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How I setup an unknown Team

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Hello all,
this is one of my approaches to setup a team.
This is useful when you don’t have a certain idea in mind e.g. I am trying to recreate Mourinhos Roma (like I tried here) but have more freedom and start at a team you don't know.

Step 1 The Goal

You might have an idea what to do, but your new employer sets the goal so lets take a look at what the board wishes:
Image: Club Vision

You can ignore some of this when you perform good enough but it's a good starting point.
Our Board wants to win the league that's gonna be hard but tells us something about our quality.
More importantly we have to play "entertaining footbal" as the tooltip states "expansive, entertaining and attractive football" you have some ways to achieve that but for nmow let's just keep that in mind(or some notebook/notepad).

Step 2 Take a look at your flock

Now we head to the squad menu. All we need for now is a quick overview of our players ability. Splendid we have a Column that is called like that I use a custom view but you can set up one yourself or use one of the premade ones).
We sort our players by ability. Make sure you have set the right guy to provide player reports in the Staff responibilities, to get an as good report as possible.
Obviously you can evaluate all players in any custom way you chose, for now you just need a sorted list.
Image: my player overview screen

Step 3 Find your Star(s)

Going by Ability we have two players how are clearly abov the rest. Özil and Gustavo. Normaly I have 0-3 players that are way better than everyone else.
So we will need a formation that allows those two to play their favored positions.
Özil wants to be an AMC (who would have thought?),
Gustavo is fine with eiter DM or CM.

Step 4 The Formation

So we know we want somthing with at least an AM and either a CM or a DM position. That leaves us plenty of Formation options we should narrow that down a bit.

Lets take a look at som other "better" players

Tufan MC
Kahveci MC/AMC
Pelkas AMC
Perotti AML/AMC

I decided to stop at Sosa as he is the las 4 1/2 Star rated player. You don't have to, but In this step at most look at your 10 best players excluding you keeper(you are forced to have one of those anyway).

We have some more players who want and can play AMC or CM positions. with an abundance of AMCs we probably want something with two or more like a 4-2-3-1 Narrow or a 4-3-2-1. That at least were the first formations I have thought of.

Now lets look at the Rest of the Squad and their positions
And some more players... I got lazy here.
What I saw few real Wingers(AMR/AML or MR/ML), 4 Strikers so a two striker formation could be an option.
Also that will be hard when trying to incorporate all the AMC and CMs. The only possible way I can think of would be to cut back a midfielder and field  an 4-2-2-2 Narrow.
With just one Striker we could play a 5-2-2-1 for example, but we lack the amount of good CBs we would need. So we are once again back at four at the back formations.

Trying to incorporate all the Central Midfielders and taking into account we should be at least somwhere around the first place, meaning we will have the ball and be attacking a bit more, I will set up a 4-2-3-1 Narrow.

I just let the Tactics creator setup the default 4-2-3-1 and I will fill it with players who I think will be the players that start the most:
Image: 4-2-3-1 Narrow, Default roles and duties

Step 5 Set your Stars

Now that I have a possible first eleven let's look at their strength and weaknesses, starting with our two stars, skip this if you have no Starplayer.
We will start with Özil:
Image: Özile Details

The Game/Assistant says Özil is most suited to be an AP-Su, can't really argue with that. He is alread set and placed in that role so nothing to do right?
Wait we don't know where Özil want to play let's check that quickly

Iamge: Özil side preference

Okay he wants to be in the center so we really are set.

Now Gustavo:
Image: Gustavo Profile

He prefers to be left in a pair and central in an three, best suited as a CM-De. Role fits side not so lets move him to his side.

Step 6 Let the Star(s) shine

Well we have now some roles and duties set for our best players now we should give them opportunities to shine.
If you have no standout players look at what your Team is good in the Comparison Screen at and gear the tactic towards that.

Gustavo is defensively minded so I will ignore him a little bit and focus on Özil.
He is an AP-Su so he needs to feed someone. I think ideally our Striker.
Currently our Striker is set to be and AF-At, that would be fine, what else would be good for Özil?
A Poacher, trying to break the offside line, A Pressing Forward on Attack a Complete Forward on Attack or maybe even a Targetman on Attack.
Obviously I don't want the Striker to drop in the hole that is already occupied by Özil so DLF, F9,Treq, and most Support and Defend Strikers are of no use fo us.

