Lower League Management has its moments, if anyone who has followed my adventures, I used to hone in on Dafuge’s Challenge in the Sports Interactive Forums, where you would need to follow strict rules regarding player discovery and club selection, to pick a newly promoted conference side with the objective of chronicling your growth as a manager at the club.
It was singularly one of the most engaging experiences I’ve ever had in the game. The downside of playing the challenge was absorption, at the cost of everything else. The challenge is one of the most immersive ones I have ever played, and for as long as i can remember I was a loyal member of that rare breed of managers who love to scrape for scraps and proudly wear them like badges. LLM is certainly quite the challenge and it can be made even harder if you choose to follow the strict rules organisers set, or you could create your own little world where you become Johnny A, aspiring manager with a dream. How can one turn that dream into reality?
Many managers look at finances first and this is where the first colossal mistake happens. Why look at finances when you haven’t even identified the club’s DNA. You absolutely need to know how you want your side to play. People will always suggest you play defensive at the outset. My advice pick a system that values speed!. So if you find a striker who has 9 for finishing and 17 for speed and one who has 12 for finishing and 6 for speed, I’d settle for Speedy.
You see, I love setting up systems which exploit counters. Set up a system which can afford to launch these demons at teams such as the 41221 or even the flat 433. Then you lock down your defense with the right players.
And this is where the DNA is critical, you need to know what the baseline attributes are for the league, easy to find out from the clubs squad page which has a profile comparison with the rest of the league for the various attributes. If you are in the conference having 10 as a baseline puts you firmly in the average category.
So if I were using a 4312, where I needed 3 hardworking midfielders, I’d immediately look at Pace, Strength, Tackling, Passing, Jumping Reach. This would probably be my baseline for attributes. Once I find like a group of players who are at 10 for these then I shortlist them. There is no need to make a bid. This is all done on the first day when I sign on the dotted line. A lot of this in LLM style can only be done via your own scouts knowledge and having the “fog” turned on.
Scouting is going to be an issue at some clubs so you may need to approach the board to do a public trial day, this helps too to identify new talent. Shortlist them too. Now onto the next part.
And this is the single biggest facet of LLM many don’t get. It isn’t about finding the best talent, its about weeding out the worst. You need to quickly identify what your wage budget is, then take a long hard look at your squad, you’ve already set up your DNA, so you should know who’s below the borderline and who isn’t.
Know your system, and then start looking lowering your costs, you may need to identify players who should be given their walking orders. Now is not the time for you to go mental on coaches yet. Chances are in LLM if you can afford more than 2 coaches your club must be rich by LLM standards and you’ve failed to pick a true LLM challenge. C’mon go for broke!
Make sure you’re always operating below the wage budget, this means exercising close control on wages, you must make sure you don’t fall into the trap of escalating wages caused by dubious wage % increase clauses, so make sure you don’t include them, paying them slightly more in terms of goal bonus is still better in the long run for costs, you can even give them a bonus for reaching the finals of something you know your side never will. Somehow the players aren’t intelligent enough to know the difference, if it helps keeps the costs down, who cares. LLM management is all about getting one over the players at your benefit.
From this group of players you want to plan for the long term, some of your players could become out-performers, thats always possible in some tactical systems, so keep that at the back of your mind once the season ends because you will need to rejuvenate your side. And if you manage first time promotions, their value goes up, so you can sell them for more, who doesn’t like money when you are poor?
This means you always need to have enough players but don’t go mental, play smart go to bigger clubs and beg to take in LONG TERM loans, you’d be surprised at who you get. And this is where you bridge the gap in your clubs DNA.
When it comes to tactics people say the wierdest things. I have heard people say, “a side in LLM should only play direct passing cos they need to hoof the ball”, others have said that you need to play rigid cos they don’t have enough imagination to play creatively. Both are wrong.
When it comes to tactics, numbers are relative to the league you are in, its been that way since 1992, when Champ Man was played, Yes, there have been changes, today you can’t use Mansfield Town to hammer Real Madrid 8-0 like we could in 200 in a friendly in your debut season in charge, but the attribute system is still fundamentally the same. If you look at the league there will probably be a median scale of 9 for the whole league for say pace, and your side could be a 8. That could mean you are a proud member of the Slowest Turtles In the Isle’s, but in your league you are just shy of average. In relative terms you may not be as fast as Sterling, but you can keep up with James Milner. So in the league you are in, you are average. What you want to be is above average in your league. So find the attributes that are important for your style of play and start scouting players who can fit that bill. This game is and will always be a numbers game.
Next build the tactic to take advantage of pace. Finally when you are playing do it the smart way, ADAPT. Take the one tactic, and if you faced with a side thats playing fast down the flanks, then make sure your fullbacks are on support. You ONLY NEED ONE TACTIC, but you need to be aware when to make small tweaks, I mean really small.
These are the very basics of LLM management, more to follow.