"Concordia Res Parvae Crescent - Work Together To Accomplish More"
I was hoping with this thread to create a topic in which we could all help to work together in sharing knowledge, experience and tips on tactical creations. Below I'm posting how I go about tactical creations and is definitely not the only way to go about it. I'm just posting how I do it and will hopefully answer as many questions as I can but anyone can weigh on any topic. Anyone else who wishes to give one line of advice on tactical creations I will quote and add at the end of this post
"Para Bellum - Prepare For War"
So where do I start? I think everyone prefers to start from different angles of tactical creation. However the end goal is always the same, preparing for war as I've most elegantly put it. Some start with "philosophy", some start with formation and some probably even start working from the defence upwards (I'm watching you Rafa ). I always work towards a framework however if I don't have the players to pull it off, why would I?
So where do I start? In possession. A good offensive set up, regardless of my framework or philosophy if you want to label it as that, is the key for me. What do we do with the ball? How can we use space? How do we score goals? That is always the first thing I try to understand and it starts off with analysing my main Space Invader. Who is he? Who is going to be the threat? If I was to start building a tactic with any of the current EPL top 4, I'm pretty sure the end product of who is the main space invader would be slightly different. Maybe I'd decide with Leicester that Vardy is my best attacking outlet, Salah with Liverpool on the right, Sterling with Man City on the left etc etc. Could there be more then one? Of course you could however I don't think I've ever had more then 2 Space Invader's because if I'd have more I'd have loads of players using space but noone actually penetrating with passing. Like I said before this is how I start my tactic making process, I know plenty of tacticians who actually add the offensive outlet last as they build from a solid foundation at the back first. I just want to stress that there is no one way to skin a cat and that starting from front or back is neither wrong or right.
So I have identified my Space Invader, where do I go next? Well we identified who is going to use space, now we need an advanced penetrator, a number 10 if you will. Someone who is going to pivot between the oppositions defence and midfield. Personally I always look to someone playing in either the forward line who can drop in between or someone in the advanced midfield line. This can be someone like a DLF (S), a Flase 9, a Target Man or some tacticians choose to be their advanced playmakers in the advanced midfield line. Basically you want someone who can hold onto the ball and feed your offensive outlet or players overlapping. Again, using the EFL top 4 this could be your Firmino, Silva's (AMC or wide), Maddisons or maybe you've chosen Tammy Abraham to be your target man. Whenever I create tactics I like to have the central presence upfield.
Ok so we've got an Invader looking to exploit space and our penetrator, now what? Ah now we need to stretch play to create space. The reason why it's important is I can't see any tactic being successful without stretching with a wide layer. You can use a FB, WB or a wide midfielder. The possibilities here are endless but I'd always ensure we have someone on each flank stretching the play and the important thing here is to realize you don't actually have to throw crosses in just because you have a wide man out on the flank, you're using him to move the opposition around. It's pretty well known that Robertson and TAA are Liverpool's wide-men to stretch play. At Man City there has been a lot of different ways this has been implemented but in the main when Mendy has played he has been their wide-man on the left whilst in build up play Guardiola has admitted that he asks the wide men to stay wide until the final third. At Leicester you have the option of playing Albrighton as a wide player to stretch play. The list goes on. You can have a double up on the wing to create another dimension when the wingers get narrower and you have overlapping going on from the back. But when starting out I'd advise to start with 1 wide option per flank and then you can add more later on if you feel that's the best for your team.
Now we are starting to get a good picture of how the team is going to attack. We've got a Space Invader (or Invaders if you've gone with 2) attacking space, a penetrator and at least 2 Stretchers. Next I need at least one player from the midfield line being, what I like to call, the Shadow Runner. This is a player who I always have on an attacking duty who'll making surges into the box. Because of his deeper position his surge into the box will be later then anyone you have in the advanced line or striker position. The reason why I call him a Shadow runner is because most of the time he's the hardest for the opposition to pick up. Think maybe how Henderson is playing right now for Liverpool, almost like a Mezzala on attack where with the wide player creates some great one two's and he ends up being just wide of the 6 yard box and can whip in crosses to the far post. In Man City the Shadow Runner is difficult to narrow down as it changes a lot. For Leicester, depending on how they've tactically lined up, it ends up being Tielemans. For Chelsea, arguably, Kante has ended up being a sort of Shadow Runner from the Sarri era. Ultimately it's someone who ghosts his runs into the box. Could you have more then one? Yes but I would advise having them on different duties if you do so again to create unpredictability but when starting out, again, use one and then add more later if it suits your team.
