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  1. First and foremost we need to face the truth, it doesn't matter how much you are a gunner this isn't gonna happen any time soon, we all need to face it and let it sink in, second thing which some people will mention here is squad which I have on mine disposal. Ever since FM 08 among few of mine friends who played with me over the years I had the greatest quality in managing transfer window and pulling some good transfers in and out of mine club, I have to admit it I had some seriously good fortune on this save and I got almost perfect players for mine experiment almost from start of season 1, so let's start with what this is actually about. TL/DR first paragraph isn't related to tactical stuff Here the story starts, with new roles additions to this years FM one can make some really weird and cool combos which can make players overlap and act chaotic to untrained eye, the thorn in AI side is that some of worst opponents I came against in FM series over the years (yes Mumu and Klopp thats you 2 I'm talking about) have a preference of marking specific player with another player, so I decided to try and bypass those pesky defensive and counter attacking destroyers by creating as much chaos as one can in one single tactic. Left Side of the pitch: So lets start from left side, on left side in this tactic we have W(S) who will mainly stay wide and drag opposition FB(WB) out of his natural position and create space for midfielder to come in, in some games in which teams played flat 5 in the back I switched this role to W(A) just to get some more width and penetration down that side. All that space for whom? Mezzala will use it, from what I have seen and witnessed Mezzala is considered by most as an midfielder who will mainly rush inside the channel and wait to get picked up and try to score, I couldn't disagree more. Mezzala isn't simple B2B-IF hybrid to me, for me he looks more like a RPM-IF-hybrid, he will move into channel, he will get in goalscoring chances, but he will also play others in and act as a creative outlet, mine first impression was the same as 90% of community(the posts I've seen so far) I though finally I don't need CM(A) and I can use a fancy role instead, but to mine surprise we got something even better. Mezzala will try to get to that half space on his side and if he has the ball and tries to go there he will act as AP(A) who takes on a player and waits for them to go for him and then just puff a pass somewhere and whole defensive positioning gets shifted out, if he is already in position I saw him switching places and moving outside towards out line and swapping his place with winger which leaves defense stunned whom to follow and where, but mainly his position would be somewhere on the edge of 16m box where he can pick a pass and distribute to CF or to someone else, I can't describe how good this role is... So we have 2 offensive players on same side who are trying to make overload in that halfspace by themslves, and since winger is already wide we don't need another wide player in the mix, but we can use more numbers in middle to control the possession game and to provide back pass options, that's where IWB comes in. IWB(S) is fairly demanding role, so far I have tried him in multiple roles since I started mine experiment, if he is on IWB(D) he wil sometimes collide with HB, if he is on IWB(S) and with hold position PI he will get left out of game from time to time since he will be too far behind, I haven't even tried attack duty since I want him to act as mine recycling/trough pass machine and not as a Dani Alves "I'm gonna run for 25 meters and then hoof it to 5th row cos that babe is fine" I don't want those heroics I wanted him to take Mezzalas spot and to release him so that he can do his thing, and boy he did. I would say that IWB role might be most demanding one in terms of finding the right player, he is more like a Regista type of player then that of a wingback, he doesn't need that much crossing since if winger stays wide he won't reset to normal WB and he will act as a regista of sorts, I don't yet have a player whom I would be confident enough to use with "Dictates tempo" shout but that could change the whole concept of IWB as we see him now. So this trio of bad boys covers for each other and just by staying in their roles they create spaces which are there to be exploited and used. The right side of the pitch: In 451 I generally like to use one side to overload the play and keep possession and use the other side to "release" the players, but since we heard that the mezzala role is actually similiar to that of a AP I was tempted to change it but in the end I stood by mine favorite role on right side. On right wing we have a AP(S) he is told to sit narrower so that his position is closer to that of a AMCR then to and AMR and thats where I want him so that he can drag defenders towards him and unlock defense in best manner possible (trough ball) some times he will cross tho rarely, his main duty is to try and combine with others around him and keep the ball untill he sees the run and tries to pick his teammate. I'm confident that a player with "comes deep to get the ball" PI and high workrate/teamwork(Not you Ozil) can be played on AP(A) since he