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Can't get my left-back to perform


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So, my Ajax formation looks like this. I tweak it to more defensive-balanced for Champions League games, but for most Eredivisie fixtures we set up with a positive wide 4-2-3-1 control possession formation.

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I'm now halfway into the second season.  In the first season my main left-back was Tagliafico. Now it's Blind/Kik Pierie. 

My tactic works generally great, but in those 1,5 season's I've struggled to get my left-back contribute effectively and his average rating is just around 6.8 (doesn't matter which player) even though the team is winning. In my team the left-back often has the lowest rating (eg. only rating below 7.0 in the winning game).

He also very seldom gives key passes or assists (obviously, otherwise his rating would be higher). My right-back in the same role (WBs) contributes effectively - many key passes, assists and dangerous crosses.

In my second season I've switched Blind to FBs because he lacks pace, but the rating and attacking contribution is the same. Defensively we're all good.

 

So, what's wrong? Is it that my tactics is a bit skewed and defensive on the left? My left winger on the same side does fairly OK - scores from time to time (he's on support duty, so that's OK, I guess), cuts in and delivers dangerous balls to the box - all good. My left-side midfielder (DLPd) circulates the ball  well and from time to time finds strikers with a sweet ball forward, so all good, but the left-back is somehow left out of the game.

As I said, my team plays well and wins game, I just feel bad for the player. Any suggestions?

 

 

On a side-note: I'm well aware that certain positions are overpowered and underperforming in certain FM versions. A few years back it was the right-back, I think. In FM22 SI has finally fixed the goalkeeper rating, but in FM22 my best performer is (on average) DRC and the same is with several other teams (AI teams as well) - all goals and assists aside, the defender who plays DRC has often the highest average rating. Not sure it's meant that way or kind of a bug.

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In this system and with the presence of a DLPde on the left, you can afford to consider a CWBsu or WBat.

On the other hand, you may also be wondering if Blind is the right player for those roles and you may need a younger, faster and more dynamic left-back.

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45 minutes ago, Karlo said:

On the other hand, you may also be wondering if Blind is the right player for those roles

That was my first thought, when I think of Daley Blind, I don't exactly think of a player getting up and down the wing 

You could try a FB(A), a WB stays wide where FB's are pretty fluid and will pop up on the inside channel at times 

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12 hours ago, Draakon said:

So, what's wrong?

Nothing.

An average rating of 6.8 is not bad and you say yourself that “defensively we’re all good”.  If something were wrong you wouldn’t be defensively sound - a fullback’s primary job is to defend.  And if he isn’t getting many key passes or assists well as you also say “my tactic generally works great”.

What you are doing is trying to compare your two fullbacks - one gets assists the other doesn’t - which somehow then translates in your mind as one fullback not performing.  But you aren’t comparing your whole system.  On the right your Wingback has a Box to Box Midfielder next to him making aggressive runs forward and an attack minded Inverted Winger trying to get into the box.  Both will provide great targets for for your right side Wingback’s key passes and assists.

Now compare that to your left side.  A Deeplying Playmaker with a defend duty who isn’t making forward runs; and a support duty Inside Forward who is not attacking the box in the same manner as his opposite winger.  Your right flank is much more attack minded than your left, hence your right Wingback will be more involved in attacking play.

12 hours ago, Draakon said:

Not sure it's meant that way or kind of a bug.

It’s not a bug and it is meant that way - it’s meant that way because it’s how you’ve set up your system and your players are doing what you’re asking them to do 👍.

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57 minutes ago, Johnny Ace said:

That was my first thought, when I think of Daley Blind, I don't exactly think of a player getting up and down the wing 

You could try a FB(A), a WB stays wide where FB's are pretty fluid and will pop up on the inside channel at times 

You're obviously right that he hasn't got the pace, but on the other hand - he has work rate, vision and great passing. Even a decent crossing (12 - very similar to my right-backs - Jurrien Timber in the first season, Devyne Rensch and Sean Klaiber now all have around 10-12 crossing).

