I haven’t really had a bad start for a long time. The last time we struggled to get off the mark in our opening match coincided with a poor preseason when I forgot to get the side to focus on fitness training. We were also a team that happily experimented with multiple systems. Following our epic 38W season last season, I started to think about good starts, and what it takes to make them work, and why they are important in FM15.
A good start is like a solid foundation, it kicks into so many factors in the game that it can lead to a cascade of Bad. This can affect morale, in turn affecting training, and then lead to players requesting transfer moves and it could spin off and make things uncontrollable. Ok the “uncontrollable” stuff is conjecture. The only time I faced that was before we had animated sprites sprinting and sliding on our screens. Its a best guess, and something I have tried very hard to avoid. So how do you get off to a good start?
The first and most obvious thing is to get your system sorted. If its your first season, maybe you will need the whole season to get this done right, but once you have settled on your system, try not to make any major changes to it, unless you are absolutely sure you know what effect tactics have. You can make alternate tactics, but you really only need one for the whole season, you don’t even need a home/away tactic. Anyone who says they do, just doesn’t know how to use the team instructions well. As I have shown in my Adapting series, you only need to make minor changes to your system. If your system is still not scoring, or preventing others from scoring then the system needs reevaluating. The 4312 system I am using depends so heavily on my 3 central midfielders, it becomes glaringly obvious when I bleed new players into it. So have a look at your player selection and your system if things aren’t going right on that front.
A good preseason is vital, you need to play enough matches against decent competition in FM15. They need to get their fitness up and you need to see how your system does. 6-7 games is usually enough. And, you need to make sure your team is working on fitness programs to get them ready for the new season. If you miss out on this, your players may struggle with fitness as the season starts. Early season stability is all about taking care of your players. The last thing you need is for your key players not to be ready for the first kick-off.
As far as tactics go watch your team instructions as well. My system plays at high tempo, and I love watching it play at that kind of speed, it gives me a sense of satisfaction seeing us hammer sides by 5 goals. The problem with high tempo is fitness. At the start of the season, your players may not be at 100% yet in terms of teamwork, so its usually a good idea to play at normal speed. Allow your players to find their feet. Once it looks like they are ready you can start using tempo as a switch. Remember to treat it as a switch, you do not need to play at high tempo for the whole duration of a game, thats just plain silly.
Some people talk about having solid continuity with their team at the start and are unwilling to sub players in and out, I disagree, I much rather practise heavy rotation at the start of a season. Once you are like 10 games in, you can start leaving a main 11, and stop rotating so much. Its much better to win 1-0 than to lose 2 key players.