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Wiping the Slate Clean: A Logical Guide to Building a Tactic from Scratch


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@bosque yes and no about concentration. If your CB is insanely athletic, they will often be able to make up the ground even when beat due to lost concentration. However, if they are only slightly above average regarding pace and acceleration, you'll want the concentration to be higher.

19 hours ago, goalash said:

What about the playing width and passing length? You mentioned such factors as: runners, header winners, athleticism vs technicality. But what exact attributes would you look at? If my team is Positive, which by default stretches the play a tiny bit, what would make you go a click narrower or/and shorter regarding passing?

On wide width, I look at pace and acceleration, as well as off the ball movement for wide play, meaning that more space is available for quick players to create space based on movement. With narrow width, I'd only choose when my team is very technically strong (good passing, first touch, technique) and can read the game well (composure, decisions, vision), but not as quick, so can't create space for themselves as often. Then, they will be able to pick the lock of the opposition structure without having to create space using athleticism in space. Another application of this is that if you are planning on counter-pressing, a narrow structure will be the only way that less quick players can effectively close the space after lost possession, whereas quicker players can close that gap faster. 

With passing length, I think that shorter passing depends more on the passers, whereas longer passing depends on the receivers. For short passing, it usually involves threading small places with needle-like precision, so the passing ability (passing, technique, and vision) matters a lot, but the players receiving the ball will usually be receiving it to feet often uncontested. However, with direct balls, a great passer helps, as it will be more accurate, but the passes are inherently lower percentage. Also, these passes will more often be in open space, aerial balls, or simply a direct pass to a marked player, so the players receiving must be faster (pace, acceleration), better in the air (jumping reach, heading), or stronger (strength, balance) for this style to work. 

Most teams have a mix of these players, which is why I think standard is a decent starting place for both. I don't recommend changing solely based on positive mentality. The slightly wider just allows your players that are already superior to your league (since you're in the mentality to start with) to have more base space to operate with, but the same idea of stretching or compacting play applies, so if you need to narrow or widen play from there, the same rules apply. 

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After an awful start and a few tinkering we managed a good streak. We aren't playing brillantly but the team is coherent, with passing options and the best thing is I know what I'm doing and what the team needs to develop the style I want.

image.png.445c9bf5751f2f041c87cb895851c7cb.png

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On 04/05/2022 at 23:48, dcayton9 said:

Tempo: Tempo directly relates to the time that a player takes to make a decision on the ball. Whether it is the right decision or not depends on their mental attributes. Because of this, set to high when your players are capable of making good decisions with high anticipation to quickly read the next move. If they are poor decision makers or can’t anticipate the team’s next move, you may want to drop it a notch, and give them more time on the ball. However, if their composure is low, they may get pressed into a bad pass, so be wary of this. If your players are good or bad at both, maybe keep your tempo on normal and let them react as they will. Results should still follow.

Tempo is one of the things I struggle to fully get my head around because, as you demonstrate with what you've said above, it seems to me that there are arguments for having poorer players play with a higher tempo and arguments for the same players to play with a lower tempo.

Sticking with the example of poorer players, a higher tempo might work if you're playing against a team that's pressing you and you don't want your players dawdling on the ball which increases the likelihood of them being dispossessed but, at the same time, telling poor decision makers to do things more quickly could equally result in an errant pass and possession being given up that way. I suppose the solution to that last bit would be to make sure that your poor decision makers have plenty of options around them so that they're less likely to give it away.

Meanwhile a lower tempo might work if you want your poor decision makers to take their time over what they're doing (thereby negating their poor decision making to a degree) but that would obviously only apply if the opposition isn't pressing so much and is allowing your poorer decision makers the time they need.

Like you say, normal is probably a good starting point and it can be adjusted up or down depending on what you see in game.

Would you say that the above is a fair summary?

This thread is really useful by the way because I think a lot of people (myself included) don't fully understand what all these different instructions (and roles, duties, mentality etc) actually do and the game is pretty bad at explaining it in my view. 

 

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45 minutes ago, Lumbertubs said:

Tempo is one of the things I struggle to fully get my head around because, as you demonstrate with what you've said above, it seems to me that there are arguments for having poorer players play with a higher tempo and arguments for the same players to play with a lower tempo.

