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[FM11] Heathxxx Lower League Management Approach

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Well... here we are... Football Manager 2011. :thup: Time for another "Management Approach" thread eh!?!

The aim of the thread, as per the last one I started for FM2009, is not only to look at a just the tactical aspects of the game, but the whole package of managing a lower league club. The aim here, is to share what I always find to be an enjoyable save, both potentially more rewarding and more challenging in many areas, than choosing to manage one of the bigger or richer clubs around the world. Either it's that, or I just love the idea of a rags to riches story unfolding.

Much of what was written in that last thread is still relevant and applicable, even with some of the changes the game has undergone over the last couple of years. You can read that thread here: FM09 Heathxxx Management Approach (Lower League Edition) - sadly the images no longer work, as the image host I used at the time is gone, but everything is explained well enough.

I shall detail how I set up the save game, then once it's loaded up and ready to begin, how I go about setting the club and team up for the start of the first season.

It's unlikely that I'll upload any tactics, but I will provide plenty of details and images to explain the how and why. Since the introduction of the Tactics Creator with FM10, I find that pretty much everything I do tactically is via that interface, rather than with the sliders. This is both more user friendly (in my opinion) and certainly much easier to describe and discuss than slider positions.

As always, discussion, ideas, sharing of experiences are welcomed.

So without further ado, let's get started...

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Setting up the game

How you set things up before starting a new save, can make a big difference in your overall experiences when playing. Personally, during a save I like to see how things pan out elsewhere around the world, as well as keeping the option open to manage in different countries, later in the save. Therefore I do tend to select quite a lot of "active" leagues when I start a new save.

For this particular save, I've done the following:

Setup1.png

Quite a lot of countries selected and the game will process more slowly, so choose however many countries you wish to be able to manage in during the save.

Setup2.png

Having selected the countries I wanted to be available, I've now chosen to have every league down to the lowest possible, in each of those countries. I have also selected the "Large" database size, which will provide me with more options for players during the save. Before finishing on this screen, I select "Custom".

Setup3.png

With the use of the "Custom" tab, I'm able to be more specific with some of my choices. You will see from the image the additional database options I've chosen. I've chosen UK & Ireland, Central Europe and Scandinavia, to give me access to the large majority of European nationality players featured in the game. I've also chosen to load players from Réunion, as through past experience, this country has often provided some hidden gems, who will happily play in the lower leagues of most countries.

Once you have everything how you want it, press the "Start Game" button, put the kettle on and then have a read of the forums. The settings I've selected will take an average PC a little while to set up the game. If you want things to load and process a little faster, then select less countries and leagues.

For a faster loading and playing experience, you can choose to use a smaller database and less custom options than I have used here, but be advised that it will potentially make your search for players more difficult as there will be less to choose from.

Finally, you may have noticed that some of the league names in the second image may differ from what you see in your own game. This is because I've used the FM11 "Real Competition & Team Names" modification, which you can Google for, as due to licensing reasons, I cannot provide links to it from these forums.

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Play My Save

For those who wish to quickly use the exact settings I have, or even jump into the save I've started (four games into the first season), you can download it here:

http://www.filefront.com/17565283/Telford.fm

Note: I'm not sure if any tactical settings I've chosen will be present, but they can be obtained in the posts to follow, where I discuss my tactical choices. As it takes an age to upload larger files using my satellite internet connection, I'll only be uploading it to Filefront. If anyone wishes to download the save and upload it to other file hosts, they're welcome to do so.

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Choice of Team

So, with the game loaded, it's time to get started.

Having input my manager details, I've selected past experience of "Semi-Professional Footballer". This seems both appropriate to the level and club I'll choose, whilst also retaining a little more challenge. In some respects, the level of past experience you choose can be viewed as a difficulty setting of sorts, especially when managing a lower league, or low reputation club. Choose "International" or "Professional" and your own starting reputation will begin much higher. This can have some considerable bearing on how easily you can attract players and staff to your club.

PersonalInfo.png

You may notice that I have a second nationality in my profile. This is actually almost true to life, as I have Spanish residency and will soon be eligible for citizenship. In game terms though, it also serves a purpose, as I will automatically have scouting knowledge of Spain. It's up to you what you want to reflect in your profile, but as a little tip when it can sometimes be difficult searching easily for players with a club where scouting and searching options can be limited, having a second nationality can be something of a bonus and aid.

Having set myself up, it's time to choose my team.

For this save, I've chosen AFC Telford.

ClubFacilities.png

For this level of football, they have pretty decent facilities and a fairly new ground. Media expectation predicts second place and they're in good shape financially, though that will likely change quickly with me at the helm! ;)

As with all the clubs in the BSN apart from Stalybridge Celtic, they're semi-professional status. Overall, apart from perhaps one or two players, the squad is far from impressive and the coaching staff is very poor. Looks like I'll need to make my usual sweeping changes.

Choosing which club you manage can make quite a difference to the game. Normally, I tend to go for the lowest reputation teams in a division. I actually find this easier, because normally I know that to begin with, the higher reputation teams will be favourites in most encounters against my team, therefore often be more adventurous in their tactical approach. As I usually prefer more attacking football myself, I find it's usually easier to beat likewise attacking teams, with my own tactical preferences, because there's more space on the pitch to play with. When playing teams that are less reputable, they may be more likely to defend and harder to break down, because they'll close down more and sit more men behind the ball, thus reducing space to play.

In this save however, by choosing one of the highest reputation teams in the division, who will be favourites for most of their matches, I'm hoping that the lower reputation teams I face will be true to form and play more defensively. The reason this appeals to me, is that I wish to explore more ways to beat teams who play defensively, who restrict space, whilst not being too far apart in reputation.

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A New Brush Sweeps Clean

The first thing I normally do, is take a good look at the players and staff at my club. For me with a small club, it's usually a case of out with the old and in with the new. Even though my club is semi-professional, I will be looking to bring everyone in on full-time contracts.

