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Youth are the future

A Football Manager guide to youth and how to get the most out of them.

By on Jun 15, 2013   46668 views   1 comments
Football Manager Guides - Youth are the future


Stop and think, what is your youth academy doing for you? What would you prefer?
  • a non-existant academy: no gain/no loss
  • a money sink
  • a few homegrown players for the next generation
  • a homegrown team ala Atletico Bilbao
  • a cash generating machine.

I am going to assume you want a few homegrown players for the next generation: to save money on transfers and help fill quotas :) Ok, and a cash generating machine. How? Buy youth early when they are cheap, develop them quick, sell them as soon as they have developed into somewhat decent footballers... then negotiate with your boardroom to improve your managers' wage contract ;) It is just that developing youth (quickly or not) is the tricky part and this is what this guide focuses on. So read on!

Player Ability and Development

Stats and Ratings

Every player has a CA (current ability) and a PA (potential ability) rating.

Current Ability

The CA rating is a rough reflection of how good a player currently is in their best position. The rating you will see is determined by:

  • The current stats of the player
    It sounds stupid listing this, but what you see and how the player actually is performing could be different? A player will need to perform well for awhile before their coach/scout rating improves.

  • Stats needed for the role
    for example: defenders need composure, positioning, tackling, etc. A Centre Defender rating will include heading, but a fullback rating will not. - see my guide "Key attributes" for specific examples of what Football Manager considers. This does not consider your actual formation - eg. allowing your trequarista to roam and help out in defense.

    How capable a player is in the position:
    • uncomfortable (0%)
    • awkward
    • competent
    • accomplished
    • natural (100%)

    A player's capability in a role is improved with games played in the position & specialised training. A player's capability in a position decreases with neglect. NB Every player has a position/s they are a natural in.

    Example: putting an excellant ball winning Centre Midfielder in the Centre Defense is a waste of a player if they are "uncomfortable"

  • The scouting ability of your coach/scout giving you the rating:
    I personally use as a rule of thumb +/- one star for a coach of 14~ scouting ability. This is until i have scouted the player multiple times, maybe 3 times.. or more, then the margin of error will be less.

    There will be a little variation/error in the rating of your players when they are actually playing for your team. Example: Ask your physio to rate your players and compare this to your Assistant Manager's rating. Variation of ratings could also be due to the player improving or becoming worse.

Potential Ability

You could think of PA as simply being a pool of points that can be spent as a player develops to increase CA. PA is a set limit to how far a player can develop.

You can still maximise a player's star rating for their role if you don't waste any of the pool of PA points to develop a player (ie: use "training focus"). For example, suppose you have a young fullback with:
  • good potential, maybe 3 stars. You will probably see this as 4 star potential in the first year or so because of stupid coach ratings;
  • awful attacking stats;
  • excellant defending stats
  • reasonable physical stats
you could retrain the player to be a four star Anchorman/Defensive Mid (breaking down attacks with good tacking and positioning). Thus your player's poor attacking stats are ignored. For more information about stats needed for positions, see my other guide "Key attributes".

What determines the pace of a player's growth

  • Determination
    A mental attribute, the higher the better

  • Personality
    the ideal type is "model citizen" or "model professional" - professionalism is key (see below)

  • Age
    younger players develop faster (see graph below)

  • The size of the difference between a player's current ability and potential ability
    The more potential ability "pool" that a player has to develop, the faster they develop

  • Qualitiy of Coaching
    Go to "training" - "coaches" - then maxmise the rating of each role by trying to dedicate a coach to each particular role of training. If not possible, assign your coaches as few roles as possible. You can find the formula for coach role ratings in my other guide "Key Attributes"

  • Quality of training facilities/youth facilities
    depending on age of player - players in your youth team use youth facilities
Example: a 17 year old " model professional" player, with the potential to become a superstar, training at a start of the art youth facilities, with 5star coaching - will develop remarkably quick.

