Managing a football team is not only about training and tactics, it's about psychology as well. Your team has to want to win and they have to believe in themselves. Your team psychology affects your match results, and in return your match results also affect your team psychology.
The atmosphere at your club has a great influence over the performance of your team. Team spirit affects your midfield ratings, and the higher team spirit you have, the better your midfield will perform. This, in turn determines the amount of ball possession you will get.
Team spirit itself can be affected by a lot of things, but in particular your coach's leadership, the team attitude you set for each match, transfers and psychologist level.
Your players have to believe in themselves to perform well, and a team with low confidence has trouble putting their opportunities away. High confidence is normally a good thing, but if it gets too high players may underestimate weaker teams (see below for more info).
Team confidence is reflected in the attack sector ratings. Confidence is largely dependent on the results of previous games, but having a psychologist and a coach with high leadership is also known to boost it.
Before each competitive match you tell your squad how important the match is. Your team attitude setting affects how much ball possession you will get. You have three alternatives:
Match of the Season: Your players will do anything to win this one. However, directly after the match the team spirit will fall, which means your players will not perform at their best for the following matches.
Normal: The players perform as usual.
Play it cool: Your players are instructed to take it easy, as there are other more important games to focus on later. Directly after the match, team spirit will increase and your players will perform better in the next matches.
All players have a personality. Dishonest and aggressive players tend to get booked and sent off more often. Leadership is important for your appointed team captain and for your coach.
Psychological match events
The way a match unfolds can impact the behaviour of the players beyond the instructions laid out by the coach. Such psychological events can have big impact on a specific match, but they do not by themselves affect the team spirit or confidence of future matches.
A team that gains a lead of two goals in a match will automatically start to lose its attacking momentum and to focus more on defence. This effect will further increase as the lead is extended: each goal increase in the goal difference decreases attack by 9% and increases defence by 7.5%. Each goal reduction in the goal difference reverses the previous effect. There is an upper limit of a goal difference of 8, after which the team’s ratings will stop changing.
In some situations, teams are able to withstand this psychological effect. If the team has been given “Match of the Season” instructions, they won’t back down even when in a large lead. The same goes if the team plays a final in the National Cup, the World Cup or the Hattrick Masters and on the last series round of the season.
Moreover, a team performing unusually badly in the first half might get a telling off from the coach during the break, and pull themselves back together.
Whenever you're facing a team in a worse position than you and your confidence is strong or better; you may underestimate your opponent and play below your normal capacity. The risk of underestimating your opponent is dependent on the points and position difference between the teams, your confidence level and your team attitude for the match, with the risk being greater when the difference between the teams is bigger and/or confidence is very high. The only way to completely avoid underestimation is to play 'match of the season'.
If you do underestimate your opponent, the points difference, confidence level, team attitude and whether you are home or away decides the exact amount of underestimation. Depending on the score you may recover somewhat at half time. You'll see a full recovery if you're behind, 2/3 in the case of a draw and 1/3 if you have a narrow one goal lead.
Note that underestimation can only happen in league matches, but not in the first three rounds.