Football Manager Guides

MY APPROACH TO SCOUTING IN FOOTBALL MANAGER 2020

I've updated my popular guide on how I approach scouting in Football Manager. This guide will show you the steps I take to setup my scouting network to ensure we know about all the top players across the globe.

Football Manager Guides | Scouting

Scouting hasn’t really changed too much for Football Manager 2020. Most of what I have written the past couple of years still holds true, however, this guide has been updated with fresh screenshots to give you all the information you need to get around scouting in this year’s edition.

MANAGER PROFILE

First off, your manager profile. When creating your managerial style, you have two mental attributes for increasing the level of detail available to you in the attribute values on a players profile: 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 in each category.

If you want to have better visibility of player attributes for players 23 and over, then you would increase your player knowledge value. If you want better visibility for players under 23 then you would increase your youngster knowledge.

As an example, the below highlights Holtby of Blackburn, 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 and young player knowledge at the lowest value as I like to rely on my scouts a lot more than my own knowledge.

SCOUTING CENTRE

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 select Scouting from the left menu.

From here you can set up your view to have scouting recommendations in a list rather than cards, sort the cards by recommendation, date, currently ability etc. and also control of the priority of scouting.

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, or 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 right.

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You can also set some preferences and filters for the email recommendations you receive from your scouts using the preferences and filter drop-downs. These options will allow you to better filter the number of updates you receive and where you want to receive them. This is particularly useful 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 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.

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Additionally, we also have the filters option, where we have the option to decide whether we receive email into the inbox or scouting inbox when scouting players.

You have the option to set the minimum recommendation level here, so should you wish to only have the top-recommended players you can increase this from the default 60. Moreover, you can also select the icons to choose how player reports are delivered to you.

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The magnifying glass is to show in scouting centre, the icon to the right of that is to have the report delivered to your normal inbox, and the final icon is a mixed delivery.

Report cards or Scouting list

A new feature which came in for Football Manager 2019 is the ability to change from viewing the scouting recommendations as report cards to a list of a player which you can sort and filter on, which makes it a little easier to find players quickly.

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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.

SCOUT EMAIL UPDATES

In Football Manager 2019 Sports Interactive reintroduced email updates that you used to receive from your scouts in previous versions. These are sent whenever you have requested a scout take a look at a player, and also if you have asked another member of the backroom team to take over the scouting meetings. In this scenario, they will arrange a scout report on their top recommendation which will also be delivered to your inbox.

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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. You can also create multiple ranges for where players are based.

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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. Two 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.

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 my scout to look for an advanced playmaker. I have also further refined my search to report on players where their composure and passing attributes are at least 15. This is particularly useful if, 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.

You are also able to set a priority, where you have a lot of players on your scouting list. If you head to assignments > priority within the scouting centre, you can drag and drop players on the scouting priorities list to get players scouted ahead of others.

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RECRUITMENT TEAM

The recruitment team covers your Data Analysts, your 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 winger, I scout West Brom player Matheus Pereira who is on loan to them from Sporting. 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 ambitious and skilful, however, it doesn’t look like he will immediately fit in with the rest of the squad. Time to get a more detailed picture.

To view more information, we can select the scout report and analyst report from that screen.

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, Pereira is operating on a decent Premier League level and would be a good signing. Given that he is a winger, his balance and ability stand out. 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.

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. To view your facilities, head to club info > 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: club vision > 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, Pereira has a good average rating at 7.20, and has a 76% pass completion ratio. 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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I need my wingers to be up and down the pitch, creating chances and setting up goals. 4 goals from 31 shots isn’t too bad. His 76% passing accuracy is something I can work with and about right for a winger who will give it away a lot as he looks to make crosses. His tackles are also pleasing with 79% completed. I also like that he makes 3.72 dribbles per 90 minutes.

The key to reading these doughnut charts is by working on the listed stats in order, for example, looking at shots (31), this will be a complete black ring. Next, we look at how many of those are on target. In the case of shots, 35% are on target, and this is represented by the green bar taking up just over a quarter of the ring. Finally, with just 4 goals, this is the inner more prominent light green 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. However, given that he is a Premier League level player, it’s unlikely we could make a deal for him at this stage.

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 Brentford, I am only permitted to scout within this continent. Previously, if I found a gem of a player outside of my scouting range I wouldn’t be able to scout him, but we now have 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 also view the scout report, attributes, role and position, his medical details. Pretty much everything you would need to make an informed decision on the player. You can see that Pereira’s recommendation is 68 (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 68 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. In order to add to shortlist, add as a transfer target or declare as a top target (this last option requires you to have a Director of Football), you need to tick the box and at least acknowledge the player or select one of the other button options.

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 > scoutinghandling scouting meetings. This way you 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 2020, 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 @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.

Oliver Jensen

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