Fm 2014 Scouting Assignments

How to Increase The Scouting Knowledge in Football Manager by An Efficient Scouting Network

In part 2 of our series, where we are delving into how to master the art of Football Manager Scouting, the time has come to utilize the Football Manager scouting network in order to improve world knowledge.

In the world of any Football Manager career, scouting is and should be at every manager’s core. The ability to create a reliable and efficient network of scouts is highly probable to decide your fate as a top manager or a failure. It doesn’t matter whether you rely solely on your youth products, find bright talents for the future or buy established players. It doesn’t matter whether you are Wigan, AFC Ajax, Boca Juniors or Hajduk Split.

You will need a good scouting program in order to succeed. Our aim is to make you one step closer to be able to set up an worldwide efficient scouting network who have comprehensive knowledge of all parts of the world and who updates you on the most promising talents before everyone else!

With the improvements to scouting in Football Manager 2015, the importance of increasing the clubs scouting knowledge in Football Manager is as important as ever. By taking advantage of the marvelous tips below, you will be able to set up an efficient scouting network in Football Manager. The questions we like to answer is how to increase the world knowledge with the help of the best Football Manager scouts and set a plan to utilizing the clubs Football Manager scouting network.

The main aim of setting up a network of scouts is to rapidly gain broad scouting knowledge in order to track down the best talents and 5 star regens as soon as they come through in a long term save, or simply let the fog of war disappear bit by bit. The fun of improving the clubs world knowledge will be to delve into every corner of the earth, from Asia in east to Panama in west, Norway in north to South Africa in south.

On the road to 100% world knowledge, if it’s doable at all(!), you will need to sort through thousands of scout reports on potential new signings, monitor and setup scouting assignments which let’s you find the best transfer targets for your playing style and transfer budget.


In order to build from the knowledge from part 1, where we looked at how to find the best scouts, the next step will focus on configuring a world efficient scouting network with the help of excellent scouts. As you may remember, we handed you 3 different scouting roles, who will become vital when setting up a successful scouting network and finally increase the clubs world knowledge. With different responsibilities and tasks they will require different key attributes. Below we will bring it all together.

Note!
The tips and recommendations we shared in part 1 and which we will continue on here, will be based on my personal experiences on how I set up an efficient scouting network, and how I get the best results in finding players for all over the world for my teams; being able to snap up the best talent in the world before everyone else.


READ MORE | Football Manager 2016 Newgens Dates – The Annual Youth Intake


What is the Fog of War? The Benefits of Improving World Scouting Knowledge

The Football Manager Player attribute masking, otherwise known as the fog of war in FM Handheld series, is a concept where player information such as player attributes and hidden attributes – each players strength and weaknesses, their positional abilities and contract clauses are invisible to the human manager, amongst other important aspects of his player profile.

With the Football Manager player attribute masking enabled you will not know everything about the players or backroom staffs from outside leagues / nations you have not knowledge of, while everything will be visible once it’s ticked (apart from current and potential ability star rating or a more detailed scout report).

With the new Football Manager 2015 ranged player attributes the knowledge level within the game have become even more realistic, as FM assumes a manager of the current level of experience and age will not necessarily know everything about every player in the world.

When starting a normal Football Manager save, there will be a limited amount of nations (players, backroom staff, AI Managers, clubs or leagues) you have knowledge of. Which nations your current club has knowledge of can be discovered under ScoutingKnowledge as seen in the screenshot below.

The level of the clubs world scouting knowledge will provide you with more details about the game. There are many benefits of improving the world scouting knowledge – the most important aspects is highlighted below;

  1. increase the amount of “All Known Players or Staff”. The pool of players and backroom staff when doing a filtered search will increase, giving you the answer to why some backroom staff or players are not visible in a team. For example choosing a database size of 50,000 players you may not have more than 20% of that number visible when starting a new save.
  2. with more players you have some percentage of knowledge about, you will automatically increase the amount of transfer targets or the pool of players who may improve the current squad depth.
  3. without 100% knowledge on a player this information will not be accurate or visible;
    • get accurate player attributes or discover hidden attributes
    • natural positional abilities
    • current happiness and short term plans
    • track his current form
    • discover contract clauses or potential asking price
    • player preferred moves
    • current and potential ability star rating
    • Note! Potential ability (division) is calculated at the last percentage before the scout report with pros and cons is complete (from 99% to 100%)
  4. With more information available about each clubs’ players you will get the required information to setup opposition instructions and analyze the opposition teams strength and weaknesses.
  5. With none or less knowledge of a particular nation you will not be able to get more in-depth information about the teams in that country (for example full squad lists, which may be proficient when your team plays continental tournaments such as Euro Cup or UEFA Champions league.
  6. With 100% knowledge of a nation you are more likely to get regens from that specific country in the yearly youth intake – of course depending on the level of youth recruitment and the skills, personality and preferences of the backroom staff responsible for youth recruitment – normally managed by the Football Manager staff role head of youth development.
    You can read more about how to get a better youth intake, with the aim of getting better regens, here.

