When I booted up Football Manager 21 for the first time, there was no doubt who I’d manage first: HFX Wanderers FC.
Perhaps the draw of completing their last-to-first Island Games campaign drew me in… or their exciting attacking talent. Either way, I was pleased with my selection, guiding the Wanderers to a virtual Island Games title after beating Atlético Ottawa 1-0 in the final.
The virtual squad you’ll inherit from Stephen Hart is quite good. Akeem Garcia, João Morelli, Alessandro Riggi, and Alex Marshall is objectively the best attacking group in the game, while the centre-back duo of Peter Schaale and Jems Geffrard is good enough to be left exposed a few times.
HFX Wanderers centre-back Eriks Santos didn’t make it to Canada in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions. But, luckily for you, he’s with the Wanderers for the virtual CPL season. The 24-year-old is quite skilled in-game and provides the Wanderers with incredible centre-back depth they didn’t have on PEI.
Santos, Schaale, and Geffrard are all good enough to start which gives you the option to experiment with a three-at-the-back system if you want to keep possession and suffocate teams.
But, as CanPL.ca has learned, it’s much easier to stick to what worked for the Wanderers in 2020…
Play the press
Just like real life, the HFX Wanderers team in FM21 is adept at playing a high-intensity pressing game. Set yourself up with a “Gegenpress” tactic preset and let pacey attackers like João Morelli and Akeem Garcia apply pressure from the top.
You can tinker from here; changing Akeem Garcia to an inverted winger when on the left-hand side, giving the attacking midfielder more creative freedom, and swapping which fullback gets forward to provide late runs seemed successful for CanPL.ca’s first play-through of FM21.
Use your depth
The Wanderers are probably the deepest CPL team in FM21 with each position offering at least two or three quality first-team replacements – players like Andre Rampersad, Cory Bent, Erik Santos, and Alessandro Riggi routinely ended up outside of our go-to best XI.
Use that to your advantage by swapping players often to avoid injury and fatigue, especially if you use the pressing style recommended above. Most players arrive at the Island Games lacking match fitness, just like in real life, so it’s up to you to manage it.
In other words… use all of your available subs!
Player to watch: Alex Marshall
The Wanderers’ highest-rated player in FM21, 22-year-old Alex Marshall is an all-around attacker able to fit into most tactics you try to implement. Pace, good technical ability, and exceptional passing attributes routinely landed him with man of the match awards in our first Island Games campaign.