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SFraser

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Posts posted by SFraser


  1. Steven, have you had any issues, especially when first taking over United and trying to put this in place, with toothlessness. By this I mean, the players are taking to things pretty well so far, dominating possession, but once they get in an attacking position, they lose their heads and/or don't know what to do with the ball.

    Yes, infact you could say that the "Tactical Challenge" at this level of football is to avoid being nullified, whether through Complacency or opposition parked buses or key epic players getting older and retiring. The aim of every single opponent team, manager and player in the game at that level is not to beat you, not to equal you, it's simply to nullify you. The point and purpose of my ongoing tactical tweaks and changes and alterations to my team is to fight against this tide of nullification, to keep improving my side so that I don't end up facing a 1-2 scoreline after dominating the match.

    In terms of tactics or tactical instructions there are some options but not as many as you would hope. The main one is increasing Mentality of key players to increase the "risk taking" decision factor, for example pumping up a CM's Mentality should encourage him a bit further forward but crucially encourage a lot more risky/attacking passes. This is something I use regularly because my CM's are brilliant playmakers. This also works well with the FC who can find himself either too deep or too advanced, likewise you might think he is being too greedy or not taking enough risks, Mentality again is the tool to tweak this behaviour.

    Though perhaps the key thing you can do is change a players game away from a general all-round pass-and-move based game and tell your awesome dribbly winger to start running at players with a passion. If passing wont break through the team, maybe passing to get the ball to the toe of some 19 dribbling winger and getting him to plough headlong at defenders will break through the team.

    Where it is really at in my opinion is in attributes, and partnerships. It sounds like you need a "Cantona moment" regularly in your team, and being honest we all do. It's incredibly important to get the correct attributes spread across the team. Things like Workrate and Off The Ball and Flair really are vital attributes. A striker with high Workrate is always a pest, a striker with low Workrate can go missing. A combination of Workrate and Movement is always crucial, particularly against better teams. But the thing that really above all else dominates is finding yourself a couple of players that simply thrive on each others playstyle. This happens in FM and when it happens then teams can be near unstoppable. I was lucky enough to have a few seasons where I had Rooney as FC, Aguero playing Left Wing and Berbatov at AMC. That was quite simply a stunning attacking line up and not many defences could handle those three, let alone the other 7 outfield players.

    In the short term try to work with what you have got, find yourself a plan B such as asking your widemen to forget pass-and-move and just attack defences with the ball at their feet, and asking your CM's to play much more direct passing football. In the medium to longterm it's all about finding players that are not simply good or even great, but are good/great but absolutely thrive playing with your other players.

    An average AMC that somehow plays amazing with your Striker is a lot better than a great AMC that doesn't. Ideally you want a great AMC that does. This is the part of managing a team that is seemingly never ending and along the way you will find things happening you didn't want or expect but that work brilliantly, different players will bring different things to your team, and you realise that a solid 50% of every result you ever get is based solely on the players you select for that match.


  2. SFraser, Ive noticed, that many settings for your front 4 are set to normal.

    Well I guess, its because those 4 have extraordinary stats in attributes like creativity, flair, decisions, teamplay and so on.

    so you rely on their attirbutes and want them to decide on their own, which is the best possible thing for a certain situation.

    but how about players, especially young non developed, who dont have so high mental attributes?

    for example, I have my Mario Götze has 17 in flair, 15 creativity but unfortunately 6 in decisions.

    I also want him to make his own decisions and to play that killer ball, when he cuts inside from the left wing.

    I could observe so often, that my CF Barrios was dropping deep and my AMC kagawa was running into the channel and Götze, who had the ball just needed to play that pass into the space, but instead, he just turned back.

    do you think, its because of his low decision making attribute? im playing a rigid/control 4231 with players allowing more creative freedom and götze is set as inside forward with support duty and set everything on normal.

    he has creative freedom 13 or 14, which is set manually by the tc. what kind of advises could you give me?

    do you think, setting ttb to often would help, since he doesnt have the mental attributes to pick up the very best option?

    When it comes to something like six for Decisions it's going to be in force whatever he does. If you tell him to try more throughballs then he is going to be picking the terrible option rather than the guy clean through on goal on the edge of the box screaming and stamping his feet for a pass.

    The way I would define these "action instructions" is to base them on technical abilities while trying as hard as possible to build a team that is mentally strong. So a team with good solid mental attributes, with a playmaker than can hit passes, a striker that can finish, a winger that can dribble and so on, would be the perfect "non generally awesome" team to strictly set up.

    When it comes to glaring deficiencies in core mental attributes, I'm not sure how you can "rescue" a player. You will never get good movement out of an AMC that has poor Off The Ball regardless of whether you ask him to RFD Often, Mixed or Rare for example. When it comes to core mental deficiencies either you accept the weaknesses are "character traits" or do everything possible to control their specific behaviour.

    For this Gotze chap you might want to set him up so that his passing is short, he tries through balls more often and you have a targetman set, and probably reduce his CF a bit. This should get him hitting throughballs to the targetman close to him. Ofcourse setting a targetman might negatively impact other areas of your team.

    The real question is does his lack of Decisions make him significantly inferior to other players in that role, or does his strengths make up for his incredibly poor choices. I.e. will he miss 90% of the great choices on the pitch and leave you shaking your fist at him, but then pop up with a random piece of magic that makes you forgive him?

    Personally I have my "philosophy" of how I want my football played but I tend to let players get on with it. So they can do pretty much what they like so long as they do it well and it contributes to the team. Most intelligent players fit in very well in my system, if someone doesn't then I tend to lose faith with the player. I could probably make this specific player play better but the question is does that enhance my team? And the answer tends to be no, because the rest of my team is set up to benefit from individual flashes of genius and a free, creative but above all else intelligent game.


  3. Apologies if this has been covered here or elsewhere. If I send a player out on loan or send him to an affiliate, will he develop the same if the league is active or not? IE Bordeaux on my game are not in one of the active leagues, so the only games that Fabio is playing in are Europe League since there are no league games being played week in week out.

    That's less than ideal. I know that inactive leagues tend to "simulate" a rough activity but I would only send players to an active league that is also being played in Full Detail. That's just me though, I want the most accurate simulation of my players development, and also I want the most accurate reports and outcomes so I can adequately study and make decisions on this players future.


  4. so anyways tl;dr, can I loan players that I have bought but aren't in my team yet? Also is there a work around sending players with a youth contract out on loan?

    No and no.

    I'll tell you something - nothing is more freaking frustrating then finding a wonderkid, only having to wait until he is 18 before he joins me. THEN, instead of learning my system and having me and my club become apart of his favorite personnel, he learns some backwards system, learns to love a club and manager, and it always bites my ass 5 years later when that club is declaring interest in him, or his old boss gets a better job and has buying power. It rattles my players and disrupts my form, so just avoiding it completely is the best.

    Yeah that's hugely annoying, but it's all part of the game. My advice is to load up those leagues that produce awesome youngsters but don't allow transfers until the player is 18. Brazil, Turkey etc. And then it's up to you to sign the best.

    Thanks to my awesome skillz at FM I signed up an amazing young Brazillian fullback when he was sixteen, but he couldn't join me until he was 18. The player developed amazingly at his home club and turned into an awesome fullback within months of joining me.

    He is 20 now, and is already classed as World Class.

    It's just a test of your ability. It's a question of your awareness. You can sign them early, they just can't play for you, and sometimes this is actually a benefit to the player in question.

    Don't hate the game, play the game and enjoy the challenge. Brazil is a cunning nation, it always produces great players yet it has strict rules for transfers. That's not a nightmare scenario, it's an interesting feature of our mutual footballing world.

    While playing in England, can you send players you bought from other countries on loan? To say Belgium (to get EU-nationality &work permit)?

    EU nationality =/= Homegrown. Players that have been on your books long enough, even if on loan, will become homegrown.