The usual player attribute growth curves (read "skill" as technique)

What this graph shows us:
  • Youth players have very poor mental stats
  • Physical ability peaks at around 24 to 25
  • Technique peaks at 29 to 30
  • Mental ability never peaks, but is near max at 30 years +
  • Physical abiltiy develops a lot from 20 to 25
  • Players who don't need to do much running will have long careers

The Cash Machine Academy

A Cash Machine Academy is no different to a well run academy. The only real difference is that the Cash Machine Academy tries to boost the reputation the youth before selling them

To make some serious money, you should focus on optimizing:
  • getting talented youth to your club as early as possible (check regen birthdates below);
    • your annual youth intake at your club. NB building reputation in your league cant be done in the short term. You can do some small things - see below in the regen section

    • approaching them to sign for your club (ie instead of them completing their trial with a rival);

    • buying them from another club;

  • developing your youth
    training youth, mentoring them, and giving them playing time (in your 1st team, youth team or on loan). See below for preferred places to send youth to gain experience

  • selling them or loaning them for money
    dont forget future fees, they can be very easy to get people to agree to. eg future sale profit %

    and your profits = transfer value of the players if sold - acquisition costs - wage costs - development costs

    In my opinion the best time to sell is when the player has begun to establish themselves. This would probably be in a player's early twenties or a few years younger if the players has had early 1st-team experience (whether in your team or on loan).

    How do you decide when to loan, sell or let them become free agents? That is a tough question and is part of the fun of the game :)


How do you mentor?

Talk to a player, in the development menu choose "tutor":

Mentor - The player that you want to teach with
- be 23/24 or older (except for the captain, but the captain must be older than the player to be mentored)
- have a high reputation
- have at least awkard competency in a position that the Mentoree is Natural or Accomplished in
- not be undergoing Player Preferred Move training
- Squad status: higher than the Mentoree

Mentoree: The player you want to learn from a senior player
- be 21 years old or younger ;
- have a low reputation;
- Squad status: squad rotation or lower

- "Off field mentor" option: changes the personality of the Mentoree
- "improving game" option: player being mentored may learn Player Preferred Moves.

How does mentoring work?

It is complicated. The short answer is:
  • the Mentoree may gain Mental Attribute points(and develop faster as a result);
  • the Mentoree may change personality (ie: gain some professionalism - become easier to manage & develop faster);
These two points are very good/excellant. The next two points can be good/useful.
  • the Mentoree may gain a Player Preferred Move (PPM) from the Mentor;
  • the mentor and the player being mentored may become each other's favoured personnel(helps keep them happy/at your club - not clear).

If you are not careful choosing your mentor, the mentor and the mentoree may become each other's enemy. This is bad and eventually you will find that you have to sell one of them off. :(

Personality types

Good personalities are bold - Neutral personalities are in plaintext - Bad personalities are in italics

Balanced – The player has a well-rounded personality that does not fit one of the above specific descriptions.

Born Leader – The player has top Influence and Determination

Casual – The player has very poor Professionalism and poor Determination.

Charismatic Leader – The player has very good Influence, Sportsmanship and Temperament.

Confrontational – The player has poor Sportsmanship and Temperment.

Devoted / Very Loyal / Loyal / Fairly Loyal – The player has very good Loyalty but poor Ambition.

Driven / Determined / Fairly Determined – the player has very good Determination and a fair level of ambition.

Evasive – The player has good Pressure and Professionalism.

Honest / Sporting / Fairly Sporting – The player has very good Sportsmanship but poor Determination.

Iron Willed – The player has top Pressure and good Determination

Jovial – The player has good Pressure, a fair level of Temperament, but poor Professionalism.

Leader – The player has top Influence

Level-Headed – The player has fairly balanced levels of Controversy, Loyalty, Professionalism, Sportmanship and Temperament.

Light Hearted – The player has good Pressure and Sportsmanship and a fair level of Determination and Temperament.

Low Determination / Easily Discouraged – The player has very poor Determination and poor Ambition.

Low Self-Belief – The player has very poor Pressure and poor Determination.

Media Friendly – The player has low Controversy.

Model Citizen – The player has very good Ambition, Determination, Loyalty, Pressure, Professionalism, Sportsmanship and Temperament.

Model Professional / Professional / Fairly Professional – The player has very good Professionalism and a fair level of Temperament.

Outspoken –The player has high Controversy.

Perfectionist – The player has very good Ambition, Determination and Professionalism but poor Temperament.

Reserved – The player has very low Controversy and good Professionalism.

Resilient – The player has very good Pressure and good Determination.

