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Lower League Tactics Examples


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Some chess players can see 10+ moves ahead and have a plan no matter what their opponent does.  Me?  I see maybe 1 or 2 moves ahead and am blind to some things - so I'm not great.  I feel like I'm the same with FM tactics.  However, I'm growing fed up with looking for tactics to download out there - as they all seem to be exploits and then they stop working as soon as a ME patch rolls out - then my whole squad built a certain way comes tumbling down like a pack of cards and saves die (have been thinking about this in recent days, and if I'm honest, I'm blaming the ME when it's really me and the tactics I download; when I try myself I stink - although in FM19 I did develop an underdog possession system that worked really well, but was a bit too defensive/dull).  The other thing for lower leagues is that most tactics feature the more exotic roles like Ramdeuter etc. and role suitability is low and it feels like this is an issue in FM21.

So, I'm thinking about trying to start a lower league save somewhere - but I wonder, before I start out, if a few people could post their examples of successful lower league tactics - and perhaps take me through their logic.  I'm looking to learn a little in the process and also try and find some inspiration - I gave up with FM20 fairly early and I don't want to do the same with FM21, particularly as I'm likely going to be spending a lot more time at home compared to last year and have more time to play.  I'm particularly looking for tactics that don't employ "counter press" as despite being a Southampton fan and Ralph being a master of it, it's not really my thing.  I'm not worried about possession necessarily, but don't want to play hoofball.  I know it will depend on the team I pick and the players (I'll probably pick an underdog in whatever country as that appeals to me far more than a favourite), but I just want a few examples as I'm thinking that in my 3 tactical slots I will have different ways of playing and if my main tactic doesn't work so well I can switch and then tactical familiarity won't be zero.

I'm also interested in how people approach games in terms of the oppo.  Do you ignore what they are doing - or do you tweak according to their formation etc?  Does one need a home and away tactic (kinda feels like you do).

One final thing - how does one judge the oppo - particularly early in the season or if you are playing in a smaller country and qualify for Europe - how do you tell how good the oppo is compared to you and thus how to approach the match?

I'm good with other aspects of the game - developing youth, training, recruitment, squad planning/building, staff recruitment - just not tactics...

Thanks in advance for any examples and your time.

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I’ll happily post my tactic later when I get back on it. What I would say though is not to discount “hoof ball” or it’s variants, especially if you want to start lower league saves. Physicality is a much more common trait than technical ability at that level and you need to exploit that. A good target man can be the difference between a good team and a great team. Especially when you consider that players at that level are less likely to be able to move the ball around on the deck quickly and efficiently. Plus, in my opinion, there is nothing more beautiful than a long ball being flicked on by your big lump and your nippy little finisher racing onto it to tuck the ball away. I’ve had success so far with Weymouth... I’ll post a picture of my tactic later.

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match management is one of the hardest things to develop.

I find stripping it back to basics is always the best way to go and one important thing to to make a note of is that its not helpful to see tactics in isolation. Its like a battleplan. It might look pretty on paper but until you see what the enemy do its just a list of aspirations.

Let's say that you've looked at your players. You know who can pick a pass and who can't. You know who can carry the ball and who can't. Both of these are vital because they move you up the pitch and that is your objective in the attacking transition. You know who can act as a pivot, holding the ball up and who can't. This is vital because it enables you to gain controlled possession in the final third. There are other roles but you get the point.

My stripped back analysis is always when and where the transitions break down in attack and when and where the opposition attack/counter goes from being under control to a problem.

For attacking transitions, start with the keeper. Who does he distribute to? Okay, what do they do with it? Do they carry or pass? Who gets its next and where? What do they do with it? Knowing the main paths to goal will help you identify where you attacks are breaking down. If you go keeper to fullback and he pumps the ball up the pitch surrendering possession then you can start to look closer. Is the FB getting the ball and being put under immediate pressure forcing him into a hoof? Maybe have the keeper pass to someone else. Is the FB isolated? Could you bring a player closer to him to offer a progressive pass? If you can't then maybe the FB isn't the best person to be distributing the ball to. Is there a lack of movement ahead of the FB? Does he get the ball, have time to take it under control and look up for a pass but there's simply no one in space? Maybe look changing the roles and duties ahead of him so that they are in space.