With Tagliafico (better pace, great tackling, decent technical abilities) I tried WBa and even CWBa roles to push him more forward (Tagliafico has 'getting forward whenever possible' trait anyway), knowing that DLPd is there to provide some cover. What happened was that Tagliafico drifted further up the pitch more frequently, but still wasn't part of goal scoring moves too often and when I was searching for a goal, switching from WBs to WBa didn't make much of a difference in the end result.

What concerns Blind, then he has 'dictates tempo' in his traits and we play with slow tempo. If he tries to slow things down it doesn't help with finding a good attacking pass.

 

But I tend to think it's a question of space the most, as @herne79 pointed out. Both of my wide players (IF and IW) have PI 'stay wider' but with the ball they cut in (most of my wide players also have a trait for that). My main goal scorer us usually either ST or AMR position. And it's evident that when both AMR and BBMs attack the box and create movement then there's more space on the right wing for WBs to move into and join the party - often the ball is played back out to him from the middle and he has time to look for a runner (AMR) or deliver a cross.

What happens on the left? Well, three players on support duty. A lot of small safe passes between those three. With one eye they are searching for the runner on the right (AMR), take the ball to their right foot and deliver a cross to his path (a lot of goals or chances start this way) but mostly AML and DLPd do the delivery part, FBs very rarely (although Blind should have the vision and capability to do that). Also, when AML receives the ball on the left he either:

1) if he isn't under pressure he tries to cut in and crosses/passes into the box for CFa/AMR/AMC - an assist or key pass. He's not waiting for WBs/FBs to join the attack

2) if he is under pressure he passes it back to DLPd, FBs fairly quickly, before they've joined the attack in the final third, so the left-back isn't in the position to do anything productive with it, more often he's forced to circle possession back to AML or even back to DCL.

Overlapping PI doesn't change much in that regard. My winger stays wide to receive the ball, and when he cuts in he has to do something with it, not to lose possession. He is not searching for  an overlapping player (or FBs usually just arrives too late for that). On the other hand, if he arrived earlier there wouldn't be any space to overlap. And I don't want to remove 'stay wider' PI for wingers because that allows more space for AMC, CFa and BBMs and I don't want to crowd the center too early in my attack.

I could try 'cross more often' PI for the left-back. His crossing (12) is kind of an average and could be useful against smaller teams with poor defence or aerial ability, but on the one hand we have WBIB in instructions, so even that PI the number of crosses is not very high.

Rating-wise: @herne79 pointed out that full-backs main duty is to defend. Well, I think here might lie another problem: we're Ajax. We're dominant in the league. Half of the games we don't have to defend that much. Center-backs get some key headers when clearing set pieces away from our box, but with 60+% possession, high pressing and good attack we don't have to do extraordinary work in defence that often. There's only a slim chance that my defenders would make key tackles or headers that would pump their match rating up. So the rating mostly relies on passing accuracy, key passes and assists.

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1 hour ago, Draakon said:

But I tend to think it's a question of space the most, as @herne79 pointed out. Both of my wide players (IF and IW) have PI 'stay wider' but with the ball they cut in (most of my wide players also have a trait for that). My main goal scorer us usually either ST or AMR position. And it's evident that when both AMR and BBMs attack the box and create movement then there's more space on the right wing for WBs to move into and join the party - often the ball is played back out to him from the middle and he has time to look for a runner (AMR) or deliver a cross.

What happens on the left? Well, three players on support duty. A lot of small safe passes between those three. With one eye they are searching for the runner on the right (AMR), take the ball to their right foot and deliver a cross to his path (a lot of goals or chances start this way) but mostly AML and DLPd do the delivery part, FBs very rarely (although Blind should have the vision and capability to do that). Also, when AML receives the ball on the left he either:

1) if he isn't under pressure he tries to cut in and crosses/passes into the box for CFa/AMR/AMC - an assist or key pass. He's not waiting for WBs/FBs to join the attack

2) if he is under pressure he passes it back to DLPd, FBs fairly quickly, before they've joined the attack in the final third, so the left-back isn't in the position to do anything productive with it, more often he's forced to circle possession back to AML or even back to DCL.

