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Hi everyone, 

 

I'm looking to get some insight on a wide 4-3-3 tactic I've been using in my Gloucester City FM20 save. 

A variant of this tactic worked very well for a while - I won promotion from the National League North - and got off to a great start in the National League - before hitting a bit of a wall about half way through my second season when I started to concede a lot of goals and struggled to score.  I still managed a top-half finish, despite a terrible run of form, by going 4-5-1 with a flat midfield 5, and just trying to tighten up a little. So far in my third season I'm in the top half but struggling for goals, though I have been a little more solid at the back, scoring 6 and conceding 5 in my first 7 games. 

I'm not wedded to any particular style of play, and in fact most of my early success came from playing a short passing game, sometimes with a 4-3-3 and sometimes with a 4-2-3-1, but the broad idea with my current tactic is to use my midfield 3, who have pretty good passing and vision, to release my pacey front three. I do tend to mix up my team instructions a bit and alternate between short and direct passing within games, as well as switching the focus from the flanks to the middle. 

I'm including my current tactic as well as attributes of my midfield and attacking players.

 

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Edited by Oli987
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Obvious issues:

- poor defensive compactness (distance between D-line & LOE) coupled with aggressive defensive instructions (more urgent press & tight mark) + tight marking and aggressive pressing generally don't go hand in hand

- the (only) holding midfield role (DLP) is situated toward a flank (as opposed to the center) in a midfield with no DM

- in this type of formation (with no DM), having an attack duty in central midfield is always potentially risky; and even if you insist on having one, he should be flanked by a holding midfield role from both sides (whereas your setup has only one)

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48 minutes ago, Experienced Defender said:

Obvious issues:

- poor defensive compactness (distance between D-line & LOE) coupled with aggressive defensive instructions (more urgent press & tight mark) + tight marking and aggressive pressing generally don't go hand in hand

- the (only) holding midfield role (DLP) is situated toward a flank (as opposed to the center) in a midfield with no DM

- in this type of formation (with no DM), having an attack duty in central midfield is always potentially risky; and even if you insist on having one, he should be flanked by a holding midfield role from both sides (whereas your setup has only one)

Thanks for the suggestions. I have been vulnerable to being overloaded at the back from time-to-time, while my attacking players often struggle to find space, so that sounds like a good start. 

Would a more urgent press, combined with a lower LOE and higher D-line and removal of tighter marking be something that would rectify  what you mentioned? The other consideration is my stopper is slow/ageing but still has good physical attributes and tackling, so I wouldn't want to be exposed with a higher D-Line either. 

Edited by Oli987
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59 minutes ago, Oli987 said:

while my attacking players often struggle to find space

AF (role) especially tends to struggle for space when played as a lone striker, especially in aggressive tactical styles like yours (high LOE, high pressing urgency and stuff like that). Because it's the most attack-minded striker role and therefore can end up isolated when played without sufficient support. Much more effective when used in counter-attacking and other defensive styles (with lower LOE). 

 

1 hour ago, Oli987 said:

Would a more urgent press, combined with a lower LOE and higher D-line and removal of tighter marking be something that would rectify  what you mentioned?

I would definitely remove the tight marking. As for the DL/LOE combo, optimal compactness is achieved when DL is just one notch higher than LOE (e.g. higher DL/standard LOE or standard DL/lower LOE). When it comes to pressing urgency, I personally prefer to leave it on default (medium) in the vast majority of my tactics, but you can try both more urgent and default to compare and see which one suits your players in an optimal way (because each team is different + instructions work in conjunction with other elements of a tactic).

But the setup of roles and duties is still the most important part. If you fail to set it up in a sensible and balanced way, the tactic is likely to fail regardless of how you set up instructions. 

1 hour ago, Oli987 said:

The other consideration is my stopper is slow/ageing but still has good physical attributes and tackling, so I wouldn't want to be exposed with a higher D-Line either

Why do you use the stopper duty in the first place? Why not simply both CBs on defend duty? Is there any special and well thought-out reason?

