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4-3-3 Atalanta - All Bark, No Bite.


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Just the other day, I posted a thread asking at what point do you all stop 'playing' with your tactics until you are happy with how it plays.

I had some really great replies from it and I was able to make some really positive changes to my tactic. 

I have been playing the FM series since 2009, and Championship Manager before it and this is the first edition where I promised I would get to understand the tactical systems better - as I was always a plug and play merchant. I am satisfied with what I have managed to learn and implement in a week and I am constantly reading and learning however I would like to discuss and get some advice from my tactic so I can better improve it. 

Now, a little back story wouldn't go a miss so basically the football I would like to play (and have been trying to play) is pass move pass move pass move, and if you lose the ball, win it back. Sounds dead simple, right? I think other people might call it Possession football with intent. 

Now, thanks to @04texag I decided, again, for the first time in my career as an FM manage to work with a club DNA. This DNA has made me rethink the way I scout, sign and develop my players.

For me, being able to keep hold of the ball means my players need to have >14 in Passing, Technique, OTB and Decisions. And to press with intent, they need >14 in Work Rate, Aggression and Bravery (although these two are not a deal breaker, to be fair) 

Off the bat, the Atalanta players didn't really excel in these attributes. We were pretty much average in comparison the rest of the Serie A so I didn't expect wonders and knew I would need to evolve and develop the players I had and that the tactic wouldn't be an instant success. 

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So, to finish first was a really nice surprise.

As you can tell, it wasn't plain sailing for us. Lazio pretty much chased us to the death and what I found extremely frustrating, but definitely rewarding was for pretty much the whole season, I had to manage, adapt and watch the games very carefully as it seems teams in the Serie A LOVE to play 3 at the back, with some even having a DMC in front of them. These kind of tactics do NOT play in the favour of a possession style of football and I was constantly having to think of ways to penetrate the OP's defence. 

This means there were A LOT of tweaks to TI's and PI's across the season and it took us a little while to settle on anything. Eventually, we were pretty consistent with this shape and these team instructions, roles and duties.

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Player Roles and Duties

Pretty early in to the season I realised that by having a striker too alienated up top, would, well, alienate him. And in order to play a possession style of football I need players that drop deep, offer the pass and generally move around. I tried a CF(S), False 9, DLF(A) and even a CS(A) here. I finally settled on a DFL(S) and Duvan Zapata had a return of 9 goals and 2 assists in 30 starts from this position. I am still not happy or convinced with this role. I often find it slow in catching up with play when they have played thee ball. I am not sure if my expectations are skewed here but I would expect better than 1 goal from 3 games here. 

The IF(A) is typically either Joao Pedro (9 goals, 5 assists in 20 starts) or Alejandro Gomez (4 goals and 1 assist in 27 starts). Whoever starts here, should be the goal machine, but again, I am not overly convinced by their return. I ask him to stay narrow. 

The IW(S) is Illicic. Great player. The idea behind this role is he's less direct than the IF(A), but still offers some threat going forward. In my head, I liken this role, and the way I want it to play, to the way B.Silva plays for City where he will start wide, and then cut inside when the moment is right.

The AP(S)… I just want this guy being a magician with the ball by dictating the play a little higher up the field. I have just signed Szoboszlai for this role and expect him (or want him!) to flourish here.

The reason behind the BBM is that he offers protection when he needs to, but he also keeps up with play in the top half of the field, too. 

All 5 of these players are asked to roam more as I want them to constantly try and offer themselves as an option to pass to.

My DMC is a no-nonsense, play the ball when you get it type of player. I ask him to play with less risk and de Roon plays this role really well.

In terms of my back line - I do not want anything magical from them, neither do I expect it. 

Centrebacks? Play the ball when it is at your feet, take less risks and defend when you are needed to.

My FB(S) on the left is a little more conservative as I don't want to leave that flank exposed, especially with my IF(A) being on an attack duty and my WB(S) on the right I hope to be a little more supportive of my IW(S). 

Team Instructions

I feel that what I am asking this team to do off the ball is risky, but like I said, when we lose the ball I want some urgency to win it back. 

