On Thursday, October 15th, we finally received a closer insight into the headline features of Football Manager 2021 providing us with an insight into four key areas of FM that has seen a significant improvement.
From today and for the coming weeks, until the FM21 beta release, we will gather everything we know about the FM21 features and compile it in a massive list – enabling you to quickly browse through what’s new in Football Manager 2021.
In our last piece, we took a deeper look at one of the areas of Football Manager 2021 which excites me the most – providing you with an insight to the expected goals model in Football Manager 2021 and its benefits.
This is something I’ll continue on for the upcoming weeks if there are specific features that excite me so watch out for more standalone FM21 feature articles delving into specific areas of the game that are new to Football Manager or massively improved.
Let us take a deeper look at what you can expect from Football Manager 2021.
For further news about available platforms and system requirements please visit this page.
Table of Content
FM21 Match Engine & Tactics Changes
A more realistic Football Manager 2021 match engine is just some of the changes that we are promised this year. Below you can learn more about the improvements to tactics in Football Manager 2021 and match engine AI.
Match Engine AI Improvements
Click on the image to watch a reaction video and lowdown of the new match engine AI improvements brought to you by FM Union.
In short FM21 match engine AI improvements are made to;
A) Better Decision-Making
Players within all units will make better and more nuanced decision-making. This means that they are more reactive to unfolding events and make twice as fast decisions as FM20 as they are now able to change their original decision mid-slice as the situation around them develops.
This improvement to decision-making will affect both defensive positionings and marking, goalkeeper positioning, attacking movements and shot selection.
NB! A “slice” is the ability of players and match officials to make decisions every quarter of a second.
B) Defensive Awareness: better marking
C) Attacking in the Final Third
D) Central Play
F) Goalkeeper Intelligence
Tactical-Style Named After You
Have you a specific football philosophy and playing style that gets success? New in FM21 is the inclusion of getting a style named after you and your brand of football. Here we might think of Sarri-ball which has trended in the last couple of years.
This nickname for your playing style will be used by the press if your unique brand of football catches the media’s eye.
Other Tactics Changes
Football Manager 2021 sees an improvement to the description of the Defensive Width. Instead of being labeled from Narrow to Wide, you will see whether you are forcing the opposition inwards or outside. Which option you opt for will depend on your tactics and whether it’s better to concede space on the wings as you congest the middle and tries to win back possession through the centre.
With new animations to the player role descriptions, you will know exactly what you’re asking your players to do when building a tactic. You will better see the player role movements of each different role, similar to the animations we have been accustomed to with the different tactical styles.
Football Manager 2021 brings you a completely new way to interact with your players, the club’s backroom staff, the media and its journalists, as well as talking with other managers. How you approach team talks, press conferences or individual chats and discussions and your communications have far more purpose than ever before!
Your communication methods, what you say and how you say it has not only been modernized but fully changed.
More control of the interactions you’re involved in with more tools at your disposal to get your point across, understand where others are coming from and communicate more effectively whether you’re in a one-on-one discussion, a team meeting or a press conference, are just some of the key enhancements.
By working with professionals within the football industry from players to managers, FM21 comes with four different conversation methods:
- Quick Chats
- Press Conferences
- Face to Face Conversations aka Remote Conversations
Re-Designed Conversation System
What you say and how you say it, is completely changed for FM21.
No more reason to wondering whether you shall be ‘Assertive’ or ‘Passionate’. Now you’re able to use body language to get your point through. Gestures replace the tone system we’ve become accustomed to.
There are a number of different gestures in Football Manager 2021 depending on the context and the situation you’re heading into; whether it’s a positive or negative situation.
Open Arms, Shake Head, Point Finger, Outstretched Arms, Put Arms Around, Pat on Shoulder, Handshake, Smile Warmly, Beckon with hand or Wave and Nod is just a few gestures you’ll meet in FM21.
This means that you’ll have different gestures to select from in order to motivate and prompt a reaction from your players.
