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[FM22] Statman and Robins


Shrewnaldo
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2 hours ago, Shrewnaldo said:

Aye, that's probably what I'll settle on. I've been giving the 4-1-4-1 a proper run and it's working out great against bigger sides - certainly cutting down on our defensive woes and even brought about a 2-1 victory at Anfield

Downside is that it's a bit toothless against weaker sides. We struggled to a draw with Blackburn and went 2-0 down to Stoke before recovering to win. Post-Xmas, I'll be switching back to the 4-3-2-1 against teams where I'd expect us to win. Still not a lot of those games but missing out on those easier points will really hurt us.

As it is, we're well clear of relegation so can now have a "free hit" at preparing for future seasons

Sounds like your starting to mould a good pre game plan and starting to work what systems suits what. 

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On 28/01/2022 at 20:39, Shrewnaldo said:

First we brought in Reiss Nelson from Arsenal for a little over £23m. There weren't many stats from last season due to a lack of game time at the Emirates, but the preceding season he'd been on loan at Feyenoord and done well - albeit from a wide position rather than the 10 I'm looking to fill. But his scout reports were great and, most importantly, he has that combination of pace, dribbling and finishing that is key to the shadow striker role. And the first game of the season was at Arsenal, so of course...

I think this is the signing that epitomises the success of your system and I hope that Reiss flourishes in your system. Whilst the money is ludicrous compared to what I'm dealing with - it's that slightly risky purchase, based off a smaller pool of stats that then goes well, becoming the catalyst to some success that just makes this game. I'm tying up a deal for a young Colombian right now who has played just 12 professional games but there is a standout stat in there that makes me so excited for what I can do.

On 28/01/2022 at 23:29, Shrewnaldo said:

Partly blaming @danielgear here for his insidious question on tactics that's been living in my head rent free for days, partly blaming @_Ben_ for his equally insidious tactical posts and reminding me how much I love a 4-1-4-1 with inverted wingbacks... but I'm seriously considering switching away from the 4-3-2-1 'Christmas tree' into a 4-1-4-1

Can you not create that shape with the 4-3-2-1? With the right role (maybe a CM(d)) and the right traits, he'd drop back the IWB would tuck in. You'd then be left with a 2-3-2-3 kind of shape with that really central overload. I just love the inverted wing back and I certainly seem to remember reading through those blog posts you've linked to. It was that strange time between The Dugout anywhere else whereby all the old regulars did their own thing but nobody kept in contact!

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On 30/01/2022 at 13:04, _Ben_ said:

I think this is the signing that epitomises the success of your system and I hope that Reiss flourishes in your system. Whilst the money is ludicrous compared to what I'm dealing with - it's that slightly risky purchase, based off a smaller pool of stats that then goes well, becoming the catalyst to some success that just makes this game. I'm tying up a deal for a young Colombian right now who has played just 12 professional games but there is a standout stat in there that makes me so excited for what I can do.

Can you not create that shape with the 4-3-2-1? With the right role (maybe a CM(d)) and the right traits, he'd drop back the IWB would tuck in. You'd then be left with a 2-3-2-3 kind of shape with that really central overload. I just love the inverted wing back and I certainly seem to remember reading through those blog posts you've linked to. It was that strange time between The Dugout anywhere else whereby all the old regulars did their own thing but nobody kept in contact!

Been thinking about this a lot whilst waiting for the power to return, as @ifinnem rightly predicted...

15 hours ago, ifinnem said:

Lots of time for mad scientist tactical scribbles on paper Shrew!
stay safe

... and it's more the defensive shape that I don't like with the 4-3-2-1. On the ball, as you say, we get the 2-3-5ish shape fine when attacking. But out of possession, it's not ideal. Yes, I could kind of fake it by asking the 10s to man-mark the fullbacks on their side, but that just leads to them covering loads of ground and being out of position for turnovers. We're all experienced enough at this game to know that the tactics screen really only shows your team shape in the defensive phase so I'm probably best just to stick the 4-1-4-1 in, then use the roles and instructions to create whatever shape I want in possession.

Having said that, there are some aspects of the 4-3-2-1 that I would like to carry over into the 4-1-4-1, not least how well the two 10s work playing off the 9. In the 4-1-4-1, I've gone with a mezz and CM(A) but they just aren't as well connected to the 9, which you'd probably expect. So it is likely a case of rotating systems, as @SixPointer was saying, or, as I've done in a couple of games, moving the midfield 3 in the 4-1-4-1 forward a bit - so that I end up with a back 4, ML, MC, MR, two 10s and a 9. Not as effective defensively but brings that attacking trio together from the xmas tree.

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18 minutes ago, Shrewnaldo said:

Having said that, there are some aspects of the 4-3-2-1 that I would like to carry over into the 4-1-4-1, not least how well the two 10s work playing off the 9. In the 4-1-4-1, I've gone with a mezz and CM(A) but they just aren't as well connected to the 9, which you'd probably expect

I had this exact same thing last year! My way around it was to play a SS(a) and go strikerless. It allowed us to attack in a fluid central (or off central when I got the IW(a) involved, too) pattern. I loved it but it certainly didn't feel right as I was limiting myself hugely with recruitment and development stuff.

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4 hours ago, Shrewnaldo said:Having said that, there are some aspects of the 4-3-2-1 that I would like to carry over into the 4-1-4-1, not least how well the two 10s work playing off the 9. In the 4-1-4-1, I've gone with a mezz and CM(A) but they just aren't as well connected to the 9, which you'd probably expect. So it is likely a case of rotating systems, as @SixPointer was saying, or, as I've done in a couple of games, moving the midfield 3 in the 4-1-4-1 forward a bit - so that I end up with a back 4, ML, MC, MR, two 10s and a 9. Not as effective defensively but brings that attacking trio together from the xmas tree.