In general, no matter which league you play in or the level of clubs knowledge it’s vital to try to maximize it in order to broaden your world knowledge; the depth in every nations. As you saw above, there are many benefits of always looking to increase your scouting knowledge. Below we will take a closer look on how you can increase the scouting knowledge with the help of setting up a scouting network.

How to Increase Scouting Knowledge

You can increase your Football Manager scouting knowledge easily by;

1) being sly and creative enough to choose a home nation and a secondary nation which is different from the nation of the managing club, such as choosing the nationality of Brazil and secondary nationality to Italian, when managing in Spain, in your manager profile. This means that you will already have an average knowledge of at least three different nations.

2) broaden your clubs team of backroom staff with coaching staff and administrative staff from different parts of the world, such as hiring youth coaches, coaches or assistant manager with scouting knowledge from different nations and regions.

3) by making a boardroom request to increase the amount of affiliated clubs. Your clubs feeder and parent clubs will let you have complete knowledge of a nation. Feeder and parent clubs will not only add depth to the level of nation knowledge but also be useful when the annual youth intake happens, increasing the chance of getting regens from feeder club nation.

4) and finally, the main core of this article, by setting up a team of scouts and send them out to all the different parts of the world; increasing your scouting knowledge with an efficient scouting network.


Increasing Scouting Knowledge by Scouting Regions

How you setup your scouting network will be based on many factors. Your network should be as expansive as possible. In order to expand your knowledge, it’s worthy to learn more about regional scouting. It is one of the simplest and greatest way to quickly give you tremendous results on many players and increase the clubs world scouting knowledge rapidly.

As you might’ve experienced from reading part 1 of our Football Manager Scouting guides How to find the best scouts, we introduced you to the term Roaming scouts and what they require. You will now experience how we take advantages of the regional or roaming scouts to both increase scouting knowledge and find the “hidden wonderkids” and bargains from all over the world in Football Manager!

Which Areas of The World / Nations Are Proficient to scout?

Before you start setting up scout assignments and take advantage of your highly efficient scouting network, it is important to set yourself as responsible for setting up the assignments. You can do that in the staff responsibilities screen found under main tab Staff. Then let your chief scout be responsible for delivering the scout reports and update you on the recommended players found.

Which regions you are allowed to send your scouts to, can be found in the overview section of the clubs boardroom. This is usually divided between being able to:

  1. Scout the entire world – no restrictions
  2. Scout the continent you’re on
  3. Scout the region you’re in
  4. Scout the country you’re in

Most often a lower league club or a minor club will only be allowed to scout their own region, for example UK and Ireland.

Recommended Regions to Scout

Football Manager comes with 20 regions as seen in our overview of the Football Manager scouting regions. You might immediately wonder where should I start my hunt for the best players for my team? How shall I set up the best assignments to increase the pool of players and more important the players level of potential?

Based on the article about scouting regions and nations youth rating (linked to above) we will build on this knowledge on the current guide. There you will discover each nations average level of quality regen production according to which nations who have the best youth ration – literally it determines the preferred scouting order of each nations / regions.

In the end will the list let you get more substance to why you should scout the different regions and nations; why it’s useful to have 100% or complete knowledge in that country.

There are huge difference between the 20 regions: Some are bigger and more demanding, some are fairly small and involve a little amount of countries like Southern Europe, while others are huge and more comprehensive like Eastern Europe which is made of as many as 22(!) different nations. Of course this will require more scouts assigned to this part of the world than North America.

