Detail: Scouting

Scouting and the Player Search function.

Despite the oft-used justification that managers use internet searches and the like in order to find out-of-contract or transfer listed players, none of these methods provide anywhere near as much information, flexibility or are as exhaustive as the Player Search function.  It is so easily open to abuse that, after enormous amounts of debate, it has been concluded that this method is too easily used to ‘cheat’ and gain unfair advantage and therefore should not be used.

Basically, scouts are your prime realistic means of highlighting players to sign for your club, so use them.

There are, however, more ways to discover players than solely from your scout’s searches:

  • In-game media news items (including player of the month, top scorer charts, etc.) – if a player is mentioned in the in-game media you can send a scout to have a look at them.  Players are advised to use their discretion when utilising in-game charts to highlight players to scout as not all may be entirely realistic.
  • When playing a team, if an opposition player plays well against you, then it would be acceptable to send a scout to find out more about them.
  • Recommendations from your own players and staff.
  • Some less zealous LLaMas may use the player search screen sparingly in emergencies to find transfer listed or ‘available for loan’ players, but generally, beyond the first season especially, the search screen should not be used – let your scouts do the job they are paid for.  If, in a dire emergency, you feel you must use this screen, ensure that it is filtered realistically (e.g. no attribute searches).

In all cases the player should be given the once over at least by your scouts before making an offer, unless…

If a player has been released from his contract and you are unable to scout them, it is acceptable to invite them for a trial and have your Assistant Manager or coaches look them over.

In the real footballing world, scouts are extremely important to any club and the guidelines on scouting are there in order to replicate this, including the difficulties with ‘crap’ scouts or not having any at all.  A personal LLM take on scouting is discussed in more detail below.

Scouting in LLM

A lot of confusion seems to exist over the role of scouts in an LLM game.  Many players often look for clarifications over what is deemed ‘acceptable’ and realistic in the never-ending quest for better players.  They don’t want to intentionally cheat to gain an unfair advantage, but obviously want to exploit every fair means at their disposal to just maybe discover that hidden gem…

I’m not going to give any advice or tips here on how to get the best out of your scouts, or break down their attributes or any such non-LLM behaviour.

Rather, I would like to present my take on what a scout does in FM and how I deal with these types of questions in my own game.  Please bear in mind that I’m not presenting this as ‘definitive’ – another LLaMa might have a very different take.

I haven’t done any specific research on how a real scout does his job – there’s no real need for that in my opinion, although I do have some basic knowledge to start with; all I need to do is imagine how it’s done in real life, based on my existing knowledge.  If you want to get as close to reality as possible, then of course, the more you know the better.

I may follow up later and do some research and find out how close my idea of it is and adapt as necessary.  Or not.  Better still someone else might tell me and save me the effort.

LLM and why it matters at all

First of all, let’s clarify what being LLM is all about so we can get those itchy notions like ‘tactical forums=coaching courses’, ‘internet player databases’, and ‘transfer lists’ out of the way.

LLM is about using only the tools the game provides us, within realistic bounds (hence the guidelines) and our own ability.  Nothing else.  No outside help, no cheating, no editing, no third party add-ons or scouting programs, no ‘advice’ forums, no unrealistic short-cuts.  Just you and the game baby.  Mano a err… well, you get the idea.

Therefore, using anything not a part of the game itself is automatically out.  Background details on the real clubs is fine; knowledge of the real thing can only enhance your game, but looking for (or giving) help to beat the game defeats the object of LLM in the first place.

However, SI have also given players who don’t wish to play quite as realistically as LLM strives for, many options within the game itself to cater for their preferences: they can start a career at any club, regardless of reputation; circumvent the sometimes slow and haphazard scouts in order to highlight and sign players (i.e. the search screen); one can even edit the database freely…

Therefore, in order to play as realistically as possible, LLM players like to work out the differences between what the game will allow and reality and set, not restrictions or rules, but guidelines to match reality as closely as possible within the confines of the game, in order to maximise their enjoyment and ‘sense of immersion’.

