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My Approach to Training in Football Manager 2020

Welcome to My Approach to Training in Football Manager 2020.
In this guide to training in Football Manager I will take you through the steps to set up your coaches and training to ensure your players reach their full potential.

Football Manager Guides | Training

Training in Football Manager hasn’t changed much since Football Manager 2019 so this is only a slight update on that post. I’ve included up to date screenshots from Football Manager 2020 and added a few other changes where I perhaps do things slightly differently now. The screenshots provided for this guide are from the first day when starting the game, using the default training schedules and squad status that is set up for me. I have not customised any of the training yet.

Unlike my other Football Manager guides, this one is based on both facts (information you can get from the game and from the SI Forums) as well as my own intuition. I won’t be providing FM20 training schedules, either. Generally, if I start by saying something like what I like to do…, then this is usually me trying to think like a football manager and applying what I think is a sensible approach to my training.

If you’re looking for five-star FM20 training schedules, a quick fix, or someone to do the training for you, you won’t find that here. This is more a result of my own research by the hours of reading the forums and testing the game to see how things work. Some may approach training in Football Manager differently, and that’s the beauty of training now, there is no silver bullet or magic formula anymore.

Staff Responsibilities

If you only want to take control of some aspects of training in Football Manager, a good place to start is at the Staff Responsibilities, as you can take over as much of the training as you wish. Some might prefer to do little at the beginning and then take a more active role as they become more familiar. That’s certainly how I approached it last year. If you are going to be more hands-off then you need to make sure that the staff member you’re delegating to shares a similar footballing style to you.

Staff > Responsibilities > Training

I much prefer to be completely hands-on with the first team and leave my reserves and youth squads to the respective reserve and youth team managers. This gives me more time focussing on the players I am directly responsible for.

Staff Training Responsibilities
Staff Training Responsibilities

General training in Football Manager involves setting up the training schedules whereas individual training in Football Manager is specific to each player, e.g., their role, traits, intensity etc.

What I prefer to do is take the general training and individual training for the first team, leave the general training of the youth teams to the youth team managers, and then take the individual training of the youth team players so that I can better control their specific role and duty training.

I like to ensure that when players are ready to step up to the first team, that they’ve trained for the role I have ready for them and that they have developed the traits I need them to have for their position.

There’s no right or wrong way to do this, but it’s how I’ve always setup things and how I prefer to develop my players.

Training Overview

Welcome to training in Football Manager.

Training in Football Manager - Overview
Training in Football Manager – Overview

The training overview page has not changed for this years version, other than a slightly redesigned skin. You can still see all the information that you are used to seeing here, like the training happiness and performance and the training schedule set up for this week.

Tactical Familiarity

Training in Football Manager - Tactical Familiarity with Primary Tactic
Tactical Familiarity with Primary Tactic

Along the top of the overview is your tactical familiarity for each of the tactics that you have loaded. If you leave training to your assistant manager, your training in Football Manager will be aligned with your tactical style. It is important to use your main system as your primary tactic, e.g., say you have a Gegenpress style that you’ll use for 80% of the games, and then a defensive and attacking one for when you’re holding onto or chasing a lead, then you want to have your Gegenpress style as your main tactic to ensure your players are training to suit this style as a priority.

You can easily swap the primary tactic here, by selecting the drop-down beside the primary tactic familiarity bar.

Switching primary tactic
Switching primary tactic

Training This Week

Next up is the current weeks training schedule. You’ll see each session for the week, including any matches that you might have. FM20 training schedules begin on a Monday and end of a Sunday. You’ll also notice an intensity level indicator below each day so that you can monitor how hard the players are training that week. The more intensive the training, the fuller and more red the intensity bar gets.

The current weeks training schedule
The current weeks training schedule

If you want to change any of the sessions, you can either quick change it by right-clicking and using the menu, or left click to go through the UI where you can select each session with explanations for what each session means. You can also drag future sessions to another area to swap if you wish.