I don't want any wastefulness from my players, hence the Play Out of Defence and the Dribble Less. The much shorter passing is to compliment the players who are asked to roam more and to lower the tempo slightly. I also didn't want them to look to go direct when they had the ball. 

All in all, I feel we have probably sussed the whole 'keep the ball' thing I want my team to do as you can see from this lovely addition.

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However, I do feel like we are struggling with the 'intent' side of things. 

I have tried different roles and duties, player with team instructions, slowed games down, watched games back and analysed things, yet still, I cannot put my finger on what I need to do to get more urgency from my team as a goal scoring threat. 

I have made some pretty impressive signings this season, in the form of Castrovilli, Soyncu, Skriniar & Szoboszlai - and I will continue to do all of the above when watching games, but I figured as I am now in pre-season it wouldn't harm posting this thread to see if any of you wizards would be able to shed your own thoughts as to how to get my team to look like they have more bite.

Thank you

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Edited by ashlfcowen
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I can't really say much on the new match engine. So many positive talk on it, so some things can be bypassed and you will still get results. 

But I'll  give advice that has worked since I started studying FM and the game of football in general:

Since it is a 4-3-3 of the DM variety, you'll recognise that it is a deep tactic.

Midfield: :

I employ a formula that works a lot of the times. It's not perfect, but it works.

Curtailer - Maverick

       Destroyer

Maverick::

You'll, technically have to "break out of its shell" in offensive transitions. CM(a) or Mezzala(a) are helpful. They act as pseudo 10's and push all the way into the box to help create numbers and put in goal and assists shift. These are the freedom ballers, given the license to do a lot going forward but far less defensively. 

Curtailer::

After that, you have your "curtailer". Someone who helps in lessening the workload of our primary destroyer and does a lot of shuttling work too. The entire setup and the type of DM should determine what role he plays. People use Car and some use BBM. I use a defensive Quotient to measure this. It serves as a core.

Destroyer ::

well. I don't need to say much.

Defensive Quotient/role requirements across Middle 

Maverick -> None, I.e Pogba, Bruno,.....

Curtailer -》Bravery, Anticipation,  positioning and tackling, I.e Ruben Neves

Destroyer =》Bravery, anticipation, positioning, marking, tackling and aggression.

You need to also determine your lone striker. Check your strikers attributes and compare it to those required of a DLF(a), CF(a), PF(a) and even F9. Is he slow but can dribble and pass, maybe DLF(a)?

For your defense, take full advantage of your Fullbacks. 

Finally, and most importantly,  can your team play the tactic in general or are you more suited to something narrow.

Hope this can actually help.

 

 

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I really like what you're doing here. That is an impressive first season as well! Very nice. I'm a little envious that Juventus in your save isn't crushing it like they are in mine. I'm glad my thread has encouraged you to push your own boundaries and I'm looking forward to see how your season two goes with more players you've identified as fitting your tactical styling. It'll be interesting to see how you do in Champions Cup football next season.

Also, the tactic looks good. Your analyst report looks like mine did before I upped the tempo a little. I'd look to give up a little possession for some more aggression on maybe one of the two flanks.

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23 minutes ago, ashlfcowen said:

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I see 2 most obvious issues in this tactic when it comes to roles and duties:

- insufficient penetration overall

- insufficient wide support on the left flank (a relatively conservative fullback role behind an inside-oriented wide forward role)

Now, as you insist on playing a hardcore possession style, I am not going to suggest any changes to your in-possession TIs, except for potentially adding a couple of them (basically underlap(s)). 

Instead, here is an example of how you may tweak the setup of roles and duties in order to solve the issues mentioned above without compromising your desired style of play:

DLFsu

IFat                                   APsu

DLPsu   CMat

HB/DMde

  WBsu    CDde   CDde   (I)WBsu

GK/SKde

Now you have 2 playmakers organizing and controlling play from different areas and in different manners + better central penetration + better wide support on the left + better defensive cover in the midfield + more options for ball-recycling.

