Before I start I’d like to say that I don’t think I know all about the game and I’m not also saying I’m good at it I’m just sharing what I’ve learnt and what has worked for me since I started playing the game. Let’s see how to build a squad for long term.
For this guide is be using the team I’m managing Legia, I'm in season 3 so I’ve laid the bases already and it would be easy to understand.
• Look at how many players you have
Firstly when you pick a new team the first thing you do is to see if you have enough players in every position.
As you can see from the screenshot we’ve got only one left back and we’ve written it down somewhere.
• The next step is to look at the players individually
After doing that we have got a picture of the kind of formation we want to play and we have found out that we need a center back, one left back at least (we already knew that), in midfield we’ve got the numbers but all the players have the same characteristics and we lack that rock in midfield so that’s something we need to resolve in the transfer market. Lastly attacking wise we have both the numbers and decent quality so no issues there but our wingers are not that good and they are mainly inside forwards. We like having wingers in out team so we have more option we it comes to tactics so we would bringing a couple of wingers too. In total we need 5 players but our transfer budget is not enough.
NOTE: We aren't talking about strengthening the squad. yet. We will eventually do it by bring in those 5 players but it’s not our main focus for now.
• Find a tactical base
We've looked at the squad, we know where we need players and we already have a picture of the tactic we want to play so it’s time to bring our picture to life. Our plan is to play a narrow formation because we don’t have good wingers and we have enough midfielders. We’ve gone for the 4-3-1-2 with 3 CMs, an AP behind a DLF and AF. Our second formation would be a narrow 4-1-2-1-2. We don’t know yet if we would actually play these formations because we don’t know anything about the players yet but it’s a base to start from
• Look at the transfer market
Time to look into the transfer market and this is the tricky part because most managers are tempted to go for the best player their money can get them but remember you don’t know anything about the players already in your squad yet, we could sell all our wide men to bring in those 5 players to play the narrow formations but what would happen if your theory based on those formations don’t work? We would be forced to stick to a narrow formation for the rest of the season because we would have used all our transfer budget so I repete, we're not looking for quality yet it’s all about numbers for now.
Haven’t said that we would go to the players without a club and we would use the best player we already have in our team as a template to see if we would find someone good enough for our team
luckily for us we found a decent number of players so we would scout them and start going forward to play the friendly matches.
• Start learning about the team
Watch the friendly matches attentively even if they are mostly against weaker teams because you can still learn a lot. After every match look at the stats of the game, check if your defenders are winning their headers and tackles, see if you strikers are getting their shots on target and see also if they are winning their headers as well. By so doing you would know who to play together and how to play them. A simple example, I’ve just finished the 3rd season so I’m familiar with the squad and I know that one of my strikers is good at winning and scoring balls that comes from crosses and if you look at his stats he’s not got a fantastic aeriel ability or strength but he’s good at that
He’s a backup now but what I tend to do is when I’m struggling to score in a game I just bring him in and I know all I need is a good ball from one of my wingers or a corner to score and I’ve won against big teams in the champions league like that.
• Keeping balance between young and old
To maintain the continuity of the team you need to have an adequate system for bringing in youth players to the team. No need to esagerate because you won’t be able to control their development effectively compared to when you have few young stars for specific purpose.
My advice is to keep older players that are good enough to be backups for the first team then have a player almost at his prime to take the place of the older player then a younger player (16-19 years). By so doing you would always have a replacement for every ageing players.
• Pay attention to the type of player you bring in
If you are a mid-table team or you are managing in a lower league pay attention to players with very ambitious personality because they tend to develop faster but they are also the first to moan about going to bigger clubs so if you have enough budget to give them a huge pay rise to shut them up then you can buy them if not you won’t make profit from their sale if they are unhappy.
• Identify Improvements
We’ve scouted the players we identified previously and we’ve signed a CB, a LB, a CM (BWM/B2B), two left wingers, a right winger and a striker. Our initial plan was not to buy a striker but he’s young, good enough to be in the first team and has the potential to improve so why not bring him in and above all we got all these players on a free.
• Perfect your tactic
Now we’ve got the numbers and the transfer window is closed, it’s time to perfect our tactics. We have played our 4 friendly matches and the supercup, we won all of the 5 games and we played around with the 2 tactics we talked about previously but something didn’t seem right even if we won all those games, we are not happy with the way our team was played so in the first game of the season we decided to play a 4-4-2 since we brought in 3 good wingers. We won the match so we decided to continue with the 4-4-2 for a few games and see how the squad would perform. After playing a few games we’re not still convinced with the way our team is playing even if we are topping the league (we lost some games a drew some ). We decided to try the 4-4-1-1 because we now know that our wingers are not bad at crossing (I’m not talking about their crossing stat but what I see in game) and we've got two fast strikers that can score from those crosses.
After testing and trying different things we've settled with a tactic we like (4-2-3-1 with 2 wingers) so it’s time to start strengthing the squad since we’ve laid down the base. Most managers would sell the older players and replace them with younger ones which is OK if you are playing a short term save but I wouldn’t advice it if you are playing a long term save because bare in mind that the board have set an objective for you to achieve and if you don’t you would loose your job so you can’t rely on young players because of their inconsistency, when big and important games start coming fast they may not be able to handle the pressure. Luckily for us the players we brought in are between 23 and 26 so we can go on with the same team for 3 years apart from the defence where we have some ageing players but they would still do the job for at least one more season.
When you’ve got to this stage you have a solid base to build upon both tactic wise a squad wise so you can start planning for the future by bringing in young players and selling these that are no longer useful to you (in our case the “awful” wingers/inside forwards we had at the start of the game)
And after every season access your team, renew contracts if need etc. There’s a wonderful pre-season guide written by BatiGoal you can follow his suggestions.
In summary when building a team especially for a long term save;
Have a solid base to build upon for the future both squad wise and tactics wise.
Don’t spend too much money in the first transfer window.
Try to build a “relationship” with your players as soon as possible so you can understand how they play and build a tactic that suits them.
Don’t be afraid to change or experiment with tactics if your not satisfied with how your team is playing even if you are winning games (it takes me 2 to 3 seasons to understand my team fully well and build a tactic that fits them).
Keep the right balance between old and young players
When signing players especially in lower leagues pay attention to players with a very ambitious personality because they may develop faster than the others but they would be the first to start moaning to go to a bigger club.
Make sure you bring in players that suits your team playing style. For example, we play an AF that moves into channels and play one-two with the AP behind so there’s no point bringing in a striker that does not play through balls even if he’s the best in the game because it would just disrupt the way the tactics work.
Enjoy the game.