This is the ultimate lower league management guide for Football Manager!
Have you ever played a Lower League Management Save on Football Manager? No? You have no idea what you are missing! This is by far the most fun way and most challenging way to play the game. The thing is with Lower League Management that it is as unforgiving as hell. But after years of hard work, the satisfaction of reaching that top level, will be the best of all.
Do I have your attention? Good! But let me get you back down to earth by saying; Lower League Management isn’t for everybody. Why? Because you need a lot of patience and determination. The life of a Lower League Manager is hard, very hard! But if you are still hyped to start a game down the ladder, this guide will help you get started.
What is Lower League Management?
For those of you who are still wondering what Lower League Management or LLM actually is. Well, its football that is played well down the ladder. Think of amateur or semi-professional clubs that work with limited (or even none at all) budgets and no quality in the squad. You don’t play in fancy stadiums and you don’t train at state-of-the-art facilities.
LLM is not a game you play in between other games. LLM is a way of life!
The rules of LLM
Wait, there are rules?!? Yes! Well, they are not actualy rules, more like guidelines. However, a true Lower League Manager will follow them like the bible.
The Basic Rules of Lower League Management are:
- Only use tactics you have created on your own.
- You don’t use the Player- or Staff search in the game.
- You only sign players that are recommended by your scouts.
- Only sign backroom staff through an advert.
- The usage of FM-Tools (like Genie Scout) is not allowed.
- No rage quits after you lose a game! In LLM losing means losing!
- Don’t use exploits in the game (corner exploits for example)
- Keep your signings realistic, so don’t sign a squad of French free agents with an English non-league side.
- Use attribute masking to make scouting harder.
Possible Leagues for LLM
Standard leagues that meet the requirements for a Lower League Management save are:
- Vanarama Conference North & South (England)
- Serie C (Italy)
- Segunda Division B (Spain)
- 3. Bundesliga (Germany)
- CFA (France)
- Derde klasse (Belgium)
- Serie C (Brazil)
If you are more experienced it is also possible to start a LLM save in countries like Norway, Sweden, Indonesia, Northern-Ireland or Malaysia.
Download extra leagues
Lucky for us the Football Manager community has always created the most awesome leagues you could think of. Fancy a save in the third division of Pakistan? No problem! Just download a file and you will be well on your way! Have a look in our download area for more Football Manager add-ons.
Difficulty levels in LLM
If you're a LLM-rookie, we advise you to start a save in England. This is one of the standard LLM countries and would be a good nation to make your first steps.
In England it is easier to make your way up the ladder as there are more players available, more money and better facilities. If you are more experienced or looking for a challenge you could always try a save in Sweden or Norway.
Tips & Tricks
Below we have posted a couple of tips and tricks you could use during your Lower League Management save in Football Manager. Easy to apply and easy to use!
Always use Short-term contracts
Never think about the long-term too much. Your main goal is to achieve promotion as fast as possible. After you have achieved promotion you will need better players and you don't want to be stuck with players on long-term contracts.
When signing players offer them contracts for 2 seasons. If you will need to get rid of them it will be cheaper to buy-off their contracts and it will be easier to sell them.
Quality is more important than potential
This continues the thought of using the short-team in LLM. As you want to move up the ladder as fast as possible, it has no use to sign 16-year-olds with a possible high potential. Your funds are limited so don't spend it on players that can't play. Always pick Current Ability over Potential Ability in LLM.
Nobody is irreplaceable
Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo are players that are difficult to replace. The players you have when managing in the lower leagues are ALL replaceable. Don’t be sad if a player doesn’t want to sign a new deal, there are probably better players available for less money.
Signing players on loan is vital
What is the easiest way to improve your squad without spending money? Signing players on loan! Big Clubs have large youth squads and are delighted to send you one or even two players for a season-long loan. And more important; many clubs will not even ask any compensation for it!
Get a Senior Affiliate club
It would be even better if are able to convince your board to get you a senior affiliate. And if you are lucky, it will be one of the best clubs in the country! These clubs will loan you players without any compensation, while the players themselves will be keen on joining your team if you are an affiliate club.
Pick Physique over Technique
You won’t find players with an impressive set of technical skills. You should always look for players with the best possible physique. Try to find fast strikers to beat the off-side trap, big and powerful centre-backs and midfielders with high stamina and natural fitness.
For example: A striker that has 1 for finishing, could score 30 goals a season if he has a high overall speed, only because he will be much faster than most of his opponents.
Roam the free transfer market
You barely have money to keep your head above the water so don’t go spending your money on transfer fees. Make sure to assign your scouts to roam the free transfer market. There are always players who can’t seem to find a club and are willing to play for your team.
Offer trials to scout players
As a Lower League Manager you don’t have 40 scouts and you don’t have the money to roam the nation non-stop. You have to be smarter than that. Offer trials to players for the maximum amount of time and have them play friendlies. After a week or two their attributes will become visible and you will be able to compare them to your own players.
Always pick versatile players!
In LLM it isn't possible to sign a full squad of 30 players to cover for busy schedules or injury woes. Because you won't have two players for every position, a player that can play in more than one position is considered a legend in LLM.
If a player gets suspended or picks up an injury, the versatile player can cover for him. Very easy!
Cut the Youth Academy
Lets face it: your facilities are probably crap, your Head of Youth lacks quality and there is only one youth coach. Stop investing money into that as you are smart enough to know you won't deliver the new Lionel Messi next season.
If you have the option to cut off your Youth Academy: DO IT! Keeping it on will only cost you a shitload of money. After a few seasons into the game and after achieving multiple promotions and upgrading your facilities & financial position it is time to reconsider the youth academy.
Don't expect clean sheets!
Your players are mostly shit, so don't expect cattenaccio style world-class defending from your players. Resultes lik 4-4, 7-5 or 6-3 are quite common in LLM. So don't expect much clean sheets! There is only one thing important in LLM and that is outscoring your opponent in every game!
Keep your tactics simple
Again: your players are shit. So, if you are expecting to send them onto the pitch in a 3-5-2 with inverted wingbacks, a roaming playmaker and an advanced forward in a tike taka or gegenpress style you are wrong!
Your tactics and instructions should be simple and you should even check the player instructions to take out the ones that need certain expertise or footballing intelligence.
Use a small pitch
What do players in the lower leagues lack? Quality. What do you need to play in tight spaces? Quality! If you use a small pitch the space will be limited, making it easier to defend. Downside: if you like to play the long-ball to reach two fast strikers, a short pitch also limits the space behind your opponents defense.
A long article on Lower League Management with several tips & tricks. The most important thing to remember is having fun! If you don't want to use the rules of LLM, don't use them! Play the game the way you want to play it!
If you have decided to create a LLM save in Football Manager, hop over to the FMInside forums and tell us all about it!