Football Manager 2021

Football Manager 2021 · New Features Revealed by Sports Interactive

The blog post nobody asked for. My thoughts on the FM21 new features as they are announced by Sports Interactive.

Updated 15 October 2021 – feature preview #02 released

With about six weeks to go, fans of Sports Interactive’s Football Manager series were whipped into a frenzy. On Monday (12 October) the official Football Manager account tweeted their first teaser video showing the FM21 new features.

Since every Content Creator out there is chasing the hits and posting their reaction videos and blogs to the FM21 new features, I thought I’d jump on that fast-moving bandwagon.

This blog post will be updated as more new features are revealed by Sports Interactive, with my thoughts added to the many of other thoughts on the internet about these FM21 new features. So let’s dive right in.

So what do we know so far?

Football Manager 2021 Release Date

24 November 2021

Sports Interactive have already confirmed that Football Manager fans won’t have to wait much longer for the next instalment of Football Manager. FM21 will be released in under six weeks from now. Here’s a cool little countdown timer with the exact time remaining.

Football Manager 2021 is now released!

Football Manager 2021 BETA Release Date

Estimated 10 November 2021.

While Sports Interactive hasn’t confirmed the BETA release date, it is usually two weeks before the official release.

Software companies usually release on Tuesday’s since the SoundScan sales data they use to measure the number of weekly sales run from Tuesday to the following Monday. Last year we were surprised and got an earlier date, so it could be earlier, but I wouldn’t expect it to be any later than this. Clear?

15 October | Football Manager 2021 | New Headline Features

Sports Interactive followed up the new feature preview on Monday with a closer look at the headline FM21 new features.

As always, this was via a video uploaded to their YouTube channel. If you’ve not already seen it, check out the video below. I’ll post my comments on the four headline features below.

The official new feature showcase video from Sports Interactive

This video was longer the the first, 60 second video, giving us a full 5 minute preview of the features. This is what was shown.

Interactions

To start with the press conferences, as we speculated on Monday have had an overhaul. You, the manager, have more ways to express yourself. Gestures have replaced the old tone system of Football Manager 2020.

Press conference using gestures
Press conference using gestures

This isn’t really an area of the game I pay much attention to, so hopefully my assistant manager ticks the right boxes when it comes to media handling as something tells me relationships with the press, agents, players etc. are going to matter a lot more in this years version.

We can also have a quick chat with a player to ask how things are going with them, to praise or criticise them. I’m not sure how different this will be to the current chat opens we have, it might just be a new UI for it, but some people will like this.

Match Day

The second headline feature focusses on the match day, with an overhaul to how we build up to the match, including more detailed analysis and tactics suggestions based on how the team has been playing and how the opposition may shape up against you.

The match has also received a revamp with you getting more of a view of the action on the pitch. This is to highlight the many improvements made to the graphics, including improved player models, improved animation system and improved lighting.

Graphics improvements to enhance the match day experience
Graphics improvements to enhance the match day experience

Watching the clip from the YouTube video didn’t really seem like much of an advancement, but we didn’t really get much of a look at what was going on so I will reserve full judgement until I get the game on my screen. It still looks like we have quite a zoomed out view of the pitch with the players looking a lot smaller on screen.

There is a host of post-match analysis to look forward to as well, including Sports Interactive own xG system. Quite how this will work we will probably never know, but I would guess it replaced clear cut chances. I wonder if it is just xG we will get, or will we see xGA (expected goals against), xA (expected assists), and xPTS (expected points), for example.

Better post match analysis
Better post match analysis

I did notice in this screenshot that we have SciSports in the top right, which after a quick Google, revealed a real company, so I wonder how much of a helping hand SI had in creating these stats. https://www.scisports.com

I’m very excited to see how this analysis is curated in the game and to see if we get long term statistics so we can monitor drop offs in team performance, for example.

Recruitment

I am most excited about recruitment updates. I have been calling for a meeting to be had in the game where you sit down with your recruitment team to go over strengths and weaknesses and to highlight areas to concentrate scouting on and it looks like we might finally have that.

Recruitment meetings to make it easier to assess your squad weaknesses
Recruitment meetings to make it easier to assess your squad weaknesses

There was also mention of a new role, but I didn’t notice what this could have been. I didn’t see anything in the clips to give us a view of what that could be.

The recruitment meetings do look very positive though. I just hope the signing of players has improved when you use a Director of Football for this job.

End of Season

Finally, the end of season.

Sports Interactive have made improvements to the end of season experience, bringing you more information at the close of a season, including a revamped end of season report.

The report itself in the video didn’t really show too much information compared with what we have now, so it might just be the existing data behind a new UI, but I’m looking forward to seeing how they summarise the long season for us.

