Du Malone writes: This post outlines my protocol for selecting a save. Though I realise others won’t like it, it works for me.

  1. Select the league(s).
    1. Find the right level:
      1. Eliminate elite leagues, such as the English Premier League (and even the EFL Championship). I have little interest in these leagues IRL and rarely feel at home in them on FM, at least at the start of a save
      2. Eliminate very low level leagues. You know: when, for example, you can’t find physio or fitness attributes above, say, 4 or 5. I do like to have something to work with. Something like the Greek second tier is ideal
    2. Eliminate leagues with lengthy programmes. I like everything (for example, transfer window, youth intake day, and first round of the cup) to come around asap. I tend, therefore, to avoid leagues with large numbers of clubs or those where everyone has to play each other three or even four times.
  2. Use finance as a criterion for winnowing. The finances don’t have to be secure — and clubs like that are hard to find, though Israel and Switzerland seem to be happy hunting grounds. But the finances do have to be at least OK. I hate finding myself in the situation where I’ve carefully assembled a squad and then we have to do a fire sale. I realise that IRL many managers must find themselves in this position, but I’m paying for the game with my time and money, so I draw the line there.
  3. St Jude the Apostle, patron saint of lost causes. Image by Lawrence Op, generously made available under a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 licence.

    Use expectation as the next criterion. I tend to avoid clubs that are expected to win, or even challenge, for things. Mid-table is fine, though a bit boring. ‘Fight bravely against relegation’? Now you’re talking! By nature a I’m a salvager. As a manager my patron saint is St Jude the Apostle.

  4. Use squad composition as the next criterion.
    1. I avoid squads with lots of wide players as they tend not to suit my tactics (though I’ll make an exception for wide target men). I don’t want to be faced with a ‘No offers for seven players’ message when I have to try to ship out a cavalier (that’s a group noun I’ve just invented) of wingers.
    2. I also tend to avoid squads with lots of players with very low determination attributes, by which I mean something like 5 or under. Life’s too short.
  5. By now I’m probably down to a shortlist. Assuming that shortlist is >1, I then seek to make a balanced decision by balancing the following factors:
    1. The staffing allocation. I’ve noticed from podcasts that many players of FM find staff uninteresting. I’m exactly the opposite. Partly because my preferred strategy of starting with a humble team and trying to develop players requires good staff. And also because I’m no expert on many of the technical or tactical aspects of football, so have to compensate with a 360 degree approach to club development.
    2. The training facilities. I’m not very worried about youth facilities. The clubs I manage tend to have only two squads and often the youth squad is small, so I often economise by getting rid of youth staff (bar the Head of Youth Development) and elevating the (usually few) remaining youth players into the senior squad. Equally I’m not very worried about ground capacity: I like to think that, because of my boot-strapping approach, I don’t need large gate receipts: and if crowds grow a lot as a result of progression, well then we can extend the stadium. I do, though, want training facilities for the senior squad to be at least adequate, so as to leverage the advantages that a good backroom staff bring.
    3. The strip. If all goes well, I’ll be spending many hours watching the team, so an attractive (and preferably distinctive) kit is welcome.

Because my FM20 saves will be based on the Black Sea concept, my selections are, as I explain in ‘FM saves revealed‘ post, half-way made already.

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