I adjust tempo based on what the other team is doing. If they are pressing me and my players are losing the ball or putting themselves into bad positions, I'll move the tempo up a notch. If the other team isn't pressing me and we have lots of time on the ball, I lower tempo so the runners have time to get into position for a pass. I also sometimes find the tempo is fine in build up but we are too quick in the final third (taking shots when we should be passing, dribbling right away instead of holding up the ball, etc.) and I'll add work ball into box if I see that.

I'm not OP but I always start on normal tempo and adjust from what I see in the first 15-ish minutes. I also change it consistently throughout the game. Tempo and line of engagement/defensive line are the things I adjust the most.

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On 24/04/2022 at 17:55, dcayton9 said:

 

  • 4-man midfield: You have to resort to a box, which should be decided if you have 2 limited AM types and 2 limited DM types, or a diamond, which would have would fit one limited AM and DM, as well as two fairly versatile runners.

I have a problem: most of the time I play a midfield 2 DM/2 AM box. The tricky part is the DMs are a Segundo Volante and an Anchor Man.

With SV’s aggressive forward charges with the ball, I’m always struggling to set the AMCL’s and AMCR’s roles so that the Segundo Volante actually has space to move into instead of bouncing off a teammate.

So far I figured that Advanced Playmakers/TQ’s/Enganches should not be on the same side as the Segundo Volante, so I’m mostly playing an Attacking Midfielder on suport ahead of the SV, but it’s still not that great:

 

STC: Advanced Forward

AMCL: Advanced Playmaker (a)

AMCR: Attacking Midfielder (s)

DMCL: Anchor Man

DMCR: Segundo Volante (s)

 

There are also Wingers (s) in the ML/MR spots.

I’d appreciate some input on the matter.

 

 

 

 

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hace 27 minutos, goalash dijo:

I have a problem: most of the time I play a midfield 2 DM/2 AM box. The tricky part is the DMs are a Segundo Volante and an Anchor Man.

With SV’s aggressive forward charges with the ball, I’m always struggling to set the AMCL’s and AMCR’s roles so that the Segundo Volante actually has space to move into instead of bouncing off a teammate.

So far I figured that Advanced Playmakers/TQ’s/Enganches should not be on the same side as the Segundo Volante, so I’m mostly playing an Attacking Midfielder on suport ahead of the SV, but it’s still not that great:

 

STC: Advanced Forward

AMCL: Advanced Playmaker (a)

AMCR: Attacking Midfielder (s)

DMCL: Anchor Man

DMCR: Segundo Volante (s)

 

There are also Wingers (s) in the ML/MR spots.

I’d appreciate some input on the matter.

 

 

 

 

Is the Segundo Volante in support duty? If so, you can use AM on attack or Shadow Striker pushing up creating space for the SV.

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1 hour ago, bosque said:

Is the Segundo Volante in support duty? If so, you can use AM on attack or Shadow Striker pushing up creating space for the SV.

Yes, he’s on Support. I thought about a Shadow Striker, but for some reason I never can get them to score and actually shadow strike. Just can’t seem to make them work.

And if the AM had to remain in Support too? Maybe and Enganche?

 

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hace 24 minutos, goalash dijo:

Yes, he’s on Support. I thought about a Shadow Striker, but for some reason I never can get them to score and actually shadow strike. Just can’t seem to make them work.

And if the AM had to remain in Support too? Maybe and Enganche?

 

If you choose Enganche I think he will be a pivot, I'm not sure if will create space for the SV. But SV will be close to the Enganche to link up. I think the question is what do yo want from the SV.

Another option is giving your AM the PI "Move into channels" so he moves to the halfspace creating space in the central channel fro the SV.

Edit: the best way is to try those roles in a match. You can reload the same match several times or play it on full time so you can watch the movements. Use an old checkpoint and treat it like a training match.

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12 hours ago, Raymond85 said:

@dcayton9 would you consider a b2b midfielder a hybrid in your system?

The roles i laid out in the table apply to attack duties. Since the BBM is only on support, I like to treat it like an extra body to attack the box from a zone where there may be no one currently attacking it. For example, behind an advanced forward in a 4-4-2 or on either of the two CMs in the front of a 4-3-3 making runs into the 10 space. 

@goalash

Everything that @bosque is saying is what I would say. I'd give SS stay wider too so that they sit wider creating space for the SV to run into and not use the EG at the other AM since it's very static. In front if you're using one forward, I'd want an attack duty with a creative element that's not dropping deep so TF(a), CF(a), or maybe PF(a) (it weirdly acts more in support than AF(a)). With two forwards, I would put an AF or poacher as one for a true scorer and then a role like a PF(s) or CF(s) that creates space for the shadow striker but doesn't drop too deep into the AM space.