Training Happiness

Players have personalities. Some will love to train and give their all, some will be lazy. Some will want to do more technical training, some will want to do more physical training. The training happiness will let you know if any players have a problem with the training you have asked them to do. Typically, players will complain about the individual training they’ve been asked to do. Sometimes they will also believe they should be doing more or less of a specific training focus, e.g., quickness training.

Training happiness
Training happiness

When you have a squad of 20-30 players, it is hard to keep them all happy, so the key to this, in my mind, is to keep training varied.

Training happiness is an indicator for you as the manager to see how your players are taking to the schedules, the mentoring, the personal development that has been provided. If your players are not happy, this can affect their performances, so you should keep an eye out here.

I will cover group and individual training in Football Manager later on, but essentially when a player isn’t happy I will look to see why this is and see if there’s anything I can do to appease him, for example, can I swap his training focus. To see the reason for their unhappiness select the group and view the training happiness details which will show you something like “thinks he should be doing more quickness training”.

Training Performance

Players who train well play well. While this might not be fact, in my mind if a player is happy, is enjoying and performing well in training then he gets a go in the first team. For me, a common sign that a player may hit a slump is when their training performances dip. I prefer to have players with high morale and a good level of happiness than those who are unhappy as this can rub off onto other players.

Training performance
Training performance

If you train well, you play. If a player is unhappy with his game time then he needs to show me in training that he is deserving of a starting position. I will generally view training performance and use this as one of the factors for deciding who makes the first-team squad.

A players training in Football Manager is rated based on the last seven-days training. So unlike schedules which are based on a Monday to Sunday, training ratings are rolling, so today is Monday so his rating is from the previous Tuesday to today.

Medical Centre

The Medical Centre within this view is extremely useful for managing the risk to your key players.

Medical centre
Medical centre

If a player is at an increased injury risk, I will generally look at the reason why and see if there’s remedial action I can take, for example, could I reduce their intensity for a couple of days and reassess later. Do they need more game time? Do they need less game time? I could also give them some rest, but I only do this on extreme circumstances. To give them a rest, you right-click their name > training > rest > select period. If you’d rather just reduce their intensity you can view the individual training (select the tab at the top) and drop the intensity down, but I’ll cover this more in the individual training section.

You could even exclude them from pitch and gym work, which, as the name suggests excludes the players from any sessions that include physical training. However, it’s important to see why they’re at increased injury risk. In the example above, it is down to a low match sharpness so rest would compound this issue as it negatively affects sharpness, so match practice and games are needed to increase their sharpness, not rest.

If I have adjusted their intensity manually (I usually have this set to automatic), to remind me to swap him back when he’s back to full fitness and his risk of injury has gone, I will add a reminder to him, right click his name > create note > I’ll set a reminder for five days time to review training intensity.

Training Calendar

The calendar view is a page I would really like to see changed. It’s a bit busy for my liking, however, it has its use in that it allows me to plan the type of training schedule I want to implement for the coming weeks.

Training calendar
Training calendar

Don’t worry if you forget to set them, your Assistant Manager will plan these well in advance for you, however, you can change them yourself as long as that week has not already started, e.g., say you wanted to run some attacking training sessions next week, well you have until the Sunday to set the weekly session as once you get to that week, you can only change the sessions one-by-one, rather than setting a training style for that week.

If you select to receive training emails you will also get an email on a Sunday night allowing you to change training for the week ahead if needed.

Staff > Responsibilities > Training > Receive training emails

Once you have set this up you’ll never forget to set the training sessions for the week ahead again.

Training Schedules and Sessions

This is where the magic happens. There are a lot of words to start with, but hopefully, the images I provide after will bring it all to life.

Default training session - Gegenpress - 1 match
Default training session – Gegenpress – 1 match

Training in Football Manager sets the schedules as weekly blocks of training sessions broken down into 7×3 sessions. Training runs from Monday to Sunday and each schedule can have up to 21 sessions. There’s a limit on the number of sessions you can repeat per week, e.g., you cannot set your team to train Attacking Movement 21 times a week, and some sessions also require specific staff members to run them.

The first thing to note is that when we have a match, we’re assigned a Match Preview session the day before and a Recovery session the day after the match unless of course, you’re creating your own schedule, in which case you need to add the match session to the schedule itself and then these two sessions will be added automatically.

