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The Art of Goalkeeping


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

When playing Football Manager we never really hear about how people utilise goalkeepers on the game. You might see the odd person mention they’ve had their keeper score a couple of goals over the years but for most parts, all we hear about keepers is people saying they ask theirs to distribute it to the defenders. I’d say that is about it for how people detail to use goalkeepers, no-one ever really talks about the other ways you can use the goalkeeper. I’m guessing most people see a goalkeeper and think ‘there’s nothing much I can do with them’. But they can be a great tool. Some of the ways you can utilise them would be;

  • Free kick takers
  • Pin point accurate balls into the channels
  • Starting attacks
  • Putting the opposition on the back foot
  • Playing out of defence

Goal Scoring Keepers

Over the years we’ve seen a lot of goal scoring GoalKeepers in the world of football. Probably the most famous of them all is Rogério Ceni who has scored an incredible total of 131 goals during his 25 year playing career. That is a remarkable feat when you think about it. 69 of the goals were penalties, 61 were free kicks and 1 was from open play.There are also other goalkeepers with good scoring records too but none as impressive as Rogério Ceni, who has scored 64 goals more than his nearest competitor.

In second place we have El Buldog, José Luis Chilavert who scored 67 goals during his 22 year playing career. More people are likely to think of José Luis Chilavert more so than Rogério Ceni due to how flamboyant he was. He is also known for his temper and short fuse, most notably his brawl with Faustino Asprilla in 1997. To say he was a character would be selling him short.

Chilavert scored many important goals over his career and even scored a hattrick back in November 1999 for Vélez Sarsfield against local rivals Ferro Carril Oeste in the Clásico del Oeste.

It wasn’t only domestically that Chilavert scored goals though, he scored a total of 8 International goals, four of them coming in Paraguay’s 2002 World Cup Qualifying campaign.

There have been many more keepers who had an eye for goal too, the top 10 can be seen here;

keepers.png?resize=474%2C274&ssl=1

Without a doubt, people using them as free kick takers or penalty takers seems to be top of the list in Football Manager. That’s the one I’ve seen discussed the most and even then it’s still a small minority of people who have mentioned it in passing. Having them as free kick takers or even penalty takers requires nothing more than specifying them in those respective categories on the set pieces page.

Here are a few examples of them scoring free kicks;

 

 

But the goalkeeper can be so much more and can be utilised in many different ways too, let’s take a look at some of the other methods.

Playing Out From The Back

Seeing goalkeepers play out from the back is rather common these days and allows players to create space, as well as keeping possession of the ball. Not only that but it also allows width because players can stay winder than usual when they know the goalkeeper is going to pass it about patiently and build from the back.

There are many different ways to play out from the back though. Goalkeepers can roll or throw the ball outwards, they can kick it in a more direct fashion to the defenders (usually wider players i.e full backs) or they can even bring the ball out themselves.

Here are a few examples of my goalkeeper doing these things in Football Manager 2018;

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Playing out from the back can be risky though and isn’t always the safe options. If the opposition are pressing you aggressively high up the pitch, then it can force your players to rush their decision-making and this can force you into making more errors. Your shape, roles, duties and player attributes will determine how likely you are to be forced into these errors though. Ball distribution from the goalkeeper and changing it based on what formation you are playing can have a dramatic impact on how easy you make it for your players.

If you face a two striker system and happen to use a back four, then if you are being pressed you can specify that the keeper distributes the ball to the full backs. This allows your central defenders to not be pressured and stretch the game by avoiding the strikers. Against a one striker system and maybe two wide players like an attacking midfielder left and right, then your spare man would be one of the central defenders in a back four. So you can distribute the ball to the central defenders as two of them should be able to handle the pressure of one striker.

The above also applies to back threes or fives too. You’d use the same principles.

Your typical goalkeeper settings for playing out from the back would look something like this;

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I’ve seen people say they play out from the back but that the goalkeeper has a very low passing percentage. If you are one of those people, then you’ve set the goalkeeper up wrong because he should have between 80-95% pass completion. The reason why it fluctuates between these numbers is down to if you change the distribution or not. If not, then it will tend to be the lower end of the 80% mark. This is why my goalkeeper during the seventh season only got 84% completion rate as I never mixed it up. I was being lazy.

