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Mastering Movement - Evolving my 4312

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This is a series of posts, essentially it chronicles my attempts to develop a 4312 with a bunch of misfits who shouldn't be in the Championship. I plan to do this series in a different way than normal. There will be written articles written with the benefit of hindsight with videos that show me making some serious errors in judgement.

The articles and videos are inter-related and will show how I entered the Summer of Shining Stupidity basking in its sunshine. While I looked ok in some matches because I was adapting, this was a train wreck waiting to happen. I kept ignoring fundamental issues, like managing channels between players, both vertical and horizontal.

Each post is followed by a video where you will see me playing a game, in fact in one show i am blowing away opposition way better than us, but i refused to even acknowledge the danger, in fact, i subconsciously predicted what I was going to do, and its actually in the show. I only realised it much later when i was writing the series.

The series starts with a Mastering Movement article that deals with Move Into Channels, then I have 4 articles with related videos as well that show the evolution of a 4312. The first 3 shows have a play through.  For those who want the TLDR version just jump to Lessons Learnt video, which is basically a summary.  


The goal of this series of posts and videos is to share my experiences, and hopefully engage with everyone here to see how common these mistakes can be. 

By using video and written material, I am hoping to make this easier for everyone to grasp. Play throughs are used to show how the movement of the various versions of 4312 can look like. The written posts serve to be an analytical looks at systems.

Where possible I will use skins to show roles and duties, however these are only done to for illustrative purposes so everyone can see how they affected the channels. This is important to capture in hindsight. 

As an engagement exercise, I hope that the mistakes i made judging vulnerability of vertical channels will be helpful and since it is across several platforms I hope we get some quality engagement via a dialogue here.

We begin the series with a written guide on Movement, and i also do a video guide for the same thing. These articles are also available at teaandbusquets.com/blog

Episode 1: Squad Building for the Championship I deal with our newly promoted side in the Championship. We analyse the squad and proceed to bring in players. I decide on how we should be playing based on what has happened in pre-season including two wins over similar opponents in our league. My initial tactic already has flaws that I haven't even bothered to acknowledge, I refuse to look at my own attributes to see what the spread is, so basically I am playing like someone would who had downloaded a tactic and played with the best players who could in his squad. Issue: I still wasn't using the best players in my squad making some simple selection errors.

Episode 2: Spot My Stupidity-  We are still trying to work things out. There are flaws in the system, but somehow or not the romantic in me, still wants to have his cake and it it eat too.  I play another game this time against West Brom, I still ignore the fundamentals, but I also begin to recognise some squad weaknesses.We identify who should be playing. And we start looking at training sessions for the team. We play a match against Preston, and by the end of the show, I seem to be finalising my squad choices.

Episode 3:  Forgetting the 6 Second Move- In this show i explain how we scored a goal in 6 seconds. The same player scored twice. We then head into the next match, change the system to something else thinking we will do the same thing again. What did I do wrong here?

Episode 4:  Lessons Learnt Post Match Analysis shows that I am going to be in trouble if I keep things up, so we make fundamental changes to our system. This episode has no play through, instead its serves as a look at what happened in the last few games leading me to a version of our 4312, that fixes the problems we have with the system. I explain what the problems are as I walk through the bright lights of enlightenment.


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This is a fairly extensive series that looks at player movement in and around the box, and works specifically with roles that generate movement. I will be looking at roles that draw defenders out of position and player instructions that contribute to this effect. 

Stalybridge start using the 4312 in their Championship pre-season. And along with a battery of players that join the club you will see how I have to identify players, study their movement and then pick my 11. I then link it up to training so that we can strengthen any weak areas of their game. Finally I attempt different things in order to test our strengths playing against different kinds of systems.

In order for us to do that I have to be absolutely clear what move into channels does with my group of players. So we naturally begin with an explanation of this featue.


According to the game, this is an instruction that instructs players to move into the spaces between players. The space in question is usually referred to as a “channel” and is a fluid space that is created by a fullback/wingback and the closest defender. Some may argue that the halfspace and the channel are similar (https://spielverlagerung.com/glossary/pitch-zones/half-space/).  There is a difference for Football Manager, however, when we refer to move into channels we are specifically looking at that area in the final third.

In football parlance a channel can be vertical or horizontal. The vertical space between the fullback and the central defender differs from the horizontal space between the defensive and midfield tiers.

Before defensive midfielders and attacking midfielders became common we had more orthodox systems that operated specifically within their tiers with limited movement into the horizontal channels, but the advent of the 442, and with some Number 6s dropping into a holding area in front of the defenders, created a channel that was relatively free of opposing players. 

This gave the Number 6 more time to be on the ball, and made him more easily available for the pass. Teams countered this with other systems like the 4231 for example.

The vertical spaces channels are the ones that I want to focus on for Football Manager. Over the years, the game has dealt with channels in different ways. Back in 03/04 we had poor handling of the channels. There was a bug that could cause a split in the channel allowing a central midfielder to come in unhindered from central midfield to score goals.

Over time the handling of channels improved, however it isn’t perfect, certain features of movement are still being worked on in particular. These include the diagonal runs of wide players onto through balls. I do believe that SI are moving in the right direction but there is still room for improvement, and this includes work specifically for the horizontal channels.

When players attack a vertical channel, the move into channels is the instruction we are more interested in. This instruction suggests that this movement is both off and on the ball. This means that a player can move into a channel with the ball to receive a pass, dribble with the ball or even become a decoy.



FM19 sees a lot of changes being made to roles in the game. Some have been hardcoded with this instruction, other roles have these PIs either removed or left open as an option. 

One role that operates specifically in the channels is the Mezzala. The Inside Forward can start from inside the channel, but is more frequently seen starting from wider positions, so you don’t see the Move Into Channels (MIC) instruction on it.

In wider areas only the Wide Target-man and the Raumdeuter ( @crusadertsar @Jyuan83  thanks) can be issued with the instruction to move into the channels. The winger on the other hand is not a channel operator but is meant to give width to the tactic.

In central midfield and defensive midfield there are also two roles each for each tier that have this MIC instruction. These are:  Mezzala and the Roaming Playmaker in central midfield. And, the Segundo Volante and the RPM in defensive midfield.

In the Forward tier, Roles like the Advanced Forward have an interesting combination; they can be told to stay wider and are locked into channel. The poacher is a simpler role less complicated with PIs as opposed to the AF and does not like to play the through ball, he instead can be seeing linking play up. Here too, the Poacher can be issued with a channel instruction to occupy the central defender or he can be told to stay wider when the team is in attack, and this could push him out wider than a channel instruction would.

Ever seen an AF with a move into channels instructions get offside frequently? That’s because as a role he is the most attacking of the forwards, his move into channels instructs him to stick between players and if he has low anticipation and decision-making, this chap becomes a prime candidate for failing the offside trap.

There are plenty of roles that have the move into channels instruction, but its important to understand what each role does. Roles like the False 9, the Complete Forward and the Trequartista, have a high asking price. These roles require players to have a degree of current ability to pull them off. The complete forward for example has a load of player instructions, which requires a higher spread of attributes to pull off.

The important thing here is to understand how this movement is meant to happen. My Tactic Masterclass on Movement video will show specific examples and how I use the Move Into Channels to create the space for midfielders to drive into. We even create a variation of the 4312 where the fullback becomes the primary goal threat.


