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Plan A, B ,C and Everything After


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This is taken from my blog https://teaandbusquets.com/blog/

A few months back I was reading an article titled ‘No Plan B’ and it was a great read, written by Peter Prickett who I interviewed on this blog recently. In the No Plan B article, Peter raises some good questions and gives examples of managers who are deemed to be classed as having no plan b and shows how they actually do have them. It’s just that we don’t always notice the changes as sometimes they are subtle little changes and other times, it might be a total change of shape which then is more noticeable. To give you a better idea of what I’m talking about, here is a link to his article that I’m talking about;

http://www.pger.net/football/2017/06/03/no-plan-b/

Then a couple of weeks after reading the above article, I was reading something else, an interview with Jürgen Klopp (it can be found here http://www.eurosport.co.uk/football/premier-league/2017-2018/jurgen-klopp-the-talk-of-a-plan-b-shows-a-lack-of-understanding_sto6267115/story.shtml ) and he was talking about plan b’s too. This is had to say on the matter;

“We had two major issues in January obviously: not enough confidence as we should have had in ourselves, and too many injuries plus Sadio [Mane] being away at the Africa Cup of Nations while the games didn’t seem to stop,” Klopp said.

“Then in February, we suffered from the intensity of the month before, and we were back in March. We won games again, but then people were saying, ‘it’s not the same football, they are struggling,’ and this again gave the players doubt.

“They listen to these voices, the whole club listens to these voices that go ‘oh, it’s again like this, they don’t have Plan B for deep-defending sides, they can only play one way.’

“We smashed teams at the start of last season by altering our style in different ways to play to our strengths and minimise the opposition’s like against West Brom at Anfield. We limited their set-piece situations, which we know they are really dangerous from.

“The talk of Plan B shows a lack of understanding. In the moment when you are not feeling confident, you cannot change too many things – that’s insecurity.

“It’s not about showing what you can do – like ‘hey, here is Plan D, F, Q!’ My job is not to prove that I can do 1000 different techniques or no-looking coaching or whatever, it is to do what is best for the players I have, with our skills, in the situation we are in.

Both of the things above are tied into something i’ve wanted to do for quite some time now. I’ve wanted to explain my approach to tactics on the Football Manager Series and focus on my Plan A and Plan B and explain how they can be the same thing but I just never had the time until now.

Now if you’re active on the SI forums or on the FM social media side of things you’ll often see people sharing their own plan b’s and the things they tend to do to nullify the opponent’s specific threats or to change the course of a game. The majority that I see that do this always tend to have a different shape as a plan b option and tend to change the shape based on expectations for the upcoming match, regardless of whether it’s the correct decision or not. It involves a lot of guess-work. I’m not saying these people aren’t right in playing this way I’m purely talking about my own preferences and play style here. That’s why for me, this blind faith approach doesn’t work.

I like to make any changes based on what I see happening in the game and react accordingly. Now if I made any decisions based on pre match odds, expectations or current form then how would I know if it’s the correct decision for what is happening in the game and how it’s unfolding. I possible can’t, that’s why I do changes as I watch the game unfold. On top of this I like to create a specific brand of football and while this could work with-in many different tactical shapes, I don’t see the point of making the game even more complicated than it really has to be. That’s why I always play the same shape, I don’t have a need to have different formations.

This doesn’t mean I don’t adapt on a game by game basis because often I do, others times not so much because I feel it doesn’t need it. However some of the changes I make, many of you wouldn’t class them as being a plan b because the changes are minimalistic and very subtle at times. This actually brings it back to real life football for a second, just because you don’t notice something drastic doesn’t mean that the manager isn’t adapting constantly. It might just be a case of not seeing what he actually did.

Personally speaking, what I do I wouldn’t class as a plan b even though it is. Instead I call it a match plan or game plan. It equates to the same thing though. So what is a game/match plan?!

Game Strategies

Before I start with my own plan b’s let’s have a look at some of the game plans that other people might or could use.

Before a game

A second formation is something people often use when they feel a team will play a certain way based on the pre match odds, scouts reports and the analyst’s reports. Others might just take a stab in the dark and decide they need to change shape based on how they believe the team will play irrespective of what the reports or odds are.

  • The use of team instructions is also another popular one, people might add more of them or remove some if they already use various ones. One of the reasons for adding or removing them is to either counter or nullify a possible threat.
  • The use of player instructions also ties in with the above and people might want specific players to do something slightly different from normal for the reasons highlighted above.
  • Changing player roles seems to be one that I see people talk about frequently. They’ll change the role to get the player to change the way the team usually plays. Again it comes back to trying to take advantage of a possible opposition weakness or to cover the weakness of the users tactics.
  • Match plans are not something I see people talk about but they can be used to create a specific set of rules for certain points or circumstances in a game. You can use them for certain scenarios you anticipate might happen.
  • Using different players is one I see from the odd time. Someone might use a slightly more defensive/attacking player for a particular game because of a certain type of danger or to take advantage of a weakness in the opposition’s line up. Player selection can also be used to target certain individuals in the opposing team.

