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Maintaining and Evolving a Winning Tactic: club reputation and long - term success. An experiment.

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I have similar problem but mine is more self inflicted.

So most of my saves are based on building the reputation of the league I'm managing in (I'm currently doing that in Poland) so to achieve that faster I need the help of other polish teams so my transfer strategy is bring in as many 16-18 year olds as I can, keep the better ones in the team for about 2 seasons and loan out the ones that are not good enough yet.

What ends up happening is that almost every season I'm selling my best players to my rivals in the league or sometimes to other team in Europe and replacing them with players that are not good enough yet and although I've won the league 7 seasons straight, the last 2 seasons were difficult and I just won it because I had better head to head result and in Europe we don't even make it out of the group. In 7 seasons we've made it out once and come 3rd twice.

At least I've raised the reputation of the league enough to where this season we get to the group stage of the champions League directly if we win the league 

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2 hours ago, Djecker said:

Mine has a DLP(s) -SV(s) in the DM roles and a AP(s)-AF(a)

Those roles could lend quite well to swift counter attacking transitions. If you have the quality, DLP and SV can work well together - just make sure your Left full back is mobile enough to cover ground!

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Season 1: Mid - Season Review

Things could not be going any better. We are flying in  the domestic league and have secured progress from our ECL Group.



As can be seen here, the performance domestically is extraordinary and will be examined in closer detail shortly:


Analysis of Evolution

1) How then have the tactical changes affected our performances?

2) Is the evolution of the tactic producing results against teams with a lower reputation and moreover, are we creating high quality chances against teams set up to nullify us?

3) What are the reasons for the defeats against the larger teams in Europe?

I will answer these questions by providing detailed analysis of player performances across a variety of indicators and by assessing a couple of matches against lesser sides on a more detailed level.

Let's first look at the who is scoring the goals and/or who is our 'main goal scoring' threat. I outlined at the start of the experiment that I am determined to create patterns of play that will enable my Shadow Striker to occupy this role within the team. I am please to observe that not only is this the case, but it has been achieved with one of the least capable players in my First XI.

Tactical Changes and Performances

Shadow Striker - Attack. The Emerging Goal Scoring Threat.


For others, 6 goals from 13 appearances may not seem a stellar return. For me though, this is more than I was expecting for a player that does not possess traits or attributes that push him into goal scoring positions closer to goal  more frequently (absence of Gets into Opposition Area, 12, Acceleration/10, Work Rate). 

Here is our attacking output as a team:


  • Thomas Jensen is second top score behind our Trequartista but upon further review it turns out 5/8 of Antonakopoulos's goals were converted penalties. I've missed a trick here, Jensen is a more accomplished PK taker and could quite feasibly be sitting on 11 goals in 13 games! That is a change I will be making immediately.
  • Goal scoring opportunities are spread around the team and are largely falling to the feet of the players I intended to utilise as an attacking threat; The CF - TQ, CAM - SS, RM - WAttack (Vafidis and Falconi combined) and RDM - SVAttack are all finding themselves two or three chance a game. The real curve ball here has been the sensational output of the LM-WPSupport which I will elaborate upon here.

LM: WidePlaymaker-Support: The Feint becomes the Threat!

As I mentioned in my plan, I deployed a Wide Playmaker on the left side of midfield to act as a 'Feint' that could free up space for the Secundo Volante - Support (Parianos) inside him to exploit. Parianos has indeed been a creative spark, thriving on thee space created by the WP to lay on more assists, key passes and completed passes than any other team mate. Closer inspection has revealed that there is far more to the performances of the Wide Playmaker than meets the eye. Meet the man:


The first thing that made me decide to dive deeper into analysis was the fact that he was, in fact, the leading shot taker in my team - despite the intention for him being a creative presence that would distract my opponents and create space for others to benefit. After reviewing highlights from our 13 fixtures to - date, I am unearthing some truly revelatory information that makes me feel this role and the player in it could be as critical to team performance as the twin SV's.

