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Beginners Guide to FM21 – Day One

As a follow up to my previous Setting up a save in FM21, you now have your selected team and are about to start your managerial career… until you realise you don’t know what to do next! This  beginners guide to FM21 aims to help you through Day One as manager, from the Club Vision to assessing your squad.

As your game loads, click “Next” through the various screens showing your appointment as manager. The game offers you the chance to do inductions across the different features of Football Manager, from scouting to tactics. If you wish, click Send Today to have these sent to your Inbox to complete. They are very useful in learning the different features of the game and are recommended for beginners.

Club Vision

The first page you see in your save is the Inbox, where all your news items are shown daily. One of the first news items shown is the Club Vision needing to be finalised with the Board of Directors.

As in reality, the club draft a 5 year plan, dependent on their finances and league they compete in. Always check what is Required by the Board, as meeting these objectives are likely to keep you in the job!

The Requirements from the Board of Directors to you.

For this article, I am using Brentford as the example, with the Board requiring a Play Off finish in the Championship & an FA Cup Fourth Round appearance in the coming season. Crucially, they also require me to work within the wage budget, which is common across most clubs in game. I recommend keeping your wages within the limits the Board have set, because spending over this budget could see you sacked!

Check the “Finances” tab for your transfer and wage budgets.

If this is your first managerial job, it is recommended to accept the objectives the Board have set you in your first season. As you progress through future seasons, you may be able to negotiate objectives, depending on your success at the club.

Squad Assessment

Before you set your tactics up, you need to assess your squad and their strengths and weaknesses. To do this, click on Squad on the left sided menu and you will see the squad you have inherited. Here you may find some hidden talents or some overpaid and aging players who may be hard to sell on.

Click on the drop down by Players and select Reports to reveal the star ratings for your players. Sort the ratings by Ability at the top, where you can see who your best players are and get an idea of who to base your tactic around. Clicking on individual players allows you to see their attributes and their preferred playing roles in each position.

Pontus Jansson: looks like a good player to me.

Using the Brentford example above, Pontus Jansson is the best player at the club with 4 stars out of 5 (shows how good your player is compared to the rest of your squad). Also, Saman Ghoddos as my loanee Left Winger (The Blue on his name shows this) is 3.5 stars, which suggests I should play with wingers in my tactic. I also have one striker in the squad (Ivan Toney), so may have to consider playing one striker up front.

Even if you know how you want your team to play, I recommend taking time looking over your players and identifying positions where you may wish to strengthen the team or to see who you want to sell on. You can also view this by going to Team Report and Squad Depth, giving a breakdown of your players and how many you have in each position.

A useful tool in seeing where you need strength and quality in player depth.

Squad Tactics

Now we get to the most interesting part of setting your team up: the tactics! Your tactics will define how your team plays and how they stop (or not) the opposition from scoring against you. A Tactical Induction shows up in the Inbox on day one to set your first tactic up, which is useful for beginners who are new to tactics.

When being guided through the induction, the game gives recommendations with a thumb beside the tactical style and formation. This indicates which tactic is likely to suit your current squad. It is your decision which tactics you choose to set up, although it is worth going with one of the guided options.

The game holds your hand through your tactics setup.

Once completed, the below screen is shown, where the tactical instructions and individual instructions can be tweaked over time. If you are not sure what to tweak, it is worth watching your first match to see what works or what instructions need changing.

Your finished tactics screen will look like this.

Staff Responsibilities

Behind every great playing squad, you have a great set of coaching; scouting and data analyst staff. Clicking on Staff will allow you to view your coaches; recruitment (scouts) and medical staff already at the club. It may be the case (especially lower down the leagues) that you may not have many staff available, so ensure whoever you bring in is useful.

A key thing to do here is sort out the responsibilities you want to give your staff. Go onto Responsibilities > Overview and you will see all the tasks you are responsible for as a manager. As a beginner, this may overwhelm you, so click Set All and Delegate all responsibilities to your staff. This allows your staff to take over the running of your training; tactics; matches and so on until you become more comfortable with the game.

If this screen overwhelms you, delegate tasks to your staff in the top right.

As you settle into the game, it is worth coming back to this screen to see what responsibilities you would like to take control of (matches and transfers are popular for this).

It may be worth leaving friendlies to your Assistant Manager, as this helps you get through pre season quicker.


Day one provides a lot to take control of when starting your save, but I hope this article has given you a snapshot of what to focus on. Delegating responsibilities to your staff is key to allowing you time to learn the features on the game. Over time, you can drip feed yourself responsibilities to take control of, especially once you are familiar with your squad; staff and tactics.

There are many articles online to help you learn how these features work, such as this. Check them out and thank you for reading. I wish you a happy time managing your first club in Football Manager 2021.


Follow me @OfficialTheFMW1 for more FM21 content or find us on Twitter @DictateTheGame for more Football Manager news and musings.

Check out these articles below for more on FM21:

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