What’s your LOE? And do you have any PIs for the Two 10s in the 4141. I’ve found I can get my CMa up close to my striker the CMs is just abit further back but my two wide men join to make a front 4 almost turning into a 334

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12 minutes ago, danielgear said:

What’s your LOE? And do you have any PIs for the Two 10s in the 4141. I’ve found I can get my CMa up close to my striker the CMs is just abit further back but my two wide men join to make a front 4 almost turning into a 334

My issue with the shape is only really when we have possession deep - either just after turnover or when playing out from goalkicks. Once we're over the halfway line and established in possession then there's no issue at all - both the mezz and the CM(A), plus the two wingers to be fair, are getting up in support of the striker and often going beyond. But when we have the ball deep, they just come too deep for my liking and leave the DLF very isolated - so much so that if the ball is played up to him then it's a difficult, long-distance header to find someone and there's no flick on opportunity.

I wasn't helping, to be honest, by using a playmaking role at DM. It was just encouraging us to play too much with the ball at the back, and exacerbating the problem. So I've switched away from that and it seems to have done the trick - or at least reduced the frequency. I really like the CM(A) role this year - it seems to be a more lot more willing to get beyond the striker than previous years. Had a lot of success with it in Perú and now here.

 

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shrew.png.e650d02084a0fa56494f33cf9f5b86ed.png

We just had this where we won the ball deep, the CMs has dribbled the ball and played it forward to the CM-a whos headed it down for the AF to run on to and score, The CM-a sprinted forward with the AF as soon as we won the ball. the rest of the team is still quite deep in line with the ball

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Aye that's similar to what I'm seeing once we get to the halfway line, particularly where the opposition is keeping a relatively high line - or has been drawn high by the DLF. It's more when we were back around our own box and looking to play out - it was too easy for aggressive, high-pressing teams to swamp us and prevent that run your CM(S) has made. And if we tried to play past the press - to the DLF or the wingers - then they were isolated because the two MCs were sitting too deep. This was easier with the 4-3-2-1 as the two 10s would stay closer to the 9, with the midfield 3 holding their deeper positions to support the ball being played out.

But I agree, it's really an issue with that playmaking role at DM - I had thought that I could avoid it by choosing a regista role and allowing the player to drive forward himself. Didn't really work but that could have been the personnel too, in all honesty.

Regardless, I'm liking the look of a more aggressive ball-winner in at DM and am just playing without any designated playmaking role.

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3 minutes ago, Shrewnaldo said:

Aye that's similar to what I'm seeing once we get to the halfway line, particularly where the opposition is keeping a relatively high line - or has been drawn high by the DLF. It's more when we were back around our own box and looking to play out - it was too easy for aggressive, high-pressing teams to swamp us and prevent that run your CM(S) has made. And if we tried to play past the press - to the DLF or the wingers - then they were isolated because the two MCs were sitting too deep. This was easier with the 4-3-2-1 as the two 10s would stay closer to the 9, with the midfield 3 holding their deeper positions to support the ball being played out.

But I agree, it's really an issue with that playmaking role at DM - I had thought that I could avoid it by choosing a regista role and allowing the player to drive forward himself. Didn't really work but that could have been the personnel too, in all honesty.

Regardless, I'm liking the look of a more aggressive ball-winner in at DM and am just playing without any designated playmaking role.

Yeah I think the Regista would give you the same problem, I think the player traits help, CMa has get further forward and the CMs has dribble more I think (just logged off), how are you finding the DLF is working? 

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11 minutes ago, danielgear said:

Yeah I think the Regista would give you the same problem, I think the player traits help, CMa has get further forward and the CMs has dribble more I think (just logged off), how are you finding the DLF is working? 

Aye, really good. Although it helps that I like the player I've got and he's really suited to the role (Kalajdzic). Obviously you miss that ability to get in behind but Sasa doesn't have the pace for that anyway and I get that from the midfield.

I did like it a bit more in the Xmas tree - primarily because there was less onus on the forward to be the creator at that point. When it comes time to replace Sasa, then it'll be for a creative forward more than likely. I played Wilson at 9 for a trial in one game and he was pulling the strings beautifully (albeit only in the cup against poor opposition) 

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2023-24 Halfway Update and stats surprise

It's been a mightily successful second season in the Prem for the Robins. This time last year, we were very much mired in the relegation zone and in desperate need of January recruitment to drive our push for survival. This year, we are serenely wallowing in mid-table mediocrity and are only looking upwards. The dire state of Stoke and Blackburn, two promoted sides, along with Norwich being woeful again mean that any relegation worries are a long way off. A nicely symmetrical / palindromic record of 6 / 7 / 6 has seemingly proven the switch to 4-1-4-1 entirely justified.

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Obviously the biggest improvement has come defensively, as we've improved from last season's 1.92 goals conceded per game to 1.1 so far this term. Our goalscoring record has improved very marginally but, let's be honest, a goal a game is definitely something that can be improved upon. Hence the primary focus of January recruitment, and more importantly the planning for summer transfers, will focus on the front end of the team.

Our newest signings have all proven their worth and really vindicated the stats-first strategy. 

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Bätzner has been the standout signing - topping our scoring charts with 9 so far, supplemented by a further 4 assists, creating chances at 0.49 per 90 and having the highest "team goals per 90" of any player in the squad with over 1000 minutes. He's been superb whether played at right wing, CM(A) or mezz through the middle.

But perhaps the most pleasing signings, from a strategy perspective, have been Willyan Rocha and Augusto Batalla. Rocha, a centre back signed from Portimonense for just £1.4m, has gone on to become an automatic first-choice. Whilst his statistics in Portugal were great, I was a little hesitant given the disparity in league quality but he's taken that form straight into the Premier League - 79% header win ratio and 86% tackle success.

Probably the most pleasing of all has been Batalla. Similar to Rocha, I was a bit unsure how his stats would transfer to the Premier League - or even how reliable goalkeeper statistics were at all. But Batalla has been phenomenal. Third in the "expected goal prevented" table, fifth in overall save percentage and just 4% behind his expected save percentage (which is actually good).

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After deciding to commit to the premise of the save and sign Batalla for £1m, instead of the likes of Nick Pope for at least ten times that, it does feel good. And gives me incentive to continue this recruitment strategy.

