Scouting in Football Manager: You get out of it what you put into it

Part One: Setup

There are a lot of guides out there on scouting and how to do it well, but this is not going to be as in depth and as detailed as some of those. Rather it is more of a tips guide that I use with my teams to help me find those hidden Newgens that appear after the first season. I tend to play a lot of single club, Road to Glory type saves, but I use these methods/tips in all my saves in one fashion or another.

Scouting in FM seems to go one of two ways: the computer does everything, or the player does everything. My experience is that there doesn’t seem to be a lot of middle ground between the two. I tend to be the latter sort of manager. I like scouting, there’s something to be said about finding that hidden player/newgen that noone else has found. Honestly the time spent on the 1 start current 4 star potential player who tops out as 2 stars may seem like its been wasted, but the feelings you get when you miss on a player are set aside when you hit on a player who does turn into something, be it a solid contributor for your team or a club/world legend.

First up, we have to talk about scope, and what I mean by that is “Does your clubs setup scouting match or exceed your clubs stature?” My current save is with Crystal Palace, an English Premier League team. While not as recognized as Manchester or Liverpool, it has the ability and funds to have a Worldwide scouting package. Likewise, if you are starting out as say, Ebbsfleet, a Worldwide scouting package is going to be to expensive to maintain, but even if you could afford it your board may limit where you can and cannot scout. That said, there are still some tips and tricks you can use to set yourself up for the future should you start at an Ebbsfleet, and I’ll go thru both scenarios.

Regardless of club size, the most important step in setting up scouting is making sure you have the best backroom staff you can afford. Even at Palace there are scouts I could not sign because they either:

  1. Thought the Club wasn’t big enough in stature
  2. They had just signed a new contract with their current club
  3. I could not meet their wage demands due to the board limitations and/or my available wages.

That said the type of scout you should be looking for depends on your clubs current Recruitment Focus in Club Culture, of which there are 8 options:

  • Sign Players of “X” Nationality, ie sign players from Ivory Coast, or Basque players for Athletico Bilbao
  • Sign Players Based in Nation, ie sign homegrown players who are currently based in Germany
  • Sign players from the lower levels of the Domestic game. This can be harder if you are starting out in one of those lower levels, but what it means is the club is looking for a good percentage of the player you recruit should come from divisions lower than the one you are in. To be honest I am not sure if they mean domestically or Internationally here.
  • Sign High Reputation Players
  • Sign players under the age of “X” for the first team, ie under the age of 23
  • Sign players under the age of “X” for the future, ie under the age of 19
  • Sign players from Domestic Rivals
  • Don’t sign players over the age of “X”, ie, don’t sign players over the age of 30

There are four major attributes you are looking for in a good scout, but which ones are the most important depend on the scouting assignment you are creating.

Judging Player Potential – Most useful when scouting younger players/newgens

Judging Player Ability – Most useful when scouting those player’s who aren’t younger players

Determination – How well a scout looks for players in his assignment. The higher the Determination, the more work your scout will do in trying to find players that fit his assignment.

Adaptability – There are 211 nations with FIFA affiliation. With the right database, you can download almost all of them. SI has further broken the world into 16 different regions, and Adaptability reflects how well a Scout can ‘learn’ a new nation, or nations within a region.

The last consideration for me is Age. I prefer to sign a younger scout, because their attributes can also improve over time.

With Palace and their desire to sign players under the age of 23, I am leaning towards younger scouts with a high Potential Ability, and good Adaptability. One of the things I do to help me when creating assignments is edit the scouts name via the nickname option, to add their Current PA, PP, and Country/Region they are knowledgeable in, like this:

Scouts as shown on the Staff screen

This is from the Assignment Screen, if you hover over the scouts name their full profile name including added information is displayed

This is from the scouting assignments screen, hovering over the name will display all the additional information as well.

With Palace, because I am looking to sign players under the age of 23 the majority of my scouts I am looking to hire will have high PA and Adaptability. This is because almost all of assignments are going to be by region, and the scout I assign to a region will be familiar with at least one of the countries in that region. The high adaptability means the scout should learn the other countries in the region faster. Younger scout’s also have the potential to increase their attributes as well. I am 18 months into my save, and several of my scouts have improved their PA and PP in that time. Usually what I do is when I resign a scout, I will update their nickname as well to reflect their increased attributes.

