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wwfan

How To Play FM: A (Very) Short Guide to Confidence and Match Expectations Management

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The major morale boosting / confidence device is winning/losing matches. Press conferences and team talks fundamentally exist to exert expectations / reduce pressure on the squad, not to shift morale. There are three basic strings you can follow.

1: Use these events to a: stop an overly confident team lapsing into complacency or b: prepare them to play a minnow

2: Try to ensure a professional performance.

3: Try to reduce the pressure on a team that is a: struggling, b: in a tight title race or c: is about to play a side that totally outclasses them

If you have a well-disciplined, respectful squad, about 80% of the time the 'be professional' string is the right one. The other two strings are only required a couple of times a season. The important thing is consistency. Flaky or young teams might need the 'reduce pressure' string a lot. Highly ambitious, experienced and determined teams can cope with more expectation.

1: If you have chosen to build up the expectations, don't be soft on the team if they lost and don't praise too hard if they won.

2: If you have asked them to be professional, don't over praise when they were, but don't be too harsh if they played well but lost

3: If you have reduced pressure, be expansive in your praise if they won, be soft if they lost.

If you get the focus wrong, the team has a really bad day and you make it worse with your post match reactions, then morale might drop quickly. Do it twice in a row and you are in trouble, especially if you have a flaky squad.

If you have made a mistake, it is relatively easy to spot by watching the match. Your players lose a lot of 50-50 challenges, misplace passes, get caught in possession etc. Most of the match is being played in your half and there are some desperate defensive moments. Once you realise this, the key is to play some anti-football to see out the half and re-boot the team in the half time team talk. The current ME provides the clearest indications yet as to the team having a bad day as it has less exploitable holes than any previous ME. In previous MEs, if you were using an exploiting tactic, you weren't able to pick the team playing badly, because as they were still exploiting holes the AI couldn't defend, stats and shots were still looking good.

Example

Here's example of how pre-match elements work within the ME. Third match of the season, my Arsenal side are playing Everton away. Match odds are only slightly in my favour, so I am relatively neutral with expectations at the press conference, being positive on some answers, more pessimistic on others. Despite this, when I check the Assistant's pre-match feedback, the squad is looking over-confident. I decide to counter this by using the 'expect a win' team talk, which is an unusual option away against the team that came 6th the previous season.

The team talk partly worked. Of my six core, experienced players (keeper / back four / playmaker MC), five were motivated / playing confidently early on. The only one that wasn't, the DCR, who had been highlighted as the most over confident player by my Assistant, twice made positional errors that let the Everton FCL through on goal. One chance was covered by the DR and the other brilliantly saved. After 20 odd minutes, the confidence of the rest of the back four rubbed off on the DCR and he also began playing confidently and, more importantly, far better.

However, the team talk failed in that it placed too much pressure on my relatively inexperienced / young front line (22 / 21 / 19). None of them were playing well at half time. I tried to deal with their performance in the half time team talk by telling them to 'prove a point' or that I was disappointed, which seemed logical in relation to the over-confidence noted by my Assistant. For two of these players this backfired. The 21 year old AML began to do his level best to get sent off, so I subbed him after 55 mins. The 22 year old FC started playing even worse, so he went off after 60 mins. However, the 19 year old AMC played a stormer of a 2nd half, scoring two goals and picking up the man of the match award.

After the AMC scored the first, my DMC started to look nervous (possibly a hangover from the heavy expectation of the pre-match team talk) so I subbed him off at the 80 min mark and replaced him with a younger DMC, whom I told there was no pressure. I scored my second almost immediately after he came on, which killed off the match.

The match stats illustrated the context of the match perfectly. Although Everton had 15 shots, only 4 were on target and many were from long range. Once my DCR joined the party, they never looked like scoring. Prior to the confidence of the others in the back line rubbing off on him, Everton could have, and perhaps should have, taken the lead. Given my dominance in my own half from the 25 minute mark, the only issue was working out how to score. I'm still learning how to deal with my front three, especially the FC and AMC, who are new, which meant I made some motivational errors. However, the post match team talk focused on how I got a better performance out of the team in the 2nd half, asking how I did it. I chose the 'I reminded the team of my expectations 'option, which pretty much summed up what I tried to do.

