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My Swiss Army Knife Method: Creating Defence-minded Pragmatic Football


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2 minutes ago, crusadertsar said:

Well that's where I'm going with this. Just be a bit patient ;) I'll try to post some of my tactical musings on here soon.

I'm waiting impatiently thank you :)

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  • crusadertsar changed the title to My Swiss Army Knife Method: Creating Defence-minded Pragmatic Football
Posted (edited)

I don't know how but this thread slowly turned into a celebration of Jose Mourinho's tactics. So rather than trying to force it back into it's original 4-5-1 shape, I'll try to roll along with the new direction. Thus I renamed the thread to better reflect this.  Luckily the objective still remains largely the same: creating balanced defence-minded tactics. As well as tactics that are versatile and can easily be changed (with 1-2 role changes) to better counter the opposition (Mourinho would be proud :cool:). 

Edited by crusadertsar
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Posted (edited)

SMALL UPDATE, PART 7C: Trying It Out In FM21

Firstly, I am going to make a disclosure that the following is by no means meant to be an exact recreation of a specific Mourinho tactic. So please don't go after me if you believe that a role I used does not replicate how Xabi Alonso played, ect. Rather I took my inspiration from a lot of Mourinho's tactics over the years. As a tactical amalgam I took little bits from various teams that the Special One managed. The primary inspiration were Chelsea and Real Madrid but there is some Porto in there too. In general, I liked how Mourinho put the principles of solid defence and fast counters at the forefront again. Especially going against the current expectation that top-half teams should dominate possession and attack constantly. So in complete contrast to this, he showed that sometimes best way to success was through a more patient and careful system.

Jose Mourinho has never felt the need to keep possession for possession's sake. Nor is he the one to preach the power of direct "hoofball". His style always fell somewhere in the middle. Using solid mid-block defence (and sometimes going to low-block for those tough European games). But never skewed in either direction of full-on defence nor attack. Neither favouring possession game nor directness. Rather his approach is all about tactical balance and flexibility. He has found it important throughout his career to tweak his formation to suit the opposition. As in the case of Chelsea's 4-3-3 system, which had a clear advantage over most English teams of the time. The three-men midfield advantage to be exact. By adopting to his opponents, it allowed Mourinho to counter most teams in England which still stuck to good old 4-4-2.

Most importantly, in all of his teams, Mourinho is never afraid to play to the strengths of his current players. Always using an expertly organized and disciplined shape to bring out the best of these strengths. Whether it was Porto's 4-4-2 Diamond or Real Mardrid's 4-2-3-1.

I believe that 2010-2012 Real Madrid holds the honour of being Jose Mourinho's best counter-attacking team. And in my opinion, it stands as the high point of his tactics. Real played some of the best counter-attacking football in history. And they did this despite being the favoured team in the league. Once again Jose did not ask his players to press high but they pressed aggressively. They showed the power of staying behind the ball in a perfectly organized midblock. To this end, Mourinho employed no less than two holding midfielders ahead of their already solid defence. This was an idea that has become pretty common since in most teams playing in a similar 4-2-3-1.

But what was key to Real's success was the freedom that such defensive base would grant to the front four attackers. Thus Ronaldo, Ozil, Benzema and di Maria could really come into their own, knowing that the midfield and defence had their backs.

Tactical.png.92af0c9310a1c88940d17c29de6e10b4.png

Edit: Actually forgot to mention that Counter-press is more of an optional instruction. I would only use it in matches where you are a clear favourite or against a very defensive opposition.

Other than my RCM, some of the other players have individual instructions.

IF(s) - roam more, close down more 

W(s) - Get further forward, close down more

FB(s) - stay narrow

 

You might also wonder why I use IWB(a). Well it's because I don't like most of the hard-coded instructions that attacking duty fullbacks and wingbacks come with. Instructions such as cross more often, run wide with ball or cross from byline. And I also noticed that IWB(a), despite what you might think, will play more like a regular attacking fullback and go wider and further if you don't play a player in the wide midfield strata directly in front of them (in LM or RM positions). 

In my next update I'll be testing this tactic with a very special choice of Trequartista. Would really like to see if the tactic can get the best out of an aging star. 

Mesut.png.a5e6026107abab72db212915759499d3.png

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by crusadertsar
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I've always been a huge fan of JM and his approach to football. Considering he smashed the scoring record in La Liga while managing Real Madrid, and never really managed a low scoring team in his career, it's always struck me as inherently false that he keeps getting described as a defensive and negative manager. 

Gonna try this system out with my own, as my squad is already modeled around the 4-2-3-1 and I have a good candidate for the Trequartista role already in place - with my very own CR7 regen to put out wide. I did have to invert your setup, but that shouldn't matter much. Allow me to share the two players I'm referring to: 

Trequartista

6d65c10f2cddf235445cce620cdcf070.jpg

Inside Forward (CR7 regen): 

2d5345eae5b5da40bf0669c816a93de3.jpg
 

----

 

Will report back later with results! :)

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36 minutes ago, Christopher S said:

I've always been a huge fan of JM and his approach to football. Considering he smashed the scoring record in La Liga while managing Real Madrid, and never really managed a low scoring team in his career, it's always struck me as inherently false that he keeps getting described as a defensive and negative manager. 

Gonna try this system out with my own, as my squad is already modeled around the 4-2-3-1 and I have a good candidate for the Trequartista role already in place - with my very own CR7 regen to put out wide. I did have to invert your setup, but that shouldn't matter much. Allow me to share the two players I'm referring to: 

Trequartista

6d65c10f2cddf235445cce620cdcf070.jpg

Inside Forward (CR7 regen): 

2d5345eae5b5da40bf0669c816a93de3.jpg
 

----

 

Will report back later with results! :)

Tremendous players! I'm looking forward to seeing the results :)

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33 minutes ago, crusadertsar said:

Tremendous players! I'm looking forward to seeing the results :)

Thanks! I'm really happy with both signings. Neither of them were truly expensive either (both sub €40 mill). 

