How To Spot Weaknesses and Build Your Team in Football Manager

Image result for fm17 logoAside from the tactical side of the game, I always feel as if my strengths on Football Manager are my ability to spot the key weaknesses in my team and utilise the transfer market to rectify them. I’ve also said on several occasions that my biggest weakness by far is developing players. If you go back through my saves all the way through this blog, you’ll notice that I’ve never ever developed a young player through the academy for the first team. I’ll openly admit that I’m just not very good at it. In this instance, I’m much more Mourinho than Guardiola.

As a result, I have to rely on the transfer market to spot young players I feel can make a mark, and improve weaknesses in my team. When I’m with a smaller team such as Lorient, I try and exploit the transfer window market (although this can be done at any level), but at a larger club there’s greater freedom. This article is going to serve as a bit of a coaching guide, and give you a bit of an insight into my thought process during a transfer window. For this article, I’m going to play as the team who are the epitome of a need to rectify weaknesses within their team, Arsenal.

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One Man’s Journey Through France: X

Screen Shot 2017-07-04 at 10.04.05It’s update time once again, we’re up to the tenth update of Julien Girard’s managerial career (also, Julien’s 30 now). This makes this the equal longest save I’ve ever done on this blog, along with Bayer Leverkusen on FM15. So I just want to say thank you to everyone that has supported this save so far, it means a lot to me and long may this save continue. In the last update, I covered the first half of the 4th season of the save, and the first with Football Club Lorient in Ligue 1. I covered the signings I’d made towards the end of the transfer window, the tactics I was using (a 4-1-3-2,) and covered the results of the first half of the season. As we went into January 1st, the club was surprisingly sat 3rd in Ligue 1, only one point behind Lyon in 1st place, and two points ahead of Leonardo Jardim’s Monaco in 4th. I ended the last update by saying:

Julien is now settled in well at Lorient, and most importantly is well on course to achieve more than the top half finish he promised the board when he took over in early August. The challenge now is simply to see how high Lorient can finish.

So, how did the season finish?


One Man’s Journey Through France: IX

Screen Shot 2017-07-04 at 10.04.05So, we’re back again with the 9th update of Julien Girard’s managerial career, as we have reached the midway point (January 1st) of the 4th season of this save. In the last update, we finally decided to leave Schiltigheim, and made the big move up to Ligue 1, becoming manager of Football Club Lorient. We had previously prepared Schiltigheim for their Ligue 2 season – more on that later – and then had to adjust to our new surroundings, making a couple of signings in Joshua Onomah and Marcelo Hermes to improve the quality of the squad, before putting a tactical plan in place, a 4-4-2 diamond. We won the first game of the season 2-1 against Nantes, and we ended the update cautiously optimistic ahead of the full season – especially considering I’d told the board that I would get achieve a top half finish with Lorient. However, I had to make further dealings before the end of the transfer window, when Torino came in for our first choice right back Steven Moreira. I negotiated up to a fee of £7M (rising to £7.75M) before accepting the offer. This necessitated the buying of a right back, so I signed Lorenzo Dickmann, languishing at Palermo for a pathetic £3.8M. He’s been fantastic so far, massively improving as a player.

Note: I also sold Rayane Jacquier to Roma (along with a whopping future fee %) for £1.5M, and Zoran Djulic was bought by my DoF.

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There’s no need for jokes, FM’s covered that for me already.

In terms of Julien’s career, he completed the new coaching course, improving his attributes slightly – they’re still fairly poor. I then asked Lorient to allow me to get my Continental A License. At first, they rejected my request, saying that there’s a good chance Julien could leave with increased skills. With a bit of persuasion however, the board accepted it. This course will take a much longer time at 12 months, but it only leaves Julien with one more badge to achieve (the Continental Pro, I think?). Julien also reached his first milestone, managing 100 games.

So, how has the first half of the season gone? Have I been able to produce the top half finish that I said I would?


One Man’s Journey Through France: VIII

Screen Shot 2017-07-04 at 10.04.05This is going to be a big one. So, we’re back with the 8th update of One Man’s Journey Through France, moving into the fourth season of Julien Girard’s managerial career. Also, for those of you who don’t follow me on Twitter (@JLAspey), Julien’s face is perfectly modelled by the suavest of suave men, David Ginola – in case you were wondering. In the last update, we covered the whole of the 3rd – and least enjoyable – season of this save in the Championnat National. The update covered how Sporting Club de Schiltigheim managed to race away into the lead of the National, before almost blowing the entire thing, stumbling over the line and winning the league to win promotion to Ligue 2, despite losing 2-1 on the final day. Nevertheless, it was time to get Schiltigheim ready for Ligue 2, and turn the club from an amateur outfit into one that could realistically retain its place in Ligue 2 for many seasons to come. So, how did things go?


