It’s a returning gripe for many FM players, inexperienced newcomers and seasoned veterans alike. The injuries. Quite often they are absolutely ludicrous. The sheer number of injuries sometimes forces you to take desperate measures. The dreaded red and orange crosses in-game are often foreboding of bad news. They are more reviled by FM players than actual crosses are by vampires.
Indeed, many a run of good form has been brutally cut short by an untimely and severe injury streak to certain key players of the squad. And what exactly are those doctors up to at times? Eight weeks out for a sprained ankle? Did they amputate his foot and clone an entirely new foot for him in some jar?
There are times when I seriously wonder if I wouldn’t be better off by hiring some voodoo witch doctor and letting him deal with this mess. Yet every year when a new version comes around, I get optimistic and try to sort out the mess and try to deal with the constant flow of fallen footballers doing their war veteran impression by rolling on the floor, clutching their leg and shouting “MEDIC!” off the top of their lungs.
In this article, I want to look at possible causes for injuries and what you can actually do to prevent them or at least minimize the risk somewhat. I have tried to be as thorough as possible and cover every angle in a semi-coherent and comprehensible fashion.
The causes of injuries
Whilst a fair few of us have been plagued by injuries, throwing out haphazard potential solutions is not going to work. At least, not until we examine the causality of these injuries. What causes these injuries? If we determine the cause or causes of all these injuries, it’s easier to remedy them.
As the graphic above indicates, I would like to determine four different kinds of probable causes regarding injuries:
- Player characteristics that make a player more likely to receive an injury;
- Training-related causes that might effect injuries;
- Tactics-related causes that might effect injuries;
- Bad luck, plain and simple.
I will take a closer look at each of these probable causes and elaborate on how they might effect injuries.
1. Player characteristics
Some injuries are nigh impossible to avoid because certain players are just injured all the time. Jari Litmanen was called the man of glass during his playing career because of his tendency to get injured far too often. Liverpool fans can surely relate as their forward Daniel Sturridge appears to miss quite a few games each season due to injuries.
Something in the DNA of these players, something in their bodies, made them susceptible to injuries, caused them to miss quite a few games. In FM17, there are several attributes that contribute to a number of injuries a player is likely to contract during the season.
In my eyes and as indicated by the graphic above, there are three attributes that have a role to play:
- Injury proneness;
- Natural fitness;
The most important of these is the injury proneness attribute of a player. Even though this is a hidden attribute, you can easily assess its value by using scout reports or coach reports. Your scouts and coaches can assess whether or not a player is susceptible to injuries. They will inform you of such facts in their reports.
The second attribute that is important in this equation is the natural fitness a player possesses. This is a long term attribute, that controls the level of decline when it comes to the physical attributes. It also controls how well a player returns from injury. Essentially, a high attribute means a longer career and faster recovery from injuries. So whilst it does nothing to actively prevent injuries, it will minimize the impact of injuries in terms of time spent recovering and subsequently the decline of attributes whilst a player recovers.
The final attribute I wish to mention in this regard is stamina. The higher this attribute is, the longer a player can keep going without getting tired. It’s fully connected to the match condition of the player. In terms of injuries and preventing them, tired players are often more vulnerable to injuries, so a player with high stamina is less likely to be on the receiving end of an injury.
2. Training-related causes
Quite a few injuries are not contracted during matches but during the daily training routines. That makes sense in a way. Even if the team plays twice a week, it means a player is exposed to a maximum of 180 or so minutes of football during matches. Training sessions take up more time in a players weekly schedule, thus there’s an exponentially larger chance of a player getting injured during a training session. I feel it’s a factor that is often overlooked and wrongfully so.
In my eyes and as indicated by the graphic above, there are four factors that have a role to play:
- Impact injuries;
- Poor facilities;
- Poor staff.
Most are self-explanatory, but I will look into each one briefly regardless. Overexertion means a player simply trains too hard. Having a player train in a role-specific schedule, as well as focussing on a specific attribute might be too much for him, especially when it’s combined with high-intensity training sessions. Tired and overexerted players are simply more susceptible to injuries.
Impact injuries are a direct consequence of what might happen when two players collide during a training and this causes an injury. Perhaps the intensity of the session was too high or a player was already tired, but these things do happen during training. When a lot of these start occurring, it’s generally a good indication that something is amiss.
Poor facilities and staff are just that. The facilities are not that good, which may cause injuries to your players because the equipment or pitches are sub-par. The same applies to the staff, apparently one or more of them are quacks or just well-meaning amateurs, but either way they are not up to the task at hand.
3. Tactics-related causes
When an injury does not happen during a training session, they automatically occur during a match. This is often (though not always) causes by a tactical decision on your end. It may not always be your tactics, but it could just be that they have influenced a certain decision. I realise this sounds a bit vague, so allow me to elaborate.
In my eyes and as indicated by the graphic above, there are four factors that have a role to play:
- Impact injuries;
- Lacking match sharpness;
- A too intense style of play.
Overexertion is the direct result of not rotating the squad enough, either by choice or by a lack of viable options. When a player is not entirely fit when he starts a game or is brought onto the pitch, you risk injuries once the player gets really tired, not to mention a drop in performances later on in the game, which might spur the dreaded AI comebacks.
