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  1. I first published this over at https://dictatethegame.com/2019/11/04/young-devils-manchester-united-fm-2020-guide/ So if you wish to see it in its original version and formatting then please visit the blog. I'm posting it here to generate a discussion about my two favourite topics Bielsa's tactical style and philosophy, youth development, Manchester United wonderkids and in general tactical experimentation in FM20 (especially around the role of enganche). Cheers! Young Devils – Manchester United FM20 Guide As promised, I start this FM20 series with the comprehensive guide to my chosen club, Manchester United. Although it was started in Beta, I intend to update the player profiles (and injuries) to reflect the full release data. So be sure to check back on Nov 19! I hope you find this guide useful, especially if you are starting your FM20 career at Old Trafford. Red Devils are a great team with a lot of potential which should nevertheless provide a challenge even to seasoned managers. After all, the challenge is in figuring out the strengths of each player and how to best use them. For this reason, I am including attribute screenshots (simply click on player’s name in bold) for all the players discussed in this guide. So let us see what United has to offer in FM20! I have to say it upfront. I am very excited to play with this Manchester United squad in FM20. Not the NSFW kind of excited but still as ecstatic as one can get for a bunch of stats on a computer screen. It is probably the youngest Red Devil squad that I have seen in the last decade. And one that I have not been this thrilled to manage since the FM14 days. And United had young Shrek playing for them then! So yeah, it is quite brilliant! Solskjær did a much needed cleaning during the summer. The team has been revitalized as some of the deadwood was offloaded (there is no “i” in teamwork, Alexis). The average age of the squad is a mere 26 now, with only a few key players older than that and plenty who are much younger. Undoubtedly, it is a smaller team than it was last year, more lean and tactically focused. Which makes my job that much easier when starting out. I support the notion that you should develop a tactical system that best suits your players, and not vice verse. I put a lot of emphasis in my last article on recreating Bielsa’s famous 3-3-1-3 tactic. With this goal in mind (and not completely blind to the irony) I chose United because of the strength of its squad and its overall suitability to this style. When visualizing my tactics, I like to use the old English numbering convention to see who has what role. As example using #7 to nominate the right winger and #10 the advanced playmaker. So the numbers I will give players in this guide might be different from their real world numbers. Attack 11 -Anthony Martial, 23 y.o 9 – Marcus Rashford, 21 y.o 7 – Jesse Lingard, 26 y.o So from left to right, here are my first choice attackers. Anthony Martial – now that Sanchez is out, Martial solidified his spot as our top wide attacker. Perhaps he has not reached his early hype of being the next Thierry Henry (hello Mbappe!), Anthony is still an exceptional player. As quick and physically strong as he is technical. Can easily lead the line as the central striker but his quickness and dribbling are of better service to us on the left flank. Unless you begin in early preseason, Martial will start with with 2-3 months long injury. Marcus Rashford – England’s young superstar. It says something that at tender age of 21, he already made 36 national appearances. The 21-year-old has the potential to be one of the best strikers in the game. The departure of Lukaku can allow him to flourish as the primary all-out striker. Similarly to Martial, he is comfortable on either wing. But to get his full potential, I would play him up front as the primary striker. Unlike Martial, who is already close to his peak, Rashford still has some growing to do. You just need to “water” him with lots of game time. His attributes suggest that he can develop into a well-rounded complete striker. Jesse Lingard – exemplary team player who is both mentally strong and intelligent. I would say he is the English equivalent of Thomas Muller. Hence he plays best on the wing, drifting around to find space. Lingard is one of Premier League’s best off-the-ball runners and is a master at getting into dangerous poaching positions. If only his finishing and technical abilities were better he would be world-class player. Luckily, he makes up for his lack of raw talent with unbridled energy, determination and work-rate. How fast can aWelshman run? Only one way to find out. Hopefully he will be the next Bale Daniel James – one of the big summer signings at Old Trafford. With Martial injured for almost 3 months, he will be playing a much more important role than was expected. He is all-out winger who is surprisingly fast and technical for his age, although he has to work on the mental side of his game. Daniel should be irreplaceable on the left wing with Martial injured. Once the Frenchman is back, the speedy youngster is your first go-to choice as a sub on either flank. As he gets better I expect him to start competing with Lingard for his spot in the first team. Midfield 10 – Juan Mata, 31 y.o 8 – Paul Pogba, 26 y.o 4 – Nemanja Matić, 30 y.o Juan Mata – has aged like fine Castilian wine. In his youth he was a much more attacking player, often cutting inside from the right wing. This allowed his to register 12 league goals with Chelsea in one season. Now he makes up for a lack of pace with his exquisite first touch, technique, passing and vision. While possessing good enough finishing, composure and agility to be dangerous in attack. In FM20, it is time for him to move into a more static enganche role. Yet static does not mean useless. With less attacking responsibilities, Mata can focus his creativity on assisting others. In this role he can act as an offensive pivot for players to move around. Expect to see more from me in the future about using this interesting role. Nemanja Matić – another veteran midfielder who like Mata came over from Chelsea during Mourinho’s era. There are good reasons why Jose wanted both the smooth-passing Spaniard and the tough Serb on his squad. Firstly, both Matić and Mata played key roles in Mourinho-managed Chelsea between 2013 and 2016. Secontly, Matić is the perfect foil to Mata. Whereas Mata is the offensive pivot, the Serb is the equivalent defensive pivot. Often used as a holding anchor, screening the defence while providing cover for his more offensive midfield partner. Paul Pogba – star player, needs no introduction. He is just Pogba. A