Which Football Manager 2021 features can we expect this year? This has been a debate in the Passion4FM headquarter the last months.
A few weeks ago we even asked our Twitter followers about their Football Manager 2021 feature requests and what they like to see improved for FM21. We got lots of great responses and there was one who stands out!
So much, that we contacted Javier aka Silentjay to share with you his opinions and thoughts on how FM21 can improve to become the best version of the game EVER created!
Following you’ll find 14 essential Football Manager 2021 improvements and changes in the opinion of Silentjay.
For more discussion and talk about FM21 features, check out our massive Football Manager 2021 feature wishlist, that potentially could blow your mind and spark inspiration for changes that makes Football Manager even more realistic – something we have thrived after for years!
Let’s give the word to Silentjay himself to hear his thoughts on changes and improvements needed to the Football Manager franchise.
Get More FM21 Feature Requests & Opinions!
Football Manager 2021 Feature Request; Opinions from Silentjay
I’m Jay (Javier/SilentJay on many parts of the Internet depending on the forum).
A couple of weeks ago I put down my thoughts on the classic FM21 Wishlist thread at Passion4FM’s Twitter account, and after a couple of days they asked me if I wanted to write a little something, and I didn’t hesitate. Anything I can do to give back to a community that goes above and beyond to provide content and resources to all of us that play this great game.
As a tiny preface, I just wanna say: I love Football Manager. I have only two or three relationships in my life as long as my relationship with FM (family aside of course). When I began playing I was still in school, and 20 years and a whole family later, I still get super excited whenever that time comes when a new version comes out.
That said… in my humble opinion, SI has ‘relaxed‘, and are now happy releasing ‘incomplete’ games, while being surprisingly quiet when it comes to acknowledging the community’s constructive criticism (even though they have a platform for said actions), which is why I hope that articles like this one can provide the insight they might take seriously.
We all know by one that even though it’s been an awful year (I hate you, 2020), Miles and the SI crew are gearing up for FM21 and even though the release date is up in the air, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if the date is somewhere around mid to late December.
Back to the initial point, I’d really like to point out a few thoughts in terms of what I think should be considered ‘mandatory upgrades’ this game will need in the upcoming version in order to turn Football Manager 2021 into the perfect game.
In no particular order let me present my Football Manager 2021 feature wishlist:
1. Match Engine
This really doesn’t need too much elaboration, does it? There are gruesome glitches and bugs a ME in this year’s ME, this type of game just should not have. It’s reached a point a good tactic is less football oriented but based on trying to get around a poorly constructed ME.
From the early long ball issues, that wasn’t quite properly fixed despite of build 20.4 to forwards such as Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo missing clear one-on-ones. Additionally, we got the inexplicable centreback movement in transition or wingers looking to score with no angle even though there are two STC’s all alone in the box.
It has come to the point that I can’t fully enjoy my tactic, or understand if it’s properly crafted(!) if I have to anticipate the incomprehensible behaviour of the game’s faulty AI.
Successful tactics today are the ones that understand how to circumvent a glitchy ME. In essence, this could actually be seen as a form of ‘cheat’. The term “Meta” and “Overpowered” are terms that should never be associated with a sports simulation game (as Football Manager has always been), but this year more often than not I’ve read these terms throughout all social media platforms. Without a proper match engine, this game will not take the next step.
Let’s be frank, the time has come for an entirely new match engine build from scratch!
Below are just some of my suggestions of match engine improvements;
- One on one resolution
- Long balls. I believe it still needs more work.
- Winger decisions. There has to be a better decision making when choosing to cross or
- CB movements when facing a counter-attack (they don’t move toward the attacking
player rather than going with the trailing player.
- In my opinion, the box to box movements are very glitchy in this particular version. I find myself often confusing BBM’s with RPM’s. Even when unticking the ‘roam’ option, I still feel the BBM doesn’t really fulfil his role in the proper fashion.
- Can we attribute the very classic 22 shots to 1, 5 CCC’s to none, 2 woodworks to
none, 60% possession, yet you lose 1-0 to the ME?
An oldie but a goodie. I’m old school so I use the 2D with the repetitions in 3D, but to say that the match graphics are “good” is heresy. I’m not asking to see the game like I’m playing FIFA or PES, but this game has looked almost exactly the same for what seems to be an eternity, even though every year ‘hundreds of new animations’ are added.
What I want is to have cleaner, better-looking graphics! It could be;
- Better looking player shape and silhouettes.
- More detail. To provide an example: the ability to see the detail of a player’s shoe, or their kit’s
- More detail to the stadium and fans, this would include the bench and its members
- Manager detail and movement. If we can customize our appearance, it would be nice to be
able to see us in focus at certain circumstances during matches.
