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  1. Recent threads have focused on re-creating the tactical styles of some of my favourite teams in real-life and implementing them using the Tactics Creator in Football Manager. This time, I want to try something different. I am interested in developing my approach, taking inspiration from some of the tactical trends we are seeing in modern football. Rather than my usual approach of developing a tactic, I intend to develop a framework where I have a consistent playing style and a flexible structure which I can adapt depending on my squad, and the challenges we face. Playing Style & Structure Key Concepts: Playing Style - overall playing "philosophy" for want of a better word. In Football Manager terms, this is primarily the combination of: Mentality Team Shape Team Instructions Structure - the organisation of a team on the field. In Football Manager terms, this refers to a combination of: Formation Player Role Player Duty Player Instructions Playing Style depends on factors such as: How would you like your team to attack? quick transitions and fast attacks? Attacking wide? Controlled build-up from the back? Playing through the centre? Long balls? Counter attack? Tiki-taka? How would you like your team to defend? Intense pressing? High block? Sit deep and maintain structure? Low-Block? Park the bus? Is your approach to give players an NFL style 'play book' telling them exactly how to play, or the freedom to make decisions? Whilst Structure is determined by: What formations can you play with the players you have available? How would you like to structure your defence / midfield / attack? Do you need a playmaker? A target man? Who is provides width? Who is holding in midfield? Who is making attacking runs? Do you really want to play that Attacking Libero with a Regista and aggressive front-6? ...and no, there's no download link available! In order to understand the difference between Playing Style and Structure, consider teams who line up similarly but employ a different style of play in comparison with teams who employ a similar style of play but line up differently. For example: Alex Ferguson's treble-winning, attacking 4-4-2 at Manchester United in 1999 and Claudio Ranieri's title-winning, counter attacking 4-4-2 at Leicester last season. Similar structure, different playing style. Pep Guardiola's 4-3-3 at Barcelona and his flexible Bayern Munich side or Klopp's use of 4-2-3-1 then 4-3-2-1 and now 4-3-3 or 4-5-1. They maintain a similar playing style but structure their teams differently depending on the squad, opposition etc. Previous threads actually give a few useful, Football Manager based examples: The Cruyff 3-4-3 and Sacchi 4-4-2 employ similar playing styles but structure the teams differently. Sacchi, Invincibiles and Brazil all employ a similar structure but different playing styles. Links: Johan Cruyff's 3-4-3 Diamond Arrigo Sacchi's 4-4-2 Arsene Wenger's Invincibles Brazil's Jogo Bonito style Cult Heroes: Wales at Euro 2016 It's important to understand that Playing Style and Structure go hand-in-hand. Revisiting Jonathan Wilson's quote: My interpretation of this is that 'application' refers to Playing Style, combined with the abilities of your squad and strengths / weaknesses of your opposition. For example: If your playing style is to sit deep, draw the opposition out and counter, you need your structure to give you a solid defensive base but also men forward to counter. If you're playing a quick attacking system then you need numbers in advanced positions, in order to attack quickly. If you prefer a controlled build-up then presence in midfield is essential and you'll need players making attacking runs. Defining a Playing Style We're going to begin with a bit of nostalgia. Whilst playing Football Manager 2015, I experienced something of a tactical 'light-bulb' moment whilst experimenting with the concept of 'universality' having been inspired by the movement away from specialists and towards complete footballers throughout world football. -> Universality in Football Manager 2015 (Very Fluid) The thread never really took off, but the under-lying concept was the basis for my interpretation of Cruyff's 3-4-3 and Sacchi's 4-4-2, both of which really did take off. You'll see that the major breakthrough was developing the playing style, essentially using Very Fluid to organise the team into one unit contributing to all phases of the game and then to balance this with a Standard mentality, moving away from my penchant for attack. In the tactics creator: Summary of the playing style: Very Fluid. Standard mentality. Intense Pressing. Intelligent, technical and hard-working players. The 4-4-2 diamond was nice, devastating in attack but the 4-3-3 was more effective at pressing and really dominated games. Side note: look at that beautiful tactics creator screen.. Won everything there was to win at Arsenal, Ajax and Holland and the legacy continued in 2016 again with Ajax and this time Barcelona. Take a look at the Cruyff 3-4-3 diamond and see the similarity in the playing style, roles and even half of the players. It's largely the same system, with a different formation. The same applies to the Sacchi 4-4-2. The team structure is different but the playing style - very fluid, standard mentality, high pressing and intelligent players - remains the same. This playing style was the real legacy of the Universality thread. The idea that you can take your playing style and apply it to any shape you like to fit your team. Evaluating a Structure - 4-3-3 My favourite club to manage in Football Manager has always been Ajax - as you can probably tell from previous threads! The Ajax team of 1995 is one of my earliest football memories. Players like Seedorf, Rijkaard, Davids, Kluivert, Overmars, the de Boers and van der Sar went on to become legends around Europe as I was growing up. Then, of course, there is the brilliant influence of Dennis Bergkamp at my family's club, Arsenal. Then as I got older and learnt more about football, it turned out that a lot of my preferences about how I enjoy seeing football played stem back to the great Ajax teams of the 70s. With a couple of additions - namely Rajkovic in goal after Cillesson's move to Barca and the versatile Augustinsson on the left flank - this was my starting squad: 4-3-3 has always been my bread & butter, but formation can be anything. When deciding a formation, I have a few rules of thumb: The overall formation should cover the field, allowing you to press effectively - for example, this is why I prefer 4-3-3 to the initial diamond. Solid defensive base, generally 2-3 centre backs and a holding midfield player. Look for a strong presence in the midfield area - generally 3.5 - 4 players in central midfield with the .5 indicating a wide midfielder coming inside. One attacking winger or fullback on each flank providing width and stretching opposition defence. A striker who will act as the first line of defence, pressing and offer movement to get involved in the build-up. Most creative player assigned a Playmaker role. You always have two influences. 1. What can you do with your existing squad? 2. Bigger picture, what are you trying to do overall? In this instance. Characteristics of my squad were better suited to a 4-5-1 variant than the 4-3-3. El Ghazi is a better Winger than Inside Forward. Ziyech is more suitable for a central / playmaker role than an Inside Forward. Augustinsson is an excellent left winger or attacking fullback - great versatility, personality and PPMs. Tete and Diks are great fullbacks but don't offer enough attacking threat to be my main wide players. Klaassen is my best goalscoring threat for movement, composure and finishing. Interested in the real-life movement towards the very fluid 4-5-1 variants, particularly from Klopp and Guardiola. A closer look at the structure of the 4-3-3. Effective pressing shape, off-the-ball. Transition either through the central playmaker, or attacking fullbacks. In attack: Complete Forward movement creates space. Inside Forwards attack the space opened up by the movement. Fullbacks provide width. Central Midfielders support. Deep-lying Playmaker combines playmaking responsibilities with holding the midfield, protecting the Defence. Observation: Fullbacks required to run the length of the field in transition - in both attack and defence - in order to provide width. Even the fastest players in the world would take a few seconds to cover that distance. Gives the opposition valuable time to organise their defence Or - in reverse - valuable time for the opposition to counter-attack Wingers start in a more advanced position so have less ground to cover. Passing the ball is quicker than running. Wide Attackers in the AM-strata means the 4-3-3 is perhaps better suited to a more direct transition, e.g attacking mentality. Pulling wide players back into midfield gives more potential for extra numbers in the midfield. Evolving Structure - 4-1-4-1 What changed? Maintain the strong defensive shape and high pressing. Transition now goes through either the central playmaker or wingers. Wide attackers drop back to Midfield strata start for more control of the centre. In attack, we have re-organised the responsibilities. Complete Forward movement creates space. Central Midfielders now attack the space opened up - one has Attacking duty and the other instructed to get forward more. Wingers now provide the width. Fullbacks provide support. Deep-lying Playmaker combines playmaking responsibilities with holding the midfield, protecting the Defence. Benefits: Quicker transitions: Wingers have less distance to run to provide width. Less open to counter-attacks as the fullbacks are better positioned to cover. My best attacking players - Klaassen and Ziyech - are in more effective attacking positions. We won the league, the UEFA Cup - after drawing Monaco in Champions League qualifying - and the youngsters won the Dutch Cup. The system worked very well. At this point I was 90% happy but still had a few ideas to implement going into the 2017/18 season. Take advantage of Ajax' versatile squad by adapting tactics to opposition weaknesses and punch above our weight in Europe. Namely: vs 4-3-3 vs 4-2-3-1 My second shape is the 3-4-3 diamond which is already very strong against 4-4-2 and it's variants. Upgrade the Playmaker Bazoer is a great player, with even better potential however Vision of 14, decisions of 11 and passing of 13 meant he was yet to reach a level capable of being a playmaker at a club challenging in Europe. Question marks over the Deep-Lying Playmaker (Defend) role being too conservative. Considering splitting holding / playmaking responsibilities. Change the Playmaker's position on the field to exploit gaps in the opposition formation. Flexible Structure - Playing against the 4-3-3 It's difficult to talk about the 4-3-3 without thinking of Barcelona - in this case, my opponents in the Champions League, Quarter Final. From Pep's all-conquering, to Lucho's more direct treble-winners they're one of the most famous advocates of 4-3-3. This is how they line up: In the majority of leagues, 4-3-3 is one of the most common formations you'll come up against and there's a reason it is so popular - it's bloody effective. The 4-3-3 consists of a back four, midfield trio and three attackers. In this case, one of the most devastating combinations of attackers in history. Tactically, the main challenge of facing the 4-3-3 is the midfield trio. Structured in a '1-2' triangle consisting of a DMC and two MCs, this trio offers three men behind the ball when defending and two offensive players when attacking. As we have said before - formations are neutral. The football field is a big space and it's impossible to cover perfectly with 10 outfield players. Given the lack of player in the AMC position, the most useful - in my opinion - space against the 4-3-3 formation is between the opposition midfield and their attack. Utilising this space has a few advantages: It allows us to build-up play from deep, through the centre of the field. A player in this position has passing options ahead of him which allows us to keep moving forward. As the opposition midfield press, they open up spaces further up the field. Wide players occupying deeper positions between the opposition fullbacks and attackers should generally be useful passing options. This is why I mentioned upgrading Bazoer and re-thinking the playmaker role. Meet Stefano Sensi, my new playmaker. Possibly my favourite player of Football Manager 2017 so far. Sensi is intelligent, creative, dictates tempo, technically gifted and unpredictable - high flair, plays 1-2s or long passes. How does he fit in? What's new? Split the holding midfield responsibilities from the playmaker role. Sensi comes in as the Playmaker Bazoer advances to an MC(D) role, maintaining his role as holding midfielder. Ziyech moves out to the left midfield spot in a 'free role', acting as an auxiliary midfielder - roaming from position and getting forward more. Augustinsson drops back to full-back but takes on an attacking role in order to provide width. My thoughts on the deep Playmaker roles: Both Deep-Lying Playmaker roles are similar. Both static, holding position and no forward movement. Roaming Playmaker makes more lateral movement. Instructed to roam but fewer forward runs. Has the option to move into channels and dribbles by default. Regista is the Pirlo-esq role, very mobile and slightly more direct. Passing range is increased and instructed to roam with optional forward runs and dribbling. Tough call between the roaming playmaker and regista but I prefer the lateral movement, as there's more time and space in deeper positions to pick out runners and I didn't necessarily want the more direct style accompanying the regista. If there's an issue with the Playmaker not getting into advanced enough positions, I was ready to switch to Regista + get forward more, dribbling and shorter passing PIs. Playing style remains the same. In-Game Analysis Ajax v Barcelona, Champions League Quarter Final Flexible Midfield structure and Pressing Here you can see Barcelona building-up from deep through Mascherano. Sensi and Bazoer combine to form a double-pivot shielding the defence and covering Rakitic and Rafinha. With the cover from the double-pivot, Klaassen leads the press with the rest of the team cutting off passing options. Defending with a 4v3 at the back and a 2v2 on each flank preventing overloads. Dolberg working hard as the first line of defence. Build-up through the Middle Veltman is under pressure from Suarez but lack of support from his team mates means Veltman can bypass him easily. Sensi is in plenty of space with 6 passing options available ahead of him or - preferably - advancing with the ball until he meets pressure. Bazoer has dropped into space providing an easy passing outlet, should Sensi hit trouble. El Ghazi and Ziyech are both in space on the flanks. Width and passing options give us a good platform to build. Sensi advancing into Midfield One of the advantages of chasing a more aggressive playmaker role was that Sensi could advance into midfield and transition into attack rather than just circulating possession. As the Barcelona midfield start to press, this opens space for the further up the field: Bazoer offers a simple, easy option and covers against counter-attacks. Klaassen is wide open in an advanced midfield position. Ziyech has come inside and is using the space ahead of Bazoer. Dolberg drops deep to get involved with the build up. El Ghazi and Ziyech are wide and stretching the defence. Transitioning Attacks El Ghazi has attacked down the right-hand side but been outnumbered so needed an outlet to retain possession in-field. Sensi - this time well in the Barcelona half - again in plenty of space. Sensi has time to control the ball and either advance himself or pick out a passing option. Ziyech has gone forward too early here. Red area is where I'd want