Here we have a 442 playing against a 4231. If  9, 11 and 12 have the MIC instruction then you can expect them to make those kind of movements into the channels where the fullback and the closest defenders are. There are exceptions as well.

In order to avoid the issues from FM18 and the Scramjet/Diablo effect from 03/04, the game has evolved. Previously MIC could split the defence up so badly that the No 10 would be able to score loads of goals. Today its not nearly as easy, however we can still create overloads in such a way that the No 12 becomes the primary goal threat.

An MIC instruction on the No 9, a playmaker role on the 11 and a Mezzala role on the 8 could allow you to flood the half-spaces and occupy the channel between the opposing 2 and 5. This creates a double jeopardy move where both central defenders need to move. The mezzala naturally operates in the half space, he can combine with AP to control possession of the ball, and the double jeopardy move occurs when the 9 starts drifting there.  Who do the central defenders mark, the Mezzala, or the forward? This opens the entire flank on the right. 

In real life, this was a strategy utilised by Bayern Munich under Pep Guardiola, although there they weren’t using a 4231 for this effect, the principle of drawing an entire team to one side an unlocking the other was.

Instructions like Stay Wider and Move Into Channels thus become an important facet of how we can create the space.  You can also use roles in combination to create space. For example, a poacher is not likely to play through balls, so you can use him to knock the ball back into attacking midfield, . He can be told to stay wider and other players can be told to Move into Channels. This creates a splitting defence, which allows players to attack that space from deep in midfield. That’s how you get a Mezzala to become a goal scoring threat. It's all about how you combine roles together to create an effect, by considering what they do with their movement. So understanding their player instructions is importa


In the next example you can see my Poacher instructed to move into channels and told to stay wider as he pulls the central defender away opening up space for my Mezzala in a 451.

Here is another example of how the Poacher is moving into the channel to occupy the defenders and in midfield a Mezzala is given space to attack. 


The Move Into Channels instruction is meant for attacking minded players who have the necessary attributes to pull it off. Successful movement comes from players who have these attributes: Decisions, Off the ball, Anticipation, Work-rate, and Determination. These guide control; when the player gets the ball, he needs Balance, Agility, First touch, Dribbling and Composure to keep the ball. Finally choose the attributes you need if you want him to be a creator or a scorer.

In the next few updates I will chronicle how I developed a 4312 with Stalybridge how we started out with the tactic and how it had to change as I was making mistakes not only with player movement but managing my own channels. I was playing like a noob who needed coaching.  Eventually we ended up achieving several goals:

- Reduced the number of touches to goals ratio inside our own box
- Reduced the number of long shots the AI was scoring against us
- Reduced the vulnerability of our own channels
- Increased the number of touches to goals ratio inside the opponents box

These will be featured in my Youtube series for Stalybridge Diaries and a special playlist for the Movement feature of the game will be added to the channel. The episodes begin with the very first day of our season in the Championship.


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Masterclass – Evolution of our 4312 Part 1

Let’s be realistic, I tend to have a big mouth, a big personality and whenever I create tactics I just love playing crazy attacking football. It’s in my DNA, but sometimes you need to take a long hard look at your team and divorce your desires from the reality that  can’t wait to knock you down.

When Stalybridge got promoted into the Championship, we had a daunting task to stay up with a bunch of players who had no right playing there. Their attributes alone were enough to send me into an asthmatic fit for two weeks. Each game I played was painful.


My goal was to play a 4312 with this bunch of players so we began planning for it in pre-season. Having won promotion these were the attributes of the players who had joined the club!Out of the 11 players who started nearly each game last season, only 3 players made the cut. 

The 4312 is my favourite system in the game, I will nearly always play it in one form or another. Over the years, the match engine itself has allowed me to take advantage of certain features to extract maximum value. Before FM19, teams would have few options to set their defensive shape up. Width was a function of mentality; the channels were really hard to manage. This has been an issue since the days of my supertactic Scramjet and was still an issue last season and in FM17. With Scramjet we had the rampaging central midfielder, with FM18 we had the Fishermen. Both exploited channels.

FM19 finally introduced defensive shape. Lo and behold, while its still possible to attack the channels, it’s hard but there are ways of doing it.

So there I was a manager with a plan, I walked into the club, turned to my players and told em that we were going to work our way to a very attacking mentality in pre-season playing with extremely attacking fullbacks bombing down the channels. Yes, I was drunk with desire, divorced from reality, but it would take me a while before I sobered up. So how did we begin? 

Our first version



The first system we used in preseason was aptly called FM4312 Beta. There are two players in front who are playing with move into channels. The goal was to get either one of them to drag the central defender away to create space for an attacking playmaker. That made no sense. Why would I want the playmaker to score a goal? He may come in and try to make a killer pass.


Then I added two roaming roles in midfield. One is usually bad enough, but having two on the flanks is worse, and I didn’t’ stop there. I used roaming roles for fullbacks. So now I had 4 roaming players who were going to have fun. On top of that, the channel was now going to be huge. This wasn’t so bad if the opposition was sitting back, in fact it could be the basis of some very attacking camping systems, at a price - a lot of strain on our midfield. They couldn’t afford to lose the ball in transition, as the channels would allow easy access to more dangerous areas of the pitch.


The overlap instruction, can be extremely good for camping, it can also weaken your channels. This gave sides the chance to work the ball in. And because we had two roaming players in midfield, I started to see us being carved open for long shots or a simple ccc inside the box.  They just weren’t in the right position to help support the two central defenders. In fact, the first few games turned our two central defenders into total muppets. 


That knowledge came with hindsight. We actually won the game 1-0, which started a false dawn. In fact, it soon turned into a false summer, as I started getting drunk on misplaced hope under the sunshine of my own stupidity.

You see, I wasn’t paying attention to this little snippet that’s just below your tactical grid: We were giving away too many long shots. I was happy to see touches in our box go down, but hell those few shots they had in the box, they were all very good chances. They didn’t need many. I made sure of that. You either had a great chance in the box or you could practice live firing with bazookas from outside the box.  Did I read this?No, of course not, who reads all this stuff anyway? Do you?


Chihuahua’s or Rottweiler’s?

I started making notes in games, and tried making feverish changes. The easiest solution was to drop the line of engagement. We needed to shut both channels down. We had another issue – bravery and the lack of it.
When you play with a flat midfield and expect it to be a screen its good to keep certain things in mind. You got to worry about the vertical and horizontal channels. 


I started most of my matches with a higher line of engagement, really, honestly, who doesn’t like a bone crunching tackle far away from your own goal. It’s exhilarating and not nearly as heart stopping as one in front of your own box. What I didn’t notice early in my games was the chasm of space between my central midfielders and my defenders. And with the fullbacks overlapping, let’s just say this: low bravery in midfield is going to be an issue. Who cares if their tackling is 12 or 13, if their bravery is 8, they were lying about their desire to tackle.

A look through my team revealed a glaring issue, a few of my players were going around with sub 8 in bravery. Having one may be ok, but if those side midfielders have low bravery, you can start worrying.

