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Impotent 4-1-2-2-1


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Evening guys,

I've currently in my second season attempting to implement a counter-attacking 4-1-2-2-1 style to my beloved Fulham, though as we speak it's having about as much success up top as we are this season IRL.

Having watched countless whole games and reviewed myriad analysis screens and comparison pages, I've come to the conclusion that I know far less than I thought about the game despite over a decade of playing it. The general set up of the team is good, defensively we look structurally sound. The problem is arising as soon as we attempt anything that could remotely be considered attacking play.

My line-up is as follows:

SK (s) - Stekelenburg

RWB (s) - Solly -

CD (x) - Burn

CD © - Hangeland

LCWB (a) - Briggs

HB (d) - Parker

RDLP (s) - Barry

LCM (a) - Praet

RIF (a) - Kasami

LIF (s) - Plumain

DF (s) - Eduardo

For the time being I've removed player instructions as I didn't have the aptitude to get them working. But the team settings are as follows:

Stay on Feet

Hassle Opponents

Play Wider

Look For Overlap

Drop Deeper

Lower Tempo

Due to the lack of pace in the centre of my defense I've been playing deeper, thereby creating the aforementioned stability in defense. But when the ball goes forwards, Eduardo is left alone against four or five defensive players and his threat is quickly snuffed out. I was hoping to use him as a holding pivot, with Kasami and Plumain breaking though the unsettled defense and creating a multitude of clear-cut chances. Unfortunately this is not working as both seem intent on spectating.

I have tried using Plumain as a winger though it made him seem even more pedestrian than usual. The only saving grace attacking-wise is Praet, who's supporting runs are proving some solace, but I'm averaging far less than one goal a game, leading to large numbers of 0-0 draws and 1 goal loses.

It's not the sort of football the fans at the Cottage deserve and as patient as Mr. Khan is, I can't see it holding out much longer.

I've always been the stereotypical 'throw-money-at-Wonderkids-until-you-win-something' kind of manager, and was hoping to use this save as an opportunity to finally grasp the delicate intricacies of the game. But without a little help, I feel my perseverance may begin to wear thin. For this reason I also apologise if I'm committing any sort of heinous crime that may get me banned from forums and FM for life (such as buying Eduardo).

Apologies for lack of screenshots, my internet/laptop leave something to be desired and have decided to reject any possibility.

Thanks in advanced for any help you can give.

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Being a new player to FM, I am hardly in a great position to give advice. Nor do I know much about how it all works, but I've been experimenting.

I tried to play 4-1-2-2-1 with Chelsea with very mixed results. It wasn't focused on counter attacking, just out and out attack and I STILL found it extremely difficult to score. The biggest results came when I abandoned the mix of support duties which seemed rational, and placed everyone but the Anchor Man and 2 defenders on attack. No one on support. It seems counter intuitive, but I immediately began scoring more goals.

As you are working with a very different bunch of players, I very much doubt that will help- but it may be worth a try in a less important game.

I also simplified the roles and had the middle 2 as CMs.

Finally,you could try making 2 versions of the formation. 1 with the front 2 behind the striker together (and play extremely narrow) and then 1 with the front 2 in the wingers position. Then you can change throughout the match to keep the opposition on their toes.

After a season of trying out many variations of it I eventually gave it up. It was extremely inconsistent, sometimes we'd win, sometimes we would get battered. The only consistent thing about it was you squandered so many chances every game.

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Evening guys,

I've currently in my second season attempting to implement a counter-attacking 4-1-2-2-1 style to my beloved Fulham, though as we speak it's having about as much success up top as we are this season IRL.

Having watched countless whole games and reviewed myriad analysis screens and comparison pages, I've come to the conclusion that I know far less than I thought about the game despite over a decade of playing it. The general set up of the team is good, defensively we look structurally sound. The problem is arising as soon as we attempt anything that could remotely be considered attacking play.

My line-up is as follows:

SK (s) - Stekelenburg

RWB (s) - Solly -

CD (x) - Burn

CD © - Hangeland

LCWB (a) - Briggs

HB (d) - Parker

RDLP (s) - Barry

LCM (a) - Praet

RIF (a) - Kasami

LIF (s) - Plumain

DF (s) - Eduardo

For the time being I've removed player instructions as I didn't have the aptitude to get them working. But the team settings are as follows:

Stay on Feet

Hassle Opponents

Play Wider

Look For Overlap

Drop Deeper

Lower Tempo

Due to the lack of pace in the centre of my defense I've been playing deeper, thereby creating the aforementioned stability in defense. But when the ball goes forwards, Eduardo is left alone against four or five defensive players and his threat is quickly snuffed out. I was hoping to use him as a holding pivot, with Kasami and Plumain breaking though the unsettled defense and creating a multitude of clear-cut chances. Unfortunately this is not working as both seem intent on spectating.

