Match Checklist Guide

This is written by guest author Zanmann777 off the SI forums.

When it’s time for a match on Football Manager, sometimes there is so much to think about it’s easy to get lost.

I’ve decided to make myself a checklist so I don’t forget what I should have in mind. Now I’ll share it with you.

The match highlight analysis is heavily based on The Hand of God’s “Lines and Diamonds, especially the Principles of Play.

Here it goes.

1) PRE MATCH
1.1) Your team
Player morale and condition

  • Anyone tired or with VERY high/ VERY low morale: time for some selection changes?
  • New injuries since last match: time for some selection changes!

Individual and collective performance info

  • Results in the last 5 matches: underachieving or overachieving?
  • Who trained well / unwell since last match: time for some selection changes?
  • Who played well / unwell last match: time for some selection changes?
  • Any striker on a goal drought?
  • Fans opinion on individual players’ performance lately?
  • Fans opinion on new signings?

Squad rotation

  • Indispensable players to the club should play 4 in 5 matches
  • Important players to the club should play 3 in 5 matches
  • Rotational players should play 2 in 5 matches
  • Reserve players should play 0/1 in 5 matches
  • Good rule of thumb – keep everyone’s fitness (NOT condition) above ~80%

Calendar density info

  • How many matches in the last two weeks
  • How long since last match
  • How many matches in the next two weeks
  • How long until the match next this one
  • Relative importance of this match compared to the next

1.2) External factors

  • Playing home or away?
  • Weather: hot or wet?
  • Pitch size and condition
  • Referee: is he harsh?

1.3) The opposition team
Player average morale and condition

  • Especially the predictable XI

Collective performance info

  • Results in the last 5 matches: underachieving or overachieving?

2) DURING MATCH
2.1) Initial teamtalk

  • Team talk demands: Indispensable > Important > Rotational > Reserve players.
  • Morale demands: High morale > low morale
  • Who played well / unwell last match: adjust team talk accordingly
  • Anyone back from an injury? Encourage with teamtalk
  • Any new signings / back from loan? Encourage with teamtalk

2.2) Match highlights analysis
Your team defence:
Focusing on delay / consolidation or pressure?

  • Delay: Are my defenders giving too much time on the ball in front of the penalty box? Is the front of goal well guarded?
  • Pressure: Are missed tackles or chases opening too much space in my defence?
  • Are opposition players getting prompt pressure upon receiving the ball? Starting from which third of the pitch?
  • How high really is my defensive block?
  • Is my team commiting too many fouls?
  • Are my players nervous to get the ball back?

Enough compression?

  • Are we reducing the space around the first attacker by having second and third defenders shift towards him?
  • How big is the gap between my defence and midfield lines?
  • How high really is my defensive block?

Enough cover?

  • Is there available cover for each position in case one of my players misses a tackle / gets dragged out of position?
  • Are my flanks provided enough cover against the overlaps / dribbles?

Opposition offence:

Focusing on penetration or possession?

  • Penetration through dribbling? Who’s trying dribbling? Are they succeeding?
  • Penetration through forward passing? Long or short passing? Who’s passing the most?
  • Possession through passing? Where are they circulating the ball the most?
  • Possession through holding up the ball? Who’s holding up the ball?
  • What’s the urgency of their moving forward?
  • Are passes more vertical (penetration) or horizontal (possession)?
  • How is their overall tempo (the time each player takes to make a decision with the ball)?
  • Do they recycle possession (pass backwards) a lot?
  • Are my / their players becoming nervous due to stale playtime?

Focusing on depth or support?

  • Depth: Are their passing options spread from back to front?
  • Depth: Is one of their forwards pinning back my defence line, or can I push up the line?
  • Support: Are opposition players getting a lot closer to their ball holder?
  • Support: Is there a third of the pitch where their players overrun mine (especially in my own third)?
  • Do they have a lot of diagonal passing options?
  • Do they have unmarked players between my defenders and my midfielders / between my midfielders and my forwards?

Focusing on width or support?

  • How close to the sidelines are their fullbacks / wingers / etc?
  • Are their wide players a lot closer to the sidelines than my wide players (when ball is in the middle of the field) -> my defence too narrow?
  • Is there danger of a switch of play when they’re attacking from one of the flanks -> my defence too narrow?
  • Do they have unmarked players between my defenders / between my midfielders -> my defence too stretched?
  • Are their wide players cutting inside for support or running down the flanks for width?

Focusing on mobility?

  • Are their attackers switching positions often?
  • How wide is the area each attacker dwells / moves in?
  • Are there opposition players consistently making forward runs?
  • Are those forward runs vertical or diagonal (to / from the flanks)?
  • Are there overlapping runs between fullbacks and wingers?

Your team offence:

Penetration / possession balance

  • Did I plan more vertical (penetration) or horizontal (possession) passes? How are passes turning out? What’s the urgency of our moving forward?
  • Possession through circulating the ball in one third? In which third are my players actually circulating the ball the most?
  • Did I plan short passes or long passes? How are passes turning out?
  • How is our overall tempo (the time each player takes to make a decision with the ball)?
  • Did I plan penetration through the middle or the flanks? Where are players actually trying to penetrate? Where is it being the most effective?
  • Ball holders : did I assign players to hold the ball? Are they doing so?
  • Playmakers : did I assign a player to pass the ball a lot? Is he doing so, or are other players passing more than predicted?
  • Are my players attempting too many long balls due to lack of options / too much pressure? Is it in my third or in the middle third?
  • Are we recycling possession (pass backwards) a lot? Is that supposed to happen?
  • Are my / their players becoming nervous due to stale playtime?

Depth / support balance

  • Depth: Do I have enough players distributed from back to front?
  • Depth: Do I have players isolated from the rest of the team (esp defence / forward lines)?
  • Depth: Do I have at least one forward pinning back their defence line?
  • Support: Does each position always have at least 2 short passing options?
  • Support: Are my players attempting too many long balls due to lack of options / too much pressure? Is it in my third or in the middle third?
  • Support: Is there a third of the pitch with unbalanced number of team players?

Width / support balance

  • In each flank, do I want to focus attack on the flank (width) or the middle (support)?
  • Are wide players channeling as planned?
  • Is there open / poorly-defended space on one of the flanks / middle sides?
  • Did I plan on using overlap / flank overloads? Are they been executed? Are they effective?

Opposition defence:
Focusing on delay / consolidation or pressure?

  • Delay: Are my forwards given time and space with the ball in their third (esp in front of their penalty box)? Did they park the bus in front of goal?
  • Pressure: Are they applying prompt pressure upon receiving the ball? Is it opening up spaces in their defence?
  • Pressure: Are their players nervous to get the ball back?
  • Pressure: Is their team commiting too many fouls?
  • How high is their defensive block?

Focusing on compression?

  • How big is the gap between their defence and midfield lines?
  • How high is their defensive block?

3) POST MATCH
3.1) Team debrief
Injuries, tiredness and jadedness

  • Did any player get injured? What’s the expected downtime?
  • Is any player “tired after last match”? Consider rest from training

Tactical fiddling outcomes: individual and collective performance

  • Different formation / style / strategy: How did they perform?
  • Someone played in a new position / with a new role / duty: How did he perform?

Individual good / bad performance

  • Did anyone play particularly well or poorly? Consider praising / criticising
  • Any striker still on a goal drought?

3.2) The board and fanbase

  • Fans reaction to match?
  • Fans opinion on individual players’ performance lately?
  • Fans opinion on new signings?

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