The First Things I Do When Loading a New Football Manager Save
Everyone plays Football Manager in different ways. For some, the excitement of delving deep into the tactical side of the game is more fun than looking at scouting or youth development, while for others they enjoy starting off on the bare ground with minimum facilities and finances and building the club from the ground in a zero to hero challenge.
No matter how you play the game, there are some steps that should be completed when starting a brand new save which is similar to every event where you load up a new Football Manager save
Here I’ll share my tips on what to do when starting a new save by showing you the 11 tasks I start off with at every save. These tips and tasks cover everything from creating a foundation before my managerial career starts to essential downloads or assets I import to play the game more efficiently. These tasks will help you to not only get acquainted with your team and its squads but also prepare you for the season ahead and a successful pre-season.
These tips cover everything you need to do after you’ve set up your manager profile, selected playable leagues and the team to be before kicking off your new Football Manager journey. Continue reading to discover the 11 tasks I complete before starting a new save in Football Manager 2020.
NB! Some of these tasks must be completed before I start a new save, while others are done before I hit the ‘Continue’ button for the first time.
11. Remove Fake Names & Enable National Teams
The first thing I do before I kick off my Football Manager journey is to ensure licensed clubs and national teams, which have been provided with fake names, are available with their real names. This fix is applied as soon after the official release of Football Manager 2022 and/or after every official database upgrade (e.g. 22.1, 22.0).
Licenses issues are subject to happen for the Japanese, South Korean and the German national team, while Brazilian clubs have been provided with abbreviations of their full name, as well as a few other clubs and managers.
To fix this I download and install the Passion4FM real names license fix files which automatically enables me to get the real names of clubs and competitions plus activates the German national team. By loading these files, you don’t even need to start a new save.
NB! This does not apply to the Brazilian fix, as you’ll need to delete either some files or select a custom database, before you start a new save.
10. Sketch Out a Plan For The Save; Intentions, Visions & Goals
When the moment comes when you shall select the team to manage and while setting up your manager profile, you need to have in mind the objectives and intentions with your save, whether the save will focus on solely youth development, implementing a certain tactical style or get a specific club back to where they belong, as these issues require different things from you.
As seen in the headline features reveal, FM20 will incorporate club visions, season expectations and club culture objectives which you’ll be judged upon during your tenure, which will set some boundaries in your save.
Along with the save loads, it could be beneficial to create a Club DNA statement which should work as a foundation on all future matters, whether it’s transfers, scouting, staff recruitment, player development or incorporating certain tactical instructions that shall fit the overall playing style. By detailing the club football philosophy and your intentions and visions for the save you limit yourself to follow some ‘rules’.
Some valuable questions to ask yourself are;
- What’s my vision on how the team shall play?
- How do I want the fans and media to experience the team?
- Will my vision and football philosophy be easy to establish at the club or will there be any obstacles?
- What will be my goals for the first 5 years (compared to the boards)? The goals you set depends on the overall club philosophy and what’s agreed upon at board meeting in regard to the club vision.
One part may be to set some policies which affect how you will approach certain aspects of managing your club. I’ll be looking closer at transfer policies and scouting policies in a future article, but for now, thinking through how you will go about your business according to the club culture and objectives will set certain boundaries which you’ll be required to put your attention to in all future businesses.
Even though I’ll take a closer look at these things in a coming article, it’s important to note that the club vision and your intentions with the save must be taken into account as early on as when you select playable nations and leagues, the number of players within the database and whether or not it’s beneficial to load a custom database size of all players within a specific nation/region, while continuing this attention to detail when you’re setting up your Manager profile.
The question will be on what type of managerial style you shall go for; tracksuit or tactical manager and carefully selecting your coaching and mental attributes focus according to your intentions with the save and the likely used playing style and its intent.
9. Create Reminders
Perhaps it’s just me who needs reminders to ensure that I check player happiness and player progression, or the training plan for the coming month. Setting up reminders can be a great way to ensure something that needs to be checked every month or so will happen.
