Player development is a vitally important part of managing your club. If done effectively it will help you to secure long term success both on the pitch and financially, as it will give you a continuous supply of quality players coming through who you can then either play in your first team or sell on for a profit. The benefits of focusing on youth are discussed further in the Squad Building guide.
To properly appreciate how player development works you will first need an understanding of current ability and potential ability. The Player Ability & Performance guide explains both of these concepts in detail.
There are three components of successful player development. The first is youth intake. In order for your youth development system to continually produce quality talent you will need to ensure that young players with good potential ability are being regularly brought into the club.
The other two components involve the actual development process itself and so are interlinked. They are optimising player improvement and shaping player improvement. You will need to improve the current ability of your developing players so that it fulfils as much of their potential ability as possible, as early as possible, and also shape the distribution of their current ability to suit their assigned tactical roles and your desired tactical style.
You can source young players both internally and externally.
At the end of each season you will have the opportunity to offer youth contracts to players who have come through the junior teams in your youth system. This is the most financially efficient way to recruit young players in the long term, but may require an initial investment in the relevant facilities for players with good potential ability to come through.
You can also look elsewhere for young players with good potential ability using your scouts or the player search feature. However, you will have to pay a transfer fee if a player is already signed to another club, meaning that this method is more expensive in the long term. On the other hand, it enables you to sign high potential players even if you are not currently able to promote them from your own junior teams, or simply to supplement your internally sourced talent. Furthermore, it allows you to target players with particular attributes, preferred moves and personalities, which can make the development process easier. Finally, if the development of the players you buy is successful then it still allows you to bring in senior players at a lower cost than buying already established players, and to sell players on for a profit if they do not make your first team.
Regardless of the methods you use though, you should ensure that new potential talent is being brought in regularly and that each position is covered. A big club with a good youth system is likely to have a least two players in every position in its youth team squad.
To successfully develop the young players at your club you will need to understand the factors that affect how quickly a player's current ability improves. These are:
From the factors given above it can be seen that to maximise the improvement of their current ability your players should be given as much general training and individual training as is feasible, and at the highest quality possible given your club's resources. Over time you can improve your club's training facilities and attract better coaches, therefore increasing the quality of training further.
In addition to this your players should be given as much first team experience at as high a level as possible. However, since regularly featuring lower quality, inexperienced players in first team matches is not generally feasible, it is advisable to train your players until they are good enough to go out on loan to another club at a decent league level not too far from your own club's level.
Furthermore, tutoring is important so that player's can develop personalities that will enable them to get the most out of their training, especially if they do not already have good Professionalism upon being brought to the club. The time spent before a player is ready to go out on loan is an ideal opportunity to give him this tutoring. This will also help him improve in training while out at his loan club.
Finally, during his development a player's morale should be kept as high as possible through good man-management techniques, while his training happiness should also be maintained.
To prepare your young players for playing in your first team you will need to give them training schedules that are designed to mould them for both your team's overall tactical style and their expected individual tactical roles.
Details of how to set up training to both optimise and shape player improvement are given in the Youth Training guide.
Once a player has reached his potential ability he will no longer improve. However, his current ability will still be redistributed according to his training schedules, meaning that you can still shape his ability to some extent. Players will also reach a natural peak when they get to a certain age.
When a player passes his natural peak his current ability will start to fall and so his attributes will decline as a result. In particular, physical attributes will decrease, although mental attributes may still increase and so help counter this decline, while current ability will continue to be redistributed according to training schedules. Therefore, it is possible to restrict physical deterioration slightly by giving a player individual training focus in physical attributes such as Quickness and Stamina.
Your club's facilities play an important part in player improvement, and so in order to consistently develop future stars you will need high level facilities. You can request facility improvements from your board on the Board Meeting section of the Boardroom screen, but you may need to be patient and allow the stature and financial status of your club to grow before your requests are granted.
Given below are details of the affects of each of the facilities on player development and the possible levels for each from best to worst. Also given for each of the facilities is the board request category that you will need to browse to before making an improvement request on the Board Meeting screen.
Affects - how quickly current ability improves for players training in the senior squad.
Levels - top, excellent, superb, great, good, average, adequate, below average, basic, poor
Board request category - Facilities
Affects - how quickly current ability improves for players training in the youth squad.
Levels - top, excellent, superb, great, good, average, adequate, below average, poor, basic
Board request category - Facilities
Affects - the current ability of players internally recruited to the youth squad. Players with higher current ability will require less improvement to reach their potential ability.
Levels - exceptional, excellent, good, average, adequate, basic, minimal
Board request category - Finance
Affects - the potential ability of players internally recruited to the youth squad. Players with higher potential ability can reach higher levels of current ability, although other factors will affect whether or not they do so.
Levels - extensive, well established, established, above average, average, fairly basic, basic, limited
Board request category - Networking
This is for English clubs only and is part of the Premier League's Elite Player Performance Plan.
Affects - the league level that your youth team competes in.
Levels - 1, 2, 3
Board request category - Facilities
This information should help you to decide which of your club's facilities need prioritising for future improvement according to both the current facilities levels and your personal youth development strategy, as well as helping you decide upon the strategy itself. For example, in the short term you may want to focus on scouting and signing players with high potential ability from other clubs rather than recruiting them from your own junior teams, especially if your junior coaching and youth recruitment are poor. This would result in a prioritisation of your youth facilities. However, you may have a long term view to eventually improve your internal youth intake as well.