Football Manager 2018 Let’s Play: Creating a Club Identity at FC United of Manchester
Welcome to this excellent appendix to The Northman’s Football Manager 2018 Let’s Play YouTube series where he takes on the challenge of managing FC United of Manchester in the lower leagues of England. Here he will be bringing you the sides of his save that you might not see within the videos – a more in-depth look at the many aspects of the journey.
Today we look at the questions and tasks surrounding creating a club identity at FC United of Manchester within this Let’s Play series that’s gone viral at Youtube.
The quest for creating a club identity are just some of the initial steps for long term success for The Northman at FC United of Manchester. With a host of decisions to make that may both determine the results of the short term goals as well as the the long term goals, the task of creating a club identity will be of absolute importance to connect the cords within the club.
Forming a club identity surely shapes your journey in the world of Football Manager and can in the end be what’s differ failure from success! Continue reading and discover The Northman’s approach to establish a club identity in Football Manager.
The Idea Behind Creating a Club Identity
It’s important to understand what I mean by creating a club identity. Before I approach it, it’s important to look at these three questions I want to answer, which influence your daily managing for the new club. In our example, this will be FC United of Manchester.
- What do you want?
- What does the board what?
- What is possible?
These are all questions that you need to ask but, are the three questions in the correct order, are they in any order? We must or you must determine what is possible before anything, before the discussion with the board, before you sit down with a the pen and paper, yes, a pen and paper is still needed in 2017, you must be able to see what is possible?
Looking into the identity, what is the plan that you can achieve and how can you achieve this? This is where you need to take a step back. The initial thoughts are always your own, by this I refer to the ‘What do you want?’ question above, many Football Manager players will go into a save, a journey with the intentions of implementing what they want without checking ‘what is possible’ first. This goes back to one of my earlier points about the order of the three Identity questions.
Below we will enter the world of Football Manager 2018 and look at how I have decided on the identity of FC United of Manchester in my lets play series on youtube.
About FC United of Manchester
Ground: Broadhurt Park
Division: National League North
Before entering the squad screen, for myself, I will visit the facilities of the club. This will tell me many things and answer many questions;
Do we own the stadium, if the answer is no, you know that long term, you will have a large expense at a point in time to either fund a new stadium or purchase the existing one.
The second question, what surface do we play on, this is often down to the level of the team also and the reasoning is that if you are playing on grass and in the lower leagues, often the pitch suffers a lot of degradation during the season and this will prevent certain styles of play from being effective, this question also takes in the pitch condition which is on the page also.
The third question is not as important as you can edit this before each season begins, what is the pitch width, what style will suit, do you have the ability to play wide like at Old Trafford in Manchester or is it a narrow pitch like White Heart Lane in London.
The final question I ask myself on this screen, what facilities am I dealing with, this can determine your transfer planning before you even look at the squad that you have inherited. Do you have a club that offers top youth prospects or do you have to go searching the markets for players to bring to the club. Also within this is the question of the training facilities, you can have top youth prospects, you can sign top players from around the world but if they are training on a very poorly maintained field, you will see little development.
Short Term Identity vs Long Term Identity – Squad Analysis of FC United of Manchester
The time has come, we can not hold back any longer, it is time to check out the A team, your squad for the start of your FM journey. For this section, I always suggest a pen and paper on your desk to make notes.
The identity has two parts; Short term identityand long term identity and the squad analysis will be also split into these two parts and these are handled in terms of age.
- Players 23 and over are in the ‘short term identity’.
- players 22 and under are in the ‘long term identity’.
In the screenshot below, you can see the A team, set in age order, This shows that the current A team has 14 players aged 23 or over and 9 players aged 22 or under. A very nice mix of players which could offer a great opportunity to focus on the ‘long term identity’ relatively quickly, the key word there being could, the speed of the transition from short term identity to long term identity planning can not take place until you and your pen and paper have spent time looking through the team and made some notes on who is good enough to feature in the A team this season. A key factor in the transition, the ability of the players who fall into the long term identity bracket, if they are lacking the current ability needed to feature for your team then you will need to focus on the older players for the short term until the younger players develop enough to come into your squad and this is when you can start to implement the long term identity plan.
The next step in deciding the identity, long term and more importantly short term when in the lower leagues is to see what the board want. This can turn everything upside down within your plans if the board leader is a demanding, hard nosed businessman who wants success immediately.
We are in luck with FC United of Manchester, with an expectation of ‘top half’ in the league, it gives us a chance to develop the club, a chance to look at the younger players and see who, if anyone we can bring through and work with for years to come.
The Challenge going forward for myself and FC United of Manchester is deciding who of the young players has the abilities to help us progress, is it easier to bring in players of an age where their abilities are already clear and give us short term success. Refreshing the playing staff every few seasons until we get a good crop of young players though?
Looking at our three stand out players under the age of 23, James Hooper, Tom Walker. Jason Gilchrist. It is clear that we have some good young talent at the club and players we should be trying to hold on to as we look to progress into the football league and beyond. Because of the level of FC United of Manchester and the status of Semi Professional, it is very tough to develop talent in Football Manager. This and the factors above all point towards a short term focus, a short term plan and to reevaluate it every 2 or 3 seasons which gives me time to see players develop, players age and players retire so I can monitor the situation of the club.
My short term plan for style of play is still in the early stages, going into the season is never a time to have a set tactic, a set plan of what I believe will work for the squad and the club. One thing I am sure about is our lack of ability to play football within the back line, our two first choice central defenders both lack the abilities to play the ball out and their mental abilities worry me in terms of them making mistakes. This has convinced me to use them both as defensive central defenders as well as playing a more direct style of play, thus giving them the ability to play the ball long and into space without the worry of it being intercepted and us countered.
Danny Brady and Matty Hughes are my current back two and I feel they determine the ‘short term identity’ of the club. Your defenders are often at the beginning of many build up plays, if they struggle to play with the ball at their feet, many attacks result in the long ball over the top. This is not saying it is a bad thing but it is a way of football you must utilise, forcing them to play football and make them uncomfortable will not benefit them and certainly will not benefit the club.