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How to Win at Football Manager 2014 & Soccer Tactics / Analytics

Updated on November 26, 2014

Football Manager 2014

The Football Manager series is without doubt the best football/soccer management simulation available. It guarantees hours of fun and challenge - the perfect combination for a game. With this lens you can get an inside track and increase your chances of being successful in the game with a guide to winning at Football Manager.

Below you'll find the definitive guide for winning..... no matter which team you choose, there are certain tips that I can teach you that will improve your chances of success and of attracting the top talent to your club.

With the new version being released, there is no excuse for not getting down to perfecting your team's tactics and signing that little known Brazilian playing for an obscure Norwegian team who will guarantee you 25 goals a season from day one.

Will you be Ferguson and stay at one club for 25 years? Will you be a new breed of manager with your flip charts, PowerPoint and your iPad? Will you do an Alan Pardew and concentrate on little known, cheap French talent and land yourself an 8 year contract while it lasts, only to struggle the next season when things don't go perfectly.

Will you become known as AVB, 'Arry or the Special One - will your tactics become legend and make it to the Guardian website? Or a Klopp - you could even grow a beard as you move your less fashionable team to the Champion's League final. The possibilities are endless, the only caution being that once you get seriously into this game, it will be hard to stop, eat, remember important birthdays, go to work, etc.

The beauty of this game is you can do whatever you want with any team, then you can do it over and over again. The reason this game is so successful and popular is that they keep tweaking the game engine so it keeps getting more and more realistic and makes you feel that you really could do what Mourinho and Moyes do.

This lens also covers some soccer analysis and tactics themes too.

Football Manager 2014 Screenshots - from the official Football Manager website

Click thumbnail to view full-size
soccer stadium
soccer stadium

How to win at Football Manager

The definitive guide

1. Don't pick Man U or Real Madrid. Sure, you'll have the best team and loads of money, but the expectations will be sky high. Finish 3rd and you'll be fired. And even if you do win, how will you really feel about your 'success'.

2. Take a month off work. You won't succeed by playing 10 minutes here and there. You need to dedicate yourself to it full time. 24 hours a day. That's what a football manager does (or so we are told).

3. Eat and drink. Don't forget to eat and drink. Collapsing from dehydration in front of the screen is not winning in anyone's book.

4. Ignore the 'just one more game' syndrome. All of us, if we are honest, will admit to this. We have to go to bed/work/out but want to do one more thing, or buy one more player, so we don't do our usual research/tactics, etc. and just press 'GO', leaving our fate to the vagaries of the game engine. Then there it is, your 100% record is gone, a late deflection off an out of position player. So what do you do, press it again and the descent to crazy all-nighter has begun.

5. Don't co-manage. This doesn't work in real life, it doesn't work in Football Manager.

6. Don't pay over the odds. Chairmen these days are so fickle. They'll get their chequebook out and expect instant success. If you really think your team needs Totti, you may be right, but throwing 40 million at Roma and offering him 400,000 a week, just so you can brag to your friends is not going to get you the winners medal.

7. Don't listen to your friends. There are tales of unbelievable Argentinian 17 year olds who'll bang in 60 goals a season and will be happy to move from Boca Juniors to help you push Notts County up a division. These are lies at worst, or delusions at best. You won't find the magic bullet anymore than they do in the real world.

8. Don't rush. Give yourself a decent timeframe for staying in the job. After all, you've moved your family down to the new place and need to settle in. Don't be so keen to jump ship to the next big club before it is your time.

9. Invest in youth. Blood your youngsters gently. Don't throw them in for a full season or they'll be injured, or will get too big of a head. Instead, let them warm the bench and absorb your tactics while they are in their big coats.

10. Sensible formations. So you've always believed Carlton Palmer should have played centre forward. Great. But if you want to win, just stick to the basics. Real managers and winning managers don't go against the grain. Now if you need a goal to avoid relegation, a conservative 5-4-1 isn't going to do the trick, but don't go opening the season with a 2-3-1-1-1-3 it isn't going to work.

11. Meet the press. Always talk to the press, they'll keep you in a job if no-one else will.

12. Fines. While it may be amusing to fine your players for a poor performance, it probably hurts morale. We've all fined our number 9 for missing 3 chances, admit it, but we all know that didn't help us in the long run.