The regions are divided as follows:

  • Central Europe
  • Eastern Europe
  • Southern Europe
  • UK & Ireland
  • Scandinavia
  • South America
  • Central America
  • North America
  • Caribbean
  • Oceania
  • Middle East
  • North Africa
  • East Africa
  • Central Africa
  • Western Africa
  • Southern Africa
  • South Asia
  • Southeast Asia
  • East Asia
  • Central Asia
Recommended Scouting Priority

Your order of setting up assignment for the different scouting regions is important as well. There are several things you will have to consider when choosing the order and priority;


Your priorities in terms of assignments will also influence which scouts you target, as you want scouts who complement each others scouting knowledge.

1. Where is the managing club located in the world?
Scouting your local region should be your first priority, as it is the cheapest option to find new players and increase scouting knowledge of countries close to your club to improve youth intakes. For example if you manage in England you should focus on UK & Ireland and if you manage in Mexico you should focus on North America as your first priority.

2. How many scouts are you allowed to have?
This is easily done by checking the staff box in the boardroom section. Since you always have a limited amount of scouts – depending on your finances and club reputation – the order of region priority should be considered. As most Football Manager players manage in Europe. Here is the region priority list you should consider:

1. Whichever region of Europe you are managing in, for example Central Europe if managing in France.
2. All the other regions in Europe: (But in this order)

    A. Central Europe
    B. Southern Europe
    C. Eastern Europe
    D. UK and Ireland
    E. Scandinavia

3. South America
4. North America
5. North Africa
6. Central America
7. Western Africa
8. Middle East
9. Southern Africa
10. East Africa
11. Central Africa
12. Oceania
13. East Asia
14. Southeast Asia
15. South Asia
16. Central Asia
17. Carribbean

This means you should assign your scouts according to this recommendation, until you hit the maximum allowed by your board. It may seem futile to scout the entire world and regions such as Central Asia, but please consider it. The regen production in the game is highly unpredictable, you never know when you spot a gem of a player somewhere you never thought of. This has happened to me several times with world beaters from Saudi Arabia for example. In addition, don’t underestimate the value of scouting knowledge and what it delivers in terms of youth intakes.

The list of priority is given, because it is difficult to maximize the amount of scouts. Clubs usually start with 5-9 allowed in the beginning, where the top clubs usually can have 11-14 when you start the game. For LLM the amount of scouts can be 1-3, so there is often little to work with. That’s why the region roaming scouting is the best way to accumulate massive amounts of reports on players you might choose to sign.

Now, when deciding whom to scout regions you should look at their current knowledge of nation(s). If you see that he already has good knowledge of several countries in a region, you might want to send him there, so that he adapts more quickly and uses less time to get maximum knowledge of the countries involved. What attributes to consider in a scout to get the maximum out of them is already covered in part 1. When you choose the desired region(s) you have options on how the scout should filter the results. My recommendation is to set the scout to find you players with at least 3 star potential, but this of course is up to you to decide – of course depending on your squads average of ability / potential.

Below we will hand you two different approaches used to improve world knowledge by setting up scouting assignments. What you prefer may depend on the scouting restrictions and the playing level of your club.

Approach 1: Scouting Regions

This approach may be beneficial for a club with no restrictions, but it will give you some tips on how a well organized network should look like. Below you can see the 20 scouts I have and their attributes, their scouting regions and my current amount of knowledge of regions and countries. You will notice that it takes four screenshots to cover my complete scouting knowledge. The best thing about this, is that it expands every day!

The basic idea is to send one scout out to each scouting region letting them roam the areas for the best players. You will then need 20 roaming scouts with excellent adaptability and determination.

As you also can easily notice – some regions have low amounts of knowledge, in this example South America and Eastern Europe, arguably the two biggest regions in the game. Those are incredibly difficult to get a full knowledge of and I have never achieved it. Personally, I love having massive regional knowledge and whenever I get more then 20 scouts allowed, I tend to double up on assignments in regions I have poor knowledge of.

    An Example to Roaming Scouting

    Let’s say you’re Swansea. You can scout the entire globe, but only have 9 scouts at your disposal. How do you distribute them?

    My recommendations is to always have at least one in every region of the world, until you reach the maximum allowed 20, where all of them is scouting in each specific region.
    But, in the start, with only 9 scouts, start with Europe. The entire continent covers 5 regions: Central, Eastern- and Southern Europe, as well as Scandinavia and UK & Ireland.