Let's evaluated our Striker my first idea was to play Valencia up top.
Image: Enner Valenca profile

The assistant says Pressing Forward Attack or AF would be good choices. But look at that finishing 11 and that composure 11 I want him to slot away chances Özil provides not to frustrate Özil by him wasting them.
Let's look at some of our other Options up front:
Image: Comparison Samatta and Thiam

Finishing both are eqaul and better than Valencia, Samatta appears to be the overall best choice, so I will slot him in and assess him.

My assistant rates him as a Pressing Forward an Advanced Forward but not as a Poacher…
I wanted a Poacher because than he would be more focused on the inside of the box as a Advanced forward the striker tends to drift but well we can probably find a solution for that.

Striker AF-A Samatta

Now lets look at the two AMCs besides Özil:
Pelkas is not good finishing but has decent Longshots and Dribbling.
Can can somewhat finish and is pretty rounded with some Flair and Dribbling.
I will probably stick with Attacking midfielder Roles Pelkas on Support and Can on Attack.

AMCR AM-Su Pelkas

Now to the Man besides Gustavo. I want some runs from deep but also defensive work rate sounds to me like a BoxToBox midfielder and luckly for me Ozan will fit that. I seem to be quite lucky with the players so far. No big changes needed for what I want to support the main stars.

CML CM-De Gustavo
CMR B2B-Su Ozan

Now you can already see my right side is Support heavy. We can either enhance that by having the Fullback on support as well, so having our right side as a ball circulating side or exploit the Supporting midfielders by pushing our FB forward.
Again first look at what the player or any alternative can do. Sangare is quite capable. So we are free to decide. Since I have no Wingers I think I should push both my Fullbacks forward. So he will be a Wingback-At well as the LB.
I will have to take a few looks in friendlies if this is to attacking or not but this is our first draft.

I won’t do fancy things with my CBs bot are devent but nothing spectacular so CD-De it is.

LB FB-At Novak
CDL CD-De Serdar
CDR CD-De Tisserand
RB FB-At Sangare

Goalkeeper: Decent but nothing spectacular either. Knowing we shall play entertaining which for me means with some form of a high line, I will designate him a Sweeper-Kepper Defend nothing fancy but still sweeping when necessary.

Step 7 Style/Instructions

Here we take into account what our Board wants, who we are, and what players we have.

  1. The Board wants attractive Football
  2. We are one of the Top teams
  3. We have overall decent player that will allow us many styles

So I will try to focus on the attractive football part.
While that is subjective I love myself some good defensive displays in FM Terms that means: Possession and Scoring Opportunities (for us we don’t want to entertain the opposition).
Be free to choose what you think will deliver the expected or your desired style.

In Possession

So we want possession and chances so maybe shorter passing with higher tempo to move the ball around? Obviously we want to play to from the back to keep possession. Since most teams will be quite defensive and narrow against us we should setup a little bit wider to stretch them. In front of goal I will give the players more freedom to be expressive they should be good enough to deliver.
If we waste chances we can look at work ball into box.
If I still had Enner as my striker I would have altered the crossing to focus more on driven or even low crosses but Samatta allows us more freedom in that approach as well.

Image: First Draft in Possession Instructions




In Transition.

I think Counter-Pressing can work but I will not focus on it. We also don’t need to counter at every opportunity so I will also ignore that.

Opposition instructions

We want to have the ball. But we don’t need to press like maniacs I think so we will just move the defensive line a little bit higher. And due to our formation we will try to force the opposition inside (I will try to look how that plays out in friendlies. If it doesn’t work we will play Standard.).
We will press a little bit more and that should suffice for a first draft.

Image: Opposition instructions

I will leave it on Balanced but control or attacking might be good as well.