Knowing that we need to improve going forward, I wanted to take a deeper look into how we could best achieve that. The very first thing I noticed was that, according to the chances created table in the game, the xmas tree was actually more effective than the 4-1-4-1, both creating chances more frequently and conceding chances less frequently... which I find very odd considering our results would wildly refute that. 

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It also made me question why this table doesn't use xG, but then I remembered it's FM and there's no logic or consistency into any presentation of statistics within the game.

But it did make me consider one thing - perhaps our new-found defensive stability is a result of the summer signings, primarily an excellent 'keeper in Batalla, and not the switch to 4-1-4-1 as I'd previously thought?  Comparing out xG performance to last season we have:

  • xG per match:
    • 2022-23: 1.08
    • 2023-24: 1.19
  • xGA per match:
    • 2022-23: 1.65
    • 2023-24: 1.49

So a 10% improvement on both... but again, that could be down to the improvement in personnel.

Given our comfortable league position and the rest of this season being something of a 'free hit', I'll likely rotate the systems a little and give the xmas tree another decent shot. My 'eye test' has very much favoured the 4-1-4-1 but I'm very conscious that my bias can sway that and I should let the stats provide me with an objective analysis.

It's also given me pause for thought on January recruitment. Throughout December, I've been intending to bring in a left-winger. Omar Richards has been filling in there but, whilst he has great dribbling statistics and can clearly beat a man, his creative output is miles behind the options on the opposite flank - whether that be Reiss Nelson, Bätzner or Ethan Laird. With my newfound uncertainty over the long-term tactical strategy, I'm leaning towards a loan move. The only downside to this is the current availability of Dwight McNeil, relegated with Burnley last season. It feels like this is a short-term opportunity that might not exist in the summer, particularly if Burnley bounce back.

On the other hand, not making a permanent move in January gives me the opportunity to conduct my usual detailed scouting and perhaps identify a cheaper option similar to last year's moves. As ever, it's a case of trying to find the right balance between risk and reward.

Edited by Shrewnaldo
typo-geddon
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Superb to see your summer recruitment paying off and shows that your strategy is a solid way to go about your business. Your save really has changed how i few recruitment so much, I did dabble at the very start at Sparta with comparing two prime candidates for a position but never at the statistical depth you go to.

So i really can’t wait for some time off to dive into my summer at Sparta and apply some of your workings to my recruitment. 

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7 hours ago, keeper#1 said:

I love of a goal against average at or below 1.00

100%. I almost always start from the back and work my way forward, with a general target of <0.8 goals against per game. The whole "a clean sheet is worth just over 2 points" thing really sticks in my head. Plus I just hate conceding.

12 minutes ago, SixPointer said:

Superb to see your summer recruitment paying off and shows that your strategy is a solid way to go about your business. Your save really has changed how i few recruitment so much, I did dabble at the very start at Sparta with comparing two prime candidates for a position but never at the statistical depth you go to.

So i really can’t wait for some time off to dive into my summer at Sparta and apply some of your workings to my recruitment. 

Thanks. It's been a really fun and refreshing way to play a save. Makes a difference from just looking at the attribute numbers and ignoring the stats.

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12 hours ago, Shrewnaldo said:

But it did make me consider one thing - perhaps our new-found defensive stability is a result of the summer signings, primarily an excellent 'keeper in Batalla

That’s what happened at Liverpool, when they brought in VVD and then Alisson.

Looking very comfortable at this stage of the season compared to last season. The points the bottom three have is horrible which must give lots of relief to those above them. The only competitive part of the table is the battle for ECL.

Your signings look great. I reckon you chose all of them well. Has Juan Hernandez been injured?

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The way you play @Shrewnaldo shows there is so much more SI could get out of the data the game provides. The analyst team part of the recruitment team should provide you with the correct sata in a ideal world and then you as the manager and the head of recruitment should be easy decide which players you would like to purchase from othter clubs. 

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I need to read the entire thread (only read Page 1 as I meant to be working) but as a long term Bristol City fan and a season ticket holder during the days of Scott Murray and Akinbiyi and a like it's great to see people taking on the City challenge. I actually think that they are a really hard team to take control of and do something with. As you outlined in your first post, their strikers are absolutely woeful for the most part. I am doing a save at the moment and creating 3+ Goal Scoring Opportunities a game, but the amount of sitters Wells misses is truely unbelievable.

 

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12 hours ago, Sonic Youth said:

That’s what happened at Liverpool, when they brought in VVD and then Alisson.

Looking very comfortable at this stage of the season compared to last season. The points the bottom three have is horrible which must give lots of relief to those above them. The only competitive part of the table is the battle for ECL.

Your signings look great. I reckon you chose all of them well. Has Juan Hernandez been injured?

Aye, the bottom three being so bad does make it look very, very comfortable indeed. I guess there's a chance one of them could go on a great run in the second half of the season but probably only one. If we finish with >45 points and somewhere north of 15th then I'll be delighted.

Cucho picked up a couple of minor injuries early in the season but he's also been a victim of the switch to 4-1-4-1. I had planned to play him at both 10 and 9, but obviously those 10 roles disappeared. He's likely to get much more time in the second half of the season with the xmas tree coming back in and Kalajdzic in need to some rotation.

8 hours ago, rich ruzzian said:

The way you play @Shrewnaldo shows there is so much more SI could get out of the data the game provides. The analyst team part of the recruitment team should provide you with the correct sata in a ideal world and then you as the manager and the head of recruitment should be easy decide which players you would like to purchase from othter clubs. 

100% agree. The whole analysis side of the game is just half-baked and could be so, so much better. I hope that SI are seriously looking at expanding this for future versions. It'd make a lot of sense given real life football's direction of travel and would be a genuine improvement to the game when there aren't many additional areas of simulation that can be added.

15 minutes ago, SmashtonGate84 said:

I need to read the entire thread (only read Page 1 as I meant to be working) but as a long term Bristol City fan and a season ticket holder during the days of Scott Murray and Akinbiyi and a like it's great to see people taking on the City challenge. I actually think that they are a really hard team to take control of and do something with. As you outlined in your first post, their strikers are absolutely woeful for the most part. I am doing a save at the moment and creating 3+ Goal Scoring Opportunities a game, but the amount of sitters Wells misses is truely unbelievable.

