Tips and Tricks for a Football Manager 2016 Virgin

Just diving into 'Football Manager 2016'? Let us help ease the pain.

On the real, Football Manager 2016 is freaking tough. As a whole, the series is pretty notorious for it’s learning curve, even to the extent that in previous iterations it simply wasn’t worth buying the thing unless you wanted to spend about 80 hours of gameplay time lost in a cycle of complete confusion and total annihilation. Fortunately, FM16 is a little kinder to its players, which can only make the premier sports simulator more enticing to series virgins. 

Of course, the series doesn’t exactly need new people to maintain its popularity. Ever since it’s launch on November 13, the game has maintained a consistent place on Steam’s list of most popular games, averaging about 50,000 active users at any given moment during the day. The good news for those thinking about diving into the simulated action is that the game’s popularity has given rise to large community willing to help ease newcomers into the glorious mess.

Make no mistake, though, the competition on this pitch is still unforgiving. Thankfully for you, we’ve gone to the trouble of scouring the Interwebs in search of some tips and tricks that’ll help you get your football career off on the right foot. A wise player — especially a Football Manager newcomer — would do well heed our advice.

If You Don’t Know Soccer, Learn Soccer

Football Manager 2015, the laws of soccer

Okay, so this one is totally obvious, but … if for some strange reason you just picked up Football Manager 2016 and you don’t know a cleat from a shin guard, it might do you some good to actually learn the laws of soccer. FM16 expects that you’ll know them, so it doesn’t waste time familiarizing you with them. 

Of course, people who bought a soccer simulator without knowing a thing about soccer are probably few and far between … you’d hope. At any rate, if you are a soccer fan (though you most likely call it football), then you’d do well to brush up on the actual strategies used by professional teams in the real world. Football Manager strives for total realism, and this year’s iteration is closer to the mark than ever. In other words, if it works on a real pitch, the odds are good it’ll work on your virtual one, too.

Start big and move down the line

Football Manager 2016 on the pitch

Yeah, obviously you want to start with a pip squeak village team and watch their meteoric rise to the heights of the Champion’s League, and you definitely can. Your first time out of the gate, though, you should probably take over one of the sports larger, more established franchises like Real Madrid, Chelsea or Man. U. These teams will offer new players a larger margin for error which will make your inevitable mistakes a bit less costly as you’re moving through your first few seasons. Once you’ve gotten the hang of satisfying a team of superstars (and even pulling off some wins with them), then you can move down the ladder to less established teams and give them a shot at greatness.

While we’re there, don’t start out using Football Manager 2016’s new Create-A-Club mode. It’s awesome, but it’s also totally overwhelming to new players. Stick with the story mode for a few seasons until you’ve got the gist of the gameplay. At that point you can dive into the Create-A-Club mode and really get the most out of it. 

Hold Your Money

Football Manager 2016 on the pitch

This one is simple: don’t spend your money. Hold on to it as tightly as possible, only letting go of it in extreme cases.

“But what if -?” you ask. No, don’t spend it.

“Okay, but one of my -?” Forget ‘em. Don’t spend it.

“Yeah, but surely -?” No! Keep your money.

Moving on …

Morale: it matters

Football Manager 2016 on the pitch

Just because your team is populated with a bunch AI-run pixels doesn’t mean they don’t care about happiness. As such, morale is a huge factor when running a squad in Football Manager 2016; that’s why it’s important to make sure that you’re doing everything you can to keep your squad (and your board) as happy as possible.

Fortunately, keeping people happy in FM16 follows the same basic rules as being a decent human being in real life. In other words, you should be good if you follow these simple steps: don’t lie, don’t play favorites and keep your voice down.

Don’t lie. Essentially, this just means that you should always be straight with your organization. Don’t promise things to a player that you know you can’t deliver. Don’t tell your board that your team is going to win when you know your squad is filled with a bunch of bumbling hacks. Just be honest with the people around you; sure, you might get some blowback initially, but people will always be happier that you were honest than if you rolled the dice on a lie and got caught.

Don’t play favorites. The AI in Football Manager 2016 knows when you’re cutting one player more slack than the others, and they know when you’re coming down too hard on a squadmate. In other words, just try to pretend these pixels have real feelings and treat them accordingly. If a teammate wants to leave the team, let them go. You don’t need an unhappy player ruining morale. When you’re designing your team, make sure you pick solid, all-around players rather than shooting your payroll on one star. Think well-rounded; think fair.

Keep your voice down. Who wants to deal with the coach who’s about to have a stroke in the locker room during the halftime of a losing game? Nobody, that’s who. Here’s an insider secret: if you bawl out your team when they’re losing big in a game, it won’t help. Ever. Discipline is important, but it’s got its place (and that place is rarely on game day). If you want to keep your squad pushing their hardest, just stop and count to ten before you start screaming.

Don’t be afraid to fail

Football Manager 2016 on the pitch

Finally, the most important piece of advice we can give is this: don’t be afraid to fail. Football Manager 2016 is a big game. It’s long, too. It’s meant to be played for dozens of hours; you’re supposed to sink a large amount of time into governing your team properly. And no soccer team in the history of the sport has ever had a flawless season.

In other words, expect to spend a lot of your time (especially at the beginning) getting the crap kicked out of you. FM16 has a learning curve of about 40-50 hours, which means you can’t call yourself a pro until you’ve sunk in several days of gameplay time. Again: a lot of that 40-50 hours will be spent getting creamed, so just be sure to spend it experimenting, paying attention, and — perhaps most of all — keeping your cool. At the end of the day, it’s just a game.

And, hey, if you’ve gotten to the end of this list, implemented these tactics and you still find yourself failing at every opportunity, then cheat. If you’re one of those do-gooder types who refuses to bend the rules to your own gains (square), then you can rest comfortably in the knowledge that the Internet is filled with people who are both similarly confused and willing to help you out.

Published Nov. 21st 2015
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