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24 minutes ago, Experienced Defender said:

AF (role) especially tends to struggle for space when played as a lone striker, especially in aggressive tactical styles like yours (high LOE, high pressing urgency and stuff like that). Because it's the most attack-minded striker role and therefore can end up isolated when played without sufficient support. Much more effective when used in counter-attacking and other defensive styles (with lower LOE). 

I lowered the LOE to be more compact for the next game. If I'm going to continue to use high pressing, which I can definitely reduce to standard, too, would it work better potentially if I used something like a PF or TM, or changed one of my wingers to inside forward? I also have 4-4-2 as a secondary tactic.

 

24 minutes ago, Experienced Defender said:

 

I would definitely remove the tight marking. As for the DL/LOE combo, optimal compactness is achieved when DL is just one notch higher than LOE (e.g. higher DL/standard LOE or standard DL/lower LOE). When it comes to pressing urgency, I personally prefer to leave it on default (medium) in the vast majority of my tactics, but you can try both more urgent and default to compare and see which one suits your players in an optimal way (because each team is different + instructions work in conjunction with other elements of a tactic).

Makes sense. I left it as more urgent with lower LOE and high DL for the next game before I saw your response. I won 2-0 and looked a lot better but did still give up a few more chances than I'd have liked, so I'll try dropping back my DL a notch too. This is what I currently have after tweaks.

 

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24 minutes ago, Experienced Defender said:

But the setup of roles and duties is still the most important part. If you fail to set it up in a sensible and balanced way, the tactic is likely to fail regardless of how you set up instructions. 

Why do you use the stopper duty in the first place? Why not simply both CBs on defend duty? Is there any special and well thought-out reason?

Only because pace doesn't show as an important attribute for stopper and my ageing CB has pace of 5. I prefer defend - defend in ideal circumstances. 

 

 

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12 hours ago, Oli987 said:

This is what I currently have after tweaks

Lower LOE = defensive football. Your other instructions suggest a counter-attacking version of defensive football (direct pass, high tempo, quick distribution, 2 of the 3 forwards with attack duties). 

If that's the style of play you want to implement, then you are probably on the right track. The only role that does not ideally fit such style is DLP on defend duty. Actually, it's primarily about the duty, not the role itself. Because if you want to use a playmaker role in a counter-attack style - which btw is not necessary - then you want a playmaker that will look for quicker transitional passes forward. That's the reason I would prefer the support duty for the DLP, rather than defend.

Now, if I were to put the above observation into the context of your current tactic, this is an example of how I would implement that small tweak:

AF

Wsu                                   Wat

CMde  CMat  DLPsu

FBsu    CDde  CDde    FBde

GK

As you can see, besides switching the DLP's duty to support, I also swapped around the duties of your fullbacks - so the support is now on the left and defend on the right. Although I believe both could be on support, given that each has a holding midfielder in from of him.

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On 20/02/2021 at 04:13, Experienced Defender said:

Lower LOE = defensive football. Your other instructions suggest a counter-attacking version of defensive football (direct pass, high tempo, quick distribution, 2 of the 3 forwards with attack duties). 

If that's the style of play you want to implement, then you are probably on the right track. The only role that does not ideally fit such style is DLP on defend duty. Actually, it's primarily about the duty, not the role itself. Because if you want to use a playmaker role in a counter-attack style - which btw is not necessary - then you want a playmaker that will look for quicker transitional passes forward. That's the reason I would prefer the support duty for the DLP, rather than defend.

Now, if I were to put the above observation into the context of your current tactic, this is an example of how I would implement that small tweak:

AF

Wsu                                   Wat

CMde  CMat  DLPsu

FBsu    CDde  CDde    FBde

GK

As you can see, besides switching the DLP's duty to support, I also swapped around the duties of your fullbacks - so the support is now on the left and defend on the right. Although I believe both could be on support, given that each has a holding midfielder in from of him.