When I played with specific players I started noticing how they appreciated the game of good passing, by the opposition. They would make the initial step to close down, but tackle them, no. It’s like bringing a Chihuahua home and telling your wife, “Honey we have we have a guard dog.” I had to drill down and find 3 players in my own team who had the bravery to step into midfield and form a screen. If you could tackle and had composure, bravery and positioning, you were almost assured of being a starter.  Our style of football depended on movement, off the ball and crossing. So a technical session was added to our training program.

Learn how to cross damn it


Sessions that incorporated Crossing, Finishing, Off the ball were needed. You could theoretically just shove a whole week of Attacking down a team’s throat, but we wanted to use less intensive activation training like chance creation that would demand less of our players.

Those who were expected to cross, finish or move into channels horizontal or otherwise were all moved into the attacking units. This would make sure the right players got the attention for sessions that were unit focused like “Chance Creation”.  Individually, players were also told to focus on in either finishing, defensive positioning or attacking movement. Player trait development was ignored in favour of attribute development and team cohesion.


In the early months, training schedules also included sessions that helped with tactical familiarity such as Tactical training, and, since we had so many new players Team Bonding was done on a weekly basis. We needed this team to get up to speed fast.

In terms of training, we didn’t skip a beat it was done to perfection. However, tactically a train wreck was coming. I still managed to make in game changes on the fly, but I was more enamoured by our attacking fullbacks to fully grasp our failure to manage the channels. It had a side effect; we developed the 6-second move.  And, this is how it turned into a summer. A two pass move started by the goalkeeper that intentionally targets a specific channel. And the same player even scored twice by blind-siding the defence.




3. 4312 Beta vs Preston.png

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Masterclass – Evolution of our 4312 Part 2

Development of the 6-second move

Sometimes you stumble upon something, not realizing how dangerous it can be when used without adequate protection.  I’m not talking about unprotected sex. I am talking about channels; wait, eh, vertical channels. They are both vertical right, damn it. Now I am distracted.

Seriously, over at Stalybridge our beta version of the 4312 was resulting in some interesting patterns. I will skip the first two variations as they were essentially minor changes to roles. The third version was the beginning of some crazy stuff.


I decided to go more attacking.  I even changed the roles of the fullbacks, thinking perhaps that more conservative ones with the overlap shout would be more secure. In front we became bolder. 

What I still failed to grasp was the weaknesses of our defenders. Raglan and Burn are now starters, but in the first few matches, I was scratching my head cursing at them for failing to deal with threats. I wanted them to close down the flanks or tackle a player. And, I wanted the boys in midfield to do those bone crushers. To be fair I only discovered my midfield three much later.

Back to my fullbacks, Liam Shephard is not a bad fullback. He has acceleration of 13 and decent positioning, but I was still giving him the overlap instruction. Coupled with his get further forward trait, effectively, I was wearing him down aggressively. Matty Foulds on the left flank was absolutely superb, as he bombed down the flanks wreaking havoc. 

For the sake of explaining this clearly, I am going to show all the roles that were in play during the game.  The orange arrows show potential movement and the orange arrows show potential ball movements.

Losing to West Brom


When you want to deal with channels in the game, you need to remember that channels are fluid. Channels are created by the roles and duties a side puts out. Just because your system exploited a specific channel in one game does not mean it will do the same thing in every game. Few teams use identical tactics.

Here we lost 1-0, to West Brom, using this version of our system. The opposition was fielding an interesting left flank that was creating space by the channel running of the Advanced Forward for the Inverted Winger. On top of that, they had two heat seeking missiles lined up in the form of an advanced playmaker and a wide playmaker. A wide playmaker sits narrow; this opens up the right flank. It can also turn the wingback on that flank into a marauder of sorts.

Our right flank had a shepherd defending; unfortunately he could not be expected to protect the flock. His get further forward player trait would put him in poor positions during quick transitions and the box to box midfielder would roam, putting more pressure on the right flank.

I wasn’t seeing all of that, because I wasn’t playing with the roles and duties on the screen in real time.  I was more in love with watching my fullback trying to bomb down the left flank. In fact, all I had were statistics, and they were telling me I had made 2 clear-cut chances versus 1. The bad news was that they had 7 shots in the game, 6 of those from inside the area. I was now guilty of cherry picking what i liked to see and stopped delving deeper into the rest of the information that the game was providing me. My system was capable of giving the opposition better chances than it was providing us. We allowed the opposition more shots inside the box. Now that is dangerous.

I failed to see this vital piece of information; instead I became obsessed with making my fullback a goal-scoring creative dynamo. So on came the next version, which happened accidentally in a match.

Premiership vs Championship – League Cup

We were in a League Cup match against Barnsley, scouting reports showed they would be playing a 343. Now once again I didn’t have the advantage of seeing the roles and duties. All I had going for me was the formation screen, and the scouting reports.  Even then, it’s obvious that a potentially huge channel can open up either side of the widest central defenders. 


What you see are the final roles and duties of both sides at the end of the match. The system I started with was a huge mistake against a 343, it was the beta version of my 4312.


Within 21 minutes we had fallen behind to a free kick. We had to turn things around quickly so I issued changes to the rolesin hopes of ripping through their channel. Out went the CWBs and in came fullbacks. In attack I dropped the DLF(S) for a TM(S). We really only needed one role: the Mezzala. The Advanced Forward was going to be the decoy and he could also be a goal-scorer in case a cross came in front of him. The Target-man was the primary focus for deep balls from the back.

Here, the Ball Playing Defender would play a big role. He liked to try long range passes as a trait, and up front we changed the Advanced Forward on the left to a Target-Man on support. His attack partner was an Advanced Forward. To simplify things we played the BPD on the right side of defence, making it easier for him to target the TM(S) with a diagonal pass. Either he wins the ball or the ball falls to the AP(A) coming up to collect the second ball. 

With the TM(S) holding position and a Mezzala arriving to work the channels, we had the potential of doing a double jeopardy move.  The central defender on the right side of the opposition’s defence would need to worry about either the Fullback coming down his right or the Mezzala, or he had to worry about the Mezzala and the Target man. To make matters worse, the other central defender had his hands full with our decoy the Advanced Forward. A decision dilemma.


The goal was to create a rapid attack pattern, which would be quick and deadly. To do this, several team instructions were needed.


A very attacking mentality was chosen. This makes the Fullback(A) mentality very attacking, and holds the Mezzala on positive mentality. 

To make sure we delivered balls quickly into space or with quick crosses we used the pass into space instruction. This would increase the chance that more players would look at making through passes or taking more risks with their passes. By playing on the highest mentality setting, I was telling my players to look up and forward.

The overlap instructions were intentional because I wanted to make sure that the fullbacks either side would be in place to apply pressure on their wingers. This kept the wingers occupied and forced them into defensive transitions. The strategy of playing with advanced fullbacks is common in today’s modern game, which has made the fullback one of the most exciting roles to watch in the modern game. Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool and Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City like to use advanced fullbacks. Their forward positioning means that opposing midfielders and fullbacks are put on the back foot early. This allows them to camp and control possession.

The inherent risk of this is apparent when you watch how both sides sometimes concede goals because their fullbacks are too far forward to help their defences out. We needed to keep their wingers occupied, so the overlap was vital to our plans.  On our right flank the FB(S) did not need to be on attack duty because he was not meant to be the primary goal scoring threat, and he was also a player who had the get further forward trait. So, giving him the overlap instruction in this case was actually a risky and unnecessary move.

