One of the key aspects in Football Manager is ensuring you sign quality players. After a few saves, the diamonds in the original database are well-known, which removes the challenge of scouting for me. The annual intake of newgen players forms a different kind of challenge altogether. Seemingly random players are generated every season and as you progress through the save-game, more and more authentic players retire and are replaced with newgens. For me, that is where the real challenge begins.
Now, I like to think that I am in fact quite good at finding the right newgens for my team. Scouring the ends of the earth for talented newgens is definitely one of the aspects about FM that I enjoy the most and one of the reasons why I generally make a shitload of money with the Juventus Gambit. Finding a young starlet and developing him to his full potential is one of the more fulfilling experiences in the Football Manager universe.
I sometimes jokingly refer to it as newgen hunting. In my head, I imagine myself being a sort of Steve Irwin, creeping up on unsuspecting footballers. “Crikey! That’s a big one! He might play at centre-back!” While I leave you struggling to rid yourself of the mental image of me tiger crawling through the bush, preying on unsuspecting footballers, allow me to explain what this blog post is about. I want to describe, in as much detail as possible, the strategies I use to track down newgens, the attributes that help you distinguish valuable signings from overrated crap and some general tips and tricks.
Where and when to look for them?
As a rule of thumb, there are three ways to start scouting for newgens in Football Manager. You can use each method separately or you can blend them all together, whatever pleases you.
Where to look; the usual suspects
A good hunter knows where to find his prey and a good newgen hunter is no exception to this rule. When you’re hunting for talented players it pays off when you know which clubs have a habit of producing talented players. These are often big clubs in a country, but there a few unexpected entries in the list for best youth academies in the game. I am not going to bore you with a copy and paste job and instead just link you to a fairly comprehensive list you can find here, on MyPassion4Footballmanager.
This isn’t really groundbreaking material and I suppose it’s a method most of us have used in the past. We all know that a club like say Ajax often produces quality players, so checking out their youth squads can yield interesting results. The list above shows you the clubs with the highest academy values in the games’ database, which could make your search just a tad easier.
Where to look; youth tournaments
One of those aspects people tend to overlook is the fact that scouts can be sent out to scout specific competitions. That means you are able to scout the various youth leagues of each and every nation. A smart move would be to scout the various international youth tournaments. These tend to be the better players a nation has, playing in a single tournament. Various European clubs also compete in a youth Champions League and an Italian Invitational Youth tournament, all worth scouting. Again, it’s hardly groundbreaking or rocket-science and mostly just common sense.
Where and when to look; the yearly intakes
Every season, the AI supplements the ranks by spawning newly generated players. These players take up spots on the roster to replace retired or retiring players, ensuring that the database remains filled with players. The spawning of newgens happens around the same date every season. Again, my friends from Passion4FM have been so kind as to compile a list of dates when the newgens are likely to spawn. You can find that list right here.
This method is a bit more intricate compared to the other two and will require some decision-making and planning from your end, as your resources will be stretched rather thin when you’re scouting an entire nation’s worth of intakes in a single go. To make sure you can get the most out of this method, I will break it down into smaller steps.
Helping you remember the intake dates; creating notes
All these data can get mighty confusing and let’s face it, they can easily slip your mind, which means you lose out on valuable time to scout and assess new players. Using the Note system that is built into Football Manager generates an automatic reminder to have a look for the newgens created on that day. In order to access the note system efficiently, you have to click on the in-game date, in the top right corner.
If you do it right, that pulls up a pop-up screen like the one shown above. You could manually scroll to the correct date using the arrows in the top right corner, but that could be quite a bit of work. Instead, you can click on the option Calendar in the top left corner. This draws up the entire calendar for a specific month.
If you do it right, that pulls up a screen like the one shown above. When you find the date you are looking for, you should see a little greenish triangle in the top right corner of the day you wish to create a note for. Clicking it should show you the options to Go on holiday until that date or to Create a note with a Reminder on this day.
Creating a note is a straightforward process. You enter a title, which could be Youth Intake plus the name of the nation. You could add specific categories for intakes from specific regions or continents if you’re extra zealous, I leave that up to you. Don’t forget to set the reminder recurrence to yearly, so you don’t have to create these notes over and over again.
Scouting made easy; the intake assessment
The easiest way to check the yearly intakes is not by clicking on each individual club. No, there’s a pretty much foolproof method ingrained right into the FM game-mechanics. It is not a very realistic method, but it will allow you to scout 500 players at once and if you repeat the process fast enough, it will allow you to scout an entire continent worth of youth players with a few clicks of your mouse. Just in case you had never heard of this little trick, let me walk you through it. First of all, click the globe icon in the top of your screen.
When you click the globe icon on your menu-bar, it pulls up the menu displayed below. At this point, you just click the continent you wish to scout or opt for the entire world if you’re not that picky. In the screenshot below, I have opted to look at the entire world.
