FM21 Beta | Avoiding the catastrophe

The beta version of the new FM edition is usually an ideal way to try the new things, get used to the new features (if there are some) and just play. And report the bugs, of course, if you are not lazy. My first idea was to play in Poland during the Beta version with Legia but from some reason, I ditched that idea and started the save with Willem II in the Netherlands.

I started the save later in the pre-season so the club already played four friendlies. I just came and managed two matches before the first competitive game.

The 3-3 draw with Borussia M’gladbach and a 3-0 win over RKC Waalwijk, the team from the same league. It was all promising so I let it play and I thought the “Top Half Finish” is a very easy target…

The initial success

The draw against Gladbach and a very comfortable win over RKC was encouraging and maybe too much satisfying. We started with the 3 at the back formation, one AM player and two strikers. Something that I will want to build in the main save when it will start.

We beat Heerenveen in the first league game of the season and we also beat Honvéd 4-1 at home in the Europa League 2nd qualifying round but…

Do you think one defeat can affect too much? Especially in FM? We went 1-0 up against Ajax at home thanks to Pavlidis goal – he played as PF(S).

FM21 Beta | Avoiding the catastrophe

But we conceded three goals between 57th to 68th minute and we lost 1-3 to the favourite team. And it felt apart since.

Four games without scoring a single goal followed after this defeat. Another thing was that several players picked up injuries, mainly players who were used as WB(S) and we were short in this position overall.

Change to 4-2-3-1

Everything stopped working and I think I didn’t see some of our highlights during the match against Galatasaray. The 0-1 defeat is very mild. I thought it’s alright, Galatasaray is a much bigger club with the bigger reputation and we weren’t favourites.

But when we had one highlight per each half during the 0-0 away draw with Emmen, I decided to change the formation to 4-2-3-1.

FM21 Beta | Avoiding the catastrophe

I tried the AP role with both support and attack duty, nothing worked better than others, it was mostly about the magic of the specific player. Or no magic.

The first two months with this brought us two wins, one in the domestic cup. The formation was more dangerous in the attacking phase despite the lack of goals. I saw much more dangerous things during matches but when Nunnely or Pavlidis were not on the pitch, we were useless.

We were 11th in the table and out of the Europa League (the board wanted the group stage at least) at the end of November.

FM21 Beta | Avoiding the catastrophe
Hello there…

The results between August to November

The saviour (?)

Maybe I should mention I did no transfers since I started the save. There was the last international break at the end of November and I decided to bring some free agents. And I signed some very famous names.

  • Nicklas Bendtner – injured a day after he signed.
  • Royston Drenthe – injured two days after he signed.
  • Maximiliano Pereira – no injury but 60 minutes per match was maximum.
  • Samir Nasri…

The last one, still only 33 years old, should be our turning point. I was sure it will be the one. I added him to 4-2-3-1 as Enganche. We were 0-2 down against Feyenoord in the half-time. I changed his role to AP(A) and he ended the match with 1 assist and 1 goal. The match ended with a 2-2 draw.

Next match, against Zwolle, he scored the winning goal. I was sure I found the magic stone. The one only.

But as you can expect, it didn’t end well. A day after winning against Zwolle, groin strain injury and he was out for 6 weeks. When he came back, he made one assist and injured himself during training again.

We gained 7 points three league matches in December and it looked better. We also won three league matches in January but I already saw the problems. Several players were unhappy they are not playing despite they were injured for most of the time of this save.

Some other players, when they got their chance in the line-up, played so bad that I would like to sub them already during the 1st half. But I know it can’t be ideal without the match practice…

Impatient manager = impatient board

When we beat FC Emmen 3-0 at home in January, I was sure we will turn it around. Görkem Saglam played perfectly as AP(A) as the replacement of Nasri.

But it really was like a roller-coaster. And more importantly, the very inconsistent roller-coster. In the next 7 matches, we lost 6 and drew 1.

The 0-0 draw and the only gained point during this time was against league leaders from FC Utrecht. No idea how we did it.

Do you know who is the main to blame?

It’s me. The team manager. The impatient manager who did too many tactical changes to just try this, or this, and this as well. I was changing roles, duties, instructions. Everything.

And same as I was impatient with my own players and my own tactics, the club board was impatient with me. I really was not surprised.

FM21 Beta | Avoiding the catastrophe

We were 12th in the table after matches in February, that’s not the position we would be used to it.


