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I am by no means a tactical genius. There may (or will) be a lot here people don't agree with. That's fine and we are allowed to have different opinions. With that said; let's get into it!

 

I'm currently managing a pretty good Everton side. I have assembled some really good players but one of my key players (Dominic Calvert-Lewin) decided he no longer wanted to be at the club so my use of him as a WTM could no longer happen. I had no replacement and WTM's are hard to find. I had a good look at my squad, a think about what I wanted to do and decided a diamond was the way to go. I came to this decision due to the following:

  1. I wanted to play two strikers (I prefer two striker systems)
  2. I wanted Tonali, Castrovilli and Yusef Demir on the field together
  3. I wanted to use Tomiyasu as a right back

A further quick look at my side showed I really only had two players who would be affected by a narrow system (Richarlison and Marcos Leonardo). Both can be used as strikers so it isn't all bad for them and I don't need to sell them due to the new tactical shape.

With these decisions made I ended up with this:

image.png.affca7256d099823b0b9191cacb135c7.png

A lot of people will look at this and see issues. Let me spell out why I have made certain decisions. I will talk about a lot of the team instructions within the player roles as I made a lot of these decisions to work with the roles.

Sweeperkeeper: I want to give Donnarumma the flexibility to come out of the box if required. I want him to be able to play long passes if they are on (the diamond is a pretty good at counter attacking). I could probably get away with SK-De but I have Donnarumma so I may as well give him some attacking licence. I have chosen to couple the keeper with Distribute Quickly, Take Short KicksDistribute to Flanks. These instructions I feel compliment the Counter instruction. The Distribute To Flanks may seem counterintuitive with no wingers. In general I agree but let me show this:

https://imgur.com/KzUQ1t4 (let me know how to embed gifs and I will fix this up)

The distribution to Hickey is why I have Distribute to Flanks. If I chose to distribute to full backs it drags the full backs closer to the GK which isn't what I want. I want them high up to potentially start a counter.

 

Inverted Wingback: Here is the first decision I have made that will have a lot going "Why!?" - there is a reason.  The devil is in the detail of the IWB. Have a look at the role itself:

image.png.642d0b993937ce71923f2a43e6a6c749.pngimage.png.88ae76b933f664a7faadce44289bf7aa.png

There are two circumstances where the IWB won't cut in 1. when there are two DM's and 2. when there is no-one in front of him. As you can see I fall into option two here. The role specifically was chosen due to the hardcoded PI's. I want him to more or less operate as a midfielder from the right back position. I want him to play through balls and to pass rather than cross. I want him to still provide the width and get high but in a different way to the left back:

image.png.eca8ac7cdd305ad9b5b60e498e6fc9c5.png

I've highlighted key passes here as that is what I want him to be doing in this role. You can see Tomiyasu (#3) has made quite a few here. It's a dangerous area that a lot of opposition struggle to defend.

 

Centre Backs: Easy one here - stop goals. I don't need a Ball Playing Defender playing long passes. In fact, without wide players I don't want to bypass the midfield unless there is a counter on so I am happy playing with CB's to attempt to keep possession of the ball a bit more.

 

Wingback: Initially I had the wingback set to attack. I noticed some movement I didn't like:

https://imgur.com/MXmokps

https://imgur.com/rNEhRdN (again, let me know how to embed gifs and I will fix this up)

I hated that the crosses were getting blocked. I added Cross Early but on it's own I didn't get the desired effect. I had a bit more of a look at what was going on and what other options the LB may have. Then it hit me - he has no support:

image.png.b75b58808650f0d1a2599dddb0d38694.png

The poor bastard has no support. What other option does he have here but to cross? To alleviate this I dropped the duty back to support, added dribble more cross more often (both hardcoded to the WB-At) then added Overlap Right to lift his mentality back to attacking. The final piece of the puzzle was to change the MCL to an advanced playmaker (more on this later). The end result is a LB that does what I want - provides width, attacking movement and doesn't get his crosses blocked.

 

Anchorman: Because I like Will Ferrell movies... nah, in A diamond I believe there are a few options here but the choice will have an overall effect on the tactic:

  1. A playmaker (regista, DLP, RPM) which means players in the MC spots need to play a bit more defensive to cover the playmaker and allow him space to operate
  2. A stopper (HB, A, DM) to cover the defence and allow the MC's to be a bit more attacking.

