Du Malone writes: The bulk of links below refer to content about FM20. I have, however, included some links to content about:

  • other editions of FM (on the grounds that though editions vary, there are continuities too)
  • football in the real world (ITRW), where it seems to me the lessons for FM are obvious.

I should say that this is, unapologetically, a personal selection. 

PS I’m now adding content from the FM21 era, indicated with a * (when I remember).


Playing FM


Starting a save

What to do when you start a save: Passion4FM has provided a very helpful 11-point plan here: https://www.passion4fm.com/11-tasks-to-do-when-starting-a-new-save/

How to assess your squad at the start of a save: FM-Life provides guidance here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V52gNgrUggk

A step-by-step guide to initial squad analysis available from Passion4FM here: https://www.passion4fm.com/football-manager-guide-squad-analysis/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

FM Catenaccio uses the process of moving house as an extended metaphor for developing tactics: Making the move.

@fmcheapseats discusses ways to approach a joint save: https://thelutterworthfox.wordpress.com/2020/09/17/the-a-z-of-football-manager-joint-save/

Guides to leagues:

FM Eadster explains how to create a club: https://fmeadster.wordpress.com/2020/06/08/how-to-create-a-club-in-football-manager-fc-pripyat-fm20/

From Eleven, One examines how to move successfully from one club to another in ‘Moving clubs’, published in Latte Quarterly, Issue 4.

*Seattle Red on getting into a save: https://dictatethegame.com/because-no-good-story-starts-with-a-glass-of-milk/


*Gaffer Graemo, on the Technical Area podcast, introduces FM21 on Touch, Xbox, and Mobile: https://anchor.fm/the-technical-area/episodes/Ep52-FM21—Touch–XBOX–Switch-enunp3. His blog post here focuses on Touch: https://thefmtechnicalarea.wordpress.com/2021/01/16/fm21-touch-the-sidekick/

Dictate the Game puts the case for playing FM on Touch: https://dictatethegame.com/2020/02/03/why-fm-touch-might-be-the-game-for-you/

Also on Dictate the Game, FM Tahiti sees the upside of FMM20: Making the mobile move

Managing a save

*The9llamas identifies 10 ways to speed up your save: https://www.the9llamas.com/technology/speeding-up-football-manager#h.4etys0kafjzr

Planning for success: neat advice from @FMfutbolManager: https://t.co/s6bB6lV2IN?amp=1  

Season-long planning: https://fmathlete.wordpress.com/2020/05/22/down-the-danube-4-mapping-a-path-to-success/

Du Malone on keeping your players fit and free from injury: https://blackseafm.com/2020/02/23/how-to-keep-your-players-fit-and-free-from-injury/

Purdz provides wide-ranging practical advice on managing in the lower leagues: https://www.westreamfm.com/news-blog/2020/6/3/lower-league-management

Simon Kean identifies 30 ways not to lose: https://dictatethegame.com/2020/02/19/red-star-alliance-resultism-30-ways-to-not-lose/

From Eleven, One on how to restructure a squad without extensive transfer activity: https://fromelevenone.wordpress.com/2020/06/18/fk-macva-sabac-2026-squad-restructuring/

FM Grasshopper on reasons to leaven your squad with experienced players: https://www.footballmanager.com/the-byline/why-your-squad-needs-older-players-wednesday-wisdom

*fmbeats on his transfer strategy: https://fmbeats.wordpress.com/2021/05/18/self-critiquing-my-transfer-policy/

FM Eadster illustrates his approach to player recruitment: https://fmeadster.wordpress.com/2020/07/24/the-re-builders-of-pripyat-season-7-how-i-recruit-players/

On affiliate clubs and player pathways: Matty Lewis https://mattylewis11.medium.com/player-pathways-adding-value-through-affiliate-clubs-2e8f5e8e80c5 *

Old Lady Plays on team talks: https://dictatethegame.com/2020/07/03/maximizing-your-team-talks/

Grigor Pasha on how to handle agents: https://blackseafm.com/2019/11/27/youve-probably-been-thinking-about-agents-all-wrong/

FM Stag shows how to make playing FM less arduous by developing custom views. Part I is here https://dictatethegame.com/2020/05/27/custom-views-in-fm20-why-you-should-use-them-part-1/ and Part II here https://dictatethegame.com/2020/06/05/custom-views-in-fm20-why-you-should-use-them-part-2/.

There are suggestions on how to use nicknames, from FMheathen https://fmheathen.com/2018/04/02/why-you-should-consider-using-acronym-nicknames-in-football-manager/ and Du Malone https://blackseafm.com/2019/11/07/on-the-usefulness-of-nicknames/. *A more serious use of nicknames, as a way of monitoring tactics, is explained in this post, again from FMheathen: https://fmheathen.com/2020/12/09/heathens-rising-4-the-one-about-the-tactic/.