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But if pushing numbers is your thing then they can get much higher like the season before, when I was mixing it up like discussed above.

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It’s slightly fewer games but you can see the difference in percentages across the board in all games.

Sweeper Keepers

If you are unaware of what a sweeper keeper is or how it’s supposed to play then check out this short video from the people over at Tifo;

Jonathon Aspey also wrote about the sweeper keeper on FM18 recently, so I’ll try not go over what he covered and link the article instead;

How to Utilise the Sweeper Keeper Effectively in Football Manager

When Jonathon wrote the above article, he got comments along the lines of ‘my keeper does all of this and he’s a standard keeper’. How a sweeper keeper works on FM  though might not look that much different to a normal goalkeeper on the face of it, as the differences are much more subtle. All keepers can distribute the ball, collect loose balls and start attacks. So it can be hard to see what actually changes or how a sweeper keeper is different to a standard keeper. To figure this out you need to focus on how the keepers distribute the ball, which areas they distribute it to and just how aggressive they are in general.

Some of the comments Jon got for his article on social media were acting like they expected the goalkeeper to play completely different. But that’s not true or how things work. All goalkeepers will do a bit of everything, the different roles available don’t stop the keeper doing stuff or change what he does. Instead the different roles are more about changing how he does stuff.

That’s why for this part of the article I’ll do a little comparison of a sweeper keeper vs a standard one, so we can hopefully pick up on those very subtle changes. The main difference though between the two roles is purely positional play.

We have three duties available for the sweeper keeper role, defend, support and attack.

Defend – I don’t actually see the point of this duty, it’s basically just a normal goalkeeper due to it making the player less cautious. To me that defeats the whole point of a sweeper keeper in the first place.

Support – When using the role on a support duty you should notice the first real subtle change and that is, the player is much more likely to play on the edge of his box and come out of it more often at times. He also looks to do more risky passes which is more likely to see him hit the ball into space or to the front players much earlier.

Attack – The main difference here between an attack duty and a support one is the mentality. On an attack duty, the mentality is much higher as expected. This means the player is slightly more forward thinking, will look to be more proactive than usual. The second difference is his passing range, it’s slightly more towards the direct side of the passing schedule even though the game says its mixed. It’s because the passing is towards the end of the mixed passing scale, which means closer to being direct. The third difference is the keeper will freely move outside of the box with the ball at his feet.

For the standard goalkeeper we only have one duty available and that is a defend one. The mentality used here is much more defensive than the mentality used for the sweeper keepers. This is the main noticeable difference between both roles. What this means in simple terms is he will be less likely to come out of his box and be more cautious overall with his positional play. You can customise what he does with the ball to change that side of things. But the main difference aside from mentality between the two roles are positional and not distribution related.

As you can see they all do a similar thing and aren’t drastically different to each other. You can customise the role to achieve different things to add even more variation if you needed too. You can select a whole host of setting from the type of distribution to the players he distributes the ball to.

One area that the sweeper keeper lacks in though is what he does when your side aren’t in possession. The role still isn’t dynamic enough in these situations and indeed, the role does feel like a standard keeper at times. Ideally the role still needs a lot of work in my opinion but saying that, the game in general needs a big overhaul on how it handles defensive situations for a whole host of roles. But that’s a rant for another day.

Here we can see the keeper who is a sweeper keeper on an attack duty.

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He quickly comes off his line and is charging towards the ball to pick up the loose ball and cut out the danger.

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Once he picks the ball up he then starts to dribble with the ball at his feet deep into his own half.

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He then kicks it long towards the strikers. This kind of positioning is something you’ll see often if you use a sweeper keeper on attack. On the other duties you will still see this kind of behaviour but less often and he might not bring the ball as far out as this. He will be more inclined to release the ball earlier in areas closer to your own box. And if you use a standard keeper then these kind of actions are extremely rare unless it’s a dead ball situation.

