I am a huge football manager fan and has been since more than 20 years ago when I was first introduced to it back in my early high school days from a classmate playing at his home. Each year, I would eagerly await for its latest version with all the new transfers and features. It was an escape from my real banking world.
The 2019 version is out recently and I have been trying to find an interesting team to play.
It is always interesting to find a team that you can develop (a group of youngsters or new players) to punch above their weights and have some resources but not so much that you can just easily beat everyone else (which in modern day football appears difficult anyways).
To start with, I compared the wage budgets of some of the top teams in Europe. Soccernomics discussed that wages is actually a good predictor for how well teams do.
It is interesting to note some Premier League (PL) teams such as Everton, West Ham and Leicester (not displayed above) actually have similar wage budgets as Roma, Napoli and Dortmund. Of course, the big 6 in PL meant getting into the Champions League is still very difficult for these PL clubs despite having similar budgets already.
But I still enjoy playing with these PL teams because it means on paper, I should be able to build at least a team that can challenge with the best in Europe given the budget. If you use a team with limited budget, it gets boring after a couple of seasons because you will always stay in the middle of the table. And unlike real life, you do not get paid doing it so you end up quitting and starting a new game anyway.
So my first suggestion is to pick a team like Everton, West Ham or Leicester and see if you can take them to the Champions League because with the budget you have, you can probably do more than that.
Another interesting point is that in the game, the Spanish First Division has a higher reputation than the English Premier Division, which is presumably due to Real Madrid having dominated the Champions League in the last 3 years. Strong competition within the PL may have prevented English teams from doing well in the CL.
When I was playing as a top English team, I realised I probably need to build 2 good first team of 11 to compete both domestically and in Europe. Theoretically, this actually makes sense in a way because the top teams have almost double the budget than the mid-tier teams mentioned above anyway. In reality though, you end up paying a significant portion of your budget to the really top players. The really top players maybe the difference in the key games against the top teams in Europe but building a consistently above average squad maybe the key to doing well in the league so there is some sort of balancing between the two.
Another point to wonder is what if one team started spending 7–8m? Could this team just completely dominate or is there some sort of plateau after the 4–5m mark?
Another way to find a team is to find the teams that are outperforming in real life and see if you can replicate their success or more in the game. Again, I have made a list below.
Both La Liga and Ligue 1 have quite a number of teams doing well above expectations this season so far so could be interesting teams to consider.
Scouting range is a really interesting metric, which I look for in a club. This effectively is the number of players that will show up on your list when you do a player search so having a high range is important. This is a part of the game I really enjoy because it is always fun to find a gem on the cheap (the fundamental idea of investment!).
That said, the game also taught me only actual performance matters not the stars or attributes of the players. Once, I had a winger that had <10 in vision and around 10 in passing but he had a lot of assists in my game, which I think is because of his pace, work rate and mentality. So the things we immediately relate to assists might not necessarily translate. This also made me aware of my own biases.
Therefore, it is probably useful to focus on training but I don’t enjoy it and usually just leave to the coaches. I do some tactics as well but I usually just play a boring 4231 or 433 with some tweaks to the player roles.
Anyway, here is a list I did based on the scouting range.
Monaco is always an interesting team because of its scouting range. It is the key to identifying gems that perform and then resell them at higher value. In that respect, Frankfurt and Lille are interesting too.
The scouting range is improved by hiring scouts or even coaches with knowledge of many different countries.
When I first started, I used to only hire scouts based on their judging knowledge but now I mainly focus on their country knowledge instead. You only need 1 or 2 scouts with high judging knowledge to give you second opinion.
To analyse in a bit more details, I divided the scouting range by the recruiting team to see the efficiency.
Frankfurt is by far the most efficient. In fact, most of the top ranked are German teams while the Italian teams are at the bottom. The Italian teams mainly have scouts that have knowledge in Italy.
An interesting observation is Sevilla, which is supposedly know for its shrewd transfer operations but is at the bottom of both lists.
Finally, I would say players agents and their relationships with the club owners and managers/director of football have really big impact on the transfer activities of the club, which is something that I think the FM franchise can continue to improve on.