Three months after the release of Football Manager 2019, by now you’re probably either bored of your usual go-to clubs and players, or you’re so frustrated by the game’s complexity that you’ve given up on it.
So if you need a reason to fire up the game again, here’s our ‘top fives’ in a variety of categories to gives you some new ideas for clubs to manage, players to sign, and formations to use:
Thank us later.
Kristoffer Ajar: Most of the game’s wonderkids are prohibitively expensive and will only sign for Europe’s leading clubs, but there are some gems who are willing to play for any mid-table Premier League side – as long as you act fast.
One such is Celtic’s centre-back Ajar, a bargain buy at £10million who blends immaculate defensive attributes with passing (16), teamwork (17), and leadership (17). He is the complete defender.
Joao Felix: Within three years Felix becomes the best attacking midfielder on the game, and he can usually be signed for less than £10million early on in the game. It’ll take a couple of seasons before he’s any good, but he boasts technique, passing, first touch, and vision all 17 or higher by the age of 20.
Lovro Majer: Available for just a couple of million from Dynamo, Majer is a number 10 with all the flair and technical ability of Felix, albeit without quite the same potential. His dribbling and agility both stand out for a player in his position, making Majer a cross between a playmaker and a centre-forward.
Sandro Tonali: The Brescia teenager will happily sign for any Premier League club at the beginning of the game, and, although his stats aren’t particularly high, Tonali is a very consistent performer when deployed as a box-to-box central midfielder. With every single mental and physical attribute in the double digits, Tonali is the all-rounder that’s so hard to find on FM19.
Dennis Man: The cheapest player on this list will cost around £5million from Romania, and yet Man is a significantly more talented winger than the vast majority of the more renowned wonderkids on the game. He has great stamina (17) and teamwork (13) for a direct winger in his particular mould.
Aston Villa: With easily the best squad in the Championship and a £50million transfer budget once promoted, Aston Villa are arguably the simplest team on the game to bring back to the top. Try to win the Champions League within four years and mark the occasion on the 40th anniversary of Villa’s 1982 European Cup triumph.
AS Saint-Etienne: The French club have already got this project off the ground, finishing seventh in 2017-18, but this is nothing in comparison to Saint-Etienne’s rich history. The 10-time Ligue 1 champions haven’t tasted success since 1981; knocking PSG off the top would be one hell of an achievement.
Parma: Finally back in Serie A, Parma have been climbing the ladder since reforming in 2015 following bankruptcy. It’s been pretty dull managing the Italian club in previous versions of the game, simply because it was so easy winning each division on the way to the top flight, but now you can jump straight into a real challenge. Parma have won the Coppa Italia three times and the UEFA Cup twice… but never Serie A.
Athletic Bilbao: Only Barcelona and the two Madrid clubs have won La Liga more times than Athletic’s eight, and yet they (or any Basque club) haven’t won the title since 1984. Having narrowly survived relegation last season it won’t be easy getting Athletic into Europe, never mind breaking the triolopy in Spain.
Sunderland: The darkest days are surely behind Sunderland now. They are ready to rebuild from League One, meaning a fairly easy first year of a project, but the ultimate goal is to win the Premier League – their first since 1936 and seventh in total.
Use your Director of Football for transfer suggestions: Not many people seem to know this, but if you click on the ‘Transfers’ tab, then ‘Director of Football’ and ‘Suggest Transfer Targets’ then you get an instant scouting tool. Particularly at a lower level, your Director of Football will tend to produce a couple of excellent obscure recommendations.
Use narrow forwards to exploit AI gaps: For years playing three ‘support strikers’ together has tricked the AI into giving users an unfair advantage, and, while that does appear to have been patched, the best route to goal remains exploiting the gaps between opposition full-backs and centre-backs. Underlapping runs, plus inside forwards, will help.
Focus on player fitness and rotate regularly: For some reason opposition managers tend not to rotate players, so when you get deep into the season many of the players faced will have 80-85% fitness at the start of a match. Simply by regularly rotating, as well as lowering training intensity, users can get a major advantage in this department.
Tactics & team bonding are the most important training additions: Your players will be more than capable of coping with a couple of extra sessions on top of the automatic selections. The best are ‘Team Bonding’, which helps the players gel together after a busy summer, and ‘Match Tactics’, which seems to give a solid pre-match boost.
Customise your squad view for maximum detail: The default organisation on the tactics screen is pretty poor. For ease of use and to get to know your team better, users should add ‘Last Five Games’, ‘Player Morale’, ‘Match Sharpness’, and ‘Points won per game’.
By Alex Keble