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FM 19 Time 424, 442 Beowulf 4420 Knap

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Still my favourite tactic set overall the TIME ones - if anyone is struggling with Beo (my other faves) then you'd do well to check these out, especially if you're an underdog/llm.

For the non-Discord-ers;

Been playing with the TIME 442 as opposed to the 4411 (as one of my two best players the board forced me to sell was my AMC and his backup is average), actually think it might be better overall...?

Have tweaked it (very) slightly for 'lesser teams and players', also made a control version and an SUS for anyone that would like them;




I use the control one when I feel my team losing the initiative and changing down mentality hasn't done the trick. It stops the pressing as much but does still counter and defaults to cautious mentality, still scoring a few goals against an attacking AI.

It's worked really well, but rest assured it won't stop every single attack - there are times when the AI just WILL score, same as with an SUS.

I also reworked my SUS a little too, now on ultra def. Haven't conceded a goal with it yet, but I've only played 6 games with this formation so 1) there's plenty of time for it to happen and 2) Now that i've said that i expect to concede at least 2 in the next match.

Forgot to add; the CTRL DOES still have the default corner settings, the SUS has four players designated as 'SB' to guard against the AI

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9 hours ago, optimusprimal82 said:

Still my favourite tactic set overall the TIME ones - if anyone is struggling with Beo (my other faves) then you'd do well to check these out, especially if you're an underdog/llm.

Hey, yes I have gone back to using TIME4411/442 after using BEO for half a season with some very good results and some very bad results.  Then in the new year I hit this run of form:


The game against Warrington I reloaded till I won out of frustration and the game against Ossett I just holidayed to see if my Assistant could end the bad run of form so I don't count them as wins.  A pretty grim couple of months.  TIME has improved our form slightly but it's win won lose one.  Nothing seems to put us on a winning streak like earlier in this save and I'm headed for my lowest finish in the league yet.  I'm growing mighty tired of this save.  I might add I have pretty heavily tweaked the original tactic myself to try and stop these bloody balls over the top the defense.  One or both defender on cover, lower defense line (sometimes lowest).  Also I feel that having less intructions seems to make the players play better at the lower level i.e. remove play out of defence, also I changed crosses to float as my forward is 6'2''.   I shall have a look at your tweaked tactics tomorrow and see if they can help, it can't make things much worse.

Edited by priority76
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Wow, sympathy flying from over here dude, that is a pretty horrible run of form...!

Out of curiosity, where were you predicted to finish this season, and more importantly, (roughly) what position were you in when the wheels came off the wagon?

Not saying it's exactly the same issue or it's in any way an exact science (it's pretty maddening tbh), but as a lower team you will nearly always hit a wall I've found after a period of success as the other teams will change their approach to you. In every season bar my first, there's been a point where all of a sudden I struggle with the 4411 as teams become more defensive and counter attack. You'll get a few warning signs that this is happening - you'll suddenly start missing a lot more chances and struggling to score, your possession stats will drop overall, and the AI scores even more frequently. The obvious human reaction then is to attack more which in turn is counter-productive as it means the AI can then counter attack you to death. Have learned over these many saves that in those instances it's better to change to a more attacking formation on a lower mentality'' but again, this isn't an exact science and will depend on the strength of your team overall relative to the league;

My first season in the Vanarama national I had a comparatively strong squad (despite being tipped for relegation), it took me a while to figure out what was happening after a great run using the 4411, but changed up to a 4231 and didn't lose a league game for the rest of the season. In the following seasons I knew myself that my squad wasn't relatively as strong so I started out with the 4411 again, watched for the change, and when it came I went 4-2-4 at home, for away games against bottom sides and went with the 4411 away against more difficult opposition.

This season is a new learning experience as I haven't got the players for the 4411 so switched to the 442 but regardless, my team is much weaker relatively so I'm having to go with a lower mentality as a default and even then i'm losing more than in other seasons (still 5th right now which after b2b promotions isn't too bad) - what i'm thinking is that the change in AI approach will still come at sometime, but i'm expecting it maybe a little later as my form is a little more up and down - exactly which direction i change up will depend on how i view my team with a few new formations, but likely i'll try the 424 at home only and go from there.


Back to your guys, I'm not sure if that's exactly what's happening, if it's overall your team is playing to their ability (as in they're not good enough for the league - i don't think so based on your earlier results), or perhaps you've tweaked the tactic(s) so much you've lost the essence of what made it work? Are you still dominating possession in games? Generally outshooting the opposition? If so then it suggests a mentality issue, if not then I'd look at overall tactics/players first.


The other thing you need to bear in mind on a run like that is morale - makes such an annoyingly big difference (watch how well an unhappy player doesn't play after you reject a bid for them - had to leave my start winger out for almost half a season last year!). What's their body language mid-match (do you have that window open)? If you're losing consistently then don't batter them in team talks (or if AI handles them then check he's not being ultra aggressive). Might be worth taking them over for a few games if he is (some people will disagree with this advice) and work on getting your guys to 'go green' before games and at half time - it makes such a difference (I let AM do them for the first two seasons but took them over in my third when my guys were constantly complacent and we were playing like idiots.

Last of all, if you wanna upload your save for me to take a look at/have a quick blast at to try and see if there's an obvious issue then more than happy to take a look! :)


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15 hours ago, optimusprimal82 said:

Back to your guys, I'm not sure if that's exactly what's happening, if it's overall your team is playing to their ability (as in they're not good enough for the league - i don't think so based on your earlier results), or perhaps you've tweaked the tactic(s) so much you've lost the essence of what made it work? Are you still dominating possession in games? Generally outshooting the opposition? If so then it suggests a mentality issue, if not then I'd look at overall tactics/players first.

Well every season my team has been predicted to finish last.  First season I finished 4th and it seamed to be quite easy I thought I would certainly get promotion in a couple of seasons.  This was on 19.1 though.  19.2 was released and my tactic was not working so well and we finished 7th.  Since then I've just had the feeling that no progress is being made even though I think I've streghthened the squad.   Doddering along in mid table win some lose some like a lottery.  I know it looks like I've massively overachieved, maybe I'm being too impatient but I almost always make progress in my FM saves rather than going backwards.  And anyway I don't pay too much to the league prediction at this low a level as I think the teams are all much alike.  I've certainly tweaked the tactic so it bears little resemblance to the original.  That's just how I like to play, I take a downloaded tactic use it as a base and try tomold it tomy team. I don't see the point playing if you're just going to download a tactic and stick to it rigidly especially if it's not getting results.  I've tried to implement some of the advice I was given here: 

Some games I'm having more possession and shots and some not so much.  It would be great if you could look at my save I shall PM you a link.  If you feel like having a go: we have 5 games of the season to go, making the playoffs is unlikely but there is small chance. 







The next game is against Scarborough who are having a storming season and I think a result is unlikely.  The other four teams are all around the bottom of the table and so should be there for the taking.



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6 hours ago, priority76 said:

The next game is against Scarborough who are having a storming season and I think a result is unlikely.  The other four teams are all around the bottom of the table and so should be there for the taking.

Unlikely buuuuuut...


We did it!

Phew, that was a tough game with not much quality from either side sadly - stats overall were far too even for my liking but a) they always skew more towards the AI towards the end of the match when it starts getting desperate and b) as you suggested, this was against the league leaders so doubtful we were going to dominate them!;



This is the lineup I went with for the game;


I based selection largely on the AM's team report - noticed though that you've been preferring other players to some of them though (you know your guys better than me of course!) but I decided - like a new manager - to give everyone a crack which meant a couple were/are lacking in match sharpness but i decided to risk it anyway!


Looking at Guilfoyle, he is by far and away your best player I reckon - for this division, his speed and finishing are incredible! Notice the coach report suggests he's inconsistent which is annoying, but depending on just how inconsistent I'd say it's a risk worth taking if you can keep him in good morale? Although you may have tried this and he's a 1 in 20 kind of guy?


As for the game itself, this is roughly how it went/my thought process;

Team talk - morale really low, told them to get revenge for last game, wasn't effective enough so passionately told each area (def, mid and attack) I had faith in them - ten of 11 went 'green'!

Tactic - went with my base FCU modified version of Knaps TIME 442. Started on cautious, changed up to balanced at 15 mins. Took the lead, scored again but scarborough pulled one back shortly after & just before half time so I changed to cautious mentality.

