Football Manager A-Z: K is for Knowledge

Football Manager A-Z: K is for Knowledge

For previous A-Z entries, please visit: The A-Z of Football Manager

Today’s guest author is @kizmarlo!


Yeah, K was a difficult letter – let’s not dance around it.  And whilst it may be easy to surmise ‘Knowledge’ as ‘know more = get good’, there are actually plenty of fine-tuning aspects to Football Manager that come within the depths of knowledge within the game.

Throughout this piece, I shall be referring to my own save with Dortmund and Sri Lanka – heavily-influenced by the Big Club, Little Country save-type that did the rounds a lot from FM14 in the forum community.  The idea here being that you take over a big side with great facilities (Dortmund), and do everything you can to generate and train youngsters from your little country (Sri Lanka).

Firstly, let’s explain the step that is most easily visualised:

In the above picture, you can see my manager’s Scouting Knowledge – which is a graphical representation of which countries/regions you know the most about.  This is due to me making my manager of Sri Lankan nationality.  I imagine my knowledge of Germany will increase rapidly whilst I manage here, which is assisted by how quickly I adapt to my new surroundings (the rate of which will be helped by my own manager’s personal Adaptability attribute).

NB: If you’re club-hopping around the world, that adaptability attribute will definitely come in handy!

SCOUTING KNOWLEDGE

If you’re a ‘hardcore’ player, without attribute-masking, then we’ve all felt that infuriation at not being able to find the best players from obscure lands with ease.  Well, the more knowledge of a region you have, the easier it gets – more players appear in your Player Search screen, and attribute ranges are more concentrated/narrower; which allows you to be more efficient with your time in discovering new talent from around the globe.

In order to increase your knowledge of specific regions (in my example, South Asia), there’s a few tricks to use.

Now, in my save, I’ve only just taken-over at Dortmund, so the club’s knowledge is ‘Nominal’ as I am the only individual contributing factor to this.

However, there are obviously some moves we can make to improve this knowledge:

Recruitment Focuses.

Am I expecting Dortmund’s best scouts to recommend me hundreds of Sri Lankan players for the first-team in season one?  No, not at all. 

However, by setting the quality to minimum on both Current and Potential Ability, and making it an Ongoing focus for both the nation of Sri Lanka and players of Sri Lankan nationality, I’m looking to drive-up our club knowledge as high as possible, as quickly as possible.  And if by some miracle, any useful players show-up, I’ll happily snap them up for my reserve/youth teams to try and train them up and boost the national side. 

However, I definitely appreciate that that may not be up everyone’s street – and instead you might want the ‘quicker fix’.  Well, take-away the silliness of scouring Sri Lanka, and replace it instead with Argentina/Brazil/Serbia/any other wonderkid hotbed, and this knowledge groundwork will make wonderkid hunting so much easier in the future.

Quick note:  If you are doing this in nations like Argentina/Brazil, then obviously ‘up’ the current and potential ability parameters so you’re narrowing that focus to not waste too much time with scouting useless players.  In my example, I’m looking to generate as much knowledge as possible of a nation regardless of quality, whereas with the above, you’re going to be accessing a lot of higher quality players straight off the bat.

So, the question is really:  why bother?

SHORTCUTS!

Lots of us love the in-depth nature of Football Manager, but let’s face it – sometimes it can be rather daunting, and I can assure you that managers in real life aren’t going to a Scouting screen and organising all U19 players in the world by Determination when looking to replace a player.

The more knowledge you have, the quicker things are.  Even without attribute masking, your world knowledge is an incredibly useful thing to be ever-expanding. 

Want to be the first side to spot that Surinamese wonderkid in Groningen’s U19 squad without the hassle of PSG gazumping you?

Want to have basic knowledge of most young talent around the world?

Want to be able to dismiss a young talent for having terrible hidden attributes without wasting a month scouting him to death?

Then this is really for you.

Knowledge is Power

So, I’ve now advanced a month in my Dortmund/Sri Lanka test, and we’ve gone up to Sporadic knowledge of the South Asian region already.  With this, we have a basic knowledge of most players from Sri Lanka, which in turn means it now only takes us a week of scouting an individual player thoroughly to return full attributes (no ranges), and also brings us useful information from which we can extrapolate details on their hidden attributes.

