Jump to content
Sports Interactive Community
THOG

The Mentality Ladder: A Practical Framework for Understanding Fluidity and Duty

Recommended Posts

Balanced to get the most dynamic attacking movement from the wide players.

Which mentality would you suggest?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

OMG.. T.H.O.G u r truly genius. mind blowing!

btw, this is how i setup my tactic currently.

----------------GK(D)----------------

-------------------------------------

FB(S)------CD(D)------CD(D)----FB(A)

-------------------------------------

-----------------A(D)----------------

----------DLP(S)------AP(A)----------

-------------------------------------

IF(A)---------------------------IF(S)

-------------------------------------

-----------------CF(S)---------------

4-1-2-2-1

Counter/Balance

No specific player instructions.

My direction of playing is attack from both flanks, with combination coming from ST. I also want my midfield duo -AP and DLP do killer passing either directly to ST or Winger, while Anchorman help to defend and cover the back 4.

according to this mentality ladder's player priorities are:

GK: Limit Pressure

CBs: Restrict space

DL/R: Disrupt Attacks Quickly (not sure how FB(A) behave)

DM: Anchorman - Disrupt Attacks Judiciously

AP(A): ?? what would be the behaviour?

DLP(S) : Recover Possession After Defensive Transition

AML/R: Shuttle Ball Through Defence

ST (Lone Striker): Shuttle Ball Into Space (not sure this is the correct one)

with TIs :

shorter passing (keep the possession)

work ball into box (avoid long shots whenever possible)

pass into space (Wingers and ST have good pace and I want to make use of that)

exploit the flanks (i got skilful wingers and i want to exploit the advantage)

Hassle opponents (win the ball back as soon as possible)

Higher Tempo (playing fast)

1. Looks like in terms of defence, 4 back+DM works like what i need.. but for the attacking units, it looks like lack of aggressiveness (such as penetrate gaps, spearhead attacking moves, etc). How should i change it better?

2. with current tactics, my ST only scored 12 goals overall in 1 season.. shld i change to :

a. Trequartista (Multiple Strikers): Create Chances Patiently or

b. AF(A): Spearhead Attacking Moves Closer to Defence - but from what i know it will isolate the ST

c. other suggestion?

3. From what i see, using attacking-balance/fluid has a great way to penetrate opp defence area and scores more, but the defence unit worried me most as it will tend to play a bit higher.

Thanks!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1. Looks like in terms of defence, 4 back+DM works like what i need.. but for the attacking units, it looks like lack of aggressiveness (such as penetrate gaps, spearhead attacking moves, etc). How should i change it better?

It depends on what kind of playing style you're going for. On Counter, unless a clear opportunity opens up and initiates a break, you're going to be asking your forwards to make themselves available for passes in the centre and work the ball forward more carefully while deeper players wait for play to advance before they'll risk exposing space inside your own half. It doesn't mean attack duty players wont' get forward and support duty players won't push up to provide support around the area, but unless there's a clear opportunity to counter with pace and directness, they'll play a more cautious game with a greater burden on your front three to actually get the ball into an attacking position.

This is one of the reasons why wwfan chose Counter to represent Barca. He wanted the midfield to just carefully circulate the ball around the centre of the park while the three forwards were expected to be able to just pick up the ball and work it through the defence. Now, against teams that sit deep and just defend, this will usually result in very few chances, but a team like Barca can get away with it because their attackers are good enough to take on all those extra responsibilities, allowing the midfield/defence to calmly sit back and set up camp inside the opposition half.

2. with current tactics, my ST only scored 12 goals overall in 1 season.. shld i change to :

a. Trequartista (Multiple Strikers): Create Chances Patiently or

b. AF(A): Spearhead Attacking Moves Closer to Defence - but from what i know it will isolate the ST

c. other suggestion?

An AF(A) will certainly be more direct, but a support forward is probably unnecessary given that you have IFs coming inside and an aggressive advanced playmaker occupying the space he'd be looking to utilize. With Exploit the Flanks active and two playmakers on the field, they won't be looking to involve him in build-up anyway and you'll be getting a lot of crosses from your fullbacks, so an AF(A) or CF(A) may work better.

3. From what i see, using attacking-balance/fluid has a great way to penetrate opp defence area and scores more, but the defence unit worried me most as it will tend to play a bit higher.

You'll be pushing forward more aggressively, allowing your front three to just focus on finding space and playing final balls, but as you said, your defenders and deeper midfielders will then be inclined to quickly leave a defensive posture to help distribute the ball to attackers flooding the opposition half. Again, it depends on the style you're going for. If you want to play a more direct, fast-paced attacking style that throws numbers forward at every opportunity and looks to exploit openings before they disappear, go with attack. If you would rather wait for clear opportunities to attack in force and mostly rely on a more patient, possession-oriented style that relies on attackers to work the ball up the pitch carefully and attempt to pick apart the defence, go with counter.

Alternately, you can go with an attacking mentality but tell your team to drop deeper to try to encourage your opponent to leave more space for you to attack into, but playing a fast-paced, high risk game out of your own half may create opportunities for your opponent to counterattack in force from the centre or, worse, inside your own half.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It depends on what kind of playing style you're going for. On Counter, unless a clear opportunity opens up and initiates a break, you're going to be asking your forwards to make themselves available for passes in the centre and work the ball forward more carefully while deeper players wait for play to advance before they'll risk exposing space inside your own half. It doesn't mean attack duty players wont' get forward and support duty players won't push up to provide support around the area, but unless there's a clear opportunity to counter with pace and directness, they'll play a more cautious game with a greater burden on your front three to actually get the ball into an attacking position.

i think that's why my team plays kinda boring game. they will just sit and wait until opportunity opens up. i have many games ended with not really attractive game and had scrappy win 1-0.. :(

'greater burden on my front 3 to actually get the ball into attacking position' - does it mean if my front 3 skills are not good enough (e.g. decent dribbling/technique/etc) it will be very difficult to penetrate?

You'll be pushing forward more aggressively, allowing your front three to just focus on finding space and playing final balls, but as you said, your defenders and deeper midfielders will then be inclined to quickly leave a defensive posture to help distribute the ball to attackers flooding the opposition half. Again, it depends on the style you're going for. If you want to play a more direct, fast-paced attacking style that throws numbers forward at every opportunity and looks to exploit openings before they disappear, go with attack. If you would rather wait for clear opportunities to attack in force and mostly rely on a more patient, possession-oriented style that relies on attackers to work the ball up the pitch carefully and attempt to pick apart the defence, go with counter.

OK, so i have 2 options now :

1. fast-paced attacking style - change the mentality to attacking, should i remove 'shorter passing' and change it to 'more direct passing' and 'run at defence'? or even 'look for overlap'?

2. still use counter, more patient, possession-oriented style. should i change 'higher tempo' to 'slower tempo' and add 'retain possession' then?

actually my intention is having an attractive interplay with constantly attacking opponents with chances. I really enjoy to see my team plays a fast flowing game that dominates the match.

Alternately, you can go with an attacking mentality but tell your team to drop deeper to try to encourage your opponent to leave more space for you to attack into, but playing a fast-paced, high risk game out of your own half may create opportunities for your opponent to counterattack in force from the centre or, worse, inside your own half.

that's what i saw previously when i used fluid-attacking approach! the counter even comes from my own half.

should i find FB,CB,DM with good pace (min 15) then? any other way to handle this?

Thanks!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
i think that's why my team plays kinda boring game. they will just sit and wait until opportunity opens up. i have many games ended with not really attractive game and had scrappy win 1-0.. :(

'greater burden on my front 3 to actually get the ball into attacking position' - does it mean if my front 3 skills are not good enough (e.g. decent dribbling/technique/etc) it will be very difficult to penetrate?

Yes, if you give time for a defensive opponent to consolidate defensively, you will have a hard time breaking them down. IRL, this is a big reason why the possession/Barcelona-copycat craze from a few years ago has given way to the more direct, physical style of German football. Clubs tried to play tiki-taka, but they found it just resulted in a lot of draws or 0-1 losses as they just didn't have the personnel to make it work.

1. fast-paced attacking style - change the mentality to attacking, should i remove 'shorter passing' and change it to 'more direct passing' and 'run at defence'? or even 'look for overlap'?

Mentality will change almost all of the default instructions with most of the other TIs making slight modifications to the defaults for the mentality. My advice on TIs is to add them as needed. If your players aren't getting the ball forward quickly enough, go more direct. If you want them to get the ball and just dribble it forward as opposed to working it forward with passing, use run at defence. "Look for Overlap" will tell your wide attackers to stay back and hold up the ball until your fullbacks get forward, so that's probably a bit too situational for match-to-match use.

2. still use counter, more patient, possession-oriented style. should i change 'higher tempo' to 'slower tempo' and add 'retain possession' then?

Again, mentality will change this. You should add TIs if necessary based on how your team performs.

that's what i saw previously when i used fluid-attacking approach! the counter even comes from my own half.

should i find FB,CB,DM with good pace (min 15) then? any other way to handle this?

If you're getting hit from trying to play out of your own half, Limited Defenders or Ball-Playing Defenders mixed with Clear Ball to Flanks should help keep the ball from being unnecessarily played in dangerous areas. Limited Defenders will just clear the ball as far as possible if necessary while BPDs will try to be a bit more precise.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great work. THOG, you are helping people with their tactics and I appreciate it but Im wondering can you build famous tactics like Guardiola's Barca, Mourinho's Inter or Simeone's Madrid for us and explain your mentality ladder on those tactics? It would be beneficial and easy to understand I think.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

THOG, this is fascinating stuff, and I am still getting my head around a lot of it. What would be the possibility of you creating a spreadsheet type matrix for this, so you can reference the tactical priorities for any given strategy and fluidity combo? With all the requests, I quite understand if you don't want to be bothered, but just in case :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Is there any relation between our tactical shape and optimal strategy ( and / or fluidity ) for that shape ?

I have a feeling that not all systems are equal or even nearly equal in regards of performance and flexibility of strategic choices. For example, take the deep 4-2-3-1: I have noticed a few weak spots that almost force a specific type of football if it is to be successful. I usually want to build from the back,but if i play an aggressive closing down team my defensive line finds it incredibly hard to pick a forward pass regardless of strategy-tempo-directness setting. The 3 on AM line are very far forward and the DM are considered unsafe , so either the fullback clears it in a hurry or manages to find those forwards but always under great pressure

Then if they get the ball, and are on an aggressive mentality, they behave very selfishly and try to dribble everyone in front of them. It is not helpful that the other attacking 3 are far from each other, thus encouraging individual play

The only way i can get somewhat satisfactory results in this shape is when i break the opposition attack , so i am forced to deliver with a long goal kick. Also i am led to choosing conservative mentality for the attacking unit because otherwise they pick very stupid options.

