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Southampton 7 years later, a n00bs tactical journey


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I have been thinking about doing this for a while. I started a journeyman game approximately 7 seasons ago and really struggled with the tactical side of the game. In fact I made a post on here as a cry for help to try and save crawley then promptly failed. Since then I have been reading a lot and learning as I go along. I have had some success and some bad failures (Gladbach comes to mind), here a little bit of my history:

  1. Start off at Santa Clara, did reasonably well then screwed it up
  2. Eastbourne Borough, did well then promptly screwed it up
  3. Luton Town, epic fail, less said the better, epic disaster
  4. Crawley, See above :D
  5. Augsburg, got promoted back to the Bundesliga by winning the division (good result) then screwed it up :)
  6. Newcastle, did really well first season with a normal 442, applied for Arsenal and got sacked for it
  7. Gladbach, was a disaster
  8. Gyeongnam, messed up the holiday and got the job, resigned as it was a total mistake
  9. Southampton, did really well first season, hoping to continue it this season

So be WARNED any tactical advise in here you see from me please take as a pinch of salt...I am more than likely wrong.

So why am I doing this?

So if I am generally wrong with tactical advise why am I doing this thread? Well, simple it is the fact that I am not a tactical guru, I found a lot of situational advise which is great but it is always from the more knowledgeable players. This great however as a n00b I always make mistakes on the game and wanted to document these mistakes for everyone for a purely selfish reason to get advise on what I should have done, but ALSO as other people will probably make the same mistakes as I do.

Additionally I wanted a thread which combined not only career updates but one focussed on building a team from the ground up using the youth system, purchases and tactics. This is a heft endeavour and will take a long time to bang out the original post about the state of play.

How often will I update?

As often as I can, I am hoping to update every 2 to 3 days with some matches that I have played. I cannot guarantee this as it takes a while to do it.

I will update this later today with a few posts:

  1. The current state of Southampton
  2. My plan for the future
  3. The tactics
  4. Proceed with game & tactics updates

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Current state of Southampton

When I arrived they were near the bottom of the league playing a 442/451. I wanted to switch to using 3 at the back but didn't really have the personel at the time to do that so decided to continue with the 442/451. Frankly I got lucky in a lot of places and a couple of signings (more on this later) and managed to finish 8th in the league with 54 points. I don't want to dwell on that season that much as I want this thread to focus on how I am going to restructure the club focussing totally on youth and moving to a 3 at the back system. I will concentrate on how I am trying to achieve this.

So during the summer we were given 19 million to spend, this also accounts for two signings that happened the season before, let's take a look at them and how they fit into my philosophy:

Previous season signings

Fabio Aveni

Nypemdy.jpg?1

Why did I sign him? Simple, he's extremely pacey, can finish and very composed. He came in at 3.1 million from Roma and is already worth 9.75 million this season. Last season he managed to bag 9 goals in 9 starts. Top draw really, he's helped by his "Likes to beat the offside trap" and Gets forward whenever possible" PPMS.

With 3 at the back I will still be going with 2 up front, this season he will become our main striker.

Yannick van Zundert

5EQHrhr.jpg?1

I brought him in for 8 million from my former club Gladbach (where I also brought him in). Reason being he is a physical beast, while still remaining pretty technical. I love my more defensive midfielders to be very physical and he fits the bill, the eagle eyes people will notice he's only 3 stars so would be rated as a good premier league player. He's only at 2 stars CA at the moment so still has more room to develop his more technical skills. He will be a starter this season.

He is naturally a DMC however, I am training him to become a CB and he will eventually take his place there in a season or so if I do not get anyone better.

----

The squad for this season - including new signings

All the squad are here: http://imgur.com/a/VFXzm

Let's talk a bit about each area, starting with the goal keepers through to the striker. This section will not include the youth.

Goalkeepers

  • Howell - Product of our youth system and will be our first choice, not a sweeper keeper but good enough for now
  • Reina - A great backup for Howell and good tutor if we get anyone new through

Defenders

  • Jan Vertonghen - Signed for 1.3 million. Getting on now, but decent defender, good on the deck and what we need to play 3 at the back
  • Javier Macherano - Signed for 170k. Purely as a tutor for our youngsters, probably not going to get any game time
  • Edgar Cid - Already here when I got in, decent on the deck and good all around.
  • Craig Dawson - Not really good on the deck but a good solid defender
  • Roald Lund - Our best pure defender, dominant in teh air and will take care of most crosses. However, very dodgy on the deck, if the top 3 are pressed I would be worried about him.
  • Mladen Ruzicic - Signed for 18 million, a lot of money over 48 months, however, top draw, excellent in the air and good and composed at the back. Can also play in the midfield, really one of the stars of the new team.

