To put it simply, FIFA purists will never understand the levels of detail that Football Manager delves into to make your experience of managing a football club as intricate as possible. FM players are knee deep in research, data, analysis and strategy from the very first day. You can spend your hours at work daydreaming about the benefits of playing a holding midfielder for your next away game against the league leaders, or find yourself scribbling notes frantically during work meetings on possible transfer targets for the upcoming summer window. I, myself, am guilty of this (an ex-colleague was unimpressed when she stopped a meeting to find I’d written “Fati” in my notepad, thinking it was an insult aimed at her rather than the Barcelona wonderkid) but did it stop me playing? Absolutely not.
Before getting to the stage where FM becomes all you can think about, however, you need to master the basics. The aim of this guide is to familiarise yourself with the main features of Football Manager 2020, to prepare you for your first season in management and to make the game as quick and free flowing as possible. There are aspects of the game that won’t be mentioned (such as staff roles and training), but this can be worked on at a later date. Maybe you’ve been away from Football Manager for too long and are looking for a way back in. Maybe you’re a total newcomer who dreams of taking your local team to Champions League glory for the first time. Either way, here is the complete beginner’s guide to Football Manager 2020.
1. Game Modes
2. Your First Day
4. The Squad
As you load up the game for the first time, you will come to the Menu screen. This is where you will need to decide what type of game you want to play. Here is a brief overview:
Career – Choose the league(s) you want to manage in and then select a team to manage to begin your career. You can choose more than one league if you plan on moving clubs at a later date, or want to see how other leagues are faring in detail.
Fantasy Draft – Create a Fantasy Draft for you and your friends. Take it in turns to choose the best players and then begin your own mini league/tournament.
Online Career – A social game mode like Fantasy Draft. Create a Career Mode on the online server, invite your friends to join and start your management journey together.
Create-A-Club – If the newly formed Inter Miami CF has given you creative inspiration then Create-A-Club will be for you. Create everything from club colours to players, and lead your new team to glory.
Start by clicking ‘Career’ and choosing the team you want to manage. You can select ‘Quick Start’ to save some time, but if you want to select exactly what leagues you are able to view in detail, or leagues you want to manage in in future, select ‘Advanced Setup’. You will then need to create a Manager Profile, select your manager’s attributes (the lower the attributes, the greater the challenge) and you are ready to start!
Your First Day
Okay, you made it. Your interview went well and you got the gig. However, looking at this home screen for the first time can be a lot to take in. This screen is your inbox, where you get the latest news from the media and your staff. The messages in red are urgent and need answering, but we will do that later. For now, click the ‘Staff’ button on the sidebar.
On the Staff page, under Responsibilities, you can delegate jobs to your assistant or coaches to make the initial start to the game quicker and more efficient. Personally, I like to delegate friendlies in the first pre-season to my assistant. You may also choose to delegate team talks and media responsibilities as they can be fairly time consuming, but that’s up to you.
So, the shortcuts are done and jobs have been delegated. Now, let’s head back to our inbox (click ‘Inbox’ on the sidebar) to look at what our targets are for the season ahead. A lot of these targets will be non-negotiable so it’s usually best to accept the current vision that the board offers you (of course for Manchester United, a major focus is commercial revenue. Thanks, Ed Woodward. Thanks a lot.)
You will be judged on a monthly basis in areas such as transfers and results, all relating back to these end of season targets that the board expect you to achieve. Keep these targets in the back of your mind as you are playing.
Next up, we’ll need to focus on tactics, choosing the tactic we want to use and looking at the squad we are working with.
We’ve taken our first steps into management by delegating some responsibilities to make the game flow much quicker, as well as identifying our targets for the season. Now that we have done this, we can focus on our tactics, our squad and of course the most satisfying part of the game to some – transfers. For now, head back to your inbox and take the Tactics Induction. This will help you understand the style of play you want to implement and the formation that will best compliment your players.
As you take the induction, your assistant will recommend the tactical style and formation that would work best with the squad you have. Will you be the next Pep, Klopp or Allardyce? All have their merits. As you can see, each position has an individual role that influences what they do on the pitch. For example, a Ball Playing Defender is much more likely to want to pass the ball around the back four than a No-Nonsense Centre Back, who will be more than happy hoofing a 70-yard clearance no matter what level of danger he finds himself in. You can edit these player roles even after you have chosen a tactical style style and formation, so choose wisely.
The last thing to consider when setting up your ideal tactic is your players’ ability to fit into your new formation. Players who are a natural in a position and role will show up with a fully green circle. Players in yellow will not be entirely comfortable performing in that role. Take Anthony Martial, for instance (pictured). In the Gegenpress 4-1-4-1, it assigns him as a Pressing Forward, someone to chase balls down energetically like a young Jamie Vardy. As you can see, he is more suited to the role of Advanced Forward, so you decide if you want to sacrifice the player’s ability to play his best football for the sake of your formation, or adapt slightly to fit the player.
Clicking ‘Squad’ on the sidebar will take you to the page where you can view your players along with details such as their value, contract, morale and condition. You can change what information you want to view by clicking the drop-down button next to ‘Players’ near the top of the screen. In addition, clicking ‘Filter’ at the top right of the screen gives you the chance to view specific parts of your squad, as well as hiding players who are currently out on loan at another club.
You can use the squad screen to click on individual players and view their attributes and general information. From here, you are able to transfer list players, offer them to other clubs, look at coach reports on their ability and see how long they currently have remaining on their contract. Looking at a player’s attributes, it is easy to see what parts of their game they excel in as the number is a different colour to the rest (in this case, bright green). By clicking ‘Show recent attribute changes’, you can see how their attributes rise or fall during their weekly training. I always keep this box ticked – it’s incredibly satisfying to see your 17 year-old wonderkid striker’s Finishing attribute rise all the way to 20 as his value skyrockets and the vultures (PSG) start circling and showing their interest.
Here we are then, the main event. Possibly my favourite part of the FM game – transfers. Two sections of the sidebar are important for this: ‘Scouting’ and ‘Transfers’.
Under the Scouting section, you will receive a list of players who have been scouted by your scouting department, along with their recommendation out of 5 stars. This can be especially useful in unearthing talent that you haven’t spotted yet, so keep an eye on this and check their recommendations regularly. If you click the ‘Players’ dropdown button and select ‘Player Search’, you are now able to view a list of all known players in the game and can search by position, age or player role when starting a new search. To make a bid for a player, just right click on their name and the rest is fairly self-explanatory. You can ‘suggest’ the fee you want to pay for a player when you are making a bid. By clicking on ‘Suggest Terms’ you can negotiate in the moment, rather than have a tedious exchange of emails before you agree a price for a player.
Under the ‘Transfers’ section, you can view the current transfer activity that is taking place in your squad. You are able to view clubs’ bids for your players where you can choose to accept, stall or reject. You can also view the players you have made formal approaches for. These events will be sent to your inbox, but it is good to use this page to see an overview of what is happening regarding transfers. In addition, you are able to view the available transfer and wage budget you have remaining to allow you to plan your team accordingly.
And at last, you are ready to continue your Football Manager 2020 journey! You’ve been through the whole beginner’s guide to Football Manager 2020. As mentioned previously, there are still more complex areas such as training, hiring/firing staff to master. But, with the FM inductions now implemented into the game, you can get in-game help to expand your control over all aspects of your club. Glory awaits.
Full time Teacher, full time Football Manager enthusiast.