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Cleon

The School of the Defensive Arts

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Introduction

Before I start let me just say that if you are expecting a download link then this is the wrong thread for you it won’t be happening. Also if you plan on using the exact same settings that I discuss below and don’t achieve the same results then you’ve missed the entire concept of this thread and what its about. The idea about this thread is not to act as a guide as such but rather show you how I think and how I view football on FM. This isn’t a thread that will follow any rules that you might have read elsewhere, nor will it be a thread that says ‘you must play this way’. It will just document my thinking behind the reasoning for the system I use and hopefully show you why it works. There are many different ways to achieve what I’m about to write below, this is just my way for this particular save :)

The idea of this thread came about when I attempted to have the perfect season while playing as Sheffield United in League One. My aim was to win every single competitive match I played in, so this includes the League, FA Cup, League Cup and the JPT. It was always going to be a ridiculous ask to win every single game......or was it?!!

I decided I wanted to show people that defensive football can be great football and doesn’t mean you shut up shop and never attack. There are various types of defensive football just like there are lots of different attacking types of football. Everyone on the SI forum’s discuss attacking or controlling tactics but what if the best attacking football is done by being defensive? Hopefully this will show you how I approached a recent save.

To make things incredibly hard for myself to give me an added challenge (like I haven’t already got enough eh?!!) I decided I’d use a normal formation but one that would cause me issue down the wing and not one that we see used often in English football and that was the narrow 4-1-2-2-1;

RWHHcMI.png

I tend to normally play 3 at the back and play strikerless but wanted to do something more normal this time and wanted to utilise two strikers. So this is why I choose this shape.

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FAQ’s

Q - What skin do you use?

A - Siam or Alavanja - The links for both are here;

Alavanja - http://www.fmscout.com/a-alavanja14-pervection-skin-fm14.html

Siam - http://community.sigames.com/showthread.php/388603-Siam-14-(WIP)

Q - Where is the download link?

A - Read the start of the thread....

Q - What do you use to take screenshots and make the videos?

A - I use a programme called Snagit which is expensive but well worth the investment.

Q - Can I translate this into other languages for other FM Sites?

A - Of course but please link back to this original thread and don't pass it off as your own work :)

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The Set Up

nDrkUif.png

I went for the defensive strategy as I wanted to show that defensive can actually be attacking, solid and create good football. It was that simple. My reason behind going very rigid was also simple, I wanted players to have less creative freedom and stick to the jobs that I give them via the roles and duties that I’ll touch upon further into this article. If I’d have gone balanced, fluid or very fluid then they’d be playing a lot differently that I planned. I’ll actually show you what I mean by this a lot further into the article though and show you an example of this happening and how the tactic plays differently due to changing the philosophy to fluid. You’ll then understand the behaviour of the roles and what I didn’t want to happen a lot better.

Team Instructions

The instructions I have decided to start off using a base are;

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I should point out that I might drop an instruction or add a new one depending on how a game is going but these are the base that I will use to start most matches with. Any changes I make will be highlighted further in the thread with an explanation to why I might have added or removed a certain instruction.

Retain Possession - The reason for selecting this is I want to keep the ball and no rush forward too quickly. I want to pass the ball around and use the space that I’ll have and be cautious. This doesn’t mean I want lots of possession though however it can be a useful shout to use as you’ll find out shortly.

Shorter Passing - This ties in with what I was wanting above and helps me create a patient game without my players looking for the Hollywood passes that might happen especially if I have 10 men back behind the ball. So I selected this type of passing as a precautionary measure to help me pass the ball around without the risk of giving it away needlessly.

Be More Disciplined - I need my players not to be too creative. I have specific creative roles that can be expressive in the tactic already so its important those who aren’t supposed to be my creative outlets actually aren’t. This will allow the more creative roles to dictate the game how I’d like them too and my less creative players to stick to their job. This is very important for what I’m trying to achieve with this defensive football set up.

Stick to Positions - Some of the roles I have selected in this tactic need players to stick to where they should be on the pitch and not stray too far away from that position. I can’t afford to have players who run the risk of being caught out of position as this would have a domino effect ripple throughout my side. If one player is caught out and in the wrong place then that means someone else can’t do their job properly as they’d have to try and cover for the player or have to do something they shouldn’t have to do. Which in turn makes what I’m trying to create hard as I need to be positionally strict with my players.

Play Narrower - When I attack I don’t want to make my players cover more ground than they have too. If my players tried to use the full width of the pitch when attacking then I’d have massive gaps between players should I lose the ball. Remember I need players to be positionally strict and be hard to break down. So playing narrower allows me to keep the players closer together when attacking which means if they do lose the ball I should be less vulnerable to quick counters as I won’t be full stretched. Something which could be a real issue especially in this narrow diamond I am playing. There might be games where I do have to play more wide though but we’ll talk more about that if and when it actually happens.

Drop Deeper - I want to create space in my own half so by having them drop deeper I lower the defensive line and create space so my players should in theory have more time on the ball. It will also mean I’m less vulnerable to quick/direct/long balls over the top or down the channels which can cause all sorts of issues on FM. So it makes sense that if I want to be solid then this team instruction sits nicely with all the others I have selected.

Hopefully those instructions and the little bit about why I selected them give a little insight into what I’m trying to create in terms of style and positional play.

Someone asked me why I’d use retain possession and pass shorter as team instructions when retain possession already does the pass shorter option. The truth is I’m using both as during games I might remove shouts, so if I do remove retain possession which slows the tempo down and adds shorter passing, I’ll still be shorter passing by default to to having the team instruction already trained and learnt. Hopefully you’ll understand what I’m trying to say :)

The main reason for this is I’m trying to create a brand of football here and not just create a tactic that works. It has to work in a specific way and do certain things. By having the basics already part of the base tactic it will make it much simpler. If you’ve read any of my other guides you’ll know that I tend to alter strategy rather than add or remove shouts. But for this guide I thought I’d do things different and do any changes via roles/duties and shouts this time.

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The Roles

I should point out that these roles and duties below are just what I use as a base and for some games the roles and duties might be changed. If and when I do change something I will be sure to let you know why though and explain the differences.

Goalkeeper

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He’s just a standard goalkeeper and the only personal instruction he has is distribute to the defenders. The reasonings for this is that I don’t want him to kick it long or throw it quickly as I will be playing defensive so likelyhood is I’ll have majority of players deep in my own half. So it makes sense to take time and distribute it from the back where I actually do have players. If the ball goes upfront too fast then I’ll not have the bodies there to make the most of it.

Leftback

TIFviPW.png

Both my full backs will be vital to any attacks that I have as they are my only real source of width and will be the players who stretch the game and make intelligent runs from the deep areas. This is why I’ve made him a complete wingback, I need him to be ruthless in attack and use the full length of the pitch, I felt this role suited this style more than the others.

Rightback

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The exact same as above and for the same reasons. Both full backs are probably the most important aspect of getting this narrow diamond to work.

