Football Manager 2024: first-time player starting a career as Manchester United

I thought I’d start a thread on FM 2024, since there was a rousing discussion of the game in the thread on Out of the Park Baseball, and as far as I can tell FM24 does not have its own thread. Plus, I finally installed and played the game, which is available on GamePass. I’ve never played the franchise before. I’m glad I’ve given a try! I’ve started a career mode as Manchester United.

I think OOTP could learn a thing or three from this game. Career mode models all sorts of interesting things that could be applied to baseball. E.g., there’s a detailed screen about not only team chemistry but also the players’ “social hierarchy.” I had to make all sorts of interesting hiring and firing decisions. I had to attend a coaches’ meeting, a player meeting, and field a dozen difficult questions at a press conference. During the team meeting, I dismayed my players by insisting we’d contend for the Premier League championship. The game let me walk back my comments, but a couple players were still eyeing me warily. I also have to decide things like captaincy, and in one contract negotation, a player wants the assistant captaincy, which would require me to strip it from someone else. I had to make decisions about who needed extra conditoning. I deferred to my staff on who to play where, as I know next to nothing about the team or its players, but a competent manager has free rein over all that.

But I was surprised that most fun of all was just playing a match. My first was an intra-squad friendly. I chose to pit the team’s first 11 vs its second 11. I hollered encouragement and instructions from the sidelines. (Again, OOTP, why not let us managers holler from the dugout like this?) After a few minutes of live play, the game shifted to highlights; both sides had exciting chances, but the game remained scoreless until 2 minutes left in regulation play. Abruptly the first 11 scored two goals in quick succession, one by midfielder Jadon Sancho, the other by striker Mason Greenwood. It ended 2-0. Really fun to watch it play out.

I am not competent to decide many of the questions the game asks me, lol. E.g., tactics – I have no clue! I am no expert on football (soccer); I’m a casual fan at most. (Interestingly, my American high school did not play American football – only what my English dad used to call “proper football.”) I made no substitutions at all in my little friendly match, which must be coaching malpractice. I’ll try to work up the courage to be more active, lol.

A couple questions in the meantime. First, I can’t figure out who my captain and assistant captain(s) are. Anyone know where I find this info? Second, uh, what should my team goal be? Do I have some say over which events we’ll participate in eventually?

Also, I’m intrigued that the star player on my team is Raphael Varane (who I gather has now retired?), a defensive back. I can see that he has awesome defensive skills, and he has worldwide fame as a result. In fact, he made a couple highlight defensive plays in my friendly game. (He’s also quite injury-prone, which I imagine might have contributed to his decision to retire.) But are there stats that quantify his value? Ice hockey has some of the same dynamic: it’s easy to assess the value of forwards – do they score goals and make assists? It’s harder to assess the value of defensemen. Sure, goals and assists still count, but many D-men are prized for shot-blocking or more obscure analytical stats. I see FM eventually will give me some analytical data, and even now it gives players ratings, with Varane among the highest-rated.

Anyway, I’m super impressed with this game, and I will play on. It’s interesting that the game is touting its switch to the Unity engine for FM 2025. I’m sorta surprised they weren’t using it already; even I use Unity for my gamedev, lol. Anyway, I will certainly be getting that iteration when it arrives, which won’t be for a while. In the meantime, Gamepass users, give FM2024 a try. :)

There was a period of time when Markus working on OOTP at Sports Interactive, and you could see some influence, especially with the UI at the time. That also might have been when OOTP started to incorporate some player mentality/happiness stuff, but it has been quite a while so that might have already been there.

Yeah, OOTP does have some stuff about player happiness. But I don’t recall it modeling, say, lack of team cohesion. I’m a Red Sox fan, so I’m thinking of the 70s-80s Boston team culture of taking “25 separate cabs to the ballpark”.

Also, I think FM looks pretty good even without Unity. I wonder what engine FM2024 uses.

I’m think they have always had their own custom stuff at Sports Interactive. They had text only match commentary at the beginning, then I guess around 2003 maybe, they added the 2d dots display to give you something graphical to look at. Then finally in the last decade they added the 3d match engine which they have continued to improve. IIRC the match engine will still allow you to use a dots display of the action. There definitely is a lot more detail in the player/team mentality management in FM, even in the more streamlined version.