I was invited to the meeting with the club board. “We will give you some more time, but we expect to see you pick up 9 points in the next 5 games.”

That was the result of the meeting.

FM21 Beta | Avoiding the catastrophe

The next five matches were against Fortuna Sittard (8th in the table, H), sc Heerenveen (10th in the table, H), PEC Zwolle (12th in the table, A), VVV-Venlo (16th in the table, H), FC Groningen (15th in the table, H).

These matches should be crucial for this save. I went to the first match against Fortuna Sittard with the three men at the back but as the first half was painful, again, I decided to make changes during the half-time. And I went back to something I know very well…

Change to 4-3-3 DM Wide

… during the half-time of the match with Fortuna Sittard, I changed our formation to the 4-3-3 wide with the defensive midfielder instead of attacking midfielder.

The player in DM slot got the Half Back role, the CM players were just CM(S) and CM(A), one winger and one inside forward in AML/AMR slots. And the complete forward as a lone striker.

FM21 Beta | Avoiding the catastrophe

The change resulted mainly to defensive stability. And we beat Fortuna Sittard 1-0. The same result came in next match against Heerenveen as Che Nunnely scored the winning goal before the half-time.

And we were already on 6 points from required 9 points within the board ultimatum.

Four wins and four clean sheets

The only away match from these five (ignore the all the “A” in the screens, I reported it as a bug) was against PEC Zwolle. We were 1-0 up thanks to another Leemans goal but the hosts turned it around and won 2-1. And it could be more. But the performance and the display were much better.

FM21 Beta | Avoiding the catastrophe

We won four from these five matches during the ultimatum and we gained 12 points from 15 possible and we moved to the 10th place of the table. All of these wins were 1-0.

If nothing more, the one thing is certain. We were much better defensively after we moved one player back to the DM slot/Half Back role. I think it’s clear from the fact we kept four clean sheets in these five matches.

The fun fact is that our reserve team won all 7 matches in a row since the tactics change…

FM21 Beta | Avoiding the catastrophe

*Small note: I was not in this situation for a long time. Or better, I don’t remember it. That means I don’t know if this “points target” mailbox news item is new or not. But while I received the update of points gained after the first three matches, I didn’t receive it after the fourth match when we got the required number of points. I only received the message “Reach a points target” after the fifth match. Maybe it’s intentional, maybe not, I don’t know but I would probably expect to get the update after all matches.

From ultimatum to the European places playoff

After we avoided the manager dismiss with a win against Groningen, we had five more matches until the end of the season.

Eredivisie is perfect for all of you who like some kind of playoffs at the end of the season. And thanks to three wins and one draw we moved up to the 8th place in the table and earned the option to play in the European places playoff.

I really liked the team performance in the last match against AZ as we beat them 1-0 at home after I placed Samir Nasri as DLP(S) to control the game and distribute the ball around the pitch. We were under big pressure in some parts of the game but goalkeeper Robbin Ruiter (click to see his profile) was fantastic.

He was the best player of the season in my eyes. And because I’m weird, it’s really sad because it’s always sad for me when your best player of the season is the goalkeeper.

We got Feyenoord as they finished 4th after Utrecht won the league. Surprisingly for me. But. We lost 0-2 to Feyenoord in the European places final and the season finished.


What was the point of this post? Probably mainly to give me some time to think about what I’m doing in the game.

I also found out some things what I will not be doing in my main save when it will start because it doesn’t work as I would like.

But I know I need to:

  • Don’t be too impatient
  • Trust my own proved methods
  • Be careful with the experiments
  • Don’t let all responsibilities to the staff. (I’m really looking forward to playing the game on my own. I tried to give almost all responsibilities to the DoF or HoYD and assistant manager and it’s awful. They do nothing. I wanted DoF will sign coaches or scouts as there were spare jobs. He hired one scout from five possible during the whole season. Just one example. Nothing against anyone who likes to delegate responsibilities but I will rather play fewer seasons and will do everything on my own.)
  • Create some new set pieces to avoid using the same as in FM20 despite it works again

As I mentioned at the beginning, the beta version is a perfect for raising bugs in the game. I found some and reported them. But it would be great if it would not end with the full release. We should report everything during the whole cycle.

Do you know what was the best feeling during struggling with the results and also the general play of the team? It gives more and more motivation to turn it around and it shows me how I love this game despite all the bugs/issues/changes we moan about.

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.

Many thanks to FMSamo for creating the new logo for this website and my Twitter.


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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