Preparing for matches efficiently is crucial if you want to achieve good team performances and good results consistently.
You may want to take advantage of match preparation training, to improve your team’s performances in certain areas, and talking to the media, to gain a psychological advantage over the opposition. Most importantly however, you will need to ensure that you make an appropriate team selection for each match. Each of these basic aspects of preparing for matches is discussed below.
The Tactical Planning guide discusses how you can start each match with an effective strategy for defeating the opposition.
Match Preparation Training Focus
The match preparation training focuses are discussed in the Match Preparation Training guide.
For your team’s match preparation training focus it is generally beneficial to select Match Tactics or Teamwork. However, a few days before a match, particularly if it is an important match, you may want to set an alternative focus in order to improve a particular aspect of your team’s performance during that match. If so, then it is advisable to select a focus based on the opposition or the required result, as follows:
You are facing higher quality opposition or need to avoid defeat – Defensive Positioning
You are facing lower quality opposition or need to win – Attacking Movement
The opposition poses a particular threat from set pieces – Defending Set Pieces
The opposition is poor at defending set pieces – Attacking Set Pieces
You can check the opposition team’s record at set pieces by looking at the Goals section of its team report or the Team section of the Stats tab of the division that the team plays in. You can also assess its best set piece takers using the Technical Attributes view on the team’s Players tab, while similarly you can look at how its players rate in attributes related to aerial presence and heading ability, such as Heading, Jumping Reach and Strength.
Talking to the Media
The day before a match you may be given the opportunity in your inbox to attend a press conference and answer questions from the gathered media regarding the match. You may also be approached by journalists on match day in the stadium itself and asked for tunnel interviews. Good use of such media interaction can help you to keep squad morale high and gain a psychological advantage over the opposition.
If you do not want to attend a press conference or tunnel interview yourself then you can click the Send Assistant button before answering the first question. Alternatively, you can give your assistant the responsibility to attend all press conferences or tunnel interviews on the Responsibilities tab of the Staff screen. However, as explained in the Staff Roles guide, it is advisable to answer the media’s questions yourself.
Generally, it is advisable to try to give fairly positive answers, although you should also remain realistic. Such responses, along with good general man management, should help you to maintain good levels of morale and happiness among your players, which in turn will help performances on the pitch.
You may also want to take into account the personalities of your players. In particular, it is important not to be too cautious or pessimistic about your team’s chances if many of your players have ambitious personalities. Determined players, on the other hand, may be more willing to try to prove you wrong if you do choose to play down the chances of your team.
More advice on how to manage players with different personalities is provided in the Player Personalities guide.
If being too positive appears to cause your players to become complacent, perhaps because your team is the favourite for a match or is on a good run of form, then this can be dealt with by giving a more demanding pre-match team talk. Such team talks will most likely have a better motivating effect on your players than using a more pessimistic approach in press conferences. On the other hand, if being positive makes some of your players nervous, perhaps because they have a low Pressure personality attribute, then you can use a more relaxing individual team talk on the affected players to take the pressure off them.
More advice on giving team talks is provided in the Team Talks guide.
Commenting on Opposition Players
In some pre-match press conferences you will be given the opportunity to praise or criticise an opposition player. This may on occasion put the player concerned under the media spotlight and result in him feeling increased pressure and suffering a drop in morale. If so, his performance in the match is likely to suffer.
You may want to target a player with poor morale by using hard tackling opposition instructions.
Commenting on an opposition player is most likely to be effective he has a poor Pressure personality attribute. Such a player may struggle to cope with the expectation after receiving praise in particular, while he may also react similarly badly if he believes that he needs to prove himself following criticism. It can therefore be useful to try to gain clues about this attribute from a player’s personality description. Failing this, if a player has low ratings in the attributes Bravery, Composure and Determination then this can indicate that he has low Pressure.
Details of personality descriptions are given in the Player Personalities guide.
Furthermore, when criticising an opposition player, it is best to pick a player with low Determination. If you criticise a player with good Determination and Pressure then your comments are more likely to instead have the opposite effect of actually motivating him.
Generally, it is much easier to find suitable players to comment on when managing in lower reputation league divisions or facing weaker opposition.
Comments on Your Own Players
If an opposition manager comments on one of your own players then you can check the Information section of that player’s Overview tab to see if and how he has reacted, while you can also check his morale. If he has reacted badly then you may want to consider leaving him out of your starting line-up or trying to increase his morale, for example, by talking to him about his previous performance or recent form from his Interaction drop-down, or giving him an appropriate individual team talk as explained in the Team Talks guide.