MY APPROACH TO UTILISING A DIRECTOR OF FOOTBALL IN FOOTBALL MANAGER 2018

Football Manager Guides | Director of Football

Welcome to the next instalment of the ‘my approach to…’ series. In this post, I talk about how I utilise the Director of Football in each of my saves, which is quite different from most players, and probably for a good reason.

Frequent visitors to the blog, my twitter @fmfutbolmanager, or to my slack channel #fmFutbolManager (shameless plugs) will know that when it comes to my Director of Football, I give him more responsibility than most, including negotiating transfer fees and contracts for players I add to my Transfer Targets list. Yep, I delegate a lot of responsibility to my Director of Football.

I know the very thought of this will send shivers down the backs of most, however, it’s not as bad as it seems and for me, it adds a level of realism to the game that you just don’t get from handling the intricate contract details of some 15-year-old wonderkid from the FFA COE.

He might not always get the best outcome for me, and my blog is full of a lot of frustrations caused by missed transfer, but then does any manager IRL get all of their targets? I know I’d rather be on the training field than in a stuffy office, negotiating goal bonuses and appearance fees, so I let him deal with that while I concentrate on my job.

Let’s go into some detail.

THE MAN HIMSELF, THE DIRECTOR OF FOOTBALL

When it comes to working with a Director of Football, most people will automatically assume that means delegating the task of finding and making offers for players for the first team. You can ask him to do this for you if you wish (Staff > Responsibilities > Find and make offers for players for your First Team), but for me, I like to at least have the choice of which players will fit my system.

Think of this as a Mourinho and Woodward relationship. I give my list of targets to him, and he goes and gets them. But my list has many players for each position, but we’ll get into that.

Because I don’t have my Director of Football find and make offers for players, his attributes are not important. I don’t need him to judge the players potential or ability.

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If you want him to identify targets then you would look for someone with good Judging Player Ability and Judging Player Potential.  This is Kevin Thelwell, the Director of Football at Wolves, the club I have chosen for this piece.

The Director of Football is able to carry out the following tasks:

  • Hire and fire all staff (with the exception of himself, obviously)
  • Find and make offers for players
  • Bring youth players into the club (newgens)
  • Handle new signing contract negotiations
  • Finalise new signings
  • Renew staff and player contracts
  • Handle new signing press conferences
  • Give advice on various backroom areas like transfers and contracts and player search

You can certainly get your monies worth if you use one. For me, personally, he will just make offers for players I have identified and negotiate their contracts. He will also handle all internal renewals of contracts, once I have decided who stays and who goes. This piece will cover some of the above, including the transfer targets page.

THE TRANSFER TARGETS

One of the most satisfying aspects of Football Manager is squad building, and unless you’re only using your youth, every manager will need to go through the pain and anguish of the transfer market.

There are a few things you can do during the season to make this process smoother. Once you have identified your targets, which you should be doing during the season, ahead of a busy summer, you can do your bit to unsettle them to increase your chances of signing him.

Improving the odds of signing a target

First things first, you want to add the player as a top transfer target, this will leak your interest in the player to the press. Note: you can only have one top target (which I already have), so this option will be greyed out if you already have one)

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Once you have done this the press will ask you about it so you can publicly declare your interest in him.

The next step is to have one of your senior players talk about him positively. Head to the Dynamics > Hierarchy > right click on a Team Leader > Speak About > Ambassadorial Duties > Talk to Top Target. This will ensure that influential player from your team will talk about him to try to convince him to come and play for the club. It will help if they’re the same nationality or have played together previously.

Finally, you can go to watch their games, if you head to their clubs fixtures and select the dash where the score is after the match, you can select to attend the game, as long as you don’t have a fixture that day. A news item will appear that you attended the game to watch that player.

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Slowly but surely, you will see the player’s morale change and you may have finally done enough to convince him that you want him enough so that he is interested in a to move to your club. Now that you have him convinced, it’s time to hand over to the Director of Football.

If you want to see this happening in real time, then I suggest you give Officially Teach a watch on twitch sometime. He is one of the most active users of this technique that I’ve seen, and I’ve witnessed him sign some great players this way that were perhaps out of his league!

Adding players to the transfer targets list

I wrote about my approach to scouting in great detail so I won’t cover that here,  however, once I have identified the targets and done my best to unsettle them, I then need to add them as transfer targets.

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I simply right click the player I want to sign > Transfer > Add as Transfer Target > Transfer. This will add him to your Transfer Target list.

Typically I will identify my players towards the end of the season, around May and compile my lists, however, for the purpose of this, we’re at 1 January 2018. Once we have added the players to the Transfer Targets, you can set your various instructions for each player, if needed.

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Now you can do this from the first screenshot, but I prefer to add my targets and then come and set the preferences, like their squad status, the maximum you want to spend on fees and wages, if you have a specific structure in place, e.g., no player earning more than £30,000-per-week.

Once I have done this, it is time to add the players to a Group and set their priority.

Creating a new transfer targets group

To create a new group, simply select ‘Create New Group’ from the transfer Targets page. You can then name this, e.g., Right Wing-Backs, and start dragging these players into that group. This allows to you set your transfer targets by position and priority, e.g., if you have an urgent requirement for a right back, set this list as urgent, and prioritise the signings within the group to signify your targets by primary, secondary etc. In this example, you can see Gönül is my 1st priority. He is the player I would have made my top target and tried to unsettle.

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Since I have a need for both central midfielders and right-backs, I have added two groups, one for each. Then it is a case of setting the offer amounts, squad statuses etc. and letting him work his magic. You can still add these players are transfer targets which will promote your interest in the press and help improve the chances of you signing him.