Some initial observations and thoughts: 

1) PF(a) immediately stuck out to me. I can't really remember Benzema being that direct/attack focused. He did press a lot, true, but in my experience the PF(a) role ignores build up far more than Benzema did under Mourinho. If you look at some of the excellent counter goals Real scored back then, you'll often see Benzema drop deep in the build up, being the first or second man on the ball in transition, before following the counter up. I tried a couple of games with PF(a), but my striker was pretty isolated and didn't get involved much. 

As such, I've changed him to a DLF(a). Initial results are really promising. 

2) Passing directness. In my opinion, ticking the 'Counter' option adresses the times where Madrid would go direct and fast. Upping the general passing directness feels redundant to me, as JMs general mantra is to pass with purpose - wether it's short, long, direct or lateral. I saw my players hit direct balls more often than it made sense, and more often than I remember JMs Real Madrid do. 

As such, I've lowered it to 'Standard'. 

Outside of that, I haven't made any changes. Both those changes have made what I believe to be noticeable improvements, and we've scored multiple goals already that are basically photocopies of how Real Madrid used to counter. It's almost uncanny. 

A final thought: 

The IWB(a) seems like a potential issue. From my games so far, he runs too far up field to early - essentially making himself unavailable to receive a pass if we have the ball in defence. On top of that, despite having the IF(s) on the right, he almost never goes outside. I suspect this is due to using both 'Narrow' and 'Play Through Middle'. I'm curious if wether a WB(s) with some carefully selected PI's or some other variant is going to be better. 

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9 minutes ago, Christopher S said:

Thanks! I'm really happy with both signings. Neither of them were truly expensive either (both sub €40 mill). 

Some initial observations and thoughts: 

1) PF(a) immediately stuck out to me. I can't really remember Benzema being that direct/attack focused. He did press a lot, true, but in my experience the PF(a) role ignores build up far more than Benzema did under Mourinho. If you look at some of the excellent counter goals Real scored back then, you'll often see Benzema drop deep in the build up, being the first or second man on the ball in transition, before following the counter up. I tried a couple of games with PF(a), but my striker was pretty isolated and didn't get involved much. 

As such, I've changed him to a DLF(a). Initial results are really promising. 

2) Passing directness. In my opinion, ticking the 'Counter' option adresses the times where Madrid would go direct and fast. Upping the general passing directness feels redundant to me, as JMs general mantra is to pass with purpose - wether it's short, long, direct or lateral. I saw my players hit direct balls more often than it made sense, and more often than I remember JMs Real Madrid do. 

As such, I've lowered it to 'Standard'. 

Outside of that, I haven't made any changes. Both those changes have made what I believe to be noticeable improvements, and we've scored multiple goals already that are basically photocopies of how Real Madrid used to counter. It's almost uncanny. 

A final thought: 

The IWB(a) seems like a potential issue. From my games so far, he runs too far up field to early - essentially making himself unavailable to receive a pass if we have the ball in defence. On top of that, despite having the IF(s) on the right, he almost never goes outside. I suspect this is due to using both 'Narrow' and 'Play Through Middle'. I'm curious if wether a WB(s) with some carefully selected PI's or some other variant is going to be better. 

Thanks for the feedback! But as I mentioned in the thread I'm not going for exact Real Madrid recreation but more for mixute all Mourinho tactics in one. 

 

 

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1 minute ago, crusadertsar said:

Thanks for the feedback! But as I mentioned in the thread I'm not going for exact Real Madrid recreation but more for mixute all Mourinho tactics in one. 

 

 

I am aware! Just thought I'd mention it. And to be fair, from my experiences so far, the system as a whole seems to be working better with the changes I suggested. :)

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On 11/05/2021 at 11:38, crusadertsar said:

SMALL UPDATE, PART 7C: Trying It Out In FM21

Firstly, I am going to make a disclosure that the following is by no means meant to be an exact recreation of a specific Mourinho tactic. So please don't go after me if you believe that a role I used does not replicate how Xabi Alonso played, ect. Rather I took my inspiration from a lot of Mourinho's tactics over the years. As a tactical amalgam I took little bits from various teams that the Special One managed. The primary inspiration were Chelsea and Real Madrid but there is some Porto in there too. In general, I liked how Mourinho put the principles of solid defence and fast counters at the forefront again. Especially going against the current expectation that top-half teams should dominate possession and attack constantly. So in complete contrast to this, he showed that sometimes best way to success was through a more patient and careful system.

Jose Mourinho has never felt the need to keep possession for possession's sake. Nor is he the one to preach the power of direct "hoofball". His style always fell somewhere in the middle. Using solid mid-block defence (and sometimes going to low-block for those tough European games). But never skewed in either direction of full-on defence nor attack. Neither favouring possession game nor directness. Rather his approach is all about tactical balance and flexibility. He has found it important throughout his career to tweak his formation to suit the opposition. As in the case of Chelsea's 4-3-3 system, which had a clear advantage over most English teams of the time. The three-men midfield advantage to be exact. By adopting to his opponents, it allowed Mourinho to counter most teams in England which still stuck to good old 4-4-2.

Most importantly, in all of his teams, Mourinho is never afraid to play to the strengths of his current players. Always using an expertly organized and disciplined shape to bring out the best of these strengths. Whether it was Porto's 4-4-2 Diamond or Real Mardrid's 4-2-3-1.

I believe that 2010-2012 Real Madrid holds the honour of being Jose Mourinho's best counter-attacking team. And in my opinion, it stands as the high point of his tactics. Real played some of the best counter-attacking football in history. And they did this despite being the favoured team in the league. Once again Jose did not ask his players to press high but they pressed aggressively. They showed the power of staying behind the ball in a perfectly organized midblock. To this end, Mourinho employed no less than two holding midfielders ahead of their already solid defence. This was an idea that has become pretty common since in most teams playing in a similar 4-2-3-1.

But what was key to Real's success was the freedom that such defensive base would grant to the front four attackers. Thus Ronaldo, Ozil, Benzema and di Maria could really come into their own, knowing that the midfield and defence had their backs.

