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The #9.5

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  1. Thanks for praising my posts, Jambo, and for making me think about the subject once again - really appreciated! I think your argument is quite spot on, especially when it comes to the raise of lopsided or asymmetrical shapes seen in real life during the past few years. I also believe that any manager would - and should - play the players where they are performing best and are contributing most to the team cause. Based on these two things I'd be inclined to revisit my attitude towards not being willing to play the sort of lopsided 4-3-3 with the AML in the ML strata. There is, however, one big practical reason I'm still against it. To be honest - and this is something I needed to share much earlier - I believe my initial comment about having Pastore playing 'exactly as I want' (to quote myself) has been exaggerated. During my trials with Pastore at ML with the WPM/a role I was impressed, because he was roaming infield, getting in midfield and spending enough time between the lines joining and initiating good passing moves (instead of dribbling off the flank and getting in the penalty box as with the IF/s role). All this was the basis of my initial reaction and comments on the subject - that he was playing exactly as I wanted he to play in the AML spot. However, what I didn't mentioned though was that afterwards I continued to toy with that shape and Pastore at the AML slot and gradually grew less and less impressed. The main reason is that actually, I don't think he plays as I really want. This doesn't mean he played badly - all of the positives said above were still true. But with the more matches played, I found that actually what he does - although, individually, he was doing it well enough - suited my team or contributed to how I wanted my team to play. It may be semantics, but for me it's quite important difference. I'm talking about that having him at ML, he starts deeper and gradually pushes forward during the build-up phase. But this isn't necessarily what I want from him. Quite the contrary - my aim is related to having him starting a bit higher (i.e. from the AML slot) and getting deeper and narrower between the lines to aid that fourth body in midfield. Or to explain it another way - I don't want him start deeper and push forward as a secondary 'roaming playmaker'. I want him be a different type of link-up player, someone who will occupy and roam mostly down the inside-left channel, leaving the opposite side free for my de-facto roaming playmaker at RCM. I was picturing kind of a lopsided midfield diamond but the 'tip' player being a bit wider. I wanted my AML to be a bridge between the LCWB and the bombing forward from the LCM Matuidi. When I used him at ML, he was too much duplicating Verratti/Cabaye and often ended in similar zones and most importantly depth to him. Now to go back to my initial reluctance of using what is seemed by me an unrealistic 4-3-3 incarnation. Again, it may be seen as semantics, but for me it's quite a difference to have a sort of lopsided 4-1-4-1 with the MR being pushed higher to play as AMR and the ML kept in place, than having a slightly withdraw 4-3-3 with the left wide men starting at AML (or the real-life equivalent as clear part of the front three than the midfield unit) but asked to get a bit deeper and narrower to provide extra body between the lines when roaming infield off the flank. Hopefully I've managed to explain well enough my point regarding this particular issue and the said by me in this post will contribute to even better discussion on the subject. Finally, I'd like to once again thank you, Jambo, for your kind words about my writeups. But I have a question. I can quickly provide stats regarding the performance of my key players, namely Ibrahimovic, Cavani, Matuidi and the duo of roaming playmakers Verratti and Cabaye. But I don't know how to provide clips from FM. I'm disregarding screenshots as option as I don't believe static captions are suitable or useful enough to illustrate the dynamic of a tactical set up. So would you - or anyone else for that matter - be so kind and, please, explain to me how I can make short tactical clips when I play FM? I'd be more than happy to visualize what I've been writing for and about up to now in clips to steer even better discussion.
