7 Tips to Stop Losing to Bad Teams in Football Manager

Losing to bad teams in Football Manager might not be the end of the world. But it’ll surely ruin your afternoon break. 

One moment, you’re going shoulder-to-shoulder with the best teams in the league. The next match, you’re losing 3 points to a relegation side! Not to mention the hit it will incur on your team morale!

So, why does it happen? Why are losing to bad teams in Football Manager?

You are losing to bad teams in Football Manager because of using the wrong tactics. Preferring to play an underdog tactic against bad teams is a recipe for disaster. Moreover, having a complacent squad can make your team underperform in FM. Try to avoid heavy squad rotation before playing bad teams in FM. 

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. You can lose to bad teams for a lot more silly reasons. 

In today’s guide, we’re going to make sure that never happens. Let’s figure out why you’re losing to bad teams and how you can stop losing to underdogs in Football Manager.

Why Are You Losing to Bad Teams in Football Manager

There are many aspects of FM that can be pointed out for your failure to win against bad teams. Most of them are either related to your tactical setup, or the team’s morale and mentality.

Here’s why your team is performing badly against the weaker opponents:

Wrong Tactics

Let’s start with the obvious one. Playing the wrong tactics. 

Underdog tactics have been really popular among FM community for the last decade. It’s the best option to break down bigger opponents in the game. 

However, trying the same approach aka playing underdog tactics with small teams can have the exact opposite effect. Playing defensive or cautious against a bad side will put your team under unnecessary pressure.

Defensive tactics are fashioned to soak up pressure and hit the opposition on the counter. Although it might be great against big teams, a defensive approach against bad teams sometimes invite more pressure as bad teams tend to more aggressively counter.  

Player Unhappiness

A team of superstars can’t secure a win against bad teams if the team atmosphere and more are low. 

In Football Manager, team atmosphere and player morale play a crucial role in the on-pitch success of the team. Low team morale is the major reason your team keeps losing every game.

An image of Player happiness screen.

Poor man management can make players unhappy, resulting in a drop in the overall team morale.

When a player who holds a high position in the team hierarchy starts expressing dissatisfaction with their playing time or unmet promises, it can negatively impact the overall happiness and motivation of the entire squad. 

Heavy Squad Rotation

Resting your key players against bad teams is a common practice in the world of football. It provides a great opportunity to reduce the injury risks of your best players while also improving the match sharpness of your rotation players. 

However, resting all key players can have an adverse effect on the team’s tactics. Heavy squad rotation will massively drop the team’s strength and cohesion on the pitch. 

Playing a starting eleven full of rotation players weakens your team, increasing your chances to lose against the bad team’s starting XI. 

Keep in mind that playing the same XI all the time can really tire your players. Highly fatigued players will see a sudden loss of form in Football Manager. So make sure to rotate your squad wisely.


Praising your players for wins can be the best way to improve team morale. 

However, prolonged praise of the players everywhere can lead the team to be complacent in their approach against bad teams. 

A long winning streak can make the players comfortable, leading to complacency in the squad. Complacent squads will significantly underperform in the matches, making lazy mistakes and not being serious in the attack. 

It can be the perfect invitation for the opposition to spring up with a surprise. 

Poor Preseason

Preseason friendlies are a great way to build team cohesion among the players. It helps the team to blend well together and get familiar with the team’s tactics. 

Playing preseason friendlies against weaker teams will get you easy wins, thus breeding confidence in your players.

Preseason friendly schedule.

However, a poor preseason can have an adverse effect on your team’s performance at the start of the season. Playing too many friendlies against big teams can generate a lot of money for your team. But it can also result in your team losing and suffering with poor morale. 

It’s really difficult to collect wins in the league coming up from a poor run of form from the preseason friendlies. 

Poor Team Cohesion

Team cohesion is one of the key aspects of Football Manager that directly impacts your team’s performance on the pitch. 

How well your players can anticipate the movements of their teammates and react depends on the level of team cohesion. A poor level of team cohesion can see your team drastically underperform and play poorly as a collective unit. 

