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One of the best squads in the (lower) league, being outplayed all the time - whats wrong?

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I am about to lose my patience with FM14! Need tactical advice.

Match after match i experience being outplayed by almost all other teams in the league (Danish 1. division / second best league in Denmark). Doesent matter if i am playing a bottom team who just lost 6 times in a row or a top team. I am playing a 4-2DM-3(2 wings/1 AM)-1 formation which was quite succesful last season (finishing 5th being prognosed for a 8th place out of 12). Since i started to lose at the end of last season, i have been tying to mix up the different roles, duties, philosophy an fluidity in almost every thinkable way.

As an example, i can play defensivly on the mentality setting, drop deep on the instructions settings and despite of this my full backs are so easily overun by opponent players, even though they have decent stats for that position, are naturals to play it and have a defending role set to it - the beating winger of the opponent might even be a ****** player with low off the ball, pace, and positioning, but tend to get in behind so many times and receive a ball to put a cross in to the box. In other words my back line is just rubbish, despite the okay stats, taking the level in consideration, being up against worse opponents. Either they are out played easily in between them, or the ball is just passed over their heads (even when i am dropped down), like they are always reacting 2 seconds after every attacking move, giving the opponent a huge advantage everytime.

On the other hand, my wingers, again far better skilled and naturals on the position than the opponents, almost never do equally good, always stopping the game when they receive a long ball, being meters in front having the opportunity to run to the backline. In stead they slow the whole flow of the game down, turn around and play it back instead of passing it quickly to nearest teammate or take the opponent on. Even if they take hin on, it always ends in a bad cross into the defender, giving a useless (90% of the time) throw in.

The opponents are also playing it so flawlesly around, tiki-taka style, having belove average passing skills, rarely losing or misplacing a pass into the feet of my players, which my team does a lot, again, having better passing skills. Even if i have a couple of succesful passes, and start getting excited, it rarely leads to anything else than a lousy effort from the distance.

Also i have a decent targetman on top (1.88 cm, strengh 16, heading 14, natural in playing TM) losing all key air battles from goalkicks, and when he eventually wins one, he heads it straight to the opponent, or into open space, where again, an opponent is almost always first to the ball, regaining possession.

I know these are many different problems, but i am just losing the patience, having tried to tweek alot around, but i dont see any changes in the actual match/gameplay, making me feel the tactics and instructions sceens have no effects what so ever, as my team play the same way, again making me wonder if it is supposed to be like this, or something is wrong with my game (which probably isnt the case i know) - its just so frustrating by now!

What to do? Anybody else experienced things like these?

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The first thing I need to know - what system are you playing (all player roles, duties, team instructions, mentality & philosophy) and we will start the advice from there.

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FBs: SUPPORT (sometimes DEFEND to avoid big spaces behind them which is one of my frustration points, which doesent make any difference at all)


LDM: ANCHORMAN / DEFEND (sometimes BWM which doesent seem to change anything)


W: SUPPORT (again sometimes ATTACK to be more efficient, but as i mentioned above, the wingers just play like rubbish when attacking)

S: ADVANCED F / TARGETMAN (90% of the time, even though i have tried different options as well)

Mentality: Mainly DEFENDING, or CONTRA which i had good succes with last season, but again been trying different options, seeing almost no diference in the gameplay.

Fluidity: RIGID

As mentioned, this setup worked really well last season (the 1st one = 13/14) and in some rare games it still works, but most of the time despite of possession, my game is just so predictable. These are my main frustration points:

1. Losing most of the loose balls, opponent always better positioned to snap them up.

2. Passing it directly into opponents (specially my backline just pumping balls headlesly forward directly into the opponent instead of taking it easy playing it short even though their settings say they should play short).

3. Defenders running ON THE SIDE of opponents dribbling instead of going into a tackle (THIS ONE REALLY ANNOYS ME), leaving the other teams player with loads of time to just run around and hit crosses from the byline or pass through ball leading to clear cut chances. Why the hell would you wanna sidestep all the way beside an attacker, when you are just beside him?!

4. FB pressing so high up or responding so late to passes they are left behind with big gaps behind them where an opponent is always perfectly positioned despite of really bad stats.