Resolute – The player has very good Professionalism and Determination

Short Tempered – The player has high Controversy and very poor Temperament.

Slack – The player has no Professionalism and poor Determination.

Spineless – The player has no Pressure and poor Determination.

Spirited – The player has good Pressure, Professionalism and a fair level of Temperament.

Temperamental – The player has very poor Temperament.

Unambitious – The player has very poor Ambition but a fair level of Loyalty.

Unflappable – The player has good Pressure and good Temperament.

Unsporting / Realist – The player has very poor Sportsmanship and a fair level of Determination.

Very Ambitious / Ambitious / Fairly Ambitious – The player has very good Ambition but poor Loyalty.

Volatile – The player has poor Temperament

Loan, Transfer or Door?

Loan, Transfer or Door? It is a very complicated answer, and this is what makes Football Manager fun :) Essentially it is "when could i make a profit from this player" whether sooner or later. If no money is likely, (ex)terminate ASAP. Otherwise, it is a waiting game to see when you should sell.

Where do you play youth?

As a rule of thumb:
  • excellant - playing regularly for your first team
  • great - on loan to a similiar division club as a regular
  • good - on loan to a club a one or two divisions lower as a regular
  • good or ok - cover for your first team
  • ok - on loan to a club that is two divisions or more lower as a regular(better if very young/undeveloped)
  • ok - youth team
  • ok or bad - on loan to a club in the same division as cover
  • bad - reserve team
  • bad - on to a club to a club in a lower division as cover (better if very young/undeveloped)

I generally play my entire youth team as my reserve team ("make available for reserves") and play them in my first team or as regulars on a loan team whenever i can..

Feeder clubs? They make it more likely your youth will be accepted as a loanee. Personally I don't bother. To send a player to a feeder club, go to squad status and then "send to feeder club". Afterwards, go to your transfer screen and check to see if their squad status in the feeder team is acceptable to you. If not, CANCEL the deal (cancel anytime)!


After you recieve a message in your inbox notifying you that you have recieved a loan offer (ignore the inbox message) - go to your transfers screen!

Check the actual loan offer in the transfer screen!

Check the SQUAD STATUS of the loan offer

Check to see if your loan will be as a "valuable first team member" or "cover for the first team". Then you can decide if sending the player on loan is a good idea or not :)
  • You can recall freely loaned players at anytime
  • You cannot recall paid loaned players until the transfer window (rules will vary from competition-to-competition
  • Fans don't like your own players playing against your team (this is not a major factor)
  • Note: cup tied option - loaned player cannot play for more than 1 team in a cup competition

Also, be careful of your Director of Youth Development - paritcularly in the lower leagues:

Double check ALL transfers - if you let your Director of Youth Development handle loans and transfer of your youth, they can make some pretty stupid decisions sometimes. CANCEL their stupid transfers!

Scouting: where do I find these youth?

Answer: In youth teams! But seriously, anyway you can. It just depends how much time YOU want to spend looking. Here are some tips:
  • Find & Subscribe to as many major youth international tournaments as you can tolerate. When the tournament enters your news feed, scout all the best players on the tournament statistics sheets. Go to back to the tournament information page to find the link for player statistics from the tournament.

  • NB Just because some player are in the leading statistics, it does not mean that they are great players - most likely they are good players who got lucky, but not the best players you actually want to buy - scout them to find out which one it is!

  • Randomly scouting youth teams that are known to have a high standard (national teams and other club teams - eg Chivas of Mexico, One of the famous academies in France, AIS of Australia, et cetera)

  • Scouts should have high PA (potential ability). CA is almost irrelevant - some of the best players in the world remain undiscovered and rot in low reputation south american & central american leagues.

  • My best ever player was discovered this way - my best-in-the-world crazy goalkeeper even kicked&scored an indirect kick goal for his national team (Argentina). <3 I don't care what people think, high flair in a goalkeeper is stupid fun xD

  • Scout every potential signing multiple times. You will get a more accurate assessment of the player and uncover their weaknesses (unfortunately this is something that may not be easily apparent when they are actually playing for you)

  • Your opponents have trials days at the same time you do --> raid your rival's youth candidate team ;) Offer the trialists a contract before they sign to your rival!
I created some notes on the following screenshot to give you an idea what to look for when you check youth players - click the picture to expand it :

NB - this regen will become a star


Do you see the players with the stupid CG faces? (example: see above player) They are "regens" - randomly* generated youth players created to replace/refresh the database of players.