I have tried using Plumain as a winger though it made him seem even more pedestrian than usual. The only saving grace attacking-wise is Praet, who's supporting runs are proving some solace, but I'm averaging far less than one goal a game, leading to large numbers of 0-0 draws and 1 goal loses.

It's not the sort of football the fans at the Cottage deserve and as patient as Mr. Khan is, I can't see it holding out much longer.

I've always been the stereotypical 'throw-money-at-Wonderkids-until-you-win-something' kind of manager, and was hoping to use this save as an opportunity to finally grasp the delicate intricacies of the game. But without a little help, I feel my perseverance may begin to wear thin. For this reason I also apologise if I'm committing any sort of heinous crime that may get me banned from forums and FM for life (such as buying Eduardo).

Apologies for lack of screenshots, my internet/laptop leave something to be desired and have decided to reject any possibility.

Thanks in advanced for any help you can give.

Are you playing Standard and Counter?

I play with the same formation and similar roles, and the balance in your team isn't bad at all. My first concern is your team instructions, the second would be your striker role...

Team Instructions (TI's):

Drop Deeper and Lower tempo are both linked to your strategy. If you play Counter you may not need these two as they will be incorporated anyway. You don't want to play TOO deep unless your opponents have really pacey forwards that you are worried about... But generally I wouldn't have these TI's selected, I would rely on the strategy to dictate this.

Play Wider and Look for overlap: I don't think you need these, your player roles already allow for overlapping fullbacks as the wingers cut inside automatically. You might be setting your IF's to Hold Up Ball with this TI which is not ideal. I also wouldn't play wider, I'm guessing you are using this to make your FB's attack out wide. Personally I would rather give them personal instructions to play wider or run wide with ball (if you feel it's necessary), instead of telling the whole team to play wider. The reason being that you want your team to stay compact defensively and then hit on the counter. (more on this in the next point)

Hassle Opponents: Personally I don't like this one in most cases, especially if you are trying to play on the counter. As mentioned above, you want to sit back with your good defensive shape (your two CB's and HB create a very solid defensive triangle), and then hit back on the counter with your IF's and FC, with your MC(A) arriving late. Hassle opponents will cause your players to rush around and lose defensive shape, the opposite of what you are trying to do.

Striker: I'm not sure what your FC's attributes are but in terms of the role in the team his attributes almost come secondary as his primary purpose is to create space for the two IF's and the CM(A) to attack the box. In this regard the best role for him would be F9 as he would drop deep and allow the IF's a lot of space to run into. The second best role would be Trequartista. Even if your player's attributes don't suit the role give it a try for a few games and see, it'll be worth it!

Let us know how the changes affect your team's performance and result. Bear in mind how well your team knows the formation. If you aren't tactically fluid yet you will get very inconsistent results.

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Are you playing Standard and Counter?

I play with the same formation and similar roles, and the balance in your team isn't bad at all. My first concern is your team instructions, the second would be your striker role...

Team Instructions (TI's):

Drop Deeper and Lower tempo are both linked to your strategy. If you play Counter you may not need these two as they will be incorporated anyway. You don't want to play TOO deep unless your opponents have really pacey forwards that you are worried about... But generally I wouldn't have these TI's selected, I would rely on the strategy to dictate this.

Play Wider and Look for overlap: I don't think you need these, your player roles already allow for overlapping fullbacks as the wingers cut inside automatically. You might be setting your IF's to Hold Up Ball with this TI which is not ideal. I also wouldn't play wider, I'm guessing you are using this to make your FB's attack out wide. Personally I would rather give them personal instructions to play wider or run wide with ball (if you feel it's necessary), instead of telling the whole team to play wider. The reason being that you want your team to stay compact defensively and then hit on the counter. (more on this in the next point)

Hassle Opponents: Personally I don't like this one in most cases, especially if you are trying to play on the counter. As mentioned above, you want to sit back with your good defensive shape (your two CB's and HB create a very solid defensive triangle), and then hit back on the counter with your IF's and FC, with your MC(A) arriving late. Hassle opponents will cause your players to rush around and lose defensive shape, the opposite of what you are trying to do.