Midfielders

  • Luke Shaw - Will be my defensive winger on the LW
  • Nathaniel Clyne - Training to be a defensive winger on the right, hopefully will be there towards the end of the season but will start playing him there before hand
  • Yannick van Zundert - Already discussed physical beast and will be DMC before moving back into DC once we get more people
  • Morgan Schneiderlin - One of our best creative players who sits a bit deeper
  • Jordan henderon - Alround guy, will be used to fill in holes
  • Mirko Mesec - Looking to sell this guy for big money, looks a great player but doesn't seem to deliver much, he was signed by the AI 5 years ago and hasn't made more than 6 assists ina season, nor scored more than 4 goals... Getting rid for 23 million (hopefully)
  • Sean Murray - Brought in for 8 million, decent DW for either side. Not great, but will be good until we can train better.
  • Damir Matos - He actually falls into the youth section but just included him here as he will get more exposure. working on his Tackling stat, then he will become a good DW, lot of potential!
  • Chris Brunt - Tutor, simply put but can also play across the midfield. Not good enough for DW due to his lack of pace though, but a backup backup creative, yes!
  • Hiroshi Kiyotake - Top draw, gave us a lot of assists last year with balls over the top to Aveni

Forwards

  • Fabio Aveni - Already mentioned absolute bagger :D
  • Rafinha - Looking for him to be a deeper creative forward
  • Ostling - On loan for a while, again deeper creative forward for us

Note that there aren't many forwards on this list as the backup comes from the youth which will be revealed later

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The current youth

All youth prospects are available here: http://imgur.com/a/S0vv6

  • Anthony Allen - Product of the youth system and great utility player, training him as a ball playing defender at the moment, but also changing his position to sweeper as he would make a good Libero for the future if I decide to go that route
  • Joaquim Silva - Retraining to ML and as a DW
  • Jan Meyer - Got on a free after being released from dortmund, seeing how he develops
  • Neil Thomas - Youth system product, a bagger, but needs to be more well rounded, his pace is lacking!
  • Hugo Comparada - Retraining as ML and as a DW
  • Nathan Jones - You system product, better pace & jumping than neil thomas, I could see them becoming a partnership but somehow we need to develop him into a more alround player, tough going as he's already 18!
  • Greogory Fernandez - Looking to develop him into a DW, lot of potential but going to be tough going, will see how it goes
  • Machiel van Dalen - Striker signed from a dutch club, got lots of potential have to see how he develops
  • Koen Louwers - Got him in, retraining to MR & DW
  • Richard Tassi - Top draw defender, training him as a ball playing defender, still only has 1.5 stars of CA so a long way to improve and already solid. Will be playing him more and more. He was signed at 15 from Notts County
  • Kenny Blackmore - Youth product, good physicals bar strength, again going for ML & DW, he will compete with the other two for this position
  • Andy Cornish - Youth system product, good potential but won't make it, very injury prone, will kep him around though just in case!
  • Stewart Spoooner - Another youth system product out on loan, won't make it really but these not quite good enough youths can be loaned out then sold on for a nice profit so will keep him around
  • Amine Amara - A real gem find, SW & Libero naturally, just training him up for that position and will introduce him

As you can see we have a lot of youth products available to us, they will be introduced to the first team this season, especially 3 of them Anthony Allen, Neil Thomas and Tassi. I will also probably introduce one of the full backs I bought to retrain as well as another forward such as Nathan Jones. We definitely need to develop the strikers as they all have excellent potential and should be able to make them into essential first team players or sell them on for a massive profit.

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So I originally stated that the plan was to go 3 at the back, I had never done that so I decided to adopt and adapt Cleon's 3 at the back formation he wrote about in the Chalkboard Diaries and also adapt the wing back formation specified in the Diamond Wingback thread thread. I wanted to understand them first of all and then adapt gradually. One thing for sure is that I would like to keep two upfront and not move away from strikers.

So what I did is start with wing back formation in pre season and mix it in with a version of Cleon's 3-1-4-2, here are the two main formations I set up:

3142

LjTvBn5h.jpg?1

Idea here is to control the middle of the pitch using 3 men while still remaining an attacking threat with two strikers and my hard working wingers. That was the general plan anyway, I must admit I was wanting to just go ahead with Cleons formation and watch it work, and then tweak it to fit my players. Unknown to me this was actually a follow-up (guest) post on his blog and I ended up with roles similar to Nik Reeves-Mclaren. We will leave that for the match items though.

532

L0smMaQh.jpg?1

The idea as explain on the diamond wing back thread if for the defenders to take away the defenders and then for the attacking midfielder to push through the center. That's the basic idea, but the difference between this one and the diamond wing back thread is the fact I employ 3 at the back rather than using a DLP in the DMC position. It would leave a massive hole and would be redundant if there was only one striker, however, most play 442 so I couldn't play with just two CB due to the fact that if pressured they would make a LOT of mistakes, trust me, I tried it a bit with Gladbach which led to my epic fail!

Team Instructions

On both team instructions I chose to go with Rigid & Counter. Actually throughout I planned to switch between counter and control, reason I chose counter as the default is that is what the players will be more used to. I planned to use counter for tough away games and home games against better teams therefore I wanted the players more used to that. If I am moving to control it is because I feel I can dominate the game, thus a slight amount less fluidity in the tactical knowledge is negligible.