One role was changed in midfield to give us extra security down the right and that was the switch from box to box midfielder to the more secure carrilero.

2 minutes after making the change our fullback Matty Foulds appeared down the left flank and scored our equaliser off a counter. 10 minutes later the 6 second move gave us our winner.

The move started with our keeper who passed the ball to the BPD. He looked up and played the ball towards the TM(S), who failed to win the header but the 2ndball landed close enough to the attacking playmaker who found the fullback with one through ball.

In the next image you can see the ball movement in indicated in red from the BPD. The Mezzala is moving towards the channel, and the opposing central defender is forced to handle the threat so begins to move left.  You can clearly see the effect of the overlap and mentality on the FB(A) who is quite advanced. This places a lot of pressure on the opposing winger.


The next image shows the ball flight from the TM(S) towards the playmaker. By now the double jeopardy move has happened, The central defender is on the TM and the Mezzala is dragging the winger with him, leaving the FB unmarked.



The players are dragged away and the playmaker can now play the perfect through pass. The use of roles and move into channels allowed us to use the AF as a decoy, it allowed us to pull the winger inside along with the central defender, but the real danger came in blind through the attacking full back.


The move from defence to attack took 6 seconds. In fact both goals were quick rapid attacks that happened so fast the defence had no time to reorganise. Klopp likes to refer to this as a chaotic attack which he sometimes relies on for his goals with Liverpool. Total time between both our goals? Ten minutes.

Was this the birth of a great system? No. It just happened in one match. The conditions in the match were unique enough for us to exploit. Reacting to going a goal down and getting the winner against a premiership in such style sent me deep into the hottest false summer. Now all I wanted to do was go out there and do this to everyone, forgetting that it really only happened because the opposition had given me all the space by playing a specific system against us.

Move into Channels” and “Stay Wider” are two very good player instructions in the game, but we need to understand how they work. These are dynamic. They depend on the players you have and the formation you are playing against. One swallow does not make a summer and 6-second move does not repeat itself all the time. Now though, we know how we can get it to happen if similar conditions present themselves in other games. As long as sides give me a lot of space between their channels, this is something we can exploit. 

I hadn't really used wider like how i exploited it in FM18, but I planned to once i settled on creating a core system. at least now I knew what to look out for when playing against certain formations so that a similar 6 second move could be generated. 

1. A 343 playing with attacking flank players
2.  4231, 424 formations that employ a very attacking flank

Hindsight is fantastic, I am writing all this up, days after analysing our style of play. When you are in the heat of the moment, playing each game feverishly, you don’t really notice this. And as it turned out, I started getting bolder and more adventurous.  I began to forget the basics and started ignoring my own system’s weaknesses as I sought to attack the channels or other sides.

In the next update I will explain how I came to the realisation that I was living in a mirage. The lessons I learnt allowed us to shore up our defensive flaws, and improve our system.


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Masterclass – Evolution of our 4312 Part 3

Time to sober up

When you score two goals in 10 minutes away from home against opposition a league above you, it can give you a feeling of exhilaration. With a feeling of misplaced optimism I rolled my sleeves up and prepared myself for the big game against Sheffield Wednesday. Now it was time to dish out the punishment to others, but for some bizarre reason, I stopped thinking straight. Asthmatic attacks can do that to you, a lack of oxygen running through your brain, yup.


Losing the plot on Wednesday – Wrong roles


A reminder that these roles and duties depict the final version of the tactics that were used during the match, and that I am using them to help me illustrate my points.

Heading into this match I knew the 6 second move was only viable against specific formations, those that lent themselves to destruction by using a combination of a 3 man defence and attacking wingbacks/wingers. So I set off to make a modified version for the Championship. 

The team instructions were still the same; only one role had been changed. The TM(S) swapped out for a Poacher. In principle now, we had a player who would look at attacking midfield to make a pass. He could also be told to stay wider or move into channels. Towards the end of the match and in a failed attempt to control the opposition third I changed the AP from attack to support. Needless to say, that didn’t help us much.

My six second move had evaporated. I had changed a role that was critical to its performance, the TM(S). I wanted to control the matches more, but now I was getting greedy, I wanted to utilise the poacher to score the goals, but there was an issue.


Our channel running and the link play with the AP(A) was now gone. Balls were now played either to the Poacher or the AF, and whenever it was played to the AF, it tended to be in front of him. We stopped getting knockdowns for the AP(A) to latch onto.   

We were able to dominate the opening exchanges but the patterns were looking disturbingly similar, something I failed to notice.


Both roles were doing the channel runs, but absolutely no one could take advantage of them. No knock downs, nothing.  Out went one potential transitional attacking play.

Even if the AF could win the ball, what’s the point when the rest can’t join the fun?


Clearly crossing was going to be an issue for the AF with so many players back to defend. If a TM(S) or a DLF(S) was involved in the attacking pattern, now that would be a different story. The problem I have when I am on a high ( this coincided with my bad asthmatic attacks, i blamed this on a lack of oxygen to the brain instead of blaming Johnnie who was a constant and loyal friend) , is I fail to remember each piece of advice I’ve given to people over the years. This was a noob 101 error.

We managed to score two goals on the day. The first I kind of expected, the hard running was always going to an issue for defenders – we got a penalty. Our second goal was from a throw-in. I was still blinded by the brilliance of my arrogance and I was failing to spot the very basic in transitional movement. I should watch my own videos once in a while.

Counter-Pressing – Going from 7% proof beer to 50% proof whiskey

How many of you like Counter-Pressing? Don’t lie. I know nearly everyone secretly wants to have high possession numbers by setting up shop using the counter-press. The thing I write in my books, and when I do my guides is to inform everyone, that this instruction should be used by the right kind of players. It’s a fundamentally attacking team instruction. It serves to make you drunk with delight. 


Counter pressing basically works like this: When you are attacking and playing with a high defensive line your defenders are further away from their goal. When you lose the ball, your players’ priority is to win the ball back. Now let’s think about this because I certainly forgot this piece of advice. When you try to win the ball, your goal is to maintain your attacking shape. If you fail to win the ball or, or if you win it and lose it again, say good luck to your defenders.

In the hands of my team this was basically “hara-kiri”, oddly enough I had chosen that name for my tactic. FM can be a funny game of irony sometimes. Harakiri or Sepuku is a Japanese custom of RITUAL SUICIDE. I am a genius I had somehow unconsciously named the system for what it truly was and hadn’t even realised it. Welcome to the Sunshine of My Endless Stupidity. 

By playing with counter pressing, I had inadvertently affected the depth of my system. In other words I was now asking my central midfield to step up and create a bigger gap to defence each time we tried to recover the ball after losing it in an attacking transition.

So here we are playing a low line of engagement, which isn’t a bad move, but the counter press was opening us up. If I had the right kind of players with great anticipation, concentration, bravery, determination, stamina, natural fitness, positioning, tackling, passing and decisions. We could pull it off. Yeah, this was also a team that had the lowest value for those attributes across the LEAGUE.  Funny thing, during this game I wasn’t picking up on any of that. We were not defending our horizontal or vertical channels, in fact we were usually out of shape when we conceded goals.


In the image above, you can clearly see how the blue team (us) are hopelessly out of position, from a failed counter-press. It was so bad that the opposition ripped us open with just two players in the box. 

