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Football Manager 2013: Player Development In Action



Read PART ONE here: Football Manager 2013: Player Development Strategy

Last week I explained player development in Football Manager 2013 using Marouane Fellaini and Ademilson as guinea pigs for my many theories. I promised you results and research so after a week of gameplay I can finally reveal the facts.

Could Fellaini respond as a big money signing and did man management help Ademilson develop from wonderkid to superstar?

Marouane Fellaini

Let’s begin with ‘Screech’. After paying Everton £24 million I progressed through the first season taking notes before halting my research in January 2013. I will go through each of my theories from the previous post explaining how Fellaini responded and if my hypothesis proved successful. But before we analyse my man management, let’s see how Fellaini actually performed.

Stats from August 2012 to January 2013

Marouane started 19 matches in the Premier League, every single game from the start of the season up until January and I’m happy to say he was brilliant. Considering I used the Belgian from central midfield he performed above expectations scoring 8 goals, adding 8 assists.

That is an average of almost one goal or assist every game. Those stats are reflected in Fellaini’s average rating of 7.40, any player achieving an average of 7 is performing fairly well so ‘Screech’ had a fantastic start to the season.

Position and role

Fellaini started every game in the middle and was deployed as a box to box midfielder. This position can result in the player becoming a work horse, chasing the ball down and not having such an impact going forward. So how did Fellaini perform so well and where did those assists come from?

Let me explain. Almost every goal kick reached the halfway line and ‘Screech’ was barely ever second best in the air. Once the ball was under control Fellaini could charge forward with purpose, due to his strength very few opponents could dispossess him. With excellent mental attributes Fellaini possess the calm of mind to pick out a pass, time and time again he’d spot Van Persie’s run off the defenders shoulder.

Below are more detailed stats, you can see Fellaini’s pass completion of 85% which demonstrates how well he commanded the midfield. All in all I don’t think there is a better role for Fellaini, you could try risking him upfront as a target man or waste his attacking talent as a ball winning midfielder, but the box to box role gets the best of both.

Individual training

This section will be short and sweet as I failed to improve any of Fellaini’s attributes. Having such a high current ability there’s not much to expect in terms of development, I had wanted to curve his long range shooting slightly but to no avail.

First team football

My plan was to use Fellaini in every league match and every other Champions League tie. Due to scheduling I couldn’t manage both and dropped the Belgian from all European matches.

The extra rest proved vital as Fellaini performed to the best of his ability in almost every game and never suffered a knock. This helped him maintain morale and form, both of which are very important.

Set pieces

The theory was to use strength, heading, jumping and a massive height advantage from corners and free-kicks. While positioning ‘Screech’ near the Goalkeeper for free-kicks tanked somewhat, I asked him to attack the near post during corners to great effect.
Fellaini always seemed to get ahead of his marker and often nodded the ball across the keeper; this training ground routine led to 7 of Fellaini’s eight goals so by far my biggest success.


The most important theory has to be set pieces, exploiting the big man’s strengths left Manchester United top of the table when they could have been third. Another vital aspect was Fellaini’s role of box to box midfielder; I think such a position brought out the beast in him. Yes there are areas that could be improved, but I think it’s fair to say we’ve cracked the puzzle of how best to use Marouane Fellaini.


The 18 year old poacher joined my Newcastle United side from Sao Paulo in 2012. I had many theories on how to develop Ademilson but my main aim was to increase some troubling attributes. I managed this through individual training; Ademilson had fairly low pace, dribbling and first touch for a poacher.

Individual training

I focused on the areas mentioned during training for the first three years, switching from one to another every couple of months. Below is Ademilson’s profile from 2015, after three years of development. I have highlighted the attributes that increased and they are all colour coded to show you the level of improvement.

As you can see pace improved from 13 to 15, dribbling from 11 to 14 and first touch from 13 to 15. Ademilson also improved a lot of mental attributes which can’t be touched in training; these were developed through first team football.

First team Football

1st season: The grand plan was to use Ademilson in Europe and during the easy Cup ties. Low profile matches and lesser opponents would provide good performances to help him develop and grow without harming confidence levels through poor displays. My plan worked a treat as the young gun scored 8 goals from 13 Europa League matches and a further 10 from the league and cup games combined.

2nd season: Ademilson’s second season just epitomized his development to date. Confidence carried forward from the first season resulted in 10 Champions League goals, making him top scorer. I even afforded the youngster more chances in the league which he took scoring 14 goals. While the Brazilian played fewer games in all, he added far more quality.

3rd season: Just like the second season Ademilson became top scorer in Europe netting 11 goals. His incredible average rating of 7.73 earned Ademilson a place in the Champions League Dream Team XI as he guided Newcastle to a famous European crown. I tried the young Brazilian against tougher opposition in the Premier League, but that proved too soon as he endured a sub-standard season domestically.


My approach in training worked very well, Ademilson has improved vital attributes by two or three but he can still develop way beyond that in years to come.

First team Football complemented training well; Ademilson was nurtured into the team for easy matches then given more and more responsibility before he went onto dominate the Champions League.

This kid’s development is only one third complete; if he’s this good now how good could he be in 5 years’ time? Scary thought!

Article written by Darren Smith, co-owner of footballmanagerstory.com, the best place for FM 2013 tactics, tips and downloads.