How to Overcome a Losing Game at the half in Football Manager

So, you are at the half and your team is down 1-0, or even 2-0. Your players stumble into the locker room, dejected. Overcoming a losing game in Football Manager requires a combination of tactics, motivation, and strategy. With the right adjustments, you can get your players back in the game and make a comeback. Today we’ll discuss five key areas to focus on to turn a losing game around: motivation, formation changes, roles and duties, team instructions, and team mentality.

Motivation is key!

The first step in overcoming a losing game in Football Manager is to give a team talk to your players. The aim of this team talk is to improve morale and motivate the players to fight for the win. Your team talk should be tailored to the mood and body language of the players and the situation you are in.

If you are disappointed with the performance in the first half, it may be necessary to give a harsh talk to get the players to focus and step up their game. BUT be realistic! If the players seem to be giving their all and they are up against a team who is technically better, it may be wise to give a more positive and encouraging talk.

The key is to get the players to believe that they can turn the game around and come out on top. This can be achieved through specific examples of what the players did well, what they need to improve on, and what they need to do to get the win. In the current FM you can often praise or deride your players for specific things like too little possession or shooting. Use these to your advantage!

If you are unsure ask your assistant manager for their input (it’s on the bottom left of the team talk screen). They may have insights into the players’ mental state that you do not have, and they may be able to provide a better result than you do.

Formational Changes

The second step in overcoming a losing game is to make formational changes. In Football Manager, there are several formations that are considered attacking and can help you turn the game around. These formations include 4-4-2, 4-3-3, and 3-5-2.

Each of these formations has its own strengths and weaknesses, and it is up to you to decide which formation best suits your team. You should also consider the opposition’s strengths and weaknesses and make adjustments accordingly. To do so, one key tool at your disposal is the team analysis. At half time, you should take a look at the team analysis screen and see where there are gaps in your team’s defense or where the opposition is exploiting your team’s weaknesses – or where you can exploit theirs. Based on this information, you may decide to switch to a different formation that can cover these gaps and put you in a better position to win the game.

Roles and Duties

The third step in overcoming a losing game is to make changes to the players’ roles and duties. Consider different roles and duties to each player on the pitch, as these roles can have a big impact on the outcome of the game.

One way to increase risk taking and create more chances is to assign more attacking duties to your players. While referring to the team and player analysis screens – find spaces where you think your player should be occupying or moving to in attack and according change the duty of those players. This could mean, for example, changing a central midfielder with the support role to attack if you see that there is some open space behind your strikers.

Additionally, consider using more attacking roles. This could include changing some players to an inside forward or shadow striker role, which encourages them to get into the box and score goals. Or Going from a wide midfielder to a winger, which gets further forward.

Alternatively, if you are losing the battle for possession and struggling to keep the game under control, you may want to assign more defensive duties to your players to slow down the opposition’s attack. This could also include changing some player roles to to a defensive midfielder role or a central defender role.

Team Instructions

The fourth step in overcoming a losing game is to make changes to the team instructions. In Football Manager, you can use team instructions to change the way your team plays and increase (or decrease) their intensity of play.

If you are behind and need to score, you can increase the risk by adding team instructions such as higher tempo, counter, higher line of engagement, press more often, and get stuck in. These instructions will encourage your players to take more risks in attack and defense more frequently.

On the other hand, if you are unable to get a result from a positive or attacking mentality in the first half, you may want to switch to a more conservative approach and use team instructions that control play. This could include slower tempo, press less, and pass shorter.

But, remember that intensity often increases risk and risk often lead to (and concedes) goal scoring opportunities. SO, if you have to choose between more intensity or less intensity BECAUSE you are down at the half – ideally chose MORE intensity in increase risk. No risk, no reward.

Team Mentality

When it comes to team mentality, you should again consider risk. If you started the game with a balanced mentality and are still losing, you may want to try a more positive or attacking mentality in order to increase the risk and create more scoring opportunities. However, be cautious of going too far with this, as a very attacking mentality can leave your team vulnerable to counterattacks.

If, on the other hand, you started the game with a more positive or attacking mentality and are still struggling to get results, you may want to consider a lower mentality in order to control the game and reduce the risk of conceding more goals.

Essentially, mentality is a sum set of Team instructions. Moving upwards from Very Defensive to Very Attacking adds risk by each level. In fact, if you go into the team instructions after changing the mentality to attacking from defensive you will notice a few changes in the way instructions like Tempo are notated, and that the line of engagement automatically got higher. So when you change your mentality you should take note of the effect on the team instructions. If you want to play attacking football, but still want to pass shorter, you are going to have to reduce the pass length instructions to shorter to retain this effect, otherwise the Attacking mentality will override passing instructions to make for more direct passing. So be aware of this when changing mentality.

Big or small changes?

It’s important to note that you don’t have to make drastic changes in all of these areas in order to turn around a losing game. In fact, sometimes making small changes can be just as effective. For example, just a simple shift in team mentality or a few adjustments to your team instructions can make a big difference. It’s also important to be mindful of not overthinking or overreacting in the moment. Sometimes, making small, calculated changes is all that’s needed to get a draw or secure a win. So, take a step back, assess the situation, and make changes that you believe will have the biggest impact because ultimately, the key to overcoming a losing game is to remain calm and make smart, calculated decisions.

One thing to note is that drastic changes from you originally trained tactic will result in a loss of familiarity with that tactic. If you change all player roles and all team instructions to the opposite of what your player have been training to do, you will likely see little improvement – or worse – negative effects. A few team instructions, possibly one level of mentality up or down, and two or three role or duty changes should be enough to garner the desired effect.

The takeaway

In summary, consider carefully all of your options and make changes that will give your team the best chance to turn the game around. Whether it’s through motivation, formation changes, roles and duties adjustments, team instructions, or team mentality, there is always something that can be done to improve your team’s performance and give you a chance to come away with a win.