Sounds good, I'll give all that a try and see how things go.

Although the style I'm going for isn't necessarily defensive counter attack I think that style does broadly suit the idea of wanting to quickly get the ball to my front three to allow them to utilise their pace. 

Out of interest if I wanted to create a secondary, slightly more attacking tactic, with the same idea but with the intention to press more and to win the ball back higher up the pitch, then what would be a good starting point beyond a higher D-line/LOE? Or would that be all it would take potentially? 

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10 hours ago, Oli987 said:

Out of interest if I wanted to create a secondary, slightly more attacking tactic, with the same idea but with the intention to press more and to win the ball back higher up the pitch, then what would be a good starting point beyond a higher D-line/LOE? Or would that be all it would take potentially? 

"Slightly more attacking" in which specific sense? Because attack-minded tactics can be possession-minded (to varying degrees) or based on faster transitions. 

Either way, both DL and LOE would need to be moved up a notch - i.e. higher DL/standard LOE along with a split block. You can go with both DL and LOE set to higher and no split block, but that combo would somewhat compromise your defensive compactness given the formation (no DM). 

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On 24/02/2021 at 04:20, Experienced Defender said:

"Slightly more attacking" in which specific sense? Because attack-minded tactics can be possession-minded (to varying degrees) or based on faster transitions. 

Either way, both DL and LOE would need to be moved up a notch - i.e. higher DL/standard LOE along with a split block. You can go with both DL and LOE set to higher and no split block, but that combo would somewhat compromise your defensive compactness given the formation (no DM). 

I think mainly in the sense of faster transition, where I'm still looking for quick transitional forward passes but also aiming to win the ball back higher up the pitch. 

I do have a basic understanding of defensive blocks and how to implement them in the game - I gather I have a low-block right now based on my D-line and LOE? But I don't really understand exactly what a split-block is despite trying to do some research on it! 

 

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55 minutes ago, Oli987 said:

But I don't really understand exactly what a split-block is despite trying to do some research on it!

Split block is when you leave the team pressing urgency on default and then tell your 3-5 most advanced players to close down more in their player instructions. That allows you to put more pressure on the opposition in their half of the pitch while the more defensive part of your team keeps their defensive shape. Which is obviously safer than increasing the pressing urgency for the entire team. 

There is also the softer version of split block, which involves only 2 players (which 2 it will be depends on the formation you use).

Last but not least, a split block should be used with the optimal level of compactness (DL/LOE distance). Because otherwise it can disrupt your defensive shape more than it would be advisable. 

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On 25/02/2021 at 14:06, Experienced Defender said:

Split block is when you leave the team pressing urgency on default and then tell your 3-5 most advanced players to close down more in their player instructions. That allows you to put more pressure on the opposition in their half of the pitch while the more defensive part of your team keeps their defensive shape. Which is obviously safer than increasing the pressing urgency for the entire team. 

There is also the softer version of split block, which involves only 2 players (which 2 it will be depends on the formation you use).

Last but not least, a split block should be used with the optimal level of compactness (DL/LOE distance). Because otherwise it can disrupt your defensive shape more than it would be advisable. 

Thanks, that does sound like kind of what I'm going for actually. 

My one concern with a split block would be opening up more space for opposing fullbacks, which seems to be a perennial problem I have when I'm defending. Would having my wingers close down more potentially make this area worse? 

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12 hours ago, Oli987 said:

My one concern with a split block would be opening up more space for opposing fullbacks, which seems to be a perennial problem I have when I'm defending. Would having my wingers close down more potentially make this area worse?

This depends on more factors than just the split block itself (including your players' overall abilities). Some teams are good enough to be able to play with either a split block or increased pressing urgency for the entire team, but others may struggle (at least against certain opposition). So it varies from situation to situation. 

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