    The only benefit to sending players on loan to these countries in realistic terms is if their level of football is sufficient to develop your youngsters, and you have the league on "full realism" or whatever is it called.

    When it comes to FM quite simply feeder clubs are not well simulated. Simulated well enough so that you can force a player on loan if he agrees but not much else.

    The way I do it as Man United manager is that the Championship is king for multiple gameplay reasons, it's always fully simulated anyway for a more realistic season, but plays English football etc. etc. etc.

    However the Championship doesn't have epic reputation and so if my players don't like the Championship I look for the "Premier Division" of other countries that is active but likely has a low Reputation, for example France.

    Keep the French top division active, find a team that is a bit rubbish but never gets relegated and there is your awesome club that players that refuse the Championship will go to.

    Another option is to try and strike up close friendships with managers in your own league and then offer out players on loan in the general way. But to be honest I never find this works well. That awesome Chelsea youngster scoring for fun at Bolton just doesn't seem to happen in FM.

    Keep in mind, they are U18 as well and join my club on their 18th birthday/next transfer window. I find it really annoying receiving a kid when he's 18, cannot get a work permit, send them on loan to my feeder in Belgium (which sucks btw) for 3 years to finally get them into my club, and those 3 years are more or less wasted and they still have a low CA but huge PA.

    Cuz when I buy youth, I like to buy 14, 15 and 16 year olds (17 or 18 very rarely, and only because they regened at age 17 or I just totally missed them while scouting). If I could send them to Belgium (or wherever) to gain nationality THAT young would be IDEAL. Then I can get them into my system as young as possible.

    That's not how Homegrown works, it's not how loaning works either.

    The absolute key to Homegrown status is realising that if you are asked to name a 25 man squad and you name a 23 man squad, those two spare slots are AUTOMATICALLY home grown. If you need 8 HG players then 6 HG players + 2 spare slots is perfect.

    And this totally ties into everything I have ever said about "small" robust, functional, logical squads. Never failing the HG requirement + epic youth development because of a small(er) First Team is a mutually reinforcing, and might I say profoundly useful, situation.

    The truth of your entire post is that the game sets you tasks, it sets you challenges, it sets you stuff you wish was different but isn't.

    You can either fight against them or you can accept them.

    But if you are really good at this game you can exploit them all to your advantage. Need a certain level of HG players? Have fewer first teamers and force yourself into using youth. Signed a Brazillian but he can't join you for another two years? That's two years for Darren Gibson to prove his worth. Got yourself a First Team squad that doesn't meet the 25 player rule? Forget about Belgium, send players to France instead.

    WIN

    That's all you need to worry about.


  5. SFraser,top notch, as usual. Please would you answer me this? Do you make out the full quota of tactics, that is Defensive through to Attacking or do you just use the one, Control in your case?

    My system is set up to exploit a lot of the shouts without changing core behaviours in a players playstyle. So no I don't build tactics sets but I can use shouts to change huge aspects of how my team plays. But at the same time I don't lose the ability to control the details that I never want to see changed, like how many throughballs a rubbish passer tries, or for some reason my Attacking and Creative inside forward having to hug the touchline and whip in crosses.

    I heavily modify the TC to strike a balance between both worlds that works for me. A balance between ease of use, change and Shout Exploitation of the TC with specific individual player instructions of the Tactics Sets.

    Let me give you an example, when I shout "Get the Ball Forward" my players don't increase their Throughballs, they increase their Passing Directness. When I change my wide players role from Advanced Playmaker Support to Winger Attack, they don't hug the touchline, they don't cross and they don't lose any CF. They simply play more aggressive positionally and pass risk taking.

    I can do more things with my tweaked TC than five, six or seven Tactics sets can do. I can play narrow and attacking once I have scored when the opponent is going to open up and play attacking to look for a goal, giving my Inside Forwards the perfect environment to hook up with my AMC/creative FC. I can drop deeper, play wider, look for more possession based passes, stand off the opponent more but dive into hard tackles when I am 3-1 up in the 80th minute, without messing up any of my core instructions.

    The Tactics Creator and the "tactics sets" or "classic system" in my mind sit at two extremes of possible gameplay. I have tried to tick the right tactical boxes and set up the ideal starting system so that I can enjoy the best of both worlds.

    Even before the TC was officially released I knew that the TC alone wouldn't satisfy me but the "classic system" would give up too many excellent new features, and I played a beta version of the TC on FML so I knew that the ability to design a "custom" TC was possible, and I have spent a long time doing that. Choosing the right instructions to specifically control and others to leave to the TC to enjoy the best of both worlds.

    In that way the TC is the perfect SI feature, no where near developed like it could be but it gives the FM power gamer the ability to achieve something close to what the ideal TC would actually be. "New feature? If you don't like it we have included some options that allow you to fix it, although it will never be as robust as if we had spent most of our time devoted to it".

    I was a major critic of the TC before it came out. Now I am one of it's biggest fans, because I don't use it properly ;)


  6. I do look at your posts and yes this is a brilliant game. My happiness at "discovering" this game July 2010 just outweighs the sadness of not finding it before.:)

    That is comparable to the fun I have continuing to discover this game. It's not a perfect simulation of football but it keeps trying to be a perfect simulation of football that I consider it to be the greatest game ever made.

    I'm the kind of guy that plays Hearts of Iron when I am bored. I play "The Void" when I am looking for something a bit artistic, I have figured out how Sopcast works...

    Football is either a passion or it is not. I am passionatly playing a game that is made by passionate football fans. The only time FM is not active on my PC is when my Sopcast has my team.

    And that's all there is to it.

    What I do is what happens between Wednesday and Saturday when my team is not playing.

    Thank you SI.


  7. I meant were you able to set him as a tutor before he was 22yo.

    I asked because I've been told that tutors had to be at least 22yo in FM10, but I can remember at least three players I've had that could tutor at 19 & 20 years of age.

    Yes I tried that double tutoring once, but nothing seemed to change so I haven't tried it since. I thought it was a bug or something that allowed me to do this if I set them at the same time. So have you had possitive results doing this?

    I'm still playing FM10 so it would be nice to know. Cheers:)

    Two things:

    First of all available tutors in FM10 is pretty much anyone, and pretty much anyone else can be a tutoree in FM10. The only barriers in FM10 are age/reputation/position. The guy being mentored must be younger, similar position and with lower reputation.

    The second point is that the actual results of Mentoring are very interesting. The context in which mentoring improvements happen is interesting. It's not a simple case of "copy-paste" at all, and your question shows you have noticed that.

    To sum it up I think that given all the possible factors in FM, the greatest Mentoring results occur after the Mentor has done something impressive.

    I'm serious, look at the posts I write, and I am astonished by how realistic this game is. It's a work of genius. When the mentor plays out of his skin, the mentoree goes through the roof. It's a stunning game.

    If you want to play it well, pretend it is football. I kid you not.


  8. SrFrase i play Fm10 and i have a doubt.

    Recently 2 young players came to my team and I have one mental beast awesome for tutoring but when i interact with 1 of those new players, the one who appears for tutoring haven't good mentals.

    Can I change that so I can put my best mental player tutoring?

    That's a problem I have run into before, and it's very annoying.

    I guess for some deep, dark, terrible reason FM doesn't think the mentor and mentoree play in the same position.

    It's stupid I know, but it's happened to me. If you really rate the player all you can do is wait until your other mentors finish their mentoring and hope one of them fits the bill.

    I have had right backs that can't be mentored by my best right backs, forwards that can't learn from Rooney, and worst of all my truly amazing Natural Left Winger Aguero can only mentor central midfielders.

    There is a logic too it but it's still amazingly annoying. I feel your pain, and many decent players go down the plughole because of it.

    Maybe there is a case for a "sort it out SI" post here.


