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Old 04-16-2004, 01:26 PM   #1
Pro Starter
Join Date: Feb 2004
Thumbs up CM 03/04 Hints & Tips (quite long)

IMO this was too long to tie in with the other CM thread going around. Here ya go Eaglesfan.

2. Introduction
If you didn’t get round to playing Championship Manager 4 (the previous release), Season 03/04 may initially feel daunting for players of previous versions of CM. Much of its interface seems instantly familiar, however enough has changed to perhaps leave a few people somewhat bewildered.

I hope that this document will go some way towards easing people into the game and dealing with these initial 'teething troubles'. Once you are familiar with the game and its inner workings I am confident you will soon find it as addictive and easy to use as other versions of CM.

3. Starting the Game
After clicking on the CM:03/04 icon there will be a short pause followed by the 'splash screens' showing the Eidos and SI logos. Once these have passed (or you've got bored and clicked through them ) you will find yourself presented with the game entry screen.

Fig 1: Game Entry Screen

From this screen you can choose to start a new game in two ways (I'll detail network game play later on) either by selecting Play Game' or Resume Last Game’. If you haven’t got a save-game, you should proceed to The differences between these two options are detailed below:

3.1 Load Quick Start
Selecting this option will cause a dialog box to appear containing the names of various countries. Selecting one of these to be 'loaded' will create a game within which the selected countries main divisions are active.
This process is very quick and simple to do, however because it is essentially loading up a save game which was 'pre-created', you will find that the players available within the game are identical every time you create a game using a particular country’s quick start file.
Games created in this manner are also restricted to a single active league.

3.2 Start New Game
This method of creating a new game takes longer than loading a quick start but offers far more flexibility. When selected you will be presented with the ‘select leagues’ screen after a short pause.

Fig 2: Select Leagues Screen

You can select a number of leagues to run concurrently using this screen. An important change to this setup from CM3 is the ability to select a lowest level of league to be simulated, thus allowing people with lower spec machines to run their main league plus a number of top divisions from throughout the world in order to improve the accuracy of the games simulation.
NB. In CM:03/04 for the first time you can also select your 'main' league as a background league. This will cause all divisions, apart from the one you are playing in, to be modeled using the cut-down background engine. This option is recommended for anyone who is running CM:03/04 on a below recommended spec machine and will increase the speed of the game by approximately 40% in most cases!

Also present upon this screen is the 'select recommended' button. This will cause the game to select what it considers the optimum leagues for you to run and can be used as a guide to what is considered a 'reasonable' load for your PC. Please note this system is not infallible as it relies upon your PC reporting its system information accurately (and some early processor chips appear to report about their specs inaccurately to the OS), so please continue to use common sense when selecting your final league configuration.

When you are happy with the leagues you have selected please click 'Continue Game' and wait for the game to initialise (this might take a while so feel free to go and make a cup of tea if you have selected a lot of leagues).

Fig 3: Add Manager Screen

When the league setup has been completed you will be presented with the 'Add Manager' screen. Please input your name, date of birth, favourite club and nationality then select the team you want to manage.

The favourite club and nationality come into play when the game world assesses you as a manager, so please bear this in mind when entering the information. Thus a club will be slightly more favourable towards someone known to be a 'supporter' (however rival clubs will be less favourable towards you).

Once you have entered this information correctly please select 'Continue Game' to enter the main game itself.

3.3 The Game
Your first view of the game will be your chosen team’s Squad Screen. This is very similar to the equivalent screen in CM3 and displays a list of all the players who are currently in your first team squad.

Fig 4: Team Squad Screen

The first thing you’ll notice is a huge list of players with icons next to their names, you will see many of these icons while playing the game. They are designed to bring particular aspects of a players condition to your attention. the majority of these initial Icons will be marked with the text ‘Lmp’ which indicates the player is ‘Lacking Match Practice’. For the meaning of other similar icons within the game please refer to section 4.1 later in this document.

3.4 Selecting your first eleven
The first thing to do upon taking charge of a club is to assess your newly acquired charges. There are a number of ways in which people commonly do this:

· Use of real-world knowledge.
· Sort by value
· Asking the assistant manager to select the team
· Assessing player attributes individually

I would recommend that if you are a fan of the team you are managing then you use your real-world knowledge to help with your team selection. Championship Manager 4 models the real football world as accurately as possible and you should find that your football knowledge is an invaluable asset when playing the game.

If you have little knowledge of the club you are managing then you will obviously have to fall back on one of the other methods of assessing the players within the club. The best option and that generally taken by the more patient mangers amongst you is to assess each player in the squad individually and choose the players that you feel best suit your proposed tactic.

This approach to team selection takes a considerable amount of time however and many managers find they are too impatient to undertake this approach. If this is the case with yourself then I would suggest utilising one of the other methods listed, both are fallible but should give you a rough starting point to build from.

3.5 Searching player lists and comparing players
Now that you have picked your first team and discovered the strengths and weaknesses in your side it is time to delve into the transfer market and search for players with which to improve your squad with.

As with CM3 you will find two search options in the game. The first is the ‘quick search’ which is a raw search using text which is applied to the entire game database. This is very useful if you are searching for a particular player whose name is already known to you. For the purposes of perhaps finding a small fast striker between the ages of 18 and 23, the quick search is not so useful however.

The other search allows much more refined filtering, however it is limited in scope to players who are famous, out of contract or in the same division as your main team. Otherwise what would be the point of having scouts?!
3.5.1 Filters
As with CM3 on the search screen you can refine your search by creating a filter which cuts out players who fail to fit your requirements.

I would suggest taking advantage of these whenever possible and using them to help decide which players will be the most suitable ones for you to approach.

The best way to use these filters is to setup a filter which roughly corresponds to the player you are looking for, for example if you are looking for a hard tackling central defender who is good in the air consider entering a filter for players with Tackling and Jumping over 15.

In general I would suggest the using the following characteristics when filtering for specific player positions.

Position Important Characteristics
Goalkeeper Reflexes; Handling; Positioning; Balance; Bravery

Left / Right Defenders Tackling; Positioning; Pace; Heading; Anticipation; Strength; Marking

Central Defenders Tackling; Positioning; Pace; Heading; Anticipation; Strength; Marking; Bravery; Teamwork

Attacking Wingers Passing; Shooting; Off the Ball; Creativity; Pace; Crossing

Attacking Midfield Passing; Shooting; Off the Ball; Creativity; Pace;
Teamwork; Anticipation; Dribbling

Defensive Midfield Stamina; Tackling; Positioning; Passing; Heading;

Fast Striker Shooting; Anticipation; Pace; Acceleration; Off the

Target Striker Heading; Shooting; Anticipation; Passing

3.5.2 Player Comparisons
A feature which compliments the player filters is the Player comparison screen. This can be used when you have two players to choose between or when you are looking at a player as a replacement for a current player.

Most of the comparison screen is pretty much self-explanatory, however the process of comparing two players has changed slightly from that in CM3.

In CM3 you viewed a player profile, then went to his action menu and marked him as a player for use in comparison. Then you viewed another player profile and did the same. Then you went to the action menu for a player and chose to compare the two players you had marked.

In CM:03/04 you just view any player profile, then go to another player profile and then another (as many times as you want up to a maximum of ten). Then once you have one you want to compare, just go to the actions menu and choose the “Compare With” submenu. In this menu you’ll see a list of your last ten previously viewed player profiles. If any one on this list is incompatible (position wise) with the current player you are viewing (or have right clicked upon) he will be greyed out so you can’t accidentally make illogical comparisons (for example a goalkeeper against a striker). Pick someone available and the player comparison screen will then be displayed.

Figure xx – Player Comparison Screen
On the screen itself you can get a view of the player attributes and the difference between them. Which player is better is indicated with a colour (there is a colour legend at the bottom telling you what each colour means). If the difference for a certain attribute is big enough (very big) then the colour will be slightly brighter to bring this to your attention.

There are two exceptions to the use of colour codes. The appearances are compared per starting appearance and are compared using a minus sign in front of it if player #1 has less sub appearances than player #2. The preferred foot comparisons just indicate the feet that each player prefers.

The positions are also compared between the two players. An equals sign (=) means they are equally good in that position, otherwise a start rating from 1 to 5 is used in conjunction with the usual colour scheme to indicate which player is best in the position.

Now that you have decided which players from your club suit your chosen style of play and set your heart on a couple of transfer targets for the future it is time to click continue game and progress through to your first match.

On a match day you will notice that the date field in the menu bar changes its text to ‘Go to Match’ to indicate that this is a match day and the team selection when you click continue will be used for the forth coming match.

At this point it is advisable to decide upon the tactics to employ during the match. I would initially suggest that you stick to a fairly standard tactic as commonly employed by teams in real-life, say a 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 format.

