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Introduction

Any of you that have been following my guided tour of my current save will have noticed that something has been missing. That something is a long, verbose post on the meat and potatoes of FM, what happens on the pitch. The reason for that is simple, I am going to receive a vast amount of flack for it because of who I manage. For those who you are going to say that it is easy to win with a club like Manchester United I say you are completely correct, but it is not easy to produce a quality of football so brilliant that you don't buy the next game in the series because you will have to start over again. For those of you who have been PM'ing me wanting to know my system, this is the thread you have been waiting for. Those of you who just follow my posts with interest, then I hope this one is as interesting as the others you enjoy.

This thread is based on FM10 not FM11. FM11 is the first FM that I have not bought within a week of release, simply because my current FM10 save is a story I am in no hurry to finish. And the primary reason I am no hurry to finish this story is because every time I play a match I cannot fail to admire something my players do. I have built a team that plays a style of football that I actually enjoy watching, and watching in detail. My team plays wonderful football on a regular basis and that is precisely why I am writing this thread. Is it my excellent skills as a tactician? Is it my awesome players? Is it my loads of cash and the Reputation of my club? It doesn't really matter. What matters to me is what I have put together and what it does on the pitch.

I don't know the differences between FM10 and FM11 in terms of Me behaviour and tweaks to instructions or attribute behaviours or any such thing. I'm quite sure FM11 is similar enough to FM10 that most of the fine details will still apply, but the fine details are just the icing on the cake. The most important aspect of this guide will hopefully be the thinking process I explain, the way in which I go about trying to build a working system.

Some introductory detail to fill you out on. I manage Manchester United, this is my first 10.3 save, and it is January 2016. Yes I do watch all my matches in full match replay. This is going to be a tactical guide based on players you all know, with me having spent over a year real time watching them in detail. That's the big build up, it better be a good guide.

Part 1: The Concept

Every manager has an idea. It might be an idea that comes from a rigid belief in a certain way of playing, it might be an idea based on the players he has at his disposal, it might be an idea based on the opposition. The very best managers have ideas that are based on all three of these things, but this sounds like a terrifying and frightening amount of micromanagement and detail. It needn't be.

The most crucial and critical piece of tactical knowledge in the game is that players will be players will be players. Take one position with one set of instructions and play ten different players in that position, and that position will be played ten different ways. This simple truth underpins all tactical behaviour in the game. When you understand that Nani will play X set of instructions like Nani, and Ji Sung Park will play the same set of instructions like Ji Sung Park then the seemingly all conquering power of the Tactical Instructions diminishes.

The Tactical Instructions are still hugely powerful but the Tactical Instructions do not define a good or bad system. The Tactical Instructions define how a player plays, and that in turn defines a good or bad system. A lot of people seem to think that what happens on the pitch depends on the instructions you select. That's complete rubbish. What happens on the pitch depends on what players you select. What the players do on the pitch is in part defined by your Tactical Instructions.

Understanding the true relationship between Tactics, Players and Performance is crucial. A team is a combination of attributes and instructions facing another combination of attributes and instructions. It's not a game of Chess that we are playing here. A Leftback is not a Leftback is not a Leftback. The Rook can be a King or a Queen or a Bishop or a Pawn. Instructions don't make teams, players do.

A team is all about what you do with your players. That's "the concept" of most importance.

In my save I have three "concepts". I want to play beautiful attacking football, I want to be strong at the back, I want to be able to change my team by changing players instead of radically altering the fine details of the my tactics. You want it to, so does he, so does everyone. It's what we all want. The question is, how do you go about building that?

Well I obviously skipped the whole league 10 to Premiership deal and loaded up my save as Manchester United so if you are looking for details on how to build an ultra defensive system you are unlikely to find them here, but you might still pick a few pointers on how to build systems.

This is where some knowledge of FM is very useful. Because FM is a game it suffers from a few limitations. Some of those limitations completely void certain types of tactics. Any tactics that involve one player tucking in and the line shuffling over are out, any tactics that involve a player playing in one "area" in attack and another in defence are out. Simply put any tactics that involve a change of shape between defence and attack are incredibly hard if not downright impossible to build. I have tried. And in my opinion this is the biggest tactical flaw that exists in the game. For those of you that have been here a while, no I don't want to see arrows back either. The solution to a gameplay flaw is not the return to a system of annihilation of any challenge possibly put up by a weak AI. But that is a completely different debate and I am getting sidetracked.

Because FM has these limitations on shape changes during a match, the shape you choose is ultimately the one you are stuck with. You cannot pick an offensive shape and expect it to defend as good as a defensive shape, nor can a defensive shape ever attack as efficiently as an offensive shape. While Spain and Germany might have been the master exponents of shape change in the last World Cup, unfortunately us FM players are stuck playing with the same naivety as England or Mexico. Don't get me wrong Mexico were fun to watch, but they shape they lined up in should have been the shape they formed when altering from their defensive system. It's not a shape that you can use when the opponent has the ball in your own half.

Unlike the top teams in Club and International Football, in FM you cannot change your defensive shape to an attacking shape. This means choice of shape is absolutely paramount and fundamental in your tactical decision making process. Shape is arguably more important than Tactical Instructions in football, and when it comes to FM when you can only pick one shape and stick to it, it becomes utterly decisive.

Part 2: The Shape

This thread is supposed to be me waxing lyrical about my awesome football and not a critique of FM, so I will attempt to get back on track here. No promises though.

As mentioned before you cannot change shape so your choices are either to offensive/defensive in terms of numbers, or of skill. You can't be both. The choice is between a defensive shape that has attacking skill, or an attacking shape that has defensive skill.

Or that is what you would think.

There are however some interesting developing tactical trends in real life football, once you can pull yourself away from the whole Messi v Ronaldo debate. Perhaps the most tactically interesting sides of recent years are not club teams like you would have expected, but Spain and Germany in last years World Cup. These two sides showed us something remarkable and previously barely highlighted. The combination of these two sides is what I base my own team on.

But that's getting a bit hubris-ish, if that's a word. Time for some pics.

With the FM dichotomy of shape in mind my own personal choice was to go with a defensive shape that relied upon attacking skill. I don't think I am but perhaps I am a defensive manager. I opted for this shape:

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Why do I choose this shape? Well the simple answer is because I think it revolutionising football. It has always been heralded as the "defensive brother" of the Barcelona 4-1-2-3 but Barcelona were not in the World Cup, yet the vast majority of teams still opted to play it. The World Cup Final was 4-2-3-1 versus 4-2-3-1, and most interestingly the World Cup's top goalscorers played a 4-2-3-1. I don't think it is a purely defensive shape, but it's defensive shape is revolutionary.

Amongst the common formations here are the lines of attack, or the lines of defence you have to beat:

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But there is also a crucial second issue to the defensive strength of the 4-2-3-1 beyond it's basic shape, and that is how the shape works during a flowing game of football as players move around and the opponent probes and passes and the defending side tracks and hassles and harries and positions itself.