You have no Idea how to implement a certain style?
The presets give a good overview of what instructions can be a good use for a tactical style so look at them first if you have absolutely no clue how to deliver a certain style. Than tinker around a bit you don’t have to copy it 100%


Step 8 Individual instructions

I rarely use them.
You can do a lot of fine tuning here, look at some of BustTheNet( Rashidis) Stuff, but you can also hamper a decent approach by being to micromanagement heavy with too little knowledge.
If I had two good strikers in a one striker system, one a Targetman the other a Advanced Forward, I would probably have each one of them set up to switch to their fitting role in my tactical setup rather than forcing them to do stuff they are no good at.
Or if I have Fabregas in CM but no other CM who is a good Playmaker I will have them set up to play suitable roles and duties for the tactical setup. Again I will not ask Fabregas to be a destroyer nor will I ask a pure destroyer to be my playmaker.
If I have a player with a phenomenal attribute (for the league) e.g. longshots or dribbling and he is in a role that is indifferent to that attribute I might tick it for him.

Step 9 Refinement

Play some friendlies look at the games does it work like you expect it to? Than well done with the first draft, but if something is seriously of, e.g. you are not producing, you can’t keep possession or something else, try to analyze “why that major thing is not working” and experiment with different ways to solve it maybe at half time to have two halve to compare.
If the broad approach is steady, play some League games, these are your first real test. Again look at the broader picture does your tactic do what you want? E.g. keep possession or keep the opposition away from goal, than focus on the details. Why are you not wining, why are you conceding unnecessary, why is your Starplayer not shining/involved.

  1. I played some Friendlies and got quite a lot of goals conceded from passes between a cb and a wb so I removed the force opposition inside.
  2. I played some stronger teams and noticed I want to have an easy way to make approach changes, so I switched my WB-At to Wingbacks Automatic changing default mentality to Attacking. Removing the play wider Instruction.
  3. The B2B didn’t penetrate the space between the two AMs infront as much as I wished so because of the new mentality I made him an CM-Automatic
  4. Against one of the stronger teams we were beat through the middle a lot so I instructed my faster CB to cover.

Image: refined tactic after preseason

Step 10 Plan B and C

We now have a main tactic but it will probably not hold up against every opposition, thankfully FM allows us to prepare 3 Tactics.
Those are plan B and C.
My Plan B often is a slight alteration of the main tactic. Either in roles/duties or even in Formation terms.
 E.g. 4-2-3-1 to 4-3-3 to take the opposition AM out.
Maybe If the Opposition is not playing with two Striker I can use the “Free Defender” e.g. switch from two CD-Des to a CD-Co (seems to cover the Striker as I have learned here and observed myself afterwards ) and a CD-St who steps out and kills people in the hole between Defense and Midfield. Without changing the Formation at all.
Maybe if the Oppostion plays with Wingbacks while I have a Fullback and a Winger I can have the Fullback more attacking using our numerical advantage here. Maybe if it’s the other way round I have the Wingback more reserved or have someone in midfield more defensive minded.
There are a lot of possibilities which small change you focus on here.

That’s the Simple Plan B small changes to counter things you encounter more frequently.

My Plan C is often more drastic.
In case of this Fenerbace side I will meet some other Strong sides so maybe I want a more defensive approach.
As I laid out one of my Ideas was to have a Christmastree 4-3-2-1 Formation. Which is inherently more defensive as my 4-2-3-1. You could argue that is still a small formation change in a Plan B style change but here most of the times my instructions change more. If this is my “Underdog” tactic it will play like that, focus on not getting beaten horribly maybe even have the lucky punch.

But I could also face more stubborn opposition needing more of a Crowbar to open them up. If this is my “Ram” tactic it will play like that. Geared to break oppositions down by force not technique.
You could even spend both your spare tactics for a defensive and an offensive tactic. But mostly your main tactic should be more in one camp or the other. You will rarely be 100% balanced.

Obviously you should also work on these approaches during the preseason because plugging them in when you need them and they are totally untested for the team could backfire.

Closing Words

With that I have set up a team I do not know anything about. If I see something during games I will look into that and maybe alter the tactic a bit more.
Maybe my transfers will have impact on the club e.g. new star players so I have to rework this. Maybe new Squadplayers that fill niches better or differently e.g. a new striker who could be an awesome poacher.

I hope this helps at leas someone to get started with the big picture when starring down a lst of 22+ players not knowing what to do.

What do you guys do?
How do you tackle an unknown team?
Do you force players in your system or do you setup a system for the players?
How do you deliver a certain style?
Are you good with individual instructions, leave me some tips. Or are you more hands off like I am?










Edited by robot_9x3
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