I'm not saying that I have 100% worked out the motivation system. I haven't and I still make mistakes, as the above example illustrates, especially when dealing with high-end players. For example, I'm having a continued problem with my 22 year old FC, who is always complacent if I am soft on him and playing without confidence if I'm tough. However, I never see major morale drops or slumps, or bad feeling spreading through the squad.

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Should certainly be a sticky...

Playing devils advocate for 5 mins, many people don't like (and therefore don't use) the press conference feature at all, something that can be sympathised with as they can get a bit repetitive / frequent, but that's for another thread.

Taking the above into account, in your opinion how do you think your Assistant Managers attributes how he responds at conferences, and how should you go about finding one if your sole purpose for him is to attend conferences? Do these answers translate immediately to morale, and can "Superb" morale be a bad thing?

I had a brilliant one yesterday, I sent my assistant to a press conference for a run of the mill home game I expected to win, my start of season expectations are mid table, although I'm performing slightly better than that at the moment. He was asked "Who do you think will win the League this year", he responded with "us". I had to laugh, but herein lies a question, why on earth would he respond that way, I can't really see much in his stats that suggests he would, is he aware of our seasonal expectations?

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Should certainly be a sticky...

Playing devils advocate for 5 mins, many people don't like (and therefore don't use) the press conference feature at all, something that can be sympathised with as they can get a bit repetitive / frequent, but that's for another thread.

Taking the above into account, in your opinion how do you think your Assistant Managers attributes how he responds at conferences, and how should you go about finding one if your sole purpose for him is to attend conferences? Do these answers translate immediately to morale, and can "Superb" morale be a bad thing?

I had a brilliant one yesterday, I sent my assistant to a press conference for a run of the mill home game I expected to win, my start of season expectations are mid table, although I'm performing slightly better than that at the moment. He was asked "Who do you think will win the League this year", he responded with "us". I had to laugh, but herein lies a question, why on earth would he respond that way, I can't really see much in his stats that suggests he would, is he aware of our seasonal expectations?

I never let my Assistant attend conferences as I have specific communication strategies I follow. In general, any Assistant with good man management and motivational skills should do an OK job, and will perform at least as well as a user who isn;t 100% sure of what he is trying to do. However, no Assistant can ever be as good as a user executing detailed strategies.

My preferred pre-match morale levels are actually 'good' or 'very good'. If the players have these levels, then a good start will see morale shoot up to superb in match and confidence levels flying. If everyone is superb prior to the match, over-confidence is always a risk.

Your Assistant is doing one of either two things:

a: Increasing the expectations on the team's performance for the opening match

b: Trying to take the pressure off them by answering ridiculously

The press reaction can help you determine which effect it had. If they found it hilarious, chances are pressure got reduced. If they took it seriously, chances are pressure was increased. You then have to look at your squad's determination / professionalism / ambition / age in order to evaluate whether you think the answer was a good one or not. If it was laughed off, then it might help a younger squad with high determination. If it was taken seriously, then it might help an ambitious and mature squad.

NB: these are my own ideas on why and might be wrong. I've not tried such an approach so am making educated guesses as to how squads might react. Either way, I doubt the answer had a huge influence on their performance.

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Interesting thread this.

I find all of my squad are suffering from over confidence, and playing nervously. I've tried many variation of answers in the press conferences but i have not been able to budge it yet, particuarly the over confidence.

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wwfan is the answer that press pick after the press conference the only one that affect's players or is it the every question in press conference? I hope you understand what i mean.

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You never have 100% control of how your conferences/discussions are represented in the press. If the journalist dislikes you or is devious, then the reported focus might be different than your intentions. However, over time you should build good enough relationships that you gain fair treatment.

I'm not sure if the focus question is any more important than the others. Even if it is, I don't think it matters too much as it is only one partial aspect of what should be a three to four stage process, which starts with the post match team talk of the previous match. That is the first moment that should determine whether you should be increasing / decreasing pressure on the players. Part of this will relate to how the team performed in the just finished match against your expectations of how they should have performed and part to who the next opposition is. You then have the opportunity to deal with individual morale issues through personal communication. You can put pressure on / undermine the opposition through the press. You then have the press conference and how it is interpreted. Finally, you have the pre-match team talk.

If that holistic strategy is solid, then you will improve squad discipline and regularly build confidence. Good performances will then follow.

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However, the team talk failed in that it placed too much pressure on my relatively inexperienced / young front line (22 / 21 / 19). None of them were playing well at half time. I tried to deal with their performance in the half time team talk by telling them to 'prove a point' or that I was disappointed, which seemed logical in relation to the over-confidence noted by my Assistant.

