You’ll spend much of your time poring over the Squad screen as you look to develop and mould a group of individual players into a finely tuned machine capable of success.
The Overview screen presents an immediate and detailed look at the team. The first team squad is shown with key information about each player’s position, condition, morale and performances. There is the option to filter which players are shown to include all players in the squad, exclude players depending on the positions they play and also hide players who may be unavailable or not currently at the club.
New in Football Manager™ 2023 is the ability to progressively plan your squad from its current point into next season and the one afterwards. This tab can be found to the right of the Overview screen. Within it, you can see immediately in the ‘Next season’ and ‘Season after’ buttons not only which players will still be at the club (according to their contract expiry dates), but also their likely ability in their assigned role in the tactic(s) the squad are currently training under.
Moreover, the most game-changing aspect of it is the opportunity to see how players not at your club would fit into the system, regardless of whether they’re realistic targets to sign. They can be added by position/role to the formation(s) on the screen and can subsequently be used as a Recruitment Focus. You can save and load these as you can with tactics to quickly edit and improve to the context of your game via the Main Details and Further Details tabs within the Recruitment Focus pop-up screen.
The Report tab is compiled by the backroom staff) at your club and offers a range of tools for getting to know, and getting the best out of, your squad.
This section presents a breakdown of team statistics across a wide range of areas and highlights the best and worst performers accordingly.
This section takes statistics from your squad and compares them across the rest of the league to see how your players stack up. The ‘General’ tab takes miscellaneous information such as height and weight, whereas the positional breakdowns take an average of relevant attributes to show strengths and weaknesses in your squad.
The Assistant report presents Strengths and Weaknesses from the squad as a whole and presents a breakdown of statistical leaders in your team – such as the youngest and oldest players to name one example – and compares them to the leaders within your league.
New for Football Manager™ 2023 is the ability under the Report drop-down menu to see which members of your squad are where in their playing career journeys. Your roster is divided into four categories: Development, Emerging, Peak, and Experienced. There is also a further colour-coded division in each category, outlining their significance to the team: Important, Squad Depth, and Youth. The matrix can be viewed in either the more broad-brush Squad View or by Position View, which puts a new spin on what you might need for each position and role; this can help greatly in terms of future planning for your team.
This screen presents a prospective best starting eleven as rated by each member of your backroom team. You can switch formation depending on the tactics you currently have being trained, and each position has an identifiable Best Player and Best Prospect to aid with future planning.
The Data Hub is where you can find a dedicated and comprehensive suite of analytic tools designed to help you find that winning edge. It is entirely customisable, available on-demand once a small handful of matches have been played, and comes with a wide range of information, stats, data visualisations and more that will really leave you with no excuse not to be prepared ahead of every match.
The customisable Overview screen is broken into three main sections: Team Report, Team Performance (Attacking and Defending) and Key Findings, which summarises the latest data into a brief report. The ‘Ask For’ button in the ‘Reports and Visuals’ panel to the side then allows you to ask your Analytics team for a dataviz (data visualisation) based on keyword input.
The Team section focuses on all things to do with team stats in your main league competition. The ‘Team Performance’ screen is entirely on demand; you can use the same ‘Ask For’ functionality to generate reports and then tick the ‘Display in Team Analytics’ section to pin it to that page. Toggling the Edit Mode on/off then allows you to rearrange and pin these dataviz objects in exactly the way you want.
The ‘Report’ tab presents an analyst report on scoring, conceding and general formation trends, and the ‘Shots’ tab shows a breakdown of shot accuracy and where each shot landed in and around the goal frame itself.
Similarly, the Player section works like the Team section, with a focus on individual players within your league. For example, you can use the ‘Ask For’ section to show a dataviz for goalscoring among midfielders in your league, pin it using the ‘Display in Player Analytics’ option, and build your own dashboard.
The Matches section has two tabs: ‘Last Match’ and ‘Recent Matches Analysis’. The former shows you a Summary and Key Findings from your last outing, the latter takes in your previous five matches and breaks down Positives and Negatives around a visual representation of events, plotted on a pitch.
The last section contains everything to do with your next opponent. The ‘Overview’ provides a high-level summary of what to expect, while ‘Next Opposition Performance’, ‘Analyst Report’, ‘Stat Pack’ and ‘Past Meetings’ all build on functionality already outlined within the Data Hub to leave you thoroughly prepared for whatever they might throw at you.