You can change these if you wish, and certain events will also change them automatically, e.g., after a bad result you can demand your players come in the following day for extra training in the post-match team talk, and this will automatically set up the scheduled training in replace of the recovery schedule.

Each session you create is either deemed a team session, whereby the whole team trains together, or a unit-specific session, where each unit is split into their respective units. However, some sessions will distribute the priority given to players into the units equally, e.g., outfield players being defending and attacking units, or by a specialist role, e.g., set-piece takers.

The below gives an example of these groupings.

  • All Players – sessions with a primary focus on all players will see everyone in the squad receiving 100% of the focus from the coaches.
  • Goalkeeping and Outfield – sessions split this way will see a higher focus on the primary unit than the secondary unit, e.g., the attacking session will see the outfield players receive 80% priority, while the goalkeeping unit will see 20% of the priority.
  • Goalkeeping, Defending, and Attacking – sessions split three ways will see the priority split 60/20/20 between the units, with the primary unit receiving 60% of the priority, and the remaining two units receiving 20% each.
  • Goalkeeping, Outfield, and Set Piece Takers – sessions can sometimes be split to give focus to a specialist role, e.g., a set-piece taker. For certain sessions, e.g., Defending Corners, set-piece takers will receive specific focus on developing their attributes specific to that session.

By grouping into units, this allows the coaches to prioritise their time with the appropriate unit according to the session being trained. It’s a lot to take in at first glance, but once you understand the reason for the session and the attributes trained, it’s easy to quickly put together sessions to focus on particular skillsets on any given week.

Training Impacts in Football Manager

Each session will give you an overview of the impacts that the session has on each player. These are broken down into:

  • Attributes – the player attributes that the session will focus on improving.
  • Tactical Familiarity – how familiar a player is with your team’s style of play and his specific role within the team, i.e., Mentality, Passing Style, Creative Freedom, Pressing Intensity, Marking, Tempo, Width, and Position/Role/Duty. You can view players Familiarity by going to his individual training. More on this later on.
  • Injury Risk – self-explanatory, but whether or not the player is likely to have an increase or decrease injury risk due to the session.
  • Fatigue – As above, whether or not the session will increase or decrease player Fatigue.
  • Condition – whether or not the player will see an increase or decrease in their physical fitness due to the session.
  • Sharpness – whether or not the session will improve or decrease Match Sharpness.
  • Happiness – whether or not the session is likely to affect the player’s happiness. I believe the only session to negatively affect happiness is endurance training, which makes sense.
  • Team Cohesion – whether or not the session will improve the teams level of understanding of each other. An important aspect when you first take over a club, or when you’ve taken on a lot of signings in a window.
  • Upcoming Match – a short-term boost for the next match, which can either be for Teamwork (boosts Teamwork and Pressing), Defensive Shape (boosts Defensive Positioning and Marking), Attacking Movement (boosts Attacking Movement and Passing), Attacking or Defending Free-Kicks (boost Attacking or Defending Free Kicks), Attacking or Defending Corners (boosts Attacking or Defending Corners), Penalties (boosts Penalties), or Set Piece Deliveries (which as the name suggests boosts Set Piece Deliveries).

Below is an example of the Attacking session under General Training which should bring some of the above into focus. Firstly, you can see that the session is broken down into two units, Outfield (80%) and Goalkeeping (20%), with the outfield players receiving 60% and another 20% priority whereas the Goalkeeping unit receives the secondary priority of 20%.

