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4-3-3, inconsistency and invisible inside forwards


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Morning all, I'm having a really frustrating time with my West Ham team, which I've taken to 3rd place finishes in three of the last four seasons.

After a period of playing 4-2-3-1 with decent success, I wanted to switch to 4-3-3 for a couple of reasons: a) both of my first choice full backs have the 'gets forward whenever possible' trait, so using a DM should give them more cover and licence to attack. b) I have a number of excellent-looking CMs including a wonderkid playmaker called Inbañez that I'd like to involve and c) we were very reliant on goals from Moussa Dembele as an AFa, so I wanted to switch things up to make my AMR (Nicolo Zaniolo) more of a threat - his attributes are, on paper, excellent for IFs or IFa so I wanted to emphasise this.

I planned to achieve this by creating an overload on the left using an IFs or IWs (Yari Verschaeren, normally, who I bought in for a hefty price), combining with Curtis Jones (on loan from Chelsea, who bought him from Liverpool for an eye-watering amount), as a Mezzala. Originally, I tried focusing play down the left to try and drag everyone across, then hopefully leaving space on the far side for Zaniolo. Up top, the plan was to use a newgen named Lisandro Portela as a DLFa - he's a physical monster and has the 'plays with back to goal trait', so I hoped he would link up with my IFs and Mez (and occasionally BBM/CM), but also be a threat from crosses.

The idea was for Verschaeren and Jones to get on the ball on the left, drag opponents' defences across and create space on the opposite wing for our CF and AMR to have chances - they both have really good attributes for playmakers, so I wanted to see them being creative and inventive. I wanted Portela and Zaniolo to be the main goal threats - Zaniolo has a number of traits that should see him getting on the ball, trying shots from distance or making late runs into the box to get on the end of crosses.

The results? Nothing like what I planned - it's mid-October and we're 8th in the league, having lost four of the first eight games, including a 4-0 smashing at Liverpool, a non-performance 0-2 at Tottenham and an embarrassing 0-2 at home to newly-promoted Bristol City.

I'd hoped that three players in particular would dominate games: Zaniolo, Portela and Declan Rice, but they have been comfortably my three worst players. In particular, Zaniolo has been terrible, averaging 6.58 from nine games - his only involvement has been two assists in a crazy 3-0 win at Real Madrid in the CL (we've also beaten Man City 4-2 and Inter 2-0 at home, so our results are madly inconsistent). In most games, we're really laboured in our build up play - I'm not wedded to short passing, but we seem to produce worse results playing standard. I'd like to play with verticality to get the ball into the feet of our creative players relatively early, but instead we're really stodgy on the ball - I often see my defensive players walking the ball forward, taking four or five touches, then lofting it into space when they are clearly two or three options available.

So here's the request for help before I retire FM21 in frustration: -

- Can anyone see any huge holes in this plan? I thought I'd come up with a fairly decent way of playing but it's not worked at all.

- I don't understand how to assess how/why tactics don't work in games - I watch matches on extended highlights (i find it impossible to watch periods of games on full because I just see my players doing completely different things to what they are instructed and it gets frustrating as I don't know what to look for or how to fix things), and try to work out what's wrong by looking at player ratings and stats, but seemingly at random my forward players will drop to below 6.5 and then they're useless.

- I can't identify any clear patterns as to why we're failing in attack and conceding as we do. We'll concede a set piece with no lead-in to the highlight, then the next goal will be a super strike from 25 yards after a patient build up, then the next will be two or three pinpoint passes and a killer through ball.

I'm not particularly into tactics per se, but they seem to be really important in FM so I end up spending ages trying to figure them out  or reading threads and guides to try and understand what might work and what definitely won't, but with limited success - I know I've had some good league results in this save, but that kind of adds to the frustration as we seem to win despite my involvement instead of because of it. I find it impossible to achieve what I want (attacking, possession-based play), so I have zero confidence of creating anything different (I'd like to be able to have a solid, counter-attacking system as a back up plan, but that's way beyond me), and to get decent performances from my most exciting/attacking players - is this just the way it is?