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41 minutes ago, denen123 said:

Curtailer - Maverick

       Destroyer

I guess the only thing I do not have in abundance is the Maverick. The player I have had playing in that AP(S) position is mostly Pasalic who has the PPM 'Gets Further Forward', so I figured I could bypass the need to have him on an attack duty but I guess the job of the advanced forward is to not drive forward and penetrate defences, is it? Appreciate your input thank you. 

39 minutes ago, 04texag said:

I really like what you're doing here. That is an impressive first season as well! Very nice. I'm a little envious that Juventus in your save isn't crushing it like they are in mine. I'm glad my thread has encouraged you to push your own boundaries and I'm looking forward to see how your season two goes with more players you've identified as fitting your tactical styling. It'll be interesting to see how you do in Champions Cup football next season.

Also, the tactic looks good. Your analyst report looks like mine did before I upped the tempo a little. I'd look to give up a little possession for some more aggression on maybe one of the two flanks.

Thank you buddy. To be honest, Juventus haven't really posed a problem it has been Lazio that have tailed us pretty much throughout the whole campaign and Alberto & SMS have been a handful when they played together v me! 

What I really enjoy about Serie A so far is the Non-EU rule - although a barrier, you really have to think about who to sign and where to strengthen.

Another thing - your rivals get permanently weakened as the seasons go by. Inter have already lost Martinez and Skriniar (to me!), Lazio are about to lose SMS too. 

33 minutes ago, Experienced Defender said:

Now you have 2 playmakers organizing and controlling play from different areas and in different manners + better central penetration + better wide support on the left + better defensive cover in the midfield + more options for ball-recycling.

Gold. I always thought a DLP would be too passive in this kind of system, as he would sit too deep and not really assist the other 4 in front of him, but I guess having a further advanced playmaker on that right wing would be a good compromise. What's more is that Szoboszlai would fit that role perfectly. 

Thank you for all of your suggestions. I thought the BBM would suffice in terms of having that central penetration but it seems not. 

I have made some changes and I will report back on my findings.

I am keen to keep an eye on that DLF(S) position. Right now, I do not have any players who fit the bill perfectly. 

Mr Zapata lacks the passing and vision to fully exploit the role

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As does Mr Lammers

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I will continue with these two until January - but ideally I would like a player who is >14 in Passing, Vision, Technique, Work Rate, Vision, OTB, Decisions and Acceleration. I do believe finding the right player for this role would really fire up the IF(A) and CM(A) role. 

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@ashlfcowen Advanced forward is a good role and can play as a lone ST.  He will get over the top balls, but will ultimately suffer the fate of being isolated against compact defenses. The job of the attacking CM is to add numbers in the box and make it difficult for the duo or trio CB's. Creating a 2 v 2 situation, especially against teams sitting deep is very ideal.

If your system is designed to be counterintuitive(I should have asked this earlier, though, sorry) and takes full advantage of long, hopeful, balls, then you don't need to bother. Just play AP on attack or keep the support duty. But if you're trying to be on the ball, more, then you'll need to think of ways to break down sides.

Also, Zapata is good enough to play DLF(a) or PF(a) as lone striker roles.

Edited by denen123
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@denen123 I genuinely do not believe an Advanced Forward in my system works. I need a player that drops deep and links the play, not someone to stretch the defence and make the job for the players behind more difficult.

But I do agree that I need options to break sides down - I'm hoping by introducing a CM(A) and asking my wing backs to be a little more attack minded that will do the job. :)

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4 hours ago, ashlfcowen said:

I always thought a DLP would be too passive in this kind of system, as he would sit too deep and not really assist the other 4 in front of him, but I guess having a further advanced playmaker on that right wing would be a good compromise

DLP is actually the optimal type of PM role for the possession-based style you want to play IMHO, regardless of whether you use another (more advanced) PM role elsewhere or just the DLP as your only PM. 

 

4 hours ago, ashlfcowen said:

What's more is that Szoboszlai would fit that role perfectly

Great :thup:

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1 hour ago, skyline72 said:

 

Thanks for this. That’s my my lunch time reading sorted. 

