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My Approach to Preseason Training in Football Manager 2020 – Part II

Welcome to my approach to preseason training. This is a two-part series where I go through my thinking process for setting up preseason training for my team. In this post I go through a preseason with Bayern to show how I adapt my training and plans as the preseason unfolds. If you missed part I you can find it here:

My Approach to Preseason Training in Football Manager 2020 – Part I

GETTING TO WORK

Starting out in Germany the players return on 1 July 2019 for preseason start which gives us seven weeks until our first league fixture on Friday 16 August. Before then we have a Supercup match against Dortmund on 4 August and a DFB Pokal 1st round match against minnows Cottbus a week later on 11 August. Both games will be treated as preseason friendlies.

Monday 10 June 2019

I used the French start date to allow me to setup the tactics and plan training.

The players wont be back for a few weeks yet so I familiarise myself with the squad and set about cancelling the prearranged fixtures and replace them with my own (shown above). I load in my preseason training schedules around the fixtures arranged and set them in place. I create and load a tactic and I set a default preseason starting XI so I have a benchmark to compare Tactical Familiarity against and to ensure I rotate my squad properly. Changing players will change familiarity so I will use the same 11 from start to end for the comparison.

So the objective is to ensure we have high levels of Match Sharpness and Tactical Familiarity by the time the match with Hertha Berlin comes around. Should be easy with seven weeks training and practice matches. We have a squad of 22 players which is perfect as I can rotate fully for each match. The only position I don’t rotate so much is the goalkeeper, so I will set a first and second XI up in the tactics creator and save the selection so I can easily pick the starting team for each match, which will likely be the first XI to start the season.

You can see from the below on the right of the screenshot the team selections: preseason first XI and preseason second XI.

Tactics > Quick Pick > Save Team Selection

Saving a team selection allows you to quickly pick a team for a match

So we have our fixtures, our training plans loaded and our teams decided. Fortunately, I play a similar system to that which the Bayern players are used to so the familiarity levels are not too low.

Time to move on to the first week.

PRESEASON • WEEK 1

Monday 1 July 2019

Schedule: PRESEASON • WELCOME BACK • WEEK ONE

The players are back from preseason. I’m a little nervous about how this will work out, but this weeks schedule has been built around the needs of the team. We start with a bonding session and then some physical work to get the legs back into it.

We have a tactical weakness in Passing Style, Tempo and Marking so we’re going to do a bit of work on those. In the first week scheduled some Possession sessions which works on improving Passing Style and Tempo, along with doing heavy fitness work and some tactical work. A balanced schedule for early preseason built to reduce the risk of injury while building up familiarity with tactics.

Bayern player condition upon returning from the summer break

The Overall Risk is what we want to reduce to get it as low as possible by the start of the season. I drop a couple of the players down to half intensity on the recommendation of my physio. These are players who primarily went away and played a lot of matches over the summer during internationals. I have also set those who are more injury prone to a lower schedule just to ease them in a bit.

The players whose coach reports indicate that they have a very high injury susceptibility are those who will, typically, be more prone to injuries than others, and as such, you should closely monitor their training and match load to ensure you don’t trigger an injury, either new or recurring. Despite all having the same label, Very High, they each have a different level of proneness to injuries. I will typically give them a week or two of lighter training to ease them in.

Select player > Reports > Coach Report

A players proneness to injuries is highlighted within the Cons of the coach report
  • Javi Martínez – Fairly susceptible to injuries
  • Kingsley Coman – Fairly susceptible to injuries
  • Thiago – Might have problems with injuries
  • Leon Goretzka – Fairly susceptible to injuries
  • Serge Gnabry – Fairly susceptible to injuries

The lowest level of injury proneness is fairly susceptible, so if I were to have any players prone to injury, this is the best level to have. Obviously you don’t want your players to be injury prone at all. The coach report will range from: fairly susceptible to might have problems and then could have real problems.

End of week training report

Tactical familiarity has seen an improvement, as we expected. We’ve improved our familiarity with our Tempo, increasing to Accomplished, which was helped by the scheduling of the Possession sessions. Still some work to do on Passing Style, Marking and Pressing Intensity, but that will come in the weeks ahead. Generally there has been a slight improvement across all areas so I’m happy with that.