I use reminders for;
- set up or change individual training plus adding player traits ‘on the right time’
- This event will happen every month, as it lets me check their training happiness and their improvement
- check loanees development, performance, general happiness and morale
- This event will happen every month
- check upon the general happiness of the first team members and speak to them about it. It helps to establish closer connections between me and the players and improves the managerial support within ‘Dynamics’.
- This event will happen every two weeks.
- check the reserves and Under-18 players development ratio and analyze whether the training sessions and my development plan is working. Do I need to make adjustments and changes, perhaps removing an individual focus? Here it may be as beneficial to visit the brand new development centre to get useful information about the development of your youth and check if some of them might be called up to the first team on an earlier occasion than planned for.
- Set reminder for every third month from the pre-season ends (usually at August 1st)
How to create reminders?
In order to set up reminders, Football Manager gives you the ability to write notes. Simply click:
Home < Notebook < Create Note
Create a title for your note, assign a category to it and remember to set how often the reminder shall occur. You can select either at specific times, like every X week, X month or every year, or on a specific date, which is great if a player’s contract ends on that day.
NB! The progression of players and their training performance will be approached each week when I receive an inbox message about the training week. I put focus on particularly praising or criticizing the players who have the best and lowest training performances.
8. Import Custom Views To Access Important Data
The next up on the agenda before I’m utterly ready to start my managerial career is to make the save more efficient to play, by importing custom views for the different screens; from squad view, player/staff search to fixture list.
The custom views will let me get access to important statistics and information about my squad and my opponent and will be highly valuable throughout the save.
My Football Manager views megapack features everything from specific views about basic information about your squad along with key statistics, a contract information view, a player skills assessments, training views, overview of key attributes at staff searches plus views for tactics and fixtures which provides you with ‘all’ the information you need.
The squad views let you identify who are vital for your team and perform the best and their current level of attributes, while the staff search or player search view helps you to identify scouts, coaches and players who can improve your current team and how they can fit into your squad. I’ve also created an opposition squad view which gives you important information about your next opponent.
You will be able to see screenshots and get instructions on how to load the custom views in the link to the megapack above.
7. Assign Staff Responsibilities
Once you’ve entered your save the question will be; how much involvement do I need/want to be in order to work towards my intentions. Will you need to be a hands-on manager in order to create the club according to your premises or can you delegate some control of the daily running of the club?
The staff responsibility area has seen a major update for FM20 according to the features reveal, which I will take a closer look at once FM20 has been released, but for now the questions for you might be; do I need to take control of transfers and training to achieve my goals and work alongside the club visions?
Personally, I like to be in charge of;
- Staff Recruitment (First Team and Youth Team)
- Setting up scouting assignments
- Handle In-coming / Out-coming Transfers
- Plan General Training and set up individual training for First Team, Reserves and U18
These areas let me have control on finding and purchasing players that fits my tactics, create and maintain a specific scouting policy and transfer policy plus being involved with the development of the players, and staff recruitment, which will be vital for establishing a certain club football philosophy.
I like to delegate control of;
- Team selection and everything that’s linked to it to the Manager/Assistant Manager of Reserves and Youth Teams
- Youth Development / Youth Intake to the ‘Head of Youth Development’
- Friendly fixtures to the Manager of the specific teams. I normally select ‘Arrange Friendly Fixtures if no fixture in the week’.
For more in-depth knowledge about the staff responsibilities and how to assess it, please read this guide.
6. [How to] Filter News Messages in Football Manager
Have you ever been laden with hundred of inbox messages, receiving both agent offers, information about transfer offers of players and staff within your shortlists?
If you are like me and hate to browse through hundreds of messages that are highly irrelevant to you and your current save (just because you’ve uploaded some shortlists), then you can easily change what gets sent to your inbox.