Their second goal came from a corner, by now I was feeling aggrieved. The score was now 2-1. Who isn’t screaming foul now when the opposition score goals form corners and set pieces? Even I started to embrace that excuse. Cue blindness, blame 50 proof Johnnie.

This was the prelude to a 3 game streak where I conceded 6 goals and only collected 3 points. The final nail came when we drew with Brentford and generously allowed them 4 clear-cut chances versus our 1. Hey the opposition was wracking up the touches to goals ratio inside our own BOX. Something needed to be done. We had a huge game away to Barnsley coming up, 4th on the table and everyone had the headlines prepared. “A mauling at Oakwell”.

First issue was the role distribution; we needed to keep the ball better. Our second problem was the gap between defence and midfield. We needed to make it harder for the opposition to move unopposed in our third and we needed to shut down those long-range shots and reduce the amount of touches inside our area. And I needed options to switch the attacking focus from right to left flank.  The focus play team instruction is useless if you don’t set up the players for it.

Cue the Coward

I don’t like playing defensive counter attacking systems, but sometimes you need to throw your hands up and accept the reality you find yourself in with your players. Barnsley were going to be a tough side to play and we needed a plan to have a organised defence with a deadly counter attack. By now I had a good idea how to achieve the latter. 

Our goal was to make sure that when we had the ball, we would be measured with how we moved the ball up. Certain roles were included who now would play with a bit more license to try something more. 



This system was meant to apply pressure down an opposition’s left flank. We also placed a DLP in midfield with the license to make risky passes. If we needed to shore things up he would be turned into a Carrilero or a central midfielder.  In attack we had a DLF(S) playing off a Poacher.

I hoped to see the BPD play the occasional deep diagonal to the DLF(S) which has the inclination to play deeper. This meant that he would have more support around him when he received passes and he could bring others into play.

In attack I planned to keep things simple with the Poacher. He could be told to move into channels to make space or I could leave him alone. His role has no risky passes, so there is a strong chance that he will turn to attacking midfield if he needs to bring others into play. I could also get him to play his back to goal if needed to encourage this kind of movement. That though would require a trait.

This was my right sided attack pattern, it wasn’t nearly as good as the left sided pattern that would be formed if I swapped the roles around in attack, and placed the right fullback on the right on support and asked the left fullback to go on attack. The BPD would also need to be moved.

With the roles and duties in place, all I had left to do was remove the temptation of being stupid. The overlap runs can be fun to use, but if your players can’t use them, then don’t. Removing them had the effect of making our channels a bit easier to defend, because my fullbacks didn’t have far to recover from a failed transition. I could also have opted to go narrower and cram those channels, I avoided that instruction because I really wanted to keep it tight down the flanks, so both fullbacks were now told to mark tight.

The fullback on the right had issues with ball circulation, so we also asked him to play with less risky passes and sit narrow. The latter instruction actually encourages him to look inside for the pass.

The final act was to remove things like play from defence and counter-press. It was time to regroupvwhen we lost the ball. Time to form banks of players to navigate through. The upside: other teams now had to work harder to get around us, and we were now tougher to penetrate with a long shot. My hope was that  defending my own vertical and horizontal channels would become more efficient against certain systems.. Naturally these channels would be affected by the sides I was playing against.

It was time to put the system through its paces.

Barnsley struggle to break us down


Once again, a reminder that these are the final roles and duties in the game, and that these are merely used so that I can describe what happened. During the course of the game, I didn’t use them forcing myself to look for patterns.

We started the game playing the Defensive Coward version of the 4312 where I used a DLF(S)/Poacher pair but in the original configuration. The configuration indicated in the formation screen was done towards the end of the match as I tried to hold onto the lead.

When we lost the ball, the priority was to regroup, and we maintained a really good defensive posture with the added benefit of playing on cautious. Here’s the catch though, I didn’t’ want to be too deep. We could still play higher up the pitch, and with a lower line of engagement, this would give us compression. Add the offside trap made it harder to exploit space.



The narrow banks effectively made it really hard for the opposition to generate shots on target from outside the box. The bazookas had been silenced.

In attack our DLF(S) was now helping us develop play down the left for our right flank focused system. And the same occurred when we swapped the roles around. In fact, in one move the DLP(S) played a ball wide to the FB who arrived towards the box and played a diagonal early cross for the Mezzala to score from. Once again the red lines indicate player movement, and the dashed yellow ones indicate ball flight.


Moving forward, player trait development would become a priority for the DLP and the Mezzala. Now I knew what traits they needed – Likes to switch ball to other flank.

We had developed a system that was robust in defence and still allowed us to penetrate off the break. In fact, we turned things around by limiting their touches inside our box, reducing their long shots and increasing our touches to goals ratio. 


We had strengthened a system that was generating nearly half of its attacking moves from central areas of the pitch, and we had a 1 in 3 chance of scoring if we got the box into the penalty area. Our ratios were looking good. Naturally there is room for improvement, but it’s also time to name the system. Perhaps I should avoid a name like “Hara-kiri” next time.

Thanks for following the series, and if you are keen for a visual guide, then don’t forget to follow my channel on youtube, this series of guides are covered in a playlist called Masterclass – Movement. Time to have a nice loving chat with Johnnie.


12, Movement.jpg

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4312 Evolution – Lessons Learnt


I dread calling these masterclass sessions.

The biggest lesson I had to re-learn was the danger of focusing on only one aspect of your system. I was in love with Matty Foulds our fullback. A 9.3 rating with two goals, wouldn’t you want a goal-scoring fullback as well?

I stopped considering the whole system. Instead I was directing all my attention to the left flank, and was doing everything to make it even more dangerous. Then I wanted to add more goal-scorers in that mix, including a poacher.

Player Movement

Final third player movement needs several elements to work together and they all play a part. Understanding these roles and duties is one thing, you also need to have a good idea of how you want the goals to come. Finally when you create your system, each time you make a side or some aspect of your tactic attacking you need to consider its defensive implications.

These are the elements:


Affects risk, in fact it affects everything. With slight shifts to the defensive line and Line of Engagement, it can be a subtle way of changing things. Higher mentalities encourage more risk, players are singularly focused on getting the ball forward on very attacking mentality. 

Roles and Duties

Each role is unique, there can be subtle differences between them. For example, the DLF(S) and the TM(S) both drop deep in the midfield consolidation phase, but the TM(S) is someone players will look for first if he is on the pitch. Roles like the ball playing defender and playmakers may seek him out on higher mentalities. Roles like the DLF(S) may drop deeper, they help build play up. Here they aren’t the focus, so while a TM(S) could be a really good option for a fast, counter a DLF(S) could be a better bet for one that gets more players up in support.

Pay Attention To Player Instructions and Traits

Every role has its subtle nuances. The pressing forward, closes down aggressively, so his aggression and work rate for instance could lead him to close a player down, but he could also be drawn away from his own players to provide support if he wins the ball back.

There are roles that have interesting player instructions: “Move into channels” and “Stay Wider”. Players with stay wider will be wider than normal, but here again, we need to look at their roles.  Does this mean they hug the line? Probably not, but they could have traits that influence that. How do you know which roles can do these? Look at the player instructions, some roles are locked into it. You will see “move into channels” is already on the role. And, some roles give you a chance to choose it, if you want to. For example the Advanced Forward.

