MY APPROACH TO SCOUTING IN FOOTBALL MANAGER 2018

Football Manager Guides | Scouting

For those who have followed my blog, you will have seen I briefly touch on scouting as I embark on my journey with Parma. That post, in fairness, only scratched the surface for what is quite a laborious task now that there are so many in-depth options available to us. However, it is an essential task nonetheless. With that post, I didn’t want to crowd it with a lot of information that people may already know, so I decided to create this blog post as a full end to end walkthrough of how I approach scouting with every Football Manager save and to cover all of the facets I utilise during those saves.

Scouting is one of the many areas in Football Manager 2018 that has had a revamp this year. This is my take on scouting.

MANAGER PROFILE

First off, your manager profile. When creating your Managerial Style, you have two Mental Attributes for increasing the level of detail in the attribute values of players: Player Knowledge and Youngster Knowledge.

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This isn’t applicable if you play with attribute masking switched off since all attributes of players are made available to you, but for those of you who use attribute masking, then you can improve the known attributes of players by adjusting the Player Knowledge and Youngster Knowledge attribute values. Essentially, if you want to view more attributes of players, then a higher attribute value is required.

As an example, the below highlights Ben Gibson, where the Player Knowledge attribute on my Manager Profile is set at 1 and then again with it set at 20. You can see the difference in attributes revealed.

 

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For my profile, I will usually set my Player Knowledge around 15 and Young Player Knowledge around 10. This gives me more attribute points to spend in other areas as I will usually set up my scouting focus to concentrate on younger players.

SCOUTING CENTRE

The introduction of the Scouting Centre is a very welcome change in my opinion, and the latest set of changes make it a lot easier to use (once you get used to it).

One of the changes to scouting is the removal of the email updates you used to receive from your scouts. This being replaced by Scouting Meetings. One thing I became very accustomed to on previous versions was having instant email feedback after I had asked a scout to take a look at a player. Additionally, I would then receive further email updates based on scouting of that particular player. These updates are all managed within the Scouting Centre now, rather than your inbox. You can also view these players via the Scouting Meetings if you attend them, but we will cover that in more detail later in the post.

The Scouting Centre is the fulcrum of all scouting activity. From here, you can manage everything to do with scouting, from setting the budgets to assigning a short-term focus for your scouting team. To access the Scouting Centre, you merely select ‘Scouting’ from the left menu.

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SCOUTING INBOX

The main focus of the page is the Scouting Inbox. This is where your scouts will report back to you with any players that they have found. It will cover any players you have requested to have scouted, any on-going assignments, reports from your analysts and agents etc.

When viewing the emails, you have the option to filter the type of messages using the drop-down on the left. I find this particularly useful if I just want to look through the reports for players I have asked my scouting team to specifically take a look at. I do this by using the ‘Requested’ option. In previous versions, this would have come to you via your Inbox, but in Football Manager 2018, you can now view these reports here.

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You can also set some preferences for the email recommendations you receive from your scouts using the Preferences drop-down. This will allow you to better filter the number of updates you receive. Especially if you’re managing a massive club with a big scouting team, as these messages can soon pile up.

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What I will usually do here is set a minimum recommendation level of 70. I ask that inside the transfer window I have a report every 2 weeks (or 10 entries), and outside of the transfer window I set it to monthly as I’m less concerned during the season and will typically just check up on scouting manually by viewing the assignments and individual reports of scouts.

If you find that you are receiving too many email recommendations, and you would rather just get updates on key players that your scouting team have found, you can ask your Chief Scout to look through these emails for you. I will cover this in a bit more detail in Scouting Meetings below.

SCOUTING RESPONSIBILITY

As with previous versions of Football Manager, you can ask your Chief Scout to take responsibility for the scout assignments, e.g., which nations or leagues to scout when searching for players. They will arrange for your scouts to go to the countries within your scouting range to look for the type of player you specify via your Scouting Focus.

