Another year goes by and there’s another version of Football Manager to get your teeth into. Football Manager 2012 is the best yet, offering slight tweaks and improvements over last season’s release. It is the most accessible FM game ever because they’ve added some tutorials for newcomers on top of the handy hint system. The best way to learn is to just to play the game, but a few extra hints are always welcome.
I’m a long term addict of Football Manager and so I thought I’d do a basic FM 2012 guide to help you get started.
Pick Your Team
Most people probably kick off by picking the team they support. As armchair managers it is great to be able to get control of the squad you follow and put all that frustrated advice you’ve shouted on the terraces or at the telly into effect. It is definitely easiest to start with a decent sized club to get the hang of the game. Delving into the lower leagues and building your way up is ultimately far more satisfying, but it means relying on your nose for a bargain, coping with limited resources and accepting the right tactics for your team. You might want to play a free flowing attractive passing game, but without the right squad it’s never going to work.
That brings us to our first tip – when you take over a team start off by assessing what you have. If it’s the team you support then the advantage is that you know the players and probably have an idea of the right formation. There’s no point in forcing a formation on your team that you don’t have the right players for. Playing a central midfielder as an anchor man in front of your defence or an attacking central midfielder as a winger isn’t a great idea. There will be times during the season where you might have to because of injury, but try to start off selecting formations that fit your squad.
Check you assistant manager’s team report and have a look at the players to see where you are short of cover. Remember to check out the reserves and youth team to see if there are any good players you can promote to the first team to provide cover at left back or wherever you need it. You ideally want at least two players to cover each position.
Setting a Formation
It’s really important to choose the right formations at the start because your team will learn your system through training and get better at playing within it on the field. If you keep changing your formation the players won’t give you their best. You can select three formations to train in and this allows you to easily switch between them during matches.
Think about the club’s stature and your best bet for success. For example, if you are Man City and you want to challenge for the title then you’ll want attacking formations. I went for 4-3-1-2, 4-2-3-1 and 4-4-2. The 4-3-1-2 formation was ideal for short passing through the middle and attacking heavily. It worked perfectly for home games. The 4-2-3-1 offered an alternative that brought wingers into play (you’ll want to rotate your squad if you can) and it was a little more defensive with two defensive midfielders to protect the back four. It was ideal for away games. I just included 4-4-2 as a back-up, but to be honest I think two formations are generally enough.
If you are a weaker side then you might want to go for a more defensive formation and play counter attack football or rely on a target man.
Obviously you will want some overall plan for tactics. You should decide on whether you will play the offside trap and stick to that, but most of the other settings must remain fluid depending on your opponent and you’ll often want to change things even during matches. Always check out the report on your next opponent from your scout (set a scout to do this if you don’t have one set up already). For best results you need to take advantage of any weaknesses or guard against the particular strengths of your next opponent.
I would also recommend setting individual roles for players. You can tweak everything manually or you can select by classic roles. Go into the Tactics screen and select Player Instructions. If you check the possible roles using the drop down menu you’ll see a blurb on what each role is about and even more usefully you’ll see the important attributes for each role highlighted on your player’s profile. Make sure the roles you choose for your players take best advantage of their attributes and you’ll get better performances on the field. This is a great way to learn about what attributes you need to fill your desired roles before you venture into the transfer market.
We’ll take a look at buying and selling players in FM 2012 in the next guide.