Comparing it with a 4-4-1-1 i find the latter's distribution of the ball from back to front much easier, the attacking runs of the wingers much less selfish and the team actually cooperating. All these regardless of team settings and, in my opinion, due to the shape-positioning of the players alone

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting thread.

I've always been confused by the different mentalities and philosophies available on FM, and translating my preferred style of play into 'FM speak', as the headings are very broad and somewhat confusing.

I play as Man United, generally with a 4-2-3-1 formation (with CMs rather than DMs). My aim is to be relatively patient against teams that sit deep (which is most teams we face) but break with speed and incision when a counter attacking opportunity arises. More like Dortmund, but without the manic high-press that they employ.

I've never been able to settle on a 'style' within FM to make this work. Currently it is:

GK - Defend

FB - Attack

CB - Defend

CB - Defend

WB - Attack

DLP - Support

BWM - Defend

W - Attack

SS - Attack

IF - Support

CF - Support

This has been with a 'Rigid' philosophy, with these team instructions:

- Play out of defence

- Drop deeper

- Slower tempo

- Pass into space

- More expressive

The idea is that the players will be a bit more patient in deeper areas and explosive in the final third, but I'm not convinced it works.

Reading this and understanding bits of it, it seems like 'Counter' - 'Balanced' may be better, with some TIs to make the team more aggressive in possession (as I've always found 'Counter' to be too slow in tempo to allow for quick transitions).

Any thoughts?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Great work. THOG, you are helping people with their tactics and I appreciate it but Im wondering can you build famous tactics like Guardiola's Barca, Mourinho's Inter or Simeone's Madrid for us and explain your mentality ladder on those tactics? It would be beneficial and easy to understand I think.

I'll be doing a save walkthrough in the near future. My initial thought was to do Dynamo Dresden as that was my next idea for a save anyway, but on second thought, I might try to replicate how a bigger club plays since that would be of interest to more people. Later, I might do some separate threads looking at how teams lined up in specific matches that seemed interesting to me.

THOG, this is fascinating stuff, and I am still getting my head around a lot of it. What would be the possibility of you creating a spreadsheet type matrix for this, so you can reference the tactical priorities for any given strategy and fluidity combo? With all the requests, I quite understand if you don't want to be bothered, but just in case :)

Revising the format of how the tactical priorities are presented is something I certainly want to do when I have the time, though when I get that much time to do sweeping revisions, I'm probably going to change how the idea is presented as well. As I suggested to babooey a few weeks ago, I want the second version of this thread to be a more accessible "how to" guide about shape now that I have a better sense of how everything works in practice.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'll be doing a save walkthrough in the near future. My initial thought was to do Dynamo Dresden as that was my next idea for a save anyway, but on second thought, I might try to replicate how a bigger club plays since that would be of interest to more people. Later, I might do some separate threads looking at how teams lined up in specific matches that seemed interesting to me.

Revising the format of how the tactical priorities are presented is something I certainly want to do when I have the time, though when I get that much time to do sweeping revisions, I'm probably going to change how the idea is presented as well. As I suggested to babooey a few weeks ago, I want the second version of this thread to be a more accessible "how to" guide about shape now that I have a better sense of how everything works in practice.

Not sure if I am missing something, but are some roles not covered? Or are the described by the default top bit?

For example (From Rigid/contain):

MC: Disrupt Attacks

Box to Box Midfielder: Disrupt Attacks Judiciously

Deep Lying Playmaker (All Duties): Restrict Space Cautiously

Defend Duty (All Other Roles): Restrict Space Aggressively

I assume this means all MCs roles will disrupt attacks, except for those stated, who will do the described actions?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Is there any relation between our tactical shape and optimal strategy ( and / or fluidity ) for that shape ?

I have a feeling that not all systems are equal or even nearly equal in regards of performance and flexibility of strategic choices. For example, take the deep 4-2-3-1: I have noticed a few weak spots that almost force a specific type of football if it is to be successful. I usually want to build from the back,but if i play an aggressive closing down team my defensive line finds it incredibly hard to pick a forward pass regardless of strategy-tempo-directness setting. The 3 on AM line are very far forward and the DM are considered unsafe , so either the fullback clears it in a hurry or manages to find those forwards but always under great pressure

Then if they get the ball, and are on an aggressive mentality, they behave very selfishly and try to dribble everyone in front of them. It is not helpful that the other attacking 3 are far from each other, thus encouraging individual play

The only way i can get somewhat satisfactory results in this shape is when i break the opposition attack , so i am forced to deliver with a long goal kick. Also i am led to choosing conservative mentality for the attacking unit because otherwise they pick very stupid options.

Comparing it with a 4-4-1-1 i find the latter's distribution of the ball from back to front much easier, the attacking runs of the wingers much less selfish and the team actually cooperating. All these regardless of team settings and, in my opinion, due to the shape-positioning of the players alone

I didn't really want to present any hard rules as you can't really account for every combination of fluidity/mentality/role/players available, but I do think some of the fluidity settings are a better fit for certain styles than others. There's the whole generalist/specialist logic, but this isn't really a question of style of play. So to suggest some very vague guidelines:

Very Rigid will probably work best for systems where you have a more disciplined defensive structure with more traditional wide players feeding balls to a strike partnership or an ST/AMC partnership.

Rigid will probably work best for systems that are based around supplying a very complete centre forward who can single-handedly tear apart defences or, failing that, hold up the ball until wide players can move up to provide support.

Balanced will work best for systems that are based around a lot of interpositional movement in attack; so this means it will get the most out of attacking fullbacks, creative forwards, goal-scoring midfielders, etc.

Fluid will work best for systems where you have several good attacking players that you want to get forward quickly to provide close support to a versatile but less traditional centre forward.

Very Fluid is like the inverse of Very Rigid. It will probably work best for systems where you want to keep a more compact, traditional shape but everyone is providing close support to one another, reducing the need for a more traditional ST/ST or ST/AMC partnership.

Of course, again, there are likely countless exceptions.

As far as the 4-2-3-1 is concerned, my opinion is that the best way to represent the system in FM is with some sort of 4-4-1-1 combined with Rigid, Balanced or Fluid. The thing to remember is that most teams use very different shapes in different phases of play (i.e., attacking phase, defensive phase, transition phases), and the vague way formation is used in the football press doesn't really tell you anything.

In FM, your team's different shapes are mainly controlled by the following settings:

Formation = Defensive Shape

Formation + Fluidity = Attacking Transition Shape

Formation + Fluidity + Closing Down = Defensive Transition Shape

Role/Duty = Attacking Shape

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Not sure if I am missing something, but are some roles not covered? Or are the described by the default top bit?

For example (From Rigid/contain):

I assume this means all MCs roles will disrupt attacks, except for those stated, who will do the described actions?

Yes, all roles will use the default for the position with exceptions listed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
...

AML/R are really more like wide forwards than midfielders, both in defence and attack, so they'll tend to be fairly direct either way. Unless a wide or centre forward has a role/duty that tells him to drop into midfield, getting the ball to any kind of forward will tend to mean the attack is on and the team will start surging forward.

To explain why this happens, think of tactical priorities as both telling a player what to focus on doing and also where to position himself in the attacking build-up to do it. Now, when a player actually gets the ball, his reaction will mainly be determined by role and tactical priority. Role tells him what he should try to do with the ball while tactical priority generally tells him how much risk he can take to do it before choosing to offload the ball to a nearby teammate or, in the case of more defensive players, simply clear it forward. And risk is mainly a question of how dangerous it would be to let the opposition regain possession around the ball carrier's current position on the pitch.

If a player doesn't have the ball and the ball moves into the area of the pitch corresponding to his tactical priority, duty tells your player how to react. Defend duty players will "hold position," support duty players will try to stay around the player with the ball to provide easy passing options, and with the exception of a few of the playmaker roles, Attack duty players will "get further forward" and make off the ball runs to provide more forward pass options for the support players.

Now, getting back to AML/R and their wide forward nature, this means that they will tend to position themselves next to, just behind or even ahead of your centre forward as part of your forward line. This means that, once they get the ball, all of your other players' duties will then be active with the attack going into full swing and the team moving forward as a whole.

So to sum all of that up, unless they have a tactical priority that will have them dropping back into midfield well behind your most advanced attacker, wide and centre forwards aren't going to help with a slow, patient build-up, and on Rigid, the wide forwards, AM (especially a shadow striker) and CFs will tend to be positioned well ahead of your MCs. This means you effectively have a two man midfield for build-up, four if you include the attacking fullbacks, and if those two MCs are under any kind of pressure, they'll be looking to get the ball quickly to the AMC or one of the three forwards which, again, will quickly set off an attacking move.

You're right that Balanced will work better as it will pull the support forwards deeper. Counter will also make midfielders more inclined to keep the ball in a deeper position rather than attempt a high risk pass to get it forward. But you can also encourage a more patient build-up by simply pulling more players into midfield, going for either a 4-4-1-1 or 4-3-3.

I hope that helps make sense of things more. If any of the above is still confusing, please don't hesitate to ask for further clarification.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is rather frustrating just when I think I've understood the majority of what has been wrote, I go through a horrible patch where my ideas and principles of the way I want to play just up and vanish.

Now I know there are ME limitations.. But I'm obsessed in trying to get my team to replicate the way Bayern play in real life, or to a certain extent. Now I have watched Bayern a lot this year and with Cleon's Creating A Tactic - Design, Create and Maintain thread this gave me a framework to build on.

v4i4.png

Now my issues I'm trying to fix is mainly to do with possession, with the attacking mentality the ball does get passed round fast and direct, which is what I'm aiming for, but the possession stats always seem to be low 50% would retain possession help increasing this or would that just take to me similar mentality as control would?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So, it seems that certain behavior-player choices are hardcoded in the tactical position the player holds, right?

AMR-L will invariably be attackers and not just a MR-L in a slightly advanced position

In consequence, the more flexible and rewarding formations have to be those that position the players in the traditional 3 defense-attack-midfield lines, not between them

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
So, it seems that certain behavior-player choices are hardcoded in the tactical position the player holds, right?

AMR-L will invariably be attackers and not just a MR-L in a slightly advanced position

In consequence, the more flexible and rewarding formations have to be those that position the players in the traditional 3 defense-attack-midfield lines, not between them

Defensively, yes.

In attack, you can pull AMLR deeper with Balanced and roaming on any setting will have them drifting into available space more often, but on other fluidity settings, they will tend to be up with the forward and attacks will go into motion when they receive the ball in such advanced positions.

It's not just a question of choices being hardcoded for a position but how the team reacts to play moving forward. When a forward or AM gets the ball, the rest of the team is going to move up in support. Their job, after all, is to initiate attacks, and even if they've been told to carry out those attacks without hastily giving away possession in the middle of the pitch, the fact that the rest of the team will already be moving around them is going to change the options available to him unless you have a lot of support/defend duties keeping the team's initial structure intact.

