Nurturing youth, squad harmony and mutual respect in Football Manager 2015

I’m sure we’ve all thought about developing young players at our respective clubs and we’ve all plucked a player with high potential from our youth team and given him first team football.

It’s very rewarding to then see this player repay ones belief by performing well while his attributes consistently grow.

Something that’s not touched on as much and sometimes seems forgotten about is how your club’s environment and atmosphere can be conducive or detrimental to players’ development (and the scale of its benefits could be argued).

In my strange (and beautiful) mind I have a dream to create a football utopia where every player is respected and given generous doses of patience.

There’s an emphasis on nurturing young players, whether their ability is immediately obvious, or even if their lack of ability is plain to see, we will give each player the same love and attention.

Even less talented footballers improve if they are believed in.

For this Football Manager project I have taken inspiration from various youth development projects played on FM ­– many of these can be found on the SI forums at

I usually judge my first team players as soon as I see their attributes. If my assistant thinks they only deserve three stars or less, they’re in trouble. Even before kicking a ball under my management I will transfer list, release, or demote players.

In this career, I will be much more patient with first teamers. I also have a tendency to think once a player is 25 or over, they’re past it and won’t improve.

Players of course do still improve after this age even if most is mental. And what’s possibly most important of all, these mature players offer guidance to younger players on and off the pitch and can be invaluable when it comes to mentoring.

In-keeping with my overall philosophy of patience and maintaining a harmonious atmosphere in the changing rooms, training pitch, on the pitch and elsewhere, I will never transfer list a player.

If a club makes an offer for my player, fair enough, I’ll consider it, but even if we have a rebel in our group, he won’t be forced out.

You might suggest a rebellious character could have a negative impact on other members of the squad and go against our philosophy of mutual respect and harmony but as manager I have to be an example to my players that patience is a virtue and that player has to be helped.


If my players are to develop to their potential training facilities have to be a priority, as do the best coaches we can get.

If either our facilities or coaches have room for improvement that is where any money we have will go (where my chairman allows).


It would contradict our goals (at the club I choose to manage – maybe Swansea, but I want the club to develop along with its players so I might choose somewhere lower down the football pyramid in England or even somewhere abroad) if we went out and signed players who stood in the way of players already at our club. How could I say I’ve been patient with all of my current players if I decide to go and buy them competition?

In that case, until we see how things work out, I’m not allowed to sign anyone. Anyone on loan will be allowed to go at the end of their contract.


This project might come to a halt if our ideas don’t translate in to success on the pitch. The players I have might be simply not good enough for the level we’re at and I might be sacked.

If I’m sacked I’ll simply introduce this same utopian philosophy at my next club.

I’m convinced even if the club I’m at doesn’t see short-term results on the pitch lots of good will come of my approach.

Individually, each of my players, good or bad, will improve and their careers will be aided.

Moreover, our club will be a fantastic environment for young players, even those who didn’t make it at another club. They can develop here and have a career in professional football.

Selling Players

As I mentioned earlier I will never transfer list a player.

I will use my discretion on whether to try to keep a player whose contract is about to expire. The way I see it is if a player’s contract is coming to an end they have had a fair opportunity at the club and if I decide they’re not needed anymore, I’ll let them leave.

My aim is to give players a chance, not to hoard them all, like a mother who can’t let go.

Although I will try to not get attached to my players, in my opinion, they will all be special players due to the environment they have developed in.

Almost like free range eggs, they are a cut above the players who have been moved from club to club like cattle with less attention and patience, so once again I will decide if the offer for the player matches what he is worth to us. Our footballers aren’t just pieces of meat or gold bars, they represent our process, from rough to polished diamond, full of wisdom and humility.

Stay calm

Another rule is I cannot lose my temper with my players. There’s a danger this could lead to some of my players accusing me of a lack of discipline but that’s the risk I take. By not losing my temper I mean I can never speak to my players aggressively.

Thanks for reading. I’ll be back soon to tell you what club I chose to manage and reveal how my plans are developing.

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