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Can you play a 4231 without a genuine holding player in midfield?


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Hi Everyone.

Im at the beginning of a save at the moment and i had some thoughts about a tactic that ive been trying in preseason. Its been producing lovely interachange of passing and attacking, but im looking for some opinions defensively.

The tactic looks like this (ive left the players off it just for a moment, as im a little undecided about my first 11 just now):

2134436469_Screenshot2020-12-22at11_12_05.thumb.png.912a4a8c9ab911bdc023167bcf441b59.png

In an attacking sense, this tactic works really nicely so far.

The CM(S) which is likely to be Fabregas, has PI's to get further forward, run wide with the ball, move into channels and take more risks. The idea being he can move into the the space vacated by the IW(S) and interact to form triangles and overloads with the TREQ who will likely be Mesut Ozil, to release the IF(A) and DLF (A).

The CAR(S) is tasked with the role of moving wider to hopefully cover the IF(A) when he cuts in, but also be an option to create and receive a pass higher up the pitch.

The FB(S) on both sides have PI's to cut inside with ball, and sit narrower. Basically, to get them somewhat closer to being IWBs but still with the ability to cross the ball, particularly the right back Sidibe who needs to find the IF(A) with crosses.

 

Thats WITH the ball, no problem. We make good chances and can score goals.

 

WITHOUT the ball, im a bit worried about the vacant DM position, where the opposition could exploit us.

Ive dropped the line of engagement back one notch to make us a little more compact in that sense, and im hoping that our ability to keep possession will be another way we can defend.

Also, im hoping the interaction of the two full backs coming narrow will solidify the middle of the pitch.

Ive also been thinking about using "regroup" as an instruction, to make the central midfielders quickly get back in position.

 

However, we still wont have a genuine holding player.

 

Would like to hear thoughts on whether this can work? will we be giving much up in an attacking sense if say, the CM(S) became a CM(D) and didnt join in with the overload?

Would the IF(A) get isolated if the CAR(S) wasnt backing him up and instead was a CM(D) on his side?

 

Would love to hear your opinion

Thanks Everyone

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I think yes...I played last year with a DLP-S and BBM-S in a 4-2-3-1 Wide and it worked. The DLP-S did sort of play a holding role in the team mostly, but there were times when both were "holding" position.

I am personally in a rethink about Mentality....Last season I used Balanced and the two CM's especially the DLP-S played a holding role MOST of the time, but it wasn't explicitly in his PI's.

This year I am using Positive but with a more "holding" roles a Mezz-S and BWM-D...

 

On the Side of the IF-A, if you are worried about the Defensive coverage try a WB-D.

 

I think you will be fine with your set up if you use a more "cautious" mentality.

Just a few thoughts....

 

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Your setup is not unlike the formation Solskjaer has been using for Man Utd this season :thup: Neither McTominay or Fred are natural 'holding' midfielders in the classic sense but their energy makes up for what they lack in positional discipline. 

If your players have similar attributes (high work rate + reasonable acceleration/pace to recover) it should work.

You could consider changing to Trq-A to an AP-A to increase that player's contribution in defence.

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@FMunderachiever Your tactic looks almost identical to one I am using (at least in terms of roles and shape). It all started when I had the idea to recreate the positional play of Sassuolo (Italy). It's a beautiful thing between a 4-2-3-1 and 4-2-4 ... anyway, within a couple of seasons (one with Sassuolo itself, one with Chelsea) I think I perfected it and now I am really happy the way it performs. 

Getting to your questions these would be my comments (hopefully they are useful to you):

1. In my opinion it really boils down to the players you have. When I was playing Sassuolo I had a CM and DLP both in support. The DLP was by nature kind of holding even in support. Also I had the two FBs holding their positions and keep narrow. So we had no problem defensively once the players learned the tactic.  In playing Chelsea I had to change and place the DLP in defense. This is because my DLP is good in building up play but not as good in defending. At that point I changed and gave license to the two FBs to come forward. This allows us to attack better the various vertical channels (much better width).

2. The more fluid you are, the better. Because players remain closer to each other and help one another more, tightening  up the line between defense and midfield for example.

3. In my system the IF on the left becomes a bit isolated at times, but that's what I want in a sense. The overloads happen mostly on the right flank and then with a switch we often find the IF alone in a 1 vs 1 situation on the other side. This is ideal for me. Also, the IF takes advantage of a lot of space and makes some fantastic runs into the box (my DLF is in support and leaves big holes behind him so the IF-A can run into them). So, for me some isolation is good for this position because the IF is my top scorer.

4. One question for you: does your T have room enough to express himself? In my system I either play a T or an AM, but in both cases they were like boxed-in in a way that they didn't have any room to move around. The result were poor performances, even with fantastic players. That's the main reason for changing the DLP from support to defense, to give the AM room to move and do things. That improved tremendously my game. The DLP gets involved in the overloads anyway because he's a playmaker.  