    My personal recommendation is to always focus on Europe first, then expanding across continents if you have more than 5 scouts. With four position left to distribute you can look closer to a more obvious choice as America and more specifically South America, where proficient nations are Brazil, Argentina, Colombia and Uruguay.
    There may not be a better talent production line than South America, so having a complete Scouting knowledge of Brazil and Argentina can be favorable.

    In Central and North America, your program will benefit from knowledge of Mexico and USA which should not be underestimated, as a lot of talent comes from there. After Europe and America, I usually tend to start scouting Africa, and every regions there. My personal recommendation would be to start with North Africa, as a lot of good regens tend to originate there.

    Your scouting network should now be thriving, as it’s enveloping half the world, with reports storming in from Europe, Africa and the Americas. Your board decides to grant you even more scouts.

    You should then finish of your hunt for a comprehensive scouting knowledge by setting up one staff to cover Middle East and then every region in Asia. You’ve now covered every region of the world except Oceania and Caribbean, where you should put the last two scouts you get.

Approach 2: Scouting Regional Areas of the Best Nations With Highest Youth Rating

The second approach is one that I personally use from save to save as I find it highly beneficial to track down the best players. The basic idea is to get 100% knowledge on the top nations in the world – those who produce regens with higher average quality (CA / PA), looking to scout regional areas of 2-5 nations (depending on size).

The setup I use – and the scouts’ nation knowledge I target is:

  1. 1 x Next Opposition Scout (normally chief scout with high JPA / JPP.
    The next opposition scout / chief scout will scout the nation I’m in and the border countries.
    For example if managing in England, the chief scout will scout teams in England and the region of UK & Ireland such as Scotland and Ireland.
  2. If scout number 2 is from Holland, he will scout the Benelux region; Holland, Belgium in additional to France.
  3. If scout number 3 is from Denmark, he will scout Scandinavia (Denmark, Norway, Sweden) to pick up bargains there
  4. If scout number 4 is from Germany, he will scout that nation pluss Switzerland, Austria and Poland.
  5. If scout number 5 is from Spain, he will scout that nation pluss Portugal and perhaps Morocco and Algeria
  6. The scout from Italy will focus on that nation pluss Croatia and Serbia
  7. Then I target a scout with knowledge of Brazil, who will roam that nation pluss Paraguay and Uruguay.
  8. The scout with knowledge of Argentina will scout that nation pluss Chile and Peru
  9. If there are available scouts left, they will focus on regions, for example a scout with high adaptability will scout the region of Eastern Europe, one will scout Mexico, Colombia and USA, while another might scout Russia, Ukraine and Bulgaria.

I use the Google Maps in the process of setting up the scouting assignments in order to let scouts travel as short distances as possible between each nations according to their current world knowledge for the scouts with “average” adaptability and determination.

I feel splitting up a big region such as Eastern Europe or America at 3-4 different scouts let’s me increase scouting knowledge faster than one scout for that particular region, as scouts have to re-visit the nations in order to keep them 100%. By using this method it might be impossible to reach 100% world knowledge (as you would need over 24 scouts to fully gain broad world knowledge), and you might miss out from some amazing regens / newgens, but at least you keeps track of the top nations.


It’s also vital to remember that whenever the annual youth intake date arrives, new regen coming through to the different nations and leagues, the scouting knowledge will of course drop for those nations only covered by your scouts knowledge of nations. You will then need to re-visit these leagues to retain its current knowledge or increase it to complete, once again. You can find our list of Football Manager 2015 regen dates here.

This list is vital in terms of snatching up the best regens as quickly as possible, sometimes making you able to offer new wonderkids a contract before they have signed a professional contract with their current club. By approaching them early, you can save a lot of money both in wages and transfer fee. But do notice that youth talents with much potential will demand more wages than regular youth players with decent potential.


How to setup your scouting Network – a Summary

When deciding your scouting network program, which can be scouting for youth talents only, first team players who can add depth to your squad, or both options, it is important to think about which regions you’re looking to assign your excellent scouts to. Your network should be a setup of the best roaming scouts there are, with knowledge of different nations and parts of the world. Depending on the amount of scouts allowed, I also tend to find 3 or 4 “free-runner scouts”; possesses excellent adaptability, determination, fairly good judging player ability and potential. The idea is that you can always rely on them when sending them all over the world, as they will constantly provide you with a decent number of scout reports. They will increase your managing clubs scouting knowledge quickly, often making them responsible for scouting very unfamiliar and exotic regions (Africa, Asia, Oceania and Middle East.