Tactical.png.92af0c9310a1c88940d17c29de6e10b4.png

Edit: Actually forgot to mention that Counter-press is more of an optional instruction. I would only use it in matches where you are a clear favourite or against a very defensive opposition.

Other than my RCM, some of the other players have individual instructions.

IF(s) - roam more, close down more 

W(s) - Get further forward, close down more

FB(s) - stay narrow

 

You might also wonder why I use IWB(a). Well it's because I don't like most of the hard-coded instructions that attacking duty fullbacks and wingbacks come with. Instructions such as cross more often, run wide with ball or cross from byline. And I also noticed that IWB(a), despite what you might think, will play more like a regular attacking fullback and go wider and further if you don't play a player in the wide midfield strata directly in front of them (in LM or RM positions). 

In my next update I'll be testing this tactic with a very special choice of Trequartista. Would really like to see if the tactic can get the best out of an aging star. 

Mesut.png.a5e6026107abab72db212915759499d3.png

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interested to see how this works. 

I remember seeing Real Madrid looking like a 424 at times similar to what you have. But IMO wide forwards in FM don't defend enough to make a 433 / 4231 / 424 in anything other than a high block viable. I've seen teams defend deeper with wide forwards, but IRL the wide players would tuck in a little behind the striker and position themselves in passing lanes, which I don't see in FM. If I had to make an FM version, I would choose a 442 for defending in a mid block, and the 424 for pressing higher up the pitch.

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  • 2 weeks later...

First of all, Love this post. Makes every game very exciting trying to try snd figure out how the opposition will attack you and tweaking the formation. Very interesting as always crusadertsar.  So thanks for that. 

how do you analyse the opposition and look to counter a specific threat? I’m not finding the opposition team scout reports very useful.  Some managers have specific attributes in their information page but a lot of the championship teams don’t have much info. 
 

how do you line up your 4312? I’m having a winger injury crisis right now so don’t have any to play lol. 
 

 

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Hello,

This is a great thread that try to follow Mourinho's tactical approach in the game. Thank you to @crusadertsar for that.

First of all, I've read every post and also I've read most of threads about Mourinho and Counter Attacking football in the web. And then I discoverd the Documentary series that created by Amazon "All or Nothing" about the Mourinho era in Tottenham. That series really helped me to understand both tactics of Mourinho and his expactations from players/positions etc. So in my point of wiev i succeeded to creat Mourinho's 4231 tactics in Football Manager 2021 and I tested it with Galatasaray, Gençlerbirligi and still testing with Roma. 

Tactic and instructions provided below of this post.

Probable Questions and Answers

1- Why did I use Widest approach o attacking ? 

Because of all my experiments, this choice is the most successfull attacking option for this approach. We try to sit deep and we want to start really quick transitions whe we get the ball in our side of the pitch. When we give our players to spaces then their tendecy to trach the ball is increased and also they use the pitch in the most efficient way of playing counter attacking football.

2- If Mourinho use rigid counter attacking system then why would be select TIs like Run at Defence, Be More Expressive ?

Mourinho want his team to be the group that dedicated to one goal is to win. His tactical approach is very proactive actually he says his player to "Feel free to play" and we say our players feel free to play by selecting these two instructions. In addition all of Mou teams had the 2 or 3 players that had a permission to attack freely.(Hazard-Oscar-Willian, CR7-Özil-Di Maria, Son-Ndombele-Moura etc.) These kind of players play the game freely instinctively but ME doesn't give that humanity, we should instruct it to see in ME.

3- Why High Pressing, Stcuk In and Tight Marking ?

In All or Nothing documentary he says to his players press high, his teams pressess high in the his half of the pitch. He wants aggressive, compact group of players that try to win the ball. He also sometimes try to press at oppositions side of the pitch especially against the smaller teams. More urgent pressing in Lower Line of Engagemnet with Lower Line of Defence represents this philosophy. And also if the opposition ise easy our players press little higher instinctively if not than they try to cover our goal. Also ME hates the Less Urgent pressinng, in order to bring success with Less Urgent pressing you need to sacrifice from the other parts of the game such as team shape, player roles etc which I don't want to.

4- Why not 4231DM formation ?

Because that formation naturally the defensive version of the traditional 4231. I tried to use 4231DM but first problem is 2DMs are very isolated from the attacking actions when we have the ball, and also if we select AM strata wingers then they struggle to track back to 2DMs side and then the distance between wingers and defensive midfielders increase which give to opposition to opportuntiy to dribble/through ball to that gap. Our team needs to be close each other at the defensive phase of the game. 4231DM-AM strata cannot give that in order to DMs do not come closer to Attacking Midfielders and vice versa.

5- Player Roles?

CF: This guy is the link between Attack/Defence transitions, when a midfielders get the ball in the situation of transition he gives the ball to this guy, and then our wingers try to get the opposition box as quick as possible(All or Nothing Mour gives Heung Min Son to this instruction, He says "you need to be in the box when ball goes there".) that's why I selected Complete Forward with the Support duty, he is half finisher half creator and also part of the team defence CF-S gives the great representation for this.

IF-A: Ronaldo, Hazard, Son, etc. Every one of these guys tried to get in the opposition box first, the real finisher/goal scorer of the team that's why I selected Attack duty for this. 

IF-S: Why did I use IF rather than the IW or W role because I gave an instruction to play extremely wide and that eliminated the Winger option in order to not getting too much isolated role. IW/IF are the only options. Also I want my RB to get a corridor that he can be able to control all of it. 

Midfielders CM-D, B2B: CM-D is actually the Playmaker of the team, his through balls and link play between defence and attack is key however I didn't select any playmaking role for this position because playmaking roles are hardcoded ball mangets and we don't need that. We need our team to get the ball as quick as possible to opposition box so our playmaking role can only be in the higher positions on the pitch.

AP-S: This is what I decided to select after watching the conersations between Mou and Dele Alli, Mou's expectations are clear; he wanted Dele to be the part of defensive play, he does not want his Attacking Midfielder to jogging lazily somewhere of the pitch. He wants his AM to be in front of his midfielders and close tha gap.