To enter the tactics screen click on the tactics button in your squad screen. The tactics screen will now be displayed. This is very similar at first glance to its equivalent in CM3.

Figure xxx – Tactics Screen

You can select one of the basic ‘template’ tactics from the “Quick Load” option on File menu in this screen.

3.6 General Tactical Approaches
Once you have selected the basic tactical formation, click upon the instructions menu on the right hand side of the screen and select ‘Team Instructions’ so that you can view the guide options that you can indicate for your team.

The options shown in this view are overall guides for your team to follow if they don’t have any personal over-rides set for any tactical area of their game. It is generally advised for a manager to setup their team tactics to approximate the style of play they want from their team and then tune individual instructions of a few key players.

There are many tactical options available for alteration and tuning within CM:03/04 I will briefly detail all of the options available to a manager.

3.6.1 General Instructions
There are many instructions which can be given either as overall team directions or as specific instructions to individual players. These are detailed briefly below.

This indicates the basic fundamental mentality of the team, whether they are more defensively minded or attack minded.

1 Ultra Defensive
This indicates that the team will keep defensive minded at all times and resist pushing men forward often.

2 Defensive
The team will be cautious and attempt to ensure that they aren’t caught out at the back when attacking.

3 Normal
The team will play ‘Normal’ football.

4 Attacking
The team will be attack minded and may push more men forward then normal, be very cautious when using this option or you may find yourself caught short at the back.

5 Gung Ho
The team will play a very attacking style of football, with little thought given to defending.

Passing Types
This indicates the style of passing that your team will attempt to employ during a match. Bear in mind that not all passes which are made will be of the type you specify, the style selected just biases a player’s decisions.

6 Direct
This passing style indicates that a team will attack quickly, not employing the more patient passing around the edge of the box that is employed by certain continental teams to try and pry open defences. Examples of teams who employ this tactic in real-life are Wimbledon and the Norwegian national team.

To use this passing style it is recommended that the players who will distribute the ball should also have high Passing and Creativity, the players who will be involved in the attack should have high Pace and Flair.

7 Long Ball
This tactic indicates that instead of a patient build up to an attack a team will often attempt to simply pump the ball over the midfield and hope that an attacker can get onto the pass. Examples of teams who employ this tactic in real-life are Cambridge (in the 80s under John Beck) and quite a few lower division clubs.

To use this passing style it is recommended that you have forward players with good Strength, Anticipation and Heading.

8 Short
This tactic indicates that the team will attempt to build attacks by a series of intricate short passes between players. Examples of teams who employ this tactic in real-life are most Italian and South American clubs.

To use this tactic it is usually helpful if the players in your team have high Passing and Off the Ball movement, reasonable stamina is also useful as a team playing this style have to make a lot more movement than one simply lobbing the ball up the park.

9 Mixed
This passing style indicates that the type of passes to be played is left up to the individual players themselves, thus some-times Long Balls will be played, sometimes Short passes depending upon the player and situation.

Focus Passing
This issues a guideline to players towards where the ball should be played. Use this inclusion to direct play generally towards areas where you feel your team has strength.

· Down Both Flanks
This directs players to look to get the ball out wide at every opportunity. No bias is given to either side.

· Down Left Flank
This directs players to get the ball out wide on the left wing as often as possible.

· Down Right Flank
This directs players to get the ball out wide on the right wing as often as possible.

· Through the Middle
This directs players to play the ball through the centre of the pitch when possible.

· Mixed
This is equivalent to no option being set in this area and instructs players to use their own judgement when distributing the ball.

This indicates the harshness of your team’s tackling within a match.

1 Easy
This indicates that players will pull out of 50-50 balls and will be less inclined to make crunching sliding tackles during a match. This style of play is recommended for Friendly matches and matches where you really don’t want your players to receive any injuries or bookings.

2 Normal
This indicates that the players will play their normal game, hence David Batty would be inclined to scrap for every last ball whereas Stan Collymore would go to sleep if the ball wasn’t under his feet.

3 Hard
This indicates that the players have been told to fight hard during the game, they will be more inclined to go in for 50-50 balls and make risky tackles. This style of tackling is recommended against teams who are physically weak or technically superior.

Team Styles
There are three team playing styles which act as overrides to a tactical formation and indicate to players a method of play which is not just positional. These styles may either be turned on or off and may be combined (although this is not always appropriate).

4 Offside Trap
This indicates that the team will attempt to play an offside trap - that the defending players will attempt to push forward as a unit to force opposition players offside when a pass in made. Arsenal used to be renowned for playing this way.

To play using the offside trap it is recommended that your defence has high Stamina, Condition, Anticipation and Positioning.

5 Counter Attack
This indicates that a team will attempt to ‘suck’ the opposition forward and then hit them quickly with a counter attack while their men are out of position, many Italian clubs play using this style.

To play using Counter Attacking tactics it is recommended that you have a solid defence and fast attackers with good stamina. You might also experiment using the Counter Attack style with the Closing Down ploy. As soon as your players regain the ball they’ll hit the opposition on the break quickly.

6 Men Behind Ball
This indicates that a team will attempt to stifle the opposition’s play by putting as many men behind the ball as possible to prevent scoring chances. Many minor teams will play this way in real life when faced with opposition that are much better than them.

3.7 Styles of Play
Once the template tactic has been set, it is time to customise it to suit the team you have selected. I would suggest that you look at the squad and decide upon a basic style of play to employ.

In the paragraphs below I indicate a few crude tactics using generalisations for approaches to play.

3.7.1 Target Man
For instance, if your best striker is a tall target man then you will undoubtedly want to pump a fair few high balls forward and also get in as many crosses as possible. To do this, set your team’s passing style to ‘Long Ball’ and ensure that your wingers are given instructions to run forward and cross the ball.
3.7.2 Fast Striker
If your best striker is a fast player who you want to use to break the oppositions back line then you will look for most of your players to hold up the ball and play incisive through balls for this chap to run onto. You can do this by setting players to ‘hold up the ball’ and ‘play through balls’.
3.7.3 Containing Game
If you feel you are playing superior opposition and are simply looking to stifle the game then I would recommend selecting a solid tactic such as a 4-5-1 and attempting to hold onto the ball when you have it and make things hard for the opposition when they have it.
The easiest way to do this is to set a defensive (or in extreme cases ‘Ultra Defensive’) mentality for your team and turn on counter attack. This will ensure that your team holds people back when attacking and is not impatient in getting the ball forward when you have possession.
3.7.4 Compressing the play
If you find the opposition are getting too much space in front of your defence then consider asking your midfield to do more work. I would suggest in such instances putting your central midfielders onto Zonal Marking, Hard Tackling and Closing down the opposition when they are in your half. This will mean your midfielders will work harder harrying the opposition when they have the ball and thus restrict the space they have.
A draw back of this tactic of course is that when you retrieve the ball it is less likely that your central midfielders will be in a forward position ready to receive a pass for a break-away. You will also need midfielders with excellent stamina and work-rate who would be prepared to take on the extra workload.

3.8 General Tactical Roles for Players
In the next section I have suggested a few customised player instructions for some of the more common player roles within a match.
3.8.1 Sweeper
Zonal Marking, No forward runs, No run with ball
3.8.2 Wing Back / Overlapping Defender
Zonal Marking, Run with ball, Forward runs, Cross ball
3.8.3 Defender/Midfielder negating a creative player
Man-Marking, Close down in own half, Hard-tackling, No Forward Runs, No Run with ball
3.8.4 Holding Midfielder
Zonal marking, Close down in own half, Hold up the ball
3.8.5 Fast Striker
Zonal Marking, Run with ball, Forward runs (high positioning only)
3.8.6 Target Man
Zonal Marking, Hold up the ball, No forward runs, No run with ball

3.8.9 Presets
If you wish to set the game’s default instructions for your players, simply click on the Set To Preset drop-down menu to select a sensible preset for a certain position. Also see Configuring Player Instruction Templates in section 6.5 of this document.

3.9 Tactical Ploys
This section details a few common tactical ploys which users might want to attempt during matches.
3.9.1 Drawing defenders wide
Consider giving strikers runs into wide positions if you want them to attempt to draw the central defenders out wide and give your attacking midfielders (or third striker) more space. This works best when the opposition are man-marking the strikers (something you will have to ascertain from watching the match) and especially so against inattentive human players.
3.9.2 Antagonising opposition players
Placing a player onto ‘hard tackling’ in order to wind up opposition players can be very useful, especially if the player you are antagonising already has a yellow card.
3.9.3 Tempting Fate
If an opposition defender has a yellow card then consider asking his opposite number to ‘Run with ball’. This will leave the defender in an awkward position, attempting a tackle might result in a lunge and a second yellow card however he has to stop the player from going past him.