I would say that was rather illogical - you say you put too much pressure on them and then proceeded to put even more pressure on them by telling them to prove a point. I would have taken the pressure off them, personally. However, sounds like the player who reacted well has a very high pressure stat.

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I would say that was rather illogical - you say you put too much pressure on them and then proceeded to put even more pressure on them by telling them to prove a point. I would have taken the pressure off them, personally. However, sounds like the player who reacted well has a very high pressure stat.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Because they were relatively new players, I wasn't sure how to handle them, so was still using my Assistant's report as the indicator. However, the half-time team talk obviously failed, which has now taught me something about these players and their reactions to pressure. I only worked this out after the half-time talk, not during the first half, or I'd have approached it differently.

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wwfan is the answer that press pick after the press conference the only one that affect's players or is it the every question in press conference? I hope you understand what i mean.

If you mean the answer that the press focus on when it appears as a news item then I think the answer is no, all the questions can have an impact.

wwfan, I'm interested to know if you also use the media to target individuals in the opposition squad. Recently I've been trying to identify players in my next opposition's squad who are likely to be picked, have had reasonable form of late, who have personalities that are less than determined and where morale is perhaps not great (maybe "okay" or lower) and commenting to the press that they may be a danger in the forthcoming game, or using the weakest link comment if they are a defensive player - I often try to use one of each. It;s early days but with judicious use of the comments it seems you can cause worsening of morale, spread doubt and cause a poor performance in a couple of your opposition's squad when you play. So far it doesn't seem to have backfired on me in any great way (I think) although I sometimes get a comment with one of my own players stating they would prefer that I concentrate on preparing my own team rather than focusing on the opposition - I haven't quite sussed out whether this has much effect on performance.

I'm sure others must be doing this too and I'd be interested to know how people have been getting on with it. Having only recently moved to FM11 after a prolonged time sticking with FM08 there is so much to get to grips with!

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This is a good guide but it incredibly important to make the point that this doesn't apply to teams or squads, it applies instead to each individual player.

Where teams come into play is in establishing the basic level of Pressure experienced by players before kick-off, but each individual player will respond to this pressure differently. In the same match some players will need Pressure raised while other will need it reduced.

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.. If only it wasn't so repetitive. Thanks for the good read though, these longer topics definitely make the workday go faster. Reading this makes me wonder though, do you also attempt to influence the opposition's morale? I assume you'd want to achieve the exact opposite for them, especially in key matches.

Really the only part of attempt of influencing morale for me is to negatively influence the opposition as to hoping that my players can take advantage of their poor start. I assume that combining these two would make it easier to decide matches earlier on?

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Great post wwfan. Before the thread diverts into a press conference rant, allow me to being it back to the main intent: "If you have a well-disciplined, respectful squad, about 80% of the time the 'be professional' string is the right one." Indeed, and in that regard, I've started an interesting new experiment. In the earliest incarnations of FM I used to buy players with good physical attributes (pace and power) and ignore the rest. That was fixed. Then I focused heavily on technical attributes to the neglect of mental attributes (sort of Arsenal-lite). That's been fixed. In my new 11.3 save I've decided to create a young team with the focus on mental - and in particular personality - attributes. Thus I have a number of young players who are small, weak, slow and technically clueless, but are determined, professional, loyal, with goof temperaments and non-controversial. Playing in the 8th level there's no pressure on them while they are being nurtured, and I don't criticise them even when they turn in a 5.5 performance. What I'm finding is that it's almost impossible to upset them. Even when I mess up by faffing about with their squad status or suchlike, they get concerned but keep high morale. Thus, on the pitch they might be physically and technically inferior to their opponents, but they're holding their own just fine.

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^ That raises an interesting "second way" which is to build a team of players that responds best to how you view matches rather than you having to learn to become a master FM Player psychologist.

Obviously that will be nowhere near as robust overall as knowing precisely what buttons to push for every single player at your club under all circumstances, but if all you know how to do in the dressing room is Fire Up! players with low Temperament then you really should think about building a team you can actually manage effectively. Crouch is unlikely to be a good player for you but El Hadj Diouf might be the signing of the season.

