When building and maintaining your squad you should ensure that it has sufficient quality in depth in each position used in your chosen formations, as well as different types of players in each position to offer versatility in terms of the roles and duties that can be used. It would also be advisable to try to focus on bringing in younger players to the squad and developing youth, while still having a few older, more experienced players in each positional area. In addition, it is particularly beneficial to try to build a squad with a professional squad personality.
Read The 90 Minute Manager to learn about how football managers create a team.
You should try to have three players in each position who are capable of playing in the first team. The Squad Depth section of your Team Report, accessed from your squad's Report tab, will display your assistant manager’s opinion of who are the best three players in each position. You can also select another coach from the drop-down list to view his opinion. So in addition to your strongest player in a particular position, you should have a capable backup player and also a second backup, preferably a younger player who is still developing. This will provide you with sufficient cover for injuries and suspensions, and will also allow you to rotate your squad. Squad rotation will help the whole squad blend together and will improve morale as each player will be given game time, while it will also allow you to keep players in good condition throughout the season, thus keeping performance levels up and preventing individuals needing a prolonged rest to recover from jadedness. Furthermore, it will keep players match fit for when they are needed, while younger players will be given vital first team experience to help their development.
Your first team squad should generally include the best two players in each position, coming to a total of about 22 players. In terms of squad statuses, approximately four to five of these should be key players, six to seven first team, and nine to eleven a mixture of rotation and backup. This means that you will have about ten to twelve players (roughly equivalent to a first team line-up) who will require regular matches to keep them happy, while your remaining players will only need more occasional appearances. Any player who is not selected in the next match day squad and who you feel needs a game to keep match fit can be made available for the reserves by right-clicking his name and selecting Squad then Available For Reserve Squad. You will need to deselect this after the reserve match if you want to then rest him ready for first team action. The third best player in each position can be placed in the reserve team squad with a squad status as either backup, hot prospect or youngster and, if you do not believe that he will be needed for first team matches, then he can be made available for loan and offered to clubs to get first team experience. Such experience is particularly important for younger, developing players. However, it would be advisable to include a recall clause in any loan deal in case the player is required later. Any additional players to your best three in each position, other than young players who are still developing, can be given a squad status of not needed and then transfer listed and offered to clubs. Before transfer or loan listing a player though, it would be best to talk to the player before listing him to explain your reason by selecting Transfer Status, then Transfer List Player or Loan List Player from the Private Chat section of his Overview screen.
Your reserve and under 18s squads together should ideally contain two players for every position, with at least one of these being young prospects. This allows one player in each position to be out on loan at any one time, while the other remains at your club to provide cover for the two first choice players in that position, perhaps whilst receiving tutoring.
Having players who can play well in more than one position can be particularly useful in helping increase your squad’s depth, while reducing spending on transfer fees and wages. It can also give your attack more versatility and make it more difficult for the opposition to defend against if you are able to instruct attackers to swap positions. The positions a player can play in along with his familiarity with each are shown on the Information section of his Overview tab. As well as signing versatile players you can use new position training to increase position familiarity for players already in your squad, for example, by training a wide player to play on the opposite side of the pitch or a centre back to play in defensive midfield if one of your prepared formations uses a defensive midfielder and there is not sufficient cover in this position. Such training can also be helpful if a player in your squad is not familiar with any position used in one of your formations, for example, you may need to train a wing back to play at full back if wing backs are not used in any of your prepared tactics.
You should primarily focus on having players who can play in the roles that you wish to use in your regular tactical system. However, in each position it is advisable to have different types of players covering various roles. This will provide you with options for altering your tactics slightly when playing against different opposition and will also allow you the flexibility to adapt your tactics if they are not working. For instance, you may want to play a striker in the target man role against defensive teams playing a deep defensive line but quicker strikers, such as a poacher and a complete forward, against opposition who push up more. Also, it can be useful to have a defensive midfielder who can play as a deep-lying playmaker when looking to start attacks quickly from deep and play balls behind a pushed up defensive line, whilst having another who can play in a more defensive role such as an anchor man against stronger attacks.
Benefits of Youth Focus
Employing a policy of signing and cultivating promising youngsters will enable you to build a team of home-grown players at low financial expense while, in addition, players may well form good relationships with each other and with the club and blend as a team whilst developing and playing together over a long period of time. As a result, squad morale is likely to be higher and your players will perform better as a team, while the team blend, which you can view on the Team Talk Feedback section of your assistant's Reports tab, will be less disrupted by new players regularly being brought into the squad. Furthermore, even if some of these players do not become good enough for the first team you should be able to make a decent profit from their sale, thus strengthening your club's finances.
Once a senior player reaches or passes the peak of his career he can, in most cases, be sold for a profit and replaced by a younger player who has been developed at your club or, if none are suitable, then perhaps by a new younger player signed for a cheaper price than the senior player was sold for. However, you should still retain a fair number of older players in order to benefit from both their experience as well as their contribution to tutoring younger squad members.