Would really appreciate some help and guidance, not just with this particular situation but more generally with trying to understand why tactics don't work and how to address issues. Many thanks!

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The first (two) tweaks I'd try is switch the MC's around and take off WBIB and see how it looks from there. POOD + Shorter Passing + WBIB would be a big no no from me as would a MEZsu and IFsu on the same side.

Edited by Justified
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2 minutes ago, Justified said:

The first (two) tweaks I'd try is switch the MC's around and take off WBIB and see how it looks from there. POOD + Shorter Passing + WBIB would be a big no no from me as would a MEZsu and IFsu on the same side.

That's interesting, thank you - part of the reason for using a Mez and IF together was this thread below, which gave me the inspiration for trying to create an overload on one side to make space on the other. I also would like to move away from using POOD and shorter passing to try and be more vertical and reduce aimless passing at the back, but we play much worse that way (in terms of results).

I'll give it a go and see what happens.

 

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1 saat önce, Haribo1681 said:

I'd hoped that three players in particular would dominate games: Zaniolo, Portela and Declan Rice, but they have been comfortably my three worst players. In particular, Zaniolo has been terrible, averaging 6.58 from nine games - his only involvement has been two assists in a crazy 3-0 win at Real Madrid in the CL (we've also beaten Man City 4-2 and Inter 2-0 at home, so our results are madly inconsistent). In most games, we're really laboured in our build up play - I'm not wedded to short passing, but we seem to produce worse results playing standard. I'd like to play with verticality to get the ball into the feet of our creative players relatively early, but instead we're really stodgy on the ball - I often see my defensive players walking the ball forward, taking four or five touches, then lofting it into space when they are clearly two or three options available.

 

1 saat önce, Haribo1681 said:

- Can anyone see any huge holes in this plan? I thought I'd come up with a fairly decent way of playing but it's not worked at all.

 

1 saat önce, Haribo1681 said:

I can't identify any clear patterns as to why we're failing in attack and conceding as we do.

 

1 saat önce, Haribo1681 said:

I find it impossible to achieve what I want (attacking, possession-based play), so I have zero confidence of creating anything different (I'd like to be able to have a solid, counter-attacking system as a back up plan, but that's way beyond me), and to get decent performances from my most exciting/attacking players - is this just the way it is?

 

At the outset, I would not use an attack duty LB behind MEZ. Plus, you don't have to use an attack duty FB when it has "gets forward whenever possible". It will get forward whenever necessary without an attack duty. Isn't it safer like that?

If you want possession based play, then you need to give your DM a more important role which can be the heart of build-up play instead of just defending. DM is the most important position on possession based 4-3-3. It links defence & attack, increases personal mentalities of players around him when he has the ball, slows the game, keeps possession, spreads the ball around. It is like a relaxation point for possession based 4-3-3.

Your 2 "CM"s and "WF"s have increased attacking movement. But can they find enough space to operate with an attack duty striker? Also your striker has incredible creativity. He is definitely a 10 for me on lone striker. You can change lone striker's role to a support one which can create more space to 4 runners. I would use a F9 for him.

You can use take short kicks instead of distribution to CB-FB. GK can have more options to bring the ball to someone. This can increase unpredictability on your build-up.

 

F9 is an underrated role and I don't understand why it is not popular between FM players. I suppose they don't know F9's exact movements. He can drop deep to overload midfield, give a pass option, do late runs inside the box. These excellent movements increase the chance of finding free space.

Edited by zabyl
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3 minutes ago, zabyl said:

 

 

 

 

At the outset, I would not use an attack duty LB behind MEZ. Plus, you don't have to use an attack duty FB when it has "gets forward whenever possible". It will get forward whenever necessary without an attack duty. Isn't it safer like that?