Centrebacks

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Both the central defenders are the same and both of them have the pass it shorter player instruction selected. The reasons for this is I want to encourage them to pass to the Regista rather than lumping it upfront or to the wide areas. I want this sort of play to be forced through the Regista who is capable of pulling off such moves. I want my defenders to be old school centre backs and don’t want them playing around with the ball too much if I can help it.

Regista

SsTqmYZ.png

He is responsible for driving forward from deep with the ball and being the creativeness of the side from a deep area. I doubt he’ll get many goals or assists as he’ll be the starter of moves rather than someone who will be seen in and around the box finishing them off. The idea behind using a Regista instead of a defensive midfielder or anchor is that I already expect to be compact and hard to break down. So I don’t feel I need to be over cautious, which means by using a Regista I’ll push forward and he will be hopefully higher up to win the ball and better placed compared to lets say a defensive midfielder. This should hopefully ease some of the pressure that people associate with using a defensive strategy.

Box To Box Midfielder

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I think this is a fantastic midfield role yet very underrated by people. It’s great if you have a player who is good all round and can be an asset in attack and in defence. Finding a player who can fulfil this role perfectly might be more tricky but its a role I want to use and have players who can do this role well enough for it to work.

Central Midfielder

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Another great role that I use regular in almost all tactics I create. Hopefully this role will provide the running and be the legs that can get beyond the attacking midfielder and help the strikers out by driving from deep with the ball or by utilising the space that might appear before him. I’m hoping I can make him a distraction for the opposition and he will cause them issues with movement off the ball which will make the strikers job and the attacking midfielders job a lot easier.

Trequartista

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The creative license high up the pitch, the player who will drop deep, push high up and generally just roam about. When he drops deep he’ll form a midfield three with the other two midfielders and when he pushes high he’ll be the third striker. It’s essential I have someone in the side who isn’t bound to positional strictness than I’ve adopted. This player should be hard to mark, create good chances for the runners from midfield and the strikers. He should be a real handful with his roaming and wandering between the midfield and strikers.

Deep Lying Forward

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I’ve gone for a deep lying forward here in case the Treq is heavily marked or has a bad game, I’d still need someone from high up dropping deep to create space and drag the oppositions defenders deeper to create gaps between their defence. Not only that but even if the Treq isn’t marked it doesn't hurt to have someone else create space or time for the Treq to either run into or to use in some way.

Advanced Forward

ajxlTeC.png

You always need someone to push the oppositions defenders back and keep them occupied. This is the role of the advanced forward for me as I have the other striker and the Treq all playing deep roles. If this was also a deep role it would make it easy to defend against as they’re wouldn’t be anyone close to the defence and making them think about things.

So the tactic with all the settings looks like this;

sZlys2J.png

A few people who’ve seen this shape have been a little taken back with how aggressive the full backs and the defensive midfielder roles and duties are. Just because I’m being defensive doesn’t mean I can’t still have attacking roles. If I’m too cautious then I’ll invite pressure which will always be hard to defend against in the hope that I can nick a goal latter in the game. What I am aiming to do it create something that is defensive and solid yet at the same time when attacking causes the opposition lots of issues.

You’ll also notice that I don’t use many personal instructions for the players either and this is because I like players to play as part of a coherent unit and any changes I need to make I’d rather do via shouts, role changes or in other saves (not this one though) strategy changes. This is because its easier to change stuff quickly and be a reactive manager without it becoming too time consuming.

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Where to begin?! The Bogey Team

There is a lot to cover and I don’t think covering every single match I played would be that beneficial to everyone. However what I will do is now focus on how and why the above setup works and then take a look at a lot of games and see how it played against certain types of formations, teams who are higher up the leagues than myself and also those games were the opposition sit back and defend. So we can see a wider spectrum of games and see how diverse this shape was over the season.

So I think first up we’ll take a look at a random match and just get a feel for how it plays out and have a look at what the roles are actually doing.

For those of you who’ve followed my other threads or on Twitter you’ll know that my bogey team on Football Manager is Colchester United. They cause me more issues than any other side and I’m never sure why. I always have a bogey team on every version of the game, on FM11 it was Spurs, FM12 was Avai, FM13 was Vitesse and now on FM14 I can add Colchester to the list. So the game against Colchester would make a good starting point, so here goes;

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Those are the lineups that we both used. I know it also tells the result but that’s because I am looking back at the result rather than trying to document it in real time as that would have took far too long. So I made notes while playing and kept a note of what I changed and what not.

I tend to get a lot of PM’s or responses from people asking me what the best settings are for something. Now I don’t think like that as I don’t believe there are such things as best settings because its the context of the overall final product that matters. So when I don’t answer or reply with questions people assume I’m being an arse on purpose. I’m not. What I am trying to do is get people to think logically about stuff and getting someone to think differently isn’t something I can do. I can show them how I think and approach things but its down to them to make the change and be more open minded themselves. All I can do is show them how I do things, the rest is upto them. I’d never dream of telling someone they have to play a certain way. The user is responsible for that and its down to them to think about what’s the best way of achieving what they want. I will guide them as much as a I can but I do it by questioning someone's thinking and asking them why they choose something. This is because its the best way for learning by asking questions and challenging someone's thought process. That is always my aim.

You’ll see me mention logical choices quite a lot. Now to me this kind of thinking comes natural to me after spending a lot of time learning what something does/doesn’t do via trial and error. I don’t believe its something I can teach someone but by putting down my own thought process it might make people think differently and question their own reasonings. Let me give you an example of a little change I made for this game against Colchester. This came natural to me and just seemed like a logical sensible way of thinking;

Changes - For this game I removed play narrower shout and that was the only change made. The reason for this was as i stated above Colchester are my bogey team and I want to try and use the space between the IF’s and full backs that they have when I’m attacking. This will mean I occupy their full backs and keep them busy. If I’m narrow I could run the risk of being double up down the flanks if I lose the ball and hit with a quick counter. So to try and reduce this risk happening I felt a more normal width would be better suited. As a fullback with nothing to do defensively is a dangerous fullback when they break quickly as they’ll not be out of position or be being picked up.

It was that simple and very effective (something I’ll go into more detail about later), its not the big changes what win games and make the difference imo. It’s the smaller subtle changes that will have the biggest impact on the outcome. I try and take this approach with everything. Normally I only tend to make changes in games based on what is happening but just wanted to highlight this important bit above as I actually did this before the game this time as I already knew it would be an issue if I didn’t start the match in the correct way.

I hope that bit makes sense to you all, not sure how well its actually translated across :)

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From those stats you can see that my wingbacks, Regista and the other two central midfielders saw quite a lot of the ball, as expected. And this is how the average position mapped looked like for this this;

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On the face of it this looks very attacking due to the complete wing backs positioning high up the pitch close to the halfway line, which is what I want. Just because I want to play defensive doesn’t mean I have to be camped on the edge of my own box. There are various different types of defensive games you can play, it all depends on what it is exactly that you are wanting to achieve. For me its clean sheets and to win every single game. It might seem a bit weird to some that I claim to want to play defensive then use roles that can be deemed aggressive like a Regista, complete wingback but this can also help.

