Before the latest iteration of FIFA drops, there are always numerous posts across various message boards from career mode guys like myself asking other folks about what team they should use. There’s no rhyme or reason as to who you should select. Some might prefer to manage the club they support in real life, most likely in an attempt to bring them back to glory (cough, cough Arsenal fans). Others might prefer the challenge of taking a struggling club, or one from the lower leagues, and bringing it to the top flight. The other select few prefer to create super teams filled with the best and brightest talent from across the globe. Bottom line, there’s no right or wrong way to manage your club, and once you are at the helm, there’s no specific way you should manage your club.
So, let’s go over two potential FIFA 21 manager styles and figure out if either one sounds like you.
FIFA 21 Manager Style – Adapt To Me
There are certain managers in real life where you know the formation they will throw out before the matchday lineups are even announced. Tottenham’s Jose Mourinho comes to mind when thinking about this managerial style. He, and myself, are big fans of the 4-3-2-1 counter-attacking approach. No matter how hard I try, I eventually find myself coming back to it as my base formation despite FIFA making it easy to swap through your preset formations and lineups. While this approach is somewhat predictable, it allows for a few pros:
Allows You To Quickly Settle On Your Players
With no practice mode and only preseason tournaments to get acquainted with your players, I find that going in with my set formation and finding players that adapt to my system lets me hit the ground running. This way I’m not tinkering with different formations and starting elevens.
Creates A Depth Chart
Since you already have your formation, it’s much easier to create depth charts to help identify where you need cover and where you might want to offload a few pieces — whether it be through transfers, loans, or simply releasing players. Sure, your depth chart might, or rather, will change through the course of a season. Still, establishing a clear pecking order and managing that around the fixture list lets you get some familiarity with your best 11.
Allows You To Quickly Engage With The Transfer Market
Establishing your formation and tactics that accompany it will let you play in the transfer market with more of a targeted focus. In my favored 4-2-3-1, I like to focus on nailing down the two holding midfield players first. They’re my anchors and help to protect my backline when I push my fullbacks forward to support the attack by creating width. Going into the transfer market knowing what specific type of holding midfielders I’m looking for makes it easier to identify targets.
This approach is not without its faults though.
Can Create A Sense Of Boredom
Yup, I said it. Sometimes it can get a bit boring if you know ahead of time how you exactly want to play. Instead of trying out different formations, which can ultimately lead to new discoveries or just some craziness, you treat your players like chess pieces, moving them in predictable fashion.
Go Down With the Ship
Being stuck on your way of playing can occasionally lead to you going down with the ship. While FIFA 21 is not the most tactical of games, especially versus the AI, there are times where you can recognize what you’re trying to do is not working. This recognition sometimes comes too late and hurts you on the pitch. Knowing when to make a change — whether it’s related to personnel, tactics, or both — is a fine art that often separates top managers from Steve Bruce.
FIFA 21 Manager Style – Adapt To Your Players
Adapting to your players is a noble approach that can put your managerial acumen to the test. While most managers, even of the virtual ilk, tend to have ideas about how they want their team to play, getting the most out of the players you have at your disposal and putting them in positions to exceed is an excellent way to approach your stint on the touchline. Adopting this philosophy has some clear advantages.
Gets The Most Out Of Your Players
No brainer here! If your team is stacked with excellent wide players such as Man City, putting in place a formation that focuses the attack on wide areas should translate into success going forward. If we translate this into cooking terms, you’re the chef in charge of preparing the meal, and you have all the ingredients in place. It’s up to you to get the most out of the ingredients by creating the dish. Playing to the strengths of your players is usually a sound approach.
While it’s good to eventually settle on your playing style, having flexibility in your approach is not a bad thing. With FIFA 21’s introduction of something that resembles a scouting report in career mode, tailoring your approach to the opponents is something most good managers do in real life. If you’re managing Newcastle United, you’re obviously going to approach a match with Man City in a different way than a match against West Brom.
Just like the previous approach, there are cons to consider if this is your mentality.
Can Make Transfer Dealings More Difficult
The actual negotiations are not the issue here, it’s more the search for transfers that I’m referring to. If you’re flexible when it comes to tactics, you might find yourself buying pieces just to buy them without knowing how you plan on using them. That approach works if you have the budget of a PSG, but if you’re grinding it out in Ligue 2 with a small budget, you don’t have the luxury of going ham in the transfer market.
Even if you are using a top club, there might be times when a player becomes available and you need to fight the urge to go after him. During these occasions, I’m willing to take a risk, but I generally like to have an idea of how I’m going to use my new player before officially signing him.
Takes Longer To Settle
Depending on what club you choose, your managerial objectives can require you to have immediate success or risk getting sacked. If you’re at a club like my beloved Chelsea, the risk of getting fired is always there. If you’re at the helm of a lower table side, you probably have more time to settle, allowing you channel your inner Rafa Benitez. Even though career mode does not have chemistry, it’s nice knowing who your strongest 11 is and what formations get the most from them.
It’s worth repeating that there’s nothing set in stone for how you should manage your side. Part of the fun of playing sports video games is you get to put your own stamp on your team, and the approach could switch year-to-year if the situation calls for it.
Let us know below which kind of manager you are in FIFA 21!