I find it a bit easier to setup a diamond with option two. I'm not sure why, I just do. Also, my chosen defensive players are converted CB's.their passing skills aren't good enough to be in my MC spots. How did I come to anchorman? basically because he doesn't move from his spot. I wanted him to be an 'out' option behind attacking players but without the extra flash a DM may have. I don't want him to drop into defence so HB was ruled out. I don't need him to close down heavily like a BWM does or like a DM can. Anchorman is perfect for what I need in both defence and attack. His simple passing going forward is perfect for the two guys in front of him.

 

Central Midfielder: This was a really hard role to choose. I initially started with BBM, then played around with a carrilero but eventually I went for the blank slate. The CM-Su doesn't roam (the IWB behind him does) and can be asked to do anything. I have added Close Down More & More Direct Passes. I want him to close down more to help out pressing wide to get opposition wide players to make rash decisions. I want him making more direct passes to get the more attacking striker of the two onto the attacking ball earlier if it's on. It's a simple role where an excellent player can really excel. A lesser player can also be effective as you are not asking him to do too much. It's more about what the player can do rather than what he can't.

 

Advanced Playmaker: Started life as a DLP but a few things got me to change him to an advanced playmaker:

  1. Upon the realisation the DLP wasn't supporting the LB I need a role that would sit a bit higher and wider to allow recycling of possession if/when the LB runs into danger
  2. Realising that an anchorman could have a more attacking player in front of him
  3. Tonali being a relatively defensive minded player allows me to use a role that is a bit more aggressive

I wouldn't use a traditional advanced playmaker here. I'd always lean towards a DLP-type player. I still need a bit of defensive cover here as again I am asking him to Close Down More. In addition I have also asked him to Stay Wider. Both of these instructions are to help cover the attacking movement of the LB. On occasion I switch him up to be attacking to get more into the box but I like the space he occupies when set to support. It's a funny role for me as I don't recall ever using an advanced playmaker in the MC spot in any tactic I've tried before. I'm glad I used it here.

 

Shadow Striker: This is a role I really like but it fits nicely here. Without a shadow striker my attack would become very limited to pretty much just the PF. Adding a Shadow Striker gives some attacking punch and adds another element to pull defenders out of position. Due to the players behind him I don't need him in the buildup and he only needs to get on the end of balls. A trequartista was considered but I don't need that level of roaming. Shadow Striker just suits here.

 

Forwards: I'll do these two together as this is a pretty important partnership. Originally they were switched around. I then realised I probably want the LB crossing into the far post where the attacking of the two strikers is operating. The switch was made and the rest is history. The DLF before the switch was experimented with most notably with a F9. The F9 just got too deep and left the other striker and SS lonely. The DLF eventually won out. I have also asked the DLF to pass more direct in an attempt to get the SS and PF onto the end of through balls. By holding up the ball and moving in channels he should drag defenders out of position for the SS to attack. The PF started life as an Advanced Forward but he wasn't effective enough. I switched  him to PF to help pressure the backline (as well as asking the whole team to close down more).

Pressure high up in this formation is great. While they should have an easy out onto the wing it becomes a nothing pass as I have the centre clogged for them to attempt an attack.

image.png.1ac7c8f8fb43a657d467e91cc3cf26c4.png

In Possession: Higher Tempo is due to the ability of my players to string passes. I also can't afford to have the ball stagnant in the midfield as a narrow midfield can be easier to close down. To alleviate this I have asked for Wide attack. The shape is narrow anyway so asking them to move a bit wider will allow a bit more room to operate.

Out of Possession: I haven't discussed any of these previously. I'm forcing the opposition inside as that's where the bulk of my defenders are. It makes it easier for me to defend.Higher line of engagement, More Urgent pressing and Prevent Short GK distribution is simply to put the opposition under pressure sooner. If they can get around this I still have MC's and a DM to cover. Offside trap is simply because I like it.

I do switch between Positive and Attacking depending on the opposition. The Assistant Manager usually reminds me pre-match to have a look. Don't discount the Assistant - you wouldn't have hired him if you didn't want him to do something.