One Man’s Journey Through France: VII

Screen Shot 2017-07-04 at 10.04.05Disclaimer: You’re all going to be confused why I’m so annoyed about this season. I apologise for that in advance. This update will cover the whole season, because I simply just wanted to get this season finished. Again, you’ll see why through the update.

So, we’ve come to the end of the third season of Julien Girard’s career, still managing Sporting Club de Schiltigheim in the Championnat National. In the last update, we prepared Schiltigheim for the league season, having received no real interest – apart from Sedan Ardennes – in Julien’s services. We had begun the season using a 4-3-3 system, which relied on the ability of Marco Rosenfelder ❤ to control the game from the AP-S role, and allow the wide players Ambrose and Doumbia to threaten opposition defences. It caused us to comfortably defeat Valenciennes 3-2 on the first day of the season. However, that didn’t last long, as Julien Tripard decided to stop scoring upfront, and the goals dried up. We sat third, but I felt we wouldn’t be there for long. As a result, I switched tactics – not for the last time this season – moving back to the 4-1-2-3-0 strikerless tactic, but with an AP-S rather than an AM-S at AMC. This was done simply to get the best out of Rosenfelder ❤ and have him be the main playmaker for the side, forcing the ball into him so he can create. So, how did this help us? How have we done this season?


One Man’s Journey Through France: VI

Screen Shot 2017-07-04 at 10.04.05So, we’ve reached the beginning of the third season of Julien Girard’s career, so it’s update time once again to go through the changes that have occurred in the off-season between season 2 and 3 of this save. In the last update, we covered the end of season 2 in the Championnat de France Amateur – the fourth level of French football – with Sporting Club de Schiltigheim. We were trailing Bordeaux’s ‘reserves’ – the cheaters – in the league, but ended up finishing in second place, and were automatically promoted to the Championnat National as a result. We actually went into the final day with the opportunity to win the league outright, but a downright appalling performance left us to be content with second. However, Bordeaux ended up not being promoted with us, so I gather there is some kind of rule in French football capping the level that reserve teams can get to in comparison to their first teams. Considering they played several Ligue 1 standard players throughout the season, I wouldn’t say they deserved it either. Yes, I’m still annoyed.

Screen Shot 2017-07-19 at 17.22.39Last update I also discussed – again – the possibility of Julien leaving Schiltigheim and moving to a different club, citing how he had done what he aimed to in getting them to the Championnat National, and was repeatedly being turned down the chance to complete further coaching badges which would increase his ability and attributes. This was as a result of the financial issues the club faces – despite my good control over wages – issues that won’t be helped by pumping money into compulsory improvements to the ground. There was interest – as you can see on the right – but it was from Sedan Ardennes in Ligue 2, and after being turned down in his first attempt, I don’t believe Julien would have gone for it again. Conscious of not wanting to ignore Schiltigheim in my desire to progress Julien’s career, I continued to make decisions for the coming season for Schiltigheim. So, who are we managing this season?


One Man’s Journey Through France: V

Screen Shot 2017-07-04 at 10.04.05So, we’ve reached the end of the second season of Julien Girard’s managerial career, so it is update time once again. Update number 5, check me out.  This update will cover the end of the second season with SC Schiltigheim, and outline my plans for the next season, and assess the actual state of Julien’s career as it stands. As I did last season, I’ll also cover a little bit of French football in general so that you have an idea of the world we’re playing in. In the last update, Schiltigheim were sitting 3rd in the Championnat de France Amateur, but via – presumably – a rule that prevents two reserve teams being promoted to the Championnat National, we were set to be promoted if we could maintain our form. Julien had also adapted his tactics following the signing of Thierry Ambrose, and had begun to use a 4-2-3-1, again showing his tactical pragmatism and flexibility. Julien’s main objective as things stand is to get Schiltigheim promoted into the Championnat National, the league that SC Sedan Ardennes rejected Julien from, the 3rd level of French football. Schiltigheim continue to show appreciation for Julien’s loyalty.

After the last update, Julien lost his trusted scout Mbo Mpenza, as he was stolen by Beerschot-Wilrijk. As a result, Bertrand Tunica was signed to replace him, along with a few other staff upgrades for the club. Perhaps most importantly, Marco Rosenfelder signed a one year extension to his contract to remain at the Stade de l’Ar until 2019.

We only had 12 more games of the Championnat de France Amateur to play after the last update, so how did we finish? Did we manage to continue the good form we had going?