If you want possession based play, then you need to give your DM a more important role which can be the heart of build-up play instead of just defending. DM is the most important position on possession based 4-3-3. It links defence & attack, increases personal mentalities of players around him when he has the ball, slows the game, keeps possession, spreads the ball around. It is like a relaxation point for possession based 4-3-3.

Your 2 "CM"s and "WF"s has increased attacking movement. But can they find enough space to operate with an attack duty striker? Also your striker has incredible creativity. He is definitely a 10 for me on lone striker. You can change lone striker's role to a support one which can create more space to 4 runners. I would use a F9 for him.

You can use take short kicks instead of distribution to CB-FB. GK can have more options to bring the ball to someone. This can increase unpredictability on your build-up.

 

F9 is an underrated role and I don't understand why it is not popular between FM players. I suppose they don't know F9's exact movements. He can drop deep to overload midfield, give a pass option, do late runs inside the box. These excellent movements increase the chance of finding free space.

Thanks for that, there's some really interesting stuff there. I can totally see your point re: using attacking full back roles when the player has the gets forward trait - my aim here was that a) the full back would be more aggressive in getting forward to accentuate the overload and b) he'd be more willing to cross in search of our physical centre forward.

Speaking of which, I've avoided using F9 for him because a) his attributes are better suited to DLF (a or s) and b) I want him in the box more to make use of his physical attributes as target from crosses. I've also found that we've been a lot more successful when we play with a forward on attack duty, so I've gravitated that way. Would he be as creative theoretically as a DLFs? If so, what roles around him might create enough forward runners into the box to capitalise - would something like this be potentially effective: -

               DLFs
IFs                             IFa
          CMs   BBM
               DLPd
WBs  CDd  BPDd  WBs

I'd like to avoid possession for the sake of it, so I'd happily encourage my players to play the ball forward earlier if it's on.

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46 dakika önce, Haribo1681 said:

Would he be as creative theoretically as a DLFs? If so, what roles around him might create enough forward runners into the box to capitalise - would something like this be potentially effective: -

               DLFs
IFs                             IFa
          CMs   BBM
               DLPd
WBs  CDd  BPDd  WBs

This can work. Additionally you can add more movement to CM with roam, get further forward and change LW to IWs to make him more versatile. 

I think your striker is like Zlatan Ibrahimovic with less dribbling ability. He is more than a physical threat.

If CMs doesn't create enough movement and opportunity, you can use an APs to make LCM more focused on more important aspects of the game.

If BBMs doesn't help retaining possession on opposite field, you can use BWMs or CARs instead of it.

 

Ibanez can be a decent DLP or AP with his attributes and PPMs.

Edited by zabyl
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I'd look at maybe changing the BBM as well. Not sure of that player, but if he's aggressive, he's likely getting in the way of zaniolo and robbing him of the space he wants to exploit and attack. 

CAR s can work sometimes similar to a BBM but doesn't get as far forward, and will move more laterally behind zaniolo when he gets forward. I also really like the CMs role with custom PI. 

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Thanks all, really good stuff, loads to think about.

So, I’m currently thinking something like this:-

             DLFs

IWs                       IFa

        APs    CMs

              DLPd

WBa  CDd  CDd   FBs

I’ve gone for a WBa on the left to try and get to the byline and get crosses in for Portslade and Zaniolo who should both be a threat. We should also have three players lurking for cat backs, in theory.

A couple of questions:

- can you use two playmakers in such close proximity or would it be better to use an HB at DM?

- is there enough of a goal threat or should I use an extra attack duty somewhere? Note that Ibañez at AP has the ‘drops deep’ trait so might struggle as APa.

thanks again!

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I would still change that left flank up. Also, I don't like the APs in the cm strata in front of the dlp. When I use AP, I want no other playmakers and I make sure the ball funnels through them. 

 

I'd swap that AP for a RPMs.

