• Welcome to Load FM Writes!

    Welcome to Load FM Writes!

    Thanks for stopping by and visiting my website. After years of building video content on YouTube and Twitch, I’ve decided to have a go at a bit of writing too! We’re going to have a mix of Football Manager articles, football rambles, stadium reviews, behind the scenes thoughts and written article versions of a few YouTube videos. I hope you’re looking forward to staying up to date as I take my first venture into the written content world. My latest posts and key links can all be found on the sidebar to the left of this article. đź‘Ť

  • FM23 – Top 3 European FALLEN GIANT Challenges

    FM23 – Top 3 European FALLEN GIANT Challenges

    FM23 is just around the corner and it’s time for everyone to decide who they’re going to be managing this year. Don’t worry though, as over the next few weeks I’ll try and help you with that decision. We start today with my top 3 European club challenges. Perfect for those of you looking to take on a fallen giant of European football, with the aim of lifting them back to their former glories. You can pre-order the game now by clicking here, but let’s get straight to the team placed third in my top European fallen giant challenges!

    3. Let’s have a drumroll for number 3 please… That’s right, it’s Bordeaux! As things stood in pre-season, Bordeaux were actually going to be number one pick in this article and probably my main stream save for FM23. Why? Well it’s been quite the dramatic summer for the once mighty French club. After finishing bottom of Ligue 1 last season, the DNCG (otherwise known as the organisation responsible for overseeing French football club’s accounts), chose to relegate Bordeaux a further
    division due to financial issues. This would have placed Bordeaux in the third tier of French football. However, the club appealed this decision and were successful too, leading to them being reinstated to Ligue 2 just 3 days before the start of the current season. While things aren’t as bad as they could have been for Bordeaux, it’ll still be a mighty challenge to take them back to the top of French football. There’s the small matter of PSG to topple and European football to conquer after that. To help you though, a couple of names familiar to EFL football fans in England. Yoann Barbet, the former Brentford and QPR defender, as well as Josh Maja, the once much desired wonderkid of Sunderland. In summary, despite being a division higher than initially expected, there’s no way Bordeaux weren’t making this top 3!

    2. Drumroll time again please… Yes it’s one of the teams from our FM22 live stream series vote, Deportivo La Coruna. Now if you’re of a similar age to me, you’ll remember this side mainly from Champions League games growing up. The likes of Fran, Valeron, Tristan, Mackay, Scaloni, the list goes on. The point is, Deportivo were a genuine top side! Often reaching the second group stage of the Champions League (yes kids, that used to be a thing), this lot were Spanish giants. With that in mind, what on earth are they doing stuck in Spain’s third tier playing against their former rivals reserve teams? They suffered one controversial relegation from the top tier at the start of the 2010’s, from which they bounced straight back. However, the same did not occur later in the decade. Just two years after their second relegation from the top tier in 2018, Deportivo fell into the third tier of Spanish football. The league
    has since been rebranded and split into two groups, however, the once great Deportivo have not since returned to the higher levels. Can you be the manager to bring them back from the doldrums to compete at the top of Spanish and European
    football again? It’ll certainly be one hell of a challenge!

    1. At number one, final drumroll please… It’s 1860 Munich. Another club that have fallen down the divisions and experienced so much disappointment during the 21st century. What makes this one so much worse though? Of course, watching your city rivals dominate German football and be pretty successful in Europe too. Having fallen as low as the fourth tier in 2017 due to demotion, 1860 have now been stuck back in the third tier for four years. They desperately need a hero to come and take them back to the top, but could that be you? If you can fight through the divisions in the early seasons and head back to the Bundesliga, you’ll meet some very strong sides in Germany’s top tier. The ultimate goal, of course, is to repeat the top tier title win of 1966. Perhaps you could also see whether you’re able to compete with your Munich rivals consistently and match their recent successes in the Champions League too?

    So those are my top 3 fallen European giant challenges but do any of them take your fancy? Let me know your thoughts as well as any other clubs you’d consider in this mould. There’s more of these FM23 save ideas and challenges article to come in the next few weeks. You can also watch this article in video form on my YouTube channel by clicking here. I’ll also have daily FM23 content on the channel once the beta is released!

  • Top 3 Football Manager Data Hub Tips

    Top 3 Football Manager Data Hub Tips

    Let’s be honest, most of us fall into the same boat when it comes to the Football Manager Data Hub, don’t we? Initial excitement at how cool the feature looked, to being overwhelmed by the sheer amount of graphs when first using it and then frustrated that it couldn’t instantly solve all of your tactical issues. Now you’re barely using it at all, right? Well to change that and get the best from the data hub, I’ve broken down my full Data Hub video tutorial from the start of FM22 and will give you my top 3 tips to help the Football Manager Data Hub help you! Let’s get
    straight into this, here’s my number 3 tip for mastering the Football Manager Data Hub.