Signing new players mid-season can negatively impact team cohesion. New players require time to adapt to the team setup, and this can affect their performance at the start. 

This minor lapse in team cohesion can cost you the game even against bad teams. 

Major Tactical Alteration

Clubs go through preseasons to familiarize the player with the manager’s preferred tactics. The players spend a long time becoming familiar with the tactical setup, making them more effective in their approach. 

Team tactics screen in Football Manager 2023.

Massively altering the tactics mid-season can prove costly as your team will struggle to cope. Getting familiar with a new tactic takes months. 

So having a major tactical overhaul in the middle of the season might end up losing you matches even against the teams on a bad losing streak. 

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How To Stop Losing to Bad Teams in Football Manager

Now that we’re aware of the factors that play a role in our performance, we can work towards fixing them. Here’s how you can stop losing to bad teams in Football Manager:

Watch the Full Game

Many of us have our match highlights settings set to “Key highlights ” to complete the season quickly. While this will save you a lot of time, it won’t let you analyze the momentum of the match. 

Key highlights only show you the goals and major chances of the match. That’s not enough to understand how your tactic is working out throughout the match. And that’s something we should avoid when we’re on a winless streak. 

You can also try out the comprehensive highlights as it’s also a great way to get enough insight about the game without spending too much time. Comprehensive highlights allow you to find out the hole in your tactics and make necessary tweaks to overcome your team’s weaknesses. 

Your opposition might be using a pacy advanced forward who is finding a lot of space behind your defense. In that case, set a lower defensive line and maybe play one center-back in a cover duty to clear out through balls. 

Getting frequent overlaps from your wingback but not tacking back to defend? Maybe set one of your wingbacks on defend duty.

Not having success with your Half back or Anchor to win the ball back and initiate a counter? Maybe set a BWM instead to quickly win the ball back and launch a counter. 

All these minute details can be easily missed out while watching the Key highlights. Watching the full game or comprehensive highlights can help you fix these weaknesses in your game quickly.

Right Team Mentality

Most of us often get too used to a particular team mentality when it starts to bring success. However, in FM, team mentality should be set judging your opponent’s strength and their approach to the game. 

Team Mentality suggestion from Assistant Manager.

A cautious mentality against an opponent can be a good pick if you’re deemed to be the underdog. Opponents who prefer to engage a lot of players in attack can also be taken out by quick counters using the cautious mentality. 

That sounds like a great strategy, right?

Well, approaching a weaker team on a bad losing streak with the same mentality might not be the brightest idea. 

A cautious approach against a bad team can be suicidal. Weaker teams look to play direct-passing football with a high-tempo counter. This can overwhelm your defense and make you concede unnecessary risks. 

Games, where you’re expected to win, should be approached with a Balanced or Positive mentality. 

A positive mentality instructs your players to take a more dominant stance in the game. This keeps the weaker opponents under pressure throughout the game. 

Be careful! You’ll need to make necessary tweaks to your tactics depending on your team mentality. The tactical approach that might work really well with a cautious mentality won’t be that effective when playing with a positive mentality. 

Choose the Right Tactic

The reason you might be losing to bad teams in Football Manager is due to implementing the wrong tactics with the wrong team. 

We often look to stick to a tactical setup throughout the entire season without making necessary tweaks. While it might be highly effective against some teams, others will find a way to hurt you as you become too predictable. 

Against bigger teams, a highly defensive tactical setting might be very effective. Apply the same tactic against bad teams, and you’re setting up your team for failure!

It’s because weaker teams will also look to sit back and defend as your team is the favorite to win. This will make your players engage too many players in attack, leaving their designated roles. Your opponent can take advantage of that and come up with their own dangerous counter!

To avoid that from happening, you should always analyze your opponent’s stats before the match. Carefully assess their weaknesses and vulnerability. Also, take notes of their strengths. 

After carefully considering all their pros and cons, adjust your tactics accordingly. 

Don’t overdo it! Or your players will struggle to execute your instructions.

Avoid Drastic Change in Tactics

Drastic changes in tactical setups will make your team struggle against both good and bad opponents. 

