Note from the author: I wrote this article for The Byline, Football Manager’s official online blog platform – below is the original version, with the condensed version available on the Football Manager website here.
10 things you need to do before hitting that Continue button..
If you’re like me and usually take around 4 hours before hitting Continue after starting a new save, then you more than likely have Day One of FM nailed down by now. A combination of attempted perfectionism, OCD and general new save obsession means that days and weeks can pass before we reach our first league game..and I’m ok with it!
If you are not as inclined to spend hours deciding which U18 Physios and Set Piece routines you will need in your first season, then it’s important to remember that Day One in FM can be critical in terms of ensuring you get the right things done from the very beginning and avoid being slow off the mark when it comes to sorting out your teams, tactics, player/staff recruitment and financial situation right from the moment you name your new career file before saving for the first time.
Here are 10 essentials that every player should remember when starting a new save in Football Manager:
1. Engage the Board
This might be an obvious one, but being fully aware of how much room to manoeuvre you have with your Transfer/Wage Budgets has a huge impact on player recruitment before you kick off a new season. Older versions of FM didn’t offer as much flexibility in terms of how you use your Chairman’s coveted cash however now as Managers, we have much more scope to squeeze every last penny and maximise our transfer and recruitment activity in modern day FM. Amending the budgets, asking for more and ensuring you are getting maximum revenue from player sales will all contribute to a better cash and bank balance as you commence your empire at the club.
2. Friendlies for Cash
Most effective if you are managing a lower league club, but high-profile friendlies are a sure way to boost your finances during pre-season. When managing at League 1 or League 2 level, its possible to almost double or treble your bank balance by simply inviting a few of the big boys down for a kick about – you might sacrifice a bit of morale by getting a hiding, but it’s an excellent smash and grab technique to bring in some extra badly needed cash with which to bolster your squad.
3. Check Scouting Knowledge
This is almost too easy to overlook especially if you are new to the game – when you go to do a player search, the default setting for your scouting range/budget is limited to domestic or nearby nations/players meaning any search you perform will only produce players from that area!
This can easily be amended on the Player Search screen and can be expanded to widen your search parameters, or reduced if you’re in the business of saving funds!!
Sidenote – when looking for “Interested” players that would join your club, don’t forget you can change the interest level and potentially identify some additional players that are willing to join you if the price is right!
4. Club Philosophy
“The Manager knows the type of football they like to play up there”. Never underestimate a club’s football philosophy, especially in Football Manager. Reality would suggest that it’s the Manager, Coach and Players that dictate the style, tempo and tactic employed, however we must accept that this is a game built from lines of code and data in order to simulate reality. You can quickly learn a club’s preferred formation and playing style at the Add Manager screen and also after you select your club – it’s always good to think about putting your own stamp on the club’s playing philosophy but it’s no harm paying heed to this while you settle into the hotseat to ensure a smooth transition and pick up points asap.
5. Check Contracts and Release Clauses
This can be vital – whether you’re an elite club or lower league minnows, securing your prize assets and tying them down to long term contracts (with no release clauses) should be one of your first actions when taking the helm at a new club. One click of that Continue button and suddenly a sniff of interest from a bigger club has your best player unsettled and throwing his toys out of the pram pushing for a move. They say retaining your best employees is far more important and cost effective than hiring new ones – Football Manager is no exception.
This not only unsettles the player and leads to the inevitable demise of your working relationship – if they are in any way influential it won’t be long before they turn the whole team against you so get that contract signed asap!
A quick amendment to your squad screen will allow you to view and sort your squad by contract expiry and/or release clause to ensure you have the chance to retain these players if desired.
6. Team Report – All Positions
If you don’t necessarily know all your players and/or what formation to use – let the squad decide!! Checking the Team Report is common, but be sure to view “All Positions” to see where you have quality and depth and where you need to strengthen. You might not realise that you already have an unknown 4 star player in your rankings, allowing you to focus your budget and energies on other more important parts of the field.
7. Bargain Hunting
The usual tricks are extremely effective – checking the Transfer List, Loan List and Expired/Expiring Contracts list always reveal some top-quality signings regardless of club or stature. However, there are a couple of additional techniques you can use to go even further down the FM bargain rabbit-hole and potentially pick up a gem for an absolute steal. Minimum Fee Release Clauses are a fantastic way of finding players at reduced cost especially as some leagues (e.g. La Liga) require all clubs to insert a Minimum Fee Release Clause in player contracts, hence why the likes of Messi and Suarez have €500m+ clauses that no-one in their right mind would trigger. However if you are lucky and know what you are looking for, you can often find a quality player whose release clause is close to or even lower than their actual value in FM. Some examples below to get you started.
8. Mind over Matter
Football Manager requires strategy, intelligence, determination and at times extreme mental strength and resolve. Naturally the game also favours these attributes in players and staff in the game, so it’s worth taking this into account when signing players especially Wonderkids and Hot Prospects that have the potential to go all the way but are never guaranteed – attributes such as Determination and Decisions are essential however you cannot underestimate the importance of the Personality and Media Description values on a player’s profile. Even the most talented youngster can fail to meet their potential if they don’t have the mental strength to go with it.
A simple amendment to the Player Search filters and columns can help to narrow down on players that have both the talent and mentality to succeed and therefore are worth splashing your chairman’s precious cash for their signature.
9. Staff & Facilities
There is always a settling in period when joining a new club so you might as well shake things up – backroom staff play a key part in the success of any save and many FM players ignore this at the start in favour of transfers and rapidly clicking their way through pre-season etc. It’s essential from a training and scouting perspective to have the best staff in place to maximise your player development and recruitment early on – not to mention if you wait 3 months before signing new staff it can again unsettle things after you’ve already just passed through the honeymoon period! Bearing in mind the update on your first Youth Intake now comes earlier than previous versions, now is the time to get the right staff and best possible youth facilities / recruitment in place.
And of course, as per #1 above – always ask for more 😏
10. Enjoy it!
We all play FM for different reason, but for me the main enjoyment comes from picking the right club with the right level of challenge and finding as many ways possible to connect with and enjoy the save – whether it’s taking over your favourite club, resurrecting a fallen giant, lower-league mediocrity, global journeyman domination, content creation or playing a network save with your mates – giving your save a name, targets/goals, connecting with specific players/staff, comparing to the same club in real life and always quitting while you’re ahead (the session not the job 😄) mean that you’ll always be hungry for more, and FM can certainly provide as it has done and will continue to do for many many years. As the tagline goes – You Decide the Story.