After some renewed interest in this thread (ok - one post) I thought I might do a bit more of a detailed post. I have a feeling this is going to be long so fair warning....
This ended up not being an Ancelotti tactic in my opinion. Also, I changed saves from Everton to Hansa Rostock so there will be some flipping between games and positional changes to suit players. Finally, tactics are not my forte. Feel free to constructively criticize or add suggestions. I feel most of the time I end up at a successful tactic through pure luck so the following will show my thinking but should not be taken as gospel.
In the beginning the Collyers created the heaven (and possibly the hell)
As per a lot of people here I wanted to emulate a tactic from real life, in my case Ancelotti at Everton. Perviously in most of my saves I tend to use narrow tactics (3-5-2, 4-4-2 diamond) or jag a tactic that works when it really shouldn't (I used Davie Selke as a trequartista in FM17 because it worked in the 4-4-2 2xDM I created). Because Ancelotti has been at a lot of successful clubs there are a lot of resources to guide. Unfortunately as the above shows I really struggled to implement what he is doing at Everton. I ended up straying from what I believed some of the on-field roles are (particularly the two strikers). Not only did I want to be Ancelotti I also wanted to be successful. This is a game afterall.
I did end up winning a Premier League title with Everton but I feel it was through luck. I had the lowest goals for of the top 4 (fourth overall) and second highest goals against for the top 4 (again fourth overall). I did happen upon a tactic that worked though:
RB: Cut inside with ball
LB: Dribble more
RW: Close down more, Mark tighter, Tackle harder
LW: Close down more, Mark tighter, Tackle harder
RCM: Take more risks, Get further forward, Move in channels
RST: Close down more, Mark tighter, Tackle harder
Probably the most interesting thing here is the move of the IWB-Su to a FB-At. This come down to the hard-coded PI's more than anything. I wanted the FBto be in a dangerous secondary area (top of the box on the right hand side) to be an option for long shots but still be keen to cross if he happened to overlap the winger. I didn't want him trying riskier passes, crossing less or dribbling more. The attacking movement I wanted was off the ball, not on it.
The BPD role changed depending on who was in the position. It quite often was just a CD-De. I wasn't happy with the tactic but it was successful. I then got the inspiration to start a Hansa Rostock game.
Within your walls may be harmony and happiness
I moved to Hansa and shoehorned the players into the Everton tactic. Surprisingly, Hansa (who were predicted to finish 8th) had enough players to suit what I was doing. Players I thought would be hard to fit such as a WP I had two (note I had the following players in 2019/20. The screenshots are from 2026):
My CM-Su was also awaiting my arrival:
I also jagged some really good loans. I have found it hard to find PF's but I ended up with this guy on loan for four straight seasons:
Season two I ended up getting a really good striker in Danny Mota:
Initially on loan, I ended up signing him for free and selling him after three seasons, 34 league games and 34 goals to Aston Villa for £6m. During the initial seasons in each division I relied heavily on loans. Guys such as Davide Bettella, Brad Smith, Beni Beningime, Ben Osborn, Jack Clarke and Reece Oxford all made up my title-winning 2.Bundesliga season. My first season in the Bundesliga I had Yukinari Sugawara, Hannibal Mejbri (moved to the WP-At position) , Eddie Salcedo, George Bello, Eric Garcia (redeployed from a DC into the CM-De role), Ilaix Moriba, Jorje Cuenca and Alex Mighten. Mighten originally came in to backup Mejbri on the left but also operated a lot on the right when Jack Clarke (second year of three years on loan with me) was out. I couldn't get all the players back I wanted on loan in season four but did get Reinier into operate on the left wing:
The reason I listed all my players was due to the unconventional method (for me) that I took to get them. A lot of one and two year loans, some handy free transfers and my favourite was to scour leagues not heavily scouted by major teams such as Australia, Japan and South Korea:
Jonathan cost me £2.5m, Jason cost £775k. Both players were targeted for specific roles. Jonathan went straight into the first team, Jason is a backup for my current right back (more on him later). The point I am trying to make is due to my limited resources compared to my competitors I needed to find a way to make the best use of anything available. The other thing I needed to do was only take players I could use rather than project players. This lead me to having to identify players with specific attributes.
