Middlewich Town Part Deux: an amateur ‘teaching’ amateurs in England’s level 12

middlewich-town-fc-16aI’m ‘enjoying’ possibly the greatest challenge of my FM career managing the club closest to my home if not my heart, level 12 Middlewich Town. I’m lucky if I can sign a player with an attribute in double figures!

Despite loving this particular save I’ve constantly failed in my efforts to move up a league and am now in my fourth season and staring relegation in its dreadful face.

On FM14, from what I’ve learned so far as a newcomer to such a low level, amateur football is a minefield. I’ve been told it’s all about physical attributes and they were right, quick strikers do well, as at every level in the game.

Nevertheless, I’m struggling to find patterns of what sort of player performs and my escapade has become a case of trial and error, and error, and error…

After four in-game years though, I think I finally have some words of wisdom to share. I’ve hit on my ‘Eureka!’ moment. As I write this, my Middlewich Town are 2-0 up a game after a 3-0 Humber League Cup 2nd Round win where we were rank outsiders. This comes after a truly horrific run of no wins and seven defeats in our first eight league games when we were predicted to finish as champions (I should mention we have suffered bad luck with numerous injuries and red cards). Am I simply clutching at straws? I don’t think so because, watching the game in ‘full’, we look a different team.

And the simple secret is, or at least it seems to be, I have told my team to ‘push higher up’. The idea was a long time coming as I was miles too timid to risk allowing my opponents space behind my defence. After all, my back line was the antithesis of the jewel in a crown.

Pushing higher might seem a simple solution but when everything seems to be falling to pieces it can be incredibly hard to find an answer. However, part of becoming a good manager on FM is experimenting and taking risks.

We won the game in which I was 2-0 up 2-1 and it was the first time in as long as I can remember we were described in the media as being ‘in control’ as our opponents were ‘brushed aside’.

Playing with a higher line, my midfield seem so much more assertive, they held their ground winning the ball back and my attacking midfielder and striker in our 4-4-1-1 benefited from a closer proximity to my two central midfield players (one’s a DLP(D) and one’s a CM(S)).

Moreover, as my five midfield players and striker were more advanced forcing the opposition back, this gave my defenders more breathing room and they seemed to find it much easier to make a simple clearance or shorter pass. With a reduction in pressure it became much less likely the opposition’s attackers could benefit from any defensive mistakes.

I now realise sitting back to counter is only really achievable with good defenders who can concentrate and not panic or lose focus when opposing strikers are weaving around them.

Personally, I’m delighted to finally start to learn how to win at such a low level, and I’m looking forward to discovering more tactical ‘secrets’ as I hopefully move up the lowest leagues available on FM14.

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