In the defensive phase you're trying to identify when the opposition suddenly break through. If your players are running back towards their own goal then your defensive structure has broken down. When and how did the opposition go from being infront of you to behind you? Was it a long ball in behind the defense? If so then the problem could be your defensive line/mobility of your defenders. Did the opposition fling a ball in from wide? If so maybe you're defending too narrow or allowing the opposition to exploit your fullback in a 1v1 mismatch or they're creating 2v1s in that area with an overlapping fullback. Is it simpler to tackle the problem at source and find the opposition player making those passes out wide or should you task a midfielder with babysitting your fullback? These are not your only options, I'm just trying to give you can idea of how to look at the game. Everything that happened had a cause. Rewind the game and watch it back. Where did your problems start? Not dealing with the initial loss of possession? Not getting back into shape? Not pressuring the player receiving the counter-attack pass?  

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2 hours ago, duesouth said:

I'm also interested in how people approach games in terms of the oppo.  Do you ignore what they are doing - or do you tweak according to their formation etc?  Does one need a home and away tactic (kinda feels like you do)

Tbh, and this is just my opinion, in the LL I really don't pay that much attention to the opposition pre-game. In game if there is something fundamentally wrong I'll react but in the LL you get punished less for mistakes then what you would do higher up the pyramid. In LL the playing field is quite level.

As for tactics, I just usually keep it really simple with a 442. I've actually got a save with Hitchin Town which I made a tactic with Cautious mentality which was based on fast counter transitions and being tight and narrow in defence. It never actually stopped working as I was expecting to be more adventurous as the season went on so I just kept going with it.

But as you say, an alternative tactic is always a good idea. If you starting setup is more progressive then a more passive tactic in the second slot would help. And vice versa, in my case I had a more adventurous tactic in the second slot. Never got to use it mind :D 

Edited by Justified
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12 hours ago, Atarin said:

match management is one of the hardest things to develop.

I find stripping it back to basics is always the best way to go and one important thing to to make a note of is that its not helpful to see tactics in isolation. Its like a battleplan. It might look pretty on paper but until you see what the enemy do its just a list of aspirations.

Let's say that you've looked at your players. You know who can pick a pass and who can't. You know who can carry the ball and who can't. Both of these are vital because they move you up the pitch and that is your objective in the attacking transition. You know who can act as a pivot, holding the ball up and who can't. This is vital because it enables you to gain controlled possession in the final third. There are other roles but you get the point.

My stripped back analysis is always when and where the transitions break down in attack and when and where the opposition attack/counter goes from being under control to a problem.

For attacking transitions, start with the keeper. Who does he distribute to? Okay, what do they do with it? Do they carry or pass? Who gets its next and where? What do they do with it? Knowing the main paths to goal will help you identify where you attacks are breaking down. If you go keeper to fullback and he pumps the ball up the pitch surrendering possession then you can start to look closer. Is the FB getting the ball and being put under immediate pressure forcing him into a hoof? Maybe have the keeper pass to someone else. Is the FB isolated? Could you bring a player closer to him to offer a progressive pass? If you can't then maybe the FB isn't the best person to be distributing the ball to. Is there a lack of movement ahead of the FB? Does he get the ball, have time to take it under control and look up for a pass but there's simply no one in space? Maybe look changing the roles and duties ahead of him so that they are in space.

In the defensive phase you're trying to identify when the opposition suddenly break through. If your players are running back towards their own goal then your defensive structure has broken down. When and how did the opposition go from being infront of you to behind you? Was it a long ball in behind the defense? If so then the problem could be your defensive line/mobility of your defenders. Did the opposition fling a ball in from wide? If so maybe you're defending too narrow or allowing the opposition to exploit your fullback in a 1v1 mismatch or they're creating 2v1s in that area with an overlapping fullback. Is it simpler to tackle the problem at source and find the opposition player making those passes out wide or should you task a midfielder with babysitting your fullback? These are not your only options, I'm just trying to give you can idea of how to look at the game. Everything that happened had a cause. Rewind the game and watch it back. Where did your problems start? Not dealing with the initial loss of possession? Not getting back into shape? Not pressuring the player receiving the counter-attack pass?  

Would be great to have a guide about match management. I think I have problems recognizing patterns or knowing what changes to make at the expense of what the opponent proposes, I really struggle on my games for trying to attach to one playing style. 

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@OrientTillIDie@Justified Thanks for taking the time to respond - I think a 4-4-2 seems like the way forward - I quite like 2 up top anyway.  @Atarin, thanks also - I think take the time to watch things on full at the start and really take a minute - I think I'm sometimes guilty of rushing through.