Early on in the game your selection of scouts may not be the best, so you are going to have to compromise. Probably the best example of this for me is this scout here:

At this stage in my save Franck Minvielle is one of the few scouts available in the Central African Region. That said, his PA and PP are adequate, and at 30 years old there is a good possibility the will improve. His Adaptability of 20 means he will learn other countries easier, but his low determination means he won’t be as aggressive about that learning as he could be. He’s on contract until 2026, by which time he will know most, if not all of the countries in Central Africa really well, and while he may not find a lot of players for me, the person I hire to replace him should be able too, using the knwledge base Franck helped build.

I currently have 14 scouts and a Chief Scout on hand, and at the beginning of each season I’ll request and increase in the number of scouts allowed. Sometimes it works, other times it won’t.

Most of my scouts are currently on Region scouting assignments, my Chief Scout is researching my next opponent because not only does he he have good PA and PP, he had a decent Tactical skill as well. Two scouts I have unassigned, they have good PA and PP, and are available to go look at those players who show up in the scouting report, or agent enquiries. Because we have a worldwide scouting package, I try and prioritize those regions that have a reputation for producing quality young players:

Central Europe – The Regional reorganization SI has done for FM22 means Central Europe isn’t the talent factory it is in previous versions of FM, but with Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Poland it is still very capable of producing talent.

South America (South) – Includes Brazil and Argentina, and even if you don’t find a wonderkid, you can still find very good players for very good prices.

UK & Ireland – Very good youth players can be found here, but you will pay a premium for them.

Western Europe – The Region reorganization SI has done for FM22 means France, Spain, and Portugal are now in this region, and all are capable of producing multiple wonderkids every year.

Eastern Europe – As with Western Europe, the reorganization means Serbia, Romania Hungary and Bulgaria are here, and worth a scout looking for youngsters.

If you have the availability, the two other regions I would scout for youth players are South Europe, which includes Italy, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovinia, and my personal dark horse, Western Africa. Countries like Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Senegal have Youth Ratings from 80 to 120, and with the introduction of Dynamic Youth Ratings to this years version of FM, it’s quite probable their youth ratings will improve, producing talent that is not only has the potential to be very good, but is also available quite cheap. See Issahaku Abdul Fatawu and Clinton Opuku as players who if they aren’t breaking the wonderkid barrier in your save, are still going to be very good players. Fatawu went to Dnipro for 15K in my current Palace save…curse you Work Permit Requiremennts!!!

When you are at a smaller club, your options are going to be more limited, but you can still work within them to find some quality players. Your first restriction is going to be what level recruitment package you have. Depending on what level of competition you are coaching at, this will look different for some teams.

As an example, this is my Recruitment Package and availability at Palace:

This is what the Scouting packages available to Ebbsfleet in the Vanarama South are:

Ebbfsleet is limited to scouting UK & Ireland as their highest tier package at this point. Being in the Vanarama South they do not have the money to Scout Europe. .

So, the question is what level of scouting is appropriate for you? The answer, and it is ambiguous, is that it depends. What are you trying to do with your save? Just have fun? A Journeyman? A Road to Glory? A Youth only? And most importantly, what are your clubs finances? Taking all these into account should give you a good idea of what your backroom scouting staff should look like.

My guideline on this is that if you can afford it, try and scout one level higher than your current level, and if going even another level higher is affordable, do that.

These are the options available to Rad, a team in the Serbian First League, the 2nd Division of Serbia. Scouting their 3rd Tier Recruitment package is going to cost them a lot less than either Palace or Ebbsfleet would pay, and if they can afford to use that package, they should.

That said, scouting is also one of those places where you can save some money. A Chief Scout for next opponents, a scout to look at Agent offers and anything else that comes across, and maybe a Recruitment Analyst, a Performance Analyst, and your set. At Ebbsfleet You get a Scout and a Chief Scout, which will cost you about 2.5K a month in wages. Additionally, if needed you can allocate money from your transfer budget to your scouting budget, which can come in handy during the last month of a season and the transfer windows.

There are plenty of other tools out there you can use to help you find players, even when you have no scouting budget to speak of. It just takes some time, energy, and perhaps a mild case of Carpal Tunnel syndrome to set up. And we will go over that in the next post.

As always, any constructive feedback is appreciated. Thanks for Reading!