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In this image here the shape has pushed the ball to Manchester United's left flank to the feet of Lionel Messi, and immediately the LW, LB, LCM and AMC all go to close the ball down from four different directions, while the rest of the team drops back and tucks in, ready to cover any attacking pass or cover any possession pass infield. If the ball goes towards the centre circle where the space is on this diagram then the LCM can take up a covering position infront of the defence while the AMC, RCM, RW and FC all close down the ball. Even when employing a high pressing game this shape still pushes all attacking space for the opponent towards the edges of the dense central block of pressing players and is an excellent shape to hassle and harry for the ball and push opponents to the opposite flank. Because the space is down the outside while the players sit in between the two zones of space, the defending side has less distance to move to take up good defensive positions than the attacking side has distance to move to support play on either flank.

If the shift to 4-4-2 was the birth of the modern game then the shift to 4-2-3-1 is it's maturity. Holding a shape that forces opponents down the flanks and defends the flanks with both depth and numbers might seem obvious to us today but then we have the benefit of hindsight. The modern 4-2-3-1 is in my opinion a profound evolution in the understanding of defensive systems. The place on the pitch that matters is the goal. If the movement of Total Football can defeat the man marking systems of Catenaccio then the Zonal Marking system of the 4-2-3-1 that pushes opponents to the flanks is the closest thing to perfect defence in theory that has yet existed.

Theory doesn't stop Messi, but the point made regarding shape remains. It's a point you fail to understand at your peril. The point that made this past World Cup both the most boring and the most fascinating World Cup seen in decades.

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Part 3: The Attack

As I explained before due to certain limitations in FM in terms of tactics I have chosen to opt for a defensive shape that attacks rather than vice versa. However while some 4-2-3-1 systems can be convoluted in attack and regularly change shape in real life, the two most outstanding 4-2-3-1 type systems in the last World Cup were pretty simple yet rather profound in what they did. Those two were Spain and Germany. While there is some debate over the exact system Germany played, that's kind of the point. The Spanish and German systems were both very similar yet completely different, and both showed us some spectactular new ways of understanding how to attack with the 4-2-3-1.

The Spanish system was based on patient, probing, "tiki-taka" football that ground opponents into submission and seized on opponents switching off for a second. The German system was based on lightening fast surgical incisions in vast numbers into the opponents weakest areas. Neither system employed much in the way of radical shape changes between defence and attack. Both systems exploited a certain property inherent in the 4-2-3-1 system, that property is asymmetry.

The previous thinking behind most 4-2-3-1 systems was you defend amazingly but when you attack it's pretty much up to your awesome AMC to carve out chances for your lone striker. Your two wingers can help with the counter-attack, help get the ball upfield quickly and maybe cross for your striker or AMC/Second Striker or maybe play the ball to your AMC and let him work his magic. The logic then follows that two AMC's would be better than one, that the Barcelona 4-1-2-3 formation which pushes two players forward behind the striker would be much more offensively potent because it has an additional AMC type player. That's not entirely untrue, it is sound logic. The problem is that as more and more teams employ 4-2-3-1 systems to defend against you, you are increasingly going to be trying to attack through the middle of teams set up to defend through the middle, and you will be ignoring the space they actually give you.

In the World Cup we saw Spain and Germany line up with systems that absolutely tore apart the space teams were giving them, by turning the attacking weaknesses of the 4-2-3-1 into strengths.

Spain

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Here is a rough example of the average Spanish line up, with some artistic effect in the back line.

The Spanish didn't actually use wingers in the World Cup. They used Iniesta who you could argue is a winger but more accurately is one half of the Xavi - Iniesta footballing carousel of infinate doom. They also used David Villa who is a lethal goalscorer. Basically what is going on here is that the defenders and strikers are down one side of the pitch, through the middle and down the other side of the pitch are the playmakers and supporting cast. Watch what happens when the team starts attacking:

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A humongous quantity of attacking threat is built down the right flank, the opponents defence shuffles along to try and cope with the numbers, the defenders have to be at peak concentration and organisation to prevent Xavi and Iniesta working an opening between them, and sooner or later somebody takes their eye off of David Villa...

And guess what, Germany played their completely different style exactly the same.

Germany

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While the Spanish system was premised on dominating possession and probing open teams, the German system was based on counter-attacks. For this reason Ozil tended to play more advanced so he could off Klose more as the ball was cleared quickly. There was always that threat of Klose holding the ball up and Ozil receiving it on the counter. That wasn't really the main threat though, infact although Ozil had an excellent World Cup he was more of a distractionary figure in the German system.

The critical point in the German system was to do precisely what the Spanish system did tactically speaking, but do it quickly.

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When Germany won the ball it would be played wide right quickly. Lahm, Khedira and Mueller would quickly work the ball between themselves down the right flank and attack at pace. Klose would pull wide and/or deep causing the Centrebacks problems, and Oezil would punch straight through the channel between Centreback and Fullback. The plan here was to swiftly dissect the opponents left back position with counter attacking wingplay and channel bursting runs from the AMC, leaving the opponents Centrebacks in a mess. If the inside Centreback was on Klose no one could mark Oezil, if the outside Centreback was on Klose and the inside Centreback on Oezil then Podolski could make blind side runs on his fullback at the back post.

Most of the time the technical, tactical spare man at the back post didn't matter because the oppositions defence was usually in complete disarray long before then. Germany scored a huge amount of easy goals from unmarked positions simply by overloading one flank at pace. They cut many teams to ribbons doing this.

My Attack

The attack I want to build for my team on top of my defensive base is, ultimately, a marriage of all the best things offered by the 4-2-3-1. I want the potential to play slick "Tiki Taka" possession football in small areas with multiple players eventually carving out a cunning chance. I want the piercing counter-attack using the same tactical overloading as "Tiki Taka" as employed by Germany. I want lethal and explosive Inside Forwards that carry out the role of "backpost unmarked striker". I want an exceptionally exciting AMC, ideally one that is a cross between Eric Cantona and Lionel Messi. I want the talismanic spearhead forward that doesn't simply bury hundreds of goals in his career but makes this whole system tick perfectly. I want the now obligatory world class deep lying playmaker that can land a golf ball on the head of a pin from 60 yards anywhere on the pitch that provides the ammunition for all my weaponry. And finally I want to knit all this together with a style of football that is built on style, flair, panache and self expression of the highest order.

These are things to aim for, to be built into the team, and it's quite possible that throughout my time as manager I will never find a combination of players at X moment in time that produces all of these things in one team. I might build two or three different teams each with a greater or lesser ability at certain things I want to have in my team. My desires and ambitions and philosophy are ideals, they are preferences. They are not the practical issues of actually putting a team together. They are the paths down which I will guide my teams, but I may not always be able to reach certain destinations. None the less it is still my goal to one day put together a team that I consider to be "perfect".

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Part 4: Getting Down To Details, My Brand Of Football

I understand the system, I know the general philosophy I wish to play by, I could punch it all in to the games menus and produce a spectactular fail. Or I could produce a great success, it would be equally as random. Football isn't about finding a good defensive system with decent lines of attack and then telling your players to go play creative football. That's the Kevin Keegan way. That might be a bit harsh, but you can be absolutely sure it's not the FM way. FM doesn't forgive those who do not design systems. You don't have to have microscopic attention to detail to design formations in FM but you absolutely must be capable of designing coherence into your team.