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57 minutes ago, duesouth said:

@OrientTillIDie@Justified Thanks for taking the time to respond - I think a 4-4-2 seems like the way forward - I quite like 2 up top anyway.  @Atarin, thanks also - I think take the time to watch things on full at the start and really take a minute - I think I'm sometimes guilty of rushing through.

It also depends a little on country. A lot of European countries actually play 433 in LL as well, which isn't impossible but can easily be countered by playing a 3 at the back formation due to the lower quality in the LL's. But yeah overall I go with 442 due to the compact 2 line nature of the formation.

I do like finding a midfield maestro as well who I can either play as a DLPde with a BBM next to him or a DLPsu with a defensive partner. Having someone creative a technically better in midfield is a priority of mine alongside pace on the flanks and someone who can hold up the ball upfield. Oh and it doesn't hurt finding the best goalkeeper you can. You will let chances through at some point and a good goalkeeper could be the difference between 0 and 3 points.

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I often play the game with no qualifications or club from the start with the ambition to move up the league table. There are a few things that are constant throughout FM versions and could help in your LLM journey. 

Roles are split into basic and advanced groups. If you're lower league its better to focus on the more basic roles. You can judge them based on the stat highlights/ requirements for each role but also by just thinking about them. A winger, for example, operates in one area of the pitch and essentially just runs up and down that area, the flank. An inside forward, starts in the same area but also cuts inside. The winger only needs the ability to play on the flank, but the inside fwd needs the ability for both wide play and central play. 

Basic roles are things like: Wingers, Target Man, Poacher, CM, Full Back, CB and so on.

Advanced roles are things like: Inside Fwds, False 9s, Wingbacks, Ball Playing CBs, Mezzala and so on. 

Essentially, basic roles only operate in one area of the pitch in an up down motion (vertical) whereas Advanced roles operate in multiple areas of the pitch (up/ down + side-to-side.)

So, if you have limited players it makes sense to build a formation around basic roles. Basic roles are amazing if set up the right way. 

Advanced roles also have a larger effect on the players around them so use them sparingly if your team is limited. An Inside Fwd, for example, not only requires a player capable of playing centrally and on the flank, but also a fullback capable of playing well on the wing---an IF cutting inside pretty much forces you to use an overlapping fullback on that side. If the fullback gets forward, then you need a CB capable of defending in the wide areas to cover. So advanced roles have a domino effect on your team + tactics which is why you need to think carefully and use them sparingly (unless you're man city)

Duties (Attack/ Support / Defend) is how the roles interact with each other and needs to be balanced right to create opportunities or defend resolutely.---- (I think a lot of people think that the roles are the main thing behind a tactic working or not but its the duties that are the most important factor in good teamplay, movement and tactics)

Player mentality attributes also fit into basic and advanced categories.

Basic: Bravery, Determination, Teamwork, Workrate, Aggression etc

Advanced: Anticipation, Vision, Composure, Decisions etc 

A good IF requires both the Advanced attributes + the Basic Ones since they operate in two areas of the pitch. 

If I was you, I'd start with the most basic roles and get the duties right so that they interact with each other correctly. You know when that's happening cos you can see it and you'll start winning games.  I usually start with one side of a 442 with basic roles and work across e.g. what duty for a winger works well with a Poacher up front, what duty does a full back need to work with that winger, what duty should the cm be to work with the winger etc etc. 

Then gently introduce more advanced roles keeping the duties the same to refine the tactic. Then add instructions/ play style to refine further.

hope it helps 

 

Edited by Guerin
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There is no such thing as lower league tactics in FM. There is only tactics. Everything is relative to the level of the other teams/players in the league. Nothing is preventing you from using a tactic with a libero,  a regista and a trequartista with fluid movement if you wish and have the suitable players in terms of ability relative to the other players in the league. 

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1 hour ago, laurentius82 said:

There is no such thing as lower league tactics in FM. There is only tactics. Everything is relative to the level of the other teams/players in the league. Nothing is preventing you from using a tactic with a libero,  a regista and a trequartista with fluid movement if you wish and have the suitable players in terms of ability relative to the other players in the league. 