Overlapping PI doesn't change much in that regard. My winger stays wide to receive the ball, and when he cuts in he has to do something with it, not to lose possession. He is not searching for  an overlapping player (or FBs usually just arrives too late for that). On the other hand, if he arrived earlier there wouldn't be any space to overlap. And I don't want to remove 'stay wider' PI for wingers because that allows more space for AMC, CFa and BBMs and I don't want to crowd the center too early in my attack.

I could try 'cross more often' PI for the left-back. His crossing (12) is kind of an average and could be useful against smaller teams with poor defence or aerial ability, but on the one hand we have WBIB in instructions, so even that PI the number of crosses is not very high.

Rating-wise: @herne79 pointed out that full-backs main duty is to defend. Well, I think here might lie another problem: we're Ajax. We're dominant in the league. Half of the games we don't have to defend that much. Center-backs get some key headers when clearing set pieces away from our box, but with 60+% possession, high pressing and good attack we don't have to do extraordinary work in defence that often. There's only a slim chance that my defenders would make key tackles or headers that would pump their match rating up. So the rating mostly relies on passing accuracy, key passes and assists.

Exactly :thup:.  It's not that your left WB is doing anything wrong, he's just not really being asked to do anything to stand out.

If you want him to stand out a bit more you'll need 1 or 2 things:  1) a more adventurous role/duty; and/or 2) a different player.  A FB (attack) could be a good starting point, especially in combination with a fullback who has bags of energy & work rate.  However the WB(s) role is already quite adventurous so perhaps a new fullback with the to Trait to Get Forward Often (and lots of energy) may help.  Personally I'd start with bringing in a new (better) fullback, someone with loads of energy, work rate, pace and stamina, and perhaps also with that Trait.  See how that goes and only then muck about with a different role if you think there's a need.

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I'm playing my save youth only. After Tagliafico moved to Newcastle I have a small gap in development - we have a promising youngster in Prince Aning who could be that player. He has 'gets forward whenever possible' and 'runs with ball down left' traits that he picked up from Tagliafico, but he's 18 years old and not ready in Champions league or more important Eredivisie games, although in near future his game time could increase.

The other option is Kik Pierie - he was out on loan last season and has some problems with injuries, so I haven't been able to test him out too much, but his pace is better than Blind's and he has a decent crossing as well. However, he's more of a centre-back who is also natural in DL position, so he doesn't have necessary traits and is sort of average in everything (13 vision, 12-13 pace, good in the air, decent passing, but no attribute higher than 14). He's rated 2*/2,5* by my staff. In that regard he's similar to Blind - good option to keep things in order defensively, but less likely to provide anything in attack.

So that's the reason why Blind has held the position since last January.

 

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48 minutes ago, Draakon said:

I'm playing my save youth only. After Tagliafico moved to Newcastle I have a small gap in development - we have a promising youngster in Prince Aning who could be that player. He has 'gets forward whenever possible' and 'runs with ball down left' traits that he picked up from Tagliafico, but he's 18 years old and not ready in Champions league or more important Eredivisie games, although in near future his game time could increase.

The other option is Kik Pierie - he was out on loan last season and has some problems with injuries, so I haven't been able to test him out too much, but his pace is better than Blind's and he has a decent crossing as well. However, he's more of a centre-back who is also natural in DL position, so he doesn't have necessary traits and is sort of average in everything (13 vision, 12-13 pace, good in the air, decent passing, but no attribute higher than 14). He's rated 2*/2,5* by my staff. In that regard he's similar to Blind - good option to keep things in order defensively, but less likely to provide anything in attack.

So that's the reason why Blind has held the position since last January.

 

 

Don't you have Salah-Eddine anymore?

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1 hour ago, Karlo said:

 

Don't you have Salah-Eddine anymore?

I allowed him to leave FC Utrecht in Summer. He's has attacking style, yes, but his attributes look very similar to Aning's. My staff rated Salah-Eddine as 3* potential and he isn't particularly outstanding in anything - a bit inconsistent, balanced personality etc.

Prince Aning had pretty much similar attributes to Salah-Eddine at the start of my save plus he was two years younger, so it made sense not to offer new contract to Salah-Eddine and go for Aning in long term.

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