On the average positions map above I have seven players in my own half which means I am compact and deep in general. But it also means my midfield is almost a flat four with the two wing backs and both central midfielders making this flat four. Then I have the regista just behind them, so that’s a five man midfield in essence which will always be hard to break down regardless. And if we add the Treq dropping deep at times then I have a six man midfield.

If the complete wing backs weren’t positioned so high then the oppositions wide players would have a free run until they got closer to my 18 yard box, which will invite unnecessarily pressure. So I’d rather avoid that if possible and make it easier for myself.

3ExKrpL.png

This shows what I was speaking about above. You see how deep the Treq is and the numbers I had in midfield? In fact would you believe that the above resulted in an actual goal and it was finished off by the Treq? You can view the full move here;

[video=youtube_share;POEOSPeAvDs]

There are actually a lot of things going on in this video. We can see the midfield six like I mentioned. You can see the deep runners from midfield. You can see us use the width of the pitch. The DLF dropping deep and linking up with the AF who stays in the gap between the defender. And you can see the complete wing backs bombing forward to provide extra support.

All of this can be seen in this screenshot take from the above clip;

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Then we can see runners creating space and the support players using the space wisely in this next screenshot;

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This is why myself and others can’t stress enough how important creating space is and having players who can use it and who run from deep positions. Space opens up and the oppositions always struggle to deal with later runners or players who use space intelligently.

That is just one aspect of one goal I scored. It doesn’t look very defensive when attacking does it?! Well that’s kind of the point. I could sit back and absorb 30 shots from the opposition in the hope we can sneak up the pitch and snatch one late on in the game. But the risk with this is that the players could buckle under the pressure early in the game and then the original plan needs to be changed as you’d be chasing the game. Or they could make a mistake which is just as costly, so why not just be solid when defending only and lethal when attacking? This is the defensive style I have created.

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Let’s look at the defensive side of things;

BxwwEL8.png

In that screenshot you can see the space down my wings which we already knew was one of the main weaknesses of the tactic but that doesn’t mean I will get battered down the wings, far from it. You can see that positionally my players are placed very well to deal with any threat and I have players looking to cover the gaps already should any appear.

ijiUGqC.png

This screenshot is actually misleading as it makes out my complete wingback is caught of of position and that the defender on the near side isn’t covering the space. What’s actually happened is the complete wingback has already seen the danger of the ball being played and has stepped up to head it away already as he'd anticipated where the ball would go. The defender is actually jockeying across the pitch and is dealing with the player behind my wingback and covering for him just incase he doesn’t get the ball.

y5rduOB.png

As you can see the players had the situation under control and covered well. You can see how deep the defensive line is and can see the back four dropping deeper. This helps dramatically with balls over the top as normally the defence should be able to deal with situations like that without any real issues. It does mean at times though the opposition might have the ball in front of them while playing a passing game. But that doesn’t matter or bother me because if I stay compact and players do the required job they won’t be able to break me down.

The next image shows the opposition trying to use the full width of the pitch as I haven’t allowed them much space, so they try getting the better of me by switching play to the opposite flank;

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That is the very start of the move. You can see how compact I am and have players covering the oppositions and should be able to deal with any kind of threat.

This is the video for rest of the move;

[video=youtube_share;rn-GaY67mic]

There just isn’t anywhere for the opposition to go as everyone is covered when it matters. There is one part of the video that it looks like I’ve been cut wide open though but lets take a look at it;

j9sqBB1.png

It looks bad doesn’t it? When he gets the ball he has a lot of space to play in. I actually don’t mind this as long as the team keeps its defensive shape in my final third that is all I care about. Remember its a narrow shape I use so when the opposition uses the full length of the pitch my players need a few seconds to readjust. The opposition cannot hurt me in this area because my back four are well spread and should be able to deal with any kind of through ball from this situation.

After this part of the move you can see my players get back into position and become compact again and give them no real target to aim for or give them any viable option to create a scoring chance. You can’t really cut out or prepare for switches in play like this that cause you to become stretched. What you can do is ensure your defence is rigid and solid though and start from a position that allows them to retain their defensive shape. I’m happy for the opposition to control the game from higher up the pitch as they can’t hurt you from those kind of areas. I don’t need high amount of possession and I don’t need to close down aggressively and risk losing my intitial shape. So I can afford to be patient, if this happened in my final third then it would be different but it didn’t so there is no real threat here even though it might initially look like there was. It’s all about context :)

I think we’ve took enough from this particular game. So how about we look at a game where I’m the massive underdogs!

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Being The Underdog

The semi finals of the League Cup pitted me away to Liverpool for the first leg. Let’s take a look at the formations;

izwhiVN.png

As I’m the away team and Liverpool are using a strong side against me I made two very important and crucial changes for this game and that was make my right back a wingback on attack and my left back a wingback support rather than using complete wingbacks. The reason for this change was simple, Moses and Suarez are tricky players with pace and I didn’t want to risk my own players being too aggressive and getting caught out high up the pitch when attacking. I need them to be even more disciplined than usual. But I still need them to contribute to attacks and provide width, I just need them less gung-ho. This was also why I had the leftback on support as I felt Suarez is more of a goal threat than Moses so he needs to be even more aware of his surroundings and take no chances.

Again we’ll be working backwards as we’ll be able to see the result in the screenshots anyway, so lets look at the stats from the game;

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I wasn’t totally outplayed like you’d expect I more than held my own and while 2-1 is a great result I am slightly disappointed that I didn’t win by a bigger margin in the end.

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You can see on the average positions from the game just how much deeper my full backs became compared to the Colchester game.

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This is Suarez being dangerous but he’s doing it from a deep position which means due to my wingback being restrained should he decide to pass and move my wingback should easily be able to pick him up. If he was closer to Suarez then Suarez has the mental and technical skill to beat my mediocre wingback. Instead he plays it into Aspas.

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Aspas has no passing options and he can’t lay it back to Suarez as he’s already made his mind up to run at my defence. He has no other option available because the 4-1-2-2-1 that Liverpool are using can make it easy for me to defend against a lone striker as they have no attacking midfielder, so my Regista becomes a spare man and can roam around. The threat I’ll have is out in the wide areas hence my change at the very start. But I will gladly defend like this every day and allow him to drive forward if he wishes as I don’t believe he can hurt me in these kind of areas.

djgCJJQ.png

In the end Aspas has no option but to shoot from 20 yards out because he lacks any kind of support and is out numbered by my defence and midfield. What other option does he have? He can do this all day long for me as I’m confident my keeper can deal with these kind of shots.

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This time a different move but the same story, only Aspas to aim for and nothing he can really do but drive forward even if he managed to get the ball.........

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Which he didn’t as any type of direct ball my defenders will just head clear. On this occasion it was the wingback who cut across to head clear.