In fact, this is what "Take a Breather" does on top of lowering tempo. It effectively puts everyone on a more defensive duty, encouraging players to hold position and just circulate the ball around rather than attempting to get forward. This is also probably what a lot of people are looking for when they choose "Retain Possession," but that just lowers tempo and passing range.

EDIT: But for the most part, yes, using AM and DM will tend to lead to a more structured build-up. Three AMs behind a forward will be direct by nature whereas two DMs will keep the ball back in defence for longer. So logically, I think you could conclude that 4-4-2 or a flat 4-5-1 are the more inherently fluid systems whereas 4-3-3 and any of the 4-2-3-1s are the more inherently rigid systems.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This is rather frustrating just when I think I've understood the majority of what has been wrote, I go through a horrible patch where my ideas and principles of the way I want to play just up and vanish.

Now I know there are ME limitations.. But I'm obsessed in trying to get my team to replicate the way Bayern play in real life, or to a certain extent. Now I have watched Bayern a lot this year and with Cleon's Creating A Tactic - Design, Create and Maintain thread this gave me a framework to build on.

v4i4.png

Now my issues I'm trying to fix is mainly to do with possession, with the attacking mentality the ball does get passed round fast and direct, which is what I'm aiming for, but the possession stats always seem to be low 50% would retain possession help increasing this or would that just take to me similar mentality as control would?

Do you know exactly why your players are failing to keep possession? There are a few of things that stand out:

(a) The aggressive mentality means players aren't going to be too worried about holding onto possession for possession's sake. They'll look to create chances as soon as they have the ball and play it into tight quarters.

(b) The team will try to get the ball to the Advanced Playmaker who will be in a very advanced position and, once on the ball, will attempt to dribble through the opposition defence. I suspect he's probably getting dispossessed a lot and is also the target of a lot of failed passes.

Retain Possession will lower passing range and tempo, so it's probably not what you want. You might want to lower mentality and use TIs to make it higher tempo and more aggressive in defence.

I also think you want one of your WMs on an attack duty. Robben/Muller usually gets into the box fairly quickly.

It's also worth noting that FM's possession calculation is more traditional than the Opta definition that is most frequently used in real life, and I'm not entirely sure how Bayern's actual possession would calculate in the ME. In FM, possession is actual percentage of time spent between first gaining possession of the ball and the opposition regaining possession, but IRL, the more common definition is just the team's passes as a percentage of passes attempted by both teams. This means Bayern can amass massive possession stats by having the DCs pass it back and forth for a bit.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
AML/R are really more like wide forwards than midfielders, both in defence and attack, so they'll tend to be fairly direct either way. Unless a wide or centre forward has a role/duty that tells him to drop into midfield, getting the ball to any kind of forward will tend to mean the attack is on and the team will start surging forward.

To explain why this happens, think of tactical priorities as both telling a player what to focus on doing and also where to position himself in the attacking build-up to do it. Now, when a player actually gets the ball, his reaction will mainly be determined by role and tactical priority. Role tells him what he should try to do with the ball while tactical priority generally tells him how much risk he can take to do it before choosing to offload the ball to a nearby teammate or, in the case of more defensive players, simply clear it forward. And risk is mainly a question of how dangerous it would be to let the opposition regain possession around the ball carrier's current position on the pitch.

If a player doesn't have the ball and the ball moves into the area of the pitch corresponding to his tactical priority, duty tells your player how to react. Defend duty players will "hold position," support duty players will try to stay around the player with the ball to provide easy passing options, and with the exception of a few of the playmaker roles, Attack duty players will "get further forward" and make off the ball runs to provide more forward pass options for the support players.

Now, getting back to AML/R and their wide forward nature, this means that they will tend to position themselves next to, just behind or even ahead of your centre forward as part of your forward line. This means that, once they get the ball, all of your other players' duties will then be active with the attack going into full swing and the team moving forward as a whole.

So to sum all of that up, unless they have a tactical priority that will have them dropping back into midfield well behind your most advanced attacker, wide and centre forwards aren't going to help with a slow, patient build-up, and on Rigid, the wide forwards, AM (especially a shadow striker) and CFs will tend to be positioned well ahead of your MCs. This means you effectively have a two man midfield for build-up, four if you include the attacking fullbacks, and if those two MCs are under any kind of pressure, they'll be looking to get the ball quickly to the AMC or one of the three forwards which, again, will quickly set off an attacking move.

You're right that Balanced will work better as it will pull the support forwards deeper. Counter will also make midfielders more inclined to keep the ball in a deeper position rather than attempt a high risk pass to get it forward. But you can also encourage a more patient build-up by simply pulling more players into midfield, going for either a 4-4-1-1 or 4-3-3.

I hope that helps make sense of things more. If any of the above is still confusing, please don't hesitate to ask for further clarification.

I think I follow. I understand your point about having 3 players in AM positions making the team more direct. I'm not too concerned with that, as I do want us to transition quickly when the opportunity arises, rather than just holding possession for possession's sake. I'm not too concerned with possession stats, rather what we're doing with the ball when we get it. So I hope for my team to be patient or direct, depending on what opportunities present themselves. I guess the team I would most model myself on stylistically is Fergie's 2007/08 Champions League winning side, which was versatile enough to control games, whilst also being incredibly dangerous on the break.

I think I will move to balanced and see if it helps with the defensive shape. When I've tried a 4-4-1-1 before, I've always found it hard to get the wide midfielders involved in the game in advanced positions, and I'm happy enough for the front 4 to be available for a quick counter.

I still cannot figure out the best mentality for this though. I've been using attacking, but it does seem a bit gung-ho, even with TIs to temper it somewhat. Control doesn't seem to allow quick transitions, and counter always seems too deep and slow.

Do you think there is a logic in going 4-2-3-1 with standard/balanced, and having:

- Push up

- More expressive

- Pass into space

As the base, with the ability to add extra instructions depending on the context of the game (higher or lower tempo, narrow or wide, hassle opponents or stand off)?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
...

Either Standard with those TIs or Counter with "Higher Tempo" and "Push Much Higher Up" would be worth a shot.

Standard will have more of a balance between a more methodical midfield and a forward line that wants to push forward quickly.

Counter will make everything a bit more cautious and possession-oriented, though when clear opportunities open up, your team will be more likely to attack in force.

You could also try both depending on the opposition, using the Standard approach against weaker opponents who are happy to let you hold onto the ball and Counter against stronger ones who will give you more clear cut opportunities to counterattack.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Either Standard with those TIs or Counter with "Higher Tempo" and "Push Much Higher Up" would be worth a shot.

Standard will have more of a balance between a more methodical midfield and a forward line that wants to push forward quickly.

Counter will make everything a bit more cautious and possession-oriented, though when clear opportunities open up, your team will be more likely to attack in force.

You could also try both depending on the opposition, using the Standard approach against weaker opponents who are happy to let you hold onto the ball and Counter against stronger ones who will give you more clear cut opportunities to counterattack.

So if counter makes you keep more possession and probe the opposition until chances open up would this work? Im trying to almost recreate the way Arsenal build up and break down teams, when they play well that is http://i.imgur.com/k9J79Ge.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
So if counter makes you keep more possession and probe the opposition until chances open up would this work? Im trying to almost recreate the way Arsenal build up and break down teams, when they play well that is http://i.imgur.com/k9J79Ge.png

You probably don't want to use Hassle combined with such a deep defensive line, but in attack, this will cause the team as a whole to stay compact and pass the ball around very patiently unless there's a clear opening to break forward.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You probably don't want to use Hassle combined with such a deep defensive line, but in attack, this will cause the team as a whole to stay compact and pass the ball around very patiently unless there's a clear opening to break forward.

What if I wanted to play that tactic with a high line? Would I leave the mentality on counter and turn on high pressing? Or put it to control since I do want to want the restrict the opponent as much as possible and just choke them out with high possession with probing

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The "Push Higher" instructions are relative to mentality, so Counter with both "Push Higher" instructions will bring your d-line and closing down settings to approximately the same level as the default for Control. With Control, using both would bring you to approximately the same level as the default for Overload.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

DESIGNING TACTICS WITH TACTICAL PRIORITIES

So now I will walk through building a few tactics and putting them to work. Since there seems to be more interest in replicating how the more recognizable clubs play, I've decided to try to replicate the style of a larger club that people seem to struggle with in FM14: Liverpool.

My goal, then, is to recreate how this teams current plays as closely as possible while still paying attention to the need to respond tactically to my virtual opposition. I'm a firm believer in the idea that no team plays with a single tactic, not even for a single match, but always goes in with a variety of plans to adapt to different situations. In the case of Liverpool, then, I want to create three base tactics that I can freely adapt to fit the available squad and the opponent I'm facing:

(a) A fast-paced, attacking tactic intended to draw out smaller opponents before hitting them with quick, relatively direct attacks

(b) A more patient, possession tactic for controlling games when we've taken the lead or are struggling to get the ball to the striker

© A more defensive, counterattacking tactic for dealing with teams that press heavily and throw numbers forward

PLAN A: RELENTLESS, ATTACKING FOOTBALL

This is what the board wants, so we'll start by giving it to them.

When designing a tactic, formation will define our system at the most basic level, but there are really four shapes that we need to be concerned with:

(1) The Defensive Shape

This is the team's shape when the opposition has comfortably regained possession of the ball and we're defending in our half. This is mainly a question of how many players we want to keep behind the ball and whether we want any players operating between the midfield and defensive lines. It is primarily controlled by formation.

(2) The Attacking-Transition Shape

This is the team's shape immediately after possession has been regained. While this will depend partially on where possession has been regained and whether the team will look to immediately spring a break, we will operate under the assumption that possession has been regained in our own half and that the ball is at the feet of either the keeper or a defender.

This is mainly a question of how players line up to provide passing options in the early part of the attacking build-up. It is primarily controlled by fluidity, mentality, role and formation. But as we'll see below, tactical priority will provide us with a quick reference for seeing how all of these settings interact.

(3) The Attacking Shape

This is the team's shape when the ball is in an advanced position and moving into the final third. This is mainly a question of how many players are committed forward and how many players are holding position to provide cover. It is primarily controlled by role and duty.

(4) The Defensive-Transition Shape

This is the team's shape when the ball has been lost, presumably in the opposition half. This is mainly a question of how the team will press the opposition before falling back into the standard defensive shape. It is primarily controlled by fluidity, mentality, formation, defensive line settings and individual closing down settings.

Setting the Defensive Shape

The defensive shape is the easiest to set as this is just our formation. Liverpool tend to defend in their own half with a DM sitting behind a flat bank of four, so I will set the formation to 4-1-4-1. Now, when possession is lost and the ball is in the opposition half, I will want the team to initially press in more of a 4-3-3/4-2-3-1 shape, but this will be achieved automatically through the assignment of roles and duties when I create a double pivot in midfield. For now, I just want to ensure I always have five in midfield to cover every possible angle ahead of my defence.