I chose to simplify my last version because there were too many variables at play. You could do your head in, trying to see whether one role was better than the other. Even trying to find out which combined well with another could be a trying exercise. 

All I needed to do was understand how I wanted to score, keep it simple by choosing the roles that could suit my players the best. Avoiding high current ability dependant roles was important, because our team are starved or good attributes.

Understand our own Channels

FM19 sees the addition of defensive shape. This goes a long way in helping us defend our channels. Our channels are a function of the roles and duties we choose, they affect how we move the ball up, but they inter-relationship with mentality, instructions and traits can also influence the channels between players:


Understand How Overlap/Underlap/Get Further Forward (GFF) Affect Channels

Overlap increases mentality of the backs and increases their initial positioning. In other words, a fullback on a balanced individual mentality can become positive with the overlap shout, while the rest of the team could still be on balanced. The same positioning issues happen with Underlap and GFF

These instructions/traits can make your defensive channels bigger.


Once you understand the impact your roles and duties have on channels and how mentality will affect it by adding layers of risk. It’s time to think about how we can defend them.

Defensive Shape

I called it, when FM was launched when I said this was the biggest change to the game. While the Line of Engagement was nice, this was the big gamechanger. It’s now a combination of instructions that was hitherto unavailable to the AI but to some extent possible by the end user. 

It was harder to do for most people, but achievable through a combination of Player instructions, it wasn’t always perfect, but the AI wasn’t doing it. Come FM19 and suddenly the AI was defending a lot better. Coincidence? No. Naturally some people are going to find it harder, but lets get realistic. When you watch a game of football, don’t we want our fullbacks to come back quickly to defend, or want our side midfielders to be the first to close down with our fullbacks tucking inside for insurance. In attack, however, we want our fullbacks up the length of the pitch terrorizing defences.  I can honestly say I want that. 

I want to be able to attack a side mercilessly but I also want my defenders to be disciplined.

Several things were added to the game and they are all important to understand:

Counter press vs Regroup

As a team you want to decide if your team immediately tries to win the ball back after losing it in an attacking transition. It’s nice to see, but lets get realistic. Not everyone can do that. The risk of counter-press is this – If you fail, you are probably horribly out of position to defend. Your team will most likely be higher up the pitch, and if you are in the centre then you could be vulnerable.

So you will need exceptional players to pull this off

Regroup on the other hand is a more defensive action. Here the goal will be to return to your defensive shape first.  Now not deciding the option is also not a good thing in my opinion. If your team is full of good decision makers and you have a physical team willing to run the races, then counterpress may not be a bad option. If you are a weak side, wanting to hit on the counter, regroup is the better option.

Both can help defend your channels

Counterpress– is good for sides that have the attributes, you will be playing higher up the pitch, but your side will need to be able to win the 2ndball and do something with it. So you will spend a lot of time looking at your own transitions. If you are camping and dominating, then counter-press is a valid option. If you lose the ball once or twice and your team is not looking vulnerable. Then sweet, you are still able to defend your channels, since you are using an aggressive style of winning the ball back.

Regroup– Is better for sides that are weaker, here you aren’t expecting to go toe to toe with a better side in a battle of attrition. Here your side drops back, takes up position, and dares the other team to work the ball around them. So you are basically creating barriers to entry. While counter-press can demand a lot physically from your side, regroup has a lower cost. The beauty of playing with good sides is you can do both, aren’t we all a bit jealous here at Stalybridge?

Line of Engagement

The LOE helps with triggering your teams closing down. A higher LOE leaves a bigger potential gap between defense and midfield and a smaller LOE can give you tighter banks of midfielders and defenders.  So if you are playing without a DM then you can opt for tighter banks by reducing the LOE.

You can also make your team even more shallower by using the offside trap coupled with a higher defensive line. The higher defensive line and the offside trap will work to reduce playable area behind you. This is an Arrigo Saachi inspired style where the distance between the strikers and the defenders is as shallow as possible, giving your side a more compact posture.

Here your choice of Regroup and Counter press can be very important, personally if I wanted a more counter attacking style then I would opt for regroup and play very narrow banks. This will help me reduce threats from long shots.

Defensive Width– Narrowing it makes the channels between the FB/CD smaller but opens up the spaces on the flanks. Widening the width, makes the channels bigger and reduces spaces on the flanks.

Here your choice on what you do depends on the kind of defenders you have and whether there is a screen in front of your last line of defence. If there are no side midfielders in front of my fullbacks, using a wider defensive width could see opponents cut inside and drive to the box. This could happen in a 4231 for example.

If I defend wide, then my fullbacks must be good enough to ether win the ball or show them inside. When they are shown inside, we could see players cutting inside and driving at defence. Therefore my central defenders need to be exceptional at winning the ball. If I defend narrow then my central defenders need to be aerially strong, since I am giving away the flanks, so crossing will be the main threat.

Finally we have Mark Tighter. With narrow bank defending, tight marking can actually be a godsend. Since you are defending in a shallow set up, tight marking will see main threats being shadowed closely by defenders. Here there are two approaches, the team instruction or player instruction.

Personally I don’t like the team instruction, it makes me edgy cos my team has poor acceleration and marking in general so I much rather use personal instructions instead.

So these were just some of the lessons we learnt managing the defensive aspects of channels with a 4312. Moving forward I am planning on creating 4 different versions of the same 4312. One which incorporates the 6 second move with a left and right side variant. And another which is more counter in mentality that seeks to be restrained. That too will have a right and left variant.

Ultimately this could be an exercise in futility as well. Will this team be able to play a system like a 4312? Or should they stick to something simpler? A lot will depend on the next few matches I play. So far though, I can see the potential when I have good players, but the risks are also very high. 




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This s a really good piece. With the videos it shows the pitfalls of competing roles and complementing roles.


The use of a targetman is a really good tip as well. A rarely used role that is shown to still have a place in the modern game.

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Thanks @nick1408

Yeah and the Stalybridge system is evolving over time as well. LFC have started using a 4312, that uses a brute force strategy against defensive sides. Stalybridge however are a different group and their options are limited. So we created a more organised 4312 that could be played on different mentalities.

When you change mentality it affects everything so if I want to be aggressive we crank it up and maybe go overload on one flank, when we want to play away and we want to make ourselves harder to beat we play on lower mentalities and the overlap is sometimes ignored.

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On 16/02/2019 at 16:56, Rashidi said:

n the next example you can see my Poacher instructed to move into channels and told to stay wider

I cannot see the option for the poacher to say wider on FM19. Is this a mistake or am I just blind?

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8 minutes ago, Rashidi said:

Is he a lone forward?

Yes. That's why then.

I am using a 4-1-4-1 (4-1-2-2-1 Variation) with a Winger-IF Combo and DLP-Mez in the midfield. I have got the Mez on the IF side with an Attacking Full back overlapping and my Pressing Forward on Support moving into channels. Question being, does the Mez need an attacking mentality/Get further forward instruction to run into the box when the forward pulls a centre back out of position or will the Mez run through on support mentality (Providing the right attributes of course!) ??????

