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. Here’s my guide to adjusting to promotion in FM19.
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.
Remember to bring in additions that actually add quality to your starting XI. As tempting as it is to bring in 15 young Brazilians with five 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.
Working with a tight budget
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 of these is to rip off the teams you’re replacing in your new division! Had I been allowed a slightly larger budget, I could’ve signed Christopher Schindler from relegated Huddersfield. Another great way is to loan players from teams in the top six. I managed to get Tammy Abraham and Emile Smith-Rowe in for barely anything!
Jack Grealish was almost a straight swap for Ollie Watkins, who’d kicked up a fuss about a new contract following promotion. I also brought in Etienne Capoue from Watford, who’d been transfer listed, along with a couple of other squad players. They cost a few million each. Try not to blow your whole budget on a couple of players who don’t really improve your squad. After all, you can always save a few million for January.
Quality over quantity
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. Furthermore, we kept a high line and played the offside traps. All methods widely considered to be suicidal for a newly promoted side. Coming into the Premier League, I would have to adapt my side and make us play more defensively. However, I wanted to try and keep that possession based, positive football.
What was best way to continue this playing style, you might ask? We would play tougher opponents, ready to exploit any openness or gaps in our side. I quickly decided to use a back five. Having that extra defender would make us a tougher unit off the ball. It would allow my wing-backs to provide width with the ball, and give us more licence 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 pressing forward allowed us to defend from the front, whilst the two CM’s hold their positions to defend against opposition counters. Remember to change up your tactics for home and away games. Against stronger teams the top six, I’d be tempted to drop my wide players deeper. If they slot into DL/R and ML/R, your team are more likely to soak up any pressure coming their way. 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 got thumped 4-0 away at City. You’ll lose games, but chopping and changing your tactic and squad every week is a sure fire recipe for relegation. 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 is hard when you’re getting beaten 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. Don’t underplay a win against lower league opposition; it can be a season-defining boost!
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 praise your players after a good result and vice versa.
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. It can ensure that 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! 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 Build Your Midfield in FM19 | Football Manager Guide