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Football Manager 2021 - Lower League Tactics

Football Manager 2021 - Lower League Tactics

Lower league tactical set-ups that can fit your needs whilst doing an LLM save in Football Manager 2021.


When managing in the lower leagues in Football Manager 2021, it can be tough to get everything to go your way. Unless you are one of the promotion players, you likely won’t have the luxury of playing with two or three expansive tactics. 

Still, ingenuity can get you out of any league and with a bit of craft, you might find yourself a hero in some provincial town. Or, you might just revive that fallen giant to former prominence.

Whatever the case, you might want to try and build a solid, workable foundation. Good thinking. To do so, we recommend you consider the following three tactical ideas.

4-2-3-1 Gegenpressing


4-2-3-1 Gegenpressing FM 2021

Now, you might be thinking it’s a bit ambitious to use such a system in the lower leagues. But it need not be the case. Remember, you need to have a system relative to your strengths. And as much as a Gegenpressing system can rely upon keeping the ball and playing slick, technical football that your budget cannot afford, it’s all about excellent pressing and organisation.

With enough coaching, you can turn your players into a team with the fitness and stamina needed to play this kind of system. For the more aggressive lower league teams, you can give up some of the possession-based play in the usual in-game Gegenpressing system. Instead, replace it with a more cavalier, attacking style.

By contrast, lower teams might wish to drop slightly deeper, go longer with passing in behind, and use pace on the break whilst staying compact. Still, the principles are possible – even in the lower leagues.

4-4-2 Direct Counter


4-4-2 Direct Counter Tactic FM 2021

In the lower leagues, you will often have to rely on either a bit of veteran craft up-front or someone with excellent pace but questionable mental or technical stats. Still, with a 4-4-2 counter, you can use the gluttony of professional and physical lads out there in the Football Manager 2021 database to your advantage.

You can instead focus on getting your scouts to focus on finding you the odd gem with pace or real finishing ability to play in the two forward positions. The rest of the team should be more like an Atletico Madrid midfield than anything else; robust, sitting deep, often told not to break too much.

Will it be pretty? Absolutely not. Will the goal count flourish? Doubt it. But you’ll be able to make the most of the abundance of technically limited by physically solid or tactically intelligent players who will come down to your level. Technique costs plenty; a 4-4-2 direct counter system makes us of the little quality you can afford whilst ensuring the stable door is never left open, either.

3-5-2 Counter


3-5-2 Counter FM 2021

Since a 3-5-2 sacrifices midfield numbers and many lower league teams today look to pack midfield, you might want to make sure your team has ample pace on the wings. The logic here is that since wingers with technique and class are often out of reach, you can find a full-back who maybe isn’t the most defensively sound. Many of them exist. You can then have them unleashed in a wing-back role that allows them to use their pace and attacking quality (which might be better than the wingers you can find), allowing the rest of the team to do its job.

Another part of the thinking here is that lower league football is often full of central defenders who lack pace but can defend. So, having three of them can help to find a decent balance to ensure your back three can handle most of what your league has to throw at you.

Like anything in FM21, it comes down to the players you have to pick from and the quality of your instructions for the players you have to pick from. Use the three formations above as a starting guide, and you can build your team around the ideas here depending on the kind of team you have to pick from.

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FM BLOG: Football Manager 2021 - Lower League Tactics
Football Manager 2021 - Lower League Tactics
Lower league tactical set-ups that can fit your needs whilst doing an LLM save in Football Manager 2021. FM21 Lower League Tactic examples.
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