 

Thanks! Always nice to please the fans :-)

I was really disappointed in Wells. I thought he'd be a decent poacher type but, just like you, I quickly lost patience with his profligacy. Weimann was pretty decent for me first season - plus Bolingi when I brought him in. But we haven't really been prolific goalscorers for the entire save so far. Hopefully that'll come with time.

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A bit on the christmas tree

In the last post, I was somewhat surprised by the statistics which suggested the 4-1-4-1 might not have been as much of an improvement as I'd previously thought. There had undoubtedly been some really strong performances and results this year - not least a 2-1 victory at Anfield - but it is possible that the summer recruitment and improvement in key personnel, particularly in goal, had more of an impact that the tactical switch.

As such, I've swung back round towards the 4-3-2-1 which will come as little surprise to anyone who has followed my FM game stories before, given my propensity for a wandering tactical eye and chronic indecision.

Nevertheless, I wasn't entirely happy with the way the xmas tree formation had been playing and wanted to port over some of the successful concepts from the 4-1-4-1. Not least, as Ben had mentioned, the positioning of the IWBs when we are in possession. In the first two seasons, I'd typically used a central midfield three with something like this:

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The carrilero seems tailor made for this sort of system. A horizontal shuttler that will protect the flank whilst the wingback. solely responsible for attacking width, is free to bomb on. The DLP would then act as a central pivot for the team, recycling possession from deep and holding position to prevent easy counter attacks against my two centre halves. The problem was that the use of a playmaker role encouraged the team to knock it around in deep positions far too much, with stagnant possession in and around the halfway line. Changing the central player to a more attacking role just left the defence too exposed because the carrilero, only available in a Support duty, has a tendency to push forward and leave us exposed on the break.

My initial attempt at fixing this was to change to this:

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Self-explanatory really but changing the wider two into ball winners on a Defend duty should see them both hold a deeper position when we are attacking, allowing the playmaker to push forward in a more progressive manner; and be aggressive in defence and close down in the wide areas to support the wingback on their side. I quickly ran into a problem, though.

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Seiwald and Ferguson are playing as the two BWM(D)s, with the player just in front of them being the AP. So I was mightily confused as to why they had both dropped into such a central position. I had already added the Stay Wider personal instruction but they just kept coming inside when we had possession to sit within 5 yards of each other. Above, we were playing out from the back but the same issue occurs when we were very much in attacking mode.

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My initial thought was that the game was looking at the role of Seiwald and Ferguson separately, comparing it to the role of the player beside them (the AP at MC) and then adjusting their positioning to compensate for the more attacking player. And it was doing so without any assessment of a third player on the other side of the MC. With no-one in the DM line behind them, it is entirely reasonable to have a BWM(D) move deep and central in the way that they're both doing. It's just that they shouldn't be doing so together. 

I tried an initial fix by changing the MC to a DLP, in the hope that having a more conservative, deep-lying role would overcome this compensatory effect and keep the BWMs wide. No such luck.

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Again, Seiwald and Ferguson are the BWMs, Massengo is the DLP playing in the role between them - although obviously having moved to receive the ball here.

So a little frustrating really, even if I can understand why it's been implemented in such a way. I have, however, found a workaround. Perhaps counter-intuitively but dropping the central MC to the DM position has seemingly negated the game's assessment that the BWM needs to cover this area, both in and out of possession. So now, having lined up like this:

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We get the midfield three spreading into the wider positions thus:

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And that is perfect for what I want in possession. It's also, so far (and it's a small sample size to date), working well when we're defending. Here you can see Seiwald, playing as the MCL, closing down aggressively and tackling Benrahma on the touchline to help out his wingback. Meanwhile Massengo (DMC, regista) and Ferguson (MCR, BWM) are covering the central area.

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It's certainly not perfect but it's certainly closer to what I was wanting that the role clash with flat three in midfield.

It also helps with my recruitment focus in the second half of the season. We don't currently have a really creative deep midfielder. Matty James, who filled this role in the Championship, damaged his cruciates and is well on the path to retirement. Tyreeq is probably the best option and will likely fill the role until May, but if we want to progress then it's an area that could clearly benefit from improvement.

Other focus areas will be at centre half, where 34 year old Chris Smalling has been excellent but needs replacing; and left-back, where Omar Richards is having a difficult season and Jay Dasilva is not of sufficient quality to compete.

 

 

 

 

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Very strange that the players were coming so narrow. I think you hit the nail on the head about the game no realising that there is another player on the other side. Love the switch to the regista especially with all the movement ahead of him. I’ve found it to be successful so far and it a role I previously struggled to get working well. 

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Honestly a bit hilarious that having the regista magically solved everything.  Sounds a bit like the match engine is acting funny, which is annoying rather than fun, but you seem to have done a good job of fixing the problem.  I do feel like the CAR role seems a bit more attacking than I'd like - it's only slightly more conservative than the support mezzala when it seems like it should be a bit more disciplined as well.

Still, good work!  I like the look of the spread in possession and everyone should have options on the ball.

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11 hours ago, SixPointer said:

Very strange that the players were coming so narrow. I think you hit the nail on the head about the game no realising that there is another player on the other side. Love the switch to the regista especially with all the movement ahead of him. I’ve found it to be successful so far and it a role I previously struggled to get working well. 

 

11 hours ago, rich ruzzian said:

There is something that needs fixing in the match engine. I wonder if the same occurs in different roles used twice in the MC slots

 

2 hours ago, 13th Man said:

Honestly a bit hilarious that having the regista magically solved everything.  Sounds a bit like the match engine is acting funny, which is annoying rather than fun, but you seem to have done a good job of fixing the problem.  I do feel like the CAR role seems a bit more attacking than I'd like - it's only slightly more conservative than the support mezzala when it seems like it should be a bit more disciplined as well.

Still, good work!  I like the look of the spread in possession and everyone should have options on the ball.