Shooting analysis of WP:

1) 20 of the 51 shots that Wiseman attempted, were, in fact, back post headers delivered by the IWB or Winger whom could quite feasibly have picked out a different target. I think due to Wiseman being 187cm he seems a good choice but his 8 attribute for heading means this is not the best policy. I may apply a couple of cross aim Player Instructions on the RM and RB to resolve this. From the other shot attempts I observed, they were in -fact largely hitting the target and taken in positions where I feel there was a decent chance of finding the net. All in all, 3 goals from 13 games is a decent return to -date.

Creative analysis of WP:

This is where things start to get exciting. When watching highlights to find out why were were getting quite a few penalty decision, this guy stood out as a real menace. Of the five penalties that our Trequartista has converted, three were created directly by the Wide Playmaker as follows:

Penalty 1: WP dribbles from the half -way line in the half channel before beating the Right Back who then fouls him on the edge of the 6yb.

Penalty 2: After our RCB intercepts a long clearance against strong opposition (PAOK), the header lands at the feet of the WP who dances past the opponents CM and moves into the 18yb where a RB has no choice but to close down our WP and gives away a foul.

Penalty 3: As we execute a short throw-in routine, our WP whips it in to the the feet of the TQ from the just outside the corner of the 18yb. The TQ is routinely pushed over as he controls the ball 6 yards from goal.

Now, the FM data analysis machine does not treat these moments as an 'Assist' but I beg to differ and will add these to my overall impression. I could now argue that in 13 appearance, Wiseman has scored 3, assisted 6 and has been a constant menace with his ball carrying abilities (only second behind our RM - WAttack). Furthermore, he is ALSO fulfilling the duties as a 'Feint' for the LDM SVSupport, completing the second highest quantity of passes and key passes. 

NB: Wiseman does not possess any player traits and is performing admirably. I see no reason to add the previously planned traits as I feel I am getting more from the role as it is, than as I had actually planned!!!

Building Play from Centre Backs

I will not dwell here to much other than to say that the distribution of passes is spread around the back four exactly as I had hoped. After our WP and Twin SV's the RCB, LCB and RIWB see more of the ball than any other players. This is in accord with my instruction to distribute to central defenders and with 97 per cent pass completion ratios for both CB's it is clear that this route is a secure method of building attacking patterns of play and recycling the ball.

CF: Trequartista - Attack. I think I am making Ibrahimovic.

Top scorer (albeit 5 penalties - though you still need to convert them), fifth in chances created despite having received less of the ball than any other player and a danger from FK's. This player has got a lot more to offer. What is particularly pleasing is that whilst he is still learning Comes Deep to Get Ball, I observed multiple highlights where the opponent has sat deep across the 18yb and the TQ came deep (albeit walking ala Ibra), dragging up to two markers, freeing up space for our other players to attack the channels and wings around the box. Good news.

RM: Winger - Attack. Possible switch to Wide Midfielder Attack in the future.

Vafiadis and Falconi have performed this role to great effect, stretching the play and creating space for my SVAttack (Silvani) to exploit. The only issue I have is the persistence with crossing to the WP at the far post. The deliveries are good, with the two sharing a conversion rate equating to 15 per cent, finding their target an adequate amount of times, it is more the targeting to the WP that is causing the issue. In the first instance I am going to try the following:

- Add cross aim Near Post to the player instructions. With a TQ occupying the CB's and an onrushing SS and SVAttack, if we do not recieve the ball direct from the cross there will be a good chance of picking up the pieces inn the breakdown.

-If this fails, come the end of the season I may change the role to Wide Midfielder - Attack and adding Player Instructions to Stay Wider, Dribble More and Cross less Often.


RDM: Secundo Volante - Attack. Ballack/Kante mutation. It will come, it will come, it will come.