him. Bazoer is deeper, once again, offering a simple passing option and cover against the counter-attack. We won this game 1-0 with 60% possession and was probably the performance of the season. At this stage, the squad was nowhere near Barcelona so we really punched above our weight. Unfortunately lost the 2nd leg at the Nou Camp, getting knocked out on aggregate but gives us a real platform to build on next season. Flexible Structure - Playing against the 4-2-3-1 When I think of the 4-2-3-1, Borussia Dortmund - in this case my opponents in the Champions League, Second Round - spring to mind. First with Klopp and now with Tuchel, they've been very successful with the 4-2-3-1 for a number of years now. This is how they line up. 4-2-3-1 is an aggressive formation consisting of a back-4, double pivot midfield, playmaker and 3 attackers. One of the challenges of playing against a 4-2-3-1 is that you can easily find yourself overrun at the back by the 4-man attacking unit but - once again - formations are neutral. This is both a strength and a weakness. With 4-players in the attacking strata, the double-pivot in midfield must be reasonably conservative in order to maintain balance. Dortmund kindly illustrate my point here, fielding Ginter and Weigl - both conservative, holding-type players. Essentially, the 4-2-3-1 naturally divides itself into an two units: Attacking unit - attacking midfielders and striker. Defensive unit - defence and double-pivot. Note: The fullback role is always unknown. With the presence of the double-pivot they could theoretically bomb forward, or sit back and form a solid defence. Compare this with our approach of having the entire team attack and defend as a unit. This is where I see an opportunity to gain advantage. My approach is to isolate & bypass the attacking unit and then to stretch and draw out the defence, then attack the space that creates. No drastic changes but you'll notice 3 structural changes designed to exploit some of the weaknesses of the 4-2-3-1. Bazoer - our holding midfielder - drops to Defensive Midfield (Defend). Why? The central midfield structure in a 4-2-3-1 is a '2-1' shape consisting of MC-MC-AMC where it's a good bet that the AMC is the playmaker so Bozoer drops to DMC to nullify his threat. Also, it's now a very crowded area for me to play my playmaker. van Ginkel comes in as an all-rounder in midfield. Why? Ginter and - particularly - Wiegl can control a game. Van Ginkel is a hard-working player who will put them under pressure. Ziyech is now my assigned the Playmaker role. Why? Ziyech is my most creative and technical player and is positioned in the biggest gap in the 4-2-3-1. Combined with minor tweaks to the playing style: We no longer play from defence because a simple ball directly into midfield bypasses the entire opposition attacking unit and leaves their defence exposed. We no longer focus passing through the centre as there is more space on the flanks. During the match I reduced my defensive line to standard to counter the incredible pace in the Dortmund attack. In-Game Analysis Dortmund v Ajax, Champions League Second Round Isolating the Attacking unit Here is an example of Ginter trying to build up play from his deep midfield position. Back four plus Bazoer creates a 5v4 advantage over the attacking 4. Despite Shurrle cutting inside to create space and Guerreiro playing an attacking role, the attacking unit looks isolated. Klaassen is putting Ginter under pressure whilst the rest of the team cut off passing options. Bypassing the Attacking unit Riedewald finds Ziyech after intense pressure from Dortmund's famous intense pressing. One pass has taken 4 Borussia Dortmund players out of the game. Ziyech has the ball with space to advance into with runs from team-mates giving Dortmund difficult decisions: They could hold their shape, in which case Ziyech advances unopposed into a dangerous attacking space. The fullback could press Ziyech but would leave the Augustinsson making an attacking run unopposed. Either centre back could press but that'd leave Dolberg - one of the most dangerous strikers in Europe, at the moment - space to exploit. One could press and the left-sided defenders drift across but that'd leave El Ghazi open on the right wing. Overrunning the Defensive unit Ziyech is again exploiting the space on the flanks but this time faces intense pressing. This time Dembele has dropped deeper to press, meanwhile the other 3 from the attacking unit look uninterested in helping the defence. We still have 4v3 in the event of a counter-attack. The Dortmund right-back has been drawn to press Ziyech leaving wide-open space for Dolberg and Augustinsson to attack. Weigl has also been drawn across from his midfield spot, leaving van Ginkel open in the centre. Klaassen has taken a very threatening attacking position in the channel between right back and his centre back. El Ghazi is again stretching the defence, preventing them from drifting across without leaving him space to attack. The pass-map also how influential Ziyech was, playing in the gaps of the Dortmund 4-2-3-1. Ajax went into this game as underdogs and came out 6-3 winners on aggregate. This game, the away leg finished 3-0 and the home leg was an epic 3-3- draw where we didn't quite to such a good job of isolating the attacking unit! ================================================================================================= Hopefully some of the information presented in this thread is useful to the rest of the community and inspires some interesting discussions. One final point for those who are here to ask advice from the community. Remember that football is highly subjective. A question like, "how can I play like Jurgen Klopp?" is difficult to answer as my interpretation of Jurgen Klopp's approach will probably be different to yours, which will probably be different to the next guy or girl's. You'll get a far better response by defining the characteristics you'd like to implement, and having a go. It's much easier to help someone with a question like, "this is what I'm trying to do... this is what I've done... and when I'm playing games I'm facing challenges x, y & z". My best advice would be to apply the advice that you read from around the community, then play and experiment, don't give up too soon and ask plenty of questions to supplement what you're seeing in the match-engine. Thank you for reading!
  2. Welcome to the latest instalment in a series of Football Manager tactical recreations based on some of the most entertaining football teams of all-time. Sitting in Barcelona as I type, it is impossible to ignore the the football culture and history associated with the iconic FC Barcelona. After last week's result in Paris and Pep Guardiola's stop-start season at Manchester City, this is perhaps not the most fashionable subject but - to me - Pep Guardiola's Barcelona team was certainly the best I have witnessed and arguably the best of all-time. Their iconic playing style and the best player of all-time - Thierry Henry [/sarcasm] - combined with the supporting cast of Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, Alves, Busquets, Pique, Puyol etc., etc. makes them an interesting prospect for this type of discussion. If you have yet to read previous discussions, I recommend starting starting with the previous threads in order to fully understand the concepts I am talking about: Johan Cruyff's 3-4-3 Diamond Arrigo Sacchi's 4-4-2 Arsene Wenger's Invincibles Brazil's Jogo Bonito style Cult Heroes: Wales at Euro 2016 Whilst Barcelona may not be the biggest challenge - and I am aware many have asked about lower-quality sides - Guardiola's tactics offer us the chance to discuss areas we have not yet covered comprehensively. Mentality - Team Mentality v Team Shape v Player Duty. Specialist Roles - famously the Half-back and the False 9. Multiple Playmakers and how to differentiate between them. Retraining Players, including Player Traits. In addition, Messi - in my opinion the best player of all-time - in the prime of his career. Let's enjoy his ability whilst he's here. I think it may be quite a few iterations of FM before we see another player like him. Resources on Pep Guardiola's Barcelona GPS - Analysis: Pep Guardiola's Barcelona Tom Payne Football: Analysis of Guardiola's Barcelona (2 parts) Zonal Marking Team's of the Decade: Barcelona 2008/09 Spielverlagerung - 2011 CL Final: FC Barcelona v Manchester United Zonal Marking: Barcelona 3 - 1 Manchester United Sky Sports: Pep Documentary Theory Once again - using the excellent analysis from Spielverlagerung - this is the shape we are trying to create. In case you have been living in a cave, this is the starting line-up from the 2011 Champions League Final where Barcelona faced Manchester United. Barcelona winning 3-1 and Sir Alex Ferguson describing Barca's passing as a "carousel" in a game widely regarded as one of the defining games of Guardiola's Barcelona. Lined up in a 4-3-3 or 2-3-2-3 formation - defence, midfield and attack highly integrated with each other. Playing style clearly inspired by Dutch Total Football and Cruyff's influence at the club. Guardiola once said, "Cruyff build the cathedral. It is up to us to maintain it". Highly creative, free-flowing football. Focus on intelligent, technically gifted players. Thierry Henry describes Pep Guardiola's playing style as 3 Ps: Position - Juego de Posición. Team is structured into triangles with players between the lines, giving the player in possession options. Busquets drops deep, central defenders spread wide and the wing backs push forward to create numerical superiority building up from the back in what's known as la Salida Lavolpiana. Messi also drops deep, linking up with Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets creating a diamond in midfield. Wide Forwards stay wide during build up, stretching opposition defence and creating space for creative players in midfield then given licence to cut inside when the ball hits the final 3rd. Possession - don't say tiki-taka. Controlling possession and moving the opposition, to create weaknesses elsewhere. One of the most technically gifted teams in history. Dual playmakers in central midfield - Xavi acting as the heartbeat of the team playing deeper and recycling possession, whilst Iniesta is more advanced, creating chances and linking with the attack. Pressure. Attackers leading the pressing. Pressing as a unit. High block defensive line controlling space. In Football Manager 2017 There are a lot of rather sophisticated - and potentially complicated - tactical concepts here, but we actually don't need to deviate too far from the playing style we have already discussed. Last time out we discussed the concept of Playing Style and Structure. Let's now apply that concept, to the points we outline above. Playing Style Playing style is going to be more evolution than revolution. We have already mentioned that Guardiola's style is heavily influenced by Cruyff and the Dutch school of Total Football. We can use playing style to create: Highly creative, free slowing football. Team working together, attacking and defending as a unit. Possession orientated game-plan, short but positive passing. Higher Defensive Line & Pressing. Team Shape: Very Fluid Surprise, surprise. Hello, old friend. If you've read previous threads, this will not be a surprise. Very fluid gives us the creative, free-flowing football and ensures the entire team attacks and defends as a unit. Mentality: Control The main evolution to playing style. Moving from Standard to a Control mentality offers several benefits: Higher collective mentality. Quicker tempo. More width. Higher defensive line. More aggressive closing down. With a just a handful of Team Instructions we are able to create the playing style we want. Team Instructions: More Closing Down - has the knock on effect of increasing tempo and defensive line. Play Out of Defence - shortens the individual passing instructions for my defensive players. Shorter Passes - shortens passing across the team and lowers tempo. Retain Possession* - further shortens passing. Can further decrease tempo but doesn't when combined with More Closing Down. Getting pretty minimal now, which I am very happy with. As outlined above Team Instructions usually have knock on effects and I think this causes a lot of problems. You can easily add loads and lose track of what you've changed. Keep it simple until you know what your doing, and even then keep it simple. * Retain possession is a controversial subject. Team Structure The most important thing about Playing Style and Team Structure is that they complement each other. In addition, we can use Team Structure to re-create: Team structured into triangles with players between the lines, giving the player in possession options. Busquets dropping deep, central defenders spread wide and the wing backs push forward to create numerical superiority building up from the back in what's known as la Salida Lavolpiana. Messi also dropping deep, linking up with Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets creating a diamond in midfield. Wide Forwards stay wide during build up, stretching opposition defence and creating space for creative players in midfield then given licence to cut inside when the ball hits the final 3rd. Dual playmakers in central midfield - Xavi acting as the heartbeat of the team playing deeper and recycling possession, whilst Iniesta is more advanced, creating chances and linking with the attack. In previous threads we have discussed how Very Fluid team shape means that individual mentalities will deviate minimally from team mentality - if you attack, everyone attacks. If you defend, everyone defends. Control is a reasonably aggressive mentality - more aggressive then Standard, but less aggressive than Attack or Overload - so my Team Structure must balance that. A second consideration is that in order to have Busquets dropping back and my centre backs spread wide, firstly he must be in the Half-Back role but also - due to a glitch in the match engine - my fullbacks must be in the wingback strata, otherwise my central defenders won't spread wide. This means that we have two important challenges which we need to balance out: We have increased mentality across the team. Our hand is forced into an aggressive Formation. Mentality is probably up there with Team Shape as the cause of the most confusion for a lot of people, but - in my opinion - it is actually incredibly simple. ========================================================================================== What is mentality? Mentality is mentality. Mentality describes perfectly what it does. It's probably safe to assume that most people reading this have - at some point - played football or some kind of sport. Now, think about your mentality when playing and how you act differently. If you're an attacking player, you're more likely to be passing the ball forward, more directly towards goal, take up more advanced positioning and make more attacking runs. As a defensive player, you're more likely to take up a conservative position on the field and your passing, movement and general play will effect that. Then of course there is everything in between, and extremes at both ends - all out attack or holding on to a 1-goal lead in the last minute of the Cup Final. In Football Manager a player's mentality is reflected in a hugely-informative[/sarcasm] green bar, tucked away in the player instruction screen. If you're numerically minded - like me - @GreenTriangle put a helpful spreadsheet together of the 'under the hood' values, reminiscent of the old, slider systems. Mentality is determined by: Team Mentality - increases or decreases mentality across the board. Team Shape - determines how far individual mentalities deviate from the team. Player Duty - specifically duty, not player role. Position Player Duty is relative primarily to Team Mentality, but also Team Shape. Team Mentality determines whether your team is