  9. - I love playing with big guys up front. Do you have any tips on how to set up a better usage of these big, but creatively lacking guys? Generally they seem to keep my AMC a little limited, as they aren't really creating space in synergy between each other very well
    My AMR position is my weakest link atm. I have Vladimir Weiss, who is really more a pure winger than an inside forward

    The answer is already there.

    For your particular system fiddle around with the instructions for your RW and FC until you produce a system the RW bombs forward and whips in crosses for your Striker. My players cut in because that's what suits my team, I don't have "big men" upfront to nod crosses into the net.

    You might want to fiddle around with targetman and playmaker instructions if you have a giant upfront and an AMC that seems to be getting low ratings. Setting your FC as the target and giving your RW the instruction to aim for targetman after you have set him up with RWB Often, Cross Ball Often, Cross from byline and everything else rare will give you that proper "winger" behaviour while everyone else in your team looks for your AMC, and if your AMC is clever then he picks the best option.

    This is why I don't put tactics up for download, they only work for my team. It's not my aim to invent a tactic that always beats the AI, it's my aim to build the sexiest looking football that FM has ever seen and win matches with it. My system has some, I think, very sound details in it that would work well for anyone, but some of the more specialised issues simply wont work elsewhere.

    And don't think that I don't tinker either. This thread is my current system, it's a lot different to my original 4-2-3-1 and it's likely to be a lot different from the 4-2-3-1's I build in the future, although the principles will remain the same. Ofcourse I tinker and tweak and adapt and change. But I don't tinker and tweak and adapt and change because I'm losing when last match I won and did nothing.

    Set up what makes sense for your team. If this thread gives you specific details you find works then great, but the point all along was the thinking process.

    And to show off some PKM's.


  10. SFraser, did you get Shelvey to Tutor at age 19 or 20?

    I'm not sure what you mean.

    I started tutoring Shelvey as soon as he joined and kept tutoring him as long as I had tutors with better mentals.

    I also got him to tutor players that had less mentals as him right away.

    In FM10 you can do both at the same time. Shelvey learning from one guy while he teaches another.


  11. So, I've watched a few of the PKM's and aside from the obviously brilliant attacking football, I really enjoyed seeing Ramirez and Sandro dominate the midfield physically, winning headers all over the place and disrupting the opposition's moves early on.

    Reading your thread 'How To Meet The Next Season' has left me with a question, however: Of the two midflield playmakers you have brought in, neither is able to challenge for headers and dominate in the same way as Ramirez, so do you intend to change anything in your system to accomodate them, or do you reckon no changes will be necessary?

    You have it perfect, and you have nailed down the exact question I have as well.

    The truth of the matter is that can I only "theorise" and "experiment". What happens in matches is what is going to tell me how well these ideas work. If I don't miss Sandro in the middle then that's fine, if I do then I will have to adapt.

    That adaption may be as simple as playing Sandro in midfield when the opponent has good headers in midfield, it may be something different. Maybe I learn to live with a few missed interceptions and tackles because the new guys attacking ability is much superior to Sandro's defensive ability.

    It's true that the new guy wont physically dominate the midfield like Sandro does, but I have to say many kudos to you for spotting in six matches some of the precise details of my teams performances.

    That midfield combination is good though, isn't it?


  12. Thanks for your reply SFraser, What tends to happen down my flanks on 11.3 are my fullbacks will dribble right to the byline and then either A, Cross the ball in or b knock it off the opposing defender for a corner or thrown in.

    What is their Creativity at? Being able to see a pass is a skill. It's not an attribute people look at for fullbacks but there is a world of difference between Creativity 7 and Creativity 14 for a Fullback that gets forward. Personally I like Creativity 16 or 17 in my fullbacks, but I'm a bit different.

    They just advance too far for my supporting midfielders in the CM positions to be any of any use at that point. I think i'll try to change the crossing settings to rare (which they already are) but to cross from deep to see if that helps any.

    The better option would be to reduce their RWB, or their Mentality. A lower mentality fullback will get forward a bit later but still get forward, however crucially he will look for the less risky option. So a pass back to your MC's might be more appealing than a slick dribble and a first time cross to your Centreforward.

    I would be looking at their Creativity and Mentality, unless you have RWB set to Often.


  13. Sfraser, Do you have any issues now you've dropped your CM's back with them getting the ball forward, I think one of the issues i see time and time again within the match engine is inside forwards just standing on top Of full backs and not really attacking the ball from deep.

    A lot of it depends on having the right AMC for the match because an AMC with roaming and good attributes will constantly be on the move and this will open up spaces for wingers and striker to run into, and open up good passing angles for your CM's.

    I think the most important thing is good control of the play down your flanks because you are going to get a lot of space down the flanks, and if your fullback keeps dribbling down the flank and crossing the ball to no one then you are wasting possession. I think deeper CM's actually improves my flank play because my CM's are a much more open and better option for my wide men now. Also playing very attackingly intelligent fullbacks is a massive benefit. These are my fullbacks.

    2dippur.jpg

    I had to pay through the nose for Alaba and he is clearly not a defensive rock but he is a pacey battler with bags of playmaking ability. My version of the attacking fullback. Magno is a player I pinched at age 18 for a whole £5 million and I am developing him myself. The guy is turning into a special fullback, his technical abilities are excellent and his mental abilities are not too shabby if a bit unrefined.

    They are not "perfect" players and so playing defensive CM's is just sensible for my team, but I was already playing that before I got these lads. So these fullbacks compliment my defensive Playmaking CM's and really do an excellent job at keeping the whole "amazing passing football" philosophy ticking over.

    I find your personal alot more interesting than your actually system personal, with the depth and variety of talent you have it gives you such great flexibility, a interesting tactical point i noticed was how much more attacking freedom your fullbacks have compared to your older systems. they can make such a good outlet for any team playing a 4 man defense, i do however find it troubling some of the odd positions my own players take up when my fullbacks have the ball in advanced errors

    Personnel is a vitally important part of any team. You can't really claim to have a good team if you don't have the right players playing the right tactics for their own abilities.

    Btw, did you watch any of the PKMs?

    Although I would like to ask you about one thing. Do you take a player's composure in consideration when scouting, buying, training, tutoring them, and if so; how highly do you rate it?

    Definitely and highly. Composure is what it is and players that buckle under pressure are never ideal. However you can get away with low composure in certain areas a majority of the time. The two areas you can't get away with low composure is CF and CM. In the middle of the pitch Composure is the equal to any other attribute in importance. For fullbacks it's less vital but still highly desirable.


  14. - I thought you weren't going to buy any more AMs? Then up pops Wijnaldum. ;)

    19 Creativity and 18 Movement combined to 16 Workrate? Who wouldn't want him?

    I am always on the lookout for players and although I wasn't keen on Wijnaldum this save he developed into a weapon and wanted to move clubs. So I felt it was my duty to rescue him.

    - The tactic looks like it's changed a fair bit from the one from the Creativity and Flair thread. Mainly the CMs and Wingers. What caused you to change?

    Three main things have changed. My CM's were playing too high up the pitch so I dropped them deeper but increased their Creative Freedom by choosing Advanced Playmaker. My Striker was dropping deep, which was great for four/five seasons, but now I want my new striker to play more direct, play higher up on the shoulder of defenders and create space for my AMC so I put him onto a more attacking role.

    The wingers was a purely practical issue. As teams continue to play ever more defensive so my wingers had an ever increasing tendency to dribble down the wing and cross. So I ask them both to Cut Inside to negate the rather large bias to decisions caused by oceans of space down the flanks.

    It's all just fine-tuning and tweaking, it never stops. While my basic formation has been the same since the start of my save, my actual tactics within the formation changes season by season. Certain specific instructions change match by match.