RB: On the documentary it is very obvious his RB Serge Aurier is positioned high up the pitch. One of his backs always be in this position no matter it is left or right. I decided right side to be.

G: Sweeper Keeper is also a ball magnet in the build up play we dont want that we want our team to get the box as quick as possible.

 

This is my thinking and my approach to create Mou 4231. I did not start a new thread because I inspired from @crusadertsar and I wanted to admit his effort by adding my opinion to his.

Feel free to try and give feedback and also I put my in game Profile which is clearly shows that this is real counter attacking tactic.20210604024638_1.thumb.jpg.2babbbaac6cb65a51940ac68a0b44389.jpg

 

20210604020517_1.jpg

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20210604020538_1.jpg

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20210604020546_1.jpg

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8 minutes ago, Gdansk said:

You guys should check out the video on Mourinho from the guy on youtube called BustTheNet, he created all the tactics from Chelsea, Inter and Real and walked the league with Roma.

Please don't sidetrack the thread with promotion of FM fan-made youtube content. I believe that goes against a rule on this tactical part of the forum. You could share YouTube content like that in another part of the forum I think.

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Posted (edited)
1 minute ago, Gdansk said:

What? Have you not read the subject of this topic? It's about Mourinho tactics, this guy replicated all Mourinho tactics??

I know very well the subject haha. This is the thread i created afterall. If you check the first page :brock:. I just don't want to discuss YouTube streamer videos on here. It's for tactical discussion only.

Edited by crusadertsar
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Posted (edited)
3 minutes ago, Gdansk said:

ok so you not understand, i talk about tactics from MOURINHO from the guy called Bustthenet, not random youtube videos

I know very well who BustTheNet is. But it doesn't change the fact that you are discussing YouTube streamer content. And this is not the place for that. You can check with the mods if you want.

Edited by crusadertsar
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Just now, Gdansk said:

you make thread about mourinho tactics and cry when somebody shows mourinho tactics, make sense

Okay you posted the pictures of some tactics you found. Great. But how does that help us? Or improve the thread? Care to analyze those tactics for us or post explanations for why he chose the specific roles and instructions that he did? Or how it's supposed to be a Mourinho recreation?  See that's what I mean by "tactical" discussion. Otherwise it's just a screenshot with little context. 

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Posted (edited)
5 minutes ago, Gdansk said:

you make thread about mourinho tactics and cry when somebody shows mourinho tactics, make sense

It's a thread about CrusaderStar's tactical philosophy (and evolution there of), which just so happens to be inspired in part by Mourinho's style, not necessarily recreating any of Mourinho's tactics. My take as someone that's followed the thread anyway :brock:

Edited by NotSoSpecialOne
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1 minute ago, Gdansk said:

this is typical CONFUSION OF DA HIGHEST ORDAA, i show you where you can see perfect mourinho tactic making this thread redundant you could say then you say no youtube video then i post tactic you say no tactic??? instead of debating about nonsense you could watch one 5 minute video and boom this thread is solved

Wow. Why don't you enlighten us why his is such a perfect tactic that makes my thread redundant and stops further need of Mourinho tactic recreations? Would save us a lot of time rather than posting on here needlessly.

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26 minutes ago, Gdansk said:

You guys should check out the video on Mourinho from the guy on youtube called BustTheNet, he created all the tactics from Chelsea, Inter and Real and walked the league with Roma.

How kind of you to make an account just to direct us to someone's YouTube. :brock:

1 minute ago, Gdansk said:

this is typical CONFUSION OF DA HIGHEST ORDAA, i show you where you can see perfect mourinho tactic making this thread redundant you could say then you say no youtube video then i post tactic you say no tactic??? instead of debating about nonsense you could watch one 5 minute video and boom this thread is solved

Pretty sure this thread isn't meant to be about direct replications of Mourinho's tactics, but rather about Crusadertsar's personal approach. No one in here is looking for a "perfect Mourinho tactic".

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@crusadertsar @Zemahh I removed all this trolling comments and issued an official warning that will keep him away for the next 24 hours, so you don't need to reply to his posts anymore :thup:

If he continues in the same fashion after coming back, he could easily receive a lengthy ban.

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Posted (edited)

Okay then :onmehead:

 I think that unfortunate sidetrack (the posts have been deleted for those just reading now and confused) actually inspired me to get back into this discussion and throw some more fuel into the tactical fire. Hopefully it will become more productive this time around. Also it's a good time for a reset. And maybe even a time to start a fresh save to walk you guys through my thought process in creating a tactical system.

But first of all what exactly am I trying to achieve with all of my tactical musings in this thread?

It was never meant to be a faithful recreation of Mourinho's tactics. Although I admit I drew a lot of inspiration from his great Chelsea and Real Madrid sides. So thinking back to what attracted me so much to those teams, I decided to start with a little summary of what elements of Mourinho's Pragmatic Football I want to see in my own FM21 tactics. 

1) In essence I started feeling tired of always playing in the same way since around the time of FM19. That is the possesion-heavy Total Football. I wanted to show with my Swiss Army Knife system that there are other ways to play, and be successful, in FM. Principally using a more "lean and mean" approach of playing through quick transitions and counters. Sometimes, there is nothing better than seeing a goal that resulted from very small number of passes and touches. There's is something very admirable in a more efficient, that is "pragmatic", approach that Mourinho always used.

 

Edited by crusadertsar
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Posted (edited)

2) Second element of "Mourinhoism" that I want to include in my tactics, is his obsessive focus on maintaining a very strong midblock defence inspite of the fast attacking transitions. If anything, even at Real Madrid, his attack was always built on the basis of even stronger defence.

But In FM people tend to think in terms of absolutes and "one or other" approach. That is if you want to score a lot of goals, then your tactic has to be more weighed towards the offensive side at the expense of defesive solidity. This misguided approach leads many people to pile on the attack duties and aggressive team instructions and mentality. While some of the time this approach leads to some level of success. Especially once the tactic starts falling into the exploit, "plug-and-play" territory. Most of the time it will lead to more frustration. Especially once your club's reputation starts increasing and you start going up against more defensive sides.

