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Project Invincible - Recreating the Arsenal Invincibles


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Recreating The Arsenal Invincibles Intro

Some of you might remember that I’ve wrote a few things about this in the past. Last year it was more focused on being a community project and revolved around people participating in discussions and providing feedback based on the games I uploaded for them to watch. However while the subject was very popular people seemed reluctant to get involved with the side of the discussion that required people watching matches, so I stopped the project.

This year, I’m writing about it again. However it won’t be a community project and it isn’t really a downloadable tactic either. The purpose of these articles is to show you my interpretation of the tactic and my journey to the end product which is something that resembles how the great Arsenal Invincible side played. I’m never going to get it 100% accurate but I can still create something that resembles the style they played.

Recreating this is a long-term project and isn’t something you can do from the off. It’s something we build towards over a number of years. The overall style I’m trying to implement is the end goal and will take time to achieve. It will also require squad building a specific way and developing players with certain player preferred moves. So if you are expecting to see me playing the Arsenal Invincible’s way from the start then you might be disappointed. I’ve done projects in the past that show me hitting the ground running. This one will be different though as I’m wanting to highlight the fact we are building and working towards a specific style and for that, I need time to get it to a standard that is acceptable. Hopefully this comes across in these articles.

The good thing about trying to replicate this Arsenal side is the amount of resources available on the subject. There are many great articles and books we can use for a reference. On top of that we can also check out videos of games and clips, that can be found on YouTube or via other media sources. Some of the better one that I will/have used are these;

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Invincible-Inside-Arsenals-Unbeaten-2003-2004/dp/0241970490

In 2003-04, Arsenal overcame every conceivable challenge to complete a 38-game league without a single loss. It was a feat unequalled in modern football. But for Arsene Wenger’s ‘Invincibles’, a team including legends Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira and Dennis Bergkamp, it was a challenge that went far beyond sport.

Based on exclusive players interviews, this definitive book relives the pivotal games and moments, and allows the Invincibles to tell their own story. It takes readers inside the locker room, to reveal the teamwork, the psychology and the struggle behind one of the greatest teams in history.

That is a book written by Amy Lawrence and I highly recommend buying it, if you enjoy reading football books.

Other sources of information include Zonal Markings Team of the Decade;

http://www.zonalmarking.net/2010/02/12/teams-of-the-decade-9-arsenal-2001-04/

Then we have this fantastic series by Leo Chan that gives you an insight into how this Arsenal side functioned and breaks down the numbers.

http://footballperformanceanalysis.com/2013/01/10/the-invincibles-arsenal-2003-04-analysis-1-squad-and-formation/

http://footballperformanceanalysis.com/2013/01/18/the-invincibles-arsenal-2003-04-analysis-2-were-arsenal-a-one-man-team/

http://footballperformanceanalysis.com/2013/01/26/the-invincibles-analysis-3-henry-bergkamp-partnership/

http://footballperformanceanalysis.com/2013/05/28/the-invincibles-arsenal-2003-04-analysis-4-henry-pires-and-cole/

The Hard Tackle also have a series on the subject which looks at how the system evolved;

http://www.thehardtackle.com/2011/arsenal-rewind-tactical-evolution-from-w-m-to-4-2-3-1-part-i/

http://www.thehardtackle.com/2011/arsenal-rewind-tactical-evolution-%E2%80%93-from-w-m-to-4-2-3-1-part-ii/

http://www.thehardtackle.com/2012/arsenal-rewind-tactical-evolution-%E2%80%93-from-w-m-to-4-2-3-1-part-iii/

There are literally thousands of other links I could provide too, but I’d be here all day. Those articles are all helpful for allowing you form an opinion of how they functioned as individuals, as well as a collective unit.

Unlike most of the articles I write, when this one gets posted the majority of it is already written. Normally I write as I go along. This time though I played the game for a few days and then spent the rest of the time writing the articles needed for this series. So hopefully it will feel more complete. At the time of writing this I planned on doing seven parts. However even though these will already be written, I might add more parts if I feel they’ll contribute to the main parts. Sort of like filling in blank spaces if I’ve missed something.

In the next article we take a look at just what it is, that I’m trying to recreate and discuss what the long-term goal is. This will be looking at player traits mainly so I can focus on what I’m actually looking for in players. Hopefully this allows better squad building. Although some of the players I sign will be stop gaps just to improve on what I already had at the club. Some signings though will be more long-term based. It’s going to take a lot of time and quite a few seasons to nail this style down and be successful. So don’t expect miracles from the start!

So what to expect?

I’d like to consider this project as a complete one, this means not only do I highlight my way of recreating Arsenal Invincibles but I also document the journey. This includes;

  • A look at just what exactly I am trying to replicate in FM
  • How the above translates into FM and what base tactic along with roles, duties and TI’s I use.
  • This will focus on how I squad build for such a project as well as highlighting future potential signings.
  • A review of season one in League One to see if the foundations I’ve put in place are working and show characteristics of the Invincibles.
  • A review of season two in The Championship as well as looking at the signings made.
  • After promotion to the Premiership we look at the players I’ve brought in and why. This will also be focused on the development of the players.
  • Another review but this time more tactical analysis based as by now the club should be showing a lot of what I outlined in part one.
  • At this stage I am established in the Premiership and Europe. So we look at tailoring players to play a specific way that enhances the Invincibles.

That’s the short version of what to expect. It might be different from you was expecting as a lot of you was probably thinking it would be purely tactical discussions. However for something like this, the majority of how we play comes from the players I use and their PPM’s. It’s the PPM’s what will make the difference and be the reason why it works. However these take time to learn and one of the reasons this project is so big and in-depth.

I hope you like what I have planned and enjoy the series.

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The Long-term Vision

Over the festive period I decided to start another new save game because I realised I had left my pen drive, with my Santos save on it, over 200 miles away in Sheffield. So I won’t be able to pick that up until I next go, which won’t be until the middle of January. In the meantime I started a new game with Sheffield United as I’ve not played them much this year and due to our rubbish on goings this season, it’s made me really want to play as them on Football Manager. It might come as a surprise that I’m not doing this project with Arsenal but that would be too easy right?

Once I’ve got the style nailed down and happy with how it plays, if time allows I will use Arsenal to see if it works as well.

How do we achieve this on Football Manager 2016?

Well for this we need to first understand the Arsenal players and what they offered to the team. For me Arsenal were the first real strikerless team I can remember seeing. Henry would drop deep and wide and so would Bergkamp. I’m not saying they invented it or anything like that but looking back they are the first team I can really remember doing it but then again back then I wasn’t really watching that much football outside of Brazil and England.

Arsenal played a 4-4-2 system or a lopsided 4-2-3-1 depending on how you look at it. Although it was quite fluid and players moved around a lot and morphed into different shapes as they played, Wenger’s system is often translated as “Flexible” in FM. He likes players to express themselves, but also sees it as a team game. Arsenal tended to sit deep at times before launching devastating Counter Attacks. They could keep the ball and move it around in the final third with attacking moves, but the Counter was their most potent weapon. Not such a high pressing side either, they traditionally tend to drop off and became compact when they need to.

Let’s have a brief look at the players and what type of players they were;

Jens Lehmann – Was a perfectionist goalkeeper, with excellent handling. A generation of players before the modern Sweeper Keeper – he came out when he needed to, but rarely saw any Szczesny antics from him. He commanded his area, and distributed the ball relatively well (a few exceptions aside).

Lauren – A reliable and consistent player, more of a defender than an attacking type, but offered width going forward pretty well. Could cross a ball, or play a pass instead.

Possible PPM’s;

  1. Stay wide

Kolo Toure & Sol Campbell – Toure was much quicker, tending to sweep up behind a little more, whereas Campbell was the most proactive ball winner. However both played in a reliable partnership, were strong and powerful. Giving very little away. Toure played on the right, Campbell on the left.

I need to rewatch some games here and look at Toure’s movement more closely. From what I remember he ran with the ball a lot and got forward often. However I think this might have happened after the Invincible era, so need to double-check. If however I am wrong and it was part of this era, then he’d likely have these PPM’s;

  1. Runs with ball through centre
  2. Gets Forward when possible

Ashley Cole – A really good defender, did his one-on-one duels very well, but he got forward at every opportunity, offered a lot of width on the left, combined really well with Pires in front and Henry when he drifted there. A good final ball, mix of passes and crosses. Never neglected his defensive duties though. His PPM’s would be something like;

  1. Gets forward when possible
  2. Argues with officials (if I could get a player with this already, it would be great)
  3. Plays one-two’s

Gilberto – Played on the right of the midfield pairing of him and Vieira. Gilberto was not a rough player, or “Ball Winner” in the mould of someone like Keane. He used his intelligence to anticipate the opposition players, and cleanly dispossess or intercept. His height was a notable feature at opposing goal kicks too – often he would drop back a touch to win the header off an opposing striker or target man, which meant Toure & Campbell could keep position more often too. Good, tidy distribution, unadventurous generally, but capable of supporting attacks when Vieira was deeper instead.

I’m unsure of PPM’s for Gilberto, so not totally sure what I will do here.

Vieira – He played on the left of the central midfield pairing. Again, not a Ball-Winner like he has been labelled in recent years. A true box to box type of performer. Would distribute the ball adventurous, dribble and carry the ball forward, using his strength and power. Hard working, technical player. Frequently looked for Bergkamp in front as his favourite passing option. Definitely the more attacking of the pair, would support attacks at a moment’s notice.

I remember Vieira getting stuck in and throwing himself into tackles at times so his PPM’s could be something like;

  1. Dives into tackles
  2. Runs with ball through the centre

Ljungberg – He played on the right flank, offered width, but made late, angled runs into the 6 yard box to score balls across the box from the left flank/byline. Also Bergkamp frequently played in Ljungberg beating the offside trap. Great finisher. Goalscoring was probably his most important contribution to the team. Very hard-working and tracked back diligently. Possible PPM’s here are;

  1. Cuts inside
  2. Gets into oppositions area

Pires – Right-footed player, and used to cut inside. Sometimes he would stay wide and just cut in on his right foot late in the move, others he would drift early in the move centrally, taking defenders with him, creating room for Henry or Cole. Great goalscorer, but a superb pass and through-ball as well. Very creative and technical player. Often Cole would provide the widest presence in the team in the final third, while Pires and Henry moved and linked up.