Those are some of the ways people do and can utilise certain tools available, as well as showing a variety of ways to play before a game has even started. Some users even do more than one of the above before games.

During a game

Some of the changes you can make during a game follow a similar pattern to the above.

  • Changing the shape during a game I class as a drastic change. Nonetheless a lot of users still seem to do this. They change shape to either protect a lead and see out the game or because they are chasing a result. A change of shape can see them be more aggressive or passive.
  • You can use team instructions to change the style of play and to either try to win the game, protect a lead or even to take advantage of a weakness in the opposition. They can also be used to cover up your own weaknesses.
  • If you want something just as effective but less drastic than affecting all your players like team instructions though, you could attempt to use player instructions instead. These allow you to tailor players and select different instructions which are available depending on which role and duty someone has to give you something different that you might currently lack.
  • Swapping player roles is also another good one to use as it allows you to make player more or less aggressive depending which you need. If you want to hang on to that 2-0 lead but your midfield is very aggressive and leaving lots of space to be exploited, then a quick role or even duty change can make all the difference.
  • One of the other things people do is make tactical substitutions and swap out those players who might be underperforming, tired or just because you feel someone else might do a better job.

There are other ways to change games too but these seem to be the most common ways that get discussed. None of them are better than the other and they all can be viable options to utilise at some stage. Which though, tends to be based on the users play style and which fits best with that. Some of the above are what I class as really extreme though, especially changing shape during a game. I understand why people do it but it’s not something I’d ever contemplate doing but that doesn’t mean those who do, are wrong. It just doesn’t suit my own play style.

My Own Play style and Strategies

So how do I play the game? I don’t micromanage half as much as people believe I do. I’m more of a subtle changes kind of game. In reality, my plan A is my plan B, C and everything after. Obviously if I’m creating a tactic them I take a slightly more hands on approach until I believe it’s balanced enough and offers me the style of play I was aiming for. After that point it’s all about keeping it as simple as possible in order to fly through the seasons in the quickest possible time.

What this means for me is that, if I make changes it’s purely based on what my own players are or aren’t doing. I totally ignore the opposition and just focus on my own side, some might think this is strange because the AI is a big part of the game and they’d be correct. However you don’t always have to set out to play the perfect game and adapt constantly for the AI. You can make subtle changes to achieve this and you don’t always need to be drastic. Also by focusing on your own side, you can stick to the style or brand of football you are creating without constantly trying to adapt and match the opposition.

This allows me to stick to my own game plan. Giving up space to the opposition is fine, in fact, giving up space in general doesn’t have to be a bad thing as long as your side are doing everything you want them to do. This is what I focus on. If my sides do what I want and expect of them, then in 90% of situations I will get a result. Let’s break it down and give a few examples of how I adapt in-game for certain situations.

Before I game I never change anything. I stick with whatever my base formation is and choose the best starting eleven I can field. This means I don’t look at the match odds, I don’t pay much attention to the scouts or analyst reports and. There is no adding or removing of team instructions, player instructions and I don’t even change player roles.

In game changes

During a game I don’t tend to tweak much truth be told. I try my best to stick to the things my team does well, even if I go behind in a game. If I go behind in a game then the context and the manner in which I am currently playing is the most important thing. Even if I go 2-0 down, the context of why is everything. You can be playing extremely well and go behind due to bad luck, or just for the fact the opposition did a great move. It happens and at times no matter how well you are playing, you have to accept you’ll concede goals against the run of play. The key here is to not panic. I wrote about this before, the article can be found here;

https://teaandbusquets.com/stick-or-twist

If a game isn’t going well though or I am chasing a result then I do have a hierarchy of sorts that I try to follow;

  1. Substitutions.
  2. Player instructions.
  3. Role change
  4. Mentality change
  5. Team Instructions.

That’s the order I tend to follow. If I get to 3, 4 or 5 on the list then **** has really hit the fan. I’ve not used any of those in any of my saves so far on FM18 though and I’ve played about 16 seasons so far in total across different saves. I tend to stick to the first two mainly as it’s simpler for the style and the way I play the game.

Substitutions

90% of the changes I do in games are based around substitutions. For me this is my play style and allows me to influence or change games by doing substitutions. The way I squad build and develop players allows me to use this as a tool because I don’t buy/develop players who play the same position and are like for like to what I already have. What I like to do is either find or develop players who will play the role differently to what the others who I have in the squad, play the role. I recently wrote something that fall into this category which can be found here to give you an example of what I am talking about;

https://teaandbusquets.com/forged-steel-meet-david-brooks

Rather than getting hung up about someone not having role suitability or that the attributes determine a player can’t play a role, I focus on the opposite. Football Manager isn’t restricted just because someone can’t play a role based on the suitability on their profile screen. Any player can play anywhere, you’ll just find his decision-making may take a hit and it’s not up to the standard of someone more familiar in the role. However that doesn’t mean he can’t play it and cannot be successful or good at it. If someone has the attributes to play a role he doesn’t have listed in his profile, still play him there. It’s the attributes that make up the skill set of a player so he will be fine.

