Du Malone writes: I’m far from expert about what goes on, on the pitch. So to succeed at Football Manager (FM) I have to attend closely to what goes on, off it.
One area in which I do seem to succeed is management of injuries and fitness. My aim is always that, when the match preview arrives, we find that we have fewer players out with injury than the opposition.
Utilising assets to the full not only means you get the best out of your players: it also means that you need fewer players, enabling you to make the budget go further.
Here is the protocol that I work through in pursuit of that aim.
Acquisition and divestments
Before bringing in (or deciding to retain) a player, check the scouting report for signs of injury proneness.
Also check their injury history:
- Consider how much time they lose to injury
- Bear in mind that the total amount of time lost includes not only the duration of the injury itself, but also rehab
- Analyse the history for the following red flags: recurring injuries; frequent injuries in training; and unexplained injuries
Attend to players’ attributes and preferred moves:
- Bravery is admirable, but can lead to more frequent injury (and how brave does your roaming playmaker need to be?)
- Cowardice (sorry, ‘avoiding rough challenges’) isn’t admirable, but can help the player avoid injury (pertinent especially for ageing enganches)
- Poor agility can lead to greater incidence of injury
- A low level of natural fitness means that a player can take an age to regain condition/fitness
If offering a contract to an injury doubt, try to shift the balance of remuneration from wage to appearance fee. And seek a break clause for serious injury.
Staff and training
Use your permitted allocation of fitness coaches, physios, and sport scientists.
Use the comparison graph (accessible when you click the staff page) to compare the capacity of staff with that of other clubs.
Schedule physical training regularly, with a heavy weighting pre-/early season and a light one later in the season, especially when fixtures come thick and fast.
Schedule recovery sessions after matches.
Monitor players’ condition. After a match, consider giving them a rest (although it may make sense to initiate this after the post-match recovery session). Where fixtures come once a week I’m likely to give a rest to anyone with a condition of less than, say, 73%.
Use reserve/youth team matches to manage players’ match fitness. Avoid waiting until match condition falls to a low level (say, below 90%). Consider giving players short bursts of playing time (20 or 45 mins) if their match fitness percentage is early-mid 90s.
Listen to warnings from the medical centre about match fatigue (a risk that might not be fully reflected in condition and match fitness percentages).
Make your default position to pay for specialist treatment where available, since it tends to be inexpensive.
Avoid being tempted by medical short-cuts (notably injections).
 An alternative view is outlined on the episode of the Technical Area podcast dedicated to training (2 Nov 2019). From about 11:42 GafferGraemo argues that other training modules can contribute to player’s fitness. As a corollary, he argues that ‘you want a fitness coach who has responsibilities in other sessions, so not having a dedicated fitness coach but having someone who has high fitness ratings who maybe is quite good in other areas’ could bring success. I think his suggestion not to schedule standalone fitness sessions (other than perhaps resistance training) might be risky, but agree the conception of developing a holistic perspective on fitness is helpful.