    3. Don’t over analyse – This is the easiest thing to do and probably the worst, as well. If you over analyse you often end up overthinking, which will cloud your mind, judgement and actions too. It’ll also lead to you getting bored of the data more quickly, although I guess some have you have already reached that stage? Well no worries, let’s have a reset when it comes to our view of the Data Hub. Yes, there are hundreds of pieces of information in the data hub but that doesn’t mean they’re all relevant to your tactic or your team’s situation. Try starting with simple overview data to get used to the hub before worrying about all of the more intricate information. There’s no point trying to understand the most detailed data before understanding the general story behind it.

    Let’s talk about judgement and actions too. It’s important that you don’t overreact when you see a perceived weakness, we’ll explain why later on. Make small, subtle tactical changes based on data findings. Even if you spot ten things you’d like to improve, doing them one at a time will have the best results. It’ll also allow you to see if they’ve worked too, but I covered that in the top 3 tactical tips last week so won’t start ranting again. Finally, it’s important to keep an eye on the Data Hub when you’re in good form rather than just when you’re losing. You can easily find weaknesses in your side’s data when you’re losing, but how do you know that’s the problem if you didn’t see the picture when things were going well? Data can help you when you’re struggling for sure, but only if you knew what it looked like when you were successful. That comparison is by far the best way to spot changes! Let’s move on to number 2.

    2. The three general wheels tell the story – This will be a huge relief to those of you that want the information to help you succeed but without having to trawl through hundreds of graphs and reports. Whilst of course more data will give you more information as a general rule, there is plenty you can take from just three reports. The performance wheels for general play, team attacking and team defending can paint a clear picture for your side’s tactical performance. Rather than looking through every report, just start by mastering these three. Once you’ve done that and found a real weakness for your side, you can then move on to any relevant specific reports. The chances are though, you may not even need to do that if the problem is evident. All of the detailed graphics comparing teams are lovely, but in truth you probably know how your team’s quality matches up with rest of the league already. These three wheels focus largely on you and your team’s performances but still offer a slight comparison to the league average as a whole (if you’re desperate for that information too). They really are the best place to start in the FM Data Hub!

    1. Not all ‘negatives’ are weaknesses – This is such an important statement to understand, I can’t express it enough. Let’s make this very clear one more time… Just because you find an area in the Data Hub where your stats are weaker than your rivals, it does not necessarily mean you have to try and improve it. There’s a common misconception that every weakness is bad but this simply isn’t true! For example, let’s say you play a narrow tactical style and try to break teams down with short, passing football through the centre of the pitch. In this scenario, why would your crossing and dribbling data be high compared to the rest of the league and more importantly why would you want it to be? You asked your team not to do this when you created the tactical plan, so don’t be worried or upset when they actually listen and follow it! Similarly, let’s say you play direct football and try to get the ball in the box as often as possible to big strikers. With this game plan, you can’t expect your number of passes completed or pass completion percentage to be anywhere near the level they would if you were playing possession football. The most important thing to remember is that the Data Hub information often reflects your style, so you don’t have to immediately panic when you see weaknesses. If they aren’t simply explained by your tactic then by all means investigate further. Most of the time this isn’t the case though, so don’t be too alarmed by findings on the whole.

    So those are my top 3 Football Manager Data Hub tips to help you solve problems at your next club. You can watch the video version of this article on my YouTube channel by clicking here. Thanks for reading!

  • Top 3 Football Manager TACTICAL Tips

    Top 3 Football Manager TACTICAL Tips

    Let’s discuss the area we all strive to master in Football Manager, Tactics. How many of us go about changing our tactics completely the wrong way? In this video, I’m going to give you my top 3 simple tactical tips to help your side to success on the pitch in both the immediate and long term future. This is one that riles me up though, so please bear with me!

    3. Focus on set pieces – This pops up in so many of our top 3’s and the reason is pretty simple too. It is one of the quickest and most effective ways to change a team’s fortune, both in Football Manager and the real footballing world. It’s something a lot of managers focus on when new to a job and can be incredibly influential to successful results. I appreciate the user interface for this isn’t perfect in FM22 and it can be a little tedious to go through the process for every set-piece. Trust me though, it is worth it! Do it well and the time spent here will pick you up a few scrappy results whilst you’re perfecting your general tactical style from open play. There’s one thing you must remember though! Once you’ve done all the hard work to set these set piece routines up, don’t forget to set dedicated training sessions to them. The better your squad understands the routines, the more successful they’re likely to be when performing them. Now we’ve got the quick results out of the way and kept you in a job, let’s move on to building your long term philosophy and tactical blueprint.