Edited by djpdavey
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You can't use a lone striker and tell him to stay wider :-) I have a 4141 that uses the channels aggressively and its ripping into some teams as well.  The mezzala is the one role you need to focus on. You need to find the perfect player for this, if he has traits that allow him to dribble and get into the opposition half or get further forward it will be interesting.

how you use a mezzala really depends on what you want to achieve. In this gif my goal is to use him to drive at defences, you can also use one to help create overloads on the opposite flank. The attributes will depend on what you want to do with him, so you can play him both on support or attack. Personally on attack is more fun to watch.



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2 minutes ago, Rashidi said:

You can't use a lone striker and tell him to stay wider :-) I have a 4141 that uses the channels aggressively and its ripping into some teams as well.  The mezzala is the one role you need to focus on. You need to find the perfect player for this, if he has traits that allow him to dribble and get into the opposition half or get further forward it will be interesting.

Will he need an attack duty/get further forward to run into the holes that the forward makes pulling a Centre back away?

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11 minutes ago, djpdavey said:

Will he need an attack duty/get further forward to run into the holes that the forward makes pulling a Centre back away?

It depends on what you want him to do and what kind of player you have, then the rest of the roles around him. Personally you can play them in two main ways, sitting back controlling play using their flair to do the unpredictable or if they are good on the ball getting them to drive into the box, split others up make space for others or score themselves.

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Interesting piece @Rashidi. Your revelation about how the channels were more easily abused on FM18 were something that i stumbled upon but at that time did not think of it as a bug or an ME exploit. I was managing a chinese division one side called Feihu on FM18, and even in the lower division, a lot of the teams were vastly overpowered with lots of good foreign players like pato and yannick carrasco. I played a 4-1-5-0 formation with the left sided WM on attack set to mark the centre back closest to his side of the channel(DCR) with instructions to sit narrower, run wide with ball and cross less often. What it did was that it opened up the channel for my rampaging midfielders to score and also allows the WM to run onto balls  fed into the opened up channel and score lots of goals. He ended up scoring 16 goals in 30 games. The only stats that were decent for him were his speed and acceleration. In fact the entire squad was really atrocious in terms of attributes and technical abilities compared to the other teams in the division. I tried doing that in FM19 and it was no longer as effective. Looking forward to reading more from your series @Rashidi👍

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9 hours ago, djpdavey said:

Will he need an attack duty/get further forward to run into the holes that the forward makes pulling a Centre back away?

Yes, he will if you want him to be a goal scoring Mezzala, he needs to be on attack duty, and you need a striker who moves into channels, and preferably dropping back




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23 minutes ago, Jyuan83 said:

Your revelation about how the channels were more easily abused on FM18 were something that i stumbled upon but at that time did not think of it as a bug or an ME exploit.

Not really a bug or an exploit, cos it was really an exploit in 03/04 and to a smaller extent through from fm12-FM15. In FM16-17 they tried tightening it up but the limitations of the tactical creator meant that the AI and the human player couldn't defend narrow unless they played on a lower mentality, Glad you are enjoying the series, my plan on the Stalybridge diaries now that we have sorted out our 4312 is to move to a 4123

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32 minutes ago, crusadertsar said:

@Rashidi found little mistake. Actually in FM 2019 trequartista cannot be given move into channels instruction. It's only Wide targetman 

Good spot, the only role wide that has move into channels in the AM tier is actually the wide target man.

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2 hours ago, Rashidi said:

Good spot, the only role wide that has move into channels in the AM tier is actually the wide target man.

No problem :). I noticed because I was trying to make a tactic with a customized role on wing for my next article. And couldn't replicate the move into channels instruction on any role, except wide targetman 

Edited by crusadertsar
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probably a bit off topic, but can somebody tell me how to show opposition roles and duties at the formation screen?
I'm using the keysie skin and absolutely love it :)
but this is something i would like to add to better understand the game :)

Am 16.2.2019 um 18:24 schrieb Rashidi:

Losing to West Brom


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@Rashidi I now have a question on all of this. Lower line of engagement + prevent short goalkeeper distribution in my mind seems at odds. There was a play tonight in the Melbourne Victory vs Newcastle Jets game early that looked exactly like this and it seemed disjointed. The strikers were really high while the rest of the team was low. It just seems like it doesn’t work. 


I must admit, I’m not sure if you’re using it here as I can’t check right now but I certainly saw it in your Bologna gamechanger video. Can you explain why it makes sense to separate the lines please?

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2 hours ago, nick1408 said:

Can you explain why it makes sense to separate the lines please?

Sure thing.

First lets try and understand pressing in general, in a video i did recently i explained pressing lines. Essentially you can set 3 broad pressing zones, in fact you could set up to 4 if you wanted. This is done by using LOE and DL. This affects the vertical channels and the horizontal channels. Vertical channels are also affected by duties and team instructions like overlaps/underlaps. We need to remember that these affect how a team reacts transitionally, the distances they need to cover are affected by the mentalities that are triggered as a result of a duty or the use of TI like overlap/underlap.

Now Prevent Short GK distribution changed in FM19 noticeably. Now, you will see a team's formation change slightly as  a result of Prevent Short GK. This will happen when an opposite team decides to play out of defence only. Here your team will take up positions to shut down passing lanes. I actually posted a image on this on Twitter early in FM19 showing this to people. When you play with this instruction, you will see your boys apply pressure.

There is another kind of block i like to use, its the Split Block. I started using this early in FM, probably back in FM12. Here we are using specific closing down instructions but we apply these based on the positions players are operating with the goal of setting pressing traps. Here you could for example play a 4312 and tell the front players and the side players to close down more, or you could opt to just ask the front players to close down more, and double down with prevent short GK, so that the team takes on a different shape when the opposition in playing out of defence.

So when i do a split block with a combo like a lower line of engagement, played with prevent short gk distribution, i am specifically affecting my team when the opposition wants to play the ball out, the rest of the team will close down later, but the front trio of players are being given player instructions which i hope make them engage earlier. So here what I am hoping to see is the front pressing, the midfielders and the defenders waiting for the rest of the team to close them down IF they come into our half. Otherwise if my players are successful with the press, my players may be deep enough to eat up 2nd balls. 

The risk of doing this is the lack of support your front trio could have. Sometimes i do this with really crappy sides when i want to play long ball football. The strikers are running around like aimless idiots putting pressure where and when they can, and the rest of the team soaks and hits on the counter. It's how i was able to do things like the 8 second move.

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very interesting and informative but i have a query. i shall let you decide if its a silly one.

if you play with a poacher and tm could you have the tm with the MIS instruction to open up space for the poacher or would it not work?   

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2 hours ago, the SLC said:

very interesting and informative but i have a query. i shall let you decide if its a silly one.

if you play with a poacher and tm could you have the tm with the MIS instruction to open up space for the poacher or would it not work?   

It could work is you have another player running into space between poacher and Targetman, like a shadow striker. Sort of like how Rebic works with Haller and Jovic at Frankfurt 

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im using a system which uses one forward and two amcs. these three have the MIC instruction ticked. from what i am seeing on screen is that the front 3 do all the movement and my mezzala to be the main goal scorer along with my left-back. If i wanted the forward to score more where should i be looking for the movement opening the space for my forward?

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5 hours ago, the SLC said:

im using a system which uses one forward and two amcs. these three have the MIC instruction ticked. from what i am seeing on screen is that the front 3 do all the movement and my mezzala to be the main goal scorer along with my left-back. If i wanted the forward to score more where should i be looking for the movement opening the space for my forward?