Half time Team Talk -told them not to get complacent, with specific 'passionate/I believe in you BS' to the non-responders, 9 out of the 11 were green again. Changed to my FCU CTRL TIME 442 variant to play more cautiously/prevent further goals.

Second half was pretty uneventful, I made three substitutions at 72 minutes (that took five minutes to take effect) and then changed to my SUS at 84-85 minutes to protect the lead completely. All of the above was sprinkled with liberal use of the 'demand more' shout!


Couple of other things I've noted - and apologies if any of this reads as patronising/condescending, absolutely not my intention, just trying to get this stuff down whilst it's in my head!!;

Both of your best DC's are on the slow side (Dowsett especially) - might be why you get caught by long balls so often (especially against speedy strikers) worth finding a guy with better physical stats to cover the other (see below about ignoring technical stats in favour of mental/physical stats at this level)? I noted when I was in the Vanarama and getting caught by long balls, it was often the DCL who was caught out so that's why I played King on that side as he's slightly the quicker of the two. Dowsett does have good anticipation & amazing positioning thankfully which no doubt help him out overall.

Overall, I think the squad 'Determination' is really towards the low end, with over half of the team below 10;


People have varying opinions on Determination and how effective it is but for me it's paramount and the big 'FM Equaliser' - I don't expect a guy in this division to have 20 for finishing, passing or technique, but there's absolutely no reason why he can't be as Determined as a Keane/Vieira? It's tough to find decent players down in these leagues but you've got a good level of scouting in place already so after a quick look, there are definitely one or two you could bring in with decent Determination who'd also hopefully be good mentors for the rest going forward.

Down in this division you're never going to get awesome all round players so i tend to focus on one or two key stats (such as pace & work rate for strikers, pace, positioning and concentration for defenders etc) but also make sure they have as high Determination as I can get (14 is my preferred minimum, but obviously at this level some concessions have to be made), and also look at work rate and aggression (aggression doesn't mean whether they'll get into fights/sent off!) - it plays such a big part of how your team reacts to going a goal down/conceding late on which may explain some of your struggles? Quick example; this guy looks ordinary at first glance, but his bravery, aggression and work rate may be enough to offset some of his other stats?


His trait could be a double edged sword and he's not the fastest or tallest, but he's certainly more of a warrior than the current best option at RB (Connor Roberts);


this is another guy interested too, all of them are available for free (teams down here accept 0 bids for a lot of their guys weirdly - probably due to wage bill etc)



I'm scouting the first/last guy to be sure as obviously with a lower league budget you have to be wary of clogging up the wage budget/taking too big a risk, but I reckon sometimes getting better mental & physical stats can make a huge difference!

Will leave it there for now and go and play out the rest of the season - Marine drew in their last fixture so the gap is down to 5 points... Think it's going to be a step too far with only four games to go and looking at their fixtures (3 of their 4 matches are against teams in the bottom half, the other is against 8th position) - although maybe their form is just starting to wane after a great run so fingers crossed? :D



EDIT: Oh, hadn't realised the xfer window was still open - have gone ahead & signed a couple to help bolster the bid! :)

Edited by optimusprimal82
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Thanks Knap :)

Second game;


Added Cameron Summers & Henry Muggeridge (new signings) to starting XI at DL & DR respectively.



Observations - AM notes that Summers & Muggeridge (unsurprisingly) need more time to blend in. Morale is much better for this game overall. Hartley is still lacking match fitness.

Starting XI;


Team talk - Assertive; Ashton have lost last 4 of 5 etc, no greens, lots of 'listened keenly's, again told each area (def/mid/att) passionately that "think there's a lot more to come from you", changed to 7 greens.

Starting tactic; TIME 442 - Started on cautious.

AI score in 1st minute. Awesome. Equalise in 3rd minute. This game is going to be crazy, can tell already. Win penalty in 5th minute. We (surprisingly) score penalty. 2-1 after 5 minutes.

15th minute, possession dominated, AI not shooting, passing accuracy > 80%, changed to balanced mentality.

17th minute, we score.

30th minute, completely against the run of play, AI score through our GK own goal. Game doesn't even count it as a shot on target. Awesome.

AI attack dangerously again, obviously changed their approach (thanks for not noticing Ass Man!) - switch to CTRL and cautious mentality.

41st minute, we have goal disallowed.

44th minute, we still have majority possession (58%) but AI is shooting relentlessly. Change mentality down to defensive and add 'get stuck in' to tackling in order to see out the half. Hopefully.

Half time (3-2 for Sheffield) - Team talk; Assertive - don't get complacent, 7/11 greens. Interestingly AM notes that Gascoigne is "getting skinned all too often today" despite him currently having highest rating. He scored so rating is artificially high, may actually not be playing that well.

Half time stats;


Second half; Left tactics unaltered for first 5-10 to gauge how attacking AI starts the half.

52 minutes, no AI attacks, change up to cautious.

57th minute. AI scores. As predictable as it is annoying.

65th minute, change to my base TIME 442 & attacking.

72nd minute, substitutes.

75th minute, we score. Change to CTRL & cautious.

85th minute, change to SUS.

FT: We win. Phew.



Post-match observations: Defence and goalkeeper need improving, pace in the centre especially. Goalkeeper is distinctly average, signed a young guy who has potential and may be a replacement, but at the moment those three seem to be the weakest part of the team. ML and CM would be the next areas I'd focus on (bearing in mind I've already replaced the fullbacks). Not saying any of that is possible right now but just my quick assessment after two matches (overall goals conceded suggest it's a big weakness too).

The real kicker?


That was their hardest game on paper too.



Edited by optimusprimal82
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Game #3


Observations. Gascoigne has trained badly this week (suggests low professionalism - unless coming back from injury, same can't seem to forgive that!) so warned him and have swapped him out for this game. Jack Hartley is STILL struggling for match sharpness, part-time makes it tough to keep sharpness up but no doubt 'assisted' by his rating of 6 for Natural Fitness. AM notes Summers & Huggeridge still need minutes to blend etc.

Starting XI


Team talk - passsionate: Great opportunity to show pundits right to back you etc. 2 greens (both in defence). Individual areas went with Assertive "I have faith" etc. Changed to 9 greens. Noticed Lewis King often doesn't react to team talks at all.

Starting tactic: Base TIME 442 - Started on cautious (Ass Man suggested pre-game to go with positive).

12th minute, Very even first ten minutes, changed to positive

26th minute, we score.

42nd, 43rd & 44th minute, AI has 3 amazing chances in quick succession out of nothing, all from our players/DC's giving the ball away. We survive until half time - just - after clearing one off the line. AI has had 8 shots in 4 minutes. 

Half time (1-0 for Sheffield): Observed that although team passing accuracy is ok, DC passing is an accident waiting to happen/liability. Have turned off 'play out of defence' and changed DC's to 'No nonsense - stopper' to see if it eradicates the errors. Prior to last 5 minutes, team was completely in control and looking comfortable. Current Ass Man is useless at spotting/notifying when AI change tactics, but to be expected at this level?



Team talk - Assertive: We've got to guard against complacency. 6 greens, one red for new signing Summers who is highest rated player in the game right now at 7.70. Individually told him i'm happy with his performance and he changed to green - have to be awry that he doesn't become complacent from praise, new signing though so hopefully won't.

Changed mentality down to cautious for start of 2nd half as expecting AI to come out aggressively.

47th minute, we score. Prediction was correct, luckily cautious nullifies more aggressive AI and we control the game. For now. Expecting a strong reaction, be intresting to see if we can hold out.

52nd minute, AI attacking more frequently but not too dangerously any more, change up to balanced.

64th minute, we score. Change to CTRL and cautious - apply the DC role change and disable 'play out of defense' for this tactic too (may become a permanent fixture).

73rd minute, substitutions

80+ minutes, wait for AI to attack - would change to SUS at first sight - but no attacks at all, game fizzles.

FT: We win again, 3 from 3!


Post game: Hard to say for certain how much defensive tweaks worked after just one half of a game, but certainly none of the errors happened second half. DC's passing stats improved second half, albeit only slightly (possibly as a result of passing more direct/long ball?) Worrying that we gave away 3 CCC's, although two are accounted for by the mad 3 minute blitz in the first half. I don't even remember their CCC in the 2nd half weirdly? More concerning is how much trouble the team second from bottom caused our defence overall - although that little period aside, the team were largely untroubled.