 

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Enhancing Instructions and In-Game Changes:

Once your entire base tactic is established, you should be in a good position to set and forget the rest of the season, though there are ways to achieve even better results. The first comes in the form of what I call “enhancing instructions,” or methods to enhance your play against the weaknesses of your opposition. Under the bracket of these enhancing instructions lies pre-match instructions and in-match instructions. However, in-match instructions also involve some changes to initial instructions we laid out earlier

Pre-Match Instructions: These instructions are recommended to be added before the start of each match to suit the players you choose to start that match or the opposition’s players/style.

  • Overlap Left/Right: Use on a side if your wing player won’t be often beating the opposition fullback one-on-one, usually due to lack of space or an especially defensive player at the position. Instead, they will sit slightly narrower, and slow the game down, waiting for the fullback behind them to overlap and look to play in combination with them. This can be excellent at breaking down sides that sit deep in a bid to get more players forwards, as well as create effective two-on-ones against flank players. Suits inverted wide players as well as effective attacking fullbacks
  • Underlap Left/Right: Similar to overlap left/right in use, but instead if you’d rather your fullbacks and CMs on that side make underlapping runs. The same purposes regarding breaking down stubborn sides applies. Suits CMs that look to get further forward (CM(a), BBM, etc) on that side and fullbacks that aren't looking to cross as a key part of their game (wrong footed for their flank or bad at crossing).
  • Low, Whipped, or Floated Crosses: This instruction is really something you could leave blank and let your players decide, especially if they’re decent but I do like choosing one in most matches. This instruction usually should match to the type of striker you’re using. Low fits quick and small strikers, whipped fits strikers with good technique/finishing and decent size, whereas floated fits strong strikers with good jumping reach and heading. Similarly, you could choose this based on the strengths/weaknesses of opposition defenders. If your opposition outsizes you but is slower, try low, and if they are shorter than your striker, try floated. If they simply don’t look like great defenders relative to your strikers, but are evenly matched physically, try whipped.
  • Defensive Width: If you are facing a team that is using wingbacks and wingers, you can look to Force Opposition Inside, in an attempt to force the opposition inside and nullify their crossing threat. In combination, you can mark their central midfielders tightly and show wide players on their inside foot to try to force the wingers or wingbacks to have to cut inside on their weaker foot to create chances. On the other hand, if you are facing a team with an AM and wide attackers looking to invert on their strong foot, you can Force Opposition Outside in order to nullify the creative impact the other team can make through the middle. 

In-Match Tweaks: Instead of laying out a list of instructions, I will walk through game scenarios and explain where changes are necessary and in which situation. I will assume that you are watching each game in Extended or Key highlight view, as I assume the majority of players do this. You can gain a lot of info on how your tactic is working by going through the matches in Full or Comprehensive, but it takes a lot of time that not everyone has, so I won’t recommend it here. If you do choose to watch on full, I like putting the game speed on fast, for a little bit to watch how play develops and the areas the opposition wants to play in. Then, slow it down when my team is in a fixed attacking period to look for what is and isn't working.