won't be selfish and he would actually go back to help his RB partner. Since AP(S) is positioned towards middle of the pitch and he cuts inside we have a whole lot of space to exploit down that flank, and no one can do it better then a 20 pace 20 accel machine, yeah thats Bellerin in his FB(A) role, now a choice of his role was decided by hard experiment, if mine striker was lets say Lewandowski, Kane, Benzema, Mandzukic(read meat grinder) type of forward I would defo pick WB(A), main difference is WB will bomb forward much more, and since mine forward is lil' Dybala I can't excpect that many crosses to connect with him, so I picked FB(A) who will time his runs and be more patient about it and still involve himself in possession game by providing that option out wide, stretching defense and making half channels for AP(S) to exploit. So once again 2 offensive roles need some cover, and what a great time to implement new Carilero "shuttler" role, this role is mine dream come trough since FM 12, so many times I had to use CM(S) and tweak it like mad, and now finally he is here, the half space cover, Carilero will cover those halfspaces left by FB and AP if there is a threat down that side after FB leaves his position, if there is no threat, he will act similiar to CM(S) and provide passes from his side of the pitch making that double layered midfield which always has options and always has numbers upfront. Striker: I've been using mine Dybala, and mine Lacazzete in season 1 as CF(A) for whole first season, then at some point after selling Lacazzete I wanted to give Dybala some more touches with the ball so I started using DLF(A) role on him, DLF(A) will start deeper and try to dribble, pass, shoot or find some space for himself, while CF(A) will do the same but he also has roam from position and he will do much more(description of the role says it all) imo for a player like Dybala with small frame good balance and agility, good passing game and good mentals DLF(A) is way to go, he will get involved in game more since he will drop deeper, he will drag defenders out of place, he will assists, he will carry on transitions and hold up ball until there is a free player on the wings, he will do it all. If I had a different type of striker, previously mentioned meat grinder types I would use them as CF(A) since they got some physical presence, they can jump for the ball, get on the end of most crosses, they can impose themselves physicaly and bring others in via flick ons etc. Even DLF(S) roaming target man PI setup sounds nice. Defence: 2 good old central backs and a Halfback, best defence one can wish for, especially with how HB acts, god I love that role, basically he will always be there and try to recycle possession for your team and he will provide a screen for CB's when in defence and close down pesky AMC's or those drop deep forwards. While HB is amazing on his own, the mechanic of "split" with him in field is even more amusing, HB will split CB's so that they will get wider then their usual position, if they are wider that means they cover a lot more of the pitch wide and they are ready to counter long ball threats, and by doing so they release our carilero of some of his defensive responsibility, and also cover IWB's slot so that he has the time to come back to his LB position in time before opositions transitions comes to him. Combined attack: So I mentioned that I liked using one side for overload and other side for exploiting, it can be done here, easily by doing 2-3 roles adjustments, but this is actually a fun setup to run with, you are actually creating overloads on both sides, each side has 3 designated players to overload it and they will more then often draw more opposing players to close them down and to try to neutralize them, and that means your other side of the pitch is free of the pressure, and in all that madness of constantly providing chaos and creating overloads left and right the spot opens in middle just where Dybala is waiting for his chance, that's the most likely outcome for me, others do score, but he is the striker, he is the main threat which often gets forgotten, simply because Mezzala and AP draw too much "AGGRO" on them just by being where they are. Your attack looks something like this: (I gave Dybala the SS role on purpose just to emphasize that he will be in that between CF and AM position while you are on attack) The HB will form back three near middle with CB's; Carilero will protect his right side(he will be a bit more to the right tbh) and IWB will fit in on left side Mezzala occupies left half channel, while AP(S) will take his right one and Winger and FB(A) provide the width and give defensive players the decision nightmare whom to follow. That is mainly how this system operates in attack. In defence they are asked to prevent short GK distributiion and to close down more, 451 isn't that much of a top heavy formation but it has a really good spread of players from their initial positions which makes it easy to close down oposition and prevent them from building play up from the back and forcing them to hoof the ball. The defensive line and offside trap are shouts which I tend to remove and change during the course of game, if a team is trying to force their way on me I will go Slightly higher D-Line