This 'starters' guide will set you up for success in any new club you manage!
All credits for this guide go to Peekay for writing this guide and all thanks to him for letting us share it on FMInside.
With the release of FM 21, we're all going to be starting new saves with various clubs, be it footballing giants or non-league ones, aiming to make it to the top of the world.
This guide will take you through what you need to do on your first day of the job at your new team. It will cover finances, tactics, scouting, and more, in a hope to give you, the manager, the best possible start to your journey.
I've aimed this primarily at new and intermediate players, so this can also serve as somewhat of a tutorial. If you have anything to add, feel free to leave a comment.
Finances are the backbone of your club: they dictate if you can make transfers, improve your facilities, and retain your players. For these reasons, the first thing I do when I take charge of a new club is check out the finances tab. We don't have to make any fancy calculations, but just get a general idea of how the club is doing in terms of money.
Let's take a look at the starting finances of Borussia Dortmund.
We can see that Dortmund is doing reasonably well, with a bit more than $100 million (~78 million pounds) in the bank. The transfer budget of $11 million is a little restrictive for a club our size, but we will see later that it is actually not that much of an issue. As for payroll, we have about 4 million p/a to spare, which, again, is not a lot of money.
Now, most clubs are not going to have budgets like Dortmund. Especially due to the coronavirus, many clubs will have much worse finances. If your club is in such a situation, keep that in mind as we talk about transfers later on.
It could be good to have a quick look at any clauses (found under the transfers tab) the club is owed. If you are in instant need of money, consider selling those.
Next, let's have a good look at our team. Head over to the team report tab, then click on the team depth chart section. There, make sure to change the "show" to "position overview (current ability)". I prefer this view, although you can use whichever one you feel is best. The team depth chart should look something like this:
Here, we can start to assess the strengths and weaknesses of your squad. If you're managing a team you're familiar with in real life, then you may already know them, but otherwise, doing this analysis is very useful.
Let us start by looking for the strengths. At Dortmund, I see that many names are considered to be "Great" players, like Haaland, Witsel, Delaney, and Hummels. This is all fantastic information as I can now look to build the team and tactic around these star players.
You can do the same with your squad; however, don't rely too much on the star ratings you see. These are only a general guide for how good the player is, the real information is in the player's attributes.
Once you've found your strengths, lets look for the weaknesses. Unless you've assembled a superteam years into the future, every team has it's weaknesses, be it in terms of player quality or squad depth. To find these, let's delve deeper into each position shown on the chart. If you click on any position (striker in this case), it should show you a pop up with all the players who could possibly play that position.
In the striker position, Haaland is clearly my first option, but after him, I have to rely on Reus and Hazard. While they are certainly capable Advanced Forwards, in most cases, they are much better and natural playing on the wings. There we go, there's the first weakness in the squad: a lack of depth at striker, which I'll keep in mind as I go into scouting later.
Let's keep looking. The midfield and attacking midfield look stacked, and so do the full backs, with plenty of quality players in those positions. But when we look at the central defenders, we come across another nibbling problem.
I see four center backs: Hummels, Zagadou, and Akanji, alongside Emre Can, but I'd rather have him play in midfield. So with only three real center backs, I wouldn't mind looking for a backup fourth option in case one of the starters get injured, so let's keep that in mind as we go to the transfer market later.
Do the same for your team and identify key areas where you lack quality or squad depth. We'll use this information as we go into the next step, which is making a tactic.
Tactics are the meat of Football Manager and the right tactic can net you wins for a long time. So let's start by clicking on the tactics tab, where the game first prompts you to pick a tactic.
If you are a complete beginner, I'd recommend picking one of the premade tactics that the game suggests and making tweaks to it based on your thoughts until you understand the game a bit better. If you want to do your own thing instead, you can scroll down to "create your own style," which is what I'll be using for this guide.
I've quickly assembled a tactic for my Dortmund side. I don't want to go too much into the tactics side of things, as there are many more in-depth videos and guides on them online, but here's a starting point.
As you may have noticed, I've tried to play around the strengths I highlighted earlier. I've put a singular striker in Haaland upfront, knowing that I do not have the required depth for more than one striker. I've added significantly more players to my midfield, as I know that I have a lot of quality in my attacking and defensive midfield, including names like Witsel and Reus.
Finally, I've kept a standard 4-man backline, using my strengths in Hummels and Guerreiro. Again, potentially playing a 3 center back system would be a mistake, as I only have 3-4 center backs in my first team and if even one of them got injured, I'd be in trouble.
Design your tactic in a similar way, making use of your strengths and star players, and minimizing the pressure on weak areas. If you are confused about what the roles (like playmakers or inverted wingers) mean, you can always hover over them and read the description of what they are.
Naturally, if you are a strong squad, then look to make a more aggressive tactic, but if you are expected to be at the bottom of the league, you may want to go for a defensive, counter attack focused one.
Alright, we've done the squad analysis and we're ready to venture in to the transfer market, but first...
The development center is easily overlooked, but experienced players know it can be a gold mine of young players. Click on the Development Center tab and have a look through the loans and youth squads sections. It's quite possible you find a potential gem in there or perhaps a decent player who can serve as a backup for the first squad.
For instance, I could look to develop Bynoe-Gittens in the long run, who seems to be an exciting prospect for the future.
If you've looked around the club and not found the player you want, the next thing to do is jump into the depths of the transfer market.
