The Football’s Kingdom

Santos Futebol Clube has a rich history of developing the next generation of talent in world football. Names such as Pelé, Robinho, Diego, Ganso and Neymar are all names that came from the famous academy over the years and that tradition doesn’t look like stopping anytime soon. When Neymar was sold to Barcelona Santos had another young exciting prospect ready to step in and fill his boots in the name of Gabriel Barbosa or Gabigol as he is more commonly known as. But sadly for Santos fans he has now left the club but there are rumours circulating that he could be a Santos player again very soon. Thiago Maia is also another product of the Santos academy that has now left too.

But Santos being Santos already have more future stars throughout all their youth ranks and some are already making names for themselves or have established themselves in the past year or so in the first team. The future stars you’ll likely start hearing about (if you haven’t already) are players like Rodrygo who is a very special talent indeed. The we have Yuri Alberto who is an absolute beast for a 16-year-old, he has the physique of a fully grown man already. And other names in these squads that are worth mentioning are Kaique, Lucas Lourenço and Victor Yan to name but a few. So the squads are looking very promising for the next few years.

The talent at the Santos academy seems to endless.

It’s one of the reasons I love playing as them on Football Manager because the academy produces lots of good players which not only help the club but depending on the type of saved game you are playing, can also greatly benefit the league too. All the players I produce are either used by myself or sold to teams in the league to strengthen it and make it more challenging as I aim to make it a more competitive league. It takes a long time to achieve but the investment is well worth it long-term. I actually wrote about this on here in the past, if you’d like a refresher or haven’t read it then here is the article;

In Football Manager the Santos academy is just as good as its real life counterpart and produces lots of decent to good players who can play at a good standard. This year I’ll be documenting the players I develop and showcasing how I do that with the aim of long-term squad building in mind. I’ll also be talking you through intake days as they happen so we can track who is at the club and how they’re being developed.

Youth development is a big part of any long-term save that I create because the overall end goal is to have a self-sufficient academy that allows me to only ever use academy players. This will take a few seasons to set up but it’s the aim from season three onward. So developing players is an integral part of this save but how do I decide how to train and develop players? Well hopefully I can answers those questions below.

Before we look at the squads though, we should perhaps familiarise ourselves with the training module in Football Manager.

General Training

The General training focuses you can train are:

  • Balanced
  • Fitness
  • Tactics
  • Ball Control
  • Defending
  • Attacking
  • Team Cohesion

All of the above focus on sets of attributes so let’s break them down and take a look;

  • Fitness : Acceleration, Agility,Balance, Jumping, Natural Fitness, Pace, Stamina, Strength, Workrate
  • Tactics: Anticipation, Composure, Concentration, Decisions, Teamwork
  • Ball Control: Dribbling, First Touch, Heading, Technique, Flair
  • Defending: Marking, Tackling, Positioning
  • Attacking: Crossing, Finishing, Long Shots, Passing, Creativity, Off the ball

So if you choose a focus this means the emphasis on the attributes listed above will be much greater than normal. You’ll notice I left off balanced from the list, the reason for this is because it’s like a default setting and make sure all attributes have the same focus on all attributes with no preference. The general training module is great if you want all players to train a specific way for something you are creating and take a more generic approach.


On this part of the bar you can select to allow players to have a rest before/after a game. The bar also moves and the furthest left you go the more time is spent on match training. The further right you go the less time is spent on match training. There is 5 different settings in total and each move either increases or decreases by 10%. So if you had the bar to the far left it would be 50% meaning training between General and Match is split evenly. All the way to the right would mean 100% General training with no match training.

Individual Training

This is the part of training that I enjoy the most and always spent the most time setting up. You have the choice to either focus on an individual role or an individual attribute. The role choice all depends on the positions the player can play in or what you want him to play in or train for. For individual attributes though you can train;

  • Corners
  • Crossing
  • Dribbling
  • Finishing
  • First Touch
  • Free Kicks
  • Heading
  • Long Shots
  • Long Throws
  • Marking
  • Passing
  • Penalties
  • Tackling
  • Technique
  • Composure
  • Off the Ball
  • Positioning
  • Agility
  • Balance
  • Jumping
  • Quickness
  • Stamina
  • Strength

Some of these might be unavailable for some people because they are dependent on your training facilities. So better the facilities the more of the above options you should have to choose from.

You can train a Focus, Position and Preferred Move if you wish to, but they will eat into each other’s time, rather than into general training. Individual training does NOT come out of general training – it is added together to create an overall workload.

We will focus on the actual role training at a later date but it’s pretty much self-explanatory. 

The Squads

While Santos do have a lot of high potential players, the starting attributes for a lot of the under 20’s are not set so will differ from game to game. A large amount of them though will grow into future world-class stars.

Squad personality also plays a part in player development so it’s worth taking a few seconds to learn what it does.

On past versions (FM15 and below. This was introduced for FM16) of the game this didn’t have an impact on player development but now that’s changed. So how does it work? It’s basically an automatic effect that is similar to tutoring but not as powerful.

