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    Aigaleo: Youth Challenge

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  1. Tactical Evolution Review: Season 1 Results: League and Championship Play- Off. Final League Table: Previous Season Final League Table: As can be observed, we took huge strides forwards in terms of results, plundering 91 league goals this season as opposed to 65 the season previous season without sacrificing defensive solidity. Player Statistics: Statistical Analysis: Runners from deep (SVAttack, WAttack and SSAttack), the Trequartista and the Wide Playmaker. Runners from deep: Secundo Volante - Attack: Louis Silvani/ Dionysis Kalogeropoulos Winger - Attack: Telis Vafiadis/Hector Falconi. Shadow Striker - Attack: Thomas Jensen/Carles Ignacio. Collective Goals Scored: 32%. Wide Playmaker: Declan Wiseman/Argyris Rokas. Collective Goals Scored: 14%. Trequartista : Simos Antonakopoulos/Matthias Steinmann. Collective Goals Scored: 39% Goal scoring analysis: An encouraging contribution of goal scorers distributed amongst the player roles and expectations. A deeper dive into the goal scorers throws up the following observations: In the fixtures versus the bottom 5 teams the division (Chania, OFI, Asteras Tripolis, Panachaiki and Apolllon), excluding penalties scored, our runners from deep were the collective highest scorers in these fixtures - contributing 13 of the 28 goals scored. The Trequartista has produce tremendous goal scoring figures, securing the European Golden Shoe and proving clinical. BUT, 14 of those 30 goals were converted penalties: Furthermore, 3 of those 30 goals were scored from Direct Free Kicks and having painstakingly viewed each and every goal scored this season, I can state that another 6 were direct from a Throw In or Corner Kick routine. In essence, 23 of the Trequartista's 30 league goals were derived exclusively from Set Pieces culminating in a total of: - 7 goals in 30 games from open play. In comparison, of the 14 goals scored by the Shadow Strikers, only one goal was finished direct from a set piece with the other 13 goals all coming from open play. Total: - 13 goals in 30 games from open play. Furthermore, a similar pattern emerges with the other players within the tactical framework, with the majority of goals scored by the SVAttack, WAttack and the auxiliary goal scores predominantly effected from open play. Observations and Conclusions going forwards: The ongoing aim of this experiment is to evolve and maintain an existing successful tactic that can account for an increased reputation. I outlined a plan to do this by utilising runners from deep with a plan to deploy a Shadow Striker as my main goalscoring threat. Statistical and in-game analysis has revealed the following components of my tactic (penalty goals scored, wide distribution of goalscorers) that I can either look to: a) Develop further, harnessing the output that has proved fruitful domestically this season or b) Look to change, adjusting the tactical approach to ensure a more reliable approach from open-play or c) Embrace and adjust, accepting the surprise positive outcomes the tactic has produced whilst adjusting personnel and player traits to get more from my runners from deep (especially the Shadow Striker) and in the long-term ensuring our tactic has the potential to continue evolving toaccount an ever increasing reputation without being overly reliant on set piece mastery. Plan of Action With this information in - hand I will be persisting with the following tactical adjustments for next season: NONE. EG. If Run at Defence Team Instruction is assisting in winning penalties against clogged opposition defences, there is no reason to change this. However, I will be continuing to teach my players new Traits that I anticipate will dramatically alter chance creation and goal scoring distribution in the forthcoming seasons.
  2. How's it going? How to stop conceding too many goals? Sure up the defensive side of the roles and duties. Problem: Not wanting to lose attacking threat. I think the roles and duties for your front four are fine; as you have shown, scoring goals is not an issue. Here ar my thought: For optimal compactness (space between the lines) it can be effective to have the defensive line one notch higher than the line of engagement. This tends to work best when there is an equal distribution of players across the pitch (442, 4231 etc). However, you are running a top heavy formation with obvious space between the attacking and defensive units. I would in fact go the opposite direction. Rather than compact the space between the defense and midfield by raising your defensive line, embrace the players positioned high up the pitch and help your DM's execute the counterpress you are trying to attempt by raising the line of engagement. I would attempt something to this effect: Stay wider on LW. No other PI's: keep an eye on player traits! Here are my reasons: Two DM's support. This will instantly give you better protection in front of your back line. Sometimes people underestimate the impact of player traits; if I am correct JWP possesses playmaker traits and Tonali has Gets forwards whenever possible? With JWP on the left and Tonali on the right, with the neutral DM roles selected you will still see far varied execution of the role. Plus, by adding the Positive mentality, this will encourage Tonali to make those runs more often. Furthermore, with intelligent players in the roles, you will find one covers whilst the other holds, depending on the match situation. IWB instead of WB. This will bolster central support, aid the counterpress and by playing a Lefty here you will still get the width you desire. Remove Play out of defence and SK: Why would you want to lose the threat of those four high set attacking player? By distributing to centre backs, you are giving the ball to players who have four relatively 'safe' passing options close-by if needed and four others who could execute a devastating counter higher up the pitch. Let them decide. Standard DL and High LOE: With two DM's, the space where AM's or narrow wide players like to play is already occupied and what you may really need is a more clinical execution of the counterpress. My logic here is twofold: you are conceding many from through balls and long balls - a standard DL should remedy this. The Higher LOE will then mean your DM's and IWB are closer to the opposition when pressing, giving more chance of forcing a mistake and covering passing lanes. Furthermore, if they do 'break' the press and find the gap between your DM's and Defensive line, there is less space in behind to exploit as they are occupying a deeper starting position. Run at defence and WBIB: There is a large gap between your line and instructing players to run with the ball should ensure every individual is covering as much ground with the ball at feet to support their teammates. Just make sure you have accomplished dribblers (it seems you do). WBIB is to assist in your team - mates getting forwards in support if the ball is played early and there are no clear passing/crossing options available. I hope this helps!
