Pros & Cons and thoughts about FM21

The beauty of the Football Manager (and other things as well) is that we all play the game differently. We all prefer different features and we all noticed the new/old/fixed/still bugged/newly bugged parts of the game in a different manner. Someone likes to go straight to some screens to check what is/not new or fixed. Someone absolutely doesn’t care about it and just buys all the wonderkidz. My Pros & Cons and thoughts about FM21.

This post is mainly my own thoughts from the first weeks of the new edition. Some new things are criticised (rightly), some of them are praised (rightly) and some of them left unnoticed. And, unfortunately, there is a lot of old and an old of new bugs that you would not expect.

But, this post is not about every single bug I (or someone else) found in the previous weeks. As I said, it’s mainly only my own thoughts. Most of them are about how one or two small changes/tweaks would make the game slightly better.

*Note – I switched to the default skin to avoid some things I edited for my own so they are not in the game thanks to my own custom skin.

Match UI – the bottom bar

The improved, or maybe better just revamped, match experience was surely one of the most discussed things after a new edition release. There are some things that I thought about during playing matches.

The option to move players by drag & drop option. Mainly to be able to change (for example) CM players from CMR to CML position instead of having to go to the main tactics screen to make it after you made a sub. For example, when you sub defender for the midfielder and you have to change the formation or positioning at the pitch.

Sub counts – you can make a quick sub when you click to the player in the bottom bar but it counts as the one sub or better said one of three stoppages. I’m playing in Sweden 2nd tier and there is a substitution rule “5 from 7 (max of 3 stoppages).” So I have to go to the main tactics screen to make more than only one sub within one stoppage because when I do it via the bottom bar, three single subs are counted as three stoppages.

It’s mainly connected to edited competitions rules due to COVID-19 restrictions so most of the leagues or cups have new or temporary rules.

The bottom bar

I have absolutely nothing against the bottom bar, especially as you can hide it and it gives you the nice zoom in and the players with the pitch are better to see overall. But the hide option gives us also one big disadvantage.

When you hide the bar it results in the fact that you can make some quick tweaks.

You can see the main Tactics & Subs button in the left bottom corner but you can’t see the quick buttons for your tactics, mentality, instructions or shouts when you have the bottom bar hidden.

That leads to more clicks than before and despite I’m quite used to it already, it’s annoying to hide/open the bottom bar every time when I want to do something or want to check players etc without having the touchline tablet open constantly.

I found out I’m pausing the game almost every time I want to make some tweaks or just check the players.

I like to watch a lot of matches in full or in comprehensive so that means 1) the bottom bar hidden and not see the info to have the pitch zoomed-in or 2) buy new eyeglasses.

It’s also sad that you can’t see the profile of the specific player as there is a no “i” icon in the bottom bar and there is a no option to see the profile of player(s) when you click to his name/kit/position. That means you have to open the tactics screen = more and more clicks.

Match UI – positive small things

I want to share also two great things. They are great at least in my eyes. When you hit the settings icon during the match in the right top corner, you will open the settings like camera, highlights etc.

  • 1. I really like the fact you have the option “View All Match Preferences” here. It will open the classic Preferences window, same as if you are in the home screen or mailbox. And you can set everything right now. Or you can jump to a different part of the Preferences. It’s great we don’t have to go back and open the Preferences here and here.
Pros & Cons and thoughts about FM21
  • 2. I’m not sure how many of you are using Replays during the match but I’m sure most of you are using it at least for goals scored. How many times do you skip the replay of the goal you conceded? Every time?
    You don’t have to! If you want to avoid the typical depressive feeling after conceding a goal and you don’t want to see it again, just open the settings, hit the Replay Events… drop-down menu and untick the first option “Show opposition replays”.
Pros & Cons and thoughts about FM21

What I miss?

There are several things I miss in the game from the past. One of them is the little icon at the bottom of the sidebar just above the battery icon (if you’re playing on a laptop).

The missing icon always shown you when is your next match. It’s not here anymore and I can’t stop checking that place.

I wrote here two paragraphs about the missing timeline in the match but the developers added it back to the game before I released this post.

(The match timeline is was one of these things for sure as the only option how to go through the match is was to hit the spacebar/play when you open the match. The game will load the match/report and you can watch it in full or rewind/move forward including using “10” buttons.

But would it be easier to click to the timeline to exact time instead of clicking to the “10” button? It’s only possible to use the timeline only within already played matches, not the live match. It’s still not ideal in my eyes but it’s better than nothing)


I’m not statistic expert or nerd. There are many better FM players who love to use stats in their saves for many things like recruitment, transfers and many more (check @FMStag, @AFMOldTimer or @FMTahiti for example).

But that doesn’t mean I am able to ignore everything.

I like to use the simple stats so the fact some of them are displayed wrongly at several places in the game, annoy me too. For example, things like this shared by @Shrewnaldo.

I don’t need to check and analyse all the stats within the game. It’s not required (to me) to analyse every player and his passes/shots % succes etc. But when I want to check the number of goals conceded from the right side of the pitch, I want to see the right number.