The effects can be good or bad and are limited solely to the attribute related to the personality type. Eg. Professional = Professionalism (hidden attribute), Determination = Determination attribute and so on. So this differs from tutoring because it only works on one attribute, the one listed on the screen highlighted above. The age cut-off depends on the players  adaptability (hidden attribute) but the upper age limit is 24. So if the player has a low adaptability attribute then his cut off age will be before 24 by quite a bit.

The First Team


Under 20’s

In the Under 20’s squad, a lot of these players are random at how good they can be but also, a lot of them will always be good. Rodrygo, Victor Yan, Yuri Alberto and Guilherme should always have a high potential ability. Then other names such as Andre Anderson, Kaique, Matheus Guedes and Alexandre Tam can be in just about any range and can be poor, really good or somewhere in between.

The biggest talent in the Under 20’s squad though is Rodrygo.

Rodrygo is probably one of the biggest talents in his age group, not only at Santos but in Brazil. Although he is very young he seems to have all the attributes for a bright future. This is why on Football Manager 2018 he is the one player I’ll be developing to be the future of the first team. I want him to break all records going and be the main goalscorer at the club.

With this in mind his training will alter as he develops as I try to mould him into the type of player I need him to be. Normally I mould them to play a specific way but on this save I’ll be using the 4-2-3-1 deep that I’ve been writing about. However this isn’t how I’ll be playing in the second season, I’m still undecided on what style and shape I will be using. I’ll have a better idea towards the middle of the first season and then start planning for the second season. But I can still develop players to be the best player they can be.

The first thing I need to do is look at personalities and have players tutored if they have weak or bad personality types. I’d include the old personality guide I did but it’s a bit outdated now so I’ll need to revisit that and make amendments to it, so it brings it up to date. A lot of numbers that created specific personality types was changed slightly and new personality types were added. So it’s not that simple to update it and will take some considerable time.

As we can see here he only has a balanced personality. So straight away I look at changing this and have him tutored with;

There are three reasons why you’d tutor someone;

  • To change someones personality type
  • To try to get determination to rise (if the tutor has higher than the tutee)
  • To transfer PPM’s.

Those are the only real benefits of tutoring. A good personality makes it easier to possibly fulfill a player’s potential. Especially if the player has good ambition, professionalism and determination. That’s not everything though. He still needs the correct training and game time. But having those ingredients will go a long way to helping him realise his full potential.

This is his training. I’ve set him to work on the role of an inside forward for now as it works on the attributes that need to be defined more for now. You can see which attributes it works on in the screenshot. I also gave him an additional focus for stamina and gave him a heavy intensity. A player who doesn’t have much stamina isn’t going to last very long and I expect the role that Rodrygo will play, will be very demanding.

Already though, you can see he is unhappy with the extra workload. This is something I’ll keep an eye on because unhappy players don’t always progress well. Not only that but the extra intensity can cause injuries which will mean training and playing time being restricted which isn’t good. Injuries can set back development by quite a bit, so I need to be careful striking the right balance. His personality type also doesn’t help with his happiness, someone more professional is more willing to have higher intensity and heavier workloads.

Now for the best of the rest.

Victor Yan

He looks like he has incredible stats for a 15-year-old doesn’t he? I have lots of different ways to train Victor but ideally I see him as some kind of Segundo Volante long-term. You might struggle to see how currently but remember he is only 15 years old so any of these attributes can be 15+ in a few years. Young players who have potential are like a blank canvas and you can shape them to be anything. A lot of people tend to look at youth players and see low attributes and think that is the end of them and that they’ll never be high-end double figures. They can and they will. Try and see the bigger picture.

  • Training – Segundo Volante
  • Individual Focus – None

That’s how I have him set up training for now. Ideally I see him as some kind of creative defensive midfielder or an attacking defensive midfield. Hence why he is training the Segundo Volante role as this will strengthen the defensive midfield position rating too.

This is the player tutoring him in the hope we see a positive improvement in Victor’s personality.

Yuri Alberto

Yuri Alberto is someone I see as my long-term wide target man. It helps that he already has this as his best role for both his natural positions. It’s definitely something I will be focusing on and strengthening in the next year.

  • Training – Wide target man
  • Individual Focus – Jumping Reach
  • Intensity – Heavy

I’ve gave him the wide target man role training obviously to focus on those attributes it trains. While also giving him a jumping reach focus for around three months before I either remove it, or put it as something else. For those of you who have followed my training stuff for a while, you’d know that I only ever focus on an individual attribute for a maximum of three months at a time. The reason for this is, three months is enough time to see a change but also once a change has been seen it’s highly unlikely that it’ll change as quickly again. So I tend to rotate several attributes that I’ll focus on throughout the year and rotate them every three months.

Nilmar is the one doing the tutoring so far.