Possible PPM’s;

  1. Cuts inside
  2. Get’s further forward
  3. Attempts killer balls often

Bergkamp – Always found himself in space, frequently dropped deepest and loved making that final pass. When he dropped deep and Vieira, Ljungberg, Pires or Henry attacked the space it was electric. Incredible technique and grace. He knew how to put his foot in though, and didn’t wander around not giving a toss about the defensive side of the game. He loved that “number 10” area on the pitch, and would always wander into it. This and the Henry roles will be the ones that are the hardest to implement. They will also require the PPM’s to make the real difference here. Possible PPM’s

  1. Comes deep to get the ball
  2. Looks for pass rather than attempts to score
  3. Play one-two’s

Henry – Notably used to drift to the left flank, then attack back inside again on his stronger right foot. He linked up with Pires & Cole on the left, and Bergkamp in the middle a lot. He used to love dribbling and taking on players man for man. He had the pace, technique, flair & strength to beat whoever was in front of him. Scored from distance relatively frequently too. Not renowned for his heading ability, but still capable of attacking the 6 yard box just as well as anyone. Possible PPM’s

  1. Places shots
  2. Comes deep to get ball
  3. knocks ball past opponents
  4. Cuts inside

A few other things to note which I believe to be important are;

Ljungberg on the right wasn’t the best dribbler of the ball and wasn’t a great crosser of the ball either, he main talent was raw speed. His movement and play in general all resembled that of what we now know is an inside forward. He was a goal threat and would often finish off chances. Arsene Wenger set him up to utilise his ability while limiting his weakness. He still dribbled with the ball but not as much as he could have. In terms of FM he’d have had individual instructions something a bit like;

  • Dribble less
  • Cuts inside
  • Roam from position
  • Gets further forward
  • Shoots less often

On the left Pires was more a creative type of player on the wing who also had an eye for goal. Pires along with Henry and Cole would often overload the left flank and you’d see some brilliant link up play between the three. He also did an incredible amount of through balls for Henry and could cut sides open with his vision. So his settings in FM would be something like;

  • Gets further forward
  • Dribbles more
  • Cuts inside
  • Shoots less often
  • Sit narrower

Now, unless I have a squad already capable of playing this way, which at this point is very unlikely then the above is always the end goal and what wen are aiming towards. People always ask me how I approach tactic building when I’m in the lower leagues and hopefully these articles will show that my approach doesn’t change. It doesn’t matter if I’m in the top leagues or bottom leagues, the fundamentals and my principles are still the same. I approach the game no differently. It’s just that when you get further up the leagues you can attract better quality of players who will then refine the way I play. But that doesn’t mean I can’t lay the foundation for that now, at the start of my new saved game.

If you have any more ideas for possible settings or PPM’s that you think players should have, then please leave a comment below.

In the next article we’ll look at how all of this translates into a tactic that I can use and be successful with in the short-term.

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Short-term Vision

Even though I’m building towards something, we can still start implementing some of those ideas we have straight away. Then as I buy players and strengthen the team, the tactic should become more refined over time. Due to what I am trying to create, the players themselves that I buy and develop are the important part and the reason why I can’t implement this style straight out of the box. Players will need specific player preferred moves to get the types of behaviour I’m trying to recreate. The hardest part to get right in this whole setup will be the Henry and Bergkamp roles. Without question, those will be the ones that create the biggest headaches. But we can start implementing some of our ideas now.

In the last article we looked at what the long-term aim was tactically. In this article we will be looking at what tactic I can use in the short-term as a foundation for what I’m aiming for in the future. For those of you who was familiar with the Football Manager 2015 version of this I wrote you’d know that I already had a base we could work from. Due to already working out a base on a previous version of the game, that seems a good starting place for now. Those unfamiliar with it, here is what I’ll be using;

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The mentality that I’ll end up using long-term is likely to be something higher than counter attack. The reason behind that thinking is, last year I found that counter was far too deep at times. But for now, counter attacking is ideal and I’ll use that to see how it goes.

Arsenal played a 4-4-2 system or a lopsided 4-2-3-1 depending on how you look at it. Although it was quite fluid and players moved around a lot and morphed into different shapes as they played, Wenger’s system is often translated as “Flexible” in FM. He likes players to express themselves, but also sees it as a team game. That’s why we have set the team shape as we have.

As for the team instructions Arsenal thrived on through balls. Lots of goals came from some kind of through ball that’s why we have pass into space. From what I can remember and what I’ve seen, Arsenal whipped crosses across the box with real pace for Ljungberg, Henry & Pires to get on the end of.

The Arsenal players played a high tempo game even though they used to sit deep waiting for counter attacks. They were quite direct at times and moves the ball around with urgency, that’s why we’ve gave them high tempo. The players also roamed from positions and were allowed to be more creative in their thinking. So that explains the other team instructions we’ve used.

Before we look at the actual shape I use, I should mention that there are several shapes I could use here. I could use a 4-4-2, asymmetric 4-2-3-1 or even a 4-4-1-1. I decided to keep it as a flat 4-4-2 though because people seem to struggle getting these to work, especially as a its a shape that has no defensive midfielder to offer protection. Plus I think it’s the shape that represents Arsenal Invincibles the best, especially the defensive shape. However I do realise others will have their own take on the shape, but this is mine.

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The striker roles are likely to change when I get the right type of players that I need because neither of those roles really represent Henry and Bergkamp. Having them both on support duties might surprise a few people but we need to remember, that Arsenal were really strikerless initially as both strikers would drop deep and in Henry’s case, he would go wide.

On the left side of midfield we have the wide playmaker which is the perfect role to replicate Pires. The only player instruction he has is dribble. I’m not sure if a support duty will make him far too deep though. Having him on support will allow the left back to overlap but it might not create the desired play we need in the final third. This is something we will need to keep an eye on and see how it goes. But I suspect that at some stage the support duty will be changed to an attacking one. I’m also considering giving him more risky passes instruction to help provide more killer balls to the strikers, especially the complete forward.

The right side of midfield, the wide midfielder role is set up more like an inside forward. He has these player instructions;

  • Sit narrower
  • Cuts inside
  • Dribble less
  • Cross less often

Ljungberg wasn’t a great dribbler and Arsene Wenger knew this, it’s why he reigned it in. He was more about being a runner, using space and getting on the end of chances. That’s not to say he didn’t ever dribble because he did. He just wasn’t known for his dribbling nor did he do it frequently in comparison to other players.

The roaming playmaking role is the role used by Patrick Vieira. He was quite creative yet a destroyer at times when needed. He was equally comfortable with bringing the ball forward or getting stuck in. In Football Manager terms, I think this role is perfect for him. Alongside him we have a no-nonsense central midfielder on a defensive duty. Gilberto was called the invisible wall for a reason. He was a highly intelligent player who wasn’t what you’d expect a ball winner to be.

With the defence I’ve gone for the standard of what’d you’d expect.

As you can see based on the article I wrote before this one, I’ve already started implementing some of the ideas. I’m not going to get too hung up on if the playstyle doesn’t replicate Arsenal that closely at this stage though. The reason for that is I’m starting in League One so expect to have quite a different squad a high number of players incoming and departing over the next two years. That doesn’t mean I can’t plan ahead though, so in the next article I will focus on long-term transfer targets who can fulfill the roles I need. It’s never too early to plan ahead and identify players who could enhance the style you create. By planning now when you do have some money to invest in the side you already know your targets.

The above are the basics I’ve started with based on what I’ve used in the past. I’m likely to keep changing things until I get settled though and I will be highlighting the full process of what I change and why, as and when it happens.

Just remember the above is not the Arsenal Invincibles, it’s just the base we’ve created which will help build towards the Invincibles. It’s really important I hammer that point home. If not the comments section below will be fun

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Squad Building

Recreating specific styles of play requires specific players to be able to pull of, what you’re creating. This means that over time you need to identify possible transfer targets so when you do have the resources to improve the squad, you make the correct player choice. For me this is one of the most important factors to being successful as I only buy players, who complement the style of play I’ve created or is currently creating. I’ve not really done a post like this before but it’s one people are always asking for. Hopefully what this article outlines is my approach on identifying specific potential transfer targets not only short-term but with long-term in mind. It’s not unusual for me to be looking at players I’ll be buying in three or four seasons time.

At the very start of the game, I normally send my scouts out all over the world to increase the amount of players I know and see what they bring up. However as I was in League One and then the Championship I can’t afford to do that straight away, so I have to manually search for players for the time being (as well as relying on scouts scouting limited areas). Obviously though, I’ll be aware of some players from other saved games. I’ve also used a shortlist I made on a previous save with Swansea, to make the job easier initially to identify possible players. Squad building with the Arsenal Invincibles in mind though is even trickier as I’m looking for specific traits that a player must have, or that I think they’ll be able to learn.

For the foreseeable future the current goalkeeper I have at the club, is capable of playing up until the Premiership. Plus I will be able to attract good loan players for this position. So the planning here is very much long-term and seeing as I can’t be in the Premiership any quickly than two years, then I’m trying to identify players for that time frame or longer. So I set my filters up like this;

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I’ve set the age limit to be no older than twenty-seven years old, this is because in two to three years time they’ll be in their thirties and that means the player might be too old for what I’m creating. I want to build a squad that will be able to play together for seven or eight seasons and I’m not sure someone thirty years old fits that. Also it’s going to take me four or five seasons to find all the players I want and then I have to find the resources to be able to afford them.

Anyway, back to the keepers. You’ll see I also set some attributes to look for. The key here is to look for specific attributes you want the keeper to have but try to keep them to a minimum so you don’t miss good players who might have one attribute low. What I tend to do here is look for between three or five attributes that are must have’s. This way the player pool is bigger and you can then look at the player’s profile and add them to your shortlists and scout them or ignore them, but at least you’ll have been aware of them.

Looking through the list above the players valued the highest aren’t going to be realistic options at this point in time because I’m not going to be able to afford the transfer fee’s for quite sometime. However I still shortlist them because contracts expire and I might pick up a bargain on a free or cheap if they get transfer listed. However before adding them to a shortlist I have to search through the players and see which ones I need to shortlist. After all I set the attributes I was looking for in a goalkeeper relatively low, so the older players on the list are probably poorer than you’d hope for, when you could actually afford to bring them in. I try to take age into account here when looking at players because the younger they are, the more likely they have developing left to do.

After looking through the list of players I identified five possible players that could be up to the job I require. Those players were;

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Those are the five players I’ve identified as being a real possibility of playing for us in the future. If I was to rank them in order it would look something like;

  1. Gabriel
  2. Hahn
  3. Rajkovic
  4. Bettinelli
  5. Johnstone

However out of the five of them I think Rajkovic is the one who could develop better than the others and look quite a different player in the three or four years. He’s also younger than the others which means I might be able to get more years out of him once I’ve found the ideal squad.

Defenders

I wasn’t able to find any suitable fullbacks in the first season, so I’m not going to discuss those as there is nothing to discuss. I will update for season two though because I found quite a few.