While one important area of Football Manager is to get as much important information as possible. While the inbox can be filled with messages from your staff, news items that might be useful to you, agent offers and scout reports, the number of news items might be overwhelming. And going through all will basically make the game even more time-consuming as you need to browse through them all before continuing.
The solution is pretty simple, as Football Manager lets you filter news messages and enables you to only select information of most importance to enter your inbox. By going to the Social Feed tab you’ll be able to select what information you’d like to receive (either in the social tab, news tab or in your inbox) by selecting the type of information that’s relevant to you.
Within the Social Feed, you’ll be able to set up some advanced filters which let you manage where information about your followed accounts (awards, leagues, teams, nations, cups AND shortlists) shall be delivered.
Using Advanced Message Filters:
How to Get Minimal Messages from Players/staff within your shortlists?
Locate 'Manage' > Click All Followed (Drop Down Menu) > All Shortlists > Select where you want to view it (in socials, in news or not at all). Select the Content level (minimal to Extensive). .
P.S. You can even setup custom content levels. Click the ‘pen’ button to the right which opens the screen below. Here you can select to whether or not receive specific news about staff and players, such as their performance in matches, contract changes, injuries and transfer information.
Scouting Recommendations Filter
Another news item that may provide a huge number of news items are scout reports and information about scouting recommendations.
When the chief scouts deliver his alerts on the weekly/monthly scouting meeting, you will be able to set your preferences in regard to how frequently you’ll like to receive news messages of recommended players found by your scouting and recruitment team (including agent offers).
NOTE! What type of recommendations you want to receive from your scouting team can be filtered in the Scouting Centre (as the image to the right indicates). Simply go to:
Scouting > Scouting Centre > Filter (Next to Preferences)
You’ll be able to set how often scouting meetings shall happen during and outside transfer window, and for how long the scouts shall spend time to increase the knowledge of the players by clicking specific action buttons.
Also, you’ll be able to decide how often you’d like to receive recommendations from the scouting team and where it shall be delivered.
By clicking the advanced option you’ll be able to select and deselect which news items you’d like to receive to your inbox, which shall be forwarded directly to the scouting meeting and what type of notifications will be valuable for you.
Below I’ve set up an example of how the filter may look. Here I have not taken into account what type of transfer policy I got or what information is needed for my club at this particular season, as I might change these preferences depending on the state of the squad (aging, low transfer budget and etc).
By carefully assigning your news preferences in terms of player scouting you will save time by reducing the number of news items you need to click through.
Setting up Backroom Advices
The next type of news item that will help me to do my job better is receiving backroom advices from the coaching staff and liaisons.
It’s part of the staff responsibilities section and can be found at:
Staff Responsibility < Backroom Advices
Here you’re able to get advice from particular staff within the scouting or coaching team, relating to tactics, training, player development, transfers and contracts and backroom team, and how often you’d like to receive these reports. To get useful and accurate reports it’s important to select the staff with the best experience relating to the type of advice. If it’s tactical advice, it’s best to select the assistant manager or coach with the best tactical knowledge and similar preferred playing / coaching style as your tactics. If it’s advice about scouting or scout reports I let scouts with the best judging player potential and judging player ability hand me the recommendations.
News & Social Feed
Another minor part of ensuring you get the correct type of information delivered is by following clubs, players and/or competitions that’s most valuable in your managerial career. Within the social feed you’re able to set your preferences whether you’d like to see simply news items, social interaction messages or both. By clicking ‘Manage’ in the right table (where the list of clubs, players and competitions you currently follows), you’ll be able to increase or decrease the number of followers.
For an example, I like to manage the number of players I follow from the shortlists, as I like to setup multiple shortlists where not everyone will be as relevant at all times. Having 100 players on a shortlist can quickly lead to a tenth of news items per week about whether a certain player has signed a new contract, earned a specific award, started scouted on, and other useful and inadequate messages and reports. By heading to ‘shortlists’ I untick getting messages from all players within a shortlists that’s not highly important to me. If I should come in a situation where I need to get their scout report and other information received straight to my inbox I simply tick the shortlist of preference.
