Injury Time – Between Releases

Ok, it’s that time of year again. Starting my blog a month ago probably wasn’t that wise, as the period I like to think of as Injury Time has begun. The new FM has been announced and is creeping steadily closer to release amid a flurry of new features. This makes playing the current edition feel somewhat half-baked as we begin dreaming of what we want to achieve in the new edition. Working in favour of the current edition though are a string of fine data updates, bringing up to date transfers and alike to our current games. This can be all the inspiration we need to get stuck in for one last hurrah on Football Manager 2013.

Tempered somewhat by my desires for games on the new edition (Man City, Fiorentina, Napoli and Arsenal to name a few) I am in a current state of flux where I am desperate to play FM, but unable to get stuck in and last beyond a few matches of a new season.

This is perhaps the reason for my lack of posts lately, and for that I apologise.

How are you all managing your Injury Time experience? Drop a comment, if for no other reason than to keep me busy!

A new position – KP Boateng

This is an extension of my previous article about getting the most out of a player on the training ground. That time I talked about Leon Goretzka, and my goal of turning him into a Libero, based on the skill-set of Sergio Busquets.

Kevin-Prince Boateng_ Overview AttributesThis time my approach is different. I don’t have a young player I want to mould into my ideal player, instead I have a player reaching his peak as a footballer who’s future at my club depends on his ability to fulfil a new role in the team. This will be an exercise in patience and analysis, and will ultimately reveal the adaptability of Kevin-Prince Boateng.

I am currently having a little problem on the right side of my team, I play with wing-backs and I have a very good Christian Fuchs and able deputy Ivan Obradovic on the left side. On the right side I have Seamus Coleman (a player who is rapidly developing into one of the best right sided players in the EPL at Everton in real life) and Christian Clemens, a retrained right winger. The problem is Clemens, who seems to be fairly injury prone and spends a lot of time in the physio. Coleman, while having one of the best engines in the game, cannot play every match in a 60 game season, and I need another wing-back to rotate with the Irishman. Up steps KP Boateng, currently held out of my starting XI by the likes of Kevin de Bruyne, Julian Draxler and Xabi Alonso and held out of my regular rotations by wonderkid Max Meyer and evergreen veteran Darren Fletcher. I’d love to play KP (I am a big fan in real life) but he just doesn’t seem to fit. He isn’t attacking enough to be a real weapon up front, no defensive enough to be a holder in midfield.

My current predicament presents a real opportunity for him to become a feature of my squad once more. He has a great engine and is physically very good. A decent work ethic and determined as he is, I don’t think he will appear out of place rampaging up the right edge. Positional InformationHe can dribble, cross, mark and tackle, all with competence. In short, he already has great stats for the position I intend to use him. It will come down to how quickly he can become familiar with the role, and whether he has the adaptability to add another position to his repertoire.

To begin with the transition I have simply asked him to learn the new position in training, along with switching his individual training to the new role of wing-back. I also moved his training intensity for the role down to light to allow a greater focus on learning the new position. I am not expecting much in the way of attribute progression, he is 26 after all, so it is more important he become familiar with the role tactically.

This will be a long process, I’d imagine that in a best case scenario he will be comfortable in 6-8 months, and natural in 18, but I’m prepared for a longer wait than that.

I’ll keep you all up to date with his progression and results, starting with his first match in the position, against AS Monaco in the UCL group stages as we attempt to close out 1st position in our group, Coleman is suspended and Clemens is injured, so I’m left with little choice but to chuck him in the deep end.

Has anyone else tried retraining a player near his peak? Leave a comment with your experiences!

Hitting the Wall

Hitting the Wall: Normally a term associated with endurance athletes, this experience is one no doubt shared by many, many Football Managers. I myself hit the wall over the past weekend, inspiring this post. Sometimes there is no logical reason for it, I hadn’t lost a bunch of consecutive games that I should have won. I’d finished the transfer window and was looking forward to an exciting season challenging for the title with my Schalke side.

I just got to the pre-match instructions for a home match against Werder Bremen and I couldn’t be bothered to hit Continue. Instead I just flicked the screen away and went off and did a bunch of other things (mostly real life commitments) but it was a number of days before I could bring myself back to the game.

How do you readers combat this hitting of the wall? I have tried various things in the past, most often starting new games of FM to try and get inspired enough to keep hitting continue, sweating on what will happen the next time that you take control. This often just leads to a bloated save games directory though. The most successful remedy, for me, is to take time away from the game. Step back, find something else to entertain me while I wait for the drive to play to return to me.

Let me know in the comments section how you guys react to hitting the wall.

The Training Ground — Getting the most from a player

Training players is one of the most rewarding aspects of the Football Manager game. Watching a young player’s attributes grow over the course of a couple of seasons can be an addictive substance. This is highlighted by the sheer number of FM’ers whom you see competing and creating Youth Challenges. These players decide that the aspect of the game in which they have the most fun is training and developing their own players. I don’t think there is any one aspect I enjoy more than the whole experience itself, but the joy from successfully getting the most out of a player is certainly exciting. In this edition I want to cover a season I completed in game recently with German Bundesliga side Schalke.

Goretzka at the beginning of the game.

