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The Art of Counter Attacking


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Then you're either doing one of these;

1 - Not really playing a counter attacking system, or have roles in the side that are hindering it.

2 - Only watching highlights

Not every goal you always score is from a counter attack. You still play normal football too. It all depends on how you view games though as this will sway what you see as it's heavily edited.

The thing that strikes me about a pure counter-attacking system, is that, not every single game the opposition will be naive to fall into your trap. It's one thing when you're Sheffield Utd and the opposition Newcastle, they'll obviously attack in numbers, but what happens when the opposition themselves sets up on a deep block? So in my mind it makes sense not just to expect goals to come from other situations, but to plan for it and set up your side to play a bit too. But of course you need to be careful not to ruin your primary counter-attacking threat by being too expansive.

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@noikeee

interesting!

but next is the decision about the roles in this pseudo diamond ,

I am thinking if i choose the AM(S) ,then B2B in MC and DM(S)

but if i choose SS ,then in MC position AP(S) or CM(S) ,and A in DM position.

Whats your opinion ?

But i still believe that the two attacking roles Cleon suggests ,if i had the right players i would choose both CWB(A)

I wouldn't play an advanced playmaker if you want to play counter, for the reasons Cleon has explained earlier.

This is my current setup:

GK - GK/D, distribute to full-backs

DR - FB/S, cross more, get further forward, stay wider

DRC - CB/D

DLC - CB/D

DL - FB/S, cross more, get further forward, stay wider

DMC - DM/D (I've moved him from DMRC to DMC for a better defensive shape)

ML - DW/S

MLC - CM/S

MR - W/A

AMRC - AM/S

STLC - AF/A

Counter, Fluid, More Disciplined, Whipped Crosses, Higher Tempo.

I'm not trying necessarily to play a pure counter-attacking game like Cleon, like I've just explained I want to have the alternative of playing a bit. It's just something I ended up with, though this thread has given me some ideas. From memory my record since switching to this is something like W4 D3 L1, which is unspectacular but is slowly turning my season around.

Since both my AF and my right-winger tend to run into space the path for a counter is quite explicit and tends to be a through-ball for them; rather than the sudden coordinated full team effort you see in Cleon's screenies. So I don't think we trigger the underlying match engine "counter" all that often really, it's more like a direct ball. Alternatively, when we can't get a through-ball in quickly, the opposition repositions itself so we move to our plan B which is to pass the ball around through the little triangles our formation creates, until the space opens up on the wings for one of my full-backs (or wingers).

Given both of my full-backs run upfield this means we're somewhat prone to the counter-counter, but I've found this rarely catches us out, plus their attacking ability greatly outweighs this problem in this ME (possibly a slight exploit with the overpowered crosses and the poor defensive positioning). Interestingly I think FB/S with "gets further forward" works better than FB/A as the FB/A frustratingly is far too aggressive when defending.

Speaking of avoiding counter-counters, changing your attacking set piece setups to put more players behind is a must, by default they commit far too many men forward and leave you massively exposed. I also tell an extra guy to stay upfront in defensive set pieces.

My AF/A in theory should be getting too isolated but I think I'm getting away with it because 1) he's got the "comes deep to get ball" PPM; 2) he's got some basic level of support from the AMRC and the MR; and 3) he's just my best player and scores lots of goals. Tbh I feel we're slightly over-reliant on him.

Fluid/More Disciplined helps my core concept of a solid defensive shape, I want my lines to be close together without creative freedom being too high. Watch out for flying fullbacks though as in this ME they're letal against deep blocks like ours. My one defeat came against a narrow 4-1-2-3 (3 strikers) where their fullbacks must've been CWB/As or something as they stayed way wide, went way forward and destroyed us. I solved it by tight-marking them through our ML/MRs but the game was lost by then.

Whipped Crosses is because we have quick forwards, none of them particularly tall. Higher Tempo is because when we're in possession, without it we take far too long to move the ball around to exploit the openings.

Sorry for getting a little carried away with writing. This is all a bit different from Cleon's philosophy but I hope it helps someone or at least inspires some ideas. :)

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I never complain about ME, I know nothing about it. Whether it's a bug or 'my tactic' I can't really tell the difference. I've been playing CM/FM series from 1995 based on my, not usually sensible, sense or using downloadable tactics. But now, I've decided it's time to learn, they say it's never late. I've always played high possessioned football, which I thought is the only way to win. With that Cleon's thread, it spark something in me, so I sought for more information regarding counter-football.