  3. Before the CL second Leg I am just going to offer an update on the end of the regular season. For those not familiar, The top six will enter a Championship Play-off group with a home and away fixture. Suffice to say, with ten fixtures remaining we are shoe-ins for the league title: The evolution of the previous 'winning' tactic that had stopped producing success is proving an unequivocal success to-date. Through the season, the stronger teams in the division have attempted to attack us whilst the lesser teams have responded to our increased reputation by fielding bottom heavy formations with low-risk attacking patterns. All-comers have been swept aside: Even more pleasing are the attacking performances of my 'runners from deep' (SVAttack, WAtack and SS Attack) allayed with the creative output of my nominal playmakers (WPSupport and SVSupport. NB: Koutrobilas is a recent signing replacing Parianos but is already providing Key Passes left, right and centre) and the revelatory output of my TQ, whom has had free reign to drag opponents all over the length and width of the playing surface; his eye for goal is just a satisfying added bonus. Here are the cumulative statistics for our attacking play: And a wonderful diversity of supplies, finishes and goal scorers: Brief Observations and room for improvement: Unfortunately my Shadow Striker is determined not to learn the trait gets into opposition are but is still operating as on of my main attacking threats', finding the net 10 times 22 appearances. I am looking to bring this guy in for next season to replace my current starter: The SVAttack is still incredibly raw and can only offer more and more as next season dawns. 4 goals in 22 appearances this season is decent and am am hoping for him to be consistently reaching double figures as he enters his peak: That's enough for now. I will post again after the 10 fixture Championship Play-Off to see how the evolved tactic performs against the leagues top teams.
  4. Here is a good opportunity to test the efficacy of the attempt at tactical evolution. We are about to play the home leg of a the Second Round Knockout at home to European Giants PSG who have set - up in a 4141 DM. Now, due to the evolution still being in its infancy, I have been and will continue to field a fully rotated Second XI in European competition until the end of the season, at which point I will look to implement a stronger rotated XI in Cup competitions. Furthermore, I am not making any adjustments to the tactic I have been using since the beginning of the experiment. It is as follows: I am expecting a home defeat, approx. 1 - 2, or 2 - 3. I will update this post at the end of the fixture. Final Score As I had anticipated, our Second XI did not possess the quality to break down a well drilled PSG side oozing with quality. here is a quick comparative example: Our RB: Their LM: On a positive note, they did not score from open play and had to rely on an Indirect free Kick where my 18yo CB completely switched off. Not really his fault, he is just not goo enough yet: We created more chances against a superior opponent who sat deep, playing low risk, counter-attacking football. Our Shadow Striker (Ignacio) and our SVAttack (Kalogeropoulos) were the recipients of our best chances whilst our WPlaymaker (Wharton), BPDefender (Khalil) and our SVSupport (Tsiligiris) were the primary recipients of passes and the creative outlets within the team. In essence, the evolved tactic is producing patterns of play that I have planned, shifting the ball between a variety of creators with runners from deep coming from all the desired roles. It is only a lack of quality that has denied in a fixture where the opposition are set-up to deal with our higher reputation rather than the weakened Second XI I fielded. I am fully confident that my First XI would have torn them a new one. Those antics are something to look forwards to for next season. I will edit this post after the second leg to see if my Second XI can turn things around. As a brief domestic update, here is a look at how the evolved tactic is obliterating domestic competition, soundly putting away sides that are both attempting to attack us and others who are sitting deep (NB: the two draws were both 2-2 and away to Panathinaikos and Olympiakos. In both fixtures the opposition scored penalties and against Panatniaikos we were playing with 10 men for 45 mins. Next season I will be more flexible and 'tweak' the tactic in-game to account for emerging match situations. As the experiment is playing out this season, NO tactical changes have been made in any fixtures): And this is where we were at an almost identical time last season, with the previous tactical set-up: What a difference! Whilst we are far stronger in terms of pure player ability than the bottom seven teams, the top four possess players with comparative ability and are being dismantled in the same effective manner as those teams that are 'parking the bus', with bottom heavy formations. Here is a quick reminder of the players in my actual First XI: Champions League return Leg update to follow... Updated 18th March 2043: We could not undo the damage from the first leg and again, PSG exlploited our lack of ability at the back by scoring from two set-pieces and a mistake from our Right back. Our Second XI lacked creativity in DM and without supply, the attack was quite impotent. On the positive side, after watching the highlights there were multiple opportunities for our Twin SV's and WPlaymaker to play a killer pass to the flanks or through the middle, but the players lacked the vision and technique to attempt the pass in the first place. The SVAttack and SSAttack were both hesitant to get forwards, a further reason why player traits gets forwards whenever possible and gets into opposition area are a must have in this tactical approach (neither player has learned them yet, unlike in my First XI). I am looking ahead to next season when all players in our squad will have the desired traits taught. Still, not a terrible performance against a side that are far superior and had home advantage.
  5. This will be one of the main themes of the series, you'll be pleased to know. Hi. I am giving this a bash myself, I would appreciate your feedback IF you have the time, especially with any tips you can give me on how I am understanding the roles and duties and there relationship to mentality. This is where I am conducting the experiment: If not no worries, I look forwards to your future input regardless.
  6. Same here. That was why rather than change approach for those specific games I made a wholesale change to my tactic that was ready to deal with them without making changes. Brave and Clever; I think you missed out Lucky as well! I should probably add, before all tough my games I adjust my training schedule to include set piece training in: Defending Free Kicks and Defending Corners. Furthermore, After a lot of tinkering, I have some really solid Defending set - piece routines. When I finally got those right we started shipping far less goals from Throw-Ins and Indirect Free Kicks; at one point it felt like every goal we conceded started from a throw -in or IFK. That change made as big a contribution to my success as any Team Instructions could. Think less Clever, more Thorough. Hope this helps!!!