Setting the Attacking-Transition Shape and the Attacking Shape

Next, we will move from the easiest shape to the most difficult shape: the attacking-transition shape. This is where mentality, fluidity and tactical priority will come into play.

Now, tactical priority will specify where I want my players to generally position themselves in the attacking build-up, so it's important to arrive at a clear idea of exactly what I want. Since I'm trying to replicate Liverpool, I know I want

(a) an aggressive, highly cooperative attack designed to provide quick support to the striker

(b) a slightly angled double pivot in front of a relatively deep defence

© fullbacks who won't bomb forward too quickly but will look to provide midfield support behind the aggressive attacking unit

(d) defenders who will play it out of the back if possible but will just get it forward if they run into trouble

Fluid, which divides the team into two distinct units going forward, seems ideal for this.

Now, knowing what kind of basic organization I want, I can decide on a Mentality setting. I know I want my attacking unit to be quite aggressive, but I do not want my defensive unit being too cavalier on the ball. Standard is a bit too cautious with central defenders told to just focus on "Disrupting Attacks" while Attacking is a bit too aggressive in telling them to prioritize "Keeping Possession." Yes, that would be "Keep Possession Away from Pressure," but even that might be a little too close for comfort with the possibility of an underhit backpass or poorly aimed square pass.

Control, then, seems to be the best bet as it will get my attacking unit focused on making attacks happen quickly while ensuring my defensive unit has possession on the mind but not so much that they'll risk giving up a goal to keep hold of the ball. Got that, Kolo? Good.

Having chosen a fluidity and mentality, we can now go to a specific list of tactical priorities and, with wwfan and llama3's guides close at hand, settle on some roles to define how the team will look to create chances.

Goalkeeper: Goalkeeper (Defend) - "Cycle Possession" with PI "Distribute to Defenders"

Mignolet is a great shot stopper, but his distribution is mediocre. His tactical priority, "Cycle Possession," will already be asking a lot of him, so I'll try to keep things as simple as possible by giving him the standard goalkeeper role and ensuring he isn't being too ambitious on the ball.

However, as Liverpool are now lacking the services of Andy Carroll, I will need to tell Mignolet to "Distribute to Defenders" to prevent Sturridge, Suarez and Sterling from being asked to challenge for too many long balls.

Central Defender Left: Central Defender (Defend) - "Recover Possession After Defensive Transition" with PIs "More Direct Passes" and "More Risky Passes"

I want my central defenders holding onto the ball and using their passing ability to distribute it carefully, but I do not want them taking too many risks just to hold possession. Tactical priorities telling them to "Recover Possession" will put them at the lower end of the Control range between an emphasis on maintaining possession and simply keeping the ball out of the defensive third.

Daniel Agger will be my first choice at DCL. While I don't want him playing too many risky passes, he is a good passer and I do want him being a bit more direct when necessary, so I give him some PIs to make him something between a standard central defender and a ball-playing defender.

Central Defender Right: Central Defender (Defend - "Recover Possession After Defensive Transition" with PIs "More DIrect Passes" and "More Risky Passes"

Skrtel is also a good passer, and as I'm going for a counterattacking style with occasional long balls into space from defence, I give him the same instructions.

Wide Defender Left: Wingback (Support) - "Recover Possession" with PI "Play Fewer Risky Passes"

My two wide defenders will have a slightly more aggressive version of the "Recover Possession" tactical priority than my centrebacks. This means they'll also play it safe in deeper positions while waiting for play to advance into a safer position before getting forward.

Enrique is relatively limited on the ball, so while my central defenders are free to play it long to the attackers, I mainly want him working the ball between the more creative players. At the same time, I need him to provide width, so I'll give him a Wingback (Support) role with additional instructions to play a more cautious passing game.

Wide Defender Right: Wingback (Attack) - "Recover Possession"

Johnson, on the otherhand, will be relied upon to provide width and crosses if the first wave of the attack breaks down.

Defensive Midfield Central: Defensive Midfielder (Defend) - "Recover Possession Immediately" with PIs "More Risky Passes" and "More Direct Passes"

After some deliberation, I decided to put Gerrard here and go with the second half of the season version of the team. This ensures Gerrard gets the ball more quickly while ensuring he doesn't have to wear himself out with the amount of running necessary for the MC positions. I also want Gerrard to be able to make full use of his creativity and passing range, but I don't want to make him a playmaker and force play to always channel through him. Liverpool have multiple creative outlets on the pitch at all times, so the system needs to be more fluid and democratic than that.

Gerrard's tactical priority should make him quite aggressive in defence but not too ambitious when he's on the ball. I want him trying the killer ball when it's on, but otherwise, I want him to just get the ball safely to one of the players in the attacking unit. The fact that he's not quite prioritizing holding possession should also actually encourage a few more characteristic Gerrard passes if he's isolated and under pressure.

Central Midfield Left: Central Midfielder (Defend) - "Keep Possession"

This player adds additional cover to the wingbacks, distributes the ball safely around midfield and tirelessly closes down opponents. With Gerrard occupying the DM role, Lucas is the best choice for the more advanced pivot. The "Keep Possession" tactical priority will encourage him to sit just ahead of the outright DM and hold onto the ball whenever possible until it can be intelligently distributed to a teammate.

Central Midfield Right: Central Midfielder (Support) - "Shuttle Through Defence" with PIs "Dribble More"

This is the more advanced creative player. He needs to be able to get the ball and work it through the opposition midfield to draw off defenders and occasionally put himself in a goal-scoring position, so I give him the PI "Dribble More." His tactical priority will see him trying to aggressively carve open defences to get the ball to an attacking player ahead of the attacking third. First choice will likely be Coutinho with Henderson coming on later to add fresh legs.

Wide Midfield Left: Wide Midfielder (Attack)- "Spearhead Attacking Moves from the Hole"

This role will typically be played by Sterling and Henderson. With most of the attacking threat coming down the right, this player will be more focused on stretching the defence and poaching the occasional goal at the far post. His tactical priority will ensure he moves quickly and aggressively when the ball is played to his feet.

Wide Midfield Right: Wide Midfielder (Attack) - "Spearhead Attacking Moves from the Hole" with PIs "More Risky Passes," "Dribble More" and "Cut Inside"

The second wide mifielder will be expected to get forward to act as the second striker in attack. The PI "Cut Inside" ensures he will try to come through the middle as much as possible while "More Risky Passes" will ensure he acts a creator for the central striker. Sturridge and Suarez will alternate between this role and the central striker position.

Central Striker: Complete Forward (Attack/Support) - "Penetrate Gaps Intermittently"/"Force Half Chances When Necessary"

This role will alternate between an attack and support duty depending on whether Sturridge or Suarez is playing here. With Sturridge, an attack duty will ensure he's trying to use his pace and movement to try to get behind the defensive line while the Complete Forward role will ensure he still tries to hold up the ball if it's played to his feet. With Suarez, a support duty will keep him deeper to participate more in build-up play and tell him to quickly play dangerous balls to either wide midfielder.

So with the roles set, I have settled on an attacking transition shape. Ideally, this would translate to the following plan if I were writing it out on a chalkboard in the dressing room:

2AH6c91.png

Here you can see the sizable split that a fluid tactic will create, but with my front four fairly compact and my deep defensive triangle given instructions to play a more direct game, every player should have multiple options at any given moment and no two players are needlessly occupying the same area of the pitch. The greatest concern will be the right flank, though if necessary, I can swap the position of the CM-S and CM-D to counter a specific threat or even switch the CM-S to a more cautious role. However, for the most part, I'll trust my DM-D to come wide to shut down any breaks down that flank with the CM-D then dropping into a more central position.

The fact that I've also assigned duties means my attacking shape is also in place. With the above roles and duties, this system should look like a 2-2-3-3 going into the final third. Now, I just need to add a few more TIs to refine the style I want.

I want a lot of positional fluidity in my attacking unit, so I add "Roam from Positions." I also want my wide players to come inside off the ball and attempt intricate passing moves, so I add both "Shorter Passing" and "Retain Possession." This will reduce width and passing range for all the players except the defenders with PIs to "Play More Direct." The reduction in width is not a problem as both wingbacks are instructed to move forward to vacate the space left by the two wide midfielders. The high amount of roaming will also encourage players to naturally move into wider positions when it would be advantageous.

However, these two passing TIs will also reduce tempo which will conflict with the high intensity style I'm looking for, so I offset this with the TI "Much Higher Tempo."

Finally, as Sterling and Sturridge will be the main recipients of crosses, I choose "Drill Crosses" to ensure they're not being forced to challenge in the air too often.

Setting the Defensive-Transition Shape

With that settled, I can move on to refining my Defensive-Transition shape. Currently, options for refining your pressing strategy are a bit limited, but I do know I want to drop back quite a bit to lure out the opposition and create depth behind their defence. To do this, I add the "Much Deeper Defensive Line" TI.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

PLAN B: PITCH CONTROL

Plan A is designed to create chances by rapidly exploiting any openings in the opposition defence. Plan B will focus on taking control of midfield, frustrating the opposition and waiting patiently for opportunities to capitalize on their mistakes. This will serve three functions. First, it will allow me to carefully manage a lead by shutting down the centre of the park. Second, it will give me the option of a more patient, methodical approach when my players clearly aren't in the right mental state to play a high tempo, attacking game. And third, it will give me the option of picking apart opponents who are determined to sit back and not give any space for my more attacking approach.

Setting the Defensive Shape

I'll stick with a Fluid 4-1-4-1 but I want to change my mentality to keep my attacking unit from being too aggressive. Standard will make my wide midfielders more inclined to pick up the ball in a deeper position and work it through the defence without making my defensive unit too cautious to support a possession-oriented approach.

Setting the Attacking-Transition/Attacking Shape

Goalkeeper: Goalkeeper (Defend) - "Distribute Safely" with PI "Distribute to Defenders"

Mignolet will be even more cautious, but this is okay. We're going to be relying on the midfield to just shut things down in the middle of the park, so there's no need for the keeper to be too concerned with keeping hold of the ball. Still, I tell him to distribute to defenders to avoid needlessly long balls to the forward.

Central Defender Left and Right: Central Defender (Defend) - "Disrupt Attacks"

With this tactic, my central defenders will only be looking to break up attacks and be very cautious on the ball. I don't want them to even think about playing an early ball to put the striker through, so they will remain on the default settings for their role.

Wide Defender Left and Right: Wingback (Support) - "Disrupt Attacks Quickly" with PI "Play Fewer Risky Passes"

Both wingbacks will also be fairly cautious, and going forward, I do not want them attempting too many crosses or risky passes into what I expect to be a packed defence, so I put both on a support duty and tell them to attempt fewer risky passes. I basically just want them to provide width, occupy defenders and link up with attackers around the area.

