Football Manager Pre-season; Top Managerial Duties Before a New Season
A part of our Football Manager Guides to Squad Management
The Pre-season is the busiest period for a manager, both in real life and in Football Manager 2013.
As part of Squad Management, one important job as the manager is to guide your team through pre-season. The pre-season sets the foundation for player development and
achievements for the upcoming season.
As the manager it is your responsibility to get your squad ready for the season, and do the necessary arrangements to build a professional club, which can become successful and perform on the highest level. By setting the right priorities and considering your pre-season assignments you lay the foundation for a successful season.
In this post I will reveal some of my tips regarding pre-season and my main focuses during this period.
An introduction to Pre-Season in Football
The period immediately before the start of a new season, in which athletes undergo intensive training and participate in exhibition games, such as friendlies or tours.
Pre-season normally occurs after the end of summer holiday and lasts between one to two months, depending on the national league start. The main purpose of the pre-season is to build up the players match fitness through training and to recover the players fitness level after a long summer break.
The preseason gives you the opportunity to promote your team and the club to new audiences (to build up the fan base). Promoting your team to new countries may increase your finances over time, by selling more merchandises and season tickets.
Game start Date; Predicts Preseason length
When starting a new game in FM13, you have the ability to choose from 51 countries, depending on your computer performance and your desire for estimated game speed. The preseason will start as soon as the game is finished loading, and will vary according to the leagues chosen. Some leagues have a game start in July, others in December.
England for example, starts its pre-season on the 17th of July, only three and a half weeks before the opening match.
Germany on the other hand starts the pre-season on the 26th of June, almost two months before the first Bundesliga fixture.
In Football Manager you have the opportunity to set another game start than default, which may increase the preseason length. See this screenshot from the start of second season in the Spanish league; the ability to decide pre-season length. 5 to 6 weeks may be recommended.
I recommend to set the game start to an earlier point then normally, for example in
June, for leagues who have league kick off in early to mid August.
If you are managing an English club, the preseason will be increased to six and a half weeks if you choose to set the game start to June (nations like Austria, Germany, Croatia, Russia must be selected).
By selecting an earlier game start you will have more time to achieve my next pre-season assignments discussed below.
Increasing Match Fitness – How to Make your Squad Ready for Competitive Matches:
As a new manager you need to use the preseason to get acquainted with your new club, in addition to building up your players fitness levels. When managing a new club you need to analyze the squads strengths and weaknesses, set up a familiar tactic, and schedule training to aid player development.
A) Arrange Friendlies
By playing matches the players will both improve their knowledge of your tactics and their individual match fitness. The individual players match fitness will also be improved by assigning players to intense physical training.
By arranging multiple friendly matches, you increase your players fluidity levels of your tactic, illustrated in the tactical familiarity levels, which shows your players knowledge of the different tactical instructions in your chosen tactic.
As soon as the game is finished loading, I supervise the fixture list, to find
the best setup. Normally I try to arrange 7 to 10 friendlies with an interval of three days between each match.
To increase the familiarity levels quicker, I try to set up three to four friendlies against teams with a larger reputation.
By arranging 7 to 10 friendlies I make sure a broad section of my players (both first team players and reserves) gets match experience, through squad rotation.
A player needs to be selected in multiple matches to reach 100% match fitness.
(As a rule of thumb a player will increase his match fitness by 10 percent for each match played in preseason, when fit (90-100% condition).
B) General Training and Match Training
The most important part of pre-season starts as soon as the game is finished loading. Since the team training gets effective from the first Sunday in game, it is wise to schedule the team training early on.
If you forget to schedule training and you are 6 days into the game (mid-week), the scheduling will be effective from the next week on. Your players will miss almost 2 weeks(!) with important training, as the training will be set to default (general training: balanced, average workload, match training: tactics only 30%)
This is how I set up pre-season training:
I start by setting the General Training to Fitness.
The intensity is set to Very High. The scheduling bar is set to 50% which makes a light workload. The Match training is set to Tactics only during the whole pre-season period, or until the tactical familiarity bars reaches 100/100. I always untick the allow rest before match.
After three to four friendlies played (normally after 2 weeks), I change the General Training to Team Cohesion, to get your players blend together. I keep the intensity at very high. By this time, you may have bought your first player and done some changes to the backroom staff.
These above assignments is set until a week before league kick, then I assign my players on individual training. I prefer to set the players to an individual role training. By this time most of the familiarity bars should display fluid or accomplished. To control the overall training workload, it would be useful to lower the general training intensity to average.
Assigning individual training depends on the the tactical familiarity levels. If the levels are only competent, then you need to postpone assigning individual training.
If the tactical familiarity levels are (almost) at 100/100 I change the General training to the preferred training according to my tactic. If my tactic relies on much attacking movement, then I set the default general training for the season to
attacking. But it could also be advantageous to set the general training to Balanced.
I lower the general training intensity to average.