Dynamics and Player Happiness
Part of successful team-building is ensuring that your squad comes together in the right way, developing inter-personal relationships and having the right characters to pick the team up when they’re doing badly and to keep things ticking over nicely when doing well. The Dynamics section provides a full and comprehensive insight into the network of relationships that exist within the squad that you have put together.
The Overview screen gives you a top-level look at what’s going on. The Match Cohesion section shows how the relationships among the players are affecting the team’s performance on the pitch, the Dressing Room Atmosphere section indicates how the group are feeling while the Managerial Support sub-panel keeps you abreast of current levels of support for your management among the players.
The majority of the screen is centred around detailing any issues players might currently have while the club’s most influential players and social groups are also included, with links to dedicated sections providing further detail.
This screen presents the overall squad hierarchy to you in a rough pyramid system, although the exact nature of each squad might differ greatly in terms of the number of players residing within each section. The manager oversees everything above the hierarchy; clicking on them displays their overall Managerial Support in a side panel as well as a visual indicator of each player’s support.
Team Leaders sit at the top of the pyramid and are the most influential players at the club. They typically have leadership and experience in abundance and other players naturally gravitate towards them. As the most significant players in the squad, they are the ones you want to keep happiest, as any grievances will not only affect them but also permeate through the rest of the squad.
Highly Influential Players are next on the totem pole, and exhibit many of the same hallmarks as the Team Leaders do. They provide stability and bring the core of the squad together, as there are typically more leading players than team leaders, who are generally the few who emerge from this group and take the overall lead.
Influential Players have a voice that deserves to be heard and are powerful figures within the squad, but haven’t quite scaled the same heights as their more experienced, illustrious and longer-serving teammates.
Other Players make up the remainder of the group and haven’t generated enough leadership experience during their time at the club or don’t have the ‘right’ personality to lead, and tend to gravitate towards others at the current time.
Each player’s box can be selected to provide further information about them from a pop-up panel towards the right of the main screen area. It also highlights the primary social group they are a part of, as well as everyone else within that group. You can also select the different social groups from the section at the top of the screen.
Those social groups also have their own dedicated screen for further analysis. Each group has its own sub-panel arranging the players within it into a rough hierarchy based on the overall squad hierarchy. The panel to the side of the screen indicates whether the groups within the squad live harmoniously together or whether dissenting factions are beginning to form, and is an element that should be monitored periodically, especially when making moves in the transfer market.
Selecting a player brings up a personalised pop-up panel with their information.
The squad happiness screen lists each player by hierarchy group and offers a visual indication of their happiness in several areas, allowing for quick and easy reference as to who may have concerns, and who is developing issues. In turn, you’re able to identify and action these in order to resolve them before they become an issue for the social groups or the squad as a whole.
Promises represents the player’s satisfaction with any promises made towards them.
Morale represents the overall player morale.
Training represents the overall level of satisfaction with training.
Treatment represents your actions towards the player with regards to praise, criticism, fines and discipline.
Club represents the player’s feelings concerning the overall direction the club is heading in.
Management represents their feelings regarding your overall management, tactical decisions, team talks, and transfer market activity.
Playing Time represents their satisfaction with how much first-team football they’re receiving.
Overall Happiness is a summary that takes all of the above into account and distils it into a succinct reference of the player’s overall happiness right now.
The happiness ranges are as follows (from most to least happy):
Code of Conduct
Before every season, you will have the opportunity to outline a Code of Conduct to your players, which determines the punishments for transgressions like missing training, being sent off or getting suspended. Details of these punishments, ranging from a verbal warning to a fine of two weeks’ wages, are found here. You can override them on a case by case basis whenever incidents occur, potentially risking the wrath of a player who feels that they have been dealt with particularly harshly, but you cannot change the agreed collective Code once it’s been set for that season.
How do I keep my players happy?
The easy answer to this question is to give them what they want, but that’s not always that simple, so it mostly comes down to the degree of flexibility you’re willing to offer. If a player can see that you’re making a genuine attempt to at least meet them in the middle, rather than outright rejecting their request, they’re more likely to accept your decision or, at worst, only become concerned.