  • 0-15 Minutes: From this time period, I stick with the initial tactic I set up before the match. Here is the time to see if everything is running smoothly. If you concede a goal in this time period, immediately switch up one mentality level to try and equalize as soon as possible. If you score a goal, switch down a mentality and turn on counter if not already on.
  • At 15 Minutes: If the score is still 0-0, check the shots and possession. If you are losing the battle by a decent amount, switch down a mentality, if you are winning, switch up a mentality, if 50/50 split and similar shots, stay at the same. The idea behind this is that lower mentalities absorb pressure better before hitting on the break and higher mentalities work to get more players forwards, hopefully converting the chances. Make a mental note on where the stats are at and continue from there.
  • 15-45 Minutes: At this point the real changes start happening. At 30 minutes, do a mentality reassessment using the same framework as the 15 minute check. Now you can also start messing with instructions to get the most out of your play. We’ll diverge into checklist form to make these more clear.
    • Does an opposition player on a certain flank have a low match rating or yellow card? Focus Play to their Flank or Switch the player directly attacking them to a higher duty (defense -> support or support -> attack).
    • Is the opposition in an organized block that you aren’t creating chances on, even though your team is of higher quality? Try Run at Defense to create qualitative superiority and 2v1 overloads based on beating a man with individual skill. Similarly, if your shots are all low xG opportunities but you're getting plenty of them, you can try turning on Work Ball Into Box in order to pass through the opposition and exert qualitative superiority that way.
    • On the other hand, is the opposition dominating play, with every highlight showing all but 2 men forward in the final third? Try Pass Into Space to further exploit the counter if your forwards are fast, or try Dribble Less, as the ball moves faster than a person can, so with deeper players having less onus to progress the ball with the dribble, they will hopefully fire passes forwards. The same applies for Early Crosses, though this is a dribble less for solely wingbacks/wingers.
    • If your team goes down a goal in this span, I recommend, again, going up a mentality to put the pressure on. Likewise, if your team goes up, switch down and turn on counter. However, when you switch this mentality, again make a mental note of where the stats are and adjust from there. For instance, if you switch up a mentality after conceding a goal and you are being dominated by the opposition after 10 minutes, switch back down.
  • Halftime: At this point, I switch back to my base mentality if I’m up or drawing, and if I’m down a goal I switch up a mentality. I usually look at match ratings and the analytical data at the half, to identify what is failing if things aren’t working and why a player may be performing poorly. For example, watch his lost possessions or failed passes, then try and fix my tactic accordingly to get better results. This could simply be changing an individual instruction, a duty, a role, or even the roles around him.
  • 45-75 Minutes: Continue the same methods of evaluation as the 15-45 minute marks.
    • If your team is starting to rack up yellow cards, check Stay on Feet. If they have none and you’re behind, it may not be a bad idea to Get Stuck In.
    • Along similar lines, if you’re up you may want to Slow Pace Down to further Distribute Quickly to keep the ball in play more often if you’re down.
    • Now, along with your mentality switches, at this point you may want to start changing your Tempo or Passing Length.
      • If I want to control a game for the final act, I start to gradually lower the tempo and then the passing length by minute 75 or so
      • If I need to get a goal, I start to increase tempo around minute 60 and the passing directness around 75.
      • Your current mentality  generally dictates the amount that attacking aggressiveness tones down or increases based on tempo and passing, so keep this in mind too when making changes.
    • Along with changes to your passing length and tempo, you can start to change your defensive style to accompany a more aggressive or passive approach. Generally, the changing of mentalities does this naturally, however if you are doing one of these, it would be to exaggerate the effect or severely nullify or increase threat.
      • If you are up a goal, you can drop your line of engagement to lower your overall intensity, as well as open more space for potential counters to increase your lead. Then, you can drop your defensive line a notch to prevent balls in behind as well if opposition highlights seem to be coming from that.
      • If you’re down a goal, you can raise your line of engagement to hopefully win the ball higher and turn that into a goal. Further, you can raise your defensive line to hopefully push your team higher as a whole.
  • 75-90 Minutes: From this point, I start to seriously tone down or ramp up my game to close off or come back. If behind by 1 at 75 minutes go up a mentality or down one if you’re winning. Gradually increase this every 5 minutes until Very Attacking if you need the win at all costs and ignoring goal differential or until Attacking if you care about GD. This is the same in the opposite direction if you’re winning by 1 and want to preserve the lead, decrease all the way down to very defensive if you want to shut down, or defensive if you want to play a little more risky to get the chance to nick another goal for your GD. The “Very” mentalities should only be hit by the 88-90 minute or so, or else you’ll likely be exposed too long.
    • At this point, you may want to start Time Wasting if you are looking to hold on to a win. Start with the sometimes level, and then at whenever possible when you hit the 85-90 minute.
    • Also, you may need to further adjust passing and tempo instructions here if needed. Go to the highest tempo possible once you get into the final minutes (90+) if you’re losing and lowest tempo if you’re winning.
    • If you’re up by 2+ you can do whatever you need to do to decrease your team’s intensity as you want to save your energy for another day and with the right management, you’ll keep the lead.
    • Similar to if you’re down by 2+ you can try to come back, but you can also concede the day and decrease intensity and try not to give up another goal.
    • If tied, this goes down to user discretion. If you want to get the win, treat it like you’re down 1 with the same strategies. Likewise if you don’t want to lose, treat it like you’re up 1.

Note: With all of these instructions, be it pre-match or in-match, if you find yourself often applying an instruction or playing long stretches of time with it on, you can make it part of your permanent base tactic. In the long run, this gives you a more specified tactic tailored perfectly to your players and the commonalities of your opposition, to be trained every day and achieve complete tactical familiarity.