3.9.4 KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid)
One thing to bear in mind when playing as a smaller, less skillful side is that the players in your squad may at times restrict the complexity of tactics that you can use. It is pointless setting up convoluted tactics if your squad is full of inept Sunday league players who can barely pass the ball.

3.9.5 Star Player
If you’ve managed to secure a player who may well be considered something of a genius in contrast to the rest of your team. If this is the case then try to ensure that the team plays to his strengths where appropriate.
For example if you’ve signed a cultured defender who is calm and collected on the ball then consider attempting to use him as the outlet for building up attacks, you can do this by directing passing in his direction (using ‘pass to’) and setting his instructions to encourage him to play the killer long pass to the midfield/attack (e.g. Hold Up The Ball, Through Balls, Direct Passing).
In contrast if the player in question is Michael Owen then consider telling you team to play ‘Direct Passes’ or even ‘Long Passes’ and simply give him free reign to run onto them.
Obviously if you are lucky enough to have a team containing many talented individuals (such as many of the larger Premiership teams) then you’ll have to decide if you want to play to the strengths of one of those players or whether you prefer to play a tactic modelled upon the team as a whole.
Bear in mind of course that the one flaw of this ploy is that should your ‘key player’ ever get injured, you could well find your tactic is useless without him.

Finally with regards to tactics, if you are playing as Brighton just ensure you give the ball to Leon Knight (the new Bobby Z!) - he knows what to do with it :-D

3.9.6 How does the match engine use a player’s stats to calculate what happens?

Nearly three years worth of coding have gone into creating a realistic 2D simulation of a football match, so rather than go into that much detail, may we give you a couple of examples instead?

All attributes in the game are there for a reason and are utilised within the game simulation. Stats don’t work independently of each other either – they combine to create an ‘end product’. So, if a player is a fair distance out from goal and the goalkeeper’s off his line, then he'll need a good 'vision' stat to see a chance to chip the keeper. However in order to make use of this vision, he’ll need to have a decent 'long shots' ability to get the ball in the net from that range.

In another example, if a player has poor movement "off the ball" then he'll be always be heavily marked, obviously making it harder for him to find a chance to shoot. If he does squeeze a shot in, there will thus be a bigger chance that it'll deflect off a defender for good or ill.

3.9.7 Is a player’s ‘Off the ball’ movement one of the most important stats then?
No. In the instance I mentioned above, a player will be affected by the proximity of the opposition players, but how much this affects him will be down to his Pressure rating and possibly the physical nature of the opposition players (dependant upon a player’s Bravery attribute). This could mean that a player with Finishing 20 but poor 'Bravery and Pressure' ratings in these circumstances has a worse shot than a player with 15 finishing but high Bravery and Pressure ratings.
Obviously if the player had high "Off the ball" stats then his chance of not being under pressure would be higher (dependant upon tactics, being man-marked etc.), but if some of his other stats are low, then he will be fallible in other ways.

These are all somewhat crude examples perhaps - but should hopefully give you an idea of why looking at one particular statistic in isolation can give a flawed view of things. Different stats are always combined to generate outcomes in the match engine and I hope this goes some way to showing why we can't simply indicate that striker 'x' is more likely to score than striker 'y'. It’s not that simple in real life and not that simple in the game.

3.10 The Transfer Market
You’ve now stumbled through your first match and are probably wondering why you chose this team and the current bunch of clod-hoppers which appear to make up the first team. At this point I think it might be appropriate to introduce the games transfer system and talk you through the basics of wheeling and dealing within the Transfer Market.
3.10.1 Who to sell?
There are many ways to determine which players are surplus to requirements, I will detail a few of the more common reasons below:

· I just don’t like him, ok?
Many people bring their real-world alliances into the game with them and will simply transfer list any player they dislike in real-life (for whatever reason). This is fair enough and I’m sure managers in real life have upon occasion taken their prejudices with them into new jobs.
· Raising Transfer funds
If the club is very low on transfer funds and you have a couple of highly-valued players it is very tempting to cash in on those players in order to raise funds for purchases.
· Poor Average Rating
The more impatient amongst you might transfer list a player simply because you feel his average rating is too low after a few games. If this is the case with you then please bear in mind that the average, average rating is lower in CM:03/04 than in CM01-02 (roughly around 6.7 in most games).
· Ageing Player
Another awkward call to make is when to off-loan an ageing star, should he be sold while he is useful and on-form or will the club cling to him until he retires?
· Not Developing
It is incredibly common for managers to have to make a call about young players fairly frequently. Not all such players will cut it in the first team and it is ultimately your decision as to whether such a player is retained or released.
Expect at some point for one of these released youngsters to come back and haunt you however, either by going on to become a superstar or by scoring against your team

3.10.2 Automatic Transfer Options
Championship Manager 4 makes the transfer system more manageable by allowing the user to setup a number of automatic options for his players, such as ‘Sell if offered over £x’. This prevents the situation when the user is flooded with a host of offers which all have to be checked in turn by the player for suitability of acceptance.

These options are also invaluable if you might be absent when playing a network game as, by using them, you can simulate how you would react to offers upon each individual player within your team.
3.10.3 Selling Players
The conventional wisdom is to simply transfer-list a player and wait for clubs to announce an interest within the player, dropping his asking price if clubs appear to be backward in coming forward!

In Championship Manager 4 however you can be pro-active with selling players by selecting a host of clubs and then offering the players to those clubs. Obviously if your Assistant Manager has good judgment then you can (as with most options) ask his advice as to which clubs are suitable candidates to take the player in question.

Please be warned however that if players hear their manager is attempting to off-load them then this can damage their morale. It may also cause unrest in other players within the team if the player in question is a lynchpin of a team.

If a player has a loyal personality then you might have to be stern with him and indicate that he is ‘Not Needed’ in order to persuade him to accept interest from approaching clubs. If you are of cruel character however, fine him unreasonably and that should ensure he does leave. Watch out for fallout from other squad members though….
3.10.2 Purchasing Players
You can find potential prospects to purchase in many different manners, either by scouring the players in the game using the search filters, by hearing about promising players through the media or sending your scouts out round the world.

If you cannot view all of the attributes for a player who interests you then it might be worth sending a scout out to examine him in detail rather than risk spending money on someone who is partially an unknown quantity.

If you hear that a club is in financial trouble then it is worth looking through their players because you might be able to take advantage of their weakness by making an offer they can’t refuse. Unless you’ve got morals of course…

If you’re having trouble getting a player from abroad, don’t automatically assume that it’s a bug! Please bear in mind that if you're attempting to lure someone into moving countries then they will expect at least a half-decent wage for doing so. If someone’s on £100/week in their country then it’s reasonable to expect that either the standard of living is lower or they're semi-pro and are doing the Fireman Routine of juggling two jobs.
Remember you're expecting them to walk away from their club, their family, friends and their other job to join your team, so asking for a decent wage is surely a reasonable thing for them to ask. Put yourself in their shoes…

In general, there are always loads of players up for grabs, so here are a couple of tips on what to look for in a player:

When it comes to defenders, a high Decisions rating is absolutely essential – particularly for your centre-backs. You want them to be sure they can make a header before they go in for it or know when to make a clearance and when to play it short. It’s not a bad idea to look for a Decisions rating of 14/15 or above (especially if you’re in a top league where the opposition attacks are generally much pacier).
Talking of pace, players in the modern game are far quicker and fitter than ever before. If you’re still relying on defenders for whom a diet of pie and pints is the ‘norm’, you’re clearly not going to be able to match the best sides in the league. Centre-backs must therefore be reasonably quick or you will find opposition teams catching you on the break with alarming regularity. Again look for defenders with 14/15+ pace rating or good acceleration. You might be able to counter a lack of pace with good marking and good positioning stats, but there will always be times when you wish they had a bit more zip…
Lastly, maybe it’s your man between the sticks who’s letting you down. Apart from the obvious Goalkeeping stats there are certain stats you should be looking out for, of which Decisions, Agility, Bravery, Anticipation, Positioning and Jumping are the main ones. It’s not a perfect world however, so only the top keepers will have a strong combination of all these. If you can’t afford or attract the best, look for a good Agility rating combined with half-decent Anticipation. Oh, and see if he can make some decent Decisions as well…

3.11 Setting up Training
Training in CM:03/04 takes a much more ‘real world’ approach than it did in CM3. You are required to setup a week’s training schedule for your players, just as you would have to do in real-life.

