The FM Session #FM16



Welcome to the first of my FM sessions were you get to meet a few people from the FM community 

Tonight’s Line Up

Name: Michael Skidmore

Location: Derbyshire UK

FM blog link:

Twitter name: @totalfootball71

Football Influences: Sebes, Michels, Lobonovski, Guardiola, Bielsa, Clough, Herrera, Sacchi, Cruyff,Tuchel, Simeone, Pochetino, Sampaoli, Pizzi I have so many

Name: Chris Brammer

Location: Rotherham, South Yorkshire, UK

FM blog

Twitter name: @VRFussball 

Football influences: The highs and the lows of supporting Stoke City alongside a fascination with all things rose tinted.

Name: Saadiq Bey

Location: USA

FM blog link:

Twitter name: American Guardiola@Rovazzz

Football influences: Rinus Michels, Johan Cruyff, Bill Nicholson, Juanma Lillo, Pep Guardiola, Marcelo ‘EL Loco’ Bielsa, and Slaven Bilić

Name: John McIntosh

Location: Dundee, Scotland

FM blog link:

Twitter name: @johnmcintosh19

Football influences: My dad got me in to supporting Rangers and in terms of players I used to love the likes of Raul, Zola and Ronaldinho.

How did you get involved with the Football Manager series and when did you start playing ?

Michael: 1992 when it was born as Championship Manager. I was always interested in the management side of the game with tactical systems fascinating me. I put this down to watching the Italian game from a very early age thanks to my dad having a satellite system that enabled me to tune in to Serie A and Serie B every week. I was fortunate to watch some great teams and title triumphs including Hellas Verona, Maradona’s Napoli, Platini’s Juventus and Zico’s Udinese ect. I adopted Milan has my team they were in Serie B at the time but they played in the red and black stripes like the school team that I played in so naturally the bond was made. So getting back to FM I now had the chance to manage the overseas stars who I so admired. I have got every edition released from day 1.

Chris: I think my first game was everyone’s favourite Championship Manager 01/02. A mate of mine had it, and between that and WWF games, I would spend a lot of my time at his, just watching him take Sheffield Wednesday to glorious heights. In truth, when I finally got the game, I was awful at it. I don’t know if I had the patience back then.

Saadiq: I started playing FM last July (2015), so I’m kind of a late bloomer. I was a big fan of FIFA, but  I got bored, I guess I wanted something a little more sophisticated. But back to you question,  I learned about FM from a write-up on former Chelsea and Spurs manager, Andres Villa Boas. What I remember from the piece was that he attributed his success as a football analyst from playing Football Manager. So immediately I did a Google search on FM and the rest is history. I can’t get enough of it.

John:  The first series I bought myself and was obsessed over was the first ever release of FM which was Football Manager 2005, I was 11 and fell in love with the game however I had been playing the old Championship manager series at some weekends at my friends house for a few years previously without ever owning a copy. I am now quite interested in tactical systems and right now the recent Bayern-Atletico game fascinated me due to the big difference in styles and how effective Atletico are with little ball possession, however when you’re 10 or 12 all it was about was trying to win everything and I probably played a simple 4-4-2. 

When starting a save, what are the first things you do at a new club?

Michael:  I spend an eternity on day one at the club going through the squad and staff and then setting the scouting up. Once I have done this I identify the areas we need to strengthen at the club and make a plan. The youth system is vital for any club so I do a lot of ground work looking at each player in our youth ranks. I remember reading about how David Moyes and his scouts compiled a player list of players for each position at the club, identified targets in the transfer market and included the clubs own youth players, they would have ready made replacements for every first team member in the event of them leaving the club. I do the same and keep it rolling season by season, yes I have hundreds of players in a notebook that I study nearly every day. I have a philosophy that I believe in. I want people to see my team play and say that’s a Skidmore team.