 

Then for Yari at AML, I would probably play him as a winger on attack even though he is right footed. He has runs with ball down the left. I'd then put that LB as probably a FBs

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3 minutes ago, 04texag said:

I would still change that left flank up. Also, I don't like the APs in the cm strata in front of the dlp. When I use AP, I want no other playmakers and I make sure the ball funnels through them. 

 

I'd swap that AP for a RPMs.

 

Then for Yari at AML, I would probably play him as a winger on attack even though he is right footed. He has runs with ball down the left. I'd then put that LB as probably a FBs

That’s interesting; I don’t think I’ve ever used an RPM before, so it’s worth a try at least.

So it looks like it’ll be FBs on both sides at full back - is that aggressive enough? Or is this something that could be adjusted if needed in game?

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35 dakika önce, Haribo1681 said:

can you use two playmakers in such close proximity or would it be better to use an HB at DM?

APs and DLPd do different things because they are not on the same duty. DLPd/s is more like build-up player and passer. APs/a is a creative dribbler & passer. I'm not a big fan of HBd's movement. I like players who think forward more than backward. You can use it of course but it can't be your team's heart which links defence & attack. If you use a HBd, you will need another CM to be the link up player like Barça's Xavi when they used Busquets as a HBd.

 

35 dakika önce, Haribo1681 said:

is there enough of a goal threat or should I use an extra attack duty somewhere? Note that Ibañez at AP has the ‘drops deep’ trait so might struggle as APa.

If you need a change for increasing penetration; you can change duty's of wide forwards and change CMs to CMa. If opposition defends deep, you can even change DLPd to DLPs for increasing risks a little too.

As @04texagmentioned; you can use a more dynamic playmaker role for LCM like RPMs if you like. But your LB is needed on support for that change because RPM roams around. 

Edited by zabyl
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5 minutes ago, zabyl said:

APs and DLPd do different things because they are not on the same duty. DLPd/s is more like build-up player and passer. APs/a is a creative dribbler & passer. I'm not a big fan of HBd's movement. I like players who think forward more than backward. You can use it of course but it can't be your team's heart which links defence & attack. If you use a HBd, you will need another CM to be the link up player like Barça's Xavi when they used Busquets as a HBd.

 

If you need a change for increasing penetration; you can change duty's of wide forwards and change CMs to CMa. If opposition defends deep, you can even change DLPd to DLPs for increasing risks a little too.

That's cool - I'm definitely more comfortable with a DLPd at DM than HB as I don't like gap the HB leaves when it drops in - or the way it forces the defence wider.

I think I'd love to play both wide forwards on attack duty with the DLF on support - is this a bit one-dimensional, or should I have an attacking full back on side going beyond a support duty AM?

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6 dakika önce, Haribo1681 said:

I think I'd love to play both wide forwards on attack duty with the DLF on support - is this a bit one-dimensional, or should I have an attacking full back on side going beyond a support duty AM?

You can use one of these ideas if one of them can increase the usage of your players' strengths. I always try to adapt the best suited idea for maximizing the usage of strengths. If I used two wide forwards on attack, I would definitely use a F9.

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So, my next game was a Champions League fixture at Besiktas. Having won the first three games it was an opportunity to rest a few players and try some new stuff, including an RPM-CAR combo in midfield, both wide attackers on attack duties and a F9 (Amine Gouiri is less physical than Portela, so this was a fairly logical choice.

It worked well - but see if you can spot the odd one out in terms if performance...

(NB: Gouiri scored four and made one assist, so he's now our top scorer).

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Edited by Haribo1681
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17 dakika önce, Haribo1681 said:

It worked well - but see if you can spot the odd one out in terms if performance...

Ok, Zaniolo can’t play good on IFa. Look at the match ratings. Only his rating is 6.8. You can change his role to IWa to see if he improves.