Gestures will help to create more detailed interactions with players and the media and provides a brand new way to expand on what you’re saying as the person in front of you will react to your body language and reactions.
It allows for far more expressive options for every situation meaning you’re able to shape your personality with the way you speak and influence people you talk to; positive or negative. It will shape how the press and the players around you look at you.
This means that it will be a way to build relations within the game and have control of your relationships.
Gestures will also be part of team talks, pre-match tactical advises, press conferences, the different chat and conversation modes as well as the broadcast interviews.
Within team talks, you’ll find more expressive and motivational gestures to choose from to help to inspire your players or allow you to demonstrate your frustration to them after a particularly shocking display.
There are also new team talk options to give to individuals who are on the verge of a landmark appearance, such as if a player makes 500 appearances for the club.
NEW! Quick Chats & Remote Conversations
Two new communication methods are introduced to FM21: quick chats and remote conversations.
Quick chats are 1 to 2 minutes of conversations laid out in a modern chat popup window overlaying the screen you’re in. As the name suggests it’s used for shorter and more informal conversations that allow you to have a quick chat with an individual player for example about his recent performance, training progress or any arising problems.
Football Manager 2021’s new quick chat system distinguish itself between Remote Quick Chat and In-Person Quick Chat.
The Remote Quick Chat let you talk to people outside the club, such as players out on loan, managers or journalists. It may be a journalist trying to get the insight story of a transfer rumour or reaching out to a player out on loan to assess his happiness. If you’re unhappy with the number of minutes one of your loanees receives, then you can have a Remote Conversation with the opposite manager to discuss it.
You can initiate a new Quick Chat anytime in the game by clicking the ‘Discuss’ menu on the player profile.
Improved Press Conference & Team Meetings
The improvements to conversations and your new communication methods will be an integral part of the improved press conference and team meetings.
The design of the press conference and other meetings will let you see the involved parties either sitting in front of you as if they were actually sitting in the press room, dressing room or board room. You’ll be able to see everyone who attends the meeting or the conference, who they are representing (if they are a journalist), their role (for backroom staff) or their social group (if they are a player).
Questions from the media will appear as speech bubbles alongside their icons so it’s easy to quickly see who you’re talking to and where they come from. You will occasionally be joined by one of your team leaders or your captain in press conferences often relating to big matches.
New in FM21 is the addition of Press Atmosphere. It helps you gauge the mood of the room and see the effect your answers are having. In order to keep the room interested and engaged, you need to give insightful and interesting responses to their questions.
In a meeting with your squad, you can decide to talk to a group of player, individuals or the whole room.
More Contextual Interactions
FM21 adds more contextual interactions and chats according to what happening in your save. For example, you can now talk to your attackers after they’ve been on a bit of a goal drought, to lead them back on track in front of goal.
These contextual interactions also come into effect when you’d like to recommend a future staff role for your players. you will now have far more role options to recommend when talking to your player about joining the backroom – letting you recommend him to either become a physio, a data analyst, goalkeeper coach or any other role within the coaching or recruitment team.
The Role of the Press Officer in FM21
The Press Officer will be an important figure relating to press conferences. He/She will give you a briefing as part of the pre-Press Conference news item giving you details about any notable journalists in attendance, the expected topics of discussion and, most important of all, any topics that your Press Officer either wants you to expand upon or avoid.
The press officer will have an important part of the press conference, chairing the session and deciding which journalists get to ask questions.
The Press Officer will also deliver end-of-meetings summaries including notable highlights, any changes to your relationships with individual journalists based on how they responded to your answers, and feedback from the board on how they feel you handled topics recommended to avoid.
The Press Officer will be important in the pre-match build-up as well providing you with an insight into the positive and negative reactions from the social media about the starting line-up and major talking points.
Face-to-face conversations have seen the most extensive improvements for FM21. These conversations can include more than one other person, meaning there is a range of areas it will be applied.
For example, the player might bring in their agent in a meeting to discuss the reduction of their wages whilst you might have your Assistant Manager or Director of Football beside you in the said meeting.