I can't think of a smart title here
Nor can I think of something to put in italics
Early on I knew I needed hard working players but did I need them all over the field? Maybe, maybe not. What I did was sort out the easy spots first. In the above tactic what are the easy positions to fill? Easy! GK, CB's, AF and winger. GK was a bit difficult but I ended up getting Jeppe Holberg for £14k:
Next, wingers and AF's are always readily available on loan. No real issues to pick up the suitable players there. I just chose the best available for no wage outlay. CB's were pretty much the same but a touch harder to come by (although I did luck out as listed above). If I got a BPD great but all I needed was two guys to stop strikers.
With five positions filled I really needed to target some players and to do this I needed to know what I wanted. I again worked from easiest to hardest - in this case the order was LB, RB, CM-De, CM-Su, WP, PF. So, what did I target?
LB: What did I want? Fast player who could get forward and get a cross in. I needed dribbling, crossing, acceleration and pace. any other stats were secondary to his primary role. The plan was to start with these four attributes and gradually build upon them as I got better players.
RB: Be defensively assured while also offering a secondary option going forward and outside the box. I needed marking, tackling, positioning, acceleration and crossing.
CM-De: Due to only having two in the middle the two CM's are vitally important. I don't really need the CM-De to be able to pass but I do need him to break up attacks. Work rate is vital. Tackling and positioning I also rated high. It's why I ended up getting a CB and trained him to play the position.
CM-Su: Things started to get really hard here. The CM-Su needed to be an all round type of player. Work rate was again relied upon, passing and flair as well as strength rounded out what I looked for.
WP: Acceleration and pace, Passing and flair. More or less a good AMC that got retrained. The right player can really make a difference here. I used James Maddison at Everton before Almada. Reinier and Mejbri were stars here too. None originally started as a left winger.
PF: Hardest of the lot. I had trouble finding PF's that suited in the Everton save as well. Strength, work rate, bravery and aggression. The PF doesn't need to score but needs to provide space for the WP and put pressure on players trying to play around him.
How'd it all come together?
Knowing my weakness was midfield I chose to compensate with work rate, strength and a narrower attack. If the counter comes I am prepared to cop it with the knowledge my defence will be able to cope with most crosses. Unsurprisingly, most of my goals against come through the middle:
With a 4-4-2 this is to be expected. In my opinion there isn't anything you can do to prevent this as it's a natural weakness, just like narrow tactics have their weakness down the flank. What I can do is make it harder to be scored against. How did I do this? As I noted, the aerial threat has more or less been nullified. Also, by focusing my attack down my wings (both through the TI and also the roles selected) I can ensure if I have interceptions it's down the wings which then in turn makes it harder for the opposition to get a good shot away. They need to get the ball central and into a good spot before I am vulnerable. While this may look bad because there are big numbers in the centre I actually see this as a benefit. If I saw say 6+ in multiple areas around the box I'd be worried that I can't defend lots of areas. By limiting the vulnerable areas it naturally makes me hard to score against.
What this also shows is my defence isn't getting dragged wide to cover a crossing player. They are staying central where the vulnerability is.
The opposite is also true. While most of my goals come from the same area as my vulnerability the difference here is due to my high amount of crosses I am getting my AF scoring against less players in the box due to the opposition being dragged wide to cover the danger:
My setup is predicated on wingplay. I can attack (mostly) via the WP who can provide a ball centrally or switch to an unmarked winger.
Fin... (Hansa Rostock)
I have evolved to this now:
Biggest change is the winger is now on attack. As the team got better he was less and less involved so I needed to give him a bit more freedom to attack. PF was still hard to find so I got this guy to play the position:
A DM but he had everything I wanted. His off the ball is low but he will be training that due to his Attacking Movement focus. Hopefully he can get up to around 14 and I'd be happy. Clougherty I've had for a while and was doing a fine job but he's been relegated to backup now.
Katterbach I targeted for a while. While he had all I wanted defensively I was able to add attacking impetus with him as well.
If you got this far through well done. If there's more you want to know please let me know. The above is a bit of a ramble but hopefully it got my point across.
Pick attributes that are important to your tactic. Fill the roles with players that have those attributes.