Match Preparation in Football Manager 2011 allows you to not only work on your pre-match setup but it gives you the ability to train your team with regards to their tactical proficiency.
It’s not an obvious training module, but it should be looked at as if it was part of the training system. Training covers only Technical and Physical attributes, whilst it’s Match Preparation which trains a players tactical attributes.
In order to create a rewarding training routine via MP, you have to repeatedly work on the same tactical setup. If you work on improving one formation you will see the familiarity bar rise as a result of the team becoming more comfortable with that system. This is why it’s important not to ‘chop and change’ your tactics too radically when they’re not working very well for you.
Aside from the training aspect of MP, you should note that the “Special Focus Areas” setting is excellent for exploiting the opposition’s formation or setup. You should look to do your pre-match scouting (more below) and then utilise this module to make your team focus on one method of exploiting the opposition’s weaknesses.
It’s important to remember that selecting an SFA will distract the team from other areas of their game, but if you get the SFA setup to correctly exploit an opponent who are – for example – weak at corners, then you might find the result is far more positive than simply opting to operate within your own style of play.
Remember, setting the MP workload will have an effect on the Training workload, so try to find a balance for your team. It’s all about considering if you want to work on the team as a unit or on players as individuals – then make setting the sliders to the levels you want.
I’d personally work on the team more than the players, then when the team is at a good level, lower the SFA workload and focus on improving the individuals. Obviously, finding a balance is still vital, so don’t be extremely biased to one focus area.
Let’s take a deeper look at the Special Focus Areas.
This allows you to focus your players on better understanding how their team-mates work with the ball. By using this SFA, you’re able to build a team unit, rather than have 11 strangers playing in your side.
This allows you to ‘drill’ your team in the art of defence. The best teams are the hardest to exploit in defence, and by focusing on this area, you’re able to lower the risk of player’s being in the wrong position when under pressure at the back and give them direction on how to function as a defensive unit, rather than relying on the defenders to do all the defensive work.
This allows you to ‘run plays’ with the team. With this SFA, you’re able to influence the players into attacking in numbers, rather than attacking as individuals.
This allows you to have players in better attacking positions when crosses enter the box, or when counter-attacks are being executed. With this, you’re able to have your team working ‘in tune’ when they’re attacking.
This allows you to train the team to be more proficient when defending corners or free-kicks. Having a team who know exactly what needs to be done and how the players around them will be reacting when the ball comes at them, is something you will really benefit from when they’ve mastered this Special Focus Area.
This allows you to train the team to be more clinical when attacking corners or taking free-kicks. Having a team who know where players are going to run or where the ball is going to be placed, can make the difference when it comes to taking advantage of an attacking set-piece.