If we take the striker example above, David Brooks is a creative advanced forward. On this save I also have two other types of players who can play as my advanced forward too and each one of them brings a different skill set. The other two players I utilise in that role, one of them offers me a more physical presence and is more akin to a target man above all else. He’s like a battering ram. The other one is your more stereotypical advanced forward.

Now if I was chasing a result and needed to change things around and I knew the advanced forward position wasn’t doing what I wanted, I’d make a change. The player I brought on though would depend on what I felt was the right move. If David Brooks was being bullied, then obviously I’d bring on the target man type of player so he didn’t get bullied as much and could hold his own. But if I felt I just needed a simpler method and nothing too fancy and flash, in other words nothing too specific then I’d revert to the good old-fashioned type of advanced forward instead.

That’s just one example and I don’t restrict myself, it could be any player I changed really. It all depends on the context of the game and which players I felt were struggling to do what I expect. This is why I squad build to bring in and develop different kinds of players, so I can have a lot of variety in the side with players I can bring on in any position and they’ll offer me a different take on that role.

Another example might be that of my defensive midfielders. I have the usual type of player for the role but I also have a very creative player who lacks the usual defensive skills for the role. But more than makes up for it with his creativity. I tend to bring him on if I feel my defensive midfield is doing okay but getting caught in possession time and time again and slowing our play down. I might also use him if I feel that the defensive midfielder is struggling for time on the ball. I’d sacrifice the defensive side of things for someone who can distribute the ball better and might be a calmer head under pressure while having the ball at his feet.

Now I could simply do a role change but that would usually impact how my tactic functions and would have massive knock on effects elsewhere. So changes like that are usually a last resort and why I change the player instead. It’s all about finding what works and fits in for the way you play the game to simplify things for yourself.

If you was watching me play the game and I made a substitution you’d likely just thing I was changing a player and don’t realise it would be a tactical tool that I was using. And switching things up to get a different outlook. It would be very subtle but in most cases, would make a huge change to how the role was functioning before.

That’s my number one method. For my second way we look at;

Player instructions

There is nothing fancy or complicated here but rather than impact the entire team and use team instructions, I might focus an individual from time to time if I see them doing things I don’t like. An example would be if my midfielder was getting pressed heavily and didn’t really have time on the ball but he had short passing. I might decide that him going more direct might help him better and release him from the pressure he is currently under. So depending on the situation or scenario, this would impact what I change.

This isn’t something I do frequent though and in my current save is something I’ve only done four times in six seasons.None the less it’s still an option.

Role/Duty changes

Now we are treading squeaky bum territory and things are starting to go very wrong. Things aren’t that bad yet but they’re well on the way to being disastrous at this point. So if my usual methods highlighted above had not worked then I’d look at changing player roles to give me whatever I was currently lacking but this has drawbacks too. In most cases my tactics are set up to play a specific way and what might seem like a simple role change would mean somewhere else, another role was likely to be changed.

An example would be if my roaming playmaker was having a rough time and he usually is the one supplying the ball from midfield to the front players. Not necessarily being a creator as such but more that he was the link and the one bridging the gap from midfield to attack. If I changed his role to lets say, a central midfielder on a support duty then the whole dynamic of what the player offers the team changes. It’s clear that what usually works wasn’t either and a change has to be made so now he’s a CM support.

What I then have to look at is how does this impact the forward players? If they struggled to get a ball from the roaming playmaker but was seeing it the odd time, how are they now going to get the ball from the CM support? He’ll not link in the same way, which was one of the reasons I initially changed him from a RPM. But exactly how does the CM fit into the current play and now where does the supply come from, to the front players.I need to identify this and see if it’s going to be a major issue and then begin addressing it.

My options would be seeing is any of the other midfielders could possible supply them the ball and if they can, how does this impact on how we play usually and how do we make it work. Another option may be asking a striker to come deeper for the ball but then again I have to ask who is then scoring the goals? Sure, a deep striker can score goals but now the way we attack has totally changed which will impact how we score.

While you can make this work, for me, this is one of the most complicated changes I’d make. It’s probably one of the most drastic things to do that is on my list. But it’s not at the bottom of the list for one very simple reason, sometimes, just a simple duty change can be enough. You can make the player more/less aggressive with a quick duty change.

To give you a quick example, if we go back to the striker coming deep. Let’s say we started out that way and I felt the defensive unit of the oppositions were having an easy time because my striker was dropping off, so they didn’t really have any defensive duties to do. I’d maybe give the striker an attack duty if possible and instantly he would be higher up the pitch and suddenly the opposition’s defenders would now be occupied.