Despite the complete inexperience of Silvani, my vision of a Ballack/Kante super-breed is looking like it may actually manifest to in - game performances. Whilst he may have only scored 1 goal in 13 games, he is fourth in shots taken with an XG of 3.07. I am applying some serious finishing training to this guy and if he can get those attributes up to 11/12, I feel I should see some real increases in productivity! 


When defending, he has been superb, leading tackles made in my First XI , intercepting as required and using his work rate to harry players into mistakes.


I am teaching him dives into tackle to make full use of that destructive power.

Effects of mentality Shift, Team Instructions and performance against 'lesser' opponents.

The Positive mentality has encouraged more risk in our play and we are creating far more chances than last season. The Team Instructions are translating well to the pitch and most importantly, we are seeing variety in our attacking patterns - scoring from a range of  positions with a diverse supply line:




Furthermore, in fixtures where teams have turned up bottom - heavy determined not to concede, we have secured victory whilst creating a fair quantity of quality chances:


Please bare in mind that the first fixture highlighted against APDM, we were unfamiliar with our new tactic in what was our first game of the season.

So yes, all - in - all, we seem to have adjusted well to our increased reputation with the tactic having evolved to be effective at dismantling inferior opposition to - date.

Brief Defending Analysis (2 goals conceded):

I haven't spoke much about defending, other to say we have only really struggled in Europe against top class opposition. Even then, I have been fielding a fully rotated Second XI and will pay more attention and analysis to it next season when current tactic and squad is in better shape for rotation. As a brief insight, I have executed what I promised and made no tactical adjustments when away to Roma, Chelsea and Zenit and paid the price in defeats accordingly. However, I watched the games, and we were creating good quality chances in these fixtures with a Second XI that is quite inferior to our opposition. This most recent evolution of the 4411 2DM shows real promise for dismantling lesser teams and maintaining a threat against teams equal to or greater than us as the quality of my players increases.

Upcoming Changes:

The evolution of my tactic has been far more successful to-date than I had anticipated. Based on what I have seen, I am going to play out the rest of the season in exactly the same fashion with the only changes being the following:

- Adding Cross Aim Near Post Player Instruction to RBIWB and RM.

- Begin to search for a world class player, willing to join our club, who could replace our current Shadow Striker Thomas Jensen in the First XI.

- Also considering a World class replacement for Parianos at LDMSVSupport. His performance have been excellent but in reality, there are far better options out there if I could only entice them to Greece. I will not be selling Parianos, just keeping him in the wings to see if he progresses in line with our coaches predictions (I have run afoul of dodgy coach predictions too many times. For all I know this could be his peak - top level for the Greek Superleague, but not good enough for elite European competition). Time to identify a target and unsettle them, praise them and try to lure them here.


Time to play out the season: All feedback is welcome

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Here is a good opportunity to test the efficacy of the attempt at tactical evolution.

We are about to play the home leg of a the Second Round Knockout at home to European Giants PSG who have set - up in a 4141 DM. 


Now, due to the evolution still being in its infancy, I have been and will continue to field a fully rotated Second XI in European competition until the end of the season, at which  point I will look to implement a stronger rotated XI in Cup competitions. Furthermore, I am not making any adjustments to the tactic I have been using since the beginning of the experiment. It is as follows:


I am expecting a home defeat, approx. 1 - 2, or 2 - 3. I will update this post at the end of the fixture.

Final Score


As I had anticipated, our Second XI did not possess the quality to break down a well drilled PSG side oozing with quality. here is a quick comparative example:

Our RB:


Their LM:


On a positive note, they did not score from open play and had to rely on an Indirect free Kick where my 18yo CB completely switched off. Not really his fault, he is just not goo enough yet:

We created more chances against a superior opponent who sat deep, playing low risk, counter-attacking football. Our Shadow Striker (Ignacio) and our SVAttack (Kalogeropoulos) were the recipients of our best chances whilst our WPlaymaker (Wharton), BPDefender (Khalil) and our SVSupport (Tsiligiris) were the primary recipients of passes and the creative outlets within the team.


