FM19 being released was accompanied by massive changes to training. It had been often suggested, hugely debated and highly anticipated. Gone was the handful of options available for us to pick that we’d have to have on for at least three months for them to make an impact on player development but that we’d do once and just leave for the entirety of our saves. In their place came a whole host of options to pick and the ability to slot them into three sessions per day, rather than for the entire week as before.
Fast forward to now and a lot of what I’m seeing on Twitter and Slack is people saying they’re leaving it to their assistant, either completely, or tweaking from the suggestions made to them. Everyone is entitled to play the game however the hell they want to of course, but I wonder why, after all that expectation, that it’s not being utilised as much.
I don’t know the answer to that at all, mainly because I’m absolutely loving it. It’s one of my most visited screens in my save so far. As with everything else on the game, I don’t claim to know the ins and outs of how it works or how it’s supposed to work. All I can do is outline how I’ve been approaching it so far and the shift in my approach in my third season at Vitória.
For the first two seasons of my time at the club I was tweaking it almost on a weekly basis, depending on how I wanted to approach the upcoming match plus the general aspects I wanted to train the players in. This covered the majority of all of the new options available to us to pick from, but without much thought behind it. From this season, season three, I’ve started to adopt some of the principles of tactical periodisation in my approach.
The concept was developed at the University of Porto by the mind of lecturer, Vítor Frade. The simple explanation of the methodology is that everything in training should be related to in-game scenarios. These can be explained under defensive and offensive organisation, and the transition from defence to attack and vice versa. If you want to play a certain way in game situations, these must be done first on the training field.
The periodisation aspect stems from its repetition. Training follows a cyclical plan and each day of training is designed to follow those four in-game scenarios mentioned above. Football is unpredictable, but the repeated training of these actions is creating habits and eventually predictability is created.
I mentioned the methodology in my introductory post for the save. Two of its most well known adopters are José Mourinho and André Villas-Boas, and although both have suffered a bit of damage to their reputations in recent years, they have both successfully implemented its workings at various clubs across their careers. Brendan Rodgers and England rugby coach, Eddie Jones, are also known to adhere to the concept. How have I implemented it on FM19 though?
On Football Manager 2019
I felt it’d be good to try and base my training schedule on the game around tactical periodisation because it starts with the question of “how do you want your team to play?” It’s the million dollar question really. Who doesn’t want their side to be strong in defence, dangerous going forward and transitioning seamlessly between the two?
My attempt at Tactical Periodisation involves introducing a lot of the new module options that are available for us to pick now. I’ve tried to narrow in on ones I think are relevant to not just now I want us to play the game, but that will also aid player development. It’s important to keep in mind what each module does by checking out its description. Below is a typical example of a Tactical Periodisation training cycle.
And here’s how mine stacks up on the game in comparison. Instead of repeating the same cycle week after week, I’ve gone for a two week cycle that repeats throughout the season.
You’ll see straight away that there’s one difference in that there’s no days off for my players, however the post-match recovery days and pre-match “activation” days are less strenuous than the rest. The other thing to note is that with our participation in continental competition along with, at the time of writing, still being in both domestic cup competitions, this cycle is the ideal one. Very rarely does it actually play out like this week-on-week.
I did say I was just basing it around Tactical Periodisation rather than completely replicating because you can see the cycles both start off with sessions that aren’t based on a specific game moment. The overall session is almost a continuation of our recovery, just getting the players in, moving around and putting a little bit of work into every aspect of their games. Session two is a physical one, as that fits in to my overall managerial approach. I love players who have strong physical attributes.
Tuesday to Thursday is all about working on the key aspects of our game. Of course, in FM terms (looking at the descriptions of the modules) very few of these sessions have any impact at all on the upcoming match. However in non-FM terms I think it makes sense. I want us to be good at attacking down the wings, directly and to be patient when attacking, so I focus on those areas throughout the week. Similarly to defending. We need to be solid in defending wide areas and when our opponents have the ball on the deck. Both the offensive and defensive schedules train pressing, while we’re working on creating and taking chances one week, and restricting the oppositions chances in the other.
Looking through both the attacking and defensive cycles, I think, I’ve got all key aspects covered in terms of the breadth and focus on players training attributes. This is obviously key if we want our players to be working on improving and being the best they can be, in conjunction with the quality of our coaching staff and training facilities.
Going against the principles again, our pre-match prep isn’t the same in each cycle. I’ll vary this depending on our opponent and what I want to be working on. If it’s a tough away match coming up I’ll focus on our defensive shape while if it’s a home match we should be winning against a side who’ll sit in I want us to have a bit more of an attacking impetus.
Set pieces are a vital part of football nowadays. I don’t think it’ll be long before SI bring in set piece specific coaches like a few clubs have on their books now. When you have someone in your squad with the ability to deliver a set piece like we do, it would be stupid not to focus specific sessions on it. These sessions provide a potential boost for your upcoming match as well as generally training players on taking, and attributes related to being in the box. One oversight is that I’m not currently focusing on free kicks, only corners. That will change going forward.
The beauty of Football Manager means I’m not entirely sure! I’ve set up this way because I was interested in the Tactical Periodisation methodology after reading about it in the European Game and wanted to see how could be applied on the game. I’m hoping it’ll work well for us. Someone else playing the game might be setting up training in a completely different way and be finding much more success than me. I said at the beginning that some aren’t even paying attention to training and are still very successful.
As with anything, you get out what you put in. I’m absolutely loving the changes to how it’s set up this year, it’s probably one of my favourite parts of the game now. I spend a lot of time on the screens ensuring that everything is set up correctly for the month ahead. If you haven’t given it a shot yet, have a bash. You might enjoy it too.
If you want to know more about Tactical Periodisation then here’s some links off to more content to read. There’s much more to it than I’ve outlined in the piece.
The Porto chapter of the European Game