Had a quick squiz around for better/faster centre halves with decent Determination and sadly anything available right now (that's interested) isn't much/anything of an upgrade so that might have to be a summer job.


More bad news from Marine too - they are on fire;


In better news, Colne have drawn their last four games and are the same 5 points ahead now as Marine (if only Sheffield had won the head to head!!). A massive ask with just two games to go - especially as their two games are against teams in the bottom six - but their form is much more rocky than Marine. A draw and a loss for them opens the door. Positive thinking engaged! :D




EDIT: A guy you'd had scouted flagged up as being removed from your shortlist - scout recommendation was 93 and 'sign him at any price', put a bid in of 0 and they accepted? He's just told me to jog on in any case as Sheffields stature isn't good enough but worth a punt bid or two for players you like who're interested, don't be scared by their value if only 1k or so?

Edited by optimusprimal82
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Game #4

The dream is over!


Observations: Team is fit and with good morale so keeping the same starting XI. I'm going with the role changes for the DC's and removal of 'play out from the back' again, to start with at least. Hartley is at 80% match sharpness.

Ass man noticed that the team is very complacent on the back of the recent run in form - given the low determination this worries me a fair bit that this performance is going to be terrible. Believe professionalism plays a big part too, not sure what level the squad is at but means stricter team talk is necessary.


Team talk - Aggressive: "I fully expect you to win and keep the run going", only 1 green (GK). Gave an additional aggressive talk to each area (def/mid/att) of the bottom "i want you to..." option, increased to 7 greens overall with no reds.

Starting tactic: Base TIME 442 - Started on cautious (with DC's changed to no-nonsense: stoppers and pass out from the back disabled)

3rd minute, we score.

15th minute, possession even, AI has outshot us 3 to 1. Difficult to know exactly which way to go here... Staying the same seems foolhardy given the stat differences, more defensive invites pressure and more attacking could open us up (but a second goal gives us a platform). Changed to balanced, will monitor the effect.

40th minute, game still very much even chance wise. We've wrested possession to 58% but AI is starting the usual pre-half time shot fest so changing to cautious

Half time (1-0 for Sheffield): Game is going ok, but not creating a lot and don't feel in control despite majority possession. Encouragingly, no-one has appeared complacent (yet). Huggeridge has lost possession more than anyone in our side - analysis is that it's due to failed crosses. Have changed crosses from mixxed to low as Frickley's DC's are 191 & 199cms respectively with monster jumping/heading (both of their centre halves are shockingly decent tbh, one is called cowgirl too?!) so much taller/better than our strikers.


Team talk - Assertive: "We've got to guard against complacency" nurtured 6 greens (no reds).

Kept mentality at cautious for start of second half.

53rd minute, our keeper has thrown one into his own net. Literally. Slow free kick from far out, he catches it and then fumbles it into the goal - second high profile error he's made in my 4 games in charge. Apparently the better of the two, he needs replacing. Changed mentality to positive.

72nd minute, made substitutions. Game seems to be slipping away from us - wouldn't ordinarily do this but as we HAVE to win to get a shot at the playoffs I change up to attacking.

75th minute, AI scores. That's why I wouldn't ordinarily go attacking :D Changed to my tweaked version of Knap's Beowulf 424, again made the same DC changes and stopped 'play out' etc.

76th minute, AI gets a penalty. Obvioulsy made the AI angry. AI scores. Mountain to climb.

FT: We lose, 3-1. Midfield struggled to get anywhere and were dominated by opposition. AI played a 4-3-3 which possibly contributed as CM's were outnumbered but with posession I still would have expected better. Confirms theory that dominant CM needed along with a better GK. Am I to blame for moving us to attacking? Possibly... Maybe if stayed on positive we could have scored, but we hadn't had a shot/attempt for 20 minutes so we needed to do something considering only a win would do? This is one of the more irritating games you get - nothing seems to make a huge difference to your play in an attacking sense, but one wrong move can be fatal. I may well reload this game afterwards and replay it to see if it was a one-off, formation clash (their 4-3-3 neutralising the 4-4-2) or if it was me going too attacking - problem is reloads rarely play the same so not always that helpful (better to watch the trend over a season etc).



Post-game thoughts; disheartening to lose, but on a more positive side it didn't matter in the end as both Marine and Colne won which means that sixth is the best possible finish anyway. Sheffield have been leapfrogged by Gainsborough after the defeat too, but 6th or 7th? Who cares!


These three consistently train like ass-clowns so would get rid;


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Game #5 - last game of the season.


So before I say anything else - GET RID OF THE GOALKEEPER. Sell him, drop him, bury him under the patio, I don't care, just get rid, he is an absolute liability.


Observations: Nothing to lose for this so let's see what happens! Concerned about the low number of CCC's the team is created so removing 'work into box' for this game and adding 'pass into space' and seeing what happens. May swap back if we just end up shooting from 40 yards every time we attack/passing accuracy drops really low. Morale has dropped quite significantly since the last game so will need to bear that in mind during team talk. Everyone is fit so same 11 again. Toyed with the idea of bringing Gascoigne back but left it as-is for now.

Team talk - Passionate: "Let's give the fans something to smile about at the end of the season"

Starting tactic: Base TIME 442 - Started on cautious (with above mentioned change and DC's changed to no-nonsense: stoppers and pass out from the back disabled)

12th minute, dominating stats, changed to positive (would have been balanced if playing away)

13th minute, we score the most ridiculous own goal you're ever likely to see. DC passess it past GK straight into the goal. AI has had no shots on gaol at present and just 29% possession.

38th minute, AI scores with their second shot of the game which is also their first on target. Absolutely bizarre game. Possession at 62% for us, AI with just 2 shots, 59% pass accuracy and doing nothing. Except scoring. Changed to balanced to try and slow things down and get any sort of fotthold before half time.

44th minute, goal for Sheffield. At least there's something positive besides stats?

Half time: Team is absolutely dominating statistically but we're 2-1 down. Am tempted to swap tactics back but Guilfoyles goal came from a pass into space so may be counter-productive. Changed him to a more attacking role for second half so he makes more runs (for the through balls)

Team talk - Passionate: "Let's show the pundits they were right to back you", 7 greens, no reds.

Tactics kept on balanced.

73rd minute, goalkeeper decides he doesn't want to play for Sheffield any more. He inexplicably dribbles up the pitch and gifts the ball straight to the opposition attacker. With the goalkeeper out in the land of Grobbelaar, the AI calmly rolls the ball into the net. Not sure until I watch the replay whether it was him or the DC at fault for the first goal, if him then it's his second absolute clanger of the game and his fourth in five games. Goalkeepers are meant to save their side points, this guy is costing us plenty. How on earth his rating is still 6.8 I don't know, the ME doesn't seem to penalise him for being an idiot.

74th minute, substitutions, lots of substitutions.

77th minute, we score. One more to claw back.

85th minute, change to very attacking

86th minute, we hit the post when 1 on 1

90th minute, penalty to Sheffield. With the way this game is going I think we know what the outcome will be. Nope, throw that cynicism away - we score the penalty and tie the game! 3 minutes of added time to go.

FT: A 3-3 draw, and one of the most bizarre games of FM - or CM for that matter - I've ever born witness too. The goalkeeper finished with a 7.1 rating despite making two mistakes (joint for the first with King) which is just bizarre and makes me wonder how many other goals he's cost the side over the season. The coaches and ass man thinks he can be improved upon and holy heck so do I! Utter, utter idiot.


Post game thoughts: Another missed opportunity - there are some good players in the squad, a few average ones and a couple that are just letting everybody else down - so many individual mistakes are just leaving the team with far too much of an uphill struggle. The keeper is set to sweeper keeper by default in this tactic - with the high defensive line the idea being to sweep up any over hit through balls. With this keeper I think giving him that much responsibility is causing more problems than it's solving, if he can't be replaced then at the very least he should be switched down to just a regular stopper. It's a hard game to critique otherwise, we scored three goals and performed well - but still only got a draw?

