It’s an exciting time during those all-or-nothing matches leading up to securing promotion. When that final whistle blows and the pandemonium brakes lose in the stands, it tempting to lean back, kick your feet up and enjoy a cool drink and break after a long campaign. After all, nobody was counting on you to do so well. That might do for fans and players, but as a manager now’s time to get busy. My best advice would be to start by analysing your division in Football Manager.
I’m going to give you an insight into how I deal with the situation. I’m playing as Torres, a small club from northern Sardinia. And this is our second promotion in as many seasons. If you want to know more about how we managed that, you can read about it here. Now we’re heading into the third season in the game and we’ll be in Serie C in the upcoming season. That’s Italy’s third tier, for those not familiar with the league.
I do these tasks before every season, but they’re even more needed after a promotion. Stay tuned for lots of spreadsheet action. And don’t worry, I’ll provide a link to download at the bottom.
But before you do anything else!
Backup your save game file. We’re going to be diving into statistics some of which will disappear once the season updates. And it’s good to be able to go back and look into the data again. Also, ask your board for a senior affiliate club to get free players on loan if you don’t already have one.
In the end, though, we did it again. And after back-to-back promotions, the goal is this time simply to avoid relegation. I hope we’ll do better, but that’s the starting point of my analysis. Obviously, you should set your goals according to your team and the league you play in.
In my case, the first task is to see how many points we should aim for to avoid the drop zone. Luckily, Serie C has three groups and with two seasons played, that’s six league tables to calculate from.
In each Serie C group, the bottom team gets an automatic relegation, while the next four from the bottom goes in a play-out round to find the other two relegated teams. Our aim is to not be a part of that. Let’s see how many points we’ll need to stay clear.
Last season the bottom teams did a bit better. I’m guessing 43 points should see us well clear of the relegation playoff.
On a side note, this being the lower leagues of Italy where the league rules are a bit odd, if we manage to get into the top 10, we qualify for the promotion playoff. Yes, you read that correctly. We could end up promoted after finishing 10th in a league of 19 teams. A total of 28 teams from the Serie C groups compete for a single promotion spot. I have no idea how that works, but I’m not focussing on that now anyway.
Conclusion: 43 points should see us clear of the relegation playoffs.
Who to beat?
We’re playing in the Serie C/C in the upcoming season. Below is the league table before season kickoff. If you want to get the table in your spreadsheet, use the “Print screen” option, export as a web page and then copy the content into Google Sheets or Excel or whatever you’re using.
I’ve sorted the teams the way they finished last season. I’ve marked the other newly promoted teams green along with the bottom teams from last season. Midtable finish gets a yellow and last season’s top teams are red. Lecce was relegated from Serie B and get red as well.
Note: There’s a link to download the spreadsheet at the bottom of the page.
This tells me who I should be aiming to beat and against which teams we’ll most likely struggle to get a result. If we exclude the teams marked red, we need an average of 1,79 points in each match against the rest to reach the target of minimum 43 points. I’ll jot down the number of points gained in the home/away columns.
Now I export the match schedule. By colouring in the matches and can get a feeling of when we’re going to face a tough period.
As we go I make a note of the result, the number of points earned and the formations used. I also have a column for my own notes. This could come handy if I spot something I might want to remember the next time I play that team.
This being Italy, I’m fine playing defensively and sit back against the top teams looking for a draw or a lucky counter-attack. I might even rest players against those teams. No point in wasting fitness in games we’re expected to lose and not be ready for the ones we have to win.
For instance, I now realise we’re playing a home game against Lecce, just relegated from Serie B, on October 9th – just three days before facing Matera away. A game against Matera is one where I need to get points. Against Lecce I don’t expect anything. So I’ll probably rest my best players in that game.
This whole calculation bit is a bit tricky, as many teams at this level rely on loan players from the big clubs. That means a few good or bad loan signings last season might distort the view of who’s good and who’s not. But for now, this is what we’re going with. I’ll keep a running score in a spreadsheet to see how we’re doing against the bottom and top teams and if we’re on track to reach our target number of points.
Conclusion: Must get an average of 1,79 points in each game against the green and yellow teams, unless I can get some from the read ones.
You can find the spreadsheet in the link in the tweet below.