Tifo Football explains shirt numbering ITW: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFtXAGVJr20&feature=youtu.be

The Tactical Annals (Jonathon Aspey) on what to do when you’re struggling: https://thetacticalannals.wordpress.com/2020/03/28/when-it-just-isnt-working/

Reflective learning

Gaffer Graemo develops the parallel between reflective learning in professional practice and on FM: https://thefmtechnicalarea.wordpress.com/2019/07/24/management-self-evaluation/

SOGGplaysFM applies reflective learning to decisions about his use of a striker, in an article in Latte Quarterly: https://www.yumpu.com/xx/document/read/63500830/latte-quarterly-issue-three

And Guido Merry consults the data to see how to improve the performance of the shadow striker: https://strikerless.com/2020/11/15/the-shadowstriker-conundrum/

Reflective learning on set pieces by Rensie

A particular source of insightful writing is reflection on when things go wrong:

Club management


How to appoint staff:

How to use a Director of Football:

And Oliver Jensen on how to play as, in effect, the Director of Football: https://theresonlyoneball.com/2020/09/21/football-manager-2020-play-as-the-director-of-football/

Ms Football Manager shows how to use your physio to reduce injury levels: https://www.fmscout.com/a-how-to-cut-injuries-in-football-manager-2020-by-up-to-70-percent.html

Luke Hume investigates the impacts of assistant managers: https://dictatethegame.com/2020/06/19/assistant-managers-how-important-are-they-fm20-experiment/

Toby Lacey provides an introductory treatment of data analysts: https://dictatethegame.com/2020/01/22/data-analysts-how-important-are-they/


FM Athlete has devised a planning tool for training. It links training to attribute development: https://fmathlete.wordpress.com/2020/11/28/fm-training-planner-tool-updated-for-fm21/

@FMfutbolManager’s guidance on training: https://theresonlyoneball.com/2018/10/28/my-approach-to-training-in-football-manager-2019/

@FMfutbolManager also deals with pre-season training in an extensive post here: https://theresonlyoneball.com/2020/05/23/my-approach-to-preseason-training-in-football-manager-2020-part-i/

Rensie provides a detailed study of the effects of mentoring: https://www.fmrensie.net/2020/07/24/my-mentoring-in-football-manager-2020/

Fox in the Box argues that you shouldn’t leave training to your assistant manager: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cz3rBstuEAc.

Youth development

Gaffer Graemo on training and youth development: https://thefmtechnicalarea.wordpress.com/2019/12/06/teaching-the-tango-training-youth-development/

Integrating tactics and youth development — reflection from LPQR: https://asymmetric-football.com/2017/01/03/sparta-a-tactical-identity-journey-part-ii-integrating-youth-development-tactic-design/

Fuller FM provides a rounded treatment of youth intakes: https://fullerfm.wordpress.com/2020/04/10/fm-mythbusting-youth-intakes/

Score More FM explains how to discover good newgens: https://scoremorefm.wordpress.com/2019/01/16/how-to-be-the-first-to-find-the-best-newgens/#more-331


Jonathon Aspey and Guido Merry on solutions when your strikers keep failing to convert chances: https://strikerless.com/2015/02/24/finishing-chances-how-can-i-stop-my-forward-finishing-like-torres-at-chelsea/.

Rensie analyses issues relating to distribution from the back: https://www.fmrensie.net/2020/05/07/fm20-play-from-the-back/

*Daz on the art of making substitutions: https://dictatethegame.com/mastering-substitutions-a-guide-to-utilising-your-bench-during-a-game/

Opposition analysis

FM Catenaccio explains how he responds to the opposition in Analysing your opponent.

Jim G FM provides a worked example here (from about 06:40): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Stwjo4UiMUs&feature=youtu.be.

Set pieces

See the set pieces section on FM Rensie, especially the posts on near-post corners and throw-ins including short throw-ins: http://www.fmrensie.net/2020/06/08/fm20-short-throw-in/

*An FM update for FM21 is a classic (his best post to date?): https://www.fmrensie.net/2021/04/06/my-fm21-attacking-corner-routines/

Advice from the Gaming Dad on How to properly defend corners.

FM Catenaccio provides great analysis of long throws, from attacking and defensive points of view: Do you even Delap?

*Zealand explores the demise of the long throw in FM21: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3gPrswTUXI

Team tactics

*Detailed development of a catenaccio-style tactic from Crusadertsar: https://dictatethegame.com/zona-mista-fm21-recreation/

A worked example, from According to FM, on how to review one’s tactics: https://accordingtofm.wordpress.com/2019/12/04/fm20-tactics-attempting-to-beat-the-low-block/

FM Simmo provides ten tactical tips, all recommended in pleasantly assertive style: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjVoCPU0V80&feature=youtu.be

How to play route-one football: FM Tahiti provides a guide here: https://dictatethegame.com/2019/11/10/hoofball-fm20/

Madd FM explains how to play counter-attacking: https://maddfm.home.blog/counter-attack-fm-style/

FM Catenaccio synthesises several factors to help his team play from the back: Painting a picture from the back.

*Matty Lewis compares and contrasts variants of a three-man midfield: https://mattylewis11.medium.com/fm21-characteristics-of-the-trio-in-a-three-man-midfield-c6e8f3e152c5.