I chose rigid as I planned on around 3 specialized roles originally but did want to change that and see the effect directly on the game, such as changing a few defenders to BPD, or Lund to LD (to ensure he doesn't mess about with it) as the defense still hasn't got top composure and passing I don't want them messing around with it! Just stick to your job and do it well.

Everything is default except for marking and crossing, reason being I don't like Man marking unless I specify it, and drill crosses as I don't havae the height, so no other option really.

Conclusion

I have introduced you to the general tactics but don't want to dwell too much on the season starting formations, reason being they changed and I feel the initial idea isn't the strength of this thread, as basically my original idea was somewhat copied from those original threads. It is IMPORTANT though, that if you do use someone else's formation that you understand why it works. I would NOT recommend just using their formation directly without understanding it.

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I have pointed out the tactics, or the original tactical thoughts, let's now get into the first game. This was away against Chelsea who were the champions last season, so a really REALLY tough game to open up the season, not good at all!

Chelsea 2 - 0 Southampton

Well we got a tonking, I decided to start with my 3rd formation which is much more defensive:

tOiGrAF.jpg?1

Moving the wingers back into WB positions and the second striker into an AMC position. In hindsight this was absolutely moronic as I was just inviting pressure for the entire match, but hey ho, that's hindsight for you I thought it would be a good idea at the time. The other item is number 7 (Sean Murray) was AP(s) during this time, as it turns out he performed better as a CM(A) as he pushed further up forcing their midfielders to cover him.

Around the 65 minute mark I changed to 3142 keeping the CM(A), originally I didn't have that (though the screenshots I gave you in the previous posts does). This gave me a much better shape, however, I had another problem. I was playing van Dundert as a BWM (S) as Cleon had previously spoken about it working well with his DW. I couldn't get this to work for me, could be as van Dundert (number 20) was hyper agressive so flying around the pitch. I know BWM are supposed to do this but I was shocked at how much he was, so I changed him to a DLP (S) and he settled back into that position and we took control of the game. Unfortunately the damage was already done as we were already 2-0 down and that is how it stayed!

mFoflMG.jpg

At the end of this game I decided to stick with the 3142 but make some tweaks after what I observed, here was the next iteration:

BFUsvVM.png

I had changed the CM to a DLP (S) and the other to a CM(A), reason for this is to create more space, a CM(A) drives forward into the large gap. The plan is to attack down the left and have the right hand side to support it. Also notice that there is NO attacking player behind a supporting player ina line. This is because if the DLF (S) drops deeps I don't want the CM(A) driving into his space, recipe for disaster!

So let's move on from this :D

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Southampton 1 - 0 Everton

I setup against Everton with the same formation I just showed you. Except I dropped Rafina to be replaced by Tom Ince, now I haven't given you a screenshot of Tom Ince as I have sold him and one of the reasons is due to this match + other friendlies that I have noticed.

RECOoxj.jpg

In the screenshot Tom is circled and the big gap between midfield is not filled. It is at this point that I realised I hadn't set my midfielder from AP to CM (a), epic fail, so I did that but then I looked at Tom, he kept refusing to drop into that space and then go wide, so I checked him out and found out that this was due to some of his PPMs which had him pulling out wide and "get's forward often" which either sawing him remaining high or drifting out wide, not good for me when I want him to be a link up man. He was unsettled as well so that's one of the reasons to let him go.

I then introduced Rafina who balanced it out much better:

xWytG6c.jpg

However, noticed I have Xed one of the lines between Kiyotake and Rafinha? Well that's because they weren't giving me a zig zag angle, reason being I had screwed up again, in all my tinkering I had switched the strikers positions around so that CM(A) Kiyotake was now attacking the position that Rafinha wanted to occupy, again an epic n00b fail. Luckily for me though I was making progress and spotted this quickly and changed it around. What happened next, we scored :), Aveni drifted out wide as he's an AF(A) and put in a cross to, who else, but Kiyotake who drifted in and finished the move, seems my tinkering worked in this instance (YES I am taking credit for it :p).

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I'll keep an eye on this to see how you get on because I'm currently enjoying a Southampton save, and because you mention the Diamond Wingbacks tactic!

Good luck.

Hey RTHerringbone,

Thanks for the support! It is indeed a great tactic, I will try and use it more when I get CB capable of playing it. I tried it with Gladbach but ended up really screwing up as my DCs would come under immense pressure and invariable mess up. I then re-read your thread and found out you had highlighted that it requires top quality BPD, something which I didn't have. I am hoping at this club I can transform them to use the tactic by retraining DMCs & youngsters for those position. Unfortunately I am afraid it may take a while, so for the time being I have 3 at the back!

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I'm really liking the details in this thread so far. I'll be keeping a close eye on this, good luck :)

Thanks so much for the support Cleon, I will keep it going even if in the end I am not documenting every game!

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LIke the others have said.... a very promising thread. Also..... a big contratulations to you on playing nearly every aspect of the game.

There are so many facets to this game, it isn't just a 'click continue' anymore!

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LIke the others have said.... a very promising thread. Also..... a big contratulations to you on playing nearly every aspect of the game.

