We’ve all been there. For the first time in weeks, you finally have a fully fit squad, and your tactics are making your team play like Guardiola’s 08/09 Barca team. You have not lost in 14 games and are very close to breaking the club’s unbeaten run record.
The club’s legends and favourite personnel are constantly praising you in the media, and the board believes you’re doing a spectacular job. You’re basically on top of the world!
Then it starts. Most times, it begins with a goalless draw to a mid-table team, and then you’re losing to teams in the relegation zone!
Your defenders can no longer grasp the concept of defending, and the same club legends who praised you are silently calling for your head. This is a story that every Football Manager player is conversant with, and one that leads to several rage quits and screaming at the PC.
However, losing streaks is common in Football Manager and happens to almost every player. Even in real-life football, losing streaks occur. The good news is, there are ways you can put an end to those miserable losing streaks and get your winning team back.
Here, we’ll explore the likely causes of losing streaks and their remedies.
Likely Causes of Losing Streaks in Football Manager
Here are some possible reasons why your team keeps drawing or losing matches.
#1 Player Unhappiness
While having talented players is essential in Football Manager, a good team atmosphere and morale are more critical. You can have a squad full of wonder kids and world-class players but fail to win games because of poor team morale.
If a player that’s high in the squad hierarchy starts complaining about his low game time or about an unfulfilled promise, it might lead to unhappiness and an eventual drop in morale and performance from the general squad.
#2 Heavy Squad Rotation
Resting your key players is pretty common, especially when you’re playing against teams that are having a bad season. Sometimes, resting players can cause an imbalance in the team tactics, and you can end up losing the game by a single goal. Losing to easy opponents can lead to a drop in morale and subsequent performances.
There’s nothing wrong with praising your team after a good win. However, prolonged praise in media, personal discussions, and team talks can lead to complacency.
The players might feel too comfortable, especially after a long winning streak, and start underperforming.
#4 Poor Preseason
Preseason friendlies are great opportunities to improve club finances, test new signings and players on trials, and try out new tactics. However, a poor preseason can severely affect your team’s performance in the future. If you lose too many games in the preseason, probably because you played stronger teams, your team will suffer from poor morale and seriously struggle for form.
#5 New Players, Tactics, or Training
Signing new players, especially in the January transfer window, can lower team cohesion and, in turn, performances. This player will take time to adapt to your tactic and style of play, and while they adapt, it might cause lapses in your team and can lead to several defeats.
Changing your team tactics, player instructions, or training routines can also lead to a sharp decline in on-pitch performances.
How To Stop Losing and Drawing in Football Manager
A winless streak in Football Manager is one of the most frustrating things that can ever happen to you while playing the game.
Sometimes, if they occur at the wrong time in the season, they might cause you to lose your job. Luckily, there are ways you can end them and get your team back to winning ways.
Here’s how you can stop drawing and losing in Football Manager.
#1 Watch Games
In Football Manager, you can complete a whole season quickly if your game highlight settings are on Key Highlights or Only Commentary. With these settings, the game only shows you the goals scored and major shots on target in the match. While this is good if you fully understand your tactics and player roles, it’s not ideal when you’re on a winless streak.
Winless streaks usually means something is off in the team, and the only way to find out is by fully watching your team play. Then, you will notice the cracks in your gameplay and see how to fix them.
Moreover, you mustn’t necessarily watch the full game; you can change the settings to Comprehensive Highlights. This is enough to fully watch and understand where and why things are going wrong.
If you’re conceding too many goals, the problem might not be from your goalie or centre-backs; it can be your full-backs overlapping and failing to track back, or your defensive midfielder failing to control the midfield and pick up loose balls. You may not notice these intrinsic details when the highlight settings are on Key Highlights.
#2 Go Defensive
It’s hard to believe that the same players that were dominating the league, scoring multiple goals per game, and keeping clean sheets can no longer win a game against a relegation-bound team. Worse, you’re conceding cheap goals and have no defensive solidarity.
While you might want to still believe in your tactics and continually push attacks, you must first find a way to keep the goals out. If it means converting to a back five or changing your wing backs to full-backs, do it. If they can’t score you, they can’t beat you, and if you’re lucky, you might scrap a 1-0 win and boost your team morale.
Moreover, you can try to schedule more defensive training sessions, prioritise set pieces/crosses and try to control possession first before scoring.
An example of a heavily defensive formation
#3 Avoid Changing Tactics Too Often
When you’re on a winless streak, nothing makes sense. It’s then you feel the urge to start tweaking tactics and changing player instructions after every game. Try to avoid this, as you’ll only be creating further instability in the team, reducing team cohesion, and frustrating your players.
If the tactic you’ve been using successfully stops working all of a sudden, switch to a defensive tactic till you find stability and then switch back when the team morale is high. Changing your midfielder’s role from a Box to Box Midfielder to a Mezzala in a five-game winless run will do more harm than good.
#4 Boost Morale
Majority of winless streaks are due to poor team morale. Tactics can only go a long way, if your players are not in the right state of mind, you’ll find it extremely difficult to win games. Here are some of the ways to boost team morale.
Holding personal discussions with your players and complimenting them can help boost their morale. Even better, the game allows multiple conversations about different topics with a single player.
So you can praise a player for his performance in the last match (even if it was a draw or loss), his performance in training, or even his current form. If done right, you can completely change a player’s mood and get them to start playing well.
After a couple of bad results, your assistant manager will most likely recommend you hold a team meeting with the squad to try and cheer them up. There, you can encourage your players and remind them what they are fighting for. You can also criticise them and trigger them to buck up.
However, be careful when holding team meetings because when done wrong, they can do serious harm to both the locker room atmosphere and the players’ trust in you as manager. Also, avoid holding too many meetings as they might irritate the players and also become irrelevant.
Pregame, Halftime, and Postgame Talks
When you’re on a winless streak, your pregame, halftime, and postgame talks can make all the difference. Before every game, remind your players that you know how eager they are to end this poor run of form, and even add a Pump Fist gesture to motivate them.
During the halftime team talk, encourage them further and also drop mild criticisms and how they can fix up. Try to ensure that they are all motivated or happy when going back to the pitch; it’ll do wonders for their performance.
If, again, you lose or draw the game, restrain from throwing water bottles or heavy criticisms. Criticise them for their poor performance but not too much, and sometimes if the loss was truly embarrassing, you could give them the silent treatment. This will show them you’re truly disappointed in them and push them to even work harder.
One sure way to destroy squad morale and lose the dressing room is to come at your players in the media. No matter how angry you are, don’t criticise your players openly in a press conference; it’s more effective when done in private!
Remember, it’s better to skip a press conference than have a bad one!
The Bottom Line
Lengthy winless streaks are common in football, and it’s only fair that they happen in Football Manager too.
Because no matter how perfect you think your squad is, something tiny can come in and completely mess with the team’s stability. Here we covered some of the reasons why your team can’t stop drawing or losing and also explored some solutions.
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