and ofc Offside trap to cover that wast area behind them, if the team is a stubborn defensive side I will drop slightly deeper in an attempt to draw them out. In case I'm playing defensive maestros (MuMu), I don't know how much have you fellas analyzed the way Mumu sets his team up in FM, but the SI team did an amazing job at copying real life Mumu, he once told, years ago, that he always likes to have 4 players behind, and thats what he does, he has his LB/RB on defensive duty, you can see it if you watch the game against him, and if you have a player in AML/AMR he will provide pressure on him and make him unable to join attacks. In this case scenarion (mine favourite) I would drop deeper and go with fluid, fluid makes team more unified and thus makes it easier to defend from his wingers since they have no support and if you are fluid you will get the upper hand since he will always get doubled and disposed easily, also since you are deeper and fluid your team will be more compact but still enar their starting positions, and by doing so you will draw his DL/DR's on D duty and make some space for yourself to exploit trough good transitions. For example vs 4231's I would go for higher D-line, Offside trap and structured shape, if it is Man City quality 4231 which has good players I would drop mentality to counter. By pushing the D-line up you effectively disable the opposing AMC since he has nowhere to run to because you have a DM waiting for him, and by closing that space you make it harder for them to track you back since his winger gets either dragged out of position by tracking back your players or he gets behind and he can't be a counter threat for yourself, either way he looses, structured shape will make more spaces between your players and by doing so and with suprluss midfield numbers you will win the battle in middle since his midfield will lack support from the wingers which provides you with extra numbers. For other 451's Higher D line and fluid works for me since mine midfield is always gonna win and draw oposition, I mean, face it, I have 5 players constantly in there with occasional additions.... For stubborn oppositions which camp hard I usually go deeper and structured tho, sometimes I like to rape them with constant pressure and I go high D line and structured, depends on mine mood Most important thing for this defensive setup to bring fruition is to neutralize the "firestarter" the firestarter is the player who makes the web around your defense, in 451 DM wide that would be DM whom I neutralize and tight mark from get go, without that option of back pass opposition is on nails since each missed pass can result in a deadly turnover, in 4231 I would tight mark and hard tackle both MC's in 4231 DM Wide both of DM's in 442 both CM's, you get the picture So there it is, tactical experiment of using different roles and combinations to achieve the total confusion among the opposition A big thank you to Cleon and Rashidi and his channel BustTheNet who explain a lot of this stuff and how to use which role and what to expect from changes in in your setup.
  2. As a EPL fan and a long term Gunner I'm somewhat still disappointed at how things are at Emirates so luckily we have FM 18 to take matters in our own hands, after a good first season I was ready and had the balance to get myself some quality players and start the new era in new direction... As I stated EPL has always been mine favorite league and after years and years of watching it I can tell that now the EPL is loaded with quite few tactical geniuses which each have their own tactical signature, Mourinho and his catenaccio style of low blocks, Guardiola with his pass tiki-taka, Klopp and heavy metal gegenpress, Pochettino high press attack, Sarri with his high def line and good ball retention, Emery with his inverted wingers and more, so I came do a decision to morph best qualities of few of them into one tactic, well lets say tried, others will say if it was a success so far. The main idea is high pressing which can be said is influenced by Liverpool's Klopp and his tactics which are absolutely amazing,(even OX plays fairly good under him), the second idea is to have a backup plan in same tactic which will focus on keeping the ball and creating overload in one side of pitch while other side is left fragile and exploitable, who does it better then Pep(tbh I hate the guy and his pass it pass it style, but he is atm best at utilizing halfpaces in EPL) and finally third man is Wenger, some of you might feel it weird using something from Wenger in allround system but yeah, back in days Wenger played mid-low block in his Invincibles season and it worked for him and will be mine defensive backup if the initial high press fails. The idea What's the big deal here? It's just a 451? Let's say this first, I'm a huge fan of 451 or as some may call it 41221, the simple reason is it has a player in every strata there is, it is much easier to develop young players for me in this system then in any other, you have mid 3 which have a holding player, a runner and creator, you have wide players whom are expected to run create and score, you have wing/full bakcs with different responsibilities and you have a striker, there isn't anymore I could ask for. Team instructions Now the