FM_Jellico

1000 Years in the Future Experiment, this time with more Countries

So, last year I had a spare laptop lying around, and thought it would be cool to try and sim out 1000 years with more than just one country enabled. That laptop, and aging Dell Alienware that was about 6 years old, died. So I replaced it with a new laptop, loaded the save, and kept simming, and it took awhile, but we got it complete, and you can read about it here:https://www.reddit.com/r/footballmanagergames/comments/mffdhb/six_countries_1000_years_in_the_future/

This year, with the new laptop, I’m going to try and do the experiment again, this time a little, ok a lot, bigger.Here’s what I am using computer wise: A MainGear laptop with an i7-10870h with 2.2Ghz (16 CPUS) and, 32GB of RAM, and an RTX 2060 with 6GB of RAM.Seeing as how the Alienware was only an i7-6700(ish) and had a 970M as a graphics card, this is a step up.

Countrywise, we’re going with 24:


Countries enabledAnd this is the League setup. Maybe 100K player DB is too big, time will tell:


In all, 54 leagues from 24 nations in play.


I’ve got the game being saved every three months, and I’ll keep it running as long as I can. I know in the last experiment around year 700 things got realllly slow, and I fully expect the same thing to happen this time. I’ll post updates about milestones reached, 100 years, 250 years and the like, but I do not plan at looking at the final result until 1000 years have passed, or the game has just gotten to big to process.Last time I did this it took six months, so using that as a baseline, End of May?Fingers crossed, and sayig a prayer to the FM Gods for a full 1000 years…Thanks for reading!

Plans…

One of my favorite phrases of all time is “Custer had a plan too….”. Those of you who may need a little historical context, I suggest Wikipedia; but at the end of the day, it’s a very apt quote. I used it at work a couple of weeks ago and the VP of Ops laughed so hard he had to sit down and put his head between his legs, which may or may not reflect positively on my upcoming review.

FM 21 has been very interesting for me. My most successful project thus far is one I didn’t even put together at the end, I simulated 1000 years of Football with the Top Six leagues and Brazil Active. Took two computers and about four and a half months to process, you can watch the results of that video here:

There’s also a thread on Reddit about it. https://www.reddit.com/r/footballmanagergames/comments/mffdhb/six_countries_1000_years_in_the_future/

It was fun to do, and I’ll do it again next years as well.

Personal save wise, I was kind of all over the place. I had a personal save with Palace that was fun, and then did a personal journeyman save that was fun as well, starting in England, and ending up in Brazil via Poland and Germany. My primary Youtube save was with a club I had seen play in person when I lived there in the 80’s, 1FC Kaiserslautern. It was a fun save, we took them from the 3. Liga to the Bundesliga, and while we didn’t win everything, it was still a good time. I play that save offline from time to time, because I had scouted my tail off and had a great squad of potential, and I want to see if I could do better with them than the computer. Long story short, sort off.

My save for the second half of the FM21 year is proving to be pretty fun, it’s a Journeyman save, but I’ve limited it to the 25 countries I would consider to be “Eastern Europe on the other side of the Old Iron Curtain.” It’s been very fun so far, and challenging in a good way. But it also got me thinking about what I want to do in the future, especially with regards to Youtube.

I don’t have the biggest channel. There will always be bigger channels, and I am happy to be a contributor, and am quite happy that I have had positive, if slow, growth since I started creating. My goal with the channel was never to try and turn it into something I could make money off of, and while streaming does have it’s appeal, work and family life make that impracticable. I love my day job, and I make too much money to walk away from it to try and be a full time streamer. But I have been thinking about what I like doing within the FM community, and how to become better at it.

I think the two dedicated saves a year, with a projected schedule of uploads M-T-Th-F is a good fit for me. The Beta/Release save will be a signal club save, almost always a Lower League Club/Fallen Giant save, which will end somewheres around the New Years, and then the second save will be a Journeyman similar to this years in that it will be regional. I also like doing the occasional experiment with a twist.

That said, “Custer had a plan too…” in that I’ve already decided on my FM22 Beta save. It going to be with my favored team, the one I follow more than the others, Crystal Palace. Now, I’ve already done a Crystal Palace save for YouTube, the Palace March, for FM19.

There are a few reasons I am doing another Palace save for FM22.

  1. Roy Hodgson is retiring, and a new manager is taking over. Personally I’d love to see what Wilder could do there. And part of me would like to think I can do better. 🙂
  2. The team is going to look entirely different next season, as they have 17 players whose contracts are expiring on June 30th, and those who are still going to be on the roster are older (Milivojevich) or looking to move (Zaha).
  3. There isn’t much left to build around. Eze and Mitchell are both solid young players with promise, Mateta is on loan until 2022, but I think depending on the summer moves they may exercise their option to sign him from Mainz, and that’s pretty much it. Whomever the coach is next season is going to be hard pressed to keep them up, and that’s a challenge I like.