It is absolutely vital that you can put together a team, based on all the old and never dying footballing concepts. Centreback and midfield partnerships, overlaps, supplying strikers, freeing up playmakers, doubling up on flanks, to cross or not to cross? That is the question. Creating space, denying space, balancing your lines, building your lines.

It sounds complicated but it's not. Or atleast you don't find it complicated if you enjoy it. And you certainly don't have to do it all at once. I find these things to be continually ongoing processes, indeed once you get into the swing of the game this is what tactics, substitutions and squad rotation is all about. It's about tweaking all the little "modules" in your team. The groups of players. Playing a slow but immense Centreback this game? Then play a speed merchant box-to-box in midfield and a quick witted, creative forward. That's cohesion. These things take time to learn and time to develop, but they never have to come at the expense of your overall concepts. Get your signings right and these things enhance your overall concepts. You are still playing the overall brand of football you want to play, but you are improving the ability of players to play together.

The question is, where do you start on such a vast and elaborate issue?

Overall Plans

The first place to start when it comes down to the actual details of building a team is to realise that regardless of your own preferences and philosophy for football, you are still going to be playing your football against many different teams. Each opponent will have their own strengths and weaknesses as a team and as a group of individuals. Each opponent will give you at the very least a slightly different game to the previous opponent and some opponents will give you a radically different game. And while the manager may have the aim of building a "perfect footballing team" the manager must also be acutely aware that the fans and the board demand results. The team playing "perfect football" must be the team that's achieving. Style and philosophy must be effective.

In FM as in football, effectiveness tends to be an issue defined not by the absolute ability of one team and the excellence of it's initial formation, but by the changes a manager makes to adapt to different teams and then to different circumstances throughout the match. One of the most effective tactical concepts in recent years on this forum has been the idea of "Tactics Sets". These are essentially different "versions" of the same fundamental system to be used when you need to be more attacking, more defensive, keep possession, play counter-attacking football or to completely "shut up shop". Prior to FM10 there were pretty much two completely different ways of playing FM from a tactical sense. The first was absolute precision engineered, multiple tactical sets that was the equivelant of designing four or five systems for your team, the second way was to pick one formation and one tactical system and more or less stick to it, barring the odd tweak here and there. Unsurprisingly the vast majority of FM players including myself fell into the last camp. Building four or five independant systems that each required testing and ironing out was something that required an immense amount of patience and tended to be done by a very few people.

FM10 brought us a middle way. One that was neither as inch perfectly custom designed as the Tactical Set approach, but nowhere near as stale and inflexible as the "one tactic + odd tweak" approach. That middle way is ofcourse the TC and it's shouts, and it is one of the greatest ever additions to this game from a tactical point of view. It's not perfect, but it is truly excellent and perhaps even game changing.

What the TC and Shouts offer is the ability to take one starting system and then make a lot of changes to it very quickly and easily. It takes only a couple of turns of the mousewheel to radically alter how a particular position performs on the pitch, a few clicks to completely change the defensive or offensive nature of your team. The TC brings the true dynamism and variation and pro-active/reactive decision making of a football match to FM. It changes the complexion of tactics themselves.

Now in FM my core plan is not simply to build a good formation with good tactical ideas, but to build a good system with good tactical ideas that offers the greatest range of options for change and offers the greatest results when employing the Shout changes. My core plan is to build a system that I know how to change quickly and easily, and that performs effectively in the desired manner when I make those changes. My core plan is to build a basic system that can be three, four, five different but equally effective things on the pitch with a few easy clicks of the mouse.

The starting position for My Brand of Football is therefore a starting position of relative neutrality based on what I want to do. Because of the team I am and the philosophy I have my starting position of relative neutrality is going to edge towards an intelligent, flamboyant system. I can then adapt this system to become more offensive or defensive, more or less direct, more or less aggressive in closing down, more or less aggressive in the tackle, more or less wide, more or less creative. Precisely because I know that what I am starting with is a relatively neutral version of my system and philosophy I can then become more or less offensive/defensive in a variety of ways as the match dictates, or even diverge completely from my philosophy if I need to.

The TC offers me many immense tactical weapons to use. The key first issue is therefore to build my relatively neutral system that employs my philosophy.

Building The System

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This is the basic shape of the team and the basic set of Team Instructions. Technically speaking the shape is considered by FM to be a 4-4-1-1 due to the two CM's. However the system I have built is the closest to what I would consider a pure 4-2-3-1 system in function. I will go into more detail later in the post about the midfield.

The basic shape is the 4-2-3-1 system that I have chosen, and the basic Tactical Instructions reflect my relatively neutral starting tactics.

Philosophy - The philosophy chosen here does not reflect my philosophy of football, it is chosen based purely on the impact it has on player tactical instructions. It is therefore one of the more complicated decisions I have made. Ultimately the "Balanced Philosophy" is the philosophy that gives me access to the range of different Mentalities for my individual players that I want to work within when designing specific individual roles.

Starting Strategy - The control strategy chosen here reflects my actual Philosophy, a relatively neutral slightly attacking game with Creative Freedom and limited risk taking.

Passing Style - Passing Style Default. Passing Style can ofcourse be changed through Shouts so I would leave this untouched in order to have maximum options for shortening passing or making it more direct. However I tend to prefer a Passing game that is neither short nor direct anyway. My personal passing preference is an intelligent passing game of good choices that is free from any undue manager influence that may provoke players to aim for inferior options. Sometimes I do Shout "Get Ball Forward" but only when I am desperate for a goal.

Creative Freedom - More Expressive is a core component of my attacking philosophy anyway. I want my players to have freedom to express themselves regardless of what else is going on the pitch. While I set up the team, instruct the team, design the team, pick the team, I'm not the one that has the ball at my feet and passing options around me. One of my core philosophies in FM is that the best attacking football comes from giving intelligent players the freedom to play.

Closing Down - Default, to be increased or decreased or left alone depending on the match. My initial system will be neither aggressive nor back off closing down but relatively intelligent closing down in a Zonal Marking starting system.

Tackling - Default, again to be reduced or increased depending on what is happening. "Inferior" teams tend to fall over a lot and play for free-kicks, "superior" teams tend to get on with it and go for the kill. Tackling is a key match-by-match tactical decision, as are most options in this list.

Marking - As I explained earlier the 4-2-3-1 is a key shape, and a key shape requires Zonal Marking to keep shape. I wont always require the pure defensive quality of the 4-2-3-1 and so I wont always require Zonal Marking, but I start off with Zonal Marking by default and alter that if I want to put opponents under pressure. Infact the combination between marking, pressing and tackling has a radical effect on many different ways your team plays. Zonal + High Pressing + Light Tackling = World Cup 2010 defence in depth. Man Marking + High Pressing + Hard Tackling = local derby match. From this basic starting position a few good Shouts makes a vast difference to how your team plays it's defensive game. And that's the whole point of these initial options.

Crossing - Default. This option is different from the rest in that it has no impact on my tactics because Crossing is something I individually tailor for each player.

Roaming- Default. Same as above, individually tailored for each player.

