First Team Experience

First team experience is a vital component of player development. Without sufficient competitive experience gained at a challenging league level a player is unlikely to come close to reaching his potential ability, even with good training and tutoring.

Experience should be gained as early as possible in a player’s career. However it can be risky to regularly feature young undeveloped players in competitive first team matches that your team needs to win. Instead, a player may only be able to gain this experience occasionally, in matches against poorer opposition. For example, you might start one or two young players in a league match against a struggling team near the bottom of the division, or several young players in a cup match against lower division opposition. Similarly, you might bring a young player on as a substitute if you are winning a match comfortably.

Therefore, to give a young player the regular match experience he needs it will generally be necessary to send him out on loan to another club.

Loaning Out Young Players

For a loan move to be beneficial to a young player, the loaning club will need to be playing at a reasonably high league level, ideally not too far below that of your own club, and the player will need to be a regular starter there.

This means that you will first need to improve the player while training him at your own club until he is good enough to secure such a loan. Improving a player's personality through tutoring can help speed up this process, while it will also help him improve more when training at his loan club.

A player can be loaned out either by offering him to clubs for loan or, more easily if your club has one, by sending him to a feeder club. Both methods are explained below.

You should keep a close eye on the young players that you have out on loan and recall any that are not playing regularly. Similarly, you may want to recall a player if he is not performing well as he will not gain as much benefit from an unsuccessful experience.

You can ask one of your scouts to provide match reports on a player you have loaned out by selecting the scout from the player's Get Match Reports drop-down menu. You can then view a list of reports on the Players on Loan section of your club's Scouting screen.

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 you can either loan him out again or give him another spell of training and possibly tutoring at your club if you believe that this could help him attract a loan offer from a bigger club than he was at previously.

Players with Lower Potential

For young players with lower potential ability you may only be able to loan them out to clubs much lower down the league system. However, the experience they get there will still benefit them and make it easier for you to sell them for a higher price later.

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. Renewing any contracts that are within two years of expiry will help you to sell at higher prices, as well helping you to secure those players that you do want to keep.

Offering Players for Loan

To offer a player for loan select Offer to Clubs from his Transfer drop-down menu, then select Loan Offer from the drop-down list in the top-left corner. The terms you choose on this screen will be the starting point for negotiations with any bidding clubs. Clubs may respond by offering different terms, but once you have received a bid you can make any of the terms non-negotiable by using the padlock icons.

Setting Terms

Generally, it is best not to request a monthly fee from loaning clubs for a young player as you want as many clubs as possible to choose from. You can afford to be more flexible with the wages percentage that the loaning club will pay, but this should still be set low enough to be affordable to clubs at the league level the player is expected to be loaned to. You may want to check the general wages for players at this level before setting this percentage. It is advisable to set the loan duration so that the loan ends during a transfer window, as this will allow you to loan out the player again on his return if you wish.

If you are offering a more senior player to temporarily remove him from your wage bill or to give him playing time that he will not get at your team due to competition for places then you may be able to request a weekly fee and a higher wages percentage.

In the Loan Options it is advisable to always include a recall clause so that you can terminate the deal early if he loses his place in the team or does not perform well. You should also ensure that he is allowed to play in cup matches unless you have a particular reason for not wanting the player to be cup-tied on his return to your club. This will prevent him from being able to play for your team in the same cup competitions that he has already featured in for the loan club.

In the Loan Clauses you should not set a future fee unless you are happy to sell the player at a certain price during the loan, for example, because you do not expect the player to be good enough for your senior squad at any point but are struggling to sell him in a permanent transfer.

The squad status should almost always be set to First Team and you should only accept bids from clubs which state that he will be a first team or key player. This is to ensure that the player will be given enough first team action to justify the move. An exception would be if you are loaning the player to remove him from the wage bill or because you are hoping the loaning club will buy him for a set future fee.

You may want to specify your preferred position for the player to be one of the player's natural positions. This will increase the chances of the player performing well and therefore of the loan spell being a success. This is not as important as the squad status though, and so it is worth considering an offer from a club that proposes a different preferred position if other factors make the bid favourable.

Choosing a Suitable Loan Club

In addition to the terms of the loan offers received, it is also important to consider the suitability of the bidding clubs themselves before selecting an offer to accept.

The most important consideration in this respect is the league level at which each club plays, with preference going to teams in higher divisions. To help you gain an understanding of the level a player should be playing at you can check your coaches' opinions of the player's current ability on the Coach Report section of the player's Reports screen. These will normally reference a particular division.

In addition, you should note the standard of the training facilities at the bidding clubs to make sure that the player goes to a team with suitable facilities. If you do not consider the facilities at any of the bidding clubs to be good enough compared to those at other clubs at the targeted league level then you may prefer to wait until he can attract an offer from a bigger club with better facilities after making further improvements in training and possibly receiving further tutoring.

Finally, you should also consider the quality of the managers at the bidding clubs as you ideally want your player to play under someone who can get the best out him. In particular, when loaning out a young player, you should try to make sure that the manager of the loaning club has a good Working With Youngsters attribute, while Man Management is another attribute worth considering.

Loaning to a Feeder Club

Your club's current feeder clubs are shown on the Affiliated Clubs section of your club's Information screen. However, you will only be able to send players on loan to those clubs where this is stated in the list of conditions of the relationship.

If your club does not already have a suitable feeder club then you can request one from the Board Meeting section of the Boardroom screen by selecting Feeder Club from the Networking category. You can then choose from a number of reasons for requesting a feeder club and, if they agree with you, the board will search for an appropriate option. Therefore, if you only want a club to loan players to you should give this as your reason to the board.

After a few weeks you will be given the opportunity to recommend a club out of those the board have selected. Your recommendation should be based on the reputation of the division in which the team plays and the standard of the club's training facilities. You can check a league division's reputation in the top-left corner of the screen when viewing that division.

It is advisable to have two types of feeder club for giving players experience on loan if possible. One can be used for your highest potential young players who just need some experience at a high level to be able to break into your first team. This club should ideally be just one division below your own club. The other can be used for youngsters with lower potential and should be two or three divisions below your own club.

To send a player to a feeder club select Move to Affiliate from the player's Squad drop-down menu and then choose the club you want to loan him to.

As with offering to clubs, you should make sure that the player will be given regular matches. However, this can only be done by judging the quality of players already at the club who play in the same position before sending your player, then recalling him if he does not feature frequently enough. You will still have the option to specify a preferred position for the player to play in though.

Further Reading

Inverting the Pyramid - guaranteed to give you a greater tactical knowledge and understanding.

The Manager: Inside the Minds of Football's Leaders - learn how to think like a football manager.

Will You Manage? - tells you the skills needed to be a great manager and gives essential tips for fantasy football success.

FM 2015

This guide has not yet been updated to reflect new features and changes in FM 2015.

Is your team suffering from an injury crisis? The Player Fitness guide has now been updated to help you improve your fitness management.

Tactics Resources

Inverting the Pyramid - guaranteed to give you a greater overall tactical knowledge and understanding.

Soccer Strategies - learn the advantages and disadvantages of using different formations in defence and attack.

Soccer Systems and Strategies - teaches you about different tactical strategies.

Coaching the Tiki Taka - learn about the tiki taka style in detail.

Transition and Counter Attacking - find out how to play against different opposition systems.

Match Strategy and Tactics - learn how to adapt your tactics to the opposition and different match scenarios.

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