In most cases players of the same age are in groups of three or four in terms of value and ability. So if you selected a player and look at his age, value, and abilities, the chances are there are three or four identical players in the game, but with different names.
One of the ways I made this guide was keeping an eye on the international squads over 19 seasons, and seeing who were the best players over that period. Then assessing their values throughout their careers. I accept you may find international players in the game who aren't in this guide, though generally speaking you can ignore them, as sometimes players can get called up to the international squad once or twice to cover injuries or suspensions to the better players. I haven't really covered strikers because the best strikers in the game are not in the international squad.
I've looked at every possible set up combination in this game and have determined that if you start in Division 2 using Set-Up J, then you have the best chance of success at this game. The reason to use J is because it gives you a squad with a lot of quality, and importantly a lot of high class defenders that you can sell to raise money, which in turn ensures you have the funds to buy the future internationals when they become available on the transfer list. Even with this squad you will be pushing for the top half of the table. Additionally starting in Division 2 (800k) instead of Division 3 (350k) gives you more starting money.
When you start a new game (on 2J) it can be helpful to try and make sure that the contracts of B Pemberton, S Proctor, I Borrows, and I Hughes are going to expire at the end of the first season. It's very hard to make sure that they all will expire, as you constantly have to restart the game. But these players can be a real pain to sell. You can skip this if you like but if you can get rid of them it will leave more squad spaces open, and you'll spend less on wages.
It's also worth pointing out that you can choose any combination of division and letter and the database of players will be the same. However your starting team, it's strength, along with the player names in the game will be different. There will always be 3 future international goal keepers on the transfer list on every letter, and division combination, while every 18 year old utility player that comes on the transfer list (in season one) will be a future international. It's just a matter of identifying the players.
If you start in Division 2 you will be replacing Wolverhampton in the league. In season one Crystal Palace and Charlton are normally the two dominant teams in the first season. Crystal Palace will nearly always be promoted as champions.
You may also choose to start in Division 3. If you do this you'll be replacing Wycombe, however your starting team is very poor, so expect to be struggling at the bottom. You can still buy the players in this guide to get you promoted, but it's worth noting your starting squad has little value so selling them won't get you much money to compete for the better players. Success is possible it just takes longer.
The most important part of your team is the first eleven, unlike modern football games where squad rotation is an issue, you will basically be picking the same team each week. Constantly rotating and dropping players will make your players moral drop and cause you problems. Pick your best team and stick with it, only make changes when forced to, either by international call ups, injuries or suspensions.
International call ups are a big issue in this game, as unfortunately they occur during knock out cup games, and your depleted squad can some unstuck while your best players are away. Neither is it a good idea to have an entire squad of internationals, if they are all away at the same time it can be costly in cup competitions. So basically you want a fantastic first eleven, with reserve players made up of future internationals, past internationals, or players who fall just short of international quality.
Never allow your bank balance to exceed £16.2 million, because it will reset to zero and your club will sack you for not managing your finances correctly! This can catch you at some point in the Forth season, so be aware of it.
It may seem a crazy amount of money in the context of the game, but when your top of Anco League Division One you'll get 75k per week television revenue, while getting to the Anco League Cup final will net you 500k in television money, and the Misawa Cup final will net you 800k in television money. So getting £16.2 million isn't that hard.
Money is an issue for the first 2-3 seasons but after that it's not important, just make sure this £16.2 million cap doesn't catch you out.
What I enjoy doing is looking for a cheap defender on the transfer list at a club struggling badly in Division 3 and pay £9,999k for him. This poor hapless club then has loads of money to buy in players, and hopefully you will see them shoot up the divisions in the next few years. You can then sell the defender straight away. You have to get rid of the money before it resets to zero and gets you the sack, so this is just a fun way of getting rid of it.
Transfers. If your bidding on a player that no other club is bidding for then bid 50% of his asking price +1 (slightly more than half). So for example if you buy B Cantona a 17 year old goal keeper (and future international) off the transfer list in week 1 from Blackburn, his asking price will be 221K. Bid 111K, this enables you to get the best deal. Bid a bit more next time and his price will come down again. Generally I go up in amounts ranging from 25k to 250k depending on the value of the transfer, and how far apart you are in terms of each clubs valuation. If you bid just below his asking price the selling club will increase the asking price (generally within 50k), so be careful.
Note that if another club is bidding for the same player as you, don't barter for the player, just buy him at his asking price, this way you won't risk losing out.
You may also find you sell one of your strikers and end up with a massive transfer fee going into 4 million or more, this sometimes happens because the bidding club bids just below his asking value so the asking price raises, I have no idea why this happens, it's just a bug in the game.
