What to do at the start of every save (and at the start of every season)- A GUIDE


Dec 5, 2011
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The contents of this thread also appear in my Box of Sweets thread but Im exerpting them for ease of reference (and have amended them to make them better).


The first day at your new club is perhaps the most important day of your FM career (and every first day of a new pre-season is the most important day of that season).

There are a number of things that you absolutely MUST do if you dont want to have serious problems later on. Most people find them boring as they delay the "real" action (buying and selling players and playing matches) for quite some time (it takes me between half an hour and 1 hour to do them).

But dont worry, if you do them once, they then become second nature and, I dare say it, enjoyable (and most importantly you will reap the rewards).

It would be helpful if you arm yourself with a couple of A4 size pieces of paper and a pen ...

Game start date

Aim to have as long a pre- season as possible. When choosing leagues bear in mind their start dates. To show you what I mean by an example in a save I started with GENK recently, I saw that the Belgium game start date is July but I chose the game to start in a different country so as to have it start in June and have an extra month of preparation.

Before the start of every new season you will get a message asking when you want pre-season to start. Choose an early date but also look for balance (give your players a reasonable holiday!). You need time not only for tactical preparations but (perhaps more importantly) to work on team cohesion which is very difficult to achieve especially if you buy too many players (see below)
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Part 2

Note for new managers - get to know your club

1. Look at all the squads:

Decide who are your best players for every position, who are the up and coming youngsters and the players you dont need.

Look in reserve and other squads carefully as there usually are good players hidden there who for whatever reason are transfer listed in Ukraine. Remember that certain teams (such as some Spanish and Ukrainian teams) have "B" teams which may have quite a few gems. Look at Shaktar 3 for example to see what I mean!.

An easy way to guide you to understand the quality of your players is to categorise players by value (press the relevant button in the squad screen) as value is a good starting indicator as to ability. Take one of the A4 papers and carefully space out every position of your tactic - draw your intended tactic on it as if you re watching an FM match on 2d (using dots on it). Then put the players you will be keeping in the position you will be playing them hierarchically - eg in a club where Strandberg/Andia/Milosevic/Okore are your cbs decide the two pairs you ll be alternating (Strandberg/Milosevic and Okore/Andia) and put them there.

2. Look to have two players per position plus an extra player apart from GKs where two are enough:

Actually, the above suggestion is only indicative as on the one hand I found that with smallish squads you tend to do better but on the other the most competitions you are in the bigger the squad you need. Also a top team such as Man Utd with a small squad is rather stupid as why would you play as them if you were not aiming to win the lot every season?

3. If you list the players you will be using from the existing squad on the A4 paper as above you will have a very concrete indication of what you need to buy

This will avoid mindless adrenaline rushes of buying for the sake of buying (and because you see great players are available cut price). Show self control. Plan things and always buy ONLY the players you really need.

4. Team cohesion is important and very difficult to establish. If you bring in more than 4/5 players every summer and 2/3 in January then prepare for performances not to reflect squad strength for a pretty long time.

If you still want to buy loads of players then you must show self control in another way. Try to use mainly players who are not new and play at most a couple of new players per match. If you do so performances will not suffer that much.

[As a new manager you need to use the preseason to get acquainted with your new club, in addition to building up your players fitness levels. When managing a new club you need to analyse the squads strengths and weaknesses, set up the tactics you ll be using , and schedule training to aid player development.]

Arrange Friendlies

1. Dont let the assistant do it! Do it yourself.

If you are a poor team try to arrange friendlies away against better opponents but dont overdo it. Start with "easy" teams to build up morale and have the better teams in the middle of your schedule. Always arrange the last friendly against a team you know you ll whup the *** off again for morale. Arrange as many friendlies as possible (max 4 days between each at the start then as fitness increases to the required levels -ie between 94 and100 give players more days between matches but not more than 6/7).

By playing matches the players will both improve their knowledge of your tactics and their individual match fitness. Team cohesion will also be improved. The individual players match fitness will also be improved by assigning players to heavy physical training.

By arranging multiple friendly matches, you increase your players "comfort" with your tactics quicker AND give them match fitness which affects their performances. Rotate your players. But rotate cleverly - eg: dont rotate both first choice cbs rotate only one, dont put a newbie gk behind two cbs that are new to club/young/not first choice etc ... (this is also my advice about rotating in season btw).

