Apologies in advance for the for the huge block of text, and thanks in advance for any responses!
I am coming back to Football Manager this year for the first time since '07, and am absolutely enamored with the game. I was initially drawn back in by the depth of the business simulation aspects but am quickly realizing that the games themselves are the real draw. Unfortunately for me at this point, there is so much to learn about FM and football in general that I really do not know where to start. The incredibly useful info on this forum has helped me better understand the fundamental concept of creating space pretty well, but am unable to move beyond that first level of analysis. Life is a marathon and not a sprint, so I am going to take a long-term approach to learning and start from square one.
To that end, I was wondering if anybody has any feedback on the first steps of my "learning plan" below. It is very conceptual, but in theory will help me start learning the basics of football tactics, understand how those tactics can be employed in FM, and begin to analyze why a tactic is/is not working.
1. Establishing tactical strategy: Assuming my opponent with a basic 4-4-2, how do I develop a tactical strategy based around a given formation? While opponents are dynamic and complex, this will give me a base-level understanding. I will start by getting experience with the following:
How to create scoring opportunities: What are all the different ways to create space with a formation, and how can that space be used to create scoring chances? e.g. A wide AMF can cut inside can create space on the wing for an advancing LB/RB to get a clean cross to a player in the box for a header.
Mitigating risks associated with creating space: For each way you can create space, how are you leaving yourself vulnerable on defense? e.g. An advanced LB/RB could be left caught out on a counterattack if possession is lost, but the risk could be mitigated if a DM or additional CB can cover the wing without leaving another attacker unmarked.
Avoiding movement pattern conflicts: Identify potential conflicts between desired movement patterns. e.g. Learning to identify when the combination of player movement patterns can lead to multiple players looking for the same space, a player unintentionally drawing a defender into open space, or a single defender or DM being left to mark multiple opponent attackers.
Settling on a style of play: As a system, how will my team need to play to create scoring opportunities and mitigate risk? e.g. If I want to play positively and create several scoring opportunities each game, several of my players will need to be offensively focused, either as attackers or in support of the attack.
2. Definitions: After developing an general understanding of formations, the next step would be to what the different roles and player instructions available are and how they can be used to achieve the movement needed to execute identified strategies for creating scoring opportunities and mitigating defensive risk.
Roles: What is each role, and how can it help me achieve the movement needed to create scoring opportunities and mitigate defensive risk?
Player instructions: How can player instructions be utilized to fine tune a player's role?
Team instructions: What do team instructions do, how do they help achieve a given style of play.
3. Execution: After understanding how to translate my style of play and offensive/defensive strategies into a basic tactic, how can I ensure it functions as well as I envision?
Identifying key player attributes: What attributes (not specifically defined FM attributes) would players in a tactic need to successfully execute their creation of scoring opportunities while mitigating the associated risk? e.g. The wide AMF cutting inside would (among other things) need to be quick, understand how to move off the ball, and understand how to do so in the context of the team's system.
Adjusting tactic based on opponent style of play: While my developed tactic might work against a vanilla 4-4-2, how can I adjust it to function against opponents with different formations and styles of play?
Thanks again for any thoughts and for all of the incredible guides this community has already put together!