For the central defenders I set these filters;

1-1.jpg?resize=474%2C268

This time I’m looking for younger players than the filter I set for the goalkeeper. That’s because outfield players tend to have shorter careers, so if I’m building for the future I need to look at younger players. But I follow the same principles as above and list three attributes I believe the players must have and are vital for what I’m creating.

This time though I haven’t got a top five, it more like a top fifteen. Rather than list them all, I’ll list the player I’m the most interested in.

I like his attributes and I like his versatility. He’s also a natural midfielder as well as a defensive midfielder and defender which makes him appealing. He also fits the Kolo Toure player mould, where he was a converted midfielder. So for me he is the stand out for now but I will be tracking all twenty-three players closely over the next season or so and narrowing them down a lot more and possibly adding newer candidates to the list that I identify as my game progresses further.

Midfield

The shortlists I’m currently using doesn’t really have the type of central pairings I need because I was building a different way with Swansea so wanted different types of players. I do have someone in mind for the central midfielder role though, which won’t come as a surprise if you’ve followed my Santos career.

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The downside here is he’s small and can’t jump, something which Gilberto was known for. But for now he is an option and I’m going to have to make some kind of sacrifices as I’m not going to find like for like players based on the Invincibles. As long as I create the style they used and

players have the traits needed (PPM’s) then that’s the most important factor. Plus Arsenal had back up players who were different and the actual starting eleven people attribute to the Invincibles, didn’t start that many games together…….

As for the other positions, I’m struggling to find a Patrick Vieira type of player who I can realistically bring in or identify as a possible future target. I will find one, I’m still at the start of the game though. I always thought this would be the hardest position to fill though because he was a unique player and there’s not many modern-day plays of the same mould.

Searching for the wider players is more tricky though because I run the same search several times but change the position I am looking for. I could just search all midfielders but I prefer doing it this way. One of the reasons for doing this is because retraining a player isn’t an issue, the attributes someone has, is the main thing for me to consider. So if I want a left-sided playmaker for wide playmaker slot then I’ll search ML, AML, AMR and MR positions as well as the fullback positions. Players in those roles all have similar attributes and traits. If I wasn’t working from a shortlist, I would probably just search for attributes with no positions filter and filter that way. It’s more time-consuming but getting the right player is vital so worth it in the long run for me.

These set of filters are me focusing on finding a future wide playmaker for the Pires role.

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I did this for all the positions I mentioned above. Lots of players match the criteria I was looking for, in particular two players caught my eye.

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The reason why these two interest me is I’ve seen them sold or released on almost every saved game I’ve done. Not only that but both have good attributes for what I’m looking for. I need a player who is able to dribble with the ball at their feet comfortably. Both players are young and should have some developing to do still. Plus they are young enough for me to teach several PPM’s to them. If the player was a lot older than I’d have less time to teach them PPM’s considering they take six months to learn.

On the right side of midfield for the Ljungberg role, I’m still struggling to identify someone for those roles too. I do however have Che Adams at the club who might fit the role and if developed right might be able to play at a much higher level. It is something I need to watch over the next twelve months or so.

Strikers

If you’ve been following me on Twitter then you’ll know who my strikers are already and how important they are. I didn’t need scouts or filters for these positions though, I know already who I want for these roles long-term based on other saved games I’ve had.

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What makes these so special? Romero can fill the Bergkamp role, he is creative, got good technique, he can dribble and pass the ball. More importantly he is still sixteen years old too. It might be hard to see the end product by looking at him but I can already see it.

As for Kelechi, he is going to be my Thierry Henry! He needs lots of work but his physical attributes are all what I would want from such a player to fulfill the role. There is also a very high chance I get him on loan, which if I did, would mean I can start developing him straight away for how I envision him to be. Exciting times!

There is another post further in the series about these players and if I was able to buy them or not. There will also be other new additions I haven’t mentioned thus far. I will also write a bit about how I search players who my scouts haven’t identified or players who aren’t on my shortlist. I’ll show exactly how I search for players using the filters.

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Season One



In this article I’ll take a look back over the first season and discuss the signings I’ve made and explain why, as well as identifying new possible transfer targets. On top of this I’ll also look at the tactic being used and see how far away from the end goal we are and to see if we can see any Arsenal Invincible characteristics already, even though it’s early days.

Before all of this though I’d like to touch upon something else because some of the comments I’ve been getting are starting to annoy me. People keep saying things like ‘Those players are nothing like the ones who played, those players don’t have the attributes, he’s wrong footed’ and so on. I explained this in the other posts, if you think I can play this way and find all the players needed and it be perfect from the start, then you’re being very unrealistic. It takes time and I need several seasons to find the right sort of players and even then I don’t know how perfect they will be. There are bound to be some kind of sacrifices along the way but as of yet, I don’t know what those will be but no doubt, these series of articles will highlight those. I’m looking to follow the Invincibles as closely as possible so this includes inverted players on the wings. But you have to realise that before I find the ideal players needed I might have to identify possible transfer targets who are slightly different for now. I can only buy what I can afford and I still need to be successful while aiming to reach the end goal. So before making silly comments about someone being wrong footed or lacking certain traits, remember, I already know this and have explained several times why.

Be patient and remember we are building towards something, it isn’t going to happen straight away, it’s a big project for a reason……….

I guess a good starting point for this article would be the transfers ins and out.

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None of these players are long-term and are just to either raise funds or stop-gap players so we can carry on progressing through the leagues with results. However one future transfer that doesn’t show on that list is;

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What caught my eye is his creativity. Now he doesn’t fit the Gilberto role so he won’t be developed with the more defensive minded midfield role in mind. I’m hoping he can maybe fill the Patrick Vieira role. I’ll need a lot of luck and hope he has high potential for that though as I need his physical attributes so all be over fifteen at the bare minimum. I’m not sure if he will fit the mould or will just fall short when he hit’s the age of twenty years old though. But it’s something I will keep track of very closely. For 30k transfer fee he was worth the gamble!

As the game progresses I have a feeling I’ll be picking a lot of players up like this who are young and might need developing a specific way. I will update more about Ian in season two. If he (or anyone else I buy)aren’t up to standard by a certain age, then they will be moved on at a later date. But right now, he has every chance of being the player I need.

That was it for transfers that are worth mentioning, at least with the end goal in mind. Although I did identify a possible potentially Patrick Vieira type of player who is young and has some of the attributes needed. This is him;

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I’ve seen him on other saved games I’ve had but he tends to be developed as a right-winger, although he is also a natural central midfielder. He lacks the physical attributes Vieira possessed and the tackling but again, he is still extremely young and can develop. There is a massive stumbling block though, and that is his value. He’s already valued at £2 million and I’m nowhere near being able to attract a player like him to the club. This means that his value is likely to have risen dramatically when I would have been able to afford him, so I still won’t be able to. Make sense? I hope so lol.

Other than that, I didn’t really find any other possible players just yet. It’s still early days though but I’m hoping things get better next season and I become aware of more players.

The League

There isn’t that much to talk about here as it went as expected for a club of this stature. We won it comfortably and wasn’t ever really troubled. This is the final league table;

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As you can see nothing out of the ordinary. Here are the player stats for this season;

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As a quick overview they show me that my keepers distribution is poor which I had assumed anyway because I haven’t instructed them to do different to the default at this stage. I wanted a full season with the base tactic I posted before and to see how many times the keeper started attacks when the opportunity was there. I saw this on a couple of occasions but I need to check in more details to confirm just how many. This requires watching more games back, which is time-consuming so I might wait until next season and pay more attention to this aspect actually.

Something else these stats also tell me is there was a bias down the left hand side for goals because Woolford and Harris got a lot of assists. So maybe the left side of the current base tactic does resemble Arsenal?!

Most of the goals we scored though came from the two strikers and right-wing. This is also very Arsenal like in terms of stats but we don’t know what the player is actually like yet. I’d have liked to have seen more goals from the left side of midfield though as Pires used to chip in with a good amount of goals. Apart from the stuff mentioned above it doesn’t really tell me anything useful, at least, not from a contextual point of view.

Goals and Assists

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The goals I score are all from pretty central areas of the pitch which I guess, is expected. But what about the goal types I score?

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Almost all of them are placed shots, which explains why they are all mainly central scored goals. I’ve no doubt that as I improve the squad with more suitable players, that the goal types I score will become more varied.

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The above screen is important though as it’s the assist location and the assist type screen. Arsenal scored a lot of goals from through balls and passes, something which I seem to have also done this season. The amount of goals from crosses it far too high though and something I need to reign in a little bit, somehow.

According to the stats, (without context) we are resembling Arsenal to some extent. But what about actual match play? I don’t really want to go into a full on tactical analysis because the team isn’t anywhere near what I want so I’m not sure what I’d learn. But it might be good to have a brief look at play down the wings, especially the left side to see how close or far away from what I’m creating, I really am. To keep it easier to follow by looking at the screenshots, I’ll use the proper Arsenal teams names on the pictures themselves.

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Immediately I can see it doesn’t work how I want, which we already knew. But the Cole role isn’t pushed on enough, Henry is tucked in too deep. The Pires role though he’s cut inside which is what we want but the fullback has to do more and push beyond him. Henry should be closer to this side of the pitch too.

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This is the same move still. It’s actually good movement and I have plenty of options going forward but it’s nothing like the Arsenal way, which I’m trying to recreate. During the rest of the game I saw similar things and it highlights why the left side got more goals and assists because of the positions the players are taking up. I’ll not add any more analysis because, well, it’s pointless at this stage.

As the seasons go on and the articles get posted, we will start seeing a more Arsenal orientated side with a more specific pattern of play, that we are aiming for. The articles will be less like updates too and be about specific things. But for now, rather than neglect the early seasons I wanted to cover them briefly rather than leaving them out. The full picture will flow a lot better then.

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Season Two



The first three seasons were always going to be about getting results and possible back to back promotions and then establishing ourselves as a Premiership side. The early years are all about laying the foundations for what I’m trying to achieve and while it might not look like much, over time you’ll see how important this time actually is. Not from just a player perspective either but throughout the whole club, this includes identifying players, buying players, developing players, getting the right kind of staff and so on. At times it can look like we aren’t making progress and not much seems to have changed but it has, as you’ll see once we end up with the desired style I am creating.

After promotion from League One we found ourself take to The Championship extremely well. We hit the ground running from the off and the league came down to a two-horse race between ourselves and Hull.

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One of the reasons it went so well was due to the transfer window we had. I was able to attract quite a few very good players on free transfers, loans and by spending a tiny amount of money. The quality of players brought in though was the main reason we got promoted and it looked so easy.