Only 2 steps away from the initial approach to my way of tactical creation. Next is Retention. We have all these players who are flooding the opposition but we need players who can pass and cover as well. I think the misconception sometimes is players on defensive roles in midfield do both. I'd disgree, if you want someone who is going to recycle possession you need him on at least a support role. There are exceptions to this (mainly if you play on higher mentalities or if you focus play down the middle which then raises the mentality of the player in question) but you'd need a player in midfield to be at least balanced in player mentality to recycle the ball otherwise he'll be risk-adversed and just lay off to someone else. Again you can have 2 of these players in midfield but maybe start with one and adjust to your team.
Last step, which is probably the easiest. Defence. At least 2 players needed here imo. If you're not sure go with three (or more if you want!) and then tweak thereafter. Teams that have 2 on defensive duties are usually the bigger teams which then gives another Retention player in midfield to give bigger chance to win second balls and keep play in circulation in the opposition half. Teams that go for three like the extra cover from midfield (or an extra central defender) to be more defensively solid.
Now that we've gone through the order of how I create a new tactic let's look back on what we have got...
Tactical Formula - Space Invader -> Penetrator -> Stretchers -> Shadow Runner -> Circulator -> Defenders + Goalkeeper = 9
Rule of Two - What this means is you have 2 "spare" players to do with what you wish as you've already created a basic framework. Like stated in previous paragraphs, you can the "extra" two men wherever you feel needed. Maybe another defender? Another Space Invader? Another Retention player? Another shadow runner (on support)?
"Sic Infit - So It Begins..."
I've just started a new save in Turkey (Never played in that league so thought I'd give it a go) with Fenerbache so I can give you a real example how I've created the bases of a new tactic with them:
Let me explain the process on how I fell onto the roles that I did using the Tactical Formula above... I appreciate not everyone (including myself) knows the quality of players at Fenerbache so I'll give a brief explanation.
Space Invader - Garry Rodrigues - Lightning fast, good off the ball and decent finishing. I've identified him as my best attacking outlet. Is natural in the role and duty which makes it a good strength of the team.
Penetrator - Kruse - A natural AMC who can also play as a forward. Not decided on DLF or F9 yet but he is quite strong so if he can hold up the ball the better. Was a toss up between him and Deniz Turuc but to keep it simple I've gone with Kruse.
Stretchers - Hasan Ali & Isla - Right so I've gone for 1 FB (A) + 1 WB (S) on support. I've decided, for a couple of reasons, to go with overlapping as a TI on the right to create width when attacking so didn't want 2 attacking roles in these positions. Hasan Ali doesn't like to run with the ball as a PPM so not going to force him, he'll vacate the space by Garry on the left. Deniz Turuc on the right will hold onto the ball waiting for Isla to overlap and with his PPM's decide what is best.
Shadow Runner - Zeja - Space in the middle is getting congested so I'm going to use the half space and overload the right side of the pitch and also get him into the box. Zeja has great stamina and work rate so I think he'll do this role well.
Circulator - Emre - Yes this is the Emre of Newcastle days past It remains to be seen if he can still play (definitely not the 90 mins!) but for now I have him as a DLP (S) as he has amazing vision and passing which is just world class in this league. Ekici could come in and do exactly the same role if needed.
Defenders - Serdar & Jorgensen - Going for bog standard defenders here is I feel I have enough penetration in Emre, Kruse, Deniz Turuc and Garry Rodrigues. Don't feel like I have to take more risks to be honest.
