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  1. I haven't yet been able to use him myself, but Marco Varnier would be my pick.
  2. Only (or mostly) when the ball is with the keeper. Like the BPD/DM, the two strata of wingbacks sit virtually on top of each other. The 'play out' TI could indeed be an issue here, which is a shame as it is one of my stock instructions. I have one friendly left to play in the current set, I'll remove it for the next game and see how that impacts. In general, I am happy enough with the start made here. It will remain on the chalkboard as the option tactic and I'll look to continue developing it during mid-season friendlies and perhaps the early rounds of the cup.
  3. Currently only in the early stages. but this is an idea of what I am aiming towards: The genesis of the tactic came via two routes: Roman frontier systems such as Hadrian's Wall/Antonine Wall where there would/could be a triple defensive layer; a primary forward layer as the first defence (such ditches or lilia), then the main obstacle (rampart) and a further control zone behind (i.e. vallum). It was also sparked by a nod towards Hitler's Atlantic Wall and the notion of 'defence in layers'. So, in this situation the lone attacker and first midfield strata act as the notional primary obstacle to press, constrict or offer resistance, the inside wing backs and defensive midfield act as the main barrier to contain the opposition (being surrounded on all sides in a controlled compact shape), whilst the backline is the control zone if the opening layers are penetrated. Although I have used formations with triplicate defence, this is more aimed at controlling zones across the pitch and, by placing multiple players on the flanks, taking away what can be a powerful overlap effect in FM. The TIs and some of the roles are still to be defined. Points: IWB(d) as I want players who would cover the flanks defensively and play wider than a traditional CD, but still support the BPD BPD as I want to play out from the back. IWB(s) - these were initially IWB(a) in combination with DW(s) as I had a desire for the main support to the striker to come from roaming fullbacks cutting in from the flank and an underlap TI, a gentle nod to Catenaccio. And therefore with wingers who were responsible defensively. However, early play tests saw a real constriction of space between players, minimal impact from the inverted wingbacks, and I don't have players that I like in the system. So, temporarily at least, I've moved to supporting IWBs to stiffen the centre and allow very attacking wingers to roam forward. Currently I am set on six roles; SK(s), IWB(d) x2, BPD(d), DM(d), PF(s). The rest are up for grabs. Currently five games in; four wins with three clean sheets and latterly a 1-2 loss against KRC Genk. Eight scored, three conceded. Defensively, I like what I see. Opposition wingplay is minimal at best, the lone centreback has been very rarely left exposed (although when the middle opens up, it does so spectacularly - but the two IWB(d) usually manage to cover). And the combination of three layers of defence makes it very compact and difficult to play through. Attack, less content. Although this has been hampered by a few tweaks I have been making in-game. Generally though, clear chances have been hard to come by and more work needs to be done. A couple of negatives: When ball is with the keeper, the DM practically sits on top of the BPD. And the spacing between the two layers of IWB is poor.
  4. I was in a bit of a bind with that one. The DoF had implemented a £7.5m release clause, which I then had to upgrade further into the season. I could potentially have removed it altogether, but was running so tight on wages I couldn't reasonable afford to overpay Tonali's salary and instead decided to leave it in. Overall, it is too low, but all things considered £22m goes a long way at Brescia. As it goes, Viviani had beaten Tonali to the main youth awards too.