Attacking training session
Attacking training session

The impacts to the outfield players are:

  • Attributes (60% priority) – Crossing, Dribbling, Finishing, First Touch, Heading, Long Shots, Passing, Technique, Composure, Flair, Off The Ball, Vision
  • Attributes (20% priority) – Heading, Marking, Tackling, Technique, Aggression, Anticipation, Concentration, Decisions, Positioning, Teamwork, Work Rate
  • Tactical Familiarity – Creative Freedom
  • Injury Risk – slightly increased
  • Condition – slightly reduced
  • Happiness – increased
  • Team Cohesion – slightly increased

The impact on to the goalkeeping unit is:

  • Attributes (20% priority) – Aerial Reach, Handling, One On Ones, Reflexes, Agility, Positioning, Command of Area, Communication, Anticipation, Concentration, Decisions.
  • Tactical Familiarity – Creative Freedom
  • Injury Risk – slightly increased
  • Condition – slightly reduced
  • Happiness – slightly increased
  • Team Cohesion – slightly increased

It goes without saying that sessions with more attributes covered will see less attention to each attribute, and thus the progression of that attribute will be slower than using a more concentrated session with fewer attributes trained.

I won’t go into all the schedules and sessions, I think you can do that in the game and see what impacts they have on training, but at the end of this post, I will show my training and how I approach each session.

Training Units

Your squad is split into three training units; Goalkeeping Unit, Defensive Unit and the Attacking Unit. This is to enable the correct priority to be applied for certain training sessions as outlined above.

Training units
Training units

From this area, you can also set the individual player focus for their Position/Role/Duty training. Moreover, you can also invite youth team players to come train with the first team, by using the Add/Remove Reserve or Youth Team player to First Team training drop-down top right.

Essentially, putting a player into a specific unit will determine what training focus they receive for each training session. So for example, if you have a session that is split into Attacking, Defensive and Goalkeeping, then moving a player from the Defensive Unit to the Attacking Unit will mean that his training impacts will be specific to the attacking unit, rather than the defensive unit.

In the example below, if you moved a Wing-Back from the Defensive Unit to the Attacking Unit, during an Attacking Wings session, he would receive 60% of the coaches focus, and have a different set of attributes impacted compared with the Defensive Unit training which receives only 20% of the focus. This is typically a move I would make as I am more concerned about my Wing-Backs attacking play than defensive.

Attacking Wings training session
Attacking Wings training session

Mentoring

Tutoring in Football Manager is no more. That left training in Football Manager 2018.

We now have the ability to create mentoring groups. Think of mentoring as a way for the more senior players at the squad to guide the younger players. By creating these groups, those within will pass on personality and player traits. More experienced players will have a bigger influence on those less experienced.

Mentoring units
Mentoring units

In the above scenario, Daley Blind is a team leader at the club. He is mentoring three other players who have a light influence on the group. This means that it is more likely that Blind’s personality, determination and traits will be passed onto the other three than the other way around.

You can also get an idea of how suitable the senior players are for mentoring, as your coaches will point out key personality traits, like whether the player is a complete role model for younger players.

Model Citizen personality
Model Citizen personality

Generally, what I like to do is have at least one senior player from the core social group and who is close to the top of the team hierarchy with at least two young players. Sometimes it might be a 1:3 ratio, sometimes 2:4 or in this example, I have 1:3 with one senior and three younger players.

There’s no right or wrong way, but you must have at least three players, so I try to make sure I have more youth players than senior to get the most benefit.

Individual Training

Individual training is where I like to refine the player and mould him to the role I want him to play.

Individual player training in Football Manager
Individual player training

Position/Role/Duty

If you leave this blank then he will be trained for his current position. What I try to do is always train them for the role I want them to do to make sure we’re concentrating on their key attributes for that role, rather than position. If you train for the position only there is less effort required so you can spend more time on the additional focus.

If you already have a very good Deep Lying Playmaker, for example, and he doesn’t need much more improvement in those attributes it is more beneficial to have him on positional training and then use the Additional Focus to refine his attributes that are weaker.

Additional Focus

For the Additional Focus, if my player needs further refinement I will usually set this to something sensible for his role. Perr Schuurs is already a good centre-back, I am using him as a Ball Playing Defender. As a result, I want him to have great Work Rate if he is going to put himself on the line and push for the full 90 minutes. Training as a Ball Playing Defender doesn’t train Work Rate so I give him the additional focus of Endurance which also trains his Stamina.

There are three categories under the Additional Focus and under these a number of focuses that train specific attributes. Note that if you use an injury rehab focus, it will be removed automatically when the player returns to full training so you will need to set a new focus if you intend for him to keep training specific attributes.

