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the--dud

The No Bull Guide to Playing FM17!

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Purpose of this Guide

This guide is not intended as a comprehensive bible”, this is merely an introduction to FM17 for people who have decent to excellent knowledge of football (real life) but low to mediocre understanding of Football Manager (the game).

Picking a Team

First you have to pick a team so how do you do that? Ask yourself what kinda game you want, what kinda challenge you want;
  • Location: Do you wish to play in a particular country or league? English Premiership? Belgium? China? MLS?
  • Difficulty: Do you want a hard game or easy game? Rich clubs are much easier. Teams tipped for relegation or teams playing  in lower leagues are harder.
  • The Players: Do you want to sign super star players? Do you want to discovery hidden gems? Do you want to develop your own youth players?
  • The Manager: Perhaps you like role-playing as a particular manager of your imagination or emulating a famous manager? Maybe the manager is completely unimportant for you, that’s cool too.
  • The Style of Play: Do you have a particular tactics or formation you wish to use or will you aim to be flexible in this regard? Do you want to sign players to suit your need or adapt your tactics to what players you have available?
  • Loyalty: Do you want to stick with one club or are you open to moving up to better clubs? How about playing as a journeyman” manager who constantly switches clubs?
  • Goals: Do you want to win the Champions League? The treble? Take a team from a lower league to the top league? Nurture a player from academy prospect to Ballon d'Or winner? Win the World Cup? Win the domestic league in 10 different countries?
 
Ask yourself what do you want to achieve and how?
 

Getting to Know Your Team, League and Country

The team report is very useful here, it actually tells you some extremely important things! It should at the very least tell you what kind of mentality your players have, any strong or weak positions in your team, your best players, any common attributes (eg, strong or technical players). Regardless or who and where you manage it always has tons of useful information so ALWAYS read your team report!
 
Secondly; look at the players in your team! Seriously just take like 10 minutes to look at every player in your first team and youth team. Pay attention to their star ratings (Current Ability and Potential Ability). Look at their attribute and try to imagine in your mind what kind of players they are. Figure out who in your team are the most important and best players. Do the same for your youth team, maybe see if someone can be promoted to the first team already, or if there’s any particular talents you want to nurture and keep an eye on. You also want to have a quick look in your reserve team if there is anyone you want to release/sell, or someone you wish to promote to your first team.
 
Now might be a good time to check out the season preview because it tells you how strong your team is compared to the teams you will be playing. Which is, of course, very important to know! This will (or at least should) affect how you go about selling/buying players and what kind of style of play you employ.
 
Have a look at your country overview page! It tells you some useful stuff like how your nation is ranked globally, what kind of competitions and clubs there are, and lots more.
 
Also there a small thing which will save you potentially hours of agony; read your league rules for god’s sake - it takes you like 2 minutes. It tells you what selection rules there is, how much the prize money is, how many teams are promoted and relegated, qualification rules for regional competitions (Champions League, Copa América, etc) and much much more.
 
Something often forgotten is to check out your staff. The most important here are; Assistant Manager, Director of Football Chief Scout and Head of Youth Development. Are they good enough? Can you get any better (use Staff Search)? You also want to assess your Coaches, Scouts and Physios if you have any. Don’t sign staff to long contracts as there will usually be better options popping up later. Check if you can improve your staff at least once a season.
Edited by the--dud

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Create Your Style of Play

We don’t say tactics any more, it’s offensive. Just kidding (partly kidding), it’s simply too narrow a term for the beautiful creation you will devise. 
 
A Style of Play” has two components: Tactics & Formation.
  1. Formation is a rough indication of where on the pitch your want your players to be.
  2. Tactics means how your team moves, plays and thinks.
 
Formations, Formations, Formations! (http://imgur.com/a/V7rg2)
 
Generally people obsess and over-complicate far too much about formations. There are two important factors to your formation;
  • How many defenders you have? Usually 4 or 5. 
  • How many attackers you have? Usually 1-3. 
To keep things simple: Wing Backs counts as defenders, Attacking Wingers counts as attackers.
 
