MASTERING PROMOTION IN FOOTBALL MANAGER 2023
There are few sweeter feelings for a Football Manager player than winning promotion. However, whether you’ve coasted to the title with a promotion favourite or upset the odds to triumph in the playoffs, acclimatising to the division above will be tough.
Preparing for life after a promotion is never easy and can be quite daunting. How will your current squad fare at the next level? Will your 20-goal striker find the same space and time when playing against better central defenders, protected by better defensive midfielders? Can you afford to keep playing such a high defensive line against far stronger opposition attacks?
You’ll naturally want to upgrade your squad but you’ll invariably find yourself with a smaller wage and transfer budget than most of your new divisional rivals.
To look at how you can find value in the transfer market and much more besides, here are six top tips from ThrowingCopperFM to help you master promotion in FM23.
Establish which players are good enough
One of your first jobs after securing promotion is seeing which of your players are good enough for the step up.
Having overseen their rise into the promised land, you’ve probably got a pretty good idea yourself of who might make the cut in the higher division. However, it’s always good to get a second opinion and consult your staff.
To ensure the guidance you’re given is of the highest quality, go into your Staff menu and select Coaching Staff from the Overview dropdown. From here have a look through your coaching staff to see who has the highest ratings for Judging Player Ability and Judging Player Potential.
Once you’ve determined the best option, click the Responsibilities dropdown and select Advice and Report. On the Provides Player Reports dropdown, select your desired member of staff. This will ensure you’re getting the most accurate information available to you.
From here, you can go into each player’s profile and by clicking on Reports > Coach Report you’ll be told what standard the player is currently playing at.
Obviously, you want the reports to say the player in question is good enough to be playing at the standard of the new league you’re in. If you’re particularly strapped for cash, you might be able to get away with them being billed as a Leading Player for the league you’ve just been promoted from. If they’re any lower than that, they’re a prime candidate for upgrading.
The player below is way off being in the starting line up in Ligue 1 Uber Eats. Therefore, it’s a position area to upgrade. He’s got good potential, though, so I’d look to give him as many minutes as I can from the bench.
Although it might take a little time, doing this for each player in your squad will allow you to build a clear picture and recruitment strategy for the transfer window ahead.
Utilise the comparison tables
Located in the Report dropdown menu in the Squad Planner screen, the Comparison tables allow you to compare various elements of your squad against the teams in your new division. Not only can you view your squad as a whole, but you can also isolate goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders, and attackers.
My three favourite charts are the Physical, Mental and Technical screens as these can really help guide your recruitment plan.
For example, if the chart shows your team is the slowest in the division or has particularly poor decision-making, you’ll know that you need to target players who can help you remedy this.
Clicking on each Attribute in the graph will show you the highest, average and weakest across the league. If you need to improve in a specific area, you ideally want to look for players with a higher attribute than the league average.
The above Mental comparison screen shows my squad is the weakest in the league for everything other than Determination and Leadership. It could be a long season if I don’t focus on these areas.
Spend your money wisely
You should now have a good idea of where the holes are in your squad and have a rough idea of the kind of players you need to recruit. It could be a pacey central defender to make up for the rest of your backline having below average speed, or a brave, tough-tackling midfielder to nicely complement your more technical, creative players.
It’s now up to you to ensure you spend whatever transfer budget you’ve been given wisely.
A key to mastering promotion in FM23, just like in real life, is having a good handle on your tactical system and how valuable each position is to ensuring your set-up works like clockwork. This will help in your recruitment and decide how to divide up your transfer kitty.
Setting up a dedicated Recruitment Focus to identify the top free agents would be a sensible move. Likewise, it’s always handy to scour the market to see the players available for loan that could either improve your starting XI or add depth to your squad.
It’s often easy to be lured in by star ratings or A+ ratings but make sure to read the scout reports of those you’re looking to bring in. Here, you’ll be able to get an understanding of some of their hidden Attributes, including their aptitude for big matches.
It’s also worth considering that, as a newly promoted side, particularly if you’ve gone up to the top division, you’re likely to be pressed heavily by the opposition. Identifying some press-resistant midfielders that can keep calm and potentially up counter-attacks for you will be key.
One quick tip for getting a bargain is studying the squads of the clubs that were just relegated from your new division. If some of their top players have Relegation Release Clauses in their contracts, these can be a good way of snapping up a quality addition at a price below their full value.
Upgrade your staff
This isn’t the most glamorous of tips but it’s important to set a strong foundation behind the scenes to best support your players on the pitch. After all, what’s the point of recruiting good players if the level of coaching they receive isn’t up to standard? Good coaching can be the difference between a relegation battle and midtable safety.
The same applies to your recruitment and medical staff. Your Scouts need to be every bit as good as those of your rivals in the new division, because if they’re not you won’t have the best players brought to your attention. Similarly, the more your medical team can keep your players on the pitch and off the injury table, the better your chances are of a strong season.
To check if your Staff are up to scratch, you need to be in the Overview tab of your Staff screen.
Make the most of your pre-season Friendlies
You might have been the talk of the town in your previous division because of your front-foot, attacking play but will that approach work as well against a higher standard of managers and players?
Even if it’s not radical changes, you’re almost certainly going to have to make tweaks in order to hit the ground running. For example, your Central Midfielder on Attack might need to drop down to a Support duty to stop you from being overrun in the middle of the park.
It’s always better to find these things out early and the easiest way to do so is by playing your pre-season friendly games against some tough competition. It’s a nice morale boost for your players to regularly score 12 goals against small, local sides but a good mix of fixtures that also sees you take on two or three sides expected to finish mid-table in the coming season will give you a far better indication of how you stack up and where any tactical weaknesses might exist.
To understand the sorts of teams you should be targeting, click on your new division and select Season Preview from the Overview dropdown. This will show a prediction of where each team will finish in the coming season. If you’re really brave it’s also good to get a game against a team who’ll finish in the top six, as then you’ll know what playing the big boys feels like.
Be wary of your finances
It’s very easy to panic and overspend on transfers and wages in an attempt to avoid a season-long relegation dogfight. Try to resist the temptation.
Is narrowly escaping relegation worth putting the financial future of your club at risk? Picture the scene of a big team swooping in for one of your best players and then you only getting 10% of the fee to spend because you’ve overspent the season before.
Having one or two players on much higher wages than anyone else is a surefire way to create discontent in your squad. Understandably, other players will soon be knocking on your door wanting wage increases in line with your new recruits. When you have to decline due to not having sufficient money available, squad morale will plummet. When you’re likely to be scrapping for every point you can, this is not what you want at all.
If you find yourself struggling to make ends meet, check out the list of money-saving tips that I put together on The Byline earlier in the year.
These tips should give your squad the strongest chance possible of mastering promotion in FM23 and making your first season in the new league a success.
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