It’s been a hot minute since I looked under the hood, but at least at one point there was what one could essentially call a “morale” factor impacted by trades of significant players.

It’s been several years since I played FM, and even then I only play the “classic” version these days as it’s become too complicated and slow for me, but…

Every player in the game has a couple dozen visible stats (which used to be ranked out of 20 and maybe still are) and then some number of hidden stats that are more psychological. The UI should highlight which visible stats are particularly relevant for a given role (eg for a defender, wing back vs full back vs sweeper). You can also compare your player and/or team with others in the league to see how they stack up. For captain, I don’t know how it’s done these days but it used to be a C next to the player name on the page where you assigned squad numbers.

I really want to love Football Manager. I’ve tried multiple times, but every time I get hung up on the fact that my team will be losing games, and I have no idea how to figure out what changes to make in order to fix things (or at least make improvements).

Thanks for the screenshot on captains!

2024 has really got me back on the horse after my interest in the series started to wane around 2018.

Somewhere along the way (around 2015) the series fully flipped from being a career simulator to being a match simulator, with the constant press conferences, player interactions and other bullshit taking so long that just playing out one season felt like it took forever.

It could be that it has just been long enough of a break that I’m ok dealing with it again, or maybe they finally streamlined the out-of-match stuff enough that in 2024 it doesn’t feel like a massive grind any more, but I’ve had a save going for a while now and I’m fully enjoying it.

I started a Journeyman Save as an Unemployed Sunday League Footballer - literally the lowest rating available, with 5 points in Man Management, 5 points in “Mental” coaching and all other points set to “1.”

The world I set up tries to avoid the usual European suspects (England / France / Germany / Spain / Italy) setting them to view only, and then I have a ring of peripheral countries I can go to: Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, South Africa, Australia, Colombia, Chile, Uruguay, Ireland, Scotland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland, Romania, Gibraltar and Mexico.

I got my first job offer and started my career in Malaysia, then moved to Indonesia for three and a half years and now I’m in my second season in Japan.

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The hardest part has been finding teams who have both the will and the money to fund my coaching badges. After almost 10 years of game time I am finally studying for the Continental Pro license that will at least get me into the conversation for much bigger jobs.

Top teams in Denmark and Sweden - absolute minnows in terms of European competition - have been consistently refusing to even interview me as I don’t have the right licenses.

Oh, that sounds like fun, starting at the bottom and working your way up. Until I read your post, I had no clue that football requires coaches to have licenses. (I don’t think that’s a requirement in most US sports, except of course for medical personnel.) Why would the team that employs you fund your acquisition of a license that could help you depart? I suppose you could make it a condition of your contract?

That’s another balance point, yeah. My first club - Melaka - explicitly said the reason they wouldn’t fund my coaching license is because it would make me more attractive to other clubs.

Once you get to a club with a bit more confidence they’re happy to do it because it makes you a better, more effective coach.

The daft side is that the board will agree to send your coaches on training courses, so eventually most of my coaching staff had higher badges than I did. Eventually I was determined to leave Melaka the next season if they didn’t fund my coaching badge and go literally anywhere else.

Randomly that was the year they said ok.

This is where I am now, after starting with a 5 for Mental and People Management and a 1 everywhere else.

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The 1 for Adaptability doesn’t really stand up to scrutiny, as I now speak English, Spanish, Malay, Bahasa Indonesian and basic Japanese. A player with that adaptability score would never manage that.

When I was in my last year at Melaka I signed a Uruguayan winger and then triggered his minimum release clause to buy him again when I moved to Persija in Indonesia.

Last year when I landed in Tokyo I instantly bought him again and every time he’s signed for me I’ve sent him on an intensive language course. So I can shout at him now in four different languages.

He has me listed as one of his favourite personnel and the relationship screen says he “admires” me. Whenever I talk to him directly in team talks he gets super-motivated and will run through the proverbial brick wall for me.

I’m going to try to eventually get the Uruguayan national team job so I can call him up for a completely-underserved international cap.

