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The School of the Defensive Arts


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Started a game with PSV to give this a try. Using it exactly as Cleon laid out. My sample size is small but love what I'm seeing so far. The level of competition I'm playing in the friendlies is abysmal but I'm really enjoying the football its creating in these matches. The previous 4-1-2-2-1 tactic I used with several sides, including PSV, created nice flowing attacking football but would give up some chances on the counter that better sides could actually convert. This is not only very sound defensively but creates a great deal in attack as well. The first full friendly I played with first team players was a 14-0 win. Again, the lowest level of opposition I could find but that's the biggest win I've had on FM14, and I've played with a couple top clubs with world class players. Quite curious to see what this will manage in the Eredivisie once the familiarity is up to snuff.

Needs to be said once again - great work, Cleon. Excellent thread.

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Why do you say that? How would crossing from deep or long ball sides hurt me more when I'm sat deep? Even if they had 6 players near my box I don't see how crossing from deep would help? My defence can head the ball away with ease. I'm only asking as I'm trying to understand your thinking :)

Well firstly I see a side that is sat deep with plenty of players behind the ball. There is very little space in behind, so any sort of tactic that involves playing the ball in behind will be ineffective. A possession tactic probably won't work if your team is disciplined enough (which it is) so what sort of playing styles does that leave? (Bearing in mind I'm not the most tactically encyclopedic here). I first look towards some sort of tactic that tries to take advantage of the fact that you have quite a lot of players forward, so some sort of counter attacking formation. I sort of found that quite difficult to envisage without risking my team conceding quite a few from your attacks, barring playing the exact same tactic as you (which would lead to some sort of stalemate I imagine).

Then I look towards your deep line and think how could I take advantage of the fact that you sit so deep. I realise that long ball or deep crossing wouldn't be a flawless plan (as you say, your defenders would most likely clear most of the time) but all it would take is a couple of mistakes or the attacking players winning the ball ahead of your defenders for a reasonable chance to be created. I just feel it would be more likely to create reasonable goal scoring chances over say other tactics I mentioned previously - tactics that rely on through balls or passing in behind would have to be absolutely perfect with a deep line and a possession tactic would likely result in a fair few long shots out of impatience unless the opposition is particularly skilled and patient at playing it.

I apologise if I've managed to get this completely wrong, or that you don't remotely understand how I've managed to get to this. I get the feeling I may be thinking this through the eyes of a side less technically proficient than yours is. I more than likely need greater education on the subject.

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Then I look towards your deep line and think how could I take advantage of the fact that you sit so deep. I realise that long ball or deep crossing wouldn't be a flawless plan (as you say, your defenders would most likely clear most of the time) but all it would take is a couple of mistakes or the attacking players winning the ball ahead of your defenders for a reasonable chance to be created.

Playing devils advocate here but what if those mistakes you are waiting for never happen? If the opposition win the ball with a header chances are they have no-one beyond my back line so the only realistic option is a backward header back towards midfield, which I have pretty much covered. I only had 2 mistakes between my back 4 in the last 50 games that cost me a goal. The screenshsots in post 6 & 7 highlight what I mean about having it covered.

I just feel it would be more likely to create reasonable goal scoring chances over say other tactics I mentioned previously - tactics that rely on through balls or passing in behind would have to be absolutely perfect with a deep line and a possession tactic would likely result in a fair few long shots out of impatience unless the opposition is particularly skilled and patient at playing it.

The way to actually beat me is to stretch me by switching play fast from one side to the other, that's when I have real issues and gaps start to appear in my own system as I lose my compactness and players need a few seconds to readjust.

I apologise if I've managed to get this completely wrong, or that you don't remotely understand how I've managed to get to this. I get the feeling I may be thinking this through the eyes of a side less technically proficient than yours is. I more than likely need greater education on the subject.

No need to be sorry or apologise I am just trying to see how you view the game that's all hence all the questions :). There is no real right or wrong answers as it all depends on what the user has created and what he wants to achieve. Every tactic will have some flaw in them and everyone will approach how to utilise this differently. There's always different ways to do the same thing if that makes any sense? :)

Other week I showed a formation on Twitter that I was using and RTHerringbone was using a different one yet both ended up the exact same shape and did the same thing. The only difference between the two was we'd arranged the players differently but when the match kicked off it was the same shape and everything :). My point being there is always more than one way to achieve something, that's the beauty of FM :)

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I've just tried this formation and almost identical set up against Betis,i'm Real Sociedad playing against a 4-4-2...23 minutes in and i didn't have one single shot whereas Betis had 11 and were beating me 1-0..

I gave up so much ground that they passed it around me with ease and when i eventually got the ball my players went route one and the ball eventually went to their keeper...possession was 64-36 in their favour..

I know you said don't copy but surely Sociedad have the players to do this just as well if not better than Sheff Utd.

I am 34 games into the season and i am 6th in the league,confidence is sky high and i was playing a 4-1-2-1-2 anyway so my formation is also fluid but for some reason my players don't know how to play defensive it seems.

Fantastic thread mate and a great read as usual but i've struggled big time with it lol

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There is a reason I said don't copy (you won't make same changes, plan the same way blah blah)yet people seem to ignore that and still do it anyways, so please don't post if you are struggling using the exact same set up I told you not to use as I'll ignore all questions on it as its clear you either didn't read the thread to understand why or still did it regardless and expect help.......

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Other week I showed a formation on Twitter that I was using and RTHerringbone was using a different one yet both ended up the exact same shape and did the same thing. The only difference between the two was we'd arranged the players differently but when the match kicked off it was the same shape and everything :). My point being there is always more than one way to achieve something, that's the beauty of FM :)

This is a really key point, and for me, the cleverest thing about Cleon's set up in this thread is the Roles he is using.

Depending on the Roles you use, you can make the most Defensive looking set up inherently Attacking, or the most Attacking set up inherently Defensive.

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Cleon,

The pressure switches, if I am fleeting the pressure down the flanks then I'll revert my CWB to WB(A) or WB(S). However I then start to take pressure across the front of the box.

