Player development refers to the processes through which players improve their abilities over the course of their careers (not including fluctuating aspects of player ability such as player fitness and morale).
Successful player development can help you to secure long term success for your club both on the pitch and financially, as it can give you a continuous supply of quality players who you can then either play in your senior squad or sell on for a profit. The benefits of focusing on youth are discussed further in the Squad Building guide.
To develop players successfully it is advisable to first gain a good understanding of player ability and its dynamics, which are discussed in the Player Ability guide.
You can then consider how to recruit youth effectively and develop your players effectively using the advice given below.
Recruiting Youth Effectively
In order to continually develop quality talent it is advisable to ensure that your club’s youth intake (which can be internal, external or both) regularly brings in promising youth players, preferably with each playing position being covered.
A big club with a good youth system is likely to have at least two players in every playing position in its youth squad.
You can also supplement your youth intake by recruiting more established young players on professional contracts as part of a general youth focus.
Optimising Youth Intake
Optimising youth intake refers to carrying out youth intake in the most effective way possible, so as to bring in the best possible youth players.
You can optimise your internal youth intake by:
- Signing a good head of youth development and other youth coaches. Useful qualities for them include:
- A positive personality with good ratings in the mental attribute Determination and the personality attributes Ambition and Professionalism in particular – to pass on similar personalities to newgens (such players are much more likely to achieve good progression, although players with good Ambition are more likely to want to leave lower reputation clubs if they have the chance).
- Good ratings in the staff attributes Judging Player Potential and Working With Youngers – to give newgens good potential ability.
- Improving the following club facilities to give newgens better current ability and potential ability (this may need to be a long term aim, with a greater reliance on the use of external youth intake in the short term):
- Youth facilities.
- Junior coaching.
- Youth recruitment.
You can optimise your external youth intake (and your recruitment of more established young players) by setting up a good scouting network and implementing a range of scouting assignments.
You can also start scouting assignments in particular nations shortly after their annual generation of newgens. You can find information on the relevant dates for each nation by searching the web for FM newgen dates. However, you may view this as ‘cheating the system’ if you intend to play Football Manager in a more realistic manner.
Implementing an external youth intake or recruiting more established youth players enables you to personally select which players are brought into your club, while with an internal youth intake you will eventually need to select which players to offer professional contracts to.
You should try to select players with good current ability, as this essentially determines how high rated their playing attributes as a whole are before you take over their development, and good potential ability, as this essentially sets a limit on how high rated their playing attributes as a whole can become.
You may also want to consider the type of players that you target. For example, you may want to try to select players with playing attributes and traits that suit your tactics if you intend to use a particular playing style or tactical roles.
In particular though, it can be worthwhile to try to select players who have positive personalities, especially if they have good ratings in Determination, Ambition and Professionalism, due to the great beneficial impact on player progression.
However, playing attributes, traits and personalities can be changed during player development to some extent (traits can be both learned and unlearned).
Therefore, current ability and potential ability can be viewed as being the most important qualities to look for. Nonetheless, the importance of positive personalities should not be understated. The earlier a player has a positive personality the earlier his development can benefit from it, and the process of improving a personality can be prolonged and difficult for a player who does not start out with a positive personality.