Youth Team

Amongst the usual "welcome" messages in my inbox on the first day, there's normally a message which gives information about the youth team and any good prospects. Sadly there were none and I can be pretty safe in the knowledge that I neither have good enough facilities, or youngsters of any worthwhile quality, to concentrate much on this area of the club at this stage in the game. Therefore I decide to release all the youth players.

Although they're only on youth contracts and low wages, it all adds up towards the weekly outgoings. Releasing all those youngsters frees up funds to utilise in other areas.

Backroom Staff

My next task is to look at the backroom staff at the club. Again, there's nobody worth keeping and if done on the first day, they'll all agree to mutual termination of their contracts. This I do, as they'll agree to leave for around half the compensation they would were they to be released.

Assistant Manager

One tip is to ask the board for extra coaching staff. The limits when you start can be quite restrictive and the more coaching staff you can get, the better.

In my opinion, the most important member of staff is the assistant manager. A good assistant manager can not only assist with advice and decisions, but if you're struggling with team-talks, opposition instructions, or need help and advice during matches with feedback, then a good assistant manager can be a great learning tool as well. Especially when you begin to think about why they make the suggestions they do.

A good assistant manager in my opinion, has strong attributes in the following:

· Motivating

· Man Management

· Tactical Knowledge

· Judging Player Ability

Motivating and Man Management are useful for team-talk suggestions. Man Management, Judging Player Ability and Tactical Knowledge are useful for opposition instructions and tactical feedback before and during matches. All four help with any other suggestions that an assistant can make, one way or the other. Other attributes can be helpful of course, but I believe that these four are the key attributes when it comes to good assistant advice and help.

Although there were quite a few assistants interested in joining the club, their wage demands were above what I could offer and thus the "best" I could find, wouldn't come. I did manage to get this chap though:

StephenLlewellyn.png

Getting decent attributes in all of those areas at this level is easier said than done. This assistant will be good enough at this level though and his overall advice and suggestions are accurate more often than not. His only real weakness is his Judging Player Ability, but I'm happy enough with my own judgement in that area.

Coaches

As for coaches, I want to cover each of the training categories. Of course, it's highly unlikely that I'll be able to attract four or five star rated coaches to the club, given the limited number of staff positions available (even with the board accepting an extra coaches request), I'm going to need coaches who can cover more than one training category.

With the coaches, if possible always look for double figures in "DDM":

· Determination

· Level of Discipline

· Motivating

These attributes improve the quality and star ratings for your coaches, on top of their category related attributes:

· Fitness - Strength & Aerobic

· Goalkeepers - Shot Stopping & Handling

· Tactical - Tactics

· Technique (& Attacking?) - Ball Control

· Defending & Tactical - Defending

· Attacking & Tactical - Attacking

· Attacking & Technique - Shooting

Attributes in the double figures should at least get you two to three star coach ratings for each category. Obviously the higher the ratings the better, but getting quality coaches at this level is very hard. It's better if you can have one coach to concentrate on each individual category, but that's highly unlikely to be possible at a small club at this level.

Training.png

At the moment, I'm still searching for a coach who can provide better ratings for Ball Control and Shooting, one with good attacking and technique. There are a couple who are interested, but won't accept the paltry wages I could offer.

Physiotherapists

Physio's, obviously physiotherapy is the key attribute, but apparently DDM can improve their quality of advice and ability. I've not seen this confirmed anywhere, but if you take a glance at the highest reputation physio's around in the game, they have good DDM attributes usually.

Anything above 15 physiotherapy is good enough for this level in my opinion, however if you move quickly before other clubs, there is Steve Whitehall available, who has 20 physiotherapy attribute and 17 Determination.

Scouts

Scouts are mostly important at this level for their scouting knowledge I find. It's difficult and highly unlikely you'll be able to attract scouts with more than 10 ratings in Judging Player Ability (JPA) and/or Judging Player Potential (JPP). Personally I don't worry about JPP because at this level, it's highly unlikely I'm going to by trying to produce or develop high potential youngsters.

My own preference is to look for the highest possible JPA and a broad range of scouting knowledge in different countries. Although upon request, my board allowed me to scout France, I'm still limited to arranging scouting missions in UK & Ireland and France. Not entirely much scope if reliant on that. The more scouting knowledge of different countries you have though, the more players and staff of different nationalities appear in the standard player/staff search results.

If you manually search and find a player in a country outside your permitted scouting areas, you may not be able to get a scout report to gain more information. If this happens and you want to get more information on a player, other than just what you see already, try getting them on trial so that your scouts can have a look at them. They'll be able to produce a report, just as a scout would otherwise. Even if a player is contracted to a club, it's often possible to select "trial" in the transfer screens. Some clubs will let you take a player on trial, whilst others won't. It depends how important a member of their team the player is. At this stage, I don't think it's possible to get a player on trial from a club, if he has an amateur contract.

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Players

Apart from one or two players, none have attributes that will particularly suit or benefit the sort of tactical options I prefer. Those of the lowest values and shortest contracts I simply release. The rest, I'll transfer list and offer to clubs. As I'm not too concerned about finances at the moment, I'll listen to any offers for them, but if there's no offers at all, then I will just release them.

The Rebuild & Early Tactical Thoughts

Now normally, those who read my last "Management Approach" thread will know, that my "approach" is to design/create a tactic, then build my team around it, looking for players with suitable attributes for each role and position. I'll clear a squad and rebuild it from scratch to suit my tactical preferences, rather than try the arguably trickier tasks of either shoehorning unsuitable players into a tactic, or making seemingly endless tweaks to a tactic to suit the players available to me. This save started no differently than previous years, but I did have a rethink part way through pre-season, once I started to assemble what would more or less be my squad for the season.