13. Beware stadium expansions. If your chairman suggests expanding the stadium, polish your resume. Where will you get the fund's for your next big signing?

14. It's not real life - it's a game engine. Yes, it is sophisticated, but you will have the most success if you realise that you can't really influence the computer players - they are just computer models. This realisation should make you think differently - trust the data and not do things you hope will work, or you think your management role model would do.

15. You will have good spells and bad spells - don't get carried away by a winning run or too down-hearted by a poor run. If things don't change in a reasonable time, start changing, but don't do knee-jerk reactions. You'll lose track of what things work and what things don't.

16. Record decisions and analyse results. AVB recently got some stick for his notebook, but what better, simpler way is there to write down your thoughts and remember which of the million little changes you've made have worked?.

Soccer tactics
Soccer tactics

Soccer Statistical Analysis

Soccerball?

There has recently been an upsurge in the interest in soccer statistics, partly driven by the Moneyball movie. People are desperate to do a similar thing for football and find the killer stats which will show how the game can be won. Interestingly enough on Twitter you will find professional players brush off such 'facts' as being a preserve of crazy statisticians. However, with most big clubs having a staff of analysts tracking performance there must be some benefit to the practice. Ultimately, there is an element of luck and other extraneous factors which would seem to make soccer analytics less predictive than baseball or basketball.

However, some stats may be more telling than others, e.g. shot efficiency - how many goals from shot on target a striker gets is useful to know if he is putting the chances away on a regular basis or fluffing some.

I think the field will continue to develop and I wonder if in later versions of Football Manager, some of these more advanced stats will work there way in. It is possible that the game engine already uses some of these statistics to generate the match results.

Football Manager = Real Life

Have you heard that more than a few people submit applications for real manager jobs based on their success on Football Manager?

Does Football Manager success qualify you to get interviews for 'real' manager jobs?

See results

Football Manager 2014 on sale now!

The wait is over, if you haven't already, then get right on buying your own copy of Football Manager 2014 and putting into practice what you'll learn through the rest of this site.

Of course, it was a record breaking opening for the Football Manager franchise and a lot of people are saying this version lives up to the hype. You won't know if you don't play it and I think you'll be surprised how many of your friends and colleagues are also playing.

Soccer chalkboard pic
Soccer chalkboard pic

Tactics

The thinking man's game?

I think there has never been more interest in tactics and it is interesting to read everyone's views on this team's plan and that team's plan. Sometimes you wonder if people are reading too much into the 'false nines', etc. and in fact Sir Alex just says "go out, score more goals than you let in and don't be silly".

How do you find Football Manager - does it give you the tactical flexibility you would like, or is it too rigid? Also, do you think your tactics make a difference, or is there always some random results through the season which remind you its only a game?

YouTube Football Manager

Marcelo Bielsa - the reason for more goals?

A nice piece by Jonathan Wilson who ponders why more goals are being scored in football matches across the world. He credits the tactics of Marcelo Bielsa, together with some rule changes that favoured attacking players.

Football Manager 2014 - Some links

Bigger, better, improved.

Does it live up to the hype?

We know its going to be good, but just how good is always the question.

Be sure to check out the stuff below too.

Football Manager 2014 Reviews

Reviews aren't a substitute for playing the game and forming your own opinions, but let's face it, they can influence whether we want to rush out and buy the game or wait for a while. Here are a couple of reviews which you may find useful.

Pep Guardiola
Pep Guardiola

Pep Guardiola goes to Bayern Munich

Were you surprised that Pep decided to go to Bayern?. You may have been, especially if you tend to focus on the UK media and Sky Sports. The Bundesliga is a solid league. It has tons of money and Bayern are one of the most famous clubs in the world with a great stadium and a strong team. Guardiola is a smart guy - he knows this and so has chosen Bayern because he wants to work with them and have success in them. I think its funny when people foam that he was 'waiting for Fergie' or something like that. The challenge of working in the Bundesliga for a top German side who wants to win the Champions League again as much as Man Utd, or City, or Chelsea is a great one. Hopefully this will be a catalyst for the German league being taken more seriously in the UK.

Roberto Martinez - Role model for Football Manager managers?