I have a very general idea of how they play in real life. My point was, I don’t know why I don’t play the way they do. 

I know there are teams better suited to the style of play I’m trying to implement - but I’d like to think in the short time I’ve tried to better understand the tactical side of FM, I’ve decided I’m more of a ‘build the team to fit your style’ rather than ‘build a style to fit your team’ type of FM manager. 

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1 hour ago, ashlfcowen said:

Thanks for this. That’s my my lunch time reading sorted. 

I have a very general idea of how they play in real life. My point was, I don’t know why I don’t play the way they do. 

I know there are teams better suited to the style of play I’m trying to implement - but I’d like to think in the short time I’ve tried to better understand the tactical side of FM, I’ve decided I’m more of a ‘build the team to fit your style’ rather than ‘build a style to fit your team’ type of FM manager. 

Well, since you are managing Atalanta, why not play like how they are in real life? :)

They surely have the players suitable. 

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4 minutes ago, skyline72 said:

Well, since you are managing Atalanta, why not play like how they are in real life? :)

They surely have the players suitable. 

Because I have already played a full season, committed to developing my current tactic and am thoroughly enjoying the save :)

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It has been an interesting start to the season.

I started off the season having implemented the suggestions from both @denen123 & @Experienced Defender - thank you.

After having a little cry that I didn't really have anyone suited to play the DLF(S) role adequately, AC Milan offered £40m for Malinovskyi, a great player - and a regular starter in my first season, but by selling him I was able to finance a move for Zaniolo who I think fits that deep lying forward role perfectly. Besides, by selling him, I was able to free up a Non-EU slot plus Castrovilli was always starting ahead of him this season so £40m for a second choice player was a no-brainer. He was NOT interested in a move away so I basically had to plead and upset him in any way possible.

The only slight concern is that Zaniolo has a history of damaging his knee- so I need to manage his game-time and so I have been tempted to play Zapata as a TM(S) - thoughts on that?

I was very excited at the prospect of having Szoboszlai pulling strings in that AP(S) role out on the wing, but the little critter decided after the first match he wasn't happy because a) I didn't reinforce the midfield as promised and b) He's unsettled and wants to go for a month-long holiday in Hungary! Anyway... Illicic has done well slotting in for him. (3 goals and 1 assist in 4 starts)

So, this is how I started my first game of the season.
 
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After watching a few games on comprehensive highlights, I had a few observations. I even have a notepad next to my laptop now which I scribble stuff down in and they were these:

The Issue
Joao Pedro would often run into cul-de-sacks. I wanted movement off the ball, not just on it. What I mean by that is I wanted forward thinking runs inside and behind the defence OFF the ball, and not so many ON the ball. There was a regular pattern happening where Zaniolo would drop deep, a defender wouldn't always track him so Pedro was running at them with the ball, and when he had no options - he would shoot from distance and more often than not they would hit the corner flag.

Why I think the issue is happening
Pedro has 'Runs with Ball Often' as a trait, my Positive mentality is asking for even more risk and the IF(A) role has 'Dribble More' as an instruction. Overkill?

*MY* Solution
I have now moved Pedro into the midfield, given him the WM(A) role and asked him to Cross Less Often, Cut Inside with Ball, Roam from Position, Sit Narrower and Close Down More.

----

The Issue
We were more wasteful with position. Our wingers would bomb forward and would almost NOT offer themselves as passing option. The CM(A) would often bypass the play around him by aiming to get further forward and generally, the play from the team was less enjoyable to watch.

Why I think the issue is happening
Again, I think playing a possession based style with a positive mentality is always going to compromise some elements of the style itself. When I think possession, I think slow, purposeful, movement and good decision making. A positive mentality will always speed things up and ask players to act more instinctively. 

*MY* Solution
I simply asked my team to pass the ball 'much shorter'. This, in term lowered the tempo and all of the sudden things seem less rushed and players are now in better positions to offer the pass. 
----

The Issue
My whole team were closing down early, but not doing it very well. It would only take a really smart move by either a smart team or a smart player to leave my backline horribly exposed which would often result in goals being conceded. This was extremely evident in both my CL games against FC RB Salzburg and Barcelona where we lost both games 0-1.