    Here are some PKM's for you all:

    Manchester United v Liverpool : http://www.mediafire.com/?ai3civ2vol673bk

    Liverpool v Manchester United : http://www.mediafire.com/?niklydw4rxhz7zk

    Fulham v Manchester United : http://www.mediafire.com/?bl8lx7kq8bfbid9

    Everton v Manchester United : http://www.mediafire.com/?g65s3asplur9k7t

    Manchester United v Sunderland : http://www.mediafire.com/?fsbcq62b4ai9qy2

    Manchester United v Barcelona : http://www.mediafire.com/?k3l1jlo9zkfdnao

    Barcelona v Manchester United : http://www.mediafire.com/?l64qowe602wz7zd

    The first five PKM's show my side at it's free flowing best. The last two show my side contesting an extremely tight, cagey European Cup Semi Final against the mighty Barcelona. I narrowly get through, but those two matches were in my opinion two of the best matches I have been involved in. Real cheek clenching stuff and a couple of slices of luck.

    Watch them how you like, but I would always recommend full match 2-D replay. You wont really see the strengths and weaknesses of this team just watching the highlights.


  15. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post, although i must admit i had to read it twice to get the gist, i've been in strong belief that the TC is a strong tool that not many people take advantage of, something i've used since it's introduction and won't play the game any other way now. Hopefully (and no doubt will) inspire others to go down that path.

    A cracking thread and very well explained.

    Thank you.


  16. I don't have a problem building a team of 11 players that behave the way i want them to. My problem is having a whole 25+/- squad and fitting them all into the sistem.

    Any advice here on team management?

    Right well the main thing is to know what your players are good at, so you know what they will do on the pitch, and so you know how to use them.

    Imagine you have two strikers, a pacey striker and a bulldozer centreforward. You also have two right wingers, one is a pacey crosser and the other likes to cut inside and is more of a playmaker. The pacey striker will work better with the playmaker, the bulldozer will work better with the crosser. Playing the crosser and the pacey striker is not the ideal combo.

    Squad rotation is just about making sense of the players you pick. If I play at home against a side near the bottom of the league I wont pick my "best team" but instead my most creative team and play my best striker. If I am playing away in Europe I will play my two Defensive CM's and a high workrate AMC and try to make sure I take my chances away and deny chances at home.

    The main thing is just to put together a team that works. When you are aware of how each player in your squad performs then you don't have a "best team" any more, you have lots and lots of tactical options you can use without having to do much to your tactical instructions.

    The team I have put together in terms of players and ability means I can make big changes to how my team plays by selecting the right players without having to change anything in my tactics other than the shouts I use.


  17. Defending

    2ij5fgi.jpg

    Here you can see how the midfield and forwards press while the defensive line is a bit more cautious, and you can also see that the centre tight marks while the flanks are more flexible about their defensive duties. This set of instructions came about automatically through the TC and is pretty effective for starting off most games. However I do tend to adapt these instructions via shouts particularly early on in the match once I get an idea of the how the opponent has set up to play.

    Ball Usage

    2gwux5x.jpg

    And here is my Philosophy of playing football. Bags of Creative Freedom, mainly Mixed Passing with a slight hint of direct for the attacking players, and everything else mixed barring a few exceptions. Centrebacks don't dribble, players hitting longshots need to be good at them, my CM's pump throughballs all day long, and no one is to cross the ball unless it's an absolute certainty because my team is rubbish in the air.

    This set of instructions pretty much equates to a "Passing Game Mixed" instruction. A passing game is on equal footing with a dribble choice or a throughball for every player barring CB's and CM's. It's then up to the player to be able to see the match around him and act intelligently.

    Conclusion

    And that is my system pretty much. It's a system that combines a particular view on a particular tactical system with a personal playing philosophy, combined to significant attention to detail in instructions but also combined to immense flexibility in match. It's a system that has taken me ages to design, is never finished, and produces some of the greatest football I have ever seen from the ME.

    There are the details on shouts to go into but I will leave that for a further post.

    Also if anyone would like some PKM's please let me know, but keep in mind this is for FM10 so you will need to have that game installed and patched to 10.3.


  18. Part 5: Building The Team

    A team is not a set of instructions working in harmony, it is a collection of players working in harmony. Nor is it a shape and a basic strategy that can be tweaked. This is what is commonly referred to as a "framework" or a basic set of simple principles that govern certain aspects of a team. A team is something much, much deeper than that.

    What I have set out already is a basic shape for my team, a set of basic fundamental principles for my team to play by, and a capability for my team to be immensely flexible in it's approach to different matches and different match contexts.

    I haven't yet put together a team.

    Putting The Team Together

    okmqzr.jpg

    This I suppose is the closest thing I have to a "First Team" and I have them here displaying their roles and duties and their key attacking attributes. Ignore the roles and duties just now, they are actually nothing like they appear to be from this screenshot.

    It's the highlighted attributes that are most important. From left to right they are Determination, Decisions, Creativity, Flair, Off The Ball, Teamwork.

    The first thing that is noticable is that they are all Mental attributes, and the second thing is that they are all Attacking attributes. This is my overall gameplan in a nutshell, a defensively solid system that is easily adapted that is being carried out and played by 11 highly intelligent, very attacking, very cohesive set of players. How this is obviously a fabulous group of players, but just how fabulous is it?

    Determination - Green across the board. The majority are packing 18 Determination with a few above and a few below. This is an absolutely resolute, relentless side.

    Decisions - A crucial attribute for a team that is given freedom to play. Decisions are 15 or higher for all players, with most of my best decision makers playing through the spine of the team.

    Creativity - Another vital attribute for my particular style of play. I have two 19 Creativity players , a CM and a winger, and bags of creativity throughout the rest of the team. But look who I didn't pick, two 20 Creativity players and two 18 Creativity players. I can change the game with ease and bring on four players that will transform the match into a game of pure superior vision.

    Flair - Good quality Flair down the flanks, but absolutely immense levels of Flair in my three most dangerous "forwards".

    Off The Ball - My four most advanced players have immense levels of movement, precisely what is needed in conjunction with high levels of Creativty and Flair. My two central attacking players are both packing the maximum levels of movement possible in the game. Bingo.

    Teamwork - High levels of Teamwork throughout the team, reaching it's maximum levels in my two central attackers that both have the highest movement. My most lethal movers are both played through the middle and are both my best team players. Bingo again.

    Even dealing with just six offensive Mental attributes this team is a thoroughly cohesive unit. Now as I said before it is unlikely a manager is ever going to get a perfect set of players but that is not the point, it's not even the fun of the game. The point is to put together a team that makes sense, that is actually a team. You can be assured that regardless of variable strengths and weaknesses in my players, all combinations of attributes for players in my team will be likewise as cohesive as I can get them, that is what a good team starts and ends with.

    But it's not the be all and end all. Because a team will always be built of different players with their different strengths and weaknesses, played in a system of the managers choosing and with his particular philosophies and plans in mind, the task is always about building efficient and effective relationships between players on the pitch. What I have listed here is a set of excellent players with all the right attributes to be a ferocious team, but now I have to build that ferocious team, I have to put it together with the Tactical Instructions.

    By now you should be seeing my team starting to take shape, you should be realising that I am putting together something particularly potent. But I have only outlined the basic shell of my team.

    The Guts of a Team : Building Behaviour and Relationships

    2yv2ccx.jpg

    I am not going to go through each position one by one, for two very good reasons. First it would require several additional posts and multiple images. Second it deals with players as individuals and not as parts of a cohesive unit. It's not how I make my tweaks, it's not how I build my teams, it's not how I think about tactics and players. What I am going to do instead is explain how I build my teams, and explain how I instruct and tweak my teams, as a team.

    The image above does not describe what I am comfortable tweaking and what I am not comfortable tweaking. The image above shows the way I have split Tactical Instructions into Player Specific and In-Match Dependant tactical instructions. One set of instructions fits a player into a team, the other set of instructions defines a team.

