As football fans I imagine we have all heard of the Football Manager franchise (it has also been known as “Worldwide Soccer Manager” in North America) and most of us have probably played it at some point.
We all think we know better than the manager at times and Football Manager gives us a chance to prove it, at least in our heads it does anyway. Once you get into the game it can become almost an obsession.
Just seen the new features for @FootballManager 2018. I cannot wait to check this one out. Have now owned every single one since CM 2 (1996)— Jed Davies (@TPiMBW) October 22, 2017
The beta of the game was released on Friday and the game will be fully released on 10th November. As a massive fan of the franchise I pre-ordered the game and therefore have the beta so I figured why not look at how the game (which is held in high enough esteem in football that many clubs actually use it as part of their scouting network) thinks Leeds look this season.
As this is still the beta some of these ratings could change, but generally this two weeks is just to fix bugs so these ratings should stay around the same.
7 trophies in a season with Watford— Miles Jacobson (@milesSI) October 26, 2017
If you have no experience with Football Manager:
1) I recommend you get some, it’s a really good game.
2) Ratings are done on a 5 star system, in half-star increments, so the higher the star rating the better the player.
3) These star ratings are not the be all and end all, they are the “opinions” of your staff, and Leeds staff are not great on the game. They can also vary slightly from game to game, although they will be similar.
4) Black stars on a players potential are shown when your coaches are unsure how good a player will be, if you develop them well they have more chance of fulfilling that potential.
5) Every individual stat is rated out of 20.
Let’s dive in and have a look at the Leeds United squad I imagine most people who visit this site will start their first game with.
FIRST TEAM SQUAD
The first thing I notice about the Leeds first team squad is that it has a lot of very solid options with not many players below a 3-star rating.
While he may have lost his place in real life Felix Wiedwald is definitely the best option in goal as he looks to be comfortably better than Andy Lonergan. With a 3.5-star rating he is considered a very good goalkeeper for Championship level. I think giving him 12 for “Command of Area” is generous based on what we have seen this season. A rating of 12 for “Eccentricity” is higher than you want from a goalkeeper but you probably won’t need to sign someone to replace him until you get promoted.
Leeds have enough in defence that you probably won’t have to spend on this area either. Pontus Jansson is “a good player for Premier League sides” according to the game with good stats in all key defensive areas, and Liam Cooper and Matthew Pennington are both 3-star players and can slot in alongside him solidly in the Championship.
Leeds are well equipped for right-backs as Luke Ayling is, unsurprisingly, rated as a “leading player” for Championship sides with very well-rounded stats. Gaetano Berardi is rated very similarly to Ayling overall with both 3.5 stars. Ayling is the better of the two attacking with Berardi slightly better defensively but I would say Ayling is the slightly better player on the game, but it depends how much you want your full-backs to attack.
At left-back Leeds also don’t do too bad either. Both Berardi and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson are 3 star players in that position and CBJ looks like he has a lot of potential if you were able to sign him permanently.
Vernon Anita is a 3 star right-back and a 2.5-star left-back so he can cover if you get injuries (which could come in handy as Berardi is injured with his real-life Shoulder injury at the start of the game).
Leeds are very well stocked in the middle of midfield so if you operate with a central midfield two you may well end up with some unhappy players by January.
Eunan O’Kane is very well rounded and is rated as a “leading player” for the division. He is the best player in the squad at central midfielder but with enough game time and development he will be overtaken by Ronaldo Vieira and Kalvin Phillips, both of whom have 4.5-star potential. However, as Vieira is only 18 and Phillips is 21, Vieira will be far more likely to reach his potential.
Below these 3 players Mateusz Klich and Vernon Anita are also 3-star central midfielders so unless you find someone really good you probably won’t need to sign anyone in central midfield.
To play in an attacking midfield or “number 10” role, Leeds have two very good options as you would expect having watched us this season.
There is almost nothing between Saiz and Hernandez so you may well end up rotating the two players unless you play a system with 2 central attacking midfielders. Saiz is younger so if you have to choose one it is probably him.