Its better if you put a screenshot of your tactic up first, so its easier to see how the different roles work together

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14 hours ago, Rashidi said:

Its better if you put a screenshot of your tactic up first, so its easier to see how the different roles work together

yes i was going to do that but i couldnt remember how to do it. then i got sacked. i will start again and try to replicate what i used. 

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I need to come up with a way to describe several ways of defending. Reactive and Proactive?

1. When your side sits back and seeks to draw teams in and hit them on the break, or use their failure to transition into attack as a chance for your side to regain control of the ball and possession. When you play like this, there is the risk of giving up long shots, free kicks inside your area. You will typically find that you are dealing with a lot of long shots and depending on how you have set up your defensive shape, dealing with crosses as well

2 .The other main style of defending is more proactive, here you are playing higher up the pitch, your goal is disruption and control. Your side will typically seek to prevent the opposition from building up any meaningful play. It requires your side to control spaces effectively and you will need to be able to regain possession quickly even after losing it. 

3. Hybrid defending is probably the last way to describe the final style. Here you are also playing higher up the pitch, applying pressure to force the opposition into mistakes. Defending is typically done further up the pitch like proactive defending, here though after losing the ball, the priority is to retain your defensive shape instead of committing resources into maintaining the attack.

The style you choose, depends on the players you have. If you don't have fast players who have good positioning, then you cannot adopt a style that is proactive. This style demands that you keep the ball and also win the ball back when you lose it. It is aggressive and requires you to use counter pressing.

Reactive and Hybrid defending don't require the use of counter pressing, and seek to defend by regrouping. 

When i am looking at your system I see a narrow system. Those fullbacks need to go forward to support midfield, but they also need a defensive screen, cos ANY side with 2 on the flanks is going to pull them out of position and open your channel up. The issue you have is the midfield area. You have 2 roles on roam with a defensive midfielder who has close down more. The DM is not always going to be in the middle because chances are he will have a lot of work to do. Confirm this by looking at your highlights, do you suffer from balls through the middle? Do you concede a lot of goals from a central area? And do you suffer from conceding long shots from central areas. You need to use a role that does not close down more and holds position. And, a player with good anticipation, concentration and positioning.

The central midfield combination is very creative, but its also extremely mobile. My initial recommendation would be to change the role of the DM to an anchorman.

There is more as well, I don't like the fact that you have 3 roaming duties in the middle in front of a DM. And against some sides you are going to find your flanks overrun. A halfback or a anchorman is a good option, The Halfback downside, is that he also tends to wander off, the fix is probably in midfield with one of the central mids. Maintain the Mez but change the other role to a more aggressive ball winner and remove the AP and change it to something else.

Baby tying need to run off

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ive binned the idea  of one striker and 2 amcs and gone to a 442 as i was getting frustrated with it. im a fan of the 442 so thought why not. 

ive got it going some what as to what i was wanting. wingplay with crosses for my forward to be the main goalscorer.

team goals this season 42 with my advanced forward scoring 18 of those. 2nd top score has 6 so its going to plan so far. 

partnered up top with the AF is a DLF on support. How can i get him more involved with assists? or due to my system is he the decoy for my AF. reason i ask this as my AF is also has the most assists so far with 7.  where does the movement need to be to allow for more assists from either wing or the DLF?

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Think about the right flank, why play like that? You are forcing movement for the sake of it. Just play a simple 442, and then watch the games and decide based on what kind of players you have. 442s can work in a variety of ways.

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cheers for the reply @Rashidi. i shall do that. i have made one change in regards to movement. i have changed the AV to a poacher without the MIC instruction as two forwards with that instruction was leaving no one in the middle. much better with a poacher with him being more central. 

i will be honest and admit i cant see whats wrong with the right side.  what issues can you see that i cant?

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Your original tactic has a right flank that will be porous, an IF(A) and a WB(A) + the focus and overlap. I don't see why you are doing that.  Why not play with an IW(S) and a FB(A) with a CM(S) and a DLP closer to the other flank? 442s are already very strong in the game, and the only reason why people will struggle with a 442 atm is cos people are just using the wrong players and using the wrong Tis.

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Any suggestions on how to apply the philosophies here to single striker formations?

Seems like the strikers in this tactic serve as much as decoys as anything else.  I (and many others on the forum) seem to be struggling with getting goals from single striker formations.

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On 09/03/2019 at 16:09, Rashidi said:

Your original tactic has a right flank that will be porous, an IF(A) and a WB(A) + the focus and overlap. I don't see why you are doing that.  Why not play with an IW(S) and a FB(A) with a CM(S) and a DLP closer to the other flank? 442s are already very strong in the game, and the only reason why people will struggle with a 442 atm is cos people are just using the wrong players and using the wrong Tis.

will the iws get in the way of the cms and visa versa? apologies for all the questions, im trying to understand the game better and to get advice from someone with your stature within the community is really appreciated

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Firstly thanks for the compliment, but I am sure there are plenty of people out there who are good at this game.

Anyway you shouldn’t be worried about players running into each other. If people were to see my Firefox system for FM19 they would say that it’s unplayable cos I use a DLF(A) IF(S) IF(A), and that those roles would run into each other. But you need to try systems out to learn from them.

The IW(S) won’t clash in fact they could work well together cos they really going to be close enough to support each other.

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2 hours ago, Rashidi said:

Firstly thanks for the compliment, but I am sure there are plenty of people out there who are good at this game.

Anyway you shouldn’t be worried about players running into each other. If people were to see my Firefox system for FM19 they would say that it’s unplayable cos I use a DLF(A) IF(S) IF(A), and that those roles would run into each other. But you need to try systems out to learn from them.

The IW(S) won’t clash in fact they could work well together cos they really going to be close enough to support each other.

can we see the firefox system? 

i have made changes as you suggested and have seen somewhat of a difference. when the system works it really does. with some big victories but my main aim was to have one striker as the main goalscorer which i did manage to achieve with martial scoring 49 as the AF. i did rotate the role occasionally switching between the AF role and P role. im not sure why it just seemed to make sense at the time???   i just need to learn or figure out how to increase my goal tally as a team and individually for the AF/P role.  oh martial was also my main supplier of goals with 18 assists. i would like to alter that and get my DLF involved more with the assists. the DLF score 20+goals which was great but only 6 assists which i feel should/could be more.  maybe a role switch is needed? 

ive given up on the idea of clean sheets so as long as i score more goals than i concede i will happy or at leasat settle for it.  

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start of new season. still using 442. 

changed DLF to an F9 to see what it would offer me. so far not many assists only 1 in 6 games but my striker has scored 9 goals in 9 games which is good. my CMs has the most assists so far with 6

unbeaten in 9 winning 8 and drawing 1 

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ive come to the conclusion that its due to my playing style that i cant get the DLF/F9 more involved with assists. i use wing play which of course focuses play down the wings for the forwards to finish. maybe i should try a different style to aid with my ideals? i do however like the playing style and even with the focus down the wings i do still get a lot of assists through the centre of the park.  maybe i shopuld just use the 2nd forward as a decoy for the main striker? or possibly use a more creative player in the DLF/F9 role? 

on a side note i have just destroyed liverpool 5-0 with my main striker scoring 4.

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