Granted, and like you said, many of the shots are from range or from tight angles.

One of the key things that I have identified pretty early is that my team struggle with getting the ball out of defense when playing against a high DL pressing team. Vertonghen tends to be okay as he has a decent passing and, probably more importantly, decent composure, however Balanta struggles a little and this tends to result in him losing possession, making a bad pass back and gifting it away or a rash clearance from my GK (and Lloris kicking is terrible).

I think Lloris poor ability in the air is having an impact too. But it's the control of the game that worries me. Goals, poor arial ability, low passing options aside (thats a lot to put aside), against high pressing teams we crumble and can't get the ball where we want it.

I think I may have gotten a little lazy in the Chelsea and Liverpool games so I'll replay them(havnt got much choice) and watch on full again.

I'll pay more attention to whom I play in that role moving forwards as Chirches has good composure too.

These are a few stats from the Manchester United game.

b6orbr.jpg

Sadly I can't load the Cheslea or Liverpool game as I don't seem to have played them yet.... which is odd as I know I have..... and lost.

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Absolutely fantastic thread, kudos. I always thought the defensive mentality was more versatile than given credit for, and love the deeper insight into it. It seems to me that it could be used to set up an aggressive counter attack system too if played up tempo, something I might need to try sometime.

Other week I showed a formation on Twitter that I was using and RTHerringbone was using a different one yet both ended up the exact same shape and did the same thing. The only difference between the two was we'd arranged the players differently but when the match kicked off it was the same shape and everything :). My point being there is always more than one way to achieve something, that's the beauty of FM :)

This is what I love about the game. No one true answer. I had a save that I began basically trying to survive in the Skrill North, trying to set up a hard to beat 5-3-2, as in flat 5 defenders, flat 3 mids, and two strikers to lump the ball at. After two seasons, as I got used to it, the players, and became a better team, I started tweaking roles, mentalities and such. What I began to notice was my flat formation lined up, and played exactly like Juve's 3-3-2-2/3-5-2, which was a massive, pleasing surprise that I could get such a modern system working with no proper defensive mids or wingbacks.

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What about PPM's? Do any of your players have any that would cause them to be out of position or do something you wouldn't actually want them doing?

Yes, they do. I had forgotten about that. ANnoyingly, the roles and duties are perfect for the spurs team.... at first glance. But the PPM's for Paulinho and Capoue can cause problems in the Regista role as they both have get forwards as PPM.

I'm trying to train it out of Capoue.

I'm half way through the Chelsea game now and despite a poor start I have settled into a shout setup that has simple removed possession and play narrow. Spreading the play and stopping excess passing seems to have spread Chelsea alittle and we are getting back into the game. That said..... after my 5th "(insert chelsea player name here) didn't meant to do that....." two DC's failed to clear a poor cross and Lloris (once again) has fumbled it into his own goal.

At this rate, he is no longer the player he once was for me.

Still, I should be 'In' the game more than I currently am so cant fully blame him.

LAM

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I explained why I did this in the thread already. It's set like that for when I drop retain possession/shorter passing shouts.

And no the last sentence is not a contradiction, why would it be? Unless you think all old school centrebacks hoofed the ball and played long ball all the time, in which case you'd be wrong. Old school defender means no nonsense, no fancy play hence who I want them to pass to the Regista. Thy get the ball and don't dwell on it and just pass to the regista.

Well, it depends what do you mean by "old school". Meaning how far back in time is "old school".....to you. Not all "old school" center backs hoofed the ball, but most of them did, especially in the UK.

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I have a 4-4-1-1 that is pretty similar to Cleon's setup, and what seems to work for me is that sometimes you have to change the mentality. If you're Man City facing Hull (or some other minnow), I would probably go to a standard or even attacking mentality. The drop deeper and remain discipline instructions will keep you relatively solid in the back compared to what the opponent is doing, while still maintaining the integrity of the tactic. Obviously, I would defer to whatever Cleon's response is to this (obviously), but if you find your team conceding too much space then it could be you need to up the mentality (or strategy or whatever it's called) so that you close down a little more.

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The School of the Defensive Arts? I tried to use this tactic in League Two. I was bitterly disappointed. Effectiveness of opponents broadly unchanged. I started losing matches already with opponents from Skrill North and lower leagues.

You clearly read only the title.........

Are you playing with the same team? same players? same opponents?

I'd wager not.

Sentence 1:

Before I start let me just say that if you are expecting a download link then this is the wrong thread for you it won’t be happening.

Sentence 2:

Also if you plan on using the exact same settings that I discuss below and don’t achieve the same results then you’ve missed the entire concept of this thread and what its about.

Sentence 3:

The idea about this thread is not to act as a guide as such but rather show you how I think and how I view football on FM.

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The School of the Defensive Arts? I tried to use this tactic in League Two. I was bitterly disappointed. Effectiveness of opponents broadly unchanged. I started losing matches already with opponents from Skrill North and lower leagues. Efficiency of opponents is almost same, as then I played more attacking style.

Next time read the thread and understand it before just looking at the tactic picture and copying the settings as I won't help people who are just copying. That's now what the thread is for at all. It's people like you who just copy what I've done that are the main reason I stopped posting on these forums and lose interest in a thread when I do create one.

It's pointless trying to copy me as you wont make the same changes, don't understand how all the roles work together to make the end product and at a guess (although I could be wrong but judging by what you posted I'm not) aren't as reactive as I am. Hence why people should use what I've written in here to take ideas from and implement them in their own save rather than trying to copy me. The idea of the thread is to change the way people think about the game and get them thinking for themselves and sharing ideas so someone might see something and think 'Oh I could try something similar with this shape blah blah blah' and then implement it into their own style and ideas.

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You clearly read only the title.........

Are you playing with the same team? same players? same opponents?

I'd wager not.

Sentence 1:

Before I start let me just say that if you are expecting a download link then this is the wrong thread for you it won’t be happening.

Sentence 2:

Also if you plan on using the exact same settings that I discuss below and don’t achieve the same results then you’ve missed the entire concept of this thread and what its about.