On to the Wingers and Ezgjan Alioski looks to be incredible for the division Leeds are in, with him and Jansson the only two players rated 4-stars by the Leeds coaching staff on the game.
Stuart Dallas looks to be very good for this league. Pablo Hernandez can also play from the left if you want to try and get both him and Saiz into the starting XI, but he can only play if you use an attacking winger, he won’t work as a left midfielder in a flat midfield 4/5.
In addition to Pablo Hernandez, the main back-up players on the wing are Kemar Roofe (both sides) and Hadi Sacko (right). Roofe looks an able Championship player on the wing but looks better as a striker. Sacko’s stats are very accurate with him being lightning fast but let down by his technical stats.
The area where Leeds arguably look weakest on this edition of the game. We do not appear to have the strength in depth that we have in other areas. Unsurprisingly Pierre-Michel Lasogga is the main striker in the squad with a 3.5 star rating and being referred to as a “leading player” for the league.
Lasogga is lacking in pace but his finishing and heading are very good for Championship level. As his best role is as a Target Man it will be important to get other players near him whether that is with a second striker or having some very attacking midfield players. He should be good at this role as he has very good ratings for strength, determination and jumping (something which I only wish we had seen against Sheffield United).
If you were to play two up front Kemar Roofe looks to be the best option alongside Lasogga, he is far more mobile than Lasogga and is rated 3-stars as a striker.
Pawel Cibicki, Caleb Ekuban, and Ezgjan Alioski can all be used as quicker strikers to play with Lasogga, with Jay-Roy Grot as a back-up to Lasogga. All 4 of these players are around 2.5 stars.
So the overall team report (set to 4231 as we have been using it this season) looks like this.
One of the main things that Football Manager players look for are good young players, how does Leeds’ U23 squad look?
While some players look to have decent potential, the only player who looks like he could be made into something really good is Conor Shaughnessy.
Shaughnessy is currently Leeds’ 5 best central defender and 7th best central midfielder. He looks to have quite good stats for a defensive midfield player and with some retraining and some first team exposure I think he could be made into a very good Championship player. I doubt, however, that he will get to a higher level than that on the game. He is currently an able back-up in either midfield or defence if you get injuries in your save game.
After a year away developing with first team football, Tyler Denton and Lewie Coyle could well become good enough to be in the first team squad for Leeds, especially if you miss out on promotion in the first season. Lewie Coyle already looks like a solid Championship right back and if Leeds didn’t already have Ayling and Berardi you may well want him back from his loan at Fleetwood.
After these three players there looks to be some future for Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Madger Gomes, and Matty Downing although I would be surprised if they end up gettting regularly in your side at any point.
There are a couple of promising looking players in the U23 squad, but what about further down the development path.
Straight away there are two players leaping off the screen in the under 18s, Harrison Male and Kun Temenuzhkov.
While he has some promising stats, only having 5 for balance, throwing, and communication makes it unlikely for me that Harrison Male will make the grade in the game and will probably end up a League Two goalkeeper.
While he looks a little lightweight for the Championship at the moment, Kun Temenuzhkov looks like he could be on the verge of getting into the first team by the end of your first season on the game. Good finishing and composure always bodes well when the player is still 17 and his physical stats (apart from strength) look good for his role. His ability in the air doesn’t look great but play him alongside someone like Lasogga and that shouldn’t matter too much. The Guardian names him among the best players born in the year 2000 and having scored 30 goals in 30 games for Barcelona’s “Juvenil B” team last season, his potential has not gone unnoticed by the developers.
Leeds look like they will be an interesting save game this year, and with people who have been playing the game generally saying it is tougher than last year it is handy that the Leeds squad looks strong.
The only area that I think really needs improvement is up front so that would be my focus, although you can always look to improve the squad.
The squad is quite short, which it is in real-life, and according to the game lacks aggression and commitment, which is debatable. The squad looks like you should have a chance of promotion but you shouldn’t be too disappointed if you don’t manage it.
This is reflected in the board’s expectations for the first season. You do have some money to spend but not a ridiculous amount, nor is there a lot of room in the wage budget.