With the full release of FM18 a little over two weeks away, or six months ago depending on when you get round to reading this, I am sure most will already know what their first, second or even third saves will be. For those undecided few, or for anyone a little bored of the same type of save take some inspiration from the below list. Many have been done before and there will be content out there for you to gather inspiration from or to improve upon. A lot of the below elements will be in your saves already, but it is the idea of taking the challenge on and going fully into it which interests me.
One club legend
This is likely the most popular type of save and more than likely how we all begin our FM experience. No matter where it takes place in the footballing world, becoming that manager that everyone remembers and goes down in the clubs history takes time and hard work. Taking on one club from the start of the game and sticking with them through thick and thin, aiming to do as best as possible and cementing your name in the clubs record books. Be it as the most successful or just the one who stayed for the longest period and who steadied the ship there a few ways to play this kind of save. Added bonus points for having a stadium named after you during your reign.
If you find it difficult to stick to one side throughout the lifespan of the game then a journeyman is for you. Pick a starting point and then control that team for a few seasons. If you can build some success then a bigger side may come knocking and you can move on. Bouncing around from club to club experiencing a wide variety of teams and leagues keeps the game fresh and can make the seasons pass quickly. For added difficulty then start at the bottom of the league structure with no coaching abilities. Keep moving onward and upwards until you reach the top of the game. Unless you are reading this as a retired pro at the top of the game then this is the most realistic path into management for you.
Modern football has started to see a new business model rising in popularity as clubs look to expand their global stretch by owning more than one club. Some, such as the Red Bull clubs are easily identifiable, but others less so. The idea behind this save is to own more than one club who are at different levels. One is used as a development side to bring on the potential players before transferring to play for the main clubs. The best example of this type of save was ‘Taste the Feeling’ on Tempo this year where Reids (@from_the_wing) started with a club in the Belgian league, before adding more in other countries throughout the season to grow his empire. One thing to note though is that this type of save can be a large commitment and will take a fair few hours to get through the seasons.
Director of football
The idea behind this save is to allow the Director of Football control over the clubs incoming and outgoing transfers. Many clubs at the top level already operate in this way and the manager will have little if any influence in transfers. Many FM players may already have their DoF’s handling staff and other contracts but handing over total control to the AI could make for some interesting results throughout the seasons. With improved AI intelligence in FM18 this may help make the save even more realistic. How will you react when the DoF signs his sixth right back of the summer, or when they sell your star striker in January and leaving only a youth prospect in his place?
As of yet, it is not possible to manage a side which is not part of a league structure. Starting at a youth team or U23 in the case of the Premier League would be a nice point to progress from and make Football Manager all the more realistic. There are leagues around the world which have ‘B teams’ in their lower divisions though so taking control at one of these sides would be a challenge. During this save you will never be sure if your best players will be picked for the senior side and therefore being ineligible for your game. Progress in the save may be limited however as B teams are not granted promotion to the same league as the senior side so reaching the top league and European Football is not possible. Countries which have this structure include Spain, Portugal, The Netherlands and Germany.
Youth intake day is up there with Christmas for many FMers as it gives that yearly chance to uncover a gem who can lead you to glory or be sold for a mint. Often though, much Christmas, it is full of fake smiles and making the best with what you get. Great players are being generated somewhere though so many will scout to find these and pick them up before the AI sides. This, however, is not the purpose of a youth-only save. The basic premise is to be as successful as possible using only players developed from your clubs youth academy. How far can you really get using only players produced and trained in house?
Often mislabeled as Moneyball, this kind of save revolves around the transfer market. Optimising the clubs scouting network in order to bring in the best talent in order to develop and sell for the highest profit. This would also link into to the above ‘youth-only’ style save, but allow access to other clubs kids to snap up and sell for maximum profit. You could set certain limitations on age or value to sign players at before utilising them for a few seasons and selling for £££’s. Why not keep a running total throughout the seasons of how much you’ve made? Would you use this to get to a high level and then sacrifice your profit for glory, or would you go full ‘Southampton’ and maintain a midtable place but generating profit year on year?
Raising a Nation
Nations like Germany, Italy, Sapin and even England have been at the top of the club game for a number of years now. One will often have periods where they are better than the rest but generally, you know that these countries will have 3-4 Champions League spots each season. A ‘rasing a nation’ save involves building a smaller leagues reputation enough to climb up the continental coefficient list. Left to their own devices this list would likely just remain constant throughout, baring the small improvement. But can you take a Swiss side and make them consistent European challengers and with it raise Switzerland to a point where they have multiple Champions League spots each year? Or how about a very small league like Latvia or Norway. Can you improve these leagues enough to allow your fellow rival clubs access to the European competitions?
FM2017 has been the year of Brexit and a number of saves have appeared surrounding the idea of combatting a hard Brexit. It was a lottery in game which type of Brexit a user would see in their save and the level of work permit needed. One would imagine that Brexit will still be in FM2018 given the UK’s stance at this time, but how it will be implemented in game remains to be seen. The idea is to take a British club and use the seasons prior to Brexit happening to prepare by finding the best talent available before they become a premium. Can you reach the top with a totally British XI?
Club and Country
This is fairly self-explanatory but is part of the game which you rarely see in real life football anymore. A club manager would no longer be able to take on the task of running a successful club side as well as competing internationally. In game, however, you may as well fill those international breaks with some action rather than resentment as your players get injured. This can work with any nation or league but often is best with the smaller ones. You may be able to make a second division side in Poland win the Champions League but will you be able to cap that season with a summer World Cup win for the national side too?
The final save on the list is one of the more difficult ones as access to players is small and quite random. The idea behind it is that during this save you cannot spend any of your transfer budget, only signing players which are out of contract or available for free. There are always players who approach the end of the season with their contracts expiring but will you be able to convince them that your club is the next step? Don’t forget to explore the loan market also though, just don’t pay a fee. Could a side reach the top of the game by only signing free players?
Many of the above are elements which you will already include in your regular save but I hope the past 1500 words gave you inspiration for something new to try for 2018. As I said there are a number of blogs and videos on the above save types, many of which are on Tempo already so give these a read beforehand.
Best of luck for FM18!