This is the ultimate lower league management guide for Football Manager!
Have you ever ventured into a Lower League Management save on Football Manager? No? You're missing out on an exhilarating experience! It's undoubtedly the most enjoyable yet challenging way to play the game. However, Lower League Management is as unforgiving as it gets. But the satisfaction of climbing to the top after years of hard work is unparalleled.
Have I got your attention? Great! But let's ground this excitement a bit. Lower League Management isn’t everyone's cup of tea. Why? Because it demands heaps of patience and determination. The life of a Lower League Manager is incredibly tough. Yet, if you're still eager to embark on this journey, this guide will set you on the right path.
What is Lower League Management?
For those wondering, Lower League Management (or LLM) entails football played far down the ladder. Think amateur or semi-professional clubs operating on limited (or zero) budgets, lacking quality in the squad. You won’t play in fancy stadiums or train at state-of-the-art facilities.
LLM isn't just a game; it's a way of life!
The Guidelines of LLM
Wait, rules? Well, not precisely rules, more like guidelines. Yet, a true Lower League Manager abides by them religiously.
The Fundamental Guidelines of Lower League Management include:
- Create and use only your own tactics.
- Avoid using the Player or Staff search areas in the game.
- Only sign players recommended by your scouts.
- Hire backroom staff solely through adverts.
- Prohibit the use of FM-Tools like FMRTE or any other scouting tools.
- No rage quits after losing a game...defeat means learning.
- Avoid exploiting game mechanics (e.g., corner exploits).
- Keep signings realistic; don't flood an English non-league side with a squad of French free agents.
- Implement attribute masking to intensify scouting.
Possible Leagues for LLM
Standard leagues suitable for Lower League Management saves include:
- Vanarama Conference North & South (England)
- Serie C (Italy)
- Segunda Division B (Spain)
- 3. Bundesliga (Germany)
- CFA (France)
- Derde klasse (Belgium)
- Serie C (Brazil)
Experienced players might explore LLM in countries like Norway, Sweden, Indonesia, Northern Ireland, or Malaysia.
Downloading Additional Leagues
Thankfully, the Football Manager community has created numerous fascinating leagues. Fancy managing in Pakistan's third division? No problem! Simply download the file, and you're all set! Check our download area for more Football Manager add-ons.
Difficulty Levels of LLM
If you're a newbie in LLM, starting a save in England is advisable. It's a standard LLM country and offers a good starting point due to more available players, better finances, and superior facilities. For experienced players seeking a challenge, Sweden or Norway could be intriguing options.
Tips & Tricks
Here are some practical tips for your Lower League Management journey in Football Manager:
Always use Short-term contracts
Don't think about the long-term in the beginning. Your main goal is to achieve promotions as fast as you possibly can. After every promotion a higher level is needed for your players and you don't want to be stuck with crappy players on six-year contracts.
Ideal scenario is offering players a two year contract in LLM. If you promote you can decide if you want to keep the player around or try to sell him for a relatively low fee. And if you can't sell it won't be a huge problem to terminate their contracts.
Quality is more important than potential
This continues the thought of using the short-term 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 '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
Kylian Mbappe or Erling Haaland are players who are difficult to replace. In LLM nobody is replaceable. Don't be sad if a player does not want to sign a new contract or asks for a transfer. On this level there are always enough players available who are cheaper and even have a higher ability.
Roam the free transfer market
It is not often that teams in the lower divisions have a transfer budget and so you will have to look for cheap alternatives. Free transfers are therefore ideal for LLM.
Use trials to scout
A cheap and simple way of scouting is to offer players a trial period. When they arrive, their attributes are still not fully visible, but they will appear after they have been at the club for a few weeks. This means you don't have to be complicated and send out scouts.
Look for loans
The easiest way to improve the level of your squad without spending money is signing players on loan. Big clubs have large youth squads and are almost always happy to send some young and talented footballers your way for free!
Find a senior Affiliate club
Searching for loan players could become even easier if you manage to find a senior affiliate club. These affiliations can be used to sign good young players on loan without any form of compensation. In addition, players from the senior affiliate club are more likely to choose your club over other clubs with a higher reputation.
Physique over Technique
When playing LLM you won't find players with an impressive set of technical skills. However, a player with incredible Physical skills are easier to find at these levels. Try to look for fast strikers, midfielders with high stamina and big or strong central defenders.
For example: a striker could have 1 or 2 for finishing but could still score 30 goals in a season for you if he has good physical attributes, such as high pace. With these attributes he would be much faster than his opponents and could utilize space behind the opponent's defense.
Use versatile players!
At LLM you have a limited budget and you cannot have two or three players for each position. So look for players who can play in more than 1 position. This way you can better anticipate injuries and suspensions.
Cut the Youth Academy
In a normal LLM save your job is to get to the top as quickly as possible and your focus is not on developing your own youth (unless you are playing a youth only save of course). If you have the chance, kill your youth academy. The players who come through are never good enough and ultimately only cost money. After a number of promotions, you can always consider reviving the youth academy and investing in the facilities at the same time.
Don't expect clean sheets!
Let's face it: your players are probably shit. Then you cannot expect to play in a cattenaccio-like style on the 0 and that is not what LLM is about. Results like 3-3, 7-5 or 6-3 are not at all unique at this level and results may vary from week to week. 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 probably shit. So don't expect them to understand your very complicated tactics and overly complicated player roles. Give them clear tasks: defenders defend and attackers attack. Keep your tactical instructions as simple as possible and don't try to turn your players into roaming playmakers or complete forwards. They will then only move out of position and that will be at the expense of your balance.
Adjust the size of your pitch based on the qualities of your team. Do you have fast attackers and defenders with a good pass? Use a long pitch so that you can find attackers behind the opponent's defense. If your team really lacks quality, choose a small pitch so that there is less space. Or choose a very large pitch to tire your opponent if you have players with high stamina.
A comprehensive guide to Lower League Management with numerous tips and tricks. Remember, the most crucial aspect is to have fun! If you prefer not to follow the LLM guidelines, that's perfectly okay! Play the game as you see fit!
If you've decided to embark on an LLM save in Football Manager, head over to the FMInside forums and share your experience with us!