    Now this does not mean that the unticked instructions are not tweaked specifically for my team, this could not be further from the truth. Instead the truth is that my initial Team Philosophy is combined to the Role and Duty options and I choose the initial Role and Duty based on the shape and balance and structure of the Mentality, Creative Freedom and so on. By doing it this way I can change things quickly and easily, say changing my AMC from Attacking Midfielder Attack to Advanced Playmaker Attack for a quick and complete change to Mentality and Creative Freedom, but still have these options directly alterable by the in match shouts.

    This is a way of maintaining complete control over what a player does, as well as getting maximum benefit out of the In Game Shouts. I am not going to explain the thinking behind this particular set of instructions right here and right now because as I said before it will give the completely wrong idea.

    Instead I am going to talk about something much deeper.

    Mentality Structure

    1fuw3t.jpg

    Although Mentality is unticked, the selection of my Roles and Duties is aimed specifically at achieving the ideal internal shape for my system. By internal shape I mean the shape the players actually employ from their initial starting shape. Despite choosing a "Balanced" initial philosophy you will notice that my Mentality Structure is almost perfectly identical to a "Very Fluid" philosophy, barring a couple of clear exceptions.

    This is the view where I actively design my teams shape and coherence in terms of risk taking. Because none of the options are ticked it means I can alter these "on the fly" during a Match. However it also means that if I want to make subtle changes to this shape I have to go and flick about with a bunch of Roles and Duties untill I find the ideal combination. It's not perfect, and I said the TC was not perfect, but it is still very achievable if a little time consuming.

    The shape here is quite simple. It's a completely fluid attacking set of Mentalities, barring the midfield partnership and the centreback partnership who each play a bit more conservative. This has the result of my midfield duo sitting slightly deeper than they otherwise would in a pure Fluid system, and hence why my Dual CM 4-2-3-1 is still a true 4-2-3-1, and they also play a slightly less risky game when in possession of the ball. My Centrebacks sit deeper yet and play even less risky yet but then I automatically start off playing with a High D-Line and tend to push forward even more against most teams, so it's an ideal trade-off.

    It's not the most convoluted Mentality framework in the world but it doesn't have to be. My two CM's are fast, positionally excellent, good in the air, intelligent and great technical footballers so they drop off, protect my Centrebacks and absolutely dominate the midfield. My Centrebacks sit behind and because players rarely get through my midfield and even rarer with two forwards, they mop up in a nice intelligent combination of pressing and covering whichever side is being attacked.

    The simplicity of the relationship between my two centrebacks and their relationship with my two CM's again belies the potency of their behaviour. When the ball is down one side of the pitch I have effectively a DM ahead of two Centrebacks playing down the other side. Counter-attacks are not very effective against this system because I have four amazing defensive players playing in a square. One man goes to the ball, the other three adopt excellent defensive shapes like seen in my Tactical Images in the first post.

    But defence is not the only benefit from this Mentality Structure. My deep CM's are excellent playmakers, indeed one of them has 19 Creativity and 20 Passing, and so the opponent has to the difficult choice to make of whether to leave the worlds best DLP free to dictate the match, or to press him and leave space in behind the midfield for my AMC to exploit. It's a subtle question asked of the opponent and it's incredibly powerful.

    Rather than go through each of these views in isolation and take ages while losing the idea of cohesion, I will group together different views under different tactical ideas and flesh out the details of my system in relevant context.

    Positioning and Movement

    714bvl.jpg

    The very Fluid attacking Mentality structure with the CM and CB "box" dropped deeper is again present here. This time though you can see that my Fullbacks are asked to bomb right forward, while my box doesn't make any forward runs. My fluid attacking four are tasked with making runs "by percentages". Neither too early or too late, but ideally right on the button. However all players outside my back five are given Roaming instructions. This is because the movement into space and exploitation of space is crucial in my attacking philosophy. There are sometimes some weird results but overall my players Roaming behaviour is excellent.

    The wideplay is crucial because with my Fullbacks pushing really far forward, my wide players don't have to play like wingers and nor do I want them to. I ask them to weigh the option to move infield as much higher than any other. Ofcourse sometimes they still pull wide as that option is supreme, but on the whole they tend to move infield and feed the ball through the centre. This can often mean a quick long ball from my CM pinged out to the Fullback down the flank who now has much more space. Or it can mean Aguero dribbling infield and sticking one in the top corner. It can also lead to a cunning short ball through to Rooney who has moved up from AMC into a striking position behind the fullback that the winger has dragged wide.

    Ultimately the combination of advanced fullbacks, wingers that cut inside and an AMC that pulls into the channels has a really powerful impact on the opponents fullback positions, very much like the tactical images I put up in my original post. Jaume doesn't move into channels, his job is to pin Centrebacks and exploit the slightest error with Hernandez esque movement.


  19. Part 4: Getting Down To Details, My Brand Of Football

    I understand the system, I know the general philosophy I wish to play by, I could punch it all in to the games menus and produce a spectactular fail. Or I could produce a great success, it would be equally as random. Football isn't about finding a good defensive system with decent lines of attack and then telling your players to go play creative football. That's the Kevin Keegan way. That might be a bit harsh, but you can be absolutely sure it's not the FM way. FM doesn't forgive those who do not design systems. You don't have to have microscopic attention to detail to design formations in FM but you absolutely must be capable of designing coherence into your team.

    It is absolutely vital that you can put together a team, based on all the old and never dying footballing concepts. Centreback and midfield partnerships, overlaps, supplying strikers, freeing up playmakers, doubling up on flanks, to cross or not to cross? That is the question. Creating space, denying space, balancing your lines, building your lines.

    It sounds complicated but it's not. Or atleast you don't find it complicated if you enjoy it. And you certainly don't have to do it all at once. I find these things to be continually ongoing processes, indeed once you get into the swing of the game this is what tactics, substitutions and squad rotation is all about. It's about tweaking all the little "modules" in your team. The groups of players. Playing a slow but immense Centreback this game? Then play a speed merchant box-to-box in midfield and a quick witted, creative forward. That's cohesion. These things take time to learn and time to develop, but they never have to come at the expense of your overall concepts. Get your signings right and these things enhance your overall concepts. You are still playing the overall brand of football you want to play, but you are improving the ability of players to play together.

    The question is, where do you start on such a vast and elaborate issue?

    Overall Plans

    The first place to start when it comes down to the actual details of building a team is to realise that regardless of your own preferences and philosophy for football, you are still going to be playing your football against many different teams. Each opponent will have their own strengths and weaknesses as a team and as a group of individuals. Each opponent will give you at the very least a slightly different game to the previous opponent and some opponents will give you a radically different game. And while the manager may have the aim of building a "perfect footballing team" the manager must also be acutely aware that the fans and the board demand results. The team playing "perfect football" must be the team that's achieving. Style and philosophy must be effective.

    In FM as in football, effectiveness tends to be an issue defined not by the absolute ability of one team and the excellence of it's initial formation, but by the changes a manager makes to adapt to different teams and then to different circumstances throughout the match. One of the most effective tactical concepts in recent years on this forum has been the idea of "Tactics Sets". These are essentially different "versions" of the same fundamental system to be used when you need to be more attacking, more defensive, keep possession, play counter-attacking football or to completely "shut up shop". Prior to FM10 there were pretty much two completely different ways of playing FM from a tactical sense. The first was absolute precision engineered, multiple tactical sets that was the equivelant of designing four or five systems for your team, the second way was to pick one formation and one tactical system and more or less stick to it, barring the odd tweak here and there. Unsurprisingly the vast majority of FM players including myself fell into the last camp. Building four or five independant systems that each required testing and ironing out was something that required an immense amount of patience and tended to be done by a very few people.

    FM10 brought us a middle way. One that was neither as inch perfectly custom designed as the Tactical Set approach, but nowhere near as stale and inflexible as the "one tactic + odd tweak" approach. That middle way is ofcourse the TC and it's shouts, and it is one of the greatest ever additions to this game from a tactical point of view. It's not perfect, but it is truly excellent and perhaps even game changing.