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Speaking of "fires up" and other motivational terms, why do they appear in different colours to convey positive or negative when they're actually player specific? For example, I had Christian Poulsen and Arturo Vidal both Fired Up at the end of a half. They are both aggressive and both have the PPM Dives into Tackles. In this scenario, Fired Up is the worst thing they could be, so I had to take the pressure off them to bring them down to Looking Motivated.

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It's only a negative on those rare cases. There is nothing positive about playing Nervous. It's the same for Flair which when high always shows the "good" colour, but could be a nightmare stat for X player.

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^ That raises an interesting "second way" which is to build a team of players that responds best to how you view matches rather than you having to learn to become a master FM Player psychologist.

Obviously that will be nowhere near as robust overall as knowing precisely what buttons to push for every single player at your club under all circumstances, but if all you know how to do in the dressing room is Fire Up! players with low Temperament then you really should think about building a team you can actually manage effectively. Crouch is unlikely to be a good player for you but El Hadj Diouf might be the signing of the season.

Interestingly, when people ask what I do when it comes to man-management and motivation in FM, my approach has been the same for many releases - I've always built very determined squads.

As an approach to playing FM, purely on the basis of what I as a manager would expect from my players, having a determined bunch of players who respond well to praise and criticism in equal balance, has arguably made the motivational aspect of the game much easier in my eyes. A simple method that works effectively.

Sure, there's some great players that have featured in FM over the years, who've not even featured on my transfer radar, simply because I didn't feel they would "fit in" with my overall squad characteristics. But then, for pretty much most aspects of the man-management and tactical game, I have a starting vision of what I want to do, the type of squad I want to build and the sort of tactical approach I want to employ.

It's only when I stray from "my way", or venture into territory where it's next to impossible to employ "my way", that things become difficult.

Quite possibly, the most I've learned about using more varied methods of man-management and motivation, was whilst managing Central Coast Mariners in FM11, having spent three very successful seasons with AFC Telford, a club I'd moulded to suit my preferences, from top to bottom. Central Coast Mariners was a very different experience and although I enjoyed success with the club, it required constant focus and attention to detail. Squad registration restrictions regarding foreign players, and the more determined/professional players having long left Australian shores to ply their trade in Europe.

Indeed, my best Australian player ended up being a 36 year old Danny Allsopp, who although well in decline physically and technically, lead by example and performed better than players ten years his senior because of strong character traits and mental attributes.

There's lots of variables at play when it comes to man-management and motivation, though through careful planning and squad development, you can indeed help yourself to make things easier to "manage".

Finally, as a learning tool if nothing else, a good assistant manager can at the very least, help with this aspect of the game. Strong man-management and motivational attributes, will help him make the better choices when it comes to team-talks. The better his attributes, the better suited his choices will be. If you assign a highly attributed assistant to offer team-talk advice, with a squad of many characters, you'll see more variety in individual emphasis. It's possible to learn from some of these choices, by observing what options he chooses for which type of character traits.

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I personally prefer players that respond well to criticism but also set high standards for praise. This is because my demands are high and my man management style is the carrot-and-stick approach of demand followed by criticism followed by high praise for success.

But at the same time these players are the ones you know you can rely on to turn around a dismal first half. I know that if my team comes in two goals down and I take out "the hairdryer" then they will respond.

The risk I constantly run with this approach is that I pick up a series of bad results because that will send my man-management approach into difficulty. Instead of provoking a positive reaction I will contribute to a spiral of negative reaction. But I am aware of this, and because I am aware of this and I employ such harsh man management techniques I will willingly drop players at the first sign of trouble and start someone else that is waiting for a shot in the team and will respond to my techniques. And lo and behold the guy that I dropped comes out and apologises to me in public.

It may well be that there does actually exist a "min-max" approach to Man Management, but it is not simply teamtalks. If there is a "min-max" approach then it is an entire Discipline philosophy, an entire "managerial persona" rather than simply being a particular teamtalk option.

Either that or once you stop trying to figure out the man-management and motivation mechanics in minute detail the game suddenly starts making a whole lot more sense. Don't theorise, test, calculate and hypothesise. Get the whip out because it's derby day!

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Great post wwfan...ur a crack as usual...but...

SFraser...

Are u suggesting there´s a Capello and Wenger way to motivate/manage inside FM and that the preogram itself reconizes the way u do?¿ It would be nice but i think that´s going TOO far,isn´t it? LOL

Anyways my way of motivating is same as yours(the carrot-and-stick,very funny)...and since today im having a 3/4 of the season HIGH morale and great performances,but at the finish line(April,May) my boys don´t respond to motivation or fire up talks. I´m training Deportivo La Coruña which is far from their best back to 2001.They´re expected to be a middle-table team and in my first season i class them to play the C.L.

