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Tactical Theorems and Frameworks '08


wwfan

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Introduction

In writing this version of TT&F I have tried to keep things as easy to follow as possible. It might make it even longer than previous versions, and for that I apologise, but I hope it enables the information within to be more digestible than in previous incarnations. I have also added links to '07 content that should prove useful when playing '08. Most of it will be updated in time, and you might find some of it contradicting TT&F, but it is detailed and far-ranging. I hope it is all of use.

The Evolution of FM and the TT&F Mindset

As recently as 2004, FM was in the grip of a very effective tactic. It was called Diablo and its premise was very simple. The game engine could not cope with a long forward arrow on the central midfielder in a three-man midfield, leaving him consistently unmarked when in front of goal. By setting up passing instructions throughout the team to maximise balls to the central midfielder, Diablo guaranteed a succession of heavy wins and became the most successful single-flavour tactic in FM history. It was simple to understand. It won matches at a canter. It became legend! What it wasn't was realistic! Sports Interactive’s response was simple and to be expected. In the aim of realism they reworked the engine to stop such things from happening. The age of the super-tactic was dead.

Arguably they succeeded but their quest for realism was again thwarted by the development of the back-post corner routine which once more guaranteed an excessive amount of goals. User tactics that were no more than average in design became title winners due to the ridiculous number of easy chances generated from corner kicks. Equally unrealistic, equally well dealt with by SI with the release of FM07.

FM07 polarised opinions on Football Manager like no other release. Quite simply, it became next to impossible to achieve success year-in, year-out without some degree of tactical sophistication. Yes, there were still some holes in the game engine. The problem the AI had with dealing with a lone striker target man (at least until your reputation guarantees you face a succession of massed defence tactics), the weird rebound physics when a ball hits the woodwork, defenders inexplicably touching nothing balls out for corners, world class players hitting corners directly out of play, 40-yard back headers to name but a few. However, in general terms, its engine was closer to simulating real football than any previous incarnation. It has raised the tactical bar ever higher in terms of the sophisticated thinking required to succeed season-on-season and has placed paramount importance on in-match decision making over game-engine busting tactical design. Despite the teething problems of the earlier engines in FM08, I believe 8.0.2 will raise that bar even higher.

The problem that many long-term players have had to contend with is the mind-set switch from single-flavour tactics to multi-flavour tactical packs. This transition has been long and ugly with regular battle skirmishes still taking place. The complaints generated from those struggling with the new mind-set are oft repeated. The most common is the lack of consistency, either game-by-game or season-by-season, often decried as AI-cheating. To combat that we must specify exactly what we believe the most important aspect of actually playing FM is: it is not tactical design (although that is undoubtedly important). Rather, it is decision making during a match. If you conceptualise playing FM in terms of making decisions, as you would if you viewed it as a management simulation (management is about making decisions after all) then the consistency issue fails to raise its head.

Conceptualising the game as just being about football overly attributes success to tactics or player quality. It is not just about football; it is about management and trying to simulate the management experience. Managers make decisions that change the course of matches and seasons. That is what they get paid for. That is where they stand or fall. The common complaint, arguing that real life football is not like this, holds no water. None of us are top-class managers, so commenting on how real top-flight football is managed is an exercise in futility. We simply don’t know. Being a semi-decent footballer does not make you any more of an expert on the ins and outs of management at a world class club than any of the rest of us. Unless you have lived it, you have no way of making a value-judgement. However, some of us do have experience about managing and decision making in the real world and can write with a degree of authority about such matters. Regarding those as the determiners of success in conjunction with a series of well-designed tactics and playing the game under that mind-set allowed us to achieve exceptional success in FM07. We assume this mind-set will still bring glory in FM08.

Making good decisions on a regular basis guarantees consistency, not the inherent value of any tactic or set of tactics. Good or poor decisions on a game-by-game basis will exponentially influence future results. With regards to a season-by-season basis, a tactic that works with a low reputation team and a low reputation manager will not guarantee success as reputation rises. Teams will be more defensive against you and a tactic that worked previously will have to be reworked based on the success or failure of current performance, not its historical pattern. As in financial markets, past success is not a predictor for future performance. This is not unrealism; it is the necessary reworking of a system to combat a different situation. Recognising it and making the correct decisions when combating it are vital strategies in the management armoury.

Tactical Theorems and Frameworks (TT&F), for so long my baby, now has a group of collaborators which will, with a bit of luck, make the FM08 version far superior to anything previously written. In order for us to work together, we have devised a series of assumptions to guide the testing, designing and writing process. In order to explain our exact perspective on playing Football Manager we need to make these assumptions explicit. If you do not accept the validity of these assumptions, TT&F is probably not for you.

Assumption One: Definition of Formation

A formation is the basic framework deciding the position each player generally takes on the field of play. Thus, a 4-4-2 will have four defenders, four midfielders and two attackers. Likewise, the Chelsea/Bolton formation has four defenders, one defensive midfielder, two central midfielders, two wingers and one centre forward.

Assumption Two: Definition of Tactics

Tactics, and tactical instruction, operate within the basic formation framework of a side. A 4-4-2 at home will thus differ heavily from a 4-4-2 away. In the home formation, the wingers may be asked to hug the touchline, support the attackers and be given a fair degree of freedom to be creative. In the away formation, they will be asked to tuck in, support the full-backs, and be ready for quick breaks when the reward outweighs the risk.

Assumption Three: FM Tactics

When designing tactics, one slider tweak difference alters the tactical instruction but not the formation. Thus, when talking about tactics in the rest of this thread/article, we talk about them in the context of one formation. Sir Alex Ferguson nearly always sends Man Utd onto the pitch in a 4-4-2 but individual and team instructions differ from match to match, situation to situation. When we talk of tactics, it refers to these kinds of instructions, not to changing the formation.

Assumption Four: Changing Tactics

No team, no matter how good or how poor, ever goes through a match without some switches in tactical strategy. The extent to which these tactical changes work defines the course of the match. They may not be recognisable to the casual viewer but they happen nonetheless. This applies to in-match management in FM. Playing the same tactic all game in the belief that because your players are superior you will inevitably win and/or failure to recognise and change your tactics when things are obviously going against you will not bring you titles. In-game decision making is absolutely vital to TT&F tactical theory and to be successful with our theories you must learn when and how to apply each tactical change.

Assumption Five: Why Teams are Successful

Teams are successful due to a combination of four things: good tactical management, good man-management, good transfer policy and availability of funds. Failure in managing any of the above is likely to lead to a season of poor performances and disillusionment. Translating this to FM; it is easy to succeed at three and four, but one and two cause difficulties. We assume you are all capable of managing transfers and can all recognise good players relevant to level, so we will not waste time on describing how to achieve this. Suffice to say, you need to have roughly the right calibre of player for the division. If you have that our tactical theory will help you to over-achieve. If you are seriously short of the right calibre of player, you will struggle. If you make perfect decisions in most circumstances you can survive with poor players, but it will be difficult. We promise no miracles. We will focus on tactical design in this thread/article and develop a sister thread/article, Communication and Psychological 'Warfare' 08 (CPW) to outline our approach to man-management.

Theories and Falsification

‘And thirdly, the code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules. Welcome aboard the Black Pearl, Miss Turner.’ Captain Barbossa, 2003

Without trying to be too polymath in writing TT&F, having already borrowed from market theory and Pirates of the Caribbean, we must now turn to the scientific philosophy of Sir Karl Popper in order to explain the ramifications of theory writing and their application.

The TT&F theories are tentative, correctable and dynamic, in allowing for changes to be made as new data is discovered, rather than asserting certainty. Through empirical testing they have been found to work consistently well for prescribed match situations. However, there are many instances that are not ‘obvious’ when watching a game that will seem to make the theories invalid. Before outlining our theories, we would like to make clear certain conditions that will falsify the theory and may not be observable at first glance. A falsification is simply a condition that makes the proposed theory at the very least uncertain, at the most invalid.

Falsification One: Player Condition

If players are being over-trained and/or are tired then the tactics will not be totally effective. If your training schedules result in players being less than 95% fit pre-match on a regular basis it is your training rather than the tactics that is causing poor performance.

Falsification Two: Team Talks

If the team is poorly motivated, overly relaxed or put under too much pre-match pressure then the tactics will not be totally effective. If your players regularly fail to perform to standard in either half then it is likely you have made a bad team talk. This can usually be rectified at half time with a swift boot up the backside. However, a poor half-time team talk will leave you little option but wait out the match with a defensive mindset.

Falsification Three: Over-Confidence

Once a team has gone on a long winning streak they will inevitably become over-confident and produce a bad half, no matter the quality of team-talk. Recognising this, switching to a conservative rather than expansive tactic and remedying the performance with the half time team talk is vital for continued success.

