Hey guys and welcome to an updated version of my Football Manager 2021 training guide, the one area in FM nobody wants to touch. This guide covers best practise, how to structure your schedules and why you should never leave training to your Assistant Manager. You can download all the FM 2021 training schedules discussed at the end but I strongly recommend reading the entire guide, as this approach not only induced great development but led my Newcastle side to a first season Premier League and FA Cup double.
There are many approaches to training in FM21 and mine may not be perfect but it works for me and favours match results. Remember players who perform on the pitch develop fastest and this is why my schedules are heavy on match preperation.
There are many myths surrounding training, match preperation and role familiarity which you need to understand before reading on so lets address those now.
Football Manager 2021 Training Guide – Myths
Players need individual training for role familiarity
No they don’t, role familiarity does not exist. Individual training is used to select the unit each player is assigned to and the attributes they will train, this is just shown visually through listing roles. Positional familiarty however (you know, those green dots) does exist and is very important. This can be trained through individual training, match preperation and game time.
Training only impacts player development
While player development is a huge part of training your performance on the pitch can suffer too. Include adequate match preperation to ensure the team is familiar with your tactic and work on attacking movement plus defensive shape to better your chances of success. Are you using a Gegenpress system but failing to win possession back quickly? Teamwork match preperation directly targets pressing play on the pitch so could be the answer.
Training is best left to my Assistant Manager
Afraid not, while the Ass Man can get you 80% the way there that last 20% is vital. Your Ass Man (last time, honest) does a cracking job of general training and week to week development but he includes no match preperation and team bonding.
If you do not work on Defensive Shape, Attacking Movement, Match Tactics and Teamwork in the build up to any game chances are your team will be ill prepared. Not to mention the need for team cohesion and tactical familiarity which is gained through bonding and match reviews, all of which the Assistant Manager (see, kept my word) does not train.
FM 2021 Training Guide – 4 Step Process
I follow a simple four step process at the start of every save and will use this structure to explain training in FM21, you can then download every schedule at the end.
Step 1: Rest/Training Intensity
I start by adjusting the rest/training intensity which is accessed from ‘training’ > ‘rest’. Each player follows the team training intensity as default and it should be left this way but the intensity scheduling itself needs tweaking. This is pictured below and dictates how hard a player will train dependant on their overall condition.
Overall condition is represented by a little heart and when this gets too low it can lead to injury. The default settings are OK but I prefer to work my players hard when condition is high so adjust the end intensity to ‘double’.
Also worth noting; once a players condition drops below green match peformance is hindered. This is why I rotate my starting XI often favouring a two team approach for league to cup matches.
Step 2: Hire & assign Coaches correctly
Before we touch FM 2021 training schedules your coaches need attention. By default, coaches are assigned too many responsibilites which lowers their star rating in the assigned categories. Look to assign your best coach for each category to maximise those star ratings and only one category per coach (this will not always be possible.) Then utilise a ‘floating coach’ to train all categories because this will lighten the workload. Always remember, we need high star ratings and low workload for this to work.
Find the best FM 2021 Coaches here including each categories key attributes.
Note: When hiring coaches look for good personalities and high Determination, likewise your Ass Man (sorry.) Coaches can pass on their personality to players so this is very important.
Step 3: Setup individual training
Now jump into training > individual and start assigning appropriate role training and focus (focus is not as important) for each player. This is vital for two reasons, a) role training dictates a players appropriate unit and b) many of my schedules directly train the role you select, fail to select a role and fail to train. You should select the relevant position (because that trains positional familiarity) then a role which targets the most suitable attributes you want to improve.
Some roles target many attributes and will take longer to see improvement, like the box to box midfielder, other roles are select and accelerate the growth of a few attributes while neglecting broad development. You can see the attributes trained for each role when selected.
You should then set each players ‘focus’ to an area you need improvement but do not assign for the sake of it and leave intensity at default (remember we addressed that in step one.)
Step 4: Load all schedules and assign to the calendar
OK this is the complicated part but luckily I have done all the work so you can just download and import. Before you do lets cover each schedule and what it should be used for, you only need to read this once, honest.
FM 2021 Training Schedules Updated!
My FM21 training schedules are split into categories as listed below and should be self explanatory:
Pre-Season: One schedule for weeks 1-2 & another for weeks 3-5
One For All Training: 1 match week, 2 match week
Attack Focus Training: 1 match week, 2 match week
Defence Focus Training: 1 match week, 2 match week
Easy Schedule: 2 match week
Find the best FM 2021 players:
When To Use Each FM21 Training Schedule
Two pre-season schedules are assigned to the first five weeks of pre-season, once the action kicks off we have three main schedule templates to choose from; one for all, defence or attack. Every template has an option to suit the matches within a given week which we will explain further down. Finally big match training is to be used on the week of cup finals and easy schedule when you have two massive games in one week and cannot rotate your squad.
Pre-season is structured to a) build endurance and fitness then b) familiarise the tactic before c) ease players into a normal routine.
Note: Players may complain of too much quickness training, do not worry this will not last long and gets results.
Weeks 1 to 2 – Pre-season Training
The first two weeks of pre-season target endurance with a little general training and tactical familiarity plus team bonding. These should be loaded from the start of a new season for the first two weeks of pre-season, obviously.
