Nov 05

Injuries: Will FML v1.4 Increase The Importance of Squad Depth?


Always staying on top of the latest developments, Jakswan has recently posted a rough outline on the new injury mechanics being tested in the Football Manager Live v1.4 beta worlds. While the details are still being worked on behind the scenes, tweaked and liable to change before release, it is likely to cause a major shift in the way managers assemble and maintain their squad.

Currently in Football Manager Live, we have an injury system that is purely time-based. Once a player hobbles off the pitch during a match, that injury can become of the “sticky” variety and see him unavailable for play for a certain period of actual real-world time. Whether it’s simply 6-12 hours or bad enough to warrant 1-2 weeks, the length is irregardless and non-dependent on the matches played in the interim. Physiotherapy skills can help reduce this period up to 50%, but at the end of the day, managers must still wait until the period has elapsed before they can re-introduce the injured player into their squad on the pitch.

Due to this time-based mechanic, many managers have taken the optimal strategic route – simply not play any matches until the injured player has recovered. This is especially the case when the injured squad member is a star player. Of course, sometimes this is actually difficult to achieve if the injury is long-lasting or the club has a series of matches approaching their resolve date. Even so, it has allowed FML users to maintain only a makeshift bench since the importance of having adequate cover is very low. The new injury system though being tested for v1.4 will radically alter this strategic route.

What exactly is the proposed change?

According to reports from the Football Manager Live beta worlds, the concept being tested involves shifting injuries from a basis of real-world time to that of a match-based mechanic. In simpler terms, players injured would no longer be out for an X amount of hours or days, but be out for an X amount of major competitive matches. What will be considered “major” is still up for some debate – but it’s assumed that it means those that involve reputation-awarding implications such as your domestic FA league & cups as well as UFFA or any Super Football Association matches. Friendly competitions, user-created quickplays and CPU club training games would not factor in to this computation.

Although it may seem fairly illogical for a player to have a broken leg unavailable for an FA cup game while still healthy for friendly matches, I believe this proposed mechanic will add more strategic depth in managing a squad well in Football Manager Live. In addition, it will also promote more activity and matches played as it will now make dodging injuries impossible by simply logging out for X amount of time until your star player has recovered. Leaving these players healthy and fit for non-competitive games adds to this as well.

How will a match-based injury system affect your squad management?

As Jakswan has put it so eloquently on his blog: “I’m looking at my squad thinking I have to have a proper squad, many of these players will be out for key games.”

This is the harsh reality many managers will have to face once the introduction of this proposed injury mechanic comes into effect in Football Manager Live v1.4. No longer will you be able to get by simply condensing the best talent in your starting XI. No longer would you be able to get by utilizing “not-ready-for-primetime” youth players for your bench on the cheap. You may actually have to have substantial reserve quality in some regard, especially for top-ranked clubs who need to continue winning a majority of their matches to stay at the elite echelon in their respective game world.

Before you overreact and make some rash decisions, understand the effects of this change on your team individually may be much less than other clubs. Also realize that this doesn’t necessarily mean you need a bench full of world-beaters in order to successfully cope with this new system. It simply means that you should assess your squad from top to bottom and with these things in mind:

  • Highlight positions where your team is weak in adequate cover.
  • Make sure you have a satisfactory replacement for star players that lessen the impact of your team’s performance.
  • Reassess all squad players looking for their ability to play multiple positions effectively.

I believe the core concept with this shift in squad management strategy is optimizing the club’s ability to perform at a high level even if a key player is unavailable due to injury. This can easily involve buying low-cost veterans who fit the general mold of your impact players, albeit at a decreased skill level. It can also mean dramatically altering your tactical setup depending on the players injured at the time. In any case, the goal is still one and the same – limiting the effect any one single player has on your overall match performance. Those managers who can successfully do this will see it pay dividends as they rise in rank over those managers who get unlucky with injuries and don’t have the squad depth to cope with it.

In hearing about this change to the injury system, what other ways could this effect your current strategy managing your squad? Are you doing anything now to prepare for this shift coming in v1.4? Let us hear your thoughts by posting a comment below!

Written By Jordan Cooper
A moderator on GW Fowler and a co-founder of Gameworld One.Com, he has hosted/produced the Get Sacked! podcast for nearly two years providing humor and strategical insight to all about the FM series.
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