The Ultimate Guide to Changing Your Captain (Football Manager)

Yes, football’s a team sport but there are going to be times in your season when someone needs to rise above the others and show leadership. 

Someone with the grit, determination, and influence to push your team forward when things get tough.

But what if your captain just isn’t up to that job anymore? Taking such an important responsibility away and putting it in someone else’s hands might upset not only your original leader but also other players who’ve been inspired before or who could be his friend.

Having the armband on the right player is crucial if you want your squad to have the right mental drive at crunch time, so a successful save on Football Manager can’t be done without knowing how to navigate this properly. 

Let’s have a look at why you might need to change your captain, how to go about doing it in the best way possible and what you should be looking out for in your new skipper.

Why should I change my captain in Football Manager?

Your captain has a big effect on your team’s morale, unity and ultimately the side’s performance. Therefore, your choice of captain should always be a point to check up on when your team is doing poorly either on the pitch or in the dressing room.

You’ll first be confronted with this decision when you join a new club and have to choose a captain and vice-captain. The default choices will be those who preceded you, and there’s probably a few reasons why they’ve been assigned those roles already.

If they’ve been at the club long enough whilst there’s been a high turnover of other players, it’s easy for an otherwise poorly suited player to fall into the captaincy without being very qualified otherwise.

There also could have been a close bond between the preceding manager and their choice of captain. This doesn’t necessarily make the old captain a bad choice but indicates they could’ve been picked because of nepotism rather than merit.

If you’ve replaced a manager that was popular with the squad – especially the captain – then you may find it slightly harder to win them around and changing the captain could again rock the boat at the beginning of your reign.

But then again, you probably have plans to stick around for longer than a couple of months, and an upset former captain is less of a pain than your side being skippered by someone completely unsuitable for the role.

If the ex-captain is already unpopular with the squad, you’ve got a great opportunity to replace him without upsetting the rest of the team. Someone who’s well-integrated into your side will do a far better job of uplifting the team and sorting out personal problems.

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It’s possible to look at your squad’s dynamics.

However, even a popular player will be of little use to you if they don’t have the right attributes to utilise their connections. 

You can find out how to increase your players’ attributes here.

No attribute is more important than leadership when it comes to being a captain. A player with a high leadership attribute will be able to stir up and inspire your players to hold on to that lead or fight back until the dying minutes.

If your current captain doesn’t have an impressive attribute, look for someone in your squad better equipped. A captain low on determination, teamwork and work rate is also unlikely to set the right example for your squad.

But it’s not just the mental and social things you should keep an eye on when it comes to changing your captain.

If your current captain isn’t playing, it’s going to be hard for them to fulfil their role. So, make sure that if your current pick is spending most of their time on the bench or the doctor’s table, you switch over to a more consistent performer.

You would usually look at a lot of attributes when working out whether someone merits a regular spot in your team, but the stamina and natural fitness physical attributes will be two of the best indicators that a player can handle the physical workload of being Mr. Reliable.

Cesar Azpilicueta has a great range of attributes for a captain

Your captain is most needed in the dying minutes of a match, so if he’s already out of breath and looking to the sub’s bench by the 80th minute, then it’s probably time to search out someone more well-rounded.

You could also look to positions that are less physically demanding and less prone to substitutions or injury. A winger, even if they have great leadership and impressive physicals, is more likely to be subbed off when you need to change the flow of a game compared to a centre back or defensive midfielder.

So perhaps look to the more static, ever-present positions in your team for a skipper if you find yourself tempted to take off your knackered leader too often.

You may want to consider a Rest training session, and you can find out how it differs from a Recovery session here.

Sometimes, a change is needed because of you more than because of a player. If your current captain is disrupting your leadership and causing trouble, then removing him is an opportunity to reassert your authority. A captain leading the squad strongly against your reign then you’re not going to have a job for too long. 

Remove a misbehaving captain to send a message to the rest of your players that you’re not to be messed with and that you expect discipline from your squad.

If you want to be really harsh, it can also be an effective means of pushing an unwanted player out of the club. If you’re trying to move your captain on in the transfer window but he’s refusing to budge, then stripping him of the armband may be enough to push him over the line.

This kind of approach is playing with fire though!

Expect a pushback from the squad if he’s popular and you don’t have a suitable replacement lined up.

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The report page gives you an idea of a player’s popularity.

When can I change my captain?

There’ll be an opportunity very early into the beginning of your job to pick out a captain and vice-captain and a similar message will appear at the beginning of each season.

You’ll get another opportunity in your inbox any time you sell or release your current captain or vice-captain too.

This is when the reminders mainly come up but that doesn’t mean you have to wait for months if you want to change your mind.

If you go to your tactics screen, in fact, you can change the captain any time you want. You can also set up the priority order depending on who’s playing.

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It’s not always recommended to change your captain, but it’s always possible. 

The reason this is hidden away in a subsection of the tactics section for most of the season is that changing things around in the middle of a run of games is far more likely to be disruptive.

With any luck, you find a rhythm with your squad as the season goes on normally with key players becoming defined and everyone getting used to playing a certain way. Switching out the most important role in your team – especially without a good reason – is a great way to put a bump in the road.

If anyone is upset by the changes you implement, then doing it at the beginning of preseason leaves you a few weeks or months for everything to be ironed out so morale isn’t affected any more than it needs to be when the games start coming in.

The last thing you want is an angry or split squad as the games are coming thick and fast!

You don’t need to worry so much about when you change your reserve captains. Your squad is unlikely to be fazed by switching around your 7th-choice captain at any point of the season, even the 7th-choice captain in question.

Are there any implications to changing my captain?

It all depends on how well you handle things!

Changing captains can be received positively or negatively, or you may get a mixed response depending on the social dynamics in your team. 

Getting rid of an unpopular captain and bringing in someone well-respected is likely to cause an uptick in morale.

On the other hand, if you’re a new manager and are disrupting the team’s setup by disrespecting a popular player then you can really upset the team. If your replacement skipper is also popular, then that can soften the blow but you can end up with a rebellion if you bring in an unpopular player.

Remember, not everyone in your squad thinks the same way about things! One tight-knit group could be a little ticked off with a change that makes the rest of the squad ecstatic. This might make the net effect worth it, so don’t assume everything’s doomed just because one player is potentially unhappy with a change.

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The dynamics page shows you the social side of your team.

Who captains your team is a sensitive subject, so don’t rush in. Pick someone popular and you’ll garner the respect of your squad. Picking someone who’s also talented will lead to even more results on the pitch go your way.

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