Not only am I defending well and causing Liverpool all sorts of issues and frustrating them as they can’t find a way through but I’m also looking really good from an attacking point. This next video will show you what I mean. Again it is some lovely football being played by me, the club two leagues lower;

[video=youtube_share;kyyNLfHtK3Y]

No doubt I frustrated them massively in this game. I don’t mind people having possession or shooting from none dangerous areas.

The idea is I’m not trying to stop the opposition from having possession or shots. The focus is stopping the opposition from having possession in dangerous areas or having shots inside my own box. That’s the key to being defensively solid imo. If I wanted more possession and to stop shots all together I’d have to play a higher, aggressive game and that can cause all sorts of issues with long balls over the top, clever through balls, runners from deep and so on.

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January Transfer Window

I always get asked a lot about how I purchase players and what I look for, so thought I’d talk about the January transfer window.I didn’t spend any of my transfer budget at the start of the game as I wanted to see how things went before deciding on which positions I needed to strengthen or improve.

A new leftback was the first thing I needed as I only have one half decent left back at the club who is this guy;

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I need a new Regista as I am currently using someone on loan at the club who is this guy;

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I also needed back up for Jose Baxter who plays the Treq role;

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And I needed a back up centreback who is better than this guy;

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So I had almost £2 million to spend on four players. As I can’t scout outside of Britain I had to find some of these players by either trawling the transfer list, searching attributes on the player search or look at squads myself in other leagues.

First up was my new leftback. My scouts recommended him but I already had him shortlisted as I am a big fan of him and used him on quite a few saves. That player was Graeme Shinnie;

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He cost me £600k and a 20% sell on. The reasons for buying him is he is young, still has some developing to do and is a better team player than Harris due to having better work rate. He also ticks some other boxes too with decent attributes for things like dribbling, crossing, corners, passing and technique. So with a bit of development I can make these higher and he’ll become a good player. Due to his age he also should have some kind of resale value too.

Next up was the new Regista that the scouts advised me to sign;

2lXm4gk.png

I’ve been using Conor Coady/Michael Doyle as the Regista as I didn’t have a better choice and both of those aren’t really suited to the role. So signing this chap will be a massive improvement as he is vastly superior to both of those players. He has great teamwork, flair and is more creative than the others. So he will be able to be a bit less predictable when attacking and is capable of doing things that Coady/Doyle might not be able to do.

I paid a grand total of £275k for him, a steal at this level imo.

Next we have the new Treq to rotate with Jose Baxter;

YyK8Ld8.png

I paid £165k for this lad which was cheap, I snapped him up from Porto. He’s young, got good technicals and mentall attributes. He lacks physical ones but that doesn’t matter as the rest of his attributes should more than make up for that. Good technique, passing first touch, dribbling, finishing, creativity and flair. What isn’t there to like about this signing? He’s actually better than Baxter and hopefully settles very well because if I get promoted like its looking, then he will be a massive player next season.

And lastly is this young centeback;

LOo2qnQ.png

I paid £130k for him. He’s not the best player but for his age and price he’s one for the future and a big improvement on Terry Kennedy. His mental stats should get better with age, he already has decent physicals and good marking, workrate, teamwork and heading. This signing is more about providing a bit of depth so I can rest my main two centre backs from time to time to keep them fresh.

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Season Review

My quest to win every single game didn’t actually last that long at all. In fact it was barely a month before I was held away at Rotherham 0-0. To say I was gutted was an understatement as I’ve never won every single game before. I’ve gone undefeated quite a few times in the league but never won every single game including cup games. This made me change my goals as the job now was to keep playing how I had been and to keep as many clean sheets as possible. While hopefully keeping the conceded figure for the league below 10. My second aim was to win both the League and FA cup while being in League One still. Like many others I’ve won the League Cup before while being a low side due to the Premiership sides playing weakened sides. But I’ve never won the FA Cup in League One.

This is how the league ended;

YhRJ7mI.png

I managed to stay unbeaten and only concede 9 goals in the process. It wasn’t my original aim so I’m slightly disappointed I didn’t achieve what I’d set out to do with this save game but I’m pleased overall with how it ended.

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Those are the player stats for the league.

League Cup

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The League Cup wasn’t that bad, the draw was fairly kind until the semis, I managed to avoid all the big clubs until then.

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The player stats.

The FA Cup

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This draw wasn’t that bad either, I know I got Villa but I don’t think they have a great squad on FM so was always confident of getting a result.

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The player stats.

The JPT

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That was always going to be the easiest for me to win out of all the cups.

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The player stats.

All in all a fantastic season. Such a shame I couldn’t manage to win the FA Cup but I have a small squad and towards the end of the season tiredness really began to catch up with my players and The FA Cup was one game too far it seemed.I was totally outplayed in that final I tried everything I could to win the game but it just wasn’t meant to be.

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4-2-3-1

The 4-2-3-1 can cause a few issues if you don’t adapt for the fact you have little cover down the flanks. If I ignore this fact I’ll be punished.

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There are many ways to play against this shape as it depends what type of roles the opposition is using. Just because someone might be using a 4-2-3-1 it doesn’t mean all those shapes play the same. One formation might use playmakers wide and another inside forwards, so it best to watch a little bit of the game to get a true idea of what the opposition is actually doing. For this game against Mk Dons I made the following changes;

  • Added the team instruction Higher Tempo
  • Removed the team instruction Retain Possession
  • Removed the team instruction Play Narrower

The reason for this was I have the numbers advantage in the middle of the pitch so wanted to make the most of it. As I’m playing a higher tempo game I expect my possession numbers to go down slightly so that’s why I removed that as I want to attack space faster this time and not have players retain the ball. This makes for faster transitions as the 4-2-3-1 leaves a lot of space behind the two central midfielders and also in the space between the wide attacking midfielders and the fullback. I also removed play narrower due to the reasons given when I wrote about Colchester further up.

You can actually see the effects of faster tempo right from the kick off. I manage to score a goal by being quickly with the use of the ball;

[video=youtube_share;e88wBQL6UJI]

See how much faster my players are moving the ball around and looking to make something happen? This is the change of tempo at work which increases the urgency.

You can actually see it again in another goal from the same match;

[video=youtube_share;PwWzH_W5vYg]

I use the width of the pitch to great effect and the players look really snappy like they are trying to make things happen quickly.

In the next screenshot you can see what happens when the opposition has the ball and there is no real passing options;

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he has nowhere to go, he could go backwards but there isn’t really a threatening ball he could do because my players are well placed. So what the player tries to do it pass the ball to the other flank;

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But my wingback cuts across and deals with the threat. I can defend like this all day long, they can’t really hurt me if players are marked or back in their own half.

Here is a different move where they try and stretch me by using the width of the pitch;

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The dotted line shows the ball and were they opposition plan to stretch me quickly and play in the runner from the midfield. It’s actually a really good slick move.

