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How to use substitutions in Football Manager

Lazy Nov 9, 2020 Last modified: 19 Aug 21,190 views

This guide will give you some tips on how and when to use your substitutions.

We have all been there; you play a match on Football Manager and the players you picked as your starting eleven aren’t able to make the difference on the pitch. Your striker is snatching on chances, your central defender keeps making weird decisions and your midfielders are overrun by the opponent. Your team could use something extra’s and that extra could come from some substitutions.

I have played Football Manager/Championship Manager for many many years, and I know for sure that bringing in some substitutions could mean the difference between losing and winning a match. In this guide I will try to explain how to figure out which players are ready for a substitution and on what moment you should bring on substitutions.

Lets start by stating; Do not make substitutions just to sub someone. Only take a player off when you need to. The risk of an injury or unbalancing your tactic is too big. And you do not want to use your third sub in the 55th minute, and then see a player get injured ten minutes later.

Who do I take off?

Another statement about substitutions is; A tired player does not have to be subbed of the pitch every game you play. Players who have high values for Concentration, Flair and/or Determination could still be decisive in te latter stages of the game. So, when making a sub, consider the following:

Are there any booked players?

You do not want to be set back to ten men because of an unnecessary second yellow card. So keep an eye out for players who are already booked, especially the players who are more aggressive than others.

Are there any tired players with low mental attributes?

Look for defenders with low attributes for Concentration, Decisions, Composure and Determination. These guys should be the first to leave the pitch.

You could use your Touchline Team Talks and half time team talk to solve this, but if that doesn’t work; sub the players off. Mostly players with low Determination tend to get nervous or uninterested. It is advised to sell players like that.

Are there players with a knock?

Keep close tabs on these players, as a substitution is not always needed. Picking up a knock usually drops a players condition 20 to 30%, but could rise again after 5 or 10 minutes if the picked up injury isn’t serious enough. If the player condition stays low or gets even lower; sub the player off.

Are there players on low morale?

Players with a low morale do not want to fight for your team. These players tend to make crucial mistakes which can decide matches. Learn how to boost morale.

Who do I bring on the pitch?

We have explained which players you should sub off the pitch, but what about the player you sub in the game? Which player you bring on depends on the situation and the time of the game. We describe two situations:

Situation 1: An undecided game

The first situation is one that you will encounter most of the time. The game is tied or you have either a small lead or are trailing by a small margin. With these subs you want to change the outcome of the game. So bring players on who:

Have a better morale than the ones on the pitch

First thing you will have to look at when making a sub is ‘Mentality and Morale’. Condition and Fitness is important, but not as important as the mentality of your players. If you don’t have players available with better morale, just wait. Don’t rush and see what happens.

Defenders with good Mental Attributes

Especially when you have a small lead and are being pressured back on your own half. Having some fresh defenders with high concentration and determination could give you something extra during the final moments of the game.

Experienced Players

If you have a nervous player on the pitch, check your bench for some extra experience. Older players usually have better Mental Attributes and perform better under pressure.

Situation 2: When the game looks like it's decided (big lead)

If you are almost certain you will be bringing home the win, you can use your subs to see out the game and hand some playing time to those who either need or or are longing for it. Bring players on who:

Youth players / wonderkids

A great time to let you new signed wonderkid get some minutes under his belt. Having him playing for the first team will boost his morale and increase his development.

New signings

Players who are new at your club will have to integrate in your system and your team. Subbing him on in matches like these will help him grow into the team, without any pressure.

Complaining players

Everybody has these kind of players, who keep on nagging over some play time. When the time is right; sub them on. It will keep them calm and will help you keeping your job!

Players returning from injury

Although you would like your injured players to get some minutes in your reserve team as they try to regain their fitness level, it is also advised to play them in your first team. That way a player can regain match fitness and will stay motivated.


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