Striker: I'm not sure what your FC's attributes are but in terms of the role in the team his attributes almost come secondary as his primary purpose is to create space for the two IF's and the CM(A) to attack the box. In this regard the best role for him would be F9 as he would drop deep and allow the IF's a lot of space to run into. The second best role would be Trequartista. Even if your player's attributes don't suit the role give it a try for a few games and see, it'll be worth it!

Let us know how the changes affect your team's performance and result. Bear in mind how well your team knows the formation. If you aren't tactically fluid yet you will get very inconsistent results.

Thanks for the tips, there are some really helpful bits of advice in there!

I’ve played a few games with advice heeded, and am delighted to say that the team is beginning to play much closer to how I envisioned them. The stats are now absolutely in our favour:

West Ham (H)

Score: 1-1

Shots: F: 19, WH: 10

Shots on Target: F: 9, WH: 5

CCCs: F: 3, WH: 2

Poss: F: 55%

Bolton (A) (Cup)

Score: Won 4-2 aet

Shots: F: 29, B: 15

Shots on Target: F: 15, B: 3

CCCs: F: 5, B: 1

Poss: F: 57%

Watford (H)

Score: Won 2-1

Shots: F: 20, W: 14

Shots on Target: F: 6, W: 8

CCCs: F: 1, W: 0

Poss: F: 44%

There is no denying that these stats are favourable in relation to those before the changes, though they seem to have disrupted the team defensively. For the greater part of the game, we are defending stoically, but in all three of those games, the opposition scored wondergoals. For this to happen in three consecutive games against teams who aren’t exactly renowned for their creative flair is something of a worry. I am thinking of setting one of the defensive trio to close-down more, but I’m conscious of disrupting the solidity of the unit. What do people think?

There are two other issues that have been concerning me.

Issue the first:

Despite scoring 7 goals and creating a large number of chances in the games, 4 of these goals came from corners, whilst 2 were from fairly horrendous defensive errors on the opposition’s part. We were incredibly lucky to get anything at all against Watford, who really did seem to outplay us for 75% of the game. This concerns me as when it comes to the bigger teams, we are unlikely to get as many opportunities, and so I really need to discover a way to enforce some ruthlessness in the strikeforce.

Issue the second:

In all three games, both RWB and LIF were getting very low ratings (sub 6.5), I tried a couple of different players and added a few PIs to try to halt this, but to no avail. I’m reluctant to alter the player role as I don’t want to affect the style of play. Could it just be a case of having the wrong players (though Solly, Riether, Ruiz and Kacaniklic are all solid in those roles), or is there some deeper issue with the tactic?

Also, I probably should have mentioned this earlier, but I’m playing Balanced and Counter.

Many thanks! 

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I wouldn't worry too much about possession % if you are playing counter attacking, it's the quality of chances & possession rather than quantity that is important.

You may find that being set up to counter plays in your favour against the big teams, and it is the smaller teams that sit back against you (like watford) that cause you to have to change some of your tactics to get the upper hand against them. You may find that they are sitting back so you can't counter them, and so they dominate possession and have lots of (long range) shots. And when you have the ball you struggle to break them down. You will have to tweak your tactics like playing wider with a lower tempo to draw them out, or tweak a few player roles to be more attacking, change strategy to Standard etc.

I think you are well set up to play the big boys, you may need to tweak a few roles to be more defensive though, for example DLP(S) becomes CM(S), IF(S) becomes DW(S) or W(S), CWB(A) would certainly need to change to FB(A) or WB(S) or FB(S).

I don't think the player ratings are a great guide to player performance, it is how the players cope on the pitch that matters and you can judge that by watching the matches. The ratings are skewed heavily in favour of goals/assists and making key headers/tackles/passes, so unless your IF scores or assists he won't get a great rating. CD's seem to get crazy ratings due to all the key headers they win, for example.

Balanced and Counter would suit your team perfectly, no problem there...

Just to give you an example, my Sheff Wed team plays a similar counter attacking game as you do, we have come 5th two seasons in a row in the PL and yet I usually have around 45% possession, very rarely do I dominate teams. But even with 45% possession I have way more quality shots on goal than the opponent (i.e. not long range shots. The CCC is not too accurate tbh...)

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