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As you can see there is some real quality there. Of all of those signings though Ian Davies, Kelechi Iheanacho and possibly Tyrone Mings are long time possibilities. Even though Kelechi is only a loan signing, he was one of the players I identified at the very start as a long-term prospect. By getting him on-loan, it means I can start shaping him how I want both in terms of player preferred moves and attribute development.

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As you can see on the screenshot above, he has two of the player preferred moves that I mentioned in the long-term article I posted awhile back. On top of this, he’s had an excellent season and scored a fair amount of goals. I doubt I’ll be able to afford to buy him next season, so we will be exploring the loan option again and with a bit of luck, should be able to keep him here for another year.

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Tyrone Mings above, was bought because he was far superior to my current left back options. Do I think he is a long-term option? I think he can be, for now at least. He’s probably not as attack minded as I’d have liked but there’s no reason he can’t work well with what we have in mind for the left hand side of the Invincible tactic. I guess, I see him more of a medium to long-term solution rather than an important player at the very end when we achieve what we want. He’s more ideal up until that point I’d say, which is still quite some time away.

In the last article I spoke about Ian Davies and how he might be able to fulfill the Vieira role eventually. His training is going well but he’s not developing how I’d like just yet.

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He’s coming on leaps and bounds but his physical’s aren’t improving as fast as I’d like. Or maybe I’m just being impatient, after all it’s been less than a year since I’ve had him at the club. But due to this uncertainty I have, I’ve not began to teach him any player preferred moves just yet as there is no point if he can’t fulfill the role that’s required. By not teaching him PPM’s I might be able to use him elsewhere with some retraining maybe? Or just use him as a backup option. I’ll give it another year of development though to see how it goes.

That’s it on the transfer front really. I think things are about to get interesting though as a lot of clubs are circling around my team now and players have a lot of interest being shown in them, especially my front two. Both have been tracked by Swansea for quite some time, I even rejected bids earlier in the year for them. If the price is right now though I’d be willing to sell them as I could invest the money back into the side.

The new targets I have identified though deserve their own article rather than an updated post as we have quite a few interesting candidates.

The stats

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The one surprising thing here is the amount of assists down the left. My full backs got the majority of them but Woolford who was the playmaker on the left got less than last season. Which maybe was expected seeing as he isn’t the greatest player ever. In real life he’s the biggest waste of space I’ve ever seen put on a Blades shirt. And when you consider the dross we’ve had over the years that’s some achievement! On Football Manager though, he is half decent. I think this is probably his level but I thought he’d be more involved than he is. Then it hit me, that I might actually know why?

Remember Tyrone Mings? Well he has the dribbles with the ball often PPM, which on face value of the stats looks like it could be detracting from his game. It would make sense. This is actually an oversight on my part and is a mistake. See I do make mistakes!

The player stats don’t actually tell us much else. But what about the team ones, do they match what we saw last season.

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I score most goals between 15-30 minutes. Which isn’t a coincidence considering I watch the first fifteen minutes of goals and make any changes I have to change during this time. Normally it’s just a drop deeper or push higher shout. But I’ve wrote about this extensively in the past, how watching the first fifteen minutes is probably the most vital time during the full ninety minutes. Games and won and lost during this time and I’m not talking about scoring goals. What I mean is, you can get a feel of the game and how it’s going. If the opposition has dangerous players or causing you issues then you can spot them and make the required changes. If you don’t watch these opening minutes, then how do you expect to spot issues or control such players? Chances are if you leave it later than this you’ll have done more harm than good.

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The goal types are in line with the first season.

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A definite bias towards the left which is what we want. The assist types though are still far too high on crosses. I think this isn’t helped by the left back who is dribbling with the ball too much. It’s something I really need to fix and look into though if this still happens when in the Premiership as I should start having the players needed then. I need more through balls, 19 is a decent number but ideally I’d like it to get higher.

This post is just another short one as I wanted to get the early years out of the way quickly as possible so we can start on the actual tactical stuff and player development. The next article that is posted will actually be the first of these. So expect the articles to start becoming more informative and detailed from now on

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It's all changed!



Since the last update I did, everything has changed now. We brought in a large amount of new players and are playing some really good football. Using Sheffield United has it’s plus points, especially the chairman, who is a rich sugar daddy who provides cash to the club. On promotion to the Premiership he gave me £44 million to spend and then invested another £24 million for the January transfer window. This is also helped by the TV deals and prize money on offer, just for being involved in the Premiership from 2017 onwards. I guess a good place to start is with the ins and outs.

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It’s a large turnover of players and all the players signed, none of them with the exceptions or Romero and Kelechi are idea or long-term. Now I have to be realistic about the players I sign and I am fully aware that most signings at this stage are not long-term but the fact is, I need to strengthen the squad and stay competitive. All of this, while trying to build and create a specific style and brand of football. This means that in the short-term some sacrifices might have to be made until;

  • A – I have the finances to be able to bring in the players who fulfill the specific criteria I set out in the long-term article.
  • B – I have to identify long-term targets who could possibly someday fill the roles I need and have the required attribute set.

Realistically this takes time, even if I have endless amounts of money (which I actually don’t because the chairman has just decided he won’t be pumping money into the club as often due to our success #ouch) some of the roles I need to fill, the players I need, either don’t exist yet or I’ve not found them. I have scouts searching and I’ve been doing manual searches myself. But only a handful of players meet the criteria so far. This is why I always had the intention of it being long-term and aiming for younger players, so one day in the near future, I could potentially have a squad like I outlined at the very start of this project. If I signed older players then the chances are they’d be too old or on the decline when the squad was complete. However I’m trying to build something that allows me to have this squad while most are still peaking or in their prime. I’m not sure why, but I feel I need to mention this constantly because with a small minority of people, they seem to be missing this point and it’s a major point to be missing.

So back to the transfers, here is a little about why I signed the players I did and what I expect from them.

Todd Kane – He has the wrong kind of PPM’s needed for a start but he was a massive improvement on who I already had, John Brayford. Not ideal but a cheap improvement that adds depth.

Danny Wright – A newgen that my scouts identified. He’s a striker that I signed on a whim just for possible extra numbers in the future or to sell on for a profit. Either way he doesn’t fit any of the criteria for the roles I highlighted at the start of the project and he can’t really be developed how I like.

Marco Van Ginkel – I’ve bought him in the hope I can sell him for a profit next season. Although he is a physical type of player he lacks both creativity and tackling to fulfill the Vieira role. He is easily the best player at the club currently though, it’s just he doesn’t fit what I want. None the less, he was an invaluable player.

Jordan Darlington – He’s a left footed creative regen at 16 years of age. I don’t think I’ll be using him at all due to his footedness. However I bought him with the option of selling him on at a later date. But for now he’ll bolster my youth side who lack numbers.

Florian Thauvin – I did originally buy him to play in the Pires role but after buying, I decided against doing this. I instead used him for the Ljungberg role on the right of midfield. However I’m not sure how long I will keep him if I don’t play him on the left side, because he has the runs with ball often PPM and that’s something Ljungberg never did.

Matias Suarez – An ageing free agent and due to selling both the strikers I used in The Championship, was brought in just for extra bodies and wasn’t someone I was looking to use unless I had to.

Chad Lonsdale – Another youth to bolster the youth squad, nothing less or nothing more. He was bought by my Head of Youth Development.

Charalabos Stavrianos – My scouts told me about him on the back-end of last season. And after winning the Championship with games left to spare, the board gave me the Premiership budget for the next season (this current season) so I splashed the cash. At the time of buying him he had no PPM’s yet when he arrived he had the plays with back to goal PPM. I was gutted and spent the entire season trying to get him to unlearn it, which has been unsuccessful. Which is a shame as he could have filled the Kanu type of role. He still might yet, but I’ve not thought much about the backup players yet and if I’m going to use those that resemble the Invincibles or stick with just the main eleven.

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That’s him. I had planned on him just being a rotational player with no resemblance of Bergkamp or Henry. Long-term though no real clue whether to keep him or move him on. Maybe he would be ideal for the Kanu type of role? It’s something I need to work out.

Maximiliano Romero – Now this player is very much long-term. He is the one I am moulding into the Bergkamp role. I do have an issue though but before we get onto that, I’ll post a screenshot of him.

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This will sound crazy as it’s a great issue to have but he scored too many goals. It was more Bergkamp in 1997-98 season when he scored 22 goals in 40 appearances. He also grabbed 11 assists in the league that season. Based on those numbers and those alone, he would have nailed it. Sadly the season he had with the Invincibles he only scored 5 goals in 29 games and only got 7 assists in 28 league games. So based on that we are way out. It’s a good issue to have though but I might need to tone this down. I’ll not ramble on too much though as there is a full article dedicated to Romero vs Bergkamp.

Predrag Rajkovic – This keeper was also on my long-term radar but that might have changed now I’ve signed him. The reason being is he wanted £71k a week which I can afford but he also wanted match highest earner clause which I agreed to. Hopefully I can remove that at a later stage but for now, he is an awesome keeper and provides me with all the attributes I need.

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He’s got all the required attributes. My only issue is the match highest earner clause I mentioned before. But in the short-term it was worth that because of his attributes and the fact he is the highest earner. As I progress though and bring more quality players in, I’m not sure if he’ll justify the wages those players will have. We will have to see.

Karol Linetty – I needed a defensive minded central midfielder and Karol fit that description. He has good attributes, is still 23-years-old and he was cheap. I don’t see him being at the club for more than two seasons though.

Marcel Halstenberg – Just a short-term measure and a direct replacement for Bob Harris who wasn’t Championship standard let alone Premiership standard.

Jakob Abrahamsen – He was purchased by my Head of Youth Development and looks like he could have a bit of potential. I’m unsure if he matches the Arsenal fit at this time because he is still very young and raw. If he was to fit any type of role it would be the Gilberto role I’d presume as he lacks creativity for any of the others. I’m not even 100% he could do the Gilberto role though as I believe he is too small and can’t head the ball. So long-term he is a big no.

Andreas Pereira – He seemed like an ideal fit for the Pires role. He is right footed, very creative and was cheap. It was a no brainer for me.

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He had no positional rating on the left when I for him but he’s currently been training it all season and as you can see on the position widget, he now does have a rating for it. I’ve also taught him he gets forward when possible PPM and I am in the middle of teaching him the tries killer balls often one. These will add to his game and enhance the style I want. Andreas is very much a long-term project.

Henrik Gulden – This player was bought to bulk up the squad and offer me numbers so I could rotate or cope with injuries and suspensions. I was very light down the left side. He hasn’t played much but I don’t see him being here at the club for more than two seasons.