When you have selected the continent or entire world, you can see various options in the general menu. The option we are after is the Transfers option. Clicking this option pulls up all the transfers from this continent or the entire world within a specific month. Fortunately, we can apply another filter.
We can see every youth intake within this period, which allows us to scout them all. A second little suggestion here. You can use multi-select by holding shift and click on the first and last player in the list. You can select and scout up to 500 players at once this way. Prepare to have your inbox flooded with scouting reports.
What to look for when you find them?
As I said, scouting an entire intake could leave you with several thousand scout reports to deal with. Most of those players will not be joining your club for a myriad of reasons. They might not have the required quality you are after, they are too expensive, they are not willing to join a club of your level, work permits could be an issue. You need to weed out the dross from this mass of available players. Personally, I use a three-step system to get rid of the dross.
Step 1; How to determine which nations or clubs warrant researching?
When you’re playing with a large database and a shitload of selected leagues, the annual intake could number in the tens of thousands. That means a lot of players to scout if you go for the full lot. As stated earlier, most of the annual newgens will never amount to anything and as such, they are not worthy of too much attention. So how do you find the ones that are worth the effort?
As such, I recommend selecting specific clubs and nations that suit your needs. Nation-wise, you want to focus your initial efforts on nations that actually produce decent players. Let’s take South America as an example. Brazil and Argentina produce a lot of talent, whereas Colombia, Uruguay, Chile and Ecuador tend to produce a fair amount as well. I’m not saying Paraguay, Bolivia and Peru never produce good players, but they are far less likely to do so. Why would you waste resources on small nations, who will most likely yield no favorable results?
Similarly, when you are scouting a big nation which produces a lot of talents, will you look at the intake for each and every single club in that league or will you just look at the clubs with good facilities, who are far more likely to produce quality players based on their reputation, resources and facilities? Let’s take France as an example here. If you’re trying to recruit newgens for a top class side, it would make sense to look at the intake for the Ligue 1 clubs and maybe a number of the Ligue 2 clubs with the right facilities and just ignore the rest. That saves a ton of time and resources.
I am not going to bore you with a copy and paste job and instead just link you to a fairly comprehensive list of quality you can find here, on MyPassion4Footballmanager. Similarly, they offer a list of the youth ratings for every nation within Football Manager. You can find this second list here.
Step 2; Are there restrictions in place?
Once you have made your pre-selections on which players to scout, the scout reports will start pouring into your inbox. At this point, you can make more selections on which players you want to look at further. The first reasoning is a purely financial one; are you able to afford this player? What kind of compensation is his academy club expecting, what are his wage demands and are you willing to pay that kind of money for a newgen.
In the scout report above, we can see that this player, 17-year-old Cameroon wing-back Jean Boumal of Coton Sport, would set me back 275k with a maximum wage-demand of around 170 euro’s a week. I could probably afford that if I really wanted to, but considering that my record-sale in the Angolan league was worth roughly 100k, this transfer is a bit excessive. Naturally, for any half-decent European club, 275k is pocket change and worth a risk, but this is an assessment you have to make.
A second restriction you may or may not have to deal with consists of a player’s willingness to move to your club. Perhaps he feels he is too young or your club’s reputation isn’t high enough to attract a certain caliber of players. Again, the scout report will generally indicate such restrictions if they exist.
In this example, we look at the scout report of 15-year-old Egyptian defensive midfielder Amr Saeed, active for the U18-squad of Egyptian powerhouse Zamalek. Despite Kabuscorps recent successes, Zamalek is still a much bigger club and the Egyptian Etisalat Premier League is a lot stronger than the Angolan Girabola. The scout report clearly indicates that Saeed is not interested in a transfer. This is a given and something you cannot overturn, except by being patient. Unless the player is absolutely world class in the initial scout report, you may want to hold off on further scouting a player who isn’t interested in a transfer for now.
The final restriction to keep in mind is in relation to work permits. If you are managing in a league where work permits are a factor, you should consider these work permits. Having a player rot in the reserves because he cannot get a work permit is not going to be beneficial to his performances, development and market value. If a youngster is not likely to get a work permit, either do not sign him or be 100% certain you can send him on loan to a feeder club, where he can get a work permit.
Step 3; Looking at specific players
Once you have made all your preselections and weeded out the unwanted, unrealistic and unattainable players, you will still have a fair few scout reports left to trawl through. Looking at young players and their attributes is a bit tricky, since the first thing you have to do is take into account that these attributes will improve and sometimes by quite a lot.
Accounting for and predicting the development curve
One of the more elusive yet at the same time important factors is the development curve you expect your newgen to go through. You want a player who can develop into a star and sometimes underdeveloped youngsters with the right attitude and stats can turn into little diamonds, but how do you see which players are worth signing? In a nutshell…
Out of all the factors mentioned above, the only one you should concern yourself with is the one about specific attributes, the holy Trinity of Determination, Professionalism, and Ambition. While a players’ personality is still an important trigger for player development, most personality traits have some level of determination in them, some do not, but it’s been my experience that those that do in good doses usually perform well in training. However, these are not the only factors. There are three key attributes that determine personality and thus help development.