general idea is to use 2 CM's and 3 front players to press high up the pitch, get the ball and do a quick transition which will lead into our goal, easier said then done, we all want that, the other part is mine duties, the left flank is loaded with creative duties, similar to what Sarri did in Napoli and what Pep does in each game, he creates overloads forcing opposition to step out and close down players, the goal here is to have those 3 on left flank closed down by 5 of their players before we switch the ball to other flank, it won't happen every minute, AI isn't that stupid, but it will happen often enough for me, the other side of the pitch has a BBM that roams and might join left side players in creating said overload while freeing mine STC or AMR from their marker since we will add another player into the fry, I would probably use BWM(S) instead of B2B if I haven;t had a quality allrounder like I luckily have, and last part of the overload puzzle is mine DMC, the DMC has DLP role which will make him recycle possession by simply offering mine team a back pass solution when they fail in their intention, also DLP is further away from goal and has a good sight over whole field so he can make that 2nd pass toward other side of the pitch to create an opening for mine RB or AMR, usually DLP will do 2nd passes to RB/AMR who will run in 16m box and then provide assist for STC/AML/Mezzala. The 2nd line of defense is mine other 5 infield players DLP and back 4, they won't be so forcefull in trying to get the ball, they will stand ground and wait for opposition to arrive to them, this makes it easier to defend against pacey wingers since high press will make opposing players hoof the ball 90% of time where you have 5 players who are just waiting to recycle it. That is the general idea, I do make some changes according to match scenes, ie look for overlap shout, if a side is heavily shut in and wants me to attack it and exploit me on counters i will take them on their offer, overlap shout will make mine Wingbacks go further up the pitch and create havoc in wide areas and supllying crosses in penalty box, I also told mine players to try for whipped crosses since I don't quite have any Vanyamas and Girouds who are supposed to join attack, true SMS and Matic are quite tall in FM standards and Lacazette and iwobi aren't to be joked with either but I feel the forwards pace and anticipation is way better weapon for mine players then their height. Mine mid 3 is quite different from most mid trios I've seen over the years in football, the reason behind this is I need a mid 3 that are abble to create, score(CM's) and tackle so I need allrounders, slotting Xavi at his prime in MEzzala or DLP role would spell disaster on multiple levels, same as sloting iniesta in any of mid roles, but being as I am a weird manager with weird ideas i do have that role on the pitch, a pacey agile good balanced dribbler who can assist, that sort of player will always find a place in mine team and that is mine wide playmaker. The whole idea here is to have a team with good decisions, anticipation, workrate and teamwork in addition with good physical stats, each of mine players needs some balance and pace i expect them to close down aggressively and sustain that style of play for 90 minutes. Beauty of tactics so far for me has been when teams open themselves up and try to score one for themselves, then its heavy metal time, press them and retrieve ball in their own half with 3 players almost constantly being forward and sometimes even 4 since Mezzala has a high starting position so when press starts its sometimes 424 formation in their transition phase, with that kind of pressing most teams are forced to clear the ball long and hope it will get to their Diouf style striker who will be disposed. In mine back 4 I have BPD role, this role is there to initiate counter attacks with through balls after the opposition comes near mine def line, so if mine high press fails, and opposition gets to besiege me, this fella will eventually get the ball and try to find either mine RB, AMR, STC, AML or he will try to fin some space for MC's and give them opportunity to orchestrate attacks. OI's OI's are fairly simple as they are there just to prevent buildup from back and force mine front 5 into closing down opposition in their own half. When did I struggle? i struggled heavily vs Conte, his 3511 with diamond mid and 2 WB's gave me hell until I decided to switch mine DM from DLP to BWM(D), the reason I opted for such an option was to try and win that midfield battle, the outnumbered me there, but I had confidence that mine flat 4 will whistand siege from the remaining playerrs which weren't closed down by mine 6 players, simple math was he has 3CB's and 1 DM who aren't gonna join in attack, if I commit 6 players to close down his 6 players and leave 4 of them in a simple wall i still have the advantage, and guess what? It worked, Chelsea got rekt on Stamford bridge Some might say who destroyed whom? They had more shots on goal then you did? So lets analyze the shots Chelsea shots from inside the box: Morata: 2 of which 1 from corner Hazard: 2 from decent positions Guerriro(WBL): 1 from wide position Their CB's combined: 2 from corners, headers from 10 or so meters Arsenal shots: Lacazzete: 