  5. I'll try and keep this relatively short, as I find posting images on here a real chore. For my opening FM19 save I wanted a club not in the top division, not rich, but with an able youth setup. So Brescia Calcio it was. I identified five players that I wanted to develop as priority; Sandro Tonali, Mattia Viviani, Guilio Magri, Matteo Cortesi and Brijan Ibrahimi. Tactically, I set up with a primary 442, a secondary 433 and a 2341 as the option (credit @VinceLombardi as the progenitor of this, it was a shape that interested me). With a mid-table finish expected, 2018-19 started slowly as the squad began to familiarise my demands. Midtable after the first half-dozen games, we then moved steadily upwards and began to play the kind of football I aimed for, eventually losing out to Pescara in as close a title race as you could imagine. With funds low, Luca Tremolada was the only signing of note. Player of the season, Felipe Curcio with 16 assists from left back. Cue 2019-20 and an expectancy to avoid relegation from Serie A. Personally, I was aiming higher - top 10, but uncertain how the squad quality would hold up in a very competitive league and hedging my bets. With low funds, I had spent little over the summer; improving the defensive situation with star GK Alberto Brignoli and stiffening the defence with Bogdan Tiru, and bringing in the versatile youngster Mads Roerslev. A strong start put the squad on the front foot from the off, although a couple of beatings by Inter and Juventus caused me to rejig the 442 to the version shown. It made a significant difference and the season developed better than hoped and the side developed a reputation as big-game stuffers; clean sheets away to Napoli, both Milans and Fiorentina the highlight. Tough to beat, we were in the European places all season and in an almighty battle for 4th, before eventually settling for 5th. And that suits me fine; the adage 'don't run before you can walk'. Champions League participation would have been too much at this stage. I am aiming for Europe again next season, no more. Curcio again won player of the season, although Leonardo Morosini was my pick. Cortesi was the surprise package; he has come full-circle in my estimation. From touted star, he had a torrid end to the promotion campaign and opening to Serie A, before bursting into life and finishing as club topscorer on 14. He is now firmly the no.1 striker. Viviani has gained plenty of game-time, and although Curcio has been a standout, I have given Magri a lot of games at leftback too. Ibrahimi has had little impact to date. A highlight of the debut Serie A campaign was the accounts. With a tiny wage budget, we made approximately £1.7m per month even with a small ground. That steady improvement enabled me to bring in a marquee signing in January, Antonino La Gumina, and allowed a reasonable summer budget of £8m. Although things have since escalated rapidly as PSG activated Tonali's release clause in a £22m deal. Viviani - almost a carbon copy of Tonali - will step into the breach, and if I can go into the new season with the rest of the squad intact I will be happy. I had targeted BPD and IW(a) as my key areas to improve; I had already agreed a deal for the lightning-quick youth Mohamed Daramy to fill the versatile left wing/forward position and had brought in Luca Valzania in CM, which leaves me not much worse off with Tonali's departure. BPD has proven trickier; I am very strict on maintaining a gentle growth to the wage bill - with a small ground I can't afford not to be - and have scoured Europe and most of my preferred options are out of reach. PSG pipped me to Leo Santos, Jerome Onguene has a cruciate injury, Jules Kounde too expensive in salary, Mavropanos unavailable. The best Italian prospects, Varnier, Romagna and Luperto, are not viable. Looking towards a cheap deal for Matej Chalus; not fully ideal, but has a big value growth potential. Moving into 2020-21, tactics will again get a shake-up. The 442 is so flexible that it is my constant preference. I loved the 433 asymmetric on FM18, but it hasn't had the same resonance on this version and I will ditch it. The 2341 moves up as the second tactic and I am working on something experimental for the option; potentially a tactic that incorporates as many as four IWBs. That one is for pre-season... Tactics Player Development 2018-19 transfers 2019-20 transfers 2020-21 transfers (ongoing)
  6. Although his performance is reasonable, are you not constricting his space in which to operate? Playing so attacking and with a high line of engagement and high defensive line will see your forwards butting up against the opposing backline regularly, particularly if you are able to recycle possession effectively. The players around him are set to interfere with his space, in various degrees. You have a player effectively either side of Messi, an inside forward who may end up affecting the between the lines zone that seemingly you want Messi to dominate. And then to cap it, a Mezzala behind him who will think nothing of roaming into the same area. If you are aiming to unlock his creativity, it seems overkill. He should have a large zone to drop into as an F9 and bring others into play but, in reality on the pitch, does he?
  7. This is an interesting thread, and particularly the link to the FM16 playbook piece which I had not seen previously. I am at the opposite end of the spectrum; a Brit with a passion for American Football who has long thought that some of the concepts used in the sport could - and should - be utilised more by European coaches. Set piece design lends itself beautifully to creating varied dead ball routines to unlock an opponent. Yet how many teams go beyond the standard cross into the box when taking free kicks, as one example? There is a dynamism in American Football that would benefit open-minded coaches. I have a particular interest in developing what many would consider 'oddball' formations, where the roles are key to unlocking the opposition and creating defensive stability in what would ordinarily be considered an unconventional defensive shape. Currently I am working on an asymmetric 361 which initially took inspiration from a 532; a formation that, although I hadn't worked on it enough to unlock the potential in this year's game, I was frustrated with due to the way the wingbacks defended. I'd considered creating a 'tactical dumping ground' thread as the basis for posters to spitball formations and shapes, fully-formed or otherwise, as ideas for inspiration - rather than the multitude of tactical threads that exist - but was unsure how that would be received. The 'playbook' mentality of utilising set combinations to almost jack the system and give possibility to retaining more than the set amount of formations is something I hadn't particularly considered. I will look forward to reading that older piece in depth.