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If you prefer to take control of scouting and manually assign work to all of your scouts, then you can set the Scouting Responsibility to yourself, just set Manager for Scouting Responsibility and then select ‘Assignments’ (Scouting Focus will be replaced by Assignments). But first, we will look through the options for when your Chief Scout has responsibility.

SCOUTING FOCUS

When handing over Scouting Responsibilities to your Chief Scout, you can specify a type of player for the scouting team to look for, by setting a Scouting Focus. You have the choice of either a General Focus or a Short Term Focus. To state the obvious, you cannot set these focuses if Scouting Responsibility is placed upon you as the manager.

General Focus

When you set a General Focus, you’re tailoring the sort of players you want your scouts to look for. While the Cheif Scout will set the assignments, their assignments will look for the player types you specify. You can choose where the players are based if you wish, but I tend to leave this to scouting range.

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The idea being that you might have a particular player type that you want to sign, and your scouts will focus on these within the overall context of the assignments set by the Chief Scout.

The General Focus allows you to tailor the assignments to look for players within an age range of either experienced, peak or young. With a particular playing style and also their availability.

When I have my Chief Scout handling the Scouting Responsibilities, I will try and tailor the sorts of players I want in my team by setting a focus for three-months on a particular style of player, for example, I might spend three-months looking for creative forwards, then three-months looking for intelligent defenders. This will allow me to build up a diverse shortlist that I can analyse at the end of the season when I’m looking for new signings to come into the team.

Short-term Focus

On the other hand, you may wish to set a short-term focus for the team. The short-term focus will shift the attention of the scouts to find players that meet your immediate requirements. Returning to their usual assignments under the General Focus when completed.

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This is particularly useful if, for example, you need a player to urgently slot into a particular position. You can refine your requirements to a much lower level of detail with the Short-Term Focus, however, as the name suggests, you can only search for these players for up to a month.

I will typically use this when I first join a club and need to fill out some weak positions I have identified. You can add more than one Short-Term Focus at a time, too, which makes it very useful for finding 2 or 3 players at short notice.

ASSIGNMENTS

If you decide that you want to handle every facet of scouting yourself, by setting the Scouting Responsibility to you as the manager, then you can manually set the assignments like you would have done in previous versions of the game. You will see here that Scouting Focus has been replaced with Assignments. Six of my Scouts are out on active assignments right now, with no assignments pending. Each assignment, however, does attract a cost, and this is deducted from the Scouting Costs (not Scouting Budget) found in Finances > Expenditure > Scouting Costs. You will see a popup whenever you incur costs for scouting.

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When setting assignments, you have a lot more control over who goes where and what players they are searching for. You can take advantage of a scout’s strong points, e.g., if they are particularly good at Judging Player Potential, then you can have them search for youth prospects in South America, for example.

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If you dive right into ‘Create new assignment’ from the top left, you can create an assignment matching all the preferences you select, however, this will be assigned to the next available scout in the list, which might not be appropriate, so what I tend to do is manually assign the assignment to the specific scout: Right-click the scout name > select Scouting > Assignments.

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From here I can view all the previous assignments and scout reports generated by the scout, but I can also then create an assignment specific to him and his strengths. Select Create New Assignment

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One of the main reasons most will leave this responsibility to the Chief Scout is because of the vast options available and the time it takes to set them up. Especially if you’re at a club with 20+ scouts. As you can see from the below, we have a lot of options to choose from.

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First, you create an assignment to scout either players, a team or an upcoming match. Since team and match are relatively straightforward, I have created an assignment for Brian to look for Full-Backs in Eastern Europe. I have also further refined my search to report on players where their Crossing and Pace attributes are at least 14. This is particularly useful if, like FM Grasshopper, for example, you have a particular set of attributes you look for in a player.

As you can see, manually setting assignments is quite a time-consuming job, so if you rather you can just ask your Chief Scout to do this for you. He takes your focus and sets the assignments to align with them.

