Derby Manager tries to simulate a persistent football world, a world where clubs grow to great heights and fall on hard times. You may lose a game you were sure you'd win, or even get relegated - but don't get disheartened! Do your best to bounce right back up. You can always take another club's hot seat if you're looking for a change.
You start the game jobless. On your profile page (click on your name under the leftmost menu item in the navigation) you will see a dropdown menu with countries and a list of available clubs (if the country is not on the list there are no available clubs there). Click on any of them and check their players, finances and other information. If you like what you see go to that club's fixtures or facilities page and click on the APPLY FOR JOB button to start your managerial career.
If later on you decide to switch to another club you can browse through the leagues to see which ones are interested. Those that would like to hire you will have the APPLY FOR JOB button shown on fixtures and facilities screens. You will have to resign from your current first to take a new one. When you resign (or maybe get fired) you can again use your profile screen to look for interested clubs.
Your first task as a new manager in a club should be to assess your squad. There is a good chance some of your players won't suit your needs and you can sell them to get some quick cash. Use the money to strengthen the weak spots in your squad. Older players (28+) are a great way to get the results fast. You can also promote them to staff later and boost certain aspects of your club, like training or team spirit. The downside is that their price usually drops so you will probably lose money when you sell them. On the other hand youngsters will develop but their performance can be unreliable. Consider having both in your team.
In lower leagues your goal is probably to gather around 16 good players and progress through divisions as fast as possible. Higher leagues mean more money, better training, better players on transfer market and in general better environment for your club. Fill in the rest of your squad with cheap youngsters for potential development in B team.
When you check your finances screen you will probably notice that your club is losing a bit of money every day. Don't worry, the calculation doesn't take into account money earned from attendance and winning matches. Overall your money will probably increase but you might still want to check your squad to see if there are players that aren't worthy of their salary. You can get money faster by selling players (preferably for more than what you paid for them).
On the training screen you can also set a lower level of investment and save money that way. But be careful, setting it too low may cause your players to lose value.
There is no prize money at the end of the season but you earn a bonus for every win so make the most of what you get. The win bonuses get bigger the higher up you go, but wins are also harder to come by. Sometimes it might be better to spend another year in your division to get a good squad together that would get wins in the higher division.
Formation and tactical options are key to winning matches. There is no one right approach, experiment and see what works with the players you have. Standard formations you are familiar with from real football (442, 4231...) are a good place to start. Go through the post-match reports to see where your strengths lie and try to minimise your weak sides. That’s also how you scout your opponents. Try to change formation to counter their strong players and exploit weak ones.
Formation and starting eleven is key to making your team play your way. But tactical options, such as mentality and play style, have a substantial influence as well. They won’t turn your 541 playing team into an attacking powerhouse though. Test what works for you and adjust as necessary.
Your players are the heart of your club and it is of utmost importance to have a balanced squad. Older players won't be in your team for very long and their attributes will decrease, but they also punch above their weight price-wise. Having a balanced squad is your best approach: with some key players and some rotation, some oldies and some youngsters.
Once you've decided to say goodbye to a veteran player, see if it's not worth promoting them to staff instead as they get a bonus to their skills. Staff is useful to focus your club on certain areas like training or finances.
In a similar vein, not every young player in your B team has to be a potential superstar. Training them up and then selling can provide a nice boost to your income.
In the end, join the banter on Discord if you have any questions and have fun!