This is when I believe it actually becomes, somewhat counterintuitivly, important to put more defensive balance into your tactic in order to increase your attacking edge. Mourinho managed to always do this via maintaing a strong midblock in defence that he could always rely on to win the ball in his own half. Then to use overwhelming creativity in midfield to launch quick and devastating attacks via superior speed on the wings. 

Hopefully this will set the stage to what I am trying to achieve. So in the next more analytical post, I can show you how I integrate these essential "pragmatic" elements as I try to set up my formation in a new save with a suitable team. 

Edited by crusadertsar
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Posted (edited)

Part 8: Mourinho's Wingers and Finding The Right Mentality

EE-JRphXkAA7vXc.jpg.03c38037767615c9f8dd3852b9978318.jpg

I will probably get crucified for this. But I actually prefer to use higher, Attacking Team Mentality when creating a more defensively solid, pragmatic tactic in the style of Mourinho's Inter or Real Socied. Please bear with me. And let me give a long-winded explanation of why I do this. 

As always mentality is key to everything in FM tactic creation. And It's always the first thing I set up when creating a tactic. 

If you are looking to play football that defends in compressed low to mid block and attacks fluidly, quickly and dangerously in its transitions, you simply cannot play too cautiously. Even though "Cautious" mentality's in-game description might seem well-suited to what we are trying to achieve. Once again I am going to give the example of Mourinho's Madrid. While his Galacticos defended low, they also attacked with pace and intent. This is simply not possible under cautious mentality. 

Rather what you want is to use an aggressive team mentality like "Attacking" and then carefully set up your roles, with special regard towards their individual mentality, to make sure that the ball flows upward fast enough to catch the opponent off guard. But not too fast so as to isolate your front attackers. Hence this is where the careful selection and placement of attack and support duties is important. Because an important thing to remember is that even under "Attacking" mentality roles set to "Defend" will still defend and those set to "Attack", will generally attack. 

Another benefit of playing on a higher team mentality is actually in what it does to individual mentalities. Especially to my wide winger roles with "support" duties. 

goran-pandev-and-samuel-etoo-inter_whbok2yh1kk817b9usi2zwzte.jpg.ff09010cec0fb9d99f036f0aefe86916.jpg

Mourinho's wingers are an interesting, and at times, puzzling beast. They are also something that is kind of hard to recreate in FM21. Think back to Mourinho's Inter with its dynamic duo of Pandev and Eto'o dropping deep to join the midfield trio. Essentially when out of possession Inter defended like a 4-5-1 and made life very difficult for Barcelona's attack during the Champions League Final.

inter4.png.333911e373ecce2e8f6ff73b4ef8673a.png

 

Then once the ball was won, Mourinho's Inter side would transition quickly from its deep defensive 4-5-1 and flow forward at speed into a more familiar 4-2-3-1 (a shape they used for most of their domestic games). At some point in the attack, the 4-2-3-1 even transformed into 4-3-3 as the three front attackers penetrated deep into the opposition defences. While the playmaking orchestrator, the fantasista of the side (at Inter it was the marvelous Sneijder) held back and maintained a more defensive position in case of a Barca counter. Sneijder's creative contribution was important to the fluidity and creativity that it brought to Inter's attack. But it didn't define the tactic as much as the hard work of the two wingers. The two wide players of Pandev and Eto’o were essential to the formation's functioning. Especially because their movements defined the shape of the team both when defending and attacking. Eto’o was given more of an inverted winger role as he cut inside to join upfront with Milito. While Pandev was deployed to stay wider to provide the width in the left. What made them special was the fact that when defending they would drop so deep as to act almost like wide midfielders or wingbacks. That is during the 4-5-1 phase. Then at their most attacking, during 4-3-3 transition, they were closer to wide supporting strikers. 

 

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So how would you recreate such hybrid behavior in a wide attacker in FM21? My answer is to start with Attacking Team Mentality And combine it with Advanced Wide Attacker roles with Support duties. What this does is modulate the wide players' behavior to make them track back into midfield more often while at the same time still posing a potent threat in attack during transition and in-possession phases. Simply due to their higher starting positioning. Of course the player attributes will play a huge part in recreating "Mourinho-style" wingers. You will definitely need players that are physically capable to get up and down the flank - possessing loads of Stamina, Pace and Acceleration. Mentally, they need to be very strong too - with high attribute numbers in Teamwork, Workrate and Determination. (That's a little peek at my Club DNA ;) but more on that later). 

Such behavior of support duty wingers is something that is not really possible with the opposite approach. That is when using Cautious Team Mentality and aggressive Attack duty roles who start deeper in midfield strata. Such as in 4-5-1. 

When the whole team operates under Cautious team mentality, individual players with attack duties become more focused on their defensive duties and tend to stay back behind the ball. But the team mentality has a knock on effect of reducing the verticality and quick one-two passing that we see at higher overall mentalities. Even the most defensive of Mourinho's strategies always had an element of risk and creativity that fueled its attack. 

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But it is not all in the mentality. This is where I set up the next topic of my discussion, The importance of squad building and team DNA. Mourinho has the knack of getting the best even out of his aging players. This was never more apparent than during his very first triumph with Porto. There he took a squad of footballing world's nobodies and created them into super-stars with some of them leaving after Porto's Champions League triumph to join the elite European clubs. Mourinho also has talent of playing each player according to his strengths while still maintaining his role within the disciplined machine of the team. The best, perfectly balanced tactics are build the same way. The attack relies on the physicality, speed and hard work of its forwards who in turn are fed by the creativity and flair of the midfield. And the whole formation is built upon the backbone of solid defending. 

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So keeping these general tenets in mind, how do we approach Team DNA and Squad Building when we first start with a new club? 

Edited by crusadertsar
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4 hours ago, crusadertsar said:

If you are looking to play football that defends in compressed low to mid block and attacks fluidly, quickly and dangerously in its transitions, you simply cannot play too cautiously. Even though "Cautious" mentality's in-game description might seem well-suited to what we are trying to achieve. Once again I am going to give the example of Mourinho's Madrid. While his Galacticos defended low, they also attacked with pace and intent. This is simply not possible under cautious mentality.