Sebastian Dilling – Another young prospect picked up my Head of Youth Development. If he was a bit taller I’d have moulded him for the Gilberto role because he has great mental attributes for 17 years of age. He’s dubbed the new Christian Poulsen. It’s just a shame he doesn’t have much development in regards to his height, jumping and heading attributes. This is a long-term deal breaker. On the plus though, if I develop him I’m sure I can sell him for decent money in a few seasons time.

Kelechi Iheanacho – For those of you who follow me on Twitter you will have seen me raving about this guy for the past few weeks. I’ve had him on loan at the club for the best part of two and a half years. This has allowed me to begin to shape him how I want and teach him the PPM’s needed. So before buying him I had already had a head start.

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He was one of the long-term targets that I always had in mind. So the price paid for him reflected this as does his wage. It might seem a bit steep for a few of you but it’s all about the context and the demand for the player. I needed him even if he isn’t the best player in the world because midterm to long-term he is a solution for the Henry role until I can find someone different who fulfills the role better and has the correct footedness. But for now, he is definitely the player I needed and wanted the most.

That’s it on the transfer front and as you can see, some things are starting to take shape now, in terms of the players brought in who can enhance our style and offer us certain things. We are one step closer to playing the Invincible way but it’s still some time away.

I’ve had a fantastic first season in the Premiership and really overachieved.

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We held our own all until the final months then we let a 7 point lead at the top slip away as my side collapsed. Which is expected really as we are a newly promoted side who isn’t quite complete yet in terms of the players needed. I still have a fair few of the original squad left and they played a big part here. Most people would be over the moon with finishing second and scoring the amounts of goals I did. But I’m not……………

I don’t want to get into the tactical stuff just yet as that will come in the next article. But the results side of the game are almost secondary to me now. I need to perfect the style I’m creating and even though I am over achieving, I can’t really be happy or count it because it doesn’t fully reflect the style we are going for. The manner in which we win and play far outweighs the results for me. Many people would probably stop at this point and say job done and I could easily do that now. However I would be lying to you all because the overall style still isn’t finished and is still some time away from me achieving it. We have made progress though in the last three years and it’s a lot closer than it was and we are showing more and more signs that we are on the right track for the end goal.

I’m highly critical of myself when trying to replicate real life formations and I think that’s easy to do. The Invincible side is well documented on the t’internet so you have lots of stats to cross reference, videos to watch etc. You can compare every aspect of real life and how they played and match it to how it compares in-game terms. Some probably think this is overkill and it probably is but I enjoy it and that’s all that matters right?!

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The Analysis



People have been asking me how long this project will take until I’m happy with it and playing the type of football I’ve set out to achieve. The truth is I didn’t set any kind of time limit so it could vary. The idea behind this project was showing you how I build towards something and plan for the end goal. I’ve done articles in the past that show you how to create specific styles from the off but I wanted to highlight the other end, which is what this project is all about. I think a lot of people get frustrated when playing Football Manager because they demand instant success and that isn’t always a realistic option. So if you’re one of those wondering how long this will time, the truth is I simply don’t know.

Another question I always get asked with most things I write is, what do I change during the season? Now depending on what type of save I’m doing the answer will change. I play the game in three different ways at times and it all revolves around the style of play I am creating. If I’m creating something specific like the counter attacking stuff or even this Invincible project then I’ll change things differently compared to a normal save. Let me explain the three different ways a little bit more.

Team Instructions

When I’m working on a project like this Invincible one most of the style I am creating comes from the mentality I use and the players used. This means changing mentality is a big no because I’d lose the base of what I’ve created. So when I need to make changes to turn games around or to play better I’ll use team instructions to achieve this.

In this particular save because I play counter attacking the defensive line is a little too deep at times, not all the time but on the odd occasion. In these games I tend to push the defensive line up more. On this saved game this is the probably the team instruction I use the most and is the one that has the biggest impact as it pushed my lines closer together and reduces the space between the lines. It’s a small change but one that makes a big difference to how we play.

I do use other team instructions as well but it depends on the type of scenario I am facing. But team instructions are the way we play during this save. I never change the team mentality never.

Mentality

I’ve wrote about this in the past and how I’ve had saved games were the only changes I make are mentality ones during a match. It’s probably the simplest yet most effective way of turning games around. I believe this to be the simplest method of tweaking and is less complex than deciding which team instructions to use. This type of tweaking method is better used when your style of play doesn’t revolve around mentality and it doesn’t matter if players are further away from each other or closer together. So if you was focused on a pure counter attacking game for example, then you’d steer clear of this method because it would make things complicated and depending on how far you adjusted mentality, it could mean you losing your whole style you’ve created.

The Players

This is normally my preferred method of playing the game and probably the most complex way. What happens is I have my first eleven players and then the backup players will all be very different from the first eleven. This means I use substitutes to turn games around and get a different way of playing. Or the starting line up is selected differently to give me a different dimension. For example I might have a deep-lying playmaker who is very creative and is focused on being a passing outlet and dictating play from deep. However the backup player used for this position might be more a destroyer type of player who is more mobile via player preferred moves. This means that when he plays the deep-lying playmaker role his interpretation of it is different from the other player. It’s also common for me to have yet another player, normally a youth one, who plays the role differently to those two players as well.

Playing this way is all about having different kind of options and influencing games via substitutions or line up changes. In my opinion this is the most challenging way of playing the game yet the most rewarding.

Those are the three main ways I play the game but deciding which way I’m playing depends on what it is I’m trying to create, with regards to the overall club playing style. I think this is one of the reasons when people ask me ‘what did you change during the season’ and sometimes I say nothing or very little, it’s because it will have been a strategy that evolved round the players and using substitutions wisely. I just wanted to cover this point quickly because I’ve been asked that question about 40 times so far during this current series of articles. Maybe at a later date I’ll rewrite about them in much more detail.

Anyway, back to the game. To give you an idea of just how far away or how close I am to the end product that I’m trying to replicate, I think we should look at some analysis to give you a general idea.

First I want to start with a bad game.

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People normally see the league tables or my results list and think I play the perfect game in every single game I play without a bad day. I want to show that isn’t the case and at times I still get outplayed. In this game my side stuck to their plan and played the football that had been getting us results but Arsenal were always that much better due to the difference in player quality. I still had players playing who I had in League One. None the less even though the stats suggest we were being outplayed I didn’t panic because I saw my team doing exactly what I had instructed them to do. At this point I could have easily panicked and started changing this to stop us being dominated but what could I have altered? I’ve already said my side was playing how I’d expect so if that’s the case then why try changing? I’m a firm believer of you will always get results if you focus on what you are doing and not the AI and many of you, will have seen me write topics about this and mention it quite a lot.

Based on the stats above without any real match context to them, how many of you would have panicked and tweaked the tactic somehow regardless of how well your own side were doing the things you instructed them to do. I bet an awful lot of you would have changed things. But not me. Don’t get me wrong I’m not stubborn and set in my ways far from it. If I saw my side not playing how I wanted then I would have looked to use the team instructions to change this but I felt there was no need. In fairness though, out of the three seasons I’ve done so far, this is the one game where I have been dominated the most in terms of every single stat. Was it just a bad day at the office? Maybe. Was it just player quality shining through? Definitely.

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But look at the score, we FM’d, Football Manager.Like I said above this was a game that isn’t a relection of how we normally play and was one of those one-off ones in terms of stats. My point here and the reason for including this example isn’t to say ‘Oh look at me I still won’ it’s more about the context and if you believe your side is playing the way you want or not. If it is doing everything you expect then why even consider changing anything? What you do is important not what the opposition is doing.

So let’s take a look at the game itself;

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Romero who is playing the Bergkamp role has the ball and is very deep, which is a good thing. If we look at the players around him we have the Ljungberg role cutting inside and looking to run between the two Arsenal players. We then have Henry moving into a more central role but cutting in from the left. We also have Pires who is going to run into the space that Henry creates while Cole, stays wide on the outside and overlaps. Oh and the roaming playmaker playing the Vieira role is also going to push on. This original image is a bit like the Invincibles and the movement is quite similar in some aspects but not perfect.

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This is a little later in the move and while the movement is still good it’s not quite how I expected. Ljungberg has continued his run and is just about to get into the box. His movement and runs are exactly what I expect from the role and so far, from what I see, he is doing perfectly fine. So I’m pleased with what I’m seeing of his contribution.

The Henry role though, I think he may have come central a little bit too early. So I believe this role still needs a lot of work and isn’t functioning correctly just yet. However he is showing signs of the type of movement needed by starting out wide and cutting inside.

Bergkamp, I’m happy with him so far and he is dropping off the front and creating in the type of areas I expect. However overall I’m still not happy with the role and think he is too much of a goal threat. But we’ll discuss that in a lot more detail in the next article.

The wide playmaker, Pires, is cutting inside and offering the narrowness I need and expect. But I don’t think he’s pushing forward as much as I want. But I did mention this at the very start of the series and say he might need changing to an attack duty instead of a support. Then he should be more attack minded and look to push on that bit more.

The rest of the players in this move are as I’d expect but maybe the Vieira role could be more advanced too? Although he did pass the ball to Henry so this will factor into why he is still deep.

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This is another move later in the game. Henry is centrally again but this move did start on the far right so it’s expected he’d be more central due to the quick switch of sides. Pires is just about to get the ball and pass into the path of Cole who is bombing forward. This is very like the Invincible side. I still feel Pires isn’t doing enough once he lays the ball back off though.

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Once Pires passes the ball to Cole he drops off and hangs back on making his run. This is 100% down to the duty he has. If it was an attack one, I’d expect him to push on to where the green star is. This would be a lot more dangerous and more like the style we are creating and something that I am looking to change for the next season.

So we’ve seen glimpses of what I expect from the style I’m creating but it’s not at a level that is acceptable. The key to getting this style working lies with the two strikers, the wide playmaker and the left back. The rest already works like I want so the focus going forward is on these four players. In the next article we focus on Bergkamp’s role and look at that in a lot more depth and detail. Is he offering us the kind of play we expect?!

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Romero vs Bergkamp



Getting the Bergkamp role correct on Football Manager is probably one of the hardest things you can attempt, especially when you’re going for a specific era like I am with the Invincibles. During the Invincible season Bergkamp was a player coming towards the end of his career and the way he played football had been changing since the end of the 1999-00 season. After this he was a player who became even more intelligent and was less mobile. I’m not saying he declined as a footballer, far from it. He just became more intelligent footballer and started to score less goals, bar the 2001-2002 season. His role in the Arsenal side evolved year after year and he started to contribute more in my opinion but this came at the cost of goals scored. But it also played a part in the players around him scoring more goals as Bergkamp was the star the team revolved around. We will take a look at Bergkamp and his seasons by numbers at a later date.