What I had in mind, was an attacking orientated 4-2-3-1 formation using wingers.

4-2-3-1.png

Key position and roles within that system, would be a deep-lying playmaker in one of the two central midfield positions, with a skilful and creative player in the AMC position, as an advanced playmaker or more basic attacking midfielder role, behind the striker. Having searched and searched for suitable players for these two key roles, although I signed a couple of players that could do a job at BSN level, I wasn't entirely happy. I didn't have and couldn't seem to get anyone with enough creativity for the deep-lying playmaker role, or enough creativity and flair for the AMC position, whichever specific role I would have opted for.

The backup formation that I had in mind, was an again attacking orientated 4-5-1 which would retain some solidity defensively, by utilising a DMC anchor man instead of an AMC.

4-5-1.png

The idea of using this formation in tandem with the 4-2-3-1 was that every other position and role could remain the same, but I could switch between the usage of either a DMC with the 4-5-1 or an AMC with the 4-2-3-1. The biggest issue that I had with this formation and approach however, was I felt that rather than typical wingers, this sort of formation for me, really benefits more from using inside forwards in the wide positions that can cut inside or hit space in the channels between centre backs and fulll backs, given the lack of an advanced player behind the solo striker. Again, I found myself faced with the difficulty of using players not ideally suited to the roles, or the extremely difficult task of finding (and signing) technically and mentally gifted players who were.

Clearly I had a basic tactical concept, which could be achieved with a number of different formations. The settings for the back four would remain the same and I would use two wingers or wide players, along with two central midfielders. Even though I was getting some good players to the club, I wasn't entirely happy with how the team was performing in pre-season. Even accepting the need for players to gel together and with any tactics, I just didn't like what I was looking at. Essentially, I was trying to create something that was perhaps too creative and too fancy for players of limited abilities. I continued through pre-season and the first two competitive matches with these two formations, both using more or less the same roles and instructions, other than the AMC and DMC changes already mentioned. I would decide to change things tactically, although not drastically, which I shall go into more detail in another post. Although not totally happy with how my two tactical preferences were performing and a third option pushing its way into my mind, I was fairly certain that I could still build my squad around a tactical concept, if not a fully decided formation or finished set of roles.

The important thing to bear in mind when managing a club at this level and searching for suitable players, is that any attribute that is in double figures, is pretty good. I'm less than comfortable at the thought of a player in a creative orientated role, who has less than double figures in the creativity attribute.

Signing New Players

I'll highlight locations where I've searched for players later, but suffice it to say that I do a lot of manual searching through teams. This can be very time consuming, but also very rewarding when you spot a gem of a player, who you otherwise wouldn't have known about through normal searches or scouting missions.

If possible, I always try to get players on trial before I sign them, just so I can get some coach reports on them, or look at how well they'll slot into different roles within my tactics. Sometimes though, it's not advisable to try signing a really good looking player on trial if there's a few clubs interested. Better to try and get them to the club before the others get them if possible.

When negotiating contracts, I always haggle. Clearly sometimes I'll miss out on players, but more often than not, I've been able to sign players for as much as half the initial wages they're requesting.

I always sign players on full-time contracts, simply so that they're participating in full-time training regimes, for the obvious benefit that provides. Interestingly, I'm always able to sign players on full-time wages, for less than or equivalent to, wages they're requesting for a part-time contract.

For those who wish to seek out some or all of the players I've signed, here's my squad list so far:

PlayerList.png

Those of you familiar with some of these players in lower league saves, you will recognise a strong contingent of players from Réunion and from France. These were "discovered" via manually searching through the Réunion national team page and from there, the "clubs" tab. Most of the French players were found either through manually looking at clubs in the French CFA divisions, most of whom are on amateur contracts and available for free transfers. The rest were found through the standard search options, or through targeted searches, by filtering my searches for particular playing attributes.

The only player who wasn't a free transfer, was goalkeeper Thierry Gorrée, who cost me my entire transfer fee budget... the princely sum of 1,500 pounds!!

For additional pointers and suggestions for players willing to join BSP, BSN/BSS clubs, look in FM11-The Unofficial Blue Square Premier & North/South Player Guide, in the Good Players & Teams section of the forums.

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The Tactics I Settled On

After my unease with the 4-2-3-1 and 4-5-1, which I'll still keep to one side as my second and third options, I decided to return to my "old faithful" from a few years back. Funny how over the years I've settled into a number of different formations that feature a single striker, with either wingers, inside forwards, or packed central midfield positions, I've ended up back at an attacking 4-4-2.

I've managed to bring in a much better squad of players, who each have decent attributes in all but a few of the highlighted key attributes. I continue to scout and manually search for better players and also offer trials to players who might be useful, but I think I have a squad that is both capable of a promotion or title winning campaign, plus one that will work well enough with the tactics I've finally settle on.

Main Tactics

4-4-2Telford.png

Just looking at the formation, it's very much akin to what I've used in previous years, although not so much for the last two releases.

With an eye on the General Strategies and Playing Style, one might question some of those settings given that I'm playing in the lower leagues, with not the most technically, mentally or physically gifted of players. However, if comparing my squad directly with those of my opponents in the Blue Square North, as is often presented in pre-match meetings, then I'm confident that my players are stronger in most, if not all areas of ability.

Mindful of that, I feel I can be more confident that I can try to use the technical and mental advantages especially, allowing for more expressive football. Given those advantages, I've also opted for "Control" as the starting strategy. I want to dominate possession and out play opponents. If I feel that during matches my team isn't providing enough cutting edge, then I may change the strategy to "Attacking" or even "Overload", depending on both opponents, condition of players and match circumstances.

I've gone for a "Fluid" philosophy of allowing players to be involved in more than one phase of play, because I'm more confident in the ability of my players to make the right decisions more often than not.