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The thing that strikes me about a pure counter-attacking system, is that, not every single game the opposition will be naive to fall into your trap. It's one thing when you're Sheffield Utd and the opposition Newcastle, they'll obviously attack in numbers, but what happens when the opposition themselves sets up on a deep block? So in my mind it makes sense not just to expect goals to come from other situations, but to plan for it and set up your side to play a bit too. But of course you need to be careful not to ruin your primary counter-attacking threat by being too expansive.

My side are set up for both. Even if the opposition is sat deep too, they still have to come and close you down or make attempts to get the ball. They don't just stay deep in their own half and don't move which is what you and a few others have been getting at. I'm not sure why you don't think I still can't play a normal game with how I've set up or why I'd have a difficult time against teams who are deep? If a team isn't full on and doesn't commit people forward we still play a nice passing, controlled game. The opposition has no choice but to close you down or move players forward as they look to the ball. If not then it wouldn't make sense. I think people are getting too hung up on sides who are deep and think they don't do anything else. The AI always gets drawn out, always.

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My side are set up for both. Even if the opposition is sat deep too, they still have to come and close you down or make attempts to get the ball. They don't just stay deep in their own half and don't move which is what you and a few others have been getting at. I'm not sure why you don't think I still can't play a normal game with how I've set up or why I'd have a difficult time against teams who are deep? If a team isn't full on and doesn't commit people forward we still play a nice passing, controlled game. The opposition has no choice but to close you down or move players forward as they look to the ball. If not then it wouldn't make sense. I think people are getting too hung up on sides who are deep and think they don't do anything else. The AI always gets drawn out, always.

Okay fair enough. I've had matches where I never saw the opposition get drawn out, but that might've been because of my slightly more aggressive approach compared to yours. Worst case scenario those matches tend to end up in a stalemate anyway.

I'm also wondering whether this might also be because you're playing Flexible and I'm playing Fluid. Being more compact might be making it harder to lure the opposition out, maybe?

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Another great article Cleon and one I've been hoping for.

I play counter myself mainly throughout the FM's. Though I am using a 4-4-2 (For no other reason than I've never got one to work successfully in any other FM) and I've taken on board some of the points you've outlined with improved results, so thank you for that.

Despite this, one of the primary issues I have is a lack of actual challenges to win the ball back to initiate a counter attack. So often my players will just jockey the opposition until they get a shot away. There just seems a really lack of aggression at times just outside my 18 yard box once we have dropped back into shape, seemingly hoping for interceptions that rarely come.

Asking the team to tackle harder simply leads to an insane amount of fouls and closing down more rarely remedies the situation. I can only think it's due to the lack of enough central midfielders (I tuck my wide midfielders in also)or perhaps a lack of aggression from my players, though they're aggression stats are average to good for the league I am in.

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@ Cleon. Based upon this:

0-1 in defensive and counter.

2 attacking duties in standard.

3 in control.

4 in attack.

5 in overload.

Could you also tell us how many Defend duties and Support duties that should be implemented at the same time?

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Another great article Cleon and one I've been hoping for.

I play counter myself mainly throughout the FM's. Though I am using a 4-4-2 (For no other reason than I've never got one to work successfully in any other FM) and I've taken on board some of the points you've outlined with improved results, so thank you for that.

Despite this, one of the primary issues I have is a lack of actual challenges to win the ball back to initiate a counter attack. So often my players will just jockey the opposition until they get a shot away. There just seems a really lack of aggression at times just outside my 18 yard box once we have dropped back into shape, seemingly hoping for interceptions that rarely come.

Asking the team to tackle harder simply leads to an insane amount of fouls and closing down more rarely remedies the situation. I can only think it's due to the lack of enough central midfielders (I tuck my wide midfielders in also)or perhaps a lack of aggression from my players, though they're aggression stats are average to good for the league I am in.

I reckon its a midfield issue and the lack of bodies especially in and around the DMC spot. Players might get confused who to pick up at times or might have several players to pick up at once.

@ Cleon. Based upon this:

0-1 in defensive and counter.

2 attacking duties in standard.

3 in control.

4 in attack.

5 in overload.

Could you also tell us how many Defend duties and Support duties that should be implemented at the same time?

