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Few weeks ago I have started a new save with Ajax, trying to replicate the style that Peter Bosz has brought to the young team. I have been playing two seasons now with quite some game fun and success (2 x league champions, 1 x semi-final UEL and in the 2nd season winners of the UEL), however until the recent european matches of Ajax I wasn't quite sure if that high pressing style would also work in real life - but we have seen it can work Total Football in a new realistic way. Therefore I wanted to share my attempt that worked quite well for me. Formation: On paper the typical Ajax formation is a 4-3-3, with a defensive midfielder/controller (a number 6) in front of the back-four and strong focus on wing-play. In ball-posession this quickly becomes a 1-2-3-2-3 (including the goalkeeper), given you 5 lines of players with lots 'diamond' options to pass the ball around. Tactics: The tactics below i am using gets me closest to the Ajax way of playing a setup. Even though Ajax is playing with an Advanced Playmaker (Ziyech) and BtB midfielder (Klaassen), it did not work well for me as these specialist roles were defensively not working out in the transition from ball possession to ball loss. But in the player descriptions below i will try to explain the work arounds i have found for this. More info on this specialist role in combination with Very Fluid mentality can be found here: https://community.sigames.com/topic/295001-how-to-play-fm-a-twelve-step-guide/ Team Instructions I let my team train on these 2 different team instructions: Mentality - Standard / Contain: here im using a less attacking mentality than expected and go for Standard in 'easy' matches, and even tone it down to 'Contain' in tough away games. This does not mean the team is playing defensive football! In contrary i must say, because the player roles are attacking minded the players have a natural tendency to think attacking - having a contain mentality just makes them think more realistic on how to attack, which is where the 'realistic total football' comes out and play! Whats very important to add is that I increase the tempo when i bring the mentality back from Standard to Contain. The reason was mentioned by Johan Cruyff itself, as he found that the best way to come out of pressure from your opponent is to increase the tempo of playing the ball around. Shape - Very Fluid: To make sure the 5 lines play as closes as possible together its obvious that a Very Fluid team shape is the best way to go. Also this shape gets you closest to the concept of total football when pressure has to be put on the opposite players by 4-5 players together. Width - Fairly Narrow: A narrow width makes it easier for the players to return to their defensive position and help each other in hunting the opposition down, making sure they get pressured. It will make the closing down more effective, but also give you better pass completion - especially with the higher tempo very useful. Push Higher up + Offside trap: On max to make the closing down work best Closing down much more: Again on the fullest, only in matches where im already ahead or can see the players are extremely tired i'll scale back Prevent short GK distr.: To put more pressure on the opposition Marking: I leave this off as man-marking makes the defensive vulrenable, but its crucial the defenders and midfield players have decent positioning stats to make it work Get stuck in: Only applied against much stronger opponents (but important to ease of tackling in player instructions once a player gets yellow) Play out of defence: Experienced this works better as it avoids stupid passes from defenders into space. Important though that the defenders have a good composure and passing skills to avoid them getting harassed and loose ball. Pass into space: With inside forwards or wingers luring at the back of the defenders this is a very useful instruction. Only in case the opposition has placed the bus in front of the goal i sometimes remove it to avoid loosing ball too much. Short passing: On short because of the high tempo. Retain possession: When start the match I have this ticked to get the control, when the match is still 0-0 at 60 mins and im having the overhand i'll tick this off to increase tempo and take some more risks Be more expressive: This makes your matches great to watch, as it give your players the ability to use their flair and instinct. I feel that when playing with Ajax this is a must and it helps them to do some unexpected things (and i havent experienced negative sides of this instruction) Work ball into box: In this tactic you will already get a vast amount of chances, therefore i found that it decreases the amount of wasted chances significant by having this ticked. Occasionally i will also use Look for Overlap if im the better team and it helps to overload the opposition defence. Whipped crosses: With the striker and two attacking midfielders often making forward runs it works well with whipped crosses where the ball comes in with more power and curl. Roam from positions: Making the attacks more unpredictable, and again didnt see any negatives occuring when having this on. Players and Positions / Instructions For my first team I have set some requirements on the attribute i think are crucial to make this tactic work