    What the TC and Shouts offer is the ability to take one starting system and then make a lot of changes to it very quickly and easily. It takes only a couple of turns of the mousewheel to radically alter how a particular position performs on the pitch, a few clicks to completely change the defensive or offensive nature of your team. The TC brings the true dynamism and variation and pro-active/reactive decision making of a football match to FM. It changes the complexion of tactics themselves.

    Now in FM my core plan is not simply to build a good formation with good tactical ideas, but to build a good system with good tactical ideas that offers the greatest range of options for change and offers the greatest results when employing the Shout changes. My core plan is to build a system that I know how to change quickly and easily, and that performs effectively in the desired manner when I make those changes. My core plan is to build a basic system that can be three, four, five different but equally effective things on the pitch with a few easy clicks of the mouse.

    The starting position for My Brand of Football is therefore a starting position of relative neutrality based on what I want to do. Because of the team I am and the philosophy I have my starting position of relative neutrality is going to edge towards an intelligent, flamboyant system. I can then adapt this system to become more offensive or defensive, more or less direct, more or less aggressive in closing down, more or less aggressive in the tackle, more or less wide, more or less creative. Precisely because I know that what I am starting with is a relatively neutral version of my system and philosophy I can then become more or less offensive/defensive in a variety of ways as the match dictates, or even diverge completely from my philosophy if I need to.

    The TC offers me many immense tactical weapons to use. The key first issue is therefore to build my relatively neutral system that employs my philosophy.

    Building The System

    119tjkk.jpg

    This is the basic shape of the team and the basic set of Team Instructions. Technically speaking the shape is considered by FM to be a 4-4-1-1 due to the two CM's. However the system I have built is the closest to what I would consider a pure 4-2-3-1 system in function. I will go into more detail later in the post about the midfield.

    The basic shape is the 4-2-3-1 system that I have chosen, and the basic Tactical Instructions reflect my relatively neutral starting tactics.

    Philosophy - The philosophy chosen here does not reflect my philosophy of football, it is chosen based purely on the impact it has on player tactical instructions. It is therefore one of the more complicated decisions I have made. Ultimately the "Balanced Philosophy" is the philosophy that gives me access to the range of different Mentalities for my individual players that I want to work within when designing specific individual roles.

    Starting Strategy - The control strategy chosen here reflects my actual Philosophy, a relatively neutral slightly attacking game with Creative Freedom and limited risk taking.

    Passing Style - Passing Style Default. Passing Style can ofcourse be changed through Shouts so I would leave this untouched in order to have maximum options for shortening passing or making it more direct. However I tend to prefer a Passing game that is neither short nor direct anyway. My personal passing preference is an intelligent passing game of good choices that is free from any undue manager influence that may provoke players to aim for inferior options. Sometimes I do Shout "Get Ball Forward" but only when I am desperate for a goal.

    Creative Freedom - More Expressive is a core component of my attacking philosophy anyway. I want my players to have freedom to express themselves regardless of what else is going on the pitch. While I set up the team, instruct the team, design the team, pick the team, I'm not the one that has the ball at my feet and passing options around me. One of my core philosophies in FM is that the best attacking football comes from giving intelligent players the freedom to play.

    Closing Down - Default, to be increased or decreased or left alone depending on the match. My initial system will be neither aggressive nor back off closing down but relatively intelligent closing down in a Zonal Marking starting system.

    Tackling - Default, again to be reduced or increased depending on what is happening. "Inferior" teams tend to fall over a lot and play for free-kicks, "superior" teams tend to get on with it and go for the kill. Tackling is a key match-by-match tactical decision, as are most options in this list.

    Marking - As I explained earlier the 4-2-3-1 is a key shape, and a key shape requires Zonal Marking to keep shape. I wont always require the pure defensive quality of the 4-2-3-1 and so I wont always require Zonal Marking, but I start off with Zonal Marking by default and alter that if I want to put opponents under pressure. Infact the combination between marking, pressing and tackling has a radical effect on many different ways your team plays. Zonal + High Pressing + Light Tackling = World Cup 2010 defence in depth. Man Marking + High Pressing + Hard Tackling = local derby match. From this basic starting position a few good Shouts makes a vast difference to how your team plays it's defensive game. And that's the whole point of these initial options.

    Crossing - Default. This option is different from the rest in that it has no impact on my tactics because Crossing is something I individually tailor for each player.

    Roaming- Default. Same as above, individually tailored for each player.

    The Specific Instructions are not touched on this screen. They show how this arrangement of instructions works at the minute. All of these options can be tweaked in match via shouts, and so I do not touch them in this screen. What is important though is to be aware of them, make sure you understand completely where you start and then you can be completely confident in what you Shouts List is telling you and what options it is offering you. If I want to tuck my inside forwards infield and focus play down the flanks then I will shout that, I will shout "Play Narrower and Exploit the Flanks" and so on. Shouts are an immense boon now, and this basic system is set up to make use of them.

    I also do not choose Set Piece Aims because it is far too easy to exploit the AI. I will set up some basic set piece orders that give my team a good rough shape without exploiting anything specific, and then let my players pick the options. Basically my set piece setup is to make sure my team is not all over the place and leaving gaps in defence rather than an attempt to gain an advantage over the AI.

    Conclusion

    That is the basic system set up, not the whole package by any means. What has been done here is simply to define a shape and a basic template for play that gives me a wide variety of options in how to adapt the actual detailed system I am going to build along logical, team based lines. This overall system is designed to be able to make maximum use of the Shouts in line with my basic system and philosophy ideas.

    It's a very simple initial team setup, but the simplicity belies it's basic practical soundness as an overall system as it is, and belies it's immense flexibility when the manager is standing at the side of the pitch shouting orders at his players.

    This is the rough basic system I line up with in every match, it is by no means the meat and potatoes of the team.


  20. Part 3: The Attack

    As I explained before due to certain limitations in FM in terms of tactics I have chosen to opt for a defensive shape that attacks rather than vice versa. However while some 4-2-3-1 systems can be convoluted in attack and regularly change shape in real life, the two most outstanding 4-2-3-1 type systems in the last World Cup were pretty simple yet rather profound in what they did. Those two were Spain and Germany. While there is some debate over the exact system Germany played, that's kind of the point. The Spanish and German systems were both very similar yet completely different, and both showed us some spectactular new ways of understanding how to attack with the 4-2-3-1.

    The Spanish system was based on patient, probing, "tiki-taka" football that ground opponents into submission and seized on opponents switching off for a second. The German system was based on lightening fast surgical incisions in vast numbers into the opponents weakest areas. Neither system employed much in the way of radical shape changes between defence and attack. Both systems exploited a certain property inherent in the 4-2-3-1 system, that property is asymmetry.

    The previous thinking behind most 4-2-3-1 systems was you defend amazingly but when you attack it's pretty much up to your awesome AMC to carve out chances for your lone striker. Your two wingers can help with the counter-attack, help get the ball upfield quickly and maybe cross for your striker or AMC/Second Striker or maybe play the ball to your AMC and let him work his magic. The logic then follows that two AMC's would be better than one, that the Barcelona 4-1-2-3 formation which pushes two players forward behind the striker would be much more offensively potent because it has an additional AMC type player. That's not entirely untrue, it is sound logic. The problem is that as more and more teams employ 4-2-3-1 systems to defend against you, you are increasingly going to be trying to attack through the middle of teams set up to defend through the middle, and you will be ignoring the space they actually give you.

    In the World Cup we saw Spain and Germany line up with systems that absolutely tore apart the space teams were giving them, by turning the attacking weaknesses of the 4-2-3-1 into strengths.

    Spain

    2qjm69s.jpg

    Here is a rough example of the average Spanish line up, with some artistic effect in the back line.