But that is somewhat the point. In the lower leagues, it’s very unlikely you’ll have suitable players to use the libero, regista and trequartista roles. The players available to sign, even for the best clubs in a lower league, aren’t going to be most effective in those specialist roles. It’s far more effective and efficient to keep the tactic simple and give your players the best opportunity to make the most of your system. Overcomplicating things just doesn’t work, unless of course you find a tactic that exploits the match engine. Otherwise, avoiding complicated specialist roles in the lower leagues is the best way to get started. The vast majority of wide players in the lower leagues have pace, ergo it’s best to play them as a winger. Strikers tend to be either really tall or really quick, so a target man and a poacher or pressing forward makes sense, rather than a complete forward or trequartista. A lot of midfielders are good at tackling and average at passing. So a simple central midfielder or ball winning midfielder makes sense. Then give them TIs that suit them as a unit. Keep it simple and you’ll go far.

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I guess it would depend on how important role suitability is in FM21.  This is a typical thing I would see for a player at a lower level - the more exotic roles are silver stars:

752681124_RoleSuitability.jpg.2c76ef7cf289f1e36d8a6a21eb4fef48.jpg

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1 hour ago, laurentius82 said:

There is no such thing as lower league tactics in FM. There is only tactics. Everything is relative to the level of the other teams/players in the league. Nothing is preventing you from using a tactic with a libero,  a regista and a trequartista with fluid movement if you wish and have the suitable players in terms of ability relative to the other players in the league. 

That's only partially true. The simple fact is that regardless of the divisional averages a player with passing and vision of 4 is not going to make a particularly efficient DLP. Regardless of the divisional averages a winger with dribbling and balance of 4 is not going to be tearing up and down the wing. A player with stamina and pace of 4 is not going to make a very effective BBM regardless of the quality of the players he is playing against. There is a point (around 5) where an attribute is simply junk whatever level you're playing at and whoever you're playing against. A player can be a standout in his division but if his OTB, passing, dribbling and vision is 5 or below I would avoid any roaming creative roles. Period.

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I almost always do lower league saves and recently started one with Leamington at the bottom of the England tiers. I like to let the existing roster guide me to our initial tactics. At Leamington we had good wingers and a couple of giants who can play striker so I went with a 4-2-4 and wing play tactics. 
 

It’s the preset wing play tactic, unaltered and it’s working great. So far we’re scoring for fun and defensively we’re surprisingly strong. No counter-press and a standard defensive line and lower line of engagement. I think it’s exactly the kind of thing you’re looking for. Cheers. 
 

536DF9E6-A95E-47E5-ADB4-F75367BDA0B2.thumb.png.86018df28c649300633cc254c490fdc0.png

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1 hour ago, 3runhomer said:

I almost always do lower league saves and recently started one with Leamington at the bottom of the England tiers. I like to let the existing roster guide me to our initial tactics. At Leamington we had good wingers and a couple of giants who can play striker so I went with a 4-2-4 and wing play tactics. 

I'm exactly the same. Most of the time they're on contract anyways so I might as well use the tools I was given. However blunt and rusty they are :D 

Most of the time you'll have 1 or 2 gems that'll actually make the cut. At Hitchin I had a right winger and striker who stayed with me to the National League. After one season there they were eventually let go. None of them were actually going to manage League Two in my eyes.

In FM20 in my Gloucester save I actually had a left winger who stayed with me to League One :D Bernard Mensah. All he had was pace and a decent cross really.

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10 hours ago, Atarin said:

That's only partially true. The simple fact is that regardless of the divisional averages a player with passing and vision of 4 is not going to make a particularly efficient DLP. Regardless of the divisional averages a winger with dribbling and balance of 4 is not going to be tearing up and down the wing. A player with stamina and pace of 4 is not going to make a very effective BBM regardless of the quality of the players he is playing against. There is a point (around 5) where an attribute is simply junk whatever level you're playing at and whoever you're playing against. A player can be a standout in his division but if his OTB, passing, dribbling and vision is 5 or below I would avoid any roaming creative roles. Period.

Yes that's of course true in practice, because probably in any league in the game a 4 or 5 in those attributes can be considered very low. But let's get hypothetical and imagine an in-game drunken pub league where 99% of the players have a 1 for all attributes. There a player with OTB, passing, dribbling and vision of 5 IS going to be excellent in roaming creative roles.

I'm playing currently in the Vanarama national with Chester, and I have a player who plays as a regista in a 4-3-3 (that also includes a mezzala on attack). He has 11-13 in all attributes highlighted for the role and performs brilliantly.  

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On 22/12/2020 at 21:01, Guerin said:

I often play the game with no qualifications or club from the start with the ambition to move up the league table. There are a few things that are constant throughout FM versions and could help in your LLM journey. 

