Since the start of my ‘Moneyball’ Udinese save, one of the main questions I get asked is how to find the undiscovered gems of the football world. Given the save is built around signing players for value due to their low reputation, this is an area of the game I spend a lot of time on. Twitter is a pretty handy tool for answering lots of questions, but this topic deserves more than 140 characters.
I recommend reading the whole article and then putting it into practice in FM, rather than stage-by-stage. It’s also well worth checking out the comments section of this article as there are some points I’ve missed that provide some more handy info.
Stage One: Personnel
The most obvious place to start (once you’ve begged your board to allow you as many scouts as possible), is ensuring your scouts are fully equipped for the task at hand. The scouts you hire can be split into four main categories; chief, next opposition, domestic, and foreign.
Chief: if you are to maintain a tight control over your scouting system, it is unlikely your chief scout will do much. I prefer to use him as a glorified scout (Judging Player Ability + Judging Player Potential), with an added extra of Man Management.
Next Opposition: these staff members are obviously irrelevant to the scouting of new players. But they will provide you a report of your opposition several days before the match. This means as well as the JPA+JPP combination, they need Tactical Knowledge too. A familiarity of the league you’re playing in would also be useful, but this will develop over time anyway.
Domestic / Foreign: despite the differing locations these two scout sub-groups have the same goal: to identify talented players to buy. Because of this, they need JPA+JPP and ideally a knowledge of the country or region you’re expecting them to scout. If they don’t have that knowledge, then a high Adaptability attribute is vital and Determination can be helpful for scouts covering large areas.
The ratio of Domestic / Foreign scouts depends on plenty of factors, but mainly the philosophies you wish to implement, as well as size of the club. Some leagues have strict rules on foreign players, whilst some clubs are simply too small to afford foreign scouting.
For a list of recommended scouts available at the start of the game, check out this article from Passion4FM: http://www.passion4fm.com/best-football-manager-2015-scouts/
Stage Two: Assignments
This is the important bit, because it sets the trend for the type of players you’ll buy. The area you’re wishing to cover should also be kept in mind when signing your scouts; if they already have knowledge of the region you’re sending them to, it’s a massive plus.
My scouting department is 10 men large. As my focus is on cheap, foreign signings, I only have one scout domestically. If I were focussing on home-grown talent then that number would increase to two or three.
For my foreign scouts, there are certain scouting regions that have only a few nations worth scouting. For example, Eastern Europe is one of the areas that provides great value in FM15, but there are 22 countries in the region, with only 6 of these worth scouting. If you have a big team, you can allocate to those countries individually, but I don’t have those resources, so I change this manually every few months. This saves the scout from wondering into locations he’s unlucky to find good enough players in. These regions and the nations worth scouting within them are as follows:
4. Eastern Europe (22 nations / 6 worth scouting): Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Ukraine.
9. Western Africa (16 / 3): Ghana, Ivory Costa, Nigeria
10. East Asia (10 / 2): Japan, South Korea
12. Central Africa (8 / 2): Cameroon, DR Congo
13. Southern Africa (14 / 1): South Africa
14. Southeast Asia (12 / 1): Australia
15. South Asia (8 / 1): India
The other regions I find worth scouting as a whole are; 1. South America, 2. Central Europe, 3. UK & Ireland, 5. North America, 6. North Africa, 7. South Europe, 8. Scandanavia, and 11. Middle East.
Any region not mentioned in either of the above two sections is unlikely to provide a constant influx of talented players.
I’ve given each region an overall priority, and as my foreign scouting department has eight scouts, I target numbers 1-8. The more scouts you can get, the better. Once the team is above 15, you can either use them to double-up on important regions or to increase your scouting knowledge in other lesser regions.
The length of the assignment then depends on the number of countries in that region. As there are 6 countries in Eastern Europe that need to be scouted, my scout Vladan Djurdjevic is given a 2 (12 months divided by 6 nations) month scouting assignment in Czech Republic. Once that has finished he’ll be sent to Poland.
The scouting requirements: I only look for players younger than 27 so they can be sold on for more, you may want to look for older players too
Using this technique may lead to a lower overall scouting knowledge, but the effective scouting knowledge will be far superior and far more useful in finding new players. In the end I settle on this:
Chief (& Domestic) Scout: Andrea Carnevale: Italy
Next Opposition Scout: Ernesto Varnier
Foreign Scout: Vladan Djurdjevic (Czech Republic -> Poland -> Romania -> Russia -> Serbia -> Ukraine)
Foreign Scout: Sergio Innocenti (North America)
Foreign Scout: Lyndon Tomlinson (UK & Ireland)
Foreign Scout: Gabriel Wainer (North Africa)
Foreign Scout: Simone Roia (Central Europe)
Foreign Scout: Geronimo Barbadillo (South America)
Foreign Scout: Aldo Cantarutti (South Europe)
Foreign Scout: Roberto Policano (Scandanavia)
Once the board are kind enough to give me more scouts, we have our expansion plan already outlined, with Western Africa and East Asia next on the agenda.
Stage Three: Player Evaluation
Your scouts should now send monthly reports back on their findings. If you set the Potential Ability to be 3* or higher, there won’t be too many rubbish players clogging up the reports. But with the new ‘Fog of War’ feature added into FM15’s scouting, you will need to scout most players more than once to get an accurate reflection of their abilities.
I’ll usually only re-scout players who have 2.5* or more of gold stars. However, young players tend to have less gold stars and more black, meaning their potential is more difficult to identify.
The process at this point is fairly self-explanatory: you narrow down the player pool to the very best and isolate the value-for-money options.
[[http://www.passion4fm.com/football-manager-2015-top-clubs-with-best-youth-facilities/]]HERE[] is another very useful Passion4FM article on clubs with top facilities. It’s often worth looking at the top youth facilities, particularly in countries your scouts aren’t assigned to peruse themselves, and asking for team reports. This can quite easily produce some gems that otherwise slip through the net.
If you’ve got any other questions about how I scout in Football Manager, then comment below or @ me on Twitter and I’ll do my best to reply. It’s not a particularly fun area of FM, but once your scouting system is in full-flow, it makes a dramatic difference to the quality of your signings.