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[FM20] Am I being too ambitious?

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Long time lurker, first time poster.

I want to preface that English isn't my first language; sorry in advance for any spelling or gramatical errors.

Hereupon, I've started out this save with Morecambe in League Two. My personal experience with the lower leagues has resorted mainly to the 4-4-2 and a Route One approach. But I wanted to try something different (a different formation, not playing direct all the time) and Morecambe seemed to be a good choice; with the squad seemingly tailored to play in a 4-1-4-1 DM Wide formation (according to the game), it felt like a good starting point.

Fast forward half of the first season, this is how the league table is looking:


Now, 4th place is a really good position for Morecambe to be in. Given that the media predicts us to finish in 21st, we are, in fact, overachieving. Furthermore, we are joint-2nd best defense in the league. So, what's my problem? 


This second screenshot exposes a big part of why I'm not completely happy with our peformance: with 57% average possession, I feel we are not creating enough chances. Couple this with me, even when watching some of the matches on Comprehensive, not seeing many highlights, and I conclude our style of play is dull and boring; a little bit of pizazz would not go amiss. Here is the tactic I've been using for the majority of this half-season, followed by my thought process:


Knowing I was already set on the 4-1-4-1 DM Wide, the design of this tactic started in the midfield. Once I analysed the squad, every player who could play in the midfield seemed to either be a destroyer (mainly the defensive midfielders), a dynamo (some of the midfielders in the club combine high Stamina and Work Rate, meaning they can run up-and-down the field) or a creator (the remaining are ones who can make riskier passes). Hence, to try to accomodate them into the tactic, I picked:

  • DM/DM(D): for the destroyer (I wanted him to stay in front of the pair of centre-backs (so, no BWM) without being too passive (which put me against the Anchor-man))
  • MCL/BBM(S): for the dynamo
  • MCR/MEZ(A): for the creator (for this I am guilty for following what the game considers to be their best role; the players at my disposal may not be capable of playing such a demanding role)

With the mezzala's movement leaving a potential gap in the middle, I picked DR/IWB(S) to fill in that hole (again, this is another demanding role; maybe a simple FB(S) with "Sit Narrower" and "Cut Inside With Ball" would suffice). SInce I was messing with the defenders, I picked for both centre-backs CD(D) (plain old defenders, nothing too fancy), G(D) for the goalkeeper (none of my goalkeepers are good enough with the ball at their feet to play as SK) and FB(S) for the left back (didn't feel the need for a more agressive role because my options for this position have the "Get Forward Whenever Possible" trait). 

Contemplating the idea of my left back holding the width when he goes forward, I could allow my AML to cut inside. So, I chose IF(S). To further create more space for the AML to operate, I chose DLF(A) for the striker. Finally, to have a player on the right also capable of using the space potentially created by the DLF, I picked IW(A) for the AMR. The idea was to have a free-flowing front three, with players capable of scoring and assisting. But, alas, this may be another case of asking too much from my players.

The "Out of Possession" and "In Transition" instructions were based on @Fantasista10's post. As for "In Possession":

  • Low Crosses: most of my players playing in the more advanced positions are quite small but decently (not amazing) fast; coupled with Work Ball Into Box, this was an attempt to encourage cutbacks
  • Run At Defence: in the periods where we are in the final third but the opponent has already taken its defensive shape, this was an attempt to get pass a defender and potentially take advantage of the space created instead of just passing the ball around waiting for a better opportunity because of Work Ball Into Box
  • Focus Play Through the Middle: this was to try and make my (arguably) best player, who is a midfielder, more involved in the play
  • Underlap Right: to try and overrun the midfield coupled with Focus Play Through The Middle

As for Player Instructions, they were mainly used to define the passing style in order to keep the ball more intelligently in the back and let the midfield be more creative: Shorter Passing for both CD and DM; More Direct Passing for BBM and MEZ; Take More Risks for MEZ. These weren't decided with high possession numbers in mind (that doesn't necessarily mean I want to go direct), just to try to use the ball more effectively, channeling it to the more creative players. Also, both IF and IW were told to Stay Wider and the front-three was told to Mark TIghter.

With the full tactic presented, I'm asking if there's anything inherently wrong with my decisions that I'm not picking up? Or if it's just a case of me asking too much from my players and being overly ambitious? What tweaks would you make to try and make this tactic have more punch in it, creating more chances of goal?

Thank you in advance if you took the time to read all of this and want to try and help. Finally, below are the profiles of some of the outfield players in the squad:

Right Backs:



Left Backs:



Centre Backs:



Defensive Midfielders:



Central Midfielders (Tutte is arguably my best player):





Front-three (I have used pretty much all of them i various positions):






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Welcome fellow long time lurker! :lol:

Nice post. I always enjoy a lower league save as it can feel like a totally different game at times.

