Football Manager 2017 training guide: 4 essential tips to get your squad fit and firing

We all know it’s one of the least-loved – but most important – jobs of the management sim. So Simon Harrison has some advice for managers trying to get the ball rolling at a new club

Fitness in the summer? Maybe not...

It seems to be a go-to for some players – probably those who don’t spend their time trawling through forums and articles, admittedly – but changing your match training focus to ‘Fitness’ actually has no bearing on your players’ match fitness heading into a new campaign.

Instead it works on the physical attributes of your players, such as their strength, and other focuses such as ‘Attacking’ or ‘Defensive’ have the same match fitness effect over the course of pre-season.

If your team wants to play possession football, it might be best to go with technical training, for example, or an attacking focus for teams based on scoring plenty of goals. What has to be held in mind, however, is that the outfield squad members all follow the same regime – so working on attacking prowess might have no effect on your back four.

‘Ball Control’ is a fairly happy medium to choose to enhance your squad’s technical ability. You have to make sure that you leave your training focus set for a few months to see a noticeable difference.

If you’re worried about relegation, perhaps opt for ‘Defending’. After a busy summer, a few weeks of setting the main general training focus to ‘Team Cohesion’ can work wonders too.

Focus on the individuals

It’s important to know what exactly your players are working on. If you like to have your wingers set to roam infield and act as inside forwards, with your supporting full-backs doing the bulk of the work in getting service into the box, having your wide men working on perfecting their game as pure wingers probably isn’t the way to go.

By heading into the ‘Individual’ tab on the Training page, you can quickly look through what role your players are set to. If you’d like added versatility in your squad, perhaps sift through the core stats of each individual to see if they have the potential to be trained competently in another position entirely.

It’s definitely best to have two players working on each role within your main tactic – you never know when the injuries may strike. As an example of trying something new, in the pictured example we’ve reset Esteban Granero’s training to focus on his role as a deep-lying forward. He is creative and technically brilliant, but his legs don’t lend themselves to being a midfield engine anymore – so perhaps a position with less defensive responsibility is best.

Encouraging players to learn certain individual traits is important too, as it can really have an impact on what they seek to do in your system. In our example we took Yuri, a left-back, and set him to run with the ball down the left. You can set new player traits either in the ‘Individual’ tab of Training, or alternatively by going onto the player’s profile and selecting Training from his 'Development' tab.

Our system depends on full-backs pushing on, and Yuri has strong crossing attributes if he can get into the right areas. For an additional focus, Dribbling would be a key area we’d look to improve in the future, but you must be wary about asking too much of your players on the training ground – they will start to moan (footballers, really?) and could pick up injuries.