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However my players both saw and tracked the run and dealt with the situation brilliantly. You can view the full clip of this here;

[video=youtube_share;H55xIs1AD1w]

The match ended up being 3-0 to me;

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4-4-2

When playing against a 4-4-2 the main threats are the wings as that’s how the 4-4-2 excels. It relies on supply for the front two from the wide players, dealing with the central midfielders isn’t really an issue as I can match them man for man and have the extra protection of the Regista.

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The changed I made for this game were as follows;

  • I changed the role of my complete wingbacks to those of WB support and WB attack like I did for the Colchester game.

The reason for this change was the same as before, I need the wingbacks to keep position against the 4-4-2 as I can’t afford them to be too advanced and risk getting caught out by the opposition’s winger and fullback overlapping them. So by being more cautious I can stop this happening and ensure the full backs that I use hold their position’s a lot better. I know I keep banging on about strict positioning but this is vital to keeping clean sheets and being a good solid defensive unit.

This is a screenshot showing the opposition out wide with the ball;

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As you can see I have every single player back in my own half and everyone except the advanced forward really deep picking up open space and runners. So when the opposition get the ball out wide they have nothing to do but cross the ball;

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And my towering centre backs can deal with crosses like that without too many issues.

The next screenshot shows a rare counter attack by the opposition after I gave the ball away upfield;

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As you can see the opposition is going to attempt to switch play fast again and it actually looks like I’m in real trouble. Which is correct but only if the cross is accurate and he needs to cross to the player making the run with the arrows to take any advantage of the space I have open.

What happens is he picks out the player in the middle who then lays it off to the other player making the run;

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But luckily for me the player has a rush of blood to the head and shoots from distance. This could have ended up a lot worse but you can’t really defend or plan for these type of attacks from the opposition. It’s why I adopt a more cautious approach to reduce the number of counter attacks made against me as these are what truly hurt people on Football Manager from over committing men forward leaving you exposed at the back. I wasn’t actually left short here but I couldn’t cover the switch in play fast enough one side from the other.

This is why I changed the full backs roles before the game as I was fully aware of this happening and it would happen a lot more if my full backs got caught out of position. You can’t defend against things like this but you can try and reduce the risk of these happening :)

I ended up winning the game though and restricted them to either long range shots or shots that weren’t really going to test my keeper;

iPeoEvh.png

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4-5-1

A flat 4-5-1 isn’t that hard to play against for me due to it being quite defensive really. It doesn’t have an attacking midfielder so my Regista should be able to dictate the game more and just be a spare man to track runners that my midfielders can’t. They also don’t use a defensive midfielder which means my Treq should have quite a bit of space to play in. The tricky part is getting past the flat five in midfield.

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The changes I made for this game were;

  • I removed the retain possession shout
  • I added the higher tempo shout
  • I removed the play narrower shout

The two shouts I removed are for the reasons I’ve mentioned in the posts above. Higher tempo was added so I could look to get in behind Preston faster when I was attacking and try to utilise the fact they didn’t have a defensive midfielder in the side.

vufQYNC.png

This is from a goal kick and you can see my defensive shape clearly on this image. While I’m not marking the players tightly my players are aware of them and know what they have to do and are positioned well to deal with this. I initially win the ball but my box to box midfielder heads the ball straight to the Preston midfield which results in this happening;

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Laird has just had the ball played to him and is going to drive forward. Even though my players made a mistake just look at the numbers I have back and there seems to be little penetration from Preston.

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He doesn’t have many options and only has one realistic target he can aim for but I have bodies back to deal with the situation and there is no way barring an error that they can score from here.

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And just like that my defender heads the ball clear....

I won the game 2-0;

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reserved one

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reserved six

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I've decided to release this now as I'll be house hunting for the next few days so won't have time to add anything else. That being said I still want to update this thread a lot more though and add a lot more detail at first opportunity :)

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Great thread as always, and a very different style to your other recent tactics. A fantastic season for the Blades - it always amazes me how you get so much out of the squad.

From your hints on Twitter, I'd tried to predict what your tactic was going to be. I managed to produce something similar and that is also quite hard to break down, but I had gone very fluid, and with more (and different) shouts. Fascinating to see how different two tactics could turn out from a similar starting philosophy!

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Excellent work, glad to see the finished article. This is a perfect example of what SFraser said about using defensive skill in an attacking system or attacking skill in a defensive system. Your shape offers natural defensive protection, but it is filled with attacking prowess and options.

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Great thread as always, and a very different style to your other recent tactics. A fantastic season for the Blades - it always amazes me how you get so much out of the squad.

From your hints on Twitter, I'd tried to predict what your tactic was going to be. I managed to produce something similar and that is also quite hard to break down, but I had gone very fluid, and with more (and different) shouts. Fascinating to see how different two tactics could turn out from a similar starting philosophy!

Thanks :)

I went rigid as its better for keeping shape and keeping players exactly where they should be on the pitch and having the proper people dictate the game. On fluid I found I had runners making runs yet a player ignoring it as he was trying to be a bit more creative and it annoyed me a little, so went rigid. I am a fan of fluid though don't get me wrong.

I did wonder what system you had come up with based on what I'd said on twitter though :D

Excellent work, glad to see the finished article. This is a perfect example of what SFraser said about using defensive skill in an attacking system or attacking skill in a defensive system. Your shape offers natural defensive protection, but it is filled with attacking prowess and options.

Indeed. It gives much better defensive stability in the defensive phase but is really lethal going forward, the pace I break at is unbelievable at times. I'll be adding more videos of the attacking phases when I get time towards the weekend :)

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Interesting stuff Cleon (haven't read all of it yet, it's a lot to digest in one go), just two quick questions:

1. How do you find the Regista does in terms of protecting your centre halves? It's a role I love the idea of but am afraid won't get 'stuck in' enough, if you like. Do you find the Regista is making enough tackles and making sure he's in the right place when having to defend?

2. What is your twitter handle? :D

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Interesting stuff Cleon (haven't read all of it yet, it's a lot to digest in one go), just two quick questions:

1. How do you find the Regista does in terms of protecting your centre halves? It's a role I love the idea of but am afraid won't get 'stuck in' enough, if you like. Do you find the Regista is making enough tackles and making sure he's in the right place when having to defend?

2. What is your twitter handle? :D

1. 1.74 tackles per game. But tackling isn't really their job in this formation, it is but its more about interceptions and closing people down rather than tackling them. They should only tackle when they need too and are a threat. They cut out more balls by stepping back/up or cutting across people than actually tackling if that makes sense. They still get stuck in though when they need to :)

2. @Cleon81

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Great thread. Learning a lot but also questioning my own thought processes (which is possibly a good lesson to learn). I would never have thought to take off the play narrower shout against Colchester. Thanks for explaining why you did it.

Against the 4-5-1, I would have considered playing more direct. What would your thoughts be on that ? Appreciate your team may give the ball away more but it may bypass their five man midfield.

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Great thread. Learning a lot but also questioning my own thought processes (which is possibly a good lesson to learn). I would never have thought to take off the play narrower shout against Colchester. Thanks for explaining why you did it.

