And he replied with;
Some systems I see posted are the exact opposite of that, so there are loads of people high up the pitch and nobody behind offering an easy out ball. When that happens, you tend to get the high shot counts, low shot accuracy (high blocked shots) and low overall chance conversion. You need to let the players have the space and time to make the right decision.
And I agree with him. I think this goal highlights those key things and shows them in practise. My front four and the midfield all work together. The striker and the inside forward occupy the defence. The trequarista is the one who initially creates space with his movement. Then the advanced playmaker is the one who is using the space that was created. And to top all of that off, this move all started with my deep-lying playmaker who linked them all together and allowed the move to happen.
The next screenshot is a different move but a similar situation.
Here the box if far too crowded and full for anything to happen. This isn’t a bad thing though because again, I have the options of someone outside the box to pass the ball to. The deep-lying playmaker drives forward then cuts the ball back into the path of the advanced playmaker who again, is in acres of space and has time to finish the chance off;
There is a lot more stuff that I could talk about in this system but then I might be here all day, I might expand on them over time but I didn’t want this to focus that much on my own saves as such, but I did want to share how the side links up and the roles the attackers have. This is only a small sample size though and just one example. Before I go further and talk about another incoherent system that fails to achieve the above, I wanted to briefly mention PPM’s.
Player Preferred Moves
If you watch games to get an understanding of how the system you have created works, then over time you’ll notice the odd little things that can be a huge advantage if you know how. In the Brazilian 1970’s tactic that I created I began to notice that against teams who attacked me, my deep-lying forward would find lots of space due to him dropping off deep and roaming around. I also noticed that my centreback seems to have little pressure on him so this got me thinking about how I could try to utilise them both to start quick attacks if the defender deemed that the correct decision to make.
With this in mind I then began thinking of ways I would make it work in my advantage and decided I’d use a ball-playing defender and player preferred moves (PPM’s) to try to achieve this. Now I’ve not yet learnt this to every defender nor have I learnt it to every player that I use as a ball-playing defender. I don’t want everyone to play the same as I like different options for different types of games. So I trained one specific player to do a specific job.
In the above screenshot my ball-playing defender is quite intelligent on the ball, he has good anticipation, teamwork, decisions, technique and passing. So with this in mind I taught him the player preferred move - Tries long-range passes to try to launch quick attacks if he sees fit. I tend to use him more against the sides who attack me rather than sit deep, as I know they’ll push up and leave numbers short at the back. While knowing that my deep-lying forward can be a handful and due to his own personal attributes, he can play a very direct game if needed and play a bit like a poacher at times. So I can make use of these kinds of balls. I could use him as a poacher but then I’d lose a bit of his identity during games as he often drops off, looks for space, links play and pushed forward. If he was just a poacher he’d be more likely to stay high but it could still be effective in this kind of scenario.
But one of the reasons this works well is my striker is fast, like Usain Bolt levels of speed, so I’m confident he will latch onto any long or direct balls and stretch the opposition especially when they aren’t deep. Here is a perfect example of what I’m talking about;
I see this happen often against these type of sides and you can see that one simple ball can cause them all kinds of issues and really put them on the back foot. This is just one small example of how you can use PPM’s to help you supply strikers with quick thinking balls. There are other PPM’s and combinations that could work too but I didn’t want to turn this into an article about PPM’s although I might do a more specific one at a later date as it's a massive part of how I play.
These are just another dimension to tactic building and how you might potentially be able to capitalise on things in your own save. You don’t have too obviously but I felt it was worth mentioning and giving you all a different take on creating chances.
Another Incoherent System
Above I gave you an example of a tactic that tries to offer a bit of variety and provides plenty of options for players. So now for balance, I thought I’d pick apart an issue with another tactic that people seem to have trouble getting to work.
I’ve purposely chosen this tactic as it is very top-heavy and it lacks someone who can control the game from deep. So you’d expect it to be good when it has the ball in the final third but struggle to get the ball to the attackers for large parts. Any kind of creative play from deep will be down to the trequartista who will drop very deep. But when he does drop deep this should present an issue which I’ll hopefully see.
While the formation is a top-heavy one this screenshot shows the opposite, the more vulnerable side of what happens when the trequartista drops deep and roams about from the central areas. The most two advanced players become a bit isolated and have to come deep in search of the ball themselves.
Due to the trequartista being the main creative outlet in the side and him dropping deep, then when the ball is won back you’ll often see players in these type of positions. Look how narrow the front four are. Now this wouldn’t be a bad thing if this was the initial phase of play as people would have time to advance and provide support, but this is the actual end of the move. The striker and trequartista are far too deep here and that leaves the job of attacking to the attacking midfielders. Which is an issue as they should be the ones getting into the scoring positions but here he has no option but to shoot from deep.
A different move but yet again more of the same. How is the player supposed to break through the oppositions defence? Where can he realistically go with the ball? Support is too far behind and there’s a real lack of support yet again. It’s only the front four who are even attempting to do things from an offensive standpoint. The balance of the whole system is fundamentally flawed with the roles they’ve used. The support and creativity are all in the wrong areas.
Shall we take a look at what happens when I change a few roles around to offer better balance in attacks and to give us options going forward....
I’ve made a few small changes to the roles;
The trequartista is now a shadow striker
The right-sided attacking midfielder is now an advanced playmaker
The ball winning midfielder is now a central midfielder with a defensive duty.
The original central midfielder on a defensive duty is now a deep-lying playmaker.
The reason for these changes is that the midfield pairing in any type of 4231 is the key to its success in terms of attack and defence. If they are too adventurous you’ll be badly exposed centrally, so its vital you get the balance correct. It is also beneficial to have someone deep who can pull the strings to make the most of the top-heavy attack you have. This is the main reason I used the deep-lying playmaker role, to take that pressure off the trequartista and switch it around, so we could use a more attack minded attacking midfielder, hence the Shadow Striker.
This screenshot already shows an improvement for me because the player running with the ball has options ahead of him. The deep-lying playmaker passed the ball to the shadow striker who is driving forward. Before, in 90% of situations the person running with the ball from these areas was ahead of everyone else so had no forward options only backward ones.
A few moments later you can see the next stage of the move, the full right hand side of the pitch has opened up for the fullback to use. The shadow striker has also passed the ball centrally now to the advanced playmaker and is bursting his gut to get forward. Already this screenshot is showing the positive reactions of the players from a few simple role changes.
Options and options and what’s needed for players. If you want a goalscorer the key to creating them is to use roles around him that allow for the type of striker to flourish that you have used in your system. It’s why understanding the tactic you use is fundamental for long-term success so you aren't relying on individual brilliance or mistakes from the opposition. Things will be a lot better if you yourself can create, supply and finish chances off
This guide is literally amazing - a full masters dissertation!