    2. Start simple – Sounds obvious, right? But how many times have you seen someone say ‘I’ve tried everything and it hasn’t worked’ when it comes to FM tactics? These top 2 tips will both address this point which tends to really frustrate me. Let’s explain something very simple… You cannot reach your end goal and dream style without laying foundations first. Look at prime examples in the footballing world, were Klopp’s Liverpool or Guardiola’s City anywhere near their recent quality or current tactical styles in their first season? No! We all know what the end goal is, but you must build it slowly. Unfortunately, you will always have to adapt to certain players you inherit at a club and change the playing style one step at a time. Start simple, work from a balanced tactic and build it towards your desired philosophy. If you don’t, you’ll often end up doing the opposite or even getting sacked. Why immediately go to your desired style, watch it fail and then be forced to gradually adapt away from end goal to save your job? It’s so much more rewarding to work towards your goal and gives your players a better chance to adapt to your tactical instructions. On that subject though, let’s move on to number one.

    1. One change at a time – I go back to the same anger inducing point again. ‘I’ve tried
    everything and it hasn’t worked’. Alright, we get it! You’ve just answered your own problem though, haven’t you? You may have tried everything, but I bet you tried it all at once. Let me pause here to ask you a very important question. If you make 10 tactical changes at once, how do you know which ones have worked and which ones haven’t? I know it’s hard to resist making lots of changes when you can see so many things that need fixing, but you have to make them one at a time. It’s the only way to truly see if your adjustment has worked and how much of an impact it’s had on your team and tactic. You also can’t call something a success or failure after one game, so give your changes time to bed in and you’ll likely reap the rewards! Even if it means you make less progress towards your end tactic than you’d like overall, you’ll at least know your changes are positive ones for long term success. So in summary, feel free to continue to try everything, just please do it in small increments!

    So those are just my top 3 simple tactical tips to help you achieve success in both the
    immediate and long term future. I hope it answers that age old repetitive question and allows you build a tactic made to last in your next Football Manager save. But let me know your top tips for tactical success and do you have any other rules you swear by when creating your playing philosophy? You can see this article in video form on my YouTube channel by clicking here. Check it out for daily Football Manager videos!

  • F1 Manager 2022 – The Verdict!

    F1 Manager 2022 – The Verdict!

    For Formula One fans, the wait was finally over on Thursday as early access opened to F1 Manager 2022. A highly anticipated and fully licensed new game with countless features and graphics teased over a number of months. Does it live up to the hype though? I’ve taken charge of Williams Racing on the Xbox edition to find out. You can see my video series here if you want to make your own mind up or buy the game now by clicking here, but let me give you my verdict.

    The first thing that strikes you about the game is the user interface. The menus are slick and well organised and the graphics are smooth and modern looking. Overall, it’s immediately pleasant on the eye! A string of pop-up tutorial messages guide you through from your first day to the opening race weekend. There’s also an added familiar feel for Football Manager regulars when clicking continue and processing through the quieter days. Early highlights include receiving your board objectives, reminders of your responsibilities, as well as an introduction to both the warehouse and spending decisions. The game does make every effort to help you feel integral to decisions and progress from the very start of your tenure as team principal.

    Onto the main events, the race weekends. Again full of in-game support to help you through your first experience, you’re offered plenty of flexibility with regards to what you’d like to take charge of. You can skip an individual practice session or even straight to qualifying if you’d prefer. Once you get there, your main focus is strategy, timing and instructions to drivers. When sending your first driver out to complete a flying lap, you get to see the superb race engine in action. It’s state of the art by video game standard, let alone a managerial game! Whilst qualifying isn’t the most exciting affair when managing the back markers on the grid, you’re left in no doubt that the race engine is highly impressive.

    After filling the back row of the grid with Alex Albon and Nicholas Latifi, it’s time to move on to race day. Here, you have full control of the race strategy with optional help and customisable plans suggested by your team of staff. Through the race, you can watch the action unfold or skip the uneventful moments at up to x16 speed whilst viewing overview data screens. This is a nice touch that makes the game far more appealing to those with less time or desire to watch full length races. If you select the quicker option, the game still keeps you up to date by pausing for key moments, crashes and during your planned pit windows. With real time data showing at any race speed, you’re sure not to miss any opportunity to gain an advantage on your rivals. After another day of tough running at the back of the field, I finally got to experience some reward at the end of the race. Albon fought to the line with Lance Stroll of Aston Martin to move up to 18th place, giving me a sense of achievement despite gaining nothing in reality.

    With Latifi running some distance behind the rest of the field throughout, I soon had the chance to visit the driver scouting centre. All staff and drivers are awarded an overall rating out of 100 based on a number of individual attributes. These can be improved by using development points, which are awarded based on driver performances. With Latifi the lowest rated driver in the starting F1 field it was no surprise to see him struggling. As a result, we spent some of our budget scouting one of the many licensed reserve F1 and lower Formula drivers available within the game. Antonio Giovinazzi would be our eventual replacement. You’re also offered chances to develop new car parts and manufacture spares of current ones when you’re running low. When new parts arrive, you’ll be left to decide which car and driver gets access to them first too! Overall, there’s a great depth to this game for a first edition and you’ll find plenty to sink your teeth into both on the grid and behind the scenes.