Against the 4-5-1, I would have considered playing more direct. What would your thoughts be on that ? Appreciate your team may give the ball away more but it may bypass their five man midfield.

If I'd have gone direct I'd get the ball to the strikers quicker but then the support might not have caught up with play and they'd have no runners helping them out from midfield due to everyone being deep. The way I'm currently set up allows this as we break as a unit and then turn into a 2-3-5 of kinds :)

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Brilliant thread, I actually enjoyed reading it even though I play my games on commentary as I'm pretty poor when it comes to tactics. You can't be far away from a knighthood now :)

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Great work Cleon, thank you very much for putting time in to help people who can't understand the mechanics of Football Manager, your efforts don't go unnoticed.

I think it's unfortunate that we have to rely on threads like this to fully understand how the game works entirely when SI should in fact help out newer players in game.

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Some formation and CWB usage as the bigbadcowboy tactic that's blowing holes out of the match engine. Its obviously a tremendously good starting base formation.

Looking forward to the rest of the articles.

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Interesting and intriguing as always. I like how you make it all seem so logical....and it is. But I wonder, how do you find time for all this (playing, experimenting, analyzing, organizing and presenting) while having a life, work, wife and kids?

I have a few questions.

1) The difference between DLP-D and Regista, offensively and defensively?

2) The difference between CWB and WB-A, again defensively and offensively?

3) Why have you chosen to not change strategy, to say Counter?

I would like to see more examples of how you combat the space in the wide areas that this formation leaves for the opposition. Do the roles of the 2 MCs make a difference in that and how so?

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Absolutely brilliant post (as per)! Can't wait to see some footage of the attacking transitions.

Congratulations on the nearly perfect season as well, shame to have only just lost out vs Liverpool in the FA Cup.

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Not too sure about the Sheffield United squad but would/could a TMs work instead of a DLPs? My feeling is the TM could get isolated and not have the feed from wide but on the other hand he could drag CB's out of position for the trequartista and AF to exploit.

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Brilliant thread, I actually enjoyed reading it even though I play my games on commentary as I'm pretty poor when it comes to tactics. You can't be far away from a knighthood now :)

Thanks :)

Great work Cleon, thank you very much for putting time in to help people who can't understand the mechanics of Football Manager, your efforts don't go unnoticed.

I think it's unfortunate that we have to rely on threads like this to fully understand how the game works entirely when SI should in fact help out newer players in game.

It is a shame yeah but hopefully the game documentation will get better.

Some formation and CWB usage as the bigbadcowboy tactic that's blowing holes out of the match engine. Its obviously a tremendously good starting base formation.

Looking forward to the rest of the articles.

What you trying to say? This far from blows holes in the match engine. This isn't about the formation, shape etc its about defending and the principles used to create good solid defending, its a strategy. You saying this takes advantage of some kind of bug? If so you'd be hugely mistaken. Or are you insinuating I copied someone because they happen to have the same shape with totally different settings? Either way you're wrong.

If I wanted to blow holes on the ME I'd have written about my strikerless formation that I created, that blows holes in stuff.

Absolutely brilliant post (as per)! Can't wait to see some footage of the attacking transitions.

Congratulations on the nearly perfect season as well, shame to have only just lost out vs Liverpool in the FA Cup.

A very long hard season and a little squad didn't help matters. I was outplayed I only had 4 shots the whole game, it was one of those where everything went wrong and nothing I did mattered :(

Not too sure about the Sheffield United squad but would/could a TMs work instead of a DLPs? My feeling is the TM could get isolated and not have the feed from wide but on the other hand he could drag CB's out of position for the trequartista and AF to exploit.

A TM isn't mobile, its a a really static role.I already have a DLF doing that to great effective (dragging people wide or pulling the CB out of position). A TM wouldn't come as deep, wouldn't be as mobile, wouldn't track back as deep and due to less movement he'd be easier to mark and not create and space or movement. It would also mean my players look to play the ball to him more as he'd be an outlet up top to aim for, this isn't what I want at all and is such a bad idea.

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Interesting and intriguing as always. I like how you make it all seem so logical....and it is. But I wonder, how do you find time for all this (playing, experimenting, analyzing, organizing and presenting) while having a life, work, wife and kids?

I have a few questions.

1) The difference between DLP-D and Regista, offensively and defensively?

2) The difference between CWB and WB-A, again defensively and offensively?

3) Why have you chosen to not change strategy, to say Counter?

I would like to see more examples of how you combat the space in the wide areas that this formation leaves for the opposition. Do the roles of the 2 MCs make a difference in that and how so?

It's took quite a while to write it up and I've been working on it for quite a bit doing bits when I can. Working from home and being your own boss helps too. I don't really play though I spend all my time writing threads like this, so when I am writing something up I don't get to play the game until its finished as I don't have time to do both.

1 - A regista is a more aggressive playmaker and looks to push forward a lot more than a DLP defend when attacking. Defensively there isn't much different its when in possession the roles differ the most.

2 - A CWB is gung-ho and is relentless in attacks. A WB-A is a little bit more restrained and less aggressive when attacking. Which means when defending there is less chance of a WB being caught out up the pitch as often. The CWB is also more of a goal threat as they look to get inside the box and finish chances off too. They tend to do a bit of everything compared to the WB who is more cross/creating chances driven.

3 - Why would or should I change to counter? Kind of defeats the point of wanting to create a defensive strategy. You don't always need to make changes or change strategy. Normally I play and change strategy when playing FM rather than using shouts. But for a change I thought I'd play different to normal and stick with the same strategy all the time and use shouts.

It defends space in the wide areas like the examples I've already posted, it doesn't get any more complicated or different to what I've already shows to be honest. The roles do make a difference because the two I use can go out wide if needs be and help out as seen in a few of the above examples. Using something like a DLP/AP this wouldn't happen as much as they stay more central rather than trying to involve themselves into the nitty gritty side of things.

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It's took quite a while to write it up and I've been working on it for quite a bit doing bits when I can. Working from home and being your own boss helps too. I don't really play though I spend all my time writing threads like this, so when I am writing something up I don't get to play the game until its finished as I don't have time to do both.

Being your own boss does help indeed. So right now you don't play the game, just write up this? Do you plan on doing another project or this is it for FM14? I would like to see you take on a flat 442 - I feel like it's kind of a forgotten formation as most prefer 433 or 4231, IRL and FM.

1 - A regista is a more aggressive playmaker and looks to push forward a lot more than a DLP defend when attacking. Defensively there isn't much different its when in possession the roles differ the most.

You mention that in this project sometimes you use different roles. So I'm wondering if we will see you change the RGA to DLP.

2 - A CWB is gung-ho and is relentless in attacks. A WB-A is a little bit more restrained and less aggressive when attacking. Which means when defending there is less chance of a WB being caught out up the pitch as often. The CWB is also more of a goal threat as they look to get inside the box and finish chances off too. They tend to do a bit of everything compared to the WB who is more cross/creating chances driven.

Yeah, they are more aggressive going forward and can get caught upfield on occasion, but I've seen CWBs (once back on defense) defend better than WB-A. Is that really the case or am I imagining things?

