So the first FM14 post has taken a little longer to materialise than expected… largely because FM14 has been immeasurably poorer than I expected. However, I have been playing one of the games which I forecast in my FM14 preview – the network game with my good friend and greater rival Petr Uchio.
The first article from FM14, therefore, is from Petr with a look at what many of us will have done or be in the process of doing – what to do on your first day in the job.
At the end of that article, I’ll write a little more on why I’ve been struggling to get into the game and post a series of useful links to all sorts of interesting add-ons you may or may not know about. For now, though, I’ll hand you over to Petr…
Your first day in a new job is often the most daunting as you find out where the photocopier is, check out the company’s talent and hope against hope that someone will go to lunch with you. In Football Manager it’s a very different prospect, as you’re given very little time to bed in, meaning not only is that first day daunting, it’s often critical.
Thankfully, however, I’ve come to your aid to make those initial few hours less anxious and much more productive by creating this ten point plan so that your new reign starts off on the right foot.
1. Analyse your squad
The first thing you’ll notice is that you have a few items already in your mailbox. Ignore them. They are important but the first thing you need to do is analyse your squad. This is probably the most time-consuming task you’ll face at your club so get to it straight away and do it thoroughly. Work out your strongest and weakest positions, have an idea of which players are there for the long term and which you need to jettison to free up your budget and try to understand the tactics that might get the most from them.
Unfortunately (or fortunately for those of us who just love statistical analysis) you need to do this with every player at your club – from the first team through to the reserves and into the youths.
2. Create Your Tactics
There are some tactical systems that we can all understand and some that just seem a complete mystery despite their success for other teams or in real life. Obviously you must use tactics that work for you as a coach but you also need tactics that will make the most of the palyers at your disposal while compensating for their weaknesses. Think long, think hard and get it right.
Now you’ve got your tactics sorted it’s time to train your squad in such a way that helps them adapt to the formations and on-pitch plans you have for them. While the older members of your first team squad probably won’t be that flexible you can start planning for the future with any talented youths so that they can slot right into your team in a few seasons’ time. Indeed, you may find that a previously unwanted reserve is now of more use to you than an established first teamer who just doesn’t fit in with your tactical master plan. You’ll also need to put a heavy emphasis on training to ensure that your team are fluent in your tactics as soon as possible.
4. Free and transfer list players
The chances are that you’re taking over in the middle of a transfer window so it’s usually worthwhile hanging onto anyone you think might command a fee. However, there will be some who need to go immediately, such is the pungent stench of their fetid mediocrity. For those who don’t make you gag it’s time to let other clubs know that for the right fee they can take that square peg for a round hole of your hands.
5. Evaluate the backroom staff
Building the right combination of coaches is critical if you see yourself being at the club for the long term. Very few owners have pockets so deep that you can ignore scouting and training players effectively, letting you buy whoever tickles your fancy every January or July, and so it’s time to look at who you have that you want to keep and who is just an ex-player with few useful transferable skills. Whatever you do, don’t sack your assistant until tomorrow as you won’t be able to filter out unrealistic backroom and playing targets.
6. Approach the right staff
Finding the best staff is much easier in FM than finding the right players, partly because they’re never cloaked in the Fog of War but also because they have fewer relevant attributes to sift through and compare. Create your filters and pick the best affordable coaches, scouts and physiotherapists you can afford.
7. Identify your playing targets
At this point you should have an idea of what sort of players you’re short of to make your tactics tick, so identifying potential targets for these roles is obviously crucial, even if you don’t have any funds for signing. Who knows, they may suddenly become available at knockdown prices or on low wages. The other type of player you need to watch out for is one that may significantly strengthen your squad in any area. Check out the transfer list and search for unattached players as it’s quite possible to find a hidden gem among them.
8. Sort out your scouting
You may be completely happy with your scouts, in which case make sure you’re covering the parts of the world you think will benefit your team. You also need to choose someone to provide you with reports of your next opposition. Again, this is hardly a difficult task but it’s one that is essential for the long-term success of your regime.