5. Familiarize Yourself With the Squad Plus Analyzing the Squad Depth
No matter which club you select to manage, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the squad. The team report with its analysis of strengths and weaknesses will be valuable screens to take a look at. Here I get a clear overview of positions I might need to improve, the depth in a specific area. By checking the average age of the squad, the age of the key players gives me a signal on whether I need to think long term (in training and player recruitment) or if everything is set for immediate success as I got the ideal first team from day one.
Another is the comparison screen where I tend to look at the technical and mental attributes of your squad compared to the league’s average. The one I pay most attention to of ‘Physical’, ‘Mental’ and ‘Technical’ depends on the tactical style I use and gives me an indication of whether the squad will perform in the tactical style I like to address and their likely level of performance relating to the other clubs in the league.
The new FM20 feature ‘playing path way’ will also be an important aspect of analyzing the squad as you can sketch out a plan for each player and analyze how the squad will look into the future. I believe that I will in this event also take a quick look into the Development Centre to check if there are some likely first team candidates and which youth players are worth watching for the future and might develop into a future first team player.
How thoroughly you analyze your squad in this event will help you in the next steps, when you’ll be creating a tactic, delve into the transfer market and set up long-term/short-term scouting assignments.
One way to help you analyze the squad is to create a spreadsheet of your player’s skills, personalities and positions, and group them by squad status (key players, regular starters, backup players and not needed. For my youngsters, I create a youth development plan where 1-3 players are grouped together according to how I expect them to feature within the squad. As an example, Group A talents will train with the first team and get appr. 50% playing time (cup and league matches combined), while players in Group B will feature with the first team in cup matches and spend the most time training and playing with the reserves.
The spreadsheet helps you to view each player’s profile and get acquainted with their suitable role and duty, their specific traits, natural and secondary positions as well as specific weaknesses relating to the key attributes of your playing style.
The question will be; will the player fit into your tactical plan and what areas of his game must be improved – which provides you with a plan for individual player development.
Your approach to analyzing the squad and deciding which players that shall feature in the first team, reserves and youth sides (depending on their current ability and potential level) will make it easier to sketch out a player recruitment plan – one area that’s part of creating a Club DNA statement. The transfer policy will depend on the current financial status of the club and what philosophy you’ll introduce.
Some valuable questions to ask yourself in terms of the player recruitment plan you’re going to sketch out is:
- How are the club’s finances and facilities to develop players? Youth recruitment vs established players?
- What’s the current level of the player’s key attributes relating to your tactical style? Are there weaknesses in any part of the play that might take it longer to incorporate your tactics?
- Do you got the boards acceptance to sign a number of talents who will feature in the first team or are the club ambitions higher?
- will you need to use the loan market and free-agent market frequently as the club’s financial position is poor.
In terms of player contracts and planning the playing pathway, it may be advantageous to;
- look at full player status to see if anyone’s wanted
- look at contract start dates to see who might be prepared to move on
- for players out on loan it can be beneficial to ‘Recall players that’s available for it and who will feature in your plans’.
- for players on loan it can be beneficial to ‘Review the players on loan to see whether they are good enough to stay or let them return to their original club to save money on wages’
A quick overview of the clubs financial position; it’s current transfer budget and projection is one important area when creating a player recruitment plan.
4. Analyze Backroom Staff Team
Once you’ve got a fair knowledge of your team, a plan about your tactics and brief knowledge about the club’s visions, it’s important to analyze the backroom staff team, looking closer at the team of coaches, scouts and medics at your disposal.
In this event, you’ll be able to get an overview of the level of your coaches, scouts and medical team in the ‘Staff Overview’ and how it compared to the other clubs in the league, but I like to head for each department and create a spreadsheet containing valuable information about the different backroom staff to see if there are any weaknesses and positions that need strengthening.