In pre-season you will obviously want to get your players as close to match fitness as possible with the time available. Although it is well worth arranging a series of friendly matches (about 6 is a good number), it may also be considered a good idea to think about how your training schedules can play an important role. Getting your players to do some cross-country running (Ipswich start each pre-season with a run through the city) will have a noticeable effect on their stamina and fitness. Other fitness-intensive exercises such as five-aside and closing-down will also help your side prepare their bodies for the gruelling season ahead. CM:03/04 now lets your physios take an active role in training and it is a good idea to take some of the strain off your coaching team by commanding your physiotherapists to take charge of the non-technical, fitness sessions.

If you are interested in getting improvement from your U19 team, you might consider it worth your while designing a few schedules to ensure that you do not overwork them at such a young age. You might, for example, create a schedule for your young forward players which deals with the basics of shooting, agility and heading, but includes enough rest during the week for them not to become exhausted by the rigours of professional football. I would suggest experimenting with different training combinations until you find a set of schedules which suits your approach to the game.

Once the season is under way, I would recommend starting with an existing training regime (most likely the ‘General’ one) and then modifying it slightly to suit your purposes.

For example with Brighton one of my main concerns is to teach my team to play as a unit, so I take the General regime and then change two of the more physical training units to team work related items such as 11-a-side matches.

3.11.1 Viewing the results
The overview screen in training displays a list of your teams current playing staff. Beside their names is a star rating, this indicates roughly how well they are training currently, 2 ½ stars indicates a reasonable level of training achievement.

if they are below this then click on their star rating and check what the coaches comment it. The coach might comment that they are lazy (if this is the case then you might want to consider employing a more motivational coach or one who is more of a disciplinarian) or he might indicate that there is a valid reason for their poor training performance at the moment (e.g. Coming back from injury)..

Beside the star rating is an arrow indicator which simply shows whether their attributes in the currently displayed area of training are rising or falling.

3.12 Handling Players

If you want to get the best out of the players in your squad, you’ll have to think very carefully about how you’re going to handle them. In this respect CM:03/04 certainly gives you more to think about as, with an U19 squad as well as your First Team and Reserves, you’ll have to pay attention to youth development. The way you go about this will depend largely on what sort of manager you are. If you are the Keegan-type of boss who would rather throw money at your first team rather than invest in a decent youth setup, then it will make sense to leave your U19s to the assistant manager and keep that squad fairly sparse or even empty. For those of you managing on a shoestring however, the U19 team is going to quickly become the life-blood of your team. Setting the CM:03/04 database to large (depending on your computer’s ability) will give you the opportunity to snatch some great young bargains from the Lower Leagues.

Meanwhile, if you are the type of manger who can’t stand prima donnas the quickest way you are going to get any hassle-free work done is to transfer them (perhaps cheaply) as soon as possible. It’s sometimes worth squandering potential talent if it means the rest of your team aren’t going to get upset by his behaviour. Once a player has caused disruption in the ranks, it is likely that any distrust caused will remain and perhaps worsen over the next few months. There are not many players who are prepared to forgive and forget. Fining players for unprofessional behaviour can be enough to rectify the situation, but players who are unprofessional or dislike you anyway will react badly.

You will be given the opportunity now and then (through a player’s action button) to release media stories about the player. Players who have a high professionalism rating and have been playing poorly of late will react in a positive manner to criticism whereas players who are temperamental or lazy will resent any public criticism coming from your corner. Almost all unfair criticism on your part will result in a player becoming unhappy. Releasing a positive news story can have a good effect on a player’s morale or even the squad’s or fans’ morale if you congratulate the club captain, a top goalscorer or the fans’ favourite player. As with most things however, the more you play the game, the sooner you will find out which footballers will clash with your own managerial personality and which ones will love you as the greatest manager of all time. A word of warning however, once you discover who’s got it in for you, avoid them!
3.12.1 Manager Promises

When one of your players is unhappy and either wants to move to another club, wants an improved contract or wants regular first team football, you now have the option to make a promise to him. When the news screen reports his unhappiness, you may respond by either making a promise to him relating to the reason why he is unhappy or you can tell him to just get on with it.

If, for instance, one of your players wanted an improved contract, then you would be presented with up to three options. These are to promise him an improved contract at the end of the season, promise him an improved contract if he plays well within the next month, or lastly to tell him to stop whining and get on with playing. Obviously, if you can afford to give him an improved contract then that would be the suggested way to deal with this player, but given the relatively small amount of money available to a lot of smaller clubs in football, you might not be able to afford to give him an increase. You will find yourself with the situation that you really want to keep this player but can't afford to offer him an improved contract. You could promise him an improvement in wages at the end of the season or if he plays well, although depending on the player’s personality and how aggrieved if his at being underpaid he could well refuse your promise and become really unhappy as a result. Although there are always exceptions, in most cases the player will accept this promise and get on with playing for the club.

However, if you think the player will forget about your promise then you will be in for a shock! If you don't deliver on your promise then you will have one seriously unhappy player on your hands. Another way to deal with the player would be to tell him to get on with it, in other words he's not getting a new contract. For a lot of players the harshness of the words will make them back down for the time being at least, but a few will throw their rattle out of the pram and have a good moan about it.

3.12.2 Player Conflict

When one of your players is unhappy about one of your transfer dealings then you can expect him to have a whinge. In reply to this complaint you will have three possible responses. You can choose to understand the players concerns, dismiss his concerns as meaningless or slam the player for his outburst.

How you respond to this situation is largely down to your perception of the player involved. If you don't think the player has the bottle to stand up to you then condemning him will more than likely ensure the player will apologise for his outburst.

If, however, the player is question is an attention seeker, then maybe understanding his concerns will ensure the player retracts his earlier comments about your transfer policy. However get this wrong and you could end up with a seriously unhappy player on your hands.

3.12.3 Player Relationships
The actual 'effect' of a relationship depends on the personalities of the players involved too. Professional players won't be as affected by negative relationships and loyal players will have 'stronger' bonds than disloyal players. Likewise young players idolising players with bad attitudes might well pick up those undesirable traits themselves. It all contrives to give you that little extra to think about when you head to the transfer market for a spot of shopping.

As a result of these in-game relationships, players can get particularly attached to certain team-mates, non-playing staff and even clubs. If a player does well, is very happy at a club or is cherished by the fans, then you will see him list your club as one of his favourites. This aspect of the game can work wonders if you loan a promising youngster from a top club when you’re in charge of a lower league side. If the player enjoys the loan and does really well then maybe, just maybe, he'll indicate that he's enjoying the loan and you'll find yourself (and possibly the club) down as ‘liked’. If this happens then it obviously makes it a little easier to entice him to stay permanently should the opportunity arises… Likewise, you can use Player Search screen to find players who list you, your club or players you employ as their favourite – this is an especially good idea if you’re facing a relegation battle and want to employ players who are going to give everything for you and your club.

3.13 Handling the media

One of the hardest aspects of CM:03/04 for newcomers to the game is how to approach handling the media and when to use it to your advantage.

I will break this aspect of the game down into individual components and hopefully clarify some of the reasoning behind how this operates.
3.13.1 Release Media Story
One of the new features that came in with the first enhancement pack was the ability to praise or criticize your players’ recent form. This feature is located on the players action menu, inside a sub-menu called ‘Release Media Story’.

At present there are a couple of restrictions upon this feature, the first being that this option will not appear on the player play unless he has played at least four games. You will also be restricted to praising or criticizing one player a week. These restrictions are in place simply to prevent managers from over-using this option on inappropriate players.

As in real-life, players love to be praised by their manager and aren’t fond of criticism. However remember some players while disliking criticism will be inspired by it and attempt to prove their manager wrong, also some players will become complacent if praised and so may perform worse than otherwise.

It is (as always) your job as manager to decide how to go about motivating each individual in your squad. As a guideline I would recommend avoiding criticising youngsters or people who are known to be highly strung.
3.13.2 Responding to transfer speculation
If one of your players has been linked with another club you will be asked for a comment by the press. The options you are presented with vary from issuing a hands off warning to declaring that you might have to sell the player to ease the club’s financial plight.

How you respond normally depends on whether you actually want to sell the player in question. However sometimes you might want to spread seeds of doubt about your willingness to sell a player (if for example the player in question is popular with the fans) until you actually do so, as admitting to even considering such an act can turn fans against a manager unless results are going the right way.