name suggesting of talent of epic proportions and expectations. After solidifying his world-class status in Italy, he has yet to show what he is fully capable of at his old home. I am not going to go as far as some to claim that his €105 million price tag wasn’t justified in the last three seasons. Judging from his performances for Juve, it probably was. But I still believe that Pogba is capable of much more. A manager just needs to use him in the right system to take advantage of his famous penchant for spectacular. In my tactic, I expect him to be the roaming, dynamic link between the two stationary pivots of Mata and Matić. Andreas Pereira, 23 y.o Fred, 26 y.o Scott McTominay, 22 y.o My two rotation/sub options in the midfield are Andreas Pereira and Fred. Andreas Pereira is poised to capitalize on the progress he made last season on breaking into the first team. While Pereira will never be our main #10 playmaker, he will be an excellent backup to whoever (Gomes?) will ultimately take up the talismanic enganche mantle from Mata. So while aging Mata is still my first choice for the enganche, I expect Pereira to be his cover and help him stay fit all season. Fred – Mr.Versatility. The Brazilian did not have the best of starts at Old Trafford. While many fans called for his exit, I actually liked what he brought to the squad as an impact sub. A true jack of all trades, Fred does not especially excel in attack nor defence. But as a sub he is invaluable in how you can slot him in any position in the midfield or on the wings. If healthy, he should always be on a bench for you. Scott McTominay – definitely a breakout year for the tough Scotsman. He is 22, going on 23, and if he does not show that he cut it as tough holding midfielder then I do not think he will ever be a United player. Like Fred, Scott’s clear advantage is his versatility. So while he might not develop into the next Matic, he could fill in the central defender spot in a pinch due to his strong build and defensive skillset. I originally included him in the defender section before realizing that I had too many. Defence 5 – Victor Lindelof , 25 y.o 6 – Harry Maguire, 26 y.o Harry Maguire – newcomer and world’s most expensive defender. With the price-tag of £80 million, he comes with immense expectations. But is Harry actually worth the price of a luxury ship? Maybe. Maguire is a rare, in-demand commodity, a defender who is comfortable bringing the ball out of defence and making long passes. Its why players like Virgil van Dijk and Matthijs de Ligt are among the most wanted centre-backs. After-all Juventus paid £75 million for Matthijs de Ligt. While United lost out on both of them, they acquired Maguire and he is in the similar mold. He is very technical smooth passing defender. He even shares two PPMs with van Dijk: “brings ball out of defence” and “tries long range passes”. Add Maguire’s traits of switching ball and running through centre and you got yourself a fine libero playmaker for any system that relies on playing out of the back. Victor Lindelof – another smooth-passer in the similar mold to Maguire but sans PPMs and much faster. So those who like the Cover-Stopper combination, can set Maguire as the Stopper and have Lindelof cover any missed balls or fast breakthroughs. Honestly it is one of my favourite partnerships in the the game. With defenders like Maguire and Lindelof, United can become a real force in playing out from the back. This perfectly suits my plan of emulating Bielsa who always prized technical defenders who pass the ball around rather than hoofing it. My subs in defence are Eric Bailly, Axel Tuanzebe and Phil Jones: Eric Bailly, 25 y.o Axel Tuanzebe, 21 y.o Phil Jones, 27 y.o Eric Bailly – a decent substitute defender. He is surprisingly fast for such a strong defender. Although his middling composure and concentration will prevent him from being my starter. If you start after early preseason, he is injured (5-6 months). Axel Tuanzebe – my number one sub option. Mentally he is already better than Bailly and Jones, especially in the composure department. Axel’s physical and technical game will catch up as long as I play him often. He is only 21 y.o so should develop into a key defender for the team. Especially if tutored by Bailly and Jones. Phil Jones – another veteran on the team as he is already on his 9th season with the Devils. Of the current players, only Ashley Young and David De Gea wore red and whites for nine seasons in a row. He starts transfer listed but it will be hard to get rid of the old stalwart Phil. Once famed for his powerful build, he is still quite sturdy if more injury prone. I do not foresee playing him more than as an sub for important games. His experience will be invaluable tutoring young Tuanzebe. Wingbacks/Defensive Wingers Aaron Wan-Bissaka, 21 y.o Diogo Dalot, 20 y.o #3 – Luke Shaw, 23 y.o Luke Shaw – our current best wingback. While he appears balanced in both attack and defence, his lack of crossing holds him back from being complete in this role. I expect him to move into a substitute role as Wan-Bissaka and Dalot improve. Ashley Young – our captain and at 34 y.o not so young anymore. Appears to still be a fine attacking fullback despite his age. On paper that is his attributes look more than good enough to fill this demanding role. Expect his fitness to drop throughout the season. So that acceleration and pace might easily go down 2-3 notches in a season. Known as a highly versatile, adaptable player (moving from winger and forward to defender), one cannot blame him for aging. I will be happy to get one more season out of this magnificent veteran. It makes it doubly important that the following two youngsters learn well from him this season to fill in those big shoes. Ashley Young (pictured), Phil Jones and David De Gea were among the last players acquired by Ser Alex Ferguson Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Diogo Dalot are the future of the team in the wingback department. Both are very similar in their attributes, with Bissaka perhaps holding a slight edge due to his defensive capability (that 18 in tackling!). Give them as much game-time as possible and you will have two world-beaters in a year or two. Goalkeepers #1 – David De Gea, 28 y.o Sergio Romero, 32 y.o David De Gea – in my opinion hands down the world’s best goalkeeper and team’s second star player after Pogba He has a cabinet stocked with two Europa trophies, one Premier League, one each of FA Cup and League Cup. More recently, De Gea has been in the PFA Team of the Year four years in a row. Ederson has won that honour in 2019. I still believe that De Gea is the better goalkeeper if you are looking for a traditional keeper to lock down your