Final league position;


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Final Summary

So being brutally honest I'm a little disappointed following my stint in charge as I felt like all 5 games were winnable, especially after getting the toughest nut cracked first against the league leaders;


P5 W3 D1 L1 F13 A10 GD+1 Pts10

Obviously it's not quite as cut and dried, but extrapolating that form over a full season suggests that you'd certainly be in contention for first place (~84 points), but obviously a smaller sample doesn't factor for things such as luck quite as well (although I'd argue I had a seasons worth in that last game?!).

What stands out above all else for me are the For/Against numbers - League high in goals scored, but 20+ goals conceded over the top three;


Sometimes the two go hand in hand (more attacking means more open) however, whilst there are definitely tactical switches that can be made, the one consistent thing is the inconsistency, and that unfortunately comes down to the players. The crutch of the problem for me is that the quality of the squad overall just isn't quite good enough. There are definitely some great players, but the rest - whilst good enough to beat a lot of the sides - are maybe not good enough to go the extra mile and take you to the title?

We all know the Ass Man and coaches can be poor with decisions, however they can also get a lot right or at least guide you in the right area. The team report is a great screen that a lot - don't know if you do or not - of people never use. You need to pay attention to your staff's own stats in order to ascertain exactly how reliable their ratings are, but even then, by switching between them you can get an average from their opinions (Fwiw, Daniel Clare has the highest 'Judging player ability' stat in your crew so I used him most). It's the first place I looked when I opened your save, and whilst it certainly doesn't make terrible reading, it shows that you may struggle to quite hit the highs you're searching for;


Now there's nothing wrong with 'good' players, until you're at the elite level I'd expect them to make up the bulk of most people's squads however is good alone enough if you want to win the league/get promoted? Not saying it's not do-able, of course it is, but for the most part you're going to want to add a few 'great's in there to give you the edge? There's only one guy in your team recognised as having 'great' ability currently and that's Guilfoyle, who's also listed as being inconsistent - players are only as good/great/whatever as their consistency allows & even then, only if they're in good morale and a positive mental state etc. (NB: The other great on this pic is Cameron Summers - the guy I signed when I was playing through your save). The good news is that there are plenty of good players - hence why you do still win a lot of games - but there are a few weak links that need to be patched to help you take the next step up, not least the average (read: terrible) goalkeeper. The more positive spin on this is that if swapped from 'current' to 'potential' ability the grass looks a bit greener (although be wary as I find the staff suck much harder at predicting potential vs current);


And even more so if we include your under 18's;


The spanner I'll throw in the works here is that potential is just that, there's far from any guarantee that the players will reach those levels - your facilities play a large part, as does the division you're playing in and most of all, the players own mental stats (most of which are helpfully hidden). You'll spot the ones who'll never reach potential quickly by their abysmal training reports (they'll constantly appear under 'red' in the weekly mails).

So potential wise, your team looks in good health but remember potential is relative and what about the now? I think it's unrealistic to expect to get great players in every position (and 'great' is only a loose description anyway), but I certainly think that with the summer you have now in front of you, you should focus on improving in general - it will help you boss games much more. For comparisons sake, these are two team reports of my FC United team taken at different stages - the first one is from my 2nd season when we walked the league (ignoring the blip where everyone shut up shop), the second is from my current season;



You can see obviously my focus changes between the two as I swap between formations (mainly in the MR/ML or AMR/AML psoitions), but more pertinent is the lower amount of 'great' players I have this year. Some of them are due to relativity such as my goalkeeper - same guy, he's improved considerably, but not as much as the overall standard has - whereas others come down to player sales etc. My overall point is that I have only two players considered 'great' this season and I'm struggling to control games a lot more than I did in previous seasons, it's not an exact science but the two are (quite obviously) related. A few more great players in your lineup and it could be all you need to take that extra step - Summers as I mentioned is one easy example, he's rated as great and - despite his rating being dragged down by a poor team performance in the last two games - he still finished the 4 games he played with great figures (not saying you have to sign him, but just an example to show the effect a great player had!);



The other string  to Cameron's bow brings me back to another point I made earlier; if your players are lacking in the technical department then you can make up that shortfall with physical and mental stats (and bear in mind this is only one way to skin a cat). Players with high determination are more likely to keep fighting until the end, react well to conceding and generally foster a never say die mentality (think Man Utd under Fergie, Wenger's Invincibles). Arsenal are a great example for this actually, compare the Invincibles to the Arsenal squads of recent years? All of them great technically, but the more recent teams shy away from a fight and - certainly against the big teams - you could visibly see them wilt under pressure. This is where you can make a big difference in the lower leagues - when everyones stats are so trash as to make no difference, having a team with solid physical stats and great mental stats can win you matches almost through will power alone. That is the single biggest change I'd advise along with adding a little bit more fairy dust and setting fire to the goalie (incidentally, your coaches reckon Thomas has more potential but that Taylor - the guy i played - is slightly better right now?)

Obviously I don't expect the teams stats to be similar levels across all of these given the division discrepancies, but as an example, compare the determination stats between your guys and my FC United save;


Once you've got a good core group together you can get the mentoring groups rotating and buy younger players who maybe aren't quite so good mentally, but will improve as they're going (I've watched one of my kids go from 8 determination to 12 over the last 2 seasons - fingers crossed that trend continues). To counter myself slightly, determination isn't everything, stuff under the hood like professionalism also played a big part, as does the ability to handle pressure/important matches and so on. A lot of that is too detailed for now though, just rest assured that if they're in the 'green group' for training then good, if they're consistently in the red group (and they're not unhappy because of playing time/contracts) then bad.

Last up, tactically, I think your guys fit the 442 pretty well if i'm being honest - they bossed possession in all of the games played - they just maybe lack a tiny bit in the wide areas and someone dominant in the middle to control the game a little more? I don't think if you get a few more players in that you need to change too much else if I'm being honest? I think tactically the biggest issue you have is the disparity between the teams in the league; the teams at the bottom are dreadful (so require you to go ultra attacking more with formation than mentality) and the teams at the top are a bit too strong so then you need to be more defensive. It's not quite as easy as saying use this tactic at home or this one away as I still think you'll get burned with the current crop of players when they have an off day or you play against one of the top sides. Happy to discuss it more with you as needed, but for now my suggestion would be to recruit a few players (1 x GK, 1 x DC, 1 x CM, 1 x ML, 1 x MR - in that order of preference) with high determination and paying attention to the stats list Knap posted above (remember to knock a few points off for the lower division) and remember that in your division, no way are you hitting all of those, so identify the key attributes (I suggested some for a striker/defender earlier for example).

My FCU 442 tactics are a few posts back now if you do want to go with them - i think they're perfectly suited, I would consider making the change to the defenders and removing the 'pass ball out' options, otherwise I think if you use them with the mentality changes as I describe in my match reports and a few new aggressive signings, you may well finally be able to stop the rot and climb out of the division?

Edited by optimusprimal82
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Quick follow up - and last post for now I promise (only got so much time because Australia is under attack from the Sun so I am hiding next to my air conditioner refusing to go outside!) - I just had another quick bash through using a different tactics set, namely my modified version of Knaps 4411 - got to be honest, if I were you with your current side that would be the choice for me.

Much much more solid overall;


I was nervy AF against Scarborough first time out, not so this time, it was actually quite comfortable. The Witton game wasn't anywhere near as close as it looks (they scored in the 3rd minute and got yet another penalty). The last two games were tricky - remember Frickley beat us using the 4-4-2 and they were stubbornly annoying this time too, biggest difference is I felt largely in control, we just couldn't score. When we finally did break through (84th minute) I turned on my SUS but to no avail, they scored 4 minutes later (which is super annoying). Final game was close, tense and a little nervy but we held our own overall and just about edged it.

Much better goal stats (F10 A4) but still wasn't enough to beat Marine to 5th unfortunately;




I signed Cam Summers again (because he's too good not to)

I started every game with cautious and never once used attacking unless losing/drawing in the last ten minutes

Both DC's were changed to No-nonsense stoppers

'Play out from defense' was disabled

I played Jon Thomas instead of Rhys Taylor and there were no GK mess ups this time.

Followed similar mentality changes as i always do, similar strategy for Team talks too.

