So you have made it to the big leagues. Congratulations! But now, an even bigger challenge awaits you and that’s staying in the big league. If you’re not careful enough, you might be relegated before you know it!
For one, your star players who tore up the previous league will become subpar compared to the level of talent you’ll face in the new league. Your team will also be up against clubs with bigger transfer/wage budgets, better players, and better pull.
There are also new limitations on team size and player loans, so it all comes down to how well you can handle your team because the help from outside will be limited.
Nevertheless, staying up in your first promoted season is possible even with the odds against you. In my current Newcastle save, I took an average team to the Premier League and finished 15th in my first season. A season later, I’m battling for a Europa League spot! It’s all possible with careful planning.
I will be sharing some vital tips on avoiding relegation as a newly promoted side or a side having a bad season. Enjoy!
Tips To Avoid Relegation In Football Manager
Generally, if you can survive relegation in your first season, you’ll have no problem doing it again. But as I’ve said, it all boils down to careful planning because the Football Manager game engine isn’t nice to newly promoted teams. Every mistake is paid for!
Here are eight tips to avoid relegation on Football Manager.
#1 Offload Your Current Players
Yes, I know, you don’t want to sell the 28-year-old winger who recorded double digits in both goals and assists the previous season. It’s fine that you respect him, but, he has played his part in your journey and it’s time to let him go.
There’s no room for loyalty if you harbour any intentions of staying up.
However, I’m not encouraging you to do a full raid on your squad. There are probably young talents or veterans that might be good squad players in the big league. Moreover, you wouldn’t want to ruin your team cohesion and morale by selling off the Team Leaders and Highly Influential players. The remaining players might lose respect for you.
Keep the important guys and reduce their relevance and squad status over time before shipping them off.
#2 Avoid Buying Youngsters
Promotion to a bigger league usually comes with a wider scouting range and budget. Your board gives you more freedom, meaning you get to see more wonderkids and youngsters than you did before.
Nevertheless, try to stay off these players. They mostly require time to develop, and you can’t afford that when you’re fighting for your life. Only go for players in their prime, set your scouting instructions to find players between 24 and 30. These players have fully developed their physical, technical, and mental traits.
However, it doesn’t mean it’s forbidden to go for younger players. if you choose to, try to go for those with real playing experience.
In my first promoted season, I bought a 21-year-old English winger from Leicester City, and he scored ten vital league goals for me. Also, there’s a risk attached to buying older players, and it’s fitness-related. They mostly don’t recover from injuries well, but their physical shortcomings are compensated by their high mental attributes.
They are the ones to maintain your dressing room and squad morale when you are in a poor run.
#3 Poach Players From Relegated Teams
Good players love to play in the big leagues and will force a move when their side is relegated. During the preseason, in July every year, search for teams that were regulated the previous season and go for their best players.
In most cases, these guys have indicated an interest in leaving, leading to them being transfer listed. Players on the transfer list are usually easy to sign because the club will accept almost any offer to avoid losing the player for free.
Some players also have relegation release clauses in their contracts, allowing you to get them at a price lower or equal to their value when their team goes down. Nevertheless, avoid triggering such clauses if your club’s financial status is insecure or poor. Clubs require you to pay this fee at once with no instalments and it can do damage to your budget.
#4 Be Defensive
Surviving relegation is mainly about staying calm and accepting that almost all the teams in the new division are better than you. They have higher budgets, more staff, better players, and more experience. There’s nothing you can do to change this. You just have to weather through for the first and probably the second season.
Don’t go into every match with guns blasting and full attack. You’ll concede heavy defeats and ruin your squad morale. Unless you’re playing against your fellow promoted teams or teams on a horrible run, go into every game with a cautious or balanced mentality. If it’s against stronger opposition, consider a defensive mentality.
Also, invest heavily in quality and tall defenders and never go into a game without a defensive midfielder. Good DMs will protect your team by winning loose balls in dangerous areas and dropping back to help your centre-backs.
All these will help you avoid a very high negative goal difference, and sometimes, this can be the sole decider in a relegation scrap. You don’t want to go into the final two games of the season with a -52 goal difference while your fellow relegation candidates are on -30!
You can find out some tactics you can use against big teams here.
#5 Talk To Your Team Regularly
In your first season after promotion, expect to go on long game runs without a win. From soul-crushing 4-0 losses to heartbreaking last-minute goals, you must be prepared for the absolute worst.
No matter how bad you drop on the league table, ensure it doesn’t translate to your team morale and cohesion. If the atmosphere in your squad is poor, you have no chance of staying up. It can even lead to you losing your job, and yes, it’s that bad!
To maintain team morale, have regular team talks with your squad where you reassure them of your belief in them and the club. Also, in pre-match dressing room talks against tough oppositions in their own ground, avoid putting too much pressure on your players.
Don’t demand your newly promoted Derby County team to get a win against Manchester City at the Etihad. You’ll only damage their morale, and still lose the game!
Furthermore, restrain from constantly berating your team when you’re a goal down. Encourage them instead; it can do wonders for their confidence.
Finally, there should be a limit to the amount of team meetings you hold. Don’t call for a team meeting after every loss, as the players will start complaining and you might lose the dressing room.
The Bottom Line
Most times, the joy that comes with winning a promotion equates to the pressure it brings. This is worse when you’re promoted to a league far stronger than the one you were in, such as coming from the Championship to the English Premier League for the first time.
Generally, if you can survive relegation in your first season up, things start to get easier. For one, players will trust your club more. Also, leagues like the English Premier League pay huge amounts to players in the division. This cash can be invested in better players and staff.
That’s why it’s important you escape the drop. Luckily, with the right tips, you can edge through with
Firstly, show no loyalty to your current players. If they are not good enough, sell them. Stay off the youngsters and only go for proven players, sign released players and those from newly relegated teams, adopt a defensive mentality and lastly, hold regular team talks and ensure your team’s morale is never low!
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