"Default" passing has often been a preference of mine in most tactics I employ, because I prefer to allow the players more freedom with the range of passing they utilise. If chasing a game or looking to get the ball into advanced positions more quickly, I can change this to "More Direct". Direct passing shouldn't be confused with long-ball. Although sometimes defenders can bypass the midfield with a longer pass, it's more about getting the ball quickly to players in more advanced attacking positions, be that with a long punt upfield, a through ball, slide rule pass to a player in a good shooting position, or a short one-two.

Creative freedom is set to "More Expressive" to take advantage of the good mental and technical abilities of my attacking players. Although this setting will affect the whole team, it's the more advanced players who will be allowed the most creative freedom to use their judgement and abilities.

Closing down is set to "Press More", because I want my team to keep opponents under pressure when they have the ball, with the aim of recycling possession quickly back to my team.

"Default" tackling is used as an overall setting, as I prefer to use the opposition instructions to set hard tackling on opposing individuals. I'll only change this setting to either "More Cautious" if we have a referee that thinks it's Christmas and likes handing out cards, or "More Aggressive" if the referee is seemingly lenient and either the condition of opposing players is poor, or I spot individuals with low bravery.

Marking is set to "Zonal Marking" as I think it better suits players of lower defensive abilities. I believe that tight marking is more specific to the individual qualities of a player and their opponents. I'll use the opposition instructions more for that if needed.

"More Roaming" is selected more with the advanced players in mind, as I believe it makes them harder to mark if they're technically and mentally able to roam effectively. When players can roam from their positions effectively, I feel that it can both open up more space for attacking moves for other players, or allow a player to move from his position into a better space to receive the ball.

I've left playmaker and target man instructions un-ticked, because at this stage I don't want play to focus on any one individual. I may change this later in the season once I've observed individual performances more and assessed if such instructions for individuals would benefit the team as a whole.

In the following few threads, I'll show images of the positions, roles and highlighted attributes within my tactics. Please note the highlighted attributes in the images, of each position and role. You'll note that overall, each of my players has double figures in most, if not all, of those attributes. At this level, anything in double figures is a good attribute, but obviously the higher the attributes are, the better.

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Goalkeeper

GK.png

Pretty standard keeper settings. The only alternative is Sweeper Keeper, which is something I've never actually felt comfortable using.

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Defence

DR.png

DCR.png

DCL.png

DL.png

Pretty much the standard back four I've used for a number of years and releases of FM now.

Full-backs set to "automatic" to keep them involved in all phases of play as they move up and down the flanks. This allows them to both support and overlap the wingers ahead of them, thus providing additional crossing options from both deep and the byline. If however I feel that opponents are exploiting space in my full-back areas, I will set them to "defend". Even with this instruction, they will still advance upfield to provide support for wingers, they will be more inclined to play safer passes infield or down the flanks, but they will be more defensive minded and less likely to stray too far forward and out of position.

I've always preferred setting up my central defenders as "stopper" and "cover". The names of the roles are pretty self-explanatory. The "stopper" is the more physical player who tends to step forward for challenges, whilst the "cover" defender is the more mobile player, often the last line of defence in more central areas.

As yet with this defence, I'm not using the offside trap. It's my belief that to fully take advantage of the offside trap instruction, it's better used with a team where both tactics and players are more gelled. Likewise, I feel that strong overall mental attributes for the whole back four, such as anticipation particularly, are important for the offside trap to function well. At this stage, I would rather my team gets the basics right.

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Midfield

MCR.png

MCL.png

AMR.png

AML.png

Overall, a more basic midfield setup than I've used for a while now, though this is due more to the quality of the players I have to work with.

As mentioned in post #6, I looked at a couple of different formations and tactical settings prior to settling with the 4-4-2 system. Normally I like to employ a deep-lying playmaker in a "support" role and another in a "defend" role. Unfortunately although I have some good players for this level, I don't feel confident enough that they have suitable attributes to use in those roles. Therefore I've kept things more simple with the basic central midfielder "defend" and "support" roles. They will still retain a small element of creativity in the centre, but their aim will primarily be to both support the defence by closing down opponents and to support the more advanced players by recycling possession to them.

The wingers are also fairly basic. I've decided to set them to "attack" so that they hit the byline when crossing more, but also to support attacking in the middle. With the "attack" instruction, I find that when one winger is putting a cross into the opponents box, the opposite winger will often arrive to attack the far post.

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Attack

STCR.png

STCL.png

I've never been a fan of using two strikers in the same roles, as I believe this restricts options in the final third of the pitch.

The "poacher" is the player with the lower overall attributes, who main task is to put the ball in the net. The aim is to keep him more central in the attacking third, to get on the end of attacking moves.

The deep-lying forward is also there to score goals, but also to link play between the midfield and attack. He is a more technically and mentally gifted player, who is able to interlink with those around him and also drive forward from a deeper position, either to carve out chances to shoot himself, feed the poacher ahead of him, or the wingers either side of him.

I'm extremely fortunate in that I've been able to sign two quality veteran players, very well suited to the deep-lying playmaker role.

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Pre-Season & Early Season

Finances

Oops!

Yes, "oops".

Due to releasing all the previous players and staff, I've already taken the club over 250,000 pounds into the red. I'm not too worried at this stage though. I've managed to assemble an entirely new squad of players and backroom staff, for less than those I've released were costing. The budget saving will stack up over time and recoup some of the initial losses.

There are obviously ways to claw back some funds sooner, most easily by playing pre-season friendlies against higher reputation teams at home, or matches away from home where a good appearance fee is on offer. Pack your schedule with matches and you can quickly get back towards a healthier bank balance. In this particular save though, I haven't done that, so my team is still in the red. It's not as easy or bugged as previous releases of FM to exploit friendlies to make money, so it's even more important to look carefully at what revenue or appearance fees are on offer.