I’m also planning on going a bit more in depth with scouting and training, the spreadsheet may see new life in FM22. And then comes the Journeyman, South America, Asia, South America, I am not sure, but it will be fun.

So that’s the plan for now…let’s see if it comes to fruition.

8 Players to the Lower Leagues, an Experiment

Experiments are quite popular in FM, but in my opinion, to many of them are the same. What if we gave a Lower League Club a Billions Pounds, what if we put the worlds best youth player in the 8th Division of the English Football League, that sort of thing. I’ve even done a couple of those, but one of the thing’s I am interested in doing are Experiments with a little more behind them.

This experiment was directly influenced by a video Dr.Benjy did, in which he moved Erling Haaland to Bath and locked him into a 15 Year contract there. You can find the first video in that series here:

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

I wanted to go a step further though, and make this a multiplayer experiment.

I put 8 younger players, who at one point in time were (or in the case of the youngest are) considered wonderkids, and moved them to teams in the Vanarama North and South. The goal was to see if any player could help get their squad to the Premier League before they retired or their contract ran out (more on that here in a few). It took some trial and error to get the experiment up and running, but eventually I had success in running the edited database.

Was the Experiment a success?

Yes. And No.

The Experiment ran a total of four videos, what follows is a breakdown of some of the issues I discussed in the video, and some of the issues I encountered as well. You can find the video series here:

First, the players and Teams I moved them too:

  • Kylian Mbappe, to Blyth Spartans in the Vanarama North
  • Erling Haaland, to Hemel Hempstead Town in the Vanarama South
  • Ansu Fati, to Dulwich Hamlet in the Vanarama South
  • Sebstiano Esposito, to Ebbsfleet United in the Vanarama South
  • João Félix, to Eastbourne Borough in the Vanarama South
  • Yusuf Demir, to Fylde in the Vanarama North
  • Rayan Cherki, to Chorley in the Vanarama North
  • Jadon Sancho, to Curzon Ashton in the Vanarama North

In the editor, I made sure none of the player CA/PA was on the low side, but I also made sure they weren’t maxed out either. I locked them into 18 year contracts, with future transfers to the MLS (where all older European players got to dominate). I loaded just the English Leagues this time around, with about a 28K size player database.

My logic in putting those players on those teams was simple: The better players I put on teams picked by the pundits to finish in the bottom half of their respective table. Both Blyth and Hemel Hempstead were relegation candidates. The younger players I put on teams that had recently been relegated, or had missed out on promotion the previous year. My train of thought was a player like Ansu Fati would not have to share the load right away, while Mbappe could (and would) put the team on his shoulders and carry them as far as he could.

I found the Experiment interesting for a variety of reasons. First, if you did not get promoted quickly, there was a possibility you could get stuck in a League for quite a while. Secondly, if the team did get promoted, would the AI be able to surround the Youngster with players able to help them stay up and get promoted. Thirdly, at some point in time the Youngster would start to decline, was the team he was on set up to avoid relegation?

My goal was to see if one or more players could get their team to the Premier League. I didn’t expect any of them too, honestly I don’t believe the AI is good enough to get as team promoted in 6 divisions in 18 year on a consistent basis, heck even us human players are hard pressed to do that sometimes.

My expectations were met. None of the teams managed to get to the Premier League, but a couple of them came close.

Click to embiggen

As one would expect, Kylian Mbappe had the best progression out of all the plyers, in fact I would consider his and Blyth’s movement up the Pyramid to be be the template going forward: Immediate promotion in the first year, 3 promotions in 9 years, and then when the player is at or just beyond their peak, competing in the Championship for a shot at the Premier League. Blyth’s best finish was 13th, but digging deeper I realized that was almost pure luck.

