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Back to Football Managers Basics - 01 - Getting Started

Complete end to end process from starting a new save, taking charge of a club and developing that club into a world beater. Initial chapter is about setting goals, and taking your first steps.

By on Nov 17, 2017   45327 views   2 comments
Beginner's Guide - Back to Football Managers Basics - 01 - Getting Started
This is the complete club strategy guide for Football Manager primarily aimed at beginners. Created by herne79 on the official Sports Interactive forums and published here with his kind permission.

I have spent weeks collating and editing the individual posts to ensure this Back to Basics guide series has good flow and relevancy. I hope you enjoy reading it and follow all of its chapters til the end.


We see many threads in Football Manager forums asking for help. This can be help on all sorts of levels, from complete novices asking basic questions, to more advanced topics.

We also see some excellent threads describing how somebody has gone about creating their tactic or tactical system - a few even describe how that person has created an identity for their club and their squad development.

I thought I'd write an article that covers the complete end to end process from starting a new save, taking charge of a club and developing that club into a world beater.

This will cover:
- Basic information, tips and tricks;
- Club set up;
- Player training;
- Short term issues;
- Long term plans;
- Tactical development;
- Playing matches;
- Squad development

I also intend to write this "live" as I actually play the game, so that at every stage you'll be able to see my thought process as I go about managing my chosen club.

Clearly this article isn't going to be a quick read.

Goals (pun intended)

- Avoid the sack!
- Write something useful for a broad cross section of the community
- Be as descriptive as possible to pass across strategies and thought processes

Shout Outs

Too numerous to mention them all, but without the innumerable contributions from Cleon, Rashidi and RTH I'd still be trying to throw the kitchen sink at the Tactics Creator and wondering why the hell things didn't work.

Guides from wwfan, llama3 and THoG have been of great help, and simply reading contributions from members of this forum all goes a long way.

Thank you all.

First Steps

We have to start somewhere, and for me it starts when I hit the "New Career Game" option.

I think this is an often overlooked area with many people (quite rightly) eager to get involved with their new club. But the choices we make here can have quite an impact on how the game plays and the strategies we adopt. Some of the choices you make now can't be changed once you start playing, whilst others can take a very long time to change, so it's important to get things right now.

Much of it is of course down to your personal preferences and there is no right or wrong way of doing things - just the fun way. For the save I'm starting, this is how I'm setting things up:

1. Playable Leagues and Advanced Options

The amount of playable leagues you load will to an extent be governed by both the computing power of your PC and also by the speed at which you like to play. People with less powerful PCs or those who don't want to wait too long for game time to update each time they hit "Continue" will choose a lot less leagues than I load. Nothing wrong with that at all. I personally like to have lots of leagues loaded (with the Database set to "Large") to help with things like the transfer market, player and staff choice. Once in game you can change which leagues to load, but the changes won't come into effect until the end of the season.

You will also notice I've selected the "Game Start Date" to be Germany - 26/6/2015. The club I intend to manage is not a German club, however if I selected the country where the club is, the start date would have been 1/7/2015. By changing this start date, I get an extra few days of pre-season to help with things like player match fitness, tactical familiarity and team cohesion. It may not sound like much, but this is a game where numerous small things can add up to make noticeable differences. Do you have to do this? No of course not, it's personal preference.

And finally comes a few more personal preferences in the Advanced Options section. I like to start saves as the beginning of the real football season started, without making any additional transfers in the first transfer window. As I also have the In-Game Editor installed, I disable it for actual saves I do. Sometimes I play games with Attribute Masking disabled, but I intend to write about Scouting so will leave this enabled. Again, all of this is personal preference based on what you find fun to do.

I usually play with the top major European leagues plus the lower leagues of whichever country I am managing in, along with Argentina and Brazil and a large database. Sometimes I'll also add more South / Central / North American countries as well. I tend not to add or remove leagues during a save.

2. Club Choice

Club choice for me is important. I have to feel a connection to the club I manage, otherwise I'll get bored and the save will die. That connection could be a real life connection, a challenge I set myself, or just a team I've enjoyed watching in the past. It doesn't matter what the connection is, so long as I have one.

I also don't enjoy Lower League Management. That's just me. A friend of mine has completed all sorts of LLM challenges, from San Marino to Iceland via Wales, and the things he achieves is incredible. Inspired by him, I've tried similar things, but it's just not my cup of tea, so to all those people out there who do love this aspect of the game I tip my hat to you. You're all as mad as badgers of course, but I tip my hat.

So, the club I have chosen is West Ham United - and not just because I happen to support them. They have a decent enough squad and massive potential to grow as a club, but their finances are in a bit of a mess, their training and youth set up needs an overhaul and there is plenty of scope to develop the team. It's a bit of a challenge and will hopefully make for good reading.

3. Manager Profile

For me, this is a very important aspect to get right as it impacts lots of areas within the game - team talks, player conversations, Board meetings, contracts & transfers and training to name but a few.

Now, just as players and staff members can improve their attributes, so can your manager avatar. However, for me the rate of increase is interminably slow and I don't have the patience for it. That's just me. Many many players set their manager up with very low reputation and attributes, and the development therein is an integral part of their gameplay. Hats off to them, much respect. I just can't do it.

Anyway, based on the club and league I intend to be managing in, I made the following choices and adjustments:

As you can I see, I have chosen a slight favouring towards being a Tactical Manager. I'll run through my choices, which are all geared towards helping me with my coaching staff and team/club interaction:

a) Coaching Attributes

From experience, it can be relatively easy to find Goalkeeping, Fitness and Defending coaches. It can be hard to find decent Ball Control and Shooting coaches especially, so my coaching attributes are skewed towards setting myself up as one or other of this type of coach. To see exactly which attributes are important for every type of coach, check the FAQs sticky at the top of this forum.

I also give myself extra points in Working with Youngsters as (i) your Manager/Coach will be coaching all levels of your clubs' squads, not just the senior squad and (ii) players are classified as "youngsters" until the age of 23, by which time anyone half decent should be fully installed in your senior squad.

b) Mental Attributes

Here, I want to fill out as much as possible in Determination, Man Management, Level of Discipline and Motivating, whilst still having a healthy dose in the other 3 categories. Take another look at that screenshot above to see the in game definitions of Determination, Man Management, Level of Discipline and Motivating - hopefully you can see why I've placed an emphasis here, given all the interaction with people I'll be having in the game.

If you had a look at the FAQs sticky for desired coach attributes, you'll also understand why I want a good showing in Determination, Discipline and Motivation for my own "coach".

In conclusion then, hopefully you can start to see why I spend a little extra time getting the game set up as I do. It's incredibly difficult or slow to change any of these choices once you have actually started a game, so a little patience here can go a long way.

Next I'll discuss how I start to set things up in my new club, from checking out my staff to organizing my pre-season. And then there is the small matter of my players and their tactics.

Further Reading:
Back to Basics - 02 - Backroom Staff

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About Stam

I started FM Scout for fun in the distant 2004. I'm proud of how this place has grown into a vibrant community and I try my best to improve it every year. Husband and father of two.

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