5. Defence and midfield being too easily outplayed by a combination of very quick tiki-taka style play from opponent (even bad teams with players not having the stats for this type of play), bad positioning of my own players not really following/marking open opponent players instead just floating around inbetween, or just pure SLOW reaction, like they have to wake up from a sleep before acting.

6. My wingers crossing it into the opponents FBs most of time. Rarely putting in good crosses or coming to the backline, instead truning back around either losing the ball as they hold on to it for too long, or they just make a useless pass back into the pitch, destroying the whole chance that might have been.

7. Very slow flow in the passing game, like my players dont know where to pass it, and instead end up holding it too long time, missing otherwise open and clear passing opportunities, turning around towards own half, taking a few steps more and eventually being tackled and losing possession again.

8. Another thing that really irritates me is that when i finally break up play with a "succesful" tackle on the opposition, its like the ball rolls a meter or so away from both players (tackler and the one being tackled) followed by the player which i just made a tackle on is back on "the loose" ball again, almost like my defening player who just tackled just dont bother picking up the ball. This leads to like half of my tackles being of no importance - why tackle if you dont win the ball anyway? On the other hand though, when i get tackled you can be sure the opponent is glued to the ball sending a pass towards my direction leading to a good contra attack, or at worst (for the opponent) they just get possession back again. I almost never experience it the other way around, being tackled and getting the ball back again straight away - it leads to lost possession 99% of the time.

I have tried to play with my 2 DMs as 2 CMs and also having 2 CMs plus playing a DM in stead of the AM. The 2 DMs in my original tactic setup should give more stability in the defending phase, but they are equally as easily outplayed as if i am playing with 2 CMs, and on the other hand, i really dont feel any difference changing the 2 DMs to 2 CMs in the attacking phases, which also should give some more options going forward in my opinion. The only change i probably might seem to notice is when i dont have any AM, only playing with wingers and a forward, it tend to be hard to create anything, only having sporadic chances mainly through rare defening errors, lucky through balls or a corner sometimes a freekick.

I just dont get why so much can change like from no changes?! Ok a couple of matches of bad morale, results, tiredness and so on, but not so drasticly it becomes the new norm for my team. It really fustrates me, because as i said, i just know what happens almost everytime i press the "play match" button, and it am reaching the point of not wanting to play anymore - not because i am a bad loser, i actually like to struggle and do all the small tweaks to unlock my team to play better football, which i find far more challenging than winning all the time (again why i chose to play with AB in the danish first division) but it just aint no fun no more, when almost all games feel the same, despite trying to tweek and mix up all from tactics (here under mentality, fluidity, roles, positions, shouts, individual player settings ect.) , lineups, teamtalks and so on.

What i dont get is of course why all the tweaks are not working, but also why teams with so many rubbish players, always playing the same formation, can play they way i would like to play (being first on loose balls, sending in good crosses and through balls, beating opponents on the wing, playing quickly around tiki-taka style, closing gaps, outmarking players, succesfully tackling/breaking up attacks to launch counter attacks, andknowing where to pass ot instead of being like numb not knowing where to put the ball, leading to a long launch up field or just getting tackled holding on to it too long, leading to so many lost balls/possesion).

Would really appreciate some advice in order not to give up on this otherwise beautiful game!

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1. The first advice is not to make too drastic changes from one game to another, your players need to settle to a certain style.

2. As you mention your tactic is really predictable, you sit back with six players and attack with four and all the time the same four players, the two wingers, the striker and the AMC,

3. Drop deeper to a rigid tactic on defend means that the gap between the attacking four and the rest of the team will be massive and the outcome of it will be long balls from your backline,

You must first decide what you want from your team (apart from winning), do you want to control possession? Do you want to play counter attacking transition football? When you decide this it is easier to build up a logical tactic.

If you want short passing game and you also want your backline to participate in it you need to compress the space between your lines, you must also think about having suitable players for this kind of football. defenders with low composure, totally crappy technique and first touch and bad decisions, will not play the short passing game well - I think that composure is the most important attribute for defenders that you want to be playing short passing game

It would be easier to give more advice if you tell what you want to achieve with the tactic.

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As far as I can see, you directly cause the issues that are bugging you in most cases!

In response to your points:

1. You are deep, and using Mentalities which invite your defenders to pass Direct. If you sit deep and hoof long, then inevitably the AI will be better positioned to regain possession.

