Development, Match Experience And Everything In Between

Player development is a big part of the game for me, in fact it’s the only reason why I still play the game as I don’t really care for the tactical side of the game and much prefer writing development stuff. With that in mind I thought I’d write more development stuff for the blog as people seem to enjoy these and not many people actually write about this side of the game but every man and his dog writes about tactics! So this will be the first of many articles on training, player development that will concentrate on specific aspects of the training module. This particular article will focus on game time and have a look at just how much players play during the season.

As this is the start of the season, in fact the very start of the game I am expected to win promotion to the Championship. So blooding youths could cost me point, it might not but it could and this is what people always worry about. Myself I always make sure that I have a little squad so I can always find game time for the youths at the club. If you find you can’t give players enough game time during the season then I’d have to question why, maybe your squad is too big? Anyway, I’m going to be trying to incorporate six players into the first team throughout the year so this means ensuring they get as much game time as I can afford. The more game time they’ll get the more they should develop if I ensure they have the correct personality type. I’ll not go over the personality types again as I covered that in the Ajax stuff I wrote last year and the year before.

As some of these players are really under development it means I will look to give them as much game time as possible but this also means I might be playing them in other positions, I’ll explain a bit more further down. But before we do I must stress that these players tend to be weak all round even though they have good potential for the level I am at. So don’t expect to see dramatic changes in the first 18 months because the attributes across the board are extremely poor. So it will take around 2 years before we see the player start to take shape.

These are the players that I accommodated into the side in the first season.


I’m playing a 4-1-2-2-1 formation at the minute so I use attacking midfielder right and left which makes playing Diego easier and gives me more options for what I can use him as. Ideally I see him long term as my main striker and think he’ll be a good F9 or Treq. So to give him game time during the season he will be used either as a starter or sub for the following positions;

  • Striker
  • Attacking Midfield Right
  • Attacking Midfield left

This gives me more options which means it should increase the amount he plays because of his versatility. It’s much easier to give someone time if they can cover various positions for the system you use.


Obviously there isn’t much I can do with a goalkeeper but I’ll play him as and when depending on the results and how difficult I think the game will be. It comes down to how brave you want to be really and how frequent you’ve got the bottle to use him. I have the bottle but I’ll avoid playing him in any game were I think aerial challenges will be an issue due to how weak he is in the air.


He’s not ready for the first team nowhere near but I have faith in him and see him as a long term project and playing in the Premiership should I get promoted twice. As I play a 4-1-2-2-1 he can play in any of these positions;

  • Central Midfield Left Centre
  • Central Midfield Right Centre
  • Defensive Midfield

Long term I see him as some kind of playmaker so he would be holding down one of the more central positions rather than the defensive midfield spot due to how I play. But where he plays doesn’t really matter at the minute until he’s more developed and has a position to call his own.


Dominic I’m not sure what I see him as long term as I can see him playing many positions which is good but can be a bit of a nightmare when deciding where he’ll play eventually. I think I could see him as a F9 or some kind of creative midfielder. I’m not sure how well he is going to develop though but I will train him like I do every player with the intention of playing him. So the position he is likely to cover during the first season are;

  • Striker
  • Attacking Midfielder left
  • Attacking Midfielder Right
  • Central Midfield (possibly)

I’m already well stocked for central midfielders but during the season I’m bound to pick up injuries/suspensions and just fatigue in general so he could be used there. But I won’t be using him unless its a must due to having two other youths who will be playing those positions already.


This is another player whose natural position isn’t one that I use in the current set up but that isn’t really an issue. Long term I see him as some kind of inside forward. The positions he will be playing are;

  • Attacking Midfielder Right
  • Central Midfield (possibly)

I can only really offer him games at attacking midfield right side at the minute due to having quite a few players already who can play those positions due to the amount of players I’m trying to bring into the team in one go. Although saying that I’ll approach it like the player above and if a opportunity arises to play him elsewhere then I will do but he is a back up to the youths and will only be used there if they can’t for whatever reason.