In essence, the evolved tactic is producing patterns of play that I have planned, shifting the ball between a variety of creators with runners from deep coming from all the desired roles. It is only a lack of quality that has denied in a fixture where the opposition are set-up to deal with our higher reputation rather than the weakened Second XI I fielded. I am fully confident that my First XI would have torn them a new one. Those antics are something to look forwards to for next season. I will edit this post after the second leg to see if my Second XI can turn things around.

As a brief domestic update, here is a look at how the evolved tactic is obliterating domestic competition, soundly putting away sides that are both attempting to attack us and others who are sitting deep (NB: the two draws were both 2-2 and away to Panathinaikos and Olympiakos. In both fixtures the opposition scored penalties and against Panatniaikos we were playing with 10 men for 45 mins. Next season I will be more flexible and 'tweak' the tactic in-game to account for emerging match situations. As the experiment is playing out this season, NO tactical changes have been made in any fixtures):


And this is where we were at an almost identical time last season, with the previous tactical set-up:


What a difference! Whilst we are far stronger in terms of pure player ability than the bottom seven teams, the top four possess players with comparative ability and are being dismantled in the same effective manner as those teams that are 'parking the bus', with bottom heavy formations. Here is a quick reminder of the players in my actual First XI:


Champions League return Leg update to follow...

Updated 18th March 2043:

We could not undo the damage from the first leg and again, PSG exlploited our lack of ability at the back by scoring from two set-pieces and a mistake from our Right back.


Our Second XI lacked creativity in DM and without supply, the attack was quite impotent. On the positive side, after watching the highlights there were multiple opportunities for our Twin SV's and WPlaymaker to play a killer pass to the flanks or through the middle, but the players lacked the vision and technique to attempt the pass in the first place. The SVAttack and SSAttack were both hesitant to get forwards, a further reason why player traits gets forwards whenever possible and gets into opposition area are a must have in this tactical approach (neither player has learned them yet, unlike in my First XI).

I am looking ahead to next season when all players in our squad will have the desired traits taught. Still, not a terrible performance against a side that are far superior and had home advantage.

Edited by toshimitzou1
Return Leg Result
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Before the CL second Leg I am just going to offer an update on the end of the regular season. For those not familiar, The top six will enter a Championship Play-off group with a home and away fixture. Suffice to say, with ten fixtures remaining we are shoe-ins for the league title:


The evolution of the previous 'winning' tactic that had stopped producing success is proving an unequivocal success to-date. Through the season, the stronger teams in the division have attempted to attack us whilst the lesser teams have responded to our increased reputation by fielding bottom heavy formations with low-risk attacking patterns. All-comers have been swept aside:


Even more pleasing are the attacking performances of my 'runners from deep' (SVAttack, WAtack and SS Attack) allayed with the creative output of my nominal playmakers (WPSupport and SVSupport. NB: Koutrobilas is a recent signing replacing Parianos but is already providing Key Passes left, right and centre) and the revelatory output of my TQ, whom has had free reign to drag opponents all over the length and width of the playing surface; his eye for goal is just a satisfying added bonus. Here are the cumulative statistics for our attacking play:


And a wonderful diversity of supplies, finishes and goal scorers:


Brief Observations and room for improvement:

Unfortunately my Shadow Striker is determined not to learn the trait gets into opposition are but is still operating as on of my main attacking threats', finding the net 10 times 22 appearances. I am looking to bring this guy in for next season to replace my current starter:


The SVAttack is still incredibly raw and can only offer more and more as next season dawns. 4 goals in 22 appearances this season is decent and am am hoping for him to be consistently reaching double figures as he enters his peak:


That's enough for now. I will post again after the 10 fixture Championship Play-Off to see how the evolved tactic performs against the leagues top teams.