- Improved Regen faces. I believe SI has to do much better in the regen/newgen (whatever term’s
fine). Those faces lack detail and overall realistic look and feel to them. Perhaps time for Sports Interactive to reach out to Chilled Goose and her amazing new-gen faces?
3. In-game situations
VAR has become the most predictable occurrence in FM. You know exactly what the outcome will be whenever VAR’s mentioned when it comes to goals. You might get lucky with a foul close to the box, but that’s about it. We need more variety there.
- A) Goal-line tech. Perhaps it’s just me, but the replays provided are terrible and I can’t tell whether it was close, not close, or a bad call (as we all know this doesn’t happen).
- B) Offside camera. Could use a little work, no? A red and yellow line from a sky cam barely showing the sticklike figures we call players seems a bit too 80’s Atari to me. It’s shocking a football simulation can’t do better in this aspect.
More than ever, we’ve seen how the mediocrity of referees is affecting the game. And of course, when this happens in real life, the press is all over it and players comment on it as well, creating a heated atmosphere throughout the Newsweek and questions and interviews. In this particular simulation game, it’s a practically non existent event.
You should be able to read about your players talking about the decisions made in games, at the very least, for example. For those that follow South American football, players and managers destroying officials pre and post matches is pretty much a common element (with no sanction). This adds extra spice to games and it’s something that happens in real life. A simulation should include this.
5. Game interface
FM needs to head into the 21st century in terms of design. It’s UI and even in-game graphics are archaic (to put it mildly). They went purple a couple of years ago but kept the same tired user navigation and overall experience. At this point, you’d think an aesthetic upgrade would be obvious given that they’re not addressing key issues. Old and worn is my definition, to the navigation provided, to such a degree that I find myself having more fun customizing and testing skins rather than playing the actual game. A better visual experience can only help enhance the experience they provide now. Since they refuse to have better gaming graphics, a more fluid, modern UI should be something that helps matters (point 5 goes hand in hand here as well).
a) Dynamic news
Why do I follow different clubs, players, leagues, awards, if I have to go to the supposed “social feed” to read about them in a very non-streamlined, confusing fashion? For those that have played other sports games you know how it works with news: at the bottom of the screen (or top) you have a footer of running news of everything happening in the sports world. Results, quotes, upcoming matches, stats, headlines, etc. How would you like to see everything you follow, on a flowing, animated stripe of news while you play the game? I know I’d love it. This not only is more fluid but responds to a much needed “modernization” of the game interface (which I will touch upon later).
6. Youth Development/recruitment
As it stands right now it’s just an extra screen with empty numbers and rather irrelevant data that doesn’t really provide a better gaming experience. Let me really have an impact as a manager of a development program (after all, many clubs hire you with this as a parameter!). Make the youth improvements matter for once. Hence a couple of mini rants:
- a) If I improve the club’s youth level and I have 5 star members and top-notch facilities as well as extensive youth recruitment, it seems unrealistic that the 5 star player production is reduced to 1 every 7 years. It also gets more maddening if this happens with clubs like Arsenal, PSV or Marseille, known specifically for their great work with youth. You can have the best HOYD in the game (I always make a move for Bernhard Peters), yet you still won’t have a good class in 10 years? And the guy actually has the gall to actually say “I’d like to think my style helped bring in X”… when X is average.
- b) Intake reports: Is this a sim? How can, one intake, receive the “there are a healthy amount of WB’s” as a positive then “there are no good WB’s” on the same document?
- c) Have youth centres around the world. Remember FIFA Manager (I actually miss it!)? They had some interesting initiatives, but couldn’t compete with FM. One of them was about your youth development strategy. If you remember (for those that played), you could use funds from your budget to create academies (with schools, living facilities, etc.) in key places around the world (each with their own cost of course). The regular FIFA game has this feature as well, and you actually get reports on the progress of those academies or centres. This, of course, is very superficial by EA, but the foundation of the idea is there. Why? Well, because this happens in real life. It would be a nice addition to Football Manager 2021 if included!
- d) Let me have pre-made ‘player archetypes’ for scouting which differ from club to club. You know how you hear the expression “that’s a Barca player” or “that’s what Ajax does”. This archetype search is something I know for a fact scouts look for.
Why? Well, because through careful use of data and research and culture development they’ve defined philosophy of the specific archetype of player they want according to their club vision of the style of football they want to implement throughout their ranks. Some teams focus on recruiting versatile players that can play multiple positions disregarding “speciality” players, such as playmakers or elite finishers (similar to the Moneyball type approach Liverpool’s doing now). Barca focuses on technically sound youngsters regardless of size or body structure. They’re looking for quality in touch, passing, technique, and everything else doesn’t matter. This is something you should be able to determine if your board is tasking you with creating the “best youth academy in the world” no?