2 from 5 meters both goals since goal was open 1 blocked Ramsey: 1 from 5 meters again on open goal Lingard 1 missed HC Decide for yourselves which chances would you prefer for your team. Conclusion so far i'm having a blast. I'm still tempted to try and provide different role to Mezzala but i simply can't get away from the role since its superb, i initiatively wanted to go from RPM but he doesn't overlap and surges into attacking area as often as mezzala does and he would/t be able to press as high as mezzala, 2 AP's on same side isn't ideal for me so I wrote that one off, I still change a role or 2 depending on opposition, like a Chelsea game for example, or a game vs weaker sides where mine RB gets the full attention he needs with CWB(s) so he can surge forward from get go, CF to support role so that he holds on ball and comes more into midfield to link with CM's and AP leaving space for IF to exploit, it all depends on matches but most of time its jsut a simple mentality change to counter with retain possession WBIB play out of defence in matches I want to close out and simply rest mine players, most the time I have the luxury of playing lower intensity in final quarter of the game so mine players don't get taht much fatigued... Some player screens from current season: Some of you might feel mine squad could be better, i opted for Woodburn and Lingard since those 2 are perhaps the future of Wales and English football and I want to give poor guys a chance, Matic and SMS are mine fellow countryman so that's a no brainer, Alexandr Trent is world class for me personally, although I'm a gunner Bellerin is simply like a blindfolded bullet train and I wanted someone with more "mentals" and techical cappability, Monreal was too defensive thus Josh Tymon gets the chance, do I even need to explain why Elnenny, Xhaka, Aubameyang, Welbeck and Ozil got sold? either you work or you play for Man City and finish 5th, yes Aubame i'm talking to you, current squad isn't full of depth but i hope they will manage to provide wihtout too many injuries and get some additions in Winter break along the way. I'm satisfied with forward players tho I'm thinking of adding in a young prospect for Wing positions so he can replace Mkhitaryan, 30 years offensive player isn't in mine book unless he is Luca Toni at least. Cheers fellow managers and I hope you find this helpful and give me more ideas to improve mine current idea.
  3. So mine question or a matter I would like to receive advice in is mine Half Back in high press system, I'm aware that defense wise Half Back mainly acts as a screen and shifts his position like sort of anchorman and closes down opposing player with the ball, now mine question would be would he and mine time in general benefit from setting him to close down even more and tighter marking? but that draws another question, would mine CBs benefit from close down less instruction then? if he is already closing down opposition and limiting their passing lanes would it be beneficial if CBs closed less and remained in ther spots so that they don't come after same opponent as HB leaving me exposed? Next question on matter would be how would them 3 perform in offside trap system? And final would be would WBs(FBs) take the same benefit from close down less if it is possible or would it be better for them to have more closing down so that they press higher up the pitch? On note mine system uses: Mark tighter, slightly higher def line, Offside trap, be more disciplined, stick to positions on Control mentality with fluid team shape I think those are all of the TIs that affect defence. P.S. I cn provide screen shots of current TIs and PIs of players spoken of if needed
  4. I'd like to share a tactic I made for mine Arsenal side, I'm not after likes or sorts I'm mostly after seeing is it good on overall base since it was made around mine current squad. The ones I'm most interested about are PRESA series of tactics which are Control based 451, Attacking based 451 and Control based 4231 DM WIDE, so if anyone has spare time on his hands and is willing to try them out and provide info here is a link to FM base where I posted whole description and analysis on the few tactics I made: http://www.fm-base.co.uk/forum/share-download-fm-17-tactics/366119-little-mozart.html Cheers and thanks for your time
  5. Background So I’ve been playing FM for years now, ever since first stumbling across it back in the good old CM days. I’m also a Villa fan so naturally every game my first career is Aston Villa. Now as if that alone doesn’t make me a big enough glutton for punishment I also every year try to recreate a very specific tactical philosophy - a 451 / 433 counter attacking hybrid which keeps things tight and attacks with lightning pace down the flanks. Don’t ask me why I do it. Partly it’s because it’s just become a thing I do, partly it’s because my fondest memories in recent years are of Villa playing this way (yes there haven’t been many). Think O’Neil’s side at their best with Ashley Young bombing down a wing, or the brief glimmer of Lambert’s competence that saw Weiman, Gabby and Benteke form a potent attacking triumvirate. It also plays into what I like to do on FM which is keep clean sheets and score goals from dazzling wing play, counters and crosses into