Falsification Four: Squad Personality

If a squad is full of low determination douche-bags or temperamental whiners even the best-laid plans will falter. Make sure at least you have one high determination leader to maintain in-match focus.

Falsification Five: Ruined by Success

This is a somewhat personal theory, but it has held water on most previous editions of FM. If you achieve consistent success over a 5-6 year period you will need to refresh your squad. Selling and replacing some of your top players should see a renewed drive for success. If the team is getting stale you will see more last minute comebacks and low scoring games, no matter how many good tactical decisions you make.

Falsification Six: Poor Morale

If you have made a series of bad decisions and results have gone against you the team’s morale will drop. This will affect the type of tactic you should choose, partly because the players will make mistakes, partly because other teams feel they can beat you. So, on a bad run, don’t try to follow the rules. Be a little more conservative, slowly turn defeats into draws, draws into wins and then be expansive again.

Falsification Seven: Media Interaction

Poor media interaction can make players nervous. Having a plethora of worried players in the side will make expansive tactics more risky. If a lot of players have reacted negatively to your media interaction, consider being more cautious than you would normally.

Falsification Eight: Squad Gelling

If your squad is full of new players it will perform below expectations. It takes roughly 15 games for a squad of new players to start gelling. Check with the Assistant Manager to see how well the squad has settled. Some teams are flaky at the beginning of the game (famously West Ham in '07) which will make managing them more difficult.

Falsification Nine: Manager Reputation

Usually only a problem when starting a new game, a low reputation manager will struggle to have any influence over a top class side full of seasoned professionals. Performance will suffer until some level of reputation has been achieved.

Falsification Ten: Bad Luck

Occasionally you will lose a match you should have won despite making a series of near perfect tactical choices. Maybe the AI manager did so too, which negated your decisions; maybe the AI keeper had the game of his life; maybe two goals went in from massive deflections; maybe a misplaced back pass was intercepted for a goal; maybe their grunt midfielder scored a once-in-a-lifetime 35-yard scorcher. The key is recognising whether it is a one off lightening strike or a consistent pattern. If it is the first, don't panic into changing things. If the second, then you will need to do something and quickly. Once again, making the right decision at the right time will be key.

If all of the above are taken into consideration when choosing tactics, then the following sections will provide a rough set of guidelines to tactical design and tactical decision making for various scenarios. All of the above can detrimentally affect the success of any tactic, no matter how well designed. If you manage them well and reduce the instances of their occurrence then TT&F tactics will bring sustained success if applied to the requisite match situations.

Designing and Adjusting Tactics

Before writing this section, I’d like to tip a nod to Kristianohr and Googen who took the ’07 theories to their logical extreme. They advocated designing 14 different tactics and alternating between them until you found one that matched the situation you were in. The Rule of One mentality splits then gave you the extra advantage over the AI and you were pretty much guaranteed a good performance. A worthwhile and hugely creative contribution, but one I will not be advocating. Why? Mainly due to realism. I don’t believe that a manager could have fourteen mentality systems at his disposal. Personally, I think there are three realistic mentality systems that are used in most levels of football, which I will describe below.

Attack

A system in which the players are expected to be looking to attack more often than defend. Correspondingly, in such a system the full backs will be looking to support attacks with regularity, the team will try to exploit the width of the pitch, players will be encouraged to try the unexpected and the ball will be played into the space in front of its intended receiver.

Balanced

A system in which the players are looking to balance attacking and defensive responsibilities, carefully managing risk and reward. The full backs will support when a good chance is on but stay back if they deem it too risky to leave their position. The team will play a tighter formation than when looking to attack but not so tight that they can only go forward on the counter. Creativity will only be encouraged in the final third with most players sticking to instructions. Through balls will be rarer in order to maintain possession more comfortably.

Counter

A system in which players are looking to defend more often than attack and will rely on the counter to score. The full backs will predominantly stay back; the team will play a tight formation and stick to instructions, through balls will be rare, direct and into channels.

The above tactical systems will usually be enough to see lower division teams throughout a season with very little mishap. In '07 the Attack and Counter were enough in themselves. However, at higher levels more tactical sophistication is required and these tactics will need to be supplemented by a further couple of options. In '08 it may well be the case that even lower level teams will have to use more sophisticated tactics as the AI gets smarter, so it would be well worth having a Control and Defend tactic designed from the outset.

Control

A variety of the attack system either using the same mentality set-up or one that is slightly more conservative. It will be more patient in build up, wider and deeper than attack to exploit as much pitch space as possible, be very creative and flair-based, often utilise a playmaker and slow tempo to guarantee almost constant possession and have everyone looking to play balls into space.

Defend

A system in which the aim of the game is not to concede. Very narrow with no forward runs, no creative freedom, tight marking, a higher than average mentality defensive line to further reduce space, keeping men behind the ball and only going forward when there is no defensive risk at all.

Both the above tactics will become more and more useful at elite divisional level, although may well be required earlier. If you are a newly promoted team with few divisional-quality players you may need to resort to the Defend tactic against top sides home and away. Once you have a world-class squad at your disposal then the Control tactic will become more and more useful as teams will play very defensively against you. Adjusting the tactics that you have succeeded with at lower levels to the more sophisticated and subtle ones for top sides is extremely important for long term success.

Designing Tactics

Stage One: Choose your preferred formation and create your set piece options. Save.

Stage Two: Decide upon your three/five preferred mentality standards. Save each tactic separately (see the Frameworks section).

Stage Three: Assign/remove forward runs and farrows/sarrows/barrows to complete the frameworks.

Stage Four: Decide upon individual instructions for each framework (see the Theorems section).

Adjusting Tactics

Recognising when your three tactics need to become four or five (when being promoted or finally becoming world class) is more of an art than a science. The common discernable problem of when you should switch to Control in ’07 was the superkeeper/one-shot-one-goal AI. Once that started to happen a more patient tactic was required. When to use Defend was a lot easier to make out. If you started being dismantled on a regular basis and/or couldn’t see out matches at the highest level, then Defend was the best/only option. The more quickly you recognise the limitations the less frustration you will suffer.

Making Decisions

As I iterated earlier, quality decision-making is the absolute key to succeeding at Football Manager. Management is all about making decisions. If you consistently make good decisions you will more often than not do well. If you regularly make bad ones you are likely to fail. The following section provides some guidelines.

Pre-Match Common Sense

You are playing Arsenal away. No matter how good a squad you think you have, Arsenal away is a difficult game. Don’t be over expansive and decide to attack from the off. Arsenal are likely to rip you apart if you do that. Careful and cautious wins the race. Be happy going in level at half time. Try to frustrate them and win it once they have played themselves out.

Pre-Match Odds

The pre-match odds offer you an indication of your chances to win. If they are heavily in your favour the likelihood is that the opposition will be playing defensively from the start and Control is the best option. If they are roughly equal, home and away considerations come to the fore. Attack at home, Counter away but be prepared to change tactics (often to Balanced) if things get sticky. If the odds are heavily against you the best chance is to soak up pressure and try to score on the Counter or Defend for your lives from the outset if you are serious underdogs.

The AI Formation

Looking at the AI formation can often help in choosing a tactic before kick off. In a 4-4-2 the AI may be playing with long, short or no forward arrows. If they have long arrows, they are playing aggressively. You can choose to Counter if you think they are stronger than you or you are playing away, or decide to impose your own game onto them if you are much stronger or playing at home. Short farrows means you should be a little more aggressive. No farrows means you should look to Control the game.

In non-4-4-2 formations it is much harder to read the AI from the outset. Common sense and pre-match odds will be your only guidelines in this situation. However, once you start the game the match itself can offer vital clues.

Using the Match Stats

If you have made the right tactical decision then the passing and possession percentages will be in your favour. At home the advantage should be significant; away closer, but you should still have the edge. Likewise, the AI should be struggling to break through your defensive line and thus most of its shots should be long range and/or off target. Unfortunately, the statistical variations only kick in between 10-15 minutes into a game. You might already be a goal down by then, so learning to read the match by watching the 2d is also required, both for the first 15 minutes and the last third of the match, when the AI will start to change tactics.

If you are using a fast tempo, direct, counter attacking style, these stats may not be so much in your favour and you can be happy with slightly less possession. However, if percentages are seriously against you look to change things fast.

Reading the Match

The AI changes its system all the time (quite how much was discovered by Abramovic in '07). Spotting what it is doing is absolutely vital for consistent in-match performance. Is the AI playing tight and quick, heavily pressing, putting your 6-yard box under constant pressure? Is the space in front of your back-line being exploited? Are AI attackers consistently breaking through your defensive line? Are you failing to create well-worked chances, snatching at shots, losing possession too quickly? Then something is wrong tactically and you need to fix it. It might be you need to switch from Attack to Control in order to construct better-worked moves. It might be you need to change Counter to Defend to kill off a game. Hoping for the best is not an option. Making quick decisions under pressure is where you earn your virtual money.