2. See point 1. Your Mentality dictates the way your defenders pass. I can't see why as one of the strongest teams, you would choose these lower Mentalities unless you have a specific plan and / or heavy Team Instructions.

3. Again relates to Mentality. The more defensive Mentalities Stay On Feet unless instructed otherwise, in order to retain shape.

4. Should be mitigated to an extent by the use of DMs, but this issue is exacerbated if you don't have sufficient cover on the flanks. If you use AML/R players, this could be the crux of the issue.

5. Mentality again. You are sitting deep and standing off. Why would they try to press and win possession? They are aiming to be deep, compact and hard to penetrate.

6. Crosses are well documented. Players will pass down field if they see no clear crossing option, which could well happen with a lone striker. They may still cross in this circumstance with insufficient support down field, and your set up appears very defensive, so I can see exactly why this happens.

7. All to do with the lack of movement. No movement = no options = no pass = pressured and lose possession.

8. Not something I see.

In summary, you seem to have some fundamental set up issues. Your degradation in performance from season one may coincide with the update?

I can't see why you are set up as you are if you are a strong team. Your Mentality seems too cautious, your Duty allocation prohibits movement, there are no runners centrally, there's a massive gap in the middle of your formation.....

What is your vision of how you want to play?

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First of all guys, thank you for the feedback, much appreciated.

I will start by saying that i wasnt a good team in the first/initial season of the game. As mentioned in the first post, my team was predicted to end up in 8th place out of 12 (where the bottom two goes down), also being a part-time club. What makes me say i feel i am in the top 4 this season, is the amount of quality/experienced players signed over last season and the summer window, together with the fact i ended up on a 5th place last season, laying top 3-4 for some periods during the first 2/3 part of the season. So far so good.

I can see your point about why i would want to play defensive if i am one of the "better" teams. This is a mix of the fact that "being a better team" is not a universal truth but just my opinion, looking at the league and opponents, still knowing i wasnt anything else that a "under-mid-table" squad last season. I wanted a soft transition from acting/playing like possibly relegation candidates to being a top of the league squad. Also it worked good last season, so somehow it must have been a "okay" setup, despite of the points of the view your are stating (with all respect). These are the primary reasons why i have been playing like this.

Next up: Really deep inside i would like to play a free flowing, a quick short passing, high preassure, technical game, centered around attacks builds up through the middle (Barca style), but at this level i must be realistic and adapt to the squad made available for me. So what i want is to have a solid backline, not being so easily outplayed in between them, having a solid motor on central midfield, both helping the backline, but also providing a AM with balls, and making him (the AM) the center of the team, either putting in good passes to the lone striker (through balls, or distributing it to the wings for them to feed the striker with good crosses. I want to put in high press (which i have tried with for example playing a more attacking orientated style = press higher up, control/attacking mentality with no results) stressing the opponent not giving them oceans of time to act, and create space behind the opponents defence for my wingers to run into and either finish theselves or support the striker with balls.

About the gap in the midfield i understand what you are saying, i am well aware of this issue which is why i have tried to move around in the center of the field as i mentioned in the prior post. But i dont get 2 things:

1. Why would it work one season, and then all of a sudden be a "gap too big" the next?

2. I have tried different setups as mentioned, with both 2DMs and 1CM with no AM, 1DM and 2 CMs with no AM, 2 CMs and 1 AM, and now 2 DMs no CMs but a AM. No matter how the setup is, i experience the same thing?!

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Mate we have our own lives too - I spend more time helping people on here than I do playing the game myself, and you know what? I don't get paid for doing this either.

Onto the issue in hand - your large gap is caused by the complete lack of movement from your defensive 6 - your Anchorman & DLP don't move forward, but that in itself would be ok if there were other transitioning players - but your Full Backs are so negative too, they don't even offer a real passing outlet to work the ball upfield. You need to get more out of them. As for the gap, considering trying to get a player moving forward into midfield - a DM(S) & DLP(D) or A(D) & DM(S) kind of combo to get some movement. Make sure the AM drops in to help out. If you have a winger on support on 1 flank (with an attack duty full back overlapping) then you will get another passing option. Have that pairing on the same side as the defensive duty DM for covering the forward run.

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