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Hello everyone, 

 

Having been a (very) long-term lurker on these forums due to my chronic lack of success at football manager, I have recently completed my first full season that was somewhat successful. I've decided to start as AZ Alkmaar due to the fact that they are a fairly strong team for their division, yet not expected to be challenging for the title immediately. 

 

From reviewing their squad, they were blessed with technically gifted players, and certainly in my opinion very well suited to playing possession football. They had a wealth of attacking midfielders, and their qualities led me to choosing a 4-2-3-1 formation. From completing my first season, I finished a very commendable 2nd in the league, and made the final of the cup. However, there have been some very noticeable issues with my tactic that I'm just not too sure how to amend, so I'm here looking for advice. Especially as after completing the summer transfer window and strengthening the squad, there have been no real upturns in fortune. 

I will attach an image of my tactic to this post, but ultimately I wanted to keep my goals fairly straightforward to start with as I have never been particularly successful at this game:

- Possession based system, looking to build up from the back and then focus the attacks through the wide players. 
- AMC given PI's to move into channels, roam from position in order to move across to the wide player in attack to form overloads with the fullback. 
- During this phase, opposite wide player to become a goal threat in the final third.
- In transition, ST to offer passing option to aid build up play, and in the final third, ST to move into channels and look for through ball (hence DLFa) AMC and AMR given 'take more risks' in order to try and play pass to ST or AML. 
- AMR Stengs given a IW role as he is one of my better players, good flair, dribbling, passing, vision, technique, pace, and good mental stats - should be well suited to decide whether to pass or dribble in any given circumstance.
- Static midfield duo to provide cover for the advancing full-backs, and a safe passing option for each wide player to recycle possession. CMs on the right to assist with an overload with a more defensively minded fullback (compared to the left).
- Fullbacks to offer width, especially on the left with LB being one of my better players so looking to get forward and offer a crossing option as another avenue of attack.
- If overload unsuccessful in creating an opening down the flank, ball to be recycled to DLP to switch to other flank which should now have far more space opened up. (Koopmeiners has necessary PPM's to do this)
- 'Narrow' TI applied to keep players closer together to assist with possession, and overloads, as well as making counter-press more effective as players are close together.

- In defence, look to counter-press to win the ball back quickly as the top-heavy formation lends itself to this approach and my defenders are not well suited to sitting deep and inviting pressure. (Hence DL, LOE and pressing instructions, as well)

I did not choose to use too many TI's as I didn't want to overcomplicate things too much, so I have only applied the ones I believe to be essential in creating what I have described above. I have not chosen play out of defence, and shorter passing as I didn't want the possession to be sterile and unproductive, therefore I have just chosen for the goalkeeper to distribute to the defenders. Ultimately, I have looked to create a general template of how to play, tried to not overcomplicate it, and allow for the players who generally all have good mental stats to use their good decisions and flair to create chances.

20210401085306_1.thumb.jpg.657abfbd638380f5c1e793c9c1f3a1ba.jpg

Unfortunately, despite my good league position I have found the following issues. 

- In the Eredivise, every team except Ajax, PSV and Feyenoord almost exclusively sit back and look to hit on the break. This in itself hasn't been as issue as such, because my team was incredibly effective and getting results against these teams, however it was often a 1-0, 2-1.
- Generally, I am seeing the build up in transition that I want to see: AMC drifting out wide to create overloads, especially on the right hand side.
- My record both home and away against the above 3 teams was generally appalling. I beat PSV on penalties in the cup semi-final after drawing. This was one of only 2 draws I've picked up against the teams, I have lost all other games.
- Made it to the Champions League Group Stage and got absolutely rolled over by Man City and PSG, conceding 6 to both despite making adjustments to LOE, DL and pressing, and looking to be more direct in attack. Generally, my defence crumbles under any kind of sustained pressure from half-decent opposition.
- Have improved my team over the summer, and bought players that suit the tactic even better, yet have seen no improvement, including recently being rolled 3-0 by Ajax and 2-0 by Feyenoord.