Defensive Midfield Central: Defensive Midfielder (Defend) - "Recover Possession After Defensive Transition" with PIs "More Risky Passes" and "More Direct Passes"

My creative DM will be left with the same PIs to ensure he can always reach the more advanced support player, though again, he'll be slightly more cautious on this setting.

Central Midfield Left: Central Midfielder (Defend) - "Recover Possession Immediately"

This player will again play essentially the same role as he does in the more attacking tactic.

Central Midfield Right: Box to Box Midfielder (Support) - "Keep Possession"

This player will now be pulled deeper and asked to play a more cautious game on the ball with a stronger emphasis on maintaining possession. However, as a box to box midfielder, he will be given a bit more creative freedom to take advantage of clear opportunities when they arise.

Wide Midfield Left: Wide Midfielder (Attack) - "Shuttle Ball"

The more peripheral wide midfielder will retain his role as a player expected to drift in at the far post and poach the occasional goal.

Wide Midfield Right: Wide Midfielder (Support) - "Shuttle Ball" with PIs "Dribble More," "Cut Inside," "Cross from Byline" and "Shoot Less Often"

The second wide mifielder, however, will be pulled into a more creative role as he will take on some of the more attacking responsibilities of the CM-S. "Dribble More" will encourage him to take the ball forward while "Cross from Byline" and "Shoot Less Often" encourages him to wait before attempting a final ball. The use of a free-roaming Box to Box Midfielder nearby should also see a player ready to move into a wider position should the wide midfielder move inside with the wingback still sitting deep.

Central Striker: Complete Forward (Support) - "Create Chances"

Similarly, the Complete Forward will be expected to stay deeper to link up with the central midfielders and right wide midfielder before moving into the area.

Going back to our chalkboard, then, we come up with this plan of attack for our midfield control approach:

YKCIIwC.png

Next, team instructions to refine the style. I add "Shorter Passing" to lower passing range and encourage the wide midfielders to sit narrower. I still want a lot of positional fluidity, so I'll again tell them to "Roam from Positions" while "Drill Crosses" will provide more appropriate service to my attackers.

Finally, to refine my defensive transition shape, I want to compress space and really control the midfield, as I'm no longer concerned with creating depth for Sterling and Sturridge. So I tell the team to "Push Higher Up" to combine my Standard mentality build-up approach with a pressing strategy closer to what I would get on a Control mentality.

PLAN C: BEAUTIFUL, UGLY FOOTBALL

The third and final tactic will be designed to soak up pressure and rely on the opposition willingly providing a steady stream of counterattacking opportunities. This tactic will look to take advantage of the pace of the team's attackers when playing against strong sides away from home.

Setting the Defensive Shape

Again, I'll stick with the Fluid 4-1-4-1, but the question is whether I should go with a Defensive or Counter mentality. Defensive will have the defensive unit mainly focused on covering space and obstructing movement around the area while the attacking unit will be put in a relatively defensive posture with a focus on recovering possession and moving it to a safe area. Counter will have the defensive unit trying to actually break up attacks while the attacking unit will attempt to hold onto possession in midfield. Given the purpose of this tactic, then, I go for Defensive as the more aggressive defending and possession play of Counter could lead to too many breakaways in our own half.

Setting the Attacking-Transition/Attacking Shape

Goalkeeper: Goalkeeper (Defend) - "Distribute Safely" with PI "Distribute to Defenders"

Mignolet will take no chances, but I still when him to distribute short when possible.

Central Defender Left and Right: Central Defender (Defend) - "Divert Attacking Movement"

The central defenders are tasked with just tracking attackers' movement, preventing them from bursting into space and ushering them into safe areas if necessary. As we will be defending deep against world class opposition, such a defensive tactical priority will also help ensure they don't make hasty challenges and give away free kicks in dangerous areas.

Wide Defender Left and Right: Wingback (Attack) - "Restrict Space Cautiously"

The wingbacks will be a bit more inclined to hassle the opposition wide players, though they'll still be mainly looking to avoid being beaten down the flank or giving away a foul. In possession, I will be looking to keep a tight defensive core with wide attackers coming inside, so the wide defenders will still need to get up and provide width. Given the directness of our play, I'm giving them both attack duties to encourage them to just get forward and cross the ball.

Defensive Midfield Central: Defensive Midfielder (Defend) - "Restrict Space"

In this tactic, the defensive midfielder will be more of a purely defensive player responsible for keeping a creative player in check. Lucas or Allen will likely be pulled back into this role when this tactic is used.

Central Midfield Left: Ball Winning Midfielder (Support) - "Recover Possession" with PI "Hold Position"

This is where the tactic will significantly break from the others. While my defensive unit will be instructed to cover space and avoid mistakes, I want my attacking unit to make the opposition fight their way forward. To help with this, I will play the left MC as a support duty Ball Winning Midfielder. This will encourage him to position himself higher up the pitch in defence and break up attacks as soon as possible. I still want him to act as the more advanced pivot to provide additional cover for the wingbacks, so I give him a PI to "Hold Position" to encourage him to drop back into his defensive position as the attack advances.

Central Midfield Right: Box to Box Midfielder (Support) - "Disrupt Attacks Quickly"

I stick with the Box to Box Midfielder as I want this more creative player to come deeper to receive the ball and also to provide a bit of cover for the Ball Winner's destructive forays into the opposition half. He will still move ahead of the Ball Winner as the attack progresses, but he will not be as aggressive as a support duty Central Midfielder.

Wide Midfield Left: Wide Midfielder (Support) - "Recover Possession Immediately" with PIs "Dribble More," "Cut Inside with Ball" and "Shoot Less Often."

In this tactic, the left wide midfielder will operate as more of a creator working closely with the Ball Winning Midfielder to initiate rapid counterattacks. This will also create a more natural place for Coutinho whereas the central trio in this tactic will likely be some combination of the more defensively capable Lucas, Gerrard, Henderson and Allen. The PIs "Dribble More," "Sit Narrower" and "Cut Inside with Ball" will encourage him to bring the ball into the middle where he can link up with both the complete forward and the right wide midfielder while "Shoot Less Often" is intended to encourage him to feed the two attackers rather than going for a goal himself.

Wide Midfield Right: Wide Midfielder (Attack) - "Recover Possession Immediately" with PIs "Dribble More," "Cut Inside," "Play More Risky Passes," and "Sit Narrower."

The right wide midfielder resumes the role he took up in Plan A, though with this tactical priority, he won't be quite so eager to burst forward unless there's a clear opportunity to counter attack.

Central Striker: Complete Forward (Attack) - "Keep Possession Under Pressure"

Again, the Complete Forward will mainly be responsible for providing pace and clever movement up front with an eye towards attacking the depth behind the defence, though if the ball comes to his feet in front of the defence, his tactical priority will encourage him to try to hold onto the ball until support arrives.

Going back to our chalkboard one more time, we now have this plan of attack for our defensive approach:

sBUjbeJ.png

For Team Instructions, I want to keep things simple for this tactic. As the tactic is heavily reliant on defensive solidity and attacking with pace, players do not need to roam as much. However, we're still not playing with any big attackers, so I add "Drill Crosses." I also want the team to get the ball forward quickly even if only Suarez and Sturridge are making runs, so I add "More Direct Passing" and "Much Higher Tempo."

For this tactic, I've already settled on the defensive-transition shape that I want through combining roles, PIs and the fluidity setting, so no further adjustments are needed. And with that, we have a versatile set of tactics that we can adapt to nearly any opponent and situation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

THE VALUE OF PRESEASON

Preseason gives you a terrific opportunity to observe your tactics in practice without any pressure or expectations. While preseason results can be a bit misleading given that you'll often be playing against apathetic reserve players, watching these matches can still give you a sense of potential problems with your approach.

Ideally, you'll want your preseason fixtures to present you with a variety of opponents using different formations and styles of play as this will give you a better chance of catching any glaring weak spots that might catch you by surprise when competitive matches start.

So before I talk to my chairman, I go to the fixture list to see what we already have lined up. In a few days, we have a match against Slovakian side without a manager. I cancel this as I have no idea how they'll line up and I like to use the first week to just build up fitness. On the tenth of July, we have Celtic. This will give us a match against a 4-4-1-1. Perfect. The rest of the friendlies don't appear to offer any tactical challenges, so I go ahead and cancel them.

On the fifteenth, I arrange a friendly with Arsenal at the Emirates. This will provide a perfect opportunity for testing the defensive integrity of the control and defensive approaches. For the twentieth, we have Portuguese side Maritimo who play an adventurour 4-3-3. On the 25th, Parma will give us an opportunity to go up against a direct 3-5-2. Then, heading to South America for a brief tour, Boca and River will give me an opportunity to test the tactics against a direct 4-2-3-1 and a passing 4-4-2 before I return to Anfield for a final friendly against Malaga.

For the first friendly, I want to start with Plan B as I do not want to go in with a high tempo when players aren't quite fit. I also don't immediately put out my first team as I want to see how the tactic works out with players I wasn't specifically thinking about when designing it.

Here we can already see the chalkboard diagram translating perfectly into the ME with the team creating a tidy matrix of passing options ahead of the opposition third:

Z8rgnNk.jpg

Next, we can see how this leads to a 4-2-3-1 defensive-transition shape:

Q0AKei9.jpg

And here, the 4-1-4-1 defensive shape as we defend in our own half:

yjly89x.jpg

And into the attacking transition:

o4E3SNK.jpg

And as Moses goes wide to put in a cross, we see a variation on the attacking shape with Henderson surging forward to provide the deep target in the box:

UY3YYYc.jpg

Oh look, an early goal from the possession tactic:

l9E84A9.jpg

As the game progresses, Celtic are happy to play a slower, passing game, so things quiet down into a relatively negative affair. As expected, my right flank is a bit of a weak spot, though as we saw earlier with the goal, also a source of a few chances of my own. In any case, this underlines the fact that there is no such thing as a perfect tactic. Ultimately, you will always have to make an attacking/defensive trade off somewhere and make changes when your weaknesses align too "well" with your opponent's best strengths.

Here we see the result of the high amount of positional fluidity. Sterling has come across to the right flank, next to Moses, while Henderson moves up and becomes the centre forward, pushing Aspas out onto the left flank:

8VKWhpL.jpg

At the half, I'm a goal up, my players are feeling confident and I have the advantage of kicking off. This is a good opportunity to give my attacking tactic a brief cameo. But first, I want to make some personnel changes. With my right flank vulnerable and Flanagan having made a number of mistakes, I decide to bring on Johnson. With Sterling tiring, I move Moses to the left flank and decide to try Suarez in his new role at MR.

Within minutes, goal #2 follows with Moses and Aspas linking up again on the opposite flank:

H5It0K1.jpg

Celtic respond by switching to an attacking 4-4-2, but I decide not to try my defensive tactic now. I can afford to go down a goal, so I'll let this match be open and see how it plays out to identify potential defensive weaknesses in the attacking system.

