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How to setup your preseason

Lazy Nov 9, 2020 Last modified: 24 Nov 32,485 views

This guide gives some hints and tips on how to setup your preseason in Football Manager.

Having a good preseason is essential in Football Manager. During the preseason your main goals are gelling the squad and improve fitness levels. In this Football Manager Guide we will give some hints and tips about a preseason setup. We will be discussing training, scheduling friendlies and picking squads.

Picking a start date

At the end of each season you will be given the choice of picking the start date for your preseason. Picking the date when starting a new save is possible by selecting the start date of your save when selecting leagues and nation. This way you can pick a longer or shorter preseason.

After you have played the first season, your assistant will ask you to pick a start date. He will give you several options and these vary from very long (up to 10 weeks) to very short (3-4 weeks).

It will be our advice to pick a minimum of 6 weeks and a maximum of 8 weeks. This will give you enough time to find a good mix between team training and playing friendly games.

Scheduling team training

During the preseason, the buildup of your training is vital. If you start off too hard, it will bite you in the arse. So, focus training on the team for the first week, picking either Team Cohesion (Average) or Fitness (Average) for the first week.

After the first week you can increase the intensity levels of your training. Increase the level to High during the 2nd & 3rd week, increase if further in the 4th week to Very High. This will get the fitness levels of your players to a required level.

The final weeks of the preseason can be used to switch the focus more on tactics and team cohesion. To make it easier, we have created a simple 8 week schedule.

Week Focus Intensity
1 Fitness Average
2 Fitness High
3 Fitness High
4 Fitness Very High
5 Team Cohesion High
6 Tactical/Attacking/Defense High
7 Attacking/Tactical High
8 Defense/Tactical High

Match training

Match training is an extra preparation for your squad to use during the preseason, or even the entire season. Before each game you’ll get the option to choose a Specific Match Training. There are 6 types of match training and these can be combined with the overall team training. We made a list, showing you which combinations you can make.

Team Training Match Training
Attacking Attacking Movement, Attacking Set Pieces, Teamwork, Match Tactics
Defensive Defensive Positioning, Defending Set Pieces, Teamwork, Match Tactics
Team cohesion Teamwork, Match Tactics,  Attacking Movement, Defensive Positioning
Ball Control Attacking Movement, Teamwork
Tactical Match Tactics, Teamwork
Fitness Attacking Movement, Attacking Set Pieces, Teamwork, Match Tactics


Playing friendly games will help your team in multiple areas:

  • It will increase players’ fitness levels
  • Increases familiarity with team tactics
  • Will help the team to gel and improve team work
  • It’s a way to pick up and improve morale

Picking opponents

Results shouldn’t be considered to be important at all. The only thing you have to keep in mind is not to lose too many games in a row, as this affects team morale. You should avoid a drop in morale at all costs, so make sure to pick your opponents carefully. But don’t think you are smart by scheduling games against amateur sides. Winning 5 games in a row with a 6 goal difference will make your team complacent and that will have a negative effect on the teams performances during the start of the season.

Making money

If you are managing a smaller side in Football Manager, playing friendlies could be an ideal way to make some extra cash. Some friendly games could earn you up to 100k in revenues, which is a very large amount for a lower league team in the conference. The ideal schedule would earn you some money, challenge your team to be motivated and also increase the fitness levels of your team.

Scheduling your games

It is advised not to schedule friendlies during the first week of the preseason. Your Players aren’t ready to be playing ‘full’ games yet and this will increase the risk of injuries. So, have your players train for at least a week before you start playing games.

Number of friendlies

It is very important to find a good combination between playing friendlies, completing team training and doing match training. You could plan a friendly every other day, but by doing so you will make it impossible to complete team training. Without the general team training, you will be increasing the risk for injuries and jadedness in your team.

Our advice would be to play a maximum 2 Friendlies a week. That way there is enough time to complete Team Training, but also the possibility to play matches. Schedule your last friendly game 7 days before the start of the new season. That way your players are able to recover enough, whilst keeping their match fitness high.

Tactics during preseason

Adjust your tactics to the week of the preseason. If you just completed the first week fo training, don’t expect your players to play a high pressure game. The risk of injuries or fatigued players just is too high and will increase the risk of injuries. Consider to alter your tactics a bit to match the level of fitness. Then, as the preseason progresses, you can tweak it back to the original high pressure tactics.

Use A & B squads

A smart thing to do during the preseason is splitting your squad in an A & B squad. You can use those squads to maximize the fitness levels during the first weeks of the season. How that works? Easy!

Simply divide your squad into two squads. Team A will be your starting eleven, Team B will have your back-ups and young talents. With these two squads you will be playing friendlies. Squad A will play game 1, Squad B will play game 2 and so on.. This way you can increase the number of friendlies during the preseason, without your team getting to fatigued. You will split the games between two squads, increasing the overall match fitness of your entire squad!

To close

  • An ideal preseason will be 6-8 weeks
  • Focus on fitness during the first weeks
  • Pick your opponents carefully to keep track of morale
  • Don’t schedule friendlies during 1st week of preseason
  • Tweak your tactic
  • Create an A & B squad


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