3 - Why would or should I change to counter? Kind of defeats the point of wanting to create a defensive strategy. You don't always need to make changes or change strategy. Normally I play and change strategy when playing FM rather than using shouts. But for a change I thought I'd play different to normal and stick with the same strategy all the time and use shouts.

Because I know that your personal style is to change strategies. But now I understand that you've taken a different approach this time. Will you show examples where you make your tactic more aggressive/attacking while keeping a Defensive mentality? What do you do when you go a goal or two behind? Would you change the fluidity?

It defends space in the wide areas like the examples I've already posted, it doesn't get any more complicated or different to what I've already shows to be honest. The roles do make a difference because the two I use can go out wide if needs be and help out as seen in a few of the above examples. Using something like a DLP/AP this wouldn't happen as much as they stay more central rather than trying to involve themselves into the nitty gritty side of things.

Would a BWM either on defend or support duty be another role that will help out to defend the wide areas or is his closing down too aggressive for that (meaning it will have him get caught up pressing/chasing the ball too much upfield)?

And a few more questions:

How do you have your set pieces set up? How is your scoring/conceding record from them? I assume you still have your Assistant take care of press conferences and team talks, am I right? What do you do if you have a player sent off?

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If I'd have gone direct I'd get the ball to the strikers quicker but then the support might not have caught up with play and they'd have no runners helping them out from midfield due to everyone being deep. The way I'm currently set up allows this as we break as a unit and then turn into a 2-3-5 of kinds :)

Many thanks for all the threads you put up Cleon - another interesting read and one that is tempting me to take another look at FM14 because of the use of the Regista and CWB's. If the media side and Reserve Team Manager would leave me alone I'd be more than happy with 14. I am also trying the defensive approach in FM13 but just simply using an untweaked DLP(s) and WB(a) (I never know if I should change Mentality or Creative Freedom to get a more RGA or CWB approach) and the heatmaps look pretty similar.

Could I ask what you do when the weather conditions dictate that a more direct style of play is necessary? I'm probably going to look a fool by saying this, but if keeping the unit as tight as possible is the priority I would suggest maybe removing Retain Possession and Short Passing altogether and going with a Default style rather than full-on Direct.

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A TM isn't mobile, its a a really static role.I already have a DLF doing that to great effective (dragging people wide or pulling the CB out of position). A TM wouldn't come as deep, wouldn't be as mobile, wouldn't track back as deep and due to less movement he'd be easier to mark and not create and space or movement. It would also mean my players look to play the ball to him more as he'd be an outlet up top to aim for, this isn't what I want at all and is such a bad idea.

Pretty much confirmed what I was thinking. I was hoping it would be possible to incorporate a TM. My thinking was to add "Roam From Position" & "Move In Channels". Also, by adding "Hit Early Crosses" I thought it would create the movement required. I feel it is possible and am playing with it. Obviously the issue isn't the defence, but rather the tactic could score from a different kind of build up.

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Being your own boss does help indeed. So right now you don't play the game, just write up this? Do you plan on doing another project or this is it for FM14? I would like to see you take on a flat 442 - I feel like it's kind of a forgotten formation as most prefer 433 or 4231, IRL and FM.

I've used a few flat 4-4-2's, I did a Man City style one, Atletico style one and a Arsenal invinsible one but not sure I have the time or patience to do any kind of write up about them. The only reason I did this one was because I kept seeing people say defensive didn't attack and meant you had to have lots of pressure etc which isn't true.

You mention that in this project sometimes you use different roles. So I'm wondering if we will see you change the RGA to DLP.

No he is always the same. The roles I tend to change are either the WB's or maybe the Treq. I might change him to be an enganche if I think I need less roaming but still need a threat in the middle. I will be adding more about this at a later date though.

Yeah, they are more aggressive going forward and can get caught upfield on occasion, but I've seen CWBs (once back on defense) defend better than WB-A. Is that really the case or am I imagining things?

They defend the same, its only the attacking settings that make a difference and make them differ from each other. It might be a CWB suits your style or the formation you are using better than a WB.

Because I know that your personal style is to change strategies. But now I understand that you've taken a different approach this time. Will you show examples where you make your tactic more aggressive/attacking while keeping a Defensive mentality? What do you do when you go a goal or two behind? Would you change the fluidity?

I never ever change fluidity, why would I do that? :D I've already shown above how to make it more/less aggressive with the use of shouts and the role changes. What else do you want to see? I never changed from a defensive mentality at all btw.

Going behind in a game differs for every single example. It's all about the context of how you are losing what is vital and determines the changes I make. If it was a player error why I'm losing then I'd look to change his role or sub him maybe or learn exactly why he did a mistake. I can't stop mistakes happening so making sure its not an actual issue and going to happen frequent would be vital to understanding what I needed to change. I could be playing well and go behind a couple of goals, if that's the case then I stick to the game plan. You can be unlucky and losing 1/2-0, in those extreme cases I continue to play how I set up as I have belief in the tactic I created. If I'm playing poor and losing then I'd alter roles/shouts and target the players who have caused me the issues.

I will be adding more stuff about this when I get the time though. I did a massive thread on this for FM12/13 though about how I turn games around and overcame a 3-0 down scoreline to win 5-3. But it's very rare I actually go 2-0 down so not sure how or when this is likely to be added to this actual project as I can only do something like this when it happens.

Would a BWM either on defend or support duty be another role that will help out to defend the wide areas or is his closing down too aggressive for that (meaning it will have him get caught up pressing/chasing the ball too much upfield)?

Far too aggressive for this set up and what I wanted to create. He'd lose shape due to his aggressiveness when closing players down, then this has the domino effect I mentioned at the very start of this thread.

How do you have your set pieces set up?

Default, I never touch them.

How is your scoring/conceding record from them?

I think 2 out of the 9 I conceded were from set pieces. I scored about 20 goals from them I think (including cups).

I assume you still have your Assistant take care of press conferences and team talks, am I right?

Yeah :)

What do you do if you have a player sent off?

Depends on who it is. If its a CM I can just move the Treq back to CM and play without one. If It's treq who has been sent off then I might play without one. It all again depends on the context of how the game is going that dictates what happens, there is no 'set routine' to do because it all depends on loads of factors like how well you are playing, how important the player was to the defensive shape, how will it impact you by shifting players around etc. So it's hard to answer due to all this as each situation is different. I could do one of the things mentioned or I could sub a striker....

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Could I ask what you do when the weather conditions dictate that a more direct style of play is necessary? I'm probably going to look a fool by saying this, but if keeping the unit as tight as possible is the priority I would suggest maybe removing Retain Possession and Short Passing altogether and going with a Default style rather than full-on Direct.

Why would I do that? Does it look like the results have suffered? :D

You have to understand that even though I use the short passing TI it doesn't mean the roles are short passing. It means it's a shorter passing than whatever the default is for the role/duty I'm using etc. So someone might be direct passing due to his role and duty but because I use the TI shorter passing it might just be a shorter direct passing game he plays and so on. Removing retain possession makes sense though depending on how wet the pitch is. If its not heavy rain though it doesn't matter, but heavy rain is when the ball will be bogged down.

