Managing a lower league team in FIFA 18 is never easy, but it’s one of the most rewarding paths you can take in career mode. Bringing a team up from low-ranking minnows to world champions is the ultimate achievement in FIFA 18, one requiring grit, guile and determination.
Lower League Management 101 is my comprehensive guide to making it as a lower league manager in FIFA 18. I’ll take you through every step on the journey, from picking the right team and scouting great prospects to making shrewd transfers and what to focus on along the way. By the end of it, you’ll know exactly what you need to do to be a successful manager at lower levels.
In part 2, I’ll take you through the importance of scouting for any successful lower league manager. With limited funds at your disposal, it’s vital that you find a cost-effective way of acquiring high potential players and using them to bolster your team. Scouting is the best way to achieve that.
The basics of scouting
If you’ve read my articles before, you probably know I’m big on scouting. Every year I write a FIFA scouting guide that explains how scouting works, the best places to look and the types of players you can find. Make sure you read that if you want a more in-depth look at the secrets and inner workings of scouting in FIFA 18.
Scouting is important for any club, but especially so when you’re managing a lower league team. That’s because you have so little money that you can’t really afford to buy many players; even buying average players can be expensive, never mind those with high potential.
Scouting, on the other hand, helps to level the playing field. Buying a scout and sending him on a scouting mission can be relatively cheap, and the rewards are huge. Even just one high potential scouted player could be sold for millions, providing a huge cash boost to a cash-strapped lower league side.
Scouts are rated from one to five stars in two areas: experience and judgment. Experience determines how many players your scout will find on each report: a scout with one star in experience, for example, will only bring back 1-2 players per report, while a scout with five stars in experience will find 5-7 players. It also affects how able he is to find the type of players you ask him to look for.
Judgment, on the other hand, relates purely to the quality of players that your scout will find. Scouted players are divided into four categories: platinum, gold, silver and bronze, with platinum players being the best. If your scout has better judgment, he stands a better chance of finding platinum and gold players (although they’re still rare). I’ll discuss this more in the next section.
How to get the best results from scouting
When you’re just starting out with a lower league club, you should buy the best scout you can afford. At this stage you don’t want to worry about buying several scouts and sending them to different places unless you really can afford it – it’s better to have one decent scout than two poor scouts.
That said, you don’t need to buy the most expensive scouts in order to find good players. A scout with four stars in judgment has a 6% chance of finding a platinum player, but a scout with three stars in judgment has a 4% chance – practically no difference at all. Likewise, a four-star judgment scout has an 8% chance of finding a gold player, but a three-star scout has a 6% chance. Both scouts have an almost-equal chance of finding the best players, so it may not be worth paying the extra money for a four-star scout.
(The main differences lie in their chances of finding silver and bronze players. Four-star scouts have a 50% chance of finding silver players and a 36% chance of finding bronze players. For three-star scouts it’s 36% and 54% respectively.)
Of course, a five-star scout will be much better. He has a 10% chance of finding platinum players and a 12% chance of finding gold players; given how expensive five-star scouts are, however, they’ll probably be out of your reach in the early stages of your career.
A scout with three stars in both experience and judgment will cost you £396,000. However, one with two stars in experience and three in judgment costs £299,000 – quite a bit less for teams at this level.
In my opinion, that is a better investment than the 3*/3* scout. That’s because when you’re first starting out in the lower divisions, you just need any influx of quality you can get. It’s less important to find exactly the right position you need because in the lower divisions, given the lower quality of players, one good player can make a huge difference. It’s therefore more important to focus on getting your scout to find good players than finding players of exactly the right position or type.
And there’s another thing – if you tell your scout to search for ‘Any’ in the player type box, his experience rating becomes irrelevant. You’re not telling him to find a certain player type, so his ability to do that doesn’t matter. Thus by choosing a scout with a good judgment rating but lower experience rating, you can save yourself a bit of money.
Where to scout
When it comes to where you should send your scout in FIFA 18, not every place is equal. In most cases (but not all), Brazil and Argentina have the highest chances of producing the best scouted players. If, as I suggested above, you tell your scout to look for ‘Any’ type of player, Argentina and Brazil should be his first stops.
There are a few exceptions, though. If you want to find playmakers, Central Europe is the best region to look in, followed by Italy, Spain and Portugal. For physically strong players, it’s Africa, then Central Europe. Finally, the best defensive minded players are to be found in Central Europe, then Rest of Europe. For more detail, make sure you read my guide to the best places to scout in FIFA 18.
Of course, you may not find it that realistic for a small-town team to be sending scouts all over the world. If you find that breaks the immersion, you can always scout your local area instead. But if you want to maximise your chances of finding the best scouted players, make sure you head out to the regions I mentioned above.
How to recognise a good scouted player
When managing a small team, it’s important for you to get high potential players into the starting lineup as soon as possible so that they can gain first-team experience and begin to improve. That means that as well as potential, you want to keep an eye on the OVR ranges of scouted players in order to pick out the best ones.
In other words, you shouldn’t just go on either a player’s potential or OVR range by itself, but both combined. For example, let’s take a look at the following player I scouted:
Generally speaking, a player whose potential range tops out in the 60s or 70s should have a very decent OVR, so in this case my player’s OVR range of 50-66 is very good. However, his potential range of 58-78 is low, so he’s unlikely to grow into a particularly talented player. If we just considered his OVR alone, we might have signed him. Considering his potential as well as his OVR, though, makes him less attractive.
A quick way to tell roughly how good a player will be is to find the middle value in his OVR and potential ranges. So with the player above, the middle value in his OVR range is 58, and in his potential range it’s 68. That doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll have 58 OVR and a potential of 68, but it gives us a good idea before we decide whether to sign him or not.
Now let’s take a look at another player, one who looks like a much better prospect:
Although his OVR range of 51-67 is very similar to the 50-66 of the last player, this player’s potential range of 69-93 is much better. If we take the middle values in those ranges, it suggests his OVR should be around 59 and his potential should be about 81.
When you’re managing a lower league team, 59 OVR is often good enough to get straight into the starting lineup. Just a couple of high potential players can thus make a huge difference to your team, as all the first-team football they’ll be getting will help them develop very quickly. You can then keep hold of them and use them to your advantage, or sell them for a massive profit.
So with that in mind, it’s easy to see why scouting is so important for lower league teams, and how it can grant you access to the type of player you would not normally be able to afford.
What about you?
That wraps up part 2 of my Lower League Management 101 guide. Next I’ll be looking at some key tips to getting a great bargain in the transfer market, then all the things you have to think about as you rise through the divisions. In case you missed it, I’ve also already covered everything you need to know when it comes to picking a good team to manage. If there’s anything else you want me to cover, just let me know in the comments.
Where do you send your scouts in FIFA 18? Are there any regions that have consistently produced top players for you? Make sure you share your thoughts and any scouting tips you have in the comments below!