  7. Season 1: Mid - Season Review Things could not be going any better. We are flying in the domestic league and have secured progress from our ECL Group. As can be seen here, the performance domestically is extraordinary and will be examined in closer detail shortly: Analysis of Evolution 1) How then have the tactical changes affected our performances? 2) Is the evolution of the tactic producing results against teams with a lower reputation and moreover, are we creating high quality chances against teams set up to nullify us? 3) What are the reasons for the defeats against the larger teams in Europe? I will answer these questions by providing detailed analysis of player performances across a variety of indicators and by assessing a couple of matches against lesser sides on a more detailed level. Let's first look at the who is scoring the goals and/or who is our 'main goal scoring' threat. I outlined at the start of the experiment that I am determined to create patterns of play that will enable my Shadow Striker to occupy this role within the team. I am please to observe that not only is this the case, but it has been achieved with one of the least capable players in my First XI. Tactical Changes and Performances Shadow Striker - Attack. The Emerging Goal Scoring Threat. For others, 6 goals from 13 appearances may not seem a stellar return. For me though, this is more than I was expecting for a player that does not possess traits or attributes that push him into goal scoring positions closer to goal more frequently (absence of Gets into Opposition Area, 12, Acceleration/10, Work Rate). Here is our attacking output as a team: Thomas Jensen is second top score behind our Trequartista but upon further review it turns out 5/8 of Antonakopoulos's goals were converted penalties. I've missed a trick here, Jensen is a more accomplished PK taker and could quite feasibly be sitting on 11 goals in 13 games! That is a change I will be making immediately. Goal scoring opportunities are spread around the team and are largely falling to the feet of the players I intended to utilise as an attacking threat; The CF - TQ, CAM - SS, RM - WAttack (Vafidis and Falconi combined) and RDM - SVAttack are all finding themselves two or three chance a game. The real curve ball here has been the sensational output of the LM-WPSupport which I will elaborate upon here. LM: WidePlaymaker-Support: The Feint becomes the Threat! As I mentioned in my plan, I deployed a Wide Playmaker on the left side of midfield to act as a 'Feint' that could free up space for the Secundo Volante - Support (Parianos) inside him to exploit. Parianos has indeed been a creative spark, thriving on thee space created by the WP to lay on more assists, key passes and completed passes than any other team mate. Closer inspection has revealed that there is far more to the performances of the Wide Playmaker than meets the eye. Meet the man: The first thing that made me decide to dive deeper into analysis was the fact that he was, in fact, the leading shot taker in my team - despite the intention for him being a creative presence that would distract my opponents and create space for others to benefit. After reviewing highlights from our 13 fixtures to - date, I am unearthing some truly revelatory information that makes me feel this role and the player in it could be as critical to team performance as the twin SV's. Shooting analysis of WP: 1) 20 of the 51 shots that Wiseman attempted, were, in fact, back post headers delivered by the IWB or Winger whom could quite feasibly have picked out a different target. I think due to Wiseman being 187cm he seems a good choice but his 8 attribute for heading means this is not the best policy. I may apply a couple of cross aim Player Instructions on the RM and RB to resolve this. From the other shot attempts I observed, they were in -fact largely hitting the target and taken in positions where I feel there was a decent chance of finding the net. All in all, 3 goals from 13 games is a decent return to -date. Creative analysis of WP: This is where things start to get exciting. When watching highlights to find out why were were getting quite a few penalty decision, this guy stood out as a real menace. Of the five penalties that our Trequartista has converted, three were created directly by the Wide Playmaker as follows: Penalty 1: WP dribbles from the half -way line in the half channel before beating the Right Back who then fouls him on the edge of the 6yb. Penalty 2: After our RCB intercepts a long clearance against strong opposition (PAOK), the header lands at the feet of the WP who dances past the opponents CM and moves into the 18yb where a RB has no choice but to close down our WP and gives away a foul. Penalty 3: As we execute a short throw-in routine, our WP whips it in to the the feet of the TQ from the just outside the corner of the 18yb. The TQ is routinely pushed over as he controls the ball 6 yards from goal. Now, the FM data analysis machine does not treat these moments as an 'Assist' but I beg to differ and will add these to my overall impression. I could now argue that in 13 appearance, Wiseman has scored 3, assisted 6 and has been a constant menace with his ball carrying abilities (only second behind our RM - WAttack). Furthermore, he is ALSO fulfilling the duties as a 'Feint' for the LDM SVSupport, completing the second highest quantity of passes and key passes. NB: Wiseman does not possess any player traits and is performing admirably. I see no reason to add the previously planned traits as I feel I am getting more from the role as it is, than as I had actually planned!!! Building Play from Centre Backs I will not dwell here to much other than to say that the distribution of passes is spread around the back four exactly as I had hoped. After our WP and Twin SV's the RCB, LCB and RIWB see more of the ball than any other players. This is in accord with my instruction to distribute to central defenders and with 97 per cent pass completion ratios for both CB's it is clear that this route is a secure method of building attacking patterns of play and recycling the ball. CF: Trequartista - Attack. I think I am making Ibrahimovic. Top scorer (albeit 5 penalties - though you still need to convert them), fifth in chances created despite having received less of the ball than any other player and a danger from FK's. This player has got a lot more to offer. What is particularly pleasing is that whilst he is still learning Comes Deep to Get Ball, I observed multiple highlights where the opponent has sat deep across the 18yb and the TQ came deep (albeit walking ala Ibra), dragging up to two markers, freeing up space for our other players to attack the channels and wings around the box. Good news. RM: Winger - Attack. Possible switch to Wide Midfielder Attack in the future. Vafiadis and Falconi have performed this role to great effect, stretching the play and creating space for my SVAttack (Silvani) to exploit. The only issue I have is the persistence with crossing to the WP at the far post. The deliveries are good, with the two sharing a conversion rate equating to 15 per cent, finding their target an adequate amount of times, it is more the targeting to the WP that is causing the issue. In the first instance I am going to try the following: - Add cross aim Near Post to the player instructions. With a TQ occupying the CB's and an onrushing SS and SVAttack, if we do not recieve the ball direct from the cross there will be a good chance of picking up the pieces inn the breakdown. -If this fails, come the end of the season I may change the role to Wide Midfielder - Attack and adding Player Instructions to Stay Wider, Dribble More and Cross less Often. RDM: Secundo Volante - Attack. Ballack/Kante mutation. It will come, it will come, it will come. Despite the complete inexperience of Silvani, my vision of a Ballack/Kante super-breed