Why I think the issue is happening
Similar reason as to why I think Pedro was causing us to lose possession easily. Our positive mentality was already asking our players to act a little more urgently with their pressing, plus we had it as a team instruction.

*MY* Solution
I introduced a split press to the team. I tried this in my first 10 games at the start of the save, but I had an issue where the work rate, stamina, bravery and acceleration of my front 5 were pretty average and so there wasn't much intent with their forward pressing. We are now the 2nd most aggressive team in the league, the 2nd bravest, we have the highest work rate, stamina and decision making - so that split press now works beautifully AND by removing the 'More Urgent' Pressing TI, my defenders can focus on engaging the opposition players when they pose a threat. I also upped the LOE to Much Higher so we can start to press the opposition defenders and midfield early. 

Honestly? They were the three main issues we were facing. The reason I have used asterisk's around the MY is because I have no idea if, in theory, these are the solution but in my head these changes to the tactics are what make sense to me. Again, very happy to be proven wrong, but this is how I currently line up.

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Anyway, how have we faired since these changes? Quite well, actually.

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There are still a few 'kinks' we need to iron out.

We do not play half as well in the Champions League as we do in the league, and there some games where the team really do struggle to get going. 

We still look vulnerable to the counter after our corners are cleared so that's something I need to work on and the final issue is I don't have a player to really perform in that DLP(S) position. All of our options are slightly too attack minded with their PPMs.

 

Edited by ashlfcowen
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  • ashlfcowen changed the title to 4-3-3 Atalanta - All Bark, No Bite.

We have finished our second season and it was considerably better than the first, which, was to be expected given we did a really good job at strengthening the side in the summer transfer window.

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As a team

We scored more and conceded less in the Serie A than we did last season which is always a bonus.

We averaged 59% possession across the whole season, with 93% of our passes finding their target. 

We created more clear cut chances than any other team, but only 48% of our shots found their target - something I want to work on (9th in the league)

We only attempted 93 dribbled across the entire season. Although probably a nonsensical stat to most, it does show me that my players aren't being too expressive with their play and doing what I ask,

We are 4th in the league in 'Possession Lost' but I'm not overthinking this because surely if we have the ball more than pretty much the whole entire league, we are bound to lose it more, right? The fact we only conceded 14 across the entire season, kept 26 clean sheets and only had 181 shots against does paint it's own picture that even when possession was lost, it wasn't dangerous to us.

The entire team won 81% of their tackles and we made 1296 interceptions across the season (5th best).

All of these stats from the end of the season show me we are on the right track.

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Individually

None of our players are in the top 20 for Possession Lost - which in it's entirety show me there are no longer any weak links as there were in my first season. 

3 of my players are in the top 20 of Pass Completion % - I have to admit, I expected this to be higher. However, my two players who are really in the team to dictate the play (DLP & WAP) both have >90% pass completion, so I'm happy with that.

My goals and assists were evenly distributed across the team which I expected. 

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We made it further in the Champions League this year than we did the last.

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We were simply inferior to our Quarter Final opponents Liverpool - we just couldn't play the way we wanted to, their press was incredible and they made us feel like cowboys. Could this be a sign that I need to adjust the way I play in the Champions League? @llama3 you did warn me. 

You can tell form the General Performance that we will need to go into the New Season with a Plan B.

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Tactically, things have changed again since my last update. I'll write about the changes and why I made them.

Mentality

I think the most obvious switch I made was reducing my mentality down from Positive to Balanced.

The reason why is because I was tinkering too much with the PIs and TIs based on the mentality.

I was thinking 'Oh, that just happening because of this', or 'Oh, he's just done that because of this' and I was seeing them as negatives and I was overthinking things too much. So, to rectify this I simply reduced the mentality and suddenly I was able to make more sense of things. I'm not sure if I've explained that well so I'll try and use an example.

In my last post I explained that I had introduced a split press and also asked my team to engage much higher up the pitch.