    The Spanish didn't actually use wingers in the World Cup. They used Iniesta who you could argue is a winger but more accurately is one half of the Xavi - Iniesta footballing carousel of infinate doom. They also used David Villa who is a lethal goalscorer. Basically what is going on here is that the defenders and strikers are down one side of the pitch, through the middle and down the other side of the pitch are the playmakers and supporting cast. Watch what happens when the team starts attacking:

    2jenugz.jpg

    A humongous quantity of attacking threat is built down the right flank, the opponents defence shuffles along to try and cope with the numbers, the defenders have to be at peak concentration and organisation to prevent Xavi and Iniesta working an opening between them, and sooner or later somebody takes their eye off of David Villa...

    And guess what, Germany played their completely different style exactly the same.

    Germany

    2h2flg4.jpg

    While the Spanish system was premised on dominating possession and probing open teams, the German system was based on counter-attacks. For this reason Ozil tended to play more advanced so he could off Klose more as the ball was cleared quickly. There was always that threat of Klose holding the ball up and Ozil receiving it on the counter. That wasn't really the main threat though, infact although Ozil had an excellent World Cup he was more of a distractionary figure in the German system.

    The critical point in the German system was to do precisely what the Spanish system did tactically speaking, but do it quickly.

    2vrztzm.jpg

    When Germany won the ball it would be played wide right quickly. Lahm, Khedira and Mueller would quickly work the ball between themselves down the right flank and attack at pace. Klose would pull wide and/or deep causing the Centrebacks problems, and Oezil would punch straight through the channel between Centreback and Fullback. The plan here was to swiftly dissect the opponents left back position with counter attacking wingplay and channel bursting runs from the AMC, leaving the opponents Centrebacks in a mess. If the inside Centreback was on Klose no one could mark Oezil, if the outside Centreback was on Klose and the inside Centreback on Oezil then Podolski could make blind side runs on his fullback at the back post.

    Most of the time the technical, tactical spare man at the back post didn't matter because the oppositions defence was usually in complete disarray long before then. Germany scored a huge amount of easy goals from unmarked positions simply by overloading one flank at pace. They cut many teams to ribbons doing this.

    My Attack

    The attack I want to build for my team on top of my defensive base is, ultimately, a marriage of all the best things offered by the 4-2-3-1. I want the potential to play slick "Tiki Taka" possession football in small areas with multiple players eventually carving out a cunning chance. I want the piercing counter-attack using the same tactical overloading as "Tiki Taka" as employed by Germany. I want lethal and explosive Inside Forwards that carry out the role of "backpost unmarked striker". I want an exceptionally exciting AMC, ideally one that is a cross between Eric Cantona and Lionel Messi. I want the talismanic spearhead forward that doesn't simply bury hundreds of goals in his career but makes this whole system tick perfectly. I want the now obligatory world class deep lying playmaker that can land a golf ball on the head of a pin from 60 yards anywhere on the pitch that provides the ammunition for all my weaponry. And finally I want to knit all this together with a style of football that is built on style, flair, panache and self expression of the highest order.

    These are things to aim for, to be built into the team, and it's quite possible that throughout my time as manager I will never find a combination of players at X moment in time that produces all of these things in one team. I might build two or three different teams each with a greater or lesser ability at certain things I want to have in my team. My desires and ambitions and philosophy are ideals, they are preferences. They are not the practical issues of actually putting a team together. They are the paths down which I will guide my teams, but I may not always be able to reach certain destinations. None the less it is still my goal to one day put together a team that I consider to be "perfect".


  21. Introduction

    Any of you that have been following my guided tour of my current save will have noticed that something has been missing. That something is a long, verbose post on the meat and potatoes of FM, what happens on the pitch. The reason for that is simple, I am going to receive a vast amount of flack for it because of who I manage. For those who you are going to say that it is easy to win with a club like Manchester United I say you are completely correct, but it is not easy to produce a quality of football so brilliant that you don't buy the next game in the series because you will have to start over again. For those of you who have been PM'ing me wanting to know my system, this is the thread you have been waiting for. Those of you who just follow my posts with interest, then I hope this one is as interesting as the others you enjoy.

    This thread is based on FM10 not FM11. FM11 is the first FM that I have not bought within a week of release, simply because my current FM10 save is a story I am in no hurry to finish. And the primary reason I am no hurry to finish this story is because every time I play a match I cannot fail to admire something my players do. I have built a team that plays a style of football that I actually enjoy watching, and watching in detail. My team plays wonderful football on a regular basis and that is precisely why I am writing this thread. Is it my excellent skills as a tactician? Is it my awesome players? Is it my loads of cash and the Reputation of my club? It doesn't really matter. What matters to me is what I have put together and what it does on the pitch.

    I don't know the differences between FM10 and FM11 in terms of Me behaviour and tweaks to instructions or attribute behaviours or any such thing. I'm quite sure FM11 is similar enough to FM10 that most of the fine details will still apply, but the fine details are just the icing on the cake. The most important aspect of this guide will hopefully be the thinking process I explain, the way in which I go about trying to build a working system.

    Some introductory detail to fill you out on. I manage Manchester United, this is my first 10.3 save, and it is January 2016. Yes I do watch all my matches in full match replay. This is going to be a tactical guide based on players you all know, with me having spent over a year real time watching them in detail. That's the big build up, it better be a good guide.

    Part 1: The Concept

    Every manager has an idea. It might be an idea that comes from a rigid belief in a certain way of playing, it might be an idea based on the players he has at his disposal, it might be an idea based on the opposition. The very best managers have ideas that are based on all three of these things, but this sounds like a terrifying and frightening amount of micromanagement and detail. It needn't be.

    The most crucial and critical piece of tactical knowledge in the game is that players will be players will be players. Take one position with one set of instructions and play ten different players in that position, and that position will be played ten different ways. This simple truth underpins all tactical behaviour in the game. When you understand that Nani will play X set of instructions like Nani, and Ji Sung Park will play the same set of instructions like Ji Sung Park then the seemingly all conquering power of the Tactical Instructions diminishes.

    The Tactical Instructions are still hugely powerful but the Tactical Instructions do not define a good or bad system. The Tactical Instructions define how a player plays, and that in turn defines a good or bad system. A lot of people seem to think that what happens on the pitch depends on the instructions you select. That's complete rubbish. What happens on the pitch depends on what players you select. What the players do on the pitch is in part defined by your Tactical Instructions.

    Understanding the true relationship between Tactics, Players and Performance is crucial. A team is a combination of attributes and instructions facing another combination of attributes and instructions. It's not a game of Chess that we are playing here. A Leftback is not a Leftback is not a Leftback. The Rook can be a King or a Queen or a Bishop or a Pawn. Instructions don't make teams, players do.

    A team is all about what you do with your players. That's "the concept" of most importance.

    In my save I have three "concepts". I want to play beautiful attacking football, I want to be strong at the back, I want to be able to change my team by changing players instead of radically altering the fine details of the my tactics. You want it to, so does he, so does everyone. It's what we all want. The question is, how do you go about building that?

    Well I obviously skipped the whole league 10 to Premiership deal and loaded up my save as Manchester United so if you are looking for details on how to build an ultra defensive system you are unlikely to find them here, but you might still pick a few pointers on how to build systems.

    This is where some knowledge of FM is very useful. Because FM is a game it suffers from a few limitations. Some of those limitations completely void certain types of tactics. Any tactics that involve one player tucking in and the line shuffling over are out, any tactics that involve a player playing in one "area" in attack and another in defence are out. Simply put any tactics that involve a change of shape between defence and attack are incredibly hard if not downright impossible to build. I have tried. And in my opinion this is the biggest tactical flaw that exists in the game. For those of you that have been here a while, no I don't want to see arrows back either. The solution to a gameplay flaw is not the return to a system of annihilation of any challenge possibly put up by a weak AI. But that is a completely different debate and I am getting sidetracked.