If you click on the book, on the transfer list screen, (on the bottom left) you can see the transfers that have recently taken place. If you keep clicking through the blank pages you can see some huge transfers that have taken place involving a club called Inter Madrid. Sometimes upwards of £60 million.
When the season is over you come to the "new season" screen where you are told who won the cups and who got promoted and relegated in the leagues. Save the game here, and click "new season" when the game reloads have a look at your squad. Sometimes you get young players "regens" in your squad. If you keep reloading your save game and making new seasons you can sometimes get future internationals when they are 17. This is useful in season 18 when L Ablett, P James, P Webb, and P Nebbling are all aged 35 and will retire. Keep reloading the game until one or more of them are in your squad as a 17 year old.
The basic aim in season one is too sell your existing squad and buy a select group of young players (17-20 years old) who will become future internationals / star players. As the game progresses these young players will develop and you will become the dominant team.
The first thing to do after loading the game is to set your Scouts to look for defenders, on setting 4 (within the 1 Million bracket). The players you are hoping your scouts will locate are L Ablett, P James, P Webb, P Nebbling. More information is listed on these players later in the guide.
Now look at your squad, You can only place 1 player a week on the transfer list, Defenders are always the easiest to sell.
Place these players on the transfer list in this order. As i said before the idea is to raise funds, so that when the young players listed in this guide appear on the transfer list you have the funds to buy them.
Note, that G Fairclough and L Moncur may in very, very rare circumstances become internationals early in the game. Sell them anyway.
Week / Player Name / Value / Position
Week 1 - G Fairclough - 807K - Defender
Week 2 - S Scott - 751k - Defender
Week 3 - C Dobson - 727K - Defender
Week 4 - I Waddle - 725K - Defender
Week 5 - S Howells - 716K - Defender
Week 6 - J Graham - 655k - Defender
Week 7 - L Sealey - 580K - Defender
Week 8 - T Warzycha - 548K - Sweeper
Week 9 - L Thorpe - 502K - Defender
Week 10 - L Moncur - 571K - Goal Keeper
Week 11 - P Mcminn - 449K - Utility
Week 12 - G Bright - 435K - Midfield
Week 13 - D Dyer - 404K - Midfield
Week 14 - I Borrows - 236K - Goal Keeper
Week 15 - I Hughes - 205K - Goal Keeper
Week 16 - I Tambling - 166K - Midfield
Week 17 - B Pemberton - 555K - Forward
Week 18 - S Proctor - 488K - Forward
Week 19 - B Jemson - 472K - Midfielder, (put him on any time after week 10 if you have replaced him)
Week 20 - M Awford - 756K - Forward, (Sell these 3 Forwards only if you have replaced them)
Week 21 - G Emerson - 710K - Forward
Week 22 - N Pemberton - 731K - Forward
Go into your tactics and set the team formation to 5-2-3, this may seem a little odd, however the basic balance of the squad is weak in midfield this formation will solve that weakness.
I normally play with the 4-2-4 formation and play with four strikers (Blake, Leaburn, Naylor, Gillespie) as listed below, so you get more high scoring games.
However at the start of the game stick with 5-2-3 until you buy some of the players listed in the guide.
Start with this team:
1) B Cantona (buy him off the transfer list)
2) G Fairclough
3) S Howells
4) I Waddle
5) S Scott
6) C Dobson
7) G Emerson
8) B Jemson
9) K Keegan (you)
10) N Pemberton
11) M Awford
Sub1) J Graham
Sub2) L Sealey
Two defenders on the bench so you keep their moral up, so hence their selling value. When you sell players simply bring in the next suitable player or any young players from the guide you have bought. Remember if you buy any of the players I have suggested, put them into the team as soon as possible so you keep their moral up. Players develop by playing in the first eleven. They don't develop if they don't play, and will regress if not used.
With any luck you'll get a win, but the aim is to get 4 points in your first 3 Home games, if you do that you should be ok for this season, remember the aim is not to get relegated this season.
Once the first match is over you need to remember to place a player on the transfer list. Also remember to look for players you want to buy.
You might get a most of the players I list below on the transfer list, then again you may not, its that simple. As I said before the key to doing well is develop a young side. The difficulty level you set the game to will dramatically affect how well you do. If its on Hard then expect a dogfight to stay up in Season one, however if your playing on Easy, then you may finish in the top four places or even get promoted, though generally expect promotion to the Premier League in the second or third season, and to be winning the Premier League by the third or fourth season. Then again if your emulating the game you can simply save the game before kick off and keep replaying each game until you get the win.