There are so many facets to this game, it isn't just a 'click continue' anymore!

Thanks for the kind comments Lam, I am pleased you are following.

I also hope to show how player acquisition relates to tactics and team performance, I have a good example coming up soon!

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Southampton 1 - 0 Nottingham Forest

This was the Carling cup 2nd round tie, Forest are still a championship club albeit top end.

They came in with a standard 442 formation so I decided to stick with my current formation. I decided that I didn't want to do anything specific to their players as I had to feel confident that I could beat them.

DxKtlxi.png?1

There was only one tactical change that happened to counter them, this came to fruition when I looked at their tactics and saw that they score most of their goals on their right hand side (and also concede there as well).

QAjrMI1.jpg?1

Now I just took this where I am a few games further along but at the time it was more obvious that their right hand side was their major tactical threat. On the left hand side of my formation I play Luke Shaw who is generally the best going forward and also the best defending. So what I did is I mirrored my formation so that we were attacking down the right hand side and that our left was more secure to protect against the threat.

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I wasn't that worried but knew even as support Shaw will get forward well as well doing his defensive duties!

So for the match, actually we generally dominated proceedings.

UmiNdoL.png?1

The only really big let down is that we had a lot of CCC and some half chances but we only managed to score a goal from a corner onto the head of Ruzicic. I played a different forward line with Rafinha & Neil Thomas, unfortunately Rafinha would pick up the ball deep but never drive forward with it, nor pick out a good pass. He seems too static for me.

Though he did pickup 4 key passes, he just didn't seem to fit overall (more on this in later posts) and we have to bear in mind that this was against Championship opposition.

e5EzVda.jpg?1

Also remember my plan to stop their right hand side? Check this...

JvlSe7M.jpg?1

It sort of worked, notice that Shaw had more defensive work to do? well he did it reasonably well but I was still a bit concerned that he missed 3 tackles around the edge of the area, however, it did keep them quiter down that side. Notice as well that Matos on the right side had nothing to do, which definitely indicates everything came down their right!

One other item of note is at 70 minutes Forest switched to 4312, at this point I used the shouts Play narrower, exploit channels to exploit the flanks and try to hold the center!

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Swansea 2 - 1 Southampton

Well...oh dear, we got done by Swansea, let's see what happened...

They scored first inside of 6 minutes with a knockdown and a header, we then scored from a header by Aveni. They then regained the lead with a free header from a corner (no excuse for that, no-one was marking him).

Now what happened? well it is a good question actually we had no penetration against a side lower down in the table (one we were expected to beat) and the truth is I put the blame at the feet of rafinha on this one. Although we were playing deep he is expected to link up the attack and the defence where as I don't think he did a good enough job.

On the image you can see below the zigzag is clearly defined which generally should mean we are linking up well, no Rafinha did receive the ball in space in the "hole" but often failed to do anything meaningful with it. He could have driven foward at the defence but ended up fdilly dallying with the ball, or taking an absolute age to turn with the ball so the chance would go.

kgQeWVh.png

Now this is actually my fault as Rafinha isn't pacey and doesn't have the agility nor balance to make a quick turn and drive at their defence. For example take a look at this screenshot:

1pnliOt.jpg

The black arrow indicates the ball is going to him, now he is in a reasonable amount of space so I would want him to drive forward with the ball, commit a defender or two then slip the ball to number 17 Aveni. What he does do is play a first time ball into number 17 (which goes to the opposition), even if it hadn't I don't really want him to do that.

However, like I said this isn't my fault he wasn't set up to do that, so all afternoon swansea were quite comfortable as Rafinha wasn't very effective at threading through balls. I needed a change upfront!!

Apart from that things were reasonable, you can see by the screenshot below, my deeper lying pivot was doing well enough as was Kiyotake, however, the transition into Rafinha & Aveni left something to be desired.

O8MP8P9.jpg?1

So what's in store, well I felt that I needed to change the DLF (S), not the role, that's working well IMO with the zigzag that you can see, but I needed to change the player! So transfer or moving things around...

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Great thread! I am also playing a tactic similar to Cleon's 3 in the back, but in the BSS so good players are hard to find. Love how you seem to be taking all of my favorite threads (Chalkboard Diaries, Understanding Your Tactic, etc.) and putting them all into practice.

A very good read and I can't wait for more.

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Great thread! I am also playing a tactic similar to Cleon's 3 in the back, but in the BSS so good players are hard to find. Love how you seem to be taking all of my favorite threads (Chalkboard Diaries, Understanding Your Tactic, etc.) and putting them all into practice.

A very good read and I can't wait for more.

Hey AnarchyAnt, thank you very much for the kind words! I will be updating with more tomorrow evening.

Indeed those are the threads that inspired me to do this thread, excellent threads!

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Always like threads like these. :)

Thanks Sean

Hey. Great post you've got here! Learning a lot from it.

Are you using any types of shouts?

Hey Sunwell2,

It totally depends to be honest with you, I don't tend to use indepth shouts or a specific group I tend to have the base tactic set and use shouts to adapt quickly to opposition changes.

