In this post i will talk about how i build and setup my teams when i play Football Manager. I have been doing this the same way ever since i started playing managing games. Now most of the stuff i do is a mixture between how i would do things in real life if i was a football coach and how things work in Football Manager itself. For this specific post i will be using my Chelsea savegame as an example. Let’s get cracking.

1. DEFINING MY TACTICAL APPROACH

One of the first things i do when i start a savegame at a club is settle on the tactical approach i want to use. In my savegame with Chelsea i have opted to go with a 4-3-3 Gegenpressing as you can see at the screenshot below. If you want to know more about the instructions and settings then i advise you to take a look my tactical intentions post where i dive deeper into that kind of stuff. So now that i’ve defined my tactical approach i can start looking at the players that i have at my disposal. I personally always create my tactic first and then i look at the players and see where i can fit them in. Some people might do it the other way around but i really want to implement my own tactical philosophy into the clubs that i play my saves with. So for me in this particular savegame this tactic is the go to basis from which we will start our matches. During the progress of the seasons i always create different versions of my tactic so we can keep surprising our opponents each season.

2. ANALYZING MY PLAYERS

A very important part of my team building process is looking at my players their attributes. I know that each player will perform better in their best position, role, duty and task but to me that is not really relevant. My goal when building a team is to have every position covered by at least two players with a youngster as backup. I always try to find two players who can play in the same position but are different from eachother. I will try to explain this as good as i can below. For this example i will be taking a look at the winger position on the left flank. In my current Chelsea squad i have both Thomas Lemar and Callum Hudson-Odoi at my disposal. As you can see at the screenshot below both of these players differ from eachother. I am not only talking about their attributes but also about their preferred foot, their personality and their player traits. Where Lemar his favourite role and duty is winger (support) Hudson-Odoi rather plays as an inverted winger (support). But when you look at his attributes he can certainly play as a winger as well. So this is why i’ve opted to go for the winger on the left flank. It doesn’t matter which of these two players plays in that position, both of them will fill their role in a different way. Hudson-Odoi is a player who likes to do tricks and wants the ball to be played into his feet where Lemar tries to get into the opponents area and likes to shoot from distance.

I hope you guys can understand a bit what i am on about as i try to do this for every position in my tactic. If i have a really good player who can’t play in his desired role/duty/task i will retrain him and use him in a different kind of way. This way my players are always versatile and i can use them in several positions as long as their attributes allow them to. If a player lacks a certain attribute to play in a certain position/duty/role/task then i will focus some extra attention on this attribute in his training schedule. We all know enough examples off wingers who became full-backs or midfielders who end up as strikers.

3. REPLACING PLAYERS – USING A SHADOW LIST

Once a player from my team has been sold i need to fill the gap. I usually have two ways that i use to get a suitable replacement for first team players that have left the team. First i can implement a youth player who is ready to make the jump into the first team. Secondly i can buy a player who has been scouted intensively by my scouts so i know he will fit into the team as i would like them to fit in. As i’ve stated earlier in this post i always want every position occupied by two players with a youngster as backup. These youngster who serve as backup have been carefully picked out by me. One thing i always do when it comes to Football Manager is that i create a shadow list for my first team. This means that i want at least one player on that list who can fill in a spot in my team. This way when somebody leaves and i can’t use somebody from my youth teams i know which player to buy. I update this shadow list on a regular basis as my scouts keep on scouting players during the entire season. Another great tool to find suitable players for your team is a tool that is already in the game itself. When you go to your players profile click on the comparison tab and then on Find Similar Players. This will load your current players role and a few key attributes into the search filter. You will then get a list of players who are similar to the player you have selected and you can start scouting all of these players to find one that fits the bill. If for some reason you don’t get any players in the list you can play around with the attributes by adjusting them a bit lower. If you stil don’t get any players in the list then there might not be a similar player but that has never happened to me before.

4. SETTING UP MY SCOUTING

Another important thing i always do around how i build my teams is the way i set up my scouting. I always instruct my scouts to look for younger players. By getting good talents into my academy i can develop them into proper players for my first team. Older players i scout via the way i have described above by using the Find Similar Players filter. The key in any team is getting a good balance between young players and more veteran players. Back in the day you could win silverware in Football Manager with teams that existed only out of players who are eighteen years old. In the more recent Football Manager versions this has become tougher to do. I generally see more games lost when my team has been called “Youthful” then when they are not. So to get a decent balance in my squad (and in the club overall) i target scout older players and focus most of the scouting on getting good talents to the club. This way my scouts will find the best talents around the world and i can really take my time on scouting older players before we sign them to our club.

5. DEVELOPMENT AND PERFORMANCE IS KEY

Last but not least player development and performance is key for anyplayer that wants to stay at a club where i am managing. What do i mean with that? Every player is being judged on a yearly basis on their performance and development. If a player his performance drops but his development has gone up he is safe, when a player his performance go up and his development drops he is also safe. But when both the development and performances drop i will try to get rid of this player with hopes of replacing him with someone better. On the right there is a small screenshot from Tammy Abraham. As you can see he’s had a really decent first and second season but his performances have dropped during season three. Now on the tactical side of things there are no changes so we can rule out that that had anything to do with his drop in performance. But his development has been dropping this season and that has everything to do with the fact that his gametime has been reduced. Better players have joined the club which means Abraham has been playing less when he wasn’t performing as expected. So for a small part his drop in performance and development is my fault by getting other players to the club. But i do want to have a competitive team so every player needs to learn how to deal with these kind of issues. For now Abraham is save but if he has another poor season during season four he risks getting sold. By using this method i have a clear way of renewing my squad when players are not performing and developing anymore. The way i see it it’s pretty clear, when a player performs well the club’s success will grow, the player grows in worth and will attract interest form other clubs. This is the healthy way of developing and selling players over time. As soon as the performances and development drops the healthy way goes overboard and i will use any means to get as much money for a player as i can. By selling players i open up paths and chances for our talents to make the jump into the first team. As long as i can keep this circle alive at the club everybody will be happy and the club will be as strong as possible on the player side of things.

FINAL WORDS ..

I hope i have been able to get my way of how i build my teams across to you guys. I have been using this method for years now and it has brought me great success and a lot of joy in playing Football Manager. By using this method i use a lot of the tools and ins and outs that the game has to offer. I want to thank everybody that has taken the time to read this rant of mine. Stay safe for now and take care!

Regards,

Ralph