A duty change is a lot more subtle than a full role change and in most cases as less drastic consequences elsewhere because the role is still essentially the same, it’ll just be starting higher up the pitch or lower down depending on the duty.

Mentality

Changing mentality is relatively simple and you can change the way you are playing in an instant. However you need to remember that it changes it for everyone in the side and will impact your defensive line and tempo as well. The higher the mentality the more risks you’ll take and the lower the mentality the less risks you’ll take. But this is far down my list due to me normally creating a specific style of play and changing mentality would change everything in the side yet again and mean I’ve possible strayed away from my style. Now I know what you’re thinking, stop being a stubborn ***** and change if it’s needed and you’d be correct. However I am trying to keep things simple and change as little as possible. So this doesn’t really fit that due to how it changes every player’s behaviour.

Team instructions

Team instructions are a great tool to use but again this falls in line with the above, I’m not keen on using things that change the entire team’s behaviour unless I really have to. This for me is the last option I’d use and is my ‘out of ideas’ approach. Now I understand how the team instructions work and I understand what they actually change under the hood but for me, it’s still a farce using them. I’ve normally got team instructions selected more than likely anyway based on the style I was creating. Adding more or removing them would take me away from that style or add another layer of complexity to things which I can do without.

So this is how I approach games and think and view the game. It’s probably a lot less micromanaging during games than you was expecting though right? I guess that stems from the guides I normally do but you have to remember, those are normally targeting those who struggle with certain aspects, want to learn more about how the game works or discussing certain footballing philosophies and concepts. So they go into more details than your usual stuff.

What’s your plans for changing games around and getting results?

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Defending a lead not much. When chasing I have learnt that the overload button does nothing so I often just change personel. In my 4231 I often change the wide plays and the centre forward most of the tome like for like but make sure my players are pacey this has been working really well in Burnley save

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51 minutes ago, BrianMunich said:

Where is the download link?

 

Spend hours writing for **** comments like this and not a single mention about what the subject is about etc. Wouldn't be bad if the comment was remotely funny or original though.

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Interesting article @Cleon , the way you think about/play the game is very eye opening. I had never thought of having players with different attributes playing the same role, yet alone using this as a tactical change. Great stuff.

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I play very similar to you but probably a bit more lazy.

I build my tactic to play a certain way and then build my squad to suit it. I develop players to fill the roles and to play how I want, as in I try to have 2 players the same for each position, instead of having two who can play the position differently.

Like you I substitute low rated players, even then i will sub around 60th minute just to give game time to boys im trying to develop. 

If the new player doesnt work I will look at support for that player and change a role and duty.  

Shape I will change depending on if im happy with the number of players involved in transitions, 

Mentallity i will normally play on defensive anyways.

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I've always been a big fan of this kind of thinking. Not in terms of actual tactical changes as such, which in my past games has been limited to different forward types mostly.

What i have been doing, is kind of the approach that Bielsa or Guardiola takes. Using midfielders as centerbacks, because they're often suited better for carrying the ball forward, or passing past the first lines of pressure. Or using defensive minded midfielders as wingbacks or even fullbacks, which is probably my most used example in not just fm18, but many previous years.

I will most surely try to have a little bigger variety of player types going forward though!

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I like to have a couple of formations handy that are stylistically almost identical, but utilize the different ways to lineup. Often when things go bad, there is something being exploited that changing formation might address. Most recently, I have loved to use a 4.3.1.2 narrow, but if I am getting killed behind my midfield, it is easy to drop it into narrow diamond. I lose a bit of scoring punch generally, but that is offset by the solidity the DM provides. Otherwise, a do role changes as this to me has the largest impact on how the team plays. Last is a mentality change, but I don't like doing it for the same reasons as Cleon listed. Finally, If that doesn't work, generally I just take the loss and move on :D 

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20 hours ago, Cleon said:

If a game isn’t going well though or I am chasing a result then I do have a hierarchy of sorts that I try to follow;

  1. Substitutions.
  2. Player instructions.
  3. Role change
  4. Mentality change
  5. Team Instructions.

Terrific article, pretty damn close to my approach too. However, I notice one thing missing from the above list: shouts.

I'll holler 'concentrate!' at my defence, or 'show some passion!'/'make more effort!' to the whole team. Effective or mere placebo, do you think?

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So how many tactics have people got set up in perpetration? The stubborn one or all three?

Broadly at the moment I have my 'standard' 3-4-3, the same game plan with a subtle shape change to flood the midfield in a 4-3-3 (which I rarely use) and a more direct version of the 3-4-3 for using in game I expect to have less off the ball and more space to exploit against the top 6. This has got my as far as 5th in 2018/19 with Middlesbrough. Now I'm slowly trying to build a squad that can push on to the Champions League - I'm not normally this good!

Tactically I do like to live tweak. Reading the comments above it seems I should vary my TIs a lot less in game. Perhaps I also need to be happier to play players in a less suitable role - Inside Fwd not Advanced Playmaker for the direct tactic for example. Although I do find nothing gets a better response from my team than a rocket at half time.