Thanks all. Agree that it's a bit odd but I can at least see the logic in why it's been implemented like this. I should get round to reporting it as a bug later, although I'd be surprised if it hasn't already been picked up by someone

On a wider note, I'm still having some struggles with the 4-3-2-1 (4-1-2-2-1). I played it in few games through January and February whilst I figured out that clash issue. Results were poor for the most part, including a FA Cup exit to Preston where we battered them all game but just couldn't score.

The Team Report in the Data Hub still says the Xmas tree is better wrt chances for and against but I'm going to manually calculate xG and a few other stats to compare the two systems on other metrics, as it just doesn't feel as effective 

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3 hours ago, Shrewnaldo said:

 

 

Thanks all. Agree that it's a bit odd but I can at least see the logic in why it's been implemented like this. I should get round to reporting it as a bug later, although I'd be surprised if it hasn't already been picked up by someone

On a wider note, I'm still having some struggles with the 4-3-2-1 (4-1-2-2-1). I played it in few games through January and February whilst I figured out that clash issue. Results were poor for the most part, including a FA Cup exit to Preston where we battered them all game but just couldn't score.

The Team Report in the Data Hub still says the Xmas tree is better wrt chances for and against but I'm going to manually calculate xG and a few other stats to compare the two systems on other metrics, as it just doesn't feel as effective 

Will be useful to see how accurate the report is, especially for someone like myself who relies on it a lot for my information 

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Some entirely unhelpful stats on the two systems

Apologies, another stream of consciousness incoming.

So I've manually collated some key stats into a spreadsheet to help me work out whether my 'eye test' of preferring the 4-1-4-1 is based on nothing more than bias. The opening 26 games of our second season in the Premier League look like this:

image.png.7a16093452c2ea9abdec0fc54697cd56.png

I've had to choose one system for each game, whereas in a few games I've played a mixture of the two. For example, in the Stoke game, we started with the 4-1-4-1, went 2-0 down and then changed up completely to go with the 4-3-2-1 and came back into it; conversely in the Villa home game we started with 4-3-2-1, went 1-0 down and switched to the 4-1-4-1 for the final half hour. So I've tried to balance it out as best I can.

I've then filtered it by the two systems to see if there any differences between the two:

image.png.6c0e30530cc95ac0a0fc2fce7db5fdbd.png

And...

image.png.1dd70b3424373b02a0c5a76eec76d3aa.png

And that really isn't very helpful at all. Both systems have nearly identical records. Both have been used against teams with a current average position of 10th in the league, both average ~1.3 points per game and have remarkably similar records for goals, shots and xG. The 4-3-2-1 does have a 5% advantage on the 4-1-4-1 for possession but that's about it. Whilst the 4-3-2-1 scores 10% more and concedes 30% more, this looks like it's misleading given the near-identical xG for both systems.

It might be frustrating to have gathered all of this data only to see no discernible difference, but there is one saving grace. I was right to doubt the in-game stats which focus only on "clear cut chances" created and which suggested that the 4-3-2-1 was vastly superior to the 4-1-4-1. Whilst I was wrong to think the reverse was the case, at least I wasn't entirely wrong. Sort of.

It's also interesting that the 4-3-2-1 is better at home (1.5 ppg home, 1.17 away), whilst 4-1-4-1 is better on the road (1.2 ppg home, 1.5 away). But obviously, the more filters you apply then the smaller the sample gets and the less confidence I can have in what it's supposedly telling me.

But I'm grasping at straws trying to find some sort of useful pointers from the data presented. If anyone else can glean something from the above, please let me know.

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This is sometimes the limit of data/stats - small sample size and the wide variety of situations can really have you grasping at straws as you say. Seems like there’s only the slightest of differences between the shapes - it’d make sense considering both are set up to act/look similar. 
Seems like you prefer the 4-3-2-1 though yeah? Maybe go with it unless you see things in game/in scouting reports which make you want to shift slightly?

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On 29/01/2022 at 12:47, Shrewnaldo said:

Seiwald has been good. He is intermittently considered the 'key player' at the club, the AI usually switching between him and Smalling at random. He also scored an absolute belter of a free-kick against Brighton to win us the game. Harry Wilson would usually be on set piece duty but, having gone off, Seiwald was auto-selected so good to know that he's got that in his locker.

Aye, O'Leary has an English passport so likely to be the reason - for much the same reason we went and picked up Butland.

Very, very tempted to go for the 4-1-4-1. Assessing the squad and how it would fit, it definitely works:

image.png.0acc746a47c6f8bed9c8c3a9acbb09bc.png

It really isn't that different from the 4-3-2-1, it only really affects how we defend and 4-1-4-1 is much, much more reliable than the 4-3-2-1 on that score. Once we have the ball, both just morph into a very similar 2-3-5 shape - the 4-1-4-1 having the added advantage of the IWBs sitting slightly wider than the carrileros. For example, here against Brighton using the 4-3-2-1, our average positions with the ball:

image.png.bc89c6c4415f65e1dbcc43f3f952650e.png

Ignore the two 10s - I swapped their sides throughout the game and it ends up looking like that on the average positions map.

And then against Bournemouth using the 4-1-4-1

image.png.7e493afc82099c58790d8442ab467cb3.png

Again, ignore the 7 (Reiss Nelson) - he went to play left wing in the second half so his position is skewed slightly. Nevertheless, you can see the absolute similarities. In the 4-3-2-1, the wingbacks are the widest players in the attacking 5, it's the wingers in the 4-1-4-1 - with the added advantage that they seem to sit higher up the park. Similarly, in the 4-3-2-1, it's the carrileros who are the widest of the central 3, in the 4-1-4-1 it becomes the IWBs. I've always liked this change because it means that your fullbacks have much less distance to cover in order to recover defensive shape in transition - moving from centre mid to fullback. The idea originally occurred to me way back in 2014 (A tactical vision to re-ignite my joy of FM | FM Veteran (wordpress.com) and https://footballmanagerveteran.wordpress.com/2014/10/13/fm15-time-to-revisit-the-tactical-vision-that-failed/) but at that time looking to create a 3-3-4 shape in attack. Reading Ben's thread has really re-ignited the idea in my head... So I think I'm going to go with it.