In the paragraph regarding training, I briefly explained what impact injuries are. During a training, you can influence the chances of one happening by intensity, during a match your tactics directly impact the chances of impact injuries happening. When you ask your players to close down aggressively and get stuck in, for example, you exponentially increase the chances of impact injuries occurring.
Match sharpness is a factor that determines whether a player is ready for first team action, not in terms of physical fitness but in terms of his mental readiness. If a player is lacking in recent game time, this match sharpness rating will suffer. A lower match sharpness rating will lead to poorer performances and might increase the chances of injuries.
4. Bad luck
Lady Luck is a fickle mistress. Admittedly, that’s a shit excuse, but on the other hand, shit does happen. Sometimes it’s just bad luck. You cannot prevent injuries from happening, even if you try to rule them out as much as possible.
Now that we have established probable causes for injuries, we can look more effectively at remedying the problems. I have come up with a number of solutions to address this plethora of probable causes.
Culling the weak
It makes sense that you get rid of dead wood in your squad on a regular basis. Underperforming players, aging players and yes, that should probably include regularly injured players as well. When I say “get rid of”, I am not talking a mobster-style clean-up, but just selling him.
If a player is injured for more than a third of the season or suffers from multiple smaller injuries, that is time not spent playing for your team whilst still receiving a paycheck. Even if this player is immensely talented, he’s not that effective for your squad and should be moved on.
Whilst I acknowledge it isn’t a proper solution of sorts, identifying and selling injury-prone players will eventually bring down the total tally of injured players at the club, thus improving the chances of having top-fit squads available each game.
Training levels need to be toned down from time to time
Fixture congestion happens to us all. We’ve all had some grueling weeks where the team is playing three games. This can wreak havoc on the squad’s fitness, so be sure to tone down training for that week to give the lads time to recuperate. If you keep training as you normally would in such circumstances, you’re going to end up with a medical ward that resembles an episode of MASH.
Come up with a squad rotation policy
As I mentioned before, fixture congestion is a regular occurrence in FM and one that could cause a lot of injuries. Rotating your players effectively should help a bit. As an added benefit, an effective squad rotation policy also helps to ensure that most players have sufficient match sharpness to do a job when called upon.
Hire the best goddamn staff money can buy
A bit of a no-brainer, but you should hire as many quality coaches, so as to minimize the number of injuries during training somewhat. Regarding physiotherapists, they don’t actually prevent injuries, they merely treat players who are injured. The doctors and sports scientists can make a difference in that regard.
Upgrade the facilities whenever you can afford to
Whilst I certainly realise that upgrading your facilities is a bit of a costly affair, you should do so whenever you can. Not only does it help your players in their development, it’s also a minor factor in preventing injuries.
Match your tactics with your players
If your squad is not suited to a high-tempo, aggressive pressing game regarding their physique, you really ought to change tactics or be willing to sell and replace most of the squad. Using players who are not suitable for a particular style of play will ultimately lead to a tsunami of injuries (worst-case scenario).
シト ゴヤ (@PonjaConRulos) · November 5, 2016 at 10:53 pm
“Match sharpness is a factor that determines whether a player is ready for first team action, not in terms of physical fitness but in terms of his mental readiness. If a player is lacking in recent game time, this match sharpness rating will suffer. A lower match sharpness rating will lead to poorer performances and might increase the chances of injuries.”
I don’t understand why match sharpness works like this. Players with low match sharpness should only play poorer, not get more chances of injuries. Why a player with 100% of physical condition should get injured again?
StrikerlessGuido · November 6, 2016 at 8:03 am
I agree, yet that is what it says in the game when you hover over the match sharpness icon.
Sven · November 11, 2016 at 10:55 am
A nice article, but actually injuries have been a bit of a running gag for years. I started multiple saves now and I barely get any where in the entire league tier there is a side that ever has more or 6, 7 simultaneously. Naturally random chance plays its part but this is deliberately tweaked to be much lower than in real football too, which SI have confirmed. Not by slight margins, but by about 30% off. I’d bet money that is because of the whinging. It’s bandwagon thing. Somebody reports, and then the another comes in, and 8 out is seen as a bug anyway already, when that is a regular occurance everywhere at any point in any league in the world, and 10+ is a regular thing to happen likewise
Last couple of seasons entering Nvvember there was 3 quarters of a Premier League in-game that didn’t have any more than 3 first squad members out. Whilst this still ain’t daddy’s Fifa Action Soccer ruining people’s perception of football everywhere, this is the kind of dreamy stuff real managers would love their job was like. I barely micro-tweak much and I had times at Arsenal where there was but a single player out, like that would ever happen even under top class mangement that tweaks their stuff. 😉 FM has always been that kind of game that even without tweaking much, you could have fielded the likes of Robben and Ribery almost all season even without rotating them, when in real football that is players who never get more than 60% of game time for years.
Still quality advice, mind!
R0usty · July 31, 2017 at 9:46 am
You totally forgot “Fm being a shit to you” as a reason for injuries.
Guido · July 31, 2017 at 10:36 am
That would be luck or a lack of it.