box and throw away the key. He might not be one to rush out and start plays from the back like Neuer or Lloris, but his Reflexes, Handling and Agility are unmatched. These attributes are really all you need in a keeper, as long as he can pass short to the more creative defender. Sergio Romero – a decent backup but inferior to De Gea in all the key areas. Basically unless De Gea is injured or resting, there is no reason you should be using Romero. With De Gea being 28 y.o, United are set in the keeper department for at least another 8 years. And seeing how Romero’s contract runs out in 2021, I would not look for a younger backup until the summer of 2021. Young Devils – Four Understudies on the 1st Team From Left to Right: Gomes, Garner, Greenwod and Chong. Three Gs and one C – the future of United personified In accord with my save goal of developing youth, I decided to introduce four teenagers into the first team squad. Even before I had access to the game, I knew which ones I was going to choose. The quartet of Gomes, Garner, Greenwood and Chong. All four are considered wonderkids, have been lighting up U23 team so far this season and have been getting considerable media attention as a result. While Pogba is United’s current worldclass star, Mason Greenwood (17 y.o) is the starlet in the making. He is the kind of player who, if played consistently, could your club-defining player. Beckham for the new era. No kidding, this kid will be amazing. Labelled by Solskjær as the best finisher he has seen, Greenwood definitely has the weight of expectations on his shoulders. And this kid has a lot to live up to. Its rare you see such technical skill and composure in a 17 year old. Angel Gomes (18 y.o) was brilliant in FM19 where he tended to develop into a great little playmaker. Looks like he got even better in 2020 version. He has been compared to Ronaldinho due to his dribbling, composure and creativity. Gomes’ size is actually an advantage as it gives him low centre of gravity, an important trait of all great enganches. In many ways Angel is like Paul Scholes, sans his defensive strength. While small he is difficult to get off the ball, sees the play seconds before others and can dictate a game with his intelligence. As I expect him to take over Mata’s playmaker mantle, he will be my main sub in #10 position. James Garner (18 y.o) – if Gomes draws comparisons to Scholes then Garner could be the next Michael Carrick. He is a raw talent but has the offensive and defensive discipline to shine in the deep playmaker anchoring role occupied by Matić currently. Tahith Chong – at 19 y.o is the oldest of my Young Devils but similarly with plenty of potential to develop into a star winger. Early in his career he started out as a classic throwback winger, hugging the touchline and showing off his speed and tricks as he zoomed up and down the flank. Quiet shocking in someone so tall and slim. And this kid can really move! Since then Chong has become much more comfortable at playing on both flanks and cutting inside from the right. So that is it for the current crop of Manchester United players. I will be taking all 25 players mentioned above on my first ever campaign with the Red Devils in Football Manager 2020. Players that I did not mention won’t be included. They are Sanchez, Smalling and Henderson and start the season loaned out. Our 3rd goalkeeper Lee Grant is inferior to Romero and hopefully we will not need his services. Timothy Fosu-Mensah (slightly worse than Tuenzebe) would be a good loan option but starts with a 2-3 months injury. Hope you enjoyed this little guide and continue to follow the Young Devils series as it develops and the wonderkids go from U23 to Champions League glory! Feel free to follow and like us @ Dictate The Game’s Facebook and Dictate The Game’s Twitter
  2. In case the pictures don't work here is the link to my original article: https://dictatethegame.com/2020/01/20/total-football-total-balance-the-most-important-attribute/ Young Devils Guide Football Manager is a cultural phenomenon because it is a game that is built around numerical statistics and spreadsheets. And at the core of all the stats, are player attributes, representing their technical, mental and physical ability. Which in on themselves are simple collections of numbers. Yet they can make us whoop with joy, when you first see that wonderkid regen with green 16+ values across the board. Or sigh in frustration when confronted with down-pointing red arrows in the development screen. So when asking FM players, what in their opinion is the most important attribute in the game, responses will likely vary. I have been playing the game long enough, across its many versions, to form my own opinion. I believe Balance is most important to good tactics. And here is why. Previously on Young Devils Series: https://dictatethegame.com/2019/12/23/jovenes-diablos-the-spanish-4-1-4-1-armada/ Discovering The Winning Formula As my second season with Manchester United draws to an end, I find my tactic is moving further away from pure Bielsa tribute, while retaining some of the features that are very Bielsa-like. These include maximizing possession, creating overloads on the wings and high defensive line pressing. Essentially, I am still trying to follow Bielsa's central obsession: quest to achieve Total Football with any club. And it is amazing what he has achieved with a club like Leeds United in only two years. Also with Man Utd, my aim is beautiful attacking possession at all costs. As I continuously tweak my tactics in over 180 hours with FM20, I am starting to see patterns that lead to success. Because in essence FM tactics are collections of attributes (aka statistical values) put together in a meaningful way (your formation and roles). So when you pinpoint the right combinations of attributes that win games regularly then you have proof that you have a recipe for victory. It seems deceptively simple. And after I break it down in this article it should be. Hopefully after reading this, you will see a formula that can be applied to any club, from the world-class champion to a lowly backwater underdog. Winning one game is simple, it is replicating that success that is the hard part in Football Manager. So why do some teams win more often than others? Tactical Evolution As you might recall from my last piece, the summer transfer period brought an invasion of Spaniards to Old Trafford. I also started experimenting with a 4-1-4-1 shape, similar to the one Bielsa is using at Leeds. Inspired by Bielsa's style, my 4-1-4-1 attacks with three banks of three plus the free player, our enganche. Our three banks are the three runners, three holding players and three defenders. My formation