Question is what should I be doing to close games out. With a 1-0 lead away at Everton I will drop the mentality as not to over commit. Instead should I just switch to a pre-planned tactic instead to see things out?

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Nice article, Cleon, and more or less how I play the game. I tend to go lower league though, where it can be more difficult to build a varied squad I suppose.

My current tactic is a very stereotypical 'Early Premier League' 4-4-2. Two centre backs, Two FB/Ds, a solid central base of a BWM/D and a CM/S, two attacking wingers and a DLF/S, AF in attack.

I don't stray away from that setup. I'm trying to stay solid in the middle, take very few risks at the back and effectively attack with four players. My CM/S might chip in if the situation suits.

I think it's important to say (and I'm sure you do this) that the general principles of building a tactic means that you should be able to build something that will, more or less, cope with anything the AI can throw at you. We've all seen the opposition change from a 4-1-2-2-1 to a '4-3-3- Narrow Attacking' after going a goal down. The key thing here is to not panic, I think. Why? Because the opposition just panicked, and you can take advantage of that.

I'll go with substitutions where I can first and foremost, but I tend not to use PIs as much as you. The opposition formation widget is something I look at, and I'll tweak a team instruction. For example, if I see the opposition FBs are more attacking, I might tick 'Pass Into Space' and 'More Direct Passing', as there is probably more space for my forwards to attack in behind. Likewise, if the opposition goes narrow, I may 'Exploit Left/Right Flank'. If they have a lot of players high up the pitch (such as a 4-2-3-1), I might not want to try passing the ball out, so I'll go more direct.

The last thing I'll do is alter a duty (not really ever a role). If I can see one of my full backs is having a hard time, I might drop one of the wingers' duties to Support to help him out a little more, though I'd typically try to do that with a sub, putting a more defensive player on. If the opposition plays a defensive 4-1-4-1 I might up the FBs' duties to Support to help the wingers out, because otherwise they're kind of wasted when I have the ball.

 

 

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I play lower league too and it’s no different. It’s still the same and you can build variety in squads. Down in the 12th tier in England it’s still possible and I don’t find it more difficult at all.

Also I never said I used PI’s often 😉

I don’t think we play similar at all btw as you pay attention to what the opposition is doing and the changes they make. That couldn’t be any further from what I do, we are at the opposite ends of the spectrum as I only ever concentrate on what my side is doing.

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2 minutes ago, Cleon said:

I play lower league too and it’s no different. It’s still the same and you can build variety in squads. Down in the 12th tier in England it’s still possible and I don’t find it more difficult at all.

Also I never said I used PI’s often 😉

One thing I find at lower league level is that players are very slow to learn a formation, so I find myself having to stick with one formation.

Another factor, possibly more due to the youth of my squad rather than their level is that most of my players have very low consistency; hence, my substitutions are usually affected by poor performances and so not giving me the opportunity to make tactical changes with substitutions.

My options, therefore, often mean that if I'm 2 up or 2 down with 20 minutes to go I'll go contain or overdrive with possibly TIs and changes in roles and duties such as my SV(s) goes BWM(d). Quite successfully too - there have been a few memorable occasions when I've clawed back 2 injury-time goals!

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18 minutes ago, Cleon said:

I don’t think we play similar at all btw as you pay attention to what the opposition is doing and the changes they make. That couldn’t be any further from what I do, we are at the opposite ends of the spectrum as I only ever concentrate on what my side is doing.

Not really at opposite ends of the spectrum at all - that would be me only paying attention to what the opposition do, which just isn't the case. I more or less follow your approach; I was merely trying to add in some of the extra things I sometimes look at to add something to the thread.

I know you never said you use PIs often. I'm not sure I suggested you did.

 

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Said it on twitter yesterday but opposition instructions is one of my go-tos. Tight marking, always close down on any DLP/AP, showing wide players onto their weak feet, and man marking an AMC with my DM in my 4141 if I'm getting overrun. I've flipped games from 9-1 shots against in the 1st half to the opposite in the 2nd applying that at half time.

I also took your "same role, different player" idea yesterday and applied it to my team. Hunkered down under constant attack from the opposition while leading 2-1, I brought on my quick ST and managed to hit him over the top for two counter attacking goals to win 4-1

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Myself I tend to rely on subs too. Almost all the time. Part of the reason being that most of the games are won with huge numbers anyway. But from time to time, even when winning, I do change player dutys. I play a crazy

 

              AF(a) – DLF(s) - - CF(a)
 

           Mazz(s) - - DLP - - Mazz (s)

WB(s)                - - - - -                    WB(s)

                       DC   -    DC

 

And changes occurs most frequently to WBs. IF I see it is needed I change them to either (d) or (a). Same with the Mazz, I put one or both on (a) if I am chasing goals and am feeling desperate.

 

I hardly ever change defensive line height, but it has happened.