9. Arrange friendlies
Assuming you’re taking over in preseason your predecessor will have arranged some friendlies for you already. However, unless you’re extremely lucky it’s unlikely that they’ll have managed to organise the right number against an appropriate calibre of opposition. So get your diary out and speak to the clubs you feel will put you in the strongest position in time for the big kick-off.
10. Go to your meetings
Some of your meetings will seem pointless, but go to them anyway. Most of them are very quick, and letting your chairman blab on about the club’s history can only help him to like you. I’ve no idea whether this obviously obsequious act does generate any good will but surely it can’t harm you, can it? Also, get as much information from your coaches and use the team meeting to put a smile on your players’ faces every time they have the pleasure of meeting you.
Over the coming weeks and months the hard work you’ve put in on a busy first day should begin to bear fruit, assuming you’ve carried out these tasks with a reasonable degree of skill. That, however, is something I may not be able to help you with.
And so back to me… (Shrew)
As promised, during my period of indifference, at best, towards FM14, I have been busy collecting a series of custom graphics and add-ons which have made my game look nice even if I’m stuck with the same restrictive tactical interface and poor match engine as the rest of you.
So while we all waited for the next patch to make the game fun again, I went hunting and can recommend the following:
The Bergkamp skin
As usual, the default skins are shocking. The white one which comes with the game is horrific, the dark skin slightly better but just look at that screenshot above. It’s beautiful. The Bergkamp skin from FM13 was probably my favourite of all time and this one is also superb.
It comes in 3 options: dark, white and (as shown above) transparent. I found it on the SI forums here but you can also find it from the author’s original source here. Here it is in a match, it’s sensationally good.
Found on FM Scout here, the facepack is over 5GB and contains some 160,000 similarly designed pictures of just about every person in the game that I’ve come across. The beauty of the Facepack, not having really used one before, is that the pictures pop up in all sorts of unexpected places, not just the profiles. Like this:
They may take a while to download but it’s worth it.
Whilst I was at FM Scout, I also nipped over to the logos sections and downloaded the FMG ’13 logo megapack which, as with all graphics except skins, will also work with FM14. What I liked about these logos was their simplicity really. Nothing fancy, just the club badge, the competition logo or the national flag (I deleted the FA logos and replaced them with the nation flags).
I already had a kit megapack which I’d picked up some years ago, probably from FM Base or sortitoutsi, but many of them were out of date and some of the lower league teams were missing so I went in search of another megapack.
It turns out kit megapacks are few and far between with people preferring to pick up individual leagues. However, I eventually found this belter on my old stomping ground – The Dugout.
You might also notice a rather interesting newgen face on that screenie, a little different from the usual identikit pictures that you end up with. This is because I downloaded the utterly brilliant OLT Extended Hair Pack from the official SI Forums here.
Back to kits, though, and after creating my own new kits for Rapid Wien I wanted the 3d engine to reflect the kits that I had made. I’ll be honest, this is completely beyond my graphical knowledge or ability but a very kind soul by the name of Beanboy182 came to the rescue on Twitter – editing the 3d kit templates that I already had and adding a layered effect to make them look even better. Take a look:
All the graphics had been sorted but I was still waiting for the patch and more than a little bored. My boredom became so bad that I ended up spending a whole night making custom views for my squads. There are a lot of them but most of them are kind of useless. If you wish to use the most useful of them, then you can download them here. They include:
- Extended Standard View
- Pressing Capability
- Tutoring View
- Defence stat view
- Midfield stat view
- Wide players stat view
- Strikers stat view
I almost forgot these fantastic edits. Some of these might be a bit left-field for some people but Erismus has made a series of simple yet hugely effective mods to the game that are just excellent. Personally, I use the simple ones like the brighter ball and extended scoreboard (when not using Bergkamp skin). But some may prefer the remove the CA/PA stars? Or how about removing attributes altogether? Seriously worth a browse.
And with that I settled down for the long wait… a wait which is now over thanks to the release of the new patch. It’s still early days but my first impressions are that the match engine is much improved. I’m still not keen on the restricted tactical options but at least they seem to impose a fairly realistic game now… a vast improvement.
Petr and I have just passed the first winter break in our network game and should really get round to posting about it soon, perhaps in the next week or so.
Until then, it’s nice to be back writing about FM. It’s been a while!