There is no set rule for those. The above isn't really a set rule either it's just how the AI works. I posted it so people who struggle or are new to the game have some sort of guideline for keeping things simple. If people want to go outside of those guidelines then they can. Although I think you should only do that if you are confident in your understanding of how the ME works. But that's just my personal view, not a hard fast rule.

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Yes, of course, I must have done something.

Well considering you seem to have a running theme with your posts and you keep getting the same issues then yes it is. So you have two choices now. You can either;

A - Post constructively and add all the required info so someone can help you.

B - Go and moan elsewhere about your failings on the game.

Pick one because if you keep posting nonsense in here you'll be gone for a week or longer. I don't have time for time wasters, I;d rather spend my own free time helping those who want to be helped. So do you actually want help or going to act the village idiot?

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Well considering you seem to have a running theme with your posts and you keep getting the same issues then yes it is. So you have two choices now. You can either;

A - Post constructively and add all the required info so someone can help you.

B - Go and moan elsewhere about your failings on the game.

Pick one because if you keep posting nonsense in here you'll be gone for a week or longer. So do you actually want help or going to act the village idiot?

You seem nice.

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Okay, I gave you the benefit of the doubt and asked you to post the info needed in order to help you and you still avoid doing that. So please don't waste my time or others by posting in this thread again as it's clear you aren't interested in participating in it.

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Must poast this before I get the boot:

DUFM17v.png

I love the notion of counterattacking football on FM, but it remains a ghost. The ideas and intent is very well explained here by the OP, but in FM terms it's just a pipe dream.

Su3lWwj.png

I think that it's just you haha :lol:

This approach got my Swansea side to Champions League

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Su3lWwj.png

I think that it's just you haha :lol:

This approach got my Swansea side to Champions League

Nice work. Really cool to see results like that. Want to share more details of what you're doing tactically?

The approach is obviously workable. If its not working for someone, there are plenty of people here willing to help make suggestions, find tweaks, etc. All one has to do is ask with the required detail and information.

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Cleon, Thank you for taking the time to do these posts. I appreciate the detail and time you take to clearly express your opinion which I am sure that many find very helpful indeed. Keeping it simple is a great message to convey :thup: I dont know how you find the time to do them all but i hope you do find the time for the possession one too at some point.

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@WayneRomney

You have to be patient ,

is your tactic 100% fluid ?

you played tough friendlies in pre-season and you lost ,how is the morale ?

the results in the 5 games you played are not very bad ,you played Bayern,Dortmund,Leverkusen that are title contenders,

don't forget you play Mainz that has a media prediction 12/18 ,are you players good enough to fit the roles,and maybe you lost from mistakes,set pieces etc.

You can't win every match, play a full season and then make your opinion about the tactic

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I'm also interested in that formation. What roles did you choose?

Mine is:

30hu70n.jpg

My suggestions, based upon what has worked well for me in my new South African campaign:

Change CDc to BPDc, I find it really helps connect the back three to the mid, plus he will actually provide a short pass option to the CD's on long ball interceptions and then dribbles it forward and will makes a decent decision. Look for either a Regista or Libero type attributes, but play him in the more conservative BPDc option. (You'll get something like an Engance defender, just without the behind the scenes triggers)

Think CFa or DLFa would both be better than a Treq. Too roamy and triggers the playmaker stuff... If you have a burner, try a DLF, CF, or DF in S or D and combo with a Poacher...

Change one of your BBM's to BWM s or d. Maybe drop CM to the DM spot, gives you numbers in mid, but closes up your "bullseye"

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I'm also going to give this a chance .. i'm playing my last games in my first Aldershot season and i'm currently overachieving(first spot) . I'm playing a tactic i don't like . Almost all of my squad will be released so i have a chance to sign players that fit a counter tactic.

Are u still playing without any TI or PI's ? Or do u add a few according to the specific player strenghts/weak attributes ?

Thanks for this great topic !

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My suggestions, based upon what has worked well for me in my new South African campaign:

Change CDc to BPDc, I find it really helps connect the back three to the mid, plus he will actually provide a short pass option to the CD's on long ball interceptions and then dribbles it forward and will makes a decent decision. Look for either a Regista or Libero type attributes, but play him in the more conservative BPDc option. (You'll get something like an Engance defender, just without the behind the scenes triggers)

Think CFa or DLFa would both be better than a Treq. Too roamy and triggers the playmaker stuff... If you have a burner, try a DLF, CF, or DF in S or D and combo with a Poacher...