*NB: Regens are randomly generated, but ... there are some factors which strongly influence the standard of quality of the regens (CA and PA):
  • Reputation of the club within the league
    The best regens will be created at the best club in the league. For example: Barcelona and Manchester United. This means the club with the most reputation - not the club that has been winning the league recently.

  • Reputation of the country/league
    Example: there is a better standard of regen created in Brazil's second highest reputation team than in Mexico's top reputation team.

  • Youth Intake Coordinator
    This factor is ambiguous, but It seems to affect the nationalities of your youth intake. Basically, check the scouting range/knowledge of the person who is responsible for getting youth to trial at your club - see "staff responsibilities".

  • Youth Recruiting Network
    This factor is ambiguous. A simple explanation is that it affects the local geographic area that your regens come from. It is not known how this exactly affects the quality of regens - you should still try to upgrade to the maximum possible given your club's current status. Apparently it is only possible to expand recruitment network in the off season.

    Feeder clubs may also have an impact on your regen's quality, but it is not known if it actually does. You can request an upgrade of your Youth Recruiting Network & ask for Feeder clubs by talking to the boardroom. NB: Not all boardrooms are created equal. Some boardrooms have a sugardaddy and some are not very ambitious at all.

Where are the regens created?

Regens first appear as trialists at all of the club teams that have youth acadamies. A seperate "trialist" team will appear in the list of squads that a club has on the date of respective country's regen date. This trialist team has not yet joined the club they are trialing for.

A day or more later, depending on the club & league, there will be a trial day event (In real life
youth trials will probably go for several weeks). After the trial event, the trialists will be offered youth contracts. Trialists accepted by the club will join the most junior youth team. The rest will be deleted when the trialist squad is deleted from the list of squads

Key dates
Here are a few of the important dates that regens are created on:
  • Argentina - 2nd April
  • Brazil - 20th September
  • England - 13th March
  • France - 18th March
  • Holland - 25th March
  • Spain - 28th March
see below for a full list

Regen Birthdays

Regens will be created on the following dates, you may find your trial day is a day or more later.

28th January
Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Aruba, Barbados, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Costa Rica, Cuba, Curaçao, Dominica, Dominican Rep., El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Montserrat, Nicaragua, Panama, Puerto Rico, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, St Vincent & the Grenadines, Surinam, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks & Caicos Islands, US Virgin Islands

23rd February
Albania, American Samoa, Andorra, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Cyprus, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Fiji, FYR Macedonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kiribati, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, San Marino, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Vanuatu

8th March
Croatia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Israel, N. Ireland, Russia, Scotland, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, Wales

13th March
Austria, England

17th March

18th March
Belgium, Czech Republic, Demark, Italy, Poland, Portugal

19th March
Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia, Uruguay

23th March

25th March

28th March
Serbia, Spain

2nd April
Argentina, India, South Africa

17th April

19th April
Hong Kong

27th April

7th June
Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Venezuela

13th August

27th August
Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, Chinese Taipei, East Timor, Guam, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Macau, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, North Korea, Northern Mariana, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkmenistan, U.A.E., Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen

2nd September
Malaysia, Sweden

14th September
South Korea

19th September

20th September
Brazil, Ireland

25th September

28th September
Singapore, Colombia

1st October

3rd October
Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Rep., Chad, Congo, Djibouti, DR Congo, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, São Tomé &Príncipe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, Zanzibar, Zimbabwe

8th October

16th October

2nd November

26th December

Clubs with the best training facilities

Good training facilities speed up development. You could start at the following clubs that have the best training facilities:

Top training facilities and state-of-the-art youth facilities
Dynami Kyiv
LOSC Lille
Manchester Unitied
RC Lens

Alternately, ask your club's board very nicely to upgrade the club's training facilities. :)


This guide was written by Steam Community member Conditional Love. He was kind enough to allow us republish this guide here on

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Discussion: Youth are the future

1 comments have been posted so far.

  • kief's avatar
    Do balanced and level-headed affect the same attributes? Please can you clarify this in the article.

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