Recognising a Bad Team Talk

On occasion, your team will look like they are playing in treacle. Players will look slow and lethargic, mistakes will creep in, possession will be lost all too easily and the opposition will create more chances than you are expecting. This is either down to complacency, poor morale or a bad team talk (or a combination of the above). You will need to abandon your tactic when this happens for a more defensive one to reduce the risk of misfortune. You can then alter the perspective during the half-time team talk and resort to your preferred tactic for the second half.

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Sliders and the Ambiguity of Management

Having leant towards the positivist theories of Sir Karl Popper earlier in the thread/article, I hope you'll forgive my taking a sharp U-turn into the realms of critical management theory. This is the area of management in which I earn my real-life living (as a management researcher) and about which I am the most qualified to comment. I hope the following section doesn't come across as self-satisfied onanism and most can read it in the manner it is intended.

I decided to steal Popper's falsification theory (and slightly misuse it) in order to illustrate how the best laid plans of mice and men may come to nothing due to an event or series of events that invalidates the previously observed data. In theory, a purely scientific approach to tactics, recognising the hows and whens of theory falsification, should consistently ensure one choosing the 'best' tactic for any given situation with good form logically following. However, management does not follow the practice of positivistic science; it is at best a social science, at its most abstract an art form. Either way, it is influenced almost entirely by language usage and the human responses this usage engenders. Simply put, it contains the full spectrum of human motivations and emotions which can only be made sense of through a complex network of interrelating theory. It is impossible to determine through scientific enquiry why two seemingly similar people react differently when confronted by the same phenomena. For that you need to understand their personal histories, current motivations, future plans, chemical imbalances, levels of tiredness/stress etc, etc.

If SI were to program FM in the positivistic pattern it would cease to be enjoyable before too long. It certainly wouldn't be a simulation of management any more. Once the best tactical algorithm has been discovered it would become little more than Player Purchaser 08, because only the quality of player would matter. The tactics would have been solved to the extent that if you knew you had the best squad you would automatically win the league. Previous versions were like this, and were fun for a time, but didn't portray the real world managerial experience. SI introduced extensive ambiguity in '06 and '07 and emotionally ambivalent reactions followed. Arguably, such reactions suggest SI are beginning to finally successfully simulate management.

The most common complaint in the forums for FM07 was the ambiguity of the sliders. People complained that they didn't know how they worked, what they did, and the plethora of competing theories didn't help. Indeed, they argued that the competing theories 'proved' that the game was flawed. Some even argued that we shouldn't write theory unless we 'knew' we were right; that is was dangerous to do otherwise. However, does this outlook equate to reality? Yes, there is a UEFA Pro-License for managers which teaches the same theory to all, but do managers really follow the same practices. Can anyone really argue that Ferguson, Wenger, Mourinho, Benitez and Eriksson share the same management style? All are successful, but all undoubtedly put into practice different theoretical approaches to the art of management.

Not knowing exactly what the sliders do allows us to approach FM in a similar manner. We have to use our intuitive experience to construct a style of play and management we are happy with. Some tactical theorists try to use a one-size fits all solution and tweak in-match, others have a home and away package, TT&F employs a five-pack, and the extreme tacticians design 14 sets. All work to an extent; all are more or less useful. As in the real world of management, those who wish to manage must choose a system to follow, cherry-pick between systems, come up with one of their own, or combine all three to create a personal best practice. The frameworks and theorems we write about are no more than a series of more or less useful guidelines that the reader can choose to learn from/use/reject depending on how they 'feel' about them. It is style over and above science.

Let's look at an easy to understand slider to illustrate my point, the passing slider. Set it to short and you expect your players to look for short passes >75% of the time. Easy. No problem. But when added to mentality you have a conundrum. My mentality instructions are telling the player to look for attacking balls >75% of the time. What happens if the 'best' attacking ball is a long pass? Will he try it? Let's look at his decision stats. OK, 16, so he should look for the attacking pass most of the time. However, would his low creative freedom setting stop him from even thinking of the pass. Would his passing stats make the longer, attacking pass feasible in the first place? Decisions, decisions!

And then we are back to the crux of the matter. Decision making. We must learn to trust our decisions and the only way we can do that is through experience, literally learning from our mistakes. We must expect to go wrong at times and learn to adjust our decision making process to minimise the chances of it happening again. As things go wrong less and less often we begin to gain in confidence and then can start to experiment in more creative ways. Eventually, management becomes easy because we can no longer be surprised and we can relax. Or does it? The management process can always throw you a curve-ball. In FM07 the curve-ball was the different tactical approach required once your team ranking and your personal reputation reached a certain plateau. Once at that level, things that worked previously began to fail. Also concurrent with the management experience. Past success must be unlearned when its practices no longer solve the conundrums of the present. People complained of the unrealism of the game when their world-class squad suddenly failed to perform. Instead of asking why, they just cried 'the AI cheats' and stormed out of the debate. But the why is simple. The AI changed the rules by consistently playing more conservative formations that required a different tactical approach to break down. The solution was simple and logical, but people became blind to it due to not being able to throw off the yoke of past experience. Spread the play, open up the pitch, become more creative, keep the ball, remain patient. Focusing on this enabled performance levels to remain high, but failing to make that adjustment meant players became frustrated at their constant failure to put the opposition away and became vulnerable to the break. It may be the same curve-ball in '08. It may not. Only time will tell. But the fun is in not knowing.

FM needs ambiguity if it is to remain a simulation over and above an arcade game. The slider instructions must contain some ambiguity so we can't take a purely positivistic approach. We must learn to manage. And learning to manage means accepting ambiguity and ambivalence and coping with them both to the best of your ability. TT&F can help, but only to a certain extent. The rest is down to you. The remainder of this article/thread is our attempt to minimise the frustrations of virtual management. We hope you can find use for it.

Frameworks

The framework section details the key settings for team shape. If a team has a poor shape it becomes easier to break down and less fluent in attack. Frameworks specifically deals with mentality arrows and forward runs.

Mentality Systems

SI have explicitly stated that mentality is the most important setting in the game. Getting it wrong is likely to cause lots of grief. The following details some potential base settings and additional tweaks to gain best advantage. Please note that TT&F fundamentally believes that the individual mentality settings do not work in tandem with the team setting in conjunction with all other dual settings. Thus, if you choose to set all mentalities individually it does not matter where the team mentality slider is positioned.

The most fundamental change between FM06 and FM07 was the reworking of mentalities. Prior to that it was possible to defeat the match engine by spreading mentalities across the board so that you could launch lightening attacks and remain defensively stable. The reworking disabled such systems, most notably the Rule of Two (RoT). It was now inadvisable to have such extreme mentality splits. Thereafter, TT&F began to recommend and still recommends having no more than 6 (six) slider notches separating the most defensive-minded defender from the most attacking-minded attacker (with the exception of a rule-breaking proviso to be detailed later). The format TT&F developed was the Rule of One.

The Rule of One works very simply. Each level of the team is separated from the next level by a mentality of 1 (one). Thus, when setting up the side you would do so in the following manner:

Rule of One

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre"> Defend Counter Balanced Attack

DCs: 2 6 10 14

FBs: 3 7 11 15

MCd: 4 8 12 16

ML/R: 5 9 13 17

MCa: 6 10 14 18

FCs: 7 11 15 19 </pre>

Please note: Control is either equal to or slightly more conservative than Attack.

We do not believe this is the only way to set up mentalities and believe there to be various alternatives. However, in conjunction with the above set up, were you to choose a framework based on Global Mentalities we would suggest you take the mean settings as a guide:

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">Global Mentality Average

Defend: 4-5

Counter: 8-9

Balanced: 12-13

Attack: 16-17</pre>

Additional Mentality Settings

Central Midfielders

Mentality differences seem to be more acute than in previous versions. In defensive-minded tactics any kind of mentality gap between the midfield and the DCs leaves a gap that the AI will ruthlessly exploit. Thus, it is beneficial to have one MC on the same mentality setting as the DCs no matter what the tactic in order to provide defensive cover (with the possible exception of a Control based tactic). NB: This was extremely necessary in 8.0.1 but it may well be the case that this is not required in the 8.0.2 patch. Be prepared to experiment.

Equally, it is problematic if you have too big a mentality split between the midfielders and attackers. Large mentality splits in this area create a void between the two strata that effectively forces the midfield to hit direct through balls to breaking attackers. It is impossible to build up attacking play and create easy chances. All you will create are frantic one-on-one dashes or hopeful long shots. These problems will be exacerbated if the forward runs/farrows are poorly structured.

The Strong/Tall Target Man/Creative Forward

Even though they perform very different roles, the Strong/Tall Target Man and the Creative Forward require something similar in terms of mentality settings in attacking tactics. With too high a mentality setting, neither has the chance to become involved in the game as much as they should. Drop their mentality to the lower end of the team mentality split (12 in Balanced, 14 in Attack) so they can better link up play. Too high and they will only ever look for attacking balls rather than team-linking passes or cushioned back headers. Too low and they will lose their attacking effectiveness.