Finally, my biggest annoyance thus far has to be that in a recent game against Ajax, and this is certainly not an exception either, I am seeing all the attacking movement that I am trying to create coming from the Ajax team. Their formation as it appears on the widget in game suggests they are playing Haller as a TM, yet he is latching onto cute little through balls in the final third from the winger/AMC and scoring simple 1 on 1's that I am looking to create but never see happen. 

Final Thoughts:

Any advice that can be given will be highly appreciated. I am still learning some parts of the game, but I have spent a lot of time reading the quality guides here and watching videos. I feel like I am at least somewhat making progress towards my end goal, however I am certainly not quite there as I am struggling to compete with any opposition that is considered almost as good as my team, or better, and that my league position is very generous based on my ability to grind out results against the poorer opposition in the league (only 1 loss to a team outside the top 3 all season). I probably don't understand all the roles perfectly, and I am certainly not against the idea of changing formation to better achieve my aims, hopefully my explanation above helps to explain why I have made the decisions I have up to this point.

 

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Your Roles seem to be fairly well balanced, but I do feel like you could be lacking some width. Especially against teams that sit back, which you said is the case usually, you need at least some width in order to stretch their defences and create gaps your players can potentially expose. Currently you seem to be cramming everyone into central areas in front of the box (IF and IW both cutting inside and DLF dropping deep into the area AM tends to occupy). You're also instructing your team to play Fairly Narrow, which congests those areas even more. While WB-Su might offer some width, FB-Su won't overlap until the very final phase of the transition.

I think changing your WB-Su to FB/WB-At and your FB-Su to WB-Su would be more optimal for a side that's expected to win most of its matches. I'd also change your DLF-At to PF-At, so that he's more focused on being a threat in the box, rather than dropping deep and holding up balls (plus, he fits into your high-pressing system well).

In terms of Instructions, I'd only get rid of Fairly Narrow. It's more an instruction that benefits weaker teams that can't pass very well, since it instructs players to stay closer together, which can come at a cost of being easier to defend against. Perhaps use it when you already have the lead and are just trying to keep possession. Focus Play Down The Left/Right should be okay, it means players will drift towards those areas more often and thus create space in the middle your PF and AM can expose.

These are all the changes I'd make for now and see how it goes.

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6 hours ago, Zemahh said:

Your Roles seem to be fairly well balanced, but I do feel like you could be lacking some width. Especially against teams that sit back, which you said is the case usually, you need at least some width in order to stretch their defences and create gaps your players can potentially expose. Currently you seem to be cramming everyone into central areas in front of the box (IF and IW both cutting inside and DLF dropping deep into the area AM tends to occupy). You're also instructing your team to play Fairly Narrow, which congests those areas even more. While WB-Su might offer some width, FB-Su won't overlap until the very final phase of the transition.

I think changing your WB-Su to FB/WB-At and your FB-Su to WB-Su would be more optimal for a side that's expected to win most of its matches. I'd also change your DLF-At to PF-At, so that he's more focused on being a threat in the box, rather than dropping deep and holding up balls (plus, he fits into your high-pressing system well).

In terms of Instructions, I'd only get rid of Fairly Narrow. It's more an instruction that benefits weaker teams that can't pass very well, since it instructs players to stay closer together, which can come at a cost of being easier to defend against. Perhaps use it when you already have the lead and are just trying to keep possession. Focus Play Down The Left/Right should be okay, it means players will drift towards those areas more often and thus create space in the middle your PF and AM can expose.

These are all the changes I'd make for now and see how it goes.

This has actually been very helpful advice, and has led to me being more clinical in my past 3 games, best opposition was Shakhtar and won 2-0 at home. 

I will continue with this set up, unfortunately still not really seeing too many through balls to the striker so far but will keep an eye on this. 