Lineup where possible was this;


Tactic files if you're interested;





Good luck - let us know how you get on! :D

Edit: just to add, try to be wary of consistently changing tactics as you don’t spot the trends/patterns/flaws. That being said, if you’re still having trouble getting this all to work, a guy in the ‘steadfast’ tactics thread has just gone through the leagues using that pretty easily by the sounds so maybe worth a look? ‘Easily’ doesn’t sound exciting granted, but might fit your guys/your own style better if you get tired of trying this way! :)

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WOW! You have been busy.  Thank you so much for taking a lot and writing such a detailed report.  And videos and everything!  I'm not going to respond to everything, I'll want to meticulously read what you've written.  Very interesting to have someone else's opinion on your save though.  I find your dislike of Rhys Taylor (goalkeeper) Interesting.  He had a three month injury earlier in the season which coincided with a dip in our form.  Although now you mention it his return coincided with an even worse run in form.  But he pulled off a few worldies in his time and I've always thought of him a solid or solid-er than the alternative.  Anyway I've brought in someone else but I'm not sure he's much of an improvement, I'm keeping him as backup just in case.  I've replaced the fullbacks even though Pritchard LB has consistently been the hardest trainer and Jenno RB is getting on a bit, there are better options out there.  My reputation must have taken a boost as I'm sure it's been easier to attract better players during the summer break.   Also interesting you picked Gascoigne over Hoti, at least initially,  he is the only remaining original player so has purely sentimental value.  He doesn't look like much on paper but he has banged in some screamer in his time.  He really needs a more attacking role than this system offers.  He's always welcome to a seat on the bench though. 

Anyway for my attempt I was using my adapted version of TIME (less is more/hoof it up to the big men) 442 home games 4411 away games, although not sticking to that rigidly and changing mentalities as I see fit.  I did a lot better than I thought:


If we'd had this form the whole season we'd have walked the league! Including 7 goals from Guilfoyle, who I'd initially dismissed as an expensive flop.  We were ten minutes from reaching the playoffs but Marine got a (probably dodgy) penalty.



I'm feeling a lot more optimistic about next season and my desire to play on with this save is back!   

7 hours ago, optimusprimal82 said:

only got so much time because Australia is under attack from the Sun so I am hiding next to my air conditioner refusing to go outside!

You're in Australia? Lucky bastard it's feckin' freezing here!

P.s.I definitely owe you a pint mate! 

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12 hours ago, optimusprimal82 said:

one is called cowgirl too?!

Actually Cowgirl has been released, but won't sign for me as he doesn't feel our squad is strong enough to play at a level matching his ambitions.  A bit cheeky considering he was released from a team who finished 12 places below us.

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@priority76 I'd take a bit of freezing right now - it's been yet another record breaking heatwave over here with temperatures hitting 50c degrees (122 Fahrenheit) in some parts over the last week or so (which is insane) . Got up to 41 in my neighbourhood so - as an ex-brit who is all but useless above ~28 degrees - I've been hiding (read: sweating) indoors playing FM within 2 metres of the air conditioner! :D

No worries on helping out - my favourite part of the game is team building and this sort of problem solving - made a nice break from my save too and has reinvigorated me a touch (got a bit grumpy at the ME and my board selling my best players from under me!). Absolutely not expecting you to reply to every point - that'd take hours for both of us - time better spent playing the game, but by all means shout if there's a question or two on some of it - it's hard not to sound too preachy when you're writing too much too! The good thing is that there is no one right way to win at the game, the bad thing is that there are a lot of variables which can often muddy the waters and lead to frustration.

As alluded to above, I don't think your team is far off winning the league, I just think they lack a tiny bit of mental strength and ability when taking on the top few teams consistently (they're definitely good enough on their day as proven, just one or two who seem to go missing). Hopefully with the new reinforcements you've made over the summer you'll fly into the new season and crack on from there - I will stress again to pay attention to the determination stat though as I found it 'FM changing' and have never looked back :D!

Bizarre about the goalkeeper - I've just never seen anything like it? He was perfectly fine 90% of the time, he just kept making those insane mistakes which means either a) he's an idiot (or actually just not all that good) b) he's playing under too much pressure (would expect feedback from team talks/body language or assman - there wasn't any) or c) his role is too demanding of him? I only put the videos up to help me believe what i was seeing, never seen a goalkeeper self destruct so often like that before! The other guy played much much better in my second attempt (using the 4411), but he's a consistently terrible trainer (although he was unhappy because of contract at first so gave him one to see if it helped. If he trains better when he's happy i'd go with him - mainly because your coaches rated him as 4-star potential, whereas the other clown is only 2 (both are rated 2 for current).

Went with Gascoigne based on feel more than anything - both were rated 2 star but he had the higher determination (i think that's what it was?). When doing quick picks repeatedly the AI couldn't seem to choose between them either, consistently changing his mind. He actually was playing ok, but the poor training put me off - if i'd known he was an original member I'd have shown him more favour for sure - they're the little stories that make FM so good! Already decided in my save that the striker I signed in my first season as a 16 year old is coming to the premiership with me - he hasn't complained or demanded a new contract at all throughout our league charges and has consistently scored in every division. This is the first season I've had someone who is noticeably better stat wise and still he hasn't kicked up a fuss and trains like a hero - so if nothing else he'll make a great mentor!

You had a great run at the end regardless of anything else - maybe the more direct option is a better fit, or maybe the 442 home/4411 away split is the key? I was using a 424/4411 split in my previous season. Glad you're getting a good return from Guilfoyle too - his stats are monster for that league! His inconsistency is a concern, but hopefully with game time it'll improve? I did notice in that last game when I started to play into space and played him in an 'attack' role that he came to life too - won't work against tight defences, but reassuring either way to know you've got a guy who can score when presented with a chance! After watching the games with your team I've actually switched back to the 4411 with my own guys - I'm top of the league but I don't feel as comfortable as in other seasons so I like the extra stability - managed to find a released man utd youngster (Gribbin) who was interested and plays AMC too, replacing my superstar the board stupidly sold so it's all good!

Can't remember exactly how good Cowgirl was/is and if i'd sign him, I do remember the name though and noticing both him and his DC partner were annoyingly good/tall and surprisingly not slow? That reputation thing annoys me though, faced that many times - I just read it as "i want more money than you can pay me"!

Good luck for the new season, let us know how you get on - if you do get promoted, remember to be cheeky and ask the board if you can go full time if you have some leverage (may have to wait a little longer though) - i waited until contract renewal and they agreed, made such a huge difference to my squad fitness and development - they're improving my training and youth facilities now too (damn right with the money they made selling people I wanted to keep!) so can't wait to see how much difference that makes too!

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Just reached the halfway point in the season and the table doesn't lie! Despite being written off by the media and (due to my lovely, lovely board) having a weaker team this year we've still battled to first place - if we go up it'll be the fourth promotion in four seasons which isn't to be sniffed at!


Star tactic this year once again is TIME 4411 - love the thing (thanks Knap), although made a few further tweaks if you're playing a lower league team;





As before, I use CTRL when leading by a few goals and I want to play a bit more defensively whilst still maintaining an attacking threat. Am currently testing a 1.1 CTRL that changes the FB mentality to Auto but only been doing it for a few games etc. I don't use SUS any earlier than 82 minutes as I think you're asking for trouble - might also be worth changing the default mentality of that to defensive, it's hard to get a read on exactly which is better (you will still concede some late goals irrespective!)

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@priority76 Ha, awesome - at least you benefited from it for once, thought for a minute it was going to be your goalkeeper scorpion kicking it into his own net from the edge of the box! :D


Yesterday must have been crazy own goal day, had this happen - in my favour - too, which was nice!

Reckon we both have the counter-press to thank for these for sure! :)

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16 hours ago, optimusprimal82 said:

Reckon we both have the counter-press to thank for these for sure!

Absolutely.  We are definitely using the tactic of forcing them into making 'unsavable' back passes from forty yards out.

Also, that'll teach 'em for stealing our playoff place last season. 


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Holy heck - guessing you're having a better season this time around? Glad to see the strengthening is paying off! Is Hunter the new superstar? I also noticed you used Cieslewicz a lot, although your coaches didn't rate him - is he one of those guys that 'just plays well'? I'll always trust a manager over the coaches - think we've all played long enough to have encountered 'terrible' strikers that can't stop scoring and vice-versa! :D 

Intrigued to see how Guilfoyle improves too - it's the one stat i'm unsure how to improve (consistency) - i understand it improves like any other stat under the hood, but unsure exactly how much it can improve (like i'd never sign a kid with 3 for passing for the premier league because i'd never expect it to improve much above 10 - but does consistency follow the same logic or does it get better with age etc?).