  8. My favourite pairing in '18, and which has carried over into '19, is the combination of a wide playmaker (s) with a wingback or complete wingback (a). I use this in my two tactics that currently predominate; a 442 where the playmaker is on the left of midfield paired with an attacking wingback. And then in a bespoke asymmetric, offset 4321-style formation, where the playmaker is on the right of midfield and both creating space for - and feeding in - an attacking complete wingback. The playmaker is a great addition for me in the 442, as he helps to redress the balance of being outnumbered in the middle of the pitch. I tend to combine that with a deep lying playmaker (d), for security and to give the wingback the licence to maraud. Favourite role would be the mezzala. Used correctly, it can be devastating.
  9. @Kingstontom88 I was running this formation on last year's version, with Argentinos Juniors. It was as much a development thread as tactical, but there may be one or two things of interest on this thread:
  10. If Jambo has gone temporarily awol, you could try the 4312 @JDownie. I've recently completed with it, nobody else is using it and it's back 'in the pot'. It would be interesting to see what another manager does with it.
  11. Good to see more names on the board - come on lads, let's have some completions!
  12. Sassuolo 4312 - end-season, 2nd place Finishing off the season from where I left off. I expected a fraught transfer window, and fraught it was; Europe's luminaries trying to land the cream of Sassuolo and even Leicester getting in on the act and trying to pinch Pellegrini. Acerbi decided he wanted out and, when Man City showed interest and I was able to negotiate them up to £25m, out he went to join Guardiola's revolution. His stint as Sassuolo captain had lasted less than a week and without playing a game. That left a 6"4 hole in the backline, swiftly filled by the shape of Willi Orban for £6.5m. I managed to retain everyone else, but feared the unsettling factor would see performances drop. They didn't and we were soon back in the groove, hitting our best stride in late January with a nine-match winning streak. By March we had overtaken Napoli and Lazio and risen to second and the remainder of the campaign was a battle to hold them both off, particularly the latter. We did enough, qualifying for the Champions League with two games to spare and then squeaking second after a heavy final-day defeat at Genoa as Lazio could only provide an insipid 0-0 draw at home to relegated Torino. The individual Sassuolo player stats stand as: Notable Performers Andrea Belotti - the big-money signing didn't disappoint, firing 30 goals across the season and also winning the Capocannoniere with 24, just pipping Ciro Immobile. Playing as a deep-lying forward, Belotti also chipped in with 10 assists in an all-encompassing season. Timo Letschert - the raiding wingback provided 4 goals, 11 assists and also topped the 'official' league average ratings on 7.42. Didn't hit as many freekicks as pre-season suggested and was also too card-happy, picking up 15 in Serie A. Luca Antei - Antei stepped up from Cannavaro's backup, to first-choice, to the leader of the backline with Acerbi's departure. Topped the 'unofficial' ratings with a tremendous 7.61, dropping off the list only on the final day. Alessandro Matri - 22 goals for the powerful striker, 18 of them in Serie A. Had a better goals-per-minutes than Belotti and very clinical. Dropped in performance across the second half of the season, but carried the team in the opening period and picked up invaluable points throughout. Matteo Politano - the winger-cum-attacking midfielder had a productive season, 9 goals and 14 assists. Europa We had a great run here. After comfortably topping the qualifying group, the knockouts were as hard as they come; Leverkusen, Lyon, Man Utd. We thrashed Leverkusen 1-3 on their own patch in the second round and, after going 0-2 down in the home leg, made some tweaks and produced a clinic in counter-attacking football to take advantage of Leverkusen pushing forward and won 3-2. A victory in France against Lyon set up a mouth-watering QF against Man Utd, but we couldn't repeat the trick. After the attacking success against Leverkusen and Lyon I just went too gung-ho at Old Trafford and we were spanked 5-1, partly thanks to two Ibrahimovic wonder goals and one from Martial. The big Swede did the same back in Italy, although we at least restored pride with a 2-1 win. Over the two legs we'd actually topped the CCs by 7-2, but Ibrahimovic's finishing is sheer lunacy and we ended up well-beaten. TIM Cup Oh dear! Scored early against Serie B bottom-dwellers Ternana and then slipped to an insipid 1-2 defeat. They did go on to knock out Inter and push Juventus very close though. Tactics My overall thoughts match what I said previously: Pros Control of the ball. Finished with 57%, 3.2% ahead of Juventus and also completed 18906 passes, nearly a full thousand ahead of Inter. Output from the fullbacks. 