The Specific Instructions are not touched on this screen. They show how this arrangement of instructions works at the minute. All of these options can be tweaked in match via shouts, and so I do not touch them in this screen. What is important though is to be aware of them, make sure you understand completely where you start and then you can be completely confident in what you Shouts List is telling you and what options it is offering you. If I want to tuck my inside forwards infield and focus play down the flanks then I will shout that, I will shout "Play Narrower and Exploit the Flanks" and so on. Shouts are an immense boon now, and this basic system is set up to make use of them.

I also do not choose Set Piece Aims because it is far too easy to exploit the AI. I will set up some basic set piece orders that give my team a good rough shape without exploiting anything specific, and then let my players pick the options. Basically my set piece setup is to make sure my team is not all over the place and leaving gaps in defence rather than an attempt to gain an advantage over the AI.

Conclusion

That is the basic system set up, not the whole package by any means. What has been done here is simply to define a shape and a basic template for play that gives me a wide variety of options in how to adapt the actual detailed system I am going to build along logical, team based lines. This overall system is designed to be able to make maximum use of the Shouts in line with my basic system and philosophy ideas.

It's a very simple initial team setup, but the simplicity belies it's basic practical soundness as an overall system as it is, and belies it's immense flexibility when the manager is standing at the side of the pitch shouting orders at his players.

This is the rough basic system I line up with in every match, it is by no means the meat and potatoes of the team.

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Part 5: Building The Team

A team is not a set of instructions working in harmony, it is a collection of players working in harmony. Nor is it a shape and a basic strategy that can be tweaked. This is what is commonly referred to as a "framework" or a basic set of simple principles that govern certain aspects of a team. A team is something much, much deeper than that.

What I have set out already is a basic shape for my team, a set of basic fundamental principles for my team to play by, and a capability for my team to be immensely flexible in it's approach to different matches and different match contexts.

I haven't yet put together a team.

Putting The Team Together

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This I suppose is the closest thing I have to a "First Team" and I have them here displaying their roles and duties and their key attacking attributes. Ignore the roles and duties just now, they are actually nothing like they appear to be from this screenshot.

It's the highlighted attributes that are most important. From left to right they are Determination, Decisions, Creativity, Flair, Off The Ball, Teamwork.

The first thing that is noticable is that they are all Mental attributes, and the second thing is that they are all Attacking attributes. This is my overall gameplan in a nutshell, a defensively solid system that is easily adapted that is being carried out and played by 11 highly intelligent, very attacking, very cohesive set of players. How this is obviously a fabulous group of players, but just how fabulous is it?

Determination - Green across the board. The majority are packing 18 Determination with a few above and a few below. This is an absolutely resolute, relentless side.

Decisions - A crucial attribute for a team that is given freedom to play. Decisions are 15 or higher for all players, with most of my best decision makers playing through the spine of the team.

Creativity - Another vital attribute for my particular style of play. I have two 19 Creativity players , a CM and a winger, and bags of creativity throughout the rest of the team. But look who I didn't pick, two 20 Creativity players and two 18 Creativity players. I can change the game with ease and bring on four players that will transform the match into a game of pure superior vision.

Flair - Good quality Flair down the flanks, but absolutely immense levels of Flair in my three most dangerous "forwards".

Off The Ball - My four most advanced players have immense levels of movement, precisely what is needed in conjunction with high levels of Creativty and Flair. My two central attacking players are both packing the maximum levels of movement possible in the game. Bingo.

Teamwork - High levels of Teamwork throughout the team, reaching it's maximum levels in my two central attackers that both have the highest movement. My most lethal movers are both played through the middle and are both my best team players. Bingo again.

Even dealing with just six offensive Mental attributes this team is a thoroughly cohesive unit. Now as I said before it is unlikely a manager is ever going to get a perfect set of players but that is not the point, it's not even the fun of the game. The point is to put together a team that makes sense, that is actually a team. You can be assured that regardless of variable strengths and weaknesses in my players, all combinations of attributes for players in my team will be likewise as cohesive as I can get them, that is what a good team starts and ends with.

But it's not the be all and end all. Because a team will always be built of different players with their different strengths and weaknesses, played in a system of the managers choosing and with his particular philosophies and plans in mind, the task is always about building efficient and effective relationships between players on the pitch. What I have listed here is a set of excellent players with all the right attributes to be a ferocious team, but now I have to build that ferocious team, I have to put it together with the Tactical Instructions.

By now you should be seeing my team starting to take shape, you should be realising that I am putting together something particularly potent. But I have only outlined the basic shell of my team.

The Guts of a Team : Building Behaviour and Relationships

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I am not going to go through each position one by one, for two very good reasons. First it would require several additional posts and multiple images. Second it deals with players as individuals and not as parts of a cohesive unit. It's not how I make my tweaks, it's not how I build my teams, it's not how I think about tactics and players. What I am going to do instead is explain how I build my teams, and explain how I instruct and tweak my teams, as a team.

The image above does not describe what I am comfortable tweaking and what I am not comfortable tweaking. The image above shows the way I have split Tactical Instructions into Player Specific and In-Match Dependant tactical instructions. One set of instructions fits a player into a team, the other set of instructions defines a team.

Now this does not mean that the unticked instructions are not tweaked specifically for my team, this could not be further from the truth. Instead the truth is that my initial Team Philosophy is combined to the Role and Duty options and I choose the initial Role and Duty based on the shape and balance and structure of the Mentality, Creative Freedom and so on. By doing it this way I can change things quickly and easily, say changing my AMC from Attacking Midfielder Attack to Advanced Playmaker Attack for a quick and complete change to Mentality and Creative Freedom, but still have these options directly alterable by the in match shouts.

This is a way of maintaining complete control over what a player does, as well as getting maximum benefit out of the In Game Shouts. I am not going to explain the thinking behind this particular set of instructions right here and right now because as I said before it will give the completely wrong idea.

Instead I am going to talk about something much deeper.

Mentality Structure

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Although Mentality is unticked, the selection of my Roles and Duties is aimed specifically at achieving the ideal internal shape for my system. By internal shape I mean the shape the players actually employ from their initial starting shape. Despite choosing a "Balanced" initial philosophy you will notice that my Mentality Structure is almost perfectly identical to a "Very Fluid" philosophy, barring a couple of clear exceptions.

This is the view where I actively design my teams shape and coherence in terms of risk taking. Because none of the options are ticked it means I can alter these "on the fly" during a Match. However it also means that if I want to make subtle changes to this shape I have to go and flick about with a bunch of Roles and Duties untill I find the ideal combination. It's not perfect, and I said the TC was not perfect, but it is still very achievable if a little time consuming.

The shape here is quite simple. It's a completely fluid attacking set of Mentalities, barring the midfield partnership and the centreback partnership who each play a bit more conservative. This has the result of my midfield duo sitting slightly deeper than they otherwise would in a pure Fluid system, and hence why my Dual CM 4-2-3-1 is still a true 4-2-3-1, and they also play a slightly less risky game when in possession of the ball. My Centrebacks sit deeper yet and play even less risky yet but then I automatically start off playing with a High D-Line and tend to push forward even more against most teams, so it's an ideal trade-off.

