How-To: Develop Youth Products – UPDATED

As anyone who follows this blog or my twitter feed knows, my FM13 Enfield Town squad was made up entirely of players that I had developed from the clubs’ youth academy from the age of 15/16. Many of them were world class, and have led the club to multiple top level trophies, as well as being key players at international level. This is a simple guide as to how I developed these players – it really isn’t as complicated as some people will have you believe.

This guide can also apply to bought youngsters, skip to step 4 if this is the case (although Training Facilities and Coaches apply from step 1).

1 – There are a few things that the club should have in place before you even start:

Training Facilities – The better these are, the more specific individual training options are available, and improved CA distribution.*
Youth Facilities – The better they are, the better the rate of youth CA distribution.*
Junior Coaching – Affects the CA level of your Youth Intake players. The better this is, the more likely to get players with high CA.^
Youth Recruitment – The better this is, increases the pool of players that can be recruited, increasing chance of high PA players.^
Head of Youth Development – His personality and mental stats can influence the intake players. High determination and a good personality** are highly recommended.
Coaches – The more specialised your coaches, the better the training they’ll provide in that area. Aim to have one specialised coach in each category. The higher the star rating, the better the coach.

2 – So… Youth Intake Day comes around. Now what?
Identifying which players to sign is the next step. I find the easiest way to see who is worth signing and who isn’t, is by switching the screen to show Assistant Reports. This shows your assistant’s evaluation of the player CA, PA, personality and position. These are the key pieces of information when sorting the wheat from the chaff.

In my opinion, only players with at least 4 silver stars CA, and a minimum of 2.5* PA should be signed. Any lower than this, and the player will probably not amount to much in the future.

Also, look for any huge flaws in their stats. A player may have very good CA/PA but if he is a striker with 1 for Finishing, he’ll never be any good.

3 – Right, I’ve identified the players I want to sign. What next?
Next up, is offering a contract. There are two options here:

The default contract is a youth contract on £55 a week (in England, may be different in other countries). This will last until the player reaches professional age, at which point you’ll have to offer him a full contract, or let him leave for free. This is good if you want to take a player you are not sure about and want to see how he gets on.

The second option is a full contract. This will give a player a £55 per week youth contract until the player hits professional age, but will roll over into a professional contract at the wage agreed during negotiations. (Which means you can keep him on £55 until he is 18/19… a bit of an exploit, but with the broken negotiations in FM13, a helpful one. Of course, you can put it up as much as you like – I usually choose the first option in the dropdown menu, which is £1,300 at my club. I feel that it is a realistic wage for that age, until I’m sure of his ability.)

4 – OK, so now he has signed. How do I develop him?
First, unless he already has a very good personality and high determination, find an appropriate tutor and, well… Tutor him!

Choose the role you think is best for him, or that you want him to play. Then choose the role focus for that chosen role and the intensity. Heavy intensity is preferential, and will yield the best results. Once you feel they are pretty well rounded in the role, using a specific attribute training can focus on any attribute that still needs work.

PLAY HIM! Games give CA, training only distributes the CA. At first, aim to play them in games where you should easily win – against lower league opposition in cups, etc. Playing them in important games risks them having a bad game and therefore negatively impacting his morale and development. Once they are at a level where you feel they can contribute, phase them into the first team with regular substitute appearances from the bench, until you feel they are ready to be a regular starter.

While regular games are important, overplaying a youngster can be detrimental, as fatigue causes an increase in the chance of injury, which can hamper development in both the short and long term.

NEVER loan out a player unless they’ve been fully tutored (if applicable) and had a good couple of seasons of training and development at the club as it only gets harder to do these things as they get older, and training will not be anywhere near as good or as focussed while on loan. 18 is the minimum age I’d consider loaning out a player. When loaning a player, always loan to the highest division club, and only if they are offering first team football. Never loan to a club who wants the player as cover, as they’ll barely play.

If you follow these simple steps, there is no reason why you cannot produce a regular stream of talent from your own club. It really is that easy. Of course, there is an element of luck as to who comes in each intake, but following this guide will increase the odds of getting better players, and prepare you with the knowledge of how to get the best out of them when you do.

Thanks for reading, and good luck!

CA= Current Ability – The sum of all weighted attributes.
PA= Potential Ability – The maximum CA a player can achieve.

* I’m not 100% sure on this, it is just my understanding of it.
** Personalities, and the attributes that they consist of: Click Here
Confirmed by SI.

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