Over in my world, things were going really well when suddenly >BANG< the xfer window messed my team right up! I lost three players - two to a minimum fee, the other to yet another 'greedy board' - and it caused a squad meltdown as my captain/most influential guy was unhappy with the lack of depth and everyone else agreed; form went out of the window and I could hardly buy a result from mid January until the end of Feb!


My 9 point lead was reduced down to just 2 and I've gotta be honest, it was squeaky bum time for a bit as I couldn't score and just kept on conceding! In the end I changed up from my/Knaps TIME 4411 to the 442 and that, coupled with my little superstar striker (who i signed in my first season and would like to keep until retirement) scoring enough goals to convince them that my promise of the kids stepping up was legit, saw us back on the road to recovery and I won the league with a few games to spare - lucky really as I was nailed with six red cards in my last four games and ended up losing 2 of them! I don't really suffer with them normally but appears I ran into 'sir-cards-a-lot';



So at least now I know to take note of the 'idiot' refs and turn pressing/tackling down as appropriate!

About to start my first game in the Championship, I had a 'colossal' 1.2 million to spend (the board frizzled 3 million on expanding the stadium by 2k seats) which I quickly realised doesn't go very far when players and agents both want 70k+ signing on fee's and 8k p/w wages :(

Feel like I've worked wonders to get some of the guys signed that I have; feel bad that six of my starting XI this season will be new players (would have been 7 but I cannot find a RM for love nor money - only one i've found wants 14k p/w!) and that my squad is so big, but the quality jump form League One is scary - Palace & Brighton have just come down and have virtually their entire prem squads intact! Brighton just signed a midfielder for 13.5 million, most expensive guy I could sign was for 300k! :D

I've no doubt that once again I'll prove the media wrong, but reckon I'm seriously up against it in terms of promotion, which isn't necessarily a bad thing - bridging the gap to the Premier League with my budgets will be really tough! On the flip side, my odds have improved slightly since my xfer splurge so there's one silver lining;


My coaches also seem to think i've done a decent job too;


But this is what I'm up against - you'll have all this to look forward to in the not too distant! :)


Guess the only way of finding out what'll happenfor sure is to get started - just have to decide now whether to go 4411 or 442.... :kriss:

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2 hours ago, optimusprimal82 said:

Over in my world

I am extremely impressed.  Well done for digging in during the dip in form and turning things around.  That must have been a very frustrating period indeed!  Is that four back to back promotions now?  Inspiring stuff.  

2 hours ago, optimusprimal82 said:

bridging the gap to the Premier League with my budgets will be really tough!

It might not be such a bad thing to have a few seasons in the championship to make the length of said bridge less.  But promotion every season would be a pretty cool achievement.

2 hours ago, optimusprimal82 said:

you'll have all this to look forward to in the not too distant!

Yeah I hope so, I've never succeeded in taking a team from bottom to top, I usually get bored after a few seasons but I'm feeling quite determined this time, a least for now.

2 hours ago, optimusprimal82 said:

guessing you're having a better season this time around?

Yeah it's far too early to start getting confident about going up but we are playing with a fire in our belly this season which I haven't seen before.

2 hours ago, optimusprimal82 said:

your coaches didn't rate him

I pay little attention to what my coaches think of a player, at this level I take anything they say with a pinch of salt!  I prefer to judge them on how they play and will also likely give games to players I feel an affection for or a youngster I want to see develop.  Cieslewicz does appear to have horrible stats (below 5 for most things) but I signed him for his 15 pace and he does have more good games than not.  Hunter was someone I wanted to sign last season but was demanding a grand a week, this season he agreed to come on a non contract, nice when things like that work out in the end.  I wanted him for his 15 acceleration and 16 pace, also 18 flair and who doesn't like a bit of flair?  10 goals in 12 ain't bad for a winger.

2 hours ago, optimusprimal82 said:

it's the one stat i'm unsure how to improve (consistency)

How are you able to check consistency?  I thought it was a hidden stat (I know there are ways to see them but I like to think they're hidden for a reason).  I can't see anything in the coach report about him be inconsistent, maybe he got over it?

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16 hours ago, priority76 said:

I am extremely impressed.  Well done for digging in during the dip in form and turning things around.  That must have been a very frustrating period indeed!  Is that four back to back promotions now?  Inspiring stuff.  

It might not be such a bad thing to have a few seasons in the championship to make the length of said bridge less.  But promotion every season would be a pretty cool achievement.

Yeah I hope so, I've never succeeded in taking a team from bottom to top, I usually get bored after a few seasons but I'm feeling quite determined this time, a least for now.

Yeah it's far too early to start getting confident about going up but we are playing with a fire in our belly this season which I haven't seen before.

I pay little attention to what my coaches think of a player, at this level I take anything they say with a pinch of salt!  I prefer to judge them on how they play and will also likely give games to players I feel an affection for or a youngster I want to see develop.  Cieslewicz does appear to have horrible stats (below 5 for most things) but I signed him for his 15 pace and he does have more good games than not.  Hunter was someone I wanted to sign last season but was demanding a grand a week, this season he agreed to come on a non contract, nice when things like that work out in the end.  I wanted him for his 15 acceleration and 16 pace, also 18 flair and who doesn't like a bit of flair?  10 goals in 12 ain't bad for a winger.

How are you able to check consistency?  I thought it was a hidden stat (I know there are ways to see them but I like to think they're hidden for a reason).  I can't see anything in the coach report about him be inconsistent, maybe he got over it?

Yeah it's four back to back promotions now which is super cool, that last one was the hardest for sure though and has had a serious impact long term - if I don't play my youth guys they don't really seem to improve with my terrible TERRIBLE facilities - now that the board have sold off my three best kids I've got no succession plan - I can't buy adequate replacements because we don't have the funds and any kids I have are currently way WAY below the standard required - I could get away with it in the Vanarama because the skill gap was so much smaller. I think i've bridged it for now but I had to get very creative with the 'installments' during the xfer window, with one eye on the fact the board took out an extra loan for the stadium expansion (we now have 2) so gotta make sure I haven't bankrupted the club! What really got my goat is I got approval (finally) for both my youth facilities and the training ground to be improved - in the championship I was hoping they'd be pretty good - 10 months of work later, they cancel the training facilities upgrade because they 'can no longer afford it' due to the non-mandatory stadium upgrade... I am still getting the youth upgrade so guess I should be grateful for that - not to mention the revenue from the additional 2500 seats makes a big difference to my tiny budget - but a bit galling that the awesome kids i brought in that made such a huge profit, I'm robbed of them then have my say on where best to spend it taken away - such is the life of a manager I guess! :D :rolleyes:

I'm mixed on the coaches. I ignore a lot of the match stuff they tell me (you have too many support/attack roles, we should play more direct/we should play shorter passing etc) because they change their mind so often and contradict themselves, not to mention every time I listened to my Ass Man in the lower leagues regarding mentality it was suicide! When it comes to current PA and how the players fit the tactic/roles I tend to listen a little more, purely because the ME has all sorts of weird little 'ticks' for and against in terms of evaluating how players play in certain positions/roles and they (the coaches) have an easy insight (and thus provide very quick analysis) into some of that, observable quite quickly when you change roles in a tactic (just for fun) and look at how they re-rank your guys in team report (my best midfielder is only 4th best choice for the BWM MCL position). Quick pick gives you a good idea too (although obviously it's dreadful in terms of effectiveness as they'll happily pick people only 82% fit! I'm still like you in the sense that I trust my own opinion more - the opposite of Cieslewicz, I've got a guy that both stats and coach wise should  be brilliant (he's even noted as a consistent performer), yet he very rarely has a good game and I just cannot figure him out so I play someone else (who'rated worse and looks it!).

Hate when the guy you want just demands stupid money - a grand a week is no joke at that level! I could only offer a maximum of 600 when I was in the Vanarama North, let alone a league down! 10 in 12 is a great return though so looks like he would have been worth it, although even better on a non-contract (just hope the vultures don't start circling when they spot his ratings)!

