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Research: How Well Do You Understand Tactics In FM?

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Hi folks,

I've recently brought FM14 and started playing a few games again after playing all of the previous series. I've always enjoyed the game but one core problem I always have is my understanding of the tactics and how to implement them. To date, my use of tactics in FM has usually been, to attack conservatively from kick off and when you get a few goals, defend the lead and if you go behind go all out attack with 10 mins to go.

This very simplistic use of tactics has made me realise that I should be able to avoid the above scenario simply by having a better understanding of the tactics and how to use them throughout the match and at the very least, I should be able to say why my team lost at the end of the match rather than just saying "they were better than us, we were sh*t" or winning and not realising why, then blindly going into the next match.

I realise that there are resources and other fan sites to help you understand the FM tactics engine more but despite reading through all of these, my knowledge and tactical understanding is still not what it should be. Personally I feel I'd benefit from an online video course on how real life football tactics can be reflected in Football Manager with case studies of watching FMers modify their tactics during the match so everyone can learn the basic concepts.

So to see if it's just me or if there's other managers out there who feel the same as me, I created a questionnaire to see if there is an interest in the FM Community being more educated on tactics via online videos.

If you could complete the survey, I'd really appreciate it. https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/9G7JWWK

If you have any thoughts on this, please comment below.

Many thanks,

Charlie

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Try to understand real life tactics, and then try to recreate them in fm, this has always been the most fun for me.

There is an abundance of material on football tactics out there

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Try to understand real life tactics - easy, try to actually string two passes together on this game - impossible.

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Yep, absolutely impossible to string two passes together.

Thanks for linking my game up there as an example. However, there is a difference between linking passes that lead to chances and those that just happen for the sake of happening, which was that game in a nutshell.

Understanding why your tactic fails is probably a harder thing than understanding what it does right. I had more passes in that game than the opposition probably managed in 5 games, but they still scored the same amount of goals as I did because they exploited a weakness I had and they also scored direct from a cross into the box. While that 75% possession was great to look at, it was pointless in the end as we conceded cheap goals and didn't outright win the game. It was the FM version of Crystal Palace v Liverpool but without the tears.

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Try to understand real life tactics - easy, try to actually string two passes together on this game - impossible.

I do think there's a big gap in this FM between real life football tactics and FM tactics. For me, what makes sense football wise doesn't in FM world.

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My main problem with the tactics is that if they're bad, it somehow makes the players bad too. If I took over Real Madrid tomorrow and tried to teach them some stupid formation/tactic, the players wouldn't suddenly be unable to pass to each other when under no pressure, misjudge the flight of the ball, run into other players, etc. But that's what happens in FM.

I had a very successful save, which I quit because I wanted to start afresh. I used the exact same tactics and because, I dunno, the players hadn't learned the tactic or morale was low, this new set of (top level) players were playing like morons. Felt like their decision attributes had all dropped to 1, and I've no idea what's wrong with the tactic, only that it's wrong. I guess it's the reputation of the club, but it's represented in the ME by my players all suddenly becoming massive dunderheads.

Really frustrating.

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Try to understand real life tactics - easy, try to actually string two passes together on this game - impossible.

Understanding tactical concepts is one thing, but in FM I think the skill is in watching matches and identifying what is working or not working... and why.

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I think the key difficulties to identify tactical issues in FM are:-

1. Understanding when a tactic is just plain wrong! - This should be fairly obvious if you watch a match on full as you'll see why you keep losing the ball/conceding gaols/not making chances and so forth (analysing afterwards if possible, but harder to understand). However, unless you are playing FMC, this can be muddied with point 2

2. Understanding when a tactics isn't working simply because the team aren't familiar enough with it yet. This is a little harder to spot, as until you've played enough games to ensure the players are tactically familiar, you don't know if the mistakes made are down to lack of player ability, lack of player composure or lack of familiarity. Obviously if all the tactical familiarity bars are full, then it's less likely to be the latter.

3. understanding when tactics aren't working do to the oppositions tactics. This is both the easiest to spot, but also the hardest to rectify in a lot of cases. As you watch a game, you can see why a team is winning. Be it that they are parking 2 buses :) or pressing you really high up the pitch. This is where you need versatility of players/formation, as you'll need to make tweaks to counter/limit the effectiveness of an oppositions formation. However, knowing how a team is beating you and knowing the solution are 2 separate matters and this I feel is the most fun part of the game :) (more when your changes work, but sometimes even when they don't catastrophically!). Again, in these situations, unless playing FMC, familiarity can rear it's ugly head, as if your need to change your tactics too much in order to counter a team, you might make the right choices, but as your team are not used to playing this way, your players don't perform well.

As Analog says, the key to matches in this game is understanding which of the 3 issues is present and finding the right solution. This situation is where a minority is turned off from the game as you need some level of knowledge here to be truly successful. You can't really just pick a tactic and blitz through wins unless your team is really that much better than other teams or when you're on a good run of form. However it's still important to be vigilant here as you need to be able to identify when this streak ends, so you can minimise any rut your team may slide into.

My biggest achievement (in my personal opinion) in FM14 was taking a nobody team (technically level 11 but I started at lowest playable league with them) to an undefeated season in League 2. I had a 3 game rut before Christmas where I struggled to survive bore draws, then after the title was sewn up, again I was battling complacency to ensure I didn't lose. I wish there was a team talk option to encourage players that even though the title was sewn up, that it was worth attempting my goal!

Sorry for the long post, I originally planned for a concise response.

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It would be much easier if FM wasn't full of little and big details that somewhat manage to contradict eachother or of "dubious" terminology...

At times you get responses you couldn't possibly see coming, not because "you don't understand football", but because "you don't understand what FM means with this or that concept".

E.g. when "pass into space" and "go route one" STILL produce a tedious and fruitless string of tiki-taka passes (backpasses included!), it can't just be "your tactic"?

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I've yet to see a difference in dropping deeper and neutral. I assume because there's something I'm doing which means my team naturally pushes up. Even though what I'm asking for my team to do would make sense in footballing terms (Arsenal have been playing like this all season)

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