The forum I frequent [Neoseeker FM] had a discussion arise around this club and I thought I’d take a crack at the game. Previous successful games with Leverkusen gave me a solid idea of what would be required in the Bundesliga, so I was confident I could be successful. I used a summer transfer update to bring the database up to date. This meant the likes of Leon Goretzka and KP Boateng were at the club. Goretzka will be the subject of todays lecture post.

This young German (on my update) has the world at his feet. A 6’2″ central midfielder who would best be compared to Marouane Fellaini in his ability to play the holding role or further forward behind the striker, Goretzka has a fairly well rounded attribute set. However on my game I wanted to do something different with him. I wanted to play with a Libero (basically a sweeper tasked with pushing beyond the defensive line when the team is in position of the ball) and none of the central defenders at Schalke had the technical ability to perform this role. Goretzka, at just 17 years of age, would be ideal as I can round him out to be exactly the type of player I want [think Sergio Busquets as the end result] without having to struggle too much to change him.

Now that I have introduced you, we come to the nitty gritty How do you train him?

Well for this I fall back to a bunch of reading I did over at the SI Games Community Forums, and in particular a thread by respected community member Cleon. This thread detailed his time as manager of Ajax and his policy regarding youth training. What I drew from the discussion though is that with just a little concentration and sacrifice of your own game time, you can end up with footballers who are built almost exactly the way you want them, rather than trying to continually adjust your system to fit the best players in your side. The way I do this is by taking a look at my young prospects each season. I then assess their attributes versus there current position and how they would fit into my starting XI should they become good enough. If they do not have the right balance to work in my tactical set up, I then plan out a seasons worth of training. Based on a 3 month rotation of individual attribute training. I pick the three key stats I want to improve, then I also give them 3 months on a role based schedule to ensure nothing is overtly neglected.

As I mentioned earlier with Goretzka, I had picked Sergio Busquets as the player I wanted him to emulate. After looking at Goretzka’s base attributes I immediately identified a few key areas that I would need to improve for him to be successful in the role of Libero, controlling the game from the back. These attributes were Tackling, Marking and Positioning. My long term plan is to get all 3 of these up to around 13-14 inside 3 seasons, if not quicker. So immediately I put him on an intensive training schedule to improve his marking, while at the same time I also had to train him in a new position. This means that he will spend less time on attribute development as he is learning to play as a sweeper, so keep that in mind when you see his overall attribute progression.

After one season of concentrated training.

Fast-forward to 30th May 2013 in the game, and we can take a look at exactly what 12 months of intensive training have done to our budding young Libero. As you can see, all of the key areas I identified have increased [Marking 8-10; Tackling 9-11; Positioning 9-11]. Now while a 2 point progression isn’t exactly going to set the world on fire, think about the other stats that increased just from the game time and tutoring. Bringing in Darren Fletcher [Model Pro] as a tutor has seen his determination increase from 15-18 and there have also been a number of 1-2 point increases right across the board. Once he is familiar with his new position you can expect to see a faster increase in the key area’s as he can focus solely on development of these attributes.

Overall I am very happy with how things have progressed and I intend to come back and review his changes once I move further forward with the game. In the next edition I’d like to talk more about retraining players to new positions, and if this is an under-utilised feature of Football Manager compared to the changes we see happening in real life Football.

Start A New Game

This is a Football Manager blog. A chance to discuss my interactions with one of the most addictive games on the planet. With the explosion of the blogosphere  in recent years there has been a move away from the traditional (web based) arena of Football Manager discussion, the humble forums. Due to the decline in popularity of forums, I want to reach the greatest number of readers, so it is into the world of blogging that I step.

Eraldo Zenunay

A newgen from my long-term Manchester City save

There are some truly inspiring Football Manager writers out there, with original ideas and fantastic ability to manipulate the written word. I, sadly, am not one of these. I fall into the category of Football Manager tragic, hopelessly addicted for the better part of the past 2 decades.

I don’t have a set direction that my writing will follow, there will be no set game that I will keep you updated with, no edited database that chronicles the life of a newly created player from traineeship to retirement. Instead I will share how I interact with the game, what my observations are and how I handle certain situations, both in game and from the point of view of an average Football Manager player, because after all it’s just a game.

I am the type of player who goes through literally hundreds of save games for each iteration of Football Manager. I may just be watching a match and seeing the way a player changes a game decide that I have to replicate that in game, inspired by real football. Other times I will simply just be so bored with a current save that I load up four or five new games, just trying to get past hitting continue a couple of times.

My current game is almost at seasons end, the first season, and I am bored enough that instead of pushing through the remaining 10 fixtures, I am on here, writing about not getting through the game.

I am also lucky enough that my job allows me the time to play Football Manager throughout the day. In fact I don’t think I have spent as much time playing the game since I was a student, where instead of studying I took Leeds to 5 consecutive Champions League titles.

So I still don’t have a clear picture of exactly where I want to take this, over the next few days I’d like to think that I could plan out some content to get people interested in my writings. In fact I have had an idea stewing for a little while now and I think this will be the perfect format to expand it and make it public. So I think I’ll go an work on getting that ready for publication over the coming weekend.

That’ll be it for now, keep an eye on this space.