  2. All right.. I was so fascinated by the idea that I couldn't wait for Pastore to come back from injury (3 weeks time). So I fired up the FMC mode once again and planned to play five games with the new settings (i.e. swapping around the CM roles). I didn't need to play five games though. By the end of game 3 I was fully convinced this isn't going to work. Here are some more details. The main issue is that not only Pastore as the IF/s didn't show any improvements but the whole balance and team dynamics fell off the cliff. On the right side, the presence of both Matuidi and Cavani seemed to lead to what I feared - that they would largely 'overlap' too much in their roles and would end up 'eating' the space for each other. Neither of them played as intended, or as well as previously (when Matuidi was the LCM). Both players' huge team ethic ended up actually magnifying the issue. As they were aware for each others, plenty of times they opted not to make a forward run by stay wide or deep. For instance, whenever Matuidi was pushing forward and occupying the right inside channel, Cavani just stood down the flank, occasionally dropping deeper as per his role ('space investigator') in search for where the free space is. Then in the occasions where Cavani was darting infield, it was Matuidi staying deeper and hanging deeper. In both scenarios it was clear the combination of their roles - i.e. both roles are hugely inclined to quickly get into pockets of space in the final third - and the fact both players aren't selfish, meant neither of them actually played as intended by the overall tactical approach. Similarly, down the left-hand side, Pastore (as the IF/s) remained that type of dribbling and bursting late into the penalty area wide men than the one who will tuck into narrow positions, get into pockets of space between the lines and help pull the strings from there. Meanwhile, Verratti/Cabaye as the RPM/s couldn't influence the game as in the other set up, as no-one was making diverse attacking runs around them, so they largely remained deep before quickly bombing forward in the final stages of our attacking moves. In short nothing seemed to work properly. As such I may concede defeat in my attempts to make my AML more of a link-up player and continue use sort of a dribbler who will get in and around the penalty area as the second wave of runs from deep. Perhaps this is something the game can improve for future version. Or simply allow us to use the WPM roles in the AML/R strata too. But the other main conclusion is that two similarly aggressive attacking players (in terms of their hunger to exploit free space) shouldn't be played close together, or they will largely negate each other. This was largely expected and on par with my initial worries. Having two team players will, interestingly, just magnify the issue as they would both look for ways to allow each other the room by staying deeper or wider.
  3. First of all, thanks for the warm words and the time you took to post a comment. Onto the subject now. I was thinking about switching the CM/a and RPM/s slots around but I haven't done this yet. My main worry is that on the right I have Cavani as the Raumdauter and if I suspect If I put Matuidi there as the CM/a they might 'clash' too much. However, my initial reasoning behind such a switch is that both - i.e. Cavani and Matuidi - are superb team players and have the required all-round intelligence. So my hope is that they could work it out, especially as Cavani has the 'comes deep to get ball' PPM while Matuidi has the 'gets into opposition area' PPM. Additionally, I've asked both of them to learn the 'plays one-twos', which - as they have already learnt - I feel could give them extra edge and ability to combine nicely. Anyway, as Pastore has been injured lately, I couldn't test my theory. But thinking more about it, and after reading your thoughts on the matter too, I'm much more inclined now to run that test and see how the team will combine. One more thing - I've been pondering about asking Pastore to start 'come deep to get the ball' too. I think this will be another way to try and have him more as a link-up type of IF/s rather the staying wide and dribbling his way infield type. One final thing. You said that the CF/s and IF/s combo will require a lot of space between the lines. They do and I definitely think they are playing quite nicely. Perhaps the type of players - and their respective styles of play - is helping on this front. Ibrahimovic is quite selfish, so as much he plays a bit deeper, he is most of the time making runs to be the focal point and main goal-scoring threat. (On this point, whenever I played Cavani upfront, he has been much more of a facilitator and getting late into the box type of forward than the selfish goals-getting type that Ibrahimovic is.) This is further magnified by how unselfish both Cavani and Matuidi - the other supposed main goal-scoring threats - are and how they team ethic is influences the whole set up and attacking dynamics. Plus, with Lavezzi/Moura being more of a selfish dribblers in the IF/s slot, there is really not a clash in terms of how the players are moving and interplaying off the ball. When I have the chance to play Pastore on the left flank and switch the CM roles around I'll post a quick update.