 

Yes, it is a crazy formation, but my internal rules for FM, decicided when it was still CM, is that I have to play with only 2 DC, WBs in DM strata and atleast 2 strikers. And relevant to Cleans OP, I’m not dictated by how my opposition plays at all. So yeah, I do occationally loose 0-3, but my rules… 😊  

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10 minutes ago, gpassosbh said:

Hello @Cleon, nice stuff here.

What´s your approach? You watch the full game? Just the first 15-20 minutes, make the adjustments and go for the result?

It depends. If I'm creating a tactic then I pay more attention so its likely full games. If I'm happy with my tactic it's more key highlights while reading and reacting to the stats too. I might do a post on reading the stats to show people how I do that with key highlights. 

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9 minutes ago, Cleon said:

It depends. If I'm creating a tactic then I pay more attention so its likely full games. If I'm happy with my tactic it's more key highlights while reading and reacting to the stats too. I might do a post on reading the stats to show people how I do that with key highlights. 

Thanks. 
It will be very useful this stats post you are planning to do.

 

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6 hours ago, Cleon said:

It depends. If I'm creating a tactic then I pay more attention so its likely full games. If I'm happy with my tactic it's more key highlights while reading and reacting to the stats too. I might do a post on reading the stats to show people how I do that with key highlights. 

No more watching the first 15 minutes?

I like doing that and after making adjustments (or not), going to key/extended highlights

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59 minutes ago, forlegaizen said:

No more watching the first 15 minutes?

I like doing that and after making adjustments (or not), going to key/extended highlights

Sometimes. Like I say, it all depends on what I'm doing and how happy I am with what I've created.

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Great article.  I focus on what I want my team to do.  I don't use OI's and I typically use no more than 4 TI's.  I don't use many PI's either, preferring to let my players play.  I used to develop three tactics, attack, control and standard but right now i'm running a 5-2-3 control tactic that is more successful because of it's tendency towards lethal touch types of plays.  Usually if I feel my tactic is working optimally against a particular opponent that day I will add (mostly add) or subtract a TI or two.  "Drop slightly deeper" or "Retain possession" the two most likely to add.  In this version I've used the "push forward" shout to my forwards and if my team looks tentative or sluggish (ex. lossing all those 50/50 balls) I'll shout "demand more" to the whole team.  On the whole, I don't make many changes anymore.  If my tactics are winning the game, why change them? 

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10 ore fa, Cleon ha scritto:

It depends. If I'm creating a tactic then I pay more attention so its likely full games. If I'm happy with my tactic it's more key highlights while reading and reacting to the stats too. I might do a post on reading the stats to show people how I do that with key highlights. 

It would be very interesting

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Very interesting :thup: - Plenty of food for thought.

For what it's worth, my go to are usually;

  • A - Substitutions - usually like for like position wise. At the moment, I have 'straight swap' players for Central Defence, Goalkeeper, DM, B2B Midfielder, TM and both wingbacks on the bench. My Goalkeeper, Mezalla and Poacher are the 'stars' of the side, so I tend to leave them on unless they are having an absolute mare in the hope that they will prove vital late on.
  • B & C (usually at the same time) - Mentality Change & Team Instruction changes (see below)
  • D - Role changes (TM/S for DLF/S if targetman is getting beaten in the air and substitution hasn't worked for example)

As mentioned, my biggest change is usually two things at the same time. My current tactic as an example;

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If I am ahead with less than half hour to go (crude figure, depends on what I see in the (comprehensive) highlights, I will typically go to Counter and add 'Pass Into Space' - reasoning being that when the opposition is pushing forward to chase the game, they will leave gaps which my Mezalla and Poacher can exploit - several times this season I have seen the ball hacked out of defence up to my target man who has flicked on and we've gone on to score. If I notice that the opposition has moved to three up front, including players in the AM strata, I will usually remove the offside trap as well. If I'm hanging on and obviously under the cosh, then I might also break up the game with substitutions, typically withdrawing any players in the midfield and defence who have been booked as a priority.

If I'm drawing, but feel I can win, I tend to stick with the Standard mentality, but add Pass Into Space and sometimes Play Even Wider - especially if the opposition is playing with a narrow formation. 

If I'm losing and chasing the game, it really depends on what I see - if we are simply being outplayed, I will tend to go back to basics - More Direct Passing, Pass Into Space to try and catch the opposition cold. If we simply can't get hold of the ball, I also tend to change to Counter, which might seem an odd choice to reduce the mentality when already behind, but has reaped some rewards. If we are doing well and creating chances, I tend to use the 'Encourage' shout alongside Pass Into Space and will also sometimes change the Crossing to Byline in a bid to get more players into advanced positions in order to either get on the end of a cross or pick up the second ball higher up the pitch. 

I did go through a spell of starting on Counter away, but found that it was almost admitting defeat too early and invited too much pressure before my players had a chance to settle into the game. I tend not to make substitutions until around the hour mark - occasionally I might take off a booked player at half time, but it is the exception rather than the rule. 