Roles are split into basic and advanced groups. If you're lower league its better to focus on the more basic roles. You can judge them based on the stat highlights/ requirements for each role but also by just thinking about them. A winger, for example, operates in one area of the pitch and essentially just runs up and down that area, the flank. An inside forward, starts in the same area but also cuts inside. The winger only needs the ability to play on the flank, but the inside fwd needs the ability for both wide play and central play. 

Basic roles are things like: Wingers, Target Man, Poacher, CM, Full Back, CB and so on.

Advanced roles are things like: Inside Fwds, False 9s, Wingbacks, Ball Playing CBs, Mezzala and so on. 

Essentially, basic roles only operate in one area of the pitch in an up down motion (vertical) whereas Advanced roles operate in multiple areas of the pitch (up/ down + side-to-side.)

So, if you have limited players it makes sense to build a formation around basic roles. Basic roles are amazing if set up the right way. 

Advanced roles also have a larger effect on the players around them so use them sparingly if your team is limited. An Inside Fwd, for example, not only requires a player capable of playing centrally and on the flank, but also a fullback capable of playing well on the wing---an IF cutting inside pretty much forces you to use an overlapping fullback on that side. If the fullback gets forward, then you need a CB capable of defending in the wide areas to cover. So advanced roles have a domino effect on your team + tactics which is why you need to think carefully and use them sparingly (unless you're man city)

Duties (Attack/ Support / Defend) is how the roles interact with each other and needs to be balanced right to create opportunities or defend resolutely.---- (I think a lot of people think that the roles are the main thing behind a tactic working or not but its the duties that are the most important factor in good teamplay, movement and tactics)

Player mentality attributes also fit into basic and advanced categories.

Basic: Bravery, Determination, Teamwork, Workrate, Aggression etc

Advanced: Anticipation, Vision, Composure, Decisions etc 

A good IF requires both the Advanced attributes + the Basic Ones since they operate in two areas of the pitch. 

If I was you, I'd start with the most basic roles and get the duties right so that they interact with each other correctly. You know when that's happening cos you can see it and you'll start winning games.  I usually start with one side of a 442 with basic roles and work across e.g. what duty for a winger works well with a Poacher up front, what duty does a full back need to work with that winger, what duty should the cm be to work with the winger etc etc. 

Then gently introduce more advanced roles keeping the duties the same to refine the tactic. Then add instructions/ play style to refine further.

hope it helps 

 

Sir that's a good,informative article.I think that CM,RPM and SS roles are mixed both of them.AP,AM,TQ are advanced roles.Can you give more examples about advanced and basic roles?Is it logical to set a starting eleven(all of them basic roles)when we managed an underdog team?

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On 23/12/2020 at 11:08, duesouth said:

I guess it would depend on how important role suitability is in FM21.  This is a typical thing I would see for a player at a lower level - the more exotic roles are silver stars:

752681124_RoleSuitability.jpg.2c76ef7cf289f1e36d8a6a21eb4fef48.jpg

I always ignore this, even when silver stars. I’ve had complete forwards bang and inverted wing backs assist for days even in lower leagues

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  • 4 weeks later...

I've had mixed success.  I've not settled on one save, so have like 4 or 5 on the go - but I've found the key is to make the tactic fit the team in terms of formation/roles - rather than force a 4-4-2, for example, on a team.  One save, I got that wrong and I'm struggling - but then I went "D'oh" square pegs/round holes, so my fault!  I have been using a direct game in all, and that's worked nicely.  One save, my Advanced Forward is working really well off the Target Man and is the top scorer in the league and I'm top.

One thing I have done is to make sure I have 3 different tactics - so my base, then a slightly more attacking one and a more defensive one (which I can use to shut up shop late in games as well).  If I do need to change if I'm struggling, at least there's some tactical familiarity.

I've been watching Daljit/Rashidi/Bust the Net on YouTube and seeing what he does at the start of saves and that's been pure gold - so, worth checking out his longer videoes at the start of a save if you have a spare couple of hours.

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Thanks for the reply, yeah I've watched a few of Bust the net videos on YouTube, they are very good for understanding.

I've tried with a preset tactic of direct counter and 442 which was recommended by the assistant, however I'm struggling with it at the minute. 

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59 minutes ago, Kevinbyron25 said:

Thanks for the reply, yeah I've watched a few of Bust the net videos on YouTube, they are very good for understanding.

I've tried with a preset tactic of direct counter and 442 which was recommended by the assistant, however I'm struggling with it at the minute. 

Are you able to post your tactic?  There are some tactically switched on people here who can help.

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