Whenever I would play a team on the same level as me or better, they would work through the press quite easily. The reason behind this in my head was that the Positive mentality was asking them to press with even more urgency than the TIs suggested.

Another thing that I found was happening, again, especially when playing teams who were pretty decent - trying to play out of the back was hard work and all it took was an effective press for us to lose possession. Again, the reason, in my head for this was because the Positive mentality was speeding things up and my player were rushing their decision making when playing the ball. Anyway, I could be wrong, but for me the game is more enjoyable when you are proactively making changes to your tactic not reactively hence the change in mentality.

Team Instructions

The only thing I have changed here is the introduction of the Focus play. I will fully admit I was inspired by @Rashidi's most recent post and I was curious to see how it would work in my save. The fact of the matter is, it worked EXTREMELY well. It brought the performances of my CM(A) to life as the opposition couldn't deal with his dynamic running through the middle as they were occupied with the constant overloads either side of the pitch. I feel like these two instructions also made the football very enjoyable to watch - especially that of the Half Back who would switch play when the time was right. Quite often the opposition would be so focused on the right side, that my Treq on the left was completely unmarked.

Player Instructions

Wide Midfielder on Attack > Trequartista
I'm not sure why. I think I just wanted to experiment with roles that weren't so typical. I've never played with a Treq before and again I was inspired by @herne79's Possession Football with Intent thread. As the screenshot above shows, Pedro mostly played this role for the season and scored 15 in 44. He is still developing so I expect these numbers to increase the better he becomes. Another reason behind this switch was dropping my mentality down to Balanced, I thought by doing this having a player in that AM role wouldn't be as detrimental to my style.

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Wing Back on Support > Full Back on Attack

Another mentality inspired switch. Having wing backs on support, with a balanced mentality dropped their own individual down to Balanced. A fullback on attack ups that to Positive and as I wanted them to keep up with play and contribute to those overloads. We lost our starting choice right back in the January transfer window and I feel this did impact our play down the right in particular but we have since brought in Neco Williams and I am excited to see how he performs. 

Defensive Midfielder on Defend > Half Back

I did feel that when our wings were exploited, the defensive midfielder would maraud his way either side to help out, which was fine, but often any late runners were not picked up. I wondered whether switching to a Half Back on defend would stop this. I figured we'd be better off trying to defend those counters with an extra man in midfield. So far, so good. It also doesn't retract from the way we want to play football.

Going into the New Season

We managed to sign Onana on a free transfer, therefore I have asked the keeper to contribute a tiny bit more to our play by switching him from a GK(D) to a SK(D)

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@ashlfcowen  Keep an eye on how the DLP, the AP and the TQ are playing together.  That's 3 playmaker type roles all in close proximity.  There's no reason why it can't work, just bear in mind how you are trying to play and what you want to achieve.

You mentioned my attacking / possession thread above and your TQ here was inspired by that.  I really wanted my TQ to be my star player - my Messi inspiration if you will - and use of other playmakers in my system may have taken away from that.  Of course if you aren't really aiming for that then no issue, other than making sure they are combining well together :thup:.

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4 minutes ago, herne79 said:

@ashlfcowen  Keep an eye on how the DLP, the AP and the TQ are playing together.  That's 3 playmaker type roles all in close proximity.  There's no reason why it can't work, just bear in mind how you are trying to play and what you want to achieve.

You mentioned my attacking / possession thread above and your TQ here was inspired by that.  I really wanted my TQ to be my star player - my Messi inspiration if you will - and use of other playmakers in my system may have taken away from that.  Of course if you aren't really aiming for that then no issue, other than making sure they are combining well together :thup:.

 

The exact reason I created this thread - to collect feedback and to really give me something to think about. :)

I'm glad you mentioned that with the playmakers, as I managed to sign Bennacer from Milan who basically makes the perfect roaming playmaker. I definitely think having a RPM on the same side as a Treq would be overkill, so I've since moved the Treq back to the IF role, on an attack duty with the PIs sit narrower an roam from position.

