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Jambo98

The 4-5-1 - The swiss army knife of formations?

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I have posted a few replies to people asking for advice lately, focused on the difference between the default 4-2-3-1 formation and the reality of the 4-2-3-1 formations that we see in the EPL and La Liga week in and week out (and in the Scottish Championship, you know, if your sad enough to watch it..)

Following this, i wanted to have a bit of a discussion around how i go about creating the 4-2-3-1 shape and remaining more solid defensively. I immediately add the disclaimer that i am not a tactical genius on FM, i have had reasonable success over the years and also plenty of failures. On FM15 thus far i have played on 2 LLM saves (since the full game came out). I hit upon this during one of them and wanted to try and apply it in the prem.

As people may know, I am a Liverpool fan. Liverpool had the perfect squad for this tactical foray, with versatile midfielders and the right mix of wide players. Thats why they are the chosen team, even though i am very concious that everyone and his/her brother has posted Liverpool tactics/problems on this forum already :D. NB - I also turned off first transfer window for the purpose of this experiment.

The setup/formation

Formation

The formation is the preset 451 (not with DM). It is a flat midfield 5 in a line, but of course my aim is to show that in reality the line is far from flat. Part of the reason for choosing this formation is that the formation in effect represents your "defensive shape". The transition shapes and the attacking shape come about through much more of a combination of mentality, TI/PI, Role and Duty. With a bit of luck, i will show below how this shape correctly reflects a 4231 attacking shape, along with a more realistic 451 defensive shape.

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The roles/duties

Quick run down of role/duty and why, in relation to the shape

SK (a) - This might seem an extreme role, but the simple reason is i have never seen a down side to a sweeper keeper. Default keepers stay on the line way to much, and i have never ever seen a sweeper keeper caught upfield or lose a race

FB (s) - My right back is a simple fullback. At the top level, i dont think a fullback defend is ever really suitable, modern FB needs at least some attacking. He is to sit behind the winger and not overlap, but feed him and offer support to him

CWB (a) - In contrast, the left back is a flying wingback to roam outside the WM. I could go WB(a) to be slightly more cautious, but i love Moreno flying forward. I might change it against top 4 teams to WB(a)

CB (d) - Nothing to say really, i am not ready to experiment with BPD yet and i dont need a stopper since Sahko naturally is aggressive in his ball winning.

CB (d) - As above

W (a) - The width and pace of the time. I have him on the right for Sterling but could easily flip flop the entire formation. He gets forward quickly and beats men, sends in crosses and scores goals

WM (a) - This role can be flexible and change from (a) to (s) depending on the game situation, and can even change to WPM in some situations because i have the right players. Lallana and Coutinho fit this role perfectly, coming inside more

CM (d) - The strength and anchor of the team. I moved him from the right to left slot to give more cover to the flying CWB. This guy will sit deep and win the ball all day long. Basically, this is Lucas Leiva in his former glory :D

CM (s) - The link man. Again versatile role. It could switch to DLP(s) or RPM(s) or even AP(s) without overly altering the system or shape. This could be Gerrard or Henderson for me, or Allen or Can are able to perform here.

CM (a) - The guy who effectively looks to become an AM as we attack. This role isnt quite perfect and might need a PPM to make the shape look truley perfect going forward, but thus far Hendo has killed it here

T (a) - This role changes depending on who starts. Sturridge is a CF and either support or attack depending on the opposition. He can also be an AF in some game situations. When Mario plays, Mario is Mario. he does what he wants and is lazy. So why try and shoehorn him into anything else. He is a Treq, so lets play him as one. Works better than you might expect, as evidenced by his 5 in 5.

The Mentality and Team Shape

Mentality starts as "Standard" and varies a lot depending on the situation. At home i often start "attack" for 15mins to try and blow teams away, then click back to Control or Standard. Away i might use Counter more, and with a lead in the last half hour i might click down to Defend, or Contain for the last 10 against a good side.

Team Shape is Flexible. Gives the right mix of movement and freedom against a bit of shape retention.

The TI

As intiially i am just trying to create a very specific shape, i kept it minimal here. I also think overall thats a better approach. I shoot for 4 max "perm" TI and others get added depending on the game situation or opposition. The 3 "Perm" here are:

Shorter Passing - This might seem a bit contradictory to what looks like a counter attacking shape, but the shape and the movement lends itself to short interchanges. It can change to direct when we feel we need to

Higher Tempo - Personal preference, i like to move the ball and the men slightly quicker and try to unsettle teams. Helps move the shape as i need it to

More expressive - We have a talented bunch of creative players, i want to let them use that talent

The PI

Again minimal, more could be added but thus far i have the keeper throwing it out, passing it short and distributing to FB. I have the WM cutting inside and crossing less and thats it. The only exception is a player specific one for Super Mario asking him to shoot less often (which he ignores...) due to his PPM.

The Shape in Action

Ok enough waffle, does it really work? And by work, i dont mean am i top of the league with 50 goals for and 10 against, i mean can i create the shape i want like this. Few screenies to show that i believe i can, although its not the finished article.

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Here you see the shape of the middle 5 as we are in attacking transition (hard to see the ball, but its at the feet of Lucas, the CM(d)).