Before hiring additional scouts, it may be important to setup a scouting network who can increase the knowledge of the regions which regularly produces the best regens in the long term. One of these regions is Central Europe with countries like Germany, Holland, Italy and Spain.

This means you need to target scouts with the scouting knowledge of some of these different European nations, such as John Steen Olsen (Ajax / Scandinavia), Paul Montgomery (free agent / UK & Ireland), Norbert Ziegler (free Agent / Germany), Aurelio Pereira (Sporting (POR) / Portugal and Spain) or Ernesto Varnier (Udinese / Italy).

How you set up your scouting network and scouting program is up to you.
We can recommend two different types of setup for your Scouting network:

  1. Target solely roaming scouts, who will travel to all the different parts of the world looking to increase the clubs scouting knowledge rapidly.
  2. Use a setup of one “Next opposition scout” (normally the chief-scout), two regular-scouts, who only target individual players; in terms of player attributes required, age or player potential for all players within a region/nation/league, and appoint roaming scouts for the remaining positions.

With our recommendations given we hope you will benefit from our knowledge so you can determine a scouting network plan which fits your football philosophy (for example if the board requests you to sign players for first team solely or focusing on youth development) and preferred plan for increasing the amount of transfer targets.

How do you setup scouting assignments to improve world knowledge in Football Manager 2015?

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Written by Espen

A Norwegian sports enthusiast, born when Aston Villa won the Premier League the last time! Enjoyed the wonderful world of Football Manager since 1993-94.Here I'm sharing my passion for Football Manager by handing you a few hints and tricks.FM Personality: Resolute (Slightly Perfectionist) Favorite Club(s): Tottenham, FC Barcelona
Website: https://www.passion4fm.com/

Scouting and signings

So I’ve been requested to write a bit on my approach to scouting. As I don’t feel that scouting itself is terribly exciting, I’ve morphed this request a little into covering more on the process of the entire transfer.

I guess that there’s an opinion amongst some of my readers that I am more thorough than some FM-ers in my transfer policy. I say “thorough” but that’s really a polite way of saying it. Pernickity, overly analytical, obsessive or borderline anal might be more accurate descriptions of my transfer policy.

I really enjoy the transfer dealings within FM and I tend to spend an awful lot of time considering my moves, at least whilst I’m managing small clubs (which is 99% of the time).

For me then, there’s a very logical process which culminates in a player signing on the dotted line…

1. Identifying the need for a player

It might seem like a painfully obvious point to make but there has to be the need for a player first. Too many FM-ers make the mistake of simply buying the players that their scouts recommend the most, or finding a shortlist on the internet and buying whoever they can afford and is willing to move.

This is completely illogical to me. The need for a player should be subjective. I’ll identify a gap and then I know what sort of player I’m looking for. I also love planning ahead, so often I’ll identify a potential gap 6-12 months ahead of time.

There is an obvious exception to this rule, though, and that’s in youth players. If I am offered or come across a remarkably good youth player (under-18) then I’ll probably be interested regardless of the role. This is because developing him will give me enough time to either mould him into the role I want or mould the team into suiting his strengths once he is fully developed.
To make this process more than just me waffling, I thought it would be better to make it a case study in finding a particular player. Unfortunately, the timing isn’t great and I don’t feel like I particularly need anyone at the moment. Therefore, I asked for a nomination on twitter and, as per this tweet, it was decided that I should look for a deep-lying playmaker to fit into my system.

2. Is there a youth player I can use?

So with the need for a player identified, the very first thing that I do is check my youth team to see if there is a player coming through who might suit the requirement. There’s a decent chance that I could have earmarked someone for a different role only for him to develop in an unexpected way or that I simply didn’t notice something the first time round.

If there’s a chance of me developing a youth player and saving millions then I’ll do it. Assuming that there’s not, then we’ll move on to finding one elsewhere.

3. Director of Football / Assistant Manager intervention

Personally, I only use my Director of Football to find / get rid of youth players. I finalise all deals and invariably cancel them. This is because I find the DoF borderline useless in the game at the moment. However, many people use theirs regularly to find first team players and this is something you may wish to consider if you’ve hired a DoF with high Judging Player Ability (JPA) and Judging Player Potential (JPP) attributes.

Unfortunately, the DoF function has been poorly implemented and you can only ask him to identify players for all positions. For me, you should be able to speak to him and say something like “I need a DLP from within the EU who is under 25 and will act as back-up. Go find me 5 options / sign me one.”

