Player development in FM20

Player development in FM20

The player development in the Football Manager is one of the key areas of the game. At least for me. In combination with a good training regime, it can lead to quite good results. What is my system in FM20?

Most of you who follow me and my saves, know, my saves are usually connected to young players and their development. And it’s not different in FM20.

I’ve reached the end of the 2023/2024 season recently and I think I already have enough examples of player(s) development after five years.

And I would like to share some of them with you. Also with the samples of their additional training focus.

Same as we all love the green dots in the schedule screen, many of us love the green up arrow near the attributes. The green arrow(s) means your player is developing well and his attributes are better.

But don’t worry if you will see some orange or red arrows aimed down…


If you look on the attribute graph you will see that most if not all the attributes dropped by as little as .01. Under the hood, FM views the attributes as a 1-200 range. And this allows it to account for gradual declines and gains over time. Over the course of the season, and often early as they are working back into fitness, you will see this happen. It’s only a problem if you see it persist over time.

Things to consider if it is a decline to be concerned about: age, a serious long-term injury, and off-field incident, or signing a young player from a team at a higher level with better training facilities (though this will level out fairly quickly and cease to be a problem, though he might not get back to where he was if the decline is too much).

Source: SI Forum

Midfielders = my pride

If I really enjoy the development of some specific players, it must be midfielders.

It’s also connected to my favourite formation as I like to use 4-3-3 with a flat midfield. That means I need to have a lot of central midfielders.

  • They are usually my key players
  • I like to have a big depth in this position
  • There is a big potential to develop some really good players

I also changed my approach during FM20 in terms of Position/Role/Duty training.

I liked to use Roaming Playmaker role for 99% of my central midfielders in the past. This role covers most of the physical attributes but also most of the mental attributes.

That means it’s a very “overall” type of training as it’s less specified and it can be slower in terms of improvement.

I decided to change it to Box To Box midfielder role.

Player development in FM20
Trained attributes for BBM role (green) in combination with Defensive Positioning as Aditional Focus (blue).

One of the key questions is what do you want from your central midfielder?

  • Hold the position and distribute the ball?
  • Roam from his position, play as a free player?
  • Get forward whenever possible?

You can have everything but even if my central midfielder is creator, finisher from the second line or just someone who is responsible for simple passing, I want them to have strong physical attributes.

The only exception would be the player who I would use in the Ball Winning Midfielder role. Yes, the physical attributes are important too, but it’s a very specific role in my eyes so I would not train this player in a different role than as BWM.

Player development in FM20 – example 1:

The first example is Gilberto Erick Serrano. My central midfielder who plays as DLP(S) or CM(S), it depends on what role I’m using.

Gilberto is our own newgen from the 2021/2022 Youth Intake. He was able to make 11 appearances until the end of this season in our U20s team. He was promoted to the 1st team squad and made 12(9) appearances in his first full season.

In that time we used DLP(S) role so he was my backup for Lionel Laborda.

He was set to train BBM position with Defensive Positioning as the additional focus as I wanted to improve him for DLP(S) role – mainly to improve his Positioning and Decisions attributes.

As you can see, between March 2022 and July 1, 2024, the progress of those attributes was really good:

  • Decisions ⬆️ 7
  • Positioning ⬆️ 5
  • Marking ⬆️ 5

In combination with his overall development including physical attributes or Off The Ball attribute improvement, he grew up to the perfect midfielder. And he still is only 19 years old.

Also, both his traits – Plays One-Twos & Dictates Tempo – were developed during his time in the club.

It’s also the right time to decide what Additional Focus to give him now. I thought about Passing but Technique and Vision are already good. It looks like I will give him some time with Endurance to boost Stamina and Work Rate.

Player development in FM20

Player development in FM20 – example 2:

The second example is Kefren Castillo. I bought this midfielder at the end of the first season of this save from Zacatepec for €60k.