*Matty Lewis also devises tactics based on those of Jean-Claude Suaudeau: https://mattylewis11.medium.com/fm21-the-philosophy-of-jean-claude-suaudeau-the-nantes-way-6c2b6e6e9095


FM Eadster has published a series of posts on how to develop 4-4-2 tactics based on the historical thinking of Valeriy Lobanovskiy, beginning with https://fmeadster.wordpress.com/2019/11/29/the-re-builders-of-pripyat-a-valeriy-lobanovskiy-tactical-recreation/.

Score More FM outlines a pair of formations — 4-1-3-2 and 4-3-1-2: https://scoremorefm.wordpress.com/2020/05/18/a-diamond-4-4-2-tfc-flying-high-fm20/

Peter Prickett explains the evolution of his 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-2-1 tactics: http://www.pger.net/football/2020/08/08/fm19-tactic-build-bringing-the-hexadiamond-to-life/

FM Grasshopper shows how to use a River Plate-inspired 4-1-3-2 here https://fmgrasshopper.com/blog/2020/1/17/football-manager-tactics-gallardos-4-1-3-2-river-plate-fm20 and a San Jose-inspired 4-2-3-1 here https://fmgrasshopper.com/blog/2019/7/16/football-manager-tactics-almeydas-4-2-3-1-san-jose-earthquakes-fm19.

The half Spaces also writes about 4-2-3-1, in a number of versions: https://thehalfspaces.com/ode-to-the-4231/ *

A 5-4-1 system, based on the tactics of Maurizio Sarri, is explained by Luke James: https://firsttouchfm.home.blog/2019/09/28/5-4-1-sarriball-tactic-football-manager-2019/

Alex Parkin develops a 3-3-2-0-2 formation based on Chris Wilder’s Sheffield United: https://stratmangaming.wordpress.com/2020/03/14/tactics-through-time-sheffield-united-5-3-2/.

On strikerless, three authors outline 3-6-1(-0) formations: https://strikerless.com/2020/02/20/the-dirty-half-dozen/

Positions and roles

How to utilise a sweeper keeper: advice from Jonathon Aspey: https://thetacticalannals.wordpress.com/2018/03/03/how-to-utilise-the-sweeper-keeper-effectively-on-football-manager/

Dictate the Game provides a study of complete wing backs: https://dictatethegame.com/2020/06/29/unsung-heroes-complete-wing-back-fm/

FM Pressure focuses on full backs here https://fmpressure.com/2020/05/21/modern-full-backs-part-1/, here https://fmpressure.com/2020/05/28/modern-full-backs-part-2/ and here: https://fmpressure.com/2020/11/10/fm20-modern-full-backs-part-3/

Defensive midfielders:

Rock’s End FM provides a study of the segundo volante: https://twitter.com/rocksendfm/status/1307952914644819968

*Rock’s End on the mezzala: https://rocksendfm.wordpress.com/2021/05/21/the-italian-roles-the-mezzala/

Guido Merry examines the inverted winger role here https://strikerless.com/2019/11/08/the-inverted-winger-our-new-wide-option/

More from Dictate the Game, here on target men and their deployment: https://dictatethegame.com/2020/01/15/targetman-superhero-striker-for-fm20/

A post from real-world football on target men, especially wide target men, that I find can readily be applied to FM comes from Sportslens: https://sportslens.com/the-evolution-of-the-target-man/66361/

MaddFM, writing on WeStreamFM, explores the use of utility men: https://www.westreamfm.com/news-blog/the-underutilised-utility-man

Rock’s End FM and FM Grasshopper on the enganche role (or, rather, roles): https://rocksendfm.wordpress.com/2020/10/26/the-south-american-roles-the-enganche-feat-fm-grasshopper/

*Rock’s End FM on trequartistas: https://rocksendfm.wordpress.com/2021/05/31/the-italian-roles-the-trequartista/

On strikers, see the article by SOGGplaysFM, listed above under ‘Reflective learning’.

FM Futbol Manager discusses how to convert a player from one position/role to another: https://theresonlyoneball.com/2020/06/07/my-approach-to-retraining-players-in-football-manager-2020/ 



Charlie Tango FM  on working as an assistant researcher for SI: Latte Quarterly, Issue 5, pp. 6-7.

Facci Sognare, focusing on the case of Brandley Kuwas, raises the intriguing question, Why do bad players do well? The first of the posts tracking Kuwas’s progress is here: https://faccisognare.wordpress.com/2015/04/11/going-dutch-season-1-early-days-or-the-mysteries-of-fm-why-do-bad-players-play-well/.

FM Tahiti explores expected assists (xA): https://dictatethegame.com/expected-assists-xa-and-received-passes-in-fm20/  and expected goals (xG): https://dictatethegame.com/a-guide-to-xg-in-fm21/ *. on xG, Old Lady Plays has an introductory video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYFDwYt4Hm0&feature=youtu.be.*

From time to time FM throws up some good comic writing. My favourite example is from fmhotseat: https://www.thehighertempopress.com/2016/12/fm17-hot-seat-1-2-pressing-issues/.

One of my favourite posts is @FMrambling’s account of how an FM infatuation led to a real world visit: https://thefmramblings.wordpress.com/2016/08/17/fm-v-real-world/.





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