This option is available for the loan players, though, and it may also be something you want to consider if you need a short term option to tide you over until a permanent option becomes available or simply because you don’t have the funds. If you don’t know how to do this, go to your squad screen – towards the top there’s an option for “get advice from staff”. Use this and your assistant will back to you in a few days with 5-10 loan options.

For me, these are imperfect options but they are worth mentioning. Personally, I’d rather do it all myself.

4. Automated scouting

To differentiate from scouting where you ask a scout to look at a specific player, I’ll call the general scouting assignments that your staff gets “automated scouting”. My approach to this is really quite simple:

  • hire the best scouts I can find – i.e. with highest attributes in JPA and JPP, prioritising JPP as I tend to sign youth players as opposed to the finished article
  • where my board allows me a significant number of scouts, let’s say 7 and above, I’ll start bringing in scouts of various nationalities – even to the detriment of a couple of attribute points. The premise behind this is based on the “scouting knowledge” mechanic. The new scout will bring to the club a higher knowledge of his home country and potentially neighbouring countries too. This means that your club “knows” more players and they’ll appear on your player search screen.
  • for the most part, I allow my chief scout to direct the scouting assignments. All I’m really after is as wide a knowledge of players as possible so that I can make my own judgements based on attributes and personality.

  • occasionally, I will commission a particular scouting assignment – i.e. I will pick a scout and ask him to report back on under-19 players in Italy or 3 star ‘keepers on less than £5k per week.

Every so often, say every 3 months, I’ll have a check on my scout assignments and make sure that my Chief Scout isn’t doing anything stupid like sending every single scout to France.

There are some great under-valued markets in FM such as Eastern Europe, Central America, the smaller South American countries and Africa. If my Chief Scout isn’t doing a good job of rotating my scouts through some of these countries then I’ll manually set up some roaming assignments to ensure a balanced approach.

Other than that, the automated scouting system is purely there to gather as much information as possible and make as many players (and their attributes) viewable on the player search screen.

5. Manual Scouting

As opposed to the automated scouting using the assignments which are set by my Chief Scout, I do an awful lot of manual scouting. There’s barely an in-game day, and certainly not a week, that goes by without me asking my scouts to have a look at some player or other.

The majority of the time, I will simply use the quick button to get a scout report on the player without watching any games. This will help to reveal the hidden attributes, personality and PPM’s of the player and lets me know whether I should be having a closer look at him or simply rejecting him outright.

Much of the manual scouting simply comes from having a look at players that are revealed in the news – record breakers, players that the press are making a big deal of or even players that are offered to me by agents. You never know when a gem will turn up and it really doesn’t take a great deal of time to simply get a quick report.

Every so often, most likely when I can summon the motivation, I’ll go on a massive scouting spree through various countries and leagues. The most common targets for these scouting trips are:

– the player stats pages of the lower leagues in my country. A quick browse through the player stats might reveal a youngster who is banging in 30 goals in Serie C. When the next highest scorer has 12, why not have a look?

– the player stats pages of youth tournaments. It might be worth setting yourself a reminder using the notes function for these but competitions such as the NextGen series are well worth having a look at. It might also be an idea to set one of your scouts to specifically scout the entire tournament using the “add assignment” button.

– various academy clubs around the world. We’ve all heard of INF Clairefontaine, well there are hundreds of similar academy clubs all around the world with good facilities and a tendency to produce fine youth players. You can find some of them listed in this here thread at The Dugout.

– various clubs famous for producing good youth players. So we all know the likes of Ajax, Southampton, River Plate, Barcelona, etc have a tendency to produce stars for the future but there’s also the likes of Etoile du Sahel (Tunisia), Ajax CT (South Africa), Danubio (Uruguay), BATE (Belarus), Enyimba (Nigeria), ASEC (Ivory Coast), Chivas and América (Mexico), Dinamo and Hadjuk (Croatia)… I could go on and on… that tend to come up with the goods. The advantage of these is that picking up the next Nigerian superstar direct from his domestic club is going to cost you a fraction of the fee Southampton or Ajax would demand.

It may be worth your while carrying out these manual searches a day or two after the newgen creation date in that particular nation. You can find a handy list of these dates here. Getting in there early could be invaluable, giving you a head-start on the big clubs who will also be trying to poach these youngsters.

