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Aligning your management strategy

A concrete and refined thought process

By Updated on Dec 17, 2010   12689 views   5 comments


I have been playing since version 2004 (when I was still a teenager). But I wouldn’t say I have been a truly successful manager until version 2008. Like most young gamers I first started using my favourite club, Liverpool. To which they have a strong financial background with Owen and Gerard, hence it allowed me leap forward as a manager, winning titles, European trophies etc. Since then I have morphed, started with small lower league clubs and build myself up.

Goal in game:

To be the most successful manager in history. Add financial success to the club, build a farm system that can supply the first team young/new/world class players. Do not cheap with data editors, genie scout.
Maybe you have been very successful too. I certainly would want to hear about a long playing manager’s career achievements in order to refine my own. I am not gloating, but I will explain how DID I achieved these feats and how you can too.

For example:

Version 2009
• Started with Shrewberry, achieve financial success by reaching the Championship and expanding new statium, after domestic success in top flight for almost a decade with Man United, managed England, but hired away to a struggling Barca (which didn’t win a La liga for over 20 years). Rebuilt Barca, I won 17 la liga over a 23 year span. Financially club grew to over 1billion. Over my career, my transfer +/- averaged out to be about 15million only. Manager Hall of Fame ranked 1 over 34 FM seasons.

Version 2010
• Started with lower league team, then Middlesboro, switched to Leeds. 15 Premier league titles in 20 seasons, 5 Champ league titles with finances growing over to 700million, a stadium named after me, left to win a WC with Brazil, then a Euro with Spain, and then took over AC Milan. Manager Hall of Fame ranked 1 over 32 FM seasons.
• The only rating in my management profile that wasn’t max was the “hands on” rating. All domestic clubs that I brought success to eventually ranked number 1 in the “richest clubs” list
• I HAVE been fired before too. Twice. Once at Man U, new board wanted to splash to sign high profile players. I refused cause it was an idiot new chairman. I was fired. Another time was that I wanted the club to expand, board didn’t, fired.

Version 2011
• Started with Hereford. Promoted from league 2 to Championship, off season hired by Derby. Wins immediate promotion from league 1 to Championship. As of today, I am leading the Championship by 2 pts after 11 games in the season. Club finances in the positives but still paying previous loans incurred before I took over.
I have read many blogs and articles posted by fellow players, and I just want to throw in my two cents. I am going break down management in several categories and discuss each at a deeper level. I am not writing a simple tactical guide nor an exploit about the game (like using FM data editor or Genie scout). I want to discuss philosophy about football management, how to be a successful manager.


I am going to start off with finance. Most if not all blogs I read every player mentions all parts of management EXCEPT finance. To say finance of a club is critical almost sounds like a cliché. But what I want everyone to understand is how to achieve club finance success and the importance. First off, managing the wages is of the most importance. I personally NEVER offer exceeding 3 seasons. Most of my players are less than 2 years away from bosman. Short contracts that expires also keeps the players hungrier for success. It will loop in when you are winning and players want to stay. I have found to be really successful at a top flight club, to do a double or treble, my wage bill centered about 900-1.2million pounds a week. A year where I DO lose in European competition because I have injured players and lack of player depth, would be around 650k to 750k a week. It isn’t an idea of “how cheap” you are. It is to ensure you don’t bind yourself with hefty contracts that you struggle to offload. Unless you are Man U, Liverpool, Milan etc. Your club cannot sustain a big wage bill financially via ticket sales, sponsors etc.

Do NOT over-bloat your squad. Do NOT sign too many “cover” players. This is a tricky subject, I will explain in terms correctly when I explain my tactics. Look at Arsenal in 04 (real life…lol). Wenger had about 20 players, and they went undefeated, and now Gunners a new stadium.

When you can win titles with a smaller wage budget than expected, and you have older players that you can let go over bosman due to age. You can rebuild by signing new players, bring up academy players up. This allows your club to store and build up finances over time, which the board can use to expand seats, upgrade facilities.

Signing players on the cheap or for free is easy in the game, and I don’t think I will go into details here in terms of finance. I would however talk about it later on in relations to tactics.

I think the concepts I have mentioned are NOT ground breaking. The only thing I wanted to mention is length of contract. You will see the different if you follow that simple concept that financial flexibility allows you to achieve great things later on.


Ever since version 2008, I have been using this tactic, albeit times when I take over a club and I simply didn’t have the resources to do so. But I now use/build the same system I found out to best fit my personal goals. I am not an advocate of it because I think it works in the real world yada yada, but simply I found it worked in this game.
When I got the Barca job, the team was set to a 4-3-1-2 system. It was right around the January I signed a Japanese player that playing the AM role. At the same time I lucked a signed a 16 year old wonder kid (Ruiz) for free. Three years later when my Japanese was in the twilight I was able to play the kid regularly. Ruiz became my star and a world class player, I won 17 league La liga titles. He because Barca all time goal scorer. ALWAYS make your academy follow your first team tactics so they develop and grow up knowing your system.

NOTE: this was actually back in the year2007 (FM season 2020ish, after messi left), before Pep Guardiola took charge. I just happened to be hired by Barca. I didn’t plan/trick/follow the CURRENT 2010 real life barca. Total coincident. But it IS the blueprint of the current Barca team.