It's not the most convoluted Mentality framework in the world but it doesn't have to be. My two CM's are fast, positionally excellent, good in the air, intelligent and great technical footballers so they drop off, protect my Centrebacks and absolutely dominate the midfield. My Centrebacks sit behind and because players rarely get through my midfield and even rarer with two forwards, they mop up in a nice intelligent combination of pressing and covering whichever side is being attacked.

The simplicity of the relationship between my two centrebacks and their relationship with my two CM's again belies the potency of their behaviour. When the ball is down one side of the pitch I have effectively a DM ahead of two Centrebacks playing down the other side. Counter-attacks are not very effective against this system because I have four amazing defensive players playing in a square. One man goes to the ball, the other three adopt excellent defensive shapes like seen in my Tactical Images in the first post.

But defence is not the only benefit from this Mentality Structure. My deep CM's are excellent playmakers, indeed one of them has 19 Creativity and 20 Passing, and so the opponent has to the difficult choice to make of whether to leave the worlds best DLP free to dictate the match, or to press him and leave space in behind the midfield for my AMC to exploit. It's a subtle question asked of the opponent and it's incredibly powerful.

Rather than go through each of these views in isolation and take ages while losing the idea of cohesion, I will group together different views under different tactical ideas and flesh out the details of my system in relevant context.

Positioning and Movement

714bvl.jpg

The very Fluid attacking Mentality structure with the CM and CB "box" dropped deeper is again present here. This time though you can see that my Fullbacks are asked to bomb right forward, while my box doesn't make any forward runs. My fluid attacking four are tasked with making runs "by percentages". Neither too early or too late, but ideally right on the button. However all players outside my back five are given Roaming instructions. This is because the movement into space and exploitation of space is crucial in my attacking philosophy. There are sometimes some weird results but overall my players Roaming behaviour is excellent.

The wideplay is crucial because with my Fullbacks pushing really far forward, my wide players don't have to play like wingers and nor do I want them to. I ask them to weigh the option to move infield as much higher than any other. Ofcourse sometimes they still pull wide as that option is supreme, but on the whole they tend to move infield and feed the ball through the centre. This can often mean a quick long ball from my CM pinged out to the Fullback down the flank who now has much more space. Or it can mean Aguero dribbling infield and sticking one in the top corner. It can also lead to a cunning short ball through to Rooney who has moved up from AMC into a striking position behind the fullback that the winger has dragged wide.

Ultimately the combination of advanced fullbacks, wingers that cut inside and an AMC that pulls into the channels has a really powerful impact on the opponents fullback positions, very much like the tactical images I put up in my original post. Jaume doesn't move into channels, his job is to pin Centrebacks and exploit the slightest error with Hernandez esque movement.

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Defending

2ij5fgi.jpg

Here you can see how the midfield and forwards press while the defensive line is a bit more cautious, and you can also see that the centre tight marks while the flanks are more flexible about their defensive duties. This set of instructions came about automatically through the TC and is pretty effective for starting off most games. However I do tend to adapt these instructions via shouts particularly early on in the match once I get an idea of the how the opponent has set up to play.

Ball Usage

2gwux5x.jpg

And here is my Philosophy of playing football. Bags of Creative Freedom, mainly Mixed Passing with a slight hint of direct for the attacking players, and everything else mixed barring a few exceptions. Centrebacks don't dribble, players hitting longshots need to be good at them, my CM's pump throughballs all day long, and no one is to cross the ball unless it's an absolute certainty because my team is rubbish in the air.

This set of instructions pretty much equates to a "Passing Game Mixed" instruction. A passing game is on equal footing with a dribble choice or a throughball for every player barring CB's and CM's. It's then up to the player to be able to see the match around him and act intelligently.

Conclusion

And that is my system pretty much. It's a system that combines a particular view on a particular tactical system with a personal playing philosophy, combined to significant attention to detail in instructions but also combined to immense flexibility in match. It's a system that has taken me ages to design, is never finished, and produces some of the greatest football I have ever seen from the ME.

There are the details on shouts to go into but I will leave that for a further post.

Also if anyone would like some PKM's please let me know, but keep in mind this is for FM10 so you will need to have that game installed and patched to 10.3.

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Can't wait to find the time to get stuck into what is bound to be another excellent analysis by SFraser. I admire the amount of enthusiasm you always manage to instill into your posts and it's great to see someone who enjoys the game at so many levels.

Keep up the good work

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Jesus.............. I'm booking Saturday night out to read all of this!

Regards

LAM

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Wow! This is absolutlly amazing!! I found interesting though that you could find that the game really cannot emulate totally what teams like Spain and Barcelona can do... thx for this@

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Never mind "bingo", I was shouting "house" after I'd read that.

Excellent stuff. :)

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SFraser, what you do here is really amazing, my english isn't "perfect" and even if it was, im not sure i could express the "amazingness" of this..

I do have some things to say, but don't know how, so im just going to ask you for an advice.

I don't have a problem building a team of 11 players that behave the way i want them to. My problem is having a whole 25+/- squad and fitting them all into the sistem.

Any advice here on team management?

Ill try to explain in my ongoin tottenham save what i ussualy do, but in this save i play very fast (3 seasons though in a week maybe..) and just win becouse of simple 4-4-2 approach and good players..

I have 5 pretty much great strikers (defoe,pavlyuchenko,rossi,cavani,lavezzi) that i just pick based on their fitness/condition level.. if i spot a CF talent that could play at level these guys do, i would have 4 Great ones and 1 youngster that i would play against weaker teams(every team but arsenal,chelsea,man utd/city, l'pool..)

With wingers i ussualy have 2 good ones and 2-3 young or versatile ones.. in this save i have bale and lennon as first teamers, and 1newgen that plays MR position, and other newgen that plays ML/R and is great with both feet, + coentrao doing fullback/winger there..

In midfield i use ball winner and adv playmaker, ball winners are sandro and palacios, and playmakers are p. henrique and modric, i kinda need 1 more versatile player there, i plan to buy one in mid season transfer window.(sold huddlestone..)

I try so have 2 fullbacks on every side + atleast 1 CD that can play DL or DR.. (kaboul ... and such)

With defenders i do the same thing as with the strikers, i have 2 youngsters , 3 fully developed ones, and 1 oldie (king, 32)..

with GK i go 1 primary and rest just rubbish ones just in case.. when primary gets old, i buy younger one and leave those rubbish ones alone..

And i just rotate, over the years when players get older i just replace with younger ones, and the previous youngsters are fully developed players..

I do sometimes get in injury problems, but rarely..

Ok, im not sure what i just wrote above... but my problem is finding 25 players that fit into my sistem that are like the guys above, few what are developing, most fully developed that i rotate becouse i play in every competition and have lots of matches so i want them to be fresh all season long, and a few oldies that serve as backup..

I do hope that you understood something from this mess i wrote, my english and just general "writing" is bad (my own fault for that :p)..

And also, i forgot.., i tend to sell players with lowest average rating after every season, huddlestone had 6.98 so i sold him. Rest of team ussualy has average rating of 7.15-8 at the end of a season..

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I don't have a problem building a team of 11 players that behave the way i want them to. My problem is having a whole 25+/- squad and fitting them all into the sistem.