Back Foot

 
 
The above is another example of the sweeper keeper but this time he has some personalised instructions to offer me something different.

sk.png?resize=474%2C354&ssl=1

The idea behind this is that he hits the ball towards my advanced forward who then knocks it down to either the midfielders, his strike partner or the wing-backs. In this game Boro are quite narrow and have quite a lot of space between their midfield and the defence. So I see this as helping me put them on the back foot instantly and making them defend.

I have the numbers in midfield to offer support and the wing-backs are in acres of space and unmarked. So when this works as planned not only do we put them on the back foot but we also commit numbers forward in support giving us the advantage in numbers. On top of this, we also use the width of the pitch to stretch the Boro defence and cause them all kind of defensive disorganisation. All of this comes from something simple like these type of balls. You can see in the clip just how ragged the Boro midfield and defence is, they’re running all over the place. This then creates space for my players because every one of the Boro players are running back towards the ball and not even marking my players.

There is a downside to this though so it’s a case of weighing up if the risk is worth the reward. When it doesn’t work you give possession away cheaply and needlessly.The goalkeepers passing stats can take a massive hit, especially his completion rate. In the game the example is taken from though, it doesn’t really matter for me as the aim is to make Boro defend early.

If I really wanted I could ask the keeper to distribute the ball quickly, which would see him dribble less into his own half and take less time on the ball. One of the reasons I didn’t do this though was due to the fact that I need my midfield to offer support to the front players. If the keeper distributes the ball even earlier, the chances are they wouldn’t be in a starting place to be able to offer that kind of support. Basically they’d be far too deep in some scenarios which in turn would isolate my strikers.

You can have lots of fun here customising the keeper to distribute the ball to all different players or kind of areas. Another route I go sometimes is against extremely narrow formations, ask the keeper to distribute the ball to the wing-backs who are nearly always unmarked. I also like to do this against sides who press high up the pitch as I can start play out wide and shift it towards the middle later in the move when the midfield have caught up.

I might add to this over time with lots more examples as I have plenty of them. Sadly I don’t have the time currently to collect them all though.

So how do you utilise your keepers?

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good to highlight the difference between SK and GK (I think some people play a SK thinking he will be more likely to come out and play a passing game with the CBs in line with their POD instruction... as you've shown, an SK is more attacking mentality and therefore more likely to play direct balls).

Personally I'm one of those people you elude to in the preamble ...

13 minutes ago, Cleon said:

‘there’s nothing much I can do with them’

Not because I don't see that there are subtle differences... but more because I'm still angry about how the SK behaves when not in possession! Why did they create this role but not have his starting position behave differently :seagull:

 

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Great article, as always. Thks @Cleon

Untill now i always use a SK(d) in my tactic, because i like to play with a higher d-Line. From this article i see now that it is irrelevant, because of the higher D-Line, use a SK(d) or a G(d).

I also like, in my tactics, to built from the back so i always choose the distribute to centerbacks/fullbacks + roll it out instruction.

Another instruction i usually give to my SK(d) is the one to tackle harder. I do this because i remember reading, i think in a thread related with FM17, that by giving this instruction to G/SK they would be more willing to rush out. Is this truth?

So anyway, a think i will probably change my Sk(d) to a G(d).

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Great article! I personally, in my recreation  of Chelsea 2004-6 will use Drogba as a playmaker of sorts, with Cech pumping it up long for him to hold up and then providing throughballs to Lampard or the wingers, or just head it on. It's very effective, as you showed to knock it up to someone of strong physicality that can dominate in the air, for nicking a goal to hold on to!

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In my current save with Liverpool - where I try to create a side very much inspired by Pep's Barca and City - I have begun focusing on the GK-distribution (also inspired of Guardiola's use of Ederson). For example when I am facing a 4-2-3-1 and the opponent are pressing high, I always look for where there is space behind the press and here the GK becomes a vital part of bypassing the press. I am usually using a Sweeper Keeper on support with the instruction to distribute to the centerbacks but I often change this to either Take Short Kicks - so the GK himself will look for the open man - or distribute to flanks to initiate an attack that with one kick bypass the opponent's five attackers.

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2 minutes ago, Cleon said:

No-one else have examples of how they use keepers?

 

I have begun to experiment a little. This thread has been very helpful.

 

I don't have enough to write a proper post as of yet, but I have had some reasonable success with some of the distribution options.

