- The newest instalment in the Football Manager series is released on November 10, with with the beta version live from Friday, allowing those who have pre-ordered the game an early chance to play. A perfect opportunity then for Jim Hearson to ruminate on numbering squads.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
Nah, not Christmas – it’s the release of the new Football Manager! Like the festive season though, it can lead to more than a few headaches. One of my favourite parts of old versions (including Championship Manager), was starting off with teams in 1-11 divisions, and feeling a real sense of achievement when you got promoted sufficiently to get into a league with squad numbers.
Alternatively, you could enter Simon Treanor’s alternate 1989-90 universe and assign them there. My big step up happened when I took East Stirling up to the SPL (as it was then), meaning I could reward my best players with 1-11, and assign everyone else accordingly (more of that below).
Unfortunately, a bug meant that all players who had been with you at the start of the game automatically wore 1, until you got the message to dish out the numbers. As a result, for the first couple of games of the season, I had legendary striker Alan Sime sporting the keeper’s number, while my goalie had 9, ahead of switching them once I was able.
That was before squad numbers had really caught on – an innocent time when players still craved the suitable 1-11 shirt for their position, rather than opting for something to promote their birthday year, personal brand, or whatever Sheffield Wednesday were doing last season. Fortunately, the Owls have seen some sense this term, but they’re still not perfect. This got me thinking – with the release of Football Manager 2018, what approach should be taken to bizarre squad number choices?
The obvious answer would be to give them something more suitable to wear, but then you’re making your game less true to life. Like it or not, West Brom fans may have got used to seeing Hal Robson-Kanu wearing 4, so having him in the game wearing something else may not sit right. You also run the risk of suffering brain-fade, wondering why your number 4 is so far back and subsequently sticking a defender or defensive midfielder up front as you mistook them for the Welsh striker.
I generally get around it by taking charge of teams I’ve never heard of, so I can implement my will when it comes to squad numbers. Outside of the usual UK-style 1-11, 12 is either a keeper who is genuinely competing with my number 1 or my first reserve right-back; 13 is a bench-warming keeper; 15 is a centre-half; 16 is a central midfielder; 17 is a winger; 19/29 are reserve strikers; 22 is my reserve right-back if he’s not in 12; 23 is my reserve left-back; 31 is third-choice keeper; and I tend to give 32 to a player I have on loan. Youth players generally get 40 and above.
Of course, in more recent versions of Football Manager, players’ favourite numbers are featured in the game (where applicable), and apparently, they can get a bit arsey if they don’t get them, but I’ve never really experienced problems myself. Mind you, it doesn’t help when the news item about the coming season’s squad numbers speculates about why you’ve moved players to different numbers.
So, what’s your plan for Football Manager 2018 – keep it real or amend squad number aberrations? If you’re in the latter camp, do your reserves always have ‘set’ numbers or are you fairly free and easy outside of 1-11? Let us know – tweet @squadnos or leave a comment!