Any advice here on team management?

Right well the main thing is to know what your players are good at, so you know what they will do on the pitch, and so you know how to use them.

Imagine you have two strikers, a pacey striker and a bulldozer centreforward. You also have two right wingers, one is a pacey crosser and the other likes to cut inside and is more of a playmaker. The pacey striker will work better with the playmaker, the bulldozer will work better with the crosser. Playing the crosser and the pacey striker is not the ideal combo.

Squad rotation is just about making sense of the players you pick. If I play at home against a side near the bottom of the league I wont pick my "best team" but instead my most creative team and play my best striker. If I am playing away in Europe I will play my two Defensive CM's and a high workrate AMC and try to make sure I take my chances away and deny chances at home.

The main thing is just to put together a team that works. When you are aware of how each player in your squad performs then you don't have a "best team" any more, you have lots and lots of tactical options you can use without having to do much to your tactical instructions.

The team I have put together in terms of players and ability means I can make big changes to how my team plays by selecting the right players without having to change anything in my tactics other than the shouts I use.

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I think out of all the guides and threads made by SFraser, this I think will have to take the biscuit (and probably the biscuit jar too.)

Fabulous guide and great attention to detail, I do a bit of this stuff (letting players make their own decision rather than overload them with tactical instructions etc.) but I couldn't possibly implement everything in here without having to drill it into my head via a power drill and some super glue. Well Done Sir :)

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MR Fraser..... out of curiosity, do you have any 'footballing' qualifications? ie are you a qualified coach or anything?

My knowledge of football is extreamly limited and as the design of this game moves forward I find myself more reliant on your threads to continuie to do well as I simply don't have the overall football logic to apply to the game, like you do.

DOn't get me wrong, much of what you say is very common sense, however sometimes you need a slap in the face to see common sense......... despite it being 'common' it does like hidning under the bed, around the corner, in the knife and fork draw :)

Regards

LAM

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Great thread as usual, Sfraser.

Putting The Team Together

okmqzr.jpg

One thing I am wondering about is why you opted for the first 11 you have here over Douglas Costa, Gourcuff, Pjanic and Ozil? Those 4 players possess attacking mental attributes certainly on par with what you have on the pitch. In Ozil's case I suppose it's that he's not very good defensively?

You also mentioned that you can change how the team plays with substitutions in a game. How do you do that? I know it's not something you change as far as you tactics go. Because most instructions are set to mixed, the system relies a lot more on the players themselves. I'm guessing here it's something like if a team is parking the bus, you take the more defensive Sandro off for a more creative player in Pjanic or Gourcuff? Do you have any examples?

Thanks again for the thread. I love reading about the thinking behind creating a tactic or building a team. It's left me with a lot to think about in my own game. :thup:

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Great thread SFraser,i know you havent gone into the "shouts" department yet but with your team set to mixed everything apart from your 2 CM's do you ever use the shout "pass into space"?or is that not in keeping with your style of play.I'm just trying to grasp what happens to a shout if i have manually tweaked a few settings ie TTB's does that render the shout useless.

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Wow. This thread makes all your other tactical threads pale in comparison. Everything you've written before coming together beautifully in one thread. Like with the 'Developing Youngsters' I'm certainly going to have multiple reads of this.

Also if anyone would like some PKM's please let me know, but keep in mind this is for FM10 so you will need to have that game installed and patched to 10.3.

And this would be lovely, since I'm still playing 10.3 I'd love to see your system and team at work.

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Great thread SFraser,i know you havent gone into the "shouts" department yet but with your team set to mixed everything apart from your 2 CM's do you ever use the shout "pass into space"?or is that not in keeping with your style of play.I'm just trying to grasp what happens to a shout if i have manually tweaked a few settings ie TTB's does that render the shout useless.

If you manually set the TTB slider then yes, the 'pass into space' shout will have no effect.

However (and I don't mean to presume what SFraser does here), if for example, this system were to come up against a 4-4-2 the 'play wider' shout could be used to make more use of the advantage in the centre of the park, or if th opposition had parked the bus then 'retain possession' could be used to play a 'probing' game.

Shouts like 'work ball into box' or 'shoot on sight', any that effect the manually chosen settings, will be useless though.

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Why do I log in this forum?

Answer: To read Sfraser Threads :D

This!

Also if anyone would like some PKM's please let me know, but keep in mind this is for FM10 so you will need to have that game installed and patched to 10.3.

I would love some PKM's SFraser, I enjoyed the ones in the "Creativity and Flair" thread so I'd like any others.

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The thing which I find amazing Is the sheer amount of detail paid to every aspect and the clarity of thought to each instruction.

Makes me want to re-asses my own tactics

I wish SFraser did play fm11 so we could have his insight into the differences of the current game.

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I was actually thinking about making a similar thread titled "the fluid system" but it wouldn't be even half as awesome as this thread! Great read and I learned a lot even tho I basically use the same system (which is mostly because I read all your previous threads :p). I use almost the same roles although a bit less symmetrical and less attacking fullbacks but I'm now thinking about switching things around because this actually makes a lot of sense in an attacking point of view. I also play a on fluid but have my roles set up a bit different. I give all my players the same on the ball instructions. Run with ball, throughballs and crossing all on mixed and long shot on rarely (I'm not that good in the air but I score quite a few goals from low crosses into the box). This also makes my DC's run with the ball from time to time which actually works out pretty well.

Using squad rotation to adapt to different fixtures is also something I found works very effectively. If I play an opponent with a dangerous midfield and a lot of attacking potential or when I want to play defensive I play Kara (very strong and good defensively but lacking in creativity) with Ryan Koolwijk or Kevin Strootman (very good all round with enough creativity to supply my forwards) as MC. If I play a weaker team who will sit back and play defensive I play Koolwijk or Strootman with Maguire who is a very creative and technical midfielder but lacks composure and defensive skills (he is great at unlocking a defense from deep when he has the time to pick out his pass). If I wan't to play more balanced I play either Strootman and Koolwijk or Kara and Maguire. I use the same principle when using substitutes.

On the attacking side in the center I have Ricky van Wolfswinkel (FC and AMC) who has both creativity, speed and technique but lacks a bit in the physical department and is not the greatest finisher. Ronny Rodelin who is strong, fast and a good finisher (FC). Dries Mertens who is a very good all round player with bags of technique and creativity but lacks in the physical department.

Most matches I start with Van Wolfswinkel as FC and DMertens as AMC with two lethal wingers on the wings. The idea is that I create from the center with both Van Wolfswinkel and Mertens as creative force in the center who supply each other and the wingers with through balls. I sometimes switch the two around with Mertens as FC and Van Wolfswinkel as AMC if I see the AMC doesn't get picked up by the opposing defense and I want to play a more lethal player to make use of the chances he can get in that position. If I want to get more finishing power in the center I play Rodelin FC and Mertens AMC or if I play more creative players wide I sometimes play Rodelin FC and Van Wolfswinkel AMC. Now Rodelin and Van Wolfswinkel can play a typical big man small man combo with more creative players wide who provide them with throughballs and crosses. I could go on about the different wide players and their footedness I think you get the point.

