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Tactical help needed, relegation side in the premier league.

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Hi all, 

I've been having some trouble creating a tactic in which I can reasonably hang with the small guys and not get blown away every match in the premier league. I led myself to two back to back promotions (god knows how I managed it in the Championship) now have a squad which I've picked up a large bunch of players on frees. Having gone into the season, I wanted to create a sort of direct counter attacking 4-4-2 style of play thinking it was my best opportunity to stay up, and build my depth around that formation. I had some early success In pre-season With this tactic including a couple of high scoring draws and wins on the road to Brighton.

However, every time I went to a larger team, I got completely blown out the water. Against every team I played, I hardly had any chances. Attempting to rectify my mistakes, I tried creating a tactic to refine what I wanted to do a bit more.  I wanted to use the fact I had quite good dribblers and relatively faster wingers to play it into the two men up top. Unfortunately, it isn't really working out for me too well. I've managed to limit the defeats but still hardly create anything at all. I at least got a surprise penalty win against Chelsea in the league cup (a 2-0 comeback at the dying embers of the game). The idea was to go more defensive, limit the amount of goals I was shipping. 

Does anyone have any possible recommendations for making a direct counter attacking tactic work for me? I'm predicted to finish last and my wage bill is the lowest in the league. Is it just a case of having to sign the better players to make the tactic work, or are them some things I can try to hold out until winter?

Funny thing is, my run of games at the moment is terrible - having to play the top 5 in a row. 


Any help is appreciated, I'm a tactical novice. I can think of ways I want the game to be played, eventually building the team into a fast tempo one two pass or of team, but I've got no idea how to make it work until then. Any pointing in the right direction of some tactical information would be very helpful, and I would be very grateful!

Thank you!




Edited by Cawn
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I pretty much went to low crosses because my attackers just wasn't winning enough headers. 

They're not the tallest or the best in the air, but they aren't slumps, but hopefully I'll win a few more with those changes!

I felt a little bit too open with the IW on attack, I'm not sure if there's a better midfield composition I can use (I realise they're probably going to be out number by the majority of formations).

Edited by Cawn
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If you have players fit to counter attack or feel too overwhelmed then try with a DMC in front of your CFs. Position your IW and trikers to attakc and then lower line of engagement and defensive line, up the tempo and play into space. That assuming you have decent defense and fast forwards can give you some punch at the counter. 
If that is not the case the get standard lines and keep playing with a DMC but mix the duties so that you can have some ballance in attacking a defense (use the Pairs and combinations pinned guide to this effect)

The reason for the DMC is beacause unless you have very goo defensive MC or CBs that space will be empty and can be heavilly punished by the AMC in the other team. 

Try to use the most basic tactic you can and then you can readjust, so that you can look for what works best with your players. A good hint is to look at the comparison page so taht you can assess where are your gaps and where can you achieve some advantages.

About the crosses. Ussually you should leave it unmarked unless you have a very good header so you throw tall crosses or you have a possession scheme (low crosses). It wont affect that much in other circumstances. Also, if you don't have good crossers or use IW is pointless, since they wont deliver them correctly regardless of which you mark.

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Thank you for the help mate.

I've had a little try to shuffle round the tactic based on the feedback you gave me, reading the combinations and pairs guide on the front page. Upon changing the results, I've had one of my most surprising results on this save, can't believe it. I changed it roughly at the Sheffield United (A) fixture.

I've came up with something like the tactic below, I'm not sure if that's the best midfield combination I could gave or that I've understood the pairings correctly, but it seems a bit more balanced than before. I changed it roughly If anyone else has any more recommendations, I'm all ears!

Haven't been using OI, either.



eYRDlIS (1).png

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Nice. That looks like a fun game to watch.

Regardnig your tactics, I guess you could probably tweak it a little (and you should) according to your players performaces and what you watch on the field. From what I see you may wanna take out the pressure on goalkeeper destribution, since you have already a lower line of engament you basically are running for nothing. Actually you may want his goalkeeper to distribute so that you can instead pressure the CBs. They are more likely to hoof the ball and when you win the air duel your striker will be in line with the defense and more prone to beat the offside trap, wich with him up field would find him completely outside.

Also, you may want to avoid the take short kicks on distribution, since you want your gk to hoof the ball to start kick counter attacks, but this one depends highly on wheter you have Cbs capable of playing the through balls or not, if you have them then maybe you can kick short and play out of defense, effectively compressing the team shape before the forwards run.

Is not written in stone however, so you should try stuff as you go, specially when in counter attack, since this kind of tactic is hard to make it work from the start, since it relays a lot in who are you playing with  and against.

One advice would be for you to read the pinned guides in the forum. A lot of stuff may not be viable for you, but can give you some insights in how certain stuff in the tactics interact within each other. Also your team doesn't look too weak in general, judging by those last games, so you should try, as a secondary tactic, to use the pairs and combinations guide to create a more "standart" tactic, neither gegenpress nor counter attack, but something you would play against a team of equal strenght as you.
That may help you understand the basics of combinations without abandoning your safe tactic and maybe find out how really strong are your players. Sometimes you may be playing too conservative and that can be a problem too, cause a counter attack tactic against a weaker team is less effective.

Keep the good job mate, and let us know how your save evolves.

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I took all your feedback into consideration, and started getting a little bit experimental. 

After watching some of the games in comprehensive highlights, I saw some of the key areas in which the team could improve - mainly going forward. I created another tactic, one that was a bit more positive against sides who were level or lesser than me, and it turned out to work like a charm.

I finished 11th in the league (could of been 10th, had it not been for two awful challenges that saw reds when I was leading the game. My form turned around drastically, and despite some really poor performances when testing out specific things, the tactics evolved and seemed to work like a charm. There could be some improvements here and there, but It's looking quite promising for a tactic I can take into next season. 

Cheers for the massive help, really took the team who were expected bottom to different heights. 






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Well I can say you did quiet well @Cawn! Congratulations for this incredible finish! You can find my struggles after promotion in the Kaiserslautern topic somewhere around here. This wil show you how difficult it is to stay up and overperform with a promotion side. You did well and should build on this. I had some months without anything just losing and drawing for 11 games. My mistake had been, that I'd try and tweak and tinker too much with tactics. Later I just tried to get some results, I checked the next games and how the opponents perfom and decided on that if I gonna try for a win or a draw. Depending on that I did some minor changes in the qverall tactic, like putting a FB on support. That helped much against the frustration and made some draws feel like victories. But I have to say you did much better than me. Congrats!

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Me starting reading this thread: Ewww 4-4-2! Me later: Yay 4-1-4-1! Congrats @Cawn I got relegated at the first time with Stoke and managed to stay up with M'boro (I brought them both to Premier), currently at my 3rd season trying to enter CH.L.

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