Here are a list of players you should aim to get, each group of players are identical, so for example the four goal keepers below are all exactly the same, in terms of age, value and skills:
MUST HAVE PLAYERS:
The following list of players are essential to your future success in the game, make sure you buy these players. As soon as you purchase one of them put them straight into your starting team.
B.Cantona - at age 17 value is 354k
C Brevett - at age 17 value is 354k
A Macdonald - at age 17 value is 354k
B Maskell - at age 17 value is 354k (not on initial transfer list)
If you look at the transfer list (on week one), and look at the goal keepers, there are three future international goal keepers on there.
They are all 17 years old and in the 2 price bracket. These players are among the most valuable goal keepers in the game. Nearly all of the other international goal keepers in the game have a starting value of 334 (at the age of 17), compared to these four players who start at 354.
You only need to buy one of these players at the start of the game, don't be tempted to buy two of them because goal keepers never get sent off, or injured to the extent that they miss a game.
You won't need to worry about a replacement goal keeper until you lose the one you buy now for international duty from season 9 onwards. Luckily in season 9 the current international goal keepers (A Goss, S Goodman, S Statham) will regenerate, so you can buy one of them to cover you during international windows.
L Ablett at age 17 value is 642k
P James at age 17 value is 642k
P Webb at age 17 value is 642k
P Nebbling at age 17 value is 642k
They are all 18 years old in season one. These players are the ones you need to pick up using your scouts. They are the most important players to buy in the first season, and are the best defenders in the game. In a 19 seasons game "rotation" expect them to be internationals for 16 seasons (age 19-34). At 35 years old their value will be 1012k.
L Ablett will always come on the transfer list at some point during season one. P James and P Webb will occasionally come on the transfer list. P Nebbling rarely comes on the transfer list, generally it depends on whether Coventry buy one of the defenders you have sold, then they may sell him.
P Nebbling can be a real pain in the backside to get sometimes, so if your scouts find him and another player listed above, then go for P Nebbling every time. If you get P Nebbling in season one consider yourself lucky.
If you have been unable to buy all of these players in season one, then set your scouts to look for Defenders in the 5 price racket from season 2 onwards.
Expect these players to be getting international call ups from the end of the second season onwards (age 19), certainly by the start of the third season. They will still be getting called up to the international team at the age of 33, while one or two of them will still be getting called up at 34.
S Lukic - at age 17 value is 413k
N Mabbutt - at age 17 value is 413k
S Whiteside - at age 17 value is 413k
F Beardsley - at age 17 value is 413k
These players are all 18 years old in season one, and are excellent players to buy. Use them as midfielders, reserve defenders, or reserves as needed. They will become full internationals from season 6.
K Keegan (You)
You start the game as player manager at 28 years of age. If you know the game you'll know you will retire naturally at the end of season 10 (at the age of 37), unless you choose to retire yourself earlier (by clicking on the boots icon on the jobs screen). Then after a few seasons you'll get a memo (on the jobs screen) saying a relative with the same name as you is playing for Inter Madrid, (he'll normally be in his early 20's).
Please note, if you retire at the age of 35 you will regenerate as a 17 year old. If you retire at the age of 36 you will regenerate as a 18 year old. If the game retires you naturally at the age of 37 you will regenerate as a 19 year old.
Once you retire you can actually "scout" yourself as a regenerated player the following season. Set your scouts to search for a Midfielder in the 4 bracket if your 17 years old. If your aged 18 or older scout in the 5 bracket. You can then buy yourself instead of waiting until your in your early 20's on the jobs screen (when you get called for international duty), obviously your scouts will need to locate the player first, so there is an element of luck involved.
N Blake - at age 17 value is 805k
A Leaburn - at age 17 value is 805k
A Gillespie - at age 17 value is 805k
B Naylor - at age 17 value is 805k
They are all 20 years old in season one.
These players will not become internationals, but they are by far the best out and out goal scorers in the game and their value will be higher than that a normal international striker. Even at the age of 35 their value will be 1092k.
I nearly always buy all four of these strikers, and play the 4-2-4 formation, with these players as wingers and strikers. It's a good idea to buy and play all four players as they are not affected by international call ups.
B Naylor normally comes on the transfer list towards the end of season one. The others will pop up now again. I always pick up these players if they come on the transfer list but generally I'm happy if I pick one up cheap in season one and add the others over the following two seasons.
Keep your money for the defenders listed above that's the priority.
SEASON ONE OPTIONAL BUYS:
A Ince - at age 17 value is 576k
A Woodcock - at age 17 value is 576k
B Dalglish - at age 17 value is 576k
These three players are 17 years old in season one. They will become internationals from season 7 onwards. If your short of money, concentrate on the first lot of defenders I mentioned their skills and value are much higher than these three players. Personally I rarely buy them unless I'm struggling for players, and they can be bought cheaply.