 

Substitution Strategies: Another active part of in-match management are substitutions. The strategies behind making them are simple, but can be effective ways to change the course of a game. You don’t need to make one of each of these every game. You can make 2 of 1 kind or none of another. I’ll quickly review the three I find most useful.

  • Attacking Sub: This is useful in any game and I recommend at least one in every game. Your attackers are the players who use their pace the most, as well as need not be fatigued, in order to make correct decisions. When you’re ahead, it can give you the ability to go up another goal through the super-sub, whereas behind, it should keep your attack fresh. Further, I like to modify my tactic or make a direct sub in order to get the sub on an attack duty. Even if the player is of lesser quality, the more direct play involved with attack duty should benefit the new player and help another more tired player make a bigger effect through supporting play.
  • Attacker for Defender / Defender for Attacker: I’d wait to make this sub until after the 75th minute, but you’d use it when chasing or protecting a lead. You’ll need to make modifications to your set-up in this case.
    • While running a 4ATB system, you can bring on a defender to switch to a 5ATB system, shifting a 3rd CB into the back line at the cost of an attacker. If you are using a 2 striker shape, it will now become 1 striker, if running a 4-3-3, shift the wide player that stays on to a second striker, and if in a general 4-2-3-1 or 4-1-2-1-2 shape switch to a 5-2-2-1 type of shape. If you are already in a three defender shape, you can bring on a defensive midfielder type player and switch to a 5-3-2 shape with a DM, or a more defensive wingback.
    • For bringing on an attacker, it could be a simple as taking off a DM and putting on an AM. On the other hand, you could bring off a LB or RB, shift the other one into a CB, and run a true 3ATB with no wingbacks and an extra attacker. Then you will have to modify the roles of your attackers to create space for all of them, but your attacking power should be greatly increased.
  • Direct Sub / Injury Sub: This hardly needs explanation, but if you have a player with especially bad natural fitness or stamina, and can never make it past minute 60, you might want to make a direct substitution. This substitution type is also useful for getting young players playing time. In the cameo case here, you want to get the player on before the 75th minute, as they will have a better chance of getting involved and getting the crucial match rating necessary for development. Further, you never know when a severe injury will happen, and you don’t want to be playing a man down for the final 10 minutes of a crucial game because you used up your subs too early.

 

Shouts: Use shouts as often as possible. They keep your team’s morale high, which in turn makes them drain stamina slower and play at a higher energy level. Encourage should be used at any point where you are losing or drawing. Demand More can be used in similar cases with the added case of up by one goal late. Berate should be used when down by 2 or more goals or 1 goal and your team is creating nothing. Praise should be used when your team is up by one goal in early game or up by two or more in late game. No Pressure works well when you are the underdog up against a greater side, and you are in any situation of that game. The other shouts are best for individual players when their body language shows certain negative aspects and you want to assuage that.

 

Now, you should have the guidelines to create a tactic that fits your team, and confidently manage them in every match. I would love to make further posts on opposition instructions and individual instructions, but I just started summer coursework, so I don’t know if I’ll have time over the coming weeks. I will stay active on the forum though so if anyone has questions let me know and please feel free to share your tactics and setups in the thread, I love seeing them.

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I'm really loving this guide because it helped me to organize with tactcs. Everything makes a lot of sense, it feels like instructions for football and not for football manager and it doesn't feel like fixed black or white instructions. I will share a doubt I have with my tactic.

With Leverkusen 2 of my 3 starting attackers aren't hardworkers or goalscoring threats. Because of this and according to the first post is reccommended to play my wide attackers in the M(L,R) position. But if I do this I feel my only striker (and goalscoring threat) gets isolated and not sure what role use for him.

Players Defensive attributes:

1.png.cb937b3a11fc10f69144b746c9261e70.png

Players Attacking attributes:

2.png.8930057a50f50993cc7f97c17bbfb2d9.png

Tactic:

3.png.a70c91bd7feeda46944aadfb454124fc.png

Can you recommend me some role/position tweak or should I change to a 4411?

Edited by bosque
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23 hours ago, dcayton9 said:

Enhancing Instructions and In-Game Changes:

Once your entire base tactic is established, you should be in a good position to set and forget the rest of the season, though there are ways to achieve even better results. The first comes in the form of what I call “enhancing instructions,” or methods to enhance your play against the weaknesses of your opposition. Under the bracket of these enhancing instructions lies pre-match instructions and in-match instructions. However, in-match instructions also involve some changes to initial instructions we laid out earlier

Pre-Match Instructions: These instructions are recommended to be added before the start of each match to suit the players you choose to start that match or the opposition’s players/style.