Chris: I have to be enthusiastic about the club in real life. I have to buy into them as an organisation, and I have to like what they stand for. I love clubs that traditionally have a reach beyond the field. I’m not talking necessarily your big global clubs, but those that have something special about them. I’ve tried to just do general saves, but I’ve struggled, and not been able to buy into it!

Saadiq: In my personal life I’m a social worker, so the first thing I do is read each players file to get basic information about the player, such as, nationality and languages spoken; physical attributes; statistics; international experience; injury history; strengths and weaknesses.
Next, I assess the youth set up to ensure there’s consistency at every level, what I mean by that, are the youth learning the same principles as the Senior players. It’s vital for a club survival to have  youth system developing the next generation of “total footballers”.
Then, I assess the backroom staff the way I do  players: demographics, adaptability, playing style, credentials, and philosophy. Similarly, are they good man manager; motivator, good with youngsters, fitness, and so on.
Lastly, I assess the board in a similar fashion as the others: are they the right fit for me and my philosophy? Will they support my vision and  make available the funds to bring in players? These are the first things I do, more so now, after getting sacked from a club I had no business being at.

John: After the standard meeting with the owner and assistant manager I will run the rule over the squad – youth squads including, who could be moved on, what areas need improving etc. I will also set up my tactics and look at staff recruitment and terminations if necessary.

Do you have a specific philosophy that you implement from day 1 at any club, or do you adopt a  different philosophy suited to the club?

Michael:  I have always gone in on day 1 with the same philosophy to play attacking football. I like to promote and develop within the club however I am not afraid to spend the cash to bring the right player in to the club, I am an advocate of the juego de posicion philosophy.

Chris:  do like trying to develop my own players, both through the academy, and buying youngsters with room for growth. I suppose that ties in with the romanticism of football which I love, but nothing is better than having a 16 year old right back, who comes to your academy, who you see improve year on year until he is playing in a cup final for you!I also always try and play a high intensity game. It’s the type of football I love to watch, so it bares to reason that that would be the type of manager I would be!

Saadiq: Yes, Juego de Posicíon!  I’m wedded to this philosophy because it embodies everything I believe football should be: collectivism: the group ahead of the individual. I think it’s important that the values and mission of the club  be aligned with these principles, if not, it can be disastrous. I’m speaking from an experience I had with a certain club in England. They splashed the cash but there was no identity or loyalty from the players which led to me losing the dressing room and getting the sack.

John:  In terms of tactics, I stick to my 2-3-2-3 tactic with every club I manage, it delivers exciting football and aims to dominate the game. Then I will look to have a young, vibrant squad, aim to develop players from our youth system, play possession and attacking football.

When implementing  tactics at a club do you build a tactic around the players at the club at the time or do you recruit players to fit in to a specific system over a period of time and implement a specific system over time?

Michael: I go in with the same philosophy from day 1 if a player doesn’t fit in to the system then I will let him go, I know how I want the team to play, for me the formation is the framework  that the players fit in to so whatever formation fits the players best I will use and implement my philosophy via the individual roles within the framework. Some people look at a formation and think they know how a team will play, its simply not the case my 4-4-2 would play differently to Jose Mourinho’s or Sam Allardyce. (I have not used a 4-4-2 for years).

Chris: I usually base it around the players in the first instance. Whenever I buy a new version of the game, I do a save with Stoke, as I know the players, know where to strengthen, and have a good grasp of what is realistic. Now, when we were under Tony Pulis, it would have been impossible and a little bit fruitless to come in an implement a possession game, at first at least. I’d utilise what I had, play a strong game, and build on the success. As I replace players, I would bring in folks who would be more my style, and gradually change my system. Saying that, with saves like with Ajax, which are possibly more suited to a playing philosophy type save, I would stick strictly to my principals, and any player who didn’t fit would be thrown to the wolves!