RECRUITMENT TEAM

The Recruitment Team covers your Data Analysts, you Scouts, and the Director of Football. The two main ones here are your Scouts, who will provide Scout Reports, and Data Analysts who will provide you with, you guessed it, Data Analyst Reports.

I have decided that I need a new Central Defender, so scout Wolves player Roderick Miranda. Below is the report overview of him, which is an amalgamation of the Scout and Data Analyst Reports. This high-level snapshot of the player points out some of the key things you should be looking at, like the strengths and weaknesses, medical information and positional strengths.

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Immediately we can see that he is good in the air, he has a good personality and doesn’t shy away in big matches. However, he has poor concentration. I think we can agree this player is worth looking at in more detail to get a more rounded picture.

To view more information, we can select the Scout Report and Analyst Report (I’ve highlighted them if they’re not immediately obvious).

The Scout Report

For those who are not new to the game, you should be very familiar with these reports already. They will give you all the information you’re used to getting on players, from their current and potential ability to the pros and cons of that player.

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Generally, I will use the scout report to understand the pros and cons and to see what the Scouts view of the current and/or potential ability is. In the view of my scout David Hirst, Miranda is operating on a good Championship level and would be a useful signing. Given that he is a Central Defender, his ability to leap off the ground is something I would consider a bonus. However, his lack of concentration is something I would need to look into further. Also, bear in mind that this report is just a high-level overview, much like the Data Analyst Report.

The Data Analyst Report

Unlike the Scout Report, the Data Analyst Report will concentrate more on statistical data in relation to his on the pitch performances. This data can range from things like shot accuracy to tackles won.

Edit: It is also important to note that the level of detail highlighted to you on the Data Analyst report is related to your Data Analyst facilities and your Data Analyst attributes (thanks, Cleon). To view your facilities, head to Club > Facilities. You can upgrade your facilities in the same way you upgrade other facilities, by going to the board and asking for them to be improved: Board > Make Board Request > Improve Data Analyst Facilities

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You will also find that your Data Analysts might come to you directly with a recommendation to look at a player who, for example, might have had the highest number of shots on target in the Slovak Super Liga. You need to be attending the Scouting Meetings in person to get these reports or read your Scout Inbox.

Stats

My Data Analyst has pulled out some key data for me to view, Miranda has a good average rating at 7.00, and his tackles won percentage is also good at 82%. From the initial data provided it would be a good idea to take a further look at this player.

To further refine this data I can step into the Season Stats (selecting it from the right above the data), and view more complete data about the player.

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My Central Defenders have one job in possession, give it simple to someone more technically gifted than him, and out of possession to win the ball back at all costs. So, with this in mind, I’m looking for a player who has a high percentage of passes completed, and a high percentage of tackles won. Less concerning are his shooting stats.

The key to reading these doughnut charts is by working on the listed stats in order, for example, looking at tackles (33), this will be a complete black ring. Next, we look at how many of those are won. In the case of tackles, 82% are won, and this is represented by the salmon bar taking up just over three-quarters of the ring. Finally, with 7 key tackles, this is the inner more prominent red part. This reads true for the other charts, too, and it’s a perfect way of quickly viewing critical stats without having to dig too deep into the numbers.

Below this we have the per 90 stats, which are useful for players who might not have played as many games, and is a better way to compare stats with your own players, for example.

Given all the data provided by the Scouts and Analysts, I would definitely be interested in putting him on my shortlist and monitoring his performances as the season progresses.

SCOUTING BUDGET

Next in line is the scouting budget.

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In previous versions of Football Manager, the costs of scouting were always a bit of an unknown. You had Scouting Costs within your finances, which are the costs of assignments, but you never really knew how much the assignments were costing you. As a result, it was hard to act responsibly and keep an eye on budgets when you were working on a tight budget.

We now have a Scouting Budget, which pays for just two things, the Scout Packages and scouting players outside of your scouting range. Scout wages are still paid for out of your staff wages as they have always been and assignments out of your Scouting Costs. Within Finances > Expenditure you will see your Staff Wages and Scouting Costs.