Enjoyed the analysis on this piece and would have to agree with your interpretation that both systems play out very much the same when in possession. If the 4-1-4-1 offers you that extra protection in the defensive phase then it most certainly is an improvement.

Bravo 👏

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3 hours ago, 13th Man said:

This is sometimes the limit of data/stats - small sample size and the wide variety of situations can really have you grasping at straws as you say. Seems like there’s only the slightest of differences between the shapes - it’d make sense considering both are set up to act/look similar. 
Seems like you prefer the 4-3-2-1 though yeah? Maybe go with it unless you see things in game/in scouting reports which make you want to shift slightly?

I'm quite attached to both systems, for different reasons.

The 4-3-2-1 is something that I would like to use in this save because I try to avoid just using the same systems over and over, even though the principles of each are almost always the same. But the 4-1-4-1, specifically with IWBs, is just a system I really like - ever since coming up with the idea back in 2014. The 4-1-4-1 shape when defending is just ideal for me and it provides enough flexibility that we should be able to break from that into whatever attacking shape I want.

But I feel like I need to make the christmas tree work. It's definitely got potential and there are some aspects of it that I really like - not least having two 10s and the tighter connection with the 9 that is inherent within it.

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2 minutes ago, MattyLewis11 said:

Enjoyed the analysis on this piece and would have to agree with your interpretation that both systems play out very much the same when in possession. If the 4-1-4-1 offers you that extra protection in the defensive phase then it most certainly is an improvement.

Bravo 👏

Thanks. I'm thinking, though, that I've missed a key point here - that both systems are scoring at a rate of about a goal a game. That's really not good enough. Conceding around a goal a game is decent, particularly given our quality deficiency at the moment. So I think, regardless of which system I use, I really need to focus on just scoring more. Pushing that goals a game up towards, and then past, 1.5 per game is going to do us a world of good.

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7 hours ago, Shrewnaldo said:

Some entirely unhelpful stats on the two systems

Apologies, another stream of consciousness incoming.

So I've manually collated some key stats into a spreadsheet to help me work out whether my 'eye test' of preferring the 4-1-4-1 is based on nothing more than bias. The opening 26 games of our second season in the Premier League look like this:

image.png.7a16093452c2ea9abdec0fc54697cd56.png

I've had to choose one system for each game, whereas in a few games I've played a mixture of the two. For example, in the Stoke game, we started with the 4-1-4-1, went 2-0 down and then changed up completely to go with the 4-3-2-1 and came back into it; conversely in the Villa home game we started with 4-3-2-1, went 1-0 down and switched to the 4-1-4-1 for the final half hour. So I've tried to balance it out as best I can.

I've then filtered it by the two systems to see if there any differences between the two:

image.png.6c0e30530cc95ac0a0fc2fce7db5fdbd.png

And...

image.png.1dd70b3424373b02a0c5a76eec76d3aa.png

And that really isn't very helpful at all. Both systems have nearly identical records. Both have been used against teams with a current average position of 10th in the league, both average ~1.3 points per game and have remarkably similar records for goals, shots and xG. The 4-3-2-1 does have a 5% advantage on the 4-1-4-1 for possession but that's about it. Whilst the 4-3-2-1 scores 10% more and concedes 30% more, this looks like it's misleading given the near-identical xG for both systems.

It might be frustrating to have gathered all of this data only to see no discernible difference, but there is one saving grace. I was right to doubt the in-game stats which focus only on "clear cut chances" created and which suggested that the 4-3-2-1 was vastly superior to the 4-1-4-1. Whilst I was wrong to think the reverse was the case, at least I wasn't entirely wrong. Sort of.

It's also interesting that the 4-3-2-1 is better at home (1.5 ppg home, 1.17 away), whilst 4-1-4-1 is better on the road (1.2 ppg home, 1.5 away). But obviously, the more filters you apply then the smaller the sample gets and the less confidence I can have in what it's supposedly telling me.

But I'm grasping at straws trying to find some sort of useful pointers from the data presented. If anyone else can glean something from the above, please let me know.

I think you have to take into context the opponents in greater detail as well. I use two systems (working on a third) and although they both look to exploit half spaces and have a lot of the same core principles they get to the end goal slightly differently which then makes them slight better against certain systems. You mention one is stronger at home etc this may well be cause teams come and set up differently which stifles one system but no the other so much. If it was me I would just enjoy both and try and find what ones work best against each systems after your scouting and analysis of each opponent. It can lead to that great feeling of winning tactical battles with the finer margins. 

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1 hour ago, SixPointer said:

I think you have to take into context the opponents in greater detail as well. I use two systems (working on a third) and although they both look to exploit half spaces and have a lot of the same core principles they get to the end goal slightly differently which then makes them slight better against certain systems. You mention one is stronger at home etc this may well be cause teams come and set up differently which stifles one system but no the other so much. If it was me I would just enjoy both and try and find what ones work best against each systems after your scouting and analysis of each opponent. It can lead to that great feeling of winning tactical battles with the finer margins. 

Oh I definitely take into account the opponent's, I just don't tend to change shape unless there's a really pressing reason to do so. Instead, I'll tend to make individual changes depending on the opposition - particularly to defensive line and mentality, but also on specific man-marking. And I'll happily switch mid-game if I spot issues with one of the systems that I know can be mitigated - really high, overlapping fullbacks, for example, might push me to switch to 4-1-4-1 to provide our own fullbacks a bit more cover. I suspect this is one of the reasons the 4-3-2-1 is stronger at home - teams tend to keep their fullbacks deeper in away games - and weaker away from home when the opposition will be pushing on more.

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Not to throw a spanner into your thinking Shrew but rather than change a 4141 to a 4321 have you considered a overhaul of the roles in the 4141 to improve the areas you feel you need to improve on?