I used to alternate buying Football Manager and OOTP year-to-year, but fell off FM for many of the reasons already mentioned (either here or in the OOTP thread). Generally, I like being a GM rather than managing every game and FM was historically not too kind to that playstyle. I also disliked its wonky sim engine (the results were often immersion breaking for me) and its lack of customizability (I like running fictional worlds in OOTP, mostly with fewer teams and shorter seasons).

However, these posts, the fact that it’s on Gamepass, and it being an ‘off’ year for OOTP for me means I’m installing FM for the first time in years.

Hilarious! I love it.

How did you raise all those stats? Just by playing the game well, I guess?

Awesome. I’ll be curious whether you think the sim engine has improved at all. It seemed kinda cool to me, but I’m completely new to this. The only other football game I’ve played is the FIFA franchise, which is a different kettle of fish.

This football manager live video still makes me laugh when I see it

Play, win, and rub it in! lol.

I’ve eyed this game – er, franchise really – several times on Gamepass and have always been curious about it. I just might have to check it out soon.

The mariachi band was a great touch. “You are a loser, a big, fat loser. You manage like a little girl…”

FML only lasted a couple years. I guess between the subscription fee, and IIRC you basically needed to be on daily if you wanted to succeed it was destined to fizzle out.

Yeah, I will be firing it up as well. I’m trying to decide whether I want to sit on the couch and play like I did with 23, or on the PC.

Mostly by completing your coaching badges, but in-game actions can raise them too. One of my key players announced he was going to “consider his options” (slang for “I’m going to let me contract run out and then leave for free”) and I managed to convince him out of that and get him to sign a new contract. Afterwards my “People Management” rating went up by two points.

Even though I really need to finish up Persona 3 before I lose interest, I couldn’t help but start a career in FM. The journeyman concept appealed to me more than trying to raise Schalke from the ashes, so I decided to role play that I went into soccer coaching rather than going to grad school (and that I am quite a bit younger as there are no historical start dates in FM) hoping I could become a world-class manager by my 40s or so, though I’m not sure how quickly you gain attributes so I might have miscalculated.

Since I’m roleplaying an alternate younger version of me, I added German fluency (not that it does me any good since the German and Austrian leagues are well above my rep level) giving me two languages at the start, though I also seem to have gained basic Spanish at some point. Otherwise, I stuck with the meagre skills offered by the lowest-tier background. I figured the only way someone so young would be hired was if I were a relative tactical genius of some kind, so I dumped what scant points I had in tactics and knowledge (5s in tactics, 3 in one of the knowledge stats, and 2 in adaptability since it makes getting hired in foreign leagues easier and there is no US league aside from MLS).

I started unemployed in January 2023. Unfortunately, there are not that many clubs in the game willing to hire a 0.5-star reputation coach—even the clubs that hired @Mr_Bismarck turned me down—so I took a job as national team manager of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. That’s probably not the best way to play as you do not get to engage with many of the game’s systems—no buying players, limited scouting options, I do not see a way to earn coaching badges/licenses (but that UI is not great so I might be looking in the wrong place), etc.—but I figure I could learn the match side of things. We lost our first two friendlies, including one we probably should have won, but bounced back by thumping Anguilla 6-2, then squeaking by Antigua and Barbuda in a match expected goals says we should have lost. Next up, is the CONCACAF Nations League B, where we face luminaries Bermuda, Belize, and a third team I’ve forgotten. My plan is to hopefully get some good results that makes me more appealing to a team in Hong Kong or Northern Ireland and leave the national team stuff behind for the time being.

I’m enjoying it, but most of my prior problems with the series persist. It takes a while to do much of anything, even as a national team manager. There still does not seem to be a way to sim through the games instead of actively managing them, though there are ways to increase the speed of that. Similarly, auto-advance does not advance far or quickly enough. Overall, it’s still not a very friendly game for would-be GMs. The sim engine is still kind of bad too as the top-four clubs in the EPL for the 2022-2023 season were Arsenal, Bournemouth (!), Aston Villa, and Crystal Palace (COYP worked!). I do really like the ability to add/remove leagues from your game world while in progress. Doing this type of save would be nearly impossible without either destroying your PC or severely limiting your options otherwise.