The first of the three is Determination. At this point, I am going to quote Rashidi from BustTheNet.
A players development is also a function of playing time, quality of playing time, and performance. Here things start getting muddled and I believe this is where determination begins to kick in. In a team of 11 players we have to look at the whole team and how it does, players with good determination help performances especially those that are close and tight. If a team does well, the players with good determination n the right personality may see a knock on effect in training development, i.e., they carry a small temporary bonus to training development.
I have believed that to be the case since FM15, however I also noticed that even my Fairly Determined players are developing as fast as my professional and in some cases even better than them. In FM15 the relationship was almost direct, in FM17 I began noticing certain anomalies in training, which I couldn’t quite comfortably place on “professionalism’s shoulders”.
In this image, I have a striker who is around 20 years old who is fairly determined, has played regular games in top flight football and has generated 7.26 av rating for the season. His growth this season has stalled, his development growth almost seems in line. His best development occured the previous season when his performances bordered on 8 average rating. Now this isn’t really enough for a considered conclusion because tbf we need to compare 5 professional personalities with 5 non professionals with high determination over a few seasons and hope that we win almost every match that they play in.
This player may seem anomalous, in a group of resolute and professional players. He has the best growth in the team and he is outperforming even my model professionals. If I were to look over my entire team, he stands at the peak, while the rest seem to be playing catch up. I also noticed that when he was 17-18 his determination was only 11, 3 seasons later his determination was 15 without tutoring. During the period his determination rose, so did his other attributes. Determination is the green line. Whats funny is that he did a lot better than my professionals and my model professionals which annoyed the living daylights out of me.
Determination + Personality is the combination that I think leads to good training potential provided everything else is good. Its like looking for a 5 star coach, you need a combination of attributes to kick in for the 5 stars to generate. I believe the same is the case for training. You need a combination of factors that include determination, personality, playing time, facilities, quality of playing time, performances. Before a certain age, a player needs facilities, coaching etc, once he. passes a certain age he needs game time, and the performances in these matches have a knock on effect on his training as well. Do I believe its pure personality/professionalism that drive training, no. I believe its a combination much like looking for 5 star coaches that is influenced by their potential to develop in a certain way.
So lets say a player has X Professionalism Y Determination and Z Ambition. Then lets say the team is doing well, he is performing well, Then X+Y+Z + some bonus goes into driving his training. And this bonus is temporary. I think its a bit more apparent now than it was in FM16 for instance, that would be the only way to explain my anomaly.
That’s at least what I believe to be the case, and I wait to be corrected.
Professionalism and Ambition are a different story and one we have covered before, several times in fact. While the conclusions of those articles are not 100% correct due to the revelations on the SI forum about the importance and influence of Determination, they still showcase the importance of both hidden attributes in player development.
When we add up the total points of progress pro area and check FMRTE to see how their development in CA has been shaped, we end up with the following numbers.
A more graphic display will show the results more clearly.
When we look at the final results of this simulation, there are a few expected results and one anomaly. The players with higher professionalism generally progressed better, as players 3 and 4 have shown us. Player 5 shows us that whilst Ambition does influence development, it’s not a major factor. The anomaly in the equation is player 6. By no means should he have developed less than player 1, who has similar Professionalism but even lower Ambition.
Professionalism appears to be the driving attribute behind the development, as it dictates how hard a player trains during his daily sessions. Ambition drives how likely a player is to want to get to bigger clubs and bigger leagues which inherently have better facilities and coaches which themselves have a positive influence on the player’s development.
Key stats for his position/role
As with every statistic ever, you have to know how to interpret them if you want to gain any useful knowledge. In the flurry of information a player profile offers, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. First impressions can be deceiving. A player who initially does not look to be that talented could very well develop into an established star due to a steep development curve.
This means that you are not looking for absolute values in a player but for relative ones. His strongest attributes should be the ones he needs to successfully play a specific role or position. A player who is brilliant at a lot of things, except for the things you need him to do in the position he plays in, is ultimately not the kind of player who makes your team stronger. Either retrain him or find someone else.
Personality or hidden attributes
As I mentioned earlier, the Professionalism and Ambition attributes are hidden attributes, which makes it pretty darn difficult to see which players we need to sign. Fortunately, the personality of a player offers us some insight into the level of professionalism a player has. For a brief guide on personalities, I’d like to refer you to this guide right here. This guide in itself pretty much shows you which personalities you should go for.
To summarise, we are looking for players with high Professionalism and Ambition. This means looking at their personalities and there are a few personalities we really want to look out for:
- Model citizen;
- Model professional;
Those are the personalities that are certain to guarantee a high degree of professionalism, whereas the other personalities are not necessarily bad ones, but not sure-fire winners like these ones. Please note that I realise you can change a players personality by means of tutoring, but it doesn’t hurt to scout in advance for favorable personality traits.