A particularly vicious feature of FM is its ability to inflict a downward spiral of results. Things got from bad to worse – you lose games, give away penalties, miss penalties, have players sent off and suspended. Players get tetchy or sulky. Morale plummets.
Over the years I’ve come to the conclusion that the best response is what I call the nuclear option. This consists of taking a series of actions over just a few days.
When facing a crisis, I do all, or at least most, of the following:
- Remain patient. I want to wait until there’s a fixture coming up that really should be winnable – even if that means I have to wait a few weeks before taking action.
- Organise a friendly to try to get a win and start scoring, so as to boost morale.
- Review a view to extending or renewing some contracts: positively, players may respond to the display of confidence in them; or ta at least they may feel that, if they’re going to stay at the club, it will matter what level it’s playing at.
- Consider changing the captain and vice-captain.
- Create a mini-squad of about 18 players, selected by balancing four criteria: (a) determination; (b) personality (‘resilient’ and ‘resolute’ welcome; ‘balanced’ not so much); (c) morale; and perhaps (d) form. Ignore status altogether — a kid who scores well on the above should be in, a big name who doesn’t should be out. Be prepared to shift players between squads: dump malcontents in the reserves, promote kids who will welcome the opportunity.
- Hold a team meeting.