Masters From The Sea – Part I

Player 2 Has entered the Game

Some people were lucky enough to grow up with an elder brother or sister who played games with them. Me I was the older brother, so I was player 1, I was Mario and my younger brother was Luigi. I had the official joy-pad while my brother had the joys of the 3rd party super cheap joy-pad that sometimes stuck but in the main was OK. There really were some great games for SNES that could be played Co-Op gems such as Smash TV, Zombie ate my Neighbor and the amazing NBA Jam.

I am not even including the totally awesome Original Mario Kart. I honestly don’t know how many hours I played that with my brother. Being the older brother I got to set the rules, what game we were going to play. The rules of the games, if you died did you have to go and make the person a cup of tea? If one of the parents called who would have to go?

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Acquiring Valuable Assets; The Newgen Hunter

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.

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The Cuckoo Transfer-Market Strategy; Let Others Develop The Talents For You

Not everyone starts his FM career with a top side with the financial means and facilities to crank out homegrown talent on a regular basis. In fact, some clubs are severely strapped for cash and cannot free funds to invest heavily in the development of talent. Just fielding a somewhat-decent first team squad takes up most of the available funds so developing your own talent isn’t really an option. How exactly do you improve a club like that? You let others develop the talents for you as if you were some sort of FM variant of the cuckoo.

You see, cuckoos are notorious tricksters, shortcutting the chores of parenthood by hiding its eggs in the nest of other birds, which wind up hatching and raising them. A similar strategy can be applied to FM if you know where to look, how to scout and what to look out for. You let other clubs develop talents only for you to snap them up and use them; the cuckoo transfer-market strategy.

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Tale Of Two Sons – Decision Time

Both in life and in Football Manager, it is prevalent that even the most carefully thought plans often go out the window when reality and particularly in FM, the simulation shows up on the stage. This was also the case with my AS Roma save that I used to present this article for Guido and Strikerless. As I originally wrote in the first part,  I had very straightforward ideas for both my young players when I was loaning them out to get the much needed first team minutes.  They needed those minutes to get themselves where I wanted them to be or more specifically I thought where they would be in the hierarchy of my AS Roma organisation. This time, however, I got to experience one of those lovely surprises that FM so kindly sometimes gives you to keep you going even further into the cave further away from the light some people call Real Life.

I already went over my initial plans and thoughts about loaning in the first part, so this one is all about the results and conclusions I ended up with loaning these chaps out on different teams over the course of few seasons. Both of them were loaned out as first team regulars or more to get them the most exposure a player can have as a loanee. Without any further ado, let us jump into action, shall we.

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Instilling Fighting Spirit Into Your Squad

While the old Greeks never played football, one of Plato’s quotes can easily be applied to any footballing context. Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. Some people fawn over Barcelona and whichever team Pep is managing and their one-touch football. Others prefer the more energetic and physical brand of football played by the likes of Klopp and Pochettino. There are others still who have a taste for an even more physical, almost violent brand of football.

If you don’t have the players to play a technically or tactically demanding still, is playing aesthetically pleasing football still a goal in itself or can beauty be found in being efficient and maximising the resources you have? Can you compensate for a lack of technical (and tactical) skills by instilling a fighting-spirit into your squad?

The Italians call it “grinta”, a word that loosely translates to “grit” in English, but there is more to it than just grit. Grinta is more like when you not only dig deep and play against all the odds, but you play with heart, you leave your soul on the pitch, your every last bit of sweat and blood.  The Argentines use a similar term, called fibra, and the Germans call it Kampfgeist. When we’re going to look at how a concept like that would work in FM, who better to ask for help than Tony, @FM_Grasshopper, the man who made “FIBRA” a well-known phrase in the blogging community.

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Tale of Two Sons – A Loan Report

I bet there must be tonnes of guides and references on grooming players by loaning them out and I should know since I have probably read most of them during my time with CM/FM series. However, I have never touched it in more detail myself. I think I have mentioned my loan strategies here and there, but maybe this time I try to put all the eggs in the same basket and see how it comes together. With this piece, I seek to narrow down the philosophy I use while I am loaning young players out.

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Porting A Strikerless Tactic To Include Strikers

Strikerless football is not a style that appeals to everyone. Some are set in their ways and feel forwards are an integral part of their team. Others feel it’s an exploit to play in this way. There are also people who don’t like the aesthetics of this particular brand of football. Whatever their reasoning may be, there are plenty of people who would prefer not to play without strikers. Fortunately for them, all strikerless tactics can be converted to more conventional with-strikers tactics. This article focusses on changing tactics from strikerless to a more traditional style.

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Help, We Got Promoted, What Do We Do Now?

Winning promotion with your side is generally a momentous occasion in one’s managerial career. Whether you’ve been building towards this promotion for months, meticulously analysing your opponents, ingeniously thwarting their tactical setups and carefully guarding the morale of your squad, or maybe it came as a surprise as you stumbled through the playoffs – either way, winning a promotion represents a milestone that is worthy of celebration.

When you have won that precious promotion, you’re probably feeling a range of emotions all at once; surprised, excited, nervous. It is now time to capitalise on all that energy you feel so you can respond appropriately!

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What Drives Player Development; Dispelling The Determination & Work Rate Myth

Despite evidence to the contrary being around since 2012 (thanks again Shrewnaldo and Maestro Ugo), there are still plenty of people who believe that players with high Determination and/or Work Rate attributes develop their current ability faster because they apply themselves better during training sessions somehow. After all, if someone is determined and works hard then surely they will reach their potential faster, won’t they? As you may have guessed, the title being a dead-on giveaway, this is not the case.

Just to re-iterate my point; the attributes Determination and Work Rate only apply within matches. These attributes contribute nothing at all to the development of a player during training sessions. The driving factor behind the development of youngster is the Professionalism attribute.

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International Management; A Missed Opportunity In FM17

Winning international silverware is considered an honour. In fact, some would argue it’s the crowning achievement of one’s career. Carrying a team to a World Cup, European Championship or Copa América can propel one’s career to legendary status. Just ask people like Maradona, Van Basten or Zidane, all of them were great players, who will always be remembered for their international exploits.

So why then is the international management aspect of Football Manager as flawed as it apparently is? Winning a World Cup or any international trophy should be the pinnacle of your managerial career but in FM, managing a national team always feels like a chore. It’s not fun because there are some obvious flaws and shortcomings in the way the game approaches international football.

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