attacking, defensive, somewhere in-between or either extreme. A player's Duty, determines whether their responsibility is to attack, defend or support within that team mentality. Then Team Shape determines how far a player's Duty will make their individual Mentality deviate from the Team Mentality. Structured systems have more deviation, whereas more Fluid systems are more of a unit. For example, not all MC(A)s are created equal - in fact, differences can be large. In an Structured, Attacking system the MC(A) mentality is 17 / 20 where as in a Very Fluid / Defensive system that mentality is reduced to 8 / 20. In real football terms that's the difference between, "we're going to play an attacking system, everyone's got their own roles but you're the spearhead" and "we need to defend as a unit, attack when you can but be very careful". The challenge of going from a Standard mentality to a Control mentality is that - across the entire team - mentalities increase by 20-30%. This is a horrendous interface for analysing this, but given the centre of the bar is Neutral mentality at a basic level we can see that in a Control mentality with Very Fluid shape, Duties take the following effect: Defend duty: Slightly below neutral - if neutral is 50-50, they're 55-45 in favour of being conservative. In real football terms, players with a Defend duty will be slightly more conservative than neutral, but only just and higher than a typical defender. They'll be involved with build up, playing pro-active football but remain reasonably conservative. Support duty: Slightly above neutral - if neutral is 50-50, they're 60-40 in favour of being positive. In real football terms, players with a Support duty will be slightly more positive than neutral. They'll be playing positive football, more inclined to more the ball forwards as opposed to side-ways and support attacks yet remain reasonably sensible. Attack duty: Pretty comprehensively attacking. Looks like 75-25 in favour of attacking. In real football terms, players with an Attack duty mean business. They'll be strongly inclined to attack - not quite at all costs, but pretty heavily - the ball will be going forwards at goal and they'll be looking to score. ========================================================================================== Formation, Player Roles and Duties: If I was to be 100% accurate, I would perhaps skew my wing backs roles to create the Abidal / Alves roles to something along these lines, however I just do not have a player for the Abidal role at the moment. Not sure this represents anything overly groundbreaking here. Only one falling off his chair at this point is probably @Guimy at the sight of my first Strikerless system - of which I'll explain more detail shortly - otherwise, I'd be fairly surprise if anyone had not seen or thought of similar systems before. In comparison to previous systems we are using a lot more Support roles and fewer - but more potent - Attack roles. The wide players are the main difference between this and my last 4-3-3, moving from Attack to Support. For both Wing Backs and Inside Forwards - outside of mentality - the changes are negligible. IF(A) is hard coded to Get Forward More. IF(S) doesn't automatically Get Forward More, but has the option to. IF(S) will also automatically play More Risky Passes. WB(A) automatically Gets Forward More, Run Wide With Ball, Dribble More, Cross More & from Byline. WB(S) automatically Gets Forward More & everything else is optional. Complete Wing Back (Support) has the mentality of the WB(S) but the instructions of the WB(A) plus Roam From Position (which apparently = Complete, to SI). Player Instructions: GK: Sweeper Keeper (Support): Distribute to Centre BacksDCR: Ball-Playing Defender (Defend): N/ADCL: Ball-Playing Defender (Defend): N/AWBR: Complete Wing Back Right (Attack / Support): N/ADMC: Half-Back Defend (Defend): N/A WBL: Wing Back Left (Defend / Support): N/AMCR: Deep-Lying Playmaker (Support): N/AMCL: Advanced Playmaker (Attack): Roam from PositionAMR: Inside Forward Right (Support): Get Further Forward & Stay WiderAMC: Shadow Striker (Attack): Roam From PositionAML: Inside Forward Left (Support): Get Further Forward & Stay Wider Lionel Messi & the False 9 role The first of my joker cards In the Football Manager Tactics Creator we are spoilt with a number of remarkably similar Roles for Strikers / Attacking Midfielders. Let me begin by saying that - to me - the Role is entirely plastic. The most important things are: Position - DMC, MC, MCR, AMC etc. Duty - Defend, Support, Attack. Are they a playmaker? Movement - hold position, get forward, roaming, wide, cutting in etc. Other PIs - crossing, shooting, hold up the ball etc. Lionel Messi is probably the best player I have seen since Ray Parlour and he is famous for the False 9 role. In Football Manager, the False 9 role is represented as: Key points: Striker position. Support role. Move into Channels, Risky Passes and Dribbling all hard coded. Option to Roam from Position. However I opted to go for the Shadow Striker role, which is represented as: The roles are similar. Lots of movement, dribbling, creative, but we can see there is a key difference: The False 9 starts in the striker position and moves away from the goal, creating space for others. The Shadow Striker starts deeper in the AMC position, but aggressively attacks the space ahead of him. The role you chose will depend on the way you see Messi and we probably all see things slightly differently. To me, Messi is way more the latter - he's deep, he links with midfield, draws defenders towards him and attacks the space. Looking at his goal record and watching some of his goals I would be advocating an Attacking mentality all day long. Squad Development & Player Profiles There is a reason I left the tactics screen above without a team selected. Whilst our Team Structure and Playing Style may have been reasonably vanilla in comparison after previous threads. Squad development is an area we can throw in a couple more joker cards and hopefully make it worthwhile reading. A common misconception is that particular tactics will instantly turn no-hopers into world beaters. Unfortunately - whilst there are always tactics which will optimise what you have - until SI implement a "Play Like Messi" instruction, sticking Per Mertesacker up front and calling him a False 9 is not going to make him play like Messi (but maybe Peter Crouch?). Whilst many are admirably grafting away, gradually turning their lower league team into world-beaters I have been having a whale of a time taking one of the best squads on the game and throwing £280m at it whilst shipping out £230m of dead-wood or mis-fits. Squad - 2017/18 Season Best squad I've ever had. Bar none. Couple more joker cards. Starting XI Couple of points of interest here: Messi, Iniesta, Neymar, Coutinho, Dybala and Suarez all in the same starting XI. 6 players playing in retrained positions. Apologies for the confusion of: Neymar in the Messi role. Messi in the Iniesta role. Iniesta in the Xavi role. Yes, that's Philippe Coutinho at right wing back. Xavi & Iniesta: Let's talk about Playmakers Last time out we looked at the differences between our options for Player Roles - Regista, Roaming Playmaker, Deep-Lying Playmaker, etc. This time let's think about the player performing the role. To me - regardless of role - world-class playmakers must be strong in two key areas: Technical ability - Technique, First Touch, Passing. Intelligence - Vision, Decisions, Anticipation, Composure. Plugging these attributes into a Player Search Filter with a 17 minimum, for elite level performers gives us: The original triumvirate - Messi, Iniesta & Xavi - plus Özil, Pirlo and Totti. Average age is very high - only Özil and Messi below 30, 3 players over-35. Players with widely differing styles - Pirlo to Xavi to Özil - have remarkably similar core attributes. When building a new team, my instinct is always to find a young player with potential and a reasonable attribute profile, tutor, give game time and let them grow into the role. In keeping with Barcelona's ideology, I attempted the same with Samper and Aleña but they are limited from reaching elite-level by their potential. Xavi and Iniesta are both legendary midfielders, absolutely at the top of their game. Not only their intelligence and technical ability, but also their experience allowing them to exhibit total control over games. This is why I opted for experience. Addressing the second point - how do we differentiate playmakers from each other with such similar attributes? Player role and how they are utilised tactically. Auxiliary playmaker attributes - particularly Team Work & Flair. Team work determining how likely they are to create chances for themselves vs team mates. High across the board but lowest in Messi, who happens to have the best goalscoring record of the group. Flair being the ability to create a moment of magic and do the unexpected. High for all but Xavi who was famous for his simple approach. Non-Playmaking specific strengths - dribbling, set pieces, finishing, strength, work rate etc. Inherent characteristics - preferred foot, (to an extent) size). Player Traits. Moving Iniesta into the Xavi role Xavi was undoubtedly one of the most intelligent and technically gifted midfielders of all-time and the heart-beat of Pep Guardiola's Barcelona. Xavi's role as a playmaker was more that of a conductor - controlling and recycling possession, switching play, connecting the entire team. Representing Xavi's role in Football Manager Either Deep-lying Playmaker (Support) or Roaming Playmaker (Support) depending on whether you're able to hold control of the midfield or need to move to find space. Incredible intelligence and technical ability. Xavi's traits: Comes Deep to Get Ball. Plays One-Twos. Dictates Tempo. Avoids Weaker Foot. Right Footed. In comparison, here is Iniesta at the beginning of the game: We can see, he's already got the intelligence and the technical ability but his traits are very direct. As a result, playing in the deeper role, he's going to try to directly create chances from deep rather than perform the controlling role we are looking for. Profile after 2-seasons moulding his traits by: Stop playing killer balls. Start dropping deeper to get the ball. Start playing one-twos. Physical stats have began to decline sharply but by maintaining his high level of ability by carefully managing his game-time and training he has become more intelligent and further improved his technical ability. Moving Messi into the Iniesta role Iniesta's role in Guardiola's Barcelona was that of a more advances playmaker, linking midfield with attack and creating chances. Representing Iniesta's role in Football Manager: Advanced Playmaker (Attack). Incredible technical ability and intelligence. Iniesta's traits: Tries Killer Balls Often. Dictates Tempo. Switches Ball to Other Flank. Looks for pass rather than attempting to score. Either footed. Messi has a phenomenal profile. He would be the best in the World in most attacking roles. In this case, development was simply: Retrain as a Central Midfielder. Tried but failed to Develop Weaker Foot - I believe due to maxing out his CA vs PA. The idea of Messi playing in midfield, coming deep to get the ball and then moving forward aggressively with 3 world-class attacking options ahead of him or going himself is - quite frankly - devastating. Neymar playing the Messi role In the 2016/17 season, my attack was structured like this: My scouts rating Neymar as a similar level of ability to Messi by the end of the season and - whilst performing very well - not quite reaching full-potential on the field playing wide right. Like Messi under Guardiola, Neymar moved central - initially as an experiment - and absolutely exploded. Messi dropped deeper into the midfield playmaker role and Cesc moved on to PSG for a modest profit after a very successful yet brief 3rd stint at the club. Coutinho playing the Dani Alves role Dani Alves is a special player. Wonderful Brazilian style attacking wing back. All round football ability - people have even called to see him in midfield. Solid defensive ability, which developed over time. Flair, work rate and fitness are inherent to his overall game. Ahead of the 2016/17 season I had a big decision to make. I had the option to sign Özil - as we have already identified, one of the few elite level playmakers capable of the Iniesta role perfectly - or Coutinho. But I couldn't sign them both due to financial constraints. Coutinho edged it for a few of reasons: Time required to retrain Coutinho meant I wanted him early, whereas maybe I could get Özil later. Scarcity of players with flair, work rate, fitness, a good right foot and the attacking ability to play right wing back. Availability of Cesc Fabregas as a cheaper alternative to Özil. Coutinho's progress has been gradual. It took the entire first season to reach Accomplished at right wing back and has not reached natural after two seasons. Attacking threat, technical ability, all-round footballing ability, fitness and intelligence come ready made whilst defensive ability is improving gradually. ========================================================================================== Match Analysis You join me for the 2018 Champions League Final - the ultimate El Clásico. Having beaten Real Madrid - once again - to La Liga and put two big scores on them in the League, they were out for revenge. Zinidine Zidane is still in charge has actually had two very strong campaigns despite losing out on the trophies. Perhaps under pressure for his job if it doesn't go his way. 4-1-4-1 is a bit of a surprise as Real Madrid have heavily - and successfully - used 4-1-2-3 all season. The big money acquisition of Eden Hazard has pushed Karim Benzema onto the bench, moving Ronaldo centrally. Ronaldo has thrived centrally in the 4-1-2-3 - hitting just under 30 league goals - but I'll be looking to ask questions of him with less support in the 4-1-4-1, trying to cut off supply and isolate him. 4-1-4-1 offers brilliant defensive coverage but the challenge is supporting the striker. You'll notice that in my 4-1-4-1 my striker is on Support and midfield runners rush forward. In Hazard, Kroos, Kovacic and Bale, Real Madrid have runners, but I'd imagine Ronaldo in an attack duty and his traits will drive him further forward - will we be able to isolate him and then exploit the space left by the midfield runners? Analysis Without the Ball Key Instructions / Attributes: Very Fluid - attacking and defending as a unit, forwards mentality is closer to team mentality meaning they will lead the press. Control - pushes defensive line, closing down and mentality - across the board - higher. Support duties - ensures my Inside Forwards and Wing Backs are track back and mitigate their aggressive starting positions. Work rate, determination, stamina, team work. Real Madrid attempting to build up play from deep. De Vrij advancing with the ball after a Real goal kick. Pressing structure I've been using for a few years now: Front 3 lead the press, hassling the opposition back 4, disrupting building up play and - ideally - forcing a long ball. A midfield wall consisting of WB - MC - MC - WB pressuring the opposition midfield and shielding the defence. Defensive triangle DC - DMC - DC outnumbering opposition attack. 