The point is that last season i was living from rents...good start of the season and rubbish end,but i dont want to be on relegation this year after a long-three competition season...

Could it be that my expectations increased as my team was performing better and that was my mistake?The mistake of expecting even more of them when they were overperforming?

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I'm certainly more 'guiding' than 'disciplining' in my approach, although I'm not adverse to breaking a few balls now and then. My aim is for the squad to be so professional and self-disciplined that most of my team talks only need to focus on individual performances. Now I have a squad in which 9 starters are in their third year of playing together, I use 'for the fans' or 'no team talk' almost exclusively against 70% of my opposition and only break out higher or lower expectations when I want a concerted effort against a top side or am wary of complacency after a long run of wins.

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wwfan does it really work the "no team talk"?¿ Otherwords...doesn´t it result in a "disconcerned" and "rare" first half?¿?

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Depends on the team. I often use it at the end of the match when the team has performed as expected, with 'for the fans' pre-match and at half time. However, I'd praise far more with a less professional and determined squad.

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How do you balance the expectation of your press conferences when your club is a clear favourite, your reputation is higher than the opposition but you intend to play a team of youngsters? Do you carry out a press conference as if you were playing your first team with complacency in mind or do you look to take the pressure off because you know you plan to give the youngsters a run out?

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wwfan, possibly slightly off topic but maybe relevant just the same.

My squad is described as very determined. From a morale standpoint things are pretty grim and I am working to try and change it.

A very average season has the team in 11/12th on the ladder and the prediction is 6th. Just about all the team feels that we are underperforming.

Due to my trying to develop a certain style of play there has been a fair amount of changing going on with regards to tactics and instructions, this of course is a contributing factor with regards to consistency, so yes my fault.

Now on a weekly basis I have had players coming to me with ". . . we're underachieving and I'm starting to lose confidence in your management. . ."

My response has been to ". . . rally around and work to improve". This doesn't seem to have helped much though.

Then within the press conference when questioned on the same thing, I have tried a couple of options, the first being I have belief in the players, the other, not here to massage egos. Again doesn't seem to have helped. So I am at a bit of a loss. Would you have any advice on this predicament?

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How do you balance the expectation of your press conferences when your club is a clear favourite, your reputation is higher than the opposition but you intend to play a team of youngsters? Do you carry out a press conference as if you were playing your first team with complacency in mind or do you look to take the pressure off because you know you plan to give the youngsters a run out?

Take the pressure off. I think 'wish luck' or 'we can win this' would be the two go to options. Wish luck if you think the kids aren't as good as the opposition, we can win this if you think they are. It is a tough judgement call though.

wwfan, possibly slightly off topic but maybe relevant just the same.

My squad is described as very determined. From a morale standpoint things are pretty grim and I am working to try and change it.

A very average season has the team in 11/12th on the ladder and the prediction is 6th. Just about all the team feels that we are underperforming.

Due to my trying to develop a certain style of play there has been a fair amount of changing going on with regards to tactics and instructions, this of course is a contributing factor with regards to consistency, so yes my fault.

Now on a weekly basis I have had players coming to me with ". . . we're underachieving and I'm starting to lose confidence in your management. . ."

My response has been to ". . . rally around and work to improve". This doesn't seem to have helped much though.

Then within the press conference when questioned on the same thing, I have tried a couple of options, the first being I have belief in the players, the other, not here to massage egos. Again doesn't seem to have helped. So I am at a bit of a loss. Would you have any advice on this predicament?

My advice would be to take the pressure off until you win enough games to get morale to good-very good in your core players (either no pressure, wish luck or we can win this, depending on match odds). Once you do that, I'd start aiming at the professional performance talk (for the fans). If you then go on a run, you might need to occasionally ramp up the pressure further, especially if the squad is prone to lapses in performance.

I'd heavily employ private conversations to try and build good relationships with some core players. That should help you kick start performance.

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My advice would be . . .

Thanks, will try and see how it goes.

I do use the private conversations very regularly (mainly recent match), and am on the favoured list of about 90% staff and players. I probably get a few things wrong with team talks and match praise as my discipline stat is only 75%. Maybe I should start being harder on them, once the initial problems are sorted. :thup:

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