4 Game Detail
This section clarifies any area of game detail which might initially appear unclear to new users.

4.1 Player Situation Indicators
Icons you might encounter on the Squad Screen while playing the game are:

Inj Player is injured
Sus Player is suspended
Wnt Player is wanted by another club
Bid A club has put a bid in for this player
Yel Player is one yellow card away from a ban
Ret Player is planning to retire
Int Player is on International Duty
Fgn Player is considered a ‘foreign’ player under team selection rules.
Ine Player is ineligible for the next match
Wpm Player has no work-permit
Tir Player is tired
Cup Player is cup-tied (and hence unavailable for next match)
Loa Player is listed as available for loan
Lst Player is transfer listed
Unh Player is currently unhappy
Abs Player is AWOL (absent without leave)
Ctr Players contract has expired
Si (MLS Only) Senior International
Unf Not fully fit
Lmp Lacking Match Practice
Trn Player is has a transfer arranged
Sct Player is being scouted
Yth Player has a youth contract
Bos Player is leaving the club on a Bosman
Fut Player is concerned about his future (has no actively set squad status)
Req Player is transfer listed by his request

4.2 Retirements
When a player decides to retire he may or may not decide to announce this to you when he first makes the decision. Because of this sometimes you will have warning that a player is going to retire, while with other players they may just abruptly retire.

Generally speaking unless a retirement is caused by injury a player will retire at the end of a playing season.

A new feature in CM:03/04 is the ability to attempt to persuade a player to put off retiring for a season by appealing for him to stay at the club. This does not always work and is obviously a choice that you will have to make upon hearing about an imminent retirement.

4.3 Coaching Badges
In CM:03/04 you will sometimes see a news item announcing that one of your players has qualified with a UEFA coaching certificate. This indicates that the player has now obtained non-playing ability and could be offered a coaching role within your team if you decided to offer one.

Generally speaking the level of badge that he receives is a guideline to how good he is as a non-player.

4.4 Keeping Morale High
Players who have high morale will usually play better than those who have low morale* so it is important to keep player morale as high as possible. To keep player morale high it is important to keep each player feeling that they are valued members of the squad, this can be done by:

There exceptions to this rule, including circumstances such as a player who is transfer listed playing his heart out to try and attract a new club.

4.4.1 Player Personality
A player’s personality can affect his mood quite severely, some players are naturally more moody than others.
You can detect this in Championship Manager 4 by keeping an eye on the ‘Future’ section of a player’s factfile, these are largely the same as in CM3 – however, in case you haven’t played that version of the game I have listed a few examples below to give you an idea of how this works.

Phrase Meaning
Outraged low temperament and isn’t amazingly professional.
Disappointed Model professional who isn’t going to rock the boat or dip in his application when unhappy.
Worried or Upset Not very good at handling pressure.
Believes he can force his way back into the managers plans Hardworking and good at handling pressure
Thinks this club is a stepping stone for the future Disloyal, Ambitious and fairly un-professional.

As you can see from the list it is fairly easy to ascertain the personality of the player from the phrases that are displayed (not all phrases in the game are in the table as there are several hundred possibilities).
4.4.2 Ensuring that the players squad status is appropriate
A player won’t be happy if you tell him he is an important player and then never play him.
4.4.3 Don’t jump his squad status around repeatedly
If you change his squad status every other week then this makes a player feel insecure about his position at the club.
Players will indicate that they have been upset by a change in their squad status by displaying a message indicating that the 'player feels he has been treated unfairly' on their profile.
4.4.4 Pay him what he is worth
If you bought your star player while in the conference and put him on a 7 year contract at £150 / week then when you reach the Premiership he will not be very happy to still be stuck with that contract.
4.4.5 Don't try and train a player for a position that doesn't suit him
If you try and train a player for a position that he feels he isn't suited for then he will tell you he is 'unhappy with training'. This will slow any improvements that he may gain from training and may make him more prone for not turning up to training.
4.4.5 Language Barrier
If a player can’t communicate with any other staff members then he is more likely to be unhappy than one who can talk to other staff.
4.4.6 Disliked Players
Some players actively dislike other players and shouldn’t be placed in the same team, this you can only find out by trial and error (a player will tell you when it happens).
4.4.7 Vetoing Player Requests
Ignoring player requests for transfer or first team football may make players unhappy.
4.4.8 Winning Games
No player likes always being on the losing side, winning games is an effective way of increasing squad morale.
4.4.9 Value him realistically
Players won’t be happy about being over-valued by their coaches. While a happy player might allow you to value him at 10x his value if he’s tolerant and at his favorite club, an unhappy player who wants to move to a bigger club will probably be unhappy if valued at 1.5x his Automatic asking price.
4.4.9 Protect him from the media
If you fail to protect players from media criticism then this can affect the way they feel about you.

This is a double-edged sword however as certain players may take your defence of them to the media as an indication that they can relax and take things easy.
Also defending a player who has criticized his team mates may upset the players he offended.
4.4.10 Time at the club
Certain players will feel that they have achieved all they can at your club and be looking for a new challenge. If you force these players to stay put then their morale will drop.

If a respected senior member of your team is upset then it will have a ripple through effect on the rest of the team. Thus if Shearer is unhappy at Newcastle then it may unsettle other
players in the squad.
4.4.11 Don’t promise what you can’t fulfill
Making empty promises to a player that you later don’t fulfil is a sure way of making them dislike you. Avoid using promises to solve problems in the short-term unless you are sure you can fulfil them, otherwise you’ll find you’ve stirred up more trouble than you started with.

4.4.12 The effects of morale
Morale, as in real life, will have a significant effect on your team. Just as a few consecutive wins will get your team’s confidence flying, losing a couple will have them wondering where their next point is coming from. Your players’ morale will thus have an important on your team’s run of form – you will need to know how to prolong winning runs and halt losing streaks.

4.4.13 The effects of a loss on morale
A loss will mainly affect players who were active in the match. However, not all players will drop to very low - just those who are most affected by the defeat. Strikers who have missed a number of chances or goalkeepers who have conceded several goals are a good example of players who are most likely to suffer a drop in confidence.

4.4.14 The effect of player characteristics on morale
The effects of morale in Championship Manager are partially dependant upon your team’s maturity and the personalities of your players.

If your team is full of temperamental (especially disloyal) players then they will most likely be unable to turn things round when the going gets tough. If they find themselves playing for a losing side each week, they will be more likely to want to jump ship and get a transfer elsewhere than dig in and grind out results. In a similar manner (but for different reasons) very young players are also more severely affected by morale. These youngsters generally lack the experience and confidence to be able to battle or get motivated when things aren’t going well.

4.4.15 Is it wise to keep playing the same team after a particularly severe drubbing?
The best managers would tell you it depends on the situation – and this is exactly the same for CM too. If you go on a losing streak for several games then it might be wise to rotate in a couple of 'older heads’ to stabilise things - maturity is a great thing for young sides. Otherwise you may believe that a revival in form is only round the corner, in which case it would be best to not make too many changes.

4.4.16 Morale - Leading to Winning/Losing streaks
The effects of morale are partially dependant upon your team’s maturity and personality.

If your team is full of temperamental (especially disloyal) players then they'll be quite volatile in this way, in a similar manner (but for different reasons) very young players are often affected more severely by morale than older more mature players.

If you're looking to 'stabilise' a team which has poor morale and a losing streak then consider putting in a couple of older heads to hold the rest of the team together, most especially with regards to this - don't give the captaincy to an 18 year old however good he is.

4.4.17 Morale Summary
As a general summary, the effect of a player’s morale varies from player to player. Very unprofessional or temperamental players, for example, tend to differ hugely in performance due to their morale. If they're happy then everything is great - if it’s not then they'll sulk. In contrast, very professional players will turn in consistent efforts week-in week-out regardless of their morale.

If you're looking to 'stabilise' a team which has poor morale and a losing streak then you should consider putting in a couple of older heads to hold the rest of the team together. And one last thing, never give the captaincy to an 18 year old – no matter good he is. He’ll never be able to cope…

4.5 Player Characteristics

CM:03/04 has far more player attributes than meet the eye. Literally! There are many attributes which are visible within a player’s profile but equally there are those which remain ‘hidden’ and only become evident after you get to know your squad a little better. We’ll take a look at the Visible Attributes first.