The spreadsheet helps to identify positions I need to find a backroom staff member for plus reveal staff that’s ‘not needed’, either because they don’t match my tactical style, does not get the level of attributes I required, or prefer to play with a completely different formation than what I’ll adopt.
Relating to the coaching team I immediately set up the coach responsibilities in relation to the different training areas.
This can be found at:
Training < Coaches < Edit Coach Assignments
Here I’ll immediately get an overview of which areas in training (relating to my tactical style) needs better coaches, either to reduce the workload of some to improve the effect in training or get more qualified coaches with higher ratings to take charge of a specific area that’s highly important for your tactics.
My approach when setting up coaching responsibilities is to get the best coaches as possible to take charge of the most important area relating to my tactics. For a team who will play possession football, it’s more important to select a coach with the best ratings in possession technical and tactical than focusing on defensive tactical or technical, even though the preferred option is to even your coaching team out with 3,5 half star coaches and above, and average workload on each department. This is of course a question of your financial status and allocated transfer budget.
You can read more about this in this guide about how to find the best coaches.
Some tasks to look at in terms of the backroom staff team is to;
- Suggest ‘Offer contracts to target staff and mutually terminate contracts of staff in order to create vacancies for the incomers’
Staff Recruitment; Download Search Filter
Your analyzes in regard to the backroom staff will let you spot potential weaknesses and discover positions you need to strengthen.
To help you find the best backroom staff (director of football, assistant manager, coaches, scouts, data analysts or sport scientists) we have created a backroom staff search filter which helps you to identify the best staff you possibly can get. By sorting and carefully selecting/deselecting specific conditions you’ll be able to find 5-star coaches, the best scouts and a useful assistant manager according to the key requirements (read staff attributes) for each role.
You can load our backroom staff search filter by;
Clicking Staff Search < Edit Search < Wrench Button (bottom left corner) < Manage Filter < Import < 'FM20 Backroom Staff Search Filter by Passion4FM'
This will load the full package of all the available staff searches (around 25 different filters) will be available to load by clicking the wrench button an additional time and picking the preferred search filter.
The only thing you need to do is to adjust the least allowed attribute level and how strict the filter shall be (matching X out of Y search preferences or match X of X), and whether or not you’d like to include additional conditions to limit the search result.
3. Setting Up Scouting Packages & Assignments
Yet again, I’ll write more specifically about how to approach this area, the pros and cons and how to utilize scouting in the most effective way at a later date. What I’d like to highlight here is simply how I think in regard to setting up the foundation for everything that revolves around scouting from then on.
As part of detailing the scouting policy at the club, I take a second to determine the scouting packages and the number of players I need to search through in order to find useful prospects. It’s not advantageous to select a higher scouting package than what you require in terms of the level of players you can attract (both in regard to their skills and the financial side of approaching them).
For an example, in my FM19 Auxerre save, I had the intention of only signing homegrown players under the age of 23. Instead of having the scouting package of Central Europe where the number of players I could search through for the first team would be higher, I decided to lower it to France while I increased the youth Packages from the lowest package available to the nation I’m based in, France. The cost of it was almost the same, while I followed the scouting policy I had planned.
And if I would do a youth development save, where I focus on bringing in Under-21 talents I usually select the highest Youth package I can (depending on whether I need The World Youth package or a specific region) and decrease the senior package to my region/nation/league, depending on the level of the club I’m managing.
You can determine the Scouting Packages at:
Scouting < Players < Player Search
Setting up Scouting Assignments
As early as possible, in the pre-season and after I’ve created a scouting plan by analyzing the scouts available, their scouting knowledge relating to the club’s world knowledge and the clubs scouting policy, I approach setting up scouting assignments. The key question here is how can I improve my scouting knowledge and find the best players at my disposal according to the intentions I got. How many scouts do I need, which nations do they already got knowledge of and where do I want to sign players from?
The answer ties in with the scouting packages I got and how I set up the assignments for my scouts.
