My under 24 years of age signing policy means that the vast majority of players I have on the RBL books will be promising ones that can still be developed and nurtured. Here’s my thoughts on how I’ll be interpreting things in-game.
Before I do that, I just wanted this awesome header for the save, that James @FMPressure has created for me, to make its debut. James also wrote a great piece on his own approach to training, so if you haven’t already, give that a read once you’re done here!
For the first half of the season, I had our team training set to team cohesion. It’s defined in-game as ‘focusing on improving overall team cohesion and understanding.’ It’s generally recommended to focus on team cohesion at the start of the season, as new signings can drop the level of cohesion or it’s just dropped naturally from the summer (or winter) break. Focusing on team cohesion will give new players the chance to bond with the rest of the squad, and also just generally ensure that morale is high amongst the squad.
My main reason behind focusing on team cohesion was to get the squad gelling. I wanted our players to be at one with another on the pitch, and have complete understanding. I think judging by some of the results in the first half of the season, and in particular, some of our general play, it’s really paid off. It was a joy to behold at times!
Moving into the second half of the season, I’ve kept team cohesion active for a couple of weeks after the winter break, just to give the team a chance to blow away some of the cobwebs. Spoiler alert, but there wasn’t much January transfer window activity, so there wasn’t a necessity to bed any new signings in. For the remainder of the season, I’ve switched to balanced team training. While the other options for team training upweight the focus onto certain attributes, balanced doesn’t. It’s more of a general focus, a little bit of everything.
With no European football in my first season in charge, I currently have the below set up in terms of general versus match training. As far as I’m aware, match training gives you a bit of a boost in the upcoming match depending on what you select. For the most part of the first half of the season, my match training has been on match tactics or teamwork. My default is always to give the players a rest after the match. If there’s a period where we’ve got a tough run of fixtures in a short space of time, or if we’re in Europe in the future, having more rest days becomes more prevalent for me.
Now on to my choices for individual training. I’m a big fan of putting players on what I’m calling more ‘generic’ role routines. The roles I class under this are the ones that train a wide variety of attributes, such as complete forward, roaming playmaker, wide midfielder or complete wing back.
This isn’t to say all players get put onto these generic role routines, it’s my preference to pick and choose who does. It’s more likely to be players that I believe have a lot more potential to improve further than others, i.e. Oliver Burke, Timo Werner or Naby Keita definitely fall into this category.
I assessed each individual player at the beginning of the season to determine whether I’d be putting them onto a generic role routine. Once we returned from the winter break, every player on a generic role routine was then assessed again to determine whether they’d remain on that routine, whether they’d combine their routine with working closely on an individual attribute, or whether they’d solely work on improving an individual attribute.
Players who weren’t put onto a generic role routine at the beginning of the season were assessed on whether they needed extra work on an individual attribute, or whether I’d choose to not to have them focus on any additional training at that point. This was also reassessed after the winter break. To summarise…
For me, game time is the most important aspect in my plan. Something I’ve carried over from FM16 is the appearance of minutes played in my default team view.
This allows me to easily see how many minutes of action my players are getting at a glance. Who deserves more game time? Who needs more time on the pitch to develop? Is more rotation needed? Are we potentially lacking in a decent fringe option to come in and play a certain position? Gaining the balance between winning, finding my best starting 11, giving fringe players minutes to stop them becoming unhappy and finding the opportunity to give promising youngsters a chance is the constant battle we face in-game.
All of these choices and factors come down to this.
It’s not major, but it’s just a sneak peek at Oli Burke’s improvement so far this season. He’s been on the wide midfielder role routine, and has got a fair bit of game time under his belt. Any changes or shifts, no matter how small, will improve us as a team. Whether that’s primarily due to improved individual performances on the pitch, or whether it’s secondarily by us making a significant sum of money down the line from selling players on.
One thing I haven’t mentioned is tutoring. I know quite a few other FMers swear by it, and fully recommend it. Due to my desire of only bringing in players 24 years old or younger, and my aim to develop them, give them game time, and most probably, sell them on, tutoring won’t be coming into my thinking.
I’m hoping to give you an insight into players individual development a bit closer to the end of the season. Thanks for reading!