- How player archetypes can be added? Similar to what you do for scouting you can have parameters; For example, as a parameter when looking for CB’s at 15-16, look at a particular size. Only focus on CB’s that are 1.75 at 16 (for example). If you’re technique-oriented, have your scouts look for players that at 15-16 have already 11 in passing, flair, creativity, and first touch (for example) and disregard elements like strength or stamina. On the flip side, have other scouts look at work rate, teamwork, strength, etc., as the main focus, as your focus is on more athleticism and industrious players.
- e) More control over loan spells. This one I believe to be something interesting to experiment with. Given my approach to tactics, I like to sign young wingers and transform them into attacking FB/WB/CWB’s. Instead of loaning them out, I have them play 40-50 games with my U23 and U18 teams throughout their 1st season until they’re fully natural at their new position, but it’s done against lesser competition. I find it cheaper. But… What if I want to send a winger out on loan but I need whoever wants him to play him at the FB position, even if he’s not close to being natural in his positional knowledge at all. Many managers loan players and try them at different positions because they recognize the players’ versatility. As a manager focused on development, I’d prefer I had the option to let my player play in a position outside his natural positional abilities that fits my individual development plan for him.
7. Communication and Chats – In any shape or form
Press Conferences: Shocking, huh? An issue every single year. Zero adjustments to team situations, zero adjustments when a team increases reputation, same ridiculous comments (if I’m Norwich and I win the title it’s absurd to hear a member of the press start their question with “you were expected to win the title”…. really????!!). Little to no adjustments over time as the club grows or fades. For those of us who like long term saves (and FM prides themselves on saying, “we prefer long term saves”), talking to the press certainly becomes tedious after 1 season. Imagine having a 25 year save…
Team talks. Again: EVERY SINGLE YEAR. If we were using hyperbole, I’d say that this feature hasn’t improved much since it was inserted. Like talking to the press, there’s no adjustment to context, no new options according to the circumstances, or more alternatives according to what’s happening in the game (can you scold a player for missing a penalty? No!). It needs to be more dynamic, fluid, and overall engaging. If not, it’s just another element that every year makes me play fewer hours.
Player Individual Talks. You can gain a lot from improving this aspect. Have the option to incentivize a player to become a better leader. Help them (working with the psychologist as well), to improve their discipline on and off the pitch. We know certain players lack loyalty, tend to be rather controversial or whatever, but this does not come through as good in one on one player chats.
This area should be expanded not only to talk to your own players but with other players as well. It’s quite common to see players or their agents be approached by managers or team representatives to ‘test the waters’ before making a bid. See no further than Man City with Messi. You can argue they’ve been testing the waters for 2 years now.
8. Automated tactics
How many here have a specific set of instructions and roles you adjust once you gain a lead? I do, I do! Let’s have ways to have the team shape fluidly change according to the team mentality, as well as roles. Many teams attack with a 3-4-3 and defend with a 5-2-3, and so on and so forth. Arteta’s doing a classic 3-4-3 with the ball into a 5-4-1 when defending style with his Arsenal side.
Here the point is to make the team shape to shift naturally after reaching a specific point in the game (whether you want to park
the bus or defend in a specific fashion, like the Arsenal example).
I’d like my teams to assume this with just one click of a button instead of having to go through several different clicks and panel openings.
Automation is key in football. Shouldn’t it be the same with a simulation game?
9. Set pieces
I won’t even elaborate here rather than just say: it’s far from perfect! I guess this could’ve gone under AI or ME, but this specific element is a product of both these engines failing. The movement and positioning of my players during set pieces is just absolutely absurd. The terms “meta” and “OP” [aka overpowered] also fall in this category because once you find a workaround, you’re literally able to have your towering CB have a 25 goal season just from your corner set-pieces.
Also: we have 3 tactics slots. How about being able to have 3 set pieces slots to adjust and change in-game? I hate having 3 straight corners in a row only to have them try and do the same set-piece time and time again. If the club vision asks me to focus on set pieces, shouldn’t there be an option to have more control and more in-depth work on them?
10. Club vision
The idea behind club visions and club culture is very good, and exactly how it should be, but the execution is awful. From one season to the next I’m expected to have “the best youth system in the world”, yet the board’s not willing to invest in youth development? They won’t improve the youth level…So how can I reach that objective? One season I manage to get a good amount of goals from set pieces, so now it becomes a parameter I can’t remove?
There’s no level of adjustment according to team development. If I win the Champions League with Southampton on year 4 while already having won a Premier League and an FA Cup, it’s entirely realistic to have a board ask the manager to have your team become “part of the top 6”. The lacking AI also kicks in here as well since the adjustments are poor and don’t take into consideration elements that occur during the game.
This one has many variables to touch on, so I’m going to separate each idea.
- Detailed and specific reports. So an average rating is all I get, huh? Not even why he had a below 7.0 rating? Or in which session? How about some stats? If we practice set pieces, how about some ‘headers won/lost’, ‘accuracy’ and ‘tackling won/lost’, etc. I mean, if training’s supposed to be in-depth, I’d expect something in return for the time I take to actually create training schedules.