Here is where I would have placed an image from the analyst report but in researching said page for this blog I’ve realised it’s all completely bug-gered. Basically the numbers don’t add up and by a long way. I wanted to see whether we were conceding a higher % of goals from through balls, or crosses, or set pieces and also when abouts in a good we were conceding these goals. Alas this isn’t something I can do accurately right now without watching every game back and am I fuck going to do that. Disappointing.

Ed Wilson in his post about the Season 4 with Bodø/Glimt.

Set pieces

If you know me, or just only follow my posts in the last years, you know I wrote quite a lot about the set pieces every year. I like to check all the new things when the new edition is out. And the set pieces are one of the first area I like to check.

I had very small expectations before FM21 there will be something new. Or something improved. Or something fixed. Wow, that would be too much to expect.

We can say that Sports Interactive did not disappoint my trust and expectations. They fixed absolutely nothing. Nothing from FM16 when the current set piece creator/editor was added to the game.

There are still the same issues + some more. I even installed all the versions back down to FM16 to check around 10 things. They don’t work properly in any version between FM16 to FM21.

I didn’t play as much as in the past before this post was released. But nothing within the set pieces was changed/fixed/improved since November 2015 when the FM16 was released.

I’m currently not sure if the fact I reported same bugs within one part of the game during 6 editions of the game in a row is a sign of dedication or my own stupidity.

What do I like?

One of the new 1000+ features I like is a new column within the mentoring group when you add players in. We were able to see the estimated influence on (the) group even before but we have another column here. It’s called the estimated effect from group and I think it’s clear what it means.

We can now see if the group will have some impact on the players you added in the specific group.

Another small thing what I like has to be the Team/Player Stats and Rules buttons at the bottom of the competition screen. I’m not visiting this screen too often but I think it’s a nice touch to have quick access to stats and rules from here.

Pros & Cons and thoughts about FM21

Squad icon

Sometimes it’s enough to make me, at least slightly, happy with a very small thing.

Pros & Cons and thoughts about FM21

The new squad icon in the sidebar is one of them. Not sure if you remember how it looked in FM20 (it’s a too old game now, right?), the icons of your main/reserve/youth squad looked the same.

The Res and U19 description are so small that you have to concentrate on what is it. (if you don’t have it hidden of course because you delegated everything to your staff so these teams icons are hidden under the Development centre).

Plus, yes, the Staff icon was also almost the same. So, this change is really appreciated by me. This is really positive change.

Improved offer for…

I recently saw one new feature in terms of signing players/negotiating contracts. I submitted the contract offer for one player and he came back in a couple of days. It was not accepted or rejected. He wanted to negotiate.

The Improved offer for player required is a nice feature as you can see straight in the mail news item what wage the player wants but you can also see the reason(s) why he wants to negotiate the terms and what clubs he prefers now over to you.

Pros & Cons and thoughts about FM21

Too big fatigue

This is just a cosmetical thing. But it’s exact thing I hate every time I see it. I made the new custom view within the tactics screen as I wante to include different columns reflecting the new system of condition, risk injury, fatigue etc.

Logically, I added the “Fatigue” column to the view. It was surprising and disappointing to find out the game developers were not able to make it with the same font as other columns.

  1. It looks stupid and not representative
  2. It’s like the work of a group of amateurs
  3. It looks even more stupid if you have a small resolution as it’s not suited for small screens and it will take two or even three lines
  4. It’s stupid especially as several players reported it on SI Forum. I wanted to share the threads I remembered about (including mine) but I found out many topics were deleted including this one.


I’m sure I would be able to talk about many other things. Both positive and negative. But I don’t think it’s needed. I’m glad I put these together. It’s not something like a review, just my thoughts I was putting together for several weeks. Sometimes, I thought SI will fix some of these things. Or break the positive ones 🙂

There are times when someone asks me why something is broken in my custom skin. I’m not 100% sure whenever someone asks because many things are untouched and they are broken even in the default skin.

I know it would be possible to fix these things, usually just with some simple change of code. But I always ask myself why I should fix something for SI when I pay them for the game?

One example – the xG thing is a big part of the FM21. It’s in the analyst report, player overview, statistics… But you can’t see the numbers at the first sight. Only if you open the widget.

It’s just a small thing. Many FM players will don’t even notice it. But things like this always drive me to the simple question – why?

I don’t know the answer. But it’s sad you have to do it by yourself. If you know how, of course.

I, somewhere in my head, feel that the fact I have to spend many hours editing a custom skin to make the game better is not the best way.

Some things from the FMSlack

Maybe you will find something similar to your pros/cons in replies under this tweet…

Thanks for reading as always.

Hope you are all well, take care of yourself and your family.

If you are interested in reading other thoughts about the FM21, Chris @Fuller_FM released his perfect post yesterday. It’s nice to read also other opinions and thoughts about the game especially as I spent a lot of time to put together my own post about it.

My thoughts on Football Manager 2021


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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