Lucas Lourenço

Lucas has the potential to play anywhere I want really, either out wide, up front, behind the striker or even a deep midfield role. I think I see him as the advanced playmaker kind of player though. With this in mind his training is;

  • Training – Advanced Playmaker (AMC)
  • Individual Focus – None

I decided against giving him an individual focus as I feel he can’t handle the extra workload just yet. He’s quite a weak player and his personality type of balanced doesn’t help. However if he improves like I think he will, then this is something I’ll revisit in a few months time.

Renato is the tutor. Once tutoring is finished I’ll be getting players tutored again by others or even the same people, depending on how much I see in the personality changes the first time around.


Another very versatile player who can basically play anywhere on the pitch. He’s very raw and underdeveloped for a 18-year-old who will be 19-years-old in six months time. Due to his age he really needs game time now to get better, training isn’t going to be enough due to how raw he is. With this in mind he will be promoted to the first team.

As for the position he’ll play, I think he will be more suited to playing as a ball playing defender. He’s mentally weak though so if I play him he might be a liability at times. But I can’t not play him if I want him to develop, it’s a double edge sword.

  • Training – Ball-Playing Defender
  • Individual Focus – None

That’s how I’m training him for now. He doesn’t get any additional training as he will be playing quite often now as I try to give him game time to aid his development. If I gave him extra training then he might not be able to cope especially with the game time and the last thing I want to do is increase the injury risk of someone this underdeveloped. Any kind of long-term injury with this player and it will be the end of his career with Santos. The reason being, any 3 month or longer injury will likely set his development back from anywhere between 6-12 months and I can’t afford that kind of risk.

He still might get injured I can’t fully prevent them but I can do my best to make sure what I do, doesn’t increase the risk of them happening. This is why the medical centre this year is a godsend.

I will update you on the development at a later date and also add some other players I’ve not currently mentioned. I just wanted to focus on the basics for now and start with a few examples of the players I’ll be pushing hard and giving game time to immediately. 


24 thoughts on “The Football’s Kingdom”

  1. Hey Cleon, Great article! little bit unrelated, but do you still holiday between matches, with all the interaction with players?

  2. Hey man, great as always! Can’t wait for the PPM article. You wrote above that “…You can train a Focus, Position and Preferred Move if you wish to, but they will eat into each other’s time…”. Really?

    Meaning that If I say “Hey, player you do MR – Winger, focus on Crossing and learn to knock the ball past your opponent” he will do all this but slower than If I told him to do any of this individually?

    Is this why my lower leauge players never have the oportunity to be relatively decent?

    1. I think the issue with lower league is likely a combination of poor PA, facilities and limited training time (if you’re not a pro club). Although I think I have a spelling mistake as it should say it doesn’t eat into the time iirc. I think I even mentioned in the article that it adds onto the time. So I’ll have to double check later today what I wrote.

      1. So, I can train all three of them at the same time with the only problem being that he might be unhappy, injured or not developing effectively! Right?

        1. He could become unhappy with the workload and thus complain more. Someone with a more professional personality type can handle higher workloads though. But yes, it’s possible to teach him all at the same time, as I do frequent.

          1. Without hampering his progress as I understand, right? And another quick question: Due to poor facilities, I can only train 4 mental attributes individually. Should I change my general training to tactics instead of general? I am trying to play some kind of football based a lot on mental attributes with Sacchi’s Milan being my example…

  3. But then again how can I not train his position/role as I don’t have a choice to choose none at the drop box?

    So If I choose an individual focus or a PPM to train the player would do both the focus (or PPM) and the position/role training. Right?

    Did I get it this time?

  4. Another one: You write “…There are three reasons why you’d tutor someone;

    To change someones personality type
    To try to get determination to rise (if the tutor has higher than the tutee)
    To transfer PPM’s…”

    Will it be wise to have a tutor with lower determination than the tutee? Or he will lower his determination attribute?

    1. The tutor ideally needs higher/the same determination attribute value as the player he is tutoring. If not the person being tutored will have his determination lowered to what the tutors is.

      1. FFS! I wondered why I got the message “Squad less desirable characteristics had an effect lately” and determination had a red arrow down!

          1. Got it, but I thought that a Loyal team personality wouldn’t have a negative effect on determination!

  5. Hi Cleon.
    Good post – how much time do you give to general training & match training during the season?

    1. Also … I’ve read on other posts to trim reserve & u20’s etc to allow better potential players more playing time in those teams. Would you agree?

      1. Depends on how many games you’ll be playing and what not. If you overplay players to the extent they are always tired the risk of injuries increases so you still need a good balance. But at the same time you shouldn’t stockpile youths for no reason. If someone isn’t ever going to be good enough for the first 11 then why keep them?

      1. Sorry for all the questions I’m new to the game. Does that mean high general training? Does that take away from the individual training?

  6. Great article.

    In general training, do you usually leave the focus on balanced or do you very it from save to save depending on what you are trying to achieve. I think that’s what you were sayiing but wanted to be sure

    1. I leave it on balanced no matter what. As that’s the focus that has no bias towards attributes. Balance is basically the default for equal amount of time spent on attributes. Where as fitness will see the fitness attributes worked on more than the others and so on.

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