Just for reference, attacking build-up from the attacking tactic:

T8keghE.jpg

At 60 minutes, I decide to switch back to the possession tactic to see the match out and make some substitutions while I do it. Sturridge comes off for Aspas. Suarez isn't taking the friendly seriously, so I'll give the young Luis Alberto a go on the right flank. Gerrard is exhausted, so Lucas comes on. Finally, Coutinho replaces Moses and Kolo replaces Skrtel.

Of course, even when he's not taking it seriously, he still scores:

67zTcfH.jpg

Celtic takes advantage of my subs' lack of concentration by scoring a goal. Nice one, Kolo. Fortunately, Coutinho hits them right back:

YrBaoeS.jpg

With fifteen minutes to go, Celtic are throwing numbers forward, so I decide to switch to my defensive system just to check it out briefly.

Below, you'll see the different pressing strategy at work followed by an image of the Ball Winner beginning to drop back after helping to get the ball out of his own half and then the Ball Winner in his normal attacking position. This will give you a sense of the sort of dynamic movement and positioning we're getting from an otherwise limited role with the right tactical priority and just a single PI added:

Wp7E3sU.jpg

a8v8Ptz.jpg

Xg1antn.jpg

At the 86th minute, the Ball Winner scores an unlikely goal on the break.

ItWagHU.jpg

Full Time: Celtic 1 - 5 Liverpool

Not bad for a preseason runout, boys.

While this is still early days, the analysis tab shows that we're creating quality chances. More importantly, goals are coming from multiple players which is a key facet of the fluid philosophy that Rodgers has developed at Liverpool. Below, you can see that the shot conversion rate and shots-on-target rate for the tactics were excellent in this initial test with only one far off target:

cM9eAb1.jpg

Average position is a little skewed since we used a variety of different tactics and players, but with the starting 11 in orange, you can see how the 4-1-4-1 becomes what would normally be identified as a 4-3-3:

3lJpcwj.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow! This thread is so very helpful. A bit complex and hard to understand for someone who don't have english as a first language.

But there is so much great info in here and I can't wait to have a good sit down in front of FM14 after reading this.

Thanks THOG!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

MANAGING A TACTICAL CHALLENGE

Even though this only preseason, playing Arsenal at the Emirates should provide a massive challenge for my defensive tactic. Their attack is one of the most complete in the world. It combines pace, power, technique and guile to provide them with the tools to pick apart any defensive system they might face. The big question for me is whether I can rely on both wide defenders to provide width while pressing aggressively with my Ball Winner or if I'll need to keep one back in a defensive capacity at all times.

On the other hand, Arsenal's strength is also their weakness. They attack persistently and in force with all their various guns firing at once, but in doing so, they should leave plenty of depth for my counterattacking style to exploit. For both my attacking and defensive units, I'll need to select my personnel carefully. For my defence, I go with Skrtel and Sakho to challenge the strength and aerial ability of Giroud while Enrique and Johnson will cover the flanks. At DM, Lucas is best suited for neutralizing either Ozil or Cazorla while I go with the more defensive pairing of Allen and Gerrard in central midfield. For my attacking trident, I want as much pace going forward as possible, so Sturridge will sit up front with Sterling on the right flank. Suarez, then, will occupy the creative role on the left flank.

Early on, the lack of tactical familiarity is apparent. The team is defending well, but misplaced passes on the counter are giving Arsenal opportunities to break from midfield. However, as I expect these sort of passing errors to iron themselves out as the team gets used to the style of play, I'm not too worried about giving away these kinds of chances.

At fourteen minutes, a poor pass from Enrique inadvertently leads to the sort of team goal that people claim are hard to create in FM but will actually come naturally if you construct a tactic to encourage fluid teamplay that will freely utilize any player on the pitch:

k6zjorE.jpg

VZnggky.jpg

MBQ0HqH.jpg

HlvYkph.jpg

EChmnUA.jpg

EWrXcD4.jpg

CIxI8xt.jpg

Seven players were involved in creating that goal. Who needs playmakers?

Interesting detail here. Skrtel has come forward to wreak some havoc in midfield, prompting Gerrard and Lucas to drop back to temporarily fill the gaps. With Sterling getting onto his header, this nearly results in another chance for Sturridge. It just goes to show that a Defensive mentality doesn't have to mean boring football.

XYSyRDX.jpg

At this point, I was expecting to deal with some serious pressure from Arsenal, but they actually seem rattled and keep playing it back to Szcesny, allowing my midfield press to keep things under control. The fact that many of their players have the "Play Killer Balls Often" PPM makes things easy with my compact defensive formation.

A lapse from Johnson leads to the kind of chance that gives me and the real Liverpool serious defensive concerns: a fullback overlaps, Johnson doesn't pick him up, Skrtel is forced wide and a cross is sent in to a powerful striker. Fortunately, nothing came of this, but as we're only 1 up, it's a reminder that things can turn around very quickly. If I see more problems caused by overlaps, I may need to consider altering the system or playing more aggressively to prevent their fullbacks from having opportunities to get forward, but for now, I'll just wait and see.

Mertesacker brilliantly prevents Arsenal from conceding a second:

rnsxvm6.jpg

We go into the half with our lead intact, but we do have some problems. Both Lucas and Allen have picked up yellows while Sterling, despite having a good game, is tiring and hasn't been doing too well with helping Johnson defend the right flank. I decide to move Suarez to the right flank where his aggression, work rate and superior read of the game should help keep Monreal in check. Next, I bring Coutinho on to act as the left creator. I move Lucas up into the Ball Winner role while Gerrard is pulled back to DM. While this will actually force the booked Lucas to do some more defending in midfield, Gerrard will be able to slot in front of the defence with the confidence that he can commit a necessary foul without getting sent off. Finally, Henderson replaces Allen and takes up the role of the creative midfielder on the right flank.

Within the first few seconds, I see Arsenal have switched to a more direct 4-4-2 with Walcott playing off Giroud. The 4-4-2 is a much more balanced formation than the 4-2-3-1Denmark, so I suspect things will get much more difficult in the second half. Still, I won't make too many changes until I'm sure there's a problem, though with my DM now free to operate in a more creative capacity, I go ahead and tell him to "Play More Risky Passes."

Already, the 4-4-2 is proving to be much more effective for implementing their pressing game, but I manage to survive an early period of dominance from Arsenal as I successfully defend a series of corners. I find my DM is getting bypassed in every phase of play with Arsenal clearly focusing on the flanks, and with Gerrard tiring, I'll likely change system when he gets subbed.

At sixty minutes, I decide to switch to a 4-4-2 to fight my way out of my own half. Suarez is now operating to the right of Sturridge as a support duty Complete Forward. Both Lucas and Henderson are switched to defend duty Central Midfielders with Henderson permitted to "Play More Risky Passes." Moses is brought on as an attack duty winger on the right flank. As I'm now playing a more direct style anyway, I decide to switch both wingbacks to support duty fullbacks told to "Cross Less Often" to keep the flanks safe from Walcott and Giroud's movement while ensuring they don't give away the ball too quickly when we get forward.

At seventy two minutes, as no one is yet up to full match fitness, the players are already tiring and mistakes are starting to happen. The 4-4-2 has kept the ball out of our half a bit by offering another player to collect clearances, but Arsenal are still managing to get the ball into dangerous areas. I need to try a different way of shutting the match down.

I switch to my possession tactic. I feel we have to be more proactive about keeping them contained in midfield. Luis Alberto comes on in place of Sturridge while Lucas drops back to DM, Henderson moves over to CM-D and Coutinho comes into the middle as the box-to-box midfielder. Enrique is moved up into a midfield role while Cissokho replaces Suarez and slots in at leftback.

This is the change we needed. I'm concerned about Walcott getting behind our defence, but the pressure takes advantage of Arsenal's frustration while our attack clearly benefits from the fluidity of the 4-1-4-1:

wneYqK4.jpg

KHjcLRU.jpg

Still, Lucas is on a yellow and tired, so I bring on Kolo Toure and switch the DM role to Anchor Man. "I have faith in you, Kolo." A lie, but we do what we must to win.

With Arsenal pressing ridiculously high in the 88th minute, I decide we need an attack duty striker to take advantage of what few chances we may still get. Coutinho moves out to the left flank while Aspas replaces Enrique as an attack duty Complete Forward.

Mignolet proves the value of having a no-nonsense shot stopper:

CmhVowp.jpg

And at 93 minutes, sweet survival:

hawHd6n.jpg

Going to analysis, we find that, despite Arsenal attempting more than twice as many shots, both sides had the same number of chances:

jTCEcZq.png

zmY2YY6.png

61% possession means nothing:

pnp4rJl.png

While it was a close match, I'm now confident that I can take my defensive tactic into a competitive match and grind out a result. In fact, despite Arsenal's strong performance in the second half, this match would have been put to bed sooner had my players not made as many passing errors in the first. As an added bonus, the possession tactic proved its versatility by helping me see out the match even with Arsenal throwing numbers forward and Walcott threatening to exploit my higher press.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Now this was the missing piece in this article. Super stuff. Really good to see how you contructed your side, and in particular in adherence to your rules, but showing the creativity with instructions to adapt the team. Top class article.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi tHoG, just wondered if I could pick your brains regarding sweeper set-ups in a similiar format to the excellent 4141's.

I have migrated backwards to FM13 (do not mind the revised TI's & PI's of FM14 but I am fed up of all the media interaction despite nominating as many members of staff to handle everything) and reactivated my Southampton save where I had been using the two approaches from Naks' Clear Cut Chance article in Issue 1 with a rigid/control, standard, counter mentality.

SK (d)

SW(d)

CD(d) BPD(x)

WB(s) DLP(d) WB(a)

AP(a) DLP(s)

AM(a)

CF(s)

I am now beginning to feel that a more fluid approach would be appropriate to separate into distinctive defensive and attacking units, but am also cautious that you say that sweepers and deep lying playmakers will modify the ladder and change the approach.

Any suggestions you have using the same shape would be much appreciated. Many thanks in advance.

Also, I have adjusted the offensive sliders to replicate the 4141 approaches but wondered if there was any way to replicate 'sit narrower' other than perhaps making the WMR the widest player in a CM three...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hi tHoG, just wondered if I could pick your brains regarding sweeper set-ups in a similiar format to the excellent 4141's.

I have migrated backwards to FM13 (do not mind the revised TI's & PI's of FM14 but I am fed up of all the media interaction despite nominating as many members of staff to handle everything) and reactivated my Southampton save where I had been using the two approaches from Naks' Clear Cut Chance article in Issue 1 with a rigid/control, standard, counter mentality.

SK (d)

SW(d)

CD(d) BPD(x)

WB(s) DLP(d) WB(a)

AP(a) DLP(s)

AM(a)

CF(s)

I am now beginning to feel that a more fluid approach would be appropriate to separate into distinctive defensive and attacking units, but am also cautious that you say that sweepers and deep lying playmakers will modify the ladder and change the approach.