Weeks 3 to 5 – Pre-season Training
As your teams endurance and general fitness improve we add more focus to general training and match preperation, this schedule should follow week two of pre-season and used until the season begins. As a rule I stay away from ‘general’ training cards because I prefer to target specific areas but these are very handy for training development and tactical familiarity at the same time in pre-season.
Once the season begins I use the One For All, Attack or Defence training to target seperate units. For each month I generally schedule one Attack week, one Defence week and 2-3 One For All weeks.
Main Training – How To Structure The Month
One For All Training Schedules
The main FM 2021 training schedules I use are balanced and titled one for all, these should be scheduled two to three times a month and focus on development in every area. Simply select ‘One For All Training 1 Match’ schedule for weeks with one game and likewise ‘One For All Training 2 Match’ for weeks with two matches.
The one match week includes match practise because this trains players in their individual roles which is perfect. The other cards are set to target almost every attribute available while match prep will prepare for the game ahead and develop players within their individual roles also.
I always try and focus on attacking movement, defensive shape or teamwork pre-match, plus a match review after, this is also a great time to schedule team bonding. All this will greatly increase a tactics potency and worth noting your Assistant Manager will schedule none of it.
Tip: During no match weeks use the one match version of ‘One For All’ schedule and adapt.
Attack Focus Training Schedules
Just as it says on the tin Attack schedules work the attacking units and focus on their development over the Defensive unit. We also target match preperation. This should be scheduled once a month choosing from ‘Attack Focus Training 1 match’ and ‘Attack Focus Training 2 match’ as we discussed above to suit the match days in said week. If you want to see those Strikers, Wingers and Attacking minded midfielders flourish, this is the schedule.
The 2 match week prioritses match preperation yet still trains development.
Defence Focus Training Schedules
Finally we focus on the Defence once a month and you should follow the same guideance based on how many matches are in a given week.
I have created an Easy week schedule for those two match weeks where rotation is not an option and fatigue creeps in. I have assumed this to be used when two big matches come back to back so match prep and set pieces are the focus.
Big Match Training Schedule
We have a very special schedule for cup final week to maximise your chances of success. Because finals can be tight affairs we focus on all set pieces, attacking movement, defensive shape, teamwork and of course penalties. ‘Big matches’ should be scheduled on the week of any cup final.
You should now download every schedule mentioned above from the ‘download’ image below and be careful to follow the instructions, it can be fiddly. Once downloaded and imported into your game you can assign each schedule on the calendar to look something like this:
COVID-19 Match Scheduling
Football Manager 2021 may not include COVID-19 directly but match scheduling is a mess and this will cause issues with your schedules during season one. If your schedule looks different once pulled into the calendar it may be due to when the matchday falls, don’t worry the schedule will automatically adapt to suit. There may be times however when you want to tweak adding match review back in after every game and ensuring match practise days do not feature more than one other heavy training card within the three slots.
Too much or not enough quickness/strength training
This should not be an issue once the season kicks off but can crop up in weeks 3-5 of pre-season. Do not panic, this will be resolved with the full season schedules.
Do note however, some schedules lack physcial training due to a high amount of matches, if players want more quickness or strength training chances are its a short term issue and can be corrected by adding one ‘physcial’ training card to the following week.
Player unit not getting enough attention
This should not happen if you follow the guide above but below is a quick fix.
Training units are selected based on the roles you set within individual training. You have three training units; Goalkeeping, Defensive and Attacking. If numerous players complain about a lack of attention chances are they all belong to the same training unit. If they’re from the Defensive unit schedule more ‘Defence’ training, if from the ‘Attacking’ unit shedule more ‘attack’ training.
General Complaints about Training
There are various complaints about training which can actually have nothing to do with your schedules. Always check your coaching assignments workload and make sure no single category is showing a high workload. When coaches are overworked training in said category and therefore unit suffers, simply set more coaches responsible for the category in question and hey presto!
FM21 Training Schedules Download
How To Install
Use the download button above then extract the file using WinRAR for Windows or Archiver for Mac and extract to the file location below:
\Documents\Sports Interactive\Football Manager 2021\schedules
Mac users put file in this folder: Users/YOUR Mac USERNAME/Documents/Sports Interactive/Football Manager 2021/schedules. To access your files on Mac open ‘Finder’, click ‘Go’ from the menubar, press and hold the ‘alt’ key to show ‘library’ in your menu, while still holding ‘alt’ click it, then go to ‘Application Support’ > ‘Sports Interactive’ > ‘Football Manager 2021’
Load each individual schedule into Football Manager 2021
Training > Schedules > Select Schedules Dropdown > Custom Schedules > Import Schedule > Find schedules folder & load one by one > Once Opened Click Save – This needs repeating for every schedule
Pull each appropriate schedule into your calender
Training > Calendar > Dropdowns per each week (Use the guide above for which schedules to use when)
Every year we test countless tactics and review the very best. For FM21 these systems will be ranked and listed within our tactics index linked below.
That concludes my guide to training in Football Manager 2021, if there are any questions jump in the comments below but please make sure you have followed the instructions carefully before typing.
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