  • Overlap Left/Right: Use on a side if your wing player won’t be often beating the opposition fullback one-on-one, usually due to lack of space or an especially defensive player at the position. Instead, they will sit slightly narrower, and slow the game down, waiting for the fullback behind them to overlap and look to play in combination with them. This can be excellent at breaking down sides that sit deep in a bid to get more players forwards, as well as create effective two-on-ones against flank players. Suits inverted wide players as well as effective attacking fullbacks
  • Underlap Left/Right: Similar to overlap left/right in use, but instead if you’d rather your fullbacks and CMs on that side make underlapping runs. The same purposes regarding breaking down stubborn sides applies. Suits CMs that look to get further forward (CM(a), BBM, etc) on that side and fullbacks that aren't looking to cross as a key part of their game (wrong footed for their flank or bad at crossing).
  • Low, Whipped, or Floated Crosses: This instruction is really something you could leave blank and let your players decide, especially if they’re decent but I do like choosing one in most matches. This instruction usually should match to the type of striker you’re using. Low fits quick and small strikers, whipped fits strikers with good technique/finishing and decent size, whereas floated fits strong strikers with good jumping reach and heading. Similarly, you could choose this based on the strengths/weaknesses of opposition defenders. If your opposition outsizes you but is slower, try low, and if they are shorter than your striker, try floated. If they simply don’t look like great defenders relative to your strikers, but are evenly matched physically, try whipped.
  • Defensive Width: If you are facing a team that is using wingbacks and wingers, you can look to Force Opposition Inside, in an attempt to force the opposition inside and nullify their crossing threat. In combination, you can mark their central midfielders tightly and show wide players on their inside foot to try to force the wingers or wingbacks to have to cut inside on their weaker foot to create chances. On the other hand, if you are facing a team with an AM and wide attackers looking to invert on their strong foot, you can Force Opposition Outside in order to nullify the creative impact the other team can make through the middle. 

In-Match Tweaks: Instead of laying out a list of instructions, I will walk through game scenarios and explain where changes are necessary and in which situation. I will assume that you are watching each game in Extended or Key highlight view, as I assume the majority of players do this. You can gain a lot of info on how your tactic is working by going through the matches in Full or Comprehensive, but it takes a lot of time that not everyone has, so I won’t recommend it here. If you do choose to watch on full, I like putting the game speed on fast, for a little bit to watch how play develops and the areas the opposition wants to play in. Then, slow it down when my team is in a fixed attacking period to look for what is and isn't working.