We’ve managed to come through the week without getting any serious injuries. A couple of niggles as you would expect at this stage, but the players condition is still looking good. As mentioned, we have a few players who are prone to injury though, so I might nurse them through another week of light training. Despite my physio giving everyone the green light to return to normal training, I’m going to keep these players on another week of half intensity just to gradually bring them back up to full fitness.

Bayern player condition after one week of training

The safest thing for me here is to use the information available to me. My physio recommends giving Boateng a lighter workload so we’ll drop his intensity along with the injury prone lads. Week three is where we hope to have everyone training fully.

PRESEASON • WEEK 2

Monday 8 July 2019

Schedule: PRESEASON • PHASE I • WEEK TWO

For week two we enter phase I of training and this is where we do a lot of physical work in the lead up to our first match on Saturday. More Possession training to improve our tactical familiarity with our Passing Style and Tempo. Other than that there is more fitness work with general tactical familiarity work.

End of week training report

Another week of physical work and a lot of tactical work. The players are still avoiding injury which is good as we’ve completed our first preseason match.

We’ve stepped up the training for those with a high susceptibility to injuries. They’ll join in with the rest of the squad and return to normal training. We have a couple who we drop at the recommendation of the physios so we will monitor them and look at their game time to see if we need to perhaps give them fewer minutes in the next match.

Bayern player condition after two weeks of training

We have a good base level of condition now as we move to increasing game time to maximise both match sharpness and tactical familiarity.

PRESEASON • WEEK 3

Monday 15 July 2019

Schedule: PRESEASON • PHASE II • WEEK THREE

Two matches this week as we step up our tactical work. A couple of general training sessions in the middle of a busy week of fixtures. we’re looking to increase familiarity and get some games in to improve the Match Sharpness now. A few of the players are starting to get some good Match Sharpness; progressing towards 90% and above.

End of week training report

Not much training on the physical side this week as the hard work was on the pitch and studying match tactics. Our familiarity is coming along well and the fitness levels are getting there.

With Tactical Familiarity improving the performances on the pitch should get better as we’re more coherent with the system. A couple of the players have slightly lower than preferred Match Sharpness so I will look to give them some extra game time in the following week.

Bayern player condition after three weeks of training

The training workload is lighter as we’re doing more on the pitch now. Just another two weeks of double matches before we get back into two weeks of single matches and more training. By this point match sharpness should be high enough to kick off the season. If not, I’ll schedule an emergency match to kick us up a level.

PRESEASON • WEEK 4

Monday 22 July 2019

Schedule: PRESEASON • PHASE II • WEEK FOUR

I’ve made a change to my standard week 4 template as we need to improve Marking and Pressing Intensity. As such, I’ve scheduled in some sessions for Defending Engaged and Defending from the Front as these both improve these areas. As I said at the start, the templates are just a starting point for each week. I will change them as I need to in order to get the best training results over the preseason.

End of week training report

Another successful week of training and another couple of good matches under our belts. We are now at some very good levels of familiarity with the tactics so we can start to taper off some of the sessions in favour of more specialised sessions aimed at those areas we’re weakest in.

The team are developing well. Coutinho is back from his short holiday following a late summer of international games so he goes onto a lower intensity training schedule compared to the rest of the team. He will get a few minutes over the coming week to build up that sharpness again. Alphonso Davis came back last week and still needs more matches to get his fitness levels up.

Bayern player condition after four weeks of training

Nothing special for the week ahead. I’m not going to change anything we had planned and with the exception of Coutinho, it’s business as usual in terms of the intensity of our training.

PRESEASON • WEEK 5

Monday 29 July 2019

Schedule: PRESEASON • PHASE II • WEEK FIVE

This is the last week of phase II, where we play two matches a week. We end the week with a match on the Sunday against Dortmund in the Supercup so it’ll be a good test of our fitness.

We have a few more fitness sessions in this week as we look to get the final few heavy sessions done. We have a lot of tactical work planned, too. With more work on generic tactical training: Att. Movement and Def. Shape which work all areas of familiarity. After this week I will start to look at what individual training we can start the players on.

End of week training report

Almost completely Fluid in understanding the match tactics. I have no concerns going into the season like this. The Position/Role/Duty will remain relatively low while some of the players are in roles they’re not too familiar with, but ultimately things are looking good.

On the training front we are getting that fitness up to the levels we would expect now.

Bayern player condition after five weeks of training

We have a few tired legs after the match against Dortmund which went to penalties. Match Sharpness is looking good for the majority of players now which is excellent. We just have a couple of the late starters to work on over the next two weeks before the season starts. We only have one more match now, a DFB Pokal first round match against Cottbus. Davies and Coutinho will play the full 90 minutes as they’re lacking.

