Football Manager 2020: 5 things we learned playing the Beta

The full game is not yet here, but there are some key lessons to be learned from the beta.

Toby Durant by Toby Durant

The Football Manager 2020 beta has been available for over a week, and while there has been a patch and the full game is still seven days away there has been enough time to get a true measure of what will be important to know and concentrate on this year.

FM20 boasted plenty of new features and tweaks in the build-up to release, with the main trailer focusing on the impact of user choice this year.

 

But which of these is truly the most impactful to your success or failure?

These are the main takeaways from the beta so far.

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Club Vision matters

TARGETS: The board have far more targets for you to hit in FM20

This new feature is the one you will encounter immediately and will have to pay attention to the most.

Previous versions of Football Manager have basically focused on results. While the board may tell you to adhere to playing “possession football”, it wouldn’t really matter as long as the results came in.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about FM20

Now, things are a bit more serious. Historic clubs like Liverpool ask that you develop local players and young talent to bring into the first team. Manchester United want you to maintain their financial dominance and global reputation.

These tasks away from the field highlight more parts of the manager’s job than ever before and are something the board will really focus on. Results are still important, but the Arsenal board can forgive a 5th place if you are playing attractive football and signing talented young players, but if you are only seeking veteran players and have a more defensive style you’ll find yourself dragged into an awkward conversation.

Player chemistry is crucial to success

Developing that unspoken relationship between midfielders or winger and full back can take years, but the results can be massively impactful on your place in the league table, and seem to be buffed this year.

What this means is that you should be careful selling off players and bringing in new ones. Marginal improvements in talent to your midfield can be negated by a resetting of the chemistry of your pair or trio in the middle.

READ MORE: All the best players in Football Manager 2020

That can lead to missed passes, or defensive assignments falling through the net as your players are on a different page to each other.

By all means get active in the transfer market, but trying to completely reset one position can lead to poor form early on.

It’s best to work your team in units during pre-season, such as making sure a new right winger gets his starts with your #1 right back, so chemistry can develop a little quicker.

Optimise your scouts

EASY MONEY: The scout department can save you a fortune

The backroom staff has a bigger role this year, but while your assistant manager is handing out advice left, right, and centre the real key to success lies in your scouting department.

The knowledge of individual scouts has been refined and is far more impactful this year. While any scout will be able to tell you that Kylian Mbappe would be a valuable signing, he’ll miss the potential gems that are lurking elsewhere in France.

READ MORE: All the best wonderkids in Football Manager 2020

It is an aspect that a lot of players don’t use, but once you get far enough for regen players to take over it becomes a vital part of the game to work closely with your scouts and make sure you are getting the most out of them.

The key here is to check not only that they are a good judge of ability & potential for all players, but that they know the area you are sending them to.

Make sure you have players that know the smaller European nations so you can find the next Luka Modric or Ferenc Puskas and can get them when they are young, cheap, and not yet world-beaters.

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Tactics are not easy

KNOW YOUR ROLE: Make sure players are comfortable with what you are asking

It’s something that players know but don’t like to admit, but it takes time for a new manager to imprint their style on a team. FM20 has seemingly increased that time span, meaning that one pre-season is not nearly enough to turn Burnley into a vertical tiki-taka side.

While the formations can be changed a little more easily, removing a CAM for a DM when you’re up 2-0 for example, flipping tactics on a team is now a monumental change that will require time and patience to achieve.

READ MORE: Starting transfer budget for Europe’s giants

Players will struggle far more in FM20 than last year in roles that they are unfamiliar with or tactics they have no experience in. Telling a box-to-box midfielder to play regista is not going to go well this year, and result in a team that struggles to transition with the ball.

Playing time roles matter

Gone are the days of key players, rotation, back up, & youngster.

There are a lot more player roles to pick from within your squad, from star player to fringe squad player down to impact sub and breakthrough prospect.

While this sounds daunting, getting a handle on these choices and giving players the correct role during contract negotiations is key to them no longer complaining every week about not getting enough playing time.

If you have someone happy to agree to be a fringe squad player or even a cup goalie then they will not complain about getting left out of league games for a while.

READ MORE: The Club Vision for the Premier League’s top teams

This is a massive relief as it had been difficult to keep your squad happy during the last third of the season when you needed your stars to play in basically every game.

Of course, it comes with the flip side that if you start to treat your important player like an impact sub they will be extremely unimpressed. FM20’s emphasis on choice and consequence really comes through with your player relationships, and keeping your word is vital this year.

Toby Durant