Sentence 3:

The idea about this thread is not to act as a guide as such but rather show you how I think and how I view football on FM.

I wrote that I try to apply this tactic in League Two. So far I have not quite disappointed. I might find something new :) Of course, every team is different. I'm learning to defend.

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Don't understand some people. I mean the first two sentences are,

"Before I start let me just say that if you are expecting a download link then this is the wrong thread for you it won’t be happening. Also if you plan on using the exact same settings that I discuss below and don’t achieve the same results then you’ve missed the entire concept of this thread and what its about."

Does that mean some members are starting halfway down the thread? Or the last line? If Cleon has gone to all the effort to put up seperate images and to write about each individual image and show his thinking and everything else, surely we can spend 2-3 minutes reading through what he has wrote?

Every thread Cleon does is a learning thread and an informative one. I mean if it wasn't, he'd be posting it in the download the tactics part of the forum.

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Next time read the thread and understand it before just looking at the tactic picture and copying the settings as I won't help people who are just copying. That's now what the thread is for at all. It's people like you who just copy what I've done that are the main reason I stopped posting on these forums and lose interest in a thread when I do create one.

It's pointless trying to copy me as you wont make the same changes, don't understand how all the roles work together to make the end product and at a guess (although I could be wrong but judging by what you posted I'm not) aren't as reactive as I am. Hence why people should use what I've written in here to take ideas from and implement them in their own save rather than trying to copy me. The idea of the thread is to change the way people think about the game and get them thinking for themselves and sharing ideas so someone might see something and think 'Oh I could try something similar with this shape blah blah blah' and then implement it into their own style and ideas.

Cleon I did not want to offend anyone. I apologize. I'm trying to understand some of the instructions as according to you and I want will create own tactics. So far it does not work as I would like.

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Cleon I did not want to offend anyone. I apologize. I'm trying to understand some of the instructions according to you and I want will create own tactics. So far it does not work as I would like.

That's the point mate, it's not going to work how you would like because you have said yourself you have copied it with different player's, with different attributes, different hidden attributes, different PPM's, different everything. Cleon has got it to work and he's sharing his way of thinking behind it all so people can take little bits and make their team harder to get through hence the title.

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That's the point mate, it's not going to work how you would like because you have said yourself you have copied it with different player's, with different attributes, different hidden attributes, different PPM's, different everything. Cleon has got it to work and he's sharing his way of thinking behind it all so people can take little bits and make their team harder to get through hence the title.

I think, that I used wrong words. I deleted my first post. Yes everything is different.

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Amazing thread as always Cleon! :brock:

I play the same shape as you but a very much more attacking and a lot more Shouts! But i'd kind of settled in a dominating rut where i didn't change anything. (Which is why I've dominated domestically but not in Europe).

I never really understood the Treq position but with the pictures you provided showing them dropping in midfielder and then helping out upfront it really helped and showed what an important role it can be.

Reading through I've took away two big things which are really helping me (especially away from home) which are:-

Dropping my CWB into WB(S) when the opposition is using a 442 or 4231 variant.

When winning or struggling for midfield domination dropping my mentality into Counter and then using a Treq instead of AM.

Changing my second striker into a DLF(A) once i use the Treq.

I've copied these two aspects of your tactic/theory into my game with a completely different attacking variation of 41212 but the theory which you have explained really well and put in pictures it's really helped out my tactic.

KUTGW! If you carry on doing threads like this maybe one day you could be a MB mod!

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Won the Championship with Derby using Cleon's tactic + my own defensive tactic but ever since reaching the prem the goals have dried up completely. I'm sitting in 19th after 11 games and just can't score with any tactic I try :(

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Won the Championship with Derby using Cleon's tactic + my own defensive tactic but ever since reaching the prem the goals have dried up completely. I'm sitting in 19th after 11 games and just can't score with any tactic I try :(

I really don't think, that it is problem of tactic. Crisis of your team. But very defensive tactic may not work still. Try to find something new. I have learned new things today and I created a mix from Cleon's tactic and something from my tactic. It working very good in friendly matches. I hope it will work well in the league.

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I really don't think, that it is problem of tactic. Crisis of your team. But very defensive tactic may not work still. Try to find something new. I have learned new things today and I created a mix from Cleon's tactic and something from my tactic. It working very good in friendly matches. I hope it will work well in the league.

I've changed my tactic to control/rigid and changed Charlie Austin from AF to a target man and he's been so much better. Just beat Hull 3-0 and moved up to 14th :)

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Cleon, thank you for your answers. They do make sense, although I still find it weird that your wing defense is so robust, especially against much better teams. Here I will be talking about how I used some of the stuff you advised, so feel free to ignore the post. Point (b) might be of interest though.

OK, so I have been trying to incorporate some of the stuff I learned here into the 4-1-2-2-1(F9) of my newly promoted Staines (Skrill Premier). My tactic has a lot of problems. For example, this is only the second year of my save and my players do not fit my tactic, but I have the "tries to fit players into preferred tactic" ppm! Also, I was promoted in the first year and now it seems that I am asking too much from my players at the Skrill Premier level. However, I managed to deal with a couple of my problems using the information here. More importantly:

1) I learned here that -in order to be defensively robust- maybe I should be less worried about winning the ball back and more worried about giving away no useful space near my box. So I am now more focused on my men keeping a good shape when defending. It is paying off heavily. For example, I managed to eliminate a Sky Bet2 team in FA Cup, while 3/4ths of my players are still Skrill South level and I also played 3 developing players from the academy. This is the first time I succeeded in eliminating a higher division team in FM14.

2) I learned here that my fullbacks do not need to be as defensive as I thought they should be. This is especially important against much better teams or in the final minutes when I am trying to protect a lead. In such situations, I used to change my WB(S)-FB(A) combo to LFB-LFB, trying to soak up the pressure. It was not working. After reading this thread, I now keep my fullbacks as attacking as possible and switch other players into more defensive roles. This is helping me keep possession and my results have improved a lot. I used to blow half my leads in the final 15 minutes, now I manage to protect the vast majority of them.