Saadiq: I don’t make any “major” changes in the first year because its the assessment phase, that is, am looking at how everyone gets on at the club. It’s me taking stock of what’s good and what’s not good for the club. For instance, my Assistant (Jesus Perez) oversees team training, individual training, and match preparation and he arranges all friendlies. I suggest things to him and if he does not agree I will defer because he has a working relationship with the players and knowledge of their capabilities.
The second year, if possible I’ll promote a kid from our youth system, and I’ll bring in a few new recruits, again, a young player  that’s ready to play, but  needs refinement.  I try to protect my players from the wolves (agents) who are out for themselves and chasing the almighty dollar or pound😉.  This is the year I start tweaking the system,for instance, you’ll see me use 4-1-4-1DM,2-3-3-2 with False Fullbacks aka Double Registas, a 6 as a centre-back, W as a FB. Everything done in year 2 sets the stage for the big push following season. I was blessed at Bayern with a group of amazing players and staff that I was able to build on predecessor’s work to win everything in 2 seasons.

John: This is an interesting question but I personally have a set system and I will look to recruit to fill any gaps within that system and look to strengthen the weakest area of the squad also.

Do you identify players yourself and recruit them or do you let your Director of Football or Head of Youth Development do it ?

Michael: I like to have control of players coming in to the club, I like to identify target but I don’t mind the staff identifying players but I have the final say. I have found the Director of Football either makes huge bids or low bids in my experience. I do let the Head of Youth Development bring young players in along with myself.  

Chris: I’ve never been sold on the DoF position in the game. I’ve used it once, on FM14, where I installed Matthias Sammer as my Director of Football at Stoke. A few seasons in, and with money to spend, he started trying to buy the likes of Wilfred Zaha for £35million. I decided that that was the end of the experiment, and from then on, I would decide the targets. Saying that, I am happy for them to identify players, as long as I play a key part in the negotiations. Head of Youth Development is a position I do use. On most saves, I have them identifying young players, and handling everything. Usually, I just have it so that I have the final say on whether they are to be confirmed into the club or not.

Saadiq: It’s a combination of the three. I’ve managed in Spain, Germany, Chile, and Argentina so I have a decent knowledge of players in those countries. I think a good scouting system is key as well, they’re the ones with their feet on the ground. So it’s a combination of those things I mentioned.

John:  I will set my scouts out to look at different regions which is helpful in finding talented young players and regens further down the line. I find picking certain attributes and for players to have a certain level of attribute a more effective way than just searching by value etc.

How do you watch matches and to what detail?

Michael: I watch most games in full but I do use the other modes, I want to know exactly what’s working and what’s not, who is doing what and how can we do it better. It takes me a while to get through a season but it keeps me interested in the game long term.

Chris: I’ve generally flicked between extended and comprehensive on the latter versions of the game, although after listening to an episode of the Deep Lying Podcast (who I recommend) the other week, I am fully convinced that comprehensive is the way to go. I try to cram in as much information as possible, and (especially on FM16) have all stats flying up in my face! If Shinji Kagawa has missed more than 50% of his passes, he is in for a serious talking to!

Saadiq: I tend to watch a full match which makes for a long season. I’m so obsessive over details (like Pep) that I feel like I’m missing something if I watch comprehensive or extended highlights…my wife thinks I’m strange.

John:   I will usually watch games on extended highlights, pre season can sometimes be watched on comprehensive if I make any tactical changes or to see how new signings are performing on the pitch.

On average how many days/hours do you play FM a week?

Michael: A couple of nights a week, mostly weekends though. I find by only playing a couple of nights it keeps me interested all year round instead of overkill, plus I have a life outside of FM (honest).

Chris: In the last few months, I’ve curtailed my obsession, with the birth of my daughter at Christmas. I play as and when I can and should. And to be honest, that’s actually done me a favour. I’ve savoured my save this year, really thinking about what and where I will go with it, rather than rushing through.

Saadiq: I try to play everyday: 1 match during the week and on the weekend I’ll play as much as possible, meaning I’m up till 3am or 4am.