I'm not sure if I'm doing the right thing, or if I have just got lucky so far - it does seem a rather simplistic approach, and I wonder if I could do better by focusing more on player roles rather than bigger changes - but I'm pretty pleased with a W/D/L record of 24/7/11 (3 of those defeats being in Cups against higher level opposition) since taking charge of a side 11th in Scottish Division Two towards the tail end of the previous season. 

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13 hours ago, Cleon said:

It depends. If I'm creating a tactic then I pay more attention so its likely full games. If I'm happy with my tactic it's more key highlights while reading and reacting to the stats too. I might do a post on reading the stats to show people how I do that with key highlights. 

When you say stats you mean the analysis stats or the match stats. Ive never really found the match stats to trust worthy. I think your use of using different players for different roles is interesting and something ill definetly be incorporating into my save. Your 5 step rule will be hard though as human nature just wants you to change a lot drastically. Thanks for this piece.

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@Cleon I'm trying to use this approach at the moment, just a few questions. I'm playing as Celtic at the moment. I have Sinclair and Roberts who both have PPM to cut inside. If I set them to Wingers instead of IF's, will they act like a mix of a Winger and an IF? The other wingers are more natural wingers, but no PPM to run wide with the ball, so setting IF for them they would go inside when I want them to go wide.

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11 hours ago, craiigman said:

@Cleon I'm trying to use this approach at the moment, just a few questions. I'm playing as Celtic at the moment. I have Sinclair and Roberts who both have PPM to cut inside. If I set them to Wingers instead of IF's, will they act like a mix of a Winger and an IF? The other wingers are more natural wingers, but no PPM to run wide with the ball, so setting IF for them they would go inside when I want them to go wide.

They'll be wingers but when the players feel it's the right time they'll cut inside. They'll not be like IF's though as the settings they have are still those of a winger. It's just they'll cut inside regular. 

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2 hours ago, Cleon said:

They'll be wingers but when the players feel it's the right time they'll cut inside. They'll not be like IF's though as the settings they have are still those of a winger. It's just they'll cut inside regular. 

Right okay, that makes sense. So in theory setting them to Wingers would create more variety in the position because they will cut inside from time to time? Then when I use the other guys there, they will go down the wings more?

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39 minutes ago, craiigman said:

Right okay, that makes sense. So in theory setting them to Wingers would create more variety in the position because they will cut inside from time to time? Then when I use the other guys there, they will go down the wings more?

Kind of. There is no guarantee that them cutting inside gives variety though. They might cut inside to dead ends or crowded areas. That's the thing with PPM's they add an unpredictability to a players play when you use roles that don't actually suit the ppm so to speak. Whether that's a good or bad thing will depend on how they're using the ppm and how frequent. It can be both good and bad.

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Il 10/12/2017 in 09:41 , Cleon ha scritto:

Another example might be that of my defensive midfielders. I have the usual type of player for the role but I also have a very creative player who lacks the usual defensive skills for the role. But more than makes up for it with his creativity. I tend to bring him on if I feel my defensive midfield is doing okay but getting caught in possession time and time again and slowing our play down. I might also use him if I feel that the defensive midfielder is struggling for time on the ball. I’d sacrifice the defensive side of things for someone who can distribute the ball better and might be a calmer head under pressure while having the ball at his feet.

Hi Cleon,

first of all thank you very much for this article which I found very useful.

I'd like to focalize my attention on this aspect.

When you write that (for the example of DM) you make a substitution with a more creative player do you also change the role? If not why do you think that a creative DM, ideally suited for a Regista role for example, can perfom well in a defensive midfielder role, best suited for the subsituted player?

Thanks

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2 minutes ago, Ivan787 said:

Hi Cleon,

first of all thank you very much for this article which I found very useful.

I'd like to focalize my attention on this aspect.

When you write that (for the example of DM) you make a substitution with a more creative player do you also change the role? If not why do you think that a creative DM, ideally suited for a Regista role for example, can perfom well in a defensive midfielder role, best suited for the subsituted player?

Thanks

I thought I explained this well and clear in the thread that I wouldn't change the role. It's always a substitution above all else first and foremost. 

You can have creative players who play none playmaking roles yet still 'create' without being a playmaker. Someone doesn't have to be a playmaker role to create.

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On 15/12/2017 at 08:37, Cleon said:

Kind of. There is no guarantee that them cutting inside gives variety though. They might cut inside to dead ends or crowded areas. That's the thing with PPM's they add an unpredictability to a players play when you use roles that don't actually suit the ppm so to speak. Whether that's a good or bad thing will depend on how they're using the ppm and how frequent. It can be both good and bad.

Quite happy with the way putting them on wingers works, see a real difference when using the more usual wingers.

On my system, do you think an IWB is better suited then side of then CM(A) to cover his space when he goes forward? Bit off topic, just trying to use your method on my system:

 

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1 hour ago, craiigman said:

Quite happy with the way putting them on wingers works, see a real difference when using the more usual wingers.