I don't say that that is the best way but that's just my style at the moment. For example if you take Nottingham Forest match when they changed to 4312 I went with the shouts "play narrower" and "exploit the flanks" as I had lost the advantage in the center and wanted to tighten up but was able to exploit the wings.

In addition I will update with the Totenham match soon, if you are interested in shouts please pay close attention to that one, I used counter attacking shouts and it worked well :)

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Enjoying this thread. Keep it up. I really appreciate threads in which people explain their thinking, whether the results are successful or not.

I have a soft spot for the Saints as well, so hope you do manage to succeed.

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Other news and a signing

First of all, let's get on with the top news. Firstly the great news is two of our players at the end of the month were voted as 1st & 2nd. They were Yannick van Zundert and Mladen Ruzicic, my 8 million & 18 million signings, which is good news as it shows that those who we purchased are working out.

Also with van Zundert he only has 2 current stars and 3.5 potential, and is rated currently as a leading star for most Championship sides however is playing out of his skin for me. Reason being and this is an important lesson that I learnt, buy for stats not for stars. He if very physical, can get about and put his foot in. Exactly what we need!

OI4XFbW.png?1

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Solving the problems with a signing

As I stated in the previous post I had a problem with Rafinha not driving at defences when he picks up the ball in the holes which is a general issue with his lack of mobility so I needed someone that would fulfill that. So I started looking around and found this guy :)

KwNjYWy.jpg?1

He shouldn't need any introduction and though he is getting on a bit now it is clear that he can use either foot, extremely good off the ball, and has all the technical and mobility attributes necessary to at least do better than Rafinha, so in he came for 4 million, seems steep but I believe that he can push me on to the next level and the fact that he can use either foot is actually a massive bonus that cannot be underestimated!

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Norwich 2 - 4 Southampton

Well at this point I was the cat that got the cream, Quintero came in to the same system and performed amazingly on his debut.

Norwich lined up witha 442, so no real threat there other than down the wings, so I didn't really do anything special, I just set us to counter as Norwich had done well the previous season but I thought at this time we'd have the edge even if they didn't know it.

3fLMqdi.png

Let's take a look at the stats, it is obvious from this that they got a lot of crosses in as our central defenders did have a LOT to do, however, I was very comfortable with this as they kept floating it in to their striker and our defenders easily dealt with that. What is intersting is that QWuintero only had one run, now that may sound bad as I brought him in to run past people no? Well no actually, I brought him in to COMMIT defenders, to pick up the ball and run at them causing them a problem and then slip it into Aveni and that is what he did, if you notice Aveni got a hattrick and Quintero supplied two of them! Exactly what I wanted him to do.

Let's take a look at the stats

F8tdWKU.png?1

Notice possession was pretty even, however they had 4 half chances, that was bad, but we had 2 CCC and 3 half chances so did enough to win the game. I took a look at these cahnces and found that 3 came from corners, whether directly or from an ensuing ball delivered back in. So I do need to keep my eye on the crosses and come up with a better way of handling them.

But so far it is onwards and upwards!

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Another 3 games, nothing major of note

I then faced 3 under dog teams

Southampton 3 - 1 Huddersfield

Aldershot 1 - 3 Southampton

Southampton 1 - 0 Coventry

Nothing really to write home about in these games, out of all of them Aldershot actually caused the most problems, they went 451 so I marked their forward and two wingers, unfortunately they kept breaking up our play in the midfield so I stood off them and tried to retain possession. It wasn't until I noticed that they had one person in their midfield with the ball who seemed to be one of their major pivots. I then told Rafinha to go back and mark him, after that they didn't have a sniff and we closed the game out.

I do tend to struggle again teams that try and shut up shop to play out for a 0 - 0 or to get a lucky goal on the break, it does seem to be a failing of my team at the moment and I need to think of ways to create more space when that happens, whether it be with our midfielders generally being more attacking I am not sure at all!

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Enjoying this thread. Keep it up. I really appreciate threads in which people explain their thinking, whether the results are successful or not.

I have a soft spot for the Saints as well, so hope you do manage to succeed.

Thanks for the support wwfan, I will continue to keep it up to date! Hopefully it will inspire someone else who also, like me, struggles with the tactical side of 13!

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After reading your thread i think i have pinpointed my own shortcomings:

• I assume that since i have played for a long time i can do everything at 3x speed, i tend to rush things and not take a step back and think properly

• I fail to see the bigger picture, for example, i get annoyed when my strikers dont score goals, regardless of how many runs, assists, key passes etc they make

• I struggle to pinpoint my oppositions main weakness, and pay too much attention to their team depth star rating

• I am playing a very impatient game where i only sign 1 year contracts and dont ever renew them, need to change this policy, rome wasnt built in a day.

Thanks for the enlightening thread man, keep it up.

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After reading your thread i think i have pinpointed my own shortcomings:

• I assume that since i have played for a long time i can do everything at 3x speed, i tend to rush things and not take a step back and think properly

• I fail to see the bigger picture, for example, i get annoyed when my strikers dont score goals, regardless of how many runs, assists, key passes etc they make

• I struggle to pinpoint my oppositions main weakness, and pay too much attention to their team depth star rating

• I am playing a very impatient game where i only sign 1 year contracts and dont ever renew them, need to change this policy, rome wasnt built in a day.

