To build and maintain a successful squad there are various factors to consider. Most importantly, you should ensure that your squad has sufficient depth in each position. Having versatile players can be particularly helpful for this purpose, while it can also provide you with useful tactical alternatives. Furthermore, to ensure continued future success it is advisable to focus on youth development and improving the personality of your squad.
Read The 90 Minute Manager to learn about how football managers create a team.
The benefits of squad rotation are discussed in the Preparing for the Match guide.
The Squad Depth tab of the Squad screen displays ability star ratings for players in each position and role to help you to easily assess the quality and depth of your squad. You can view ability star ratings from each of your coaches by using the Squad Depth Opinion Of drop-down.
Ability star ratings are explained in the Player Ability & Performance guide.
You should ideally have two players for each position used in your main formation who are good enough to play in the starting line-up for your senior squad. As a general guide, the first choice player in a position should have a current ability star rating of at least three gold stars and the second choice (first backup) player at least two-and-a-half gold stars.
In addition, it is advisable to have further backup in each position if feasible, preferably coming from versatile players who can also act as first choice or backup in a different position, and from young, developing players.
At bigger clubs with good youth facilities it is also beneficial to have at least two young players for every position among the players in your reserve squad and youth squad, including those young players providing further backup to your senior squad. This ensures that there are always new players coming through in each position, while in addition it helps to ensure that there is sufficient cover while young players are out on loan gaining match experience.
Each player at your club is given a squad status that tells you, other clubs and the player himself what his importance to your club is. Initially, this is set when the player's contract is agreed, either when he is signed or when his contract is renewed. However, you can also change it at any point on the Transfer Status section of his Transfer tab.
The higher a player's squad status is the more you need to play him in competitive matches for your senior squad to keep him happy. However, a player may become unhappy if his squad status is lowered.
You can view the squad status for each player by selecting the Contract view on the Players tab of the Squad screen. You can then order by the Squad Status column to see the current pecking order of your players.
The available squad statuses, from highest to lowest, are:
- Key Player
- First Team
- Hot Prospect
- Not Needed
It is important to have a suitable squad structure with only so many players given each squad status. This ensures that it is possible to give each player match time that is appropriate for his status.
An advisable approach is to:
- Have approximately four to five key players and six to seven first team players in your senior squad who together essentially make up your strongest team and who, as individuals, should feature regularly over the course of a season.
- Have approximately eleven further players in your senior squad with statuses of rotation, backup and hot prospect who can be played more occasionally as a part of squad rotation.
This results in a total of about 22 players in your senior squad, roughly two for each position.
- Place any surplus players providing further cover in your reserve squad with squad statuses of backup, hot prospect and youngster.
- Try to sell any players who are at or close to their full potential and are not needed as cover, as discussed in the Selling Players guide.
- Develop internally or loan out, as appropriate, any young, developing players who are not needed as cover, as discussed in the Player Development guides.
It is particularly beneficial to have players in your squad who can play well in more than one position or more than one tactical role.
Having players who can play well in more than one position can be particularly useful in helping to increase your squad depth while reducing spending on transfer fees and wages, while it can also give you more flexibility when selecting your starting lineup and when making changes and substitutions during a match. In addition, it can give your attack more variety and make it more difficult for the opposition to defend against if you are able to instruct attacking players 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. Position familiarity is discussed in the Assessing Your Team guide.
Your primary focus should be on having players who can play in the role and duty combinations that you wish to use in your main tactics or that you could easily incorporate into your tactics. However, it can be beneficial to also have players who can play well in alternative roles and duties. This provides you with options for altering your tactics when playing against different types of opposition and also allows you the flexibility to change your tactics if they are not working.
Players who develop together at your club are likely to form good relationships with each other, as well as with you and your coaches. This leads to better morale and easier man management. The lesser need to sign established players also results in better team cohesion.
Player relationships and their effect on morale and man management are explained in the Player Morale & Relationships guide, along with team cohesion.
Financially, a youth focus enables you to build a squad at a lower cost as you will be signing players before they increase their reputations and require larger transfer fees. Furthermore, even if some of the players who you develop do not become good enough to earn a place in your senior squad you will generally be able to make a profit from their sale. Ultimately, you may even be able to make a net profit on transfers each season by spending less than you receive.
Once a senior player has reached, or recently passed, his natural peak he can, in most cases, still be sold at a decent price. However, you should try to retain a decent number of older players in your squad in order to benefit from both their experience on the pitch and their contribution to tutoring young players.
Developing young players is discussed in detail in the Player Development guides.
It is also greatly beneficial to try to build a squad of players with positive personalities, both by signing appropriate players and by developing the personalities of young players through tutoring. Such players tend to display a better attitude both on and off the pitch, are easier to man manage and can also be particularly useful as tutors for younger players by passing on some of their positive traits.
In particular, it is highly advantageous to have players with good Professionalism in your squad. Such players make the best tutors, since improving the Professionalism of younger players helps them to develop faster in the future and also profit from the other benefits of Professionalism.
Similarly, it is useful to have players with good Ambition due to its positive effects on player development. However, if you are managing a smaller club and are concerned that ambitious players will want to leave, then players with good Loyalty may be preferable.
Further information on each of the personality attributes and details of positive personalities are provided in the Player Personalities guide.
Furthermore, building a squad of players with similar personalities means that good relationships are more likely to develop between your players, while in addition, they are likely to behave and react in similar ways. Both of these effects result in easier man management, as explained in the Player Morale & Relationships guide.
Your club's squad personality description is shown on the General tab of the Squad screen. This is explained in the Player Personalities guide.