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Setting up a save: Database and Manager Building

Every game of Football Manager begins with the same screen, the game setup. However, it’s one of the most underrated in the game. How you set up an FM save will have a major influence on how your game plays out and what types of players you’ll encounter. Let’s take a look at how I do it to ensure an immersive and fun game.

About the save

Choosing the right club

Whenever I’m looking for a new FM save, I always look for something that will make me closer to the club or manager I’m using. If it’s about a club, I try to find interesting stories about it. Whom are their fans? Where’s their stadium? Did they have any interesting former players or managers? It’s a way for me to form a bond with that team, thus feeling that bit more hooked to it. For instance, that’s how I instantly fell in love with Tennis Borussia Berlin as soon as I heard about it.

The club has an interesting story, going back to their glory days in the 20s and 30s with legends like Sepp Herberger, who would go on to win the 1954 World Cup with Germany. However, since the formation of the Bundesliga in 1963 the club has struggled; it was in these hard times that a fervent following rooted in the mad and independent spirit of the city of Berlin has arised. Even with the club in the depths of the German 5th tier, they’re not slowing down.

Good ol’ Sepp, back in his playing days. He would lead TeBe to their first Berliner Landespokal in 1932.

Maybe TeBe’s crazy and passionate fan culture isn’t your thing. Maybe you prefer clubs with glorious pasts, special recruiment policies or magical stadiums. Whatever your preference is, I can’t stress enough how picking up the right project from the start makes or breaks a save, so choose wisely!

Moving into FM

The time has come to join that illustrious club history, but how? In my case, setting a TeBe save implied getting into the always risky business of custom Databases. SI tries to give us a wide range of options when it comes to our virtual managing career, but give an LLM lover 10 levels of obscure football, and they’ll start looking for 11th tier clubs.

My recomendation is to look for locally created databases, done by a single editor who’s dedicated to a league or country. Megapacks certainly have the charm of intercompatibility and practicality. However, it is often the case that databases created by editors unfamiliar with said league contain bugs that might ruin your game. Going for the work of a local creator brings (some) peace of mind.

Building the players pool

You’ve chosen the club. You’ve downloaded the correct database (or not). Now what? The question I pose myself everytime I set up a save is “Where do I want this to go?” This is important cause it will define what type of leagues you should add to the game, and how many; it’s all about getting depth where you need it.

For example, another club I was looking into before was Türkiyemspor Berlin. It’s a club founded by turkish immigrants in Berlin, with tight ties to that community and turkish football overall. Starting a save with them I’d have probably added the turk leagues, as well as leagues from nearby countries, like Greece or Romania. Thus, before starting a save I think about were I want to go and how I want to play the game. On the TeBe save I’m looking to reestablish the club as a german powerhouse, so I’ve focused on countries limiting with Germany such as Switzerland, Denmark and Poland.

An example of loading leagues selection

The active leagues panel can be misleading, particuarly in the Estimated Game Speed. While the amount of players does indeed make the game slower, the main culprit of awful loading times is the amount of leagues loaded, as the simulation takes time and processing power.

Likewise, I always add the top five leagues and their second divisions. The idea behind it comes from a deep dive into the SI forums; I was looking for ways to give the game more fluidity without sacrificing the organic development of the game world. Active leagues have a greater degree of activity and depth of simulation; having big leagues unactive may lead to strange movements in the transfers market. Thus, wherever and however I’m playing the game, I always have those leagues loaded up.

About the manager

The name of the game

The database, however, is just one half of how you set up an FM save. Every time I sit to begin a game, I wonder “Who’s shoes am I about to get into?”. While often I play as “myself, sometimes I prefer to use an alter-ego, a character of sorts created for that save. That gives me the opportunity to get involved in a different way, and see and think matters from a different perspective. I have to wonder how would he (or she) would resolve the issues that arise, what would be his (or hers) mission at the club.

It can be anyone; on my blog I’ve used the name of a club legend for one save, and that of a mytical PES player for another. A mate of mine went for names of exotic players like Mokoena and Marians Pahars. It’s all about giving yourself something more to play with, and one more reason to get hooked on that new save. On my Tennis Borussia Berlin save I went for Thomas Federer, a german american who grew up in LA and tried to make it as a footballer in the land of grandfather and has just become a manager. Now I’m forever in love with that save and that team.

The right man for the job

Once you’ve got your manager ready for work, it’s time to make sure he’ll be able to do it; it’s time to assign the attributes. Picking up the correct traits for your manager can help yo start a save on the right foot. Not doing so can make the mountain you’re trying to climb a lot steeper.

An example of manager attributes selection.

Picking up the right set of skills for your manager can make a save much smoother, particularly in LLM saves where there isn’t a big coaching staff to patch over the gaps.

When I choose the attributes for the manager I give myself a moment and think. What type of save I’m trying to have? Are we gonna start from the top or work our way up? Am I gonna stay on one club or am I gonna jump around? What style of playing am I gonna favour? Am I gonna look to develop young talent or make the biggest deals on the transfer market? And then, what’s my team’s position on their league? Are we gonna be the big fish or the underdog? Are we gonna have a large staff or is it gonna be just my guy and a couple coaches? The answers to these questions helps define which attributes we shoud prioritize and which to discard.

Coaching & Mental Attributes

In my TeBe save I’m looking to establish a high-press attacking style, so we’re gonna proritize Attacking and Tactical on the Coaching Attributes. The german lower leagues don’t allow for much signing so being able to raise our own prospects will be key; hence, Working with Youngsters will be important. The attributes regarding GK Training, on the other hand, we can leave on 1 as we’ll probably still be able to hire a GK Coach.

On the other hand, the same can be done with the Mental Attributes. As we’re looking to stay on one club all the way though, Adaptability won’ be high on the priority list. Player and Youngster Knowledge can be useful on Lower Leagues Management; however, Motivating, Determination and Man Management can prove more important, so as points are scarse, I’ll prioritize those.

In conclusion

With the FM20 cycle slowly coming to a close, it may take something different to really hook to a new save. Whether it is taking a chance with a different club or using any sort of FM alter egos, I suggest you try this method to set up an FM save. You might find that with a bit of imagination FM can turn into quite a different experience.

Until the next time, thanks for reading!

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Written by Fernando

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