I let him play the U20 league in the first season and as I’m in charge of the individual training of the youth team, it was not a problem to train him same as if he would be in the 1st team.

Same as Serrano, he was set to train as BBM. The difference was the additional focus. Castillo was set to train Passing.

  • Passing ⬆️ 7
  • Technique ⬆️ 5
  • Vision ⬆️ 8

The improvement of his Vision attribute is phenomenal in my eyes.

Player development in FM20

Both Serrano and Castillo play as CM(S) with Hold Position and Shoot Less Often instructions.


Not good enough? I will take a look…

Our example number three is not a midfielder. It’s a central defender and our own newgen.

I mentioned Josué Infante in the post about the far post corner kick routine some time ago.

Player development in FM20

He was not among the players our DoF wanted to sign from the Youth Intake. But I signed him.

And he made 45(2) appearances in the latest season despite he is still only 19 years old.

He is trained as the Ball Playing Defender. The additional focus in the first full season was Agility and Balance. I changed it to Aerial for the second full season.

  • Agility ⬆️ 6
  • Balance ⬆️ 7
  • Heading ⬆️ 3

He is playing as a central defender and I’m very happy he improved attributes like Anticipation, Concentration or Positioning a lot. Same as Pace up by 5 ⬆️ .

Player development in FM20

I will continue for some time with the Aerial additional focus with him to improve his Heading attribute.


The Youth Intake responsible man

I don’t buy too many players in my saves. I’m more inclined to develop my own players.

That’s why I try to invest all the money to the training & youth facilities and youth recruitment.

Currently, our Director of Football Ramoncito Morales is responsible for youth intakes. Mainly because of his professional personality. If I will be able to find better HoYD, I will change it.

Btw. it’s hidden here in Staff/Overview/Transfer and Contract responsibilities – Provides Youth Development Information.

Player development in FM20

The reason why I mention the youth intake is mainly that the fact of the preferred formation as it could have a big impact on your youth intake.

Morales’ preferred formation is 4-1-4-1 DM Wide. That means three central midfielders, same as I like to use within the flat 4-3-3. The DM position is not too important. It’s much easier to retrain DM to CM role than to have 5 players with the position I’m not using…

The 4-1-4-1 is my most favourite formation with the flat 4-3-3 so I like to choose my coaches or other staff with this formation. If it’s possible of course.

The own players aim

We are currently on the way to finish the third improvement of our facilities in three years. We currently have Good training facilities and Average youth facilities. I also hope the Youth Recruitment will be available to upgrade.

I have 27 players in the 1st team at the end of the 5th season with the club. 15 of them are home-grown players and 7 of them are our own players.

The aim is to have at least 75% of the squad made up of its own players.


* I would like to find my coaches and DoF or Head of Youth Development by the 4-3-3 formation with the flat midfield trio but it’s not possible to select it in the Staff Search as 4-3-3 Wide is not within the Preferred Formation option.

I remember I suggested it as a new feature during FM19 but nothing changed…


Another one?

David Escobedo is on a very good way to join his older teammates. I bought this young midfielder from Mineros de Zacatecas in summer of 2023 for €40k.

He trains as Box To Box midfielder with the Passing as the additional focus.

Player development in FM20

And his attributes of Passing, Technique and Vision already moved up by 2 and 3 respectively. His physical attributes are also better.

He turned 17 years old in April 2024. He still has a lot of time to reach his potential and became a first-team regular player.


So, that’s it about my Player development in FM20.

I would be able to share some more players from my current squad but I think those examples are enough.

If you would be interested in something related to the player development, just let me know.


Don’t forget, you can join FMSlack via THIS link. My channel is #fmrensie but there are many other interesting channels to talk about FM.

And don’t forget to try the FM20 Rensie skin

Ondrej Rensie

Ondrej Rensie

A Football Manager addict and lover for many years. You can follow me on Twitter or in Football Manager Slack – #fmrensie channel.

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