But first, does the above present an issue for me? I’m trying to replicate the role of an older person who was coming to the end of his career and trying to do this, with a very talented player at the start of his career. I could look for an older player but then I won’t be able shape him with the long-term vision in mind. Plus by the time I fill all the roles I need to find players for, his career would just be about finished. I’m wanting to create something with a youthful side who can possibly play five or more seasons together before the side breaks up. Some of you might have seen me mention in the past few articles how I think my current striker fulfilling this role is scoring too many goals and how I need to change this. But the real question is, do I need to change things or am I just being highly critical and being unfair, comparing someone at the start of their career to someone at the end of theirs?

When Bergkamp joined Arsenal he was already 26 years old. The player I bought to fulfill this role on Football Manager is only 19 years old. Bergkamp at 19 years old scored 16 goals in 34 appearances for Ajax and was his highest scoring season he had at that time. The previous two seasons saw him score 8 goals in 52 appearances for Ajax. I guess it could be argued that none of this really matters and doesn’t need to be included but I think it does. The reason being, that when Bergkamp was younger he was a goalscorer and this continued in his early years at Arsenal. So does it really matter if my striker Romero is too much of a goal threat currently? I guess it does but only if he isn’t doing the things we expect him to do fulfilling the Bergkamp role. But if he’s doing all those things and scoring goals then it’s an added bonus surely. After all it’s the overall style of play I’m aiming for. And who knows, when Romero is 34-year-old he might have slowed down on the goal scoring front too like Bergkamp did.

Dennis Bergkamp was a true Dutch master, he wasn’t a prolific scorer but he scored goals of beauty. Like the one below.

[video=youtube_share;MPzgP6Is3H8]

He wasn’t a player blessed with pace but he was that intelligent that he didn’t need it. He could score or set up goals for others and he made both look incredibly easy. He also brought the best out in the players he was surrounded by, especially Freddie Ljungberg with whom he seemingly had a telepathic connection with. People often remember his link up play with Thierry Henry but if you watch any game back that both Bergkamp and Ljungberg played, then you’d know what I was talking about. He always knew were Ljungberg would be before it happened.

I remember reading this question from an interview with him for FourFourTwo quite some time ago and it’s something that has always stuck with me;

You were a bit of an assist machine at Arsenal: are there any that stick out? How about that pass to Freddie Ljungberg against Juventus at Highbury, when you beat two players and dinked it over the top?

That was my favourite, though it was not like me to have the ball at my feet all that time. I was waiting for Freddie to make his run. At that time he was always coming from somewhere and I could find him. I remember a lot of assists with Ashley Cole as well. I’d see him out of the corner of my eye. He’d begin to move. If he stops, it’s a silly pass, but he’d keep running, because he knew what I was going to do and I’d put it just outside the far post, inside the box, and he would just come across, with pace. You can’t defend that. There hasn’t been a right-winger born who’ll track back that far! You can compare it to a quarterback: you want to see and play the perfect pass. The pleasure of scoring goals is known, but for me the pleasure of the assist came close. It’s like solving a puzzle. I always had a picture in my head of how things would look two or three seconds later. I could calculate it. There’s a tremendous pleasure in doing something that someone else couldn’t see.

Before we jump into the analysis though we need to look at Bergkamp in numbers. This info is taken from Arsenal.com and the original article can be found here;

http://www.arsenal.com/news/features/dennis-bergkamp

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As you can see he scored a lot of goals. I’d not class him as prolific but his scoring ratio in the early years of his Arsenal career was solid. On average Bergkamp played 38.5 games a season for Arsenal (never fewer than 30) and scored 10.9 goals. He started 345 of his 423 games, and appeared in six different competitions. Bergkamp scored 69 (58 per cent) of his 120 goals at home, 50 away and one on neutral ground – but his actual strike rates for home and away games were very similar, claiming one in every 3.46 games on the road, and one every 3.39 at home.

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The vast majority (73) of Bergkamp’s 87 Premier League goals came via his right boot (84 per cent) and he scored three headers. He netted 15 times from outside the area in the league (17 per cent of the total). Bergkamp scored 13 braces and one unforgettable hat-trick – away to Leicester City in 1997/98.

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Bergkamp averaged an assist once every 3.35 games, and his most prolific season in terms of assists was 1998/99 (13).

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Although it took him eight games to find the net for Arsenal, Bergkamp gave his first assist in just his second game – a 2-0 win over Everton at Goodison Park on August 23, 1995. He played a superb through-ball for Ian Wright to run onto and score late in the match. Overall Bergkamp scored or assisted once every 122 minutes during his Premier League career on average.

I think this quote from Louis John McCaffrey sums Bergkamp up;

Dennis Bergkamp was a key figure in the evolution of both Arsenal and the English Premier League. His technical ability and style of play made him one of the most enjoyable players to watch during the 90’s and 00’s. The contribution of Bergkamp seems to have been underestimated, his overall standing in World football undervalued, yet this was a player who his fellow professionals recognised as a true genius of the game and certainly one of the greatest ever Number 10’s.

Maximiliano Romero

Romero has been at the club for two seasons now and has done great. Before we look at what he offers and to see if he is fulfilling the Bergkamp role as I hope, let’s look at his seasons so far in numbers;

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28 goals in 36 appearances is an excellent goal return.

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Season Two

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Both seasons are actually quite similar, especially when you factor in season two included more games due to the Champion’s League. The defensive contribution improved in the second year.

One thing I’d like to pick up on though is assists. One assist in every three games is a good return and compared to real life is higher than the actual stats. You might have the odd player like Ozil this season get a ton of assist but those players are the exception to the rule and not the rule. I think a lot of people get caught up with assists and think real life numbers are much higher than they actually are.

Like anything to do with stats, in isolation they can be misleading and don’t really tell us anything. However based on the two seasons Maximiliano Romero has had with the club so far and them being very similar, then we know his contribution to the team seems to be roughly the same for them both. In terms of a numbers comparison based on goals then he and Bergkamp are quite similar at the same age.

The development of Romero has been interesting and he’s showing just how good he can be based on his attribute development. However I’ve had some setbacks with his player preferred moves and he has failed to learn three of the four I tried to teach him. The only one he has picked up so far is the ‘plays short simple passes’ PPM.

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These are his attributes currently in the game and his current training schedule and individual focus.

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That’s his current coach report. His competitiveness that is mentioned in the cons list isn’t a bad trait though and is something I believe Bergkamp also had. While Bergkamp was a technically gifted player he could also be very dirty at times and didn’t follow the rules as much as people would have you believe. Sometimes this part of his game was glossed over because people only remember the sublime stuff.

Let’s take a look at what he offers us during a game.

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These stats are taken from a 3-0 home win against Norwich. In this particular game, he was passed the ball 57 times during the game. The above is a screenshot of those passes received and show the areas he was attracting the ball in. They’re in deep positions and the more advanced ones are the types of areas you’d be expecting. Initially this looks really promising and shows the players are looking to use him as some kind of passing target to aim for.

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This is just one example of him dropping off the front to help be a deep passing option. He then receives the ball from Che Adams who is playing the Ljungberg role.

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Once he drops off the front and receives the ball he then becomes the focal point of the entire side. Everything that happens next is down to him, it’s like he is the heartbeat of the side. There are always lots of options for the pass should he choose to pass the ball. Or he can drive forward with the ball if he thinks this is the correct option at the time.

The other passes received are all showing a similar story too.

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His passes completed can be seen above and show they’re more central focused and have various different passing lengths. During the invincibles era he was more central and his passing reflected this. There was also a slight bias towards the right for Ljungberg. One thing I am concerned about though is his low pass completion rate. In this game he has had 52 passes and only completed 34 of them. That’s quite a low rate and something that definitely needs to be worked on and improved.

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Romero had 5 key passes in this game.

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This is one of the key passes he does. He gets the ball deep again and begins to drive forward. Then his strike partner begins to make the run and Romero knows this before it happens and plays the ball into path he knows the player will run into. When this happens he is through on goal and totally unmarked.

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Another example and this one is very Arsenal like. He just slots the ball between the centreback and the fullback and Adams playing the Ljungberg role is straight through on goal. Sadly he misses the chance but Romero showed great vision and control to slot the ball into this kind of area.

[video=youtube_share;NYwBZ0vSP1A]

If you go to around 37 seconds of that video, does it look similar?!

The player seems to be fulfilling the passing option role well and is attracting the ball. From a passing standpoint though, his distribution does need some work. His passing isn’t dreadful and is above 75% but I think this coming season I need to work on this more and try to pinpoint what actions we can take to get it higher.

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In this particular game he had 4 shots and scored two goals with all 4 shots being on target. Now Romero has been quite the talisman for my Sheffield United side so far, but he doesn’t shoot as often as you’d imagine. He tends to have around 4-6 shots per game on average. In that regard he is quite clinical with his goal return ratio. Much better than Bergkamp but like mentioned at the very start, I could just be over thinking things and there is no reason to try to cut down on the goals scored if he is doing the things I’d expect, which he seems to be. I know this is only one game that we are looking at here and in isolation any kind of comparison or using it to form an opinion about something can be misleading. But looking at other games, it’s the same kind of things I’m seeing and the player stats are also backing this up.

So is Romero being Bergkamp? In some ways he is yes but I feel there is still a lot more work to go. I can’t change that much just yet though as it could be a player issue and the players around him aren’t quite up to Romero’s standard just yet. Hopefully that will change now because any transfers into the club now have to be an improvement and be the type of player we need. I now have a settled squad and a squad that is capable of playing at a high level. The final pieces are now bringing the correct players into the club and being able to keep hold of them.

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The First 15 Minutes



I’ve been asked a lot of questions recently about how I set up for games and prepare for the opposition that I am facing. So I thought I’d write a bit about how I set up and how I decide what to do. Those of you who have followed my articles might remember a similar topic from years ago but sadly, the screenshots for that no longer exist, so I have decided to revisit it in this article.

What is it about the first 15 minutes?

For me and the way I play the game, the first fifteen minutes of the game is probably the most important period of the entire match. In this time I will have identified the main issues I’m likely to face. In my opinion games are won and lost during this period. By that I don’t mean scoring goals, I mean in the way we’ve set up and the tone of the match. Most of the changes I do are actually done in this period of time, I still change things throughout the game if I feel its need but the actual way I’ll set up and play is done in the first fifteen minutes.