    Don’t be fooled though, there are some negatives too. The realism of race situations has been questioned, with it taking eight races across two saves for me to see a DNF from any driver (of course it had to be one of mine). Very few people have witnessed any mechanical failures too. This does make progress far more difficult and less realistic if you manage a team nearer the back of the grid. You’ll also need a very good memory too… As while the early tutorials are great, you’re left almost completely to your own devices from race two onwards. There’s also a lack of assistance for some of the more technical parts of the game, which can make it challenging for casual fans to understand. An example of this is when voting on regulation changes. It would perhaps have been handy for team staff to offer advice as to which option benefits your team more before making a decision.

    Overall, this game is by no means the finished article. However, for a first release from a brand new series, it’s certainly a strong opener. The jury still remains out as to whether a long term career will stay enjoyable and realistic in the game. I guess many of us will discover this over the coming weeks. For now though, if you’re a motorsport fan or a sports management game regular, I’d definitely recommend giving F1 Manager 2022 a try. Just don’t buy the PC edition unless you have an incredibly high-spec computer or laptop! Links to buy F1 Manager 2022 can be found by clicking here.

  • My First live FA Cup Tie – 2022/23 Season

    My First live FA Cup Tie – 2022/23 Season

    On Tuesday evening, I took a trip to my first live FA Cup tie of the season with my co-hosts from The Honest Football Podcast. We attended the Preliminary Round replay, as Shefford Town & Campton hosted Southend Manor, following their draw the previous weekend.

    The evening started in the way you’d probably expect at most non-league grounds up and down the country. Friendly hospitality, reasonably priced refreshments and a fairly affordable admission fee by modern football standards. As spectators battled to park their cars away from firing range of the pitch, a strong atmosphere built with a bumper crowd just shy of 350 in attendance.

    To the game itself and of course we opted for the traditional half way line vantage point. It begun in a relatively direct and physical manner as both sides tried to find their way into the match. Perhaps surprisingly it was the visitors that created the stronger chances in the opening stages, with a number of wonderfully delivered set pieces causing significant problems for the host’s defence. This is how the opening goal eventually came too, as a corner to the back post was turned home by defender Arthur. There was some controversy, as the first in the spell of corners could arguably have been a Shefford free kick instead. There were plenty more contentious decisions to come though!

    This arguably started with the hosts equaliser. Shefford broke away down the left hand side as Southend Manor appealed for a foul on their right back in front of our standing position. In truth, this was relatively optimistic. Their misery was then compounded as Snee ran through and finished superbly to level the scores at the break. To make things worse, the visitors had a very strong shout for a penalty dismissed as the ball struck a Shefford hand from a by-line cross. Despite the arm being in an unnatural position, only a corner was awarded. This left the tie delicately poised at 1-1 heading into the second half.

    The decisive moment came early in the second half. Southend Manor chose to replace arguably two of their strongest performers in the opening 50 minutes. Right winger Awosika and left back Ferris were replaced. Within minutes Shefford were ahead, the goal being created down the visitors left following the substitutions. Southend Manor struggled to come back into the game having replaced Awosika, who was so often the target of direct passes in the first half. This led to a spell of fouls from both sides with the game largely being played in the middle third.

    With 12 minutes to go though, disaster for the visitors. As they started to gamble and push for an equaliser, the last thing they needed was a moment of madness. A defensive throw was taken short to goalkeeper Collins under little pressure on the left side of his area. He opted to play across goal and criminally under hit the pass, leaving Thake to intercept and pass into the empty net. Surely the tie was done at 3-1?

    Well let’s not speak too soon, as we were still to have a grandstand finish! With normal time coming to a close, the visitors were awarded a penalty. It was converted by Farrell in the 88th minute to half the deficit but only after a lengthy delay following the decision. The referee, true to his form for the entire evening, decided to take multiple minutes to explain each decision to every player. This in addition to lengthy discussion with his assistants at any possible opportunity. There was a benefit to this for Southend Manor though, as these delays lead to 6 minutes being added on!

    In stoppage time, there were further nervy moments as Shefford struggled to manage the game with a reduced lead. There was still time for more drama too. Southend Manor were reduced to 10 men late in added time as Hayman was shown a red card for the second game in succession. We eventually saw 10 extra minutes as the referee zapped any momentum from the game. There were no further goals though, with the hosts winning by the odd goal, 3-2.

    Our experience overall, a highly entertaining evening with a fair share of chaos. Goals, penalties, howlers, cards, bizarre officiating and a grandstand finish, this tie had the lot! However, it was Shefford Town & Campton who progressed to the First Qualifying Round. They’ll make the trip to Dunstable Town during the first weekend of September.

  • Top 3 Football Manager YOUTH DEVELOPMENT Tips

    Top 3 Football Manager YOUTH DEVELOPMENT Tips

    We’ve all had that moment at some point in one of our Football Manager saves, haven’t we? A golden superstar that could be the future leader of our first team, or that flurry of high potential youngsters that send pound signs running around your mind. But here’s the crucial question… How do we best nurture that talent to ensure we maximise every ounce of their potential? Well today, I’m going to guide you with my top 3 development tips for your next youth intake stars in Football Manager.

