Football Manager 2015 Lower League Tactics Guide: How To Succeed On The Pitch As You Fight For Promotion

By Matthew Buzzi , Updated Jan 26, 2015 04:19 PM EST
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Playing as the world's biggest clubs in Football Manager is perhaps the most fun aspect of the game, allowing you to blow millions of pounds on superstars and build the best team the sport has ever seen.

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It's not the most challenging way to play, however--far from it. There are many mid-level clubs that are difficult to succeed with as you try to pry the league title and European places away from the domestic giants, but managing a lower league side is even more challenging.

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Gaining promotions from the bottom tiers of England or Spain can be frustrating, complicated, and very rewarding, and we're here to help you out. Below are some tactics tips that should assist you in gaining promotions, even if the process can take time.

Pick A Style, But Don't Be Afraid To Change What Doesn't Work

It's unlikely that any one player will be good enough to shape how your team plays, so consider your overall strengths tactically and go from there. If you have good defenders, rely on that to win you games. If you're finding yourself unable to score and find yourself falling down the table, though, don't persist playing that counter-attacking style you thought would work. Clinging to tactics that don't work is what gets managers fired, and even if it doesn't seem to make sense, it's not going to suddenly change. Shift your style to be more or less attacking depending on where your problem area is (keep an eye on your goals for and goals against compared to other teams), and change instructions that aren't getting it done. Radical changes are okay if what you chose simply isn't working--play direct if you were playing short, pick up the tempo, and do what is necessary to turn it around.

You're Probably Better Off Playing More Offensively

While I'm not suggesting to play on overload all the time, or even attacking, playing a more offensive style seems to work better in the lower divisions. Most defenses at this level just aren't good enough to keep consecutive clean sheets, and if you're playing defensively, you're not going to score many while inevitably letting in a couple of frustrating goals. Your promotion attempts will likely fail if you try to win every game 1-0 (I'm sure some teams have succeeded this way), and you will probably fare better by trying to grab a few goals each game. Formations with a defensive midfielder seem to have more success, and allow your central midfielders to help contribute more to the attacking buildup.

Focus On Player Roles

Every player will excel or fail in a particular role, and it can make or break your performances at this level. If you have one central midfielder who's a talented advanced playmaker, don't lazily interchange him with your ball-winning midfielder's position. He does not have the skill set required, and your results will suffer. Use the tactics menu to lock in player positions when they're subbed in, which both saves time and will prevent you from forgetting. Your coaches can recommend a role for a player, and you can see what's best for yourself on their overview page--selecting a role from the dropdown menu will highlight the attributes needed to play it. Nobody at lower levels will be good in every area, so it will be a compromise somewhere along the line--select the role with the most net positives that fit your teams style. Also, don't repeat roles in midfield--two ball-winning players will leave you with poor attacking transitions.

Have A Backup Plan

Your main strategy will be the most significant part of your tactics, but having alternatives can win you games. Training a second, more defensive formation to hold on to late leads can be the difference between winning and drawing--don't play that attacking game up until the last minute if you're only up by one goal. If you're under pressure, see out the game with responsible defending, but don't do it too early and invite extra pressure. Conversely, an attacking alternative can grab you a late equalizer. Throw your players on overload and tell them to push up--you have nothing to lose. Having these backup plans trained as alternative tactics will make your players more familiar with them, so they can be carried out as soon as you switch to maximum effectiveness.

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