Got to be honest, I think League two and One were just tremendous drags (league two especially). The seasons go on forever with so many cup competitions you have no chance in or don't care about. The cash is nice (I got Man City away which gave us over a million) but with the 46 game season alone it often feels never ending, then you get the league cup, FA cup and Checkatrade trophy added on top (which the board naturally set targets for) it becomes relentless! If you can make it through those then I reckon you've got a good chance of going all the way - I'm dreading this season in the one sense as I think i'll be powerless against some teams, but it's also the most exciting my save has been for a while because so much is going on and I've finally got players who can kick a ball well - just maybe not as well as some other guys in our league! :) 

As Knap suggests, consistency is under reports on the player screen - i don't know what the numbers are nowadays (long long time since I've used genie or anything like that) but I'm assuming that if they aren't mentioning it anymore, his current hidden stat is sat in a middle ground. I don't know what the cut off's are now for being labelled consistent/inconsistent, I took notice way back around FM07 (think it was 07) because nearly all of the regens were crippled with low hidden stats and whilst you could improve the other hiddens, consistency was the one it was really difficult to do. I believe it's more organic now and it improves over time, it's just how much it improves I'm curious about - such that I won't sign anyone over the age of 21/22 who's labelled as inconsistent as they improve more slowly after that and I think it gives them a mountain to climb? Luckily Guilfoyle is still young and it sounds like he's improving already if they've taken that label away (apparently playing first team football helps too but unconfirmed) because he definitely had it before so prorps to you for getting even more out of him - he really is freakishly good stats wise for that level!;



Back to my rabble, I think a few seasons in the Championship will (not that I think i'll have much choice) do me the power of good. In some ways I think get promoted/relegated and save as much cash as possible/improve the facilities, but i also think knowing FM I'd likely get sacked so maybe better to build an extra year (or two) here and then have a proper go - who knows, maybe my new facilities will help me train the kids properly and I can do it that way!? Start of the season was a bit of a sham - board announced we were going on a training camp (to Liverpool of all places), but the dates overrun the start of the season (due to the world cup) so my guys aren't fit/have no match sharpness as it's still mid-July! Regardless, it's obviously very early days, but so far, so good;



The Sunderland game was easier than the scoreline suggests, the Sheffield Wednesday one though was a bit of an eye opener; I went 3-0 up, changed down to my control as normal and was controlling the game as planned/usual. When 75 minutes hit (the AI's crazy time marker) suddenly I was completely overrun; they had five shots in 2 minutes and scored before I had time to react and the onslaught continued! I changed down to defensive and then my SUS in the 82nd minute but before it became active they scored another and then kept attacking even after that - pretty hairy for a while! Luckily my guys broke on them and scored a 4th to settle the nerves, but realised then that if some of the better teams (Sheff Weds predicted to finish 17th) come at me then there may not be too much I can do! Next game will be a true acid test - away to Palace who just got relegated... I'm lucky in one sense because if this game had been instead of Sheffield Weds then they'd have had Fred (yep, the Man Utd guy who is pretty beast-y on FM) and a pretty tasty regen striker in their lineup - luckily they were xfer deadline day casualties!

Tactics wise I've started with the 442, may swap to the 4411 for some of the tougher games or even go more defensive if required, latest versions here anyway for anyone that would like to try them;











BASE is the main starting tactic, with a few small tweaked differences from Knaps version to suit a slightly lower standard and more importantly, to start on cautious mentality (I start every game like that until 12-15 minutes).

CTRL is what I swap to when I'm a couple of goals+ ahead and I suspect the AI will start to come back at me (~38 minutes in the 1st half or ~75 minutes in the second - sometimes happens sooner so beware)

SUS is to close the game out, I use it from 82-85 minutes onwards.

For the 4411, I use both 1.1 AND 1.4 of BASE, the difference is that 1.4 attacks slightly wider and another few tweaks (can't remember exactly without loading the game) which is useful when teams start to fear you/go more defensive and you don't feel your team is strong enough yet to rock a more offensive formation (442/4231 etc)



What was I worrying about again? Crystal who? Acid what...? The 442 on counter/balanced and then changed to CTRL absolutely destroyed them;



I look forward to the reality check of losing at home to Brentford/whoever shortly :D

Edited by optimusprimal82
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Just reached the halfway point of the league season and it's world cup time so I've got friendlies now until mid December - be interesting to see what toll it takes on my guys fitness wise, especially as none of them are involved in the WC!

Irrespective, I'm almost sad to say that my initial fears were somewhat unwarranted; despite the odd tricky fixture (and the inevitable BS against Norwich/Swansea) it's - and I hesitate to say this - been disappointingly easy...? Guess the coaches really did know their stuff when reviewing my guys? Might be time to find a new tactic set to add some challenge back - think it's safe to say that these ones definitely work (might even be time to break out the Beowulf now my players aren't dreadful)!

All results using my variations on Knaps TIME 442 (available in the post prior to this one), looks like I will make it 4 out of 4, meltdowns permitting.



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That is absolutely nuts! I really don't know how you do it.  I know you try to explain, but to achieve that sort of form seems so far away from my (current at least) playing experience.  I take it SI have included the winter world cup in Qatar?  It always used to get moved to Australia or somewhere to keep it in the summer.  Just checked my game, I'm actually a few weeks ahead of you on world cup final day (Argentina vs France incidentally).  Oh, and have managed a total of 0 promotions so far :lol: .

Hopefully that will change this season here's how it's shaping up at the halfway point:


So our best performance in the league so far but it's tight at the top and although we are dominating some matches (we just beat promotion rivals Frickley 5-1) there are too many worrying performances for my liking for example:

The game we just played although we won we did not deserve it, it was only a last minute direct free kick that won it for us.  I feel that we were due some luck in this department, seemed to lose so many points last season from last minute free kicks.


Then there are games like this were the highlights are just the opposition getting chance after chance and you know they're going to score eventually. I play cautious mentality but other than that I'm not sure what changes to make when being bombarded like that.  Go more defensive or go more attacking or change formation, sometimes nothing works.  The stats look pretty even but watching the highlights was like one way traffic.


Also inexplicably got knocked out the FA trophy by Pontefract, I was playing a rotated squad but we should have easily beat them (they are a league below).  Never mind the league is the priority this season.


Anyway enough moaning, you can't win them all!  Hopefully we can continue the good form and get out of this league at last.

Edited by priority76
Dew is what you get on grass.
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I actually can't believe it!  All we had to do was not lose at home to a team ten places below us:


Two nil down after six minutes and absolutely no fight in us.  Players were anxious or nervous bunch of spineless b'stards.

And of course Marine won their match, I guess they just wanted it more.  I even beat them 7-0 earlier in the season.  This bloody game is so ridiculously frustrating!!!


I don't know if I can face another season in this league after coming so close.  Guilfoyle is out for the playoffs so they're a write-off.  Football Manager I bid you farewell! (for a day or two)

Edited by priority76
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Omg... Literally don't know what to say - that's heartbreaking & horrendous luck! Why is it always Marine who usurp you too?! Guess we know what sort of pressure stat the majority of your guys have - if it wasn't for the playoffs I'd suggest fining them all!..!

Take a day or two and see if you can come back at it refreshed, you never now, you could storm the playoffs even without Guilfoyle? I can understand why the motivation would drop if you fell now though, that even happens to managers in real life! Do you think if you could strengthen that last extra bit you could storm the league next year? Failing that you could journey on to the next club in the same save? :)

I'm actually 'working' (if you can call FM work) on something that may/may not be of interest/help you when you're ready to come back to it all - feedback from you, a few of my friends and a fair few I've been helping out on Discord has convinced me to draw up a few things (that aren't just tactics) to help point them in the right direction. It should (hopefully) help with problems like this;


Then there are games like this were the highlights are just the opposition getting chance after chance and you know they're going to score eventually. I play cautious mentality but other than that I'm not sure what changes to make when being bombarded like that.  Go more defensive or go more attacking or change formation, sometimes nothing works.  The stats look pretty even but watching the highlights was like one way traffic.


No-one wants to learn from a wall of text so i've gone the extra mile - low res sneak preview below, not sure how i'll distribute it (whether I'll keep it private or be brave and post it on here) but if you think it'll be of any use - and I fully understand why you won't want to think of anything FM for a while - then let me know and i'll make sure to loop you in! :D 



Edited by optimusprimal82
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Thank you, appreciated! I'll consider throwing it up on here then when finished, just working on a 'mentality masterplan' as the final piece as I think it's one of the least explored/understood/frustrating aspects of the game for a lot of people (it frustrates the life out of me still even so!). It is all very light on the main 'tactics' side because there's already a wealth of info out there and there's a lot of people around to help with that already etc.