 

Results:

image.png.ff0ae86b98110b5e521d3eceb169ba78.png

I may have missed something here so feel free to ask questions. Don't feel that you can't use a particular role because it doesn't make sense. As I've shown with the IWB if you have a plan and want something particular to happen a nonsensical role may actually make sense for you.

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Great write up, and I like your reasoning for some of the more unorthodox choices you have made.

Never thought of using an IWB in a formation without wingers before, so that was interesting.

You also point out the importance of having a framework, but adapting it to what you see on the pitch.

One question: Both of your strikers are hard coded to move into channels, does the SS move into the same space, or is he intelligent enough to move into the right place at the right time? Presumably you want someone with a high decision, anticipation and off the ball-attributes to play in that position?

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1 hour ago, Vizzini said:

Great write up, and I like your reasoning for some of the more unorthodox choices you have made.

Never thought of using an IWB in a formation without wingers before, so that was interesting.

It was the main reason I put this up. I do see a lot of people saying not to use IWB's in narrow tactics and I do agree in general but it also depends on what you want. I knew I didn't want crosses being whipped in from both sides. I guess the main takeaway is to read the descriptions and have a good look at the hardcoded PI's.

1 hour ago, Vizzini said:

You also point out the importance of having a framework, but adapting it to what you see on the pitch.

That's pure luck. My general framework is to win regardless of how it looks.

1 hour ago, Vizzini said:

One question: Both of your strikers are hard coded to move into channels, does the SS move into the same space, or is he intelligent enough to move into the right place at the right time? Presumably you want someone with a high decision, anticipation and off the ball-attributes to play in that position?

The three attacking players all operate in different areas I find.

image.png.7abb2c355fa9345c33bef06ac605ef92.pngimage.png.c45aca3f339f0a18566cd17e82f92dff.png

The average position with the ball on the left is a game I won 4-0 with Demir scoring two in the SS, Kean getting one as the PF and Leonardo scoring one as the DLF (he was a sub so isn't shown). The right pic is a match I won 1-0. Different front three (Foden as SS, Leonardo as the DLF and Richarlison as the PF). The winning score was an own goal but the point of showing this is the average position with two different front threes in two very different result matches. You can see they are on average not converging on eachother. In the second pic I reckon the issues are more in the midfield (the CM-Su if you had to twist my arm for an answer) as well as the LB not providing enough support.

 

I hope that makes sense?

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@nick1408 Thank you for the explanation, it does make sense, especially as it seems like the shadow striker has a deeper starting position than I imagined.

What sort of PPMs are you looking for in your players, or is that something you don't really pay that much attention to?

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3 minutes ago, Vizzini said:

@nick1408 Thank you for the explanation, it does make sense, especially as it seems like the shadow striker has a deeper starting position than I imagined.

What sort of PPMs are you looking for in your players, or is that something you don't really pay that much attention to?

Depends on the player really. For example, I am using Dwight McNeil as a LB. He currently looks like this:

image.png.22f9879e8de1354bb05b68e0aa07ec7a.png

My backup is Juan Miranda:

image.png.b36d48a3df5738259d1e811b56705e1c.png

Comparing the two the look like this:

image.thumb.png.deabd71951574f0208490072b93abe99.png

I tend to prefer McNeil but Miranda is just as effective. McNeil I wanted getting forward more as I felt he was more effective forward and less so when defend. To allow McNeil to get forward his Plays One-Twos gives him another tool to allow him to do that. He is very left footed hence moving the ball there before dribbling (same as Miranda), and I like his dribbling more than Miranda's so I asked him to dribble more.

I don't try and shoehorn PPM's onto players, I more try to add to what they are already capable of doing.

 

(Some of the PPM's may have already been on the players when I got them - I can't remember what I added and what I didn't).

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Nice write up! I'm a big fan both of the 4-4-2 Diamond and the 4-3-1-2 and in both cases my biggest issue and the reason why I usually abandon them after some time is that both are very vulnerable to overlapping wingbacks as they overload the sides with two wing players vs my single one. To counter it I also try to drive them inside defending wide and I use two CBs with 17+ Jumping and a GK with 18 in Aerial to deal with the crosses, but the main issue I find is that after dealing with tons of crosses one of them might get in, if not the dreaded cross from deep to the back of my opposite wingback that is too effective.