I still have some problems that I am trying to solve that are somewhat related to the stuff here. Specifically:

a) This is similar to something Iam posted above. When I go on the defensive, it is especially important that I do not concede possession easily. So I try to tell my GK to distribute it to the fullbacks. However, when the opposition presses, my fullbacks are often unable to deal with the situation and just hoof the ball forward conceding possession. I tried telling them to sit deeper but it only helped a little bit. With my formation being a 4-1-2-2-1, my IFs are too far forward to help and for some reason my DM does not make himself available. I think I need a DM with better WR and Movement or tinker with the other midfield roles further (the BtB midfielder is very far away too- maybe I need a CM(D) there).

b) The formations that are better able to exploit my wings are unexpectedly of the 4-5-1 variety. If they manage to hold up the ball near the edge of my box with a central midfielder, my fullback closes down to help out my DM and then their wide player charges in to collect a through ball. This does not happen very often, but it does happen. While writing this, it dawned on me that this is a second reason why I need a CM(D)! OK, see you all later :)

Cleon, my Staines overachievers thank you for helping them overachieve even more.

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a) This is similar to something Iam posted above. When I go on the defensive, it is especially important that I do not concede possession easily. So I try to tell my GK to distribute it to the fullbacks. However, when the opposition presses, my fullbacks are often unable to deal with the situation and just hoof the ball forward conceding possession. I tried telling them to sit deeper but it only helped a little bit. With my formation being a 4-1-2-2-1, my IFs are too far forward to help and for some reason my DM does not make himself available. I think I need a DM with better WR and Movement or tinker with the other midfield roles further (the BtB midfielder is very far away too- maybe I need a CM(D) there).

After Cleon pointed out my PPM issue I addressed this and pressure around the DC's passing out is less now. I either use a different player (one I wanted to train into the role next season) or use the same player but with "hold position" shout.

That said, the problem hasnt gone away. Distributing to one of the wingbacks also helps, rather than a DC>

HOwever, this is still one of the most hit-and-miss tactics I've used. I'm slowly beginning to work it out, but I do feel that it is weakest (at least for me at THIS STAGE of my understanding - only half full bar IN MY OWN HEAD) against the more prevalent formations in the league... the 451 (AMLR) and 41221 (DM).

I think creative players are possible better suited to the tactic that defensive ones. When I play more attacking players, understandably, I see lots mroe quicker breaks, one touch passes and goals... however when I think I want to tighten up (and play Sandro in the MCR position) I am unable to create opportunities and thus end up soaking up to much pressure.

I think this is another tactic that is suited to getting an early goal and bringing the attackers onto you in an attempt to claim a point/goal back.

Much like Cleons other thread.... my favourite one.... it works fantastically (at least for me) when I claim a first goal.

Still lots to learn and think this has delivered me a great understanding of what i might do in a typical 451 (AMLR) with a TQ/DLF/IF/IF combo.

As always.... if you take CLeons threads as their intended..... learning.... and not winning, then you get far more than a winning season!

L(LLLLLLLLL)AM :)

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OK, so I have been trying to incorporate some of the stuff I learned here into the 4-1-2-2-1(F9) of my newly promoted Staines (Skrill Premier). My tactic has a lot of problems. For example, this is only the second year of my save and my players do not fit my tactic, but I have the "tries to fit players into preferred tactic" ppm! Also, I was promoted in the first year and now it seems that I am asking too much from my players at the Skrill Premier level. However, I managed to deal with a couple of my problems using the information here. More importantly:

HAHA :D

1) I learned here that -in order to be defensively robust- maybe I should be less worried about winning the ball back and more worried about giving away no useful space near my box. So I am now more focused on my men keeping a good shape when defending. It is paying off heavily. For example, I managed to eliminate a Sky Bet2 team in FA Cup, while 3/4ths of my players are still Skrill South level and I also played 3 developing players from the academy. This is the first time I succeeded in eliminating a higher division team in FM14.

I think this is one of the most important things. People tend to think closing down quicker will result in better defending but it isn't always the case because you can miss tackles, give away free kicks and most important of all the players will lose their shape and gaps will appear. By defending space instead you keep shape and become harder to break down as you don't have players being caught out or moving to the wrong areas or them trying to be too aggressive. If you defend space then it will take something special to carve you open from the opposition which in turn makes you hard to beat. That's not to say the opposition might not be able to carve you open as you can't cut it out entirely but you can make it hard for them just like you seem to be doing atm :)

2) I learned here that my fullbacks do not need to be as defensive as I thought they should be. This is especially important against much better teams or in the final minutes when I am trying to protect a lead. In such situations, I used to change my WB(S)-FB(A) combo to LFB-LFB, trying to soak up the pressure. It was not working. After reading this thread, I now keep my fullbacks as attacking as possible and switch other players into more defensive roles. This is helping me keep possession and my results have improved a lot. I used to blow half my leads in the final 15 minutes, now I manage to protect the vast majority of them.

Again I think a lot of FM users think the same way you used too and make players defensive to stay solid/compact but like you found out it doesn't help much as you then have a lot of pressure to soak up. It also means its hard for you to keep width or have any kind of wide outlet if you change the fullbacks to limited ones as they don't venture forward much, so its hard to get out of your own half if all you do is rely on a possible counter attack. By being aggressive like you are now, you actually give the opposition some defensive work to do. If you didn't give them much pressure like before or anything to do then sooner or later the side will make a mistake or crack as you cannot soak up lots of pressure consistently, especially at the level you are playing at where errors are common practise.

a) This is similar to something Iam posted above. When I go on the defensive, it is especially important that I do not concede possession easily. So I try to tell my GK to distribute it to the fullbacks. However, when the opposition presses, my fullbacks are often unable to deal with the situation and just hoof the ball forward conceding possession. I tried telling them to sit deeper but it only helped a little bit. With my formation being a 4-1-2-2-1, my IFs are too far forward to help and for some reason my DM does not make himself available. I think I need a DM with better WR and Movement or tinker with the other midfield roles further (the BtB midfielder is very far away too- maybe I need a CM(D) there).