Update: As mentioned in a post further down the thread, it appears that it can be quite lucrative to arrange friendlies against the reserve teams of the top clubs in England and Scotland. For me, expected gate receipts were quoted as being 40k to 50k per match. Clearly had I arranged some friendlies like these in pre-season, it would have boosted my finances greatly. As it is, I'm arranging some friendlies during the season and fielding my backup, reserve and trial players. This should quickly help balance the books.

Friendlies

In this save, I didn't change or add much more than was already arranged when the game had loaded. I mostly wanted to focus on watching matches to examine how my tactics were working. I did add friendlies against Huétor Tájar (where I live IRL) and Washington Crossfire SC, as they offered a profitable appearance fee and were weak opponents.

Of the seven friendlies I played though, the team only lost two, against Bournemouth and against Wolves, though only narrowly. The rest were wins, including a match against Blackburn Rovers reserves. As mentioned previously though, watching the friendlies, I wasn't entirely happy with the 4-2-3-1 or 4-5-1 formations I was working with, or the suitability of my players with the roles I wanted to employ.

Early Season

I started the first two games with the 4-2-3-1 system and although the stats and results from those matches were decent, I just wasn't happy still with what I was seeing in the match engine.

VsHyde.png

VsVauxhall.png

So even with two wins in the bag, I still wasn't happy with how the team was performing. it's at this point that I simplified the roles and changed to the 4-4-2 that I've detailed in the previous posts.

VsGainsborough.png

VsGloucester.png

Both these two performances since using the 4-4-2 I was much more satisfied with. What I was watching in the match engine was much better. The team were working together a lot better, performing in their individual roles more comfortably and although in the Gloucester match, possession was more even, my team were by far the more clinical, making best use of the time they had on the ball, creating chances and scoring goals. As the opposition stats show, defensively things were tight as well. Overall the team was performing much better as a team.

It's at this point I saved the game, which if you like, you can download and continue, from the link in post #3.

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Hi Heath, really glad your doing this again. Your last thread in FM09 was spot on. I'm in need of your wisdom as i put Margate into the Blue Square south using the editor (straight swap for Boreham Wood no reputation of finance changes) and 4 seasons later im still in the Blue Square south, really enjoying it though, hopefully going up this season :)

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great thread heath, I've never gone lower leagues before, but i feel like giving it a go now

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Excellent thread. In the past I have lacked the patience to start with lower league management, but after reading this I'm determined to give it a give a go.

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Much of what I'm doing and perhaps intend to continue doing in this thread, is pretty basic stuff.

There's nothing particularly outlandish tactically, but what settings there are, combined with suitably attributed players, works.

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Yet again another amazing thread Heath! You brought me the wonders of Charles Devineau last year!

Already started my lower league and in the championship with my beloved Grismby Town but if i start again this shall be my first port of call.

great Thread , Year in Year out!!!

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It was actually FM09 I did the last one... didn't have much free time to do any threads for FM10 sadly.

Seeing as you're already in the Championship with Grimsby though, there's probably some good suggestions and advice you can offer readers of this thread :)

You just reminded me of Charles Devineau though. Just checked and he is in FM11 with La Roche Vendée in France. Sadly though, he's got a 14k price tag, so I can't afford to sign him this time. Might have to visit my FM09 thread though, just to see if some of those players are still around. I've already signed a couple of familiar faces though. Most notably keepers Gorée and Grondin, along with wingers Farro and Guichard. I think full-back Caro was also around back then too.

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great thread!!

was just wandering with the sheer volume of foreign players you have, wont u encounter squad registration problems soon?

granted the blue square has no home grown player rule, but league 2 has pretty strict ones

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Great post heathxxx.

I have allways played lower league as well for the same reasons as you do. So its nice to get some info and tips ;)

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great thread!!

was just wandering with the sheer volume of foreign players you have, wont u encounter squad registration problems soon?

granted the blue square has no home grown player rule, but league 2 has pretty strict ones

A quick glance at a League Two club and "rules" within the fixtures information tells me:

"The match squad must have at least four players trained by a club in England"

Out of my current squad of 29 players, I have 7 that fit that bill, but only four are regulars in the match squad at the moment. Assuming I get to League Two and keep this exact squad, I could face issues. It's not a major problem though and one I can prepare for well in advance. Overall though, it's not a huge restriction.

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good point, ive always been a bit wary of too many foreign imports, but seeing what youve done, i shouldnt worry,

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I will be trying to look at the set-pieces options at some point, but for the moment have left them at pretty much their default settings.

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Wow, Mr Heath's Xmas box - 4 weeks early, or 3 weeks late, depending on how you look at it.

;-)

Seriously though, looks like the usual great stuff, will digest it in depth later.

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Well, as I've managed to plunge my club over 250k in the red with my wholesale staff and player clearance policy, I decided to look at arranging some friendlies that my backup players could participate in.

Fortunately it seems that matches against reserve teams of the bigger English Premiership & Scottish Premier clubs are a lucrative prospect. I've arranged friendlies against the reserves of Chelsea, Celtic and Arsenal so far. Looks like they'll net up to 50k each in receipts.

Albeit perhaps a little unrealistic, I could potentially arrange a friendly or two each weak and just field my reserve and backup players and make the club a lot of money. We'll see once the matches are played and I check the attendance figures and gate receipts eh!

MoneySpinner.png

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The game may process a little more slowly, but that doesn't bother me so much, as I'm usually "multi-tasking" (such as keeping an eye on things in the forums here) whilst I play the game.

Through previous experience though, I've played games with double or treble the recommended limit, without any real negative effects other than slower than average processing times.

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Just to update regarding the friendlies, it looks like they can be the money-spinner they showed the potential to be. Against Chelsea reserves, of a capacity of 6,300 the attendance was 5,271. This should bring in good gate receipts.

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Oh ok, that's good then. I may have to try as I can currently get away with 125,000.

