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(You can skip the story and go straight to the questions). So, as a seasoned ever-since-CM3 player, few years ago I gave up on FM, considering it way too complicated and not fun anymore. I have no patience for training routines, team talks, media management: I want fun, realistic, yes, but fun. FM wasn’t giving it anymore. I tuned out. ”Try FMC/FMT”, they said. „It’s simpler and more to the point”. I did: it wasn’t. Press conferences again, team talks again, no option to train a new position (too fun, I guess) and still the ridiculous fluidity/philosophy concept, which I NEVER got. I gave up again. This year I gave it a go: it’s WAY better. I’m impressed: the fluidity setting is (finally) gone, I can give most of the secondary task - such us transfers, I just pick a target and let the director do the rest; realistic, no? - and concentrate on next match. Sadly, again I fail to understand the game. It’s kind of funny so many years in, but still I have very little idea what I’m doing. And it seems simple enough: covering all areas of the pitch, enough runs in, some holding, adjusting to the opponent. I recall two very influential FM reads: one by @Rashidi about covering areas and defensive screens (EDIT: I think it was this one: http://www.addictedtofm.com/working-title-tactical-design-i-player-roles/), and other one about winning possession: https://www.passion4fm.com/win-possession-adapting-match-tactic/ These make you think: oh, so THAT’S what it’s about! and jump back to it, but then reality kicks in and you lose the match. Couple questions: 1. DEFENSIVE SHAPE: the width option is clear: expose flanks, middle or standard. I’m lost at pressing and the d-line. The passion4fm read would instruct me to press players in vulnerable, excluded zones, like a lonely wing back, a CM or CB if facing more numbers in my respective line (3 CMs would overpower and press 2 CMs, or at least one, a winger would press a wing back, having own FB behind to cover the line). I probably did it wrong, but sometime it worked. In FMT19 it doesn’t. Which opponent players to press? And does it influence the... ...line of engagement? I have no clue. I noticed that pushing it creates a gap between defence and midfield, and since there’s no DM there it’s huge. Still, the opponent doesn’t use any AMs. So, a problem or not? Where do I start to press? Which block do I choose? There are many texts and videos on HOW to implement stuff, but rarely any on WHY and WHEN do it. When push high, when stay low? When leave the gap, when not to? 2. Covering areas: two CMd’s cover the pocket, but not the enemy pocket. CMd + CMs cover own pocket (if the supporting one has right stats), but again there’s not enough pressure on the enemy pocket. I need to make a forward press more. Right or wrong? A line consists of: ML MC MC AMR, so there’s a gap on under the AMR. Would a BWM in the right MC spot cover it? Speaking of BWM, would it also cover other areas around him, like both pockets? 3. An AF and winger on the same side: they’d both make runs down the same flank, no? 4. The opponent has 4 defenders and 5 midfielders in flat lines. I’m playing 442, which leaves me at 2 vs 3 in the middle and 1 vs 1 on both wings. I set the attacking width to more narrow to reduce their advantage. Right or wrong? 5. Accordingly, since I’ve narrowed the attack formation, players are closer to each other, making shorter passing more natural, right or wrong? 6. However, my idea for the game is not to retain possession, but score goals, being firm favorites. Therefore, I leave the passing option at “standard”, ready to switch it down once I score one or two, maybe during the second half. Right or wrong? 7. It’s the 70th minute, and I still haven’t scored, time is running out. I need to go direct. Should I leave the „more narrow” on, or go “standard” or “more wide”, since the players should be fuhrer apart from each other? See, it’s stuff like that. I know what stuff means, but have no idea how to use it and when. Please don’t tell me to go read @Cleon‘s in-depth analysis of options, I really have no time to go through all this, despite it being an amazing read. I really don’t want to dig that much in, hence why I consider FMT the only option for me these days. Thanks for the replies and patience. EDIT 2 - my current setup 1: False 9 (s) Adv Fwd (a) Winger (s) Cm (s) Cm (d) Winger (s) FB (s) CB (d) CB (d) FB (s) Swp GK (d) and 2, the experimental one: Pressing Fwd (s) Adv Fwd (a) Wide Pmk (a) Cm (s) Cm (d) Wide Mf (s) Fb (s) Cb (d) Cb (d) Fb (a) Swp Gk (d)