went through a series of changes. Starting like this at the start of the season: Then moving to the one below a few months into the season. I made some roles more aggressive and others less so, while bringing the mentality down to Balanced. Also as you can see from the zoomed in winger instruction, I started to implement the Split Block. But more about this later. As you can see the general structure of three distinct groups of attack, support and defence is maintained despite some changes in roles. Essentially the three players on attack duty act as my runners. The CF, BWM and Winger are supporting the attackers. While the three defenders (including the right wingback) maintain solidity in the back. Finally the third evolution of the tactic happened during the Winter break. It is definitely the most successful iteration where we finally achieved the balance in attack and defence. The balance was achieved by making sure that there is equal distribution of runners, support/creators and defenders in the formation. The wingers were moved into more advanced positions to make them more attack-minded whereas before they tended to stay back too much despite Positive team mentality. At the same time their advanced positioning, allowed me to implement inverted wingbacks. Because what is a Bielsa-inspired tactic, without inverted wingbacks? Bielsa's inverted wingbacks are probably the hardest to recreate in the game. At times they operate like standard wingbacks hugging the flanks. At other times they will cut inside to overload the midfield or help with possession. The latter is how the inverted wingback role in the game behaves. Usually they will cut inside and play more central, rarely diverting from this rule. As long as there is another player on the wing directly in front of them. But if that player is in the advanced winger position, the inverted wingback will sometimes break from his programming. He will move up like a regular wingback to occupy this freed up space. Thus he will unwittingly act more like Bielsa-style hybrid between a wingback and midfielder. It is too much for me to go into here, but inverted wingbacks when used this way are probably my favourite part of the tactic. This winning formula has allowed Manchester United to go on a three months unbeaten streak both domestically and in Europe. As of March 23, we are holding 2nd position in the league (with only 3 points behind Man City). The victories against Arsenal and Manchester City were the highlights during this time. Balance and Strength The third and final version of the tactic maintains the same three equal banks structure. Categorized by duty, you still have the runners (attack), ball holders (support) and defenders. The player that does not fit into any of the three groups, is our sole playmaker. He is usually designated as the enganche ("pivot") in any Bielsa formation. It is a role that is indispensable to Bielsa, as it is the player that is not tasked with any defensive or attacking duties. A free player in all sense of word, a pure playmaker. Free to do what he does best, create and dictate plays. What makes a great enganche is not in where on field he is positioned, but how he behaves in that position. This is where the importance of Balance attribute is first revealed. Enganche is first and foremost a playmaker. Secondly he is a stationary playmaker that relies on balance and not agility of movement like a trequartista. Balance is very important to all playmakers because it is the attribute that defines how well they are able to resist the force exerted by opposing players trying to take away the ball. It's simple, the more time your player gets on the ball, the more chance your team has of winning. Its a basic tenet of Total Football. But a playmaker who is told to hold position like an enganche or deep-lying playmaker needs to have exceptional balance to offset the strength of the opponent's press. Strength attribute is Balance's constant nemesis. It is the defensive attribute that defines how well a defender can exert himself in forcing the ball away from his opponent. Technically smart and physically strong defenders will always have an advantage over playmakers who might be elite in their technique but weak in Balance. A real life example would be a player like Neymar who is an exceptional attacking playmaker as his profile in FM20 would reflect. Yet his biggest weakness are his relatively low Balance, Work Rate and Strength (14, 10, 10 respectively). At first look it might not seem so bad, but one needs to keep in mind that because of his reputation, Neymar will naturally draw more defenders to him. And when coming up against strong, hard-working defenders, Neymar is often pressured off the ball or worse. Neymar will never be a good player in Bielsa-ball system. Sorry Junior! The Belgians were trying to keep him upright but all their skill could not do it. So at its essence, most tactics come down to a battle of Balance versus Strength. Of course there are other attributes that play an important role, but at its core the team that can win the Balance battle, can get an advantage over their opponent. Which is why my front four (including mezzala) are going to be my players with the best strength and balance. Being part of the split block they will need strength to press the opposition hard while the balance will help them to retain the ball once they win it. Enganche, while not involved in the press, will be another balance player and the most important player in the system. Un Enganche y Tres Punta FM2014 was my first ever Football Manager game and as such will always have a special place in my heart. I will always remember it due to some memorable saves, such as my first promotion with Manisaspor in Turkey and the regen only saga with Rostock. One of my most memorable players from 2014 version, has to be Riquelme. It was the last Football Manager that he appeared in. Sadly, I never got to manage one of the most unique playmakers in any FM game. Looking back at his attribute distribution I do not think we will get one like him for a while. At least not a few years until Messi starts to slow down in the latter half of his 30s. So what made Riquelme so unique and so sought after by FM14 tactic aficionados? As you can see above, despite the degeneration of most of his physical attributes, Riquelme's Balance remained high. So while he was one of the great playmakers of his generation, his name became synonymous with the role of enganche. In Football Manager definition, an enganche is the team's prime creator, and a hook that joins midfield to attack. This playmaker holds a static pivot role behind the striker(s) and the rest of the team moves around him. Unlike