John:  It’s quite flexible, with my job I usually do 10 hour shifts which range from 3-6 days a week so on those days I may sneak in an hour or two if I’m lucky but if I have a day off and nothing planned I could play for 5-6 hours quite easily as it’s a very immersive and addictive game.

Do you have any players or player that you always look to sign ?

Michael: I used to sign certain players on the earlier versions, (Riquelme, Aimar,Veron, Tevez) but now I like to find and use different players when taking charge at a new club although Lincoln and Zivkovic are top talents you cant ignore.

Chris: For a time in the last few years, it was Håvard Nordtveit from Gladbach and Arsenal before it. He’s my go to guy when I need strength in midfield. He’s certainly decreased in his ability in the last few games though, much to my disappointment.

Saadiq: Yes, Lincoln (Gremio);  David Alaba; and Álex Grimaldo; Juan Bernat; Gabriel Barbosa. Funny thing about that is each of them plays on the left wing.

John: That really depends on what level of club I manage, I have played a few network games as Tottenham and I looked to sign Emmanuel Mamanna, Gabriel Barbosa (Gabigol) and Andrija Zivkovic

When taking over a club, how far ahead do you plan?

Michael: I always look to have a rolling 3 year, year by year strategy, Identifying players to bring in to the club in advance of players moving on, plus potential youth players who could step up. I am crazy with making notes in a notebook that is never too far away wherever I am.

Chris: Good question! I think it depends. This year I have planned at least a season in advance, or at least I know where I would like to be, and have identified several key targets if some of my players leave. I’ve enjoyed that a heck of a lot more than some saves in the past, where I have found myself with no strategy, and just “winging it”.

Saadiq: I set up a three year plan and if I’m still with the club at the end of three years I’ll reassess the plan.

John:  I’m always planning years ahead and looking to implement my own ideas, for example with my Parma series I have a plan of when I want to achieve certain things which will be on a further blog update.

Who is your all time favourite FM player ?

Michael: Juan Roman Riquelme I used to sign him wherever I managed, he was my conductor for many years. Pablo Aimar runs him close though.

Chris: Right, so, to explain this I’m going to have to give a back story. So, on FM13, I had a save with CSKA Moscow. I spent several years there, becoming a strong force in European football before accepting the Real Madrid job. I hated it at Madrid, but that just added to the story. I saw Stoke laying in 18th, after a few seasons in Europe, and took my shot when they fired Michael Appleton. They had a talented squad, but had heavily underachieved that season. BUT in their academy was a young, English/Greek striker by the name of Manos Cholevas. He was born in Dudley, and a Stoke supporter. He was amazing. I’d been tracking him at Real, but the player had no interest in joining. That made him a favourite before I even took charge of the Potters. Oh man, he was incredible. Over my 10 years at Stoke, he became record club goal scorer, record premier league goal scorer, England captain, won a balon d’Or. After I left Stoke I kept tracking him, never with the intention of buying him, but just to watch his career. I still have the save, in 2036/37, and he is still playing at 36 years of age, now in Stoke’s midfield! A proper proper legend of the game.

Saadiq: The English Michels (@totalfootball71). We’re both are passionate about football and Juego de Posicíon. We have a lot in common outside of FM,which is pretty awesome. I’m a big fan of Cleon too! He’s been a huge for the community and he’s a good dude too, straight forward with no hidden agenda.

John:  Lulinha, he was a wonderkid who came from nowhere in the 2007 version and I think it was in this version or 2008 that I had him as my number 10 for my Tottenham side that conquered europe and he was pivotal to that – his technical attributes were unbelievable, sadly in real life his career never reached those heights but he had very impressive displays for Brazil u17 side.

Thanks Chaps 



One thought on “The FM Session #FM16

  1. Long time follower, first time poster, just wanted to say I love your work, and you’ve inspired me to blog myself


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