Frstly, as a disclaimer, I've really only spent six months thinking about the theoretical side of tactics in Football Manager, and how the match engine replicates certain aspects of the game is still a little unclear to me. So probably some of what i'm saying is potentially nonsense, as I've mostly made my observations from tinkering with things and watching what happens in the games, as well as in the analysis screens. Anyway, The Tactical essence of Sacchi Summary from my blog post about Sacchi Sacchi once said “I coached the best team in history”. Some might dispute this, and argue that Guardiola’s Barcelona were the better side, this interesting blog in Goal.com gives Sacchi’s Milan the title, arguing: Previous attempts to recreate Sacchi in football manager, whilst being incredible tactical analyses in some cases, in my view have failed to address the speed and width of the tactic as well as the physicality of the approach, the utilisation of set pieces, and the extreme positioning of the defensive line. I’m most confused by the lack of width in many, not all, of the previous tactics. Donadoni is an incredible winger, two footed, with the ability to go inside or outside on either flank. Tassotti almost plays as a wing back, and Maldini is definitely a supporting fullback, with an outstanding ability to cross from deep. As goal note: Sacchi was an innovator. Like Guardiola’s Barcelona, both teams undeniably have their influences in the 1970s Dutch team. Sacchi will perhaps be best remembered for the notion of the 25 yard rule, such that, your defensive line should never be 25 yards behind your further most attacker. Watching AC Milan 1989 now on YouTube you’ll see them often camped on the half way line. Within that 25 yard zone, AC would hunt down their opponents to win back possession. There is also a tremendous fluidity to the Milan approach, and Sacchi loved players who can play in any position. Milan’s back four, Tassotti, Baresi, Costacurta and Paolo Maldini, were comfortable on the ball, the latter two outstanding crossers. Baresi became famous for his attacking bursts to instigate attacks from the back, he was technically as good as any midfielder (Bonucci is p[perfect in this regard). Sacchi’s formation should not be considered an orthodox 4-4-2, aside from the fluid movement of the players, there were asymmetries to the tactic. Tassotti spends more time up the pitch than Maldini, and Columbo often tucks inside from his wing role to form a midfield three, and help out Ancelotti and Rijkaard. And Gullitt comes deep into midfield to collect the ball, whilst Van Basten usually occupies advanced positions. In terms of chance creation, goal note Resources for development of the tactic http://www.football-coach.net/arrigo-sacchis-method.html http://www.goal.com/en/news/1717/editorial/2011/11/23/2767812/arrigo-sacchis-ac-milan-vs-pep-guardiolas-barcelona-the http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1425160-great-team-tactics-breaking-down-how-arrigo-sacchis-ac-milan-took-down-europe https://markfc713.wordpress.com/2013/08/23/football-tactics-arrigo-saachis-4-4-2/ Previous attempts to recreate the tactic The Formation and Player Roles There are other views of this formation available online, but in my view, nothing comes closer than this graphic to representing how Milan play. The formation is relatively easy to represent in Football Manager, and use of player roles allows you to represent some of the key aspects of Milan's play. E.g. Baresi (Bonucci) as the quarterback, (this is aided in FM18 by the brings ball out of defence PPM), Rijkaard's (Kessie) runs into the box, Van Basten (Kalinic) as an out and out complete forward, the sweeper keeper, and the way Ancelotti (Biglia) drops deep to receive the ball, without ever becoming a holding midfielder. Also having that deep mentality for Biglia will mean he drops in and takes the ball of the defenders whilst playing shorter passes to those around him like Ancelotti did. I'm not sure about the BBM, because Rijkaard does get involved in the build up play as well, hmmm. Some of the other positions are debatable, for example the positions of Colombo and Donadoni are subject to debate, as are the Gullit position. I believe the front two should be marked out as a two, because if you look especially as Milan get into the final third in the videos Gullit takes up the position of an orthodox centre-forward. In this case, Gullit is used as a deep lying forward, This role seems a perfect fit for Gullit. The other area of contention concerns the full backs. I've seen matching mentalities set for the full-backs in previous replication attempts. This is surely wrong, if you watch the videos Tassotti gets much further forward than Maldini. Maldini is sure a great crosser of the ball, but a lot of his work comes from deep, he seems to be more cautious, i'm not sure if that is his mentality, or the tactical system. Anyway, as such I've set asymmetric mentalities on the full backs. I am concerned about having an attacking fullback, and may look to analyse this throughout the season if the defence does not improve. The other problem concerns what to do about the Wingers ? I think Donadoni is fine as an Winger switching to inverted Winger throughout the game, i have no issue with that. Zivkovic is nice, because if you put him on the right as a "Winger - A", he has a left foot and cuts inside PPM, so this will actually perfectly replicate the unpredictable attacking