As the meeting progress, you’re able to observe their body language and reactions to what’s being said, just like in press conferences.
End of meetings you’ll receive a meeting summary from a relevant staff member to recap how the meeting went, any actions that have been taken as a result and any promises you made over the course of the chat.
FM21 Matchday & Animations system Improvements
The matchday feeling has been massively improved as well, providing you with the feeling that build-ups for every match have its own nerve, and brings you closer to the action than ever before. It provides a more realistic and immersive experience with a modernised presentation.
More focus in the pre-match build-up on utilizing your backroom staff, their tactical advice and recommendations will let you get more information about suggested tactical changes you might employ based on tactical analysis, statistics and scouting your backroom staff team has compiled for you leading up to the event.
The tactical insight from your backroom staff will give you a second-hand opinion that might let you dominate the match straight from kick-off, as they deliver better-presented information and insight on your upcoming opponents both during the run-up to kick-off and throughout the match.
Team sheets and opposition reports include both existing and brand new data analysis that provides you with the latest news about the opposition giving you the ability to fine-tune your tactical strategy and make some last-minute changes ahead of kick-off.
The improvements to interactions will let you better understand and motivate your players during team-talks.
Animation and Graphic Improvements + Re-Modelled Match UI
To let you focus on the action on the pitch, Football Manager 2021 comes with a modernized and completely re-modelled match user interface.
Not only will the introduction of a modern broadcast feel to the pre- and post-match cutscenes and transitions provide a better visual representation, but the animation engine has been improved as well – ensuring players move smoothly around the pitch.
With better lighting, new pitchside elements, improved player models and more stadium pieces will the match experience be even better.
The lighting system will better represent shadowing in all weather conditions and times of day with the incorporation of shadow casting across the three different light types: directional (e.g sunlight), spot and point. Night shadowing will be affected by the shadow-casting as well in order to make stands, pitchside equipment and players more lifelike.
The lighting effect provides 3D enhancements that make scenes more realistically lit and better reflect each individual location in the game. The manager model and newgen faces will also benefit from these improvements.
The animation of player movements is improved because of an overhaul to the blending of animations resulting in character models now behave accurately and shape up to move into the next animation in a more realistic manner. What you’ll experience is a smoother player transition from one animation to the next.
The improvements to decision-making within the match engine will also affect the animation system making things look better and smoother.
Other new graphical improvements:
- – New cameras like jib cranes, seated cameras and steadie cams on the sideline.
- – added support for HDR for high end graphics cards
- – graphics have been optimised for lower-end configs as well
- – new goal celebrations, or lack of it. You’ll might notice that players won’t celebrate against their former teams, while others might run around the field like a lunatic.
Changes to Pre-Match Build-Up
The pre-match tactical meeting will now let you receive key opposition analysis and weigh up pre-match advises from your backroom staff. Part of the meeting is your selected matchday squad and your backroom team. Here you can view your opponent’s expected line-up and plan your tactical setup to counter their attacking threats or address advises that may exploit their weaknesses.
Within the meeting, you’ll confirm your final starting line-up and make any last-minute tweaks.
New to FM21 sees the option to approve any last-minute tweaks just for the upcoming match or for every match going forward!
Once arriving to the stadium and head into the dressing room you’ll receive the confirmed team sheets. Despite not being able to address any changes to the starting line-up, the backroom staff will point out any variation to their expected line-up and make tactical suggestions in response to team news.
Improvements to Team Talks
The layout of the team talk has been revamped for FM21.
The manager will be in the centre of attention with the starting goalkeeper to the left of you, the subs to your right and the other outfield players in-between in squad number order – much like a modern-day dressing room.
You can then address all players, groups (or positional units) or individual players, by directing attention to those you select.
Extra-time team-talks will now be given on the pitch and the addition of team-talks ahead of penalty shootouts let you give the final directions and settle any nerve.