is looking like it may actually manifest to in - game performances. Whilst he may have only scored 1 goal in 13 games, he is fourth in shots taken with an XG of 3.07. I am applying some serious finishing training to this guy and if he can get those attributes up to 11/12, I feel I should see some real increases in productivity! When defending, he has been superb, leading tackles made in my First XI , intercepting as required and using his work rate to harry players into mistakes. I am teaching him dives into tackle to make full use of that destructive power. Effects of mentality Shift, Team Instructions and performance against 'lesser' opponents. The Positive mentality has encouraged more risk in our play and we are creating far more chances than last season. The Team Instructions are translating well to the pitch and most importantly, we are seeing variety in our attacking patterns - scoring from a range of positions with a diverse supply line: Furthermore, in fixtures where teams have turned up bottom - heavy determined not to concede, we have secured victory whilst creating a fair quantity of quality chances: Please bare in mind that the first fixture highlighted against APDM, we were unfamiliar with our new tactic in what was our first game of the season. So yes, all - in - all, we seem to have adjusted well to our increased reputation with the tactic having evolved to be effective at dismantling inferior opposition to - date. Brief Defending Analysis (2 goals conceded): I haven't spoke much about defending, other to say we have only really struggled in Europe against top class opposition. Even then, I have been fielding a fully rotated Second XI and will pay more attention and analysis to it next season when current tactic and squad is in better shape for rotation. As a brief insight, I have executed what I promised and made no tactical adjustments when away to Roma, Chelsea and Zenit and paid the price in defeats accordingly. However, I watched the games, and we were creating good quality chances in these fixtures with a Second XI that is quite inferior to our opposition. This most recent evolution of the 4411 2DM shows real promise for dismantling lesser teams and maintaining a threat against teams equal to or greater than us as the quality of my players increases. Upcoming Changes: The evolution of my tactic has been far more successful to-date than I had anticipated. Based on what I have seen, I am going to play out the rest of the season in exactly the same fashion with the only changes being the following: - Adding Cross Aim Near Post Player Instruction to RBIWB and RM. - Begin to search for a world class player, willing to join our club, who could replace our current Shadow Striker Thomas Jensen in the First XI. - Also considering a World class replacement for Parianos at LDMSVSupport. His performance have been excellent but in reality, there are far better options out there if I could only entice them to Greece. I will not be selling Parianos, just keeping him in the wings to see if he progresses in line with our coaches predictions (I have run afoul of dodgy coach predictions too many times. For all I know this could be his peak - top level for the Greek Superleague, but not good enough for elite European competition). Time to identify a target and unsettle them, praise them and try to lure them here. Time to play out the season: All feedback is welcome
  8. Yeah, I think at one point I was selling a top potential player each season for 10m just to maintain financial security. This was pretty much an endless cycle until I made it into Europe by improving a tiny bit each season. You are definitely on the right track. If you remember my Aigaleo struggles we were in a very similar position: For Genk/Gent/Standard/Anderlecht I was facing trouble with Panathinaikos/AEK/Olympiakos/PAOK. Every year I felt that I would be lucky to get 1 point from those eight fixtures. It was at that point that I changed my team instructions, mentality and overall approach to deal specifically with these sides and by proxy, be better prepared for difficult European games that were around the corner. A more pragmatic and lower risk tactic was deployed that allowed me to win against the teams around me and below me (albeit by small margins), and take points of the 'big four'. It was this tactical shift that really moved the goalposts back in my favour domestically and ultimately saw us through to EURO Cup II and ECL victories. Furthermore, it was designed so that when my 'wonderkids' were snapped up, the demands of the deployed roles and duties meant a lesser player was able to step into the vacant position without a dramatic demise in performance. It is a big undertaking and comes with much risk. if I had got it wrong we would been in the doldrums for years. Just food - for - thought...
  9. I have finished pre- season and things are looking good. No time for a long post right now. I will play until the half-way stage of the season and post a full mid - season review tonight.
  10. Those roles could lend quite well to swift counter attacking transitions. If you have the quality, DLP and SV can work well together - just make sure your Left full back is mobile enough to cover ground!
  11. Hello to all. Thank you for all the encouragement made in completing the Youth Academy Challenge. I have enjoyed the playthrough so much that I have decided not to abandon it. I will continue my save, but use the vast bank balance I have acquired to push on and build a squad capable of dominating Europe and and able to deal with an increasing reputation (I Hope). If you wish to follow my progress I will be documenting it here: For all those still tackling the challenge I wish you luck. For my part, it has made me a better FM player and has brought immersion into a game that could easily become one dimensional. I am certain I will be returning to this forum/challenge for the newest version but until then I have other fish to fry. Thanks again.
  12. Maintaining and Evolving a Winning Tactic: club reputation and long - term success. Introduction The biggest challenge I face on any playthrough is evolving an existing tactic that has brought my team to the pinnacle of the game (League and Continental Champions) but begins to fail as the reputation of my club improves. The usual method I impose is to gradually increase the quality of my players to the point that I can continue to use a tactic that may have substantial flaws, but can continue to achieve success due to the cumulative ability of my players. This method is far from fool – proof: Domestically, for every 5-0 demolition of a mid-table team, there is often a turgid 0-0 draw with a team at the bottom of the table. On the continental stage, Champion’s League Group Stages are often swept through with aplomb, only to come unstuck against a top side in the latter stages who run a bottom - heavy formation, loaded with quality defenders, content to shut up shop and snatch a goal on the counter. Up until recently, I have always considered these difficulties as 'part of the game’ and something that is a necessary evil of managing a successful club. This may be true IRL to some extent (there are many examples of a Barcelona or a FC Bayern or other perceived ‘favourite’ misfiring against packed defences) but I find I experience it more often than the relative real-life norm in my playthroughs. In my latest playthrough, I am attempting to address my own tactical shortcomings by taking a team from the lower echelons of domestic wilderness to the pinnacle of Domestic and Continental competition. From there, I am hoping to sustain success and dominance by making slight changes (evolve) to my tactic to account for changes to my club’s reputation and the varied approaches of my opponents. Objectives Evolve a tactic that has brought domestic and continental success when it begins to fail – making changes to the tactic at the start of pre-season when club's reputation is the highest in the league and the media predict a 1st place finish. Give detailed explanation and assessment of the reason for changes made and the effects of the changes. Background I have recently had great joy completing the Youth Academy Challenge: https://community.sigames.com/forums/topic/531472-the-fm21-youth-academy-challenge/ I cannot speak highly enough of the community members participating on the forum and the educational benefits of the stipulations around the challenge. The long and short of it is that you have to take a team from the lowest level of the relevant domestic division to Domestic and Continental glory WITHOUT signing any players; relying solely on annual youth intakes. It is the participation and completion of this challenge that has offered me the opportunity to attempt to solve my outlined problems with evolving a tactic. Managing Aigaleo from the Greek Football Pyramid and despite being 500-1 underdogs, we managed to win the European Champions League two seasons ago to finally complete the challenge in season 2040/41 (If you are interested in how it unfolded, you can read about it here: https://community.sigames.com/forums/topic/531472-the-fm21-youth-academy-challenge/?do=findComment&comment=13248796 ). We also managed to secure the domestic title in four of the past six seasons despite being massive underdogs domestically. Due to a lack of comparative player ability, low club reputation and the relative strengths of our domestic rivals (PAOK, Olympiakos, AEK and Panathinaikos) we were winning titles despite our media predicted finish being no higher than 5th. Post Champions League success, Season 2041/42 proved far more challenging. Due to our Champions League success our reputation skyrocketed and for the first time the media anticipated a 3rd placed finish in the upcoming season. This increasement in expectation and elevation of club reputation correlated with the time I ‘usually’ experience the most difficulty when faced with the upcoming season. What followed was no surprise, as we crashed out of the CL in the First round Knockout Stage and struggled in the league. The Emergent Situation: Going into the 2042/43 and despite last season’s struggles, our reputation precedes us and for the first time we are expected to finish 1st in the Greek Superleague: The Current Tactic: 4411 2DM. Tactic 1: All home games and the majority of away games. Tactic 2: For use against any big-guns (All CL away games away against top league opponents and Home against top teams). Honours with tactic: As can be seen, the tactic has reaped widespread success, achieving domestic and European success as an underdog with a foundation built on a solid defence and patient attacking play. The object of this post is not, however, to extoll the virtues of my current success. In fact, the tactic in its current guise is one a few different variants that have been deployed with varying TI’s depending on the opposition. The most consistent factor, especially two seasons ago when we won the league and CL, was the use of a Balanced mentality over the entire course of the season, the stringent adherence to the 4411 2 DM shape and no changes to roles or duties, only the occasional shift in Team Instructions depending on the opposition and in – game situation. Intervention and Evolution As outlined, in order to adapt to our improved club reputation and position as domestic league favourites, now is the time for me to evolve a winning tactic through the following steps: Assess my current tactical shape, strengths and weaknesses within the context of our reputation as a ‘top club’. Try to evolve the tactic in-time for the start of the season, ready to take on the pressured position of league favourites and account for a ‘worldwide’ club reputation. Take stock of my playing squad, seeking improvements to complement any tactical changes. 4411 2DM: Strengths, weaknesses and development. I chose to deploy the 4411 2DM throughout the majority of my playthrough based on the following situational challenges: As a counter-measure to the proliferation of 4231 Wide, gegenpressing/control possession variants that I was frequently facing domestically and continentally. Due to the nature of the youth academy challenge, I was aware I would be the ‘underdog’ and deficient in comparative player ability in the majority of fixtures. By employing a bottom-heavy formation, I intended to restrict space in front of defence whilst utilising a distribution of roles and duties that offered multiple, safe passing options- allowing us to escape high-pressing opponents whilst relying on Pacier wide players to carry the ball into dangerous positions. Observations and changes made throughout the challenge: 1) When I first deployed the tactic in Greek Superleague 2, I made use of a Secundo Volante next to a Deep Lying Playmaker in the DM strata to decent effect. I attempted to continue with this upon promotion and was subsequently relegated. I quickly realised that with my players being comparatively lower in ability, I would need to devise roles and duties that were not overly demanding. 2) Pace out wide is critical. Over the course of approx. 22 seasons, I found that the 4411 2DM as I used it could operate well with a slow, target man type player up top, as long as there was Pace on either wing that could stretch the opposition. 3) The DM duo are the ‘key’ to the formation. Although success came with 2 x Defensive Midfielders on support duties, it proved critical that the players were not identical. Through all the successes, the LDM would be the more creative player and possess playmaker traits (Tries Kiler Balls Often/Likes to switch ball to Wider Areas etc.), whereas the RDM would be a more rounded player capable of getting up and down the pitch and competent in the art of defence. In this way, I sought to replicate the combination of a Deep Lying Playmaker and a Secundo Volante, without the excessive demands made by selecting the relevant role in – game. 4) A top - level Shadow Striker could be a game changer. In all seasons played, the SS’s I have used have not been up to standard but have still delivered decent results (one goal every three games). 5) The Team Instructions translate well on the pitch, with players behaving in accordance with their roles/duties and player traits. 6) The Team Instruction, mentality and player roles and duties are no longer suitable. Watching highlights from last season, opponents are not closing us down in earlier phases of play and once they are settled, the roles I have selected, in conjunction with a balanced playing mentality, are not offering enough off the ball movement, runs from deep or creative passes to penetrate stubborn defences. 7) Despite our recent successes, our players’ current ability is drastically less than our competitive rivals in the following positions: Entire back four (LB, CB, CB, RB) LM, AM, RDM. That is over half our team that is comparatively inferior to our opponents. 8) Due to the stipulations of the Youth Academy Challenge precluding the purchasing of any players, we have a very healthy bank balance standing at 404 million pounds, with a transfer budget of 200 million. As I have completed the challenge, now is the time to SPEND, SPEND SPEND. 9) Even with funds available, top-level players will be nearly impossible to attain; although our club reputation is worldwide, our division is still carrying a low overall reputation meaning top players from the big four leagues (England, Germany, Spain and Italy) are unlikely to come to our league. Astute purchases will need to be made of hungry youngsters not getting game time or top talent from the lesser leagues. Even these players will be a decent improvement on my current players. 