    At number 3 is training units. Last time I talked about these in one of my videos, most people weren’t aware they existed. They are very important though, as they allow you to reward your young stars for progressing in the youth team. This tip is specifically for when youngsters are excelling in the youth team, but aren’t quite ready to step up to your first team squad. In this situation, we can use the training units screen to promote our youth team players to first team training, but without putting them into the first team squad. This allows your young stars to continue to perform in youth matches, whilst testing themselves on a day to day basis on the training ground. If they hold their own in first team training, you can then decide if they’re ready to move into your first team squad on a more permanent basis. Overall, this can be a great way to reward your best young players when they’re either training or playing well for the youth team. In my opinion, it’s also one of the most realistic features in FM. I’ll put a link to my top 3 underused features video here so you can discover how to do this if needed. For now though, let’s move on to number 2!

    At number 2 is individual training and again, I feel like it’s something that’s often overlooked. It’s very easy and tempting, in fact, to just hand over individual training to your assistant manager or coaching team. Generally, that’s fine! In fact, I often do this for general team training myself as good AI coaches can normally manage it pretty adequately. The same thing cannot be said for individual training though, particularly with promising youth players! We all know that in FM, the balance of key attributes is often very unusual for newgens coming into the game. We’ve all seen the thousand strikers that can’t finish, central midfielders that can’t pass or defenders that can’t position themselves. Well what’s our answer, simply throw these kids away for one bad attribute? NO! Individual training can be our solution. You can set your youth players to learn any position, role and duty you wish, in addition to working individual attribute groups. Crucially, when asking your player to train in a position and role, they don’t just work to learn that role. They also develop the important attributes for it too! You’ll see these attributes highlighted on the player profile when selecting a position and duty to train. This gives you a clear indication of exactly what they’ll be working on. It’s a great way to help develop your youngsters both tactically and in any attribute deficiencies. I’ll link my Individual training guide video here if you want more detail on that, as we move on to our number 1 youth development tip!

    Number 1 is easy and it’s one my old favourites too, mentoring! You’ve all had an exciting prospect in your intake at some point only for their personality to wipe the smile off your face, haven’t you? Low determination, unambitious, casual, the list goes on. Surely these players can’t reach their peak? Well now they can with the right mentoring and support! I’ve already made an FM22 video special on mentoring groups which I’ll put here if you want to see it, but let’s focus on them specifically in relation to youth development. Of course, you would expect senior players to guide your young stars of the future and a little time spent on setting this up will help you reap the rewards for seasons to come! Pick trusted senior players with desirable personalities to lead your mentoring groups, then add youngsters with weaker characters to be influenced by them. Once they’ve developed to a stronger personality, they’ll often start to develop more quickly in training and with regular football too. When adding players to a mentoring group, your staff also give you handy advice suggesting how much each player will influence and be influenced by the group too.

    The benefits don’t stop there either! Players in similar positions will often pick up player and character traits from the most influential members of the group. Perhaps most importantly for first team integration, they’re also more likely to socialise with senior members of their mentoring group on the training ground. This means they’ll eventually have a better opportunity to join their social group within the squad. If you’ve got a tight-knit core group, this can be an easy way to quickly improve the relationship between a young star and the main group of first team players at a club. Not a bad thing for team cohesion at all, is it?

    So those are my top 3 tips for youth development. I hope they help you maximise the potential of your next intake star and the profit you make from your academy in the future. Do you have any other top tips that you swear by? If so, do let me know them as well as telling me how many of these tips you already use in your Football Manager careers. Finally, I’ll put a link to the original video version of this article from my YouTube channel here. Thanks for reading!

  • Top 3 ‘Must Try’ Nations For Your Next Football Manager Club Career

    Top 3 ‘Must Try’ Nations For Your Next Football Manager Club Career

    Which nations and leagues just don’t get enough credit in Football Manager? Where can you find both excitement and a new love for the game? If you’ve already completed your usual annual save with your favourite club or in your preferred nation, then why not try my top 3 alternative nations that make for the most enjoyable club saves in Football Manager!

    3. India – This has always been one of my favourite suggestions for people that are struggling to get into an FM save. The reasons are simple… It’s a very low reputation league, clubs have tiny budgets and they usually hold big squads full of players that are hard to shift. This combination often leads to a proper rebuilding job, but with a key difference. You can have up to 4 foreign players registered in your squad (one of whom must be Asian) and it is possible to attract some fairly big names to India. If you pick the right club to start with, you might already have some foreign squad spaces available too. It’s your chance to scour the free agent market for some relatively noteworthy veterans to play alongside and help develop your poorer, younger domestic players!

