Football Manager 2017 tips: how to master the new game

Want to know how to reign supreme in the latest edition of Sports Interactive's virtual management sim? Valentin Macovei provides the lowdown on how to get the edge over your rival bosses

Take Formula 1, football or any other sport and you’ll find the same principles behind the progress of geniuses. The brightest minds have always used historical data to improve; it’s all about comparing stats, settings, footage and spotting those really important details that your competitiors may miss.

Things are no different in Football Manager 2017 – devising the best tactics requires attention to detail and an analytical mindset – not to mention an awful lot of patience.

Closely monitor what’s going on

However you decide to set your team up, it's essential to have a clear game plan and style of play in mind

You may choose to start the game with a default tactic, perhaps one you enjoyed success with in previous versions of Football Manager. However you decide to set your team up, it's essential to have a clear game plan and style of play in mind.

We recommend you use the following match settings to keep a close on eye on proceedings: 2D camera, comprehensive highlights and maximum 75% match Speed during highlights. Constantly monitor body language, physical Condition and morale – either by opening the respective widgets or by regularly clicking on the Team Talk button.

Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardiola

Fancy yourself as the next Mourinho or Guardiola? You can prove it on FM17

During games, make sure to pause, rewind and check out…

 

What to keep an eye on during matches

  • How your players are positioned immediately after losing possession – in different situations and areas of the pitc

  • How your players react after losing the ball – where you might be outnumbered

  • How good your defenders are at anticipating and positioning themselves for the offside trap

  • If the distance between compartments (defence, midfield and attack) is as you intended
  • If the player on the ball has good passing options – such as a free man, someone trying to beat the offside trap, someone coming short or someone waiting for a cross
  • If your players are often caught on their weak foot when finding themselves in a good crossing or finishing situation
  • Spot where and how your attacks end and how the opposition penetrates your defence

  • Figure out whether crosses fail to reach the target due to the passer’s poor ability to deliver them, or because of the receiver’s poor anticipation, strength, quickness or aerial reach


You'll know what you have to do after inspecting these situations. The tweaks are pretty intuitive: for example, if you notice that the distance between players is much bigger then you want it to be, you should adjust the team shape and width on the Team Instructions panel and the individual player role (defend, support or ttack). Use common sense and the game will respond.

Post-match analysis tips

Individual stats reveal things the human eye might not be able to pick up - even if you're watching the full 90 minutes of a match

Team stats can be useful but they'll only ever tell you the basic information. Individual stats, conversely, reveal things the human eye might not be able to pick up - even if you're watching the full 90 minutes of a match. Inspecting these deconstructed pieces of data can help to reveal incredibly efficient solutions.

Individual stats can be useful:

  • When a player is getting low ratings, his stats help you to identify the source of the problem – you could then decide to adjust tactics, drop the player, use him in another position or train him in a particular area

  • To check whether your best crossers have had the chance to send enough deliveries – and if any of your players who can’t cross are getting the chance to cross too often

  • To find out if your passing directness is helping or damaging your play – too short could result in loads of passes but not many chances, whereas too direct could lead to a very low accuracy and several costly mistakes

  • To discover how efficient and involved your defensive players are by inspecting and comparing interceptions made, tackles (attempts, key, won), mistakes, headers won etc.

  • To monitor if your full-backs are sending as many crosses as you'd like

Vital advice

Remember to inspect the pre-match and post-match reports you receive from the chief data analyst and chief scout

Here are our final bits of advice:

  • The mentality setting is often misunderstood. Consider control and attacking as counter-attacking, and defensive and counter as possession football. It may sound counter-intuitive, but that's how it works

  • Remember to inspect the pre-match and post-match reports you receive from the chief data analyst and chief scout

  • Don’t expect all your players to get a high rating in every game, even if you’re on to a winning streak. From a tactical point of view, you'll most likely have at least two or three players who rank below below the team's average – this simphows the sacrifice some individuals have made to help the team function better collectively

  • When nothing seems to make sense, ask yourself the most basic questions: why are we conceding? Why can’t we score? Who loses the most balls? Have we got a decent set-piece taker? How often is the playmaker sending killer balls? Is my goalkeeper any good?

  • Don’t try to fix everything as you might end up harming what's good about your side. Remember, take it one step at a time and undo any changes that don't bear fruit.

Experience cannot be bought nor learned – it’s priceless. Practice makes perfect, and don't expect to master everything immediately. Keep hard at it and soon you'll be able to mix it with the best tacticians in the game.

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