A guide to pre-season in Football Manager

Never underestimate the importance of your club’s pre-season preparations. In the post I will give you some tips how to give your team the best chance of starting the new season at its best and continuing that until the last weeks of the season.

Get rid of the ‘deadwood’

You’ve been waiting for this moment for months. You’ve a striker on £100,000-a-week who can’t hit a cow’s backside with a banjo but thinks he’s God’s gift to football. The transfer window has finally arrived and you’re exceeding your wage budget while your overall balance doesn’t look too healthy. It’s time to SELL!

It’s always a therapeutic process to offload all the overpaid players who have underperformed. I do it every summer. You want your squad to include only the best players with good attitudes who perform on a consistent basis.

Moreover, if you have ageing players on high wages, say 28 and over, you should consider selling them unless they are high performers. There’s always a younger, cheaper option who represents a better long-term investment.

Consolidate finances

As above it’s a great idea to get rid of players you don’t need or even ones you do if you can get a great price for them. There’s nothing worse than putting your club in such a bad financial state that the damage becomes almost irreparable. As long as you stay ‘in the black’ you’ll have the opportunity to develop your squad and facilities. You might have to be patient and do things in stages but wise financial management will always bring long-term on-pitch success in my opinion. You might think the more money you invest in to players and training pitches the better, but only if your club is rich enough to support this spending.

So, during pre-season, always consider how the bank account looks, if you can’t afford to buy new players you’ll just have to work with what you have. Any luck, you’ll have talented youngsters coming up from the U19s who you can introduce in to the first team as back-up.

Look at your expenditure for last season. Where did you spend most of your money? Usually player wages and transfers will eat the biggest slices out of your budget. Are there any unexpected outgoings? In my Roma save, I need to grab a hold of our finances, because we spent an amazing £82m on player wages alone. This season we are in the UEFA Champions League so we might be able to support this wage spend more comfortably nevertheless, I’m trying to sell as many unnecessary players as possible. We also spent a lot of money on bonuses and loyalty bonuses which shows I need to negotiate players’ contracts more carefully and not only focus on a player’s weekly wage. I spent £39m on transfers last season, this is a figure that can easily be reduced.

Think about the future

While you have some time to think as no games are being played, it’s worth considering if you want to stay manager of your club any longer. You might be better able to achieve your goals elsewhere. Are you appreciated? Is it time for a change of scenery?

I’m attempting the ridiculously difficult Pentagon Challenge at the moment so I’m always considering if the club I’m currently managing offers me the best chance of winning a champions league. Could I get a job at a bigger club or should I go to manage in a less prestigious footballing continent, such as Asia, where it might be easier to win the continental competition?

Choosing a club is about more than just winning champions leagues for me though. My Pentagon Challenge has evolved in to more of a ‘journeyman’ save where I globe trot to wherever I can and whichever club/ place interests me and this is how I’ve been able to enjoy the game more consistently than ever.

Choose a tactic

Your squad will need plenty of time to become familiar with whatever tactics you decide to employ and it’ll take even longer if you make summer signings. So choose a tactic for next season as soon as a season ends, you can still make minor changes in the summer but the familiarity your players gain from training with a certain formation or three will enable them to hit the ground running when the new campaign starts.

If you’re an indecisive person the summer gives you time to decide how you want to play.

Strengthen the squad

As Manchester United have realised if you don’t strengthen you get left behind. Yes you must control your bank balance but take every chance to shore up weak areas of your team. You get the most time to do this in the summer so make the most of it.

I hope my advice will help you. I’m in the process of writing a detailed post about my management philosophy with AS Roma, my current club in my long Pentagon Challenge save, where I’ve reached 2033 so keep an eye on the blog and my Twitter @FMScrapbook!

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