Starting on the Right Foot: A Beginner's Guide to Football Manager 2017

Tips, tricks, and helpful hints to make sure that your Football Manager 2017 career starts out on the right foot.

The latest installment in the hyper-popular Football Manager series has arrived, much to the delight of fans worldwide. That said, despite your feelings on the game, the fact of the matter is that Football Manager games have a bit of a... well... let's call it a "reputation". They're very in-depth games, and Football Manager 2017 is no different. Though this year's edition takes some much-needed strides forward in making the game a bit more friendly to newcomers, the game can still be incredibly overwhelming. Luckily, we've put together a beginner's guide to help you get started in Football Manager 2017.

Don't jump right in.

Seriously. Before you start playing the game -- hell, before you even consider buying the game -- make sure that you're very, very familiar with soccer. This isn't like other sports games, where you can pick up the subtleties of the game by playing it. This is because you're not really playing the games themselves, you're managing them and putting your players in the best position to succeed. If you're not familiar with roles, formations, and playing styles already, this might not be the game for you. But if you still want to give it a shot, there's a guide to some of the essentials of real-world soccer right here that will be a must-read before you start your managerial career.

It would also be helpful for you to have a team in mind to manage before you start. Again, if you're a soccer fan, you don't need me to tell you this, but you'll want to be familiar with your chosen team's roster, favored play styles, and schemes. You'll be able to futz with all of that later, but it's always helpful to have a starting point.

Read your emails

If you're a first-timer to the Football Manager series, after you create your manager and start your career, you'll probably be a bit overwhelmed. Just breathe for a second. You'll be fine.

The first thing you'll see is your home screen, where most of the game action takes place. To start with, focus on your email inbox. Read all your emails. If you take nothing else from this guide, remember that. I'll say it again: read all your emails. Your coaching staff will alert you if something needs attention, and they'll actually do a pretty good job of explaining whatever is going on to you, and then suggesting a course of action. Whether it's players they think should be transferred, press conferences, or even a run-down of your team's roster and history, these emails should be your go-to if you ever have a kind of "what do I do next?" moment.

Most of the time, you can actually put your staff's advice into effect with a simple button click right from the email screen -- don't be afraid to do that if you're a bit confused. Speaking of which...

Don't be afraid to use suggestions

There are two functions you'll want to use incredibly frequently during your first-ever Football Manager 2017 season. One of them we went over above, and that is taking the advice of your staff whenever you're a bit confused as to how to proceed. The second is delegation. One of the very first things you'll do as a newly minted manager is to have a meeting with an assistant, who will go over your duties, expectations, and goals.

If it's your first time playing, you might want to start by delegating pretty much every task other than setting your lineup to your staff. I know it's tempting to have your fingers in every single aspect of your team, but managing your U-18 squad, managing contracts, motivating players, appearing at press conferences... It all adds up. You can always take on more responsibilities later with a simple button click, but when you're starting out, it's best to focus on the on-field aspects of management. That way, when you're ready to add on more responsibilities and become a more hands-on manager, you'll have ideally mastered the strategies that lead to on-field success.

Fortunately, the game does a pretty good job of letting you know if your strategic decisions will play out well or not. Pay attention to the color-coded markers that indicate player morale, whether you're playing a player out of position, and overall offensive and defensive strategies. You'll have to be flexible and change these strategies often during each match, so be sure to pay attention to what your players and staff are telling you about the game.

Motivating your players

Motivating players is key to get them to perform at their peak level, and this can be done in a bunch of different ways. Your pep talks before matches have a huge effect on this, as do your individual meetings with players (as well as your contract negotiations with them). Be aware that you'll have to be flexible depending on the situation -- sometimes your players will need a bit of tough love in order to really give it their all. 

Your press conferences can also affect how your team views you as well, so pay attention to them. Sure, they're mostly simple dialogue options, but your team and staff are listening. You can also keep tabs on how you're viewed in the social feed tab, so make sure you take a look over there occasionally as well.

Building yourself up

As a first-timer, this is what you really should be focusing on, and if you're delegating correctly, you should be able to have a lot more time to get comfortable with these elements of the game. But once you've mastered them, you're going to want to get in touch with your assistants and take on some more responsibility.

Little by little, start taking control of more elements of the team, whether it's your youth development teams, transfers, contract negotiations, or anything else. And once you're comfortable with those elements, start adding more. It's like learning anything else -- you'll be most comfortable if you take this on one step at a time.

Have you been enjoying Football Manager 2017? Let us know what you think in the comments, and make sure you check out our Football Manager 2017 review here on GameSkinny.

Featured Contributor

RobotsFightingDinosaurs has been writing about games for 10 years and playing them even longer. Despite the millions of hours he's played across multiple gaming generations, his favorite games are The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild and Super Smash Bros. Robots has written for Polygon, Thrillist, Kill Screen, and more.

Published Nov. 4th 2016

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