10) The players I purchase in specialised roles must be capable of performing the Role and Duty I deploy at a standard level with, or superior to, my opposition. E.g., if I choose to use a Wide Playmaker, he should be of equal or greater current ability than the majority of players in the division. Plan of Action: Having scouted potential player availability, devise new roles and duties within the 4411 2DM shape that these new signings will fulfil, ensuring an inclusion of roles that can offer more support in the final third. Adjust team playing mentality to account for club reputation and aligning Team Instructions that can utilise the change to mentality. Implement Team Instructions that cater for both weaker opposition and stronger opponents using the same roles and duties. Purchase said players that can execute the envisioned tactic before the first fixtures of pre-season. Outcomes 1,2 and 3: 4411 2 DM and the dawn of the Twin Secundo Volantes. Summation of Key Changes: Changed playing mentality from Balanced to Positive. Raised the defensive line and reduced the urgency of pressing. Added low crosses. Removed Be More Expressive. Changed the roles of the GK, LM, LB, DM duo and RB. Roles and duties explained: At this point I do not have the players to execute the roles that I wish to implement. After thorough scouting and an estimate of the financial cost, I am confident that I will be able secure players of the required ability to execute these roles as I envision them within the tactic. What I will outline here are the performance expectations of the chosen roles and a specification of player traits that I intend to teach (or are already possessed) in order for the tactic to become unpredictable in attack and calm in possession, without compromising defensive stability. GK - Defend: I am anticipating to add far more quality at centre back, with a CB pairing that are competent at maintaining possession and spreading the play. As such, I want my GK to solely focused on keeping clean sheets, organising the defence and distributing the ball to a centre back pairing that can then begin attacking patterns of play. Left Back. Wing back - Support (Gets Forward Whenever Possible): With a Wide Playmaker – Support in front of him, Secundo Volante - Support ahead of him and a Winger – Attack on the opposite side of the pitch, the LWB has multiple responsibilities. He must cover for potential advancing of the SV - Support in later phases of play, using his intelligence to overlap and offer width when he deems appropriate. In attack, he is the choice to stretch play outside the Wide Playmaker and offer a passing option on the left side of the pitch. When we are attacking deeper set opposition; I see this role being ideal for either recycling play back to the twin SV’s or finding space for a cross to an onrushing Shadow Striker/SV - Attack or the RW – Attack or indeed the roaming Trequartista. A support duty was chosen as on a Positive mentality, an Attack duty would apply a riskier approach that could force too many crosses and ignore the creativity provided by the Wide Playmaker and SV’s inside him. By ensuring the player possesses the trait gets forwards whenever possible, I am aiming to encourage forwards runs when the opportunity arrives without taking too many risks in the early phases of transition as may be the case with an attack duty. Left Centre Back. Central Defender – Defend: Nothing flamboyant here. I will be seeking a capable passer with adequate Pace (13 or over) to operate effectively in a higher defensive line. With the GK distributing to centre backs, he will often be the starting point of our attacking patterns and has both short and long passing options available to him. Right Centre Back. Ball Playing Defender – Defend (Dictates Tempo, Brings Ball out of Defence): With the Winger – Attack and a Secundo Volante – Attack on the right side of the pitch, I am encouraging a little more creative freedom from this player whom will have more space to move into and less safe passing options. Whilst defending ability is always a priority, I am seeking superior mental attributes above all else, with Composure and Decision being a priority. Where these attributes may be lacking, I will make do with superior technical skills as a secondary priority. Pace above 13 is again a necessity. Right Back. Inverted Wing back – Support: I was torn between a Defend and a Support duty here as there are four attack duties on his side of the pitch. It is for this very reason that I finally opted for a support duty. With the SV – Attack bombing forwards at every opportunity, the Shadow Striker trying to get into the box and the Winger – Attack attempting to stretch the play by hugging the touchline in front of him, a Defend duty could well have left the IWB isolated, with the only passing option being long, or back to the CB pairing. With a support duty, in possession, he is likely to occupy the space vacated by the SV – Attack only when the left sided SV – Support is also moving forwards and will more often be available either to the right of the Left sided SV – Support or behind the Winger - Attack as an option to recycle the play. When defending, although the players in front of him have attacking duties, there presence in the lower strata of their positional options means they will be defending in close proximity to one another as is the benefit of a bottom-heavy formation. NB: If I was managing a team with a lower reputation and less able players and if I was determined to use the Secundo Volante - Attack (perhaps it was a star player), I would certainly implement the IWB on defend duty whilst lowering the line of engagement to prevent our players starting transitions too far apart. Left Midfielder. Wide Playmaker – Support (Comes Deep to Get Ball, Dictates Tempo, Runs with Ball through Centre, Plays One - Twos): In my tactical design, I am deploying this role NOT to operate as the primary playmaker, but to operate as a FEINT, allowing the Secundo Volante – Support inside him to be the primary creative genius. With this role being a ball magnet, technical proficiency is a must as is the capacity to go past defenders. With a Left Wing Back offering width behind and beside him and multiple players (SV – Attack, Winger – Attack, SS, Trequartista) working hard to make forward runs ahead and to the right of him, I am expecting the Wide Playmaker to excel in a variety of situations: 1) Is there space to dribble into? I f yes, do it. With a roaming Trequartista and a Shadow Striker operating in tandem, there is a possibility that even an opponent deploying two Defensive midfielders could vacate a space in the middle of the pitch that I intend for the Wide Playmaker to exploit (runs with ball through centre). 2) Are the opposition restricting my space? If yes, good. This is the primary intention of the role – as the opposition seek to nullify our ‘playmaker’, his movement to collect the ball deep can free up the SV – Support who is then liberated as a forward moving playmaker (I will discuss this shortly). 3) Where’s my Trequartista? The only other playmaker role in the team should be gravitating towards the Wide Playmaker. If the pass is on, I expect it to be taken. 4) Where's the winger? If the Winger - Attack is in possession, the Wide Playmaker should be offering a long crossing option or a lateral passing option between the Winger/TQ/SV and SS. 5) Find the Wing Back. A willing left back will be offering frequent supporting runs and this may well be the most viable option to stretch the opposition. 