 

-  Long kicks to a specific player, often my big man up top, but if there has been a particular route I want to attack, I have changed it.

 

- I also want to try the ball over the top, not given it a go yet, but I think it could work well in my set up, I have some real speed up top, I also have a young goalkeeper who has 16 for passing, not sure how that attribute relates to all of this, but it's kind of interesting.

 

I will post more, once I have more to write.

 

 

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If an opponent's full back picks up a knock I put my GK on "distribute to flanks" and the team on "exploit x flank", x being the flank with a full back holding his groin - it seemed to work quite well for my Fiorentina team in terms of getting Chiesa / Dias running at then past an injured man regularly to put in a cross / cut-back, only our strikers kept ballsing it up so I don't have any highlights I can show of a goal from it. Sampdoria in my current save are playing a Brazilian Box so I just do the "distribute to flanks" instruction anyway when I play them - again to get us running at their isolated full backs - but most of the time I'm boring and just have him distribute to CBs, as I tend to favour a possession style, trusting him to be intelligent enough to go long if we do get pressured. 

Had great fun with telling De Gea to ping it onto Lukaku's head in a 4-4-2 though - he was a target man and depending if his partner was Kane or the pacy Rashford (who had "likes to round keeper" as a trait) he'd either flick it down then run on to a return ball, or flick it on in the hope that their pace would get a 1v1. It was a month ago now but 140 goals in all competitions was at least in part due to that sort of play - my Target Man got 25-30 in both goals and assists. 

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7 hours ago, Cleon said:

No-one else have examples of how they use keepers?

I use a SK-Su in a back-4 tactic

P.I = 1) pass it shorter

2) distribute to full backs if the opponent plays with 2 STs , distribute to centre backs if he plays with one

 

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1 hour ago, roggiotis said:

I use a SK-Su in a back-4 tactic

P.I = 1) pass it shorter

2) distribute to full backs if the opponent plays with 2 STs , distribute to centre backs if he plays with one

 

Rinus Michels school of thought :cool:

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10 hours ago, Cleon said:

No-one else have examples of how they use keepers?

Ooh good thread... I wasn't really paying attention to a lot of stuff, as the baby was due plus other stuff. So just got back to some normalcy. I tend to play with a more aggressive kind of sweeper keeper, within a system that attacks space. So my passing percentages usually hover between 82%- 88%, they can be higher. Last season Gianluigi Donnarumma joined by Liverpool side somewhere in the Jan transfer window and only made 16 appearances during that time, and had a passing percentage of 82%. This compared to 85% for Lorius Karius who appeared in 25 games.

Within our system our Sweeper Keeper is on attack duty, because like you I don't believe that Defend duty produces any kind of positive performances. He is set to take short kicks and distribute to centre backs. I find that if you want to draw teams in and use him as an outlet its really possible, provided you play with the right duties. There are two ways I have used the SK:

1. CDs told to pass it short, and team plays out of defence
2. CD/BPD combination, with no PIs - Play out of defence

In the former we keep the ball a lot more, and I frequently see my SK as top 3 in key pass combos, we also see him generating a fair few assists.
In the latter, its a bit more dynamic, and I use that set up when I am more aggressive. Again my SK can create a fair bit from the back.

Last season my sweeper keeper was devastating from the back. The attributes are also important. I find that they need Decisions, Kicking, Vision(at least 10). Rushing out for them to perform their defensive duties.

I am doing a really short video guide on this which shows what I mean..and will tag it. My decision to sign Donnarumma was predicated on the need to play a SK on attack duty. With my Ajax side, Onana's lack of vision has forced me to keep him on support duty.

There is a lot more customisation you can do with the specific passing instructions that should not be ignored.

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It's hard to find a quality GK with vision above 12. 

I stick to SK on Support. I don't need my GK more ambitious than that. I check the kicking and throwing attributes to determine the distribution method, as well as opponent's number of STs.

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I use Oblak as a SK(D). I don't really see him sweep as much as I want him to, but every now and then someone gives him the ball, something I don't see when I use regular GK. I don't want him to get out with the ball, so I don't use the support role. I want him to kick it long and risky passes but I don't instruct him a specific zone so I can have more variety. But he's not as efficient as I would like. I'm not expecting an assist every game, but he's almost never makes a key pass. 17 pass, 13 vision, 16 kicking so yeah, I expect more from him

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On 4/11/2018 at 08:47, Cleon said:

No-one else have examples of how they use keepers?