Goalkeeping (Goalkeepers only)

Aerial Ability The capacity to pluck the ball out of the air. A keeper who comes out and flaps at a ball will cause panic among his defenders. A good aerial ability is helpful against teams who get lots of crosses in or use the long ball tactic.
Command of Area A ‘keeper with good command of his area is mobile and gets around the box rapidly. He will display this attribute best at set pieces – knowing when to come for the ball and making sure he gets it when he does.
Communication A ‘keeper with good communication skills is essential if you want to possess an organised defence. Think Peter Schmeichel…
Eccentricity An eccentric keeper is a double-edged sword. He might be capable of moments of genius, but equally you may find him scampering out of his box with no hope of getting to the ball before the opposition striker. If you like a player with a bit of character, a low rating, in my opinion, is not necessarily a good thing.
Handling This is the attribute you really want to look out for in a ‘keeper. No handling = no good.
Kicking If you play the long ball tactic, make sure your ‘keeper has a good kicking attribute. He’ll be able to stick it on your target man’s head from his six yard box. If your ‘keeper has a poor kicking rating, have him distribute the ball straight to your defenders.
Reflexes This is a great attribute for your ‘keeper to have, denoting how good he is at making instinctive saves – particularly from close range. This combines with good Handling and Agility to keep your goals conceded to a minimum.
Rushing Out This is a good stat to have if your team plays the offside trap or if the opposition have a particularly fast striker (aka Michael Owen). Your ‘keeper will be out to meet them before you can say “Rushing Out”… errr….
Tendency to Punch Something we’ve seen more of in the English Premiership in recent seasons as more teams employ continental keepers. Looking for this stat is purely a personal choice – punching can clear the danger immediately but it still remains a risky business. Not recommended with a weak and shaky defence.
Throwing If you like your team to play Counter Attack football, a keeper with good Throwing ability is essential. Once in possession he’ll have the ball out to your striker on the halfway line in no time…


Crossing If you like to employ wingers and fullbacks marauding down both flanks it’s vital that they have the ability to get quality balls into your strikers. No point in doing this if your attackers are 5ft nothing though. The Crossing schedule in training is a good way to improve their stats.
Dribbling Coupled with Agility and Balance, I consider it essential you have a good dribbler in your side – especially in the more advanced roles with room to run at defenders. Be careful you don’t have too many dribblers though as they’ll tend to ignore any passing tactic you might have. Although a dribbler has the potential to be a match winner, he could also give it away in his own penalty area and lose you the game.
Finishing Nothing simpler here. Bad Finishing = Missing a Sitter. Mind you, your player has to be in the right position to score a goal, so ensure your player also has good Off the Ball movement, Balance and Strength.
Heading As crucial for players you want to use as Target men as it is for Central Defenders. Any team either playing the long ball tactic or being confronted by it will want some good headers in the side. Look for this attribute combined with Jumping.
Long Shots If you don’t get shots on goal, you’re never going to score. A few long shots now and then can also really test a dodgy keeper. Once you’ve established that you have a midfielder like Hamann who can bullet them from the halfway line, instruct him to take a few long pots. He might be good at freekicks too…
Long Throws Long Throwing ability is a particularly good attribute for a fullback to have as you will probably be wanting them to take most of the attacking throws, thereby freeing up your more attacking players.
Marking If a defender has poor Marking it doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be a load of rubbish. However, you’ll definitely want to avoid playing a Man-Marking tactic. If your defenders can’t mark for toffee, perhaps consider a Sweeper system or have them defend deeper than you would otherwise like. A Hard Tackling ploy goes nicely with Marking to soften up the opposition….
One on Ones If you’re playing Counter Attack football, there’s going to be a few situations when your striker finds himself through on goal with “no-one to beat but the ‘keeper”. The better a player’s rating, the more likely he is to be able to chip or go round the on-rushing ‘keeper. Good Dribbling and Finishing blend nicely with this attribute.
Passing If you’ve got a midfielder posse who would give the Real Madrid midfield a run for their money, then you’ll be in a good position to use a Short or Mixed passing tactic to good effect. However, your midfield are more likely to be a bunch of muppets, so have them long ball it for all they’re worth.
Penalty Taking Although this stat speaks for itself, I’ve often found that a player with high Influence (e.g. club captain) will also come up trumps and have the guts to take a good penalty. Think Beckham…
Set Pieces Together with this attribute, both Long Shots and Crossing ability can aid a player’s aptitude for free-kicks and corners. Again, the best way to find out who strikes a good setpiece is through match practice.
Tackling If you combine this attribute with Strength, Marking and particularly Aggression and Bravery, you’ll have a great defender on your hands. Essential for defenders and battling defensive midfielders.
Technique Technique is perhaps one of the more important attributes a player can have and refers largely to natural skill rather than an expertise in a particular area or position. Look for good technique in your more attacking players if you want to impress the opposition.


Aggression This attribute is a measure of how enthusiastic a player will be when involved in a confrontation with an opponent or when challenging for a 50-50 ball. Aggressive players will get cautioned more often (which will make them miss matches) but they won’t half get stuck in for your team!
Anticipation If your midfield players have good anticipation, then they will be likely to manage more interceptions during a match and therefore give your team more possession. Good anticipation is a vital ingredient for defenders and attackers alike though - best coupled with good Off the Ball movement and Decisions.
Bravery Bravery should be an essential part of any player’s vocabulary. A high Bravery rating will increase the likelihood of your player winning 50-50 balls and generally getting in where it hurts. As previously mentioned, at its best with Tackling and most goalkeeper stats you care to mention.
Creativity Creativity is the ability to make things happen. You’ll score more goals if you get a creative midfielder operating in the centre of the park. It might be wise to support him with a defensive midfielder though as creative geniuses don’t tend to be great tacklers. There are exceptions of course…
Decisions Quick thinking is crucial in a hectic game of football. You want players who can make the right decisions in the heat of the moment. Look for a good Decisions attribute to be combined with Creativity, Passing and to a lesser extent Anticipation.
Determination Determination is a measure of your players’ desire to win and it’s a good attribute to possess throughout your team. You might particularly look for Determination in players if you manage a lowly club and often find you’re having to come back from a goal or two down. Players with Determination will keep battling to the final whistle.
Flair A player with a lot of flair can cause you a lot of frustration but equally can be a match winner. There will be times when you wished he’d tried the simple pass rather than blazing a bicycle kick into the stands. There will be other times however when you rise from your seat and applaud the best piece of individualism you’ve ever seen. Not recommended for managers who like their team to play George Graham Arsenal long ball.
Influence A player with a high Influence attribute will undoubtedly be a prime candidate for the role of captain. Yet choose wisely. A player who has high Influence but doesn’t seem to command the respect of the players around him will not make a good choice. Remember, even when you’ve chosen your captain it’s good to have Influence in every area of the pitch.
Off the Ball Off the Ball is perhaps one of the most overlooked aspects of the game of football, yet CM regards it as one of the most important. A player with good Off the Ball movement (aka Jeffers perhaps) can draw defenders and generally cause the opposition a lot of problems. Try to find a player who combines a high Off the Ball attribute with good Pace, Positioning and Anticipation.
Positioning If you’ve ever entertained the idea of your team playing the Offside trap, you will know that Positioning is the main attribute you want your defenders to bring to the game. Combines well with Strength and Anticipation to create an air of solidity.
Teamwork If you not the sort of person who likes to rely on one player to win matches, you’ll need players with strong Teamwork to get your team gelling. High Teamwork throughout your team will see your side working their socks off for each other. Blends nicely with high Work Rate and Determination.
Work Rate As mentioned, this is an attribute which compliments a high Teamwork ethic. If you like your team to Close Down your opponents, then a high Work Rate attribute throughout your midfield will be highly useful. Don’t forget to ensure they’ve got a bit of Stamina though…


Acceleration As a measure of how quickly a player can reach top speed, Acceleration is a must-have attribute for wingers and pacey attackers. You might also consider having defenders with good Acceleration if you’re faced by a team who are aiming to hit you on the break. Good Stamina is a must and a little bit of Work Rate won’t go a miss either.
Agility Agility is an attribute which is most necessary for players in top-flight football. You can get away with being a cumbersome lump in the lower leagues but the top divisions demand that even the central defenders have a bit of dexterity. Combined with Acceleration and Dribbling a high Agility rating can make for a great attacking footballer.
Balance Although by the very nature of their profession all footballers could do with a bit of Balance, the ones who’ll need it most are the ones who are going to be on the receiving end of a few tackles and kicks. You’ll predominantly like your wingers and other attacking players to have high agility, coupled with good Agility, Dribbling or Strength to make it difficult for the opposition to knock them off the ball.
Jumping An easy one this one. You’ve got to link it with a good Heading attribute and be sure if you ever want to play long ball or crossing-intensive tactics that your players are good at springing off the ground. If, say, your players are also high on Bravery and Aggression as well as Jumping, make sure you’ve got them putting in some Hard Tackling to really dominate the opposition.
Pace Pace can actually be a bit of a misnomer so be careful. Your player might be lightening quick but if he can’t do anything with the ball then he’ll soon become a bit of a liability. Look to link Pace with Flair, Dribbling, Agility and of course Acceleration. Have your fastest players run from deep to really scare the opposition defence.
Stamina The importance of Stamina cannot be underestimated – particularly if you play an effort-intensive style such as Closing Down, Gung-Ho or have players set to making lots of forward runs. You’ll find that if your team has a low level of Stamina in general, you will tend to concede goals late in the game. You have been warned…
Strength Strength is an important issue when challenging for the ball, so you’ll be keen to have a fair few players in your side who can mix it when the going gets rough. Tackling, Jumping and Marking are augmented by Strength and you will find that stronger players don’t give away fouls so often as they can generally muscle players off the ball instead of having to slide in.