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3 hours ago, Shrewnaldo said:

Thanks. I'm thinking, though, that I've missed a key point here - that both systems are scoring at a rate of about a goal a game. That's really not good enough. Conceding around a goal a game is decent, particularly given our quality deficiency at the moment. So I think, regardless of which system I use, I really need to focus on just scoring more. Pushing that goals a game up towards, and then past, 1.5 per game is going to do us a world of good.

This I think is the most pertinent part in all this. Aim for minimum 2 players (3 would be better) hitting 10+ goals a season would be a short term goal.

As MattyLewis11 pointed out, the 4-1-4-1 gives slightly better defensive protection, and kept more Shots Against under 10.

I also liked how you did the double over Brentford using both tactics :D

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38 minutes ago, danielgear said:

Not to throw a spanner into your thinking Shrew but rather than change a 4141 to a 4321 have you considered a overhaul of the roles in the 4141 to improve the areas you feel you need to improve on?

Very much open to ideas. I've been looking at overhauling the roles of the front three in the 4-3-2-1 in an effort to present more of an attacking threat. What did you have in mind for the 4-1-4-1? Ditching the IWBs, and going with more traditional overlaps round inverted wingers? It'd allow me to keep the two ball-winners in the middle. I was tempted to do something like this but 4-4-1-1 rather than keeping the DM

25 minutes ago, Sonic Youth said:

This I think is the most pertinent part in all this. Aim for minimum 2 players (3 would be better) hitting 10+ goals a season would be a short term goal.

As MattyLewis11 pointed out, the 4-1-4-1 gives slightly better defensive protection, and kept more Shots Against under 10.

I also liked how you did the double over Brentford using both tactics :D

Definitely need a third goalscorer. Last season we had only Saša Kalajdžić hit double figures, this season both he and Bätzner have done so, but behind that there's only a sprinkling of goals - Cucho with 4, Ferguson and Nelson with 3. We also haven't been as productive at set pieces as I'd like - just the 5 corner goals, 1 direct free kick but none indirect.

I usually like to count set pieces as "half a goalscorer" and then have another 3 that'll get double figures, one of whom should break 20.

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6 minutes ago, Shrewnaldo said:

Very much open to ideas. I've been looking at overhauling the roles of the front three in the 4-3-2-1 in an effort to present more of an attacking threat. What did you have in mind for the 4-1-4-1? Ditching the IWBs, and going with more traditional overlaps round inverted wingers? It'd allow me to keep the two ball-winners in the middle. I was tempted to do something like this but 4-4-1-1 rather than keeping the DM

I don’t think it needs to be anything drastic, If you want to keep IWBs I’d look at moving away from the double BWM, without seeing the whole tactic it sounds like the issue is the lack of numbers going forward which with the IWBs, BWMs and DM(forget which role) there’s not a lot of support for the lone striker. With two IWBs I think you can afford to be abit more adventurous with the CM two as they should provide cover for them to push on.
The other alternative is as you say push wing backs on and invert the wide midfielders but as you have recruited (successfully) around the current system I’d be more inclined to evolve that. 

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14 minutes ago, Shrewnaldo said:

Definitely need a third goalscorer. Last season we had only Saša Kalajdžić hit double figures, this season both he and Bätzner have done so, but behind that there's only a sprinkling of goals - Cucho with 4, Ferguson and Nelson with 3. We also haven't been as productive at set pieces as I'd like - just the 5 corner goals, 1 direct free kick but none indirect.

I usually like to count set pieces as "half a goalscorer" and then have another 3 that'll get double figures, one of whom should break 20.

I’d be looking at 20+ from striker with another 30 from the midfield 4 at least as a target.

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2 minutes ago, danielgear said:

I don’t think it needs to be anything drastic, If you want to keep IWBs I’d look at moving away from the double BWM, without seeing the whole tactic it sounds like the issue is the lack of numbers going forward which with the IWBs, BWMs and DM(forget which role) there’s not a lot of support for the lone striker. With two IWBs I think you can afford to be abit more adventurous with the CM two as they should provide cover for them to push on.
The other alternative is as you say push wing backs on and invert the wide midfielders but as you have recruited (successfully) around the current system I’d be more inclined to evolve that. 

In the 4-1-4-1, the two central midfielders are a mezz on support and a CM(A) - as you say, the striker needs support and I really want to get both shapes into a 2-3-5 shape when we have possession. So I've been having the wingers provide the width, a striker on a support duty of DLF(A) to link the play and then the two MCs; with the IWBs and DM providing the central 3 in possession and foundation for the attack.

I've been having a good trawl through the stats and we're:

  1. underperforming our xG
  2. about mid-table for shots taken
  3. worth in the league for hitting the target
  4. bottom quartile conversion rate
  5. exactly average for xG per shot (excluding pens)

 

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3 minutes ago, Shrewnaldo said:

In the 4-1-4-1, the two central midfielders are a mezz on support and a CM(A) - as you say, the striker needs support and I really want to get both shapes into a 2-3-5 shape when we have possession. So I've been having the wingers provide the width, a striker on a support duty of DLF(A) to link the play and then the two MCs; with the IWBs and DM providing the central 3 in possession and foundation for the attack.

I've been having a good trawl through the stats and we're:

  1. underperforming our xG
  2. about mid-table for shots taken
  3. worth in the league for hitting the target
  4. bottom quartile conversion rate
  5. exactly average for xG per shot (excluding pens)

 

Have you considered maybe switching it so you have the opposites on each side of the pitch 

 

WB & IWB with a IW and W infront of them and one attacking CM so you have your back 2,
middle 3 of 1 IWB, DM, CM(role tbd),
front 5 of WB, W, IW, CM(role tbd) ST

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3 minutes ago, danielgear said:

Have you considered maybe switching it so you have the opposites on each side of the pitch 

 

WB & IWB with a IW and W infront of them and one attacking CM so you have your back 2,
middle 3 of 1 IWB, DM, CM(role tbd),
front 5 of WB, W, IW, CM(role tbd) ST

Aye, I usually like to make the roles assymetric like that - typical for the 4-3-3 which is pretty much the same as 4-1-4-1. But each time I do, I just look at it and think it's the same as what I've done before which just feels really boring. Even though there's a good reason it's what I've done before...