the box. Sometimes this has had more success than failure and yet here I am once again returning to the same tactical conundrum. “The definition of insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting a different result.” - Albert Einstein I didn’t have a great time of things on FM16. I just couldn’t get to grips with the game, which, when coupled with a not too great Villa team; wasn’t exactly a recipe for success. My failures - which were numerous - did teach me a lot of valuable lessons about the way I was playing the game wrong however and I was insistent that I would learn from them and set about FM17 with a plan in mind. So what were my mistakes? Formation - For some reason I’d always started out trying to build a 451/433 hybrid by setting my team up as a 433 (41221) and then trying to force the players to defend as a 451. After spending much time on these forums I realized I had it the wrong way round. Your formation on the tactics screen is how you defend, as such I’d set up in a flat 451 and try and make the players attack like a 433. Team instructions - Cleon’s excellent counter attacking thread on these forums has taught me that less is most certainly more where team instructions are concerned - especially counterattacking. Taking my time - I’m a busy man, when I sit down I want to churn through games. That means highlights on key and the inevitable frustration when I see seemingly random things happen. I vowed to change my approach this year, that means highlights on comprehensive and 2D camera to fully analyst every aspect of my tactic. Players - For years I was used to stumbling across a great formation and filling it with the best players, but i’ve learned the hard way that you just can’t do that anymore on FM. There’s no point playing a counter attacking game where your defence will constantly be under pressure if your centre backs are Micah Richards and Jores Okore. Likewise there’s no point in Gegenpressing if your front man is Rudy Gusted. Instead it’s about horses for courses, getting the right kind of players to suit the tactic I’m trying to implement. “I love it when a plan comes together” - John “Hannibal” Smith Despite dropping down a division I was excited to get my hands on Villa on FM17. After all there’s been a complete overhaul of the squad, one that would seem to play into the hands of my desire to create a counter attacking 451/433 system. After a few seasons of trying to create this system I had a good handle on what was needed to make it work: A strong defensive core - The team will be sitting back deep. That means we’ll be under pressure a lot of the time. As a result strong defenders - both physically and mentally - are a must. In Elphick, Chester and Jedinak I was confident I had the defensive triangle to do just that. In Amavi, Cissoko, and De Laet I also have hardworking fullbacks who can defend and attack in equal measure. Pacey widemen - The wide men really do make this tactic tick. They not only need to be lightning quick to take advantage of the counter, they also need to have a good work ethic, be decent dribblers and capable finishers. I find converted forwards are great here and in Kodjia, Ayew, Adomah and Grealish I was confident I had good options. A hold up man - For O’Neil it was the physicality of John Carew, for Lambert it was the all round game of Benteke. A lot of pressure is put on the lone striker in this formation. They need to hold the ball up and find a way of creating chances whether that’s through skill or sheer physicality. I had Kodjia (a sort of Benteke lite) and Ross McCormack a prove Championship goalscorer who could also create. Again I was happy with what I had to work with. “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” - Benjamin Franklin The key to getting the tactic right this time around was preparation. I needed to carefully think about what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it. I came up with a few key concepts that I wanted my tactic to fulfill. A low block, getting men behind the ball. Keeping the shape at all times, making it hard for the opposition to score. Breaking with pace. Using the flanks. I had an idea of what this might look like in my head but it wasn’t until reading Ö-zil to the Arsenal!’s excellent Wales thread that the plan really cemented. Ö-zil to the Arsenal! talks a lot in that thread about using Structured / Highly Structured team shapes to cause deviation from the baseline tactic. It was a revelation. Previously I had it in my head that I needed to go Flexible or Fluid to encourage the players to break position, but after reading the thread I realized I could do it with Structured using the correct assignment of duties. What I ended up with is was your see below. The formation is pretty standard, a flat 451 in defence. But the key here is using the right duties in midfield in conjunction with the Structured shape to create the 433 / 41221 shape when we were attacking. So let’s look at it in a little more detail. First the set up. I’ve opted for the Counter mentality because, well, duh! I’m trying to build a counter attacking tactic. I chose Structured to ensure the team kept it’s shape, but also so that I could use duties to create the hybrid effect. In terms of Team Instructions I remembered Cleaon’s