Many players look to completely change their tactical approach before playing against a bad team. But it ends up working against them as the players don’t have any familiarity with the tactical instructions. 

To overcome this, set up 3 separate tactics for 3 different scenarios. Football Manager allows you three separate slots to save your tactics. Your players can work on those 3 tactical setups throughout the season to build tactical familiarity. 

My rule of thumb is to set an underdog tactic, a favorite tactic, and a three-man defense tactic for opponents who play with two forwards.

This makes my team prepared to play against most tactics and come up victorious.  

Avoid heavy squad rotation. Try to find a balance between key players and rotation players to build your starting XI against weaker teams. 

Improve Team Morale

Improving team morale is a high priority for anyone to maximize their winning chances in FM. Here are some ways you can improve your team morale before a match. 

Private Conversation

In FM, you can individually approach a player to praise their conduct, training, and development. You can either do it from their individual profile or go to Training> Individual> Players option. 

Private conversation is the best way to lift the morale of a player. Besides, it also improves their relationship with you.

Similarly, you can warn or motivate a player coming from a poor run of form to boost their confidence. 

Team Meeting

Team Meetings help you to boost the collective team morale of the team. You can call team meetings before important matches, or when your team is in a bad run of form. 

Saying the right things to your players can lift up the club atmosphere and increase the chance of players performing better in the upcoming match. 

Be careful though! Saying what your players don’t want to hear might end up having the opposite effect. So only resort to team meetings when your back hits the wall. 

Pre-game, Half-time, and Post-game Talks

Pre-game pep talks work to set the tone of the team for the first 45 minutes. You can lay out your expectations and your plans to the players in the pre-game team talk. 

Pre-game pep talk screen in FM23.

Players can be motivated and cheered up with the right pre-game talks. While lowering the expectation can reduce the negative impact on team morale if you lose the match. 

Half-time team talks lay out the team mentality for the second half of the game. It gives you the chance to tell your players to keep it tight if you’re leading. Or you can demand more from them to make a comeback in the game. 

This is crucial whether or not you’re leading on the break, or trailing. 

The post-game talks in FM are there to praise your players for a win or encourage them to do better next game. 

Press Conference

Press conferences have little impact on influencing team morale. But you can indirectly improve the morale of certain players through your answer to the press. 

Play Easy Friendlies

You can end a losing streak in Football Manager by playing friendlies against teams that your can easily defeat. 

Find a time window during international breaks to set up easy friendly matches against weaker opponents. Winning against them will give your players a small morale boost and end their losing streak.

Try your best to gain as many wins as possible during pre-season friendlies. You should also train your team with suitable training routines to fit right into your tactics.

Pre-season training routine.


Shouts are the equivalent of half-time team talks in FM. But you can provide shouts during the game to temporarily set your team mentality straight. 

If you’re playing in a home game, you can shout to Demand More from your players. Similarly, the Encourage shout after a goal can motivate your players to get a goal back. 

Image of touchline shouts in Football Manager 23

You can shout Praise to your players to improve their morale if they are leading by 2 or more goals. Likewise, Berate your players if they concede an early goal to get their heads straight. 

You can learn more about FM shouts from this impressive coverage from Football Manager Story.


Is there a way to make Football Manager easier?

You can make FM easier by playing your team to their strengths. Keep your tactics simple and don’t overwhelm the players with too many instructions. This will make your FM experience much easier. 

How can I get better at Football Manager?

Try to learn about the strength and weaknesses of different tactics. Master the art of man-management to improve your team morale. Gain experience from playing the game and you’ll get better with time!

What is the Best Management Style in Football Manager?

The Disciplinarian management style is the best management style in FM. Being a Disciplinarian allows you to have high authority over your players and the board. A disciplinarian manager will get his board requests accepted more often and encounter fewer complaints from unhappy players. 

Parting Words

Hope you found this guide to stop losing to bad teams in Football Manager handy. 

One needs to go through a steep learning curve to get better at FM. But once you master the basics, you’ll slowly get better at anticipating the moves of your opponent and come up with a counter-tactic.

Till then, keep grinding! See you soon!

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