  4. Just wanted to say that I've now went to play a full-mode career game with PSG using the above mentioned 4-3-3 incarnation. I'm at the start of December during my first season there and I'm really pleased with how the team is playing. As mentioned above, all of the players are playing like intended by me. The only exception is Matuidi - he's just not scoring enough goals. But this isn't neccesserily a bad thing nor is a tactical issue per se. As already mentioned, his overall movement is superb and he is getting into some nice positions in and around the penalty box. The problem is that either he is quick to lay the ball off to someone else or when decides to shoot he isn't really getting the ball into the back of the net. He is such a team player that he is one of my Top 3 players when it comes to assists and key passes. When you have such a dominating forwards like Cavani and Ibrahimovic this is to be expected really. Still, if he improves his finishing he could easily get 10 goals by the end of the season (he has 2 now). I considered asking him to finish with more power but I'm yet to ask him learn that PPM. Anyway, the main reason I'm writing this post is completely different. Lavezzi and Lucas Moura are playing relatively well on the left as the IF/s player. They are still too selfish too often but apart of dropping them to the bench I can't do nothing - tactically speaking - to improve that. And I can't completely freeze them out as I need them as part of my rotation policy. However, I've recently started to think that using Pastore there as IF/s isn't really going to get the most out of him. He can play that role well enough, but I feel if I manage to squeeze him as a more creative/ball-playing type of player I'd be happier with his contribution. He is more creative and team player that both Lavezzi and Moura, so he is really suited to being sort of the wide link-up player. And here is my problem - neither of the AML-strata playmaking roles are doing him justice. Both AP/s and AP/a are too similar to the IF/s in that they are largely dribbling-based with the player initially staying wide before picking up the ball to then cut infield. I'd like Pastore to be given more of a narrow-playing playmaking role - the sort of role the 'wide playmaker' role in the ML-strata achieves. I tried giving him 'roam from position' and 'sit narrower' PIs but to little effect. When switched to the ML strate as WPM/a he is playing just like I want. But I don't really want to change my overall 4-3-3 framework to that sort of hugely lopsided/asymmetrical 4-3-1-2 kind of shape (in my mind it isn't realistic enough). So, my question is the following - how can I replicate the WPM/a role in the AML strata without resorting to putting my player in the ML strata? Ideally I'd like to have the chance to select a WPM role in the AML/R strata with the added bonus of having a trequartista role there too. The wide AP roles are just too static and similar to the IF to really suit what I want to achieve in having Pastore playing as a more link-up type of player to add that extra layer of tactical versatility to my PSG team. I'd appreciate some opinions and insights as to how this could be achieved.
  5. Hi herne79, and thanks for commenting! I'm perfectly aware that having Ibrahimovic upfront is a problem in itself - due to his low teamwork. But I still think there should be a way to tactically mitigate this, get the most out of him and still have him as a crucial part of the overall team framework. On FM I'm very keen to avoid tactical decisions who I believe are unrealistic or no manager in real life will use them. Playing Ibrahimovic on the flank is a good example of what would constitute an unrealistic solution. However, when he was injured for a couple of games I had the chance to try Cavani upfront and the difference was obvious. Edinson wasn't as wasn't as creative or 'clinical' with his passing, as you may expect, but due to the combination of his 'come deep to get the ball' PPM, overall intelligence and superb teamwork he made the type of runs and overall actions that initiate our final third interplay and play much better. Still, for the sake of realism and overall tactical challenge I want to make the system work with Ibrahimovic upfront and Cavani on the right. On this front I have a quick update to share. Since I wrote the opening post this morning I went for a walk and brainstormed a bit more. In life, one of my favourite 'rules' is that when you're presented with a problem who you believe there are several potential solutions to, the best way is to try and merge all of them to try and extract the best bit of each. The aim is to end up with what is perceived to be the 'best' solution. Following