Most of you reading this will already have a system in place for how you scout players in Football Manager and uncover all those delicious wonderkids from far-flung places.
I thought I would write a small article on how some of my most recent transfer window went in Russia and discuss some of my approaches to scouting that I haven’t seen too much written about before.
First of all, most of you will have filters set up by position that focus on certain desirable attributes. I do this too but that is not what I wanted to talk about here. Instead, I wanted to talk about what I feel is a much-underused function Football Manager players have at their disposal.
It is the “find similar player to” tool.
To make the most of this feature, I try and imagine the best and most suitable player in each position in my current tactic. Below I have picked a ‘fantasy’ side that uses players that best fit my current 4141DM tactic. Now, don’t @ me regarding my selections. I’m not saying this is a World XI, merely that these are the types of player I want in each role, you’ll notice it is weighted heavily to leagues I watch, and I make no apology for that. This also isn’t harden-fast and I will sometimes look to have different types of players fulfilling the same roles in the team. For example, Lionel Messi would play a lone striker role totally differently from Robert Lewandowski, or Harry Kane.
In this window, I wanted to increase my options in attack. I was lucky to extend the loan of Meier for another season, taking care of my Inverted Winger (Mané) position. My next target was a reliable Striker, as neither of my main strikers have really performed how I want. In fact, Puchkovskyi started asking for a new contract and was subsequently sold once I wouldn’t match his demands. In Football Manager, I really believe you need a reliable finisher, all the greatest tactics still require someone to put the ball in the net with ruthless efficiency.
I entered Robert Lewandowski into the ‘find similar player’ tool. I then adjusted the selected attributes to a level I deem good enough for the Russian Premier League, which is currently around 12/13, I also only require that players match five from the six attributes selected. The players returned, who would at least be slightly interested in a move to Anzhi, can be seen below. Some of these players have already been shortlisted using other filters, which is always a good sign.
I got scout reports on those that interested me, remembering I will only sign players who are from the former Soviet bloc. My scouts recommended Blazek the highest, plus he’d already been shortlisted, his wage demands and estimated cost were also well within our means. Personally, I always check a player’s physical attributes as it is my belief that physicality can mask other deficiencies a player has in the match engine. I decided to move on Blazek fairly quickly and opened negotiations with Prague and managed to secure him for £1m with some cheap add ons.
I should mention that I do not play with attribute masking enabled, I scout players to find out more about their hidden attributes and I do trust what my scouts tell me. So if I am interested in someone based on the attributes I can see, but my scouts aren’t keen, I will probably move onto other targets.
Scouting obviously incurs a cost, which is a major factor in my save given the financial constraints Anzhi are under. One way I reduce the scouting costs is to turn off all the packages completely outside of the two transfer windows. I only turn the packages back on at the end of the season, around May, leave them on until the end of July, by which time I should have most, if not all, my transfer business completed. I will then turn them back on around December time, and leave them on until the end of January. So I only pay for around five or six months of packages rather than the full twelve. I only use the player search around these times, outside these times I just have my scouts sending me reports and I shortlist those that interest me. This allows me to select more expansive packages, or save the board a few roubles.
In terms of shortlists, I keep it fairly simple and have one for each potential role in my tactic, I also have one for young players and a further one for players who my scouts recommend highly. I try and keep these manageable and at the start of each window I will purge the lists and move potential targets into a shortlist simply called ‘targets’. This makes tracking players fairly simple and I will start following them on the socials etc. Some of them may even be currently out of reach and will require some love to come and join us.
One such player was Fabian Gryszkiewicz, who I had been tracking for some time. As recently as the previous window, he was not interested in a move to Anzhi at all. I declared him as our top target, spoke about him in the press, got our captain to recommend a move to us, sent scouts to watch his every move, and fired in bids which activated his modest £3.4m release clause. At first, he simply refused to talk to us. Later in the window, he asked for £16k per week with bonuses and other extras, which we couldn’t match. Then, by deadline day, Legia had been knocked out of Europe and we had qualified for the Europa League group stages. My chief scout reckoned we could secure him for between £8k and £10k per week. In the end, ‘Fabian’ signed for £8.75k per week, which is well within our strict wage budget.
If you read my pursuing the European adventure post, you’ll remember we secured Glib Bukhal from Olexandriya in Ukraine, but we were really chasing his Centre Back partner, Valeriy Bondarenko. I went in for Bondarenko again this close season as he had yet to sign a new deal with Olexandriya. We managed to sign him on a free and I really hope these two Ukrainian agents can be the commanding Centre Back pairing we’ve needed for so long.
Season 5; Story so far
The first part of our season has finished as we have taken a break for the 2022 winter World Cup. We sit 3rd in the Premier League and have games in hand on those ahead of us. We have qualified from our Europa League group with a game to spare, and have reached the Quarter Final of the Kubok which takes place during the World Cup, meaning some players will be missing for us. Meier, Blazek, and Fabian have been producing the goods up front and we look far more potent.
I have tweaked our tactic a little, moving to a positive mentality and changing the Mezzala to a simple Central Midfielder on attack duty, I have certainly noticed more numbers in the box as a result. We aren’t, however, keeping too many clean sheets and more work needs to be done in that regard, starting with a new Defensive Midfielder, and perhaps a better Left Back. My next post will see the culmination of season five, perhaps Anzhi can get their hands on some silverware. In the meantime, Ruslan is off to scout for the next Sergio Busquets.
If you have made it this far thanks very much for reading. If you haven’t a clue what is going on you can read earlier posts here.
You can also follow Ruslan Chepiga on twitter.
Over and out