other playmaker roles like trequartista, it is a relatively stationary role. Meaning enganche acts a focal point for passes and starts plays. He does not move into space or tries to get involved in attacks. He will not create the space but instead take advantage of the space created by others moving around him. For such a static role, high Balance is essential. It will help the player stay rooted to his position despite heavy opposition pressure. And while he is pressed, space will be invariably created elsewhere that enganche's more mobile team members can exploit. As such the enganche is the most important role in a Bielsa system. No matter which team he manages or which formation, Marcelo 'El Loco' Bielsa never moves away from one basic formula. The setup of his front four attacking players is always the same. The formula is always three attacking midfielders (one No.10 playmaker and two wingers) behind the centre-forward. The so-called ‘un enganche y tres punta’ or "the hook and three points" is as much a product of Bielsa's Argentine Football upbringing as his adventurous attacking style. You can take Bielsa out of Argentina but you can never take Argentina out of El Loco. And enganche is as much a part of Argentinean football tradition as regista is Italy's. One cannot talk about the history of football in either nation without at least mentioning these two iconic roles. In this sense, Riquelme did for Argentina what Pirlo did for Italy. Looking for a Perfect Hook I've been trying to fit this free creative element into my current formation, by actually using a playmaker role, other than the game's enganche. I find FM20 enganche's position to be too advanced to have significant influence on the build up play. In reality I believe traditional enganches, such Riquelme, started much deeper in midfield. This allowed them to have more time on the ball and more space for their passes. Thus my ideal playmaker is not one that sits right behind the attackers as the game would suggest. Instead I want him to be a deeper creative presence. This is where my Bielsa-ball tactic will diverge from the pure Bielsa recreation. Although I hope the spirit of Total Football shall be preserved. Juan Mata - my current perfect enganche How do you know that your team has an enganche? It is not just a question of whether you have a classic No.10 Playmaker (although its part of the role). Enganche is a pretty unique and special role. One that goes against the merciless logic at the core of the game. A good enganche could be a young player or one that is well into his 30s. It is probably the only role that actually gets better as the player ages. Typically a playmaker's technical and mental attributes will keep on increasing while his pace and acceleration decrease. Fortunately, balance, and strength are among the last to go. So given Messi's current level of balance, he will turn into a pretty amazing enganche in a few years. Maybe even better than Riquelme at the same age. Mata is my current enganche and he is still going strong despite being 32. Manager's Dilemma - Constant Tactical Balancing Act This is probably the reason why I feel so much affinity to Bielsa. I suspect that El Loco would be as obsessive, if not more so, if he was a Football Manager player. As some of my readers found out by now, I am a pathological FM tactics tinkerer. I admit that I have a problem. I probably spend more time fine-tuning my tactics then I do actually simulating games. That is probably the main reason why I still have not finished second season with Manchester United after two months with only one save. While I see some people already post pics of Messi and Ronaldo as club managers. But the problem is that the moment I balance one aspect of my tactic, I discover that there is something else that could be improved. It is a never-ending process of small incremental improvements. At least that is what I like to think. Sometimes after changing a role or instruction, the whole system is made worse. It is a risk. But without experimentation there is no discovery. The Attribute Method When I looked at my 4-1-4-1 from the start of the 2nd season, I realized that I was lacking focus, both in roles and in its style. How did I want this tactic to attack and defend? What roles did I want to use to achieve this? Pressing is a key element in all of Bielsa's tactics. There are a number of methods by which pressing can be achieved in the game. One that I have had success with in FM20 is the split block. Its a style of pressing where the front attackers are told to close down much more than the team's default level of pressing. I achieve this through using individual instructions, as you probably saw in the tactic pictures above. The players that I want to be part of the split block are the striker, wingers and mezzala. As such their attribute distribution is very important. Overall they should be well-rounded in both attack and defence. But their Bravery, Workrate and Strength attributes should be among their best as these attributes control how strongly and how often they will press the opposition. As I mentioned above, balance attribute is also key in the battle for the control of the ball. It defines the ability of a player to maintain possession despite heavy pressure from opponent's defenders. Balance is very important for any attacking player as it helps determine the quality of cross/shot/pass made while under pressure. The defender's strength attribute acts as the counter the attacker's balance as a fast, strong defender can throw even the most nimble attacker off balance when closing him down. Thus my front four need good levels of both balance and strength. Strength for their pressing while out of possession and balance to control the ball in possession when faced against opponent's defence. This is how I set up the front four players. 1) The Brunt of Attack will come from the AML (inside forward), and the Mezzala. 