Playmaker

As with the Strong Target Man/Creative Forward, the Playmaker is likely to perform better with a slightly lower than team average mentality setting. It will allow him to drop into space and dictate play via a wider range of passing options rather than only looking for attacking balls. If you are using the MCd as the Playmaker, this won’t matter. If you are using the MCa, consider dropping his mentality to a similar level to the MCd.

Quick Target Man/On–the-shoulder Striker

To ensure the Quick Target Man/On-the-shoulder Striker is playing on the shoulder of the last man, it is imperative you add a few mentality notches for Defend/Counter/Balanced. We would suggest adding three-four notches for Defend and Counter, and one or two for Balanced.

Arrows

The only arrows we wish to be explicit about are the forward arrows for the most advanced wide players (ML/R in 4-4-2, WBs in a 5-3-2). For Defend there should be no forward arrows; for Counter and Possession short forward arrows, for Attack and Control long forward arrows.

Other arrows are more optional, although the side-arrows on the FCs can be useful for Defend and short diagonal backward and forward arrows for the MCd/MCa can aid the other systems.

Forward Runs

The Defensive Trio

The two DCs and the MCd should stay back at all times to protect the penalty area in the defensive tactics and to recycle possession in the attacking ones. Therefore, in all formations, they should have their forward runs set to rarely.

Wide Players

Forward runs are arguably most vital for wide players. With them set badly the full-backs won’t support attacks or the wingers won’t track back to help defensively. Forward runs for Full Backs and Wingers should, respectably, follow this pattern:

Control: Often, Often

Attack: Mixed, Often

Balanced: Mixed, Mixed

Counter: Rarely, Mixed

Defend: Rarely, Rarely

The Attacking Trio

Setting forward runs for the front three is vital in terms of getting the tactic to function but is more of an art than a science. The standard starting setting would be:

MCa: Often

FCd: Rarely

FCa: Mixed

However, they can be altered depending on player type and team requirement. A speedy FCa playing in a Counter or Defend system may be most effective with forward runs set to often, so he is always trying to break the offside trap and get behind the defensive line.

An FCd might also benefit from forward runs mixed in Defend or Counter systems, although the forward runs rarely will be vital in the more aggressive tactics. In those, his job will be to drop deep to link up play and/or pull his marker out of position so a team mate can exploit the space behind him. A lower mentality coupled with forward runs rarely should ensure that happening.

The MCa might be required to play a more defensive role for Defend or Counter systems entailing a mixed or rarely setting. Likewise, if he is a Playmaker, mixed or rarely might ensure he is in more space to receive the ball.

Getting these right for each system can be a matter of trial and error and often is related to the player type. It is pointless having a lazy playmaker making forward runs all the time whereas a hard working midfield dynamo can do it all day. If both strikers are speedy snipers and not suited for creative roles then it may be best to have them both making forward runs mixed/often. Just watch the offside count! Getting it right can turn a tactic from a semi-effective one to a world-beater so experiment as much as possible.

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Theorems: Key Settings

All great teams are built first and foremost on a solid defence. Getting the defensive settings right enables you to have a solid platform from which to build and experiment. The following section outlines the key settings towards designing a working defence.

Mentality

As iterated previously, ensure that one MC is on the same mentality settings as the central defenders to provide constant defensive cover (for 8.0.1 but not necessarily correct for 8.0.2). A small backwards arrow can also aid in this respect.

Defensive Line

The defensive line links heavily with whatever mentality framework you have chosen. Defender attributes, specifically pace and positioning, will allow for some level of line adjustment but I would advise not placing the defensive line in a position that unlinks it from the framework. Simply put, the defensive line should be placed at mid-point of the framework mentality (for Attack, Balanced and Counter). Thus, if you have chosen to implement the attacking framework, with player mentalities ranging from 14-19, you would position the defensive line at midpoint between the two (16-17). If you have chosen the Counter formation (6-11), you would set the defensive line at eight or nine.

If you have quick defenders who have good positioning stats you could happily place the defensive line higher than the mid-point of the mentality framework in confidence that their pace and ability to read the game will allow them to cover any counter-attacks over the top with relative ease. However, if they are slower than average, then dropping the d-line back slightly will allow them to cover quick attackers without becoming over exposed to balls over their heads into the space behind them.

For the Control and Defend frameworks the defensive line setting requires some adjustment. As Control aims to open space and assumes the opposition will not commit many players forward, the DCs job will be mainly recycling possession rather than defensive duties. Reduce the d-line to mid-normal to ensure the DCs are in space to pick up rushed clearances and keep pressure on the opposition. For the Defend framework the d-line needs to be higher than the mentality average in order to compact space. Setting the d-line to a very low mentality invites almost constant pressure and the team is likely to give up a plethora of chances in and around the six-yard box.

Width

Just as the defensive line, width varies dependent on how aggressive you wish to be. Widening the formation opens up space and enables a greater variety of attacking balls. Equally, it allows more space for the opposition to exploit should you lose the ball. Therefore, narrow is defensive and wide is attacking. However, too narrow is not advisable as it gives up too much space on the flanks. I use roughly the following pattern:

Control: 20

Attack: 16

Balanced: 12

Counter: 8

Defend: 4

If you have a squad full of speedy, tireless workaholics you can play with slightly higher width settings as these attributes enable them to get quickly back into position once the ball has been lost. If you have a few too many work-shy plodders then play more narrowly in order to maintain shape.

Closing Down & Marking

Closing Down and Marking seem to work in conjunction. There is a logical pattern. Defensive formations require tight, man-marking to constantly maintain contact with the opposition attackers, leaving them as little space as possible in which to operate. As the players are already closely marked, closing down isn’t required. For more aggressive formations in which you expect to control the play then marking should be zonal and loose. In order to regain quick possession, preferably in the opposition’s half, closing down should be pretty high.

Defenders

In general, the defenders’ marking/closing down settings should be roughly as follows:

Control: All zonal/loose, FBs close down 14-16, DCs 10-12.

Attack: DCs man/loose, FBs zonal/loose; FBs close down 10-12, DCs 6-8

Balanced: DCs man/tight, FBs zonal/tight; reduce closing down

Counter: All man/tight; further reduce closing down

Defend: All man/tight; further reduce closing down

Midfielders

More of an art than a science. Getting the midfielders’ closing down settings correct are paramount to creating a decent tactic. As with the defenders, the marking/closing down should be looser and more heavy the more aggressive the tactic; tighter and less heavy the more defensive. However, unlike in 07, in which you could be defensively sound simply by having a low CD DMC/MCd sitting in front of your back line, in 2008 these settings are much more sensitive. Too low and you will see the opposition pass the ball uncontested around the perimeter of your 18 yard box. Too high and the midfield cover will be bypassed leaving the back four to contest with breaking midfielders and strikers as the MCs struggle to regain position. You will need to watch the 2d very carefully to decide upon your best settings. They will be player specific, depending on work rate, pace, stamina, adaptability and culture. Play around with them until you start to see the MCs break up attacking play in the areas you wish (just above the final third in Counter, much higher up the pitch in Attack).

Attackers and Wingers

Usually both wingers and one attacker need to have reasonably heavy closing down in order to stop the opposing defenders launching uncontested balls forward. This has two functions. Firstly, it reduces their time on the ball and helps your team regain possession. Secondly, it ensures the balls from defence can’t split your defensive structure as the player in possession has much less time to hit a composed ball. Deep crosses and direct through balls become more aimless and easier to defend. Play around with these settings until you are confident your attackers and wingers are providing enough defensive aid to the back six.

Tackling

Heavy tackling is more likely to win the ball, but also more likely to give away free kicks and penalties. Therefore, heavy tackling is best employed with the loose marking and high closing down of more aggressive systems, in which the aim is to win the ball high up the pitch. It doesn’t matter if you give away a free kick on the edge of the opposition’s area; it does matter on the edge of yours. A rough rule of thumb is as follows, although you can be more or less aggressive with attacking players should you wish.

Control: Heavy

Attack: Heavy except for defenders (normal)

Balanced: Normal except for defenders (Easy)

Counter: Easy

Defend: Easy

Specific Marking

Specific Marking is not required when you are facing a tactic that exactly or roughly mirrors your own (i.e. 4-4-2 v 4-4-2, 4-2-2-2, 4-2-4). However, when facing a different type of formation use the specific marking function to ensure all the opposing players you want to be marked are being marked. Not doing so may allow a DMC to control the game, or an AMC to run riot, simply because they have no one marking them. Check and correct in the pre-match tactical options.

Theorems: Flavour Settings

Once you have a solid defensive platform you can begin to think about exactly how you wish your team to play when going forward. The following settings impact upon the style of football your team will play.