4.6 Player Aging
In recent years players have been defying the effects of aging longer within professional football. Thanks to the increased attention given to training properly and a healthy diet professional players can play at the highest level well into their thirties.

As with all aspects of football we have attempted to mimic this change in CM:03/04, however please bear in mind that ONLY professional players with the right attitude will reap the benefits from such things, players who don’t look after themselves will still find themselves burnt out and on the scrap heap at an early age (thinking of no English midfield maestro in particular ).

Playing Position Peak Age
Goalkeeper 33
Defender 31
Midfielder 29
Striker 28

The largest improvements in player ability will usually happen below 24 years of age. Please bear in mind that these ‘Peak Ages’ are only guidelines and players will sometimes peak before or after these ages.

As mentioned in the initial paragraph how long a player remains at his ‘peak’ is somewhat dependant upon his attitude and commitment to playing professional football. A player who is a thorough professional and is known for his work-rate and commitment will generally speaking tend to have a longer ‘peak’ than an erratic temperamental player.

The age at which a player is liable to retire is again affected by his position. Bear in mind that a player who is still very fit (indicated by high Stamina) and playing first team football is less likely to retire than one who is unfit and languishing in the reserves.

Playing Position Earliest Retirement Age *
Goalkeeper 35
Defender 32
Midfielder 31
Striker 30

* Exceptions due to serious injury can occur
5 Recommended Players

The following players are just a few recommendations if you’re managing teams in the English lower divisions (i.e. Second, Third or Conference); either for loan, to keep an eye on or attempt to sign. I haven’t given any recommended players for larger teams as you can find these simply by reading the sports pages of any national newspaper.

Player Name Club Position
Robert Poulter Sheffield Weds (U19) Goalkeeper
Graham Stack Arsenal (U19) Goalkeeper
Adam Collin Newcastle Goalkeeper
Kasper Schmeichel Man City (U19) Goalkeeper
Luke Steele Man Utd (U19) Goalkeeper
Craig Pead Coventry (U19) Defender/Defensive Midfielder (Right)
Frazer Richardson Leeds Defender (Right)
Liam Rosenior Bristol City (U19) Attacking Midfielder (Right/Centre)
Leroy Lita Bristol City (U19) Striker (Centre)
Alex Tiesse Millwall (U19) Attacking Midfielder (Centre)
Liam Lake Birmingham (U19) Midfielder (Centre)
Darren Carter Birmingham (U19) Midfielder (Left/Centre)
Isaac Osbourne Coventry (U19) Defensive Midfielder (Centre)
Michael Gillan Bolton (U19) Defender (Centre)
Cherno Samba Millwall (U19) Striker (Centre)
Supat Rungratsamee Portsmouth (U19) Striker (Centre)
Luke Moore Aston Villa (U19) Forward (Right/Left/Centre)
Luke Steele Man Utd (U19) Goalkeeper
Chris McGrath Liverpool (U19) Defender (Right/Centre)
Robbie Shields Leeds (U19) Forward (Centre)
Nyron Nosworthy Gillingham Midfielder (Centre)
Jérémie Aliadière Arsenal (U19) Striker (Centre)
Chris Carruthers Northampton Town Defender/Midfielder (Left)
And some bonus signings… ...for good measure…
Riccardo Montolivo Atlanta Attacking Midfielder (Right)
Matei Mirel Radoi Steaua Defender (Centre)
Alexander Farnerud Lanskrona Midfielder (Right)
Abay Getahun Yordanos Mebrat Hail Striker (Centre)
Giampaolo Pazzini Atlanta Striker (Centre)
Alessandro Simonetta Roma Striker (Centre)
Farid Takrarit RC Kouba Striker (Centre)
Kim Källström Djurgåden Defensive Midfielder (Centre)

6 Game Configuration

6.1 Configuration Files
There are several configuration files present in the game, these are generally either in a raw text format (open with notepad) or in a uni-code text format (open with Wordpad).

These files will allow configuration and alteration of several areas of the game. The format of these files is indicated below:

.6.1.1 Init.cfg
This is a simple raw text file and is designed to contain a series of ‘key words’ which trigger special things happening within the game. The basic range of keywords available for use by the public is listed below:

This keyword makes the ball slightly larger upon the pitch. This setting is designed to help portable PC uses when playing the game in sub-optimal lighting (such as on trains).

This keyword is purely for use with the German SKU and removes the option to play the game using real players.

This keyword is purely for the Spanish SKU and includes the Spanish league splash screen in the game startup.
6.1.2 New Game Config File

As part of Enhancement Pack 3, you will have the option to swap a team's division. The most common use for this is in Scotland as people want to enable the Old Firm to compete in the English Premiership. Another option will be to boost a team's stature and finances to allow yourself to have plenty of money to spend if you wish. (call it cheating if you wish!)

To enable these options, all you have to do is create a normal text file with the extension '.edt'. Then add the following command to swap two teams divisions. Here's the command that needs to be added to the '.edt' file to enable the Old Firm to compete in the English Premiership. This 'Config File Feature' will only work when creating a new game and will not affect existing games.

"SWAP_TEAMS" "West Bromwich Albion" "Celtic"
"SWAP_TEAMS" "West Ham United" "Rangers"

These two commands will basically put the Old Firm in the English Premiership and put West Brom and West Ham into the Scottish Premiership.

For the '.edt' to work it needs to be placed inside the 'data' folder off the 'CM:03/04' location where you installed the game.

Another option you have, is too increase a teams stature and finances. This can be done using the same '.edt' file as above.

"BOOST_TEAM" "Watford" 20000000 7000 50000

The first figure represents the amount of money the club will start with. The second figure represents their world reputation and the third will dictate their stadium capacity. The above command example will give Watford £20 million pounds in transfer funds, increase their reputation to about the same level as Chelsea's (Max = 10000, e.g. Manchester United/Real Madrid) and change their stadium capacity to 50,000.

You can call your '.edt' file anything you like as long as it has the extension '.edt'. If you only have the one league running e.g.. English Premiership and you bring a team from an unselected nation into that league then only the famous players for that club will be present especially if running with a small database.

Some sample '.edt' files will be available from the '' website in the near future.

6.2 Game Command Line Options
There are several command line options available to users of the game, these are listed below. To utilise command line options simply launch the game using “CM:03/04 -” from a command line (or the ‘target’ line in a shortcut).

This will force the game to run in 800x600 resolution. This mode is NOT recommended as the game is designed for a higher resolution and scroll-bars wills be present upon many screens. If you do run the game using this option I suggest utilising the ‘Ter’ skin as that uses a smaller font size than the Traditional skin.

This forces the game to start in ‘windowed’ mode regardless of the situation when the game was shutdown last.

This forces the game to start in ‘full screen’ mode regardless of the situation when the game was shutdown last.

6.3 Configuring Pictures within the game

Default Pictures

By default, CM:03/04 will show a random background picture whenever you enter a new screen (if background changes are turned on), or will show a single default background (if changes are turned off).

It will also display the CM:03/04 or SI logo at the top-right hand corner of the screen (this is referred to as the titlebar picture, although some skins may display the picture in another place on the screen).

These default pictures are stored inside the CM:03/04 application folder, at the following locations:


If background changes are turned on, CM:03/04 will cycle randomly through the background pictures in the folder


Custom Pictures

It is possible to customise this behaviour so that the game chooses more appropriate images for certain screens - for example it displays a particular club's badge when viewing that club's screen, or shows a background picture of a board room when on the "board confidence" screen.

We have included some customised backgrounds for certain screens, clubs and players, but there is scope for a lot more customisation by CM:03/04 users.

How the Game Locates A Picture

When you enter a screen, the game looks for a background or titlebar picture to use in a number of places.

For player screens, the game looks first for a file with the name of the player, in the following locations:


e.g: " CM_03_04/data/graphics/backgrounds/players/richard langley.jpg"

Similarly, for club screens the game looks for a file with the name of the team in:


e.g: "CM:03/04/data/graphics/backgrounds/clubs/arsenal.jpg"
And for match screens, the game looks for a file with the name of the stadium that the match is being played at in:


e.g: " CM_03_04/data/graphics/backgrounds/stadiums/loftus road.jpg"

If the above searches for pictures don't succeed, the game proceeds to look for a file with the name of the screen in:


e.g: "CM_03_04/data/graphics/backgrounds/screens/credits.jpg"

Finally, if a picture can't be found in any of the above locations, a default picture is used.

Using IDs instead of Names

The basic scheme described above uses names - "Richard Langley", "Arsenal", "Loftus Road" etc to locate pictures of various game objects ("game objects" are players, clubs, stadiums, screens, etc).