In the example of Kumara Sirisena, we can see that he is a consistent performer – which is great!  This means he’ll put a shift in, and be less liable to throwing-in an absolute stinker of a performance.  More importantly for me personally, that consistency means that he should be a great trainer, as there’s nothing more frustrating than a first-team player that puts in 6.5 training performances and sets a terrible example.

If paired with complimentary attributes, and things like high professionalism, it can be a great sign that this player is set to be a great pro, or a young talent that is definitely capable of putting in the hard yards and ease their development/path to the first team.

Now, am I going to buy him and use him at Dortmund?  Of course not (sorry Kumara!).  But it’s a good sign that he’s a solid professional to have around the national team set-up in this example.

On the flip-side, say you’ve found a borderline case for a wonderkid from South America where you’re unsure whether to pay Boca Juniors £15m for him or not…

With this initial groundwork of knowledge, you take a week to see that he has poor mental traits/pros and cons, and move on.

Without this knowledge, you either spend a month reaching the above conclusion; or get impatient and take a punt on him.  Then wonder why he’s not the next Messi by the time he’s 20 and struggling to get minutes in your first-team because of his slack approach to training and development.

Add in the fact that if you’re generating knowledge in an active playable league then you can get all sorts of great data from your analysts too – and suddenly your scouting set-up and talent identification is so much more streamlined than the base iteration of the game would normally allow.

Scouting Recap

So let’s just run-over the benefits of increasing your base knowledge quickly:

1) The more world knowledge you have, the more players appear on your Player Search screen.  Less important at a huge club, but if you’re struggling to discover new cheap talents and pad-out your squad, then it’s a game-changer.  With low knowledge, you’re only accessing about 20% of the ‘players found’ that you’re paying-for by unlocking a wider scouting range.

2) Doing the groundwork in advance means you can make quicker decisions around the transfer window.  With better knowledge, your reports are more accurate in terms of current and potential ability, and access better information as suggested above (and don’t forget that it can also expose minimum release clause fees much quicker too!)

3) The more knowledge you have of players around the world, the quicker you can adapt.  Maybe you have a tricky away tie in Europe to an Eastern European side.  They have a talented youngster, and whilst you’re expecting to win, he could catch you out.  Well, you suddenly know that he’s got a weak left foot and is inconsistent.  Suddenly, you man-mark him and show him to his left foot all game.  Problem solved and squeaky bum time avoided.

Extra Little Tips

If you are targeting a specific nation to build your knowledge in, in order to develop talent from there, then there’s a few extra little details you can go into beyond changing your own manager’s nationality to fit.

First-off, filling your staff with coaches from that nation (particularly youth staff) can influence your youth intakes to a minor degree.  Now, I’m not promising a full intake of (in my case) Sri Lankans, but you can definitely expect at least one every other year with at least partial nationality.  A big deal when you’re a club the size/quality of Dortmund and trying to improve a national set-up.

Now obviously, you want to have the best youth staff possible, and that’s a sacrifice we’re making – but the plan is to train them up as they go.  Get them to their Pro Licences, then cut them loose into the big bad world to sow Sri Lankan seeds in the German lower tiers.

Eventually, you’ll pick-up staff with better personalities (Model Citizen, Model Professional, Resolute, Driven etc etc) and run wild from there.

The other trick you can use is to request a specific affiliate club from your board.  Having an affiliate from a certain club does wonders for your knowledge of their nation, as well as granting you a degree of shared knowledge from their own set-up too.  So, say you have an American affiliate with a Brazilian head coach… suddenly you’re killing two birds in one stone, and inevitably getting a mild boost to your knowledge of North and Central America on the whole too!

In summary, at the most basic level, knowledge is a key mechanic that unlocks more players for you scout in the auto-generated panel, lessening the reliance on spending hours/days manually scouting minor nations and lower reputation players.  At it’s deepest end, you can use it in the form of world creation and engagement with a long-term save.

The deeper you dive, the more entrancing your long-term plans can become.

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