And that’s it for the second feature review. If you missed out on the first one, carry on reading.


13 October | Football Manager 2021 | New Feature Preview

On Monday 12 October, Sports Interactive dropped their first feature reveal video.

Introducing Football Manager 2021 in 60 seconds. This marks the beginning of our FM21 feature reveal period. Screens that only get a few seconds of air time here will make a huge difference to your world in FM21.

Football Manager Official Account
The official new features release video from Sports Interactive

It is quite hard to get too much information from this 60-second clip, but with video slowed right down and some creative pausing, we can make sure assumptions about the new FM21 features teased in this first video.

Recruitment Meetings

Setting your transfer targets
Setting your transfer targets

One of the early clips focusses on finding your transfer targets and recruitment meetings. For me, as someone who uses the Director of Football extensively, this got my attention. It is hard to tell what this means in-game, but it looks like we have more of a ‘meeting’ feel to finding transfer targets and setting your scout search parameters.

Identifying squad weaknesses
Identifying squad weaknesses

It would suggest a scouting meeting is where you are presented with your recruitment teams assessment of where you are weak on the pitch, or where you might have gaps, for example, a player is running down his contract. It would be excellent if you could then prioritise these positions and the recruitment team go ahead and find you players based on the identified weaknesses.

I think this probably expands on the team reports we currently have, where we can view the squad depth based on our coaches assessment of the players and then ask the recruitment team to find players in these positions. The fact this comes under an ‘agenda’ for a meeting makes me think that perhaps the team come to you on a regular basis to review the squad.

Bid for Players

Next up we have what looks like a nice addition to the transfer process, for those who are more hands-on with their transfers. It appears like we now have the ability to sound out the agents ahead of making any transfer offers for players, which seems more akin to real life.

When negotiating transfers it can feel frustrating to get through a difficult negotiation with a club over the fee only to be told by the agent that either a) the player just isn’t interested, or b) that they are going to be asking for too much money.

Ask a player's agent about his availability
Ask a player’s agent about his availability

I really hope this feature returns information to us about the players desire to move to us and how much that is likely to cost in wages. A great new addition if this is indeed how it works.

We do already get some of this information back in the scout reports that suggest whether the player would be interested in coming to the club and what their wages might be. I think this will just be a repackaged display of that information but via the agent rather the scouts.

Handle the Media

Not one of my most favourite tasks in Football Manager. I usually pass this off to the Director of Football and my Assistant Manager, but it looks like we have more of a press conference feel to the media meetings.

Press conferences have received a revamp
Press conferences have received a revamp

It would appear we can select between the various reporters to see which questions they are asking and then go ahead and answer them. I’ll be honest this is something I will more than likely again pass off to the Assistant Manager as I find it a little monotonous.

Does anyone really handle the media briefings these days?

Perfect Your Tactics

I struggle to envisage what more could be done on FM21 to improve the tactic creation process. More roles and more instructions, perhaps, but the UI is pretty good now. This little teaser didn’t really give too much away. We already receive some prematch advice from the staff in our match reports, so it looks like this might build on that.

Something that a lot of players struggle with is creating tactics, so hopefully, we get more feedback on what changes would make sense based on the upcoming opposition.

Motivate Your Players

Probably one of the most controversial parts of the FM21 features revealed was the opening of your arms during a chat with a player. There are plenty of theories on twitter about what this could mean, but it is probably an extension of the existing body language used when talking to players, e.g., assertively tell them that you won’t be offering them a new contract.

Motivate(?) your players
Motivate(?) your players

I have no idea what to make of this. Am I asking the player to come for a hug? Am I angry or happy? Any ideas?

A hug makes everything better
A hug makes everything better

xG and More Detailed Analysis

The big one! Football Manager fans have been waiting for xG to be added to the game for a few versions now with Miles adamant that it wouldn’t be included since there is no clear standard, however, it looks like we might have finally got our wish. What we will do with this new information I’m not quite sure yet, but it’s exciting to see the xG story and shot maps added to FM21.

xG added to Football Manager 2021
xG added to Football Manager 2021

It would appear these screens form part of the post-match analysis tabs. It’s unclear as yet whether xG will be on a per match basis or that we can see it average out over the season to see who over and under-performs during the season. I wouldn’t be too surprised to see it end up as a parameter we can add to the league table, similar to the tables at Understat.

I don’t know if having xG in Football Manager is a good thing or a bad thing. Complaints these days stem from users creating a lot of clear cut chances, but not scoring goals. I think having something like xG in the game will raise expectations that if I output 3.08 xG but only score 1 goal then shooting is broken.

Exciting times.


That’s all we have revealed to us at this point. I will keep this post updated with the new feature teases and as always offer my thoughts on what we might expect from these little snippets of information.

Until next time

Oliver Jensen

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