Rule of Two - Luiz Gustavo & Deniz Turuc - So with 2 players "to spare" I've gone with one more Defender in Luiz Gustavo. The two midfielders in front of him do feel a little light and also with both FB's running forward he would give much more stability. Because we're quite a big team in Turkey, if we come up against a brick wall of a team I would probably change his duty to support to become a second Circulator. With Deniz Turuc I've gone for another Penetrator as he is best suited to it with his PPM's. I've also gone IW because his crossing is 16 so didn't want to limit him. He also has the PPM to come deep so again the Overlap TI will tell him to come deep to get the ball, Isla (and Zeja to some degree) will overlap and hey presto 2 players run into space and he penetrates that space. I will also say I've got Victor Moses who I could play as a different role (Winger (S)) and create a whole different way of playing. Zeja's role would change to Central Midfielder, remove Overlap right and change Isla to FB (A) for example. Possibilities are endless at the end of the day but one thing is for sure, I wouldn't play Moses like I would do Deniz Turuc, there is no point.
"Conjuntis Viribus - With United Powers"
So now we head into the team instructions part of the tactical creation and here it is important that you have an idea of HOW you want to play. Every manager is different and the pre-sets in the game show that football can be played in many ways. It's important to define a playing style otherwise you have no goal and if you have no goal then a team runs around like headless chickens. Again I will stress that what I'm about to write is my way of defining how I want to play and NOT the only way you can play FM.
How I define my playing style is TCP -> Tempo (Higher) - Counter - Press. Whatever way I choose to play these instructions will remain constant to my way of playing and is my pillar because I believe that's how football should be played. So whether I choose to play more possession based or counter based, these instructions will stay with me. They also touch on all phases of play.
In possession of the ball we will play with a Higher Tempo and as the game describe; "This will ask the team to go about their business in more urgent fashion than the team mentality allows, moving the ball quickly and decisively, using the intensity of their approach to unsettle the opposition". Higher tempo for me remains constant as I'm not a fan of slow patient build up play as I believe that gives the opposition time to settle in their defensive formation. With a good possession based system it's perfectly doable to have high possession count without having to have slower tempo. Sometimes I think this is why some FM players struggle because they have Lower Tempo, Short Passing, Play Out of Defence and Work Into Box. In my eyes that type of playing style is an overkill of patient probing football.
In transition I always have Counter selected. It's nice that with the re-vamp this has become selectable because in previous iterations of the game it would only "kick in" when you had Counter or Attack/Overload selected as team mentality. Now you can play it on any mentality. "Counter will ask players to immediately go on the attack and seek to take advantage of any opportunities left by the dispossessed opponents.". Nice! I like that! So in transition, when we've won the ball, my players will look to go on the attack. This will only happen when the ball is won. If we're in possession of the ball the players will go back to retaining the high tempo of a counter attack.
Out of possession I press More Urgent in whatever pressing system I have whether it be a high, medium or low block. "This demands that the players increase the urgency with which they press the opposition once they passed the line of engagement.". The key is in the description. I set the line of engagement and the players will then follow suit pressing intensely wherever I've set it. Also bare in mind that team mentality plays a part in this as well. The higher the mentality the higher your LoE (and DL) goes automatically so sometimes you needn't actually play around with them and just have them on default.
So what's the long term objective, the goal?
If I have a really good team then this is the route I like to go down. High tempo, short passing, intense pressing and fluid football. But this type of football takes a really good team to get working. However how it works is in possession we'll play short but quick passes to penetrate the final third and with more freedom to the players to be more unpredictable to unlock the opposition. When it comes to approach I don't need to select anything because shorter passing and distribution to the backline is pretty much the same as playing out of defence. Over/Underlapping is done manually through players roles so I don't need that either so that all remains unticked. In transitition we would counter press as well so we can win the ball back quickly and out of possession we play a high block.
Can Fenerbache play this way already? Most likely not and will have to come up with other instructions along with TCP to make use with what I have got. But at least now we have an end goal in sight and an exciting playing style to look forward to.