General Training and Match Training

1. Dont forget to schedule training on the first day!

My advice of what to schedule is:

a. General training: Fitness. Very Heavy. Two weeks AND Match training: tactics.
b. GT: Tactics. Very heavy (till about 2 weeks before 1st league match OR tactical familiarity bars 80% whichever comes first) AND MT: Team Cohesion.
c. GT: Team Cohesion (till first season match at least - if many players brought in two extra weeks) MT: Tactics (to top up familiarity bars).

2. Look at your staff

Do it from the training page to see who is below par. Give them mutual termination (doing it first day means they' ll leave for less compensation than if you do it later on). Then go to staff screen and clear the remaining deadwood looking at that. Make a note on your other piece of paper what training categories you need staff for and how many coaches. Go to the transfer centre and start looking. Make note of who you offer jobs to in order to avoid getting more experts for a category than what you need. Aim to have coaches with as many stars as you can and get the indication of light workload.

Once you get the best coaches that you cancan, if you have a free coaching position search for somebody with 20 or near it motivating, bring him in and have him train EVERY category. Dunno if it works to tell you the truth but seems reasonable.

Once you complete your squad you then assign individual tactics. Ive checked this with RAIKAN and he does it too: have all players individually training their position for the season (unless somebody has a very low attribute for his position which sticks out where you will assign particular attribute). If players are young or you need the attributes to pick up quickly train hard not average. In the ollowing seasons you can look at individual attributes and try to increase them piecemeal. Look also at what PPMs you want to teach/unteach and schedule them as well. Also any new positions you want to train

Once season starts you should aim to gradually set the team training intensity to average/low and once you are done with tactics/cohesion you should assign something else as GT. Most people have it on Balanced. I disagree. I usually do ball control and attacking interchangeably (cos I like the attributes they deal with eg possession) but I also look at opponents and how Im doing (I will occasionally train balanced or defence for example). MT should be opponent - orientated. An example that brings the two together: Im Bologna and scheduled to play Bayern in the second round (knock out) CL who are much stronger. If I have first match away Ill train GT Defence and MT Attacking set pieces cos I want to grab an away goal and, being the weaker team my best bet would seem to be through a set piece. If I then win or get a score draw for the return leg I train Defence and Defence Set pieces.

The slider should be less match training - 1 day match training. With rest after match only.

Part 3 ?

Set the Tactics

The orthodox way to do it is to look at your players and use a tactic to suit them (eg no wingers in the team? dont set a 442). Thats all fine and dandy but thats not what I do. I have a couple of tactics that I know work and always set them and then have the third to experiment with).

Be varied - I often see people who have 442 defend 442 attack and 442 counter to use depending on opponent. That to my mind is wrong. You should have a similar tactical/team instruction basis running through all three as much as possible but the formations should be different. A wider one (ie a 451), a narrower (ie a 41212) and one with 3 cbs. You could achieve uniformity by having wingbacks instead of fbs in the first two. This will come in handy when you read the scout reports of opponents and particularly the tactics faced part and you notice that a particular opponent doesnt like a narrow formation. It may be a different narrow formation from the one your players know but believe me your narrow formation is likely to work almost equally well.

Note: Have the board set expectations of attacking football? Use at least one tactic aimed at that.

Setting up scouting network/look for Transfer targets

1. Import any shortlists into the game.

2. Have a look at the transfer/loan market.

3. If you are in an alien league eg Uruguay

Finding suitable players of a nationality you re not familiar with or a league you dont know a lot about may be difficult. But there is an easy way to get you going: look at each team of similar/lower level from the league table page. Press the value tab as its a good starting indicator and if you like what you see scout player and take it from there. Do the same with analogous reputation leagues (eg for Uruguay do it with Chile/Colombia/Peru).

4. Assign scouts to find transfer targets

Always do it relative to where you are and what you need. Eg it would be pointless at Penarol to scout European leagues as nobody of note would deign to join you.

5. Dont suffer from the obsession that all FMers apparently do: dont always look only for youth!

Look for players who will win you money/trophies/reputation asap. As always balance is the name of the game. But getting too many youngsters means you re waving your chances for immediate success bye bye for the time being.