- Automated training. I love creating my own schedules, especially when I’m developing players, because as we’ve seen, they benefit from different training schedules. I want to assign specific schedules to specific players with specific purposes. For example, when training a new position, should we have a specific module for “position training”, but at the same time, I want to set it once at the beginning of the season and never touch it again and have the schedules adjust automatically according to the circumstances.
- Mentorship. Where’s the AI to match personalities here?!!?!? My super AssMan recommends players assigned to specific mentorship groups and suddenly, 30 days later, they pick up “negative” traits or they lose a determination point… And we’re talking about a 5 star staff member here. A degree of AI plays a role here no doubt, but it can’t be just about putting together players and hoping for the best. Everything comes into play here. How they react individually and collectively to my words, what I say to the press, how I address their teammates, etc. And team leaders should have a much bigger impact according to their leadership qualities. We all remember those great football teams and their great captains. They always placed their “signature” on the collective personality of the group. Maldini, Puyol, Terry, Nesta, Keane. All these players had specific personality traits and styles that really made a mark on their teammates. Nowadays I’m lucky if my captain is able to get a player to hold off on contract talks…
- Psychologist. Goes hand in hand with training and mentorship. Almost every serious team in the world works with sports psychologists that handle the rigours of a 60+ game season along with the pressures and responsibilities placed on players. They play an integral role in helping players remain focused while providing insight as to what’s the best approach when talking to them. A good psychologist will help you manage your players properly. Hey, and this very figure can be the one to assemble a mentorship group according to players’ characteristics.
12. Stats, stats, and more stats!
Today, sports are more data driven than anything we’ve seen before. From set-pieces to player evaluation to training performances, even psychological evaluations. Everything comes into consideration when making overall evaluations of players, tactics, training, etc. I’d like to see modern and smart use of stats when making all sorts of recommendations.
- Let’s say “Player X has shown a x% of winning tackles and x % of successful passing at 16 years of age through 60 games. I’d love to see my youth coaches or assman or HOYD advice me to strongly retrain him as a BWM or HB, for example.
- Use stats for automated player comparison (this is a term I often use -automation-). Have my staff constantly assessing stats to share in key aspects. If I have a possession-based tactic, recommend the best possible players more so than fit, but how they’ve performed in specific areas – pass completion, assists, distance covered, chances created, etc. – and use this information to make the informed recommendation instead of just telling me “this player possesses great pace” or “has done well in training”.
Whether we like it or not, what happens off the pitch has an impact on your team and how you manage it. For years SI has kept this element off bounds claiming that it’s not part of the managing experience (and to a certain degree I agree, when the request is ‘let’s have the manager use his money to invest in the club’ or something like that), but when issues like a players’ nightlife affect an organization, many managers take action to try to solve the situation.
How many times have we seen managers take chances of players the footballing world rejects because of behaviour only to see them have a rebirth? All this is a part of the game. So through the managing experience, we should see news about off the pitch events related to players.
As a side note, part of a players’ attribute list should include their ’emotional intelligence’ or social intelligence to evaluate how they would handle the nightlife of a big city once they get that big contract. Just an example.
My point is that a player’s personality has an impact, positively or negatively, on a players training or match performances, his happiness and match condition. I think it should be a strong part of the game that we as managers should be able to manage. Perhaps the player’s personality level should be revealed instead of merging all personality settings into something as ‘vague’ as fairly determined that doesn’t particularly describe the full personality of the player and how he will deal with pressure from non-related football stuff.
I’m a note taker. Always have been. I use tools like OneNote, Notion, Evernote, Roam, Obsidian etc., where I store all my data, ideas, clipping etc. Why does FM have a notebook section that’s remained untouched, and quite frankly works and handles embarrassingly bad, for 6 years (I’m putting a number here just for the sake of it, I can’t recall when the “feature” was installed)?
You can use it in such a positive and creative way – attach links to player profiles, reports, clippings, notes about news, etc. Make it a hub for personal data. And for God’s sake, make it look like a half decent word processor if that’s all you want it to be!
I actually tried to be concise with my writing and my points, but I guess it was impossible to NOT get carried away since many of these points have been lingering for so many years. I don’t know if this is too long or too boring, but I do know that these are things that I believe could make this game into a true sports management game if implemented.
Thanks again to the good folks at Passion4FM for the opportunity and I hope you guys enjoyed some of these points and perhaps think there’s some validity to them!
The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this text belong solely to the author. These views or opinions do not necessarily represent individuals behind Passion4FM and/or any/all partners or contributors to this site. We do not take any responsibilities if there is any false, inaccurate or incomplete information provided above.
This comment is only aimed to provide a fruitful discussion on how to make Football Manager 2021 the best ever version as possible!