Roberto Martinez is a very well regarded manager. He has been relatively successful at Wigan and has been linked with bigger jobs. By all accounts he probably turned down Liverpool last summer to stay at Wigan but after they got relegated he has popped up at Everton. Not sure that is the best move for everyone and think there is a good chance both Martinez at Everton and Moyes at Man Utd will get found out. However, can't blame either of them for trying. Of course, these are the kinds of decisions you will have to make as a successful Football Manager player as you plot your course through the game.

Now, there are obviously more complexities in real life than can be factored into a game engine, but I think this article will be of interest to those readers keen on getting a better handle on how top managers think.

Some football tactics/analytics links

A few websites you might find interesting if playing Football Manager 2013 has got you interested in football tactics.

What I would say is that the internet is a rich source of information, but I think some of it isn't very solid. It is easy to say you are an 'analyst' or you've worked out how to 'statistically analyse' football. But basically football is a football and 22 individuals on a pitch (not robots). Can you really 'predict' what is going to happen or is the analysis simply overlaying a convenient 'cause' that fits random events?

Brian Deane - Managing in Norway

Another story of hope - Brian Deane after spending some time coaching at Leeds University has got himself a job at a professional team in Norway as manager. And he took along some of the other people from Leeds.

Relationships / Football Manager

Football Manager 2013 has re-ignited debate around the effect on relationships of playing the game seriously. Even with the new Classic mode, it still takes time and concentration to get things right and this takes time away from other things.

Have you ever been dumped because of Football Manager?

See results

Brian Clough classic quotes

Cloughie was a legend and he never seemed short of something to say. Enjoy this link.

Director of Football

The Director of Football appears in the game and also increasingly in real life. It used to be thought of as a 'continental' thing in the UK, but as the money has increased owners have increasingly tended to want to implement a 'structure' which means their manager doesn't do it all like they did in the past. There is no guarantee that putting in place a structure will guarantee success and it can in fact lead to significant tensions, especially with 'old school' bosses who see their power and influence sharply reduced when there is a Director of Football sitting between them and the owners (be it individuals or Boards of public companies) and making crucial decisions over personnel and the like.

As with anything, the execution is what matters - no one person can make a club succeed or fail but I think Directors of Football are here to stay. Now, if only I could get a job like that.....

Warwick University study of management trends in football

I came across this academic paper studying football management trends in the UK. It is a little old, but you may find it interesting all the same.

An Analysis of Football Management Trends

1992 – 2005 in all Four Divisions

Dr Susan Bridgewater

Warwick University

Picture nigel adkins drew
Picture nigel adkins drew

Managerial Merry-Go-Round

A manager is never safe

There is always talk and rumours about sackings - they are part and parcel of football manager's daily lives. Know one can prove if you should have stability or you should chop and change to get something that works, even temporarily.

Are chairman going to be more patient, or will a bad start leave managers feeling hot under the collar and waiting for the dreaded 'vote of confidence'? The problem with stability is it takes time - there is no guarantee that giving a manager 10 years will make your club a consistent challenger at the top of the table and if it doesn't work, then you have 'wasted' ten years. Yes, Sir Alex has done great but the cause and effect is not 'he's been there so long, so Man U are good'.

Brendan Rodgers and Paul Lambert have both taken advantage of a good first season in the big leagues to move on to 'bigger clubs'. Time will tell if they will be successful, but I'm not surprised they jumped when given the chance. A bad second season and its unlikely the phone would be ringing.

Wasn't surprised Harry Redknapp left Spurs and I'm interested to see what AVB does; Tottenham aren't as good as they think they are, but have pulled off something of a coup getting AVB who is also looking to rebuild his reputation. I'm not sure he is at Spurs for the long term, so let's see how it goes. A lot may depend on how they end this transfer window.

What's Martinez up to? Staying at Wigan again, he has to hope that he can keep them solidly mid-table all season as the stunt of rescuing them in April/May won't work every time and chairman will wonder why he can't get the performances from August. It seems to me that he may have his eye on a particular role, but which one? Wigan has the advantage of lower expectations, but will a season or two more make him a candidate to replace Wenger at Arsenal, or are his eyes on the Old Trafford role (or even City?) one day. We'll see.

Chelsea is a funny one. RDM is clearly not first choice and if Guardiola gets bored in a couple of months, will Roman be as quick to move as he always has in the past? Plus, can RDM do the business over a whole season, when the old guard is a year older?