Scouting and Transfers
The transfer market is the most satisfying part of Football Manager; there is nothing better than finding a phenomenal player for a bargain. But before we do that, we must remember the players we're looking for.
From previous sections, I was looking for a second-choice striker and a backup center back. Keep in mind the positions you're looking for, then click on the scouting tab.
The first section is the scouting center. Here, your scouts will suggest you players based on what assignments they've been on. You can adjust these assignments (through the assignments section), like sending your scouts to scout in South America, or you can leave them up to your Chief Scout.
Either way, you can see the players they recommend on this screen - here, my scout recommends signing Upamecano. Even though the scout thinks this is a good idea, indicated by his 81 scout rating, we know this is probably not feasible due to our limited budget and payroll. Regardless, keep an eye on this screen as from time to time scouts do find interesting players who are worth picking up.
The second section to look at is the players section. Here, you essentially become the scout. You can pick the positions and attributes you want and it will automatically filter the qualifying players.
For example, I'm looking for a backup center back, so I filtered my search to only center backs who are loan listed. There are plenty of good options, the more well known one being Eric Garcia.
Using these two sections, you should be able to find the players you want for your positions. Make sure to scout the players fully before signing them and keep an eye out for injury prone or inconsistent players. Definitely use the shortlist feature, as it will make it easier to choose between players or track targets over a period of time.
A common mistake among new players is going overboard with the number of signings they make, so use the team report we referred to before as a guide to spend smartly. Keep in mind the club vision too! If you go around signing a bunch of 35 year olds and your club vision is to sign players younger than 23, you might have some explaining to do to the board.
You've got the tactics down and all the players you want, but who's going to teach the players the tactics? Yup, let's get into the club's staff. Click on the staff tab and you should see a tidy overview of the staff at your club. Here's what it looks like for Dortmund:
You can see how we compare to the rest of the league with the bar graphs at the bottom and that we have high quality staff. You can also see how many members the coaching, medical, and scouting teams have.
Say I want to employ a technical director since I don't have one at the club. I could either place an advert for that position, simply by clicking the add staff member icon and navigating to the place advert option. A few days later I'd get a list of staff members interested in joining as a technical director.
However, a far better way to employ staff members is through the staff search tab. Almost identical to the player search section, this allows you to filter staff by their jobs and attributes. For instance, if I wanted a technical director with 19 Negotiating, I could add those filters and get all the best staff in the business.
Then, if you hover over the overview section, you can see the individual coaching, medical, and scouting teams. Go through the staff here, and if a staff member is of extremely low quality, I would not hesitate to mutually terminate their contract in order to free up space for other staff.
If you are interested, you can even handpick coaches by their personalities and preferred formations and playing styles. This does have an influence on how teams train, so it is a good idea to keep an eye on that. Again, watch out for the finances: don't break the bank just to get a slightly better staff member.
Now that we've got all the personnel we need for the club, let's move on to the training. Clicking on the training tab will give you a complete overview of the training status at the club. This may seem a little overwhelming, so let's just focus on the important parts.
In FM, there are two main types of training: general and individual. These are self explanatory, general training refers to the training the team does together, and individual training is specific training assigned to an individual.
You can see the general training of a team through the calendar section and personally adjust the training sessions from there. You could even leave them to the assistant coach, who will schedule them based on what he thinks the team should work on.
As for individual training, I highly recommend doing yourself. You can access the individual section, from where you can see each player and what position they are training for. From there, you can set what each player individually will be training for as well as any additional focus.
In this case, I want Haaland to be training as an Advanced Forward with an additional focus on improving his passing to make him a more complete player. I find this to be great to mold younger players to fit your system or change their role, while it naturally has less of an impact on older players.
Then we can go to another aspect of training: mentoring. This replaced the tutoring system a couple years ago; now, you make mentoring groups, wherein players learn from each other.
You can see from the first mentoring group, experienced players like Piszczek have an influence on younger ones like Zagadou, and will essentially improve the mental attributes of those players.
So, if you have a youngster with poor mental attributes, make sure to put them in a mentoring group with a older player with better mental attributes. Mentoring groups also help members learn player traits.
As we near the end of this guide, let's have a look at the facilities of the club. You can find them under the club info tab and facilities section. The facilities you want to mainly focus on are training facilities, youth facilities, junior coaching, and youth recruitment. Let's have a look at Dortmund's facilities.
As you may expect for a club their size, Dortmund has fantastic facilities in every aspect. In general I'd like to improve each to state of the art, but that of course requires a lot of time and money.
You can request your board to improve facilities through the club vision tab, and then by clicking on the make board request dropdown. It is a good idea to try and improve these facilities whenever you have the budget to do so. Especially in long term saves, better facilities go a long way.
That's all I have to say about your first day on your job. It's quite a long one, but it should put you in a comfortable position going into the season. I'd even recommend repeating this cycle at the start of every season until you get a better understanding of the game.
Go ahead and explore other tabs that I did not talk about in this guide. The dynamics and medical center tabs, for instance, offer interesting information on the state of the team, while the club vision is all about what the board and fans expect from you.
There are hundreds of guides online that go deeper into each aspect of the game that I talked about, so once you're more familiar with the game, certainly check those out.
If you have any suggestions for the guide write them in the comments and I'll include them in the guide. Thanks for reading!