6) Play the killer ball. If indeed the final pass is on, the role and instructions will ensure the opportunity to split the opponent’s defence is attempted. Left Defensive Midfielder. Secundo Volante – Support (Tries Killer Balls Often, Likes to Switch Play to Wide Area, Tries Long Range Passes, Plays One – Twos, Looks for the Pass Rather than Attempting to Score): I was so close to opting for a Regista in this role, but that is not entirely what I want from the position. The most important factor I am looking to consistently have in my team is support in the final third and unpredictable attacking patterns. The 4411 2DM is bottom heavy and without players arriving from deep, there will be no players in and around the box to occupy the opposition’s defenders. A Regista would have seen a lot of the ball with the tactical framework I am implementing, but his roaming behaviour and magnetism as a playmaker would have left me potentially exposed defensively and lacking penetrative runs on the left side of the pitch. With the player traits I am looking to teach, I see the chosen role as a box – to box playmaker, offering more vertical movement than a Regista and maintaining tactical defensive discipline whilst possessing a creative skillset that can unpick a defence from any location on the pitch (I want a lot from this role). The in-game description of the Secundo Volante – Support is the aspect I am looking to make full use of, “With a support duty, the Secundo Volante will look to support the attack whilst picking and choosing his opportunities to arrive late in the opposition’s penalty are”. I will not be applying any PIayer Instructions to this role, instead relying on the players mental fortitude (Decisions, Composure, Flair, Vision and Teamwork) and player traits to choose when to hold the fort, when to spread the play, when to recycle, when to dribble, when to enter the box and when to offer a threat from distance. I expect this player to see more of the ball than any other and as such should excel technically. When defending, I am looking for competent defending attributes (10 plus in Tackling, Marking, Positioning) as this player will be tasked with covering for the Secundo Volante - Attack to the right of him and will find himself in situations where tackling is not only required but necessary. Furthermore, pressing left at default in the team instructions this player will also find himself in a position to intercept the ball and as such, Anticipation and Work Rate are desires as a priority (13 plus in both attributes). NB: I am not completely ruling out the use of a Regista in the future. To implement this, I would change the Wide Playmaker - Support to an Inverted Winger – Attack and the Wing Back - Support to a Defend duty. This is just food for thought at the moment. Right Defensive Midfielder. Secundo Volante – Attack (Gets Forwards Whenever Posible, Dives into Tackles): I am thinking Michael Ballack crossed with little bit of Ngolo Kante! I want this guy to be a destroyer (13 plus in Tackling, Aggression and Bravery) who can also get forward and finish off attacking moves. Even though he is on an attack duty, his position within a Defensive Midfield pairing means I expect him to contest a high quantity of battles for possession and needs to be capable of using the ball when possession has been won. Pace, Stamina and Work Rate are critical and need to be at an elite level (15 plus but the higher the better). With a Winger – Attack stretching play to his right and a creative Trequartista ahead of him, he should at least be competent (10 plus in relevant attributes) in the air (Jumping, Balance and Heading) and at Finishing (Long Shots, Finishing and Technique), as wide deliveries and/or cut backs are sure to come his way. Right Midfielder. Winger – Attack (Likes to Beat the Offside Trap, Plays One – Twos, Moves into Channels): I need this guy to stretch the play at full throttle. Finishing ability is a real desire as are the mental attributes needed to consistently beat the offside trap (Off the Ball, Anticipation, Decisions) and physicality (Pace, Acceleration, Agility). I am erring whether or not to add moves into channels as this player is the primary source of width on the right-hand-side. However, starting from a wide position, a movement into channels could interplay effectively with the direct running of a Secundo Volante – Attack and the inside out runs of a Shadow Striker. In addition, once he has moved into a channel, the Inverted Wing Back still has the option of occupying the wider playing position if the middle of the field is congested. I think I am going to teach it. Central Attacking Midfielder. Shadow Striker - Attack (Gets into Opposition Area, Plays One – Twos, Shoots from Distance): I am desperate to finally deploy a tactic where this player becomes my main goalscoring threat. It is the sole reason for my deployment of a Trequartista up top as I will be teaching the Trequartista to Come Deep to get the Ball, leaving my Shadow striker as the most advanced attacking player depending upon how the attacking transition plays out. The roles and duties around him are designed to give him: Supply: Through balls from the Trequartista, Wide Playmaker and SV’s. Crosses from the Winger – Attack, Left Wing Back - Support and occasionally from the RIWB. Short passes to feet outside the box from all players (shorter passing, work ball into box). Direct balls from the Centre Backs. and space: Trequartista roaming, moving centre backs around. Winger - Attack occupying Full Backs. Secundo Volantes and Wide Playmaker distracting Defensive/Central Midfielders whom may track his run. With the Shoots from Distance trait, I want to encourage any chance to score a goal and as such will look for a player with excellent Long Shots, Technique, Flair and Decisions. Centre Forward. Trequartista – Attack (Comes Deep to get the Ball, Likes Ball played into Feet, Tries Killer Balls Often, Plays One – Twos. Special Case Player Instruction: Hold Up Ball): Here is what I know I do NOT want from my Trequartista: I have not selected this role to be the primary creator in my side. I am not planning on this player being the teams primary goalscoring threat. I do not want this player to lead any form of pressing against the opposition. Hmm. This seems contrary to the expectations of the role. What then DO I want from the selected role? Space, Space and more Space! Link Up Play Unpredictability. I deployed a Deep Lying Forward – Support in this role for most of my save. What I found was that even with players possessing high ratings for Off the Ball and Work Rate and possessing the trait Comes Deep to get the Ball and selecting the Player Instruction to Roam from Position, I could not get the Deep Lying Forward – Support/Attack to vacate the Centre Forward position as often as I would like either vertically or laterally – thus maintaining the occupancy of the space I was trying to vacate for the Shadow Striker, Winger - Attack and supporting Secundo Volantes. There are Team Instructions or tactical changes I could have deployed to facilitate this: Instructing the team to play wider, freeing up space centrally between the Secundo Volantes/Defensive Midfielders for the Centre Forward to move into. Playing the Shadow Striker off-centre to free up space directly behind the Centre Forward. Others may know more examples. This, for me, is not a solution. I do not want to create too much space centrally as both of my defensive midfielder are adventurous going forwards and would leave a huge gap in the middle of our defensive third for the opposition to exploit. Furthermore, I am happy with the potential interplay of all other roles and duties and do not want to sacrifice my tactical design aimed at moving players into the attacking third from deep positions in order to facilitate a role chosen to be complimentary to the others, rather than primary in purpose. These observations and stipulations are what persuaded me to use the Trequartista. After deployment in the final two seasons of my playthrough, (including the Champions League success) I immediately saw the Trequartista excelling in multiple ways that fulfilled the requirements that I needed for the role: On multiple occasions, when our deeper players