Thanks for the enlightening thread man, keep it up.

Hey KevMaan, I appreciate you posting and am glad that the post has helped you identify some potential issues.

I think your first point about rushing rings true for me, I used to do that a LOT as well!

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Tottenham 1 – 1 Southampton

I took a look at Tottenham before the game as this was the hardest match that I had faced so far so I decided to do a lot of research on them before I got started and dove straight in.

Doing my homework

Let’s take a look at a similar match at home against a similar level opponent. The first thing I took a look at was their average position graph.

U4PKR4P.jpg?1

One thing that is clear that there is a HUGE gap in behind their backline to the keeper so it is something I will look to exploit with Aveni’s place. Apart from this they use the standard 4231, however, their wingers do like to go down on the outside.

Using Opposition Instructions to gain an advantage

It was at this point that I had an idea which was inspired by a blog post playing between the lines http://playingbetweenthelines.wordpress.com/2013/04/05/using-opposition-instructions/. He talks about using Opposition Instructions to solve defensive problems. I would recommend everyone to read that as it changed my thinking on using OIs.

So how did I implement this? Well usually tottenham wingers go down the outside wehre I am not strong, I am strong in the middle however, so I wanted to force them to go into the center and thus I can crowd them out.

gKmEbnK.png?1

So looking at the AML, AMR and the full backs I put on OIs to push them into the center.

General setup

I changed a few items:

  • I continued using Rigid & Counter
  • I changed to a more direct style

I used the shouts:

  • Drop deeper
  • Hit early crosses
  • Play through the defense
  • Pass into space

Half time

O2LqP19.jpg?1

Everything was going well, even though they had a lot of possession (not bothered about that) it was us that was getting into more dangerous areas

Full time

ONqVV4y.png?1

Now we had a problem, we scored first and they went more attacking, at this point I made a BIG mistake, I could see in the last 20 minutes they were getting more joy down the flanks, at this point I was stupid. I should have man marked the wingers to limit them and tried to shut up shop, I didn’t and they ended up having 3 CCC from headers. Lesson learnt, but the good news is for 70 minutes we totally dominated Tottenham even if the possession doesn’t show it, we had much the better chances and looked much more threatening!

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Southampton 0 – 0 West Brom

This was a frustrating game for me actually, West Brom came to park the bus and truth be told I couldn’t find a way through them. This is something I need to work on.

b5MLawa.png?1

They setup with a 4411 and it is a formation that I have struggled against in previous games as I can’t get an advantage against it, so I knew it was going to be tough.

LE4rxy5.png?1

As you can see we were the more threatening at least but only had one half chance! They really marshaled us well and we couldn’t break them down at all.

How I set up:

I went for Rigid and control as normal

At half time I decided to push up and work the ball in the box

Unfortunately at half time we only got one shot on goal, which actually highlights that maybe pushing up was wrong as it limited our space when they were already getting stuck in and dominating us. I am thinking that dropping deeper to get more space might have been a better method! But we will have to see next time I come up against a 4411!

Injury

Additionally in the Tottenham game Aveni got injured which left me short up front, so therefore I went with our younger team member nathan Jones. Now he's OK but not really great and I think that lead to not being as sharp up front. However, I am totally willing to accept that. I knew at the start of the season that this may happen but need to sacrifice it for playing time. Here's a screenshot of Nathan Jones.

aqObrA4.jpg?1

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Southampton 0 - 3 Man City

The setup for this was exactly the same as the tottenham game except for the OIs as they play a narrow 4231. Unfortunately Man City are a different animal to Tottenham even now and thus did MUCH better against us. We went down 3-0 but it doesn't tell the entire story as they only had 4 half chances. 1 half chance they scored from and the others they missed. In fact they started getting more as I had to switch from counter to more control.

pyIBvR3.png?1

Unfortunately in this match I felt that I couldn't really do much more against them as their team is just much better than mine. I do think one thing I could have done is perhaps play narrower and show their full backs inside. I will try that next time, if anyone has any good ideas for this match please let me know and I will try them out!!

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Great thread, man. Love these in-depth thoughts as it also gives me hints on what to consider tactically.

they play a narrow 4231
I do think one thing I could have done is perhaps play narrower and show their full backs inside.

Wouldn't that make you play into their hands? My thinking is that if they are playing narrow formation then their weakest points are the flanks where they only have their overlapping fullbacks. So by playing narrow, you are actually helping them out. By that I mean your attack will be limited as they have much better players in the middle than you.

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Great thread, man. Love these in-depth thoughts as it also gives me hints on what to consider tactically.

Wouldn't that make you play into their hands? My thinking is that if they are playing narrow formation then their weakest points are the flanks where they only have their overlapping fullbacks. So by playing narrow, you are actually helping them out. By that I mean your attack will be limited as they have much better players in the middle than you.

