How to be a good Football Manager
Sports Interactive market leading football management simulation is now in its eighth instalment, with the greatest level of detail and realism that fans have ever seen. This year we have welcomed into the fray a host of additions which although lacking any major changes, promise to only push the game in one direction- up!
The opportunity to remove and add leagues at will opens up the opportunity of managing in a wide spectrum of cultures to people with even the worst computers; the ability to use a particular tone when talking to your players; and the most detailed and realistic scouting reports that have ever graced the SI series.
With these, we will, as always, observe a rush of players to FM and the community, with a whole new range of questions and opinions, ideas and debates. And the flipside of that, a whole new generations of moaners. By no means will this short article be a ‘guide’, but simply the best tips and tricks that I’ve picked up on over the years as a result of the debate pool in the FM community and from my own travails.
Immersive is a mainstay in the Sports Interactive announcement of the latest game: it’s just one of those terms that has the air of impression. FM IS extremely immersive if you play it like you are the manager of that football club; like you’re giving that team talk, telling that youngster that he needs to pick up his training and sending off your chief scout to watch the youngsters in Burkina Faso.
Play it with football in mind and you will prosper in every aspect. Football Manager is a game with roots deeper than the current series, and it is built to best represent real life. If you can look at tactics, recruitment and youth development in purely footballing terms then you will enjoy it tenfold, and perhaps feel something similar to Pep Guardiola when you lift the Champions League with Swansea. Quite possibly.
A key feature in all of my FM saves last year were based around tactical synergy- that is, the combined action or functioning. Everything must work with something else to devastating effect to get as close to perfection as possible.
Overachievement in any situation is only achieved by making the most of the resources you have going for you and this is brilliantly applicable in FM. My most successful save on FM11, perhaps ever, was a journeyman kind of career, and it wasn’t until I joined Croats Dinamo Zagreb that I found a challenge that was appealing to me. These guys, as you would expect were the dominators domestically but had encountered obstacles continentally, making my test a rather complicated one; a season mostly consisting of wins but with a couple of losses in Europe could spell out a disappointing campaign.
I set about creating and innovating a tactical system based around my talisman, Paulo, a cross between Ronaldinho and Zidane. To crack the European puzzle I needed to utilise my only world class player by making him the fulcrum but not the central character so that he’d get marked out of the game by the 2020’s John Terry. My fastest striker ran behind the lines, my cleverest dragged wide and my full backs were encouraged to to push forward and offer passing options a la Dani Alves, while the midfielders were effectively shuttlers who carried the ball. All this combined into wonderfully harmonised orchestra. The Champions League arrived in Zagreb in my fourth season- you didn’t think it would happen overnight did you?!
Just as I had little hesitation in jumping on the virtual flight to Croatia, you should be very open to seeing the sights. Different footballing cultures offer different, steep learning curves on ways to play football. Take Argentina- though traditionally a country which produces dizzy dribblers and perfect passers, there’s just as many Roy Keanes over there as there are Diego Maradonas.
You can open up your mind to so many experiences and ideologies from just managing in countries where there are certain types of players that you come out a much better manager with completely changed views on football. There can’t have been many more view changing events in Carlos Alberto Parreira’s managerial career than his failure to fit in Kaka, Ronaldinho, Ze Roberto, Ronaldo, Robinho and Adriano into one side.
It is these failures – and successes – that form managers and if you can learn from them and take them forward then FM will go well for you. See Russia, see Malaysia, see Chile- you’ll only benefit.
Now, away from such exotic lands and to my bedroom; no, no, this isn’t what you think, honest.
About this time last year I was battling away on FM10 with Nottingham Forest. I was armed with new tactical knowledge, had set up home and away tactics based on my pitch size and the opposition’s and had a rather naive anticipation of a good season. That came crashing down within a few games, I raged and moaned to Jenko about how I was shit at FM and that I’d never play it again.
One sleep later I realised my mistakes and made another vow- this time a more positive promise to myself to keep things to what I know best and to disassociate myself from my team’s results. You have to be able to take results without being affected negatively, and have the capability to look back at a match and see where you’ve gone wrong. From then on I took everything in a much better grace and I’ve never done so badly since.
From all of these tips and imperatives, Football Managers only truly improve through practice. Your first job might go terribly, as possibly will your second and third, but the sackings and relegations are much, much more insightful than the 30 point league wins with Barcelona. Get playing.