I’ll come right out and say it, managing teams in the lower leagues are not for the faint-hearted. The process, though rewarding, is extremely frustrating!
Before you embark on this type of save, be prepared for a series of rage quits and constant screaming at your computer screen. Nevertheless, don’t let me discourage you from lower-league saves because the joy that accompanies them, in the end, is immeasurable!
There’s nothing quite like seeing your team fight through the ranks and go on to become one of the best teams in the world.
If you’ve played Football Manager for a while, you must know that managing a Vanarama North Side differs from managing a Premier League team. For one, most low-league sides have low or non-existent budgets, plus a squad full of amateur players. To make it to the big leagues, you have to find creative and intelligent ways to utilize the little available resources, and these all start from knowing and signing the right players.
I am a big fan of starting from the bottom and after multiple hours and saves spent helping teams attain promotions; I have gathered knowledge on the key factors and attributes required for success. In this article, I’ll show you all the crucial attributes of lower league players on Football Manager.
5 Important Attributes For Lower League Players on Football Manager?
Before we go into the details, let me remind you that you need to limit your expectations when coaching lower-league teams. Don’t go about scouting for strikers with 15+ finishing or wingers with 18 pace ratings. Asides from not being able to afford them, you actually don’t need them. Attributes in Football Manager are relative to the level of your current competition.
Generally, the average attribute ratings for lower leagues, like the national leagues, are between 9 and 11. If you can sign players within this range, things should be smooth for you.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way let’s look into the important player attributes to consider. Here are five of them:
Players in the lower leagues usually lack good technical and mental attributes. There’s less flair and more physicality. In Football Manager, strength is metric that determines how well a player can exert his physical self on an opposition player.
Lower leagues are filled with amateur or semi-professional players that focus more on physically building themselves. You need players with good strength ratings if you’re to stand a chance.
Unlike the professional leagues where strength is only really important for strikers and centre backs, lower league players in all positions require strength. Wingers mostly have low technique, flair, and dribbling ratings so they have to rely on their strength to beat their markers.
You can find out how a centre back differs from a fullback here.
When two players fight for the ball, the one with a higher strength rating mostly comes out successful. Harry Hagan is a prime example, the English striker has 14 strength rating and easily bullies opposition strikers.
Stamina and Natural Fitness
One of the big challenges you’ll face while managing lower-league teams is the insane match schedule. Most times, lower leagues have more participating teams, and there are hardly any breaks.
If you manage teams in the Serie A, Premier League, or La Liga, you regularly get international breaks within the season. Unless you have a really elite team, there’s a high chance most of your players won’t be featured in their country’s team sheet. As such, it’s usually an excellent opportunity to rest that DM that has played six consecutive games.
However, teams in the Vanarama National League and other low leagues play two games on average per week (cup games included), and if you want your team to stay active, you need players with high stamina ratings.
Stamina is a measure of a player’s ability to endure playing at his maximum level over a long period.
Willem Tomlinson is a 29-year-old English lower-league central midfielder who can give you 30+ games a season without any worries. His stamina and natural fitness ratings are off the roof!
Players like John Terry and Philip Lahm are prime examples of legends with high stamina.
The lower you drop in Football Manager, the rarer the Determination attribute becomes. It’s possible to go three full seasons without seeing a player with 15+ determination ratings. This is understandable because these guys are semi-professional or amateur players who know their chances of making a living off football are very low.
Despite its rarity, Determination is still a very important attribute in the lower leagues. It measures how far your players are willing to go for the team. When you’re a goal down, the players with high determination are the ones who will fight to cancel the deficit.
Determination partners well with the Work Rate attribute and can make a difference in leagues with low technicality.
Lewis Gibbens is an English ball-playing defender with a very high determination rating. Though he isn’t much of a technical player, he will give you his best whenever he’s called upon.
You can find out how to improve your player’s determination here.
Off The Ball/Positioning
In football, what players do with the ball is just as important as what they do without it. This is especially important in lower leagues where the technical level is low; good off-the-ball and positioning ratings can be critical to your success!
Off the ball is a metric that describes an attacking player’s movement without the ball—his ability to create spaces and receive passes or escape his marker. Since most defenders in the lower leagues aren’t really sharp, you can exploit them with good off-the-ball movements.
Positioning, on the other hand, is a metric used for defensive players. It measures how well a player can read the game and position himself where he can adequately neutralise all offensive threats to his team.
At the start of every season, go to your analyst reports and check the average off-the-ball ratings for players in your league. Ensure that your defender’s positioning rating is higher than the average OFB rating for the league. Vice versa for your strikers.
You can check out some of the top attributes that every striker should have here.
One of the fastest ways to attain success in the lower leagues is by creating a tactic and signing players that’ll help you dominate the air.
In my Chorley save in the Vanarama National League North, I had decent midfielders who had great vision and could pass well. I also had wingers with high acceleration, which is also important in the lower leagues.
My midfielders would always find my wingers, who easily outpaced their markers and sent crosses into the boxes. However, these crosses never connected with their target because I had a 5’8 striker with 7 Jumping Reach and 9 Heading ratings.
Moreover, the average height for central defenders in the league was around 6’2.
I saved up and bought the legendary Kyle Hudlin, he’s 6’9 with 20 jumping reach and 13 heading ratings, and in no time, my wingers were bagging assists easily.
The same applied when I am looking for defenders. Taller defenders with good jumping and heading ratings will mean more aerial battles won and fewer goals conceded.
The Bottom Line
If you’ve never tried a lower-league save in Football Manager, you should because you’re missing a lot. You’ll get to experience how it feels to manage a team with a season transfer budget lower than the weekly wages of most players in the top divisions.
Where yellows are the new greens and you only see the faces of wonderkids on your newsfeed.
To succeed, you have to intelligently use your available resources, and that includes buying the right players. There are certain attributes that are and aren’t important to lower-league players. You need to know them so you don’t go wasting money you don’t have on players who can’t survive in the league.
First off, strength is a must for lower-league players in any position. Players must also have stamina and Natural Fitness ratings due to the league’s hectic schedule. Determination is another important attribute, together with off-the-ball ratings for attacking players and positioning for defensive players.
Lastly, an aerial command is vital for success in the lower leagues, so you should try signing players with high jumping reach and heading ratings.
I hope you enjoy rising through the leagues and becoming a world-class team. It’ll take time and effort, but you’ll surely get there!
Once you have found the right players, check out this guide on the best tactics you can use against stronger teams.
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