Ahmed's Blog

Using the Director of Football | FM21

Michael Edwards's work for Liverpool transfers has been nothing short of genius. Transfers like van Dijk, Keita, and recently Thiago and Diogo Jota were completed with favourable terms for Liverpool. This had me thinking that I am not using the Director of Football role in Football Manager to its fullest potential, and, therefore, I have set out to discover its true potential in FM21.

Directors of Football - I have been using them wrong #

Ever since the DoF role was introduced in Football Manager, I have limited their role to handle offloading players that were on the transfer list. I didn't like the hassle of going through each offer, then negotiating, accepting or rejecting the offer time after time.

The DoF allowed me to concentrate on incoming players.

However, I would easily pay over the odds for players, and overpay them to ensure they sign for us. Of course, I could get a few bargains, but the vast majority of my incoming transfers where expensive, uneconomical ones.

Then the idea came along, inspired by Edwards, what if my DoF handle the incoming transfers too?

Turns out that this was one of the most fulfilling experiences I ever had on Football Manager!

While looking for a DoF, I look at four main attributes:

a. Determination

Determination is the most important attribute in Football Manager. It is a measure of the person's desire to better themselves and is the fuel of their desire to succeed. For a DoF this can only mean better and more economical transfers.

b. Judging Player Ability and Potential

I expect my DoF to identify and sign players he sees fitting to the team, and should judge who has the ability to add value to the team (although I have the final say whether a transfer goes through or not - a win win situation). The higher these attributes, the better they are able to judge players.

c. Negotiating

One of the main reasons of using a DoF is that I need to save a few thousand from transfers and wages. A better negotiator will seek more financially favourable deals and conditions, which is what we need from the DoF.

Using the Director of Football #

Fast forward to my first FM21 Beta save, where I am in charge of Brentford. We begin with an excellent Philip Giles already in the role of DoF, with good stats in the four attributes stated above. I have turned off the first transfer window, so I had to wait till the winter transfer window to strengthen the squad.

He is held responsible for the entire process of initiating and negotiating player signings both in to and out of the club. The only responsibilities that I hold are finalizing offers and sales, to veto signings I do not approve. I am also responsible for initiating players' contract extensions.

During January, we have made six incoming signings, only one of which I was totally responsible of; Curtis Jones on loan from Liverpool.

The rest were identified, negotiated and signed by Giles. I only had to accept and finalize the transfers.

To put in to context, we are in a really tough competition with recently relegated Bournemouth for the title, with a race similar to the 18/19 Premier League, where Man City and Liverpool literally ran away with the title.

Us and Bournemouth are comfortably ahead of the third team with 23 points. Using a 4-4-1-1 shape, I needed backup players in the CD, DL, DR, AMC, MR and ML positions.

I already have some players like Fosu and Dalsgaard, but were deemed not good enough, in addition to losing attacking midfielder, Marconedes, on a Bosman transfer.

With that in mind, I think the DoF has made massive business. Lets break down the transfers he oversaw:

  1. Kieron Freeman

    Freeman was snapped for free, after being released by Sheffield United in the Premier League, providing excellent cover as an offensive wingback on both right and left backs. Getting a player valued at 9M, on 5.75k per week, for free is an excellent deal. He already started 19 times (he joined before the winter window opens), and a further 8 appearances as a substitute, providing 2 assists with an average rating of 6.97.

  2. Alen Halilovic

    I needed Alen to bring flair and technical ability to the AMC and challenge Ghoddos for the # 10 spot. I initially had doubts over his mental ability, but the former Barca player is technically excellent, and thus I decided to trust Giles' gamble, signing him for free on 7.5k per week. Halilovic hit the ground running, starting 5 times, and making an additional 7 appearances as a substitute, scoring once and chipping in with four assists, with an average rating of 7.10.

  3. DeAndre Yedlin

    After my first choice RB Dalsgaard started to be unhappy after I threw a water bottle at him in a post match team talk (love this new feature!), I dropped him to the U23s after signing Freeman. Giles identified that we need a backup at the right fullback positions, and Yedlin was this backup player. Joining for 1.3M + 700K in instalments, on a bit high 13.75k per week, he offers plenty of premier league and international experience. He started 6 times, chipped in with an assist and 1 POM award at an average rating of 7.37. By the end of the transfers, he, surprisingly, claimed the RB spot his own after a series of excellent performances.

  4. Ali Reza Jahanbakhsh

    Our marquee signing was international Iranian attacker, Jahanbakhsh. Again with plenty of international and top division experience, he is a a great signing by our DoF to bolster our inexperienced front line. Joining for 2.3M+1.7M in addons, and as one of the squad's higher earners, he slots seamlessly into both flanks. Jahanbakhsh was an instant hit, scoring 5 in 5 apps (including three as substitute) with an average rating of 7.40.

  5. Teden Mengi

    Playing with a highline, I need quick center backs with high anticipation. Beyond Jansson and Pinncok, the quality of our CBs was poor. I was thus surprised when Giles made a loan offer for Mengi. His attributes make for an excellent covering defender, although lacking a bit in heading and some mental attributes. He can also play on the right, which provides additional cover in the position we were barebones at the start of the window. Mengi appeared 5 times till now, all in the starting XI, with an average rating of 7.38. As we near the end of the season, Mengi is already the preferred partner to Jansson, combining together to form a van Dijk-Gomez partnership at the back.

Verdict #

I was keen not to interfere in the DoF business during the first season. I wanted to see how will he improve the squad, and the level and type of the players he looks to sign. I had to reject a couple of players that he made offers, as I felt they don't fit in my style, but his replacements to them were top notch.

When we are promoted, I will look to have more say in his targets, probably by adding lists of transfer targets and letting him manage how we are getting them.

Ever since I started using the DoF for handling transfers (and similarly Technical Director for staff) I never looked back. The DoF identifies targets that are suitable to your primarily trained tactic, and does not overpay in getting the players. The end result was fun, realistic and a very fulfilling experience indeed.

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