Don’t worry, I haven’t been researching analytics websites and coming up with formulas of ‘expected goals per 90 minutes’. This game was made in 1997 anyway, so the stats that you’ve got to work with are basic compared to the latest Football Manager and/or OPTA readouts. Part of what makes this game so great is that it has the perfect balance between complexity and speed. Modern management games are practically a full time job if you want to set your team up properly and buy the right players. Anyway…
I know I’m not revealing any secrets when I say that, on CM9798, new young players are not randomly generated. When a player retires, he is regenerated in the next season. His name, and some of his stats, will be different, but his ability remains the same.
For example, going back to our first ‘Star of CM9798‘
‘Regens’ are usually much cheaper (and obviously younger), then the original player would have been at his peak, so it’s a cost-effective way of buying guaranteed quality
The best way I’ve found to keep track of which good players might retire, is to search by ‘Based Anywhere’ – ‘Age 30+’ – ‘Sort by Caps’
You can then make a list of players you might be interested in, and search for them once the end-of-season updates have run. If they no longer exist then you can search for their replacement by nationality, position and attributes
For me, the jury is still out on how much attributes matter. One thing for sure is that the attribute scores are relative, not absolute. So for example, the player with the worst average rating in English football this season is…
A ‘Heading’ rating of 17 and a ‘Tacking’ score of 18 obviously doesn’t mean that he is in the top 10-15% in the world for these skills. It simply means that his tackling ability is 6 times better than his dribbling (in other words if the ball is within a yard of his feet, he falls over). All of these scores are relative to his overall ‘Ability’ (a hidden attribute, out of 200)
That being said, I like all my players to have good Determination, and I don’t like scores of 1 or 2 for attributes like Pace, Stamina, Strength, Tackling etc.
From my experience (and this is based purely on observation, not research), important attributes include
Stamina – how quickly a player gets tired during a match
Determination – how a player reacts to being behind in a game
Shooting – Finishing ability
Set Pieces – How good the player is at corners (in combination with passing), and free-kicks (combined with shooting and flair)
Flair – how likely the player is to create a chance out of nothing, or score a spectacular goal
For some reason, the AI managers in this game are supremely relaxed about losing their best players for nothing. In general, they will let every player’s contract expire before they offer a new one. Players’ prices begin to drop in the last year of their contract, so it’s well worth your time keeping an eye on who is coming to the end of their current deal.
Sometimes, the player might not even be one that you need. You can sign them at minimal cost near the end of the season, secure them on a long contract, then put them straight up for sale. Be careful though, if you pick the wrong player, you could end up paying a massive wage over many years for someone who nobody else wants. Exhibit A
Big Club Release Clauses
These can work for, or against you. When you’re managing a Premier League club, you can basically take your pick of lower-league players. If you’re in Division 3 however, you’re permanently at risk of losing your best players.
The one exploit I’ve found to get round this is as follows. When you sign a player with a big-club release clause, make him available for loan straight away. Big clubs will still be interested in him, but will only approach you with a view to a loan, which you can reject.
Make sure you make them available quickly though. Once a player’s value starts to rise, your board won’t allow you to put them on the loan list, and this can happen
The one that got away (and at a £700,000 loss in three months!)
Searching for players
So although I take attributes into account when looking for the right player, it’s not the most important thing.
First up, I look at average ratings, these are the best indicator as to how good a player is. Again, they are adjusted for the league, so someone averaging above 7 in Serie A is performing at a much higher level then someone averaging 7 in, say, Denmark
If a player is highly recommended by a scout, that is usually a sign that his potential ability is very high.
Making a Decision
Your final decision should be based on weighing up if they are a regen, their current performance (average rating), the opinion of your scouts, player attributes and of course price. Price includes wages. As I’m finding to my cost at Anderlecht, paying a number of players £20,000+ a week just isn’t sustainable in some leagues.
Give me a team of Dewaele’s any day..
So………That’s a quick overview of how I go about the process of scouting and signing. If anyone has got any other ideas or tips, or if you think I’m talking b****ks (very possible), then start the conversation BTL..