play of Donadoni, in that he will go inside and out. Donadoni is amazing, since he can go outside on the right, but his two-footed nature means he often cuts in as well - and can do the same on the other side. I have signed Zivkovic and Chiesa in essence to replicate him, we also have Suso as well who can play this role. So i perhaps have too many Donadoni's. The other side is an issue. I've just had Bonaventura return from injury, and i see him as playing that Colombo role nicely. The issue is how to replicate a narrow wide midfielder in the game. The description of the Wide Midfielder seems to fit exactly what Colombo does for AC, with the Sit Narrower option ticked in order to move him inside. It is interesting to note, that Milan's width comes from Donadoni and Tassoti, as well as Gullit dropping into wide areas. So the narrow wide midfielder is placed narrow on the same side that the DLFS is placed on, you will see the DLFS often occupying wide areas. I've also used this tactic below to great effect, winning 4-0 and 5-1 in the past two games I've used it, so i might go with it for a while. In this case, the central midfielder on the left pushes out wide with his Mezzala role. Again, the role of the Mezzala seems to some degree consistent with what Colombo does "a central player who drifts out wide into the half spaces". I'm actually a big fan of the asymmetric formations, in that for whatever reason they seem to confuse the AI. Of course, Donadoni is now in the role of an AMR, and i think this could compromise the way we press, although I've not looked at the analysis on that yet. It might be that we need to pull him back to MR, and have the asymmetry in a flat bank of 4, and having him set to an attacking mentality, will push him ahead of his 3 teammates who are set to support and defend roles. Team Instructions In my previous thread on my Crystal Palace save i was criticised, perhaps right or wrongly, for trying to change aspects of my mentality through team instructions, so i imagine this is where i'm perhaps committing some mistakes. Remember, i'm not so familiar with all of what the engine does, so i'm applying what I've learnt about football to this tactic, without necessarily understanding if what i'm doing is right within the engine. So i guess, this will be where i will learn the most. If you can comment constructively that'd be really cool. Mentality I've agonised over mentality, because I've noticed that the mentality influences the defensive line as well as intensity of the press and desire to win possession back quickly. I've not measured it analytically, but i can clearly see that the heat maps for the defence are higher where you use attacking. On attacking, players are also more aggressive winning the ball back (not sure what to do about gets tuck in here, because AC backline did stay on their feet a lot, although the midfield could put the boot in, and also the defence were good at tactical fouling). Pressing is also a lot more intense. So, the question with Sacchi, and the same will be true where we're talking about Saari, is how do we get these defensive lines at the highest as well as ensuring pressing is intense. Since, both operate what must be considered some of the highest defensive lines, we MUST replicate this in FM. I've created a Sarri tactic for Napoli, which uses Attacking mentality, but then rigs everything against that mentality, attacking, e.g. slow tempo, no risky passes, no dribbling, no long shots, retain possession, all short passing, no pass into space. This is just my own version, i don't know if what i'm doing makes any sense WHATSOEVER. However, it makes it work in the game, i'm top with Napoli after ten games, although we're not scoring as much as i'd like the defense is amazing. So i'm bringing that in here ,because i know that Saari was influenced by Sacchi's idea of compression and pressing with the high line and offside trap. Plus watch AC, there is NO WAY, they should be set to a standard mentality. I agree that control is more realistic for their attacking style, but given perhaps the defining aspect of Saachi's is the high defensive line, closing down, and compression, i believe the attacking mentality actually beats Control for fidelity. I'll be interested to know i guess, am i overstating the role of mentality in defining the defensive line ? I am of course aware, that the attacking players might stay a little further forward in the compression, and therefore we might not get to our 25 yards between defense and attack, but often in the game with this tactic you will see it very compact. But regardless, surely having a Very Fluid mentality ought to create this compression and movement as a unit naturally anyhow ? Also, look at Baresi man, he's got a total attacking orientation with the ball, as does Tassotti, i don't know ? Be interested in peoples thoughts ? In summary, selecting attacking allows us to have a higher defensive line, if you look at pressing that is also intensified by selecting attacking relative to control, the