PRESEASON • WEEK 6

Monday 5 August 2019

Schedule: PRESEASON • PHASE III • WEEK SIX

As we enter the third phase of my training we begin to taper off the matches and work on more tactical sessions. We have some fitness in here too as we don’t want to get too relaxed over this week, but this is very much about maintenance for me and not going crazy before the start of the season. The last few tactical sessions with some Match Practice and a match on Saturday will increase our Match Sharpness further.

I’ve adjusted a couple of the sessions as our Creative Freedom, Pressing Intensity, and Marking needs a bit of work so I’ve swapped out Def. Shadow Play and Att. Shadow Play which concentrates more on Mentality, Width, and Position/Role/Duty in favour of Defending from the front (Pressing Intensity and Marking) and Attacking Wings (Passing Style and Creative Freedom).

I should also note that at this stage I’m monitoring the players intensity on a daily basis and ramping it up when appropriate to do so. Those on half intensity won’t stay like that for the full week.

End of week training report

The extra work has paid off and we’re now ready for our first match of the season on Friday. We’ve improved in every area. Creative Freedom is the last area we need to work on but we can do that going into the season. The Position/Role/Duty familiarity will take a little longer as players are put into unfamiliar positions.

So after the final preseason match, the DFB Pokal first round, we’re pretty much at maximum match sharpness. We’ve just played a match so condition will be a little low in the shot below, but I’ll show the full results after the following final week of training leading up to the first match of the season.

Bayern player condition after six weeks of training

PRESEASON • WEEK 7

Monday 12 August 2019

Schedule: PRESEASON • PHASE III • WEEK SEVEN

No need to adjust training this week. Defending from the Front and Attacking Overlap will work Creative Freedom, Pressing Intensity and Marking which are three areas we still need to improve. They’re not going to get a huge bump by the match on Friday against Hertha, but to be honest I’m happy with the progress we’ve made in learning a new tactic over the preseason.

We will continue the tactical work into the season and hopefully be fully familiar not too far into it.

End of week training report

So the final Tactic Familiarity Levels are above. We’ve covered a lot of ground in getting up to speed with how I want to play this season and improved in a lot of areas. The players will get more familiar as the season goes on and from season two, we shouldn’t need to do as much work to get the levels up high again.

Bayern player condition after seven weeks of training

The players Overall Fitness Condition is good as well as their Match Sharpness. We’ve had a good number of games and rotated much of the squad to make sure they’re all getting minutes. The important part now will be to make sure those who are on the fringes of the first team get minutes in the reserves to keep their fitness levels up for when we might need to call upon them.

The players Happiness and Morale is also good. Obviously, with a lot of heavy training you’re going to take a bit of a hit in this area with a few of the heavier sessions like Quickness and Endurance having a negative impact, but overall the balance in training has been good with a lot of sessions which increase Happiness. It also helps that the players got a lot of minutes and won all the games we played.

Bayern team cohesion after seven weeks of training

Finally, team cohesion has increased from an average level to good. This will see an improvement to positioning, vision and reactions on the pitch. Over the season this should increase further as the players play together more. The dressing room atmosphere is also very good.

CONCLUSION

As I said at the beginning, this is not a silver bullet approach. This does not work for every team and for every preseason. I have a template that I adapt for each preseason. Where we’re lacking, I adapt to give my players the best chance of improving together. There’s a lot more that goes into training that just setting schedules and matches; having the right coaches and medical team, taking preseason tours, blending new joiners, dealing with latecomers from internationals.

I’m always interested in hearing about other approaches to training and preseason so if you have anything you do that I’ve not covered I’d love to hear about it.

That’s about it! Thanks for reading.

As always, you can get in touch with me in the comments below, via twitter @fmfutbolmanager, or my slack channel #fmFutbolManager — if you’re not a part of the Football Manager Slack community, then you can join here!

Until next time.

Oliver Jensen

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2 comments

  1. Fantastic and inspiring read mate. Do you ever get a player being unhappy before the pre season started too early? I often get this message from my semi – proffessional players. Anyway to deal with it?

    1. Yeah I have had this a couple of times from players, but there is a bug at the moment where you cannot change the date of preseason. I just ignore it usually and he normally becomes happy again.

Let me know your thoughts, below.

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