Hope all of this makes sense to you.

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7 hours ago, Manutd1999 said:

Your setup is not unlike the formation Solskjaer has been using for Man Utd this season :thup: Neither McTominay or Fred are natural 'holding' midfielders in the classic sense but their energy makes up for what they lack in positional discipline. 

If your players have similar attributes (high work rate + reasonable acceleration/pace to recover) it should work.

You could consider changing to Trq-A to an AP-A to increase that player's contribution in defence.

that really is a good point when you think about the tendency both Fred and McTominay have in hunting down the ball to make tackles but supporting the attack too and getting around the box

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5 hours ago, DNZ-8 said:

@FMunderachiever Your tactic looks almost identical to one I am using (at least in terms of roles and shape). It all started when I had the idea to recreate the positional play of Sassuolo (Italy). It's a beautiful thing between a 4-2-3-1 and 4-2-4 ... anyway, within a couple of seasons (one with Sassuolo itself, one with Chelsea) I think I perfected it and now I am really happy the way it performs. 

Getting to your questions these would be my comments (hopefully they are useful to you):

1. In my opinion it really boils down to the players you have. When I was playing Sassuolo I had a CM and DLP both in support. The DLP was by nature kind of holding even in support. Also I had the two FBs holding their positions and keep narrow. So we had no problem defensively once the players learned the tactic.  In playing Chelsea I had to change and place the DLP in defense. This is because my DLP is good in building up play but not as good in defending. At that point I changed and gave license to the two FBs to come forward. This allows us to attack better the various vertical channels (much better width).

2. The more fluid you are, the better. Because players remain closer to each other and help one another more, tightening  up the line between defense and midfield for example.

3. In my system the IF on the left becomes a bit isolated at times, but that's what I want in a sense. The overloads happen mostly on the right flank and then with a switch we often find the IF alone in a 1 vs 1 situation on the other side. This is ideal for me. Also, the IF takes advantage of a lot of space and makes some fantastic runs into the box (my DLF is in support and leaves big holes behind him so the IF-A can run into them). So, for me some isolation is good for this position because the IF is my top scorer.

4. One question for you: does your T have room enough to express himself? In my system I either play a T or an AM, but in both cases they were like boxed-in in a way that they didn't have any room to move around. The result were poor performances, even with fantastic players. That's the main reason for changing the DLP from support to defense, to give the AM room to move and do things. That improved tremendously my game. The DLP gets involved in the overloads anyway because he's a playmaker.  

Hope all of this makes sense to you.

Hi there, thats fantastic feedback

I think considering the players i have, it may be better to switch the CM(S) into a DLP(S), that he can provide just enough support to the right sided forward plaers but not crowd the play too much.

I think one weapon i do have defensively is the fluid shape. I think bringing the LOE and DL closer together (Perhaps lower LOE but Higher DL) could work very nicely in this team, and be helped by the fact we can keep the ball very well.

Im going to toggle around with the "regroup" instruction. Its one ive barely ever used so i would be interested to see its effects.

I totally relate to what you mean about a deliberate "isolation" of the IF(A). My IF(A) is likely to be Gelson Martins, who has tremendous pace, acceleration, and great off the ball. So i feel like not only can he beat a man 1v1 by knocking it past him, he can also ghost into space past a man too.

The carrilero comes in almost as a counter press if he doesnt beat his man, but also as a second option for a switch of play from the right hand side. My carrilero has good vision so i anticipate he will slip some nice through balls to the DLF and IF (ive seen signs of this so far)

 

 

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3 hours ago, FMunderachiever said:

Im going to toggle around with the "regroup" instruction. Its one ive barely ever used so i would be interested to see its effects.

Let me know how that goes. I wanted to test it out as well. I rarely use regroup, for some reason in my tactics I always end up using counter pressing and so I don't really have a good grasp on how to take advantage of regroup. 

3 hours ago, FMunderachiever said:

I totally relate to what you mean about a deliberate "isolation" of the IF(A). My IF(A) is likely to be Gelson Martins, who has tremendous pace, acceleration, and great off the ball. So i feel like not only can he beat a man 1v1 by knocking it past him, he can also ghost into space past a man too.

That's great, you need a player just like that. 

3 hours ago, FMunderachiever said:

The carrilero comes in almost as a counter press if he doesnt beat his man, but also as a second option for a switch of play from the right hand side. My carrilero has good vision so i anticipate he will slip some nice through balls to the DLF and IF (ive seen signs of this so far)

This makes a lot of sense. Like for regroup, I never really used a carrilero, so it's a role I don't know much. Let me know how it goes. 

Good luck!

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