In regard to penalty shootouts, you will now get an option to see players body language prior to selecting the penalty takers allowing you to access players state of mind.
FM21 let you attend pre-match broadcast interviews for any TV matches where your side is playing in front of the cameras.
A one-on-one interview with the broadcasting media in front of their media boards will focus on the upcoming match; tactical insights or comments on your opponents.
Improved is also the pre-match presentation elements. Graphical enhancements to the team line-up add the ability to see players on the bench, current form and manager’s name is accompanied by the league table with both teams’ positions highlighted to add extra context.
With the new user interface Dugout section, you get the ability to make any quick tweaks to your tactics and apply changes to your team’s tactical style, formation, mentality and instructions at the go.
Next to the tactical options is your starting XI laid out in formation order with their condition, body language and match rating visible.
What’s more interesting is the inclusion of addressing individual player role tactical changes on the fly!
By simply clicking on any player icon you’ll get a sub-menu where you can change their role, give individual player instructions, direct a touchline shout or sub them off.
The Dugout view provides for a simple yet powerful managerial control and looks better than ever!
Part of the Dugout Section is the ‘Show Me’ section which let you bring up match stats, player stats for both teams, the opposition’s formation and the latest scores and live league table.
If you possess a data analyst, he will work out the roles the opposition are using, as well as the information above. Your assistant manager and coaches will still provide you with advice and help during pertinent parts of the match.
For competitions where VAR is being used, the VAR check will not only be displayed on the stadium screen but also the in-match caption containing information on what’s being checked specifically and, once a decision has been made, it will be more visible too.
As part of the makeover to in-match experience, Sports Interactive has revamped the in-game goal alert, inspired by a TV broadcast-style giving you more information about achievements relating to the goal.
It’s not only the spectacle of the match-day that let you come closer to the action. The post-match experience has been improved as well.
Reactions from the press and social media will be included in a post-match summary. Included is a number of important statistical data that provides an additional story about the game. One of these areas is the inclusion of Sports Interactive’s very own expected goals system in conjunction with the team at Scisports.
Football Manager 2021 introduces a number of new statistics to better analyze the player’s performance. Apart from the new expected goals model, you’ll get to see a player’s match rating, goals and assists per position to give you a better insight to which position suits them the best.
Recruitment & Transfer Changes
Football Manager 2021 brings you closer to the scouting and data team than ever before to bring you a true-to-life transfer landscape. This means a new staff role, new meetings and new interactions. The overall improvements and refinements reflect the current transfer market and
modern-day recruitment strategies.
NEW Staff Role: Recruitment Analyst
The partnership with SciSports brings the addition of a brand new staff role in Football Manager 2021. Now the data analysts are diverted into match analysts and recruitment analysts. Overall, they are not only responsible for turning raw data into digestible and informative reports delivered straight to your inbox but will pore through data points and statistics.
The recruitment analyst will focus his attention on the finer details looking for key metrics that might help the club, highlighting any potential alarm bells before signing your next star.
From gathering information about a players potential ability development and comparing it to another players development at a similar age, the recruitment analyst will give you an in-depth look at the player’s weakness and strength in terms of his playing style or capabilities on the pitch.
We’ll come back to more information about the staff role closer to FM21 release.
Around one month prior to the start of every transfer window (pre- and mid-season), you’ll now get the ability to have recruitment meetings with the top decision-makers at the club; director of football, managing director, Chairmen, chief scout and assistant manager.
Herein you’ll be able to set your transfer intentions and scouting prioritizes, as well as your chief scout, director of football or whoever in charge of handling incoming transfers can provide their recommendations on positions and areas of your squad you need to strengthen.
Here you’ll get an overview of players which are on an expiring contract or areas of your squad you might think about improving due to low squad depth or poor abilities.
Within these meetings you’re able to set new scouting assignments for your scouts and data analysts, whilst also still provide your own thoughts about positions to strengthen or areas of a game the scouts or data analysts should look for.
You will basically collaborate with your backroom staff on scouting needs and assignments to ensure your squad is always refreshed and improving and you got cover for any future injury crisis.