I use both types of keepers depending on which keeper i play. 

Donnaruma who is my no1 in my Roma save is a bog standard GK with untouched PI's iirc. 

BUT when i play my back up keeper i use a SK on S. 

 

@Cleon are you using the 95/96 season database? I was wondering if that was the inspiration of this post. I have a save on there and I signed Chilavert for my Liverpool team set to GK, direct free kicks and direct free kicks with small amount to shoot. I noticed though i rarely get direct free kicks when he is set as the taker but when its Rivaldo i get at least 1 per game. 

Chilavert is also my penalty taker and has already scored a hattrick of pens for me. he has 12 goals in his first season.

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3 hours ago, craigd84 said:

I use both types of keepers depending on which keeper i play. 

Donnaruma who is my no1 in my Roma save is a bog standard GK with untouched PI's iirc. 

BUT when i play my back up keeper i use a SK on S. 

 

@Cleon are you using the 95/96 season database? I was wondering if that was the inspiration of this post. I have a save on there and I signed Chilavert for my Liverpool team set to GK, direct free kicks and direct free kicks with small amount to shoot. I noticed though i rarely get direct free kicks when he is set as the taker but when its Rivaldo i get at least 1 per game. 

Chilavert is also my penalty taker and has already scored a hattrick of pens for me. he has 12 goals in his first season.

I have friends using that database but no I'm not. I only have the Blades save I've written about and the Santos one this year. I don't have any other side saves :)

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I usually like to distribute to the defenders. I have been experimenting a little bit with distribution: distribute to the right side, where I have more support duties and my playmaker. So that my runners on the left side will get the ball not to early in the build up phase. But I'm not really convinced yet, maybe I have to pay more attention in detail to this.

When I think about sweeper keepers, I also think about sweeping up the through balls and the necessary attributes to do this. If I want my goalkeeper to intercept through balls, I look for anticipation, decisions, concentration, and I consider acceleration/pace and rushing out. That's partly based on my own experience as a goalkeeper (decent though certainly not brilliant amateur/semi professional side). Judging a through ball is one of the most difficult things for a goalkeeper (unless you choose to stay in the box to be safe). You have to estimate the speed of the ball, the speed of the opponent, your own speed and the relative distances to the ball (you vs the attacker). So a lot of things to consider in less than a second. That's way you need to have high anticipation and the ability to make the correct decisions. You don't want a keeper with high rushing out if he makes wrong decisions due to low anticipation. Concentration is helpful, cause if you are sleeping for a moment, the striker is one on one. You can't get all through balls, so high 'one on ones' attribute is good if you are playing with a high defensive line.

Anticipation is something that I look for in goalkeepers anyway. I think it combines well with positioning. How are the attackers moving and how can I position myself in such a way that I'm ready and not still moving when the shot is coming. Van der Sar was a good example. Not the most spectaculair goalie, but he could read the intentions of the opponents, so he was often in such a good position that he didn't had to do something athletic to make a save.

Oh yeah, I check the composure attribute as well. I'm not sure how much influence this one has in the game, but in real life it is essential to have a 'cool' goalkeeper. Maybe you have seen Navas against Juventus: keepers can also get nervous when under pressure.

This is kind of obvious, but some FM players might overlook this, so I hope you don't mind bringing up this perspective.

 

 

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Am 4.4.2018 um 10:30 schrieb Cleon:

Defend – I don’t actually see the point of this duty, it’s basically just a normal goalkeeper due to it making the player less cautious. To me that defeats the whole point of a sweeper keeper in the first place.

I imagine that my defenders play more back passes to my keeper if he's a SK(d) instead of a GK(d).

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43 minutes ago, YasoKuul said:

I imagine that my defenders play more back passes to my keeper if he's a SK(d) instead of a GK(d).

No they don't. The duty is down to what the player does, not his team mates. There is no difference between a GKd  and a SKd. You can see for yourself in game easily enough.

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