Well said. :thup:

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The whole thing about Mourinho's approach is very interesting from FM perspective. There are two main pillars we need to factor in when we starting conceptualising him in FW:

a) he is transitions-based manager, meaning possession and gradual/slower build-up play is less important for him

b) his typical approach isn't really a gung-ho one.

The thing with the more cautious FM mentalities is that they will provide point b) but will do exactly the opposite of point a). This is because the more cautious FM mentalities are too passive whenever a break/counter-attack isn't really on. They'll go on to gradually and slowly build-up their way in attack, looking to lure the opponent onto them to create space in behind. This is conceptually the opposite of what a Mourinho team will do.

The variant to combine a more cautious FM mentality with 4-5 attack duties won't do the trick either. It'll still tell the team to approach their attacks gradually but will have those 4-5 players push forward aggressively, rendering them not part of that gradual approach. This will sort of split the team in two parts with clear contradiction in overall approach.

Which is why I fully agree with the notion that a typical Mourinho team will employ a more positive FM mentality but with only a couple of attack-duty players. This will create the overall framework of the team looking to employ a mid-block with the onus of quickly going through the zones to exploit any space left in attack. Even in situations when there is no ME-triggered counter-attacks, the team will still look to quickly transition forward with fast/sharp and a bit more direct passing. This is precisely what a typical Mourinho team does. 

The fact we'll have only a couple of attack-duty players and possible up to 5 support will mean - even on a more positive FM mentality - there'll be plenty of cover defensively as all those support-duty players will get back in defensive transitions, leaving only the two attack-duty players as the 'outballs' on the break (which is why it's probably best to have one of the wide men and the CF as the attack-duty players). Especially if those support-duty players have all the required typical Mourinho traits as work rate, team work, positioning, stamina etc 

In older FMs, I've always recreated a typical Mourinho team with structured team shape, control mentality and a 3-5-2 structure in terms of duty distribution, meaning 3 defensive, 5 support and 2 attacking. In his typical 4-2-3-1 I'd have one of the wingers and the CF on attack, the 2xCBs and one of the CMs on defend, the rest on support. The structured team shape will decrease the overall creative freedom and will further underline the importance of those attack-duty players on the break, still leaving the 5 support players to help in all phases. The only exception was having a 3rd attack-duty player when I saw  fit to use a Trequartista (as Ozil at Mourinho's Real M was). But while he is an attack-duty role, it is really more of a support one so it was changing the overall framework from 3-5-2 to 3-4.5-2.5. 

In newer versions, without the help of team shape, there's even greater importance to distribute the roles and duties correctly on top of really having the suitable type of players in all zones.

I'd saw a typical Mourinho 'park the bus' tactics is where the more cautious FM mentalities are far more suitable (again in combination with a similar 3-5-2 distribution of duties). But this would be reserved to only a few games per season as in contrast to the general notion that Mourinho is a defensive manager, he doesn't employ that often such clearly defensive tactics. But that's another conversation. 

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1 hour ago, The #9.5 said:

The whole thing about Mourinho's approach is very interesting from FM perspective. There are two main pillars we need to factor in when we starting conceptualising him in FW:

a) he is transitions-based manager, meaning possession and gradual/slower build-up play is less important for him

b) his typical approach isn't really a gung-ho one.

The thing with the more cautious FM mentalities is that they will provide point b) but will do exactly the opposite of point a). This is because the more cautious FM mentalities are too passive whenever a break/counter-attack isn't really on. They'll go on to gradually and slowly build-up their way in attack, looking to lure the opponent onto them to create space in behind. This is conceptually the opposite of what a Mourinho team will do.

The variant to combine a more cautious FM mentality with 4-5 attack duties won't do the trick either. It'll still tell the team to approach their attacks gradually but will have those 4-5 players push forward aggressively, rendering them not part of that gradual approach. This will sort of split the team in two parts with clear contradiction in overall approach.

Which is why I fully agree with the notion that a typical Mourinho team will employ a more positive FM mentality but with only a couple of attack-duty players. This will create the overall framework of the team looking to employ a mid-block with the onus of quickly going through the zones to exploit any space left in attack. Even in situations when there is no ME-triggered counter-attacks, the team will still look to quickly transition forward with fast/sharp and a bit more direct passing. This is precisely what a typical Mourinho team does. 

The fact we'll have only a couple of attack-duty players and possible up to 5 support will mean - even on a more positive FM mentality - there'll be plenty of cover defensively as all those support-duty players will get back in defensive transitions, leaving only the two attack-duty players as the 'outballs' on the break (which is why it's probably best to have one of the wide men and the CF as the attack-duty players). Especially if those support-duty players have all the required typical Mourinho traits as work rate, team work, positioning, stamina etc 

In older FMs, I've always recreated a typical Mourinho team with structured team shape, control mentality and a 3-5-2 structure in terms of duty distribution, meaning 3 defensive, 5 support and 2 attacking. In his typical 4-2-3-1 I'd have one of the wingers and the CF on attack, the 2xCBs and one of the CMs on defend, the rest on support. The structured team shape will decrease the overall creative freedom and will further underline the importance of those attack-duty players on the break, still leaving the 5 support players to help in all phases. The only exception was having a 3rd attack-duty player when I saw  fit to use a Trequartista (as Ozil at Mourinho's Real M was). But while he is an attack-duty role, it is really more of a support one so it was changing the overall framework from 3-5-2 to 3-4.5-2.5. 

In newer versions, without the help of team shape, there's even greater importance to distribute the roles and duties correctly on top of really having the suitable type of players in all zones.

I'd saw a typical Mourinho 'park the bus' tactics is where the more cautious FM mentalities are far more suitable (again in combination with a similar 3-5-2 distribution of duties). But this would be reserved to only a few games per season as in contrast to the general notion that Mourinho is a defensive manager, he doesn't employ that often such clearly defensive tactics. But that's another conversation. 