Your PC must have a bit more oomph than mine then, if that's what the game recommends for you. :)

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Your PC must have a bit more oomph than mine then, if that's what the game recommends for you. :)

I suppose. The thing is I didn't want to put too many and then it crash but if you it alot hopefully mine can do it to. I prefer to have more leagues and players loaded as it gives me a better experience. The time it takes to complete a season doesn't bother me really.

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The only crashes thinking about it, that I have ever experienced, are XML parser related. Those can actually be fixed though and there's the sticky in General Discussion which has links to topics on how to fix certain problems like that. I do save my games regularly though and often make backups of them on an external drive, just in case ;)

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Turning off attribute masking for lower level is a bit cheeky. How on earth did you get such good players stats to go to a little club on little wages? eg, on mine Cowan is on £1200 a week and Gyan is on £2000 a week, and I doubt you are allowed that much more than £500 a week per player at Telford.

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Nice thread Heathxxx. :thup:

I'll try not to comment on you loading Reunion while playing in Non-League though. :p You know what a purist I am Heath. ;)

Looking forward to your set-piece post later. Something that not many people cover but certainly worth consideration.

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Turning off attribute masking for lower level is a bit cheeky. How on earth did you get such good players stats to go to a little club on little wages? eg, on mine Cowan is on £1200 a week and Gyan is on £2000 a week, and I doubt you are allowed that much more than £500 a week per player at Telford.

I've never used attribute masking. I simply prefer to see the attributes of players. Of course, I can still get scout reports to provide more detail regarding the important hidden attributes, which I often feel are more important than some of those that are visible. It's always useful to know if someone is likely to be injury prone, consistent or inconsistent, etc. Those are aspects you obviously cannot see.

As for getting some of these players to the club, it's not like I've started with "Former International" as my reputation. I started as "Semi Professional". Irrespective of the quality of these players, it must be the case that their reputation levels are simply low enough that they'll consider moves to a club like Telford.

With wages, I always haggle. Of course I'm limited by the wage budget to begin with, but I'm also quite frugal. It depends on the quality and potential importance of the player as to how much I'll budge from a salary I have in mind. Believe me, I've missed out on many more players than I actually signed, because either the maximum wage allowance of the club was too low, or I simply wasn't prepared to pay what they were demanding.

Sometimes, as with some of the players you mention, they start with quite high wage demands. They can often be negotiated down though, plus you can counter-balance their basic wage with different bonus incentives I find. One trick I've learned, is that because I like to have a decent sized squad, in order to rotate players often and maintain good fitness levels, I tend to offer appearance fees, goal bonus' and clean sheet bonus' to players. Players have the chance to earn more if they play and if they perform. Doesn't work with every player, but then, those who appear greedy and won't budge from their initial wage demands, I tend not to sign in the first place.

So essentially, haggle... haggle and haggle! ;)

Nice thread Heathxxx.

I'll try not to comment on you loading Reunion while playing in Non-League though. :p You know what a purist I am Heath. ;)

Looking forward to your set-piece post later. Something that not many people cover but certainly worth consideration.

Oh you know me... I've always liked those little gems from Réunion. Likewise, when having the chance to sign a former Brazilian or French international, who wouldn't want to sign them. (You want to see Viola's little dance routine near the corner flag when he scores too!!) :D

I can't say that I've ever really been a purist with the lower league saves though. Much as I would like to build sides of mostly British players, it's quite difficult. I often find they have higher wage demands, or show less willingness to even entertain the idea of joining in the first place - anyone decent that is.

I think the intention with a thread like this, is to show that the game can actually be quite easy, even without using editors or scout utilities. Call it a springboard for people to look at, emulate and learn from, before going on to bigger and better things, or more difficult challenges and experimentation with different tactical settings. The beauty of this game is that it's possible to make it as easy or as difficult as you want it to be.

I was going to start with a more complicated couple of tactics, but I quickly found that even with better than average players for this level, they still didn't quite have good enough attributes to perform in more detailed or complicated roles to my satisfaction. Therefore, I went "back to basics" with a simple attacking 4-4-2, using pretty basic and simple roles for the most part. These would utilise the more basic sets of player attributes. In essence, get the basics right first. If people can do that successfully, understanding the basic roles and the attributes needed, they're a good step on the way to understanding more complex instructions and required player attributes, further down the line.

So, not much rocket science here, but call it a beginner's guide to an enjoyable save with a small club. Most pleasing about a thread like this that I've seen in the past, is when readers have emulated what's on offer, asked questions along the way and grasped the basics, then gone on to produce their own tactics and ideas. I can think of three or four regular contributors to the forums, who post some great tactics and tactical analysis, who I recall being "beginners" once in threads like this.

I still think that this game is easy to get into and easy to play. It is of course, very easy to over-complicate things, which is where I think people often become lost or frustrated. Clearly the "better" players that I've signed, make a big difference, but that's a big part of bringing success to any club.

I am still looking at set-pieces. I think there's a lot of us experimenting with different things at the moment, given the new interface and way things play. Much better though and seemingly exploit free at the moment. I'm using "mixed" settings for both corners and free-kicks and being observant at the moment, looking at what my players do well. I certainly don't think there's a "one size fits all" approach, from what I've seen so far with set pieces.

On a side note, went to watch Granada CF vs Cordoba, a local Andaluz derby this lunchtime. Finished 1-1 with a last gasp equaliser from Granada in a match I was hoping they would win comfortably. Both teams were using 4-2-3-1 formations and pretty much cancelled each other out. Granada switched to more of a 4-3-3 later on and got their goal.

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Team talks I tend to go with the assistant manager advice in this save, though I will also take morale into account, if the assistant hasn't already done so. One reason why I stress that a good assistant manager is worth their weight in gold and can be a big help when it comes to morale and motivation.