The most common formation in history is the 4-4-2. It’s a very flexible and perfectly fine formation to use. It can be defensive or attacking, complex or simple, rigid or fluid. There are also simple variations like the 4-1-4-1 or 4-4-1-1. I would also argue that the 4-5-1 is indeed a variation of the 4-4-2 as well. There are also more exciting variations like the Deep-Laying 4-4-2”, 4-4-2 Diamond”, 4-4-2 Box Formation”
 
In modern times the 4-2-3-1 and 4-1-2-3 DM is also very popular - they are slightly more advanced formations but potentially very effective. In reality though they are variations/refinements of the classic 4-3-3. Is the 4-3-3 effectively a variation of a 4-5-1 that’s effectively a variation of the 4-4-2? Smarter men than myself can debate this!
 
Particularly in Italy, the 5-3-2 (sometimes referred to as 3-5-2 when attack-minded) is a popular 5-defender formation. It has been used outside Italy too of course. Conte is using it at Chelsea now in fact. There’s also the flat 5-4-1 which is rarely used today.
 
As you may or may not know, most of the play in a football match happens in the midfield. As such you very rarely want 1 or 2 midfielders as it’s too little and more than 5 is practically speaking too much. The number of midfield players is in some ways a natural results of how many defenders and attackers you have.
 
Historically, variations of 4-2-4 were popular but now this is very deprecated. Possibly the only relic is using it as a desperate-to-score at-the-end-of-a-game” formation but very few teams starts with it.
 
Tactics 
 
Simply put, tactics means anything that isn’t your formation. My run-through of tactics will concern how they are represented in Football Manager, not how they are in real life. I also would recommend you check out other resources if you are interested in a deep dive” of a certain aspect or if you want to find out specific details.
 
  • Team Mentality
  • In the past couple of versions this has created huge debates and arguments among the FM faithfuls. I will try to explain it simply and hopefully without controversy. Many people will assume that contain, defend, standard, attack and overload” would be an encompassing order on how your team plays. For instance we can all agree that the German national team plays very attacking football whilst Greece plays very defensive football.
  • Mentality controls mainly how adventurous” or conservative” your players will be with their movement and passing, but it also influences your team in a number of smaller ways.
  • Team Shape
  • This is closely linked to mentality but it controls more specifically how far your players will roam from their assigned positions. When the opposition has the ball, players will naturally seek to close down the opposition or move to cover holes left by others. When your have the ball, players will seek space and try to make themselves available for passes.
  • Team Shape controls how far they will move to achieve their goals.
  • Player Roles and Duties
  • There are excellent extensive guides available which lists and explains every single role and duty so I will not do that here. Each position/player has a certain role like Inside Forward or Winger which controls to a great degree how they will behave within the team. The duty (Attack, Support and Defend) has (arguably) a greater effect on a specific player than the Team Mentality.
  • Role are essentially a pre-defined set of Player Instructions with some additional behaviour. Duty is like a general instruction on the mentality of the player. 
  • Team Instructions (TI)
  • Think of these like additional flavors” you can add to your general Style of Play”. Putting on Play Wider” is like adding a little bit of blue paint to your green - it doesn’t completely change the colour but it adds a shade of blue. In the same way if you instruct your team to use Pass Shorter” it doesn’t mean that every single pass your players make will be short. A player will use their internal logic” to chose what to do in any given situation but your instructions adds weight.
  • Player Instructions (PI)
  • These are essentially the same as Team Instructions but only for a specific player. It gives you another level of control beyond the Player Roles and Duties. You can use them to make generic roles” like Defensive Midfielder slightly more specific or specialist roles” like Regista” even more specific. 
  • Opposition Instructions (OI)
  • This is the same as Player Instructions only it relates to specific opposition players. You set these during the pre-match or the game itself. These are generally used in an attempt to neutralize or contain dangerous/skillful opposition players. They can also be used to combat specific strengths of your opposition style of play (for instance; specifically marking their wingers)
 
General Tips to Create Tactics
 
KISS (Keep it Simple Stupid)! Don’t stifle your players completely by adding a bunch of instructions and specialist roles. You gotta trust your players! Generally; really amazing players or really terrible players shouldn’t be micro-managed. You don’t really need to tell Messi to cut inside and attempt risky passes, he will just naturally do amazing things. At the same time you shouldn’t overload Mr Bob Builder (who works part time for a 5th division team) with specific instructions - just let him concentrate on getting the basics right. 
 