2) The Support will be from the Central Striker and AMR (inverted winger). The left side can afford to be more attacking because of 3) the holding playmaker, our enganche, on that side. Similarly on the right side there should be nice interplay between the inverted winger and the attacking mezzala. With the inverted winger dropping back and creating cut backs for mezzala surging beyond him. The right inverted wingback is also close at hand as a passing option. The collection of supporting roles on the right side should naturally lead to an overload. On the left flank, we have the inside forward and inverted wingback taking advantage of the space liberated by the overload to create 1v1 or 2v1. Our holding playmaker (deep enganche so to speak), is essential to this whole attacking movement. Not only does he provide support to the runners on the left but also covers the left space while they advance. He does not need to be the most defensive player as he will not be involved in the press. He does need a good level of balance since he will be holding on to the ball quite a bit. The Ball-Winning Midfielder, our midfield destroyer, is also there to secure the exposed flank. More importantly he will try to win back any balls that get through our frontal press. To be effective BWM needs to be among our most physically-imposing players with very good tackling and positioning attributes. I instruct him to hold position. Achieving balance in your tactic is not just about balanced distribution of roles but also about positioning of those roles on the field. Sometimes how the player acts in his role is fully dependent on where he is on the field and how strong he is in a certain attribute. Next step is identifying those players and making sure that you play them to their strength. I hope this gives you a little idea of my Attribute Method to tactical creation and balancing. In an upcoming article I will be showing how this method is further defining my Total Football DNA and influencing a whole new generation of stars at Old Trafford. Thank you for reading and feel free to follow and like us @ Dictate The Game’s Facebook and Dictate The Game’s Twitter Tactic Download Link: https://ufile.io/rqjns0g4 For those wondering, the header picture for the article is in fact the great Riquelme in action for Villareal.
  3. hi guys I'm having a right nightmare getting my 4-1-4-1 working consistently in a online save, 1 minute we are beating Arsenal 4-0 then we are losing to teams in the relegation zone. I have closing down much more but we don't close them down. we play some great stuff but my players fluff their lines and miss. so is it crap players or my tactic is rubbish.
  4. Hi everyone. I'm currently playing with Leeds United, for what is only my second actual save going on FM17. I'm no tactical genius, so I'll mention first that my formation is heavily inspired by things I've read on this thread: At first I didn't really know where to go gameplan wise, and I figured Leeds starting squad was well suited for a 4-1-4-1. Here are the tactic I'm using the most and the TIs. When facing a 4-3-3, I usually turn my DM-D into a RPM, and my CM-S into a CM-D. TIs remain the same overall. The only PIs I use are Move into channels for my CM-A, Close down much less for my RPM when I have one, and Fewer Risky Passes for my keeper. First season in Championship went really well, we beat the odds by finishing second, earning a spot in the Premier League. Our strongest asset was our defence, as we ended up being the best defence in the league, while only being the 4th or 5th best attack. What was a warning sign of the current situation is that we were no match to Newcastle, and Norwich was a tough opponent aswell. Now that I'm in the Prem, I'm struggling a lot. Somehow my fire power is still the same (24 goals in 16games), but I'm really worried about my back line, as we're one of the weakest defence in the League, with too many goals and chances conceded to my liking (28 goals against so far). This is what I've noticed so far: - When the opposition is building up to my box, I found we're really weak in the space just in front of my two CBs. I feel like my players run at the ball too much, and then space is created. - Through balls between my two CDs happen a lot when we are high up the pitch, and the opponent forward has easy runs in the space, even though none of my defenders are particularly slow. - We concede a lot of our goals following crosses, as the opposition wingers have a lot of room to work with - We don't have the ball as much as I'd wish/thought, with under average pass completion and possession. - We lack space up front, especially when we are in front of their box. I feel this mainly comes from my CM-A not having that many runs and impact. - Maybe as a consequence, we rely a lot on our lone attacker, who's the only scoarer in that squad. This problem was also there on the first season, as Antonsson was the lead scorer with 32 goals, only followed by a distance by Pedraza and his 8 goals. Some of these issues (mainly the offensive ones) were also true during the first season, but it was less of an issue considering the opposition. As for the Premier League, at first I thought my tactic was a bit too naive, considering the quality of my squad compared to the rest of Prem, so I've tried a few tweaks, but it didn't work out really well. On the defensive side, I've decided to lower my defensive line a bit, and I also switched my two CDs' Closing Down from sometimes to Less. On paper, it worked out a bit, as we won two games in a row, but in reality it was more due to the opposition lacks in our half of the pitch, as we got punished by Leicester in the latest game. Upfront, I've tried to switch my DLF-S to a DF-S (I don't really know why I did that, I guess I'm getting a bit desperate), but it didn't have much impact. I've noticed that his rating only depends on him scoring or not, even though I'd want him to participate in the build up. I've tried so many different things about my CM-A that I can't remember it all. I also think my RPM doesn't have much impact, and my attempts to use him as a Regista were a bit poor. I thought that maybe I'm giving too many freedom to my players considering their qualities, and they end up making the wrong decision a lot. During the games, I often found myself behind in term of possession, so I usually tick Retain Possession after 15-20 minutes into the match. I also try to switch to Shorter Passing, but I dont notice a huge difference. A couple times I tried to raise the tempo, so we could get to the opposition's half faster, but it just resulted into a 4-1 for West Ham, with only 1-1 at half time. Even when it comes to substitutions, the players coming in are pretty much useless, as they don't add anything to what's already on the pitch. That is to say that I don't feel I have much impact during the games. I tried to watch full matches to spot issues, but to no avail, as I don't really know what to watch and what the mistakes are. I don't know how much my issues are solely based on my squad overall quality, and what is on me as a manager. Overall we're not having that bad of a season, sitting 12th in the tables around half season, but our defensive weakness might cost us a painful second half of season. Anyway any advice is welcome, as I'm sure there are many aspects I don't understand yet. Btw english isn't my main language, so if anything isn't clear enough, tell me and I'll try to explain it better.