I do use shouts, though it depends mostly on what I'm seeing in the match engine. I'll go into more detail as to what I've used with some match analysis later on. Mostly it's common sense and response to assistant manager feedback. For example, if my team isn't dominating possession so well and giving the ball away too cheaply, I may use the shout "Retain Possession", to encourage them to keep the ball more and think about their passing options better.

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Initial Look at Corners

Attacking Corners

A few games into the season and I'm starting to gauge an idea of some of the strengths and weakness' of my team when it comes to attacking corners.

Having had everything left at the default values and with "mixed" corners, I started to notice that when the taker was aiming for the back post, my centre-back who would be attacking the far post was getting some good chances. Only one scored in the opening games so far, but every match, this particular type of corner was presenting opportunities at goal that looked more dangerous than any other from corners.

I was also wary that although I hadn't conceded many goals so far, I had already conceded a couple when opponents had broken away on the counter from my attacking corners. Obviously I wanted to nip this in the bud now, before I conceded too many from it.

This is how I've not set up my attacking corners:

AttackingCorners.png

Previously my DR and DL were only "back if needed" in the default settings, along with a couple of other players. I've obviously changed this to "stay back", which is pretty comment if you look at what most teams do IRL with their full-backs.

I also wanted my two central midfielders to stay outside the 18 yard box if possible. My more defensive orientated midfielder set to "lurk outside area" and my support midfielder set to "attack ball from deep". My hope is that the defensive midfielder set to lurk will also provide a first line of defence outside the box if a corner fails and opponents get a chance to counter. If this doesn't prove to be the case, then I will consider changing him to "stay back" or "back if needed".

Inside the box, my AML and AMR are simply set to "go forward" as they're also set as corner takers. My right winger set to take corners from the left, left winger set to take corners from the right, offering in-swinging corners from both sides, aimed at the far post.

My strongest header of the ball is my central defensive stopper, who is set to "attack far post". My next strongest header is my central defensive cover, who is set to "attack near post". My deep-lying forward striker is also my strongest in the air and most physical of my two forwards. He is set to "challenge goalkeeper". My poacher striker is set to "stand on far post", in the hope that he can pick up and scraps close to goal.

Most of this is purely theoretical and what I would assume to be sensible settings were this real football. Some of it obviously stems from my observations so far in the match engine.

Defending Corners

Now for defending corners, which to be fair, I haven't conceded from yet, but I've decided to try some theory and have changed from the default to this:

DefendingCorners.png

Pretty much standard I think and nothing that looks extraordinary or unrealistic particularly.

My two full backs are set to "mark near post" and "mark far post", whilst my two centre-backs are both set to "mark tall player". My defensive orientated central midfielder is set to "man mark".

My wingers are simply set to "go back" and although this is nothing specific, hopefully I will see them pick up opposing players as they have done so far in the default settings, where their settings are the same as this. I've often seen them being the players to clear the ball, so with their better passing, at least their clearance balls will hopefully be more accurate towards the two strikers, who have been set to "stay forward". Another reason for leaving my two strikers forward, is to hopefully benefit from the sort of failed corner counter attacks that I've suffered from my opponents a couple of times.

Finally, my support central midfielder is set to "edge of area". The aim here is that as he is probably one of my better players mentally and technically, he can intercept corners outside the box, pick up anyone attacking from deep or lurking, plus clear or bring away second balls around the edge of the area.

Again, mostly theory, but partly based on some observation of what I've seen from both my own players and what opponents are doing in the match engine.

With both aspects though, I'll observe these new settings and see how well they work, or not, as the case may be. ;)

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hataxxx maybe you upload new save game. now or you have half season

I'm slower than that I'm afraid. Only played nine games so far :p

I'll probably only upload the one I have, four games into the season, because it takes an age for me to upload large files with a satellite internet connection.

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hello heath!!!! been following your post and found it very interesting

just on the teamtalks i found this this thread very useful by Bubbabaytuna

http://community.sigames.com/showthread.php/182360-Teamtalks-if-you-are-clueless-...

Keep up the good work

ive been using it for FM 2011 and works wonders for me

That is a very good team-talks thread, along with the one by Wolfsong. Certainly good reading for anyone struggling with that aspect of the game.

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Just to give people an idea of how well a simple attacking 4-4-2 system can work...

TelfordvLiverpoolRes.png

TelfordvLiverpoolResteams.png

Considering the superiority of quality in the Liverpool Reserves side, a very pleasing result.

Although my side consisted of reserve and trial players, but all suited to the positions and roles, as per post #7 onwards of this thread. I retained the same settings - an attacking orientated 4-4-2 with "Control" as the starting strategy. I maintained this strategy throughout the match, only using the shouts "retain possession", "pass into space" and "drop deeper" when Liverpool had scored and were clearly on the offensive, to see out the game.

Team-talks used were "enjoy the game" to start with, "pleased" at half-time and "delighted" at full-time.

Only a friendly match, but certainly an indication that when using players with attributes that tie in well enough with their roles and positions (the highlighted attributes), even a pretty basic system can work well. This is because the players are suited and comfortable with their roles and instructions, plus they're not being asked to do anything they're uncomfortable with, or incapable of performing.

This is one of my aims with a thread like this. To show examples of the basics, for people to try and emulate themselves, or use the save I've uploaded as a starting point. They can then experiment with more complex settings and instructions as they gradually have the players suited to doing so. As suggested in my opening posts, I looked at more complex tactical systems myself initially, but wasn't entirely comfortable with how they were performing, with the players available to me. Sometimes, it's better to cut your cloth accordingly with something more simple. However, even the most simple and basic tactics can be very effective when making the most of the players available.

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Will you be explaining why you are using particular shouts? I can fully understand Retain and drop deeper but why pass into space?

Great thead by the way. I started unemployed and took up the job at Welling. I was using some other tactics and managed to get into the playoffs. I am going to follow this thread so that I might learn more about the match engine etc. Then like you said earlier, I might be able to make my own tactic.