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1 minute ago, Shrewnaldo said:

Aye, I usually like to make the roles assymetric like that - typical for the 4-3-3 which is pretty much the same as 4-1-4-1. But each time I do, I just look at it and think it's the same as what I've done before which just feels really boring. Even though there's a good reason it's what I've done before...

:lol: Fair enough. Which of the two in the middle is giving you the least output statistically? The Mez or CM? And are both wingers playing the winger role?

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For the 2-3-5 shape in possession double MEZZ on attack was working great for me getting them high in the half space. With a Regista behind with two IWB’s and two wingers on support and a CF(a). 
 

947BF065-B12D-4E89-933C-B90645DCBFFD.thumb.png.8a69dc7e6676492486ffc18cec8a9fc0.png
One pass map for a sample of the passing shape 

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8 hours ago, danielgear said:

:lol: Fair enough. Which of the two in the middle is giving you the least output statistically? The Mez or CM? And are both wingers playing the winger role?

Aye, both wingers out wide. And the funny thing is that I was relatively happy with both CMs, although certainly the CM(A) more as I just really like the role this year. I was contemplating switching the other MC to a play making role (I'm also a big fan of APa from centre mid) and have the striker stay higher.

But for now I'm concentrating on getting better attacking output from the xmas tree. 

1 hour ago, SixPointer said:

For the 2-3-5 shape in possession double MEZZ on attack was working great for me getting them high in the half space. With a Regista behind with two IWB’s and two wingers on support and a CF(a). 
 

947BF065-B12D-4E89-933C-B90645DCBFFD.thumb.png.8a69dc7e6676492486ffc18cec8a9fc0.png
One pass map for a sample of the passing shape 

I saw that when you were posting your very aesthetically pleasing pass maps in your thread. Looks great. I'd probably go CM(A) for both rather than mezz as I just prefer the role but I'm always a bit meh about entirely symmetrical systems. To mix it up, I'd probably concertina it across the midfield four, something like W(A) - CM(S) - CM(A) - W(S)

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6 minutes ago, Shrewnaldo said:

Aye, both wingers out wide. And the funny thing is that I was relatively happy with both CMs, although certainly the CM(A) more as I just really like the role this year. I was contemplating switching the other MC to a play making role (I'm also a big fan of APa from centre mid) and have the striker stay higher.

But for now I'm concentrating on getting better attacking output from the xmas tree. 

I saw that when you were posting your very aesthetically pleasing pass maps in your thread. Looks great. I'd probably go CM(A) for both rather than mezz as I just prefer the role but I'm always a bit meh about entirely symmetrical systems. To mix it up, I'd probably concertina it across the midfield four, something like W(A) - CM(S) - CM(A) - W(S)

I like to offset it when I’m creating specific side overloads. But the fact I’m looking to attack both half spaces symmetrically it’s essential, with player traits and different types of players creating the little niche variations. If am doing other overloads. I usually have one side full off attack and the other support to offer overload and exploit.

I’ll be drafting a third system at some point this week and your Xmas tree really gives some ideas. I had been looking at 4231 but I just find it boring and generic. 

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13 minutes ago, Shrewnaldo said:

I'd probably go CM(A) for both rather than mezz as I just prefer the role but I'm always a bit meh about entirely symmetrical systems. To mix it up, I'd probably concertina it across the midfield four, something like W(A) - CM(S) - CM(A) - W(S)

I love how traits really impact these vanilla roles. A W(s) with Hugs Line plays so differently to one with Cuts Inside and then you’ve got Runs with ball often, Knocks ball past opponent etc as well. 

This is why I’ve always preferred symmetrical roles  but altered via traits. Again, this goes with my (now previous) preference of longer term games with less short term game management as it takes 3-4 months to learn a trait and see progress rather than on a game by game basis. 

I also love a CM(a) with Run Wide With Ball PI and Arrives late in area trait. Kind of a Mez but just a little more restricted with runs. If you’ve got a clever player here, I think they’d run riot!

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1 minute ago, SixPointer said:

I like to offset it when I’m creating specific side overloads. But the fact I’m looking to attack both half spaces symmetrically it’s essential, with player traits and different types of players creating the little niche variations. If am doing other overloads. I usually have one side full off attack and the other support to offer overload and exploit.

I’ll be drafting a third system at some point this week and your Xmas tree really gives some ideas. I had been looking at 4231 but I just find it boring and generic. 

Haha, yes it is definitely far more interesting to try and create something you haven't used before (even if they're all just variations of a theme).

With you on the targeted overloads. One of the reasons I was so keen to get the BWMs to sit wide (see posts above) was that I wanted them to help overload their respective flank. It works a treat now with the BWM holding a conservative position deep on the flank whilst the WB overlaps to provide the width. The 10 on that side tends to play the half space around the edge of the box and then the regista has the freedom to look for space.

And with the WB on the opposite flank holding the width, and my regista having the "switches ball to flanks" trait, I'm looking to get something like Pep's old trick at Bayern with Douglas Costa isolated against a fullback for a quick switch. Not working out all that well so far

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Just now, _Ben_ said:

I love how traits really impact these vanilla roles. A W(s) with Hugs Line plays so differently to one with Cuts Inside and then you’ve got Runs with ball often, Knocks ball past opponent etc as well. 

This is why I’ve always preferred symmetrical roles  but altered via traits. Again, this goes with my (now previous) preference of longer term games with less short term game management as it takes 3-4 months to learn a trait and see progress rather than on a game by game basis. 

I also love a CM(a) with Run Wide With Ball PI and Arrives late in area trait. Kind of a Mez but just a little more restricted with runs. If you’ve got a clever player here, I think they’d run riot!

The only problem with this, for me, is that my indecision and wandering eye for a new system means that I might have switched up to something else by the time the trait has been learned 😁

I will say, too, that I really hate that you need to use traits like that, rather than just tell a player to do something. Like why is "hugs touchline" a trait which will override a role instruction but the game won't let you just change the instruction anyway? A long-established Shrew-moan about the tactics system 

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