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The Anxious Gamer - a Liverpool 433


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I don't normally post about tactics outside of my main careers thread (below) but I had fun creating this and so thought I would share. For context, my FM saves are played out against the background of my mental health experiences as I try to navigate the paths of anxiety, self doubt and obsessive behaviours. No wait, it's more fun that it sounds, honest!

Background

My FM journey is consistently punctuated by restarts and abandoned ideas as I lurch between conflicting tactical ideologies. These restarts are rarely driven by anything as practical as form or success; indeed I have abandoned saves both before the first game of pre-season as well as in the midst of multi-year league victories and quadruple winning seasons.

Instead, these restarts are due to my own self doubts and obsessive need to identify and follow through a single vision, despite the fact that my career best save (40+ years on FM20) was a beacon of tactical flexibility and change.

With that in mind, after starting and abandoning a variety of 433, 4231 and 442 saves, I finally got one that stuck. After initially employing a Klopp-esque 433 Gegenpress, a dispiriting defeat at Wolves saw me grab the tactical reigns and seek to implement my own tactical style on my team. The result - Klopp Pass & Move.

Player Roles

  • Sweeper Keeper (S) - steps out of the box to act as an extra defender without being too aggressive
  • Wing Backs (S) - crucial players at both ends. I opted for WB over FB to ensure they get forward enough but my concern with the role has always been whether they cross often enough. I did consider CWB, especially as it would suit TAA but whenever trying it I found player ratings would suffer. So long as the role continues to get the best out of TAA, I'll stick with it
  • BPD (D) - again, I considered just using the standard CD role, especially as we are looking to keep possession. BPD's also have a worrying tendency to play themselves into trouble and their player rating can suffer as a result. On the other hand, they assist the attack by bringing the ball out and will ping a long pass every so often
  • DM (S) - a role I struggled to pin down. After starting with a DLP I soon pivoted to a DM with a defensive mentality, used for no reason other than I also had 3 attacking roles at the time and some obsessive part of my brain sought to balance this with 3 defensive roles. From season 2, we switched to 2 defensive roles and so the defend role had to change to support to avoid an imbalance. This also pushed us to Fluid and the role appeared to better suit our squad. Tactically, with the roles ahead of him, it also made sense as Fabinho would step into the midfield and close off any gaps as opposed to a defend role that would drift closer to the centre backs
  • AP (A) - In some ways the key role in the side. I had started with a supporting mezzala but was never comfortable that it was creative enough but also, and perhaps more importantly, it just didn't feel right. It was a role I used because it was there and popular, not because it made sense in my tactic. I also wanted to create a dynamic, attacking role that would create going forward without breaking into the box too often and disrupting the shape. Most of the squad seem to favour playing the role in support but the attacking role has been successful and brought the best out of Thiago before he moved on.
  • BBM (S) - another role I have struggled with. I switched out to a CM support at one stage but having moved from mezzala to AP, I felt a role that broke into the box would be a better fit. With Bellingham having joined us in January, he also fits the role perfectly and has already made a big contribution
  • IF (S) - Despite allowing some variance of roles in midfield, my self imposed rules insist that my wide roles must be symmetrical. These started out as attacking roles but I often found that they got the byline and then ran out of space to do anything, or simply hit the box and disrupted our shape. With the AP becoming an attacking role, it made sense to move then to supporting roles. Goal output has actually remained broadly similar but they are more involved with assists.
  • DLF (A) - the most difficult role to pin down. I started with a Pressing Forward, partly because it seemed logical for Gegenpress but partly because it suited Haaland. Being slightly less attack minded than an AF, the PF would drop back into space but still, I found him too often drifting upfield and away from the play such that the only option was a longer pass that resulted in either lost possession or the striker isolated. Conversely, I didn't want a False 9 or other support role as I found that they drifted back too far and too often, somewhat neutering the attack. A DLF attack role then seemed to offer the best of both worlds, ensuring my striker stays close to the midfield to link play whilst also breaking forwards regularly. It certainly seems to have suited Haaland, who has rewarded us with a rating of 8+ in 3 out of 4 seasons and a total of 134 goals across 116 appearances

Team Instructions

  • Positive Mentality - attacking without being gung-ho. I find that this allows to control games, batter weak teams and still leave us with gears we can move up to as required
  • Mixed passing - I have tended to use shorter passing when creating my own style but this can sometimes result in tippy-tappy stuff that goes nowhere. Given that we are using WBIB and POD, going even shorter seemed like overkill
  • Play out of defence - combined with BPD's this can cause issues on occasion but on balance, I favour the control of possession
  • Work ball into box - simply to avoid wasteful long shots
  • Be More Expressive - hey, why not?
  • Overlap / left / right - I did question if this was necessary when I am playing support duties across all wide roles. This stems from when we were playing attacking roles at AML and AMR and I wanted to ensure that the wide forwards were pulled back a little and did not become isolated. I kept it with the support roles and whilst it might make play a little slower in places and potentially blunt the output of the wide attackers, the doubling up with the player behind helps to overwhelm the opposing defenders. Besides, the inside forwards remain fruitful with Salah contributing up to 30 goals a season
  • Higher tempo - a Premier League standard, no?
  • Fairly narrow - to keep players closer together and aid passing moves

The other big in possession instructing worth talking about is pass into space. I have almost always used it in my tactics as I felt it essential to allow through balls and to mix up a shorter passing game. However, I often found that it simply resulted in lost possession and frankly, it wasn't an instruction that I especially identified with. I took it off then and our passing game improved immeasurably whilst the football we play is very easy on the eye. it still has its place but I have tended to use it situationally, for instance away at Barcelona where I felt we would have the space to attack into.

The out of possession and transition instructions are largely a hangover from Gegenpress, just dialled down a little.

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Results

After 4 seasons, we have won the league every year, achieving a 100+ points finish and 100+ goals scored in every campaign with just 4 league defeats. In addition, we are 2x UCL winners, 1x CWC winners, together with a handful of FA, League, Super Cup and Community Shields chucked in for good measure.

Our first season, which saw a slight variation on this, took as to a quadruple whilst the switch to this version saw us go unbeaten from 24th October 2021 to 23rd March 2024. A whopping 98 games unbeaten across 3 seasons, just two shy of a milestone 100 and just 8 shy of going consecutive seasons without defeat. 

Stick or Twist

  • Still though, I find myself wondering if I should change.
  • Should Haaland really be a DLF? Wouldn't he be better as a PF or AF?
  • You're wasting Mbappe
  • The attacking playmaker leaves gaps in midfield
  • TAA should be a CWB

And yet...it works. Haaland performs really well, combining and creating whilst also continuing to be our main goal threat. In fact player ratings across the board have consistently been the best I have ever achieved. We play the type of football I want to see, controlling games but also bashing up rubbish teams. The 'Fluid' label feels appropriate too; the AP attack was designed to become a number 10 in possession with the DM support stepping into midfield such that the shape almost becomes a 4231. 

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Be Kind!

There it is then, in all its glory. I can't promise it will be some kind of game breaker or even that it will work outside of the confines of my particular Liverpool team but interested in any discussion points nonetheless, especially my fellow players who also find their tactical visions constrained by their own self imposed rule sets.

Klopp Pass & Move.fmf

Edited by dirkgently1066
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16 hours ago, calimero80 said:

Do you use any OI?

No. 

Only changes I make are situational in tough away games, such as removing overlaps, switching DLF to pressing forward, AP to support and DM to defend. 

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