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FM20 new features: how the game is an improvement over FM19

This year, I think I felt even more underwhelmed than usual. Being able to delegate the role of shouting from the touchline was one of the heights of the FM20 new features announced. Almost everyone I spoke to felt the same way. There wasn’t much to be excited about before the FM20 beta came out, but it was still a chance to start afresh with updated squads.

Yet the game feels more professional and realistic. Let me explain!

Club vision

Club vision- FM20 new features

The addition of a club vision felt unnecessary when it was announced: who wanted another iteration of stale board meetings? However, its implementation has undoubtedly added nuance to the game. Every well-run club in real life will have a vision behind the scenes that everyone strenuously works towards; some of these aims will be more important than others. As you can see, the club has favoured and required aims, which will all be considered in evaluating your performance. When two of the three bars are filled, that aim is preferred. The days where you can manage the club however you like on autopilot are long gone.

The benefits don’t end there. As you can see, your club now has specific strategies beyond ‘play attacking football’ or ‘develop youth players’. I love how the board wanted me to ‘sign players under the age of 23 for the first team’, rather than ‘sign young players for the first team’; it might seem like a small change, but it’s more professional and synonymous with the real game. Of course club directors who spend all day sitting in their ivory towers come up with rigidly specific targets and produce them on big spreadsheets like we can see here!

That pesky balance sheet

One final point: many of your club’s targets are inherently financial, as opposed to being about pure football. Now, there’s no point having a romantic tunnel vision unless the balance sheets and ‘big picture’ details look good! Also, as I’ll show below, the board sometimes ask you to provide an undertaking in order for them to approve your requests:

Board meeting- FM20 new features

Board meeting 2- FM20 new features

Board meeting 3- FM20 new features

This is entirely understandable: everything you ask the board for will involve expenditure. Before agreeing to that, the board will want it made crystal clear that the benefits justify the expenditure.

One of final touches is absolutely everything being recorded under board requests. Even asking the board to fund a member of staff’s coaching course will come under board requests. It’s the same when you look through the specifics of your own performance:

Confidence summary- FM20 new features

Club vision summary- FM20 new features

Match performance- FM20 new features

Transfer performance- FM20 new features

Tactics performance- FM20 new features

Squad performance- FM20 new features

Everything is graded and scrutinised. It’s honestly amazing that this wasn’t promoted more in the build-up to FM20; it brings the entire game up-to-date! Even more than before, starting a save feels like you’re putting yourself in a real managerial seat with real people around you. How refreshing.

Contract negotiations

Contract negotiations- FM20 new features

I like this! You get bars to measure how interested the player is in renewing and how patient the agent is prepared to be in negotiating the contract. This might speed the game up if you’re like me and spend far too long being pedantic about getting the best deal. If you’re not, which I commend you for, you have more context to understand how far everyone might be prepared to negotiate down. This, in turn, may encourage you to put more effort in.

In addition, youngsters will want guarantees about their playing time in future seasons:

Contract negotiations youngsters- FM20 new features

If you know anything about how contracts work in real life, you’ll agree that the negotiations are drawn-out. It always felt unrealistic that in previous versions you could just click on ‘offer contract’ and the player would just put all their cards out on the table. In real life, it would make a lot more sense for them to ask for certain things to be guaranteed before sitting on the negotiating table. This is for two reasons:

  1. To prevent the negotiating being a waste of time due to irreconcilable differences between the parties, and
  2. It will give the player an indication of how highly the manager values them. If you tell a player they’ll play regularly before the negotiating begins, when they were prepared to accept being a squad player, they’re likely to increase their financial demands. In a multi-stage negotiating process, they can do this without the manager ever knowing about their change of position.

Now, I know that this previously occurred with new signings. However, it should occur in every type of negotiation. Hopefully, in FM21, it will also occur when you hire new staff or renew an existing member of staff’s contract.

Development centre

Development centre

The new development centre adds to the overwhelming feeling of you working for a real club. While it might not make much difference in practice, it makes the first team more distinct from the youth teams. The first team’s manager role is to oversee what they’re doing, not become directly involved. Seeing it laid out like this finally persuaded me to delegate training in the U23 and U18 squads!

Code of conduct

Code of conduct

As you might have guessed, my players weren’t enamoured with this!

Team meeting

When the two groups were complaining, it wasn’t one saying the code was too lenient and the other saying too strict. One said too strict and the other said far too strict! Overall, the code of conduct doesn’t add that much substance to the game, but it’s fun to pick harsh fines and watch everyone get angry over it. They need training ground detention centres in the next game.

Gameplay

Gameplay

There aren’t any fancy new roles. No specific details were disclosed regarding match engine improvements. How is this any different?

Personally, I’ve found the gameplay harder and more realistic than in previous versions. You shouldn’t just be able to play a high line with tough tackling, an offside trap, tight marking and beautiful tiki-taka football every game with no problems! I’m still doing decently, and on course to achieve promotion (my minimum objective is automatic promotion!), but I’ve had to tinker around with my defensive and attacking settings a lot.

Now, anyone who’s read my pieces would know I never settled on much in previous versions either, but they were still easier. Here, in order to not leave my side wide open to counter-attacks, I’ve had to scrap most of my instructions, put both of my CB’s on cover and make my LB a defensive FB! Personally, I’ve found it harder to stop opponents creating chances, slightly easier to create chances but much harder to actually finish those chances.

Being able to save all of your set-piece routines in one file is also a godsend!

Conclusion

If nothing else, playing FM20 is a chance to modify your managerial style. I used to spend every summer hoarding young talent and loaning them out. My save became less interesting as it went on because I knew less of the players my WBA team had; consequently, I ended up buying even more players just because they looked good. It worked out pretty well, but this year I’d like to focus on developing players better. Last year, there was such a divergence in earnings between first-team players that I didn’t like what I’d created by the end. I stopped playing about two months before the FM20 beta came out.

In FM20, I’ve already learned loads about training and development. But that article is for another day. If there’s anything you’d go back and do differently in FM19, starting a new save in FM20 is fun, not least because it’s a better game. While there aren’t many overwhelming FM20 new features, it feels more professional and realistic. It’s just more enjoyable!

If you ever have any questions about any of this, or anything you want to discuss, feel free to start the discussion below, or contact us on our social media channels!

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Written by Ben

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