this rule I thought how to merge the initial three variants I proposed and end up with that 'best' variant, a hybrid of them all. This is what I did: The team shape was kept as a very fluid with the aim to keep the team bunched together and help promote that between the lines interplay and extra final third versatility. To further aid this I giving my players extra positional freedom (via selecting 'roam from positions') would be a good idea. The mentality was kept as counter, which is one of my base tactical tenets. Ibrahimovic was played as a CF (S) to insist on him being a more all-round (or basically complete) presence upfront. When played as a False 9 I noticed he was too ken to dribble but less so to hold up the play and use his immense physical presence. The CF role allows that while the S duty means he will remain deeper and central (I don't want him drift wide too often). Next I thought about how to get the best out of Matuidi. The experiment to play him B2B showed me that although he wasn't as quick to surge so high up the pitch, his positional freedom help him vary his positioning and movement more. I tried to rectify the first part by reverting him back to the CM (A) role, which I believe is the most aggressive midfield role when it comes to continually bombing forward. The latter part was naturally fixed by having the TI 'roam from positions' selected. I'm pleased to announce that I've finally achieved what I wanted all the way. The team, due to being very fluid and asked to roam more, showed a bit more interplay and overall movement fluidity with Matuidi finally getting into some very dangerous positions. In the half of dozen FMC games I played with this new variant he didn't score, but he was constantly a threat in and around the box. He squandered a few chances, while in other situations his similarly to Cavani high teamwork 'forced' him to opt for a pass than shoot on goal himself. Although he didn't score, I'm finally happy with his overall movement and impact in the final third. Ibrahimovic is noticeably more involved and although he is still prone to go by himself, his deeper position and overall intelligence often enough made him slipping good balls into the players around him. Cavani is also a huge threat - as the in-game description of his role mentions, he is prone to go 'missing' in periods of the game, but then in quick succession he will made a few decisive off ball runs and when feed properly will deliver. His PPM and extreme teamwork also makes him involved in the build-up play, which due to the very fluid shape is magnified. But this is OK with me, as then he is quick to exploit any free pocket of space in and around the penalty area. As a whole my teams plays well and very much executes my specific 4-3-3 vision. The CWBs are really influential in the final third, Verratti/Cabaye are pulling the strings nicely and due to being the RCM and having the 'tries long range passes' PPM are often quick to sent Cavani in behind from deep. The only problem remaining is that whomever plays on the left flank is still very much prone to too often dribble infield, get into the box and shoot on goal. I don't think this is a tactical problem and given who I have at disposal and their low composure and teamwork and poor decision-making, this is to be expected. From time to time they are all delivering the odd sublime cutback or angled through ball, as all of them are highly creative and flair-based players. I found Pastore performing better than Lavezzi and Moura due to his greater pure playmaking abilities. But he is still too direct and selfish too often. Ideally, if I'm to embark on a PSG career, I'd like to brought a player having the suitable attributes to play that key role. The same goes with potentially replacing Ibrahimovic when his contract is up in 2 years time and playing Cavani upfront with someone else (Lacazette?) brought in to play on the right. Before I finish I want to also mention that the only negative (apart of some of the personnel issues) is that the change to a very fluid, keeping Matuidi as a CM (A) and having the CWBs made my defence a bit more shaky. This is magnified by the lack of mobility in Motta (another player to be upgraded) and the presence of the walking ticking bomb that is David Luiz with his poor concentration, positioning and decision-making (I considered making him CD (X) and have Silva as BPD © to try and mitigate this). Still, being PSG and due to my personal insistence on seeing my team attacking in that specific 4-3-3 way, this is trade-off I'm happy to allow. Anyway, I'd be happy to see others commenting on my initial variants - and indeed my latest solution - and offer any insight or ways to improve them.