    2. Northern Ireland – I’ll start this one by admitting I’m a big fan of Northern Irish football and actually watch a number of live games on TV here in the UK. As a result, I may be accused of being slightly biased. Having said that, I can honestly say I’ve never had an unenjoyable save in this country. Firstly, despite it’s smaller stature in the world game, you can actually play in any of the top 3 tiers of Northern Ireland’s league system. This means you can start with sides of different quality, reputation, standard of facilities and in some cases even pro or semi-pro. With the top tier being a blend of the two, starting as a semi-pro side also leads to some advantages in the early stages of a build a nation style save. You’ll usually find that some of the bigger, professional teams are capable of hanging onto your coattails in that first decade. Of course the other big draw is being part of the UK. Now that’s in no way an arrogant statement but as we know, statistically English football is the most played in FM and one of the most watched league pyramids in the world. This means you’ll see and often be able to sign a number of familiar names in Northern Ireland (perhaps more so than in our other two suggestions). That’s because the next scouting package upgrade after the country itself is the UK & Ireland as a region.

    1. Uruguay – Often losing out in the limelight to more widely discussed South American footballing nations Argentina and Brazil, Uruguay is perhaps one of the most untouched gems in the Football Manager world. Both of the top 2 tiers of Uruguayan football are playable in FM22 and now is perhaps a greater time than ever to try a save in the nation. It offers an opportunity for you to build the league and nation reputation in addition to that of your own club. You’ll also meet the exciting plethora of wonderkids streaming out of Uruguayan football in this year’s edition of the game. Will you choose to try and keep your young stars at the risk of disrupting harmony, ruining club morale and shattering the squad dynamics OR will you choose to sell up and try to use the money wisely in the transfer market. Either way, you’re likely to have both an eventful and fun time in Uruguay!

    So those are my Top 3 must try nations if you’re looking for a new Football Manager club save. Let me know how many of these 3 leagues you’ve managed in previously and any other lesser fancied leagues that you’ve previously enjoyed. I had a number of other options that just missed out on my top 3 so I won’t be surprised if you disagree with mine!

    You can watch the video version of this article on my YouTube channel by clicking here!

  • Should You Offer Players to Clubs in Football Manager?

    Should You Offer Players to Clubs in Football Manager?

    Should you offer your players out to other clubs in Football Manager, and if so, when? What are the positives and negatives of doing so? That’s right, we’re tackling a big question today and we’re going to do so by having a debate. I’ve received a number of responses to my recent Top 3 Selling negotiation tips article and video. From that, I’ve decided to roll back the years to A-level essay writing and discuss the pros and cons of offering your players out to clubs for transfer. Let’s head straight into this debate, starting with the main benefits to offering out your unwanted players…

    1. More offers – This is probably the most obvious one, isn’t it. If you offer a player out to all clubs, you’re alerting those that potentially haven’t scouted or been interested in the player before. It doesn’t necessarily mean quality or worthwhile interest, but you may be able to tempt a club to take a punt on a panic buy.
    2. More widespread interest – Linked to the point above for obvious reasons. Yes, there are negatives to this one too which we’ll discuss later on. But if you tell clubs that you really want a player out of your club, some will try and make a move. That’s not to say they won’t try and take advantage of you or steal a bargain, but getting eyes and attention on the player you want to sell can only be a good thing, right? After all, there’s apparently no such thing as bad publicity!
    3. Quicker Sales – If you attract interest and offers from more clubs, you’re of course more likely to get a quicker sale. Now you may have to slightly compromise on the amount the player is sold for, what clauses or add-ons you get in the deal or which club the player goes to. However, as long as there’s some interest, you will likely get the player out much more quickly!
    4. Ideal for fast paced deadline days – Now let’s say you’re desperate to offload a player on deadline day, you really want that quick sale we just talked about. At lower levels, you’ll probably need to get someone off your books just to free up the wage budget to make a signing. In these instances, offering players out is perfect. If you’re not worried about the price and just want the wage bill cleared, you can’t really go wrong!
    5. Allows quicker purchasing/Good for rebuilds – And as a result of the above, you can now rebuild squads and clear the dead wood quicker. This applies either when joining a new club or during a summer transfer window. This is so often important at lower levels too, where getting a squad in place to gel as early as possible is crucial to your future success!

