Recently I wrote an article showing how to start a new save well, if you missed it you can check it out here. With a strong start in the league, I decided to continue my Brentford save and see where we ended up. After an expected finish of mid table, we won the league, finishing with 88 points.
After the success I’d had, I decided to give it a go in the Premier League, and see if plucky little Brentford could mix it with the big boys. Here is my guide to adjusting to Promotion in FM19.
When you are promoted it is important to bring in additions to your squad that actually add quality to your starting 11. As tempting as it is to bring in 15 young Brazilians with 5 star potential, if they won’t feature in your team, you’ll just end up selling them again 12 months later. With that in mind let’s take a look at my transfer dealings.
When shopping around for players on a small budget, I tried to find Premier League quality for as cheap as possible. There are a couple of great ways to do this. One of the best is to check out teams who you have replaced in the league and buy up all their best players. Had I been allowed a slightly larger budget I could have signed Christopher Schindler from relegated Huddersfield for a relatively cheap price considering his ability. Another great way is to loan players from teams in the top 6. I brought in Tammy Abraham to strengthen out attacking intent and Emile Smith-Rowe who is now one of our best players.
Jack Grealish was almost a straight swap for Ollie Watkins, who had kicked up a fuss about a new contract after we were promoted. I also brought in Etienne Capoue from Watford, who had been transfer listed, and a couple of other squad players for a few million each. Try not to blow your whole budget on a couple of players who don’t really improve your squad, you can always save a few million for January.
The key to transfer dealings is to make sure you strengthen your starting eleven where possible. I try to end up with 15 first team players, rather than 25 squad players. It really is quality over quantity.
As a side note it’s also important to check your staff quality and make changes where needed. Compare yourself with the rest of the league and improve your coaching team in areas you think are necessary. For example, I would be looking to improve Fitness and Tactical.
The first thing I knew I would have to change was my Tactics. Throughout my year in the Championship I had played Tiki Taka football, controlling games and scoring a lot of goals, whilst keeping a high line and playing the offside trap. I knew that coming into the Premier League I would have to adapt my side and make us play more defensively, but I wanted to try and keep that possession based, positive football.
I decided the best way to do this without throwing out my playing style altogether would be to play 5 at the back. Having that extra defender would make us more solid out of possession, whilst allowing my wing-backs to provide width when we had the ball, and giving us more license to play out from the back. This is what I came up with.
The idea of this tactic is to soak up pressure in a 5-4-1 shape before springing the counter through inside forwards and overlapping wing-backs. The inclusion of a Pressing Forward allowed us to defend from the front, whilst the two central midfielders sit deep and hold their positions to defend against opposition counters. Remember to change up your tactics for home and away games. Against stronger teams such as the top 6, I’d be tempted to drop my wide players deeper, into DL/R and ML/R in order to soak up more pressure. This change from a more attacking tactic is difficult but necessary, and a key adjustment to make.
When it comes to tactics try not to chop and change. Decide on your tactic early on, and stick with it through the entire pre-season. Don’t throw it out the window because you get beat 4-0 away at City. You will lose games, but chopping and changing your tactic and squad every week is a sure fire way to see your side relegated. Stick with your tactic, tweak it through what you see, and it should come good.
It is really important during any save to keep morale in your squad high. This can be really difficult when you’re getting beat every week. There are a few good ways you can improve morale in the squad.
Cup games can be a good opportunity on which to turn your form and boost your squad’s morale. A win against a lower league opposition is often underplayed, but it can be a real boost if you’re in a terrible run of form.
Another way to boost morale is to set up friendlies against weaker opposition during the international breaks. This has the added bonus of bringing in a bit of money to the club. We started poorly, losing 4-1 away at Liverpool and 2-0 away at newly promoted Villa. A cup win and a friendly later, our form turned around, culminating in a 3-2 win over Spurs. Make sure you are praising your players when they get a good result, but also digging them out when they didn’t perform well.
Another great way to improve individual player morale is to interact with them. Criticising poor training or form can improve a players morale, as well as praising them after a good performance.
Keeping squad morale high can make a big difference, and make you stand out from the rest of the teams battling out at the bottom.
Follow these tips and you should be well on your way to avoiding relegation.
I hope you enjoyed this piece and if you’re looking for any tips on other areas of your save check out the guides below. If you have any questions leave a comment or check out our social media.
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- FM19 | 10 Alternative / Lower League Teams to Manage
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- How to use the 4-3-3 in FM19
- How to Build Your Midfield in FM19 | Football Manager Guide