  • 0-15 Minutes: From this time period, I stick with the initial tactic I set up before the match. Here is the time to see if everything is running smoothly. If you concede a goal in this time period, immediately switch up one mentality level to try and equalize as soon as possible. If you score a goal, switch down a mentality and turn on counter if not already on.
  • At 15 Minutes: If the score is still 0-0, check the shots and possession. If you are losing the battle by a decent amount, switch down a mentality, if you are winning, switch up a mentality, if 50/50 split and similar shots, stay at the same. The idea behind this is that lower mentalities absorb pressure better before hitting on the break and higher mentalities work to get more players forwards, hopefully converting the chances. Make a mental note on where the stats are at and continue from there.
  • 15-45 Minutes: At this point the real changes start happening. At 30 minutes, do a mentality reassessment using the same framework as the 15 minute check. Now you can also start messing with instructions to get the most out of your play. We’ll diverge into checklist form to make these more clear.
    • Does an opposition player on a certain flank have a low match rating or yellow card? Focus Play to their Flank or Switch the player directly attacking them to a higher duty (defense -> support or support -> attack).
    • Is the opposition in an organized block that you aren’t creating chances on, even though your team is of higher quality? Try Run at Defense to create qualitative superiority and 2v1 overloads based on beating a man with individual skill. Similarly, if your shots are all low xG opportunities but you're getting plenty of them, you can try turning on Work Ball Into Box in order to pass through the opposition and exert qualitative superiority that way.
    • On the other hand, is the opposition dominating play, with every highlight showing all but 2 men forward in the final third? Try Pass Into Space to further exploit the counter if your forwards are fast, or try Dribble Less, as the ball moves faster than a person can, so with deeper players having less onus to progress the ball with the dribble, they will hopefully fire passes forwards. The same applies for Early Crosses, though this is a dribble less for solely wingbacks/wingers.
    • If your team goes down a goal in this span, I recommend, again, going up a mentality to put the pressure on. Likewise, if your team goes up, switch down and turn on counter. However, when you switch this mentality, again make a mental note of where the stats are and adjust from there. For instance, if you switch up a mentality after conceding a goal and you are being dominated by the opposition after 10 minutes, switch back down.
  • Halftime: At this point, I switch back to my base mentality if I’m up or drawing, and if I’m down a goal I switch up a mentality. I usually look at match ratings and the analytical data at the half, to identify what is failing if things aren’t working and why a player may be performing poorly. For example, watch his lost possessions or failed passes, then try and fix my tactic accordingly to get better results. This could simply be changing an individual instruction, a duty, a role, or even the roles around him.
  • 45-75 Minutes: Continue the same methods of evaluation as the 15-45 minute marks.
    • If your team is starting to rack up yellow cards, check Stay on Feet. If they have none and you’re behind, it may not be a bad idea to Get Stuck In.
    • Along similar lines, if you’re up you may want to Slow Pace Down to further Distribute Quickly to keep the ball in play more often if you’re down.
    • Now, along with your mentality switches, at this point you may want to start changing your Tempo or Passing Length.
      • If I want to control a game for the final act, I start to gradually lower the tempo and then the passing length by minute 75 or so
      • If I need to get a goal, I start to increase tempo around minute 60 and the passing directness around 75.
      • Your current mentality  generally dictates the amount that attacking aggressiveness tones down or increases based on tempo and passing, so keep this in mind too when making changes.
    • Along with changes to your passing length and tempo, you can start to change your defensive style to accompany a more aggressive or passive approach. Generally, the changing of mentalities does this naturally, however if you are doing one of these, it would be to exaggerate the effect or severely nullify or increase threat.
      • If you are up a goal, you can drop your line of engagement to lower your overall intensity, as well as open more space for potential counters to increase your lead. Then, you can drop your defensive line a notch to prevent balls in behind as well if opposition highlights seem to be coming from that.
      • If you’re down a goal, you can raise your line of engagement to hopefully win the ball higher and turn that into a goal. Further, you can raise your defensive line to hopefully push your team higher as a whole.
  • 75-90 Minutes: From this point, I start to seriously tone down or ramp up my game to close off or come back. If behind by 1 at 75 minutes go up a mentality or down one if you’re winning. Gradually increase this every 5 minutes until Very Attacking if you need the win at all costs and ignoring goal differential or until Attacking if you care about GD. This is the same in the opposite direction if you’re winning by 1 and want to preserve the lead, decrease all the way down to very defensive if you want to shut down, or defensive if you want to play a little more risky to get the chance to nick another goal for your GD. The “Very” mentalities should only be hit by the 88-90 minute or so, or else you’ll likely be exposed too long.
    • At this point, you may want to start Time Wasting if you are looking to hold on to a win. Start with the sometimes level, and then at whenever possible when you hit the 85-90 minute.
    • Also, you may need to further adjust passing and tempo instructions here if needed. Go to the highest tempo possible once you get into the final minutes (90+) if you’re losing and lowest tempo if you’re winning.
    • If you’re up by 2+ you can do whatever you need to do to decrease your team’s intensity as you want to save your energy for another day and with the right management, you’ll keep the lead.
    • Similar to if you’re down by 2+ you can try to come back, but you can also concede the day and decrease intensity and try not to give up another goal.
    • If tied, this goes down to user discretion. If you want to get the win, treat it like you’re down 1 with the same strategies. Likewise if you don’t want to lose, treat it like you’re up 1.

Note: With all of these instructions, be it pre-match or in-match, if you find yourself often applying an instruction or playing long stretches of time with it on, you can make it part of your permanent base tactic. In the long run, this gives you a more specified tactic tailored perfectly to your players and the commonalities of your opposition, to be trained every day and achieve complete tactical familiarity.

 

Substitution Strategies: Another active part of in-match management are substitutions. The strategies behind making them are simple, but can be effective ways to change the course of a game. You don’t need to make one of each of these every game. You can make 2 of 1 kind or none of another. I’ll quickly review the three I find most useful.