Any suggestions you have using the same shape would be much appreciated. Many thanks in advance.

Also, I have adjusted the offensive sliders to replicate the 4141 approaches but wondered if there was any way to replicate 'sit narrower' other than perhaps making the WMR the widest player in a CM three...

For Fluid, the controller effect will only have an effect on Contain or Defend, and even then, it's a marginal adjustment intended to create a slightly bigger gap between the SW/DLP and his teammates. For the DLP, this allows him to more effectively operate as a key, central distributor, and for the SW, it basically creates a zone for him to actually sweep rather than being tightly sandwiched between the GK and DCs. The effect is also the same no matter how many SWs and DLPs you use at once. Basically, while it will make your tactic just the slightest bit more aggressive, you shouldn't concern yourself too much with it.

There's no way to replicate the individual "Sit Narrower" in FM13. That's new to FM14.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Having decided to see how a few of my youngsters and substitutes would cope with the attacking tactic, the Maritomo friendly was nearly a fiasco, but fiascos and near fiascos can be instructive. Initially, we went a goal down after Sakho gave away a penalty, but a few adjustments saw our performance turn around quickly. A few things I learned from this match:

1) Despite the generalist structure of this tactic, the right central midfielder plays the most important role on the pitch. When this player isn't performing, the entire system breaks down. For the first half, youngster Luis Alberto struggled here, leading to a drab team performance that saw us going scoreless into the half. When Coutinho came on at the 65th minute, the entire team was transformed and he promptly created a pair of goals for Suarez and Henderson.

nQcVqow.jpg

8YjBKZW.jpg

While I hope to eventually turn Alberto into a more complete midfielder, I now know that I can't afford to experiment with different players in this role. For the time being, Alberto can get game time in the more peripheral wide position where I can afford to have an anonymous performance.

2) Suarez is more effective in a deeper role. I started this match with Suarez up top as a support duty complete forward, but with Moses/Alberto/Sterling responsible for getting the ball forward, this left him chasing misplaced passes and desperate balls from deep. At the half, Suarez was pulled back to right wide midfield with Aspas played up front. While our attack didn't switch into full gear until Coutinho's arrival, this enabled us to actually get the ball forward with Suarez scoring our first goal in the 64th minute.

I6T8pcz.jpg

3) The centre forward needs pace, but the wide midfielders need to be good finishers. The centre forward will be looking to break forward and finish off one-on-ones. Finishing is obviously helpful, but without pace, it's irrelevant. Meanwhile, the wide midfielders are going to be responsible for actually finishing off the more difficult chances, so they'll need to be more adept on the ball. Despite the conventional wisdom that you should usually give a support duty to a lone striker, Suarez was ineffective until he was pulled deeper with a fairly traditional striker simply creating space for him by pulling away central defenders. The logic of the real SAS partnership, then, seems to hold in FM as well.

This also tells me how I need to go about training players like Sterling, Ibe and Moses if they're going to be useful when injuries hit the team:

ld681l9.jpg

The match stats tell the story. We are being outplayed on paper, but we're more effective at getting players forward and making chances count:

8fuURvh.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

THOG I have a bizarre question, I think. After reading this I though fluid might suit how I wanted the team to play as more of a unit defending and attacking. My original tactic was set at balanced but when I made the change to fluid most of my attackers started playing only for themselves and taking pointless shots not playing in players in better positions, very frustrating which has made me make the change to balanced.

Is this what fluid does? make players play for themselves and not together or have a totally misread the ME?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
THOG I have a bizarre question, I think. After reading this I though fluid might suit how I wanted the team to play as more of a unit defending and attacking. My original tactic was set at balanced but when I made the change to fluid most of my attackers started playing only for themselves and taking pointless shots not playing in players in better positions, very frustrating which has made me make the change to balanced.

Is this what fluid does? make players play for themselves and not together or have a totally misread the ME?

It's probably a combination of things. If the fluidity change told certain players to be more aggressive, on top of telling them to express themselves more freely, and your style of play is encouraging the opposition to stay deep and compact, you'll probably see more players trying to make something happen quickly by attempting ambitious shots or crosses.

EDIT: Basically, it's not a question one setting necessarily encouraging more teamwork than another but a question of how they go about making things happen. For a possession style, Balanced will see support duty attackers playing a more methodical game around the area while Fluid will see them more inclined to just take the initiative and try to finish off a move. This works well for me, because I'm looking to spring fast, elaborate attacks from deep and want every player in my attacking unit looking to quickly cut open the defence. In your case, Balanced may work better, or alternately, you could try Fluid on a lower mentality.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Now to see if I can adapt any of this to keep my horrendous Gateshead side in League 2 I suppose

Et voila - beat Dagenham and Redbridge 4-0 in a last-day six-pointer to stay up, having spent the last 20 weeks in the relegation spots. The shape is an asymmetrical 5-4-1:

abGyrX5ag9.png

Fluidity: Very Rigid, because I want a very dogmatic, straightforward buildup, as befits my crappy players. Hit it quickly to the false 9, then combine with an onrushing midfielder to play someone (usually the AMR who gets a LOT of chances and should really probably be a left-footed inside forward rather than an orthodox right winger as I currently use) into the box as quickly as possible.

Mentality: Defensive, because I want to counterattack quickly every time I get the ball rather than waiting for an obvious chance.

TI's: More Direct Passing / Pass Into Space / Higher Tempo / Exploit The Middle / Play Narrower / Drill Crosses / Stay On Feet / Waste Time

PI's: GK: Distribute To Defenders, because the other distribution instructions still don't actually work, and this is the best way to set up a counterattack from my half.

SW: More Direct Passes / More Risky Passes

DRC: More Direct Passes

DLC: More Direct Passes / More Risky Passes

DR: More Direct Passes / Cross From Deep / Cross More Often

WBL: More Direct Passes / Cross More Often

DM: Nada

MRC: More Direct Passes / Hold Position

MLC: Get Further Forward

AMR: Get Further Forward / Cross From Byline / Cross Aim Near Post

FC: Close Down Less / Shoot Less Often

Tactical Priorities (bearing in mind the sweeper effect)

GK: Distribute Safely

SW: Contain Attacking Movement

DC's: Disrupt Attacks Judiciously

DR: Restrict Space

WBL: Disrupt Attacks Judiciously

DM: Disrupt Attacks Judiciously

MC's: Recover Possession

AMR: Keep Possession Away From Pressure

FC: Keep Possession Away From Pressure

Really what I wanted was 1-4-4-1, in which the midfield was super narrow so the two wingers got beyond the false 9 and into the box, but I found the team more balanced if I shuffled the ML across to become an MLC and dropped an MC back to DM. That allowed me to make the LWB and MR more attacking, so the MR almost functions as a second striker, and means that the system defends a lot like a 5-3-2 down the left side (MLC going over to help WBL) and a lot like a 4-3-3 down the right (AMR and DR working together). The weaker side is the left, for which I'm trying to think of some kind of remedy that doesn't involve sacrificing all of my attacking threat on that flank. Probably the answer is just to sign a better left wingback.

Now to develop a couple of variations - a 3-4-2-1 that presses and keeps the ball would be an obvious one, and.... what else? Suggestions welcomed. Possibly a cagey 'counter' tactic.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Et voila - beat Dagenham and Redbridge 4-0 in a last-day six-pointer to stay up, having spent the last 20 weeks in the relegation spots. The shape is an asymmetrical 5-4-1:

abGyrX5ag9.png

Fluidity: Very Rigid, because I want a very dogmatic, straightforward buildup, as befits my crappy players. Hit it quickly to the false 9, then combine with an onrushing midfielder to play someone (usually the AMR who gets a LOT of chances and should really probably be a left-footed inside forward rather than an orthodox right winger as I currently use) into the box as quickly as possible.

Mentality: Defensive, because I want to counterattack quickly every time I get the ball rather than waiting for an obvious chance.

TI's: More Direct Passing / Pass Into Space / Higher Tempo / Exploit The Middle / Play Narrower / Drill Crosses / Stay On Feet / Waste Time

PI's: GK: Distribute To Defenders, because the other distribution instructions still don't actually work, and this is the best way to set up a counterattack from my half.

SW: More Direct Passes / More Risky Passes

DRC: More Direct Passes

DLC: More Direct Passes / More Risky Passes

DR: More Direct Passes / Cross From Deep / Cross More Often

WBL: More Direct Passes / Cross More Often

DM: Nada

MRC: More Direct Passes / Hold Position

MLC: Get Further Forward

AMR: Get Further Forward / Cross From Byline / Cross Aim Near Post

FC: Close Down Less / Shoot Less Often

Tactical Priorities (bearing in mind the sweeper effect)

GK: Distribute Safely

SW: Contain Attacking Movement

DC's: Disrupt Attacks Judiciously

DR: Restrict Space

WBL: Disrupt Attacks Judiciously

DM: Disrupt Attacks Judiciously

MC's: Recover Possession

AMR: Keep Possession Away From Pressure

FC: Keep Possession Away From Pressure

Really what I wanted was 1-4-4-1, in which the midfield was super narrow so the two wingers got beyond the false 9 and into the box, but I found the team more balanced if I shuffled the ML across to become an MLC and dropped an MC back to DM. That allowed me to make the LWB and MR more attacking, so the MR almost functions as a second striker, and means that the system defends a lot like a 5-3-2 down the left side (MLC going over to help WBL) and a lot like a 4-3-3 down the right (AMR and DR working together). The weaker side is the left, for which I'm trying to think of some kind of remedy that doesn't involve sacrificing all of my attacking threat on that flank. Probably the answer is just to sign a better left wingback.

Now to develop a couple of variations - a 3-4-2-1 that presses and keeps the ball would be an obvious one, and.... what else? Suggestions welcomed. Possibly a cagey 'counter' tactic.

Nice to see you back mate!! And nice to see your still rocking the 5-4-1 variants!

Southern buddie (Frag)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
...

Excellent post and good work avoiding the drop.

I'm guessing you're probably a lower reputation side, so you have the luxury of knowing most teams are going to come at you and youdon't ever really need to be too attacking until you start climbing the table. Counter makes sense when you're playing comparably skilled sides. For sweeper systems, it's probably a good idea to stay deep as pressing high without a defence that can use the offside trap will create the risk of opposition attackers breaking forward from wide positions.

You might want to avoid "Exploit the Middle" as this effectively raises the duty of all central players above the DCs and lowers it for all wide players. I personally consider the Exploit instructions to be situational instructions that have too extreme of an effect on your style of play to be suitable for general use.

