained those responsibilities.