  6. To cut the long story short and get right to the point - I'm in the position where I know exactly what I want to achieve tactically and I pretty much nailed down how it could be achieved. But my problem is that I'm not sure which is the best - or most suitable - route to do this. As you will below, I'm currently undecided about which of the following three variants is the one I should use in order to let FM 15's tactics creator recreate the theory I have in my head. As such I'd appreciate any help and insight - thanks in advance! What I try to achieve I've been a long admirer of two main things - the 4-3-3 shape and (as my user name would suggest) that type of centre-forward who is neither a pure creator nor is only a consumer/finisher. In the past couple of years I've added another thing I greatly appreciate - that long-busting, constantly surging forward off the ball from deep midfield runner. All this combined and peaked with me trying to recreate a 4-3-3 formation which relies on a really fluid attacking unit which has three attacking points - the roaming centre-forward, the darting off the flank wide forward and the bombing from deep midfielder. I have pretty much a nailed down style of play, overall tactical preferences of what the roles of the rest of the team should be and how my team to function in all phase of play. But my struggle is how to set up the team to constantly promote that three-pronged attacking threat and offer such a diverse attacking threat. In terms of style of play I like my team to be quite cautious in and out of possession. If there is a chance for my players to quickly transition forward and hit the opponent on the break I'm happy for them to do so with few passes either down the channels or through the middle. But in the main I'd like to see my team use the ball and pass it around carefully, giving enough time of the deep 4-1-4-1 shape to transition through phases and push up enough bodies in the final third to allow two main things: a) overload the space between the lines with rotating creative passers; and b) offer that diverse attacking threat with the three main penetrative players showing their movement freedom and looking to capitalize on the possession play and between the lines overload. All this suggest a 'counter' strategy or style of play should suit my needs just fine. In terms of passing or other specific tactical instructions I'm happy to allow my players freedom. I don't want to restrict them and ask them to pass the focus on short/shorter passes or trade-off any opportunity for quick penetration by enforcing them to focus on retaining possession. The 4-3-3 shape and the roles of my team (as you would see later) are, I believe, inherently capable to promote solid possession play without going to the extreme. I'm much more concerned about the off the ball movement and how my players combine and interplay in order to constantly see them do the type of position play I have in my head than I'm worried about whether they are heavy possession-based with their on ball behavior. Plus, I hope the freedom I'm giving to my players - following the lack of clear or distinctive passing instructions - will result in that extra ability and creativity. I'll have players able to thread good forward passes from all angles and be both dangerous with long passes or those type of neat combinations between the lines. I don't want to lose neither of these aspect by asking my team to concentrate exclusively on the other. To fit in with my mixed counter strategy (by 'mixed' I mean it's capable to hit hard early and based on quick transitions while it's also capable to offer the more methodical and probing way of attacking) I need my players to have the freedom to equally try through balls from deep or, if this isn't possible, go on and morph my deep shape gradually higher up to then find ways to open up what is going to be a well set in their defensive shape opponent. As such I'm willing to select only 'work ball into box' as kind of an on-ball guideline to my team. The 4-3-3 is inherently capable to send runners into the box from different angles so I need wing play based on offering width but then looking to cut back and provide angled passes than constantly putting the ball into the box. In terms of pressing I don't want to see my team running around like headless chickens and press without any sense of pattern of cohesion. I think FM isn't currently able to promote any detailed or very specific pressing patterns, so in order not to overcook something which I naturally don't want, I'm content to see my team go with their default out of possession behavior following my choice on counter style of play. I feel they suit my overall aim to see my team having chance to transition quickly and exploit any space the opposition is going to leave us in behind. With the counter strategy, I believe, my team will sit a bit deeper and concentrate on getting back in a 4-1-4-1 defensive mode, focusing their efforts on covering our half well before attempt any pressing actions. This hopefully will lure the opposition forward, leading to that needed space in behind opening up. With the basic facets of my attacking and overall build-up strategy outlined I feel now is the time to delve deeper into how I'm currently trying to achieve my tactical objectives. Something else before I go into it. After careful deliberation I've settled for three teams which I feel are capable - i.e. have the type of players needed - to recreate my vision. Those teams are Liverpool, Roma, Monaco and PSG. Eventually I've settled for the latter team mainly due to the combination of having Ibrahimovic, Cavani and Matuidi. How I try to achieve my vision As mentioned above, in the moment I have three main variants with which I try to achieve my overall