  5. First season - counter-attacking 4-1-4-1 Hello, I'm doing a Dafuge Challenge with Stourbridge and a Career Updates thread about it. I don't wish to spam the whole forum about it, but I figured a thread here about my tactics could be interesting either to help users, or for people to give me ideas. I've just finished season 1 in which we played a 4-1-4-1. This was wildly successful at first, but our second half of the season was poor and we finished 12th. The basic concept was: - we were massive underdogs and we could rely on opponents coming at us most of the time. It made sense to stack up as many bodies behind the ball as possible and exploit the space they'd give us. Therefore the base shape was something extremely similar to Cleon's Art of Counter-Attack. - The Art of Counter-Attack was most fitting for a more supporting striker like a DLF/S or a DF/D, but I had a poacher-esque pacey striker that was too good for me not to use him. Therefore I made him a DLF/A and pushed up Gnahore from ML to AML to give him a little more support (this also suited Gnahore at the beginning who couldn't play ML before retraining). - Slightly rising up the defensive line worked better in pre-season to avoid us getting cornered all match. Not too much because we don't have pace at the back and we need space to counter. - With no aerial threat upfront, low crosses made sense. - I believe there's a small issue with the ME at the moment with players taking too many long shots. Obviously many of our players are too poor to take the right decision, and are often isolated offensively, but Work Ball Into Box helps a little. This also decreases crosses which suited us. However, there were problems: - Massive over-reliance on Weston-Hayles and his pace, personified by his 23 goals yet the next top scorer was on 4 goals. We were extremely one-dimensional. Unlike Cleon's setup, we hardly ever setup actual counters, and didn't create enough opportunities for the players rushing in from midfield when not on the counter. It'd occasionally happen but my midfield players aren't good enough to convert consistently, and with Weston-Hayles on attack duty, we lacked the forward dropping deep to drag defenders out of shape. - Unsurprisingly, as the season went on, we stopped being underdogs and the opposition started giving us less space to attack. With the plan relying on space for Weston-Hayles to run into, our attack crumbled apart. We were particularly awful at chasing games, and alternative tactics didn't work much better. - An unforeseen consequence of the AI rating us higher, was that they attacked us better. I believe at the beginning of the season the AI rated us so low they came at us with overly attacking mentalities, and just ran into our bus ineffectively. As the season went on, they started to figure out how to patiently pull us apart. We started getting cornered more often (not helped by our midfield being packed with players that are too passive), and conceding more goals both by the ground (through balls or square passes), and a lot of crosses and headed goals in set pieces.