Scouts will use this meeting to recommend focusing on addressing potentially weak areas of your squad in the upcoming window – ensuring that you always have a long term recruitment strategy and focus on the future.
The scouts will provide some options to find likely prospects whether it’s re-assessing players already on your radar that could be looked at again to potentially fill the areas you’ve just agreed upon.
the ability to set new assignments within these meetings let you add as much detail as possible to find what you need – toggling filters and selecting attributes to fit your club’s philosophy.
You will also be invited to these recruitment meetings once taking up a new managerial position – making sure you’re on the same page as your backroom team from week one.
The ongoing process of assigning assignments and receiving reports from your scouts and scour through and act upon them will determine how you approach the recruitment strategies in FM21.
Transfer Changes & Transfer Market Changes
To fully reflect the ongoings of the transfer market and the aftermath of the Covid pandemic, FM21 sees a more realistic transfer market.
FM21 introduces these refinements to react to the financial uncertainty in today’s transfer marketplace world and new behaviours that are developing as a result.
Due to the pandemic, the market economy and interactions within the transfer market has changed. To reflect how the clubs and intermediaries interact in today’s real-world agent interaction has seen improvements in a number of areas.
FM21 brings the option to sign and seal short term deals and agree upon future loan deals outside of transfer windows.
In regard to loan offer, you’ll have many more options when making a loan offer with an option to buy. You can benefit from additional clauses to build the perfect package, such as adding future additional clauses and future additional fees, which let you save some money from the first season.
Another bonus added in FM21 is the new ‘Combined goal and assist’ bonuses which are perfect for attacking-minded players who both create chances and score goals.
In order to help you secure top targets and players on your wishlist, FM21 have the ability to turn to a player’s agent to ask about his availability. This means that you’re able to speak to a player through his agent to gauge his interest – meaning you’re able to plan your transfer dealings more efficiently by gauging wage expectations and budgeting bonuses before you speak to clubs and pay any transfer fees.
By approaching the agent you in forehand you’ll also know what you need to achieve to make a currently uninterested player interested in coming to your club.
Once a player is signed and you’ll get an inbox message with the deal confirmed, you are instantly available to assign training focuses, set-piece duties and discuss future traits straight from the news item – saving you from a click or two.
FM21 Competition Changes
Gameplay speed is an important part of Football Manager. You’d like to have access to as many players and teams in addition to the relevant competition statistics. The number of leagues you make playable will affect the speed of the game. For FM21 you’ll get the option to make divisions in a nation you have playable “view only”, not just the entire nation. Eg – you can have a top division “playable” & the lower divisions “view only”.
Other changes to competitions are;
- Playoff Mini League added in South Africa
- Specific A-League teams play each other 3 times a season
- Squad numbers can now be allocated in Sottish League 1
- Chinese Maximum salary rules are implemented
- New HG eligibility rule in Croatia
- New formats for lower divisions in Portugal for both the 20/21 season and the 21/22 season.
- Regional grouping for the Bulgarian U19 regional groups
- New rules for the Northern Irish Intermediate Cup
- New format in Denmarks 2nd division, which then morphs into a new format for Denmark’s lower leagues for the 21/22 season too.
- There’s a new temporary rule in place that means players can now play for 3 clubs in one season, rather than just the standard 2.
- Lots of improvements to B-teams, including, but not limited to, improved transfer AI for those teams and the ability for a B club to have players available from the A team with limited amount of pitch time set where applicable.
Improved End of Season Experience
The end of season experience has also seen an upgrade. Now the focus is to show you the highs and lows of the season with the brand new season review presentation. Here it’s all about the moments to remember!
You’ll get highlights from on and off the pitch events in your inbox, as well as letting you enjoy your achievements.
New animations to Trophy Ceremonies
Have you managed to win promotion via the play-offs, win the Champions League, or simply avoid relegation? Then new celebrations will make the end-of-match experience more thrilling.