32 assists from Peluso/Dell'Orco/Letschert/Adjapong. Balanced attacking play, multiple goal threats. Threat from set pieces Cons Suspect to 'ball over the top' Gap in behind the aggressive right-sided wingback against opposing players who pull into channels Propensity to draw games* Inconsistent attacking output* *However, I managed to really increase the attacking output and turn some of the draws into defeats. 1st half - 10-6-3, scored 32 and conceded 18. 2nd half - 14-2-3, scored 41 and conceded 17. The Be More Disciplined shout remained a huge favourite through the season. Tactically, I loved playing against that deep 3421 and I think the 4312 won every single game against the handful of opponents who used it across the season. I didn't particularly struggle against any individual formation, but the 41221 is possibly the most difficult as the packed midfield with a DM is naturally set up to destroy the effectiveness of the 4312, and the two advanced wingers mean I can't usually get too aggressive with my second wingback. If there was one disappointment, it was the stats for the AP(a) and, to a lesser extent, the AP(s). If there were a stat for 'secondary assists' I'm sure these two would have done very well, but they didn't in terms of direct assists. I didn't expect large numbers for the AP(s) as it is designed to feed the raiding right wingback, but the AP(a) should be a more direct threat. I used Alfred Duncan here for a decent part of the season and perhaps it is simply not having the right player. Ricci is arguably the most ideal player thanks to his dribbling, but his weak defensive atts meant I used Duncan, Sensi and Pellegrini much more frequently. Final Thoughts It has been a really enjoyable season and I'd gladly do it again with another side further down the track. I hope this thread earns more completions and reports - and less restarts - as it has been quiet. I expect to be running the Sassuolo file alongside my Argentinian game and will keep an eye on this thread and perhaps keep providing season reports. I've already started planning for 2017-18 and have agreed to buy the German schemer Nadiem Amiri for £4m and agreed the £870k option on Lirola. I'll be bringing Falcinelli back into the squad for next season and have semi-promoted Abelli, Marin and Opoku. I also managed to renew Peluso's contract eventually. With £8m in the pot a centreback is the target, to add cover for the Antei-Orban partnership, with Cannavaro ageing.
  13. I can highly recommend Francesco Acerbi at Sassuolo. He was a rock for me in the ongoing 'Formations Challenge' thread over on the tactics board. At 6"4 with excellent jumping reach, strength and very solid natural defensive attributes he is robust. Throw in high ratings for anticipation, concentration and a determined-style personality and you end up with a very capable centre back. Aerially he is immense. The only thing he lacks is acceleration, although I was also playing a high-line and it wasn't problematic.
  14. I daresay this is commonplace but.....has anyone seen a player do a rabona? In my last match, Belotti did a Cuauhtemoc Blanco bunny hop past a defender and then a Payet-style rabona cross for Berardi to tap in. I didn't pick it up until the replay. 10/10 for style points!
  15. Sassuolo - 4312 After a hiatus finishing yet another season in Argentina, and also missing a few slots to play the game, I've now reached the mini winter break and a game shy of the halfway stage. To recap the previous post, the 4312 is not a formation I have ever used on any iteration of FM - although I have occasionally used its close cousin, the 442 diamond. I had set three versions of the formation during pre-season, but have almost-exclusively used this: The aim was to create a controlled, offensive playstyle, utilising attacking wingbacks to provide width and the sheer weight of bodies in the central areas to unpick opponents. Pushing back an opponent also helps to mitigate the one major weakness of the formation; the lack of wide support. The table and results currently stand as: We are currently overperforming my expectations, sitting 4th. Considering the strength of the top teams, I am really pleased with this outcome. I had huge concerns at the start as to how we'd be able to handle teams thrusting in wide areas but, apart from a few select occasions, this hasn't proved as problematic as anticipated. The strong wingbacks do an excellent job at shutting down opposing wingers. Pros Control of the ball. Leading Serie A on 57%. Output from the fullbacks. Already fifteen assists between Peluso/Dell'Orco/Letschert/Adjapong. Balanced attacking play, multiple goal threats. Threat from set pieces Cons Propensity to draw games. Suspect to 'ball over the top' Gap in behind the aggressive right-sided wingback against opposing players who pull into channels Inconsistent attacking output - half Serie A games scored less than twice. The above sum up the main points of note and trends. We are doing a good job controlling games and getting the fullbacks into positions to be effective. Fifteen assists from the fullback core is a great return, minus one or two from Letschert which may have derived from corners, and both Letschert and Adjapong have also scored from raiding open-play runs. We also do an excellent job from set pieces and have scored seven from corners or indirect freekicks, three of which came in one game against