Winning promotion from the npower League 2 was a real step up in difficulty over the Blue Square Premier on my journey to get the English Hero achievement in Football Manager 2012 with Stalybridge Celtic. I had to ditch a number of players in order to free up their wages for new signings. I also relied on a lot of loan deals, some of them short term.
As usual I recommend putting all of your resources into wages and bargaining hard to sign out of contract prospects on reasonable wages. You’ll also need some good loan deals to win the league. A cup run would help with your cash flow but we managed to get there despite another first round exit.
These are the players that really stood out with decent averages over the season.
- Samir Bihmoutine DL
- Conrad Balatoni DC
- Billy Tsovolos DC
- Frederic Veseli DC
- Jamie Masson MC
- Esteban Lopez AMR
- Charlie Telfer M/AMLC
- Joe McKee MC/AMC (loan)
- Kal Naismith AMRL/ST
- Alex Davies ST (loan)
My key signings were Jamie Masson, Esteban Lopez and Kal Naismith. In terms of tactics I changed my style to accommodate Lopez so I alternated between 4-1-2-2-1 with two wide advanced wingers (Lopez on the right and Naismith on the left) and a defensive midfielder sitting deep to protect the defence and the familiar 4-1-3-2. The wingers formation worked superbly along with a counter attacking style for away games. At home I switched to 4-1-3-2 and played a short passing attacking game.
At the start of the season it was tough going because I had to offload a number of players to free up the wages to sign decent replacements. Bihmoutine was consistently the best player at left back and my central defenders handled the step up beautifully. Balatoni and Tsovolos seem to be improving at the right pace as we climb the leagues and Veseli is class. The real trick to winning promotion this season was Lopez on the right and Naismith on the left, they performed brilliantly and notched 27 goals between them.
My problem position was definitely in goal and McHugh from last season simply didn’t cut it. I eventually signed Przemyslaw Lukasik and he was better but I wouldn’t recommend him especially.
In the end we won the league on 93 points, 5 ahead of Bury in second place. The npower League 1 is going to be an even bigger challenge.