Stars of CM9798 – No. 3 – Man United’s Youth Team!

The class of ’92 were in many ways a one-off, but the creators of CM97/98 weren’t to know that. They evidently assumed that every young player coming out of Man Utd in the following years was going to be as good. This means that at the start of the game there is a group of potentially world class players sitting in the stands under Alex Ferguson. If you’re managing a small club, they might not come to you straight away, but give them a year or two of festering in the United reserves and you can pick them up at a decent price. They’ll be stars for a decade or more


Macclesfield Town's Graham Tomlinson
Graeme Tomlinson


Erik Nevland

Alex Notman - Manchester United Youth 12/4/97 Pic : Stuart Franklin / Action Images
Alex NotmanWesBrown13_280x390_1341090a

Wes Brown


John Curtis

Curtis, Notman, Tomlinson and Nevland between them only played a total of 15 league matches for United, while Wes Brown of course was a regular in the United defence for years. There are a few other decent young players at United when the games starts: Wellens, Brebner, Pilkington and Cooke to name a few, but these 5 are the players who can go on to become world class.

WHAT ARE THEIR VITAL STATS? notman nevland curtis browntomlins

In CM9798, Tomlinson actually starts on a free transfer, make sure he’s the first player you sign up when you load the game for the first time…


The moral of this story is that you have to give them the game time. The longer they go without playing, the more their ability will drop and the less chance they have to fulfill their potential. My current game is evidence of this, Erik Nevland has gone on to become one of the most feared strikers in Europe


Wes Brown, on the other hand is languishing in League 2


But take a look at his stats for this season…the first time he gets a regular run in the team he dominates..

Graeme Tomlinson should never have left Doncaster the first time around. I resigned him when I reached the Premier League, but he never established himself in our starting line-up


Alex Notman is England captain and a star for his club


He’s now worth 9.5 million and has still got years ahead of him

John Curtis is the most frustrating. He often turns out to be the best of the lot, a defensive colossus and long-term captain of England and your club team, but he never got a run of games this time around


I’ve signed him for Chelsea in the hope that it’s not too late for him to blossom. Only 86 games in 9 seasons though…sad waste of talent (serves him right for ditching me for Liverpool back in 2001)

For what it’s worth, two other United youth players, Richard Wellens and Grant Brebner have also had decent Premier League careers

grant rciehe

So in conclusion, sign Tomlinson on a free and play him. Keep an eye om when the other youngsters become available, buy them and play them. You’ll either turn them into world-beaters or sell them at a decent profit..Or of course you could start the game at United, take over from Sir Alex, and try to create a class of 97 as succesful as the predecessors from 5 years previously


CM 97/98 – Player Recruitment

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

Expiring Contracts

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..

Happy hunting

Stars of CM9798 – No. 1 – Arnor Gudjohnsen

An obscure 36 year-old plying his trade at Orebro at the start of the game might seem an unusual choice for the first CM9798 star. However, we’re not going for the obvious players like (the real) Ronaldo or Paulo Maldini, this is a series about the hidden gems. With Arnor Gudjohnsen, it’s not about him, so much as his regen, who can dominate your midfield (or attack) for a decade.



In real life, he’s Eidur’s dad. That’s doing him a disservice though, he was one of Iceland’s all-time greatest players. At the time he played, he was the nation’s highest ever goal-scorer, and had made more appearances for his country than any-one else. Since he retired, his son has taken over as Iceland’s top scorer and a few players have overtaken him on the list of most-capped players.

Arnor spent most of his career in Belgium, including a 7-year stint at Anderlecht in the 80’s. He then moved to France and Sweden, which is where we find him at the start of the 97-98 season.



(he had been signed by Malmo at this point in the first season..not been doing badly for them though eh?)


OK he’s 36 and in the Swedish league, Even if you do manage to sign him, you’re not going to get much of out of him. But that’s not the point. He’s going to retire in a season or two. When he does hang up his boots, his regen is going to be immense. Look at those 20’s – Determination, Heading, Influence, Shooting etc.

As a DMFC, you can stick him in the anchor role and he’ll average 7 to 8 every year, and chip in with a few goals too. If you’re playing a direct style of football then he can double as a prolific striker. Play him in centre-mid as well if you like, or attacking midfield. Basically, put him on the pitch and he’ll dominate. As he gets older, he’s the perfect captain as well


Unfortunately I’ve had to wait a couple of seasons for him to retire and respawn, As soon as he did, I signed him up for Doncaster. This is his first season, with about 10 games left


Not bad for a 19 year-old who cost 5k. I’ve been mostly playing him in attacking midfield. His value is currently £1.4 million and climbing. His combination of affordability, versatility and ability make him my number-one must buy for any team I manage. I haven’t been able to find much online love for him, has anyone else signed him up for their teams?

Champ Mananger’s Tactics Truck

So here’s the bit where I share my tactical knowledge which ensured that Torino and Anderlecht failed to win their leagues, despite arguably having the best squads….

Back in the day I was a Champ Man 97/98 maestro, I would generally start in Division 3 and would aim to win the league and champions league in 5 or 6 seasons. It was a long time ago however, and at the time I was a student who spent most of his time smoking poor quality hash. As a result, I can’t remember the exact details of tactics (or anything useful about my degree), so I’ve had to reconstruct these tactics as I go along.

I decided to assign a different, successful tactic to each of the three teams. Partly for a bit of variety and partly so they weren’t all chasing the same players.

First up Anderlecht, this was my default Division 3 to Champions League tactic, but for some reason it doesn’t seem to be working as well in this game. I’m not 100% sure that I’ve got it right yet



You can also bring the two wide players into centre midfield, with their arrows still pointing to the same area as in the picture above. This one can leak the odd goal though, often if I’m 1 up in a close game I’ll sub on a midfielder for one of the forwards and put him in the anchor role. Chilavert and Charvet are always worth buying, if you can get hold of them.

As for Doncaster…



I’ve been playing around with this formation for a while but 7 successive big wins at the end of the season suggest it’s on the right track. It’s a 4-2-3-1, which wasn’t really in use in the real world when the game was released, but is used by a lot of clubs today. Three central attacking midfielders always seems to work really well, the team creates a lot of chances and the players in those positions get much higher ratings than they would in the usual midfield positions. You can play an MC, AMC or FC in one of those three spots – even wingers can do OK there. You’ll need a decent striker though (like Andy Mainwaring!)- if your forward is having a bad game you’re going to be on the back foot. There’s a few must-have lower league players in there – Tomlinson, Scully, Atkinson, Mainwaring and Munson can be bought in for a combined 5k at the start of the game. I missed out on Andrew Duncan this time though 😦

Il schemo tattico del Torino



I’ve used this tactic with Torino before, dominating Italy and Europe. The wide players always seem to do well in this tactic, as do the 3 attacking midfielders and striker. Besides centre-forward, the most important position in this tactic is the holding midfielder player. Get the right man in the here and he’ll be a beast winning loads of tackles and headers. But if you don’t have anyone good enough, the tactic doesn’t work anywhere near as well. Stefano Desideri is a decent stop-gap but I’m basically waiting for that 37 year-old Icelandic DM/FC to retire (you know who I mean!) so I can buy his regenerated offspring…

There’s not much info out there on the best cm97/98 tactics so I’d be interested to hear other people’s ideas and experiences