Why, what to do and who?
First of all, thank you to Espen of Passion4FM for allowing me to return and take care of some unfinished business. I came and went too quickly last time, but I’m here for the long haul on this occasion. So today, I’ll be discussing one topic and one topic only: Non-League Football.
- Why should you try it out?
- What should you do to succeed?
- Who should you even be?
Let’s just dive straight in!
Why Manage a Non-League Club?
With Football Manager 2022 fast approaching, it leaves a question in everyone’s minds, and that question is: “Who do I manage?”. Of course, we all do it differently; some will plump for the team they support, some will inevitably be PSG with their new star-studded squad, and others will immediately delve into a challenge.
There are tons of challenges available for Football Manager.
You have the British Steel Challenge, the Glory Hunter Challenge, and even the Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge. Type ‘Football Manager Challenge’ into Google, and you’ll immediately have a vast amount of options in front of you to choose from and begin your fun.
The biggest and most rewarding challenge of all – in my opinion – is to take a team from the depths of a nation’s football pyramid and take them to the very top and believe me when I say there are so many rewarding factors that pop up along the way. For me, it’s the ultimate challenge on any Football Manager series.
I’ve attempted it on many occasions and failed – it requires longevity, it could take weeks of game time to achieve. I’ve managed it only once, and that was on Football Manager 2020 with Hanworth Villa from Level 9 of the English football pyramid system. A football club that at the time was only a few minutes away from my doorstep.
To take Hanworth Villa to the Premier League, it needed nine promotions, and eventually, we got there! Along the way, we won it all: the FA Vase, the FA Trophy, the EFL Trophy, the bloody lot. We became Champions of Europe at the second time of asking – which was the pinnacle of the save – and went on to win it twice before I ended the save as manager of the England national team.
We spent two seasons ground-sharing with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park during the save whilst we had a brand new stadium built. There are regulations as you climb the leagues, and your home needs to seat a certain number of people. My crowning achievement on any Football Manager game was here as that stadium would be aptly named the ‘Jamie Tarrant Arena‘.
If you were to start a game with Chelsea, for example, the chances of you having a stadium named after yourself is rare. Many a time have I seen Stamford Bridge left behind for the ‘Gianfranco Zola Stadium’ – if you haven’t built the club up from the bottom to the top, then forget about having a football stadium/ground named after you!
There are other great things you achieve on this journey. You earn the right to employ more staff and scout in different areas. As the club’s reputation grows, the likelihood of signing better players increases – as it would with any other Football Manager save.
What should you expect?
As great as all the above sounds, the first few seasons are tough. Very tough. You’ll constantly be replacing players as they are poached by clubs higher up the pyramid than you. When you are this far down the league ladder, I’m afraid to say that contracts do not exist. So your playing staff will be on non-contracts or part-time contracts.
The best thing to do here is open up your player search and go through all the positions with crucial attributes added to the search. It would be best to remember that this is not the Premier League, Serie A or La Liga, so you won’t be looking for the attributes you usually would.
Here is what you need to look for:
Goalkeepers: Aerial Reach, Handling & Anticipation
Central Defenders: Heading, Off The Ball & Strength
Full Backs: Crossing, Stamina & Pace
Defensive Midfielders: Tackling, Bravery & Positioning
Central Midfielders: First Touch, Passing & Natural Fitness
Wingers: Dribbling & Pace
Forwards: Finishing, Pace & Acceleration
I’m sure you’ll agree it’s not much per player. When managing in the bottom leagues, you’ll be looking for these – don’t worry if you can’t get a player with all three as even two will do – and you will also be looking for a numerical range of between 8 and 12 as a minimum. If you can get better than that, then, by all means, snap them up ASAP. Below you can meet Will Jacob of whom I managed to find on Football Manager 2021.
Another tip I have for you is on the tactics side. These players you’ll have at your disposal will not do well being given a ton of player instructions and team instructions. It would be best to simplify everything at this stage and as you move up the divisions, begin to implement a system that you believe will work.
Stick to the presets. Route One and Counter-Attacking tactics will be your ‘king’ at the very beginning. Direct football is the way to go whilst setting up your team to be compact and organised when off the ball. Trying to play Tiki-Taka may overcomplicate things whilst attempting a Gegenpress will leave your players – who have low stamina and natural fitness – shattered every few days.
HELPFUL TIPS: Passion4FM – Football Playing Styles
Unfortunately, you will not be able to play this far down the Football league ladder at the very beginning as you’ll need to wait for database creating supremos such as DanFMDatabases and the FMEditor to provide you with the tools to start the save. The Lower League Database may take a few months after the release of Football Manager 2022 before it is made available.
Who should you manage?
Until then, you can still try it out on Football Manager 2021 by downloading the English Lower League Level 14 database on this very site!
There are plenty of exciting teams to choose from. I’m going to list a few here for Football Manager 2021 before giving a few suggestions for Football Manager 2022 that also contain some football clubs across Europe – including a brand new one from San Marino.
- New Milton Town Football Club
- Jersey Bulls Football Club
- Hayes & Yeading United Football Club
- North Leigh United Football Club
- AFC Bournemouth
- Castle Vale Town Football Club
- AFC Liverpool
- Bury Athletic Football Club
- St Helens Town Football Club
- Harrogate Railway Athletic Football Club
Click the links to look at the club history and find out their division but do not limit yourself here. There are 100’s of football clubs to choose from to start your Non-League career. Better yet, I’ve approached and asked questions to many clubs since Football Manager 2021 came out, and all have been forthcoming with information.
Some Content Creators out there are the ‘Virtual Manager’ of a host of clubs also, so get yourself involved? You may end up being one of those Football Manager players that develop a new love for a football club; you may even end up going to see them in the flesh – and that is why I love these saves. You cannot help but immerse yourself into it.
Who to look out for in Football Manager 2022?
But what is there for Football Manager 2022 and its BETA? First, there are still lower divisions you can start in and build something from the very beginning. Second, here they are in list form once again!
ALL of the below will be playable as part of the FM22 release.
- Hampton & Richmond Football Club (ENG)
- Chorley Football Club (ENG)
- Football Club Fleury 91 (FRA)
- Football Club Viktoria Koln (GER)
- TSV 1860 Munich (GER)
- Calcio Catania (ITA)
- Piacenza Calcio 1919 (ITA)
- CSM Ceahlăul Piatra Neamț (ROM)
- Kelty Hearts Football Club (SCO)
- Deportivo de La Coruña (ESP)
- Real Union Club SAD (ESP)
- Pontypridd Town AFC (WAL)
The above is a list of clubs where some of them have no history whatsoever regarding trophies won and have never been in their respected nation’s Football League. But, on the other hand, some of these teams once competed in European football competitions and now find themselves attempting to claw their way back. I’m, of course, talking about 1860 Munich and Deportivo La Coruna.
Any of those suggestions would make for a fun and interesting save. Will you be giving any of them a go for this year’s BETA?
I’d also like to bring your attention to Victor San Marino Calcio!
A Sammarinese football account on Twitter said this:
“Good news for Sammarinese football. A new club, fully based in San Marino, has been founded and will play in Eccellenza, the fifth football level in Italy. This makes Victor San Marino Calcio the only Sammarinese club that will play in an Italian league.”@SanMarino_FA
You’ll need to download an add-on for this division as I wouldn’t expect it to be part of the official release. Still, I’m sure someone out there will be on creating this league immediately after the Editor becomes available. Now wouldn’t they make the perfect Football Manager 2022 save?
You can find a greater list of suggestions on teams to manage for Football Manager 2022 in this article.