Injury Rehab

  • Quickness – Acceleration and Pace
  • Agility and Balance – Agility and Balance
  • Strength – Strength, Jumping Reach and Aerial Reach
  • Endurance – Stamina
  • General Rehab – Acceleration, Agility, Balance, Jumping Reach, Pace, Strength, Stamina and Aerial Reach

Set Pieces

  • Free Kick Taking – Free Kick Taking and Technique
  • Corners – Corners and Technique
  • Penalty Taking – Penalty Taking and Technique
  • Long Throws – Long Throws

Attributes

  • Quickness – Acceleration and Pace
  • Agility and Balance – Agility and Balance
  • Strength – Strength, Jumping Reach and Aerial Reach
  • Endurance – Stamina and Work Rate
  • Defensive Positioning – Marking, Positioning and Decisions
  • Attacking Movement – Off The Ball, Anticipation and Decisions
  • Final Third – Composure, Decision and Vision
  • Shooting – Finishing, Long Shots and Technique
  • Passing – First Touch, Passing and Technique

Adding an Additional Focus will increase the training workload on a player. Players will high levels of Professionalism tend to be happier with training and more likely to take on extra work you assign him. You can view a players Professionalism in the reports page (select the player > reports > coach report), and here you will usually see something like the below.

Fairly Professional personality
Fairly Professional personality

Intensity Level

As discussed in the overview section, you can change a player’s intensity level when required. I will typically do this for older players who perhaps don’t have the legs any more and are unlikely to develop much more. So I will reduce their intensity during busy periods to keep them fresher for matches. Generally, I will leave this to automatic though.

Player Traits

You can request your coaches try to teach players specific player traits. Player traits are useful if you want your player to attempt certain moves during a game. For example, if you have a player out wide with great acceleration and pace then you can ask him to try to learn to knock balls bast his opponent.

I am always looking for players to learn traits that are particularly useful to have for the role and position of the pitch they’re going to be playing.

Training Rest

The training intensity can adversely impact a player. From here you can reduce the intensity of training where players condition meets a certain value. Moreover, you can set the training intensity for individuals where there might be an increased injury risk.

Rest
Rest

Typically I will set most, if not all players to automatic intensity (shown by the circled arrows next to the intensity level) and then set the training intensity at no pitch or gym work when condition is <59%, at half intensity when condition is between 60-69%, normal intensity when condition is between 70-89% and then double intensity when condition is >90%

Coaches

Coaches are split into five areas, with each area led by one coach (the highest rated). These areas are:

  • Goalkeeping – shot stopping, handling and distribution
  • Defending – technical, and tactical
  • Attacking – technical, and tactical
  • Possession – technical, and tactical
  • Fitness – strength, and quickness
Coach star ratings and their coverage when training
Coach star ratings and their coverage when training

In order to maximise the effectiveness of your staff, you’re probably better off heading into the coach responsibilities section by selecting Edit Coach Assignments.

If you hover over each coach, you will see a summary of their attributes appear below. You want to make sure your best coach is assigned to just one area if possible, otherwise, the quality of their training sessions is affected, and the star rating will reduce.

Manually assigning coaches for training in Football Manager
Manually assigning coaches for training in Football Manager

You will see their best training category displayed to you, so you’re going to want to make sure they’re at least covering this training area.

You will see two key ratings on this page, coach workload and lead coach rating. What I will generally look to try and do is have one specialist for each area, so my lead coach with the highest rating working on just one area, and then some general coaches to cover multiple areas to reduce the coach workload. This way I get high levels of quality coaching without the reduction in effort due to being stretched too thin. Obviously, this isn’t possible at every club, but if you can, it’s best to spread the workload this way I find.

My FM20 Training Schedules

So now that I’ve given an overview of how I think training in Football Manager works and how I see myself using it, the below is an example of some of the training that I have set up at Ajax, a team I have been using to demonstrate the training module.