You will see I have set my wing-backs as urgent, as I only have one at the club, central midfielders are less of a priority for me right now.

The transfer process

What will often happen in the first instance (if you set a maximum fee), is that the transfer is a failure. What I will tend to do at the first hurdle is then increase the maximum for him to bid, this will reset the search status from failed to not started again and the second round of negotiations will begin.

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Due to the finances at Wolves (we have no money), there isn’t a lot to throw around on players, which is why you will see I’ve added players of both high and low value, but they’re players who can come in and do a job. The guys lower down the priority list will have a  lower squad status as they rotate in with the team rather than come into the first team.

The final sign-off on the deal always comes to me. Jones was our third choice and will be a rotation player, but we just couldn’t afford the other players on the list, no matter how much we tried to unsettle the others. The transfer deal is not bad, for a player entering his 30’s we’ll pay the fee in instalments. My Director of Football has negotiated pretty much the same contract he is already on at Sunderland. The 25% increase in wages for promotion is a little eye-watering, but the rest of the details I am fine with.

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All that is left is for him to attend the press conference on my behalf and confirm the signing.

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Because who likes talking to the press?

On a side note, I found that my Director of Football was able to negotiate much better deals for players in terms of the transfer fee than I was. Moreover, sometimes I would experience a club or agent unwilling to even negotiate for me. This is what peaked my interest in using the Director of Football, I would send him in to do the jobs I couldn’t, then, through habit, he took on the job full time.

CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS

One of the areas of the game that I am not particularly comfortable handling on my own is the contract negotiations of all players and staff. This is another job I delegate to the Director of Football.

When it comes to signing the contracts of staff members, I will generally always terminate those who I don’t want and do my best to keep those I do. So this means an annual contract review and renewal system.

Head to Staff > Overview > All Staff and you will see everyone on the books. For me, this is my team I have put together and the team I want to keep with me. I will simply sort the list by the ‘expires’ and select the top staff member on the list who is expiring in the summer, hold shift, and then select the bottom staff member whose contract is expiring. This should highlight all staff.

I then right click > Contract > DoF Negotiate Contract Renewal. This will leave him to negotiate all 10 contracts, giving me back more time to deal with the important issues, like how to negotiate West Ham away in the FA Cup.

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As for first-team players, it’s the same routine. When a player is 18 months away from contract expiry, I will right click his name and have the Director of Football negotiate the renewal for me.

The only downside to this is the existence of certain clauses that I’d rather not see inserted into my players’ contracts, like release clauses and automatic wage rises, but this is the business side of the game, and that is for the business people to deal with. Plus, isn’t it fun when you lose your best defender to INTER for €4m when he is worth €7m?

BRING YOUTH PLAYERS INTO THE CLUB

If you don’t have a Head of Youth Development, you can ask your Director of Football to bring youth players into the club. What this essentially means is that any newgens coming through the system will be the responsibility of your Director of Football now. There are some key attributes to look out for when using him this way (everything written here is applicable to the staff member responsible for bringing youth players into the club, so will apply to a HoYD if it is his responsibility).

It is important to note, that it is your Youth Recruitment, Youth Facilities and Junior Coaching that influences the ability and potential of the youth players. Your Director of Football, when given this role, will primarily influence the youth players personality.

In some instances, the Director of Football may affect the style of players, for example, Kevin Thelwell has a general coaching style so the type of player he could bring through on occasion would be a broadly generic role. However, ones with a more technical coaching style are more likely to product technical players. His preferred formation can also influence the positions the youth players can play in.

It isn’t as cut and dry as this, as there is a large dose of random in all of this, but essentially, your facilities will govern the abilities and the staff will govern the personalities and types of players.

On a very rare occasion, the once in a generation player is more influenced by your staff members. With these outstanding talents, you will want your Director of Football to have good Judging Player Potential and Working with Youngsters. Your other staff will also have an influence here, but not as much. However, do bear in mind this is for the really rare and special talents.

Essentially, he is able to carry out the role of a Head of Youth Development in much the same way, and his attributes as described above are important for this.

HIRE AND FIRE ALL STAFF

If you wish to abstain from all recruitment of staff, you can ask your Director of Football to hire and fire all staff members at the club. What this essentially does is gives him the deciding rule over who goes and who stays.

Staff > Responsibilities > Staff Recruitment. Within here, you can select your Director of Football, and he will make sure that you’re fully stocked with staff for all areas of the backroom, from scouts to coaches. Useful if you prefer to be less hands-on with that side of the game.

I would urge you to remember to set your coach assignments though Training > Coaches > Ask Assistant to Assign or you can assign them yourself here. This will ensure there is the cover for the training areas that are key to you.

FIND AND MAKE OFFERS FOR PLAYERS

Finally, if you wish to have the ultimate Director of Football challenge, you can ask him to find and make offers for players for your first team and for the future.

Proceed with caution. It is not until you try this that you really do feel the frustrations of Antonio Conte this season. Based from experience, your Director of Football will essentially sign players to fit his preferences so if you’re playing a 4-4-2 and you have a Director of Football who prefers a 4-2-3-1 you might end up with attacking midfielders and attacking wingers.

So it’s best to find one who shares the same coaching style as you and same preferred formation, as you’ll more than likely get players who will better fit into your system.

CONCLUSION

Utilising a Director of Football adds another level of realism to the game. It can be frustrating as hell (see my first few seasons at Parma on FM18), but so rewarding when you get into the swing of things. You might also find that he is able to pull off some transfers that you were not able to.

So this about wraps it up. If you have any questions or want to get in touch with anything related to the Director of Football, send me a message on Twitter @fmFutbolManager, 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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