'Busquets zone' protecting the centre of the field. Thinner dashed lines show the distances between the WB and the centre back behind and the wide forward ahead - a particular concern building this tactic. Note: in a standard mentality we use more pressing TIs - Higher Line, Close Much More, Tight Marking, etc. Using Control, we simply use Close Down More and notice how advanced we are. Already a risk, any higher would be overkill. Ideally the "Sweeper" Keeper would "sweep" more, but I can't make that happen. Real Madrid handicapping themselves by dropping Casemiro at DM into the defensive line (to aid build up) but failing to spread the defenders. Look at how close Casemiro is to Varane. Effectively taken himself out of the game, allowing us an extra man advantage - see Busquets. Low Block Real Madrid in a more advanced position, attempting to build an attack. Pressure on both the player making and receiving the pass. Wing backs and wide forwards have both adopted deeper, defensive positions creating a compact 4-1-4-1. We have a 4-man defensive line of WB - DC - DC - WB with Coutinho advancing to put pressure on Hazard. Busquets is shielding, again holding that vital position ahead of the defence and cutting out any passing option to Ronaldo. Alba is tucking in. Bale does have quite a lot of space, but with the ball on the other side of the field it'll take a while to reach him. Alba is well positioned to track a dangerous run at the far post. Wide forwards replace wing backs in a 4-man midfield screen. Neymar tracking way back creating a 3v3 on the opposition midfield, leaving Busquets free again. Real Madrid playing conservatively, neither their full backs or central midfielders making a run leaving Hazard, Ronaldo and Bale outnumbered. Analysis in-Possession Deep Build Up Play: Salida Lavolpiana Starting from a goal-kick, Barcelona attempt to build an attack from deep. La Salida Lavolpiana Busquets drops deep, between Pique and Romagnoli. Pique and Romagnoli spread wide - in this case, Pique draws Ronaldo with him. Wing backs push forward, creating a 3-4-3 shape. Messi and Iniesta drop deeper to offer passing options - in this instance, Iniesta is marked but Messi is open. Busquets is unchallenged and can progress with the ball, drawing out a defender to create more space for Iniesta and Messi to play through the middle. Suarez and Dybala retain their width, stretching the opposition defence. Neymar free to roam from position to create a diamond with Iniesta, Messi and Busquets, find a pocket of space and/or make an attacking run. Neymar is pulling the Real Madrid defence forward leaving lots of space behind. We have technical players with space and time to play a pass. We have very dangerous attacking runners in Dybala, Suarez and Neymar. Iniesta pulling the strings - Heartbeat of the Team Not normally one for the stats - as @Cleon pointed out in his Art of Possession thread, stats are often calculated differently - but Iniesta set some hit some stand-out achievements pulling the strings in his new role. 92% pass completion over the course of the season. Averaged nearly 75 passes per game. Completed 125 passes against Real Madrid in the Champions League final. Watch highlights: Messi - the Playmaker Over the course of his career, Messi has been a winger, an inside forward, False 9 and a playmaker. As the best footballer of his generation, he would be the best in the world in almost any attacking role. There are a couple of advantages of playing him in midfield. More involvement, receiving the ball earlier. More time and space. Passing options ahead of him, rather than behind. Receiving the ball from Iniesta and Busquets deep, Messi turns and runs at the defence. Almost anything could happen here. As we hit the final 3rd, the wide forwards - Suarez and Dybala - have cut inside. Wing backs drive forward providing width. Neymar has options for different attacking runs and space in behind the defence to attack. Devastating. The concern with Messi in midfield is his work-rate but he actually covered more ground than anyone in the league. Neymar - the new Attacking Spearhead Messi dropping deeper to take on a midfield playmaker role opened a space at the top as the spearhead of the team. Neymar - like Messi many years before him - moved inside from his wing taking up the "False 9" role, and never looked back. Watch highlights: Achievements Won the La Liga, Copa del Rey, Champions League treble. Completed an unbeaten season in all competitions. Broke the La Liga goalscoring and point scoring record with 143 goals and 102 points. Played beautiful football. Thank you & GoFundMe contributions So far the response to these threads and discussions generated have been absolutely phenomenal so once again I wanted to thank everyone for contributing as I have really enjoyed it. A couple of people have suggested they'd like to contribute financially to support the series so I have set up a GoFundMe page - Football Manager Analysis. I'd like to be 100% clear that these articles are completely free and will always continue to be. Contributions are simply supporting the work that's been done so far, if you've enjoyed them. As I am sure you can appreciate - whilst I love writing them - a lot of time & effort goes into these. Any contributions are very much appreciated. If we reach the conservative goal of £100m I am going to sign Nicklas Bendtner. I am going to finish by saying that - for those who have read a long so far - I think we have now talked through pretty much all of the tools you'd need to build your own system, if you have a different inspiration - for example Bielsa, Klopp, Pochettino. Please shout if there is anything you feel lacking and I will include in future threads. Enjoy
  3. BACKGROUND I am in my third season now in the game. I started as Everton and I had 2 wonderful seasons with the Toffees. During my stint there, I won the FA Cup, Community Shield, Carabao Cup and the Europa League. After I won the Europa League, my reputation soared and ‘big’ clubs began to offer me interviews. I would love to stay at Everton, I love them, but we’re not as rich and reputable as the likes United or City. Even our star players see us as a stepping stone albeit finishing 2nd in the league. Hence, when AS Monaco came calling, I decided to leave and made the step up myself! TACTICAL JOURNEY I have played FM since CM 4 and what a journey I have been through since then. I started off by using ‘plug and play’ tactics, but then I found this forum. The Tactics, Training & Strategies Discussion is my go to every time. I read countless of threads and guidelines then I started to create my own tactics. I wasn’t very good initially, but overall I did okay. I think. The only formation that I have ever use is the one without wingers. My favourite is the 4-3-1-2. So I created one for Everton. It’s the only one I know. I know I’ve never won the league, but personally I think it is a success. However, when I came to Monaco, there’s THOMAS LEMAR. He is, by far, the best player at the club. I have to create a tactic that will get the best out of him. So I decided to ditch my 4-3-1-2 and use a classic old faithful 4-4-2. PLAYING STYLE I want my squad to : Defend and attack as a unit. Strikers are the first defender and defender is the first attacker. Aggressive pressing. Pressing starts high up the pitch. Free flowing football. Lots of creative freedom. Defensively solid. Solid 2 banks of 4 when defending To translate my visions to FM terms, I have chosen : Mentality : Standard Shape : Very Fluid By choosing Standard + Very fluid, I expect my players to : Compact. Players are closer to each other thus enabling us to press aggressively. Move as a unit. When we’re attacking, all players wil move up together and vice versa. Reduced distinction of mentalities between players. TEAM INSTRUCTIONS FORMATION PLAYER ROLES AND INSTRUCTIONS GK D : Roll it out, Distribute to full backs FB A : Mark tighter, Mark specific position (AML) CD D : None CD D : None FB S : Mark tighter, Mark specific position (AMR) IW S : Sit Narower DLP D : Close down much less CM S : Shoot less often W A : None CF S : None AF A : None IN GAME ANALYSIS Let’s have a look at one my UCL group games against Bayern. They field a 4-3-3 tactic with a DM. Without the ball Falcao tried to cross from the left but Neuer intercepted it with a save. Neuer then roll the ball short to Hummels. Notice that four of our players are already pressing Bayern’s backline. The pressing limits Hummels’ passing options. Hummels managed to sneak a pass to Javi Martinez who came deep to collect the ball then quickly lays it out to Tolisso. When Tolisso had the ball, all of the players close to him were marked and ready to be pressed whereas Lewandowski is isolated up front. Moutinho with Close Down Less instructions refrain from pressing and being our midfield screen. Tolisso then opts to give it short to Vidal who then tried to distribute it to onrushing Grimaldo on the wings but Sylla was alert and quick enough to intercept. Job well done! With the ball At this point of the match, Bayern changed to a 4-4-2 with Javi Martinez and Lewandowski upfront. Kimmich tried to lump the ball forward to Martinez but Moutinho intercepts. Moutinho is quickly closed down by three Bayern players. Moutinho the make a short back pass to Glik who the quickly lays it out wide to Toure. Notice the space in front of him. It is a space that could be utilised by Sylla, our Inverted Winger on Sit Narower instruction could exploit. Toure indeed made a pass to Sylla. Sylla is quickly closed down by two Bayern players had no choice but pass it to Moutinho who offers a short option. Notice the space in front of Moutinho. I chose the Complete Forward role on Support so that he would drop deeper to connect with midfield. But it didn’t happen in this highlight. On the other hand,notice what a good position Kovalenko has put himself in. Lo and behold, Moutinho, being the brilliant man like always, receive the pass, stops the play, change direction, saw Kovalenko and quickly released the ball to him. Kovalenko then dribbles forward, pass the ball into the path of Falcao who then squares it for Cutrone for an easy tap in. Brilliant play by Moutinho and smart movement from Kovalenko! We won the match. Happiest day of my early Monaco days! ACHIEVEMENTS Thank you all for reading! Hopefully we can beat Milan in the First Knockout Round!
  4. Hey all, 1. Story Having watched, as a Turkish fan of Fenerbahçe, the misery of Beşiktaş against Bayern München with one man down getting tarnished, I instantly fell in love with attacking mentality of Bayern München there. Whenever somebody would arrive at byline, at least 5 options would call out for the ball in the box, effectively rendering any kind of defence useless - 5-0 was a score quite fortunate for Beşiktaş that terrible night, if you ask me. Therefore, hating 4-3-3 plague's guts that took over the football scene for more than a decade now, I wondered if I could emulate Bayern's offensive capabilities to some extent and came up with the tactic of the following layout (I am in no way any belief that I could emulate Bayern, they just inspired me that night): It is an offensive tactic that scores for fun enabling me to scoop the Eredivisie title with the humble squad of my all-time favorites, Vitesse, 3 games to be played before the end of the season. It would actually be decided with 4 matches left however I acted stupid enough to create pressure on them the rookie squad that crumbled under and got defeated 3-2 to relegation zone contenders. Anyway, crowning was delayed for only one match. 2. Strengths The tactic relies on high tempo with very few meters among blocks, recycling possession as quicker as it can in its default shape and executing direct passes, breaking up any defense so far (scored 6 away from home at Anfield, conceding 8 in the process too). I made some tweaks here and there to conclude on the roles and duties as well as player-specific instructions and am very eager to know how 4-4-2 Atta, Turk! would work out for you guys. For a quick reference, below are the Team Instructions: The tactic possesses ability to score because (1) your wide midfielders can make through balls or receive FB crosses to score (2) any one of your Strikers can drag and stretch the defence to create a chance for his partner (3) a foxy defender can mortar a direct or a diagonal ball for your pacey DLF or, if close enough, his more static AF partner. 3. Weaknesses The very same blade the tactic wields. 2 strikers. Since the defensive line is high up the pitch and players love to spread around the field although it is a Normal width I am using, I have happened to see that when your opponent uses a 2-Strikers formation, consider keeping your defenders a bit deeper and taking down the width down a notch so that FB's can act as bolstering forces against marauding attackers as you try to fend them off. But remember that those two tweaks add to your creative abilities so try to keep a balance by changing it back and forth during the game i.e. if opponent is not overwhelming you (yet), keep default instructions until you score a few and then act accordingly etc. This part of the tactic still might need contributions though - I would love to hear your "hey, popsicle, I did this and it gave me 34 clean sheets a season" kind of modifications. 4. Choice of Players First and foremost, your Center Backs should be athletes. If you have to choose between two CBs one of which is a slower guy with better attributes and a swift one with less desirable ones, go for the latter. This tactic does not claim to be the stalwart bus of Mourinho. I would suggest Wide Midfielders possessing enough Vision to spot out the right choice between a Striker moving into a channel or an overlapping Full Back. They do not necessarily have to be explosive guys though. Keep a pair of hardworking Central Midfielders that can tackle. If they know how to move into channels and kick the ball with some technique, even better. I am a huge fan of Alejandro Chumacero in that regard. Make sure your DLF is pacey and has enough balance since he will be receiving balls comparably deeper and will need to rush it forward. If you have a Jardel or a Ruud Van Nistelrooy, like Tim Matavz I have, that you love watching him score loads, he is your primal choice of the Advanced Forward. Although I have used Saber Khalifa who is very quick, in matches where I saw that Matavz was wasting too many fastbreak opportunities due to his sluggish build. 5. Opposition Instructions, Tactical Briefing and Other Crabs I am not a fan of OIs although I am not convinced that my stance is a rightful one. Since I want my Assistant Manager to take over tactical briefing, tactic may end up with OIs anyway. Watch and tinker. If you somehow fall short in a game, you can always gung-ho your squad to claw back. The tactic has a huge hunger for risk so Overload does not turn things upside down for you, if it doesn't work. 6. Training Overload Tactics team and match training pre-season and keep at it until your guys can play your mindset blindfolded. Then switch to Defensive Positioning for Match Training and Team Cohesion for Team Training to reap unity awards. Remember, the tactic is a very fluid one and it acts like an amoeba slushing its innards as necessary to move around rather than three or more blocks of specialized platoons going back and forth. I also would advise on getting Full Backs who like getting forward whenever possible. 7. Download Grabby grabby. Please give this a shot and tell me how it pans out with your team. Sorry for any obscurity or inaccuracy with the messages I tried to deliver. Thank you. "Peace at home, peace in the world"
  5. Hello from Greece. This tactic was created when I got a proposition from Southampton, after my 2,5 years trip with (full of depts.) Panathinaikos. The main shape is 3-2-2-1-2. The Team instructions As you can see both WB's and MCR are in automatic role. This is because it helps very much when I make changes to the tactic, during the game. Example. If during the game you win 1-0 and you just want to secure it, set mentality to Counter or defensive, low tempo, Team Shape Structured, defense line deeper, More direct passing and turn on Pass into space. Automatically both WB's and MCR are on defense duties. That's it the game is over. Opposite, if you are back to the score, set defense line Slightly Higher, turn on Offiside Trap, Higher tempo and Attacking Team Instructions. Link: http://www.mediafire.com/file/5xlxhnjjr6nwj2x/Southampton_3-5-2.fmf Waiting for feedback.