  6. For the past couple of FMs, I've gone down the route of trying fluid, pressing styles but when the beta of 17 hit I started a game with Sunderland, who simply don't have the squad for it. They're in the bottom 2-3 in the league for Work Rate, Decisions, Stamina, etc. But they've got some decent passers of the ball and a striker lethal when playing off the shoulder of the last man in Defoe, so it seemed like a perfect chance to try and make a soak-and-counter tactic work, in the vein of last year's Leicester, something I've never had success with in FM. Pre-season was mediocre, starting Counter/Flexible with a lopsided 4-1-4-1 and the only TI being "pass into space", with Borini advanced as an RMD/IF, before pulling him back to WM with PIs to keep him raumdeuter-ish, until Jambo’s excellent Leicester thread gave me a crucial couple of nudges - play Standard but drop deeper, go Structured - to shape what’s become my Plan A. What I lack is a Plan B for when it goes wrong. Plan A: Standard/Structured TIs: Pass into space, Drop much deeper MR: Roam from position, Cut inside, Cross less often ML: Cross from deep, More risky passes GK: Roll it out, Distribute quickly, Fewer risky passes The basic tactical plan is to sit deep, soak up pressure, don’t do anything silly, and then when the situation presents itself, Cattermole to Januzaj to Defoe/Borini equals goal, and if that doesn’t work out then there should be support on hand to pick up the second phase without leaving everything open in our own half. The back four mostly stay put, with the DR covering for the more wanderlust-prone faux-RMD and the DL free to overlap if we’re not on a quick counter and Januzaj puts his foot on the ball instead. I’d expected the formation and instructions to make for plenty of counters, assuming the ME and the way counterattacks are triggered hadn’t changed drastically, and it has, but the Standard mentality seems to give the team a little more urgency with the ball when the counter’s not on compared to the actual Counter mentality. So far (allowing for a now-patched crash bug that cost us a wonderful 4-0 thumping of Swansea and a repeat humiliating defeat by Bristol City), and despite only making two first-team signings (and one of those just a young, cheap A/MC because Khazri was out for ages with a broken ankle), the results have been remarkable. After ten league games: One of the best scoring rates in the league - Defoe has 10 in 10, Borini 6 in 9 - and only Man Utd have a tighter defence. Second in the table. Not only nothing to worry about, but also something I should probably bug report to SI . The problem The problem is, I haven’t found a successful Plan B. Bristol City hammered us (twice, effectively), we didn’t get a shot on target against a struggling Leicester side, and barely scraped a win over Middlesbrough. All three teams sat back, and in Leicester’s case, sat back and sat very narrow, and against teams playing that way we really struggle to break through, becoming ineffective going forward, more vulnerable at the back. It’s not about the individual goals scored against us in those games, but about the play in between. The way we’re unable to find space, to pick the right pass, let alone a shot, and teams are then free to chance their arm when the opportunity arises in the same way we are, and deny us the ball when the option's not there because we're not working especially hard to get it back. Man City had 62% possession, 23/6 shots to our 17/8, and 10 corners to our 2 (which suggests at the kind of dogged defence this was), and we hammered them because soaking up pressure and hitting on the break worked an absolute treat. Against Bristol City, by comparison, we were almost even numbers-wise, and I don’t think we even had a shot on target until we were 3-0 down. I've tried bumping up mentality, bumping up individual mentality for the DR, shifting Borini to his natural AMR position, having Defoe drop back as a DLF, but nothing has had much impact so far. (Even against Bristol City; they were home and hosed and were playing like it while we flapped at goal like a pub side.) The options The squad is short, languid and prone to making poor choices (like signing for Sunderland ). But it’s reasonably quick and has good flair and technical ability. 1. A battering ram. We’ve got Anichebe on the bench, who’s a slower, bigger player than Defoe. Either switch the lone ST role or bring him in as one of a pair alongside Defoe and lose a midfielder (probably the CM(a)) to go 4-4-2 or 4-1-3-2. The downside is that Anichebe isn’t much of a battering ram as battering rams go. 2. Throw caution to the wind. I had success, and some decent footie, playing 3-4-1-2 in FM16 with a squad not exactly full of terriers willing to chase every ball when attacks broke down (Control/Fluid, shorter passing but without an emphasis on possession). Sunderland’s DCs are pretty pacy, which would help reduce vulnerability to the counter. The regular starting XI could play this formation, with Jones moving into DRC, Taylor shifting up to ML and Januzaj going to AMC. As either a BWM or CM(d), Cattermole would be forever getting sent off, which would be the downside. 3. Tiki-taka, minus the press. Go short with the passing, keep the ball, try to work openings without giving anything away. Switch DL/DR to support duty wingbacks and Januzaj to full-on WP, lower the tempo. DM to REG, with a CM(d) and probably CM(s) ahead. Of the three possibilities so far, I’m leaning towards the third the most as it wouldn’t involve changing formation and thus would probably have the least of a familiarity hit (though I’d be inclined to shift shape to Fluid for greater creativity). Thoughts?
  7. Playing southampton, i started 5 or 6 times which all of them failed. I win 1 in 5 games, others are all loss or tie. I am trying 4-1-4-1 formation or 4-3-3DM formation all the time. I want to play 4-1-4-1 formation because i have a decent dm - Victor Wanyama also i think it will bring some defensive solidity as southampton dc's are not very good. For left wing i have tadic decent winger attributes but low decisions. For right wing, i have Mane, good attacker but lack teamplay and passing ability. For that reason i came up a tactic like this: DLF(s) W(s) Cm(a) Dlp(s) Wm(a) BWM(d) FB(s) DC DC WB(s) I play standard mentality with flexible team shape. I use play out of defence instruction and sometimes work ball into box. No other tis. For PI's, i duplicated If's instructions to wm(a) with cut inside with the ball. Cm(a) has shorter passing pi and dlf has move into channels. However system doesnt work. My obsevations are; first of all w(s) stays wide and seems disconnected from the team. He grabs the ball run wide try to dribble and lose it. Cm(a) i play with stephen davis who has 8 finishing and cant finish the chances although he surges into the box. I tried changing w(s) to wm(s) and fb to wb(a) but still hardly find any goals and concede 2 or 3 even from low league teams. As for cm attack role i dont have budget to bring better player since im lacking a dc, dr already. I am stuck with the this tactic and team. I dont know what to do in order to get better with this. Any help appreciated.
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