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This looks like a well-reasoned tactic to me which seems to be bringing you success on the pitch. Perhaps opposition teams have been reacting to this success by adapting to your style of play, increasingly becoming more conservative in their approach. You can try a couple of things: 1) tweaking your tactic against these teams to stretch them as much as possible to create spaces for your match winners, or 2) have more than one approach for different styles of play. For example, invite pressure so that conservative teams push forward and leave gaps or 2 striker formation for 3 ATB setups. It’s up to you really but I guess part of the fun is finding those tactical innovations to keep performances fresh.

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I don't pretend to be a guru, bu I would try changing the striker to a PF(A), AF(A) or CF(A). My theory is it stretches the other team vertically which gives the AMC a bit more room to operate.

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10 hours ago, Angus Osborne said:

I don't pretend to be a guru, bu I would try changing the striker to a PF(A), AF(A) or CF(A). My theory is it stretches the other team vertically which gives the AMC a bit more room to operate.

Thanks for your input, in the first season when I had Myron Boadu I used him as an AF, mainly for this reason and because he suited the role perfectly. He did finish the season as my top scorer with 19 in around 45, but I found him going offside a far too often with his ppm 'likes to beat offside trap'. In hindside the switch to PF(A) should have probably come sooner 🤔

Last season I used the AMC on a support duty as well, and didn't see enough creativity from him, hence bumping it to Attack and asking him to 'Take More Risks' to try and see more of an attempt to play the through balls and not just recycle possession. 

I have taken the previous advice in the thread and it has gone well so far in the limited time I have had to play. Just wish I could see more creativity from my midfield players when we get to the final third. I use very technical players with good decisions and flair, they often just seem a bit blunt, especially against half decent opposition. 

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How's it going? If you're still looking for advice I could chip in with the defending side of things. You mention you struggle against the top teams and this could be a consequence of your High Defensive Line pushed even higher up the pitch with a Positive mentality. You mention your defenders

"are not well suited to sitting deep and inviting pressure",

but are they suited to playing high up the pitch versus strong opposition?

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On 09/04/2021 at 20:05, toshimitzou1 said:

How's it going? If you're still looking for advice I could chip in with the defending side of things. You mention you struggle against the top teams and this could be a consequence of your High Defensive Line pushed even higher up the pitch with a Positive mentality. You mention your defenders

"are not well suited to sitting deep and inviting pressure",

but are they suited to playing high up the pitch versus strong opposition?

So generally the tactic is playing much better, and has been especially effective against the poorer teams, and creating more chances for the striker via through balls which I was looking for especially. 

In general we are very poor in defence. When I come up against any team of quality we always concede, most recently losing to red bull salzburg in a game I felt we should do much better. The defence is better suited to playing a high line (good anticipation, positioning, acceleration). I feel especially in the 4-2-3-1 with no DMCs, moving the defensive line up a notch and leaving line of engagement as standard helps to make us more compact. I'm still looking to find another centre back in January that fits the tactic even better than I currently have. 

I think the overall aim will have to be to create a similar tactic in a slightly different formation for games against the bigger teams. I think ultimately my defence with no DMC protecting them is not strong enough against good teams playing 2 strikers of with 3 players in the AM strata. Especially as my default approach utilises full backs to create width going forward. Exactly how I will do this, I don't know just yet 🤔

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Hi,

Good to hear attacking wise you are finding some success.

With regards to defending: 

If the two center backs you are running are Fazio and Komar then I would have to disagree with their suitability to a high defensive line. In those big games I would want my center backs to be boasting an attribute of 15 across all key areas (Pace, Acceleration, Concentration, Positioning and Anticipation). pace alone is not enough to run a successful high line. Plus, the Positive mentality already pushes your defensive line higher up the field as a default. It is a high risk tactic to employ against quality opposition. 

I agree with the level of compactness being optimised with the Standard LoE and Higher defensive line.

If you are to persist with the high - line in big matches. perhaps run a Stopper Cover Partnership at CB? Or have a Ball winning MF instead of a DLP?

Ultimately though, it all depends on what type of goal you are conceding: Where does the assist come from? Why type of goal was scored? Where did we lose the ball?

Why don't you assess the highlights and make a decision from there?

 

Good luck.

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