Also, while the whole generalist vs. specialist idea is probably less relevant at the lower league level, you might want to try telling your players to "Be More Expressive" to offset the absence of a playmaker or free role in a very rigid system. This isn't to say you have to. Again, at lower levels, you might benefit from imposing an extreme level of tactical discipline on the entire team, but if you find things to just be a bit too methodical and stagnant going forward, this should help.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

LAST MINUTE CHANGES

For the rest of preseason, I decided to focus on refining my main attacking tactic. At Parma, an effective offside trap saw us slump to a dreary draw, though this was followed by two respectable wins as the club vacationed in Buenos Aires. Watching these matches, I decided to make the following changes:

Final Tactical Adjustments

1) For Plan A, I switched "Much Deeper Defensive Line" to "Drop Deeper." While Plan A was very solid defensively, we were standing off a bit too much in our own half with too much ground to make up for our build up style to be quite as quick and lethal as I'd like. "Drop Deeper" would see our one-third press become more of a half press and should allow for a few more breaks from midfield with Plan C already giving us the option of a much deeper, conventionally direct approach.

2) For both Plan A and Plan B, I gave the left wide midfielder personal instructions to "Dribble More," "Play More Risky Passes" and "Cut Inside" to make him more like his right wide midfield counterpart. I really liked how this player performed in a more versatile capacity on Plan C, and on the other tactics, I found he stayed wide just a little too much and didn't utilize space in front of the MCL effectively. While cut inside is an on-the-ball instruction, it will bring him inside more in early build up which will encourage more overlap from the leftback and have a knock-on effect for further off the ball movement. "More Risky Passes" will also add a bit more creativity on this flank which was evident on Plan C but was somewhat lacking for Plans A & B.

As I plan to have Sterling playing here for many years, I switch his training focus to Advanced Playmaker to try to round out his game as much as possible in the short term.

3) Finally, for Plan A, I switch the DCL to a plain Ball-Playing Defender, as I'm not seeing quite as many direct balls out of defence as I'd like. The DCR will remain more of a "sometimes" ball-playing defender.

Beyond that, I switch Sturridge's training focus to Target Man as this will focus on the aspects of his game that need to be improved for him to become a more complete forward.

Returning to a rain-drenched Liverpool to test these adjustments, I was interested to see how the revised attacking tactic would fare at home in characteristically English weather conditions. It took less than a minute to find out:

yXgYqDR.jpg

The rest of the match goes well, but goal two doesn't come until the 79th minute, again with Allen and Aspas linking up:

ViOOW59.jpg

As the final match analysis shows, Malaga could thank their wealth of excellent keepers for keeping it at just 2-0:

MefKpry.jpg

Once more, the match stats show that you don't have to worry about ball retention unless your attack is actually based around it:

c0AYsqt.jpg

Now, with Suarez going to the reserves to stay fit while he serves his ban, the rest of the team is off to Cardiff for our first competitive match.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The competitive season has arrived. The time for experiments has ended, and the focus turns to winning matches at all costs.

Solskjaer is an especially aggressive manager, so at home, I suspect he'll go for the jugular, even against a larger side. With his attack mainly relying on pace, my defensive tactic should neutralize his attacking four while their high press should give me consistent opportunities to counter. If not, I can switch to my attacking tactic if Solskjaer decides not to play his usual game, but playing away at the start of the season, I'd rather not ask my players to play a high-speed passing game that they're not totally comfortable with when nerves are likely to be an issue. Going into the match, I settle on the following line-up and tell the team to pick up where they left off:

O9VJYRe.png

The plan works well. Cardiff attack aggressively, but we allow them no space behind our defence. This keeps Bellamy, Campell and Zaha in check while supplying us with a steady supply of opportunities to hit them on the counter. After seventeen minutes, we got our breakthrough from Coutinho:

oUfZmOc.jpg

Two minutes later, a David Marshall own goal finishes off the goal scoring for the match:

bQuZdRl.jpg

Here's a good example of why the 4-2-3-1Denmark makes a poor defensive shape:

7O2QdGd.jpg

The lethargic defending of the wide forwards forces Medel out wide to deal with the overlapping Enrique. This allows Coutinho to drift into the middle where he receives the ball and threads it through to an (unfortunately offside) Sturridge.

By comparison, the more conventional 4-1-4-1 shape forces their attackers to drop back and look for the ball in front of my midfield, eliminating the momentum of their attack:

xswKtf9.jpg

But what about the attacking trade-off? Well, at the end of the day, this is what you get with a high pressing, attacking system that uses 3 forwards in front of an attacking midfielder:

k5H0oNl.png

And this is what you get with a defensive system that uses 1 forward in front of 5 midfielders:

hMU1Pzm.png

And then compare the amount of penetration in key goalscoring areas:

cdjvMzk.png

44OlFfG.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well i think that's all well n good against a team like cardiff playing the 4-2-3-1. However, i suffer greatly against the big sides especially when the match is away and they play that same formation. I find their high defensive line squeezing my entire passing exchanges into my own half and at least all 6 front players (yes their two holding midfielders too) are inside my own half and regain the ball by forcing my centrebacks to play a long ball to my two wingers who lose the ball without too much of a fight.

Usually my formation is same as urs altho with 2 widemidfielders on attack

Edit: i play with arsenal and i am 2nd in league.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Well i think that's all well n good against a team like cardiff playing the 4-2-3-1. However, i suffer greatly against the big sides especially when the match is away and they play that same formation. I find their high defensive line squeezing my entire passing exchanges into my own half and at least all 6 front players (yes their two holding midfielders too) are inside my own half and regain the ball by forcing my centrebacks to play a long ball to my two wingers who lose the ball without too much of a fight.

Usually my formation is same as urs altho with 2 widemidfielders on attack

Edit: i play with arsenal and i am 2nd in league.

Tactically, the same principles apply, but your probability of victory goes down. There's no tactic to guarantee victory 100% of the time. Some days your attackers and defenders will make mistakes, but you can improve your chances by targeting the 4-2-3-1's thin numbers in midfield and lack of defending down the flanks. Going up against a big team, my bigger concern is always when the AI switches from a 4-2-3-1 to a 4-4-2, as I already saw when I played Arsenal in preseason. Against 4-2-3-1, I can comfortably control the match easily, I only need to worry about defender mistakes and moments of genius from opposition players... which will happen but with much less frequency than if those same sides were playing a more balanced system.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To emphasize that point, having gone a little bit ahead with another victory over Crystal Palace, the biggest and most entertaining tactical challenge I've faced so far came from Hartlepool in the league cup. They played a deep, direct 4-5-1 which swamped the midfield area ahead of their defence and completely shut down my attack. They then scored from a set piece in the 18th minute, forcing me to switch to a 4-4-2 set to work the ball down the flanks. Without big attackers to aim at, this was still problematic for me, but I managed to get an equalizer in the second half by bypassing the impenetrable blob in central midfield and finessing the ball along the byline:

TVMmbV1.jpg

Still, I was having trouble connecting crosses for the winner, so I had to throw more midfielders forward to create space for my small strikers. This eventually did the trick, but it was a thriller and illustrates how a more balanced approach can create real problems for any team (in this case, me):

qpb5zPj.jpg

8hhSeg8.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I finally took time to read through this slowly and, unsurprisingly, I'm impressed with the amount of work that has been put into it. I agree with some that your wording and vocabulary choice could be a bit overwhelming to some people, I think a lot of things could've been said in a plainer way.

One suggestion I have is that you cover all team and player instructions and how they all influence everything you've said so far and to what degree. I see a lot of people, including myself, don't really know exactly what each instructions does and how much it intertwines with everything else. In a lot of tactics I see people use team and player instructions far more liberally than they should given their (mis)understanding of what's really going on.

Nonetheless, this thread is fantastic already and I hope it'll thrive in the months to come.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

After the close call at Hartlepool, we head to London for a very different sort of challenge against Spurs. Tottenham are currently in poor form, sitting 15th in the table with a tired and demoralized squad coming home from a mid-week Europa League fixture. Sherwood prefers a direct, attacking 4-4-2 and he's already declared his intent to go all-out attack in the press, so I should be able to sit back and frustrate them while waiting for exhaustion to set in later in the match.

Things start well with a run from Johnson stretching the Spurs defence, forcing Vertonghen to keep an eye on Aspas and allowing Sturridge space to nod in the first goal at the 27th second:

YdSpg2Y.jpg

There has been some discussion lately about whether you can play two attack duties down the same flank. You can as long as you have players who will dynamically cover space. In this image showing the build up to the first goal, we can see how an overload on the flank pulls the defence apart while my midfield trio shifts across to provide cover behind the wingback:

3S7O7Xo.jpg

While I was mainly looking for counterattacking opportunities by playing defensively, I didn't want to just sit back and absorb pressure all match. While I didn't want to counterattack as indiscriminately as I would have with Plan A, Adebayor and Soldado are still a threat any time they're in your area, so I switch to Plan B with the intent of using my numerical advantage in midfield to just control the game from the centre. By forcing them to press while I look to keep the ball, I also hope to better exploit their fatigue from playing in Europe. However, as I still want Coutinho operating in a mainly creative role, I switch the ML and MR instructions, though I remove "More Risky Passes" for Aspas. And given that Johnson has already created one goal, I go ahead and switch him to an attack duty as well.

At twenty seven minutes, I move Coutinho inside to provide a little more creativity in the centre. Henderson is pushed out to the left flank where his work rate and tackling will help keep Walker's marauding runs in check.

Despite a few close calls, we go to the half with our lead intact. I have a feeling that Spurs are going to come out swinging, so I move Coutinho back out wide and switch to Plan C to make sure I'm not caught off guard. I also decide to give Sturridge a go as an advanced forward to see if I can get a little more movement behind their defensive line. I don't really notice any added intensity to their play, so I go back to Plan B but keep Sturridge as an advanced forward. I also swap Lucas and Gerrard as I don't feel Gerrard has been defending well enough in this match.

At 60 minutes, I decide to make some substitutions. Henderson has been poor, but I need someone with his energy and defensive ability on the left flank so I bring on Cissokho to operate as a support winger on the left flank. I'm not really looking to score from crosses, but I'm hoping he can buy me some corners and help waste time.

I then switch Enrique to a support duty leftback to give me a little more cover at the back. But this isn't cover for cover's sake. I want someone attacking those crosses and pushing play down through the middle. I move Coutinho out to the right and give him a support duty. Gerrard is given an instruction to "Get Further Forward" while Allen is brought on at CMR.

At 77 minutes, an exhausted Rose injures himself trying to injure Sturridge and Spurs are down to 10 men. This is small consolation for the fact that both Vertonghen and Dawson escaped any sort of booking for two fouls on Sturridge that prevented a likely goal scoring opportunity. The fact that I also have two yellows for my three fouls while they have just one for their sixteen prompts me to take Michael Oliver off of my Christmas card list:

BeXzHex.jpg

At 80 minutes, Sterling comes on for Coutinho. And in the last minute of stoppage time, he puts the game to bed:

OMJS2uM.jpg

It's not 0-5, but it's something.

Nice job, Plan B. Hooray for possession football:

cQ0eokv.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...