lessons from The Art of Counter Attacking thread and kept them minimal. I started with Direct Passing, Exploit the flanks to create the dynamic wing-focussed attack I wanted. However this quickly became Exploit the flanks only as aI realized on the counter mentality Direct passing wasn’t doing anything for me. In terms of roles I also kept things very Vanilla. Again this harks back to Cleon’s Counter Attacking thread which opened my eyes to the way in which playmakers can slow down a potential break, and the likes of BWMs can break the defensive organization of my team. What I settled on was: GK (D) - Pretty standard FB (s) - The more defensive of my full backs, tasked with keeping things tight. CB (d) x2 - Again nothing thrilling here, I want them to keep their shape and do the simple things well. WB (s) - Normally I’d go FB here but in Jordan Amavi I have a potent attacking weapon who I wanted to overlap the attacker like Matt Lowton had in Lambert’s Villa. I added Dribble more, run wide with ball, cross more often PIs W (a) - My right winger was a winger. I wanted him to stay wide and run at the defence, creating chances but getting the occasional goal too. On an attack duty (especially on Counter which is quite narrow) I find they make for good auxiliary attackers. The attack duty combined with Structured mentality should also be emphasized, creating the kind of hybrid sideman / forward I wanted in a 451 / 433. B2B (s) - The right central midfielder I decided would be a B2B. There was space for forward runs due to the winger next to him, and with one up front I knew I needed some late arriving support from midfield. CM (d) - In the centre I have a defensive central midfielder. My anchor man, there to make tackles and mop up the danger. Again with a structured mentality his duty will be emphasized, creating depth when we attack which will form a defensive triangle with the two centrebacks. CM (s) - Now I wanted a DLP here but decided a modified CM would do the same things but without attracting the ball. As a result I gave him more risky passes, dribble less, shoot less PIs WM (a) - The other wideman I wanted to offer something different so we weren’t one dimensional. I tweaked the WM role to create a pseudo Inside Forward. It would not only offer me a goal threat but also enable Amavi to overload outside. With the CM (d) to cover and the more conservative CM (s) on that side I was confident I wasn’t over committing. I added Cut inside Pi to get the desired movement. DLF (s) - The striker needed to score goals and play in others, especially without a playmaker or a traditional number 10. With this role they’d hold up the ball, hopefully before playing in one of the sidemen and charging into the box. I also experimented with a CF (s) which worked just as well. “Success is a science; if you have the conditions, you get the result.” - Oscar Wilde. So I had my tactic. Now I had the daunting prospect of a season in the Championship. I didn’t want to overhaul this squad, I quite like it in fact, so I only made one addition in January - a Turkish midfielder who was used whenever Jedinak was suspended. What you see below was achieved without signing wonderkids or underrated stars. So how did we do? Well we won the league, comfortably in fact. We only lost 5 games all season. 2 of those were home and away against Reading who had our number tactically. 1 was at home to Wigan where I’d rested too many players and they scored a wonder goal. Then there were two late on when we were trying to get over the line - both of these were the fault of me rather than my tactics as I took completely the wrong approach to media / team talks. So we won the title with a pretty decent Villa side. Big whoop! But the biggest surprise was how we did it. The tactic worked. It played out as a 433/451 hybrid, we scored from crosses, we attacked down the flanks. But most of all we kept clean sheets. Lots and lots of clean sheets. Over the course of a 46 game season we kept 32 clean sheets. 32! And only conceded 16 goals overall. 16! It was by far and away the best defensive record I’ve ever had on FM and quite frankly a joy to watch. Teams just couldn't break us down and were limited to long shots or half chances. The end result was unsurprisingly the best defence in the league, one that was 23 goals better than our nearest contender. Going forwards the wings were deadly. Player of the Year Kodjia weighed in with goals (19) and assists (10) alike from the left wing, Ayew (despite missing chunks of the season through injury) added 8 goals, and McCormack (again injured) got 17 goals. All in all we finished as 9th top scorers with 61 goals. And I’d say that tally could have been higher had I focussed on developing a Plan B for when teams parked the bus against me. What next? To be honest I just had to share this with you all and thank these forums for playing a massive part in making it happen. I stopped, I stepped back and thought about things logically and it worked. Now we’re Premier League bound. I think the tactic should do pretty well up there as the big teams come at me and leave space in behind. I’ll probably have to strengthen though, but for now I’m just gonna sit here and savour the fruits of my labour.
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