On my system, do you think an IWB is better suited then side of then CM(A) to cover his space when he goes forward? Bit off topic, just trying to use your method on my system:

 

Why not just try it out and make a note of how it changes the way you play. Then you can weigh up if its worth it or not?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Cleon. I was wondering what you do in a certain match situation. I play with a high line and in the second he of the season I have noticed more teams pumping it over my defence. It has cost me a couple of results. I usually drop the line a bit but that seems give away space in front of the back line which I don't want. 

My next line 9f thought is to shut down the supply. However I already use max pressing and I'm thinking more down the lines of opp instructions.

How do you deal with these situations? Do you take the risk or do you try to shut it down.

Danny.

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23 hours ago, anorthernboy said:

Hi Cleon. I was wondering what you do in a certain match situation. I play with a high line and in the second he of the season I have noticed more teams pumping it over my defence. It has cost me a couple of results. I usually drop the line a bit but that seems give away space in front of the back line which I don't want. 

My next line 9f thought is to shut down the supply. However I already use max pressing and I'm thinking more down the lines of opp instructions.

How do you deal with these situations? Do you take the risk or do you try to shut it down.

Danny.

I don't do anything that isn't outlined in the article. If I was playing a high line then I'd obviously have wanted to play high for a reason. The downside of a high line is what you mention in your post, so it comes down to risk vs reward and I'm always taking risks if the reward is worth it. In this instance, the fact I would have a high line would mean it was worth it.

The question should be why did you use a highline? And just because you close down heavily doesn't mean you are cutting out threats.

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The high line is press is to pin the opponent in their own half. I guess the answer is risk vrs reward. At the beginning of the season I was reaping the rewards. However I think teams have adjusted to play more direct against me at Anfield. 

They seem to target my left back as he's on attack. I've switched the CM/s to Carr to give better cover when transitioning back. Four 1-0 wins is promising. I'll have to keep an eye on the W/s to see if he is isolated.

I do like the cover the Carr provides though which inturn lets me a bit more risky.

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I've been playing this game for a decade yet I still learn new things from Cleon, thanks again for another great thread.

I'm currently playing a similar high pressing/high line philosophy at Bilbao, but it's the personnel that makes all the difference as to how we play. Raul Garcia has been my favourite player on FM over the past few editions because his versatility is incredible. Usually I line up with him as a AM/A in a 4-4-1-1 shape, he'll make runs into the box for crosses and link up well with whichever of Aduirz/Villalibre I decided to start up front. However, when I'm playing the likes the Barcelona/Madrid/Atletico I need more reliable possession when we manage to get the ball up the pitch, because losing it quickly will see us penned inside our own half for 90 minutes whilst trying to play a high line which will not end well, so Garcia plays up front and I move Inaki Williams from the wing to the AM/A role using his incredible pace to make darting runs into the gaps that Garcia creates by holding up the ball well using his first touch and strength. Usually these teams also play a high line against me, so Williams' pace is devastating. So far this season I've beaten Atletico home and away, Barcelona at Home and have drawn with Madrid home and away. Good results against these three teams in the Spanish league goes a long way to determining your position at the end of the season, so I have been delighted with how just a change in personnel and not an overhaul of my philosophy changes the game.

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@Tonton_Zola I saw you post this in another thread;

Quote

More widely, an area of consideration for me would be quite how demanding the game now feels tactically. I am cool with the idea that only a handful of hyper-engaged, hyper-skilled tactical gurus will squeeze every last inch of potential out of their group (this will never be me!), but the flipside - where tactical miscalculations appear (in my view) almost crippling to your team's output can feel a little dispiriting. There may be managers who prefer the strategic (i.e. long term, macro view: focused on recruitment, philosophy, macro squad building etc) to the tactical (i.e. short term, reactive, micro view: a world of TIs and PIs, focus on opposition etc), and - purely for sheer playability's sake - would be cool for these guys to get oxygen too! I don't expect to do as well as guys like Cleon, tweaking away to respond to Barnsley's half-time inverted wingback tactical shift, but can I at least do okay with my fairly neutral, inoffensive 4-4-2 if I have good players? 

I don't play that way at all and never have. I never react/take notice of the AI :brock:, In fact if you read my threads you'd see I play the way you want.

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1 hour ago, Jean0987654321 said:

Maybe hes confusing you with Rasho? :D

Possibly although people think I tweak constant when the reality is, I change very little. I think they confuse me writing guides and explaining how things works as being the way I play the game when it's not. My articles/guides are always going to be detailed because they're explaining things and detailing stuff for the user to better understand the game, not myself.

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It's all good Cleon! Sorry. I suppose I was just using you as an archetypal example of a high-skilled tactical manager. But point taken. You are not reactive, perhaps, but you are HIGHLY tactically detailed (or at least appear to be)

 

 

 

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