Every team is different and If you wan't to start using this concept you first have to know your squad and what every player brings to the table. You can get a general idea of how a player plays and what he can do from looking at the attributes but in the end it's best to just play them and see how they play under your instructions and react to the players around him. If you have a good understanding of how your players behave and what they bring to the table you can start adapting your team to the current fixture.

A good place to start is thinking about where you wan't to place your main suppliers and where you want to place your finishers. If you are in the situation of SFraser that choice is maybe less important as all your players can both create and finish :p. Another thing to regard is the balance between attack and defense and how you wan't to approach your opponent.

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I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post, although i must admit i had to read it twice to get the gist, i've been in strong belief that the TC is a strong tool that not many people take advantage of, something i've used since it's introduction and won't play the game any other way now. Hopefully (and no doubt will) inspire others to go down that path.

A cracking thread and very well explained.

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What roles are you using in all of your 4-2-3-1s. I usually have FB-CD(D)-CD©-FB, DLP(S)-CM(D), IF(A), AMC (A/S), IF (A), AF (A). The FBs are automatic.

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I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post, although i must admit i had to read it twice to get the gist, i've been in strong belief that the TC is a strong tool that not many people take advantage of, something i've used since it's introduction and won't play the game any other way now. Hopefully (and no doubt will) inspire others to go down that path.

A cracking thread and very well explained.

Thank you.

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What roles are you using in all of your 4-2-3-1s. I usually have FB-CD(D)-CD©-FB, DLP(S)-CM(D), IF(A), AMC (A/S), IF (A), AF (A). The FBs are automatic.

if you look at the images you will see CD's on defend and CM's on support,the rest on attack.

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but what role has each player been assigned to?

are the cm's ball winners, DLP etc, are the wingers inside forwards or wingers...

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if you look at the images you will see CD's on defend and CM's on support,the rest on attack.

What I meant was is the striker a deep lying forward etc?

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What I meant was is the striker a deep lying forward etc?

I would say he's a complete forward on attack duty. It doesn't matter THAT much, because Sfraser has changed a lot of the individual instructions. I think he just chose the role because it matched the mentality and closing down settings that he wants in his system.

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This threads kind of inspired me to have a little mess around with the same formation and team, i've never used the balance/control approach before and wondered how attacking it could actually be, and i've been pleasantly surprised so far, i'm only a handful of games in and i'm already seeing some cracking football been played, of course i don't know what roles SFraser was using so i used my own initiative and given roles i think would suit that players, the only thing i can say i'm doing differently is i don't tinker with any sliders what so ever, the only thing i do change is defending/attacking corners, i don't like the thought of having no players back for attacking corners, worries me i might get hit on the break, so i changed 2 players to stay back, and for defending corners i like to have 5 players back, 2 marking the posts and the rest forward, seems to work well and really good for the counter opportunity.

It's all going good so far and trying this out has given me a good game away from my network game, very enjoyable i must say.

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Great read as always.

Just a quick question how did you get the player instructions next to each other. Or have you done that afterwards with images just to explain your points more effectively?

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Wow, great read.

I picked up on 2 points from your team:

- I thought you weren't going to buy any more AMs? Then up pops Wijnaldum. ;)

- The tactic looks like it's changed a fair bit from the one from the Creativity and Flair thread. Mainly the CMs and Wingers. What caused you to change?

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- I thought you weren't going to buy any more AMs? Then up pops Wijnaldum. ;)

19 Creativity and 18 Movement combined to 16 Workrate? Who wouldn't want him?

I am always on the lookout for players and although I wasn't keen on Wijnaldum this save he developed into a weapon and wanted to move clubs. So I felt it was my duty to rescue him.

- The tactic looks like it's changed a fair bit from the one from the Creativity and Flair thread. Mainly the CMs and Wingers. What caused you to change?

Three main things have changed. My CM's were playing too high up the pitch so I dropped them deeper but increased their Creative Freedom by choosing Advanced Playmaker. My Striker was dropping deep, which was great for four/five seasons, but now I want my new striker to play more direct, play higher up on the shoulder of defenders and create space for my AMC so I put him onto a more attacking role.

The wingers was a purely practical issue. As teams continue to play ever more defensive so my wingers had an ever increasing tendency to dribble down the wing and cross. So I ask them both to Cut Inside to negate the rather large bias to decisions caused by oceans of space down the flanks.

It's all just fine-tuning and tweaking, it never stops. While my basic formation has been the same since the start of my save, my actual tactics within the formation changes season by season. Certain specific instructions change match by match.

Here are some PKM's for you all:

Manchester United v Liverpool : http://www.mediafire.com/?ai3civ2vol673bk

Liverpool v Manchester United : http://www.mediafire.com/?niklydw4rxhz7zk

Fulham v Manchester United : http://www.mediafire.com/?bl8lx7kq8bfbid9

Everton v Manchester United : http://www.mediafire.com/?g65s3asplur9k7t

Manchester United v Sunderland : http://www.mediafire.com/?fsbcq62b4ai9qy2

Manchester United v Barcelona : http://www.mediafire.com/?k3l1jlo9zkfdnao

Barcelona v Manchester United : http://www.mediafire.com/?l64qowe602wz7zd

The first five PKM's show my side at it's free flowing best. The last two show my side contesting an extremely tight, cagey European Cup Semi Final against the mighty Barcelona. I narrowly get through, but those two matches were in my opinion two of the best matches I have been involved in. Real cheek clenching stuff and a couple of slices of luck.

Watch them how you like, but I would always recommend full match 2-D replay. You wont really see the strengths and weaknesses of this team just watching the highlights.

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Sfraser, Do you have any issues now you've dropped your CM's back with them getting the ball forward, I think one of the issues i see time and time again within the match engine is inside forwards just standing on top Of full backs and not really attacking the ball from deep.

I'm glad your at the same stage within your save as i am with mine currently, with teams playing very defensive against you it certainly becomes more challenging despite many people claiming the game is too easy. especially when your 8-9 seasons in and won the champions league a good few times to boot.

I find your personal alot more interesting than your actually system personal, with the depth and variety of talent you have it gives you such great flexibility, a interesting tactical point i noticed was how much more attacking freedom your fullbacks have compared to your older systems. they can make such a good outlet for any team playing a 4 man defense, i do however find it troubling some of the odd positions my own players take up when my fullbacks have the ball in advanced errors

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SFraser, first of all I would like to say well done.

Your threads, helpfull posts and views have always been of high quality. Personally I was expecting a thread

on your 4-5-1, since I have been following you for awhile now. Happy to see it here and it has been a pleasure to read and

reflect my own tactics with.

Although I would like to ask you about one thing. Do you take a player's composure in consideration when scouting, buying, training, tutoring them, and if so; how highly do you rate it?

''It's the highlighted attributes that are most important. From left to right they are Determination, Decisions, Creativity, Flair, Off The Ball, Teamwork.''

After having tested building a team with composure as most imporant attribute myself, it really amazed me.

My team always kept possesion and stayed calm.

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Sfraser, Do you have any issues now you've dropped your CM's back with them getting the ball forward, I think one of the issues i see time and time again within the match engine is inside forwards just standing on top Of full backs and not really attacking the ball from deep.