Players will also give you every opportunity to correct your ‘mistakes’ before escalating their unhappiness to a more severe state. You will be prompted to take action through Inbox messages, Backroom Advice, and direct interactions with players when a player is unhappy, and you can often resolve a situation before it gets out of hand. You do need to be proactive in doing this, though; simply leaving things to run their course will rarely work out in your favour.
Treating Team Leaders and Highly Influential players with the respect their status deserves also goes a long way to maintaining a happy dressing room, and the same goes for ensuring players in a sizeable and powerful social group are kept happy. If these players become unhappy, it can quickly spread throughout the squad, far more so than if a fringe first-team player has a concern. You don’t always have to bend over backwards to give them what they want, but a common-sense approach is always advisable: acting fairly and honestly is of tremendous help.
How important is it to maintain a happy squad?
It cannot be stated strongly enough that the morale and happiness of your players is one of the biggest factors in whether you succeed as a manager. You can have the most talented players at your disposal, playing in a rock-solid tactic, but if they’re unhappy and/or have lost trust in you, they simply will not perform to their full abilities. There are few things more important to work on than the morale of your players in the game.
How do I fix an unhappy squad?
This, on the other hand, is far from simple. If you suffer a few negative results in succession, players may begin to question your judgment and the morale of the team is likely to sink deeper and deeper with every disappointment. Before you know it, you’re left with an unhappy squad and seemingly no way out of the hole you collectively find yourselves in.
It isn’t easy to turn things around, but there are a few ways for you to get started. A well-timed Team Meeting is a superb opportunity for you to gather the players and give them something of a morale boost. If you do this before a potentially winnable match – perhaps against another team struggling for results and morale – you can lift your team’s spirits enough to get a positive result, which in turn lifts morale even further.
Changing your starting eleven to include players who aren’t quite as unhappy as others in the squad can also have a tangible effect. That isn’t to say that a happy youth team player is a better choice than an unhappy first-team key player, but a finer balance of players who have better morale can help move the needle in your favour, and it’s often the case that small changes are the catalyst for long-term improvement.
If one player in particular is the cause for team-wide unhappiness, especially if it’s on more than one occasion, selling them is often the best course of action, as the team is mostly stronger than any one individual. The root cause of squad unhappiness can always be found on the Dynamics screens; make use of the information there to identify it, then make the best decision for the team.
The Development Centre is your one-stop shop for making sure you’re fully informed about the playing future of your club. It is a hub of activity that lets you know exactly how the youngsters at your club are developing and leaves you wanting for nothing in your efforts to develop the next star player for the first team.
If you are also in charge of one of your club’s youth teams, that squad appears on the Side Bar in its own section, but if not, you only see the Development Centre.
The Overview screen brings together all the most important information and distils it into one easily accessible package. The headline section is given over to covering any players out on loan, as well as the overall health of the development squads at your club, while the main screen area is dominated by the most suitable first-team candidates. These players are the ones to keep a very close eye on in the here and now; if they’re not quite ready to play a role in your squad yet, they’re normally not very far away.
The remainder of the Overview screen is handed over to players who either Need Attention or who are Ones to Watch. These players typically require further development and the advice offered by your coaching staff should be closely considered if you are to maximise the chances of reaching their potential.
Loaning players out to further their development is an increasingly important part of life at many football clubs. To keep track of them, the Loans tab collates everyone currently loaned out and feeds back on their statistics and general satisfaction with their current spell away from the club. Members of staff also chime in with suggestions as to who else might benefit from a loan among players who are not currently elsewhere.
The youth squad tabs – which both change in number and have different naming conventions depending on the club you’re managing – provide tactical insight, training information, fixture lists and match analysis. From the inclusion of senior players where eligible, to wanting to use a certain player in a particular position or role, to dictating their style of play, these teams live to serve the club and you as the first-team manager.
The Overview page lists the full squad, details any progress towards their potential ability, and provides development advice where appropriate.
When your annual youth candidate class prepares to earn contracts with the club, they turn up on this screen, along with a comprehensive breakdown of who they are, what they do best, and – before they arrive – a preview of what to expect from the group. This provides you with more information than before and should hopefully lead to you making more informed decisions on the next generation of young talent at your club.