Passing

In general, the more counter attacking the tactic the more direct the passing. A rough rule of thumb would be as follows:

Control: Short

Attack: Normal-Short

Balanced: Normal

Counter: Direct-Normal

Defend: Direct

However, there are variations that can make the tactic more customised to your team. Firstly, and most obviously, the lower the level the longer the passing. Players simply don’t have the technique to play controlled possession football, so direct-long is the key. At the highest level teams can aim to maximise possession by playing very short passing. This is not to say that it is not possible to construct a short passing tactic for lower level teams; it is and can bring great reward. However, it is arguably much harder to do and requires a lot of patient tweaking (see Tempo section for further detail).

Although the passing can be set to global throughout the team, I have found more success in varying the passing dependent on strata. I use the MCs as a fulcrum with their passing usually being set to mixed, allowing them to pick short or long passes at will. In all the tactics the wingers and forwards play shorter passes than the MCs, simply because when the play gets to areas in which they are effective players are closer together and short passing is the most valuable option. The defenders require a little more variety, with them hitting direct balls in counter attacking tactics and shorter ones in possession focused ones. This enables them to hit quick balls to attackers in the channels with counter attacking tactics and feed the MCs in more aggressive tactics.

Defender Passing

Control: Short

Attack: Short

Balanced: Mixed-Direct (dependent on passing attribute)

Counter: Direct

Defend: Direct-Long

Focus Passing

Focus passing is also important in creating/reducing space. Spreading the play enables attacking options but increases the probability of stray passes being intercepted. Keeping the ball in the middle reduces attacking potency but reduces the risk of losing the ball in a dangerous area. Control requires you to open space so using the flanks is paramount. Defend requires you to keep it tight, so down the middle is required. For the other tactic types it will depend upon the quality of player as to which you should choose. For example, keeping it through the middle with Counter would be useful if you had two big, strong forwards, but less useful if you have speedy FCs who can exploit the gaps behind attacking-minded full backs, in which case mixed, or even down the flanks, may well be the best option. A rough guide follows, but be prepared to alter it depending on player types:

Control: Passing Focus Down Both Flanks

Attack: Passing Focus Down Both Flanks/Mixed

Balanced: Passing Focus Mixed

Counter: Passing Focus Mixed/Down the Middle

Defend: Passing Focus Down the Middle

Tempo

Tempo is culturally specific and largely dictated by weather conditions. Playing fast-tempo football in extremely hot climates will do little outside of tiring your players. Likewise, a heavy pitch will drain players of energy. Always have this in mind when selecting your tempo.

A quicker tempo tends to be the requirement for lowly-skilled players playing a counter attacking brand of football. That is not to say lower level players can't play a more possession based game; rather that to do so requires great observation of the engine and very sophisticated tactical design. Lower level players tend to panic when being pressured, so a slow tempo, short passing game can come seriously unstuck if your tactical design doesn't offer easy passing options at all times. Players dawdling on the ball is indicative of this issue and a sign you need to change tempo and/or length of passing.

For more highly skilled players it should be used subjectively, brought into play as and when your team needs it. You may wish to start fast and slow it down once you score, or play possession football for twenty minutes before upping the pace of the game for a quarter of an hour. You may wish to play an AC Milan brand of counter attacking football, slow-slow-fast, which would require a slow tempo, technically gifted players and a lot of flair and creativity up front. Clever use of the tempo slider can change things in your favour at the flick of a wrist.

Tempo is basically subjective at all levels and for different cultural brands of football. Man Utd will play fast tempo football on a cold January day at Old Trafford against Liverpool, but slow tempo away to Barca in a Champions League semi-final. Be prepared to do the same. Look at the conditions, the type of match, the quality of the opposition and decide on how best to play.

Time Wasting

Another variable slider, the amount of time wasting you choose will indicate to your players at which stage in the match they should start playing for a draw or protecting a lead. In general, keep it low in a match you think you should win and have it higher in away games. It should be almost negligible in a Control tactic, so your players are always looking to play football. It is more important for the Balanced, Counter and Defend tactics. Ideally, you should be looking to change it incrementally after you score and as you wish to protect a lead during the latter stages of a match.

Creative Freedom

The most pertinent piece of information for creative freedom is to keep it low for most players until you have a world class side. At any level below world class it is an absolute requirement for players to keep it simple. Once you have a great team and an excellent reputation, creative freedom becomes vital. You will need to get the best out of your flair players in order to break down the ‘parked bus’ tactics the AI will employ against you. At the very highest levels, three-four players (usually wingers, AMC, FCd) will have high creative freedom instructions for Control and Attack based tactics.

Free Roles

As with creative freedom, pretty useless, even dangerous, at lower levels. However, once you have the requisite team and reputation you could employ the following free role settings (again, usually wingers, AMC, FCd as first choices):

Control: Three-Four Free Roles

Attack: Two-Three Free Roles

Balanced: One-Two Free Roles

Counter: Zero-One Free Roles

Defend: No Free Roles

Hold-Up Ball

Hold-Up Ball is a little talked about, yet vital, setting. Most people simply set their DMC and FCd to hold up the ball and leave it at that. To a certain extent this works, but it also contributes to many people’s downfall at the highest level.

From Attack through to Defend, the DMC/MCd and FCd holding up the ball is often enough. Using the full-backs to hold up the ball is also extremely effective. However, when you begin to come up against the ‘parked bus’ AI it becomes necessary to overload their defence. To do that you need to hold the ball up front long enough to have the FBs overlap and the MCs get into position to support the attack. Thus, a Control based tactic requires both wingers and forwards to hold up the ball. Likewise, the DMC/MCd’s job is more aggressive, so he needn’t hold it up any longer. This won’t create many one-on-ones, but it will help quality build up play. At the higher levels the Attack framework could also benefit from having both wingers and one FC hold up the ball.

Through Balls

Another slightly misunderstood setting, the Through Balls instruction tells players to hit the ball into space in front of a team mate, rather than to feet. It is not just about breaking through the d-line but about constucting attacks in which players are always running onto balls. This is obviously risky for defensive tactics but essential for aggressive ones. In general the midfield, wingers and deep lying forward should be the main Through Ball providers, but other players can also benefit form having through balls as an instruction. A rough guide is as follows:

Control: All outfield players Often

Attack: Five Often, Five Mixed

Balanced: All outfield players Mixed

Counter: Five Rarely, Five Mixed

Defend: All outfield players Rarely

These are just rough guidelines and you may well decide your defenders lose possession too often with Through Balls on Often, especially if they have poor passing or technique. Look at the match stats and see if they are giving the ball away and change the settings for those who are.

Theorems: Other Settings

Some of these sections have specific threads supporting them which offer extremely far reaching advice. Please click on the links to access these threads.

Use Target Man

This setting works exceedingly well and can create a plethora of chances if used correctly. The archetypal target man, tall, big and strong, can be devastating when set to no forward runs and balls played to head, to feet, or mixed. Obviously, if you want him to run onto ball forward runs are required.

Use Playmaker

A playmaker needs to be in position to pick up easy balls, so giving him high forward runs into attacking zones will lessen his effectiveness. Low or mixed forward runs, low closing down, loose, zonal marking and possibly free role will enable you to get the most out of an AMC playmaker. However, a deeper lying playmaker can have his forward runs set to Often.

Play Offside

Use it in conjunction with a high defensive line, so if the offside trap is beaten your defenders will have time to get back and cover. Thus, it is ideal for aggressive frameworks, but less effective for conservative ones. Obviously, there is a greater risk in employing it if all your defenders are slow.

Counter Attack

Counter attack is, somewhat ironically, counter intuitive. It does not mean that your players will sprint forward into attacking positions once you get the ball, but rather your players will only launch attacks that are definitely ‘on’. Thus, it is a defensive measure. It is a very useful tool and can be used in two ways. Firstly, it ensures your players remain in defensively effective positions until an attack is on. Secondly, it can force a ‘parked bus’ AI out of its own half by drawing them forwards until your team suddenly pounces. It does mean you won’t see a lot of big wins, but it also guarantees a level of defensive stability that allows your side to grind out one or two nil victories.

Run With Ball, Long Shots, and Cross Ball

All of the above often give the ball away but also create chances. Therefore, they should be used in conjunction with a risk analysis of the frameworks. The more attacking the framework, the more settings should be set to often (with players' attributes taken into consideration). The more defensive the framework, the more settings should be set to rarerly.

Run With Ball: Vital for wingers in Attack and Control, less useful for more conservative tactics

Long Shots: Useful for Attackers in Counter and Defend, Central Midfielders for the other frameworks

Cross Ball: Used mainly with wingers and full backs. A rough guide is as follows:

Control: Both Often

Attack: Wingers Often, FBs Mixed

Balanced: Both Mixed

Counter: Wingers Mixed, FBs Rarely

Defend: Both Rarely

Cross From

Control: Wingers cross from byline, full-backs from mixed/byline (depending on dribbling).