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10 minutes ago, zabyl said:

Ok, Zaniolo can’t play good on IFa. Look at the match ratings. Only his rating is 6.8. You can change his role to IWa to see if he improves.

It's strange though, because he has all the attributes for the role and his traits look like they should compliment it too. Can some players just be not good sometimes???

The next game I benched Zaniolo and replaced him with Bowen (who has always accumulated higher average ratings, but mainly through taking set pieces and getting huge numbers of key passes).

Only a 1-0 win this time, but a goal from Bowen and at least three good chances in the first half. Some really great movement by the two wide players to get into the space left behind by the DLF (even though he himself played average at best).

Early days, but encouraging signs.

Screenshot 2021-09-19 at 18.30.53.png

Edited by Haribo1681
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Speaking of Zaniolo, can that "runs thought the middle with the ball" PPM be the problem here? Maybe it somehow hinders his performances when supposed to start wide?

Or is he taking too many long shots and missing the target often?

 

 

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Or maybe he just had an average game? They're not robots at the end of the day. Just because you set everything up perfectly, players can still have an off day.

Edited by Justified
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3 ore fa, Justified ha scritto:

Or maybe he just had an average game? They're not robots at the end of the day. Just because you set everything up perfectly, players can still have an off day.

But OP said Zaniolo has been consistently playing poorly. That's why I thought about it

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Zaniolo also has that "shoots from distance" trait. As an attack duty inside forward he may end up taking too many  shots. 

He may be better as an inverted winger or at least on support duty. a game where he has, say, four shots and no goals or assists will be punished by the ratings. He's so good that he should more than make up for it throughout a season 

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7 hours ago, Justified said:

Ah, I was just thinking of that 6.8 game. Nothing malicious intended :thup:

Yeah, unfortunately he's been pretty cack all season (10 or 11 games in with less than 6.5 avg). He's been fairly anonymous since signing 3-4 seasons ago, so it's probably time to cut losses and move him on.

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5 hours ago, Contexx said:

Zaniolo also has that "shoots from distance" trait. As an attack duty inside forward he may end up taking too many  shots. 

He may be better as an inverted winger or at least on support duty. a game where he has, say, four shots and no goals or assists will be punished by the ratings. He's so good that he should more than make up for it throughout a season 

Yeah, it's frustrating because his attributes mark him out as being an excellent IFs or IFa, but he's been totally ineffective - I was hoping to encourage that particular trait and see him trying shots from around the edge or using his 'makes late runs into the box' trait to get on the end of crosses, but he's never really done either much or consistently. It's a strange one (and probably down to my tactics), but he just hasn't ever really turned up as I'd hoped.

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13 minutes ago, Haribo1681 said:

Yeah, it's frustrating because his attributes mark him out as being an excellent IFs or IFa, but he's been totally ineffective - I was hoping to encourage that particular trait and see him trying shots from around the edge or using his 'makes late runs into the box' trait to get on the end of crosses, but he's never really done either much or consistently. It's a strange one (and probably down to my tactics), but he just hasn't ever really turned up as I'd hoped.

Do they, though?

IMO he lacks one completely critical attribute - acceleration, which is frankly outright bad for a title-challenging team at a mere 13 - to play a goal-seeking role on the wing.

For me Zaniolo has to be a central player or a primarily creative player. In my experience FM's ME really punishes wide players - particularly ones with attacking roles - for lacking pace. They need that burst to slip past the CB/FB, and at 13 acceleration and 15 pace Zaniolo is actually slower than many defenders in the league.

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On 19.09.2021 at 13:10, Haribo1681 said:

Screenshot 2021-09-19 at 11.00.21.png

I looked at Zaniolo's profile again and I now think he can suit to CM strata better. He can be an excellent late runner. Excellent dribbling, finishing, technique, anticipation, off the ball, good composure, concentration, decisions, vision, flair, first touch, passing, long shots, good physical attributes. Great traits; runs with ball through centre, moves into channels, tries killer balls often, shoots from distance. This player can be a complete attacking midfielder on CM with these abilities. Maybe; playing him on the flank is something like restricting him to a small space where he can't use most of his abilities. Maybe he needs more open space (central areas) to use his qualities.

