Football Manager 2017 has officially been released today and the 2 week beta has ended.
The beta was available for those who preordered the game and as I’d preordered I’ve been playing the beta on and off for the last 2 weeks.
My initial impressions were good as written in a previous blog and now the beta has ended I’m still happy with the game and I thought I’d give a write up on my beta experience.
My beta career started with Carlisle United who play in the English football league 2. I usually pick them as they are the closest league team to me in real life.
At the start of the season I analysed the squad and was impressed with the quality of players. This surprised me a bit as usually Carlisle have a poor squad as they have struggled in real life. However the squad looks good and in real life they are the only football league club still unbeaten.
Being happy with the squad I didn’t need to make any major changes to it but it could still be strengthened as there are always better players to buy.
First thing I always do after analysing the squad is look at my backroom staff and sack anyone who has poor stats and replace them. Usually with lower league clubs most staff can be replaced with better and this time was no different. The only staff I kept was my assistant manager and goalkeeping coach as I couldn’t find better but the rest I’d look to replace.
Next I send my scouts out to look for new players. The way I do this is sending them to scout either regions or individual countries looking for players with at least 4 star potential. This way they usually find players that can improve my squad. With Carlisle being in league 2 I could only scout in UK and Ireland. I tried asking my board to expand this but they refused.
Once my staff are sacked, replacements found and scouts sent out i then look on the player search list to try and find players myself. This usually involves looking at who is available on loan and who is currently out of contract. This is due to Carlisle having a small transfer and wage budget so getting players for free is all I can really get.
The loan market was limited as not many players wanted to come on loan and the ones who did weren’t an improvement so I stuck to looking for free transfers. To find good free transfer players I offer anyone that looks like a potential improvement a 4 week trial so that my coaches can look at them and give full reports. I can also play them in friendly games. Anyone who looks like they can improve the squad I’ll try to sign. Usually I can trial up to 50 players but only sign 4 or 5. Its a long process but worth it as I can find some quality players for the lower league I’m in.
I did get annoyed at one of the new features when signing players on trial as after every one I got I had the press asking if he would be signing permanently. In the end I stopped answering them and just gave no comment.
I often find that any new game I start on FM I can spend hours before I even click continue for the first time. It’s like I’ve got FM OCD and I have to do the same routine each time. Once I’m happy I’ve sorted my staff, team and started looking at players I can move on to friendlies.
Pre season went well. My Carlisle team were unbeaten and I managed to sign a few players to improve the team and sold a couple of my rubbish players.
Going into the league games I was full of confidence, my team looked good and I’d had a good pre season. My tactics were based on quick counter attacks and worked well in friendlies.
The first few competitive games brought a mixed bag of results. At home I was struggling to win but away I was getting some good results. I lost in the league cup in the first round against higher opposition but I thought I was doing well. By October I was just outside the playoffs doing better than expected but not doing as good as I would have liked. I’d also been knocked out of the Checkatrade trophy, I wasn’t bothered about that as the league was more important so I rested key players for the trophy games.
Then my team went on a poor run of games. I found that they were really struggling to score and when I looked into it further I found they were shooting from range 80% of the time! I decided to change my tactics to a more possession game to work it into the box. This got me a few good results but the players were still shooting from range most of the time and I was still losing despite dominating the games.
I wondered if it was a bug in beta making them shoot from range so I looked on the forums and found others having the same problem. It could be a bug but other people say it’s just the wrong tactics. It could be a bit of both.
Coming into the Christmas period my form hadn’t improved but I was maintaining a mid table position. Morale was rock bottom and my board were unhappy. That’s when I got called into the board room and given an ultimatum, get 10 points out of the next 15 (5 games) or I’ll be sacked!
Following that was the January transfer window so I had chance to improve the squad. I managed to get an ex Juventus Brazilian goalkeeper albeit he was 35 and barely played a game for Juventus but he was still better than what I had, and I got an ex liverpool German striker who was only 22 but never got into Liverpools first team.
Things were looking up as I was still in the FA cup and won my 3rd round tie with my new striker getting 2. I then won 2 and drew 1 of my next league games so had 7 points out of the 10 needed with 2 games to go. Next game I got beat at home despite being the better team which left me with needing to win my next game. It was away to second in the league.
I started the game well and went 2-0 by first half feeling confident I’d get the win needed. Unfortunately this is Football Manager and I was well and truly FM’d! At the start of the second half I had a man sent off. I then conceded a penalty from which they scored. Being 2-1 down and a man down I changed to a more counter attacking tactic which started to work, my team were creating chances but missing clear cut shots. I then won a penalty late in the game, thinking if we score we’ll win – penalty missed!
Getting into the last few minutes I shut up shop and had all men behind the ball, wasting time trying to contain them. Usually this will see a match out but not this time. Following 4 minutes of added time I conceded an equalizers in the 96th minute! 96! There was only supposed to be 4 added on!
Straight after the game I was sacked. I only managed 8 points but needed 10. I think it was harsh as I was seconds away from getting 10, I’d signed a couple of good players and was optimistic I could still reach the playoffs.
Being beta I wasn’t too bothered though as I’d always planned on starting a new career game once the game was fully released and I only got sacked yesterday so I’ll be able to start my new game today.
I’m not sure whether to try managing Carlisle again or try something else. I could start unemployed and see where I end up or I could look for another team to start with. I don’t want a top team as I think it gets too easy too soon.
I was recommended starting as PEC Zwolle in the Dutch top division by someone in my Eve Online corp who also plays Football Manager. I don’t think I want to start at the top though but I may start a game with them at a later date.
I’ll decide later but I’m edging towards starting unemployed with no rep and no qualifications and seeing how that goes. It’ll be hard but it’s a challenge to try and get from a nothing Manager to the top.
I’ll blog about my exploits on my journey whatever I decide. One thing I’m going to try and do is no matter what happens in game, I’m determined to keep one save going even if I keep getting sacked! In the past I’ve been too quick to start new games when things go wrong but this time I hope to just continue regardless.
– Sparko Marco