This is my first post ever here. I would like to tell about my story/tactial approach/squad management which I enjoy so much lately from playing the game, something that I rarely experienced since playing CM 99-00, to be honest.
I've always a fan of wwfan's logical--true to real life--approach to the game, as much as the late Sfraser posts in the past. But due to the game limitations (IMO), I've always found that the game was too tedious and/or too time consuming for me to play with that kind of approach.
So, for a long time and a lot of editions, i play mostly in a "mathematical way", it's easier and less time consuming. For me, over the years, playing CM/FM were more like a routine, an obligation, due to a devotion, you may say. So, even that i experience less enjoyment over each edition, i keep marching and soldiering on.
Until FM introduce player roles and duties, and new tactical system. This new system really bring so much help for me to employ a more organic approach to the game.
In short, this new "face" helps me not to stick to just numbers alone, but starting to trust valuation and reports from my "human" co-workers like my Assistant, DoF, and Scouts. This "new FM" has made me play the game as humane as it gets, rather that a calculator or number cruncher.
To end this introduction, I would like to apologize in advance for any spelling or grammatical errors, or any stupid--not making sense--sentences, since English is not even my second language.
When running a club, i try to look for balance, in everything. I have to deliver my biggest thank you to the late Sfraser for his brilliant posts about squad management, which still is my bible regarding that matters. Please read them if you suprisingly have not yet.
The balance approach also an important factor when i create my tactic. I have a simple philosophy: first of all, in any formation, i have to have 3 kind of midfielder; a physical one, a tactical one, and a technical one.
These players are the essence of any formation I created. They may vary in positions, roles, or duty, but they have to do those three primal task for me to reach the balance i want.
For example, a physical midfielder does not have to be an Anchor Man, exclusively, he might be a Box to Box Mid, or a Central Mid, or a Ball Winning Mid, or even an Attacking Midfielder. As long as i have one on the field, that's a good sign for me.
The second one, in any formation i have to have a striking partnership; a supporter and alead attacker.
Whether i employ a one, two, or more strike force up front, i need to have at least two of my player to play this partnership role.
And that's basically it. With some additional theories i learned from wwfan and llama3 in this forum, i find this approach works well for me.
Real Life Examples
I basically try to tinker with any type of formation with my approach. But i still can not master how to handle 3 defender formation, while 4 defender formation, i have conficent playing with any of them.
For example, with 4-4-2, it's pretty obvoius that the central midfielder duo should play as tactical-physical partners. To me the real life sample of this approach is Treble MU in '00. They have Scholes as the physical one, Giggs as the technical one and Roy Keane as the tcatical mastermind. They have Yorke-Cole as the striking partners up front.
Although it's not necessary in that particular order/position, i found that MU 4-4-2 are one of the most balance formation of it's kind.
My most favourite and the one I really can understand is Barcelona 4-1-2-3, especially the team managed by Pep (and recently by Enrique). With Busquets as the physical one, Xavi is the tactical one and Iniesta is the technical one, they also have Messi-Villa as supporter/lead partnership.
With that real life examples, let's jump into the game.
SS Lazio--season 1
In FM 15, I try this approach with SS Lazio. In the first season, 2014-2015, they are obvious non-favourite, and with no european competition participation. So this is perfect for me to have more room for my experiment.
On the first days of work, after long hours of consultation and evaluation meeting with my staffs, we came into a conclusion that the best formation for the team is 4-1-2-3 DM, much like Barcelona's. This decision was agreed mainly because we do not have that many strikers, while having significant numbers of central midfielders. Antoher decisive factor is that we have enough talents who can play on the side of the pitch.
After assessing the squad, here's the final form of the formation:
As you may see, although have similar formation, we are tactically different from Barcelona. While Barcelona put physically strong Busquets on DM slot, we positioned the physical one as a ball winning midfielder in CM slot. This decision was taken because we have great talents in DM whose best role are Regista (Ledesma and Cataldi), whileconveniently, our best physical midfielders (Onazi and Parolo) both play naturally on the center field. The technical ones are Biglia, backed up by Ederson, they are our AP with attack duty.
Now, striking partnership. As a lone striker, Klose (or Keita) has to play support, otherwise the player will be isolated on the field (something I learned from wwfan). Which means, the main source of the goal will come from either (or both?) side. We decided that the focal point of attack will come from the left side. The Inside Forwards available there (Candreva or F. Anderson) are better at striking ball than the opposite counterparts. They are our main goal getters.
As you may see, the tactic I present here is the 8th version. The main reason was i tinkered mainly with the lone striker role. At first i want him to be target man-support, but it did not work well. And for the rest of the time i kept switching between DLF and Trequartista before I settle with F9 role as the final form.
Now the main part of the philosophy are done, the rest is to create a well balanced tactic. Since left IF is set to attack, it's only logical to have player behind him to play support, hence wing back with support duty (the WB role decided because we need coverage in wide area, since IF will naturally cutting in when attacking). The CWB-Attack behind RIF-Support are necessary additional amunition from behind for overloading effect (another thing i learn from wwfan and llama3).