The improved title presentations will let you see trophy-lifts, podiums, confetti cannons and fireworks.
Not only are the animations of the trophy ceremony greatly modernized and improved, but the post-match experience of winning a championship or other title will let you see more media attention, media hype and focus on your achievement.
Other Minor FM21 Features
- Leicester is now fully licenced club
- expanded the number of 3D background locations in FM21 to bring a sense of location and realism to all your interactions around the club.
- You now have the ability to ask players to speed up their contract decision making – Perfect for crazy deadline days
- You’ll now see fan-driven transfer rumours… some of which will come out of nowhere
- FM21 brings clearer news, advice and interaction around suspensions. So you can warn a player pre-game that he’s just one yellow away from a ban
- added new club vision objectives to make each club a bit more unique. E.g ‘Spend as much of the original transfer budget made available as possible’
- If your club vision demands you to sign players from a certain nation, you can now request an affiliate club that helps you do just that
- In nations that speak more than one language you can now choose the one that your new signing should study upon arrival
- When you negotiate new contracts with multiple staff members at once, you’ll now receive just one news item that merges all of the information in one handy place
- new media descriptions of players – added Veteran Goalkeeper, Fearless and Playmaking Goalkeeper
- New Squad Views: the ability to clearly see your player’s playing time pathway for the next five years ahead, so you know exactly what you’ve promised.
- New icons to condition and match sharpness icons
- Photographers are on the sideline as well, trying to get the best shots of the action
- Ability to create a ‘preferred’ first and second XI and let them play an intra-club friendly
- Added a ‘Tell me more’ function which is another layer to some of the in-game tutorials. The function allows you to go deeper into a specific area
- FM21 ensures that travelling long distances for international games has a more realistic impact on player conditioning
- Fans now speculate more pre-match around team selections and fuss over who should (or shouldn’t) start in the in-game social media feed.
- Improved tool tip descriptions to add more detail and info across all aspects of the game. Included are areas like transfers, loans, coaching badges, squad registration, the very important “posh” tooltip for condition and much more.
- FM21 adds more press speculation to your movements, especially around matches you attend.
- You can now promise a player they’ll become a regular starter once the man in front of him leaves
- Better Backroom Advices: Your staff will notify you in advance if your squad is too big and in breach of competition squad rules
- Added much more context to the prospect of replacing your captain/vice-captain within the game. With the ability to select different responses to use in conversations with the player involved you can give the player a reason for why you have removed him from the captaincy by criticizing or convincing the player.
How Football Manager 2021 Will Approach Covid-19?
In order to maintain both the entertainment and realism, the makers of Football Manager 2021 has decided to let the impact of Covid-19 be part of the game – not as an illness (injury) but the wider effects the pandemic has had over clubs finances and leeway.
In regard to the club’s finances which has been impacted by the huge loss of revenue from ticket sales and merchandises income, its knock-on effect is represented in FM21.
The knock-on effect of the financial situation sees clubs more eager to move players
With a re-written transfer system to replicate the current situation, you’ll notice a lot more loan-to-buy transfer dealings due to the fact that many clubs can’t afford to sign players.
While the value of wonderkids and so-called superstars are retained, mid-range players value has seen a drop.
Despite fans are not allowed to attend the stadium in real life, FM21 sees supporters at the stadium from the very start of the season – letting the club regain their financial powers quicker.
The football calendar has been adjusted where appropriate. This means that the usual start date is out of the window, but will revert back to normal from the second season onwards. For leagues finished by the time FM21 is released, the start date will be for the forthcoming season – January 2021 or whichever date they start, like the MLS.
Rules and regulations about substitutes are like in real life for the first season but will revert back to normal for the second season. If a league use 5 substitutions instead of three, FM21 will copy that, unless the competition has already indicated that the plan is to adopt the new rule for the long term.
Follow the Passion4FM team on Twitter for more coming FM21 related content and stay tuned for more Football Manager 2021 feature news dropping!
Until next time, thanks for reading!