vision. The problem is neither of them works as well as for me to be happy to go with it for the long-term. And here is where I'd appreciate any help and insight of what can be tweaked to best represent the theory I have in my head. Variant 1 The first variant is the one I've initially gone with. The formation is 4-3-3 (or 4-1-2-3 DM wide in FM) with a flexible team shape and counter mentality. I'm not going to select any PIs as I believe the current TC is flexible enough to allow me achieve what I want. Also, it's tides well with my belief that I need to provide my team the overall framework and let their roles, duties and individual qualities take care of the rest. Here are the roles and duties with a brief explanation of my thoughts behind them: - sweeper-keeper (support) - although we aren't going to press as mad from high up, my team will spent enough time camped in the opposition half with the full-backs acting as the de-facto wingers. As such I think having a keeper asked to sweep up behind the inherently pushing forward backline is mandatory. - at centre-back I'll have Thiago Silva as my ball-playing defender with David Luiz as my regular centre-back. This is mainly because I want to mirror my central midfielders and their roles. On the right I'll have my playmaker, so I'd want to see my LCB be a bit more creative and capable to feed good balls forward, switch the play etc. Both defenders are on defend duty. - my holding midfielder will be a pure DM. Although Motta is creative enough to be given a more sophisticated role, with the presence of a ball-playing CB and a roaming playmaker either side of him I don't want him burden with anything else than breaking up the play, them seeing him calmly and efficiently distribute the ball. I don't want him to chase the ball all over the pitch, as I'll already have the front 7 all higher up and roaming off the ball. So I'd need a stable presence at the base of my midfield, someone who can read the game and position accordingly, giving the centre-backs solid enough positional protection. A DM defend suits all this nicely. - my midfield pair are constructed by a roaming playmaker on the right (Verratti) and an attacking central midfielder on the left (Matuidi). Given the flexible shape of my team I needed an attack duty CM to make him as much as possible inclined to bomb forward and get in and around the penalty box. The thinking behind having a roaming playmaker is that with a holding midfielder and a midfield runner I need someone in between them who can pull the strings. As this will be my only playmaking role in the team (although there are others creative outlets), I wanted that player to be as mobile as possible. DLP or AP wouldn't suit that need as they are very much static roles when it comes in terms of movement. the RPM, similarly to the TQ, is all about roaming and finding pockets of space to sneak into, receive the ball and play it to help during the build-up play and continually offer passing angles to whomever is currently on the ball. The added bonus is that due to his basically total positional freedom, he will occasionally time his forward runs and ghost in good shooting positions. - the front three unit is, in my eyes at least, very well balanced too. On the left flank, due to the presence of Matuidi as the LCM, I want to have a player who is a hybrid between a playmaker and a dribbler. This player will have the important role of being another creative outlet without actually being a playmaker. I don't want him go infield and be an off the ball threat, as this is the job Matuidi has over that side of the pith. The inside forward support role suits my needs, and the type of players I have at my disposal, nicely. I can alternate between Lavezzi, Lucas Moura and Pastore to provide that extra bit of nuance of the role. On the right I'll have Cavani. Similarly to Matuidi, I want this player to be all about being an off the ball threat, continually sneak into goal-scoring positions and wait for service. I don't want this player to be burdened with any creative duties, bar the odd simple passing exchanges and one-twos with Verratti and the overlapping past him full-back. As such I feel the Raumdeuter role is perfect for him. Up front, Ibrahimovic has all the tools to be my perfect #9.5. type of centre-forward. The only negative is that he is very selfish, which could be a massive problem in that he might prefer to go all by himself rather join in sophisticated build-up between the lines to then slip the ball towards Cavani. But I don't have any other option than to thrust his awareness and hopefully his high flair will mean that he is often enough going to provide some nice through balls to the getting beyond him Cavani and Matuidi. As such a complete forward support role is selected for him. - the final piece of the jigsaw is the full-backs. Due to the nature of my wide men I decided to hand them really creative and attacking roles. I've gone with the CWB (A) roles and duty as they would be really important players for me. I want them to provide width and constantly overlap on the outside, allowing my wide men to roam infield. But, as I mentioned above, I don't want them to be a crossing-based wide players. Instead I expect from them extra level of creativity and sophistication on and off the ball, as I want to see my team develop intricate passing combinations and continually interplay on and off the ball. The CWB roles are the ones who give them extra creative responsibilities and ask them to freely roam down the flanks. All in all I believe what my tactical choices are logical and suitable enough in order to recreate my vision. However, watching the games, I'm not really happy with what my team is doing. Here is where I should mention that having such a specific vision in mind, I'm