In terms of your tactic, I can’t see any obvious flaws in terms of Roles/Duties. My issue with it would be as you alluded to, you might be asking too much of your players. 

For example, Work Ball into Box. Is this something that players of League Two standard can pull off consistently? I would only use this instruction when I have intelligent, technically gifted players. 

In some respects the same can be said for Run at Defence. Do you have enough technical dribblers to consistently beat defenders? Or would it be best to use roles (like the Inverted Winger, Inside Forward) who already dribble more by default? Turning this off in conjunction with Work Ball into Box may add more variety in your approach play in the final third.

As for Low Crosses, I think it makes sense based on your forward players being smaller and not great in the air. However, I would experiment keeping this on default (Mixed) from time to time as I have never really noticed a big difference between using crossing instructions and keeping them default. 

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Fellow FM20 player here! Regarding Chances, I find odd how they are counted (on FM20, don't know how it is on newer versions). Once I had the same problem you are having and decided to take a look into other team's chances. I wanted to find out what was for FM a clear cut chance, for instance. When I played possession, I rarely had any decent number and I noticed on the AI teams, most came from crosses, set-pieces or counters.

So, looking at your tactic, you'll have the exact same issue. You say you don't necessarily want possession, but you have many support duties and work ball into box. And also, your IF-A is on a forced underlap so his mentality will decrease, which makes him almost playing on support. By the way, who is making the underlap pass?

Speaking of the game, it works very well with wing play as wingers don't track well enough the advancing full-backs and they'll have much space to cross. So, I've started to use at least one full-back on attack on the opposite side of my Attacking Winger (W-A/IF-A/IW-A,...). Btw, W-A and IF-A/IW-A on the Att-Mid-strata are very equivalent. They'll all go into the box, the W-A will most likely try to get past the opposition on the outside, the others will run inside.

Set-pieces are very important. See how many goals you have vs the rest of the league. Having a towering CB who can score is a great help as he'll also make a lot of interceptions. I have a CB who grants me about 1 goal every 5 games. It doesn't seem much, but over a season it really helps.

In summary: drop the work ball into box and underlap. Possibly counter-press instead of regroup. I only use regroup when closing out matches. Try and get a bigger CB and check your set-pieces. Set a LB to attack. I would use Oates as RW as he can get on the end of crosses from the LB. You can also ask Tutte to shoot more. 12 in long shots is good enough to get you a pretty decent goal count.

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Thank you for your sugestions @Fantasista10, @coach vahid and @lfds89. Apologies for not responding earlier, as I reached the January transfer market in the save and I spent some time trying to improve the squad in some way (albeit somewhat unsuccessfully). 

After reading through your comments, I made some tweaks to the tactic. The screenshot below shows what was the first approach:


From my initially designed tactic, I unticked the Run At Defence and Work Ball Into Box instructions, as suggested by @Fantasista10. I also changed the duties of my wide players, like @coach vahid said. This proved to be beneficial as the team seemed more fluid in the final third. The quality of chances created improved and good attacking performances started to happen more consistently. This is still the tactic I start most of the matches, occasionally dropping Underlap Right should my opponent play with bottom-heavy formations.

However, while fewer than before, there were still some matches where the team would still struggle to perform during the first half or opposition would score first. Given that the first approach was made before @lfds89's comment, I based this new tweaked version on his points and came with this:


We have again the IW(A) on the right and the IF(S) on the left. But this time there is no underlap right and the left back is more aggressive, being now a FB(A). Coupled with Higher Tempo (not selected in the screenshot) whenever I am chasing for an equaliser or in the last twenty minutes of the match looking for the winning goal and this version provided me with comeback wins against Oldham and Cambridge, as well as a last-minute goal that salvaged me a point against Colchester.  


The matches inside the red box are the ones I have played with these tweaked tactics. Apart from the games versus Northampton and Liverpool Under 23s (incidentally, the only times I faced a 4-2-3-1 Wide), we have been the better team and, as already mentioned, the chances created were better.


While the overall ratio of chances created per game hasn't improved much according to the game, I noticed during matches that some of the better opportunities created by the team weren't even being counted as chances by the game, while a poor header from a set-piece inside the six-yard box would be classified as a clear-cut chance (confirming what @lfds89 said in his comment)... I guess I have to take this stat with a grain of salt. For what it's worth, the quality of football practiced by Morecambe has improved and I'm happy for that.

Edited by Delfim
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