Your squad personality is shown on the General section of your club's Information tab and is based on your team’s ratings in the Professionalism, Determination, Ambition and Loyalty personality attributes, with the most dominant attribute being used for the description.
You should attempt to build a squad of players with good ratings in positive personality attributes such as Professionalism, Determination and Ambition. You can do this by checking a player's personality description on the Information section of his Overview tab, or on his scout report. The Player Personalities guide will tell you how these descriptions translate into the personality attributes and what the meaning of each attribute is. However, signing ambitious players could be counter-productive if you manage a low reputation club, in which case signing loyal players may be more beneficial. Good Professionalism is especially important, as professional players, like ambitious players, will tend to develop well, but they can also endure heavier training workloads and have longer careers. As a result they also make the most effective tutors as you will want these benefits to be passed on to your younger players.
Furthermore, building a squad of players with similar personalities will mean that your players will form good relationships more easily, which will help improve team morale and thus performances.
It is not essential to have any players in this position, however, if you wish to play with a sweeper or libero then you should have at least two players who can play in the sweeper position with the chosen role. You may want to train a centre back to play in this position, or a suitable defensive midfielder to play as a libero.
You should have at least four centre backs if you normally play two in central defence or at least five if you normally play with three. It is important that a few have good Anticipation, Acceleration and Pace in order to play against quick attackers or when playing with a high defensive line. Ideally, some centre backs should have high Aggression and Bravery in order to add some steel to the defence and to allow you to play with a stopper-cover partnership. Those with good Anticipation, Acceleration and Pace can play with cover duties and those with better Aggression and Bravery with stopper duties. It can also be useful to have one or two centre backs who can play as ball-playing defenders in order to launch attacks from deep or play on the counter attack.
Full Backs/Wing Backs
You should have two to three players for each side, while if you wish to vary between using full backs and using wing backs then you should ensure that most of these players can play in both roles, or at the very least that there is suitable cover in both roles. Even if not switching between using full backs and wing backs, it is advisable to vary the duties of these players according to the nature of the opposition and the match situation. Therefore you should ensure that you have a mixture of more defensive and more attacking individuals. Ideally, your first choice players in these positions should be capable of playing with both defend and attack duties. It would be advisable to have one or two who can play on either side, and to give one appropriate position training otherwise.
Even if your starting tactic does not use a defensive midfielder then at least one of your backup tactics should. You should therefore have at least two defensive midfielders. You will need at least four if you regularly play with two defensive midfielders. Ideally at least one of these should be capable of playing in the anchor man role to help contain dangerous attacking midfielders or inside forwards as well as to generally help out the defence against attacking opponents. It would also be advisable to have a creative but defensively capable player who can play in either this position or in central midfield as a deep-lying playmaker. Such a player will be particularly useful in order to launch killer balls behind the defence to quick strikers against more attacking opposition with a higher defensive line.
You should have at least three centre midfielders if playing one in the middle, at least four if playing with two and at least five if playing with three. The roles that need to be covered will depend on the setup of your starting tactic and backup tactics but you should ensure that there is a balance in midfield (including defensive and attacking midfield as well as central midfield) of players who can play in defensive, supporting and attacking roles and duties. A box-to-box midfielder would be a particularly useful supporting player if you can find a player capable of playing the role well.
You should have at three attacking midfielders if playing with one attacking midfielder and four if playing with two. The roles you will need players for will depend on your tactics and whether you wish to play an attacking midfielder, advanced playmaker or trequartista in this position.
Wide Midfielders and Wingers
If you play with wide players you will need two to three for each side. As with full backs, it would be beneficial to have one or two who can play on either side, while also having one or two who can play in both the wide midfield and winger roles and positions. Again, the types of player you will need will depend on your tactics, although it would be advisable to have both wide midfielders and wingers so that you can play more defensively or more attacking on the flanks as appropriate. Having two-footed wingers or wingers whose preferred foot is opposite to the side they play on will give an alternative option of allowing them to cut inside onto their stronger foot. This will be particularly important if you wish to play with inside forwards.
You should have at least three strikers if playing one up front, at least four if playing two and at least five if playing three. This should include a balance of goal scoring strikers, such as those who can play as advanced forwards or poachers, and more creative strikers, such as those who can play as deep-lying forwards, target men or complete forwards. If you have strikers who can play in both types of role well then you will be able to instruct them to swap positions during matches, if playing more than one up front, in order to make them more difficult to defend against. Furthermore, you should have a mixture of quick, agile strikers who can play against more attacking opposition with a high defensive line or against slower defenders, and stronger strikers with good aerial ability who can play against more defensive teams with deeper defensive lines and against defenders with lesser aerial presence.
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