Edited by toshimitzou1
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On 22/09/2021 at 09:26, Djecker said:

Good thread. I'm using a 4-4-1-1 with a double DM pivot myself this season and have followed some similar patterns of thinking. Mine has a DLP(s) -SV(s) in the DM roles and a AP(s)-AF(a) in the attacking roles, but I'm still refining my tactic.

That's literally what I used (only difference was PFat instead of AFat) with Gloucester in FM19 from Non-League to Premier League. Only time it evolved was when I got bigger in the EPL and needed to break down teams a lot more.

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Tactical Evolution Review: Season 1 

Results: League and Championship Play- Off.



Final League Table:


Previous Season Final League Table:


As can be observed, we took huge strides forwards in terms of results, plundering 91 league goals this season as opposed to 65 the season previous season without sacrificing defensive solidity.

Player Statistics:



Statistical Analysis: Runners from deep (SVAttack, WAttack and SSAttack), the Trequartista and the Wide Playmaker.

Runners from deep:

Secundo Volante - Attack: Louis Silvani/ Dionysis Kalogeropoulos

Winger - Attack: Telis Vafiadis/Hector Falconi.

Shadow Striker - Attack: Thomas Jensen/Carles Ignacio.

Collective Goals Scored: 32%.

Wide Playmaker:

Declan Wiseman/Argyris Rokas.

Collective Goals Scored: 14%.

Trequartista :

Simos Antonakopoulos/Matthias Steinmann.

Collective Goals Scored: 39%

Goal scoring analysis:

An encouraging contribution of goal scorers distributed amongst the player roles and expectations. A deeper dive into the goal scorers throws up the following observations:

  • In the fixtures versus the bottom 5 teams the division (Chania, OFI, Asteras Tripolis, Panachaiki and Apolllon), excluding penalties scored, our runners from deep were the collective highest scorers in these fixtures - contributing 13 of the 28 goals scored.
  • The Trequartista has produce tremendous goal scoring figures, securing the European Golden Shoe and proving clinical. BUT, 14 of those 30 goals were converted penalties:




Furthermore, 3 of those 30 goals were scored from Direct Free Kicks  and having painstakingly viewed each and every goal scored this season, I can state that another 6 were direct from a Throw In or Corner Kick routine. In essence, 23 of the Trequartista's 30 league goals were derived exclusively from Set Pieces culminating in a total of:

- 7 goals in 30 games from open play.

In comparison, of the 14 goals scored by the Shadow Strikers, only one goal was finished direct from a set piece with the other 13 goals all coming from open play. Total:

- 13 goals in 30 games from open play.

Furthermore, a similar pattern emerges with the other players within the tactical framework, with the majority of goals scored by the SVAttack, WAttack and the auxiliary goal scores predominantly effected from open play.

Observations and Conclusions going forwards:

The ongoing aim of this experiment is to evolve and maintain an existing successful tactic that can account for an increased reputation. I outlined a plan to do this by utilising runners from deep with a plan to deploy a Shadow Striker as my main goalscoring threat. Statistical and in-game analysis has revealed the following components of my tactic (penalty goals scored, wide distribution of goalscorers) that I can either look to:

a) Develop further, harnessing the output that has proved fruitful domestically this season or

b) Look to change, adjusting the tactical approach to ensure a more reliable approach from open-play


c) Embrace and adjust, accepting the surprise positive outcomes the tactic has produced whilst adjusting personnel and player traits to get more from my runners from deep (especially the Shadow Striker) and in the long-term ensuring our tactic has the potential to continue evolving toaccount an ever increasing reputation without being overly reliant on set piece mastery.


Plan of Action

  • With this information in - hand I will be persisting with the following tactical adjustments for next season:
  • NONE. EG. If Run at Defence Team Instruction is assisting in winning penalties against clogged opposition defences, there is no reason to change this.
  • However, I will be continuing to teach my players new Traits that I anticipate will dramatically alter chance creation and goal scoring distribution in the forthcoming seasons.



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