  6. This is my from my journeyman save. Currently in Falkirk in Scotland, fourth (and last) season and my second club in my virtual manager career. I will get to the results later but we managed to break the Glasgow dominance for the first time since Aberdeen in 84/85. This season have been so great I feel the need to share it somehow! First thing to point out is to credit the foundation I have used. The brilliant write-up from @LPQR of the Max Allegri’s Juventus. Found here -> https://fmasymmetric.wordpress.com/2017/04/09/the-mad-max-space-commitment-creativity-part-one/#more-2312 This article is sheer brilliance and a recommended read. I have used the same team shape, mentality & formation but changed the player roles & team- and player instructions. My team doesn’t play anything like Juventus but have the ability to both dominate possession & hit teams on the counter. My version of the tactic: Common tactical tweaks: If we chase a goal - Change the fullback to “attack” + crossing instruction (often from byline) - Add “look for overlap” - Change crossing type; “whipped crosses” if the penalty area is congested, “low crosses” if we have space behind their back line - Add “shoot less” to attackers & maybe even “work ball into the box” If we defend a league - Drop the d-line to “Normal”, this is something I do the second I felt the opposition found space behind my back line. Many teams in Scotland played with a target man and I wanted to keep them as far away as possible - Drop the WB to a fullback position OR change it to a defend duty Player selection & instructions: GK: Standard goalkeeper, nothing out of the ordinary. Shot stopper. PI: Distribute to fullbacks (common tweak is to change to central defender depending on the opposition formation Desired player traits: None RB: Look for a pretty all-round solid right back. We want them to overlap when they have the possibility but not for all cost. PI: N/A Desired player traits: Nothing essential but found be RBs to have “get forward whenever possible” CB: Fast and good on the ball is priority because of the initial high D-line but it all comes down to how you want to play really. We suffered some for the lack of presence in the air and conceded some easy goals on corners but not a major issue. PI: N/A Desired player traits: Play simple passes. WB: I have played with both the roles of CWB and the ordinary WB and really didn’t see any major different. However, we want this guy to bomb forward and cross the ball & keep width. Need good team work, work rate & stamina ofc. PI: N/A (for the CWB). Add run wide & stay wider for the WB. Not a fan of the "roam from position" box for the complete. DM: The enforcer of the team. I want him to break of play and give the ball to either the flanks or the playmaker. PI: I have used him to mark any player in the AMC spot. When playing against 4-2-3-1 you have to keep tabs is the AI overload the space with the MCL pushing forward. He is also instructed to play fewer risky passes. Tweak 1: if the opposition line up without any apparent threat in central midfield I have changed it to a Ball-winning midfielder Tweak 2: Sometimes the opposition line up in a deep 4-4-2, I have tested to use the volante role with some success (AP then changed to a DLP) Desired traits: Play simple passes AP: The creator & attacking heartbeat of the team. Look for a player that excels in first touch, technique, passing, vision & anticipation as he is requested to pick out either the speedy attackers up front, the flanks to build pressure or the attacking midfielder to link-up. I am eager to try the RPM role once I found the perfect fit but AP works just fine. PIs: None Desire traits: Dictates tempo RM: This role have not been changed from the tactic borrowed (stolen?) from LPQR. This role together with the AM role and how they interact with each other is pure magic. Their partnership is really wonderful and I saw no need to change anything. I have gotten many goals & assist from Tom Walsh in this role. PIs: Shoot less, Dribble more, Cross more often, Sit narrower & Ride wide with ball Desired traits: I have found Get forward whenever possible useful & would like to add “Look for pass rather than attempting to score” AM: Same thing here, almost untouched from the tactic created by LPQR, just added shoot less as a PI. PI: Shoot less, Roam from position, more risky passes, move into channels Desired players traits: Place shots, player killer passes, look for pass rather than attempting to score CF: Look for speed, movement and good work rate. Played with a defensive forward at last season but couldn’t get him to back track and/or hassle the defence as much as I wanted. Neither did I get offensive fire power. When I switched to a Complete Forward I got a bunch of goals and an assist record for the Scottish Premiership (25 assists). Tbf, I am not sure if those PI really makes any difference. PI: Mark tighter & tackle harder Desired player traits: Run with ball. Maybe add some kind of finishing trait (place shots, lob keeper or like to round keeper AF: This is your goal scorer. Look for speed and movement. My prototype is below, Daryl f***ing Hornby. PI: Roam from position Desired player traits: See below The results: Three trophies in the bag and broke all kind of records. At one time we were on a 30 matches unbeaten run, which is the longest run I have ever had on FM. We simply couldn’t lose. The turn-around against Leverkusen is one of the most ecstatic moment I have had in a video/computer game. The Premiership The domestic cups European Cups Stand-out performance of the year: The loan from Manchester United Daryl Hornby scored 82 goals for under during the 2 seasons he spent at the club. 31 goals in the role as DLF & 51 (!) when we changed it to AF. Tried to tie him up for a third consecutive year but Manchester United wants to give him a chance in the first team. Well deserved. The kid has been described as bot the new Gary Lineker and Michael Owen. With me moving on in my journeyman save I will most certainly look to sign Daryl if Jose Mourinho doesn’t give him the love he deserves. DOWNLOAD LINK: https://ufile.io/p8naz
  7. Other Tactics - Diego Simeone - Marcelo Bielsa - http://www.fm-base.co.uk/forum/share-download-fm-17-tactics/363445-revolutionary-marcelo-el-loco-bielsas-3-3-3-1-a.html Thread Inspired by - Jorge Sampaoli's 4-2-3-1 Sevilla Welcome to another tactical discussion were I analyse one of Europes greatest manager and tacticans and implement it into FM, The Sampaoli band wagon has made it's way across the globe to Europe and is now regarded as one of the best managers in the continent with his fluid and precise systems, the theme of using very fluid tactics and a team of hard working and technical footballers to recreate the style of football made famous by the famous Marcelo "el loco" Bielsa and has had a strong influence on other great managers and their style of play. In this thread, I am going to analyse Jorge Sampaoli's 4-2-3-1 formation employed by his his current Sevilla team who currently sit 4th in La Liga. Sampaoli's style of play stems from the genius of Marcelo Bielsa and he is now regarded as one of the 5 disciples of his ideologies each playing a similar type of football with different players, different formations and in completely different leagues and footballing cultures, the most notable Pep Guardiola implementing this style in the Premier League. Key Characteristics to this style of play - A high defensive line to compress the space the opposition have to play Aggressive pressing all over the pitch to reduce the time the opposition have on the ball An attacking mentality where the teams main goal is to score goals Fluidity and rotation amongst players so the team are more flexible in transitions A controversial managerial personality and an active contribution on the touchline ------------------ Sampaoli, in an interview after a 0-3 lose to Uruguay despite having 73% possession, when the stat was revealed to him in an interview after the game Sampaoli compared it to trying to bed a woman - One night, I went to a bar, I was with a woman. We talked all night. We laughed, we flirted, I paid for several drinks of hers. At around 5am, a guy came in, grabbed her by the arm and took her to the bathroom. He made love to her and she left with him. That doesn’t matter, because I had most of the possession on that night. Jorge Sampaoli's Major Honours Universidad de Chile Torneo Apertura (2): 2011, 2012 Torneo Clausura: 2011 Copa Sudamericana: 2011 Chile International Team Copa América: 2015 The Philosophy Jorge Sampaoli has been extremely successful as manager of Sevilla to date currently sitting 4th place in La Liga, Sampaoli is an expert in unlocking opposition defences in a typical South American fashion allowing his team a lot of creative freedom and fluidity commanding players to keep the ball whilst being direct and passing with a purpose, due to his success Sampaoli has been linked with prestigious managerial jobs such as Argentina and Barcelona but currently this season has sworn his loyalty to Sevilla. Under Sampaoli Sevilla play a very fluid 4-2-3-1 formation which transitions to a 3-4-3, 5-3-2, 4-1-3-2 and many other different shapes throughout a game depending on opposition strength and the players at his disposal. His team try to control the space in the oppositions half with smart and precise player positioning, high intensity pressing whilst taking advantage of opposition mistakes is the main play maker in his side. Many people have misconceptions of this particular style of play, some people have a simplified script in their head that this is to keep possession play tiki taka football whatever the case may be ... But no successful manager plays to one simple script or encourage one set approach of football, Sampaoli even stating that he doesn't believe in formations as teams often play in unorthodox shapes as players carry out specific roles on the field, Sampaoli gives his players a certain amount of freedom which allows them to improvise on the field and able to think for themselves and deal with unexpected circumstances. Can not be emulated 100% accurately due to ME restrictions but includes all the fundimentals off Sampaoli's system. Sampaoli's Team shape and how they transition "Formation" Jorge Sampaoli one of the 5 disciples of Marcelo Bielsa integrates some of his ideologies into his playing style Highly creative, free-flowing football. Lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation - defence, midfield and attack highly integrated with each other. Playing style inspired by Marcelo Bielsa's influence also playing a style in the Chilean National Team. Half back drops in between centre backs, Centrebacks drift wide also known as a salida lavolpiana Wide Playmakers get into the channels and control the half spaces allowing wing backs to overlap N'zonzi the most important player in the squad dictates the tempo and distributes the ball to the wide areas. Attackers triangle leads the pressing whilst one of the front 3 comes deeper to recycle possession. pressing as a unit (Fluidity) superiority and taking advantage of quick transitions from defence to attack. Focus on pressing and unlocking opposition defences Team is usually structured horizontally with emphasis on rotation and adapting to press certain opponents High block defensive line controlling space.Emphasises on attacking the flanks with most of the goals coming from crosses. Playing Style. Highly creative, high tempo attacking football. Team working together, attacking and defending as a unit. exploiting opposition flanks attacking with direct forward passes. Higher Defensive Line & Pressing. Team Shape: Very Fluid ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Mentality: Control The main evolution to playing style. Moving from Standard to a Control mentality offers several benefits: Higher collective mentality. Quicker tempo. More width. Higher defensive line. More aggressive closing down. Team Instructions Tempo left on normal as the control mentality is already aggressive enough team will look to attack and a high tempo will lead to us forcing attacks and giving the ball away. Fairly wide - make the pitch wider allowing more space to play aiding our formation and exploiting the flanks. Prevent short GK Distribution, Press more and Slighly Higher Defensive Line - Playing on a control mentality already increases our defensive line and aggression towards pressing, these TI's compliment eachother and aid our high press. Roam from position - Allows us to be fluid in our play and unlock defences, team works for each other and covers for another players mistakes. Be More Expressive - Adds extra vision and flair to our game playing a Jorge Sampaoli style with flair in abundance. Dribble Less - I feel playing on a control mentality with the roles included in our tactic aim to run at the defence to often and ruins some of our attacks. Whipped Crosses - Sampaoli's side usually fire low crosses into the box when at the byline and whipped balls from deep due to the lack of height in the box. Look for overlap - Increase amount of runs the wingbacks do and allow them to get a cross in our a cutback to one of the playmakers. Player Instructions - GK/ - Distribute to Centrebacks,More risky passes WB/A - Close down more BPD/D - Dribble more * encourages centrebacks to build from the back and drive forward* BPD/C - Dribble more CWB/A - Close down more HB/D - Tackle Harder, More Direct Passes, More Risky Passes BBM/S - Close down more ***Must set position swap with Half back*** AM/S - Close down more, Get further forward, Roam from position Left AP/A - Close down more, Tackle Harder, Cross from By-line, Stay Wider, Get further forward Right AP/A - Close down more, Tackle Harder, Get further forward, Cross from by-line DLF/S - Close down more, Tackle Harder, Roam from position, Move into channels Opposition Instructions Encourages pressing all over the field with emphasise on winning the ball on the flanks and high up the field Minimises opponents potential to exploit certain positions with hard tackling and showing onto weaker foot. Minimises time strikers and wingers have on the ball. Tactical Analysis - The build up Ball playing defenders push out wide offering a passing option to other players The half back drops deep into a CB spot creating a 3 man defence Wingbacks get further forward into advanced positions. In the build up Iborra and N'zonzi rotate in their roles, one takes the half back role and sits as a central defender whilst the other gets further forward and offers a passing option whilst the wingbacks take advanced positions upfield and provide width. The same concept takes place only the players have swapped positions this concept which was mentioned earlier on is called a salida lavolpiana Here is the concept in action Rotation In attack Sevilla play two wide AP's on who stays closer to the flank and one who roams into the centre of the field, in these 2 seperate games it is Nasri and Jovetic vacating these positions, notice how the wingbacks have so much space to put a cross in, an overload is created in the centre of the field and the opposition full backs come out of position to press in turn leaving their position completely unvacated for the Wingbacks to run into. The same thing takes place only on seperate flanks Notice how many goals have come from situations such as this, almost 1 goal a game. Defending from the front Sampaoli's side have many, many different shapes and positions to press and defend from the front most unachievable to include within FM so there is no need to go into too much detail, but one common them in Sampaoli's pressing is having 3 men charge down the ball and another 4 waiting to either recycle possession, press forward if the ball breaks through the first line or surge forward on the attack. Here is an example of this - Front 3 charge down the ball whilst the other 4 remain in shape to come and recycle possession when the ball has been lost Here Sevilla have pinned the opposition back into their own half, the ball has went out for a throw in and the same positional co-ordinations are present. Set-Pieces Offensive Corners Sevilla usually have 5/6 Men in the box with 2 outside, sometimes the AMC in this photo goes short depending on the score of the match, A fast fullback and a defensively solid player is usually left at the half way line to make sure no opposition players can break away with the ball. Defensively Sevilla usually have either 7/8/9 Men in defence depending on the score, to put emphasise on counter attack one man leaves the post with 2 central players waiting on the half way line, this usually creates a 3 vs 2 on the the opposition defence usually a striker and the CAM left forward with a Winger waiting to carry the ball. **Player Prefered Moves **- The Wing Back - Gets forward whenever possible, Plays one Twos, Knocks Ball past opponent The Complete Wing Back- Gets forward whenever possible, Places shots, Plays one Two's, Knocks ball past opponent The Ball Playing Defenders- Tries long range passes, Switches ball to opposite flank The Half Back - Most important position in the team Useful PPM's = Dictates Tempo, Long range passes, Shoots from distance (Longshots atleast 14) The Box to Box Midfielder- Comes deep to get ball, Arrives late in opposition area, shoots from distance, Moves into channels The Attacking Midfielder- Tries Killer balls, ***Comes deep to get ball***, Shoots from distance The Advanced Playmakers- Moves into channels, Plays one Twos, Comes deep to get ball The Deep Lying forward- Plays one Twos, gets into opposition area, cuts inside from both flanks Overall Team Shape Shape in Attack Results Tactic tested for 2.5 Seasons with Osasuna and half a season with Sevilla OPTIONAL DOWNLOAD ( Leave thread in Discussion forum please!) 4-2-3-1 3-4-3 Sevilla Sampaoli _8616D29E-9F63-4C19-A9B4-E0B150158D75.fmf