For example, if I have decided on a scouting policy to sign European talents under the age of 21, I approach each scout and assign them to different regions and nations in Europe. The one with the highest adaptability and judging player potential will roam Central Europe for players younger than 21. The one with the best tactical knowledge and judging player ability will provide me with the next opposition report cards, while there will be scouts who travel the biggest nations in Europe, including the league I’m located in.
Personally, I prefer to let my chief scout provide me with a secondary judgment of the players that have been recommended by my scouting team and that I’m most interested in because he possesses the best ratings in judging player potential and judging ability. He will be set to scout players within the nation I’m based in and provide more accurate report cards.
The spreadsheet for the scouts will be highly valuable once you shall scout specific players in a specific nation/region, as you can easily assign the scout within that nation/region to deliver scout reports about him. This reduces the travel cost a bit, meanwhile, it ensures reports are delivered quicker since the scout with the highest knowledge of that particular nation will provide quicker results (than one who needs to get familiar with the nation and its players).
2. Import Shortlists… or create new ones
The next step I do is to import the shortlists I got or create beneficial shortlists that might come in handy. Either you’d like to find the best wonderkids and talents, free agents or players within a region of a certain age, players playing in a specific position or future potential signings you need to watch, it’s important to sort the players so you can easily filter through and find useful targets.
In addition comes staff shortlists featuring the best coaches, scouts and assistant managers in the world or according to your playing level that needs to be created or imported.
Some tips for valuable shortlists to create are;
- Top Performers
- Future Potential Signings
- Stat Performers
- Players Out of Reach / Scouting Area
- 19-23 Prospects
- Under-18 Talents
- Best Free Agents
You can find all our available shortlists here.
1. Set up Friendlies & Friendly Competitions
The last task before I feel I can click the continue button and finally kick off the pre-season is to set up friendlies to improve the match sharpness and the player’s conditions as well as improving the player’s tactical familiarity of the primary tactic. Since I will talk more about the pre-season in a future guide I will simply describe how to set up friendlies and how I think around it.
Because I like to start the save at the earliest point as possible to get as much time to improve the tactical familiarity and get at least 6 weeks of pre-season training I tend to arrange between six to ten friendlies. I tend to let the first one and a half week of the pre-season to revolve around physical training before I assign at least one match per week, or one on Wednesdays and one on Saturdays.
The friendlies are a mix of smaller clubs, foreign clubs with similar reputation and clubs that can provide an additional income.
When picking the clubs I want to play against I look at their tactics and formations and ensures that my team will be able to practice on specific areas of their game, either it’s to improve their confidence and relationships in front of the goal, by facing a smaller club, or enhance the knowledge of the defensive organization by facing a club better than yours.
In the event where the team will play two friendlies, I ensure that it’s one match for the first team and one where reserves and back-up players will play a more important role. This way, the whole squad will have improved their match sharpness and conditions in one week.
How to arrange friendlies?
You can arrange friendly matches, cups or tours by;
Click the Schedule menu item < Senior Fixtures
Here you can select Friendly Matches, Tours, Cup, Leagues or whether or not you’d like to assign multiple friendlies right away.
Normally I simply select single friendly matches or set up tours, as I prefer to replicate how the season will turn out. Having multiple matches in a short time will only get the players too jaded to give the best in the regular training sessions and requires more recovery in the days afterward.
Creating the foundation for the save is a job I take quite important. I can spend hours before clicking the continue button for the first time to ensure that everything is set from the start. It saves me time when I’m finally in the save, whilst receiving the amount of data and information valuable to progress efficiently throughout the save.
With all these resources and assets ready to import and adjust according to your preferences, you’ll save lots of time and be able to kick off your save immediately.
We hope you’ll enjoy this summary of how I approach starting a new save and that these tasks may come in handy as you start your Football Manager save.
Thanks to Twitter user @Blackseafm who included some great points about the contract status of staff, loanees and players out on loan.
NB! How to import the different resources will be discussed in each article.