Getting a youth intake in football manager that has the description “has the potential to be a real golden generation for the club” is really rare and most of the time is just due to luck.
You can play the game for thousands of hours without ever having a golden generation of your own while on the other side, you can get it in the first season of a different save.
Just like in the real world, it is just not realistic to have potential superstars coming out of your youth system each year. Even clubs like Ajax, Barcelona and Manchester United famed for their youth system rarely promote 2 or 3 players each year who can consistently feature in their first team.
What Does Golden Generation Mean in Football Manager?
A golden generation means that the staff in charge of bringing youth into your U18 team thinks there are three or four players from the youth intake that have the potential to feature in the first team in the coming years.
Depending on the strength of your current squad, the youngsters might have a range of 3 to 5 stars on their potential. If your squad already has the likes of Mbappé and Haaland, do not expect many 4 or 5 star potential youngsters.
The stars are relative to the quality of your squad, therefore if Messi is in your team and has 5 stars in his current ability, a youngster with a potential of 3 stars from your youth team means he can be very good if he realizes his potential, world-class even.
On the other hand, if you are a managing team in the lower leagues, the probability of having the golden generation description during a youth intake is higher than when you are managing in the Premier League or another top league in Europe.
This is not because you are getting better players than teams in the higher divisions, but rather because your current first team players are relatively poor and therefore more youngsters coming through the youth system have the potential to be better than them.
This is especially true when you are making progress in trying to maximize chances of getting good youth intakes by hiring the best head of youth development, asking the board to invest more funds into youth recruitment and improving the club’s reputation amongst other things.
As a result of this, you will see more 4 and 5 star potential players from your youth team when you are managing in the lower leagues. You might even get one or two from the youth intake who can go straight into the first team and do a job.
Now, since the gulf in quality in the lower leagues and in the top leagues is massive, relying on the youth intakes to get quality players who will push your club towards promotion is not a good way to go about things.
Instead, sign players who are in their prime, and you will see an almost immediate impact. One or two loans from top division sides will also help your cause.
When you get to the Championship or the Premier League, you can then turn your attention to maximizing the potential of your youth system.
Football Manager Golden Generation Youth Intake Conclusion
As we have seen, the golden generation tag given to a youth intake is largely tied to the quality of your first team.
The accuracy of player judgement from your staff will also come into play, as they do not get to see the exact value of a player’s potential or current ability.
This is why your scout with a rating of 15 in both judging player ability and judging player potential recommends a player with 5 stars in current ability. Once you sign the player, the stars might then drop to 3 or 4. This is because you are now getting reports from one of your coaches, who might have a different opinion on the player’s ability compared to the scout.
In the same vein, your head of youth development might get the potential of your youth intake wrong. This will happen from time to time even when they have the best rating of 20 in judging player ability and judging player potential.
Also, other factors like facilities in the club, injuries, game time and personality of the players will come into play and influence whether the players realize their potential.