Attack: Wingers cross from byline, full-backs from mixed.

Balanced: Wingers cross from mixed, full-backs from mixed.

Counter: Wingers cross from mixed, full-backs from deep.

Defend: Wingers cross from deep, full-backs from deep.

Cross Aim

This depends considerably on your tactical set up. If you have a tall, strong target man it can be more than worthwhile aiming to target man. If both strikers are good in the air then mixed is the best option. If one striker is considerably faster than his opponent, aim for him at near post. If both strikers will get constantly beaten to the ball, aim for far post and hope your winger out jumps the opposing full back.

Swap Position

Best used with MCs or FCs. If you have a playmaker MC, the swap position roles will keep him as a playmaker, but sometimes drop him deeper and sometimes play him higher up the pitch. This can pull the opposition around very effectively. Likewise, a target man striker who is also fast can switch between the rare forward runs and mixed forward runs roles and, with supply balls at mixed, can run riot.

Further Settings

Player Prefered Moves

Player Prefered Moves can be used to considerably enhance your tactics. They can also considerably detract from them as well. If you have an MC with Shoots from Distance as a PPM, it will not matter if you set his Long Shots to rarely; he'll still shoot. You might prefer to have a player who looks for the pass instead of shooting, or hits killer balls in that position in his stead. It might be worthwhile having a player who Winds Up Opponents, Argues with Referees and Gets the Crowd Going in your team, it might not. You decide.

Opposition Instructions

Opposition Instructions can be used to considerably enhance your tactics.

Keeper Settings

Decent keeper settings will considerably improve your overall play.

Throwing Caution to the Winds

On occasion, you may have to abandon all tactical plans and go for the jugular in a deperate attempt to grab a goal.

Testing

As there are some formations that can still unbalance the engine, all the above has been tested with a standard four-four-two. Other formations have advantages over the AI that the four-four-two doesn’t offer and can thus bias results.

Credits

The FM-Britain Tactical Think Tank

The FM-B TTT takes these theories to a new level and their Tactical Bible articles are a must read for anyone struggling to understand the nuances of the engine.

The next Diaby

Millie

Crazy gra

Garyh

Leroy1883

Pelle mandorff

Abramovic

Rashidi

Asmodeus

Adonis

FM-Britain Staff

A more friendly, thoughtful and dedicated bunch of people would be difficult to find.

Gaz

JP

Keith (although he’ll never read it)

Fids (him neither)

Smitheh

Gaz..

Jcb

Simon

Contributors Past and Present

Without these people TT&F wouldn’t be half as extensive as it is today.

GarryWHUFC

Supersaint

Cleon

Roy

Soul

zeusbheld

THotW

Justified

thegooner

Sir Bobby Moore II

El Padre

ntfc

CB&C

Redefining Form

Tays

Neonlights

FrazT

Anyone else I may have forgotten

Useful Others

JordanC from ‘GetSacked’

Rob from ‘The Portal’

PaulC

Thanks to all those who contribute to and read TT&F. Good luck and play seriously.

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Well done again wwfan, you helped me immensely in 07, I didn't follow everything word for word last time, but it was the small things that made a huge difference (without your help I wouldn't of made the tactic that I won everything for 10 seasons running with my Villa side. Will read this thoughouraly(never know how to spell thaticon_wink.gif) tommorow when I'm not knackered.

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Originally posted by jascko:

Needless to say that this is quality work from wwfan, as always. Is this this still current only for 4-4-2 or can we use this tactical approach for other formation, lets say formation with only one striker?

I only use a 4-4-2 when testing it, but it works for a multitude of formations. The next Diaby has tested it with a diamond, Millie with a 4-5-1, crazy gra with a 4-2-3-1, to name but a few. Nearly all the Think Tank has designed at least one tactic based on the theorems and reported success. Equally, one or two others have read it, designed their own tactics, and received excellent feedback.

Try to concpetualise it as a list of dos, rather than a list of don'ts. Nothing is set in stone, but trying out (some, all of) the ideas should help tactical design immensely.

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Originally posted by wwfan:

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by jascko:

Needless to say that this is quality work from wwfan, as always. Is this this still current only for 4-4-2 or can we use this tactical approach for other formation, lets say formation with only one striker?

I only use a 4-4-2 when testing it, but it works for a multitude of formations. The next Diaby has tested it with a diamond, Millie with a 4-5-1, crazy gra with a 4-2-3-1, to name but a few. Nearly all the Think Tank has designed at least one tactic based on the theorems and reported success. Equally, one or two others have read it, designed their own tactics, and received excellent feedback.

Try to concpetualise it as a list of dos, rather than a list of don'ts. Nothing is set in stone, but trying out (some, all of) the ideas should help tactical design immensely. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

I understand. I just have to find out how to adjust my wingers ment, CD and FRW as thay are position more up on the pitch in 4-3-3. I probable have to change to 4-5-1 for Counter and Defend, and keep 4-3-3 for Balanced, Attack and Control. May be no farrows for Balanced. Litle afraid for the space behind the wingers.

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Originally posted by panomaniac:

wwfan - what you have written is very good piece of work - well done.

However, I would like to know what specific results you have achieved with these theories?

I have played three full seasons (the rest of the time has been spent designing the theory and beta testing). 1st in the BSS, 9th in BSP (with a part-time team), 1st in the BSP (with a full-time team), currently 3rd in L2. Other contributors have won the Premiership, La Liga etc, but you'll have to ask them for details of their success.

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I feel that is a leading question, FrazT!

No, there will need to be no changes when 8.0.2 comes out. I maight release my tactics when I'm 100% happy wit them, but until then, look for Millie's, Diaby's, Willo's 4-5-1, crazy gra's, pelle mandorff's to name but a few. None of them are 4-4-2s, which probably means they are better than my tactics, as they will offer advantages the 4-4-2 doesn't.

I won't tell you what they are, because that would invalidate the whole of TT&F, which tries to explain how to beat the engine logically and realistically. If I detailed engine weaknesses then the AI would be beaten unfairly and the joy wouldn't be so great when you finally clinch your first title.

A quick trawl through the T&T forum will give some indication of how the engine can be undone unrealistically should it be you desire to do so. It is a matter of putting two and two together from information already available. I don't want to belittle unrealistic tactics; they are creative and valuable. Creative because they find holes and exploit them. Valuable because they help those holes to be identified and patched up, which, ultimately, leads to a better engine icon_smile.gif

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Thus, if you choose to set all mentalities individually it does not matter where the team mentality slider is positioned.

Great read!

Is it possible for you to explain a bit further what you mean with this quote?

Can you just ignore team mentality?

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I always love reading yourself, cleon and the other legends on this forum, it's really helped me improve my game. Unfortunately after spending the whole day implementing pretty much everything discussed here my new game as Hereford manager was a disaster! P.5 W.0 D.0 L.5 F.3 A.13! I've decided to sack it off as it was getting pretty embarrassing. I used 4 basic frameworks, Defend/Counter/Balanced/Attack, all seemed completely ineffectual even against poor opposition and with a couple of half decent singings. Strange icon_confused.gif

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Originally posted by jsw123:

I always love reading yourself, cleon and the other legends on this forum, it's really helped me improve my game. Unfortunately after spending the whole day implementing pretty much everything discussed here my new game as Hereford manager was a disaster! P.5 W.0 D.0 L.5 F.3 A.13! I've decided to sack it off as it was getting pretty embarrassing. I used 4 basic frameworks, Defend/Counter/Balanced/Attack, all seemed completely ineffectual even against poor opposition and with a couple of half decent singings. Strange icon_confused.gif

You should probable made Control as well to use it when it comes to opponent hwo is playing very defansive. In this cases it dosnt help with Attack. Or you are just simlpy misunderstanding opponent and how thay play.

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Originally posted by jsw123:

I always love reading yourself, cleon and the other legends on this forum, it's really helped me improve my game. Unfortunately after spending the whole day implementing pretty much everything discussed here my new game as Hereford manager was a disaster! P.5 W.0 D.0 L.5 F.3 A.13! I've decided to sack it off as it was getting pretty embarrassing. I used 4 basic frameworks, Defend/Counter/Balanced/Attack, all seemed completely ineffectual even against poor opposition and with a couple of half decent singings. Strange icon_confused.gif

One of the disadvanteges of the TT&F systems is how wrong they can go if the wrong choice has been made. Hence my focus on decision making and learning to read the game. Read Diaby's man-management stuff, which is aimed at minimising bad team performance through man and media interaction.

Hope you persist as the system can be very rewarding once you work it out.