I see him as my long term defensive midfielder and want to see how far I can push on with him, Diego and Louis Reed. Even if my rep grows and the team becomes bigger than it currently is and competing for titles and in Europe, I don’t plan on selling them ever regardless of how good they’ve become. For me and how I play I need attachment to the players and set myself goals to achieve to keep me interested and this is it for this save. It will serve as a reminder for where we came from and I can show them a bit of loyalty. The positions he will be playing in the first season are;

  • Defensive Midfield
  • Central Midfield

He will be covering both those positions to get the first team exposure he needs.

As you can see the initial base I have to work from was very low for all of the players so this means it will take longer especially for the ones who are 18 already. The younger the player the easier it would be due to having extra time with them but once they get to 18 it means they will still be developing into their 20’s and it’ll be around the early 20’s that we actually to see the player become the player you hope they will. Not that it matters much, I just prefer to develop players earlier if possible as tutoring them can take quite a while especially if they have crap personality types of begin with.

Game time is the single most important factor for gaining current ability, the more they play the more they should develop if he has the correct personality type (any that has a high combo of professionalism and ambition). Now if I were to tell you that some of these players had played 20 times or more you’d believe that was a lot of game time wouldn’t you?! But its not actually as much as you think (well it wasn’t me I was quite shocked). Being involved in 20 games is just short of half the league games so you’d expect a lot of minutes on the pitch. But if we look a bit closer at the actual figures you might be surprised. Here are the stats for the six players listed above for League One games and their minutes played this season;



I actually thought Diego had played a lot more minutes than that in the league and assumed he’d be around the 70% mark but how wrong was I. It’s impossible to have anyone play every single minute unless its a goalkeeper due to that being the least demanding role as a rule. He was involved in 27 League One games out of 46.



Keepers are probably the hardest players to give game time to if they are weak because they lack attributes. I tried to give him as much time as I could but its not as much as I’d have liked He was involved in 14 game in total.



This young player I have really high hopes and he got far more game time than I thought he would due to him playing in midfield which is the strongest part of my squad with lots of depth. In total he was involved in 22 games.



He actually got a lot more games that I expected he would, he was involved in 28 games. This is down to me only having one attacking midfielder left though so it allows me to give him more time. He ended up being the only real back up for Jamie Murphy which worked well.



I had to use him as a central midfielder at times due to injuries and condition issues as the season wore on. He was involved in 22 games though which again is more than I was expecting as I thought majority of his games would come from the right but playing him central when I had the issues I had proved a bit help in the end.



I’m slightly disappointed I didn’t use him more but he did pick up a few niggling injuries missing two weeks here and there so it become harder to involve him more. he was involved in 19 games in total.


His improvements for the season were;

1+ dribbling, 1+ first touch, 1+ heading, 1+ anticipation, 1+ composure, 1+ concentration, 1+ decisions, 1+ off the ball, +2 vision, 1+ acceleration, 1+ agility, 1+ pace, 1+ stamina, 2+ strength


His improvements for the season were;

1+ aerial ability, 2+ command of area, 1+communication, 1+ first touch, 2+ handling, 2+ kicking, 1+ one on ones, 1+ reflexes, 1+ throwing, 1+ anticipation, 2+ composure, 1+ concentration, 2+ decisions, +3 determination (from tutoring) 1+ leadership, 2+ positioning, 1+ teamwork, -1 vision, 1+ work rate, 1+ acceleration, 1+ agility, 1+ balance, 1+ jumping reach, 1+ pace, 1+ stamina, 3+ strength


His improvements for the season were;

1+corners, 1+ crossing, 1+dribbling, 1+ finishing, 1+ first touch, 1+heading, 1+ long shots, 1+ long throw, 1+ marking, 1+ passing, 1+ penalty taking, 1+ tackling, 1+ technique, 1+ anticipation, 1+ composure, 1+ concentration, +2 decisions, 4+ determination (tutoring), 1+ flair, 1+ leadership, 1+ vision, 1+ work rate, 1+ acceleration, 1+ agility, 2+ balance, 1+ natural fitness, 1+ pace, 2+ stamina, 2+ strength


His improvements for the season were;