  8. Goal: I want to explain my thought process in a way that hopefully helps some people with creating systems that get them results. But ultimately only those that want to be helped can be helped. If you're sitting there thinking that the game is rigged against you, then you'll need to change that thought. The game is not rigged. Tactics are vital. And understanding HOW the game plays out is 99% of the solution. What you do to compensate is the other 1% If you only read 1 portion of this, please read the "how I select the roles and duties" part. That is arguably the most important aspect of any system! The Idea: I was sick of playing the same 4-3-3-ish system so I wanted to change things up and do things using my own ideas. I didn't want to copy anyone, I wanted to get creative and test my own ideas. Hopefully we can work towards a system that creates QUALITY chances, presses effectively, and defends solidly. I'm not looking to create 60% possession, or the most shots on goal. Just a system that creates a lot of problems for the AI while remaining stable at the back. Bayern Munich are the team I'm playing as, simply because I like them a lot, and also because they're a fantastic "test" team for trying out tactics. Why? Because top-tier clubs generally are so good that you don't have to worry about having the right players to carry out your ideas. For example if I wanted to use a very intricate high-pressing high-possession style, I probably wouldn't be doing that with Sunderland. So using a top-tier club is a great way to test tactics. Initially my goal with bayern was to be pretty direct and aggressive. It worked well in the league, but we got destroyed in the champions league knock-out stage 2 years in a row and I was absolutely pissed about it. Tottenham knocked us out, and then Liverpool (both teams managed by Pocchettino, that bastard!) In both games we were completely inept in attack, and the lack of balance was truly exposed. So I wanted to make big changes. I hit the pre-season going into season 3, after winning 2 league titles, 2 super cups, and 2 domestic cups. It was time for big changes because I was sick of tinkering, and sick of 433. So we made some transfer moves, and settled on a system that I'm loving. The base shape is a 4-4-1-1 Asymmetric. Notice how I left out the roles/duties. I don't want you to get bogged down in all that right now. Just look at the shape. The thing I'm going for here is coverage of the pitch when we're in this shape (our defensive phase). The 4-4-1-1 defends by default in two banks of four. This is one of the most universally-agreed upon excellent defensive shapes. If you set it up right you can have it defend perfectly well against teams with more players in midfield (particularly problematic in the central areas) than you have. The idea is about controlling space. Movement-wise, I want to see a few things. I want my most forward striker to be dropping deep, pressing the other team, and linking play. I want the offset AMC to be burst forward but also help win the battle in central midfield (and partially on his flank). I need my two CM's to control the middle of the park despite not having a third teammate (nominally) with them. So I prefer to keep it simple and I expect them to act as sort of a double-pivot. The flanks are set up as wide mids and fullbacks. Why? I'm sick of using wide AM's, and I've found that with the right instructions, players from the wide-mid strata can be just as offensively effective as those in the AM strata. But, you get the added bonus of defensive stability / increased tracking back. One of the huge problems I see on here is people complaining that they're getting scored on, particularly on the counter. It's easy to see why when the majority of tactics are using either 2, 3, or even 4 players in the attacking midfield strata. (4-3-3, 4-2-3-1, etc.) What's happening is, having those wide attacking mids spaced out so far from their fullbacks causes a lot of open space to be left behind for the AI to exploit. Most teams in real life don't even play this way. Using wide-mid's is a scary good weapon to have in your arsenal. Plus, the WM role is super customizable. What more can you want? How I selected Roles / Duties I'll start from the base. And remember the goal is to create a well-balanced system with multiple points of attack, as well as a solid defensive structure. 1. SK-D with PI's to take short kicks and distribute to my CD's. This is because I have good ball players in that position, and also because a lot of teams in Germany love to use AMLR's who press the fullbacks immediately. Distributing to the CD's helps us filter the ball into our CM's, and not get caught out on the flanks. Minimizing risk is key here. 2. CD-D, BDP-C. What I've gone for here is a classic central defender who breaks up play, and then one who isn't afraid to play a risky pass, but also sits back a bit and cleans up any mistakes / through balls / 1v1's. I love this combination because it also allows us to effectively defend that crucial space in behind the CM's. One CD can set up and be aggressive without unbalancing the entire system. This helps dilute any possible numerical advantage the AI might have inbetween the lines. 3. FB-A / FB-S. This is a really simple thing. I wanted at least 1 full back to be consistently getting forward. What this does is puts the AI under pressure from a more unpredictable area. It also allows us to more effectively control the play once we've established possession in the attacking third. The other fullback will get forward too, but much in a much less risky manner. 4. DLP-D / CM-S This was the hardest thing for me to decide on. I knew I wanted to utilize a DLP-D. Bayern seem to always have phenomenal options for that role. But tactically speaking I love this set up because it allows us to have a creator/holder partnered with a runner/supporter. These guys have to be good all around players because they're only in a pair. I expect them to break up play a bit, but not TOO much. Ideally I want to see them helping defend their respective flank, but not exclusively. They need to be able to force the AI to play the ball down the flanks, where we'll have a better numerical advantage. The CM-S should provide enough forward thrust to support the attacks, while also not being overly-aggressive / roaming in a way that would expose the DLP-D. 5. WM-S / WM-S So for these guys I have special instructions. Both are set to maximum closing down. Both are told to sit narrow. The left mid cuts inside. The right mid dribbles more but doesn't cut inside. This creates sort of a false winger / false inside forward combination that is really fun to watch. I usually like to use James Rodriguez on the wide left spot, and either douglas costa or kylian mbappe on the right flank. Please note, the key instruction here is sits narrower. This is because in order for us to remain stable in midfield I wanted to give the DLP-D / CM-S as much help as possible. A lot of teams in FM attack narrowly, for whatever reason. So if you can't defend the middle, you're going to have a bad time. Both of these wide mids sitting narrow helps a lot. They're also told to close down aggressively because it's easier for us to win the ball back on the flanks than in the middle. Remember the AI has nowhere to go if you close them down against the touchline. Also note, BOTH wide mids are on support. Why? Because as I said above, I wanted to give a lot of support to those central mids, especially against narrow attacks. When we need to we can easily turn the right wide mid into attack, giving him a lot more license to get forward consistently. But you have to remember this key point: just because a player is on support doesn't mean he won't get forward and be involved in the attack! I've got supporting wide mids who have potential to outscore Lewandowski / Muller. The thing to realize is how much space there is. If a support player has space to run into, he's going to do it if it's relatively risk-free. Remember they're starting position is deeper than the typical wide attacker. They're going to find themselves (a lot of times) with plenty of space ahead of them. This creates SO many problems for teams using AMLR with regular full backs. 6. SS-A / DLF-S Initially I wanted to use a complete forward on the right, but I found that he roamed too much and we lacked enough of a central threat. So the DLF-S was the natural choice for a player who can come deep to get the ball, link play, and do so without roaming too much. The SS-A is a great role. Muller is perfect for this, I don't think there is anyone on earth better for that role. This is mostly due to his incredible mental stats! Anyway the idea here is that the SS-A will burst forward, and he'll do so slightly off-set from the main striker. It's about space! I want him to have as much space to work in as possible, while still be safely supported by his teammates. Often times he'll be the further forward. Other times he'll be quite deep helping us link play. This variety is exactly what helps create space and therefore, goal scoring chances. As I said above the DLF-S also links play, but he's a bit more of a "central" player, which is important. We still need to have someone playing a more traditional striker role towards the middle. This way we have an effective "target" for crosses, someone who can knock the ball down and hold it up. Having a good passer here helps a ton. Lewandowski isn't a great passer, but he's such a dynamic player that it works a treat. Instructions! And Mentality! And Shape! See what I did there? Zero TI's. This may change eventually, but for now, it's zero. There's no need. I'm keeping things really simple. I'll add or remove TI's as I see fit in a match. But they're completely unnecessary for creating a solid system. A lot of times they just create more problems, making it harder to diagnose problems. Besides, our style of play is defined by our roles/duties, PLAYER instructions, and shape/mentality. For mentality we went with Control. Again, this will change in matches. Not a ton, but i'll do it when appropriate. I went for control because I want to get players forward and into dangerous positions. I want us to take a decent amount of risk while also not over-committing to attacking. Control is a really cool mentality because you can get a sort of hybrid possession/counter-attack thing going. In some matches we score from the counter, and in others we score from constant controlling of the AI's final third. It's beautiful. I'll change mentality generally if we need to hold onto a result / take less risk / go down a man. I'm not afraid to use attacking, but it hasn't been needed really. Think of mentality as risk, not as a measure of likelihood to score goals. It's about risk and space! Control = more risk, more movement, more emphasis on getting forward / ahead of the ball. Control does not = more goals by default, or less defending. Shape-wise I went for Very Fluid. The idea here is I wanna be as compact as possible. The strength of a 4-4-2 variant is the two banks of four in defense. Being compact helps us fortify that shape, AND it helps us press effectively as a unit. Remember that playing very fluid also means players will use more creative freedom so, if you have poor decision makers, this might not be a good idea. I will go to a more structured shape when necessary. For example if we're down to 10 men, I'd prefer to be much more "stand off-ish" and just maintain shape. Or, if we're being pressed to death and need space, going more structured can help us spread players out further and open up more space. Everything is contextual! So does this even work? Yes. Granted, plenty of friendlies in there, but the run speaks for itself. There's a good mix here of tough away matches / decent league opponents. Here's some shots of our assist locations, and assist types: (as well as opponent assists) Remember what I said about balance? Look at those assists. We're getting contributions from ALL over the place. We're scoring from different avenues, and creating quality chances. This is the sign of a well-built system that can sustain itself in the long haul. Remember, by this point in the save, we're already 2x champions and the AI respects us. Most games we play the AI is quite defensive. So this isn't a case of "well, in two months time see where it goes." This is designed to be a system that picks apart defensive sides. The bonus is that it has seemed to work really well on the counter, too. We destroyed Dortmund by playing mostly on the counter mentality with very few shouts. Same role/duty set up. It's all about the movement and control of space! So now what? At this point I'm excited to be using this system consistently. One thing I'd like to explore is using "work ball into box" from the get-go. This would reduce unneeded long shots, and even reduce some excess crossing. Also, stay on feet might help because we're usually quite aggressive. As for roles and duties, I think that changing the right wid mid to attack is going to have to continue to be game by game basis. I'm not sure I want to do that for each match. I like how he functions by default on support. It's just that in some matches when he's on attack it creates this insanely potent flank attack. Thanks for reading, and good luck with your FM saves. If you would like to ask me questions about this system, feel free. I'll try to answer as many as I can.