Change one of your BBM's to BWM s or d. Maybe drop CM to the DM spot, gives you numbers in mid, but closes up your "bullseye"

Thanks for suggestions, tried them last night. CDc -> BPDc I haven't spotted any difference good or bad. I agree on Treq. Changed to AMa. Tried to pair him with Poacher, worked well with lower clubs, but with similar or larger rep clubs he got too isolated.

DMd is fine, but because CM dropped to DM position I feel attack is suffering.

Also I don't like how my flanks play. Tried WBs and CWs, something does not click.

So I'm a bit stuck right now and can't find the right balance. Will experiment more...

Hope this makes sense.

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I wouldn't play an advanced playmaker if you want to play counter, for the reasons Cleon has explained earlier.

This is my current setup:

GK - GK/D, distribute to full-backs

DR - FB/S, cross more, get further forward, stay wider

DRC - CB/D

DLC - CB/D

DL - FB/S, cross more, get further forward, stay wider

DMC - DM/D (I've moved him from DMRC to DMC for a better defensive shape)

ML - DW/S

MLC - CM/S

MR - W/A

AMRC - AM/S

STLC - AF/A

Counter, Fluid, More Disciplined, Whipped Crosses, Higher Tempo.

I'm not trying necessarily to play a pure counter-attacking game like Cleon, like I've just explained I want to have the alternative of playing a bit. It's just something I ended up with, though this thread has given me some ideas. From memory my record since switching to this is something like W4 D3 L1, which is unspectacular but is slowly turning my season around.

Since both my AF and my right-winger tend to run into space the path for a counter is quite explicit and tends to be a through-ball for them; rather than the sudden coordinated full team effort you see in Cleon's screenies. So I don't think we trigger the underlying match engine "counter" all that often really, it's more like a direct ball. Alternatively, when we can't get a through-ball in quickly, the opposition repositions itself so we move to our plan B which is to pass the ball around through the little triangles our formation creates, until the space opens up on the wings for one of my full-backs (or wingers).

Given both of my full-backs run upfield this means we're somewhat prone to the counter-counter, but I've found this rarely catches us out, plus their attacking ability greatly outweighs this problem in this ME (possibly a slight exploit with the overpowered crosses and the poor defensive positioning). Interestingly I think FB/S with "gets further forward" works better than FB/A as the FB/A frustratingly is far too aggressive when defending.

Speaking of avoiding counter-counters, changing your attacking set piece setups to put more players behind is a must, by default they commit far too many men forward and leave you massively exposed. I also tell an extra guy to stay upfront in defensive set pieces.

My AF/A in theory should be getting too isolated but I think I'm getting away with it because 1) he's got the "comes deep to get ball" PPM; 2) he's got some basic level of support from the AMRC and the MR; and 3) he's just my best player and scores lots of goals. Tbh I feel we're slightly over-reliant on him.

Fluid/More Disciplined helps my core concept of a solid defensive shape, I want my lines to be close together without creative freedom being too high. Watch out for flying fullbacks though as in this ME they're letal against deep blocks like ours. My one defeat came against a narrow 4-1-2-3 (3 strikers) where their fullbacks must've been CWB/As or something as they stayed way wide, went way forward and destroyed us. I solved it by tight-marking them through our ML/MRs but the game was lost by then.

Whipped Crosses is because we have quick forwards, none of them particularly tall. Higher Tempo is because when we're in possession, without it we take far too long to move the ball around to exploit the openings.

Sorry for getting a little carried away with writing. This is all a bit different from Cleon's philosophy but I hope it helps someone or at least inspires some ideas. :)

Disregard this, it worked for a while but now I'm about to be sacked :(

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WayneRomney you are Mainz right? Did you change your Defenders? Because they are bad. Jara is slow, Bangert low strength, Balogun low anticipation and positioning, Bell low workrate, Bussman positioning and i dont see any good keeper. All those can be crucial when you look to soak pressure and counter.

Except that, your morale should be on Okay and below which needs fixing.

I struggled too, but counter WORKS exactly how people say in this topic. Start over, sell crap defenders and midfielders, buy new ones, Full backs which are like quick stoppers plus Wing back attributes, MCs that are Box2Box attribute-wise that can defend well, you should even have in mind that one of your MRLs should also be descent in defence, idealy both.

You cant counter well with those players. Your opponent will have most of possesion and at least 7 players must defend very well.

