E is for Football Manager & Extra Time by @ReiraTheBard

Disaster! It’s the cup final, and you were 1-0 up, and then at 90+3, the opponent sends your keeper the wrong way and levels the field, and now you have to trudge through another 30+ minutes, allowing your opponent more time to get the win and pressuring your side to get back ahead.

But, think of it on the other shoe, when you get that 90+3 leveller and now earn an extra two mini halves to desperately win the cup or earn promotion.

Extra Time is a double-edged sword, but an integral part of the game (unless you are one of those competitions that goes straight to penalties, you know who you are.). It brings both joy and terror, or sometimes further sheer boredom in the case of an extended 0-0.

Within Football Manager games, we are put in a position where we can manipulate this time to our advantage, using time for extra substitutions and further changes to our tactics to better push for that extra time win rather than the dreaded penalty shootout. I am positive you have all been in a scenario to be thankful for those extra 30 minutes and have capitalised on them to send your team to victory.

Then, consider the players. Fitness and morale can take a hit when faced with an extra pair of halves, which is yet another thing to consider. Can your star striker take another half hour in case of a shootout? Can your keeper keep it going? Or will that little heart next to their name drop into the red?

There is also a huge difference, I find, between extra time in club football and international football. Within club football, it’s seen as a rarity, something needed only when necessary, but with the commonality of knockout-style tournaments at the international level, extra time is seen much more as a given and something far less dreaded (at least in my own experience). This can lead to a real mixed bag when managing both club and country, which is already a confusing mess for some FM players.

So what can we do, as managers, in extra time to best make the most of it? Maybe you want to preserve your players’ fitness, which could be done by dropping your playing intensity or your tempo, but those can have a negative effect on your aggression.

This leads me to another way we can capitalise, which is shifting up tactics. Swapping on a defender to shore up the back, changing how your team approaches the final third? Anything like this can make a massive impact after the first 90 minutes, forcing your opponents to change their style to match, which could be your path to that all-important winning goal.

One of my secret tips for keeping your players out of the red in the worries of ending up at penalties is slapping that dribble less button or even shifting entirely into a Tiki-Taka style, which I have found is far less fitness intensive than my traditional Gegenpress. Maybe you have your own secret rituals to see all the important players through that last pair of 15 minutes.

There is so much to consider with extra time, and that’s why I chose it as the E for this selection of articles. It brings a mix of emotions, options, and opinions along with it.

What are your thoughts? Do you dread or relish those extra minutes?

For previous A-Z entries, please visit: The A-Z of Football Manager.