With the release of the FM20 beta last week, many players have already sunk their teeth into their first saves, well on the way to getting Woking into the Champions League. I’m about 2 months in to my beta save with Chesterfield FC. For those of you who are new to Football Manager, or have come back after a hiatus, this is your guide to starting a new save on FM20.
1. Assess your Squad
The first thing I always do when starting a new save is assess my squad. The best place to do this is under the Team Report tab. Squad depth will give you a good idea of where on the pitch you have depth and capable players.
The comparison screen will show you where you have strengths compared with the other teams in the league. I have good Heading and Jumping Reach across my forward line, plus a good depth of strikers. A direct 4-4-2 or similar seems a good option at this point.
This is not so useful if you have a philosophy by which you intent to play, but I tend to be a more reactive manager, not sticking to a particular style or system. On that basis, this data forms the basis of my thinking around tactics.
Using the data from the Team Report tab, I tend to have a rough idea of how I want to play. The main tactical mistake I see a lot of people make is not understanding how roles work with each other to form a system.
It’s all well and good saying you want to play with an Enganche because it sounds cool and exotic, but if he doesn’t fit the system then you won’t get the best out of him. Read each role and the individual instructions, understand how that will affect the players around them and plan accordingly.
Above you’ll see how not to set up a tactic for a new save. There are far too many instructions here, and some of them don’t even make sense. A lot of them seem counter intuitive. Understand how you want your players to press, to pass, to create chances. Then be selective in your instructions.
You’ll also notice lots of little green circles above. Do Not be tempted by plugging a player in and selecting a role that’s green. It’s more important that your players work together. For instance on our left there is a huge gap ahead of the WB-De (who will stay back) and the two attacking players ahead of him. This could easily be exploited by an overlapping right wing back, and cause a lot of problems. “But it’s all GREEN!”
Here is what I am actually playing with. A balanced 4-4-2, not too many instructions, and roles which compliment each other nicely. A very simple tactic that I can tweak and adjust during games, to best exploit opposition weaknesses.
If you’re struggling with tactics, I can recommend checking out FMTahiti’s recent Hoofball Post or CrusaderTsar’s Bielsa Inspired 3-3-1-3 as a basis of how to form a tactic. Two very different ends of the same stick. For tactical inspiration, Tifo Football on Youtube tend to show off a lot of interesting tactics, both historical and modern.
Once you have a tactic, it’s important not to chop and change. Set it up and stick with it, so your players can form an understanding. If pre-season goes horribly wrong, find where the tactic isn’t working and fix it, or create a new tactic in another slot. Tearing up the sheet and starting again after pre-season is not an option.
However, before you hit pre-season, it’s important to flesh out the club with as many new staff members as you can. The staff screen will give you an overview of where you are compared with other teams in the league, and you can use this asses where you need to make improvements, especially in the coaching team.
When searching for a new coach, scout or physio, it’s important to look for staff with high attributes in the field you’re looking for. A typical attacking coach search for lower leagues in England might look something like this.
From there you can narrow down your options based on personality, attributes, wages etc. Fleshing out your staff as early as possible is key to having a good pre-season.
The next thing I look at on a new save is Training. Planning this early can grant a lot of positives in the long run. There are two main things I do at the start, one is to set up individual training for every player, to improve familiarity with the role I want them to perform, and to improve some attribute of their game which is lacking.
Next I’ll set up mentoring groups, looking to improve Determination of younger players by placing them in groups with seasoned pros who have good mentalities.
This can be huge in the long run, especially if you have players with good personalities such as Driven, Model Citizens or Perfectionist. Look for players with high Determination to lead these groups.
As for training more generally, I tend to keep it balanced and stick to what my assistant recommends, tweaking it where I feel it’s necessary. Don’t forget to edit coaching assignments after you’ve brought in those new coaches.
5. Managing Morale
This is something that I feel can be massively undervalued by managers in a new save. Setting up friendlies against Premier League teams can do wonders for your bank balance, but if your morale is on the floor before your first game, it won’t do you any good in the long run.
Getting your press conferences right, conducting good team talks, praising and criticising players, and winning games, all goes a long way to improving team morale. Getting it right can be the difference to your start in competitive football.
All of these areas combined made for an excellent start to life at Chesterfield. Following these guidelines, you’re sure to make an impact on your new save.
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this piece. Keep an eye on the website for more guides and tactics. You can also keep up to date with us on Twitter.