not only concerned with whether my team is winning or not. I want to see my players play the way I have in my head. And here is the problem - I'm not content with how Matuidi and Cavani are playing. The others are displaying more or less what I want them to. But these two players, especially the former one, aren't. Cavani - due to his PPM 'comes deep to get to the ball' and his high team ethic, is having a good impact in the build-up play and setting up good chances for others. Due to this role he is sneaking into good goal-scoring positions too, so I can't be too harsh him. Still, I feel there is something else that can come from him. I think a problem is that due to Ibrahimovic's lack of similarly high level team ethic, the roles are rather reversed - Cavani is more often than not the provider and the Swede is the finisher. The bigger problem is that Matuidi isn't really playing as my midfield runner as well I'd ideally like to see him do. He has the 'gets into the opposition area' PPM which is perfect, but I worry whether his relatively low off the ball attribute (13) is having too much of an impact on him not really getting into good position in and around the box. I'd have hoped that his PPM and the aggressive role under the flexible team shape would largely compensate for this. The good news is that the wing-backs and Verratti are playing just fine. The left wide man isn't as consistent or having a major impact, which I think is mainly down to the players. I've tried all three of Lavezzi, Moura and Pastore and I'm happier with the latter. The former two are frustrating with their end product, which is due to their low level of team work and the even worse combination of poor composure, concentration and decision-making process. Still, their directness are causing enough problems for the opposition, which should be enough to leave plenty of opportunities for the others to shine. Any ideas how can I improve my team within this variant? Variant 2 The second variant has been developed when I started to see that my initial approach didn't yield the desired performances from my team. The tweaks applied are the following: - I kept the counter mentality but gone with a high structured team shape in a bid to try and ask my players to be even more specific about their roles. I haven't added any other TIs bar the selected 'work ball into box' one. - Given the change in the team shape and what it means, I though it'll be a good idea to change the roles of Matuidi and Ibrahimovic to a more specific ones. The former has been given a B2B role which hopefully due to his greater positional freedom provided by it will make him more inclined to search the pocket of spaces in the final third. Initially I kept the CM A in tact, but I felt he was performing even worse and was even more limited under the new highly structured shape than before. Which is why I hoped giving him a more specific role based on extra positional freedom will make him more dangerous. I know that due to the role he will somewhat mirror Verratti's role and often get deeper both in and out of possession, but I still hoped his PPM and roaming settings will make him more dangerous in the final third. It didn't unfortunately. - To try and recreate a more specific creator-finisher combo up front, I kept Cavani his initial role but decided to make Ibrahimovic a False 9. He largely did the same as before - he often enough is dropping deep but isn't as often joining in intricate passing moves and slipping good balls to Cavani and Matuidi. I think his low team work is the main obstacle here. The rest of the players have been playing nicely and up to their selected roles. But I'm still not happy with the main thing of my overall vision - how to make the team attack with a flexible and hugely fluid front three providing different type of threats from different angles. Variant 3 With all of the above in mind I decided to try another thing. Again, as a whole it's the same approach but with a few key tweaks. - I changed the shape of my team to a very fluid. I hoped that following the fact that my players would be bunched closer together and whenever we regain the ball the defence will push up while the front players will drop, I'll see my team putting greater onus on that between the lines overloading process, which in turn will help promote more intricate passing moves and see Ibrahimovic involved deeper and more as a provider. - I reverted the big Swede and Matuidi to their initial CF (S) and CM (A) roles, respectively but kept Cavani as a Raumdeuter in a bid to insist him being more of a specialist consumer. The others are all flexible and not strictly specialist (in the mould of a target-man, ball-winner, flank target man etc) so I kept Verratti as a RPM and the wing-backs as CWB (A). Unfortunately, I didn't see any drastic improvement in how my team behaved. To be honest, I haven't seen any major difference between each of the three variants, even though each of them is having a drastically different approach in terms of how my team is shaped. I guess this is due to largely the same roles, but I hoped the different team shape will have different impact on how certain key roles (namely the ones of Cavani, Matuidi and Ibrahimovic) will be executed. As I said at the start, I'll greatly appreciate any insight and help as to how I can recreate the theory in my head on FM. P.S. I wonder whether Ibrahimovic's low team work and Matuidi's not so great off the ball attribute are such a deal breaker that are actually ruining my vision come to fruition? As said above, I hoped the different roles and his very good anticipation (17) will be enough for Matuidi to overcome his problem. But I can't do nothing about Ibrahimovic being...well... just Zlatan.
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