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[Suggestion] detailed tactical improvement suggestions

Jason Choi

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I've been playing FM for quite a long time and have really enjoyed it, and I appreciate their efforts to improve the game every year. I know FM has made massive strides in the tactical aspect of the game, but I think there are some things that needs to be improved, some more than others, to make this game experience even more real life football like because realistic experience is the foundation of this game. I would like to make four suggestions that I think are key. By the way, I have not played FM21 yet so if any of these improvements have already been made already then please disregard it.

1. Back four to back three transition with DL/DR

I'd like to see ways to incorporate a transition from a back four to a back three since it is an indispensable aspect in the modern game. For example if one fullback runs forward, the other full back, when instructed, should be able to tuck in form a back three with two central defenders shifting accordingly (example: Kyle Walker in Man City). I noticed that inverted wingback defend role sits in a position that is narrower but slightly ahead of the central defenders and central defenders remain still. Then the problem is you can not effectively cover the space vacated by your forward running fullback because the central defenders have not shifted even with the other fullback with defend duty and sit narrower instruction. Also inverted wingback defend and central defenders end up not sharing their space efficiently. You can perhaps make this possible by modifying the movement of inverted wingback defend role to trigger this transition when the other fullback does not have a defend duty and when these conditions are met the central defenders would shift to form a natural looking back three. When the other fullback also has a defend duty however, inverted wingback defend can behave differently just like when their behaviors are different according to whether a winger or a defensive midfielder is positioned on the same side. I think inverted wingback role's general description and hard coded instructions needed some updates anyway because in real life you see more natural footed players perform this role than opposite footed players for this reason they have an option to run wide with ball as well. So the role description should to be updated and hard-coded cut inside instruction should be removed. You can also create a new role like auxiliary central defender in DR/DL position to make this back three transition possible but it can be redundant with inverted wingback defend role though somewhat different.

2. Back four to back three transition with DM

Another to interesting way to incorporate this transition is when a defensive midfielder drops between two central defenders. Half backs in FM drifts between their original position and in between two central defenders. But more importantly when they drop between two central defenders, the trio do not form a natural looking back three.  In real life, sometimes half backs move in and out of the position between central defenders and sometimes they always remain there when the team has possession and throughout the game two central defenders constantly shift in and out as well according the movement of their half back but this much of details can obviously be very difficult to be achieved in FM. So an option is either to make a half back to remain between central defenders and the trio form a back three or keep the role of half back as it is and create a new role like auxiliary central defender to achieve this transition. Of course this transition should only be available when both fullbacks have a support or attacking duty and there are only two central defenders. Additionally, when a team has a double pivot of two defensive midfielders and two fullbacks who push forward, I'd like to see one of the defensive midfielders to be able to drop to a side of two central defenders not between them because it would make the transition smoother and more natural. Again this defensive midfielder dropping to a side would trigger the central defenders to shift to the other side to form a natural looking back three (example: Frenkie De Jong in Ajax and Xhaka in Arsenal). They should also not be limited to the hard coded instructions of a half back because they can bring the ball out make risky passes for example. You can make this possible by automatically making half back or a new auxiliary central defender to drop between central defenders when positioned centrally and to a side when positioned off-center.

3. More central focused goal-poaching wide forwards

It is obvious that biggest goal threats in the modern game come from wide forwards. In FM, it is quite difficult to really replicate the way these extremely talented wide forwards operate. Neither raumdeuter nor inside forward attack with sit narrow and/or roam instruction really behaves in the same manner because in the game they position themselves slightly narrower but not quite narrow enough and they either receive the ball in front of the opposition fullback and carry it inside or they make runs behind the fullback or into channels. When they do move in more centrally and closer to their striker is when the whole team has progressed higher on the pitch with possession but this is when the opposition's defense is very compact. In real life these forwards as soon as their team has possession instinctively move close to their striker and really try to attack any space their striker creates whether it is in front of central defenders or behind them (example: Salah, Mane, Son, Rashford, Aubameyang, Werner, Mbappe). The key point is that they exploit central space where biggest goal threats come from. This is how they can score so many goals especially one v ones after making runs behind central defenders. Because these players are naturally forwards they behave like how an advanced forward would in FM which is not achievable in the same manner from positions out wide. They are positioned out wide to cover the wide area when the team is defending mainly. An extreme case of these players even surpassing the striker and overloading the other side of the pitch should even be achievable although this will be destructive for their defensive structure. Finding balance for such structure would be an interesting one. Perhaps the easiest way to make this possible is by making sit narrower instruction for inside forwards or raumdeuter to be more narrower. I think sit narrower and stay wider instructions for all positions in general do not create enough positional difference but alternatively a new role can be created. However, I think the original purpose of inside forward attack with sit narrower instruction and raumdeuter roles were to give this effect so I think modifying their attacking movement especially narrowness makes more sense than coming up with a new one.

4. Separate control of attacking and defensive contribution

Now this one may be more complicated but definitely something worth considering. I think the defend, support and attack duties in FM can be somewhat misleading. As I'm aware, attack duties have more attack-minded mentality, make more risky decisions, have more creative freedom, make more attacking runs and contribute less defensively. Defend duties do the opposite and support duties do things in between. Now what if you want to instruct a player to make aggressive runs into the box when the team has possession but also aggressively track back and contribute defensively when the team doesn't. To contribute to both sides of the game to such an extreme extent requires a lot of stamina, but there are many players who are capable of doing it (example: Vidal, Matuidi, Ji-Sung Park). Sometimes a manager might give certain players these demanding tasks for tactical reasons and substitute them to let a fresh player perform the same demanding tasks (example: the way Jose Mourinho instructs certain players to diligently track back and also make surging runs on counter against big teams and then substitute them around 60 min). Do you give them attack or defend duty because a player with attack duty makes far less defensive contribution, a player with defend duty holds position, and a player with support duty never goes to the extremes. I think to make this possible we need to have two separate controls for attacking and defensive contribution. For example, you can decide how far you want a player to make attacking contribution with the most attacking being entering opposition's penalty area, the most disciplined being remaining in position, and something in between doing a bit of both or neither depending on situations and player's attributes. This can replace go forward and hold position instructions which are quite one dimensional and vague. Also you can decide how far you want a player to make defensive contribution with most defensive being aggressively tracking back and diligently filling gaps in defensive midfielder's case perhaps frequently defending his own box, the most "free of defensive tasks" being minimally contributing defensively and mainly staying in his position reserving his energy or being ready for counter attack, and something in between doing a bit of both or neither depending on situations and player's attributes. This will not replace any existing feature since there is currently no control over defensive contribution specifically. How well or willingly a player performs these tasks of course  depends on the player's attributes, and the more tasks a player is given the more quickly the player will become tired. I think all positions except DC, DR and DL should have both attacking and defensive control available because it makes no sense differentiating a defender's defensive contribution. For forwards, poacher or advanced forward can be hard coded to extreme attacking contribution and false nine and deep lying forward support can be hard coded to least attacking contribution which can be labelled dropping deep or something to reduce confusion. I think this new concept can really open doors.

As someone who has played FM for such a long time and has so much passion in this sport I have endless ideas and suggestions but these were what came up to my mind first.

Edited by Jason Choi
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