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3 hours ago, Sneaky Pete said:

Do they, though?

IMO he lacks one completely critical attribute - acceleration, which is frankly outright bad for a title-challenging team at a mere 13 - to play a goal-seeking role on the wing.

For me Zaniolo has to be a central player or a primarily creative player. In my experience FM's ME really punishes wide players - particularly ones with attacking roles - for lacking pace. They need that burst to slip past the CB/FB, and at 13 acceleration and 15 pace Zaniolo is actually slower than many defenders in the league.

That’s interesting - I wasn’t aware of acceleration being that important (I’m not all that experienced at modern FM), so looking at his attributes across the board, he appears better than anyone else I could potentially buy to replace him.

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3 hours ago, zabyl said:

I looked at Zaniolo's profile again and I now think he can suit to CM strata better. He can be an excellent late runner. Excellent dribbling, finishing, technique, anticipation, off the ball, good composure, concentration, decisions, vision, flair, first touch, passing, long shots, good physical attributes. Great traits; runs with ball through centre, moves into channels, tries killer balls often, shoots from distance. This player can be a complete attacking midfielder on CM with these abilities. Maybe; playing him on the flank is something like restricting him to a small space where he can't use most of his abilities. Maybe he needs more open space (central areas) to use his qualities.

That’s really good to know - I think he’s rated as ‘accomplished’ at CM so definitely worth a go.

I originally bought him to be a combined creative and goal scoring threat from AM but he never really took off in the role and I picked up other CMs in the interim so gravitated towards playing 4-3-3.

Do you think he might be potentially effective as my right-side CM, playing as a CMa alongside an APs?

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13 minutes ago, Haribo1681 said:

That’s really good to know - I think he’s rated as ‘accomplished’ at CM so definitely worth a go.

I originally bought him to be a combined creative and goal scoring threat from AM but he never really took off in the role and I picked up other CMs in the interim so gravitated towards playing 4-3-3.

Do you think he might be potentially effective as my right-side CM, playing as a CMa alongside an APs?

I think he's likely to be much better as a CMa than any other role in your current setup, yes. He's basically tailor-made for the role, if you ask me. 15 str, 15 bravery, 17 aggression, 17 OtB, and 16 anticipation; Zaniolo was born to attack the box and get on the end of crosses and pullbacks.

IMO the reason he's putting in mediocre-to-awful performances in your current system is that the IFa is an individualist that needs to be able to trounce his man in a 1v1, and Zaniolo just doesn't have the raw pace and trickiness to consistently do that against top-level defenders. Someone like Leon Bailey would be the archetypical player in that role for me, rather than a brawny but intelligent plodder like Zaniolo, even though Zaniolo is undoubtedly the better footballer overall.

In general you have to remember that "attributes across the board" are nowhere near as important as "attributes required to fulfill specific role in my system".

 

Edited by Sneaky Pete
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47 dakika önce, Haribo1681 said:

Do you think he might be potentially effective as my right-side CM, playing as a CMa alongside an APs?

You can try and post the results of this. I suppose he can do that job perfectly if your tactic can give him what he needs (space).

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Morning all - more great ideas, thank you!

I’ve never used a raumdeuter before in my limited time playing FM as I feared it might make the player involved a bit of a passenger - does that matter?

I’ll try that out at some point for a couple of games as well as a CMa - we do have a ton of other CM’s so if I could avoid blocking their game time, everyone wins!

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My initial thoughts is that the Mez will get into the same space as the IF(S) and just bring more defenders to that zone, and the B2B could be getting too far forward as getting in the way of the IF(A).

 

Maybe swap the IF(S) to a IW(S) and the B2B to a CM(S)?

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