I will take you through one game week. We have one match to make it simpler; a league game on Saturday. I have a number of custom schedules based on different criteria. I have some for preseason that you might have seen from My Approach to Preseason Training in Football Manager 2020. I also have some others for training specific tactical methodologies, like Gegenpressing. I will use this as my example for the week ahead.

Monday 08:00

Michael Reiziger, my assistant manager, shows me the training sessions for the next two weeks. I will usually only plan one week at a time. Yesterday (Sunday), I planned to use my ‘Gegenpress – 1 match’ schedule, which allows for one game at the weekend. I also have a ‘Gegenpress – 2 matches’ schedule which is a little lighter, taking into consideration we have two games in a week.

FMFM Gegenpress - 1 match
FMFM Gegenpress – 1 match

Leading up to the match I want to make sure we get some good familiarity with our set pieces and a match boost in this area so we train in Attacking Free Kicks in the morning, followed by some pressing training in the afternoon.

Tuesday we have more set-piece training, this time Attacking Corners. I also schedule in some Attacking training to work on our creative freedom familiarity and some attacking attributes.

Wednesday we do some match preparation work. Since we don’t have two games this week I schedule in some Match Tactics work which focusses the team on the match ahead on Saturday, gaining tactical familiarity in areas such as Mentality, Passing Style, and Creative Freedom. We then get a practice match in which will work on individual attributes as well as more familiarity work.

Thursday the training tapers down from yesterday’s more demanding sessions. We work on the defensive side of the game this time, with the attacking and defending units getting some familiarity with Pressing Intensity and Marking.

Friday is a light day the match on the following day. We focus on some attack work, specifically Attacking Wings to train Anticipation, Crossing, Dribbling etc. and then a Match Preview session in the evening which is a simple analysis session on the upcoming opposition.

It’s important to have your system you intend to use selected and players in place on the tactics page before the match preview session to get the most out of the tactical briefing.

Saturday Matchday

Sunday Recovery. No afternoon session, so we’re ready to jump into next weeks training nice and fresh.

As you can see, there’s nothing really scientific for how I approach my training on a week-by-week basis. I look at the fixtures we have and make sure I have some form of match preparation training. I will try to do some set-piece work and then either some technical or physical training. I try to mix up the schedules to make sure the players are getting good levels of training where they need them.

It’s important to me that all players receive priority focus, which means including goalkeeping sessions (outfield players will concentrate on their role training here), defending and attacking sessions.

Generally speaking, preseason starts with two-weeks light training, two-weeks more intensive, and then a final two-weeks of heavy training as fitness levels improve. I linked to my approach above.

Early in the season, I will look to use sessions that increase Sharpness and Teamwork, then focus on Physical training through the middle of the season and towards the end I tail off the Physical training and do more lighter, ball work to reduce the injuries. I try to keep the sessions balanced over each month, with plenty of development on attributes and player roles.

All the while I will look at each individual to make sure they’re happy with their training, and we’re seeing development. I will monitor their individual training to make sure they’re benefiting from it, and change if needed.

I don’t think there’s a plug-and-play answer to my training as I create the schedules on the fly for each week ahead using a basic template I have created, reusing them if needed, but generally tailoring them as the weeks go by. So my Gegenpress sessions could still be changed in the week if I think we need to focus on something else. They’re just templates I use and change as and when.

Conclusion

That is all for this post. I have updated from my Football Manager 2019 post with new screenshots and a couple of changes as I have adapted. As mentioned before this isn’t meant to be a how-to post, but more a view on my approach to training in Football Manager with some information I’ve picked up along the way. I hope that this has been some use, if not a little late in the day in terms of FM20 posts go.

As always, if you made it this far, thank you for reading along. 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

Header photo by matthew Feeney on Unsplash

4 comments

  1. You just post 1 game training what about 2 games training and no match game ? I really like your tactic I’m trying to replicate your tactic but you post only pre season training thanks good just keep it up

      1. Thanks a lot love your tactic !! Any filter for player ? And sorry but when your have a red card what you actually do for the tactic like if you full back is out are you still leave that way or you tweak something and you told it’s no a replication of pep tactic can you do a real replication ?sorry for ask you a lot but I really like your work ( sorry for ma English I from France lol )

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