A lot of people like to plan how they’ll play before a game and if that works for them, then fair enough. However for me it’s no good doing all the prep for a game before the actual kick off as all your preparation could be all for nothing as the opposition might not play how you envisaged. Or other factors might play a part. The only way you can tell how you need to play and set up is from viewing the game itself.

For me context is everything and this is why watching the first fifteen minutes are vital. You don’t always have to do this but I do this an awful lot. I guess it comes down to how comfortable you are with what you’ve created and how much you actually understand how it really works. People might think this is time-consuming and it can be, but the way I play isn’t and it’s actually fast. You can play it on any speed you like. At first doing it on a slow speed might be better until you become more familiar with the method, then increase the speed to a faster one as you start to become more comfortable.

Before we start it’s always worth remembering you don’t need to rush and can take your time with things. You can pause the game and rewind and also use the stats if needs be. Just find a way that suits you and how you play, that’s the most important thing to remember. My ways might not suit others but it might give you a different view or give you ideas for you yourself to use in your own game.

Widgets

Widgets are probably one of the most important things available to use for relaying what’s going on during a game. How you set these up totally depends on what you are focusing on and why. You should spend some time sorting these out to suit your needs. Here is my current screen.

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It looks awful messy doesn’t it? You can minimise the boxes though and don’t always need them open so you can still view the game and see what’s going on.

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The most important widget on the screen above is the opposition formation one. Regardless of how you set up your own widgets, this one is a must have because it allows you to see any formation changes the opposition makes. This becomes more vital and allows you to quickly react to changes late in games too as the AI will likely go chasing a game or look to defend a lead at some point. So always keep an eye on this one.

The other ones I use are;

  • Team ratings for both sides
  • Team performances for both sides
  • Match stats

These are the only ones I use as they tell me all I need to know. Other people’s like to use the body language widgets too but I don’t really need that one. But is it a useful one to use because it allows you to see which players are nervous etc.

The widgets I use above allow me to keep an eye on the game’s stats. This means I have a quick overview of how the game might be going and if I’m being aggressive enough or not.

The team ratings let me see who is having a good or bad game. Depending on what type of save I am playing or tactic I use, you can then use this information to your advantage. You can target the players having a bad game and try to overload them by either role changes or by using team instructions. There are many different ways you could do this though, that is just one example.

The performance tab lets me see who is having a good or bad game via descriptions rather than the team ratings above. This allows for better judgement when used with the ratings one above. The performance tab updates every four minutes in-game, so will always be changing based on what’s happened .

So spend a few minutes setting this screen up and configure it, to show you all the information you think you need to know.

*NOTE – For the purpose of the screenshots and to get the information across, I’ll be minimising the widgets just so the screenshots are clear and easy to follow. I do advise though that if you minimise them on your own save, to always leave the opposition formation widget always open. Or you could miss a shape change that could potentially cost you the game.

The Opening 15 Minutes

Now we’ve sorted the widgets out, we can now look at how I approach the actual game. It’s worth pointing out again, that I only focus on what my side is doing and now what the opposition is doing. This simplifies things for me. It doesn’t matter if I concede possession or give shots away. What is important is my team are playing how I’ve instructed them to play, that is the only thing that matters. If I start worrying about the opposition then my side could actually be playing how I want, yet I’d be looking at changing that just because I gave possession or shots away.

As long as my side do the things I need them to do, the rest doesn’t matter. If my side play how I expect them to and how I’ve instructed them, then we will get a result. If I start adapting and changing for the opposition then I love my philosophy that I’ve created at the club. I’m a reactive manager but that doesn’t mean I compromise in my approach. It doesn’t matter if you are the worst team in the world or the best, I’ll set out to play the same way.

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Immediately I see my team is lined up and keeping shape how I’d expect. However they seem a bit deep especially the central midfield duo. There are lots of uncovered space in the centre and Manchester City don’t have anyone in this area either. I can leave things how they are or I can try to dominate them by controlling the centre. I’ll need to see if it’s still like this in the next few minutes though, there is no need to make a change based on one isolated screenshot so far. But if I was to change anything these would be the options;

  • Use player instructions
  • Use team instructions
  • Change roles

All three of these would be viable and make a difference if I decided to change things. Which you select though is down to personal preference. Myself I am leaning more towards using a team instruction (pushing the defensive line higher up)because it looks like my defenders can afford to be pushed up. I’m also using a very specific tactic (The Invincibles one) so role changes aren’t really an option for me and neither are adding player instructions. But I just wanted to highlight the other options you could use.

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The above screenshot shows the same issue again but this time it’s moment after the first example. My defence is deep and so is the midfield. Now considering I play counter attacking, the defensive line is naturally deep. So this confirms that I can be more aggressive and push up without any real negative effect for now. I’d like my right back and the central midfielders to be more where the X is on the screenshot. This will allow players to be closer together and this will make it harder for Manchester City and give them less time on the ball as well as reducing the space. With this now showing the first example wasn’t an isolated one, I now decide to make the change and push the defensive line up by using the team instructions.

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I don’t feel like the fullbacks are making the most of the space available. I feel they can and should be much more aggressive than this screenshot suggest. Now there are a number of ways I can do this and how I do this again comes down to personal preference. My choices are;

  • Use the look for overlap team instructions.
  • Use the play wider team instructions.
  • Use individual player instructions and ask them to play wider

Those are the options I have and will make the player do what I want. Each option has plus points and negatives. If I use the look for overlap shout this will instruct the wide midfield players to hold up the ball which will allow the fullbacks to overlap. However I’m happy with how my wide players are playing and I don’t really want them to hold the ball up.

If I use the team instruction to play wider, then the team as a whole, when in possession of the ball will be wider. Again I’m not sure I need everyone to be wider, especially as my two wide midfielders are set up to play narrow.

This leaves me with one realistic choice and that’s use individual player instructions. This will make the fullbacks play wider and take up the positions I need them to. Hopefully this will stretch Manchester City and even if it doesn’t, it means the full backs will always be in free space. So it’s a win-win situation.

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I’m approaching the first five minutes of the game so far and it’s not really been that eventful, as the stats suggest. They don’t really tell us much at this point as the game is still developing but it’s still worth taking a quick glance at them just for piece of mind.

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After almost ten minutes of the match gone so far, things are pretty even and nothing much to note. All the changes I mentioned above have now all been made and I’m happy with how I’m playing and what I’ve seen so far. The widgets haven’t really got much to say yet although one of my centre backs Souza, seems to be losing condition faster than my other players in these early stages of the game. So I know I’ll have to keep monitoring this and if it carries on into the second half, then he might need to be substituted. I also noticed Kevin De Bruyne of Manchester City is also dropping condition fast. So he is a player worth keeping an eye on too.

For the next five minutes I also see much of the same and don’t see any real issues and the side seems to be playing how I instructed them to be. This now means I can revert back to how I watch matches which is key highlights only. You can play and watch in whichever highlights suits you best. It all comes down to experience and how well you know your system though. If you aren’t fully aware of how it works and why then you’ll likely struggle if you don’t pay more attention to begin with. So take that into account. Things do become faster though once you get a better understanding. So while it might seem a pain in the arse in the short-term, long-term it should make things faster for you.

I wrote this as I was actually playing the game, so I might write an additional part explaining what I do for the other 75 minutes of the game at some stage.

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That's it for now as it's caught up with my blog. But things are starting to take shape now and I'll update the thread once I release the other parts on the blog.

As a side note I actually wrote about the Roaming Playmaker yesterday using this save as a base, you can find more info about that here;

http://sqwk.at/FMPlaymakers

The player used was Ian Davies who still isn't quite upto Vieira standards and I doubt he ever will be as you'll see in a future update. But what I wrote above is appropriate to this thread.

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I really didn't expect the RPM to contribute so much defensively. I might have to incorporate one into a save somewhere.

Congrats on becoming a Squawka contributor! :thup:

Thanks :)

I think the RPM is a very underrated or even misunderstood on FM for some reason. I think some avoid it due to not understanding what it does. The simplest description would be, imagine a B2B but more creative and that's basically the RPM.

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Thanks :)

I think the RPM is a very underrated or even misunderstood on FM for some reason. I think some avoid it due to not understanding what it does. The simplest description would be, imagine a B2B but more creative and that's basically the RPM.

I think the point you made of people not understanding it is exactly that. In my own thread about Implementing my idea to FM, I would have never thought of a RPM normally in a DM position, to be my deeper B2B player, but the more I read threads on here the more I noticed he was a creative B2B player, which was actually the exact idea I had for the player in question! I think that is one thing that FM might lack with their overviews of the player roles, people sometimes avoid it rather than risk it and watch how they play.

Good luck in the recreation, although I'm sure you will succeed in your attempts!

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Glad you have moved this over from your blog (I'm a long time lurker there).

Your striker(s) don't seem to have much trouble dropping deep, which you may remember I've had problems with in my 442. Obviously we have different systems going, and I still need to complete a proper analysis on my issue (and I'm happy with my Plan B solution anyway), it's just interesting to see things working for you as I'd expect.

It's clearly something under the hood that's happening, I'll get there in the end.

Anyway, as ever I really appreciate the amount of effort that goes into creating these type of threads. KUTGW.

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Thanks :)

I think the RPM is a very underrated or even misunderstood on FM for some reason. I think some avoid it due to not understanding what it does. The simplest description would be, imagine a B2B but more creative and that's basically the RPM.

This may be Herrera (i'll need to check his PPMS) but when I play a 4-3-3 with a BBM and RPM, he will be deeper than the BBM, but if the build up is a patient one, he will get beyond the BBM and into the pocket.

OT, but there is some really lovely movement from the BBM, if you have the player to utilise it

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How can u use a player with very low mental-attribute like patrick-robert ?

Because he's young and not the finished article? Can still develop quite a bit and see attributes rise............

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If you have any more ideas for possible settings or PPM’s that you think players should have, then please leave a comment below.

As an Arsenal fan, I look forward to following this thread Cleon.

Two suggestions that sprung to mind were a Passes Shorter on Gilberto; he was very much a recycler of possession through his positioning and instinct, but he would invariably then drop the ball off with a short pass. He didn't often spread the play as, say, Schneiderlin at Southampton.

I would also be tempted to remove/not use the Shoots less often on Pires. This is very much a PPM that would apply to someone like Ozil now, but a strong facet of Pires' game was the ability to drive forward/cut inside and curl an effort from outside of the box. Depending on how much Shoots less often affects the long-range shooting from the position, it could be one to consider.

