Du Malone writes: Now that the publication date for FM21 has been announced, I looked back to see how I was writing at a similar stage last year. Below is the text of a blog post from that time.

I find that my thinking hasn’t changed: I believe now, as then, that this time of year is ripe for exploration — at a macro, meso, and micro level.

The text of the original post is here:

So FM20 won’t be published until 19 November and even the beta version won’t be out until a couple of weeks before that.

It’s disappointing, since the experience of previous years had led us to expect an earlier date — though to my knowledge the producers never made any promises about that.

Frustrating too. All those who didn’t embark on a new save earlier in the autumn, on the grounds that there wouldn’t be time develop it before the new edition arrived, are probably now thinking, ‘Well, there isn’t time now, but there would have been then’.

Creativity

The frustration’s understandable. But that doesn’t justify the abuse that the game’s developer, Miles Jacobson, has evidently been receiving on social media.

I’m reminded of Nigel Newton’s response, as CEO of Bloomsbury Publishing, to investor frustration over a delay in the publication of one of the Harry Potter books: ‘Welcome to the creative industries’.

Indian summer

Rather than abuse the creative, I suggest a better response is to think of the intervening period as an Indian summer — unexpected extra time in which to make the most of the remains of the year.

15 Oct 19 Indian summer
‘Indian summer in Holland’ by Leo Wilde, generously made available under a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 licence.

That there isn’t time to develop a new save of long duration has, I find, a silver lining: it means that I can play with a new abandon, because outcomes don’t much matter. (For those with long memories: A bit like when Joe Mercer took over as interim manager after Sir Alf got the push.)

A time to explore, a time to experiment, as the Book of Ecclesiastes didn’t say.

So recently I’ve been exploring on three levels — the macro, the meso, and the micro.

The macro level

I’ve been exploring clubs and leagues that I haven’t played with before, but intend to in my Black Sea FM20 scenario

In the Ukraine, for example, I played with Chernomorets Odesa. I did so only for a few weeks of the pre-season, but that was long enough to learn about the scene there — the characteristics of players, the quality of staff, the transfer market, and so on.

In Bulgaria, I’ve played for longer. I got sacked by Nesebar towards the end of the third year of an eventful save. I felt the usual dismay and, I admit, shame. But I didn’t feel the usual anger.

During this Indian summer it’s as if my personality has changed from fairly professional to light-hearted.

Now I’m onto Chernomorets Balchik, also in Bulgaria’s second tier, and it all feels pleasantly relaxed, as befits a sojourn by the sea.

The meso

I’ve been experimenting with delegation. Nothing too radical, because I find it difficult to relinquish control. But I’ve at least tried delegating tunnel interviews, press conferences, team talks at so on.

I’ve also been experimenting a little by ranging up and down the spectrum that runs between create-tactics-that-suit-your-players and make-the-players-fit-your-preferred-tactics.

And the micro

Finally, there’s ample opportunity for tweaking. Retaining a position but changing the role, for example — or even just the duty.

I’ve also been forcing myself out of ruts by selecting options and settings that I normally never use, especially in team talks and conversations. The result has been a good deal of learning: ‘Oh, I never guessed it would have that effect!’

The ploy I’ve had most fun with is searching restricted to pairs attributes, just to see what comes up. Who’s the player who has the highest acceleration AND pace, for example. Or aggression AND composure, marking AND concentration, stamina AND work rate.

I’ve uncover players I’d never normally look for or at. One of them — a poacher who couldn’t do much more than finish in composed fashion — nearly saved my bacon at Nesebar.

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