I'll watch to see how thisplays out, 

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18 hours ago, Tsuru said:

Very interesting and good topic, I like to see how people evolve their systems analyzing the problems that appear. Looking foward to see the results in the new season.

Thank you.

Honestly, I don't have much idea what I'm doing - but I am enjoying trying to figure it out.

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I really enjoy your thread mate, it inspired me a lot as I struggle to make my team work (Atlanta as well) for my second season with them. I think I'm gonna start a thread to tell how I will try to build a tactic that suits my team perfectly. Until now, I only tried to replicate teams I enjoy to watch but hell, it doesn't work and it is not really rewarding.

Thanks for your honesty and your humility!

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How have your changes worked? Success or not?

Ypur current system looks extremely similar to a system I have been using in my role play game of 'non-league pep' style - where I try to get the highest possession, goals etc at the end of the season, whilst in non league.

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On 28/11/2020 at 18:50, wicksy360 said:

How have your changes worked? Success or not?

Ypur current system looks extremely similar to a system I have been using in my role play game of 'non-league pep' style - where I try to get the highest possession, goals etc at the end of the season, whilst in non league.

I'm glad you asked. 

I have deviated away from the original style of football for 2 reasons.

1. Every time I would come up against a team superior to me, or who were favourites, they would easily press and force errors, and more often than I would have liked, I was having to slow the game down to an uncomfortable pace to try and work around their press and it seemed the only solution was having to play quicker and go more direct. So I kept asking myself, why was I having to adapt my football to the opposition? Why can’t my ‘solution’ be my default. Honestly I thought by trying to continue with the Possession based tactic I would have eased the Serie A year after year but the Champions League would have been out of sight. 

2. I made false promises to two of my star players, Castrovilli & Zaniolo. The former wanting to play as a Mezzala and the latter as an Advanced Forward - they were the agreements when they signed. Those two roles did not fit into my tactic and I did not want to risk upsetting them.

And so this kind of forced my hand…

I ended up switching tactics around ¼ into the season and these were my results

Serie A
3 of these draws happened using the original Possession based tactic, not the new one. 

1.thumb.png.a75ced938ce60755c85490ee7cbe5099.png

Champions League

2.png.6de7a94d92e0ec2679bec6bc0b8a6ebe.png

Italian Cup

3.png.ff9e5ef3a42e9af60bbdeb8bb1ce1b98.png

Super Cup

4.png.4e68322d8bb6a48a337d02fcc12522df.png

So a total route after 3 seasons with Atalanta. Honestly if you would have asked me, after losing so badly to Liverpool in the Champions League last season if we would win it this season? I would have laughed.

Now when I decided to move away from from the original tactic, I wanted a few things from my new one.

  • I wanted plenty of movement and mobility on and off the ball
  • I wanted plenty of overloads and penetration. 
  • I wanted plenty of width

If I could achieve these 3 things, I thought I could overcome any opposition, even the most stubborn ones. 

A few others things I wanted (and basically achieved)

  • I wanted my striker to top the goal scoring charts year after year. I find it easier to enjoy the game when I can attach myself to certain players and as you can see, the goal return from Zapata in particular is great.
    Although he didn’t finish as top scorer in any competition, boo.
  • I wanted one of my men on the wings to be just as dangerous as my man up top and as you can see from Joao Pedro’s stats below, that was also achieved.
  • I wanted my number 10 to come up with numbers that Mr Ozil in his prime would be proud of. I didn’t QUITE achieve this but still, his numbers are above average and this role is still a work in progress.

5.thumb.png.4d40c1d63a105cd69f5c334cdc3a40d3.png

So you are probably wondering how did I achieve this? Well, this was our ‘base’ tactic that we used.

6.thumb.png.d5339e5d15afd712326a5ac7d9fe3d61.png


Why a flat 4-1-4-1?
A couple of reasons for using a flat 4-1-4-1 is that mostly, from what I have seen from the ME so far and reading on these forums is that your starting tactic is basically your defensive shape to start with, so using an AML and an AMR made no sense to me. 