    There are a number of negatives too though…

    1. Generally lower offers – Whilst of course there may be more offers, there are likely to be lower ones than you’d like too. This is fine if you are desperate to offload a player, but far more difficult to take if you’re trying to get value for money. Don’t forget you’re essentially telling clubs you really want to get rid of this player, so why on earth would they offer market value?
    2. More non-negotiable offers – Similar to the last one and something that was picked up from your responses on my YouTube selling tips video. When offering players out, you can’t expect clubs to offer good value or waste time negotiating with you. You’re telling the club that you want this player gone, and it’s likely someone outside their original transfer plans. So the chances are, they’ll either bid what they have left over or try to steal the player on the cheap. They may be expecting you to reject it, but that doesn’t mean they can’t try!
    3. More time wasters – Now you may use this to describe clubs in our last point and that’s fair enough. However, it is a well known consequence of offering players out. You may have one or two offers from clubs that are genuinely interested and keen not to lose out on a player. More often than not though, you’re attracting half-baked interest from clubs that don’t really care what the outcome of their offer is.
    4. Player unhappiness – We all know morale is pivotal in Football Manager. Well that’s why you need to be very careful when deciding whether to offer a player out to clubs. Be sure the potential rewards outweigh the risks and that the player is either likely to receive an offer or doesn’t feature in your first team plans. The last thing you want is an unhappy player offered out, not sold and ruining your dressing room atmosphere!
    5. Higher effort version of the unwanted list – This is something that can be strongly argued. If you set your responsibilities and asking prices sensibly, is it not just quicker to add the player to the unwanted list and let your staff do the rest of the work for you. After all, sensible delegation is the key to good management. Why do something time consuming and potentially frustrating when it can be done in a more efficient way. If you have well rated staff and trust them, do you even need to use the offer to clubs function?
    6. Asking Prices – More of a variable this one, but often leads to uncertainty or debate. Personally, when I use the ‘offer to clubs’ function, I always start with an unspecified asking price. This is because I’m usually keen to offload the players and am happy to consider all offers. You can then work down to offering the player out for cheaper deals or even free transfers if appropriate as you go along. If you’re not happy to consider all offers though, offering to clubs may not be for you. If your expectations are too high or unreasonable for an ‘unwanted player’, you risk putting other clubs off, losing their interest and making the player unhappy all in one move. Not the best management that, is it?
    7. Teams put off by clauses – When offering players out to clubs, it’s almost impossible to get your desired clauses in the deal. Why? Well I go back to the same point again. Why would a club offer you extra perks, incentives or benefits when you’re clearly so desperate to dispose of the player? If your player is already attracting interest, you’re not in a rush to sell and you’d like room to negotiate added benefits in the transfer deal, you may be better off waiting for that first offer to come in. This is a far more rewarding alternative to initiating offers yourself.

    So there’s an insight into the big debate I have in my head throughout every transfer window. I felt it was important to go into after discussing the finer details of the negotiation process in the last Football Manager article. In conclusion, I feel the offer to clubs feature can be useful, but there’s definitely a time and a place for it. In my opinion, it should be used only for players you either don’t care about or haven’t received any interest for. Alternatively, I’d use it as a last resort when time is of the essence or the wage bill is tight and I need to sell to add a key target on deadline day. What’s your approach to shifting unwanted players though? Tell me how you maximise your number of offers and income for transfers out. You can watch the full video version of this article on my YouTube channel by clicking here. Thanks for reading!

  • Stevenage vs Stockport County – A Neutral View

    Stevenage vs Stockport County – A Neutral View

    On Saturday, I enjoyed an EFL game as a neutral for the first time this season. Whilst not a new addition to my ’92 club’ attempt on this occasion, Stevenage vs Stockport County did provide a relatively local and affordable opportunity to watch live professional football. Thankfully, the public transport route was via bus too, so there was no risk of any rail disruption either!

    Coincidentally, Stevenage Old Town was enjoying it’s summer festival this weekend so there were plenty of additional food and drink choices to the usual offering. Following that diversion and a half an hour stroll in the sun, I arrived at the Lamex Stadium. My two previous visits to this ground came in 2001 and 2014 and you’re immediately struck by many of the improvements, probably not unexpected now Stevenage have become an established EFL side. I’d booked my ticket for the East Terrace, the only standing area in the ground. It appeared to be the most popular with home fans too, presumably owing to the reduced price.

    I joined almost 3000 fans, including just over 700 from Stockport in reflecting on my decision to attend at half time. I wouldn’t envy the person that had to create a highlights package from the first 45 minutes, with only one shot on target for each side late in the half! There were some touching moments at the break though, as Stockport fans sung and Stevenage fans applauded to celebrate the 101st birthday of a travelling supporter.

    The first half was perhaps what you may expect to see early in the season. Defined by disjointed moves, misplaced passes and two sides rather predictably cancelling each other out, it was difficult on the eye. However, the second half did not take long to come to life. Stockport started it brightly and were rewarded just before the hour work. Callum Camps produced a smartly struck, low finish from the right side of the box to send the away fans behind the goal into rapturous celebration!

    This brought Steve Evans into action with a triple change, before more substitutes were introduced not long after. Despite some pressure and increased attacking intent, that elusive golden chance didn’t ever really appear to be coming. In those instances, sometimes you need a helping hand and boy did Stockport’s defence provide it late on. With just a few minutes of normal time remaining, Ash Palmer flew into a high challenge just inside his own area. That rash decision not only conceded a penalty and a chance for Stevenage to equalise, but also a second yellow card to reduce the visitors to 10 men. Luke Norris coolly converted from the spot to set up a grandstand finish! You can see that penalty here – https://youtu.be/-eMyyBoi0wU

    With six minutes added on and Stevenage now pushing for a winner, Stockport understandably attempted to run down the clock. A first point since their long awaited EFL return was not to be forthcoming though, as Stevenage produced a late winner for the second week in a row. This time, they had to wait until the 95th minute! An incredible scrappy goal as Saxon Earley just beat the on-rushing Stockport keeper on the left by-line to send the ball towards goal. It beat the sliding Fraser Horsfall and bounced favourably off the near post, leaving fellow substitute Jamie Read to poke home from a yard. The Stevenage fans suitably enjoyed that moment and the final whistle which soon followed.