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I'm also going to give this a chance .. i'm playing my last games in my first Aldershot season and i'm currently overachieving(first spot) . I'm playing a tactic i don't like . Almost all of my squad will be released so i have a chance to sign players that fit a counter tactic.

Are u still playing without any TI or PI's ? Or do u add a few according to the specific player strenghts/weak attributes ?

Thanks for this great topic !

I played my last ten games with some kind of couter tactic (using another role as striker and two TI's more disciplined and whipped crosses) with aldershot and finished first after 7 wins, 3 draws, 8 clean sheets :) Now i'll try to improve this tactic for the next season.

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i cant get this to work and im not sure why? granted i have just copied cleons tactic form the first couple of posts but i am playing as united so i dont understand its not working?

i know its not recommended to copy the tactic as its set up for his team but being united surely it should work to some extent? i cannot win at all. i have purchased a few players whom posses more of a team ethic over some of the more selfish players.

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@ SLC

Only personal thought : from the role ability of your players you can easily see that your flat 4 are not good ,and your DR also ,its not surprise that it doesn't work

I used to play the same formation but with control mentality (slightly higher def line, Closing down much more,shorter passing, etc) ,but counter attack also works very good with me with these roles of the screenshot

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Hey Cleon,

Once again a very nice thread. I tend to read all of your posts on the blog, I just don’t usually comment. I was very inspired last year by your 442 thread which helped me a lot to understand the shape and its strengths/weaknesses. I usually stick to it when starting a save because I feel I can make it work on any team just because I know how it is supposed to work. Last year I had a lot of success with a 442 counter / flexible tactic and this year I’m trying to replicate that and it’s not working just as good as before. It’s still good but I feel some things are missing.

I was inspired by The Invincibles and created a 442 that somehow resembled how they played

GK(D)

WB(S)-CD(D)-CD(D)-CWB(A)-

WM(A)-CM(D)-RPM(S)-WPM(A)

F9(S)-CF(A)

The WM(A) has Cut inside, dribble more, roam from positions, get further forward – basically trying to get him to act like an inside forward

F9 has Roam from positions and probably Move into Channels ( I’m at work right now, not sure if that’s already checked for him or I checked it). Anyway I always train this player Move into Channels PPM because I feel it is very needed.

CF(A) has no PIs but I like to train him to Move into channels, cut inside, dribble more – basically doing what Henry did a lot for Arsenal.

TIs : Push Higher Up – I felt that the gap between the defence and midfield was just too big at times and this helped a lot in FM15

Roam from Positions – I really like this PI and I feel this shape benefits a lot from players roaming from positions. They don’t roam too much though

Be more Expressive – I feel I had the players for it and usually look for vision and passing on some of the players ( Like the Wide Playmaker, RPM, F9 , even the WM(A) ) and with this I could benefit from it.

Pass Into Space – I felt that 442 is a shape that benefits from this PI a lot because of where players are positioned. Also I have some pacey players and they could get to the ball faster than the opponents.

After reading your thread I noticed that most of the defensive problems I have might come from the attacking mentalities in my team ; and also sometimes I feel that attacks break down too quickly because of long range passes. There are times when the CWB(A) is too far up but he also so much up there, a lot of the goals come from his crosses but I will try changing his role just to see how it behaves. Also thinking about changing the Wide Playmaker to a support duty or even to a Wide Midfielder and tweaking him a little bit. I know that as a playmaker he tends to receive the ball a lot but this is my best player and most of the attacks come from him. Do you think that maybe having 2 playmaker roles in a counter attacking system might be a bit wrong? Since they will both be targets for passing? I could also change the RPM to a B2B midfielder.

Edit:formatting

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Thanks for suggestions, tried them last night. CDc -> BPDc I haven't spotted any difference good or bad. I agree on Treq. Changed to AMa. Tried to pair him with Poacher, worked well with lower clubs, but with similar or larger rep clubs he got too isolated.

DMd is fine, but because CM dropped to DM position I feel attack is suffering.

Also I don't like how my flanks play. Tried WBs and CWs, something does not click.

So I'm a bit stuck right now and can't find the right balance. Will experiment more...

Hope this makes sense.

One thing I have found helps TONS, is that your WB's simply HAVE to be the best players on your team, and they need to be in the top quarter of the competition you are in. And watch those ppm's...

For the DM, support helps some, you have three back already, and they will rarely venture forth in front of the halfway line, so you will only be attacking with 7. You might get away with going with a CMa instead of the BWM, just put him on the "opposite" side of your DLF of your other striker.