A lot of it depends on having the right AMC for the match because an AMC with roaming and good attributes will constantly be on the move and this will open up spaces for wingers and striker to run into, and open up good passing angles for your CM's.

I think the most important thing is good control of the play down your flanks because you are going to get a lot of space down the flanks, and if your fullback keeps dribbling down the flank and crossing the ball to no one then you are wasting possession. I think deeper CM's actually improves my flank play because my CM's are a much more open and better option for my wide men now. Also playing very attackingly intelligent fullbacks is a massive benefit. These are my fullbacks.

2dippur.jpg

I had to pay through the nose for Alaba and he is clearly not a defensive rock but he is a pacey battler with bags of playmaking ability. My version of the attacking fullback. Magno is a player I pinched at age 18 for a whole £5 million and I am developing him myself. The guy is turning into a special fullback, his technical abilities are excellent and his mental abilities are not too shabby if a bit unrefined.

They are not "perfect" players and so playing defensive CM's is just sensible for my team, but I was already playing that before I got these lads. So these fullbacks compliment my defensive Playmaking CM's and really do an excellent job at keeping the whole "amazing passing football" philosophy ticking over.

I find your personal alot more interesting than your actually system personal, with the depth and variety of talent you have it gives you such great flexibility, a interesting tactical point i noticed was how much more attacking freedom your fullbacks have compared to your older systems. they can make such a good outlet for any team playing a 4 man defense, i do however find it troubling some of the odd positions my own players take up when my fullbacks have the ball in advanced errors

Personnel is a vitally important part of any team. You can't really claim to have a good team if you don't have the right players playing the right tactics for their own abilities.

Btw, did you watch any of the PKMs?

Although I would like to ask you about one thing. Do you take a player's composure in consideration when scouting, buying, training, tutoring them, and if so; how highly do you rate it?

Definitely and highly. Composure is what it is and players that buckle under pressure are never ideal. However you can get away with low composure in certain areas a majority of the time. The two areas you can't get away with low composure is CF and CM. In the middle of the pitch Composure is the equal to any other attribute in importance. For fullbacks it's less vital but still highly desirable.

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A lot of it depends on having the right AMC for the match because an AMC with roaming and good attributes will constantly be on the move and this will open up spaces for wingers and striker to run into, and open up good passing angles for your CM's.

I think the most important thing is good control of the play down your flanks because you are going to get a lot of space down the flanks, and if your fullback keeps dribbling down the flank and crossing the ball to no one then you are wasting possession. I think deeper CM's actually improves my flank play because my CM's are a much more open and better option for my wide men now. Also playing very attackingly intelligent fullbacks is a massive benefit. These are my fullbacks.

2dippur.jpg

I had to pay through the nose for Alaba and he is clearly not a defensive rock but he is a pacey battler with bags of playmaking ability. My version of the attacking fullback. Magno is a player I pinched at age 18 for a whole £5 million and I am developing him myself. The guy is turning into a special fullback, his technical abilities are excellent and his mental abilities are not too shabby if a bit unrefined.

They are not "perfect" players and so playing defensive CM's is just sensible for my team, but I was already playing that before I got these lads. So these fullbacks compliment my defensive Playmaking CM's and really do an excellent job at keeping the whole "amazing passing football" philosophy ticking over.

Personnel is a vitally important part of any team. You can't really claim to have a good team if you don't have the right players playing the right tactics for their own abilities.

Btw, did you watch any of the PKMs?

Definitely and highly. Composure is what it is and players that buckle under pressure are never ideal. However you can get away with low composure in certain areas a majority of the time. The two areas you can't get away with low composure is CF and CM. In the middle of the pitch Composure is the equal to any other attribute in importance. For fullbacks it's less vital but still highly desirable.

Sfraser are you playing with two deep lying playmakers. This is something I have look at but was unsure how to set it up with my Arsenal Team. I basically have Wilshere, Fabregas, Song and Denilson. Could give some expert advice on this please.

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Thanks for your reply SFraser, What tends to happen down my flanks on 11.3 are my fullbacks will dribble right to the byline and then either A, Cross the ball in or b knock it off the opposing defender for a corner or thrown in. They just advance too far for my supporting midfielders in the CM positions to be any of any use at that point. I think i'll try to change the crossing settings to rare (which they already are) but to cross from deep to see if that helps any.

I think i might go back to my 4-2-3-1 and watch games in full detail and see if the AI constantly man marks all of my midfield so tightly, (yes they even do it when my fullback has the the ball at there byline)

Unable to watch your PKM's don't have FM10 installed and i can't find the freaking disc

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This thread rocks. I am trying to implement a 4-2-3-1 system with much freedom like yours with my Dortmund side.

Gonna try your tips and let you know how I get on.

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Thanks for your reply SFraser, What tends to happen down my flanks on 11.3 are my fullbacks will dribble right to the byline and then either A, Cross the ball in or b knock it off the opposing defender for a corner or thrown in.

What is their Creativity at? Being able to see a pass is a skill. It's not an attribute people look at for fullbacks but there is a world of difference between Creativity 7 and Creativity 14 for a Fullback that gets forward. Personally I like Creativity 16 or 17 in my fullbacks, but I'm a bit different.

They just advance too far for my supporting midfielders in the CM positions to be any of any use at that point. I think i'll try to change the crossing settings to rare (which they already are) but to cross from deep to see if that helps any.

The better option would be to reduce their RWB, or their Mentality. A lower mentality fullback will get forward a bit later but still get forward, however crucially he will look for the less risky option. So a pass back to your MC's might be more appealing than a slick dribble and a first time cross to your Centreforward.

I would be looking at their Creativity and Mentality, unless you have RWB set to Often.

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My Right full backs both stink when it comes to attacking in general so i'll discouint them, that may explain their behaviour, the right back i had earmarked for that role threw a sulk so got sold... I'm very tempted to retrain my right winger to become a right back, Dani Alves style, he stinks at defending however with the AI becoming really hard to break down he may be worth risking in certain situations.

As for my Left backs:-

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What is their Creativity at? Being able to see a pass is a skill. It's not an attribute people look at for fullbacks but there is a world of difference between Creativity 7 and Creativity 14 for a Fullback that gets forward. Personally I like Creativity 16 or 17 in my fullbacks, but I'm a bit different.

The better option would be to reduce their RWB, or their Mentality. A lower mentality fullback will get forward a bit later but still get forward, however crucially he will look for the less risky option. So a pass back to your MC's might be more appealing than a slick dribble and a first time cross to your Centreforward.

I would be looking at their Creativity and Mentality, unless you have RWB set to Often.

Sfraser when you mention creativity for the full backs between 16 and 17 are you talking about their creative setting on the slider i.e 16 - 17 meaning the amount of notches on slider or you talking about how much they have for creativity in their attribute

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Sfraser when you mention creativity for the full backs between 16 and 17 are you talking about their creative setting on the slider i.e 16 - 17 meaning the amount of notches on slider or you talking about how much they have for creativity in their attribute
At a guess after reading what SFraser said, i'd say he meant the attribute creativity for fullbacks and not slider adjustments.

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