– standout players that I notice in games against me. Fairly simple one this but I tend to find that players who play well against me will play well for me, even if their other performances aren’t really up to scratch. If I find that one player has had a particularly good game against me then I may ask one of my scouts to watch him in the next couple of games and get some more information on him.

I could go on and on really but what should be apparent is that I have a few standard ‘tactics’ on automated scouting, manual scouting and then a scatter gun approach of just scouting anyone who comes across my path in the hope of getting lucky.

So the scout report comes back. Then what?

Well I’m fairly picky with my shortlist and it tends to be just a select few, probably up to 25 players – the cream of the players that my scouts find. Even if I don’t particularly need a player in that position, if my scouts turn up a gem then I’ll add him to the shortlist for future reference.

In most cases though, I’ll simply remove the player from my shortlist as soon as the scout report comes in. For probably 75%+ of players, this is the last that they’ll see of me. The vast majority simply aren’t good enough.

The object of the exercise, though, is to give me options on the player search screen. As many options as possible. (it should be noted that I always use attribute masking so revealing the attributes through scouting is important for me) I don’t pay much attention to the star ratings that my scouts or assistant gives me. I like to judge a player myself and only really use the gap between the CA and PA stars to gauge how much progression a player has left in him. What I really want to happen is that, within 1 or 2 seasons of being at a club, my player search screen will start to fill up with options from across the world.

So getting back to our case study and the look for a deep-lying playmaker, if I simply added a filter for that player role and organised by scout recommendation, rather than a few sad souls and a pitifully short return I’d get a lovely screen full of names like this:

Ok, so now that I have knowledge of players, all sorts of players too, how do I narrow that down to find my man? Well…

6. Ascertaining what I really need

And this is where my massive procrastination really kicks in!

The position we have already decided… or have we? I am nominally looking for a DMC capable of playing as a deep-lying playmaker but I am not adverse to retraining a player who is not comfortable in that position. So whilst I will begin my search looking for someone who is already comfortable playing at DM, I will always have at least a brief look at all positions using my other parameters.

The first thing that I try ascertain is what type of attributes the player is going to require to fit into my team.In this case we are looking for a deep-lying playmaker and the game gives us a helpful start by highlighting what are considered to be the key attributes as shown below.

However, that only tells me what someone else has decided should be the key attributes for this role, not what will be most useful to my team. I always try to be as subjective as possible whilst the presets provided in the tactical creator or default interface are, by definition, objective.

To get a more subjective appreciation of the facets required in our deep-lying playmaker I turn to the stats. Here are the two DLP’s that I have been using this season and some key statistical facts about the actions that have been required of them in-game.

Looking at what is higher than the average or higher than expected, we can see that my DLP’s tend to:

– play a lot of passes

– make a lot of tackles

– contest a lot of headers

This then allows us to correctly prioritise the corresponding attributes – passing, tackling and jumping / heading – with a consideration for height and strength thrown in for good measure.

It also highlights that my existing DLP’s do not tend to make a high number of key passes, nor are they consistent assisters (Dolk’s assists are attributed to corner taking, not open play). I can handle this in one of two ways: a. I consider that this is a continuity position, not a main creative outlet, and so prioritise other attributes over creativity, flair, etc or; b. I consider that I would like to improve the creative aspect of this position and so look for players whose creative attributes exceed that of the current options. In this case, I’m going to go with a.

I then consider my team approach and any attributes that I like to see common throughout the team or just attributes that I like in certain positions. You may prioritise determination, teamwork, technique, strength, pace, etc etc – it really depends on your own personal approach. My current midfield approach is intelligence in movement and decision making so I will look to prioritise positioning and decisions.

I also have a personal preference for DLP’s to have good technique and first touch – this comes from their tendency to be exposed to strikers and aggressive midfielders closing them down quickly and the high-risk potential in a turnover from their orthodox position.

So we’re slowly starting to build up a suite of attributes and requirements that we can use as parameters for our signing.

The penultimate consideration that I will make is to look at my current team and identify any “specialisations” which I think are missing. What I mean by this is that, as an example, I believe every team should have a set-piece specialist. If we don’t currently have one then this is a fine opportunity to prioritise the purchase of someone with high set-piece attributes.

In our little case study, let’s assume that my team is short on experience and leadership. Therefore, if given the opportunity, I will prioritise a signing in the higher age brackets with good values for influence and potentially determination and teamwork.