best. Im therefore selection the first squad members on the following 14 (whats in a number) key attributes: Technique, Passing, First Touch, Composure, Anticipation, Decisions, Vision, Off The Ball, Positioning, Work Rate, Teamwork, Agility, Acceleration and Determination. I have therefore setup a squad view to help getting a good view on the strengths and weaknesses of the team, and im working with some minimums I require from the players to have. On the player positions I found the following to work best and coherent with each other: SK (S): With the high defensive line a Sweeper Keeper is a must to pick up some dangerous through balls. WB (S): The wingback is best role to make sure the backs push higher up, support the midfield and make sure the wingers are covered. I don't have them overlapping or on attack duty as it becomes very vulnerable and also i want the wingers / inside forwards to dribble and attack as they are more equipped. Additional PI: Cross from the deep BPD (D): Ball-playing as they dare to play directly to wingers, who can then come easily in a one-2-one situation against the opposite back. Additional PI: Dribble more, only if the stats are allowing, but it can help pushing the team further up when the BPD dribbles forward with the ball. DLP (S): The only 'specialist' role, but after testing all roles this one gives the best balance. Only thing im not satisfied with is that he still drops in between the two central defenders from time to time. Im learning each DLP to have 'Gets into opposition area' as preferred move, to give them a push forward. CM (A) (right): On the right sided CM I'm applying a more box-2-box midfielder approach, meaning i take a player with high work rate, teamwork, stamina and positioning. CM (A) (left): After trying the Advanced Playmaker i found that CM (A) actually works better in this setup with very fluid and more expressive team instructions. However to replicate some of the playmaker traits I have 'Dribble more' and 'More risky passes' ticked. W / IF (S): Wingers or inside forwards are crucial in this system (i prefer wingers to avoid cluttering the penalty box). I always choose players with high stats on Dribbling, Acceleration and Crossing. But very important also that they have decent Teamwork and Work Rate stats as the pressure push starts often with them. The Support duty is on as I experienced that this makes them less go into stupid dribbling attempts, trying to pass 3 or 4 players. I have ticked 'Get Further Forward' to get them in more advanced positions (which they lack a bit when they are not on attack duty) DLF (S): I found this role give the best balance of the striker spearheading the attack and dropping slightly deeper, dragging out defenders and making gaps for wingers or the midfielders coming in. Opposition Instructions: Maybe not the first thing to think of when making a winning tactic, but during the first season I found that tweaking did might be the missing link. Currently i have closing down on 'always' for all opposition defenders and defensive midfielders, as this puts the immediate pressure on them when my team looses the ball. When doing this on the whole opposition team I found that it caused some unwanted gaps due to defenders running out of position and through balls where too easy. With Closing Down More ticked in the Team Instruction your team already hassles opponents when they come on your half - therefore adding it to do so on opposite midfielders and attackers becomes too much. This is where the 'realistic' part kicks in, in the total football Training: In pre-season on max 50% match-training focussed on Match Tactics, to get the team familiar with this tactic as fast as possible. After that I switch between Attacking movement or Defensive positioning depending on the advice of the AM. General training I rotate during the season between Attacking (40%), Tactical (30%), Fitness (20%) and Ball-Control (10%). Results with Ajax: 1st season: 1 x Dutch Premier Division, Semi-Final UEL 2nd season: 1 x Dutch Premier Division, Winners UEL Highlights: UEL final against Arsenal, they did not stand a chance.. a great victory in the UEL away against Napoli (1-5!) Another great away win, as this tactic works very well in away games when getting some more space Last league standing, played the last 2 games with youth and lost unfortunately. Download links: Standard: http://www.mediafire.com/file/5ddp025ij77bh14/4-3-3_VM_Narrow_B9A19FDB-0129-459A-8D81-48DCA16E51B4.fmf Contain: http://www.mediafire.com/file/k8phgsqyn172i84/4-3-3_VM_Narrow_-_Contain_57E953EA-FB0A-40E9-8348-8831E7957EE0.fmf
Having got my Weston Super Mare team from the conference south to the Premiership in 9 years, my save had been going really well. I spent pre season building a team I thought capable of surviving the premiership and played plenty of friendlies to get them to gel, get used to the tactics and boost morale. Having never been relegated on FM before, I didn't expect the below to happen! By January transfer window we had 7 points, were clearly going to be relegated, so I sold as many players as possible to reduce the wage bill for next season. Thankfully the board recognise the work done in the previous 9 seasons and haven't sacked me! I'm simply wondering, has anyone ever had a worse season than this, or accumulated fewer points in a season?