Have you thought about specifying the DMC to distribute too in the keeper personal instructions? It will make him drop deeper.

I used to use Rinus Michels school of thought with regards to building from the back. If I play against a lone striker (with AML/AMR'S especially) I'll distribute to the DC's as I have a spare man to pass around and 1 striker can't close-down both my centrebacks. If I play against 2 strikers then have the keeper distribute outwide as that's where the free player is.

b) The formations that are better able to exploit my wings are unexpectedly of the 4-5-1 variety. If they manage to hold up the ball near the edge of my box with a central midfielder, my fullback closes down to help out my DM and then their wide player charges in to collect a through ball. This does not happen very often, but it does happen. While writing this, it dawned on me that this is a second reason why I need a CM(D)! OK, see you all later

The reason for this is you have a giant space that isn't defended between your own fullbacks and the IF's, IF's don't really do defensive things so tracking back and picking runners up falls to other people. Now when this happens in my shape my two MC's try and track runners and close them down while at the same time my Treq falls back into the middle too meaning its not exposed. When this happens for you, you don't have the luxury of that midfielder dropping back. Even when both my MC's help close down I still have a regista and treq too in the middle to cover that off. So it means my MC's can track better as they don't have to worry and try and get back to pick someone else up they can follow the runner. This is where you might struggle and the reason why the fullbacks step up to try and help with danger, which leaves you exposed as they've left their shape.

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After Cleon pointed out my PPM issue I addressed this and pressure around the DC's passing out is less now. I either use a different player (one I wanted to train into the role next season) or use the same player but with "hold position" shout.

That said, the problem hasnt gone away. Distributing to one of the wingbacks also helps, rather than a DC>

HOwever, this is still one of the most hit-and-miss tactics I've used. I'm slowly beginning to work it out, but I do feel that it is weakest (at least for me at THIS STAGE of my understanding - only half full bar IN MY OWN HEAD) against the more prevalent formations in the league... the 451 (AMLR) and 41221 (DM).

Do you go more cautious with the fullback roles against these formations?

Also are you using OI's? I never use them but if you are then you'll be causing players to lose shape.

I think creative players are possible better suited to the tactic that defensive ones. When I play more attacking players, understandably, I see lots mroe quicker breaks, one touch passes and goals... however when I think I want to tighten up (and play Sandro in the MCR position) I am unable to create opportunities and thus end up soaking up to much pressure.

Well the key is hard working team players, as they will cover space for each other should one make a mistake. I'm not sure why you create less though as the creativeness from an attacking point should be the Treq's job and he should be the one pulling the strings? Mayeb you are worrying far too much about the opposition and trying to play 'perfect' against them and this is having a domino effect? I mean if you get hung up on what the opposition is doing and focusing on eliminating the oppositions danger then you lose something yourself from your own tactic. I never give much thought and try and stick to my own plan rather than concentrate on the opposition. Instead I try and cause them issues and give them things to think about. The more you make them work, track players and do defensive work the better. If you aren't doing this then it means they have free players who can be passing outlets or recycle possession because they're not been pressured.

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Do you go more cautious with the fullback roles against these formations?

Also are you using OI's? I never use them but if you are then you'll be causing players to lose shape.

Well the key is hard working team players, as they will cover space for each other should one make a mistake. I'm not sure why you create less though as the creativeness from an attacking point should be the Treq's job and he should be the one pulling the strings? Mayeb you are worrying far too much about the opposition and trying to play 'perfect' against them and this is having a domino effect? I mean if you get hung up on what the opposition is doing and focusing on eliminating the oppositions danger then you lose something yourself from your own tactic. I never give much thought and try and stick to my own plan rather than concentrate on the opposition. Instead I try and cause them issues and give them things to think about. The more you make them work, track players and do defensive work the better. If you aren't doing this then it means they have free players who can be passing outlets or recycle possession because they're not been pressured.

Some really key points here in my experience. I often use a lot of OIs, especially to tight mark AMR/Ls and to hard tackle players with low bravery. Fairly obvious things... but both appear to hurt my defensive solidity. Once I stopped using OIs, I've started keeping a lot more clean sheets.

The Trequartista choice is really key for Cleon's tactic. When Baxter, my first choice, has been available, I've been fine. As soon as I've had to resort to someone else in that role, I've struggled.

The absolute #1 thing I've learnt from this thread though is to keep things simple. It's easy in FM to over-complicate things through good intentions - that to be a tactical master means using all the tools at your disposal: OIs, lots of shouts, switching mentalities all the time... Actually, if you want to be solid it is perhaps better to just keep things simple. Less shouts, less OIs. See how your tactic plays out first, and then use specific shouts to target specific strengths and weaknesses.

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Good man :)

It's glorious.

The 2 year old tells me shes going out on her bike whenever the sun is out :D

Some really key points here in my experience. I often use a lot of OIs, especially to tight mark AMR/Ls and to hard tackle players with low bravery. Fairly obvious things... but both appear to hurt my defensive solidity. Once I stopped using OIs, I've started keeping a lot more clean sheets.

The Trequartista choice is really key for Cleon's tactic. When Baxter, my first choice, has been available, I've been fine. As soon as I've had to resort to someone else in that role, I've struggled.

The absolute #1 thing I've learnt from this thread though is to keep things simple. It's easy in FM to over-complicate things through good intentions - that to be a tactical master means using all the tools at your disposal: OIs, lots of shouts, switching mentalities all the time... Actually, if you want to be solid it is perhaps better to just keep things simple. Less shouts, less OIs. See how your tactic plays out first, and then use specific shouts to target specific strengths and weaknesses.

That's why I was quick to bring a good back up in for Baxter as Sheffield United don't really have anyone else apart from Scougall but he's underrated on the game. Like you say though it is a key role as everything that happens tends to come through him due to it been a narrow formation, so its vital you have someone who can pull the strings. Also if things aren't going his way in a game then try and pin point why so you can get him functioning again.