Pescara, who were mauled aerially. Conversely, we have only conceded three from such scenarios. I also set the front duo specifically to play closer together (rather than one creator, one finisher) and this has been demonstrated in a balanced attack; Matri leads the way on 14 goals and 2 assists, his partner Belotti has 11 and 5 assists - it is a harmonious, balanced duo, with attacking midfielder Politano also chipping in with 5 goals and 6 assists. The main negative has been the struggle to turn draws into wins at times against moderate opposition. Although we are netting at a solid ratio of 1.6gpg, we have scored one or zero in exactly half of our Serie A games to-date. This has been mitigated by conceding 1.0gpg, the joint second best defensive ratio behind Juventus. That in itself has been slightly surprising and we have been difficult to beat, losing only to the heavyweights of Inter, Napoli and Roma - all away from home - and Consigli has had no trouble keeping clean sheets; his 7 the joint highest number after Buffon's 10. Within the tactic I am frequently using the Be More Disciplined shout. This is something I have been using in a very attacking formation with my Argentinos file and I find it is much more useful than setting up a more disciplined team mentality. It is effectively a toggle, allowing me to immediately moderate how I want to approach an opponent at any given point of a game. I have witnessed some excellent results using it from the start in home games, where the increased structure helps to alleviate the clusterfudge you can occasionally see with a fluid formation featuring four central midfielders. Players My preferred lineup is that of the image above. This Sassuolo lineup has been one of the tightest XIs I've had at any club. Consigli, Letschert, Acerbi and Peluso are automatic at the back. Biondini - the limited, ginger, Italian Robbie Savage that he is - has surprisingly emerged as the holder of choice. Politano has done a fine job at the spearhead of midfield, and Belotti and Matri have struck up quite the partnership upfront. The only real ponderances have been Acerbi's partner in defence, where Luca Antei has now usurped Cannavaro, and also who flanks Biondini. Duncan and Sensi have been the two most preferred, but Pellegrini is a movable-part that stepped in well to cover an injured Sensi, whilst I've been retraining tricky Ricci to drop back into the most attacking playmaking role. His dribbling ability gives him an edge. Acerbi and Matri have been the sensations. Acerbi is currently the highest performing player in Serie A, whilst Matri's 14 goals have ensured that Berardi has been riding pine since his return from injury. If there has been a disappointment it is Defrel; a favourite during pre-season, but he's had limited impact. Elsewhere We breezed through the Europa Group Stage, an opening 2-1 win over Schalke helping to ensure we had qualified by the time of the return leg at the Veltins; we drew this 2-2 after throwing away a two-goal lead, but it was enough to finish the group unbeaten and knock Schalke out at the expense of Legia Warsaw. I've only been using a reserve XI too, which demonstrates some of the depth available. We have been paired with another German heavyweight, Leverkusen, in the next round though. That will be tough. My favourite game to-date was the 2-3 win at Milan. They lined up with a mirror 4312 and I shut them down until Luiz Adriano finished off a sweeping counter close to half-time. We roared back in the second, Politano and Matri scoring early to ensure we led until the 81st minute, when Mati Fernandez lashed home a deflected volley. However, we won it straight from the kickoff through Belotti.... Easily my favourite goal so far. Belotti>Biondini>Acerbi, swept wide to Peluso>Pellegrini, Matri, Politano runs off his marker at the edge of the box>Belotti>placed past Donnarumma. 16 seconds, 7 players, not a Milanese touching the ball. Transfer Window Expecting a fraught transfer window. Magnanelli has left for Norwich for £1.5m, having achieved all he can at the club and picking up his testimonial money. Not a big deal, means I can develop Mazzitelli more. Acerbi has stepped in as the new club captain, reward for his excellence, and coincidentally that has also stopped him getting the hump rejecting Mourinho's advances. The squad love this, all expect Berardi who for some reason feels he is a better captain. He already has the hump about wanting to resign for Juventus. I could easily see Berardi being offloaded if a mega-bid comes in, or perhaps even Defrel. If that happens, I'll target my allotted second signing. Renewed a few contracts, including Consigli, Antei and Cannavaro - but have dropped a bollock letting Peluso run into unprotected and I can't renew as he fancies a move to snowy Moscow. I'm sure its for the challenge and not the roubles and women. On a sidenote.... Big fan of managing in Serie A for the sheer variation in formations, such as this gem from Atalanta. On an extra sidenote.... I haven't been as closely monitoring the youths as I usually would, but they seem to love the 4312. The U20s are 3rd, the U18s 2nd. And they also did this:
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