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Cleon thank you for writing the article on roaming playmaker. It has helped me to understand the role more. Do you think having a roaming Playmaker in a midfield two will leave you exposed because the roaming playmaker has roam from position which will I think means he will leave the midfield and the team can become exposed on the counter. I am playing has Atsenal and I always play a 4231. One of midfielders is a CMD and from reading your thread I am thinking of using a roaming playmaker. Could you give me some advice on how this role would work in a 4231. I see from this thread that you use the role in a 442, with a flat midfield four, instead of the wingers pushed up. Does this make a difference

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The striker roles are likely to change when I get the right type of players that I need because neither of those roles really represent Henry and Bergkamp. Having them both on support duties might surprise a few people but we need to remember, that Arsenal were really strikerless initially as both strikers would drop deep and in Henry’s case, he would go wide.

i see you went for CF and DLF. what are the long term aims for the striker roles. i can see how to create the bergkamp role but the henry one seems more difficult

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hi Cleon !

awesome post,as always,u're great, very very great ...

one question : what stats u're found at henry's (iheanacho) role ? (flair,otb,1touch,vision,anticipation...) ? beacuse Ihe and no other cheaper striker ?

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Cleon I would like to hear your thoughts on the current Arsenal side and how would replicate some of the roles from the invincibles. With players like Ozil, Sanchez, Walcott and Giroud it seems hard to see how it could be done with the current team. Thinking about it maybe Ramsey could be trained up to play the Viera role (what are your thoughts) but I am unsure about the rest of the players. I find this very interesting and I will be following this thread very closely because I would love to hear your thoughts. Keep up the good work Cleon.

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Cleon I would like to hear your thoughts on the current Arsenal side and how would replicate some of the roles from the invincibles. With players like Ozil, Sanchez, Walcott and Giroud it seems hard to see how it could be done with the current team. Thinking about it maybe Ramsey could be trained up to play the Viera role (what are your thoughts) but I am unsure about the rest of the players. I find this very interesting and I will be following this thread very closely because I would love to hear your thoughts. Keep up the good work Cleon.

I'd say Arsenals current squad is completely different but you may be able to use players like Walcott for Ljunberg and Coquelin for Gilberto Silva? Although I'm not familiar with their PPM's so I'd say it would probably be hard to get them to play exactly like the Invincibles.

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As an Arsenal fan, I look forward to following this thread Cleon.

Two suggestions that sprung to mind were a Passes Shorter on Gilberto; he was very much a recycler of possession through his positioning and instinct, but he would invariably then drop the ball off with a short pass. He didn't often spread the play as, say, Schneiderlin at Southampton.

I would also be tempted to remove/not use the Shoots less often on Pires. This is very much a PPM that would apply to someone like Ozil now, but a strong facet of Pires' game was the ability to drive forward/cut inside and curl an effort from outside of the box. Depending on how much Shoots less often affects the long-range shooting from the position, it could be one to consider.

I've actually taught the player in the Gilberto role that already due to watching more games :)

As for Pires, I think shoots less often will provide the right balance, without that PI he wastes possession and shoots when there's no need. While he does have shoots less often activated he shoots less but scores more and is more involved as he's not being wasteful. I think it's the right balance and while he did the things you mentioned in game it's a bit overkill at times with his shooting.

Cleon thank you for writing the article on roaming playmaker. It has helped me to understand the role more. Do you think having a roaming Playmaker in a midfield two will leave you exposed because the roaming playmaker has roam from position which will I think means he will leave the midfield and the team can become exposed on the counter. I am playing has Atsenal and I always play a 4231. One of midfielders is a CMD and from reading your thread I am thinking of using a roaming playmaker. Could you give me some advice on how this role would work in a 4231. I see from this thread that you use the role in a 442, with a flat midfield four, instead of the wingers pushed up. Does this make a difference

The 4231 central pairings shouldn't be any kind of role that ventures forward. Their job is more holding the centre. It would make no sense at all to use one in the 4231 as you already have 4 players high up the pitch. You'd get ripped open on counter attacks time and time again.

The striker roles are likely to change when I get the right type of players that I need because neither of those roles really represent Henry and Bergkamp. Having them both on support duties might surprise a few people but we need to remember, that Arsenal were really strikerless initially as both strikers would drop deep and in Henry’s case, he would go wide.

i see you went for CF and DLF. what are the long term aims for the striker roles. i can see how to create the bergkamp role but the henry one seems more difficult

The Henry role will be a CF support I'm pretty certain of that. Bergkamp it depends really and I have nothing set in stone for this and you'll learn more about this and what I see working in one of the future articles.

hi Cleon !

awesome post,as always,u're great, very very great ...

one question : what stats u're found at henry's (iheanacho) role ? (flair,otb,1touch,vision,anticipation...) ? beacuse Ihe and no other cheaper striker ?

Physical stats are more important to begin with because they provide the pace, agility and balance.

Those are some amazing results. Have your tactics evovled as you progress through the divisions, or were you still at your starting tactic in the 3rd season?

Basically still the exact same. It's the player quality and the squad building you do that makes the difference. Bring in the right types of players and nine times out of ten you don't have to change things tactically.

Cleon I would like to hear your thoughts on the current Arsenal side and how would replicate some of the roles from the invincibles. With players like Ozil, Sanchez, Walcott and Giroud it seems hard to see how it could be done with the current team. Thinking about it maybe Ramsey could be trained up to play the Viera role (what are your thoughts) but I am unsure about the rest of the players. I find this very interesting and I will be following this thread very closely because I would love to hear your thoughts. Keep up the good work Cleon.

No idea as I'm not using them. But if I was I'd still follow the same principles laid out in this thread :)

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Basically still the exact same. It's the player quality and the squad building you do that makes the difference. Bring in the right types of players and nine times out of ten you don't have to change things tactically.

It's really cool seeing a tactics post that includes a squad building segment. I think I'm guilty of being too impulse driven in buying high quality square pegs that I force into the round holes of how I want to play. I'm maybe better suited searching for key attributes and ppms as you've suggested. Looking forward to the rest. :)

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It's really cool seeing a tactics post that includes a squad building segment. I think I'm guilty of being too impulse driven in buying high quality square pegs that I force into the round holes of how I want to play. I'm maybe better suited searching for key attributes and ppms as you've suggested. Looking forward to the rest. :)

Thanks. I thought it would be a nice chance to add some squad building stuff.

Getting 2 promotions and reach 2nd position in the Premiership within the first 3 seasons is really .... suspicious. Maybe this game becomes too easy for you :/. Looking for your tactical post !

And here we go, the first to start throwing mud. I suggest you go elsewhere because if you're going to come up with stuff like this and throw suggestions about that I cheated in someway then I'll ignore every single post you do. So you may as well go elsewhere, I don't have time for people like you. You do realise I could gladly not write right? I do this to help others and my threads are always focused on concepts, strategies and showing users how they can create what they want. It's not about my results but about people being able to implement the ideas. My articles are for others to get help and ideas so they can succeed on their own, it's not focused on what I achieved or didn't achieve.

If people are going to be suspicious and accuse me of things then I can gladly walk away from contributing. It would be easier for me, I have no need to write or try and help other peoples. Posts like yours always make me question why I try and help others when I don't have to. I mean, I give up hours and hours of my free time to write stuff that I get no benefit from. Seems stupid doesn't it?! It's not my loss if I stop writing FM stuff.

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Thanks. I thought it would be a nice chance to add some squad building stuff.

And here we go, the first to start throwing mud. I suggest you go elsewhere because if you're going to come up with stuff like this and throw suggestions about that I cheated in someway then I'll ignore every single post you do. So you may as well go elsewhere, I don't have time for people like you. You do realise I could gladly not write right? I do this to help others and my threads are always focused on concepts, strategies and showing users how they can create what they want. It's not about my results but about people being able to implement the ideas. My articles are for others to get help and ideas so they can succeed on their own, it's not focused on what I achieved or didn't achieve.

If people are going to be suspicious and accuse me of things then I can gladly walk away from contributing. It would be easier for me, I have no need to write or try and help other peoples. Posts like yours always make me question why I try and help others when I don't have to. I mean, I give up hours and hours of my free time to write stuff that I get no benefit from. Seems stupid doesn't it?! It's not my loss if I stop writing FM stuff.

You seems to be quite negative about what i write. Actually, i don't tend to throw mud or cause any kind of tensions and i think you should be proud of my words and think about it positively . If you're at the level that another player think you're cheating, well... that's what make me happy through all the times i have played games.

Anw, i just want to confirm that i don't accuse you or trying to throw off this topic as well as your hard work. I'm just skeptical about the tactical side, and i think its natural when i sees the achievements that you get in your save, which is at least for me (and i think for most of users around here) is unreachable ( maybe because i'm sucks). However, my suspicion does not mean i disregard what you can do in this game, it is merely because i did not see any logical reason for it yet.

As the last post i mentioned, i'm still waiting for your tactical article too see how you can do that :)

Sry for my bad Eng, i'm trying to improve my writing through FM :)

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If people are going to be suspicious and accuse me of things then I can gladly walk away from contributing. It would be easier for me, I have no need to write or try and help other peoples. Posts like yours always make me question why I try and help others when I don't have to. I mean, I give up hours and hours of my free time to write stuff that I get no benefit from. Seems stupid doesn't it?! It's not my loss if I stop writing FM stuff.

Oh please for the love of all that is sacred....NO!!!!! Pay no mind to stuff like this mate. There are countless people that benefit enormously from this.

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Cleon, thanks for this again. I actually was going to ask you a week ago if you would re-visit this subject but did not want to be pushy so again very happy you're covering this again.

I started writing about Man Utd at first with Yorke and Cole but it felt wrong, as I had unfinished business with the Invincibles. Hopefully people like what I've done so far :)

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I started writing about Man Utd at first with Yorke and Cole but it felt wrong, as I had unfinished business with the Invincibles. Hopefully people like what I've done so far :)

Hi Cleon, glad that you decided to "finish your business" here first! Would you still consider writing about that United side? I'm sure it would be just as good an article.

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Hi Cleon, glad that you decided to "finish your business" here first! Would you still consider writing about that United side? I'm sure it would be just as good an article.

I wrote 12 articles on it that aren't published yet. Not sure if I'll get the time to finish it but maybe in a few months it might be something I look at doing.

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Cleon reading your thread makes me want to recreate the Invincibles with the current Arsenal squad. I think I have players that could possibly fit the roles. For example maybe Ozil could play the Bergkamp role, Sanchez could hit the Henry role for now and maybe Cazorla for the Pires role. I just want to get your advice on what you think about my ideas. I do not know if the board will agree with my long term plans but we have to wait and see. We have great Academy at Arsenal so I will try and develop the next Bergkamp and Henry , Pires, Viera and Gilberto through my Academy. But in the mean time I have to work with current squad. Almost forgot what are your thoughts on Pogba for the Viera role

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