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10 Reasons We Love International Management

The international break and fan disappointment go together like tea and scones. Or Batman & Robin. Or thunder & lightning. Or your assistant manager and the words “We should encourage our players to try a more direct passing play”. You get our drift. Fans get disappointed as most international periods mark a break from the constant stream of club football and international friendlies often feel meaningless. 

10 Reasons We Love International Management

Now we’re essentially in one long international break, with no football for us to feast our eyes on.

Over at Football Manager, international management has always had a unique status. It may not be the most popular area of the game but it can be one of the most rewarding. Win a competitive international as San Marino? We’ve seen people do it. Qualify a team for a World Cup for the first time in their history? Got the t-shirt. Do a Michael O’Neill and juggle the pressures of a domestic management role and an international gig? Fairly commonplace. 

We could just tell you it’s worth taking up the international management challenge in the absence of live football, but community members who have taken on the challenge already, like Guido Merry and FM Grasshopper, can do it far better than we can, so here’s their list of 10 reasons to try international management in Football Manager. 

Guido Merry: Has been managing Scotland in FM20. 

FM Grasshopper: Has taken charge of the Uruguay national team, managing them alongside his domestic job in the Uruguayan top flight at Penarol.

Guido Merry
1. Breaking unwanted records

It’s been far too long since Scotland qualified for a major international tournament. France ‘98 was the last tournament Scotland attended - since then it's been crash and burn in every qualifying campaign. A nation like Scotland ought to have qualified far more often. 

There’s plenty more teams like this waiting for positive new chapters to be written.

2. Moulding an exciting squad together

Scotland possesses some of the finest wing-backs in modern football, though sadly both are left-footed players. I thought it was a nice challenge to get them to play together as well as achieve success. All in all, I think Scotland has a fine squad in FM20. It's not quite as good as France, Spain, Belgium, Italy or the Netherlands, but it's not far off either. Youngsters like Scott McKenna, John Souttar and Lewis Ferguson are all good enough to have an impact internationally, whereas long-term potential is already present in the form of youngsters like Liam Morrison, Chris Mochrie and Sonny Lo-Everton. 

3. Sticking to a clear tactical philosophy is easier

Something particularly engaging was that by going strikerless, I wasn't omitting too many strong Scottish players from the squad. I could easily use my tactical ideas without losing valuable assets or upsetting morale. You can take that idea, or any other, and stick to it much easier at international level. 

4. The ‘Granny Rule’

Recruiting dual nationalities has also been fun. I lost out on Angus Gunn but I did manage to recruit players like Karlan Grant, Josh McEachran, Che Adams, Karamoko Dembélé and Harvey Barnes to the cause, with mixed success. I like the improved interaction in FM20 that allows me to persuade them. Perseverance pays off in this regard, or continual nagging, if you prefer.

5. Improved gameplay

I particularly enjoyed the improved gameplay for international games. Tactical familiarity and fatigue are less of a hindrance than they were previously, which makes the experience far more enjoyable.

FM Grasshopper
1. Finding the Next Generation

I started my Football Manager 2020 journey in the depths of South America, with Uruguay’s Peñarol to be exact.  But in addition to club management, I took on the role as the Under 20 National Team Manager - a job where I would be responsible for carefully nurturing the next generation of Uruguayan talents.

Not only did this help me get to know the current young stars in Uruguayan football, I was also able to get a real grasp of the next generation coming through and their potential via the National Reports feature.  Simply navigate to National Team / Request National Reports and then select a Backroom Staff member.  Not only will this give an assessment on both Current & Potential Ability, you will also be presented with Pros and Cons of this player’s visible and hidden attributes.

Want to find the next generation of domestic talent quickly?  Consider managing a National Youth Team.

2. The Pinnacle of Football?

Ever had the debate with your ‘mates’ as to what’s more important in modern football: Winning the European Cup or the World Cup?  Yep, I’ve had that.  If you’re correct, like me, you’ll view winning the World Cup as the pinnacle of our sport and the summit of a player or manager's career.  It often correlates with the generational talents that have come before us too who have all won the most prestigious prize.

The same pride and prestige can be found in Football Manager 2020 and it’s another reason to try International Management.

3. Tournament hype

Managing a tournament is a fun challenge.  You’re bringing together a squad who, on the most part, probably don’t know each other well.  You’ll be greeted with some poor familiarity and might not even know your best XI going into the tournament.  There’s also the headaches of fitness and squad rotation, with games coming thick and fast every few days.

But that presents a unique challenge in Football Manager 2020 and something worth experiencing.

4. No need to smash Continue

Have you ever felt exhausted seeing ‘14 days until your next match’?  Your keyboard is probably not looking forward to it either, as you smash Continue uncontrollably to get through the fortnight of News Items.  Why not therefore use this time and manage an International team?  It will break the flow of club football and can be a nice distraction as you welcome countries and players from afar. 

5. Stand out from the crowd

I have spoken about how winning an International tournament cements your place as a generational footnote in the record books…but what about boasting your achievements to your real-life friends?  When I won the 2020 Copa América with Uruguay (after taking on the role of the Head Coach), I was quick to place a copy of the Steam Achievement in my blog post.  I would also consider printing and laminating this Steam Achievement out and passing it on to people outside of Football Manager…almost like a business card. 

Freedom of The Country

Your bragging rights are justifiable too, only 3.1% of Football Manager 2020 players have won an International trophy.  Own that!