(sorry Knap - will stop hijacking now!)

Edited by optimusprimal82
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15 hours ago, coolestrock said:

I'm actually 'working' (if you can call FM work)

It sure feels like work sometimes.

Yeah, nice work with the diagram presentation, it's handy to have this information put on in such a jazzy layout.  I will look forward to seeing one on mentality it's something I'm still not sure I really get and more information about when to use which one under different circumstances would be cool.  Perhaps you could do one on what to do when your team keeps insisting on losing early goals or when the opposition's keeper turns out to be Neuer in disguise.  I mean seriously the saves he was pulling off were ridiculous. :mad:


I think next season I'm going to be going with your version of time, I replayed the game with it as a test and it seemed to produce a more stable performance, not so many chances created but it always felt like we were in charge of the game.  And sixth times a charm and all that.


Discipline might be a problem though.  I presume get stuck in was turned on, that might have to change.


Edited by priority76
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Be careful what you wish for! :D

The main thing is still a WIP but it will very much (hopefully) look to address those sort of questions (I'm winning 2-1 at 60 minutes, they're attacking, what do i do etc?).

RE: The early goals, do you start with a cautious mentality or attacking? I'm a big believer in always starting on Cautious to avoid that BS occasional AI tactic where they seem to go gung-ho from the 1st minute, if you already are doing that then Team Talks would probably be my next suggestion - do you do them yourself? Do you check your Ass Man's analysis before you do them? He can tell you if someone is being an idiot (complacent etc) in warmup so you can go aggressive on him/them in the team talk. I never used to bother with the team talks (actually hate the busywork even now) but find it gave/gives me an extra few % each game and doesn't take too long/isn't so onerous (unlike press conferences which are ass man all the way).

So is that you out of the playoffs now then? Such a sad end to an otherwise great season - feeling for you over here!

This is in no way anywhere near the full piece i'll be posting soon, but from an incredibly high level, this is a base sort of look at how i change my mentality over the course of a game - this static thing doesn't factor anything in such as going behind etc but as a general rule this is what i try to adopt;


Where I 'change down' late in the second half (the yellow), that's when I switch to my CTRL before turning on the SUS at 82-85 minutes. I'll also switch to the CTRL at any time I go 3 goals ahead because it seems to push the AI in it's proverbial panic button and they always seem to grab a goal back and steal momentum etc. The big plus of my CTRL is that I turn pressing off (pressing is wonderful, but it's only as good as the weakest link, and after 60-70 minutes there are a lot of tired weak links. Check your team - if anyone has a work rate less than 10 they're probably guilty of letting the side down too, those with low stamina/natural fitness need a firm eye kept on them too) but I still have counter on with full backs slightly more defensive - means I often score a goal (or two) on the counter as the AI tries to cheese it's way back into the game.


Give it a go maybe if you're not thoroughly sick of the game (been there!) and let me know how you get on, the full 'shebang' (technical term) should be ready in the meantime and then you can really test your patience! :D


PS: I very rarely use Attacking mentality (unless a big team), usually only ever at home on rare displays of total dominance. Positive is my go to, and after scoring 1 I tend to change back to balanced (if playing away), or wait for a second/response from AI and then change if at home. I find with a 2-3 goal lead, cautious mentality alone often isn't enough to stop the AI scoring, hence why i tweaked out the CTRL. Hope that helps!

Edited by optimusprimal82
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15 minutes ago, knap said:

I would try that way with Spurs. With a 442 I played Alli at RM in EC Final and was POM.

Best result with Spurs was with Lpool tactic in Warpigs thread.

I got 101 points 1st season with Spurs using Beowulf 424 19.2.2 with default squad, it was just too weak away from home in the cup games.

Was that with Beowulf 442 you used Alli as RM?

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So yet another season draws to a close and it's safe to say that the second half was much, much tougher than the first due to yet another terrible run of form as the January xfer window caused chaos with half of my team being unsettled with bids from all over the place (first team regulars players even getting unhappy because i rejected a bid from a team in a lower division?!).


'Luckily' and having faced this BS before I was able to navigate around it (and the loss of my main striker) and we came out the other side to go on and... WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP! :D


Winning it with these guys seriously took some doing and careful in-game management - far too often we were the inferior side ability wise and were it not for my 5 tremendous loan signings who all played a big part (admittedly the latter of which was a guy the board forced me to sell - AGAIN - in January) I doubt we'd have finished even in the top six! It means my team is in real need of surgery for the next season with those players all returning to their parent clubs - the board have given me 'just' 22 million to try and keep us in the Premiership (presumably because they'll need to spend a fortune on our 'massive' 8800 capacity stadium!); bittersweet really because my highest budget prior had been this season with 1.2 million, but they've trebled my wage budget (now 300k p/w) and given me this nice lump sum but it still feels so... inadequate? I'm like the kid at xmas who cries because he got an xbox and wanted a PS4!! :D 

Tactics wise (the reason you're all reading this thread), I went for the first 60% of the season using my battle tested TIME 442 set from 19.2.1;




(NB: If you're unsure what the heck a SUS or CTRL is then please head here.)


With poor morale and coming up against players such as Wilshere, Hudson-odoi, Benteke, Di Maria(?!), Knockaert and too many other premier league quality guys to mention, it was a struggle at times to get on top and score the goals needed as my strikeforce was the one area I couldn't really afford to reinforce this season so will have to be a priority now, the flip side of that is when we did manage to get ahead, then using the mentality logic in the masterplan and changing down to the CTRL/SUS we were often able to close the game out and set a record in terms of fewest goals conceded and clean sheets which is incredibly satisfying compared to my earlier seasons resignation of "we'll just have to outscore them!"!

Towards the end of the season, Knap released updated verison of the 4-4-1-1, 4-4-2 and - I think following my feedback :) - a 4-1-4-1 which provided some new toys to play around with. The 4-4-1-1 again seems very good/solid, but I stand by earlier feedback that it's better when you're the league underdog/the AI doesn't fear you - as soon as you start doing well they bring out the dreaded 4-2-1-3 defensive and your AMC tends to get squeezed out of the game, consequently it's then I recommend changing up to the 4-4-2. So what use then for the 4-1-4-1? I haven't had to use it yet, but it will likely be my go to for tough games i'm likely to lose - more importantly I use it to kill every game off after taking the lead, so much so I've added an extra step to the BASE -> CTRL -> SUS methodology for those who care, with a CTRLCNTR (control counter) for those times where you're maybe only 1 goal ahead and the AI is getting a bit 'shot happy' (So idea is BASE -> CTRLCNTR -> CTRL -> SUS). You can skip the CTRLCNTR step entirely if you want to (going straight to CTRL) - but - the beauty is that with CTRLCNTR/CTRL variants for the base tactics and the 4-1-4-1 nullify you've got options you can pick accordingly; if the AI is attacking too much, go 4-1-4-1 CTRL, if you're a couple of goals ahead but still on top, go with the CTRLCNTR version of your main tactic to add a few more goals in more relative safety etc. I can elaborate on this for anyone who's interested/doesn't get it, for the rest of you, here are my (naturally because I can't stop tweaking) tweaked variants of KNAP's latest TIME set;


4-4-1-1 (19.2.2)






NOTE: the two different versions of BASE relate to tweaks made as teams become more defensive; start with 1.1 if you're unsure, 1.3 attacks with more width which can be useful for breaking down stubborn buses. I also rarely use the CTRL/SUS variants for this tactic now, preferring safety first with the 4-1-4-1 variants - the stronger your team, the less you should have to worry about changing formation too etc.


4-4-2 (19.2.2)





NOTE: Same again, I rarely use the CTRL/SUS variants for this tactic now, preferring the 4-1-4-1 variants whilst my guys are... inadequate?


4-1-4-1 (19.2.2)





NOTE: The BASE version here is untested by me, but as you can see above in Knap's post it still did pretty awesome in his testing, given the defensive nature I assume it will still work well with lesser sides (just maybe struggle for goal threat compared to the 4-4-1-1/4-4-2!

Good luck all and thanks (as always) Knap! :) 

Edited by optimusprimal82
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