Thank you for this beautiful study of Mourinho's style :applause:

It gave me even more food for thought. I am actually still torn between using Attacking team mentality with maybe just 1-2 strategically-placed attack duties. And relying on wingers (on support) higher positioning to help with the transition play. Or switch to Positive team mentality and 2-3 attack duties - principally AMC, central striker and one of the fullbacks. Will have to test both I guess 🤔 As I mentioned before I am not trying so much to just recreate any particular Mourinho tactic. But more to create a style that is best suited to achieve the quick transition plays that we saw with a team like Real Madrid. And it also has to be a tactic that can work with a top tier club, like Arsenal or Chelsea.

Edited by crusadertsar
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8 minutes ago, crusadertsar said:

I am actually still torn between using Attacking team mentality with maybe just 1-2 strategically-placed attack duties. And relying on wingers higher positioning to help with the transition play. Or switch to Positive team mentality and 2-3 attack duties - principally AMC, central striker and one of the fullbacks.

I would proberbly decouple the decision of mentality and duties from each other. Mentality is most likely about the "positiveness" of players decisionmaking, aside from other insructions which can be offsett by the tactics creator anyway. Duties are most likely about mobility (get further forward, none, hold position) and the starting position of a player. Attack duties in the frontline will primarily create depth in your formation and attack duties that make deeper runs, like full backs will create the most mobility. 

Anyway, youve got a great thread here running.

 

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27 minutes ago, crusadertsar said:

Thank you for this beautiful study of Mourinho's style :applause:

It gave me even more food for thought. I am actually still torn between using Attacking team mentality with maybe just 1-2 strategically-placed attack duties. And relying on wingers (on support) higher positioning to help with the transition play. Or switch to Positive team mentality and 2-3 attack duties - principally AMC, central striker and one of the fullbacks. Will have to test both I guess 🤔 As I mentioned before I am not trying so much to just recreate any particular Mourinho tactic. But more to create a style that is best suited to achieve the quick transition plays that we saw with a team like Real Madrid. And it also has to be a tactic that can work with a top tier club, like Arsenal or Chelsea.

I think Attacking mentality will be too much of gung-ho approach and with higher d-line and pressing that you seem to intend. It's likely to result to too much hoofball and the attack-duty players rushing forward too early, resulting in a more chaotic style than intended. 

Also, not sure attack duty FB position is also of any help here. I see you underline the importance of what you're after is not a total Mourinho replication but to use a Mourinho side again here - attack duty FB will render himself more of a runner even in the initial play-out phase as he will seek to quickly get into the final 3rd from where he will wait to receive the ball and dribble his way forward to then cross. 

All of the typical Mourinho attacking FBs - Cole, Marcelo, Maicon - were more of players who were initially a passing outlet, then once the move progressed forward they would join and overlap from deep. To me this means a WB-support with some tailor made PIs to make him more of a Marcelo (more risky passes and dribbles on) or more of a Maicon (more dribbles + crossing) is the way forward. 

Also, not sure any of the typical Mourinho AMs were in the False 10 mould (as any AM role with attack-duty will signal, except the TQ role). All of them were primary creators (Deco, Sneijder, Ozil) or more of a 'balancing' players (Oscar, Mkhitaryan/Lindgard). The first batch of players would be AP/a or TQ as their main function was to provide the final killer balls from inside the final 3rd. So they need attack-duty playmaker role to ensure they're willing to make that risk with their passing etc. Ozil was moving far more laterally, so is the archetype of the TQ role. Deco and Sneijder were typical AP/a. 

The need for 'balancing' AMs later in Mourinho's teams were due to the nature of his double pivot units. At Chelsea he had Fabregas there but he wasn't a typical DLP in FM-terms as he wasn't really holding and spraying passes around in the mould of Xabi Alonso at Real M. He was given total freedom to create, but just from deep as by that time he has lost his dynamism and couldn't dribble his way out of tight spaces as he was doing earlier in his Arsenal period. So he needed space and runners ahead of him to create.

Which is why Oscar played an AM balancing role - i.e. to move in a way to get away oppositions DMs away from Zone 14 and clear that space for Fabregas (from deep) and Hazard (from wide) to operate in. Out of possession, Oscar was actually doing the leg work (and to some extend Willian from RW) to compensate for Fabregas being out of position and not being really able to have any meaningful defensive input. In FM terms I'd translate this as vanilla AM/s role with roam from position, more closing down and hard tackling. 

Something similar happened at Man Utd in terms of Mkhitaryan and Lindgard primary roles at #10. This was due to having Pogba as part of the double pivot. Problem is Mourinho never got the integrated movement he had at Chelsea with Fabregas-Oscar swapping at Man Utd which I think is more due to his man-management skills and Pogba's personality (and the fact his profile by then meant he kind of demanded to be played in a role that suits him rather him being part of a whole team unit; which Fabregas' personality allowed perfectly) than any tactical downside on his part. 

Which is why a Mourinho team almost always had the CF on attack-duty and which is why he always preferred to have a more rounded CF than pure speedsters who can only threaten in behind. The only exception is his Real M period when due to the presence of Ronaldo and him actually being the focal point of attack from all tactical perspective, he had the CF being more of decoy and someone who would move in a way to always create gaps for Ronaldo to exploit. 

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12 minutes ago, The #9.5 said:

I think Attacking mentality will be too much of gung-ho approach and with higher d-line and pressing that you seem to intend. It's likely to result to too much hoofball and the attack-duty players rushing forward too early, resulting in a more chaotic style than intended. 

Also, not sure attack duty FB position is also of any help here. I see you underline the importance of what you're after is not a total Mourinho replication but to use a Mourinho side again here - attack duty FB will render himself more of a runner even in the initial play-out phase as he will seek to quickly get into the final 3rd from where he will wait to receive the ball and dribble his way forward to then cross. 