Sir Alex up at Old Trafford is still there, but I wonder if he shouldn't have called it a day a few seasons back - Man U aren't competitive in the transfer market and people forget just how much SAF has spent in his time.

Mancini is Mancini - I'm sure he wanted more signings but he is still suffering from some of the deals Hughes did.

What is your strategy when playing Football Manager? Do you jump to a bigger club as soon as you can, or are you more loyal and try to build your first club into genuine contenders?

The picture is the flipboard picture Nigel Adkins left for Southampton players when he was sacked (found it on thescore.thejournal.ie)

Let us know in the comments section!

Are you playing Classic mode or the full game?

See results

Quotes from (real) football managers

Now you are a manager, you need to dress like a manager and talk like a manager. These classics will assist you in your quest for media perfection.

FM Scout Website - A useful resource

FM Scout could be interesting for you as you look to improve. I just stumbled across it recently and it is a useful resource. It is kind of like a bigger version of chatting with your friends to share tips on hidden gems on the free transfer market, or in the lesser European leagues.

Football Manager 2014

The best football management simulation ever....

Click for Official Football Manager Website

21-year old student gets job in Baku

Apparently it is on the strength of his Football Manager experience. There is hope for all of us yet!

We'd love to hear you're tales of success, failure, all-nighters, broken keyboards.

What tactics have worked, what gem of a player did you pick up from Norway, etc.

Leave a comment - Your tales from the dugout

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    • profile image

      Johnf90 2 years ago

      Do you agree with my statement that this post is awesome? kdfdedcfacec

    • UToledoPharmD2018 profile image

      UToledoPharmD2018 4 years ago

      Nice lens!! I've looked into this but I'm into FIFA 13 Ultimate Team

    • RJTame profile image
      Author

      Richard Tame 4 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      @leesholden: Happy days for you. Just need to find a job that lets you do the same....

    • leesholden profile image

      Lee 4 years ago from Derbyshire, UK

      Brilliant lens! I was once in the extremelly lucky situation to have to play FM as part of one of my degree courses! Does life get any better than that?! ... I can tell you it doesn't!! :)

    • RJTame profile image
      Author

      Richard Tame 4 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      @StephenJackson2: You are right, I haven't heard of it - not sure if it can beat the 'original and best', but guess we won't know until it actually is released.

    • StephenJackson2 profile image

      StephenJackson2 4 years ago

      Some great information and tips about a great game :)

      I have written a lense about a project which is currently under development called Ultimate Football Live. You can check it out at http://www.squidoo.com/ultimate-football-live. Its basically a Football Management MMO, similar to Football Manager Live, not sure how many of you would be aware it even existed

    • rodica7 lm profile image

      rodica7 lm 4 years ago

      I love football and this is a very good game I think!!

    • RJTame profile image
      Author

      Richard Tame 4 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      @Rodaussie: Shameless plug, but I'll let you have it. Mind you, not sure the dedicated Football Manager fans are going to have time for this football/volleyball sport.

    • Rodaussie profile image

      Rodaussie 4 years ago

      Type footvolley on the squidoo search and have a look on this unique lens about this amazing sport. Have you imagined playing beach volleyball without use your hands?? Check the rules, videos and photos

    • PropheticBlogge1 profile image

      PropheticBlogge1 4 years ago

      Fantastic lens, I love footy sims ever since I played Football Manager on the ZX Spectrum way back in the early 80s when my best player was Kevin Keegan!! I too love bringing clubs up the divisions rather than plumping for a big name side. Exeter City where my choice to bring European Glory to!!

    • RJTame profile image
      Author

      Richard Tame 5 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      @ijbgraphics: Fantastic achievement!

    • ijbgraphics profile image

      ijbgraphics 5 years ago

      I am proud of my football manager 2012 achievements...I managed to take Eastbourne Borough to the premier league...largely by putting a lot of thought into tactics and being very cautious with money. Great game, and great lens :)

    • IQplusone profile image

      IQplusone 5 years ago

      great tactics - hopefully England will use them at the quarter-finals

    • domjohnson lm profile image

      domjohnson lm 5 years ago

      Thanks for the tips :)

    • profile image

      Shinkarom 5 years ago

      Not very big lens but information here is priceless