The costs for the Scouting Packages and scouting players outside of your scouting range come directly from your Scouting Budget, which in turn has a direct correlation to your Transfer Budget. Increase your Scouting Budget, and you will decrease your Transfer Budget. Conversely, if you reduce your Scouting Budget then you will receive an uplift in your Transfer Budget.

While your Scouting Budget resets annually along with the Transfer Budget, it is important to note that once it has been used up, your packages will be removed and you will no longer be able to afford to scout players outside of your Scouting Range. Unless, of course, you allocate more of your transfer funds to scouting.

Individual Scouting Trips

Another welcomed addition, but one that will eat into your Scout Budget is the ability to scout players outside of your scouting range, e.g., at Bristol City, I am only permitted to scout within Europe. Previously, if I found a gem of a player outside of my scouting range I wouldn’t be able to scout him, but new to Football Manager 2018 is the ability to send a Scout outside of this range to look at a player. However, this comes with an additional fee which is deducted straight from the Scouting Budget.

SCOUT PACKAGES

The number of players shown on the Player Search screen is directly affected by the level of the Scout Package that you have purchased. The higher the package, the more players and more detail that is available to you.

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There are two types of Scout Packages available: Senior Packages and Youth Packages. The difference is the age at which players are shown to you. If you are interested in seeing younger players, a higher level Youth Package will show more players under the age of 22. Conversely, if you are after senior players for the first team, then a Senior Package will show all players over the age of 21.

Do bear in mind that if the package returns a player outside of your Scouting Range, you will need to pay an additional fee that will come out of your Scouting Budget to scout him.

For me, I will only purchase these packages in the final month before the transfer windows and then keep the package through the transfer window before removing it again. For example, I will increase the package in December and reduce it back down at the end of January. A little money saving tip, but remember reducing your package will reduce the players visible, but you can always shortlist those you’re interested in.

SCOUTING MEETINGS

Finally, I wanted to take a look at scout meetings. Like with most things you have the option to hand over the responsibility of these scout meetings to your Chief Scout. In doing so, he will pick out the key players to show you, deciding himself on whether to continue scouting players who your Scouts and Data Analysts have identified. This can be useful if you do not like the task of going through all the reports of players at Scout Meetings.

If you handle the Scouting Meetings yourself, you will be presented with all the players identified that you have yet to acknowledge.

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Within the Scouting Meetings, you can immediately view the Current and Potential Ability of the players as they come through to you, along with a recommendation. You can see that Miranda’s recommendation is 54 (this is a scale up to 100). Naturally, the better the scout, the more accurate the recommendation. What I will generally do is hover over the 54 and look for a quick comparison against players we have in his position. This will give me an immediate view of whether he is likely to improve my squad (if coming in as a first team player).

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We then have a list of options before we proceed. We can add the player to our shortlist and add as a transfer target while also either discarding (remove the player), acknowledge (keep the player but take no further action), keep scouting or make an offer.

If, however, you do not want to go through every player found, you can ask your Chief Scout to sort through these players for you. He will then decide on who should be scouted and shortlisted, only bringing you the key players identified from the bunch. Simply go to Staff > Responsibilities > Handles Scouting Meetings > Chief Scout. Your Scout Meeting will then look like this.

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You can see that I only have the highest-rated player to look at, while all other players worthy of more scouting are dealt with by the Chief Scout. It makes the task of Scouting a little easier but removes some of the control you have.

CONCLUSION

Scouting, like most of the jobs in Football Manager, can be as simple or complex as you like; you get out of it what you put into it. I will typically spend a good few hours when I start a save to build a good scouting team, set up the assignments and have everything in the place to plan for the future. Once my assignments are set I seldom change them.

If you have any questions or want to get in touch with anything scouting, send me a message on Twitter, or you can reply to this post below and I’ll get back to you. I’d love to hear your thoughts and see if there’s anything you do differently that I can adapt for my game.

Until next time, arrivederci.

O.Jensen

 

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