Match experience increases a player's current ability and is a vital component of player development. Without sufficient experience a player is unlikely to come close to reaching his potential ability.
Two factors affect how useful a player's match experience is and therefore how much it will allow him to improve. These are:
- How much match experience is gained - the more experience he gains the more his current ability will improve.
- The quality of the match experience that is gained - this is determined by the level of the league division or cup competition that he plays in. The higher the level the more his current ability will improve. In addition, the higher his current ability is the higher the level he will need to play at in order for it to increase significantly further. A player will gain experience playing for your youth and reserve squads, but will gain better experience from playing for your senior squad or for other clubs on loan, depending on the level that the clubs compete at.
It can be risky to regularly feature developing players in competitive first team matches that your team needs to win. Instead, you may only be able to give a player first team match experience occasionally, generally in matches against poorer opposition. For example, you might start one or two developing players in a league match against a weaker team near the bottom of the division, or several developing players in a cup match against lower division opposition or in an insignificant league match near the end of the season. Similarly, you might bring a developing player on as a substitute if you are winning a match comfortably.
Therefore, to give a developing player sufficient match experience it will often be necessary to send him out on loan to another club.
Using the Loan System Effectively
For a loan move to be beneficial to a developing player, the loaning club will need to be competing in a league division that provides him with a challenge, while at the same time he will need to be good enough to be a regular starter at the club.
It is also advisable to keep a player at your own club until he is good enough to secure a loan move to a club that plays at a reasonably high league level relative to his potential ability. For your best prospects who are expected to become good enough to be regular first team players at your club this should ideally be a level similar to that of your club, for example, the same division or the division below. For your lesser prospects it is likely to be a level further down the league system. However, the experience that they gain there can still benefit them and allow you to sell them for a higher price later.
While a player is developing at your club before going out on loan he can benefit from:
- Training - this is likely to be far better than what he would receive elsewhere since you would be able to optimise training and tailor it to shape his development as appropriate, while your coaches and facilities are likely to be better than he would experience on loan.
- Tutoring - in particular, personality improvements from tutoring will help him to improve more quickly in training, which can make his training more effective at the loaning club if and when he does go out on loan.
Loaning out a player too soon could actually have a negative impact on his development, because although it would allow him to gain more competitive match experience, this experience is likely to be at a less beneficial level and he would also miss out on the training and tutoring that you can provide at your club. On the other hand, however, not loaning out a player soon enough can stall his improvement if you are not able to give him enough match experience in your first team. Therefore, you will need to find the right balance.
If you are able to feature a developing player in your first team matches fairly regularly, say in one in every three matches, including substitute appearances, then keeping him at your club can be the best option for his development, even if he is already good enough to secure a decent loan. You may want to take this approach for a younger developing player while a slightly older developing player in the same position is out on loan.
You should keep a close eye on the developing players who you have out on loan and consider recalling any who are not playing regularly.
You can view a list of players on loan on the Loans tab of the Transfers screen, while you can ask one of your scouts to provide match reports on a player you have loaned out by selecting Get Match Reports from the player's Reports drop-down.
Players Returning From Loan
When a player comes back from loan he may be good enough to earn a place in your senior squad. If not, and if he has not yet reached his potential ability, then to develop him further you can either loan him out again or give him another spell of training and possibly tutoring at your club which could potentially allow him to attract a loan offer from a better club than he was at previously.
If a player appears to have reached or almost reached his potential ability but is not good enough for your senior squad then you should consider selling him before his contract nears expiry.
The Player Wages guide explains how to manage player contracts. In particular, renewing the contracts of developing players before they get to within two years of expiry will help you to sell the players you have developed at higher prices, as well as helping you to secure those players who you want to keep. You do not need to wait until a player has returned from loan before offering him a new contract.
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