  9. Any tips to make my Ajax tactic more a potent goalscoring threat? Here's the tactic:
  10. hello and welcome to this thread For a long time now I've been fascinated by the idea of developing a style of football that presents something new and perhaps unconventional. If you've read any of my previous tactical experiments you might have noticed I'm quite drawn to asymmetry and different interpretations of certain aspects of football. Here are some of the stuff that might give you a background on that: The Spartan way - a Tactical Identity Journey /// Tactical adaptability vs. Tactical variety //// Tactical revelations with VfB Stuttgart Call it a hipster approach if you wish, but I firmly believe in the fact that the FM tactical creator as well as the ME allow you to explore to great depth the immense complexity of this game, even though we will probably never see complaints about how poor they are ever stop. Inspired by one of the tactics that I've worked on in the Stuttgart thread (FM16), and given that it was heavily relying on the Half-Back (which doesn't seem to be working in this year's FM) I will try to implement a similar system that relies on a few key ideas: Total Defending as you might have heard me say before, I've always believed that in order to come up with a definition for a style of football, one must consider how it manifests in all situations of play - starting from how your team defends to how your team manages possession, space, width, penetration, pressure and so on. I've noticed that when people are talking about total football, the concept based on fluidity, movement and positional awareness, they only seem to refer to or focus on the attacking side of the game. This same concept and principles can be applied to the defensive phase as the team will look to defend by: a) reducing space between the lines - the idea is to 'shrink' the team vertically, leaving as little space as possible for the opposition to exploit between the players through either runs or passing whilst maintaining horizontal width in order to maintain good coverage of space desirable scenario (experimental) - notice how close the lines area to each other as well as the width of the team vs. the opposition width b) compact and mobile shape - a team shape that stays compact and minimizes the space the team has to defend as well as being mobile enough to shift the focus of play to different areas of the pitch. desirable scenario (experimental) - notice the number of players committed to the action area So far, I've identified a few main issues I want to implement in the tactical creator: - I want my team to be compact yet fairly wide - I want my team to be mobile and commit as many players as possible to the action area - I want my team to be defensively responsible In the system I want to develop, I want to focus on the application of this style with a particular focus on how the team defends. What not only complements this but also brings us to one of the key points of this thread is the next key idea: The Libero a role that seems to have been absorbed and nullified by modern football tendencies, the Libero was a key part of how many teams played a few decades ago. Think about players like Franz Beckenbauer, Matthias Sammer or Gaetano Scirea for some of the greats in this role. A quote from thesefootballtimes.co's great article about the Libero tells us pretty much everything about why this role is so special: "It was a majestic sight. Go back 30 or 40 years and watch teams defend. The majority of them will feature a type of player that seems to have been lost from the modern game. You’ll see an elegant defender sitting behind the defensive line, picking up a stray through balls from an attacker. As he effortlessly brings it under his control, he marches forward with it, stepping past the other defenders and moving into the midfield zone. From there he acts as a modern-day deep-lying playmaker, initiating the play and spreading it out to the flanks, or playing it forward into midfield or attack. This is the Libero" FM description of role Ok, so how does the role fit into my overall idea of the system? - the libero's transition to midfield in attacking/possession phases helps us create additional pressure and numbers in the opposition area - the libero will perform a variety of duties in our defensive set-up which will make our defensive unit more complete and able to deal with various threats The type of player required for this role is by all means complicated and there are a few key areas which are key to a player performing well in this position/role: a) tactical awareness - The type of football played by the Libero means he will have to make correct decisions in pressured situations, anticipate team-mates and opponents movement, spot an opportunity for a pass, identify space to run into, all these being issues relating to the mind more than the feet. Without a single doubt, the complex movement that this role entails means we want one thing above the rest from our Libero: football intelligence. This is a skill that is incredibly hard to identify in real life, however FM offers a set of attributes that make it easier to determine whether or not a player excels in that department: Anticipation – How accurately can a player predict other player’s movements In other words, can our Libero “read the game”, can he predict where the ball is going and where his opponents are going to be. A player who can accurately predict the movement of opponents doesn’t need to be fast or ruthless, he compensates with the power of his mind and his speed of thinking. Concentration – How long a player can keep his mind focused on the game A players attention tends to fade as the game progresses. We don’t want that, our Libero needs to be focused for as long as possible, as any mistake he makes can be potentially fatal. A high attribute for Concentration means the player will use his Decisions and Anticipation attributes better throughout the length of a match. Decisions – Controls the quality of decisions the player makes A player is constantly presented with options, and the Decisions attribute controls if the player chooses the best option. It also controls how and when an option is performed. Decision is what, when and how. We don’t want our player to be hesitant, when he makes a move, we want him to follow through. Positioning – The accuracy of a players position This attribute controls how well a player positions himself, depending on what’s going on around him. Positioning (do I recognize the various options available to me) is linked with Decisions (do I opt for the right position out of the various options available to me) and Anticipation (do I predict the movement of others well enough to read the game). In our eyes, these three attributes make up most of the footballing intelligence our Libero should possess. b) mobility - the player's ability to position himself efficiently and find space in both defensive and attacking situations is of great importance to this role. As the Libero will shift up from behind the defence all the way into midfield and back in pretty much all of the defensive/attacking transitions. A few key areas the player needs to excel in: Acceleration – How fast can a player reach top speed Whilst the Pace attribute determines the actual top speed a player can reach, Acceleration determines how long a player needs to reach that top speed. In the split-second decision-making world of the Libero, getting there fast is mostly about accelerating rather than top speed. Agility – How easily a player moves A low attribute means the player is “sluggish”. A high attribute means the player is nimble and light-footed. We prefer the former to the latter. Sluggish players commit fouls, which is generally not a smart idea if your Libero is the last field player between an opponent and your own goal. Pace – Decides the top speed a player can reach The Pace attribute determines the top speed a player can reach whilst sprinting. If the system entails a defensive set-up that frees the Libero from covering large distances, he doesn't need to have more than 11-12 for these stats, as long as he’s intelligent enough. * massive kudos to Guido at strikerless.com, whose work articulates these issues perfectly and has given me a good foundation on which I could further develop my ideas So why did they stop using this role? One of the key reasons for the Libero/Sweeper's demise in modern times is strictly related to the offside trap rule changes. One of the fantastic videos from tikitakatactics gives us a good visual description of how and why modern football transitioned from Libero to Ball-Playing-Defender What this means is that in order to make this role work more efficiently we will have to play with a slightly deeper defensive line, as the high press with the use of a Libero will be very problematic. Okay, so after a fair bit of analysis, let's see how we can fit all of this criteria into the FM match engine. Considerations - the complexity of all of the criteria listed above plus the chosen formation require a squad that has distinctive characteristics: a) a leading player for the libero role as the whole defensive set-up will rely on him b) good work-rate, speed and defensive know-how throughout the team, especially wide players and wide CB's in order to cover space efficiently and be able to fill in for each other's mistakes c) pseudo-total footballers (if you wish), or players that aren't limited to one side of the game and are comfortable contributing to most of the phases of play d) good overall strength and physique as well as reasonable tactical awareness for defensive minded players in order to be comfortable with absorbing pressure while defending deep Case Study A: Juventus One might say that going with Juve is overkill as they are the dominant force of Italy and are favorites for every match in the league, however in this specific case study I will focus on the ideal scenario rather than inspiring underdog stories of overachievement. And the squad Juve have presents options that indeed, fit the criteria for the ideas I want to implement to almost perfection: The Libero - Leonardo Bonucci probably the most suited player for the Libero role in FM, Bonucci's stat distribution as well as PPM's make him a perfect choice. He excels in pretty much all the attributes listed above as being key for this role Key Squad Attributes Defensive Players (CB's & DM's) Wide Players (wingers&fullbacks) acceleration - as we plan to play fairly deep I need most of my players to be fast enough to move forwards or backwards without being outrun passing - essential for the 'total defending' concept as we plan to defend intelligently using passing and movement work rate - the above mentioned ability to cover space relates strictly to how much a player is willing to commit to attacking/defending space bravery - as we are looking to defend deep we need our players brave enough to commit to challenging the opposition as often as possible strength - key for defending deep, we need our players to be strong on their feet and avoid being out-muscled Formation&Roles this is how the team will look to move from a defensive shape most common positioning in attacking shape the formation&roles reflect some of the key concepts mentioned above: - articulated block of defensive players responsible for outnumbering the opposition in own half - defensive compactness achieved through concentration of numbers in defensive area - width covered through the use of wingers as well as wider team shape that allows defenders and DM's to drift to the flanks - pressure in midfield achieved through DM's getting forward and Libero advancing high up the pitch in attacking situations - the left side is slightly more attacking than the right as we aim to create an imbalance in the way we cover space. This makes this opposition defenders get drawn out of position and enables us to add a dimension of variety to the way we create and attack space Team Instructions, Shape&Mentality The choice of team instructions reflects all of the above discussed points about how I want my team to interact as a unit as well as cover space. Additionally, I've decided to add the 'pass into space' TI as the slightly asymmetrical nature of our system will create space that can be exploited by the deep creative roles such as the Libero and the RPM. As we look to create pressure in midfield through a high number of players congested in that area, I've instructed my team to 'work the ball in the box', given that in most cases we will have considerable numerical advantage near the opposition box which can be exploited through clever movement and passing. Passing has been set to short as we aim to have our players close to each other and look to keep it simple as a team. The more creative roles - Libero, RPM have a 'more risky passes' PI as default in their roles and the DLP has the 'more direct passes' PI ticked, as I aim to use the first two as the main creative outlets of the team as well as the latter to create verticality in our passing game. Our team is set to position itself 'fairly wide' as I want my DM's to be close enough to the wings to help the WM's defensively, as well as avoid being overly congested due to the already high number of players that will look to attack the midfield area. The 'very fluid' team shape along with the instruction to 'be more disciplined' aims to combine compactness, mobility and defensive responsibility, all key concepts of this systems mentioned above. The 'high tempo' relates to the quick passing game achieved through either build-up through the middle or flanks I want to achieve, as the team will need to transition quickly from defence to attack given that we will defend relatively deep. The instruction to 'play out of defence' relates to exploiting the Libero and the DM's in the build-up phase of the game. example of defensive situation - notice good coverage of width as well as number of players committed to action area (in this case - central) example of defensive situation - here you can notice the mobility of the team defending as a unit as we have 6 players drifting to the left, committing to the action area vs. the opposition 4. In this screenshot you can also see how deep the WM drops in order to maintain good defensive coverage of a potential threat out wide example of build up from deep - the libero starts an attacking move from deep and has a number of passing options at his disposal. The variety of player roles available for the pass means that the attacking build-up will unfold in a number of ways, depending on who is given that responsibility example of attacking situation - notice the large number of players in midfield helped by the RPM and the Libero advancing from deep positions as well as the number of players making attacking runs in the final third. Here you can also see our wingers attacking width efficiently and our DLP and DM sitting deeper and holding their positions in order to offer protection to the CB's example of attacking situation - the Libero advances high up the pitch and looks to dictate play from that area. The team is positioned favorably for maintaining possession and pressure high up the pitch given the triangles formed with the DLP, RPM and DM. We have the DLF and SS dropping deep and drifting around to pick up a pass and look to enter the final third, combining with each other or the wingers in the process. example of flexible play - in this situation you can notice two key issues: a) how high we are able to press even though we start with a 'normal' defensive line and the number of players we are involving in the possession phase of the game b) the suitability for counterpress that this system offers - the red arrows indicate the movement of the players in a potential situation where let's say our RPM is dispossessed by the opposition. Notice that we have a number of players who are positioned slightly deeper than any of the opposition's potential on-runners. Relying on the Libero's anticipation and decision making as well as on his speed, we are able to cut out opposition counter-attacks high up the pitch and transition back into attack without covering too much ground. Here you can also see that our RCB is positioned wide enough to deal with the threat of the opposition winger if the case arises. We've had some really good results so far, including a sweet 5-0 demolition of AC Milan, although the system with the exact set-up as described above was used after our defeat at Udinese the analysis of the types of goals we are scoring shows that we are successfully exploiting the midfield and that we are able to 'work the ball in the box' to great effect. Additionally we've had a couple of 'long shot' types of goals from our Libero and DM's which is, of course, a bit of a bonus analysis of assists - as discussed above, the set-up planned to have the left side of the pitch slightly more attacking then the right and you can see the successful implementation of that here. Our LW has been one of the most efficient players in the team in creating chances from the left flank. While the RM's contribution is slightly disappointing, his main duty is less about support and more about defensive responsibility and space coverage. Additionally you can notice we have 15 assists from relatively deep locations, which means that creating play from deep with the help of the libero and the DM's is working well. the location of the goals conceded is mostly central, which could make me re-evaluate some of the marking instructions of the defensive players. Still, the encouraging part is that we have not concede a single goal from wide areas apart from a fluke cross from Nacer Barazite that somehow ended up in our net when we played FC Kobenhavn. This means that we are managing width incredibly well and that we are successful in achieving that horizontal mobility as a compact defensive unit. Part of this is down to the great all-round wide players that Juventus have in their squad, particularly Alex Sandro and Cuadrado. These two players are key to the system as their work rate and defensive ability helps the team in all the phases of play. Juventus vs. Man City in this match we produced one of our most typical performances - great possession management and efficient attacking display, while defending through player positioning and fluidity. The average positioning of the players shows that we have limited space between our lines and that we stay compact as well as that we maintain good coverage of width. The heat map shows that the focus of our play was the opposition's entire central area as well as City's right (our left) side of the opposition half, which highlights again why playing with the Libero is so special - you can achieve high pressure football while defending deep. average team positioning heat map the Focus of our attacks shows good overall distribution of attacking locations, which means we are involving all of our players in that side of the game. The focus towards centre-left is by design and the proportions seem very balanced. The interceptions map shows that we make a very good number of successful recoveries high up the pitch, which shows that the counter-pressing element of this system is working really well. attack focus interceptions map in this match, our Libero, Bonucci, produced a fantastic all-action display. Here you can see how his passing game alternates from deep-long range passes to high up the pitch-shorter but incisive passes. Bounucci was all over the pitch, focusing on central areas but covering the wide areas when needed, averaging 60% of the match spent in own half and 40% in the opposition half. Libero Passes Libero touches ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ hope you enjoy reading this, and please take note that this is a system that heavily relies on players being able to perform specific, specialized tasks, particularly the Libero. I will gladly answer your questions but make sure you have read the OP as I'm sure you'll find your answers if you pay enough attention. I will try to implement a similar system with a team of lesser ability in the next case study, but that might take a while. On a final note, I would like to give credit to Guido at strikerless.com for his fantastic work which helped me articulate a lot of the issues I had in mind as well as triggering some lightbulb moments in my design of the system.
