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Ending Poor Form in Football Manager 2021

Ending poor form with your team in Football Manager 2021 is always a frustrating experience. The highs of winning matches and trophies are addictive, but the lows of poor team form can be tough to end. This is why several tips and tricks are available to aid your cause in this, such as this article! Below I guide you through the different ways to end your team’s poor form, such as reversing low player morale and low dressing room atmosphere.

For this article, I will be using my Twitch save at Romford FC in Tier 7 of England to highlight any issues and how they can be fixed to improve your form.

Can your tactics end the poor form?

When working out the cause(s) of your teams poor form, one place to start is your tactics and any weaknesses in them. Have a look at your recent fixtures: are you struggling in front of goal? Is your defence too leaky (most likely yes)? A yes to either or both questions suggests your players are not good enough (more on that later) or your tactics need tweaking.

With Romford, I was previously using the 4-2-4 formation, which was great to get players forward in wide areas, but left the midfield horribly exposed with just TWO midfielders. They were constantly overrun by opponents and exposed our defence too often. This meant we were forced to chase the game from the first minute, leaving us more exposed defensively.

Too much emphasis on attack, not enough support for my midfield.

In response, I tried a new formation, the 4-3-1-2 Asymmetrical formation with more numbers in midfield and one attacking winger. This has given my team much more stability in midfield, with three supporting midfielders and the one winger instructed to defend when needed. This has helped in ending our poor form, as we began to pick up more victories and gain momentum in the league.

MUCH more balanced when supporting my defenders in winning the ball back.

If your team is leaking goals, see how your team responds to losing the ball or if they assist the defence in winning the ball back. This may require a tactical tweak or redoing an entire tactic (depending how you wish to correct this), but the aim is to make your team more defensively reliable.

Are your players good enough?

I mentioned this in the last section, but your tactic is only as good as the players within it. Considering my Romford team are a non-league club, this is always going to be a tough task.

While using my 4-2-4 formation, my wingers were not good enough at attacking the opponent’s full backs or supporting our defensive shape. To fix this, I had to bring in some new wingers with better attributes and work rate. Step forward Kyle Finn (LM) and Harry Phillips (RW).

Harry Phillips: Attacking Right Winger offering more in attack and defending from the front.
Kyle Finn: Wide Midfielder with skills to beat defenders.

Both players assist in winning the ball back in the 4-3-1-2 formation and they offer more going forward. Cutting inside; crossing the ball and the ability to finish in front of goal, they are an improvement on the wings. Sometimes, dropping out of form players or replacing them entirely can trigger an upturn in form. This is what happened for Romford when results began to improve (and save my job in the process!).

Remember: better skilled players = better performing tactics.

Turning around Dressing Room Atmosphere

Your dressing room atmosphere under Dynamics is vital for keeping your players happy and on your side. Poor atmosphere can be caused by a number of successive losses in recent matches and player’s individual morale being destroyed. This can result in your players becoming unhappy and coming to you demanding you fix the problem(s)!

THIS is the core of your relationship with your squad!

Often you will be forced to promise that you will fix the atmosphere and failure to do so will see your squad turn against you, followed by a swift sacking. To avoid this, you need to win matches and quickly!

To aid this, a quick Team Meeting under Dynamics (very useful section in the game) can work wonders. Motivating your players by picking the correct option can focus your team for the next one to two games, buying you time to secure an important victory in the battle to end your poor form.

Choose your option wisely! Your squad’s happiness hangs in the balance.

I say correct option above, because this all depends on what your Club Board expect of your team in the current season. When using a team meeting at Romford, we were in the relegation zone when the Board expected us to finish in the Top Half of the league. I informed the players they were not playing to expectations, which motivated them to do better in the next game. We won our next game against Folkestone 2-0 and picked up momentum to turn our poor form around in the following games.

Be careful in these meetings! If your team is expected to “Fight Bravely against Relegation” and you are in mid-table, expecting them to play better after a few losses may anger your squad. This could create a problem that never existed before. ALWAYS base your team meetings on the current Board expectations!

Praising Players to end poor form

This tip is more about prevention of bad form before it can become a problem. If your team took a heavy defeat (for example, 6-0), their morale will be lower after the match. For some player’s, it may even show as Very Poor morale.

To improve morale, take every opportunity to praise players before the next match. This could be through praising players training efforts or praising their conduct individually. To praise conduct, go into each player profile and click Interaction > Praise Player > Praise Conduct. This can be a long process for each player, but the immediate upturn in morale makes it worth the effort.

Praise Player Conduct whenever needed! A really good quick fix.

Using Team Talks

Team talks before; during and after a match are vital in managing the morale of your squad.

Before the match, telling your squad how hard they are working to turn the form around can work, but the underdog team talk is your best option (if available). If your team is not expected to win, use this to ease expectations on your players, who will feel more relaxed. If your opponents beat you in your previous meeting, telling your players to seek revenge is the ultimate team talk for underdogs.

After the match, the same principle applies. A win for your team only requires Outstretched Arms and a well done. Guaranteed motivation every time. A loss for your team is still an opportunity to improve morale, so please refrain from throwing that water bottle! Telling your team the performance was not good enough (with Hands on Hips) can motivate them to do better next time. If your team were underdogs, saying “Unlucky Boys” can still aid in maintaining good morale.

When in bad form, lowering expectations and praising when possible can help prevent morale from falling through the floor. Good player morale is essential in turning around the poor form and keeping players onside!

More Training!

Away from matches, extra training may help in turning form around, as some players may need help in certain areas. For strikers, they may need extra training in Converting Chances; for defenders, they may need extra Defensive Positioning training. This is all dependent on your squad and how you want them to play.

Note that you can alter these each week. Too many people do not use this enough!

If you are leaking goals for fun, slotting in extra defensive training may help your squad get familiar with defending properly. It’s the same for attacking, with extra attacking training aiding your squad in how to attack more efficiently. My previous article on Training Features in FM21 offers more training tips and using them to make your squad better.

One tip that is worth repeating here and in the article above: Team Bonding once a week is a must to improve your Team Cohesion! This helps your team perform better together on the pitch, helping to turn your form around.

Team Bonding is the fast track to better Team Cohesion – especially at the beginning of the season.

Conclusion

Ending your team’s poor form on Football Manager 2021 is a tough experience, but can be very rewarding when successful. Good player morale and atmosphere; good tactics and quality players within those tactics are some of the key cornerstones to achieving this. It’s not a guarantee to work, but following these tips and tricks can give you the best chance of turning poor form around. Let’s hope you have enough time to save your season!

I hope you enjoyed this article and it gives you ideas for your save. Make sure to check out other articles down below or elsewhere on our website.

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Follow me on Twitter @Craig_FM1 for more FM21 content or follow us on Twitter @DictateTheGame for more Football Manager news and content.

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