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Heathxx just wondered if you could help me with my player search , when i do a search filter i seem to be putting to many attributes in and have to drop the attribute numbers really low to find players , i dont know what i need and what are nice to have ? any chance you can put me in the right direction ? im trying your 424

Churchy

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Will you be explaining why you are using particular shouts? I can fully understand Retain and drop deeper but why pass into space?

Great thead by the way. I started unemployed and took up the job at Welling. I was using some other tactics and managed to get into the playoffs. I am going to follow this thread so that I might learn more about the match engine etc. Then like you said earlier, I might be able to make my own tactic.

Certainly.

When an opponent changes to a more attacking shape or system, I often find this can leave more space open in both midfield and their defensive areas. So for me "pass into space" can help encourage my players to look for those gaps and hopefully, exploit them. When teams go more offensive, they can often commit full-backs further forward and sometimes, the more defensive orientated midfielders too.

This from the FM11 Online manual, might be handy when it comes to the definitions of some of the shouts:

[size="3"][font="Times New Roman"][b]14.3.7. Touchline Instructions [/b]

As the match unfolds, you’re likely to want to make tweaks and changes in reaction to the events that develop every minute. To make this easier and quicker, you can select a vast number of instructions to relay to your team on the fly. Clicking the appropriately named button underneath your team name in TV View will pop out a box from which you can select the following instructions:


[b][u][color="#0000ff"]Retain Possession[/color][/u][/b]

[i]Instructs your players to prioritise keeping hold of the ball.[/i]

[b][u][color="#0000ff"]Get Ball Forward[/color][/u][/b]	

[i]Instructs your players to look to get the ball into the attacking third.[/i]

[u][b][color="#0000ff"]Pass Into Space[/color][/b][/u]	

[i]Instructs your players to look to make passes into space.[/i]

[b][u][color="#0000ff"]Pass Into Feet[/color][/u][/b]	

[i]Instructs your players to look to make passes into the feet of the receiver.[/i]

[b][u][color="#0000ff"]Pump Ball Into Box[/color][/u][/b]

[i]Instructs your players to launch high, long-range passes into the opposition’s penalty area.[/i]

[b][u][color="#0000ff"]Clear Ball To Flanks[/color][/u][/b]

[i]Instructs your players to look to make their clearances into wider areas to be picked up by attacking players.[/i]

[b][u][color="#0000ff"]Shoot On Sight[/color][/u][/b]	

[i]Instructs your players to shoot when the opportunity arises instead of waiting for a more clear-cut opening.[/i]

[b][u][color="#0000ff"]Work Ball Into Box[/color][/u][/b]

[i]Instructs your players to work hard for their opening, remaining patient and not forcing the issue.[/i]

[b][u][color="#0000ff"]Exploit The Flanks[/color][/u][/b]

[i]Instructs your players to look to take full advantage of wing play, perhaps due to an opposition weakness.[/i]

[b][u][color="#0000ff"]Exploit The Middle[/color][/u][/b]

[i]Instructs your players to look to take full advantage of playing through the middle, perhaps due to an opposition weakness.[/i]

[b][u][color="#0000ff"]Look For Overlap[/color][/u][/b]

[i]Instructs your players to hold onto the ball and look for an overlapping player in support, most likely a marauding full-back.
[/i]
[b][u][color="#0000ff"]Take A Breather[/color][/u][/b]	

[i]Instructs your players to keep hold of the ball but simply take a moment to recover physically before attacking again.[/i]

[b][u][color="#0000ff"]Play Wider[/color][/u][/b]

[i]Instructs your players to look to stretch the pitch and play wider.[/i]

[b][u][color="#0000ff"]Play Narrower[/color][/u][/b]	

[i]Instructs your players to look to narrow the field and play in the middle of the pitch.[/i]

[b][u][color="#0000ff"]Push Higher Up[/color][/u][/b]	

[i]Instructs your players to play higher up the pitch, starting with the line the defence holds, which should be close to the halfway line if this option is chosen.[/i]

[b][u][color="#0000ff"]Drop Deeper[/color][/u][/b]	

[i]Instructs your players to retreat into their own territory and defend it from there.[/i]

[b][u][color="#0000ff"]Hassle Opponents[/color][/u][/b]

[i]Instructs your players to give the opposition little time and space on the ball, attempting to force a mistake.[/i]

[b][u][color="#0000ff"]Get Stuck In[/color][/u][/b]	

[i]Instructs your players to be aggressive and strong in the tackle. This may increase the risk of fouls and disciplinary action.[/i]

[b][u][color="#0000ff"]Stay On Feet[/color][/u][/b]

[i]Instructs your players to stay on their feet when making tackles instead of going to ground.[/i]

[b][u][color="#0000ff"]Play Even Safer[/color][/u][/b]	

[i]If you wish to preserve a lead, selecting this option will instruct your players to play with safety foremost in their attentions.[/i]

[b][u][color="#0000ff"]Take More Risks[/color][/u][/b]	

[i]If you are chasing a game, this option will instruct your players to take whatever risks necessary to get themselves back in it.[/i]


[i][color="#008000"]You can also change the overall team strategy on the fly, as well as make quick tactical adjustments such as a swapping of two wingers, a man-marking job on an individual who is running the show, or even a quick substitution.

Any quick instruction will remain as “(Pending)” until the next break in play, at which point it will become activated. To cancel an instruction, click on the red icon to the left of the text. This will no longer be in effect in your team’s tactical approach.

At half and full time you will have the opportunity to offer a team-talk to your players. The half time team-talk will generally be about what has happened in the first half and what you expect to happen in the second half, whilst the full-time one will be of a reactionary nature to the result. As with your pre-match team-talk, take care in what you say to your players, as it can have a strong effect on how they handle things from that moment on, particular half-time team-talks[/color][/i].[/font][/size]

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