There were more than a few reason’s player’s like Cherki, Felix and Sancho never got out of non-league, and most of those were my fault. First, I did not check the teams professional status before assigning the players to them, and as a result, Cherki, Felix, Sancho, Mbappe and Haaland ended up on Semi-Professional squads. Compounding this issue were the player salaries, they were all locked into €1000 p/w contracts, with a yearly 5 or 10% raise. If this experiment had consisted of just one player, that would not be as big an issue, but with eight, you ran into a situation where a semi professional teram had to get promoted, and quickly, in order to get Professional status. This would let their payroll expand, and they would have the opportunity to sign better players, but I suspect (because I can’t prove it) that by the time some of the players, Felix Sancho and Cherki, were making more money than anyone else on the squad still, and as a result their teams did not have the wage bill to bring in players to help them. The best example of this is Jadon Sancho, in the last year of the save Curzon Ashton was relegated to the EvoStik, and he was making €4700 p/w…

Mbappe and Haaland are both good enough that they were able to get promoted, and quickly, but then that’s where the other behind the scenes issue arose, and that’s the AI’s inability to work a good transfer market and improve the squad. The best example of this is Mbappe of course. From 2029 to 2035 Blyth were in the Championship. This is their Transfer Spending in that timeframe:

YearInOut
2029/30€1M (and 3 players on loan at €315K)€46K
2030/31€2.3M€875K
2031/32€2.6M€475K
2032/33€6.25M€72K
2033/34€625K€2.2M
2034/35€2.8M€475K
Blyth Transfer Spending while in the EFL Championship

By Comparison, Reading was also in the Championship at the same time, and both teams finished within shouting distance of each other more often than not, and their Transfer spends were 18.75M/28M, 7.25M/26M, 20.5M/33M, 15M/5.5M, 14.5M/35M in the same time frame.

The clubs that did get promoted did improve their facilities, as an example Blyth ended up with Great Yout and Training facilities, but I also wonder if the quality of coaching, especially for those players who did not get promoted right away, also played a factor in their development.

This is Rayan Cherki’s Progression thru the midpoint of the save:

Rayan Cherki 2020
Rayan Chekri 2023
Rayan Cherki 2029

He did pick up some more traits, and became comfortable at a few more positions, and in fact actually came down a point in a couple of attributes. A lack of full time training perhaps?

That said, even if their attributes didn’t improve, they were more than good enough to be their clubs primary scoring threat for much of the save. What follows are a few tables to illustrate that:

Players Goals by Year and Division
Players Assists by Year and Division
Another View of Player Goals and League

There’s still a lot more to do in terms of player charting and the like, but for the moment, here are my takeaways from this experiment:

It was pretty fun to run. The data from this comes from my third attempt at running it, the first was marred by a series of PBKAC errors on my end, the second by some behind the scenes stuff I didn’t realize could happen, IE Hard Brexit, and as a result Esposito and Cherki didn’t qualify for a work permit due to lack of International Experience, and spent the last twelve years locked into a team they could not play for nor get released from. Mbappe getting a team close I sort of expected, but I was also hoping a younger player like Esposito would do well in that regard. And I learned a lot from it, especially what to do if I want to run this experiment again later, which I might. If I do, I probably won’t have Mbappe or Holland on it, but younger players like Boadu, Zirkzee and others. I would start them at a lower salary, and if I could, ensure they all start on Professional squads.

If you’ve made it this far, Thanks! Any questions or comments, please leave them below and I will answer them as best I can. If you have an idea for an experiment, let me know as well, am always interested in seeing what other creators come up with that’s different than the usual out there.

So, Now I have to Learn WordPress….

Hi, and thanks for stopping by!

My name is FM Jellico, and in addition to being a full time father, husband, and gamer I am also a Football Manager…well, addict is to strong…no, it’s not.  I’m an addict.

I’m relatively new to the Football Manager scene, FM 17 was my first exposure to the game, and I’m also American, so please don’t hold my lack of in depth Football knowledge against me.  🙂

In the course of one of my saves, I posted a screenshot of some work I’ve done in Excel/Calc to help me better visualize the data Football Manager gives a player.  There was a lot of enthusiastic feedback on it, so I’ve created this website to go a little bit further in depth on what I am doing, and how.  There will also be videos up on my YouTube channel covering the pages as I create and manipulate them.  If you want to take a look at them now in all their incomplete glory, check out the Episodes of my SC Bastia save, just forgive the one out of order.

Hopefully going forward the bare bones nature of this site will improve, I just have to find the time to learn WordPress…good thing that block of time between 1 and 2AM is open…

You can reach me at Jellico73@gmail.com, or at @FM_Jellico on Twitter.

Thanks!

“Life is like a game of football. You need goals. If there are no goals in your life then you can’t win.”
-Unknown Author