    The second half was without doubt a far more entertaining affair though in truth, neither side really did enough to win. Probably described best as a steady rather than spectacular performance by the hosts, but they continue their perfect start to the League Two season less than ten minutes after defeat looked inevitable. For Stockport County, there were encouraging signs and the points will come eventually. Individual errors are more costly at the higher level though and as a result it was Stevenage that secured another three points!

  • Top 3 Tips When SELLING PLAYERS In Football Manager

    Top 3 Tips When SELLING PLAYERS In Football Manager

    Many of us choose to manage smaller reputation clubs in Football Manager and as a result, we’re often forced to sell players against our will. But how do we gain the most out of our sales as a selling club? After all, 99% of clubs are forced to sell star players in some capacity. Well as a man who often manages non-league or lower reputation clubs, it’s a rare area in which I’m actually qualified to advise. That’s right, today I’m giving you my top 3 selling tips when you’re forced to part with your stars in the Football Manager transfer market!

    At number three is the loan back clause. Why oh why is this not used more often? It must be one of the most underused clauses in Football Manager transfer negotiations. Let’s face it, a number of us manage either smaller clubs in big nations or teams in smaller nations. In these types of careers, as soon as a young player comes into the team and starts performing for you, the vultures start to circle, don’t they? That elite side not wanting to miss out on the next big wonderkid, or that English side taking advantage of their superior league reputation again. Don’t let them take your stars immediately. The chances are, they’ll only go and rot in their youth sides anyway! With that in mind, why not use the loan back clause? The upsides to this are endless… You get your star player back temporarily for as long as you select, which is particularly useful in the January window if you want to avoid looking for mid-season replacements. You can also usually get players back for a 0% wage contribution, protecting those likely fragile finances at the lower levels. Finally, if the player enjoys the loan spell and his parent club still doesn’t have him in their first team plans, you might even be able to extend the loan again before it expires. Let’s cover the negatives too out of fairness though… Oh that’s right, there aren’t any!

    For number two, let’s focus on something I like to call ‘maybe money’. While smaller reputation and lower league clubs often rely on player sales to survive financially, there’s no need to be taken advantage of. Beware of elite clubs… It may be pocket money to them, but they’re still a business and will test your patience to steal a bargain! Don’t get fooled by derisory offers or bids that include high value ‘potential’ add-ons. The chances are big sides are offering you their money in appearance, international and goal clauses because they know they’ll never have to pay most of it! Letting them get away with this even once is setting you up for a long struggle, as word gets around quick in the footballing world. When negotiating initial offers, go hard on your demands (particularly if more than one club is interested in your player). You can often strike up a bidding war once the media gets wind of a rejected offer, as other clubs won’t want to act too slowly and miss out to rival clubs! Make sure any add-ons are either guaranteed instalments or the clause we’re going to move onto now, which is our number one selling tip!

    Sell on Clauses. There was no way this wasn’t going to be number one! There’s a very good reason it is too. So many of you are being SWINDLED by the crafty little AI rascals in Football Manager. That’s right, it’s another don’t get fooled tip. If you are in that familiar position of having to let your best youngsters move on to bigger clubs and career opportunities, you need to be sure it benefits little old you as well! In addition to making sure you get the player back on loan, save on wages and secure guaranteed income as we’ve covered already, make sure you get a sell on clause. Not only does this give you an additional revenue stream, it can also save you in a future transfer window. Let’s picture a scenario, you add sell on clauses as a habit like I often do. The start of another transfer window comes around and you suddenly get a nice influx of cash from a former player being sold on. That’s one window you don’t have to worry about selling to balance the books. Time for a quick inception style tip within a tip here too… Keep your eye on the clauses screen between transfer windows, as sometimes you get ridiculous offers to sell transfer clauses early. It can save you from potential disappointment if that player later gets released! Back to the main point though and there is one crucial caveat to this tip. You must get a clean sell on clause, not the ‘percentage of profit’ one that clubs so often offer to you. Make sure you exclude that early in the negotiation, then bargain aggressively for a proper sell on clause. It’ll make you more money than you can imagine and even save you bundles later in your career. Imagine you fly through the leagues and want to re-sign the player a few years down the line, you can now bid knowing you’re getting that percentage of the transfer fee back! Just another added bonus to help cement the position of the sell on clause as my number one top tip when selling players!

    So those are my top 3 tips to help you when selling players in the next transfer window of your Football Manager save. Don’t forget, you can subscribe to my YouTube channel for a new Football Manager Top 3 episode every week!