Before I start let me just say please don’t ask for a download link. This thread is in the discussion area of the forum for a reason. Looking at the information given it should take you a matter of five minutes to create the tactic anyway.
Also I’ve kind of nicked they style of the post from Cleon, though he’s a good chap, (most of the time), and won’t mind I’m sure.
The 4-4-2 is has become a much derided formation over the years here on the Football Manager forums. There are two main gripes people have with it;
1) It doesn't offer enough defensive cover from the midfield area compared to other formations that employ a DM
2) It doesn't do enough in an attacking sense with the players being stuck playing in straight lines. Indeed, the latter is even a real life complaint, aimed at our very own national team manager Roy Hodgson!
With this thread I aim to show how the 4-4-2 can work in respect to the defensive work of the CM’s. Now before charging into things I will point out that I’m doing this thread with Manchester United, for which there are two reasons;
1) They are the club I support and I haven’t started a save with them on any FM since the days of Cristiano Ronaldo
2) The 4-4-2 is no longer favoured in real life by the bigger clubs, with most of them opting a variant on the 4-5-1 system
As with any formation, the aim is to create a system that wins football matches. And as some of you may well know, (I have been around a while and done bits and pieces in various areas of the forums), I like to have a strong defence aswell as a potent attack. However I always prefer to have a strong defence – if the opposition don’t score, we can’t lose! With a club like United though, it is expectd that I win with a certain style, so I can’t just focus on the defensive aspect as I did last year with a 3 Defensive Midfielders system.
The thing I like about doing this with such a big club is that there is no time to waste in analysing things over a vast period of time to see what can be changed for the better. I have to get this right very early on or I’ll probably get sacked.
Formation And Tactics
Well, 4-4-2, it’s self-explanatory; A goalkeeper, two banks of four, and two attackers. Traditional, simple. Though for those of you that struggle with simple, (I’m looking at you Cleon!), then here it is;
This is how it generally lines up, although it does change if certain players come into the team. For instance if Shinji Kagawa is employed in the ML position, the role will change to Wide Midfielder – Support.
Looking at the system you might think I’m just asking for trouble on the right hand side with both the RB (Fullback) and RM (Winger) on the attack duty. That may be true, but it would be foolish to ask my right back, (Rafael), not to attack as that’s what he’s good at, or to ask might right winger, (primarily Nani), to spend his time tracking back in the Defensive Winger role when he offers so much more. So in the end sometimes you just have to accept that you have a weak point in the team. You can agree or disagree, but every manager knows he has a weak point- he just won’t admit it in public.
The team instructions remain the same for every game, and things are changed with the use of touchline shouts. More about those later.
With having so few specialised roles I maybe should have gone for a Balanced style or even Fluid. Many would argue that playing with a Rigid style limits my team, but I’m happy with what this styles offers in terms of my central defenders. As the description points out; Central Defenders are responsible only for the defensive phase. I don’t want them strolling up field with the ball leaving gaps at the back.
I expect it would be queried why I have creative freedom set to More Expressive with the rigid style? Well that is simply because I still want my players to express themselves when we attack. The last thing I want to do is end up like Chelsea of last season; with everything regimented with little expression whatsoever.
With the roles I have in the team, the rigid style also means that mentalities are generally kept close together;
This is not my selection for the game I will be showing analysis from, this screenshot was taken just recently to show the mentalities.
Seven of the outfield players have mentalities closely grouped around the middle of the slider, which if I’m right, (though I’m probably not!), means that the players are generally on the same wave length and will keep in shape when we are defending or line up when our goalkeeper has the ball.
Strategy And Shouts
The strategy is simple; Standard. With this strategy you get to evaluate what is happening in the game early on, (in the first fifteen minutes or so), and make adjustments accordingly using the touchline shouts.
Here is a screenshot of what I noticed after just 27 seconds of a recent match, (the game I am focusing on here), against Arsenal;
The goalkeeper has rolled the ball out to my left sided centre back after receiving it from a header back to him from my right back. With the exception of the right back, who should be pushed on a bit more, they are all where they are meant to be in line with their mentalities.
There is a lot of space between the two banks of four, but unless we give it away sloppily then it isn’t issue. I instead look at this from the attacking point of view. The man with the ball has two clear options; the left midfielder and the left sided CM. The ML is in acres of space inbetween the Arsenal AMR and RB, and this alone so early in the game encouraged me to actually leave things as they were rather than changing strategy via a shout, (I have certain strategies to fit certain shouts). In the end the pass didn’t go to the ML and nothing came of this, but the game was already defined in terms of how my strategy would work in my eyes.
Arsenal had more of the ball in this game than me, but that’s understandable; they were at home, and had six attacking players, (2 CM’s, AML/R/C, and STC), fairly close together. Aswell as that I didn’t ask my players to keep the ball - I was happy with my banks of four and how we attacked when we had the chance. If I had wanted us to keep hold of the ball then I would have used this shout;
(“Change Strategy” is actually ticked and set to Control, however this screenshot was taken before I remembered to that and I couldn’t be bothered redoing the screenie!)
Later on in the game when Arsenal were ramping up the pressure I changed to the following shout;
This allows us to spring forward at pace, exploiting the fullback areas that are invariably more open when the opposition is chasing the game. In this game little came in terms of chances by using this shout, but it did allow us to relieve pressure by taking the ball further up-field.
These are currently the only two shouts I have set out for this formation, but I’m sure another one will follow.