Keeping things simple is the best way, if you need to change or alter things then do it gradual after you know how the system you currently use works. It's hard to get caught up and add loads of instructions etc at the start without knowing why or how the current system works without them. I like to keep things to a minimal then use shouts, subs, OI's or mentality changes as tools to use during the game if needs be. If you start out using everything in one go and something isn't working then how do you know where to start when trying to correct things? You'd be bloody lost and confused :D

In one of my other threads I did a bit about this and I said;

Watching The Game Back

It’s important that for the first game I try and leave stuff untouched the best I can so I can get a real feel of how stuff is working and what’s going on. I’ll still make the odd changes in game if I feel I’m losing the game. But for most parts I like to let the game play out without changes if possible so I can view it back after. Watching a game after its happened is easier than watching one that’s in play because sometimes you view it differently because the result doesn’t matter as the game is over.

So for those struggling it might be worth reading this thread to see what I learnt and looked for. The thread can be found here;

http://community.sigames.com/showthread.php/377489-Creating-A-Tactic-Design-Create-and-Maintain

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Hey,

After being torn apart by Manchester City and stuggling against Newcastle I can see that the weakness is my flanks, which is fairly understandably given the formation, however I think I am particularly prone to the 451 when the AMLR cut inside and their wingbacks move forwards. Generally what happens here is that my CWB is back enough to pick up the AMLR, however he will track them inside and then the opposition WB will move forwards and he or a DC will run out to close down, this results in unmarked men in the box for the opposition.

I thought it was the keeper at first, then I thought it was poor marking on my DC's behalf, and don't get me wrong, they have all been guilty of that also, but the reality is I have to many unmarked men inside the box.

I very rarely use OI's and if I do I use, in my opinion, the tamer ones, such as Man Mark (if the opposition has a clear playmaker running the show) or Hard tackle on a low bravery player. However these are very rare occassions and I will not setup this way from the start.

It is only the odd game where I am run off the park and funnily enough, in these games I can generally snatch a win or grab a draw.

In the Manchester City game I had 5 CC's and 5 HC's, MC had 4 CC's and 4 HC's. We lost 4-2.

They had two goals from poor/failed clearances of corners and the other two were from crosses from their WB's and poor marking of them or leaving other players to close them down.

If I can work out a way to resolve this then I think I can make it work well as A) I watch games a lot, so can see it happening B) Generally analyse scout reports and understand wher their assists are going to come from C) Analyse their squad and can pretty much understand if their WB's are going to drive forwards.

Only problems is...... even KNOWING its going to happen.... how to stop it.

(I still think Goalies have been 'tweaked'. I've never witnessed Lloris so error prone).

I looked back through my conceded goals in the premiership this season (in January) and most were down to crosses and set-peices. Sadly I forgot to establish whether those crosses were from the opposition winger or wingback.

I do go more defensive with the FB position, though perhaps still not enough. I will often drop to WB(A) and quite often WB(S). Though, I have not gone more defensive than that, but will try moving forwards.

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Do you also get "we're being seriously overrun in the middfield" assistant tips all the time when using this tactic? Does it matter at all?

Personally, I take this with a pinch of salt. At times I may be fully aware that I am being overrun in midfield but it may be a part of my overall plan. I wouldn't take much notice of it unless dominating midfield is a key part of my game plan.

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Just bought Cladio Yacob from West Brom on the last day of the January Transfer window.

He looks like he could settle into the role very nicely. Just need to rid him of that "plays simple passes" ppM.

LAM

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Hey,

After being torn apart by Manchester City and stuggling against Newcastle I can see that the weakness is my flanks, which is fairly understandably given the formation, however I think I am particularly prone to the 451 when the AMLR cut inside and their wingbacks move forwards. Generally what happens here is that my CWB is back enough to pick up the AMLR, however he will track them inside and then the opposition WB will move forwards and he or a DC will run out to close down, this results in unmarked men in the box for the opposition.

This could be more like wild idea, but how about given your CBs less closing down instruction (alternative cover roles)? Maybe your CBs would be holding position better and not chasing oppositions WBs when your FBs marking oppositions IFs. You will still have problems with oppositions WBs crossing freely in to your box, but at least you have your CBs inside the box to clear the ball.

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Hey,

After being torn apart by Manchester City and stuggling against Newcastle I can see that the weakness is my flanks, which is fairly understandably given the formation, however I think I am particularly prone to the 451 when the AMLR cut inside and their wingbacks move forwards. Generally what happens here is that my CWB is back enough to pick up the AMLR, however he will track them inside and then the opposition WB will move forwards and he or a DC will run out to close down, this results in unmarked men in the box for the opposition.

I thought it was the keeper at first, then I thought it was poor marking on my DC's behalf, and don't get me wrong, they have all been guilty of that also, but the reality is I have to many unmarked men inside the box.

I very rarely use OI's and if I do I use, in my opinion, the tamer ones, such as Man Mark (if the opposition has a clear playmaker running the show) or Hard tackle on a low bravery player. However these are very rare occassions and I will not setup this way from the start.

It is only the odd game where I am run off the park and funnily enough, in these games I can generally snatch a win or grab a draw.

In the Manchester City game I had 5 CC's and 5 HC's, MC had 4 CC's and 4 HC's. We lost 4-2.

They had two goals from poor/failed clearances of corners and the other two were from crosses from their WB's and poor marking of them or leaving other players to close them down.

If I can work out a way to resolve this then I think I can make it work well as A) I watch games a lot, so can see it happening B) Generally analyse scout reports and understand wher their assists are going to come from C) Analyse their squad and can pretty much understand if their WB's are going to drive forwards.

Only problems is...... even KNOWING its going to happen.... how to stop it.

(I still think Goalies have been 'tweaked'. I've never witnessed Lloris so error prone).

I looked back through my conceded goals in the premiership this season (in January) and most were down to crosses and set-peices. Sadly I forgot to establish whether those crosses were from the opposition winger or wingback.

I do go more defensive with the FB position, though perhaps still not enough. I will often drop to WB(A) and quite often WB(S). Though, I have not gone more defensive than that, but will try moving forwards.