Similarly, you don’t have to spend hours trying to create the perfect tactics. This sort of behaviour should be left to seasoned FM veterans (of which this guide isn’t intended for anyway). I mean you can spend hours tweaking your tactics if you want (maybe it gives you perverse pleasure) but I wouldn’t recommend it. Just create something you feel can work, watch a game or two with comprehensive highlights and tweak it as you go along.
 
Defenders = Attackers + 1: it’s often a good rule of thumb to have one more or equal number of central defender to what the opposition has strikers, especially if you’re facing a superiour side. For instance if you see your opposition switching to a 3-striker formation in a desperate attempt to score, you can consider subbing in an extra DC, or pulling a midfielder down to the DM spot with a defend duty. PS: Never use just a single central defender - you always want two or three!
 
Be flexible but keep some predictability. FM now has tactical familiarity which means it’s a very bad idea to constantly change your Style of Play so you have to settle into a main frame work. You should however change roles/duties depending on what players you use, and you can make minor changes to your tactical setup during the season. You should also learn how to make changes during the game to respond to your opposition - this is absolutely vital!
Edited by the--dud

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Dealing with Staff (aka HR crash course)

Your backroom staff is extremely important, ignore at your peril! Or alternatively, read this section and handle your staff like a boss (literally you are their boss)!
 
Key Staff (DO NOT ignore)
  • Assistant Manager: This is your right-hand man/woman, your numero uno, your best friend. Find a good one and delegate whatever tasks to him you find boring/uninteresting. It’s really important he has high Man Management. Judging CA/PA helps too. Any other good stats he has an additional bonus.
  • Director of Football: This is kinda your boss but not really, I guess you are equals. Not every club has one either. Not every manager wants one but often the board will have the final say in the matter. You can delegate tasks to him or not use him at all.
  • Head of Youth Development: A absolutely crucial position when it comes to developing your own players! You should find the best one possible. Apparently his reputation can influence how good the youth intake is. His personality can also influence what personality your youth players will have. Finally, his preferred formation will affect what kind of positions your youth players can play!
  • Chief Scout: Strictly speaking this position is no more or less important than your other scouts but what is very nice is that you can set him to create assignments for all your other scouts to avoid some micro-management. You can still set special assignments as you like so there really is no down side.
  • Chairman/Director(s)/Owner: These people are your bosses - treat them as such! Obviously you have no influence on who they are but some clubs will have elections. All clubs can also experience takeovers but these happen randomly. Takeovers can also happen when your club finances are terrible, in which case your club will effectively be sold to the highest bidder.
 
Other Staff
  • Coaches: Very important staff. See the Training” section of the guide!
  • Scouts: Also very important for identifying players. You want people who has the best possible Judging Ability” and Judging Potential”. Scouts with high Adaptability” are also very useful as they take less time scouting in nations they aren’t familiar with.
  • Data Analysts: These guys are a relatively new addition to the FM-series but they are essentially what gives you the fancy pre- and post-match analysis. Quite useful.
  • Physios: Extremely important in preventing injuries and nursing players back from injury ASAP. The only attribute that matters is Physiotherapy but high DDM (Determination, Disipline and Motivating) certainly doesn’t hurt!
  • Sports Scientists: Again, relatively new additions. As far as I understand they do the same thing as Physios. You should have at least one if you’re allowed to have them! They help prevent injuries which can only be a good thing.
Edited by the--dud

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How to Train (Your Dragons) 

 

(To Be Written)

Edited by the--dud

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Youth Development

(To Be Written)

Edited by the--dud

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It’s Match Day!

(To Be Written) (End of Guide!)

Edited by the--dud

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(Addendum: Long Term Success ) (maybe more stuff...) 

Edited by the--dud

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1 hour ago, TheJanitor said:

Great start, always refreshing seening other people approach to the game.

Will be following!

Thanks mate :D I hope to finish the guide in a week or two. Just basically wanted to dump all the info and ideas I have about FM into a little guide...

Edited by the--dud

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