tactics also allows us a bit more width. Although we need to take steps to mitigate the tempo, since obviously we don't want to turn into Real Madrid. Although if you watch AC they do engage in a lot of counter attacks, so i'm ok with this, although i can see that we're a little too fast. I'm allowing my obsession with the defensive line to make this call. Also aware of the issues relating to using attacking and more width, and how that impacts upon defensive shape. I need to look at this, when i do the defensive analysis. Tempo I guess i probably should put this down to normal, and in fact i have used normal at times throughout the season. I can see that this is one way to mitigate the effects of having the attacking mentality. I don't know, i mean if the nature of high intensity is "using this approach to unsettle opposition", then it would appear to be the case with Sacchi's AC. Attacking obviously raises the tempo anyhow, so yeah, i'll change to normal, lol. I can see the engine does not always like higher tempo with shorter pass as well, and relative to my crystal palace save, i think we're having issues with chances being wasted, which i think might be influenced by tempo and passing style. Team Shape Very Fluid, i don't think there's any debate, AC one of the most fluid teams I've ever watched, with all players contributing to all phases. In my head anyway, this option, the team plays as a unit and as such ought to create the compression necessary for the 25 yard compression zone, since all players are contributing to that phase of the game ? Attacking players still have high levels of creative freedom with the ball, despite the rigid systematic approach to defensive phases. Width Again, i think is debatable, I've seen some teams go for a Balanced width. I'm not convinced, given the high volume of crosses to goals AC scored, you will not get authenticity by using Balanced, it has to be wider for me. I might even try exploiting the flank that Donadoni player is on in future. I certainly passionately disagree with previous replications who've used Narrow, in fact i'd say this was wrong. Width will allow more space and increase the mentalities of wider players, whilst offering support to them as well. Which seems to be a characteristic of Saachi. As mentioned above, i'm aware of the tension between wide play and defensive shape. Defensive line and offside trap Self evident. One of highest defensive lines ever used, and watching Baresi orchestrate the offside trap is a thing of beauty. There are some videos on YouTube actually, it's amazing. Closing Down More Again, debatable as to whether should be set to Much More, but i believe that the compression of the zone between defence and attack is more a characteristic of Saachi rather than aggressively closing down per se. Need to do some analysis on how the pressing looks in the match engine, as I've been very focussed on getting the attacking play improved. Prevent GK short distribution. I'm unsure about this too, since i imagine that during the press, it drags the attackers a little further forward, thus creating a longer gap between defence and attack, but again, thoughts welcome. Tight Marking Big problem for this tactic, is this option. Because Saachi doesn't man-mark. So previous attempts to create pressing systems, which i read when i was creating Sarri, users stated that they had clicked tighter marking to intensify the press. But, this would not be appropriate here ? However, here, i'm making the assumption that tighter marking relates to man marking ? I'm not sure it does ? Because obviously you can zonally mark tightly. So i'll definitely be interested if anyone knows about this ? Passing Right, play out of defense, shorter passing, and work ball into box are all key features of AC's play. There is an argument for pass into space, but if you watch how the rest of the tactic combines, you will see that there is no need to pass into space since given the mentality and player roles, they already do this. I don't want possession to fall below 55% since you lose fidelity to Sacchi's play. Although i agree, they do pass into space. For those who said i was using too many TI's to influence the mentality, my reasoning for doing so, is that when you click retain possession all of the passing directions change, not only the team directness bar (see below), but also ALL of the INDIVIDUAL bars for the players too. So ok, I've clicked shorter passing, but in my head anyway, by clicking retain possession, i'm shortening that pass direction of players who have short passing selected. And this is the reasoning for selecting the TI's that i have, I've looked at what they do to those instructions that are dependent upon other tactical choices, and some of the chains of causation are quite long. Are you saying then that this is completely useless and meaningless ? and there's no difference between retain possession and not retain possession in terms of passing directness ? Remember, i don't know much about how the engine does these