Finally, we come to PPM’s. It’s rare that I will target particular PPM’s. Rather I will consider which PPM’s may be beneficial and which to avoid at all costs. “Dictates tempo”, for instance, would be advantageous for my DLP but I would consider it to be an added bonus that might sway my preference between two otherwise equal options rather than an item that would convince me to sacrifice attribute value

So… we really have built up quite a list of requirements. Will we find someone who ticks every box? Almost certainly not.

7. Putting it into practice

So now we just have to take our parameters as outlined above and plug them into our player search screen, suitably populated by our now extensive scouting régime that has made hundreds of players’ attributes filterable.

Therefore, I’m going to implement the following attribute filter:

The values here are almost immaterial as they will depend on your club’s status and what level of player you can attract. This filter is just for illustration purposes.

I will always start by implementing the filter in full but, even if a number of options are returned for the full filter, I will start looking at the “meets x of 12” results. It doesn’t take long to get a result. At “match 11 of 12”, we are presented with Collins Abdul:

He’s a player I know well. I signed him for Rapid Wien 9 years ago and developed him for 2 seasons before selling on to Sochaux. To be honest, I’m more than a little surprised he hasn’t moved to a bigger club because he looks like a very handy player to me and comes with the added bonus of having the “does not dive into tackles” PPM which I find very useful for the covering DM role (fairly sure I taught him that at Rapid).

His only attribute outwith the full 12 out of 12 from the filter above is influence – at 12 as opposed to the 15 we’ d stipulated but I can easily live with that. Whether I’d be able to live with his price-tag, likely to be upwards of £20m, is another matter.

As I said above, though, we need to have a look at options before deciding on a target so I tweaked the search parameters a little. Some examples of the changes I made:

  • removing the requirement for the player to be comfortable at DMC
  • removing the age filter
  • removing the “specialisation” attributes – i.e. influence and determination
  • nudging high attributes down 1 each and adding a maximum age filter – young players will be able to gain the additional attribute point(s) through development
  • having a brief look at players with one standout attribute, e.g. passing 20.

Amongst the likes of Gerard Piqué, what I came up with has interested me enough to consider actually buying one of these players!

Frenchman Gauthier is probably one of the most promising DMC’s in the game and would cost me a transfer fee and wage bill to match – I reckon £30m and £60k per week. I could afford that, just, but I have no interest in making that sort of big signing. I’m much more inclined to look to a cheaper player I can develop. Like…

Baird is a little out of “left field”, or rather “right back” (sorry), but he’s the sort of option I might go for. His attributes are very good for the role and he’d just need a little re-training to fulfil the DM role. With his ability, albeit limited, to perform other roles already I have a little hint that his versatility attribute, the hidden control of his ability to learn a new position, might be high.

Unfortunately, he’s already in England and therefore has a hugely inflated price tag and wage. I’m out.

Albano is another compromising option and the one that interested me the most. He has a “£2.5m release clause and my scouts reckon he’d ask for a wage of no more than £8.75k a week. Very reasonable.

So I decided to re-scout him which is always my first action when considering a concrete move for a player. That report came back with something that has put me right off:

Inconsistency is a pet peeve of mine and something which I try to avoid. You tend to find it in younger players and they tend to improve over time but, with Albano already 21, it’s putting me off.

Shame really as he has a good personality and I think he would have made a solid squad member, although certainly not regular first team material.

I think, if it came down to it and I needed a first team option (remembering that I don’t actually need to sign a player just now), I’d go for this lad:

Available for around £10m and within my wage structure, he’s well developed enough to step right into the first team and still has a bit of potential left to give me either future profit or enough seasons to justify the high outlay.

I really like his passing ability whilst I wrote above about how I have a personal “obsession” with first touch and technique for the DLP role. His pace might put me off for another position but I don’t think that it is an absolute necessity in this case. His anticipation and positioning should get him to the right places early enough that he doesn’t need the pace.

His agility, on the other hand, would concern me and would be the target of some specific training should I sign him.

And then it comes to the actual transfer negotiations and the contract…

But I think I’ve written more than enough and I’m sure you’re all very bored of reading my waffle.

I hope that there is something in here that interests you or something you haven’t considered or, even better, something you can transfer into your own game. If not, my apologies for wasting your time!

As always, thank you for reading. It is greatly appreciated and I look forward to any comments or questions you may have.

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