Starting a road to glory? Struggling to gain promotion? Who to sign and what tactics to use?
Well here’s your answer.
These six tips have been what I have used in my 2 non-league saves and have gave me promotion within the first season upon both occasions.
1. Loan, Loan, Loan!
Loan players are near on essential within your first couple seasons if you are looking to take your squad to the next level. This is as it is virtually impossible to bring in the calibre of player on a permanent deal as it is to on a temporary basis, due to extreme financial frailties that most non-league clubs possess.
In your second season should you get promoted, the club will free up a lot more funds for you to seal these deals on a long-term contract or look elsewhere.
Here is one of the loanees I brought in in my first season, playing a pivotal role as an automatic central midfielder, spearheading the midfield in order to mount a title charge.
Top tip: Go to the club menu and search for affiliate clubs. I have found this to be a useful feature as I have managed to loan in a couple players from Crystal Palace (Dulwich Hamlet’s affiliate club) without having to pay their wages.
2. Find suitable tactics.
Upon taking charge of Dulwich Hamlet, I came in with dreams of lighting up the National League South, with attacking, easy on the eye football. Let’s just say that did not work so well!
I found that there is little benefit of playing short, possession-based football with a high pressing intensity when your players, quite simply, do not have the technical or physical qualities to do so.
I found playing with a slower tempo, knocking long balls forward and playing with one out and out target man to be the way to go. Also, due to defenders not necessarily being the most technically gifted players in the world, I much prefer to have them to be set as “No-nonsense” defenders.
These are the tactics I used to win the National League South with relegation favourites Dulwich Hamlet.
3. Squad Depth
You’ve probably heard this all before. However, saying this, I cannot stress how important it truly is.
The lower leagues of English football and congestion of fixtures, both league and cup really takes its toll on your players. Therefore, this results in many injuries so replacements are vital, these replacements must fit and first team standard as they need to be ready to be called upon at any time
For example, in my Dulwich save I had to first team quality strikers Dipo Akinyemi and Kingsley Eshun who I brought in, both chipping in with goals, proving to be a crucial in securing the title.
January 5 2019, Dulwich Hamlet were looking bound to a season of mid-table mediocrity after only picking up 6 points from their last 12 games. It seemed that the tactics which had worked so well earlier in the season just could not cut it anymore.
But due to a slight change in formation, and getting the wide players more involved in the build up we managed to turn it around, creating a new league record by not losing in our last 18 games of the season to win the league.
5. Free agents
In any non-league saves free agents are always a great place to look for a hidden gem or a veteran of the game adding Crucial experience, required to maintain a title charge.
There is a wide range of unfound talents out there and you can use the search criteria to find one which fits perfectly to your style of play. I brought in 18 year old target man Kingsley Eshun who managed to score plenty on his way to earning the player of the year award. On the flip side, I brought in 37 year old Paul Konchesky as a but of experience in there, playing a vital role as a no nonsense full back.
6. Keep squad morale high
Team spirit is the key in any great real life footballing underdog story, and this is no different in Football Manager 2020
Here are some ways you can do this:
1. Praise players - You should always praise players for not only great performances on the field but also in training, as from my viewpoint, that is where the game is won.
2. Game time - Although it can be difficult to play less skilled players just in order to keep them happy, it does not hurt to play them in cup fixtures or give them five minutes or so off the bench every so often. Also, make sure if they are not getting first team football, that they are playing for the Under 23s or Under 18 squads.
3. Avoid press conferences - The media are always out to get you and the slight slip of the tongue (or mis-click of a button so to speak) can leave you embroiled in a saga you did not wish to be kin.