BTW, I use a strikerless formation for this, Shadow Striker paired with an AMs, they are cheaper than strikers, get more involved in defensive play, and make it so I can afford those WB's...

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@ SLC

Only personal thought : from the role ability of your players you can easily see that your flat 4 are not good ,and your DR also ,its not surprise that it doesn't work

I used to play the same formation but with control mentality (slightly higher def line, Closing down much more,shorter passing, etc) ,but counter attack also works very good with me with these roles of the screenshot

thanks for the feedback. in regards to the star ratings im on the understanding they are not that relevant. the back four along with the majority of the mids especially the 2 central mids and anchor man are all had working players signed using the guidelines set by cleon. im at a complete loss with this. if he can get it to work with Sheffield united why can i not get it to work with united?

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thanks for the feedback. in regards to the star ratings im on the understanding they are not that relevant. the back four along with the majority of the mids especially the 2 central mids and anchor man are all had working players signed using the guidelines set by cleon. im at a complete loss with this. if he can get it to work with Sheffield united why can i not get it to work with united?

What is the actual problem you are finding?

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well you're not really conceding apart from one game, where you need to go back and figure out why that happened.

You aren't scoring very much, which I think is pretty predictable, I don't think its a tactic designed to score very many. It might be you need to add in an attack duty somewhere, possibly the striker, or turn the BBM into an attack mid. But I would adjust it a little depending on who you are playing and whats happening in game, Cleon said he changes the striker role depending on the opposition.

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By the looks of things, there seem to be a few people posting problems because they are trying to embellish things a bit too much. TIs, attack duties, players positioned high up the pitch - straying too far from the original premis and not keeping things simple. Take it back a notch and revisit the original plan :).

@ The SLC - never try to copy what Cleon does (or most other people for that matter) - even if you use the same team. Everyone plays the game differently, which typically does not involve simply smashing a tactic together and playing some matches.

Rather than trying to shoe horn your team into something that may not suit them, develop something that does. Personally I started a save with Espanyol during the Beta that uses a deep 4231 formation, which I am aiming to change (slowly, damn work commitments) into 3 at the back with a Libero. Don't try to rigidly follow something, experiment and be creative :).

Oh and to be perfectly frank, you are Man Utd. SAF would be turning in his prawn sandwiches at the very thought of his successor playing a low tempo, inviting pressure type of football :brock:.

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well you're not really conceding apart from one game, where you need to go back and figure out why that happened.

You aren't scoring very much, which I think is pretty predictable, I don't think its a tactic designed to score very many. It might be you need to add in an attack duty somewhere, possibly the striker, or turn the BBM into an attack mid. But I would adjust it a little depending on who you are playing and whats happening in game, Cleon said he changes the striker role depending on the opposition.

i think youre right. i have been altering the striker. im not sure i fully understand the tactic to be honest. i like what im seeing on screen then we go and concede which is frustrating. i will take a 1-0 win anyday of the week though. since i posted that i have now won 4 in a row conceding only 1. maybe i needed to be more patient with it. lets see if it continues

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i think youre right. i have been altering the striker. im not sure i fully understand the tactic to be honest. i like what im seeing on screen then we go and concede which is frustrating. i will take a 1-0 win anyday of the week though. since i posted that i have now won 4 in a row conceding only 1. maybe i needed to be more patient with it. lets see if it continues

Yeah it might also be your side adjusting to tactics. Hows the familiarity? You bought a bunch of new players too. You can't expect to keep clean sheets every time, thats not realistic.

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By the looks of things, there seem to be a few people posting problems because they are trying to embellish things a bit too much. TIs, attack duties, players positioned high up the pitch - straying too far from the original premis and not keeping things simple. Take it back a notch and revisit the original plan :).

@ The SLC - never try to copy what Cleon does (or most other people for that matter) - even if you use the same team. Everyone plays the game differently, which typically does not involve simply smashing a tactic together and playing some matches.

Rather than trying to shoe horn your team into something that may not suit them, develop something that does. Personally I started a save with Espanyol during the Beta that uses a deep 4231 formation, which I am aiming to change (slowly, damn work commitments) into 3 at the back with a Libero. Don't try to rigidly follow something, experiment and be creative :).