The second reason is that I thought this shape would help with my counter-attacking instruction given it wouldn't be so top heavy and my players would have space to counter into.

Team Instructions
I didn’t want to overdo these. Mostly because I'm not entirely sure how they work in conjunction with each other yet. I will try and explain why I picked what I picked...

Although we have mostly moved away from possession football I didn’t want to be wasteful with the ball hence I encouraged my team to Play the Ball out of Defence.

In order to get the most out of the advanced playmaker I thought it would be sensible to focus play through the middle and finally, to encourage my left wingback to get further forward and provide the width from that side, I asked for him to Overlap from the Left. Gozens does have the PPM ‘Get Further Forward Where Possible’, so maybe this TI isn’t necessary but I really wanted to encourage him to get up as high as possible - especially with my left central midfielder on a defensive duty. 

In transition? Simply to Counter when the opportunity arises. I think I learned a really important lesson with this instruction. It doesn't ask the team to counter at every opportunity, it asks them to counter at the RIGHT opportunity.

And out of possession... well, all of the instructions you'd expect from a team who are asked to bother the opposition in possession, but not in a gengenpress way as I was conscious the Attacking mentality would encourage that anyway. Why overkill?

Player Instructions

Nothing other than asking my WM on Attack to act like a more advanced Inside Forward.

  • Take Fewer Risks
  • Cross Less Often
  • Cut Inside with Ball
  • Get Further Forward (as default)

Now a point to make here is that my main mezzala, Castrovilli has the PPM ‘Runs with Ball Often’ and ‘Gets Further Forward’. This encourages really nice overloads with the AP(S) and also the Winger. The space he vacates is then occupied by Neco Williams and his 9 assists mostly came from the central positions. 

I still have a little work to do on this tactic, but so far I am really happy with what I've been able to achieve and what I've seen on the pitch.

I promised myself that this year I would get to understand the tactical frameworks better, and so far I feel like I have done well to create a possession style of football, and I have also created a pretty damn effective attacking style of football, too. However, it is not perfect.

- A few things I have noticed happen is the Mezz & AP would often get in each others way when in possession but not to our detriment, yet. But could this be hindering the AP's numbers? I will keep an eye on it.

- I want more goals.

I will come back with another update once I have achieved those things.

Edited by ashlfcowen
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Since you want your WM to be your main goalscorer together with your AF - the "overlap left" may be holding him back. This instruction ups the mentality on the WB and lowers the mentality on your WM while making him hold up the ball.
Really really nice results though!

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44 minutes ago, mernild said:

Since you want your WM to be your main goalscorer together with your AF - the "overlap left" may be holding him back. This instruction ups the mentality on the WB and lowers the mentality on your WM while making him hold up the ball.
Really really nice results though!

This is a good point.

However, going into the 4th season I've pushed the WM & W up to the AML/R slots and dropped the CM's to DMC's. This has pushed the IF(A) to a Very Attacking mentality and the WB(S) to Attacking. Could this be overkill? Still 2 months until we play a friendly. 

image.png

Edited by ashlfcowen
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My experience with top-heavy formations and players on that kind of attacking mentality is that they often end up camped on the edge of the box without doing much. I think both your IFa and your AF are going to struggle to find space in that setup, given that it's top-heavy, on Attacking mentality, and you're pressing even higher and more aggressively than the (already high and aggressive) default Attacking settings.

Your player can have as attacking of a mentality as you want, but if there's no space to run into, there's no space to run into.

Edited by Sneaky Pete
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10 hours ago, Sneaky Pete said:

My experience with top-heavy formations and players on that kind of attacking mentality is that they often end up camped on the edge of the box without doing much. I think both your IFa and your AF are going to struggle to find space in that setup, given that it's top-heavy, on Attacking mentality, and you're pressing even higher and more aggressively than the (already high and aggressive) default Attacking settings.

Your player can have as attacking of a mentality as you want, but if there's no space to run into, there's no space to run into.

Good point. And something I should have known better. I've just revisited this amazing thread by @Cleon

My board and fans insist on attacking football so I'll drop those two men out on the wing again.

 

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