Hey The Chosen One,

It is a good point and to be frank I am not too sure. The trouble is for me my weakest part is also my flanks so I was thinking that crowding the center and showing their fullbacks inside (who were quite wide in their formation) would mean I would be able to defend against their formation better. Like I said though, I am not sure at all! It is something I would have to test.

Popping back in to let you know that since reading this thread, my prescara team and my sunday league experience have just been promoted to the serie A :) Keep up the good work.

That's great KevMaaan,

Man congrats on your win! That's a great achievement.

Unfortunatley I am having a bad time now, had some injuries and got on a losing run which has hit me where it hurts, hope I can turn this around as it was shaping up to be my most successful season to date. I will update the thread when I have a bit of time, I meant to do it over the next couple of days but got caught up. Will probably play past Christmas and then do a larger update with the significant matches.

I do have a little snippet about "being on tilt" which I will now post :).

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Going "on Tilt"

What's Happening

Let me first explain, I haven't updated for a day just because I have been really busy and unable to get the time to do a full update. SInce I last posted I have played nearly to Christmas/New Year time, however, I have come accross a really tough time at the moment mainly due to injuries to my most important wingers & striker. Which in my formation is devastating as I haven't got great backup on the wings and in the striker positions I am trying to blood the youngsters. This is my choice and I knew that it could go terribly wrong.

Why "on tilt"? What do you mean?

Now along with the morale of the team which can have an effect on performances I would add another factor, the player. When I say on tilt I am using a poker term, wikipedia does a better job of explaining what it means:

Tilt is a poker term for a state of mental or emotional confusion or frustration in which a player adopts a less than optimal strategy, usually resulting in the player becoming over-aggressive. This term is closely associated with steam and some consider the terms equivalent, but 'steam' typically carries more anger and intensity.[1]

Placing an opponent on tilt or dealing with being on tilt oneself is an important aspect of poker. It is a relatively frequent occurrence due to frustration, animosity against other players, or simply bad luck. Experienced players recommend learning to recognize that one is experiencing tilt and avoid allowing it to influence one’s play.

Source Wikipedia

Now why does this apply to Football Manager, well a bad defeat one where we should haven't lost, where the AI cheated us etc. etc. can bring out a serious emotional response (I sure can't be the only one that shouts at the screen and bangs the table). However, I have noticed that a bad defeat on the game can send me into a haze where I don't think clearly about the next game and I will end up making mistakes inside games as well when circumstances conspire against me or my team including injuries. I feel this has exacerbated my bad run of form.

Has anyone else found this?

I will continue updating this thread even with my bad run of form, I just warn everyone it will probably be a few days before I have the time to add to it!

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Southampton 0 - 3 Man City

The setup for this was exactly the same as the tottenham game except for the OIs as they play a narrow 4231. Unfortunately Man City are a different animal to Tottenham even now and thus did MUCH better against us. We went down 3-0 but it doesn't tell the entire story as they only had 4 half chances. 1 half chance they scored from and the others they missed. In fact they started getting more as I had to switch from counter to more control.

pyIBvR3.png?1

Unfortunately in this match I felt that I couldn't really do much more against them as their team is just much better than mine. I do think one thing I could have done is perhaps play narrower and show their full backs inside. I will try that next time, if anyone has any good ideas for this match please let me know and I will try them out!!

Hey, great thread, I like the detail and the fact that you really explain what you are doing!

In this match, how did Man City score their goals?

In general I think I would have played narrow, to limit the space for Man City to set up attacks. And focus passing down the wings, that's where the space lies for you. And how did the "hit early crosses" shout work out? I am not sure about that, it makes your MRL run with ball rarely, but they have got some space to run into.

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Hey, great thread, I like the detail and the fact that you really explain what you are doing!

In this match, how did Man City score their goals?

In general I think I would have played narrow, to limit the space for Man City to set up attacks. And focus passing down the wings, that's where the space lies for you. And how did the "hit early crosses" shout work out? I am not sure about that, it makes your MRL run with ball rarely, but they have got some space to run into.

Hey Retiarus,

Thanks for replying, I have uploaded the goals to youtube so you can take a look. They should have been uploaded in 1080, but it seems only 720 is available.

[video=youtube;sgXIkII87A8]

As you can see the first one he was left alone this is where I got the idea of playing narrower from as I would hope that the defensive winger would end up picking him up. Second is well just a free kick nothing to be done and 3rd one of the defenders should have dealt with it. Frankly though we were just totally outplayed, nothing more to say really!

I am just working out how to beat Burnley before I play all the top 3 over Christmas, on a bad run now and am afraid it will keep going for a while!

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If it is of any interest, I've been on a similar tactical path to you and use the same formation as you, barring that I use the strikers you have in AMC slots.

Against City's narrow 4-2-3-1, I'd use my DWs to loose mark the outer City AMCs, leaving my DM to zonally pick up the central AMC.

It makes a difference for me, and may help you against City in future - this is the same approach I use against the 4-2-3-1 with AML / AMR players too.

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If it is of any interest, I've been on a similar tactical path to you and use the same formation as you, barring that I use the strikers you have in AMC slots.

