Football Manager 2018: Five of the best new features

Alex Keble by Alex Keble / 09 November 2017, 15:13

Football Manager 2018 is released on Friday (10th November) with a host of brand new features and updates set to make the game more complex and realistic than ever. While some of these are minor tweaks many won’t notice when playing, others represent a major overhaul of the way you, as manager, interact with the club.

Alex Keble (@alexkeble) looks at five of the best new features:

1) Squad “dynamics” increases the value of your man-management skills

Arguably the most unrealistic element of Football Manager in recent years has been the connection - or lack of it - between the manager and his or her team of players.

Player unhappiness triggered a change in the morale bar and individuals could complain to you about their squad status, but it didn’t feel like a three dimensional experience; your players weren’t humans, with emotional needs and social lives.

That all changes in FM18. The dynamics tab is displayed prominently in the sidebar and with good reason. It is vitally important to have a positive influence on the dressing room, which is now tiered using “hierarchies” (the status of each player within the group) and “social groups” (how well they get on with each other).

Players with greater influence hierarchically and with stronger social groups hold more sway, meaning getting them on side is crucial. Leaders will either help you in a crisis or spark the revolt.

This is without doubt the most rewarding new feature of the game, adding a level of realism and psychological connect with the game that had been distinctly lacking in the past.

2) Tactical upgrades allow for more creative formations

Improvements to the match engine, and the addition of new player roles, means you can be considerably more experimental this season. The days of predictable passing moves and over-powered crosses are over; you can no longer “game” the system with tactics that exploit loopholes in the match engine (or, if you can, they are much harder to find).

The introduction of a false eight (named Mezella in the game) is a welcome addition, meaning players more intelligently move into the half-spaces and build fluidly through midfield. Adding inverted wing-backs offers something similar, as these players will attack down the flanks when no team mate is in their channel but shift inside should a forward drift out wide.

We owe a lot to Pep Guardiola for introducing these ideas into the mainstream of English football, and Football Manager has quickly jumped onboard.

3) Advanced assistance with the tactics creator

In FM17 it sometimes felt as though formations were a case of trial and error, but this year clear assistance is given to let you know what exactly is going wrong.

Green lines between the players on the formation grid indicate a strong or weak relationship between them, while each zone of the pitch is coloured in red or green to indicate areas of weakness or strength. All this makes it easier to design your own peculiar formation and see, without playing a match, whether have overlooked a fatal flaw.

4) Pre-match brief and post-match debrief

You can now talk to your players before each match to give them detailed match instructions, as well as brief them on what formation and tactics you will be using.

The players give general feedback on what they’ve heard, although generally they appear to have very little to say; this feature needs improving - talking at length, asking for input from the senior players, and deciding whether to show them highlights of previous opposition matches would be nice - but the game is certainly moving in the right direction.

The post-match report produced by staff is more detailed than ever. It remains difficult to sift through the reams of data and find meaningful patterns, but nevertheless the addition of spaghetti maps does make things a little bit clearer.

5) Scouting overhaul provides greater detail

Scouts now come to you with monthly briefings, which are more detailed and varied than in previous years. This, coupled with the addition of data analysts who crunch the numbers to provide even more context, should help you isolate targets more easily.

The feature change is particularly important when managing lower down the pyramid. Data analysts are good at highlighting the minute details of what a player will bring to the team in terms of pass completion or cross accuracy, for example. For scenarios in which player specialisation is paramount, the new scouting system is an improvement on FM17.

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