These, basically, are the guidelines I follow and generally how I ‘role-play’ the whole scenario of scouting and finding players.

How Scouts Find Players

Within the game our scouts have many methods which they use to to find and highlight players – i.e. they use the virtual internet, newspapers, personal contacts and all the other methods real scouts use, in their virtual world.  We just don’t see this ‘detail’, because frankly we don’t need to – the game’s already complex enough without another layer of micromanagement on top.

Any method one can think of for how a scout finds players, any methods used by real scouts, I’m assuming my virtual scout is already employing, within his means and ability.

Transfer Lists

I consider that my scout is already utilising any FA transfer lists that may exist in his virtual world… How can I assume that?

When you assign your scout to report on a whole region or country, for example, how else would he know about which players are out of contract, up for sale or any of the other search criteria you set for him?  He must be able to look at some kind of list or have access to some kind of database to narrow it down somewhat – or a simple assignment would take up half the year, because the only other way he would know that is by talking to every player or their agent individually… nothing I’ve seen in my game indicates they’re doing that, just compiling information on a list of players from a much bigger list, perhaps watching a game or training session here and there to fill in the blanks.

I believe SI have deliberately restricted the search criteria you can set for your scouts roughly based on what they can do in the real world – and the time it takes them and the amount and type of information they return indicates to me that logically some of this information can only have come from a governing body, such as the FA, in some kind of list format – otherwise your poor scouts simply wouldn’t physically have time to personally compile all the details on the basic reports you see when he returns from his assignments, on all the players in those lists, without such ‘short-cuts’.  Ergo, he already is using all the tools at his disposal that exist in the real world.  As well as SI can simulate it of course.

The Search Screen

The list the scout returns after one of his assignments is his presentation to me, as manager, of all the players in the region who met any criteria I set him.  He will have already filtered it by some hidden criteria based on his judgement (good or bad), from the complete list of players in the region – a list similar to that which you’d get from the search screen, for example.

I can then take the lists my scouts provide and filter them however I wish, by the information he’s provided in those reports, which I regard as a realistic list of the players that my in-game persona would feasibly have detailed knowledge of at this point.

This is why I never use the search function or search screen – my scouts already use them as far as I’m concerned.

In-Game Knowledge

Of course this wouldn’t be the only way my in-game persona would know about the players in his ‘world’.

If I’d managed at another club previously, I could of course approach and buy my former players based on my personal knowledge alone.  Scouts wouldn’t be needed, although I might send one to take a look, just to check form and fitness.

At higher levels, you probably could buy a top name professional without scouting for him, but no professional club worth the name would sign contracts without the scouting or coaching staff giving them the once over at least, unless there’s some dodgy stuff going on, imo…

My in-game manager also reads the daily newspapers and watches his equivalent of Soccer Sunday, I assume (MotD would be nice – I can only dream),  so via these he might note a player worth taking a closer look at.  The in-game media is the equivalent of this, and from news items, goal of the month awards, top scorer charts and the like, as well as those opposition players who play well against my team,  I can select players individually for my scouts to check out.

Media items even include news about out of contract players at your rough level – at least in my FM’07 game I saw many media items about free agents and I was often able to react and get a scout report in time to decide whether I should invite them for trial, or even make a bid immediately for them, before they were snapped up by someone else.

I might also ask one of my seasoned players if he has any recommendations for me, based on his knowledge.  Once, again, if so, I’ll send my scouts to take a look, or invite them for trial if out of contract.

I always, always get the opinion of a scout or one of my coaching staff before any contract is signed.

Because of this wealth of options to highlight players for my club, I really would feel that using the Player Search screen would be trying to gain an unfair advantage.  I’d feel like I was cheating.

How close my ‘role-playing’ of how scouts function in the FM game world is to reality exactly I don’t really know.  It works for me though and by role-playing my game like this I rarely struggle with my conscience when looking for players.