Oh and to be perfectly frank, you are Man Utd. SAF would be turning in his prawn sandwiches at the very thought of his successor playing a low tempo, inviting pressure type of football :brock:.

i know its not an ideal way to play. i thought it would be a good starting point plus i like the buying and selling aspect of the game so i would buy players that do fit in to the system. poor alex, hopefully he wont read this thread and i will be able to sleep peacefully.

i have put together a simple 442 as well which is doing ok so i may stick with that. trouble is i love clean sheets which im finding impossible to get

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Some of your players are terrible for the premiership nevermind Man Utd. Why on earth have you signed João Aurélio, he's an average player for the Portuguese league?

Of course you're going to struggle that way.

im aware hes not a man united player but stats wise hes not that bad surely so whats the harm in giving him a try. he cost £275k so not a bad loss to make. granted hes not good but unless you give them a try you never know right??

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Some of your players are terrible for the premiership nevermind Man Utd. Why on earth have you signed João Aurélio, he's an average player for the Portuguese league?

Of course you're going to struggle that way.

just out of curiosity who would be in your united team same tactic position by position

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im aware hes not a man united player but stats wise hes not that bad surely so whats the harm in giving him a try. he cost £275k so not a bad loss to make. granted hes not good but unless you give them a try you never know right??

Although,play players like him away to Chelsea and you're likely to get a 4-0 drubbing.

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Should you be using such a negative tactic with Liverpool? I'm never sure whether to go with a counter style unless I'm clear underdogs and away from home. Is it likely to be effective against lesser teams, such as Norwich, Palace, etc, or would you play more attacking against such teams, home and away?

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I am a little late in managing to read through this thread in full (some of the irrelevant to topic replies are hard going!), but wanted to say a thanks to Cleon - It is a very well explained and enlightening post IMO. It really made me go back to basics and think about how "what i want to achieve" and "how i am building a side" mesh together. I fully admit that i have been struggling woefully with FM16 thus far and this topic help clear the fog a bit in my head, as well as having some great insights.

In FM15 i used a system which scored its share of counter attack goals, but was possibly not a complete counter system. However what i found was pleasing on the eye (and on the score sheet) was using a large number of attacking roles within what looks like quite a defensive system (451 on standard mentality). It supported the ask of counter attack moves (without claiming it to be a complete counter system) quite well last year. This year however, the improvements mean that (probably rightfully), it did not play out on screen the way i expected it to.

Reading the thread, i observe a lot of people who study the OP, decide to copy it to their team / save and then complain that it doesnt work, or they cant get it work. Makes me shake my head.......However, i read it, considered the save i am embarking on at the moment and asked myself 2 key questions:

Q1) Is this the type of football which i would want to play? E.G. does it fit with my philosophy on the game and my managerial style?

Answer - Yes, to an extent. Despite the fact that i rigidly used the same system on a lot of saves in 15, i am, at heart, a pragmatist. If i had started a save as Real, i would probably not use this approach. But the save i am focused on at the moment is with a bottom half side in a tough league. Pragmatically, it is likely to be an approach which delivers results (if it is implemented and understood correctly, and subject to Q2 below)

Q2) Does my squad have the right type of players for this style?

Answer - Yes, broadly. I am a bottom half side, so i will never have guys who would make the "counter attacking world 11", but i have a mix of skills which suggests my players are better suited to this than to other styles, and one or two players who could thrive in it. I ticked back to say i have players who are good at crossing in the wide areas, i have a couple who can dribble and are fast, i have good mental traits and a few other things.

So having asked myself those 2 things, then and only then do i decide "yes, i can actually use some of this". Even then though, copying the OP would be almost entirely pointless and most likely lead to failure. For me it is about taking the principles and the things i have learned from reading the OP (and the subsequent answers in the thread from Cleon and one or two others - Herne and RTH mainly) and using them to build my own counter attacking tactic. There is every chance that the core formation will look similar, as will a couple of other things but that is fine. Just as i am not going to copy, nor am i deliberately going to use something different just to avoid "looking the same" - there is a reason this works well for Cleon afterall.

So having started to build a system, i have a couple of key questions or points i would be interested to discuss, in the context of counter attacking

a) How do people handle keeper distribution in a counter attacking system? It has the potential to play a nice part in it - Often times the method of "winning the ball" deep in your own half is it ending up in your keepers hands. If he can then help launch a counter then that is a bonus. My thought here is around quick throws. Long kicks wont work for me, as (if my understanding is right) the outcome is unlikely to be the triggering of a counter attack. Rolling it out to a Defender might work if that defender is able to then quickly move the ball to a point where you get into a counter situation, but that is not always easy. My goal would be to, at times, have the keeper throw the ball over the first line of attackers to help trigger a counter?