All of the typical Mourinho attacking FBs - Cole, Marcelo, Maicon - were more of players who were initially a passing outlet, then once the move progressed forward they would join and overlap from deep. To me this means a WB-support with some tailor made PIs to make him more of a Marcelo (more risky passes and dribbles on) or more of a Maicon (more dribbles + crossing) is the way forward. 

Also, not sure any of the typical Mourinho AMs were in the False 10 mould (as any AM role with attack-duty will signal, except the TQ role). All of them were primary creators (Deco, Sneijder, Ozil) or more of a 'balancing' players (Oscar, Mkhitaryan/Lindgard). The first batch of players would be AP/a or TQ as their main function was to provide the final killer balls from inside the final 3rd. So they need attack-duty playmaker role to ensure they're willing to make that risk with their passing etc. Ozil was moving far more laterally, so is the archetype of the TQ role. Deco and Sneijder were typical AP/a. 

The need for 'balancing' AMs later in Mourinho's teams were due to the nature of his double pivot units. At Chelsea he had Fabregas there but he wasn't a typical DLP in FM-terms as he wasn't really holding and spraying passes around in the mould of Xabi Alonso at Real M. He was given total freedom to create, but just from deep as by that time he has lost his dynamism and couldn't dribble his way out of tight spaces as he was doing earlier in his Arsenal period. So he needed space and runners ahead of him to create.

Which is why Oscar played an AM balancing role - i.e. to move in a way to get away oppositions DMs away from Zone 14 and clear that space for Fabregas (from deep) and Hazard (from wide) to operate in. Out of possession, Oscar was actually doing the leg work (and to some extend Willian from RW) to compensate for Fabregas being out of position and not being really able to have any meaningful defensive input. In FM terms I'd translate this as vanilla AM/s role with roam from position, more closing down and hard tackling. 

Something similar happened at Man Utd in terms of Mkhitaryan and Lindgard primary roles at #10. This was due to having Pogba as part of the double pivot. Problem is Mourinho never got the integrated movement he had at Chelsea with Fabregas-Oscar swapping at Man Utd which I think is more due to his man-management skills and Pogba's personality (and the fact his profile by then meant he kind of demanded to be played in a role that suits him rather him being part of a whole team unit; which Fabregas' personality allowed perfectly) than any tactical downside on his part. 

Which is why a Mourinho team almost always had the CF on attack-duty and which is why he always preferred to have a more rounded CF than pure speedsters who can only threaten in behind. The only exception is his Real M period when due to the presence of Ronaldo and him actually being the focal point of attack from all tactical perspective, he had the CF being more of decoy and someone who would move in a way to always create gaps for Ronaldo to exploit. 

You are right about the risk of the tactic becoming too gung-ho. Thats what I am also worried about. And I also agree on the more progressive fullback. Don't think attack duty is the way to go.

And what I was actually considering for AMC role was either Treq or AP(A) to ensure that they are willing to take more creative risks. Not sure whether positive individual mentality would work as well. I find it might be a bit too conservative for what I am looking for. So I was thinking maybe recreating Sneijder via Treq or AP(A) role with some special PPMs like "come deeper to the ball" or "prefers to pass rather than shoot". What do you think?

Edited by crusadertsar
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18 minutes ago, crusadertsar said:

You are right about the risk of the tactic becoming too gung-ho. Thats what I am also worried about. And I also agree on the more progressive fullback. Don't think attack duty is the way to go.

And what I was actually considering for AMC role was either Treq or AP(A) to ensure that they are willing to take more creative risks. Not sure whether positive individual mentality would work as well. I find it might be a bit too conservative for what I am looking for. So I was thinking maybe recreating Sneijder via Treq or AP(A) role with some special PPMs like "come deeper to the ball" or "prefers to pass rather than shoot". What do you think?

If we talk about a Sneijder role, I actually think AP/a is more suitable. TQ is a more free-roaming role with emphasis on dribbling and lateral movement (on top of killer passes). This is what Ozil was expert at. But Sneijder didn't have the same dynamism, so he was more of the central hub of the team. He compensated the lack of that extra dynamism and roaming (compared to Ozil especially) with increased goal-threat from range (be it set-plays or trademark long shoots).

So depending on the type of team and players you have, you can go either with an Ozil or with a Sneijder. I'd suggest an Ozil is more suitable for a Real M tactic where one of the wide men is your focal point while the other is still in-cutting role (IW, as di Maria did). This way a TQ role (like Ozil) will offer the reverse movement to sometimes roam wide while both wide men cut infield. 

An AP/a role is more suited when you have the CF as your focal point, someone who is complete enough to be able to run in behind but also hold up the ball. While the wide men are both more of a supporting cast (like Inter's 4-2-3-1 or 14/15 Chelsea).

EDIT: Comes deep to get the ball PPM should be reserved for AP/a only in case both of your double pivot players aren't progressive enough on the ball. If you have someone capable to be a proper DLP/s, there's no need to ask the AP/a to drop deeper too as both will get in similar zones, trying to do similar things. As you also mentioned, you'd want your #10 to be in the final 3rd, being the main creator. 

Edited by The #9.5
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51 minutes ago, The #9.5 said:

 

An AP/a role is more suited when you have the CF as your focal point, someone who is complete enough to be able to run in behind but also hold up the ball. While the wide men are both more of a supporting cast (like Inter's 4-2-3-1 or 14/15 Chelsea).

EDIT: Comes deep to get the ball PPM should be reserved for AP/a only in case both of your double pivot players aren't progressive enough on the ball. If you have someone capable to be a proper DLP/s, there's no need to ask the AP/a to drop deeper too as both will get in similar zones, trying to do similar things. As you also mentioned, you'd want your #10 to be in the final 3rd, being the main creator. 

Thanks! I think this is exactly what I was looking for! And you just confirmed it for me. Same with Drops Deeper. I don't think I'll need it since I am looking to implement more of a less progressive double pivot in midfield. So I will definitely need my AP(a) to be the creator in the final third. 

Nice the theoretical conception for this tactic is really coming together. Hopefully I can present my final breakdown and squad analysis soon :)

And again, thanks for your valuable insights and input mate.

Edited by crusadertsar
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