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wwfan: saw you were in here so thought I'd make the most of it icon_wink.gif I cannot praise patch 8.02 enough, it looks fantastic, so well done to you and the other beta testers! icon_smile.gif

The only thing I've noticed so far is that wingers try to cross it in early when set to cross often and cross from mixed (which is good) but when the do this it seems to be getting blocked quite a lot. I know in the fix-list it says that wingers will try to get a cross in early if given the right instructions (which again is good). Perhaps my wingers havent got the crossing and technique attributes to pull it off. Just wondered if you've noticed this or not, and if so, what I can do to get around it.

Thanks as always icon_smile.gif

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The only thing I've noticed so far is that wingers...

Sorry, this was meant to read: the only BAD thing I've noticed so far! There are of course a million brilliant things, but missing the 'bad' off made it sound very ungrateful!

Yes I'd say that no more than half are being blocked, so if that's close to real life statistics then I'm all for it!

I'm not normally guilty of effusive exclamation mark use but I just can't help it tonight! My team Bolton also beat Athletico Madrid in Uefa Cup!!

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That stat sounds quite realistic, and more so with wingers that aren't Petrov/Ronaldo-esque icon_biggrin.gif

Complaining already? That is absolutely ridiculous. The patch is brilliant! It just makes me want to watch all matches in full! The main thing that hits you instantly is it finally looks like a a football match with players constantly looking for options and moving at a realistic pace instead of before where often players would move/dally at a cringe-worthily slow pace. Like I said, hats off it looks great!

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Originally posted by Law_Man:

That stat sounds quite realistic, and more so with wingers that aren't Petrov/Ronaldo-esque icon_biggrin.gif

Complaining already? That is absolutely ridiculous. The patch is brilliant! It just makes me want to watch all matches in full! The main thing that hits you instantly is it finally looks like a a football match with players constantly looking for options and moving at a realistic pace instead of before where often players would move/dally at a cringe-worthily slow pace. Like I said, hats off it looks great!

Totally agree with you, quite how anyone can judge the patch on about 4 hours play is beyond me!! (more exclamation marks!!).

Followed your thread on fm-britain wwfan, as I have done with 07, 06 etc.

I made a chelsea-esque 4-3-2-1 formation based on your theory's. As aston_martin stated, I didn't follow you word for word, but your theroy's have enabled me to understand how tactics should be structured, and now no matter what formatio I play, I am confident that my team will play as a team.

I will continue to follow this thread and the others with great interest.

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Originally posted by Law_Man:

wwfan: saw you were in here so thought I'd make the most of it icon_wink.gif I cannot praise patch 8.02 enough, it looks fantastic, so well done to you and the other beta testers! icon_smile.gif

The only thing I've noticed so far is that wingers try to cross it in early when set to cross often and cross from mixed (which is good) but when the do this it seems to be getting blocked quite a lot. I know in the fix-list it says that wingers will try to get a cross in early if given the right instructions (which again is good). Perhaps my wingers havent got the crossing and technique attributes to pull it off. Just wondered if you've noticed this or not, and if so, what I can do to get around it.

Thanks as always icon_smile.gif

I think the game has done quite well in getting fullbacks to close down dangerous players. Now if the AI has the right defensive line which should be in more cases around normal and has set most players to own half..then it's very possible that the wingers will find that their crosses are being blocked.

To counter this and to allow your wingers to break free and behind the dline, you should have some key players set on TTB. What would help more is getting your fullbacks to come up and support to cross that would make them a target for good crossing.

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Originally posted by davehanson:

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Law_Man:

That stat sounds quite realistic, and more so with wingers that aren't Petrov/Ronaldo-esque icon_biggrin.gif

Complaining already? That is absolutely ridiculous. The patch is brilliant! It just makes me want to watch all matches in full! The main thing that hits you instantly is it finally looks like a a football match with players constantly looking for options and moving at a realistic pace instead of before where often players would move/dally at a cringe-worthily slow pace. Like I said, hats off it looks great!

Totally agree with you, quite how anyone can judge the patch on about 4 hours play is beyond me!! (more exclamation marks!!).

Followed your thread on fm-britain wwfan, as I have done with 07, 06 etc.

I made a chelsea-esque 4-3-2-1 formation based on your theory's. As aston_martin stated, I didn't follow you word for word, but your theroy's have enabled me to understand how tactics should be structured, and now no matter what formatio I play, I am confident that my team will play as a team.

I will continue to follow this thread and the others with great interest. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

He's been beta testing the patch so...its been more than just a few hours.

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I think you misread him, Rash icon_biggrin.gif

I agree that one of the best engine improvements has been defensive line and the defenders' ability to read the play. It should be difficult to get crosses in and through balls past the line, and it definitely is becoming so.

A perfect engine would see logical and solid defending being countered by a mixture of standard and ingenious attacking moves. The later engines with improved off the ball movement have been a joy to see, because that type of thing is beginning to happen. In percentage order, most goals are scored when a standard footballing move comes off (set piece, well worked cross, ball into channel on the break etc), the next most via intricate passing moves, mixing precise passing with logical off the ball movement, with a few down to exceptional pieces of individual skill. I think the mix is about right.

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I found this hugely helpful in stopping being completely awful. However I do have difficulty in getting my head around why central defenders need such a high attacking mentality when part of an attacking side.

I strongly believe that SI should use these theories on the default tactics within the game to give noobs and no-hopers alike some chance.

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Originally posted by Serpico:

I found this hugely helpful in stopping being completely awful. However I do have difficulty in getting my head around why central defenders need such a high attacking mentality when part of an attacking side.

I strongly believe that SI should use these theories on the default tactics within the game to give noobs and no-hopers alike some chance.

I agree with you, it would be good if SI could base the preset tactics around this. However, if they did, they'd need some sort of documentation like this thread. To explain things and help you understand what you're actually using and the reasons why it works.

If someone just gave you a tactic based on this thread and you'd not any knowledge of this thread, you'd still be as confused as you wouldn't understand what its about. It's the documentation what's more important imo.

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Originally posted by Patrick27:

Great read wwfan. Have you seen any major play difference in the new patch?

Like a few of us, he's probably been testing the pacth for quite a period of time now. So I'm guessing 99% of this was written and reworked slightly while he was testing the patch and saw fixes being made.

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Originally posted by Cleon:

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Serpico:

I found this hugely helpful in stopping being completely awful. However I do have difficulty in getting my head around why central defenders need such a high attacking mentality when part of an attacking side.

I strongly believe that SI should use these theories on the default tactics within the game to give noobs and no-hopers alike some chance.

I agree with you, it would be good if SI could base the preset tactics around this. However, if they did, they'd need some sort of documentation like this thread. To explain things and help you understand what you're actually using and the reasons why it works.

If someone just gave you a tactic based on this thread and you'd not any knowledge of this thread, you'd still be as confused as you wouldn't understand what its about. It's the documentation what's more important imo. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

I don't even think they'd need any further documentation. Currently users get a whole host of different "tactics" to select from the pre-set menu with know further explanation than what's in the manual. So if you made all those pre-set tactics logically sound and RoO based, then they'd have no less (or more) information, but the tactics would be a mile better, giving them a better chance of enjoying the game.

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Originally posted by Law_Man:

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Cleon:

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Serpico:

I found this hugely helpful in stopping being completely awful. However I do have difficulty in getting my head around why central defenders need such a high attacking mentality when part of an attacking side.

I strongly believe that SI should use these theories on the default tactics within the game to give noobs and no-hopers alike some chance.

I agree with you, it would be good if SI could base the preset tactics around this. However, if they did, they'd need some sort of documentation like this thread. To explain things and help you understand what you're actually using and the reasons why it works.

If someone just gave you a tactic based on this thread and you'd not any knowledge of this thread, you'd still be as confused as you wouldn't understand what its about. It's the documentation what's more important imo. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

I don't even think they'd need any further documentation. Currently users get a whole host of different "tactics" to select from the pre-set menu with know further explanation than what's in the manual. So if you made all those pre-set tactics logically sound and RoO based, then they'd have no less (or more) information, but the tactics would be a mile better, giving them a better chance of enjoying the game. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Does SI really needs to do such a work at all? Look at "balanced" or "counter" approach. Almost all instructions are "mixed" or "normal", with a few tweaks, which may actually vary depending on your players strength. So basically you start with standard formation and standard (not preset) instructions. What's the point to add preset instructions that may (and probably should) vary just a bit from team to team?

What SI could actually do is wrap up tactical bibles from this forum and FM Britain, sort out things a bit, and add it to the manual. This read, as well as a few other conceptual works are "must read" for every new gamer, and frankly speaking even people who claim they have lots of experience with FM should also read them at least once in three months icon_wink.gif. But then again, who read the manual? icon_rolleyes.gif

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Originally posted by Serpico:

I found this hugely helpful in stopping being completely awful. However I do have difficulty in getting my head around why central defenders need such a high attacking mentality when part of an attacking side.