Sounds to me that the midfield is the issue and not the actual FB's. It seems they aren't helping out enough or are getting caught out elsewhere maybe?

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Interesting you said Scougall for that role, as I'd been making do with Murphy or Diego in there at a push. Scougall was PA -8 in the past, and was set to a fixed value when he moved to the Blades - hate it when that happens.

Cuvellier second season is a great Treq/Engache or AP too. The only other person I would have considered using would have been McGinn in terms of stats. Not as creative but better defensivley, he might win balls that Baxter doesn't and bring a unique style to the role like a defensive treq :D

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Cleon,

I think it's a combination. Just watching part of a game where Yacob is playing, he is far far more stable in the DM role than anyone else I've played there. Vartonghen was good but lacks any OTB and thus doesnt position himself well for supporting a backpass.

I think I'm going to have to lpay with some roles/duties to counter some of the PPM's I have.

Capoue is gone now (same window) thus I do not have to worry about him. But Paulinho is likely to be my first choice for the MCR role and he likes to get forwards (PPM), thus maybe a CM(S/D) might be better just for him. Another player that might do well there is Demebele, but he likes to drive forwards with the ball at feet which means he is often out of position too.

Simple will not give up on this as I'm learning so much as I go........

*edit*

I have purposely picked some players with stronger teamwork that I previously did and I do seem stronger..... something to be keeping an eye on.

Jasko - that is an interesting thought about the closing down. I will see how my recent staff changes and role changes play out but that will be something I test. Only concern is that it seems, understandably, that given enough time, anyone can get in a decent cross..... and lower closing down is what I'll be giving them.

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This thread inspired me to start a new game. I thought about Coventry, but decided to go with Rangers. It should be relatively easy to achieve good defensive record in scottish third tier (well, we'll see I guess :D), but I want a cup success also! Of course I won't copy Cleon's formation, just get some general ideas and put it into my plan.

One issue I can think of, even before I start, is my team will be a massive favourite in 100% games in the league, so opposition will propably sit deep and patiently wait for a chance to hit me on the break, so it will be hard to beat their defence. But maybe I'm worrying too much and should focus on my own team rather than my rivals :)

Will see how it goes.

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This thread inspired me to start a new game. I thought about Coventry, but decided to go with Rangers. It should be relatively easy to achieve good defensive record in scottish third tier (well, we'll see I guess :D), but I want a cup success also! Of course I won't copy Cleon's formation, just get some general ideas and put it into my plan.

One issue I can think of, even before I start, is my team will be a massive favourite in 100% games in the league, so opposition will propably sit deep and patiently wait for a chance to hit me on the break, so it will be hard to beat their defence. But maybe I'm worrying too much and should focus on my own team rather than my rivals :)

Will see how it goes.

I was favourites in all my games with the exception of the two against Wolves (not counting cups though) :)

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Hi cleon, great thread and always love reading your tactical insights when I have some spare time:)

I have a 4312 formation with Liverpool that I use in a network game and wanted to ask a question. Its also a bit of insight for others who may have the same issue i had and hopefully the way I dealt with it will help others

After finding that my tactic is in fact similar to me beloved LFC in real life (concede loads but score even more) I decided to implement some of your tactical elements into my system as I was fed up of having to score 3/4/5 goals to win a match. I usually played with my two full backs on FB (support) but changed them to complete wingbacks. I also dropped my CCM who was DLP(defend) into the DM strata with regista against teams who used a CAM and noticed an immediate difference

1. At home to Southampton who use a 4231 and 2 minutes in we conceded. A back post volley from Lallana which was a fantastic strike. On the face of it I thought "meh, wondergoals don't happen that often" and ignored de-constructing the goal. 30minutes into the game and we were in control of the game, however whenever Southampton had the Ball they were creating chances at will Mainly from crosses and cutbacks to the edge of the area or playing a through ball between the channel of my centre back and fullback. 30minutes and 3 CCCs for Southampton into the game, i decided to see what was going on.

Going to make this short as I don't want to give you a novel to read. I watched the goal and southamptons ccc's again and found a glaring realisation. They're fullbacks were bombing forward offering a pass back option for the wingers. As Lallana/Rodriguez lays it back to the fullbacks in a pretty unthreatening area, my fullbacks (shaw/Juanfran) would charge out the blocks with 100% aggression at the opposite full back, completely ignoring the winger he was occupying. Leading to a open pass to southamptons wide players or front man making channel runs. This is southamptons goal...

d5c76679709fea4f6d68da29a5ddb951.png

Rodriguez is marked by henderson, and for some reason juanfran decides he needs to get in on the act. Rodriguez plays a simple pass down that left side to lambert and the rest is history. Take away Juanfrans positioning and im actually very happy with the way my team was set up, which is promising.

I changed shaw to WB(attack) and juanfran to WB(suppors) as more danger was coming down my right side, and most importantly Imo, I told both full backs to "close down less". Resumed the game and we ended up winning 4-1 (shaw won a penalty by surging into the box) and Southampton didn't have a neither a CCC or half chance and barely mustered a shot on my goal. Their wingers were shut out the game with my fullbacks seemingly paying more attention to them and their fullbacks were ineffective to say the least.

1adb997518b6fe290bffae972f917880.png

Juanfran who we before saw pressing and doubling up high up the pitch has now taken a back seat and is now more cautious and disciplined. Again i am happy with my sides shape defensively. Henderson doesn't actually win that 50/50. He loses out and we win possession in the missdle of the park.7bdd8c7c6f5c6f8ce24244780a8fe11b.png

Juanfran is more alert and is actually part of our defensive unit now.

We actually scored our third goal from this. We broke at devastating pace and sturridge found himself one on one with the keeper and calmy slotted to put us 3-1 up.