  • Attacking Sub: This is useful in any game and I recommend at least one in every game. Your attackers are the players who use their pace the most, as well as need not be fatigued, in order to make correct decisions. When you’re ahead, it can give you the ability to go up another goal through the super-sub, whereas behind, it should keep your attack fresh. Further, I like to modify my tactic or make a direct sub in order to get the sub on an attack duty. Even if the player is of lesser quality, the more direct play involved with attack duty should benefit the new player and help another more tired player make a bigger effect through supporting play.
  • Attacker for Defender / Defender for Attacker: I’d wait to make this sub until after the 75th minute, but you’d use it when chasing or protecting a lead. You’ll need to make modifications to your set-up in this case.
    • While running a 4ATB system, you can bring on a defender to switch to a 5ATB system, shifting a 3rd CB into the back line at the cost of an attacker. If you are using a 2 striker shape, it will now become 1 striker, if running a 4-3-3, shift the wide player that stays on to a second striker, and if in a general 4-2-3-1 or 4-1-2-1-2 shape switch to a 5-2-2-1 type of shape. If you are already in a three defender shape, you can bring on a defensive midfielder type player and switch to a 5-3-2 shape with a DM, or a more defensive wingback.
    • For bringing on an attacker, it could be a simple as taking off a DM and putting on an AM. On the other hand, you could bring off a LB or RB, shift the other one into a CB, and run a true 3ATB with no wingbacks and an extra attacker. Then you will have to modify the roles of your attackers to create space for all of them, but your attacking power should be greatly increased.
  • Direct Sub / Injury Sub: This hardly needs explanation, but if you have a player with especially bad natural fitness or stamina, and can never make it past minute 60, you might want to make a direct substitution. This substitution type is also useful for getting young players playing time. In the cameo case here, you want to get the player on before the 75th minute, as they will have a better chance of getting involved and getting the crucial match rating necessary for development. Further, you never know when a severe injury will happen, and you don’t want to be playing a man down for the final 10 minutes of a crucial game because you used up your subs too early.

 

Shouts: Use shouts as often as possible. They keep your team’s morale high, which in turn makes them drain stamina slower and play at a higher energy level. Encourage should be used at any point where you are losing or drawing. Demand More can be used in similar cases with the added case of up by one goal late. Berate should be used when down by 2 or more goals or 1 goal and your team is creating nothing. Praise should be used when your team is up by one goal in early game or up by two or more in late game. No Pressure works well when you are the underdog up against a greater side, and you are in any situation of that game. The other shouts are best for individual players when their body language shows certain negative aspects and you want to assuage that.

 

Now, you should have the guidelines to create a tactic that fits your team, and confidently manage them in every match. I would love to make further posts on opposition instructions and individual instructions, but I just started summer coursework, so I don’t know if I’ll have time over the coming weeks. I will stay active on the forum though so if anyone has questions let me know and please feel free to share your tactics and setups in the thread, I love seeing them.

So I play a Cautious system. Let's say I go a goal down in the first 15 minutes, so I switch up to balanced. Should I still change the mentality up at the 15 minute mark too?

And if I equalise before 15 minutes, should I switch back down to Cautious?

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On 14/05/2022 at 00:04, dcayton9 said:

Everything that @bosque is saying is what I would say. I'd give SS stay wider too so that they sit wider creating space for the SV to run into and not use the EG at the other AM since it's very static. In front if you're using one forward, I'd want an attack duty with a creative element that's not dropping deep so TF(a), CF(a), or maybe PF(a) (it weirdly acts more in support than AF(a)). With two forwards, I would put an AF or poacher as one for a true scorer and then a role like a PF(s) or CF(s) that creates space for the shadow striker but doesn't drop too deep into the AM space.

 

This is the shape I’m working on.

I’m aware of the unorthodox nature of the defensive setup, but:

A. it allows me to merge 3ATB and wingers,

B. it’s my own idea and I like it,

C. it works. I’ve just won African Cup of Nations with it.

I’m having problems setting the front three up though. The Mentality is Positive, hence TWO attack duties: the Advanced Forward (top goalscorer) and the left Winger (top creator, might as well play as AMCL, but he’s left legged only, which kind of forces him off the middle to one side or the other). Staying true to the proposed philosophy - which I endorse wholeheartedly - I’m left with AMCL and AMCR on support as well as a Segundo Volante pushing from the back (the guy is a pure SV).

3FFA09B2-D038-42A8-AD37-90C8D51BE120.jpeg

Edited by goalash
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