This article is the first time I’ve attempted to write anything about Football Manager that isn’t a weird story or a basic season update post. This post won’t be long and should hopefully shed light on a little trick I suppose you’d call it, to find wonderkids easily. Every person that plays FM hopes to uncover some wonderkid from a far-off country that takes their team to the next level.
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.
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.
Football Manager 17 is rife with young talent, and the key to sustaining success at any club is to fill your youth teams with wonderkids. Obviously, the key to growing your youth system around strikerless tactics takes you away from signing the very pricey young strikers, so you can focus your funds on more quality players in other positions.
Looking into the English divisions, there are loads of talented young players, but the some of the best ones play at right-back. So, without much further ado, here are a couple of the great under-17 players for you to sign on Football Manager 17.
When Spain won the European Championship in 2012, they had to do it without star striker David Villa – who was injured – and despite still having Fernando Torres, Alvaro Negredo, and Fernando Llorente, they went into the final without a recognised striker. In the final, a group stage game, and the quarter-finals, Spain opted to play without a striker and instead have Cesc Fabregas up top, presumably to aid in their over-the-top possession game.
Particularly in the final, Spain were hailed for the successful use of their ‘false nine’ formation, but Fabregas’ play didn’t mimic that of a man atop this setup. Instead of dropping deeper, the then Barcelona midfielder played very high up, darting around the Italian defence.
Fabregas effectively transformed himself from a central midfielder into more of a striker, very similar to that of the Football Manager role of the trequartista.
The trequartista is a favourite for use in a strikerless formation, as the player is allowed to exploit the pockets created, often bringing about goals. The role is quite gung-ho, involves very little defensive responsibility, and thus keeps the player ready to attack.
For a long time in the world of football, defensive midfielders didn’t receive the credit they deserved. It wasn’t until N’Golo Kante burst onto the scene two seasons ago that the hype returned for these defence-minded midfield maestros.
Everyone now knows Leicester City’s story: rising from relegation candidates to suddenly winning the richest and toughest domestic competition in the world, the Premier League – a story that could’ve been taken right out of a Football Manager save. Among the stars highlighting the greatest of underdog stories, N’Golo Kante’s elite-level play in defensive midfield allowed the Leicester back line to sit deep, where the lack of speed from Wes Morgan and Robert Huth was less exposed.
The diminutive Frenchman’s play earned him a mega, multi-million move to Chelsea last summer, and in Sportsbet’s most popular football category of news and betting tips, it was predicted that Chelsea would clinch the title against West Bromwich Albion, which they did. He played a pivotal role in Antonio Conte’s three-at-the-back formation, acting once again as the stone wall first line of defence.
Welcome to 2023 and Darlington 1883, I have been at the club since the 2016/2017 season, and the fans love me, the board think I can walk on water but I am yet to bring glory to the club. Yes, I have secured us as a National League North club, but let’s be honest, this is nothing special so why are they so happy? Maybe finances, maybe our promotion to the National League Premier in 2018/2019 via the playoffs? I doubt it because that was followed with a relegation the season after, thus me mentioning that we are a secure National League North club. I can only assume it is due to me spending most of this journey refusing to spend money, refusing to give out wages to anyone who comes through the door… Making Darlington 1883 one of few clubs actually financially safe, well, -189k at the minute but with us being able to balance the books during pre-season and cup runs each season whilst others must be struggling, surely, they are spending a lot more than me as we will see in the image below.
The starting point is here. We are spending less than everyone else, but we are still losing money each month, so it is now time to dive into what we are taking from Brad Pitt’s club and what we…. Wait, I have just been informed that this is a real story and it’s not about Brad Pitt, and he is really an actor… well, it seems I must delete all the quotes I had from him then.
He was once labelled as the “next Pele” after turning pro at age 14, yet his career so far can only be described as an underwhelming fiasco. Freddy Adu was supposed to become a phenomenon, he was destined to become Lionel Messi before there was a Lionel Messi. That is the best way to describe the level of nonsensical hype that surrounded Adu when he began his professional career surprisingly many years ago at the age of 14. An MLS-driven marketing machine proclaimed him their American saviour, and the magazine covers and TV commercials alongside Pele helped make him a household name before he ever became a professional starter.
Fast forward to 2016 and rather than saviour, Adu is seen as a cautionary tale. And he knows all too well what his name has become in the world of soccer, if not all sports. It has become synonymous with failure and unrealized potential. You seemingly can’t go a few months without someone trotting out Adu’s name when discussing sports busts and unmet expectations. But could this all have been prevented somehow? Could this bust have been averted by either player or the various clubs?
From a Football Manager perspective, the choices a player makes off the pitch, while certainly a factor of importance in Adu’s tale, are negligible to us since we cannot influence them. There are other factors we can influence though, factors that could, in an advanced stage of looking for new players warn us to stay away from a certain player.
Last week, I wrote about the player radars, how they worked, how they can be used and how you can make your own. Since writing that article, I have gained some new insights and I wanted to share these insights with a case study as the example. Starting off with the most important one of all, the initial site I shared was incomplete but someone was kind enough to point me towards a site that offers templates for forwards/attacking midfielders, central midfielders, full-backs and central defenders. You can find this site right here.
Allow me to show you how my star player performed this season. This is just a matter of showing off of course, but humour me. I could screenshot his history from the game, but if I really wanted to detail his style, I’d have to describe more statistics or include match clips. Yet I can convey how this player performed in a single image. Ready?