So here's my question; have you ever encountered this when playing with complete complete wingbacks? The wing back switching off and going to close down his opposing full back rather than leave him with the ball in a safe area? If it wasn't for this thread and your thread "the full 90minutes what to do" I'd have never given attention to the reasons were were struggling in the opening half hour of that game and probably would have ended up losing. I've become a lot more reactive and involved on match days (and finding much more enjoyable) whereas before i used to just take a pedestrian approach and let the games run their course without much analysis. Your help is very much appreciated :D

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So here's my question; have you ever encountered this when playing with complete complete wingbacks? The wing back switching off and going to close down his opposing full back rather than leave him with the ball in a safe area?

I've seen this a lot. In my experience the flanks are where the majority of chances get created against you because imo the closing down in the game is off. If I'm using wingers then having them specifically man-mark the opposition wingers helps a lot. A DM is good in this case to deal with inside movement should your wide players decided to track close to the byline, etc. But that goes against the principles discussed in the thread.

Are you using similar shouts to what Cleon described: Stick to Positions, Be More Disciplined?

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I've seen this a lot. In my experience the flanks are where the majority of chances get created against you because imo the closing down in the game is off. If I'm using wingers then having them specifically man-mark the opposition wingers helps a lot. A DM is good in this case to deal with inside movement should your wide players decided to track close to the byline, etc. But that goes against the principles discussed in the thread.

Are you using similar shouts to what Cleon described: Stick to Positions, Be More Disciplined?

I've previously had success using my two forwards to man mark the opposition full backs, as it prevents getting doubled up on the flanks. I only use this against teams that have heavily influential full backs as I found my strikers aren't in great positions to counter attack.

In that particular game I had stick to positions and be more disciplined yeah, I didn't have play narrower like cleon uses though (not sure if that would have made a difference). As I said above though, the problem seemed to almost perfectly solve once I used the PI "close down less"

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I've previously had success using my two forwards to man mark the opposition full backs, as it prevents getting doubled up on the flanks. I only use this against teams that have heavily influential full backs as I found my strikers aren't in great positions to counter attack.

Yeah, that would affect your shape. Specific marking can actually create hybrid roles in some situations. I've read where others have used marking to create roles/movement that isn't in the game by default.

As I said above though, the problem seemed to almost perfectly solve once I used the PI "close down less"

Figured as much. :)

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I've been experiencing this. I have tried lowering the closing down on the CWB's.

It was something Jasko suggested for DC's but I tried it on the C/WB's and .... it seems to work, but I have only tested it for one game, which crashed, and I have not tested it again.

Again, another thing I found, after Cleon suggested it (but only one game tested), is using players with high teamwork.

Something else I have taken from another thread (THOG Thread I think - thought it was someone elses idea that gave me the thought). I tend to stay narrow most times now and if I am facing an AMLR that likes cutting inside I will give the CWB an instruction to stay narrow. You can counter this when attacking if you wish to dribble wide, but so far I have found that it's not needed.

By staying narrow it tends to close the gap between DC and himself when the opposition is in posession and he is not marking that tight.

If it's a crossing winger then I'll leave the instruction as it was. It's not to hard to work out what sort of winger you're up against....... using the scout reports.

Aagain, the THoG thread is good for this but I covered scout reports a while back and have started using the same method.

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I have found this thread to be quite intriguing as I have never thought that you could create a defensively stable tactic without sacrificing offence.

I used some of the principles and discussions here to create my own vision which I have used to success so far with Wolves.

When used in combination with some of the other key pieces of work on the site, I have been able to create a 433 that works perfectly for me.

SkyBetLeague1_edit_zps69e27fcd.png

One question though - Cleon:were you able to find success when promoted into the championship with a similar squad?

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Cleon doing a post on my favourite formation? And focusing on being defensively solid? Yes! Yes! Yes! :D

Anyway, yeah, I'm a big fan of the diamond, though up to a couple of seasons ago in my career game, I hadn't tried it in FM14. An injury crisis amongst my wingers for a cup game made me give it a shot, and it was extremely effective so I've been playing it since, spending the first few months tweaking quite a bit, before settling into a pretty stable tactic that's achieved a good amount of sucess (won League 1 at a canter, albeit as favourites, followed by 8th in the Championship, 1pt off the playoffs). The defensive side however, has not been exactly stellar, particularly in the latter season - typified by the final game: due to other results, a win would've gotten me into the playoffs, we drew 2-2. Basically, I ended up - not entirely intentionally - playing Keegan style "score more than them!!!" football. Overall, we were the second highest scorers in the league (only Champions Everton beat us) even though my then top scorer left in January, but couldn't keep it tight at the back.

As such, I'm really enjoying reading this thread, and I've picked up a lot of good ideas. Dropping deeper and going more disciplined while still retaining the short passing that I've been using certainly looks like it'll be worth a try - typically, I've tended to associate deep D-Lines with more direct football, but looking over how your team has been playing it looks promising. I also really like your Regista. I've been using a conventional anchor man as my DM, with the creativity further forward, but again, from the screenshots/videos, I'm thinking that might be an intersting change, particularly combined with dropping the entire team deeper, thereby reducing the chance of him being exposed and put in a position where a "pure" defensive player might be better. I certainly don't intend a total overhaul, afterall, the team is performing pretty well, but I'll be making some gradual changes in the hope of tightening things up without totally destroying my attacking ability.

One thing I'm not changing is my AMC - the advanced playmaker attack. While I can certainly see the advantages of the Treq. - mobility, linking up play etc, - and indeed I initially tried using one, I've found that the AP(a) is utterly ideal for the ST-AMC-ST triangle. The combination of playmaking abilities (duh) with the tendancy to turn and run at the defence, thereby drawing defenders out of position leaving one of my two forwards free through on goal, is at the heart of most of my best play. I find that I'm essentially playing 3 against 2 on my opponents central defence. It's a little less effective against opponents with a DMC, but it still works well as the APa will try to get beyond the DM, thereby again forcing one of the DCs to react. That's not to say the Treq will never do this, but the APa is much more focused on this kind of play - I never see him dropping back almost to the DM strata the way he does in some of your screenshots, and I suppose I'm happy to sacrifice a bit of flexibility when it leads to the kind of attacking play I'm getting.

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