The Opening Few days at a club can make or break a season, maybe even more. The decisions you make early on in your managerial career are important to get you and the club moving in the right direction.
Here I will run through the pages within Football Manager that I visit and what I do within them to get myself organised for pre-season ahead.
Much of this is aimed towards lower league management!
The first step for myself is to look at the finances screen, now this will not be the first point of call for many but I have my reasons for why this is so important to me. The following questions are ones that I put to myself whilst on the screen;
- How is our balance? (Are we a selling club?)
- Do I have a Transfer and Wage budget available?
- What percentage of transfer sales do I get?
1: Are we a selling club, this is important. Within the next stages, you will be looking at the squad and you need to know what mindset you will be taking into the screens, are you looking first at what talent you have for the field or are you looking at where you can make savings and make the club some money for the future.
2: The transfer and wage budgets are not only for buying players, they are for securing the services of your team. Having a little of your wage budget available can be vital if you have some young talent who you need to secure as well as veterans you feel can still offer something to the team. Spend what you have available wisely, don’t jump straight into the transfer market to then find you can not secure your current talent on new deals due to blowing all your money away.
3: What percentage of transfer revenue is made available is something overlooked by many, why sell a player if you get nothing back? Financially you can help the club but that at times is not enough to convince you to sell an asset. What I am meaning is when you are in the black financially (Meaning you are secure) but you would like some extra transfer budget, sometimes your club will only be offering 20/30% of transfer revenue to go back into the fund.
This can be overlooked and leaving you confused on why you have sold a player for £1,000,000 to find you only got £200,000 to spend.
The Final piece of the finances to check on the opening day would be the Debt and Loan, find out what condition the club was in when you took over. This can be a shock at times, it is vital to take into account what outgoings you currently have and for how long.
It is now time to look at the squad. Part one showed me that we are not a club with a lot of money but we can try to hold on to what we have, we do not need to be selling players but purchasing players could be a struggle.
The squad depth screen has had great improvements within Football Manager and is a screen that you should and can utilize. The following questions should be asked from looking on this screen;
- What depth in what positions do I have?
- What formation does this make available to me?
- What are the weaknesses that I can work on within the team?
- What strengths can I improve straight away?
1: We have many midfielders, especially in the middle, strength in depth is certainly something we have across the midfield base positions MC, MR and ML.
2: The lack of full backs points towards a formation that offers three central defenders and with only three strikers also the formation is starting to take shape, 3-6-1. A formation that will give us the ability to dominate possession in games.
3: The main weaknesses are around the full back area, we have already addressed this in number 2. The decision making issue is something we can look at when selecting the starting squad to make sure we have players who are mentally strong.
4: Two main qualities are first touch and passing that stand out to me, we have focused on this with the very midfield based formation. These strengths also give me confidence that we can, as hoped, dominate midfield battles.
The next stage is the long, draining, stressful, fun, enjoyable stages of going through every simple player, comparing ones who play in same roles as others and deciding who is your best x11. This is a process that can take minutes if you are managing a club like Manchester United but can take hours if you are testing yourself and your football knowledge with a club like HamKam. For myself, I follow Norwegian football and manage in the system also but I still need to spend many a hour searching through my side to find and assess the players.
The key page for myself here is the comparing screen, an option that gives you the chance to place two of your players side by side and see who comes out in the stat battle best. This does not mean they are the better player… this means they have better stats. Always make sure you follow this stat check by getting coach reports and checking the strengths and weaknesses of players. You can have a player who statistically on the attributes is a great player but he can lack the interest in big games, he can lack the mental ability to play in games where as a ‘lesser’ player could relish the big stage and you will find that they perform better.
The final stage from within the club for myself would be the staff screen. Staff are as important as players, if your staff are poor, the players will be poor!
I can see that I have a group of very average coaching staff. I have one space available and at the level I am playing, I need to make sure I find someone who can cover many different sections. It is best to check what you need and why. Our worst section is goalkeeping but from checking the coaches screen within the training menu, I can see we have no designated fitness or goalkeeping coach, this is something important to me.
Finding a coach who can handle them two aspects could be very important as it would also free up the coaches I have to focus on other aspects of training and improve our sessions.
The final part I want to get going as quickly as possible is scouting, now this is again something that can be handled well or very poorly and actually cost your club financially. The following rules need to be set after addressing the previous parts.
- Can we afford to scout far and wide?
- Can we afford to scout many people or should we focus on individual people?
- Can we afford to buy the players we scout?
1: With the finances we have available we can not afford to send scouts to Brazil, Australia or India. Due to the club being semi Pro, scouting outside of Norway is something that is not needed anyway but you should always remember that scouting can cost you a lot of money.
2: We can not afford to scout many players but we do not have to limit ourselves yet to hand picking who to scout more. If finances continue to fall, then we do need to limit full scouting.
3: We can not afford, financially to sign anyone. We do not have the wages or the transfer budget available. This tells me that if I do want to scout, I want to be scouting for players who are running out of contract OR have no contract at the minute.
We also are also going to focus on only looking for players who would be big improvements to the club. We are not in the position to have our scouts spending months looking at players who would only be rotation to the side.
Thank you for reading, if you have any feedback then please, feel free to comment and remember to check out our other content.