I strongly believe that SI should use these theories on the default tactics within the game to give noobs and no-hopers alike some chance.

Yeah, errr. Spoke too soon. For some reason, it all went wrong very quickly. Shipping goals like you wouldn't believe. Plummeting down the table. And I simply don't have a clue what I'm doing wrong. wwfan was kind enough to send me his tactics, and they work just as badly as my own.

Why does a player who scores 20 goals before December, then struggle to score another 4 over the rest of the season?

Just when I thought I could actually enjoy this game again it all falls apart. I really do hate this game.

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What are your thoughts on applying mentality as a team, not individualy?

I have yet installed the new patch 802, but so far I've still undefeated as Arsenal for 2 seasons (for EPL and CL - I did lost a few games for FA and LC with my 2nd team)

I also used 4-4-2, and I've applied individual mentality setting to only 3, which constitute of my defensive backbone, both CBs and an MCd. All 3 are on same Mentality setting in each of my set. My Control set have their mentality stuck right in the middle bar, my Counter set have their Mentality reduced a few click lower(I never count -but its somewhere between the middle bar and defensive notch), And my Cautious set them on 1st notch of Defending. All my other players are on Team Mentality.

The idea of this set are simple.. Given 3 players on different level of the pitch, if they have the same mentality, they will keep their distance to each other. And then we still have the arrows to further define the length between each 3 level (Defenders, Mid, Fwd). And if thats not enough, we have FwR.

In game, I adjusted their mentality with only 1 rule of thumb, team mentality cant go any lower then the preset MCd (effectively all 3 Defensive backbone).. and I dont push up mentality too high either. Rarely I have to edit other sliders... just a few where I add a few notch of CF to my MCa (Fabregas, he is my playmaker sometimes)

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Damn.. mistakenly clicked the post button =.=

To add a bit more, how I approach each game became simpler.. Am I strong enough to overwhelm my opponent? I then go into the match with Control set, They are equal? I go with Counter, They are too big (for example, 1st season CL - where the big guys awaits me - RM, Barcelona, Bayern, or FA and LC matches with my 2nd team) I used Cautious.

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Originally posted by Serpico:

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Serpico:

I found this hugely helpful in stopping being completely awful. However I do have difficulty in getting my head around why central defenders need such a high attacking mentality when part of an attacking side.

I strongly believe that SI should use these theories on the default tactics within the game to give noobs and no-hopers alike some chance.

Yeah, errr. Spoke too soon. For some reason, it all went wrong very quickly. Shipping goals like you wouldn't believe. Plummeting down the table. And I simply don't have a clue what I'm doing wrong. wwfan was kind enough to send me his tactics, and they work just as badly as my own.

Why does a player who scores 20 goals before December, then struggle to score another 4 over the rest of the season?

Just when I thought I could actually enjoy this game again it all falls apart. I really do hate this game. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

That is where the decision making and The next Diaby's man-management (link in opening post) steps in. I have never wanted to design a super tactic, rather a conceptual system by which to play the game. TT&F has to be taken as a whole rather than as just a guide to tactics.

In my most recent season, I started with a twenty-eight game unbeaten streak in the league. I then played pretty poorly for ten games before returning to form for the remainder of the season. In the unbeaten streak I twice scored lat minute equalisers by going to a 4-2-4. I grabbed scrappy draws and equally scrappy wins, allowing confidence and morale remained high, but I also got my requisite share of good results. In the poor streak, I never lost by more than one goal, but I just had too many bad halves to be able to keep pulling results out of the bag. I rode the storm and, despite losing ground to the team behind me, managed to pick up exactly the same number of points I had lost from them in the end of season winning streak.

For me, this is where FM reaches its real heights; the moments in which tactical design is morphs into management. I play away to a side I am supposed to beat but my team is playing like muppets. What do I do? What do I do? I switched to the Defend system for the rest of the match and grabbed a fluky 1-0 win, despite being almost totally outplayed for the entire 90 minutes.

Unless you have by far and away the best squad in the division you will have to contend with the loss of form. PaulC mentioned in another post (sorry, no link) that riding it out rather than panicking is the best thing to do. Don't switch tactical systems. Make minor changes (read the bad weather link in the opening post as an example), play slightly more conservatively and be happy with a few draws where you would have been going for wins earlier. Use the media and man-management modules to keep your players happy and key squad members fired up. At some point your form will return and you can go for the title.

As for the defensive players on attacking mentality: it minimises the gaps between midfield and defence. I also think it is a logical system in which the players in each strata are slightly more risk adverse than the strata above them, but not so much they are on a totally different mindset.

By focusing on a four four two, I haven't tried to design the best tactic their is. That would undoubtedly be a different formation, and the game would become easier. But 4-4-2 is where the challenge is. However, to be successful using it, you have to also maintain focus on the man and match management strategy TT&F and CPW outline.

Good luck. Always happy to answer any questions you might have.

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Originally posted by Cleon:

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Serpico:

I found this hugely helpful in stopping being completely awful. However I do have difficulty in getting my head around why central defenders need such a high attacking mentality when part of an attacking side.

I strongly believe that SI should use these theories on the default tactics within the game to give noobs and no-hopers alike some chance.

I agree with you, it would be good if SI could base the preset tactics around this. However, if they did, they'd need some sort of documentation like this thread. To explain things and help you understand what you're actually using and the reasons why it works.

If someone just gave you a tactic based on this thread and you'd not any knowledge of this thread, you'd still be as confused as you wouldn't understand what its about. It's the documentation what's more important imo. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

This is similar to what myself and others have been asking for since FM07 but to no avail. Might I suggest that the documentation is already in place? It is called the "Instruction Manual".

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This is similar to what myself and others have been asking for since FM07 but to no avail. Might I suggest that the documentation is already in place? It is called the "Instruction Manual".

I think you misunderstood me. If they used wwfan's theories or anyone else's, they would need extra documentation I feel. As wwfan's approach is very detailed and complex, people need to understand other aspect's of the game too like, The next Diaby's man-management.

I'm all for them using wwfan's theories as a base for the defaults, I'm a big fan of his work. But by just adding his tactic's to the game alone, it wouldn't be no different than the current pre-sets, execpt they'd be even more confusing for people.

This quote for me, is the reason more detail would be needed for people;

That is where the decision making and The next Diaby's man-management (link in opening post) steps in. I have never wanted to design a super tactic, rather a conceptual system by which to play the game. TT&F has to be taken as a whole rather than as just a guide to tactics.
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Originally posted by Cleon:

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">This is similar to what myself and others have been asking for since FM07 but to no avail. Might I suggest that the documentation is already in place? It is called the "Instruction Manual".

I think you misunderstood me. If they used wwfan's theories or anyone else's, they would need extra documentation I feel. As wwfan's approach is very detailed and complex, people need to understand other aspect's of the game too like, The next Diaby's man-management.

I'm all for them using wwfan's theories as a base for the defaults, I'm a big fan of his work. But by just adding his tactic's to the game alone, it wouldn't be no different than the current pre-sets, execpt they'd be even more confusing for people.

This quote for me, is the reason more detail would be needed for people;

That is where the decision making and The next Diaby's man-management (link in opening post) steps in. I have never wanted to design a super tactic, rather a conceptual system by which to play the game. TT&F has to be taken as a whole rather than as just a guide to tactics.
</div></BLOCKQUOTE>

By coincedence, I am right in the middle of trying to print out wwfan's tactical guides. I am thinking, like yourself, Cleon, that as excellent as they are, after the second page I find that I have to refer back to keep up.

I am trying to pick out pieces that might apply in general to any tactic and apply them in my efforts.

I still feel that it is not beyond SI to enclose at least one example of a tactics set with the manual, to assist in improving on them and as a starting point for the game.

For instance. They could take any team from the lower end of the Championship or the upper end of League One to use as an "average" side. using the most used formation, 4-4-2, I think and make it a "general" tactic. Print this in the manual and from there we have at least, a starting reference point in making "defensive", "attacking" or whatever tactics is preffered.

I think that most of us would like just a starting point, not a chapter and verse set of tactics. For myself, I don't like looking at others tactics because it lends itself to copying and trying to kid yourself that it is all your own, when that is not correct.

I still love the game and will never "do it down". I have played it since it's inception and had good success until '07 and '08.

Thanks to you, rashidi1, wwfan and others, I will carry on regardless. Now, what did wwfan say about attacking fullbacks........!!!!

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well done wwfan on a great post.

i dont believe into going into so much detail to enjoy a computer game is right but i take your point on it becoming a player purchaser rather thana management sim.

ive really struggled on 08 and 0n 07 to really dominate like i did on previous versions.

this is down to me always playing the game the same way (find a tactic that works stick with it and add the best possible players you can into the team to implement it ) im a bit of a keegan!!

im really interested in now taking a far more in depth attitude to the game and will try to implement your ideas to achieve success

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