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Pretty much confirmed what I was thinking. I was hoping it would be possible to incorporate a TM. My thinking was to add "Roam From Position" & "Move In Channels". Also, by adding "Hit Early Crosses" I thought it would create the movement required. I feel it is possible and am playing with it. Obviously the issue isn't the defence, but rather the tactic could score from a different kind of build up.

I don't think you fully understand the thread especially if you would add roam from position and hit early crosses to the roles you change. Adding hit early crosses would be a stupid move as the tactic is set up to play deep and you'd not have anyone to really aim for in the box. It would also bypass the midfield who are vital when attacking. Also your fullbacks alone are not enough to hit early crosses, you'd just give needless possession away and cause your own team to get counter attacked.

Also the tactic already scores from every kind of build up play imaginably possible. All you are doing is making the tactic less effective by making it more one dimensional and much easier to defend against for the opposition.

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Really great thread Cleon (as always) and it's especially useful for me as I'm currently toiling away in Italy using the same 41212 formation you have.

I have to admit I'd never considered using greater attacking roles within the framework of a more defensive mindset and instead have tried to employ a 'halfway house' of trying to cover all bases within a Balanced mentality.

It's pleased me to see that I've been doing the same thing with my fullbacks when faced with certain formations - if you're doing it I must be on the right track.

Finally, you've slightly stolen my thunder as I was looking to create a thread to discuss the use of a front three (2 ST, 1 Treq) and you've succinctly demonstrated its effectiveness here. :p

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I don't think you fully understand the thread especially if you would add roam from position and hit early crosses to the roles you change. Adding hit early crosses would be a stupid move as the tactic is set up to play deep and you'd not have anyone to really aim for in the box. It would also bypass the midfield who are vital when attacking. Also your fullbacks alone are not enough to hit early crosses, you'd just give needless possession away and cause your own team to get counter attacked.

Also the tactic already scores from every kind of build up play imaginably possible. All you are doing is making the tactic less effective by making it more one dimensional and much easier to defend against for the opposition.

Thanks, makes sense when you explain it.

Probably doesn't help that I don't fully understand what every shout does.

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A great read as always.

One question: How important is it to have player(s) in the DM position? For example, could this style of football be done with a flat 442 or would you drop the CM's to DM's?

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A great read as always.

One question: How important is it to have player(s) in the DM position? For example, could this style of football be done with a flat 442 or would you drop the CM's to DM's?

You would have to rethink your center midfield roles I think with a 4-4-2, because the player in the DM strata allows having less static roles. If you had CM (A) with a B2B midfielder in a midfield with no player behind them, I am taking a guess you would get slaughtered through the middle.

Excellent read by the way, not taken it all in yet, as it happened I was just working on a Very Rigid, Defensive system, although I completely different set up from this, taken more inspiration from the Cattenacio thread. Am sure this will be of some use though. I love defensive formations, especially if I can get them to attack like yours Cleon !

I like your formation because it's quite easy to build a squad for it, although getting a decent B2B midfielder could be tricky, you could manage with this formation with a fairly small squad if needed. Have always worried about being exposed down the wings with such a formation, you just proved it doesn't have to be a problem. I can't believe how you did in the cups, that is quite astounding.

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Really great thread Cleon (as always) and it's especially useful for me as I'm currently toiling away in Italy using the same 41212 formation you have.

I have to admit I'd never considered using greater attacking roles within the framework of a more defensive mindset and instead have tried to employ a 'halfway house' of trying to cover all bases within a Balanced mentality.

It's pleased me to see that I've been doing the same thing with my fullbacks when faced with certain formations - if you're doing it I must be on the right track.

Finally, you've slightly stolen my thunder as I was looking to create a thread to discuss the use of a front three (2 ST, 1 Treq) and you've succinctly demonstrated its effectiveness here. :p

Haha sorry I stole your thunder :(:D

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Thanks, makes sense when you explain it.

Probably doesn't help that I don't fully understand what every shout does.

Sorry if my responses seem direct and having a go at you, there not intended that way. But I find being direct is the best way to help people learn although I understand my tone isn't always welcome :)

You can read this thread about the shouts to understand them more. It was done for FM13 but its all still the same really with the odd new one missing but you should be able to work out what it does after reading this;

http://community.sigames.com/showthread.php/305067-The-Full-90-Minutes-What-I-Do

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A great read as always.

One question: How important is it to have player(s) in the DM position? For example, could this style of football be done with a flat 442 or would you drop the CM's to DM's?

It depends on the league you play in and if you face a lot of AMC's or not, or strikers who drop deep. If you don't face them issues every single week then its fine, even if you do it can still be fine not using a DMC but you have to then compensate for the lack of one and get the MC's more involved. You can also drop them to DM's like you suggested, that's actually how I created this formation believe it or not. It started off with trying to recreate Atletico's tactic from earlier in the season :)

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You would have to rethink your center midfield roles I think with a 4-4-2, because the player in the DM strata allows having less static roles. If you had CM (A) with a B2B midfielder in a midfield with no player behind them, I am taking a guess you would get slaughtered through the middle.

Excellent read by the way, not taken it all in yet, as it happened I was just working on a Very Rigid, Defensive system, although I completely different set up from this, taken more inspiration from the Cattenacio thread. Am sure this will be of some use though. I love defensive formations, especially if I can get them to attack like yours Cleon !

I like your formation because it's quite easy to build a squad for it, although getting a decent B2B midfielder could be tricky, you could manage with this formation with a fairly small squad if needed. Have always worried about being exposed down the wings with such a formation, you just proved it doesn't have to be a problem. I can't believe how you did in the cups, that is quite astounding.

A lot of people think the wings are a big issue and that you can't cover them but that's not true at all. It's actually quite solid outwide as the CM's can help if you choose the correct roles and you don't leave the middle exposed as the treq drops deep and you have the added protection of the DMC. It's a win win situation really. A few people have sent me messages about how I deal with the lack of players on the wings but I thought I'd already covered that enough in this thread to see its not a major issue like people assume.

As for the B2B I tend to use DMC's as there are loads of them who have great physical stats and can play this role perfectly.

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Hi Cleon,

Congrats on the great work. Defensive football I feel is the most satisfying way to play FM, there is no other feeling than frustrating your opponent and then nicking a goal in the dying seconds.

My question for you is simple and hopefully something I haven't missed. You stated you chose the narrow 4-1-2-1-2 for a challenge as it would cause issues down your wings. So bearing in mind you've passed that challenge with flying colours, if you could choose ANY formation for a defensive set up, which would it be and how would you look to implement it? (Roles, Strategy etc).

And also, was the 4-1-2-1-2 picked after you had tried a few other formations too? If so, what were the strengths and weaknesses of other formations you tried out?

Cheers,

Caddick7

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