    Because FM has these limitations on shape changes during a match, the shape you choose is ultimately the one you are stuck with. You cannot pick an offensive shape and expect it to defend as good as a defensive shape, nor can a defensive shape ever attack as efficiently as an offensive shape. While Spain and Germany might have been the master exponents of shape change in the last World Cup, unfortunately us FM players are stuck playing with the same naivety as England or Mexico. Don't get me wrong Mexico were fun to watch, but they shape they lined up in should have been the shape they formed when altering from their defensive system. It's not a shape that you can use when the opponent has the ball in your own half.

    Unlike the top teams in Club and International Football, in FM you cannot change your defensive shape to an attacking shape. This means choice of shape is absolutely paramount and fundamental in your tactical decision making process. Shape is arguably more important than Tactical Instructions in football, and when it comes to FM when you can only pick one shape and stick to it, it becomes utterly decisive.

    Part 2: The Shape

    This thread is supposed to be me waxing lyrical about my awesome football and not a critique of FM, so I will attempt to get back on track here. No promises though.

    As mentioned before you cannot change shape so your choices are either to offensive/defensive in terms of numbers, or of skill. You can't be both. The choice is between a defensive shape that has attacking skill, or an attacking shape that has defensive skill.

    Or that is what you would think.

    There are however some interesting developing tactical trends in real life football, once you can pull yourself away from the whole Messi v Ronaldo debate. Perhaps the most tactically interesting sides of recent years are not club teams like you would have expected, but Spain and Germany in last years World Cup. These two sides showed us something remarkable and previously barely highlighted. The combination of these two sides is what I base my own team on.

    But that's getting a bit hubris-ish, if that's a word. Time for some pics.

    With the FM dichotomy of shape in mind my own personal choice was to go with a defensive shape that relied upon attacking skill. I don't think I am but perhaps I am a defensive manager. I opted for this shape:

    2ic1lr4.jpg

    Why do I choose this shape? Well the simple answer is because I think it revolutionising football. It has always been heralded as the "defensive brother" of the Barcelona 4-1-2-3 but Barcelona were not in the World Cup, yet the vast majority of teams still opted to play it. The World Cup Final was 4-2-3-1 versus 4-2-3-1, and most interestingly the World Cup's top goalscorers played a 4-2-3-1. I don't think it is a purely defensive shape, but it's defensive shape is revolutionary.

    Amongst the common formations here are the lines of attack, or the lines of defence you have to beat:

    noub6c.jpg

    But there is also a crucial second issue to the defensive strength of the 4-2-3-1 beyond it's basic shape, and that is how the shape works during a flowing game of football as players move around and the opponent probes and passes and the defending side tracks and hassles and harries and positions itself.

    awcapk.jpg

    In this image here the shape has pushed the ball to Manchester United's left flank to the feet of Lionel Messi, and immediately the LW, LB, LCM and AMC all go to close the ball down from four different directions, while the rest of the team drops back and tucks in, ready to cover any attacking pass or cover any possession pass infield. If the ball goes towards the centre circle where the space is on this diagram then the LCM can take up a covering position infront of the defence while the AMC, RCM, RW and FC all close down the ball. Even when employing a high pressing game this shape still pushes all attacking space for the opponent towards the edges of the dense central block of pressing players and is an excellent shape to hassle and harry for the ball and push opponents to the opposite flank. Because the space is down the outside while the players sit in between the two zones of space, the defending side has less distance to move to take up good defensive positions than the attacking side has distance to move to support play on either flank.

    If the shift to 4-4-2 was the birth of the modern game then the shift to 4-2-3-1 is it's maturity. Holding a shape that forces opponents down the flanks and defends the flanks with both depth and numbers might seem obvious to us today but then we have the benefit of hindsight. The modern 4-2-3-1 is in my opinion a profound evolution in the understanding of defensive systems. The place on the pitch that matters is the goal. If the movement of Total Football can defeat the man marking systems of Catenaccio then the Zonal Marking system of the 4-2-3-1 that pushes opponents to the flanks is the closest thing to perfect defence in theory that has yet existed.

    Theory doesn't stop Messi, but the point made regarding shape remains. It's a point you fail to understand at your peril. The point that made this past World Cup both the most boring and the most fascinating World Cup seen in decades.


  22. It's about thinking football and using common football logic and football ideas to manage a club.

    Now I put more of my time into squad management, adapting my tactic to the next match and developing a good player development system for my club which ensures a healthy income and continues squad improvement. I approach the game not like a game where you can use the sliders to get an optimal tactic that works every time when using good players. I approach the like it's real life football management. Now I'm going to give HUGE credits to this game by saying that by approaching this game like real life football I actually am far more successful and the game is far more enjoyable. It shows just how good of a football simulation this game really is and sadly most people don't realize this and as such don't get the most out of the game IMO.

    Brilliantly said.

    It's a game that doesn't just try to encapsulate good looking football or fun to mess around with football, it's a game that tries to bring football to your PC full stop. It's a game aimed at a passion. I don't think success at FM reflects knowledge of real life football, I think success at FM reflects passion about football. Success is always subjective though, but that's one of the biggest points.

    What you get from FM directly equals what you put in to FM. It's not the real deal, it's just a game, and those that enjoy the game most are in my opinion passionate about the virtual clubs. FM has flaws but what it brings to the table is an attempt at the complete football experience. You can tell that this a game that has it's roots in some football fanatics bedroom, because when the end product ends up in another football fanatics bedroom it is the greatest game of all time.

    However that's not the point of the OP. The OP is talking about how to truly enjoy this mightily impressive simulation of football as a whole. It's not a question of how FM relates to the real world, but how you relate to FM.

    And on that point I think the best I thing I have to say is this:

    m7b3ms.jpg

    Four seasons after the Jaume I posted first, this is the Jaume that Jaume has turned in to. It's only four seasons later, his career is not done and dusted. I am watching the development and evolution of his career. And the path his career has taken is interesting:

    In my original system he was a young prospect that had no chance of usurping the combination I had between Berbatov at AMC and Rooney at FC. No chance. That combination was absolutely lethal.

    Berbatov then reached and passed his peak and started to decline rapidly and so I went on the lookout for a new AMC. Jaume continued to develop and started to give me real questions based on his ability. I refused to drop Rooney though as he was my best player at my club every season. You simply can't drop a well played Rooney.

    My quest for a new AMC ultimately resulted in a bunch of nearly men that are all useful but none of them fit the bill. At the same time Rooney is peaking and Jaume is turning into a God. I experiment with Rooney at AMC and Jaume at FC but in my system this combination is a dud. I could drop Rooney and build my team around Jaume or drop Jaume and build my team around Rooney, but I want both players and I don't want to sign any more nearly men.

    So I change my system. I start by testing out 4-4-2, which lacks the midfield strength of my 4-2-3-1. I consider Rooney or Jaume playing wide but they lack the legs to make the position work.

    Instead I find something completely subtle but radically different. My young hot prospect CM develops into a lethal deep lying playmaker with little pace, so I drop my midfield back slightly. At the same time I push Jaume forward as the Lone Striker so he is constantly on the shoulder of the last man, and this system of a deeper CM and more advanced ST gives Rooney at AMC the space his technical skills requires to work in. And it's working excellently.

    This is a football story.

    Simply by taking interest in my players and trying to manage them, I can come on here and talk about attributes, and tactics, and the creation of space. I can talk about different types of playmakers or the tactical options opened up to you by different types of strikers. I can talk about what kind of AMC is needed for X player, or how to use X player in order to get the most out of your AMC.

    Simply by paying attention to my clubs football story. By being involved in my clubs story.

    If you miss the story, you miss the entire game. I mean that literally. But it is just my opinion.

    By the way, your language is brilliant. More threads like these please. It's the best thread to strike right into the heart of FM as I see it, that this forum has had.

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