Any transfers in pre-season are done by the scouts recommendation or if I need to move quickly to attract a specific player. (For example if a good player or a wonderkid has an affordable transfer clause).

And as a bonus here's some players who are not young but who will win you trophies:

GK: V. Enyeama / Marchetti (will save A LOT of pens) (Lazio)/Ochoa
Argies: Jose Sosa (IF/AM r/l)/Dario Conca (If/AM/CM)/W. Montillo (IF/AM/WINGER)/Andres D' Alessandro/Ignacio Scocco (only available -dirt cheap/free 2nd season)
Others: Rainford Kalaba/Cristian Danalache (31yo Romanian CF who ll score loads - perfect for *** leagues or poor top teams)/Oliveira (Penarol - as per Danalache)/Anderson Martins (a rock at cb)/Javad Nekounam (free)/Ronaldinho Gaucho/Enio (Jeonbuk AM/IF who scores loads)/Leonardo (Jeonbuk)/Fernandinho (some Arab team)/Diego Angelo (nice stats cb)/Bare (some Arab team. Becomes available for Free quickly and will score loads)/Pinga (250k from start from SANTOS and performances of players worth 10 times as much)

Now you are set for "life"!!!!!!
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5. Dont suffer from the obsession that all FMers apparently do: dont always look only for youth!

Look for players who will win you money/trophies/reputation asap. As always balance is the name of the game. But getting too many youngsters means you re waving your chances for immediate success bye bye for the time being.

Totally agree on that one. I prefer more expirienced players for my teams.
Totally agree on that one. I prefer more expirienced players for my teams.

Yes. Time and again I see stories on this forum and elsewhere in which people waste all their money on young unformed players who are no immediate improvement to what they already have in the squad. That stops them from having more success, earlier whatever people say ...
Agree with the youth policy usually for every 3 under23 players I sign, I go for a experienced player. Signed Ince, frimpong and Will Hughes but also picked up Barry for a free. Although the first three are the future and will generate income if I decide to sell them Barry was one of the main reason we finished 6th with Brighton in my 3rd season plus his experience and tutoring helped the young players!
I like this,it is very useful,especially for the "new" players,I also prefer experienced players and scouts are vey important for my game too..:)
Very helpful guide... Thanks.

It's true about the "Wonderkid based team".. It really slows down the success.. Though centerbacks wonderkids are almost always ready..

I have this great 16 yr old BWM regen, 5 star, but his mentality is kinda low for that role, sold my previous BWM (guztavo), then tried to insert the regen, he does have good ratings, but the performance i want (tackling) isnt that high.. So i bought "Jason Lowe" for 3m, performs really great, instrumental in my runner up finish in both EPL and Champions league.. He had a rating of 7.4ish with tacklings over 8 per game.. Though now, after 3 years, still on my team both lowe and regen, lowe is injured for 5 months, and regen is still not kinda ready..
With every step you take you should always aim to have a better team than you had before. This is doubly the case with players. Every time you spend money you should aim at having in place better players than you did before. I actually think that for teams such as SWANSEA where you have 10-13m tranny budget plus more when you sell deadwood that means that in the first season you should be aiming to win stuff and finish in the top four. Therefore you should spend your dosh on instant result players and only buy youngsters cos you have to (eg if Maupay isnt snapped up asap he signs new contract or whatever and 1.29m will be nowhere near enough). You should only start bringing in more and more youngsters when you re sure you re on the way to success.

Another thing- you need a spine of reliable players: GK (the most imp position actually as people who have used MARCHIONI/TER STEGEN/COSTIL/OSPINA etc will attest)-CB-DM/"PLAYMAKER" and CF.

Another thing that most people dont realise is that FM is a game (however good it is at simulation) so the easiest way to make a winning team is to look for pace everywhere bar GK- My rule is: WB: Not less 14 pace CB: Only accept less than 14 if other stats are great and then wont go below 12, DM No less than 12, Wingers no less than 15, AM/IFs no less than 14 unless other stats great and CFs no less than 12 (and for poachers no less than 15).
You missed out what I think is a key point when you first takeover a club, especially if team morale is low or you have a low reputation (compared to the team):

Hold a team meeting straight away introducing yourself! :)