I wrote this piece for Football Manager’s The Byline at the start of FM21 – click here to read the published version.
Life is full of important decisions. Choosing a save in Football Manager is one of them. Here are five things to consider when choosing a team to lead in Football Manager.
There are circa 400,000 real players from over 50 playable leagues in Football Manager, with data compiled by a network of 1,000+ researchers globally each year. This isn’t for no reason; with each new addition, the game brings in more and more additional features, roles, aspects and data points to further enhance the sense of realism in the game, as well as frequently consulting with real-life Football Managers and experts year-on-year to make the game as close to real-life football management as possible.
Because of this, gone are the days whereby you could take a non-league team to the Champions League in six seasons. Repeat multiple back-to-back promotions are almost unheard of in real-life, so don’t expect to go from Sunday League to Premier League without putting in the hours. Many new Managers often set-up to fail if they cannot adapt to a couple of years in each division before progressing, therefore it’s important to taper your expectations rather than being disappointed at a perceived lack of success. Remember when Leicester won the league? It took them 8 seasons to get there from League 2 alone..
It’s all about the narrative. Of course managing your local club or the team you support is usually most FM players save of choice at the start of a new game, it can be equally if not even more rewarding to take on a team or save challenge where there is already a backstory in place or alternatively creating your own save narrative as you navigate your way to managerial greatness. Whether it’s Fallen Giants, Rags to Riches, Unemployed, Bottom at Christmas, Homegrown or a good old fashion Journeyman – having that storyline in place gives an extra layer of enjoyment and immersion to the save,
We spoke a little about tapering your own expectations when it comes to managing in modern day FM so as not to become disillusioned at a save not going as planned or where success does not immediately arrive as expected. Similarly, it’s important to also consider a club’s expectations and philosophy before settling into the hotseat as this too has an important bearing on the direction and evolution of the save. Taking over a club with lower expectations than your own can often lead to disappointment in that the club may not be equally as aspirational as you when it comes to club vision and ambition, therefore you may lack the buy-in and commitment/resource to bring the club where you want them to be. Similarly – if you have plans to build a foundation and focus on youth and long-term success, then taking the reigns at a club with much higher short-term expectations will also be detrimental to the cause. Over and under-achieving are very much a real thing – make sure that you and your new club share similar ambitions in terms of expectations and philosophy to ensure a healthy partnership as you embark on a new journey.
A long-term save needs to be meaningful. Football is a game of emotion, of passion, of sentiment – what some consider dots on a screen, others view as a deep emotional investment and rightly so. The average regular FM player plays over 1,000 hours of absolute committed game play each year, and most of this is a result of successfully establishing a deep connection with the club or save at hand which in turn facilitates a long lasting affiliation, nay, legacy with each annual version of the game. Finding that affiliation or connection with a player or club makes your save yours and yours alone.
5. Club Colours
Football Manager isn’t just about data and numbers; it’s also about style and class, and this year’s game brings even more of this with the improved colour schemes and team-specific frames/backdrops which you will notice as you embark on a new save adventure. The club you choose not only dictates who and where you will be managing, but also the look and feel of the game which has become far more aesthetically appealing in recent years. Most importantly and no differently to real-life, your team’s kit is an essential component of your save and connection to the club – remember, if you’re there for the long haul it’s the kit you will be looking at for years to come in-game which translates to hundreds of hours of gameplay! We’ve even seen FM players donning the kits of teams they’ve managed in-game, so much so that it’s not uncommon to see a Newgen’s name on the back of a well known jersey as you walk down the street – heck, even Football Manager now have their own awesome kit such is unique style and swag the game now possesses! As well all tell ourselves, it’s not all about looks – but it helps.
Thanks for reading – hopefully this will help you as you look to embark on a brand new save adventure in this year’s version of the game. At the end of the day what’s important is that you find a team and a save that you can invest in and enjoy managing, it’s a long year too so multiple saves are often required! Your club, your way.