The problem with names is that
a) they can be too long for the game (currently the limit is 26 characters)
b) they can be ambiguous - e.g. there is more than one Danny Murphy
c) they can change if you switch languages

Luckily, each object in the game has a unique number assigned to it - known as its ID. Since every player has a different ID, there can be no confusion about which player an ID refers to.

To make use of this feature, you can name the picture file for an object using its ID instead of its name, and CM:03/04 will still find it. So for example, if you name a background picture:


it will get displayed whenever you view the Danny Murphy who plays for QPR, but it won't get displayed when you view the one who plays for some Scouse team (so I hear).

So how do you find out what ID a particular game object has? In a future version of the game we will provide a special mode to allow you to do this easily and also make some special ID index files available online.

When we do, you’ll hear it first at our website:

Providing More Than One Picture

What happens if you have more than one picture for a particular club, player, etc? You can't have more than one file in a folder with the same name, so how can the game know to use the other pictures?

The answer is that instead of giving the pictures for an object a special name, you make a folder with the special name, and put all the pictures inside the folder. Whenever the game needs a picture for that object, it will pick one at random from the folder.

6.4 Configuring Pics and Logos.

The system described in the sections above works well, but it has some limitations.
a) if you want to use a picture in more than one place, you have to duplicate it
b) it is hard to make add-in folders that other users can just drop into place

To get round these problems, there is an alternative system which uses a configuration file to "map" image files into other positions.

The way to use this system is as follows:

1. Create a folder to contain your images

You should put the folder somewhere inside /data/graphics/.
You can call it anything you like (but remember the 26 character limit).

2. Put all of your pictures inside the folder

Again, you can name them whatever you wish, within the 26 character limit.

3. Add a text file, called "config.xml" to the folder.

This file contains the mapping information which tells the game where to "put" your pictures.

Here is an example of the content of the config file:

The important part is the bit at the bottom, after the "" line.

Each of the
So in the example above, let's assume that you have two pictures in your folder, called
"my picture.png" and "another picture.png".

The config file will map these files so that "my picture" will be used whenever the game looks for "data/graphics/pictures/clubs/arsenal", and "another picture" will be used whenever the game looks for "data/graphics/pictures/clubs/aston villa".

Image Formats

The game recognises a number of image formats, including .gif, .jpg, .png, and .rgn. However, a current limitation is that only .jpg files can be resized.

For this reason, any background images used must be in the jpeg format.

Background images are automatically stretched or shrunk to fit the current size of the window, which is 1024 x 768 in full screen mode. If you resize the window, or if you use images that are not 1024 x 768, the stretching may make them appear distorted or blurred.

6.5 Configuring Preset Player Instruction Templates

CM:03/04 gives you the ability to set your own default player templates using the tactical_templates.xml file. This can be found in the …game\match\data\tactics\ folder.
Once you have located the file, right-click and choose to open/edit using Notepad. You are now ready to change the Player Instruction default settings. The advice at the top of the file explains how to set the value for each player instruction. For example the value settings for mixed passing is as follows: Mixed Passing = 1, Short Passing = 2, Direct Passing = 3, Long Passing = 4. Once you have made the changes you require, save the file and then start the game – your player’s

7 Common Problems and Solutions

7.1 I find the text too small to read
Ter’s skin uses a smaller font size than the ‘traditional’ skin. If you are having trouble reading the text in the game please try using the traditional skin and see if this helps.
An alternative solution is to download a skin from the internet which contains a larger font setting, has a large selection of skins available and is (currently at the time of writing) the best source of such things.

7.2 The game is too slow
If you find the game is too slow when progressing then please try restarting using fewer leagues and a lower database setting. If the game still appears low when running only a single countries leagues consider switching that country into the ‘background’.
If you haven’t done so already, I would also suggest upgrading your version to the latest patch available (currently CM:03/04.0.3).

7.3 Load/Save times are very slow
The game is very hard-disk intensive when loading and saving, this can make the process slow on systems which contain slow hard-drives. The main culprit for save game size is the statistic storage of past matches, this is dependant upon the size of database which is active within the game. If you find Load/Save times too slow please consider switching to a lower database setting.

7.4 Game CD is not detected
If you find you have problems with the games copy protection system then please ensure that you install the patch as this rectifies many such problems. If you still have problems after installing the game, then please visit the technical support forums at where you should be able to get help.

7.5 Cannot Install Game Patch
If you have problems installing the patch for the game this is normally due to information being absent from your windows registry.
To refresh this information store please uninstall and reinstall the game, this will fix the problem under normal circumstances.

If you are running a NOCD crack or warez version then these will be very unlikely to work with any official patches.

sovereignstar is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-16-2004, 01:30 PM   #2
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Nice idea, sovereignstar. Skydog, would it be possible to add this to the stickied reference thread thingy?
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Old 04-16-2004, 02:26 PM   #3
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Join Date: Feb 2004

I should mention that I've been pondering the idea of creating an alternate place for FOFCers to discuss CM. It appears that the chances of a separate forum being laid out here for ChampMan are very slim and with the recent resurgence of discussion related to the game this appears to be only a good idea. Plus add in the fact that OOTP will be spreading around this place like wildfire....

So what I'm proposing is setting up a forum (and a decent one) at a different location. Now I know some of you might not be too keen on the idea of moving CM discussion out of FOFC General Discussion, but I personally don't like reading about CM strategy in a thread initally started to discuss possible sources to purchase the game from. Nor am I one that likes to weed in and out of off-topic stuff.

This may even evolve into a fansite of some sorts. Who knows? I could probably get something up-and-running by Monday. My question to you is..

If I build it will you come? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Last edited by sovereignstar : 04-16-2004 at 02:27 PM.
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Old 04-16-2004, 02:33 PM   #4
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Location: Ashburn, VA
If you built it, I'd come.
Speaking of coming, my copy of CM03/04 is supposed to come today, now just sitting here waiting

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Old 04-16-2004, 02:35 PM   #5
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Sure. Maybe someday we can try to attempt the net game again
Check out Foz's New Video Game Site, An 8-bit Mind in an 8GB world!
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Old 04-16-2004, 02:44 PM   #6
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I would welcome a CM-only discussion site, however, there should be some easily accessible indicator on FOFC of how/where to get to it.
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Old 04-16-2004, 02:44 PM   #7
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i would check it out
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Old 04-16-2004, 02:58 PM   #8
Marc Vaughan
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Location: Melbourne, FL
Bizarrely enough I'd prefer CM discussions to stay in the general forum - mainly 'cos it gives me an excuse to visit and post on inane subjects at the same time as my (cough) work
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Old 04-16-2004, 03:18 PM   #9
Join Date: Nov 2003
Originally Posted by SirFozzie
Sure. Maybe someday we can try to attempt the net game again

I would be up for a net game.
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Old 04-16-2004, 03:20 PM   #10
Join Date: Nov 2003
Originally Posted by sovereignstar
I should mention that I've been pondering the idea of creating an alternate place for FOFCers to discuss CM. It appears that the chances of a separate forum being laid out here for ChampMan are very slim and with the recent resurgence of discussion related to the game this appears to be only a good idea. Plus add in the fact that OOTP will be spreading around this place like wildfire....

So what I'm proposing is setting up a forum (and a decent one) at a different location. Now I know some of you might not be too keen on the idea of moving CM discussion out of FOFC General Discussion, but I personally don't like reading about CM strategy in a thread initally started to discuss possible sources to purchase the game from. Nor am I one that likes to weed in and out of off-topic stuff.

This may even evolve into a fansite of some sorts. Who knows? I could probably get something up-and-running by Monday. My question to you is..

If I build it will you come? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

SIGAMES forums make this place seem like disneyland. They can be brutal over there. I post in the LLM forums sometimes, I'm one of those conference addicated soccer players. I love the thought of taking a team from the conference to the premiership, with no editors, not cheating the LLM way. I've just never been successful, I've gotten to Divsion 1 with scarbourgh.
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Old 04-16-2004, 03:29 PM   #11
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Maybe we should create a CM Sub-Board, to go with the Hattrick one we already have?
Check out Foz's New Video Game Site, An 8-bit Mind in an 8GB world!
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Old 04-16-2004, 04:24 PM   #12
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Thanks for this thread, I just got it after Senator mentioned it in the other CM thread!
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Old 04-16-2004, 04:28 PM   #13
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I'd be more inclined to post CM topics in a separate forum on this board... not saying I don't now, but I might do that more often.
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Old 11-03-2019, 06:04 AM   #14
Join Date: Nov 2019
Why Portuguese League disappear when creating a new game?

Yes, we're at 2019 and I still playing CM 03/04 =)

I'm editing with PreGame CM4 and for unknown reasons the Portuguese League have disappeared. When I create a new game I don't have the country Portugal to check before star a new game.

If someone could help me to fix this bug I'll be very glad.

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