Now, here was the real change. I went to a 4-3-3. A true 4-3-3. 3 MF and 3 strikers. So basically I was dropping the concept of wide players. Except full backs. So the concept is to anchor the team around Ruiz. Over 20 seasons in charge, I let many older players go, brought in new ones but everything revolved around the 4-3-3 and Ruiz. Now I have of course refined the system. 4 defenders remains, the center of the 3 MF plays a defensive role. The one on the right of the 3MF plays advanced attacking playmaker. The left of the MF plays central support role. 3 classic strikers up front, sometimes playing one as a target man. The 4 defenders are just 2 CB, 2 full backs. Typical, efficient, high concentration. Do NOT have to have flair, ball playing ability.

Statistically the 3 strikers up front should combine and score a lot of goals. You won’t lead the league in goals a lot by 1 single player by your system allows you to probably league in team goals.

I set my home pitch to the narrowest setting. Choke the away team, force them to play in the middle which they can’t compete against my superior central MF. Completely disabling the effectiveness of their wide players. I play a short passing game. Control, movement, accurate finishing. My teams never really have “great” flair players that were constant FIFA nominated 11. But they were effective, and I won titles.

Now, here is the key concept, by revolutionizing my team to a 4-3-3. Even today, I am using 4-3-3. I have dropped wide players/wingers/wing backs out of my entire club. What that does is it allows me MUCH more financial flexibility. Wide players typically play 1 side. If you have 2 good wide players, you still need cover for them, so those wages add up over the course. And wide players in the transfer market don’t come cheap, they break down. Dido with strikers, if you play 2 strikers up front you will need to have depth of 4-5 strikers. So why not just play 3MF, 3 strikers. Depth of 5-6 MF, 5 strikers (10 players in total). Which is a whole lot easier to manage financially and EASIER to replace than 4 wide players, 4 MF, 4 strikers (12 players in total) in a traditional 4-4-2 system that you can’t really interchange in positions.

Now, with this system, do not over emphasize attacking with your full backs, your goal is to pass pass pass pass pass the ball and finish with a precise strike. Your team in any system should never lose shape in defense for the sake of attack.

You don’t have to agree with me at all. But it works when you find the correct players and fit them in this system. But I think this is financially the most efficient system in football. You get to play attacking football too which will please the fans and the board. And you have set positions that you can easily bring in or sell players. Very interchangeable parts, lost risk high reward.

Management Style

Pick a system get players to play in that system
Pick players, find a system that works.

I take an offhand approach. Strict, but no unnecessary mind games with other mangers. If you want know what I mean, look at what Sir Alex does in Man U. You don’t need to be over concern about training schedules or tactical training schedules. Make sure they get rests, but I leave trainings to my coaches. Keep your system constant, let the players blend into the style. The system can beat other teams, do not panic, do not change things for a match because your assistant suggests it. DO NOT micro manage players, too many specific instructions handcuff their natural creativities. Dido with coaches and scouts.

I love the new version’s wider range of interaction. I really love “xxx points finger at <MYNAME> and says he will be lucky for a mid-table finish”. Happened 3 times already when I win a big away match to go top in the league table. The best is to not even respond. Your players will back you up after a big win anyways and strive to play better. Be confident and trust your decisions.

Look, if your personality is panic, you are going to panic.


Everyone knows the concept of cheap transfers. I don’t need to dwell on that. Any player that is 30 you should consider replacing them with younger players. Keep the squad young and hungry. The number one attribute I look for is pace. I never go for the highflying star player. But if you realized you need to bring a superstar that costs 30million pound. You haven’t done your homework in the off season. Your job is to pre-prepare your team. You should have potential targets lined up to replace outgoing players. Just as a note in version 2010 I sold 2 different each at 60million to man city. Money well-earned and it helped the club build new facilities.

If you built your club correctly with young players like I did. I have gone 2-3 season where I don’t sign a player at all. Only later on signing a player for cheap as a squad player for cover.

I hope you understand all my points. The goal is that everything you do should align with your strategy.

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Discussion: Aligning your management strategy

5 comments have been posted so far.

  • fify's avatar
    i often have a problems about lack of discipline and it effect to my squad. How to settle this problem? i already tried many ways but it fail.. can you all give and share some info and guide...tq..
  • wilkie1984's avatar
    This was a very good blog well done and i really enjoyed reading this! As somone said was interersting to read the finances part and i may well be giving this a go to see how i get on. Not sure how you can manage that amount of time on one game though think the most i can last is about 10 years in a career. Whats your secret to lasting that long?
  • MLR's avatar
    Very good post mate, a pleasure to read your very interesting views on finances especially!
  • joannes3000's avatar
    Great read and great concepts discussed! I especially like your more dedicated method of roster management by using only MCs. I've developed a 442 system that works well for me, but I always enjoy and appreciate seeing other methods. Keep up the good work!
  • Evo's avatar
    A brilliant post, I really enjoyed reading through how you run your clubs and your tactic really makes sense as does the financial benefits from 3MF & 3ST. I prefer big squads and make money through signing only young promising players and selling a year or 2 later for huge profits but I might try your system.

    Do you take care of any training or coaches at all? Also what about scouting and finding players how do you handle that?
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