Against City's narrow 4-2-3-1, I'd use my DWs to loose mark the outer City AMCs, leaving my DM to zonally pick up the central AMC.

It makes a difference for me, and may help you against City in future - this is the same approach I use against the 4-2-3-1 with AML / AMR players too.

Hey RT, thanks for helping out.

It is of great interest to me actually, by loose mark you mean set them to man mark in the player instructions but set tight marking to "no"? Is that correct?

Also what happens when the full backs come forward? Are they left alone to cross?

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Hey RT, thanks for helping out.

It is of great interest to me actually, by loose mark you mean set them to man mark in the player instructions but set tight marking to "no"? Is that correct?

Also what happens when the full backs come forward? Are they left alone to cross?

Yes - tight marking is set to no.

Full backs are then left to the wide DCs to pick up zonally. By default they are less of an offensive threat, but nothing much else should come down the flanks with the DWs marking the wide AM players.

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Tilt.

Ya, that's me. I just recently got promoted to the BSP and am having a very difficult time. I have some good players, but moving to a division with much better teams and always 2 games a week has really gutted my team. Like you I have very few good backups.

I am very guilty of getting frustrated and making things worse. At one point in 3 out of 4 games I lost by one goal by giving up a penalty kick late in the game. This set me up to start rushing through games, drastically altering game plans, etc. Needless to say, that only made things worse.

The lack of consistency in my team is also driving me nuts. My best player is my left midfielder, but since getting promoted and losing my strikers (My team has NO money) I decided to give him a go as a Treq which he has great stats for and is competent in the striker position. Game one, 2 goals and an assist. Game two, 2 goals and an assist. Last 10 games, 0 goals, 0 assists 6.2 rating. I wish I could say he is the only player that has similar problems.

I have got my work cut out for me. Currently about a 3rd of the way through the season and I am 2 spots above relegation on goal differential. Yuck.

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The lack of consistency in my team is also driving me nuts. My best player is my left midfielder, but since getting promoted and losing my strikers (My team has NO money) I decided to give him a go as a Treq which he has great stats for and is competent in the striker position. Game one, 2 goals and an assist. Game two, 2 goals and an assist. Last 10 games, 0 goals, 0 assists 6.2 rating. I wish I could say he is the only player that has similar problems.

Seems pretty consistent to me ;)

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Have to agree with wwfan, hes been consistantly terrible the last 10 games :p

Ever thought of playing strikerless? using an AMC and 2 inside forwards, or giving your youth a chance.

Also, you are making the same mistake ive made, gaining promotion to serie A. We both assumed the next division would be as easy as the one we were in. We need to realise we are playing a whole diferent calibre of teams, and avoiding relegation is still a good achievement so we can consolidate and rebuild for next season.

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Have to agree with wwfan, hes been consistantly terrible the last 10 games :p

Ever thought of playing strikerless? using an AMC and 2 inside forwards, or giving your youth a chance.

Also, you are making the same mistake ive made, gaining promotion to serie A. We both assumed the next division would be as easy as the one we were in. We need to realise we are playing a whole diferent calibre of teams, and avoiding relegation is still a good achievement so we can consolidate and rebuild for next season.

I wasn't sure I thought it would be easier necessarily, but I was hoping for more money. I think the time has come for me to decide if I really want to build Weston-super-mare into a powerhouse and stay long term, or just use them as a stepping stone. Being 400K in debt hurts. I've been trying to go easy on salaries, but I can't seem to get any kind of positive cash flow and the board had to spend 200K to improve the stadium due to league rules and while I have a couple of good players, nobody is willing to pay anything for a transfer fee so selling doesn't appear to be much of an option. I only sell players to get rid of their salary.

Hmmm... maybe I should start taking some screenshots and do a post, "The Dangers of Being Promoted."

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If you are still semi-pro, that first season will be tough. Best advice I can give is to target the other semi-pro teams. They are the games you can realistically expect a win and can be a little more expressive in. Any points against fully pro teams are bonuses, so approach those games with a "draw's a good result" mindset and play ugly football to try and get it.

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If you are still semi-pro, that first season will be tough. Best advice I can give is to target the other semi-pro teams. They are the games you can realistically expect a win and can be a little more expressive in. Any points against fully pro teams are bonuses, so approach those games with a "draw's a good result" mindset and play ugly football to try and get it.

Hadn't thought about the pro vs semi-pro thing at all! I assumed everyone was still semi-pro. I think that will help a lot. Time for Super Defense Tactic!

Edit: Sorry to Hijack the thread. Give us more Draktor!

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Hadn't thought about the pro vs semi-pro thing at all! I assumed everyone was still semi-pro. I think that will help a lot. Time for Super Defense Tactic!

Edit: Sorry to Hijack the thread. Give us more Draktor!

Hey AnarchyAnt,

There's no need to appologise, please feel free to have any discussion in this thread, I really do not mind at all. That goes for anyone else as well.

Regarding updates to this I should be back updating with some games on Thursday or Friday, unfortunately work has caught up with me this week :S.

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