How do you deal with overloads in the wings against you?

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1 hour ago, Icy said:

How do you deal with overloads in the wings against you?

More or less I don't. I accepted the weakness of the tactic and ensured my attacking patterns were effective. The anchorman is also a key. By forcing the opponent inside most of their goals are coming from the central area (obviously) and this is pretty much what I am after - I'm controlling their attack as well as my own.

image.png.48bcb1bf15fefd109e9ba47a7639c73c.png

The one goal from their area I tend to write off. The single goal on it's own inside the box may cause a concern but overall seeing their main scoring zone is right in front I am happy - all my players operate here so it's the best place for me to defend. I only have one player wide so it's pointless defending there.

The goals against may seem a bit high so here are the corresponding matches:

image.png.1ce0e938ee6fe2c38e2593cddafe3c7e.png

 

 

You'll never stop 100% of goals but if you can control both attacks you'll go a long way to building a successful tactic with any shape.

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My next immediate issue is replacing Moise Kean. He had a £90m release clause and Real Madrid met it. I'm a bit annoyed as he'd agreed to extend his contract at the end of the season. £90m is a pretty good fee though so I should be able to find someone good.

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How does Kean perform as a PF, I use DCL in that role and he's superb. I've got Kean back at the end of the season from loan, so wonder whether to keep him or not. Also, how about Branthwaite as an anchor, I've not even considered that ?

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7 minutes ago, Oli99 said:

How does Kean perform as a PF, I use DCL in that role and he's superb. I've got Kean back at the end of the season from loan, so wonder whether to keep him or not. Also, how about Branthwaite as an anchor, I've not even considered that ?

Kean is brilliant. I prefer him to Calvert-Lewin personally. Calvert-Lewin also left me so I sort of had no choice.

 

Branthwaite I didn't like his tackling. Could never get it up to what I like for centrebacks. I figured his height would make it a bit tougher again for players choosing to cross. If you look at his attributes he actually fits the roll pretty well:

image.png.3c214e64d34e28a701308deb8021f910.png

I've only recently switched him over to anchorman training. Before that I had him on either centreback ro ball-playing defender training (I can't remember which).

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You've made my mind up then, he'll definitely stay and fight it out with DCL for a starting place. I'll keep Branthwaite too and retrain him. I was trying to find a way to use him, so that's perfect. Thank you 

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A quick update on having the correct player. As I mentioned earlier I lost Moise Kean to Real Madrid for £90m. I planned on reinvesting this to buy another pressure forward. Unfortunately I was unable to do this. What it meant was I had to play this guy:

 

image.png.2e2612ced086193a151f1dec8fb0d99c.png

 

While he was ok he just wasn't up to it when chasing a title. Hence, my title chase fell apart and I ended up finishing fourth. I made Kean's replacement a priority. I had plenty of cash so could more or less get anyone I liked. I ended up deciding on someone local:

image.thumb.png.f1ce631f1e5a6c12fa4067aebd4c51e6.png

 

While Kean is still the better player (slightly) Delap is a huge upgrade on Roldan and allows him to develop moreas a backup where he should be. I did overpay for Delap (£90m + a player & another on loan) but that was more to do with the necessity. Delap has started well for me 11 goals in 8 matches). 

 

Don't forget to reinforce your key positions!

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Very interesting topic, I like the 4-4-2 diamond but usually I play at lower divisions so I opt for a more "traditional" formation with wingers and a DM - normally 4141 DM Wide, easier to manage and find players. Maybe in the future I can try an approach like this.

But the most interesting part for me is that you play an aggressive/high press style with Counter and a lot of speed on attacking (at least it looks like one), something which I also like very much. So I can test and try some of your ideas on my own system - specially the ball distribution. I have been using "Distribute to Full-Backs and Centre-Backs" coupled with "Play Out of Defence" but at the same time the CBs look like very far from the striker and they kick the ball away sometimes, which is something I don´t like. I will test some of your ideas - no POoD, Take Short Kicks, Distribute Quickly and to The Flanks and see what happens.

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