Goal kicks i am less fussed with, since it is pretty much impossible in the ME to trigger a counter from a goal kick (IRL you might be able to with the ball beign given quickly back to the keeper who immediately takes the kick - i dont think the ME can replicate that very minor nuance)

b) Long shots - My own experience is that my basic counter tactic did encourage this a bit. Depending on the type of player i have, this is not always a bad thing. In this particular save though, none of the players who were taking the long shots had the ability to make any success of it, therefore it was a simple addition of 3 x PI of "shoot less" and problem solved, no more complex than that. I could have looked at why they were shooting, but when i looked at the type of scenarios it looked very much like something where a nudge in the players decision making would make a difference, rather than a scenario where the player had absolutely zero other options (in the later case, the PI would not make a difference or be the solution).

c) Type of striker - Reading Cleon's enganche(s) thread made me think back to something i was a big advocate of in FM15 - Using a player type to change how a role behaves. In my squad i have one stiker who is fast, can dribble, good technique and finishing / composure are just fine. The second striker is more a target man type. He is big, strong, good touch. Can still finish and has composure, but fundamentally a different type. With the right thought and analysis of the opposition and how a game is going, i can change our style just by changing the player. No tweaks to the role or duty or PI. I did this last year alternating between Raul Garcia and Iker Munian as lone strikers - That is an example of 2 very different players who will take prescribed role and play it out very differently.

d) PPMs - I am a big believer that these really shape your system. Be interested to hear what types of PPMs people think compliment (and contradict) a system like this?

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One problem I tend to have with counters is that pretty often I'm 'countering' against 5 or 6 opposition players.. so not really countering at all. Its just a little too easy for them to reform and get back into shape.

I think that partly this is down to my shape and style of play, which being Pulis is a bit direct, so the ball is going straight to the strikers and the rest of the team following up *slowly* behind them. I very rarely see much urgency in my counter attacks if I'm honest.

I was wondering if playing a more direct style of counter attack would affect how you set up your team shape. Does it make more sense to have more players up the pitch for direct balls to be pinged to?

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@ Jambo :thup:.

a) Personally I use my keeper with PIs to slow the pace down, roll it out and distribute to central defenders. For me, getting the keeper to throw it out quickly in the hope of launching a counter was being outweighed by the usual resultant loss of possession, and so almost immediately putting us back under pressure. That may change if/when I get a better keeper who can throw further than my Granny, so something to bear in mind.

b) Typically most of my shots are from inside the area, although the less said about the accuracy of those shots the better :rolleyes:. I think the slow build up play with a counter mentality + the formation I use (post #45 page 1, although tweaked a little since then) helps to work the ball into the box kind of by default. However, my striker does sometimes find himself a little isolated and is not adverse to the odd long shot which I don't mind at all.

c) Something I want to experiment with myself, but funds are limited at present. I only have two main strikers which I rotate - they are broadly similar so I don't have much variety for now.

d) For PPMs, I have only noticed one that seems to work really well for me. I play with 2 x DM support - whilst both have the PI to get forward more, only one has the PPM to get forward as often as possible. The DM with that PPM heavily outscores all my other DMs, and in fact made it into the Spanish team of the year - not too shabby for an Espanyol player. I wouldn't want both DMs on the pitch to have that PPM though, one with and one without seem to compliment each other nicely, with one tending to stay deeper as the other advances.

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One problem I tend to have with counters is that pretty often I'm 'countering' against 5 or 6 opposition players.. so not really countering at all. Its just a little too easy for them to reform and get back into shape.

I think that partly this is down to my shape and style of play, which being Pulis is a bit direct, so the ball is going straight to the strikers and the rest of the team following up *slowly* behind them. I very rarely see much urgency in my counter attacks if I'm honest.

I was wondering if playing a more direct style of counter attack would affect how you set up your team shape. Does it make more sense to have more players up the pitch for direct balls to be pinged to?

If you are sending the ball straight to the strikers and then thinking about having more players up the pitch to ping direct balls to, you aren't playing on the counter. You are simply playing a direct long ball type of game for either a striker to latch on to, a striker to hold up the ball to wait for support and / or passing it direct to some advanced players to annoy the opposition defence.

That can be very effective, but it's a different way of playing.

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