1+ crossing, 1+ corners, 1+ dribbling, 1+ finishing, 1+ first touch, 1+ free kick taking, 1+ heading, 2+ long shots, 1+ long throw, 2+ marking, 1+passing, 1+ penalty taking, 1+ tackling, 1+ technique, 2+ anticipation, 1+composure, 1+ concentration, 2+ decisions, 2+ determination (tutoring) 1+ leadership, 1+ off the ball, 2+ positioning, 1+ vision, 1+teamwork, 1+ work rate, 2+ acceleration, 2+ agility, 1 balance, 1+ jumping reach, 1+ natural fitness, 2+ pace, 2+ stamina, 3+ strength


His improvements for the season were;

1+ crossing, 1+ dribbling, 1+ finishing, 1+ first touch, 1+ heading, 1+ long shots, 1+ marking, 1+ passing, 1+ tackling, 1+ technique, 1+ anticipation, 1+ concentration,  1+ decisions, 1+ flair, 1+leadership, 1+ off the ball, 1+ vision, 1+ acceleration, 1+ agility, 1+ balance, 1+ pace, 1+ stamina, 1+ strength



His improvements for the season were;

1+ crosses, 1+ corners, 1+ finishing, 1+ first touch, 1+ free kick taking, 1+ heading, 1+ long shots, 1+ marking, 1+ passing, 1+ penalty taking, 1+ tackling, 1+ technique, 2+ anticipation, 1+ composure, 1+ concentration, 2+ decisions, +4 determination (tutoring), 1+ off the ball, 1+ positioning, 1+ teamwork, 1+ vision, 1+ work rate, 1+ acceleration, 1+ agility, 1+ balance, 1+ natural fitness, 1+ pace, 1+ stamina, 1+ strength

Nice and steady progression which I was expecting. Next season should see a few of them kick on more with terms of their development now hopefully. I’ll report back at a later time with the second season developments 🙂

15 thoughts on “Development, Match Experience And Everything In Between”

  1. Great post. It would be interesting to see if there was a correlation between the total number of minutes played and the number of attribute points (minus tutoring) gained

    It would be a bit arbitrary, of course, as we can only get so much info from the attribute points that show an integer gain, but still – it might show if there is a ‘sweet spot’ for player development, or if more time is simply better.

    1. Me and RT actually spoke about this yesterday. I am trying to think of a way to do what you suggest its just deciding how I’ll do it what I’m struggling with atm. I’ll have to have a good think about the best way to do it.

  2. Great post as ever mate, really enjoy your development stuff. Out of interest, how much value do you put on sending players out on loan? My concern is always that they then miss the coaching set-up I have in place. Thoughts?

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    1. I never loan out ever because the AI is more generic in their training so waste CA. Much simpler keeping them yourself and tailoring them to be the player you need.

  3. Hi Cleon. I follow with interest all the work that you do. Many thanks for the effort.

    If you do not mind me asking I was going to ask the name of the theme you are using.

    Thank you, success in all of your works.

  4. Another great read!

    How much emphasis do you put on training individual attributes compared to a genereic category (e.g. central midfielder, roaming playmaker, etc.)?

    As I remember in the Ajax-save, you used to train a lot of individual attributes in two/three months rotation. But looking at the screenshots here, you seem to have gone for a more generic approach.

    Are the benefits of a generic approach more rewarding than on the 13 and 14 FM editions?

    1. I train individual attributes a lot but the examples I posted above were poor all round so I needed to focus on all attributes more, hence a role instead.

      I just base it on what I think the player needs more, sometimes its a role sometimes its a single attribute 🙂

  5. Great thread, may i ask how big the squad was you worked with? I know you always work with one squad but you know what I mean right?
    How do you keep all the players happy?

    1. Everyone is kept happy because I don’t over do it with a massive squad. In this case I had a first 11 and then 4 rotation players and the rest was made up of the prospects already at the club. So in total it would have been around an actual squad of 23 ish but about 6 of those would have been 17 or younger. I also had about another 25 youths playing for the U20’S AND U19’s.

      The key though to keeping everyone happy is to not have a massive squad were you can’t play the people you have. There is no point stock piling youths if you can’t actually use them, it’s pointless. Even for reselling, it’s not ideal.

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