I keep the match training to 50% intensity and Tactics Only, until the tactical familiarity levels reaches 100 of 100. Then I lower the scheduling bar to 20% and change the match training to the preferred assignments according to your tactic (I normally set it to attacking movement as default).
No matter which assignments you do, you should always set the scheduling bar to 50% when you wants your players to get familiar with your tactic more quickly.
Other preseason assignments
The foundation for your players performance for the up-coming season lays in your tactical approach. When coming to a new club I always analyse my squad to predict the most advantageous formation and tactical instruction. By looking at the squad depth and the roles overview I get familiar with which player roles my tactic should have and which players I need in my tactic.
I always use a lot of time developing a custom made tactic for my new team.
As I want the tactical familiarity levels to be reached to 100/100 as fast as possible, I consider them when making the new tactic. You should also consider your board expectations regarding football philosophy, when making or importing a new tactic.
Those two important elements are my limitations when developing a new tactic.
I use the friendlies and the first few matches to analyse and supervise my tactical approach, to do the necessary adjustments for a successful season.
After the tactic is created I change my focus to the touchline instructions aka shouts, which can be launched during matches. You can pre-set as many shout instructions as you like, but it could be important to consider some different match scenarios, and instruct how you like your players to behave under the specific circumstances. Normally I create 4 basic shouts; attacking, defending, counter-attacking and standard, which can be applied according to match results and match time.
I won’t discuss the tactic section in an wider aspect in this post, as I will cover this in the tactic section in the coming weeks.
D) Coaches and Backroom Staff
The backroom staff influences team training, player development, team management, player happiness and tactical knowledge. The backroom staff is the foundation for every successful team, and you should spend a lot of time assembling a professional staff.
The backroom staff will work and interact with both first team players and youth players in transfer negotiations, individual training and general team training.
As soon as the summer break ends I focus my attention on the backroom staff, and analyse their strength and weaknesses.
It’s favorable to have a professional coaching staff by hiring excellent backroom staff in key positions, such as assigning an excellent scouting network, or finding an excellent Director of Football.
To get the most out of training, it is recommended to assign excellent coaches to the different coaching categories.
Remember that the coaching staff is divided into first team coaches and youth coaches. You can read more about “How to find excellent coaches” and download specific coaching filters, in these links.
As part of team management you need to do some necessary decisions:
– First Team coaches with a lower ranking than 3 stars in coaching must be fired.
– Youth coaches with low attribute in Working with Youngsters must be fired.
– Scouts with lower scouting attributes than 15 (PA/CA) may be fired.
– Supervise the required attributes for an excellent Director of Football at your club.
P.S. These objectives rely on club management, the league level and reputation. A lower league management will differ a lot as it will be difficult to attract excellent coaches and usually you will not be able to afford to hire/fire multiple backroom staff.
No matter which team I manage, I want to have a professional coaching staff. Having four or five star coaches increases the training performance and results in player development and match training. Excellent coaches influence the tactical familiarity levels, and shortens the time of reaching 100 of 100 on all the tactical familiarity levels.
As the board only allows a certain number of the different backroom staff, it is recommended to use some of your transfer budget to hire and fire coaches and staff members who don’t meet your demands. You can fire average coaches by asking for mutual contract termination, or paying a little more by simply terminate the specific coaches contract.
By hiring professional backroom staff during the pre-season, and using a large amount of the transfer budget on hiring excellent coaches, you will be innovative, and future-minded.
E) Setting up your scouting network: Transfer targets
After analyzing my squad depth I assign my scouts to find possible transfer targets around the world. As I always tend to look for younger players I ensure my scouts have good staff attribute in judging potential ability
To assure your scout reports are as accurate as possible I always ensure I hire staff with the required scouting attributes.
Normally I assign scouts to different parts/countries of/in Europe and South America.
Normally I have some pre-made shortlists of the best Football Manager Wonderkids, promising youth talents and nation specific shortlists which I import into the game. Regardless of previous scouting reports from other savegames, I go through the shortlists, and scouts the players.
Any transfers in pre-season are done by the scouts recommendation or if I need to move quickly to attract a specific player. (For example if a good player or a wonderkid has a affordable transfer clause).
- 1# Set the Game Start date to an earlier point than default, by choosing another leagues game start date.
- 2# Arrange 7 to 10 friendlies with an interval of 3 days, against two or three teams with larger reputation.
Time Period: ASAP
- 3# Develop or adjust the preferred tactic for the season ahead, and pre-set some different shout instructions according to possible misc match scenarios.
Time Period: ASAP (ongoing)
- 4# Schedule the pre-season training; Focus training attention to Match Training – Tactics Only, and General Training – Fitness* (Very High). Set the scheduling bar to 50% (Highest level). Change the General Training to Team Cohesiono after 3-4 friendlies.
Time Period: *First 2 weeks / oChanged after the first 2 weeks.
- 5# (As)sign four to five star coaches and backroom staff to improve the results of player development and team training, which lays the foundation for a professional team management.
- 6# Give your scouts different scouting assignments to track possible transfer targets that can strengthen your squad and aid team performance / or player development.