P Oldfield at age 17 value is 387k
L Evans at age 17 value is 387k
P Roger at age 17 value is 387k
These 3 players are 17 years old in season one. Sweepers don't become internationals in the game, however I do try and buy these 3 players and I use them as replacements for when my main 4 defenders are away on international duty. Don't worry about using them as defenders they will do a good job for you. As their a year younger than the main 4 defenders (Ablett, James, Webb, Nebbling) they can also be used as first choice while your buying back those players after retirement.
T Mitchell at age 17 value is 329k
R Mcall at age 17 value is 329k
D Bennett at age 17 value is 329k
Like the four Utility players listed earlier, these guys will become internationals in season 7, and they start the game at the age of 18 as well.
M Lukic at age 17 value is 499k
F Mabbutt at age 17 value is 499k
M Whiteside at age 17 value is 499k
These players are aged 18 in season one. They will start getting called up for internationals at the start of the third season.
During season six and seven these players might not get called up to international duty as much, this is because your utility players overtake them in value and they get called up instead. Generally I prefer to use the utility players as first choice and these as back up.
T Harris at age 17 value is 438k I Sharpe at age 17 value is 438k D Reevesat age 17 value is 438k I Finnigan at age 17 value is 438k
These players are aged 18 in season one. They won't become internationals but are all quality players.
Midfielders Regenerations - Season 6
B Palmer at 17 value is 456k
A Strodder at 17 value is 456k
A Goddard at 17 value is 456k
These players aged 30 in season one. However in season 6 they will all regenerate. Basically they can cover players while on international duty. They will get called up to the international squad during season 14.
Goal Keeper Regenerations - Season 9:
A Goss at 17 value is 334k
S Goodman at 17 value is 334k
S Statham at 17 value is 334k
In Season 9 the goal keeper you bought in season one will start getting called up to the international squad. Luckily a future international keeper will come on the transfer list in this season at the age of 17. Buy one of these so you have cover. These players have a starting value of 334.
In season 12 three other goalkeepers will regenerate P Nevin, G Pressman, and P Wood these players also have a starting value of 334. However these players can be ignored.
Defenders Regenerations - Season 12:
C Dale - at age 17 value is 576
B Paris - at age 17 value is 535
G Marwood - at age 17 value is 519
G Whitlow - at age 17 value is 519
M Daley - at age 17 value is 519
G Kelly - at age 17 value is 519
In season 7 all off these players will regenerate in the game as 17 year olds. Expect them to start getting called up for the international team in season 12.
Utility Players Regenerations - Season 13:
C Horne - at age 17 value is 413k
H Power - at age 17 value is 413k
C Sparrow - at age 17 value is 413k
R Gallacer - at age 17 value is 413k
These players will regenerate in season 13. They are identical to the other utility players Lukic, Beardsley, Mabbutt, and Whiteside but they start the game at the age of 22 not 18. One thing you can do is let the above players get to 35 and let them retire due to old age, while letting the above players contracts expire, then on the following season all 8 players will start the game as regens. I have found it fun to have 8 identical players in my team.
Midfielders Regenerations - Season 13:
N Boyd - at age 17 value is 440k
A Cannon - at age 17 value is 440k
B Mcloughlin - at age 17 value is 440k
A Levein - at age 17 value is 440k
Not really worth buying, but they are listed for reference purposes.
Midfielders Regenerations - Season 14
L Chapman - at age 17 value is 604k
R Davis - at age 17 value is 499k
H Moran - at age 17 value is 499k
C Kennedy - at age 17 value is 499k
C Woan - at age 17 value is 499k
N Ndah - at age 17 value is 474k
L Rhodes at age 17 value is 474k
P Humphrey at age 17 value is 474k
Your player manager is actually the best midfielder in the game, but L Chapman is only just behind. L Chapman will be called up to the international team at the age of 20 in season 17, his value will be 972k at that point. At the age of 20 your characters (K Keegan) value will be 996k.
Note that Davis, Moran, Kennedy, and Woan have the same starting value as Mabbutt, Lukic, and Whiteside the three midfielders listed at the start of the guide.
Midfielders Regenerations - Season 15
N Whitworth at age 17 value is 530k
F Deane at age 17 value is 530k
N Joseph at age 17 value is 530k
S Nicol at age 17 value is 530k
A group of valuable midfielders, buy them if you wish.
Defenders Regenerations - Season 15
H Robertson at age 17 value is 568k
C Stockwell at age 17 value is 568k
C Gabbiadini at age 17 value is 568k
A group of valuable defenders, buy them if you wish.
Guide Written By Alyn Davies, South Wales, GB