  11. UPDATE: Finally got round to adding screen shots to make it easier for everyone to follow! Inspired by @Cleon and @Rashidi's guides and blog entries and more recently @Ö-zil to the Arsenal! series of fluid and very fluid tactical posts: 1) https://community.sigames.com/topic/352148-universality-in-football-manager-2015-very-fluid/ 2) https://community.sigames.com/topic/373859-arsene-wengers-invincibles/#comment-440604 3) https://community.sigames.com/topic/373361-arrigo-sacchis-4-4-2-very-fluid/ 4) https://community.sigames.com/topic/372887-johan-cruyffs-3-4-3-diamond-very-fluid/ and particularly this one: 5) https://community.sigames.com/topic/390163-playing-style-structure-a-modern-4-1-4-1-very-fluid/ (updated version of 1 above) I set out to convert my very structured/structured 4-1-2-3 Chelsea playing possession football based on Cleon's "Art of Possession Football" guide to a very fluid version of the same style of football. I've been trying to seriously take Cleon and Rashidi's advice in just watching the match and trying to figure out what's not working and what's working and how to create or attack space but haven't really come to any conclusions about where my tactic is working/not working. So after resisting for 2 weeks and watching half of my season's matches in full, I have come to these forums to seek enlightenment! I would like to show you how I set up initially based on Cleon's "Art of Possession". BEFORE: Shape: Structure/Very Structured Mentality: Control DLF(S)/F9 Costa/Embolo IF(A) AP (S) Hazard Willian AP(A)---BBM Tielemans---Lewis Cook DM(S/D) Matic/Mikel WB(S)--CD(D)x2--WB(A) Rahman--Terry/Zouma--Azpilicueta GK Courtois TIs: Lower tempo, Wider, Higher defensive line, Close down more, Tight Marking, Prevent Short GK distribution, Shorter passing, Play out of defence, Roam from position. NOW: Shape: Very Fluid Mentality: Standard FW: CF(S)/DLF(S)/F9 - Costa/Embolo/Luan AML: IF(S/A) - Hazard or Raum(A) - Pedro or W(S) - Malcom AMR: W(S) - Willian/Cuadrado or IF(A) - Kenedy MCL: AP(A) - Tielemans/Fabregas/Oscar MCR: BBM - Cook/Hojbjerg/Oscar DMC: DM(S/D) - Matic/Thiago Maia LB: WB(S/A) opposite duty of the AML - Rahman/Targett RB: WB(S/A) opposite duty of the AMR - Azpilicueta/Mayke DCx2: Ball playing defs x 2 TIs: Normal tempo, balanced with, slightly higher defensive line (lower to normal vs fast teams), Use Offside Trap, Max closing down, Tight Marking, Prevent Short GK distribution, Mixed passing, Play out of defence. PIs: FW: Move into channels, Close down much more. IFs: Sit Narrower, Close down much more. BBM: Get Further Forward WBs: Sit narrower, Run wide with ball based on Guido's defending vs crosses guide (https://strikerless.com/2015/12/23/dealing-with-crosses-in-the-fm16-me/) DCs: Close down less Comments and observations: - The style of football I am trying to play is total football/gegenpressing and possession football. - I was tempted to emulate @Ö-zil to the Arsenal!'s 4-1-4-1 but then I felt that Hazard suits the higher up AML positions as an Inside Fwd (and Kenedy on the AMR side) and to save me from having to retrain him into a wide left midfield position. - From watching matches, I felt that my final 3 attacking players were often isolated from the midfield duo of my AP and BBM hence why I have the 'Get Further Forward' PI on my BBM. - I've feel that when I play Cook/Hojbjerg as CMs instead of BBMs they tend to play better and get more on the ends of attacking moves and passes more. Why is this the case? But I've seen people play and post tactics on here with an AP-BBM-DLP/DM trio in the 433 midfield with success. I've read somewhere in one of Ozil's tactical guides that the BBM is just the same as CM but with roaming as a PI on. Is this a possible reason why? - Willian was my best player and played consistently better than Hazard as a right wide AP(S) in my structured control system before I made the switch. Hazard was often underperforming no matter whether I tried him as IF(A) or (S). - I got rid of Willian as an AP(S) in the new very fluid system as such fluid systems should have 0-1 specialist roles according to @wwfan (I know, I know... I have read the numerous debates on how the generalist/specialist debate is just a myth and @wwfan came up with it to help newer players understand the TC and how it works and he did disclaim that not every thing is hard and fast rule but it does make sense: more specialists in structured systems, more generalists roles in fluid systems as the efficacy of specialist roles in more fluid systems are lessened). I have switched him to a Winger on Support duty now but I feel that it makes no sense since my striker is a deep playing one (see below) and won't be in the box to receive his crosses. Am I wrong to play Willian as a Winger then? Inside Fwd doesnt suit him because he is right footed. - I'm not sure what to put my roles and duties for my midfield trio and final third attacking trio anymore as they no longer perform as consistently or in the way I would expect them to compared to my structured system. Could it be that my players dont have the right mentality to play a "Very Fluid" system and I should take it down a notch to "Fluid"? The reason I am adamant about it being able to work is because my team is the highest ranked team in the Premier League for "Decisions" and thus should be able to play intelligent and possession football. - My FW is usually a supporting striker role. F9 works beautifully with Luan but neither Costa or Embolo have performed consistently either with DLF or CF(S). I tend to play them as DLF(S) when AMR and AML are both Inside Fwds and as a CF(S) when at least one AMR or AML is playing as a winger. - As my FW is usually a supporting/creative striker role, I thought it would make sense to exploit the space he creates when dragging out the opposition's defenders with him by setting Hazard on IF with an attacking duty. However, I find that he is often not doing much to contribute to the match and hardly getting any touches in. - I am holding most of possession with many shots taken but less than half on target usually and I concede at least a goal a game on average due to being hit on the counter with my high defensive line and playing the offside trap. During half time of course, I select to work into box if I see that I have low shots on target and long shots making a fair share of my total shots. That's all I can think of right now in terms of comments and observations. Please let me know what other information you require in order to help you suggest where I could improve or tinker with and see if it makes a positive difference. Thank you! @Cleon, @Rashidi and @Ö-zil to the Arsenal! I am particularly looking forward to your responses!
  12. Hi all, in this thread I will post any tactical ideas or 'revelations' that I come across in my career thread with Stuttgart To start with, Here's a system I managed to put together that brought some great success with der VfB. Tactical revelations So, my computer crashed and I had to start the season again. I thought I'd implement something different this time, and after considering the players I have at my disposal I decided to implement a very fluid system with a 3-4-1-2 base shape Main issues considered - My fullbacks are decent but far from world-beaters - I have a lot of talented DM's, and most of them have high workrate, stamina and strength - I have the best defensive trio in the league with Orban, Hesse and Grunenberg, and it would be a shame to leave one of them on the bench - Same goes for the attacking trio of Eggestein, Avdijaj and Rapp, although using Rapp as a shadow striker allows me to exploit his creative prowess in midfield - There's plenty of strength, pace, work rate, stamina and tactical intelligence in the squad to be playing deep, absorbing the pressure and create quick transitions - I have a shortage of wide, winger-style players, Gnabry being the only one that stands out *the left midfielder cuts inside and is more of a defensive playmaker *right midfielder attacks the wide space *normal defensive line so that we can exploit our speedy midfielders *two DM's - both physically astute, one of them them running forward to support attacks, the other sitting deep and dictating tempo *maximized width so we do not concede the flanks too much *very fluid shape for compactness, creativity and team-play Half season results: Best defence, best attack, still going strong in all competitions and some amazing player performances: Attacking trio apps gls ass mom say what you want, but 33 goals and 8 assists by December is pretty impressive Overall Let's see where this gets us this season I will make a few points about how important it is that you figure out how you want to/can play and adjust accordingly. I notice a lot of people thinking any tactic could work with any team or any team can play any style of football, which I believe to be the reason for their struggles. At the end of the day, if football would be that simple it wouldn't actually exists in its current competitive form. It's a very complex game with infinite amount of variables, however the one thing that you can or have to do as a football manager is know how you will play. And when I say that I don't mean being 100% sure from the start about each movement you want your players to make, everybody adjusts and learns along the way exactly because of the complexity of the game that i mentioned earlier on. You're bound to be faced with unknown scenarios in the game one way or the other. The one thing that you can do is analyse your squad, try to understand the parameters of the tactical creator and what options it gives you and then come up with a solution to implement an idea. For example, team shape is a key thing in this FM I believe as it influences pretty much every aspect of how you play. So it's important that you understand the implications of playing a flexible or fluid approach before deciding which one to use. With the team above, employing a very fluid shape makes sense because I have very all-rounded players and a lot of what they do on the pitch is more down to their own talent rather than my specific tactical instructions. However, that is an instruction in itself! It is a decision you have to make whether you want your players to be free in making those decisions or not. My advice is to not tick things left and right and expect for a magical cocktail, keep it simple and, most importantly, make sure you can observe and understand the results of your decisions! so, key question: What are your squad characteristics? so, let's say you have good to excellent players, let's say defenders that can pass the ball 7 out of 10 times and midfielders that can tackle successfully 7 out of 10 times, which is how I would describe my squad at the moment. This enables me to focus on a style of play that involves much more fluidity in player movement. I have decided to field my strongest 11 and see which one performs best in which position and how I can fit it all into a system. - So I have 3 CB's that can do a decent job on the ball, one of them slower than the other two, who have 15 for acceleration and 13/14 for pace. This means playing a back three should not be problematic as the 2 side CB's are quick enough to cover a lot of ground on both the wide and central areas of the pitch. Additionally, they are tactically intelligent enough to cover for each other and again, quick enough to come back to a central position from a wide position(for example challenging an opposition winger). - I have 4 DM's in the squad that are very strong, fast, hard working and good in individual duels. This enables me to have them deep enough to protect the backline and rely on their speed to support the team high up enough in transitions. The choice of roles is tied to a different issue: the overall style of play. So I have a normal defensive line and a standard mentality and a normal tempo, which means I will usually sit pretty deep and absorb pressure looking for an opportunity to either break away at speed or build up play in a favourable area (pass into space TI). Anyway, this is what I want. Why? Because: - I have Rapp (16Acc 18Pac), Gnabry(17Acc 16Pac), Eggestein(15Acc 14Pac) and Avdijaj (16Acc 13Pac) that are all really quick players with good dribbling that can break away at speed as well as having high attributes off the ball which means they are intelligent enough to find space and exploit it. - So why DLP(D) and RPM(S) for the DM's? I decided I want two playmaking roles that will decide how the transition unfolds from deep. There are mainly two scenarios: We win the ball back and the DLP is responsible for picking up that long ball that opens up space or the RPM drives forward with the ball looking to initiate a more dynamic attack. I do not want any playmaking roles in the final third as that disrupts the flow of the movement, as players will look to pass to the playmaker even if another player is in a better position to pass to. - Naturally, in this system, I would rely a lot on the work-rate and stamina of the 2 wide players to cover the wide areas. Luckily, both at my disposal have really good attributes there. However, I decided that it would still be too risky to solely rely on those two, so I adapted the tactic to ease off the pressure on them. How? I maximized the team width. How does that help? It means that when the team is defending we have a bank of 5 players defending looking like this: Here you can see my RPM challenging Atletico's forward for the ball whil the DLP marks the other forward while covering the space between the LCB and CB. You can also notice that the RCB and LCB are wide enough to challenge the wide players if needed (that is if the LWM and RWM fail in challenging or marking them), and the space they leave is covered by the two DM's, both instructed to tackle hard and mark tightly. The Very Fluid team shape also plays a big part in how this system works. It's effect on this particular aspect of play(defending) is obvious: look at how close the lines are to each other. The team is very compact and allows little space to the oposition. - The Shadow Striker and why is it working so well in this system: Matthias Rapp is a player I picked up when he was 15 and developed him in what many believe to be the finest German player of his generation. - notice the high work rate and the good tackling and marking stats - Comes Deep to Get the Ball PPM The combination of these factors play a decisive role in how Rapp interprets the SS role. In defensive situations he will come deep and help the midfield(see picture above) while his speed helps him transition quickly in attack and join the two forwards in no time. - what I mean by adapting and suiting your system to the players you have: If I didn't have a player like Rapp I would have probably gone for a CM(A) in the midfield strata. This could turn out to be a viable solution if your side is weaker as well, as that would solidify the defense with a bank of 5 midfielders in the defensive stage of play. Additionally, if my 2 DM's wouldn't be so good in both challenging for posession and creating play I would probably have to change their roles and the whole idea of the system would change as a result. Off the ball and passing are also very important in this kind of system, as a very fluid shape means the team relies on the player's ability to fill in for each other's positions and not waste passes when in critical situations. Overall stamina, work rate, good tactical attributes(anticipation, decisions, concentration) of the players also play a massive part in it as I rely on the players ability to cover ground due to the width mentioned earlier on. Also, my left midfielder cuts inside, and if he wasn't as technically gifted as the WM's I've got at my disposal I would probably instruct the team to exploit the right flank. I have opted not to for two reasons: one of them is the one above and the second is because I rely on the overall tactical intelligence of my team to 'pass into space' correctly, i.e. I leave the decision whether to exploit one side of the pitch or the other to their ability to read the game and interpret the right call. An overall weaker squad might struggle with that. See how it's all interconected? Link to part II - Adapting Link to part III - Bringing back the Libero
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