things, i only have my observations on what happens in the tactic screen, as well as what happens in the match engine, and analysis of the data post game. Creative freedom Again, i think this is an area I might have got wrong. Since creative freedom relates to individual expression, we have a paradox of sorts within this AC Milan side. Going forward they are extremely expressive, yet Sacchi will of course be remembered for the extremely rigid and extreme approach to defending. So i'm thinking ticking this, will influence how the teams expressed itself, which is what i want. But i'm hoping it does impact upon defensive shape too much. Crossing Float crosses, as mentioned, crosses are frequently floated into the box for Gullit, MBV, and Rijkaard, so self evident. Maldini also has the PI "crosses from deep" whereas Tassotti has "cross from byline". Attack Another defining characteristic of Sacchi's play, especially compared to Guardiola's replication of the 70s Dutch philosophy, and in stark contrast with Saari's replication, is the degree of dribbling. This isn't a possession tactic, there's bags of direct balls, crosses, and dribbling. Players who have dribble more include the "RB", the "BBM", the "Winger", and the front two. Playing Squad I'll do another thread linked on the playing squad, because i need to think in detail about how we get the right plyers in to replicate this. We need to get in big men in order to replicate the set-piece aspect of Saachi, as well as the goals from crosses. Obviously, we're going to need defenders with outstanding anticipation and positioning, as well as the technical attributes, we're lucky in having Romagnoli and Bonucci from the start, Roma can take over from Bonu when he retires. Mussachio should be good enough to fit that Costacurta role. I need a back up for him, defenders also need reasonable technique, first touch, off the ball and passing as well as decisions and high mental defensive attributes. Then you've got the overall team DNA, of determination, work rate, and team work. This will not be an easy task. The purchase of a better left back than Rodriguez also will be needed, in my head i'm thinking Kolasinac, although i need to think about this more ? Plus is Kolas better than Rodriguez in this version of the game ? Kessie can become Rijkaard, i'm convinced of that. I'm unsure about whether locatelli can become Ancelotti, but i like giving young players a chance and will allow him the time to see. Plus, we can play Biglia, who's just a shade off being a world class DLP right now, in bigger games, until LocaT is where we need him to be. We need to get in a back up for Kessie, i also like to have two first xi's who can nearly do as good as job as each other, because Montolivio, although playing well in this role, is not what we're looking forward. We need a strong CM who's good in the air, has the techincal ability, mental stats, and aerial capability to play the Rijkaard role (Savic ?). I need to find a better Wide Midfielders than Bonuventura, not because i don't rate him, i'm sure he can do that Coloumbo job, but he doesn't have a very good rating for that position. I will try and retrain him there, and see what happens. But i will sign a replacement in the summer, since i don't think this is a priority now. Kalinic and Silva can play the Van Basten role, and both are smashing in goals from everywhere at the moment. Silva is amazing in this game, and the similarities to Van Basten in terms of the goals he has got is really cool. I need to find a Gullit figure ASAP, hopefully in the Jan transfer window. I'm looking for player who is tall and strong, capable in the air, but with amazing first touch, dribbling, pace, passing, off the ball, decisions, team work, work rate, determination, bravery, and finishing, LOL, not too much to ask for a club in the EURO Cup. Anyway, will LOVE some feedback, especially from those who can answer my questions on the match engine Q's I've noted above. And also those who have created tactics based upon Saachi, Sarri, or even the German pressing systems, as well as obviously those which derive from the Dutch school. Tactic is finally working, we lost 3 of our first 4, but then won 6 in a row, although we just lost to Juve away 1-0, in a really close defensive game. This is the beauty i think of the tactics i have made, is that the attacking mentality combined with higher defensive line, closing down, and offside trap, gives a beautiful defence as the tactical familiarity improves. We're storming our EURO Cup games, against some poor teams, which really gives me hope that once this tactic is bedded in, and the right players are bought and young players improved, we will be able to replicate some of those crazy Sacchi scorelines from the late 80s. My blog on Sacchi - https://footballmanager2017dotblog.wordpress.com/2017/11/28/arrigo-sacchis-fast-attacking-4-4-2-fm18/ Subscribe from the Steamworkshop - http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=1214157519 YouTube videos regarding my tactic -