Now team instruction:
Team instructions are pretty simple. I do not want to overcomplicate things. I don't want to restrict or narrow the team to play any specific style. But I also don't want them to play with too much freedom which will cost me with their stupid--heat of the moment--decisions. Hence "work ball into box", "play out of defence", and "lower tempo". These instructions hopefully will ensure my team do not play in a rushed fashion and play with more "assuring passes".
This is the typical instructions we gave to our players accross the field. We don't want them to take too much risk. We don't want them to consider as much time as they can before they shoot, dribble or make any long through passes. That's why we want them to play patiently and slowly. We want them to make every move and passes are thoughtful and carefully planned, to make the play as efficient and effective as they can.
That's why we also do not want them to make too many crosses. I personally think crosses are not an effective or efficient way to strike, so I want them to be limited, to be executed only when the benefit probability is way bigger than the exposing risk.
Defensively, i don't want them to make any stupid decision that will cost us, either cards or free kicks, or worse, penalty. That's why "ease on tackle" was decided. Other setup, i trust the engine.
Aligned with the simplicity and balance we'd like to achieve, we also want our player to play as rigid as we can. We only have two variatons of this tactic: Attack and Defend. we do'nt use Control or Counter, or any other variaton.
That's basically it.
The season itself starting strong with us keep on winning, even against big teams such as Napoli and AC Milan.
Our first defeat, as predicted, was from Juventus, in a cold away match in January. After that, apparently we developed a regular pattern to struggle against Juve and Fiorentina.
Cup Competition, while not my priority this season, came to an early and disappointing end at the hand of, again, Fiorentina. Fortunately, results from Serie A are enought to keep the board happy and keep their faith in my administration.
And at he end of the season, here is the final standings.
We lost 4 times and only won the league by one point. But that's a magnificient achievement, considering our odds and club situation. The fans and management are ecstatic, all the club legends and former icons gathered together and congratulate our special achievement.
Another awards, individuals or team:
Both fullbacks play magnificent this season, pulling defensive work while helping with side attack.
The old crack. To be honest, he's the one who keep us toghether with his professionalism and experience. He's among the first to belive in my project.
The young Bernardeschi. This season saw him being praised by media all the time, begging the national coach to bring him to the Italian national side.
My "Striker" and apparently, also Seria A Player of the Year.
Keita and Anderson, two backup wonderkids, apparently doing great job covering for their seniors when needed.
Apart from this suprising achievements, one of my important target was also achieved
We are the most fair play team in Serie A, which is meet my intial tactical target, not to make any silly defensive move that can risk the team.
Tactically, this team achieved what they intended to be. Our lone strikers succesfully supporting the attacking front, both Keita and Klose end the season with great amount of assists made. The Inside Forwards scored enough goals to grab the Championship for us, and the defensive line doing great job. The midfielder trio offer and did create the balance i want. Cataldi, the young regista became the highlight of the tactic when he stepped up and dominate the DM position, forcing Ledesma to sit on the bench in more time we planned to.
That's our first season, a season to remember, but surely hard to follow up. But hey, I did not take the job to be come an armchair manager. I am here to fight and stay, while winning!
Allow me to tell a quite long stroy about my transfer activity this season. SS Lazio, apart from regarderd as one of the rich team in serie A, actually do not have much transfer money available. So we have to manage what we have in a very careful manner. My administration saw me sell and release more players than everyone see in the history of this club; and I need to carefully plan my transfer strategy due to our financial situation. Fortunately, the club hire a manager that not stubborn enough with tactical and formation favouritism, and could work with almost any talent at hand (slow clap, maybe...)
But, at the moment, to make the formation works well, we lack the appropriate talent on the right side, most of players in my team don't have the adequacy to fill the position, so i decided to splash some cash and hunt for players in the market. After some (suprisingly quick) meeting with my scouts, we agreed to buy this young man from Fiorentina, Federico Bernardeschi, current Italian U-21 international, the sole purchase i've made this season, for 5M.
With the total of 26 players out, valued 8M, i still made a profit of 3M this season. Not a bad move, i guess.
As you may see, I bought him for 5M (which is big burden for our financial situation at that time), he turns out find his comfort here, at SS Lazio, and played probably his best games in his early (or ever??) career. With 14 goals and 13 assist in his debut season in Serie A, he quickly draws attention from big names. And just days after the end of the season, PSG came, with an offer even I can not refuse, let alone him or the board. Bernardeschi depart after just one season starring in our show. The fans was disappointed, but at the same time consoled by the fact that "a very healthy profit is received" from the sale.
That's not the end. PSG then knocking our door for the second time, now they want Candreva, our main source of goals, the Left IF, the focal point of our attacking line. The offer, again too big to refuse and he also departed for e record fee of 65M.
Although two of our major talents have gone, we rest the fans assure that there's nothing to worry. The scouting team are working hard to find immediate replacement for both players and we now have significant amount of money to spend, to attract more reputable players.
But now, let's take a holiday before we begin next season's journey. I think I have earned my right to relax in my hometown, Dinklage, in Germany for a while before back to the grind.