were in possession, the Trequartista would come deep to affect the play, when I could visibly see him move past the Shadow Striker who was then ready to pounce on any indecision from the opposition’s central defenders. When we were higher up the pitch, the Trequartista would alternate between coming deep and playing off the shoulder depending on the supporting positions of the rest of my players. In transition, he would often dwell on the ball when supporting players were not close by, allowing teammates to get forwards in support. This is in no doubt aided by the implementation of the Hold Up ball Player Instruction and the player possessing high ratings for First Touch 18, Composure 14, Strength 14 and Balance 17. When an opponent camped, he would often come wider looking for the ball, vacating a penalty box that could then be attacked by four other supporting players. When there was the opportunity, he would dribble at the defence- varying his attacking pattern leaving the opposition unsure what to expect whenever he received the ball. It was not so much what he was doing with the ball, but without it. This was achieved with a developing 18-year-old and I cannot wait to see what more can come from this role as I deploy my other roles and duties around him. In addition, the roles supporting behind him were not SV’s but Standard Defensive Midfielders - Support with Player Instructions added. I am hoping the twin SV’s will offer a greater opportunity for the Trequartista to turn provider, with the penchant to Hold up the Ball allowing their late runs and willingness to Play One – Twos to be fully utilised. Team Instruction Explained: Less is More In Possession: Shorter Passing When defending, shorter passing can be used to take advantage of a bottom-heavy formation that has multiple options for a close pass nearby. This should enable secure possession play against superior opposition who are attempting to press and also prevent our less adventurous players from bypassing the midfield at the start of an attacking transition. In attack, we will be relying on the Off the Ball movement of our players to play around the opposition in short triangles that appear all over the pitch. By deploying roles with a high degree of creative freedom (Wide Playmaker, Ball Playing Defender, Trequartista, 2 x SV) I am relying on my players Traits, Decisions, Anticipation and Vision to attempt longer passes when and if preferable. Run at Defence This is to ensure that all our advancing players are eating up as much ground as possible with the ball, promoting players into supporting positions and tempting more cautious opponents to commit to a one-on-one dual that can be avoided at the last moment with a simple pass to a nearby team mate. Work Ball into Box Playing on Positive mentality with a roaming Centre Forward and supporting runs coming central and late, I wanted to prevent my players from playing risky balls into a penalty box that may, at times, be completely vacated. A Winger – Attack may struggle with this instruction as it almost seems counter-intuitive to the direct instructions the player is asked to perform. However, due to the Winger - Attack starting from the Midfield strata, he has the opportunity to use his dribbling skills to get the by-line, where the cross could indeed be on and if not, a Secundo Volante – Attack could be arriving for a crossed cut-back. Low Crosses We have a lot of players arriving towards the end of the attacking phase and they should be in enough space to receive a low cross to feet. In addition, this should encourage our Wider players to find onrushing players rather than stationary players as they will have a ‘line of sight’ to see the player they are trying to find with a low cross. In Transition: Distribute to Centre Backs I intend to build from the back and make full use of the close knitted passing triangles the 4411 2DM provides. I may apply Regroup situationally but rarely counterpress. The shape of the formation does not lend itself well to this and I would look for other ways to pressure the opposition mid-game (OI’s, pressing traps, pressing urgency) Out of Possession: Higher Defensive Line and Higher Line of Engagement. My defenders will be Pacey allowing them to operate higher up the pitch. In conjunction with the Higher Line of Engagement this will prevent passive teams from having too much time on the ball in their own half, whilst ensuring that our players are compact enough to deal with more accomplished movement and passing executed by elite teams. I rarely run a high block, but feel in this bottom-heavy formation, it will ensure our deeper players are closer to opposition midfielders when attempting to break up play. Outcome 4: Assembling the Squad. After a spending the last four months of last season pre-empting my plan to evolve my tactic, I have secured eight new signings for my First XI with four others purchased to surpass the standard of the remaining players within the next three years. I raised 165 million in player sales and spent 487 million in acquisitions and have 118 million remaining for the winter break if things aren’t going to plan. This has all been completed prior to our first game of the pre – season. Line up: GK – Defend. New signing. Left Back. Wing Back – Support. New signing. LCB. Central Defender – Defend. New signing. RCB. Ball Playing Defender – Defend. New signing. RB. Inverted Wing Back – Support. New signing. LM. Wide Playmaker – Support. New signing. LDM. Secundo Volante – Support. RDM. Secundo Volante – Attack. New signing. RM. Winger – Attack. CAM. Shadow Striker – Attack. New signing. CF. Trequartista – Attack. Conclusion and observations to – date: Even though I spent days IRL scouring the market, I could not find a top-level player to occupy the Shadow Striker position who was better than the purchase I have made. I did however purchase a top young prospect who could easily surpass the current starter by the beginning of next season. My Secundo Volante - Attack is young and lacks finishing ability and may struggle against stronger opposition. The Trequartista is still young and again, may struggle against stronger opposition. The purchases Full Backs on both sides look well suited to the task at hand. Most of the players do not possess the player traits I desire and will be learning them over the course of the season. The Wide Playmaker may take some time to gel as he is wholly unfamiliar with the position, although he does possess the required attributes. I would like to reiterate before I proceed with pre –season that the objective here is to evolve an existing tactic to account for a change in my club’s reputation and our perceived status as a favourite in most encounters. Now, under normal circumstances I would make slight adjustments to our playing style and Team instructions when facing a team with a higher reputation in order to secure a potential victory. This is most likely to occur in European competition but is NOT something I will be doing this playthrough. I will persist with the distribution of roles and duties that I have selected with the ambition being that not only will they be able to secure victories against lesser opponents, but also achieve success against stronger opponents as my player’s ability improves and they start to acquire the player traits I am attempting to teach them. In addition, to understand how the tactic first emerged in alignment with our previous reputation, I would encourage all those interested to digest the posts I made in the Youth Academy Challenge previously linked. For those still reading I commend you for your determination and welcome all and any feedback. Time to play in the primordial soup.....
  13. Thanks and thank you for maintaining a thread/challenge that could have slipped away without hard-work. Best FM experience ever.
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