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Here we are in defensive transition, again the middle 5 highlighted. Nice tracking back, Coutinho is heading to close down the winger, Sterling has his fullback still infront of him

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Another defensive example. That shape looks 4231 to me.... :)

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highlighted are the 2 wide men. Look how they are tracking back against the opposition. I read so many posts about "why wont my wingers do this" - they will if you put them in the right defensive shape. If you think this would make them to defensive, look back to the first screenshot again. Exact same formation gave both those screenies.

The Summary

So thats just a bit of an OP. I hope it is of some use and stimulates some discussion. I am not laying claim to any great answer or super system, and whats more i am not posting anything that hasnt already been posted in some way, shape or form im sure. I just thought it was a bit of an example of how your formation doesnt need to reflect your desired attacking shape. Infact if it does, your almost certainly going to struggle to defend.

I also wanted to add a word on the versatility of this system, to finally explain the title. Its so easy to make this into a 4411, a 4141, a 4321 or, as i have tried to do, a 4231. All with this nice solid basic shape. You can go a step further - in big games i might choose to drag my CM(d) back into a true DM role - i can do that and the rest of the shape or system does not need to change. Lucas drags back to a deeper starting point, and the other 2, and the wide men, do exactly as they did before. Likewise, when i was struggling to break down a stubborn Bucharest team in a CL game, i dragged the CM(a) into the AM slot to create a 4411, and again no change required to anything else. Coutinho (playing in the middle in that particular game) just slotted into a higher starting point and helped us break them down.

You could also be far more complex and creative with the 3 CM roles im sure. Combinations of playmakers and Box to box men or ball winners. But for me, keeping it simple to create my desired shape was the first step. Maybe as i go on i might introduce a play maker:)

Love to hear if others have used a similar approach, even with different formation. I would urge the many people who are struggling defensively to really consider your formation as your defensive shape only. You can see in one of the first screenies that my wide players 5 in 5 and 4 in 6 goals wise, so dont be fooled into thinking that your defensive shape constrains your attacking ability. :)

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So i suppose, much as i said it wasnt about whether i was top of league, it would be useless preaching about something if i was losing every week. I have only used this for 6 competitive games so far, but here are the results

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As i often tell others to do,i have gone back and looked at all the goals conceded this season thus far to work out which could have been prevented by changes to my system:

Man City away

Goal 1 - City work some nice movement down the left channel between Toure, Aguero and Silva which allows Silva to get a shot off form a tight angle. It is parried and he taps in the rebound as the keeper doesnt react. The final finish is a bit of a known "issue" i believe, with rebound goals (i have benefited from it as well as suffered). Could the shape have prevented it? Hard to say, City are world class any combo of those 3 players is hard to stop

Goal 2 - After goal 1 we draw level, and Sturridge gets sent off on 46mins so we are a man light. On this occasion, City work it down my left, Coutinho is caught out of position and Aguero drifts wide to create a 2 v 1 on Moreno, his cross is blocked and for some reason Moreno doesnt react, when Aguero does, the 2 v 1 means he has an easy ball into Navas who has an easy cut back for Dzeko to score. Possibly something in this in terms of Coutinho being caught up field likely because of his "attack" duty.

Goal 3 - Frustrating as hell, last minute winner. City throw in, they work it a little but Glen Johnson gets drawn to the ball, when Lucas already has it covered leaving a gap for Dzeko to drift into, gets the ball and a lovely finish. In my eyes, not tactical, individual by Glen Johnson (art mirrors real life sometimes...)

Palace away (it had to be this scoreline didnt it)

Goal 1 - Horror show. Sakho tries a back header from about 30 yards away, woefully short, he doesnt react nor does Loveren and Campbell has an easy 1 v 1 which he finishes. Mig slow off his line as well. Not tactical at all, just a brutally bad error

Goal 2 - Another rebound goal. Bolasie hits one from 30 yards, Mig paries it and doesnt react to the rebound as Zaha just prods it home. Possibly something to look at in terms of why Bolasie got the shot away, but generally i am happy to let other teams shoot from that far out. Nothing i can do about the reactions to rebounds IMO

Goal 3 - Uggh. A right wing cross from a 2 v 1 situation. Close analysis shows why. Johnson is off the field getting treatment. Sterling has dropped in but we are still a man light on that wing and palace take full advantage by passing round him, and Campbell wins the header. Not strictly tactical, but perhaps managerial. I should have seen Johnson go off and reacted immediately to cover the position.

Spurs away (goals galore this season already...)

Goal 1 - Corner, near post header. Tactical? Yes, but not in terms of the system. I need to sort out my defensive corner routine. So strictly speaking, managerial

Goal 2 - Rebound goal. Ericsson freek kick 25yards out. Mig saves it, doesnt react to the rebound and Chadli has a tap in. I would be getting very wound up about this issue, but i have to be fair and balanced and say i have scored 2 over the season exactly the same way.

Goal 3 - Interesting one. Spurs work a ball wide, then in, then out again. I have plenty men goalside, but a cut back finds Dembele on the edge of the box and he hits a lovely volley past the keeper. There is something in this one, 2 of my mids are deep in the box, and my CM(a) is behind Dembele. A little confusing as it came from a cleared corner, so positions were not fully back to normal. I dont see a specific change here, but something to keep an eye on in terms of the gap between my 3 CM's in some situations.

Steaua Away

Goal 1 - You guessed it, a rebound goal :(. There is something tactical in this, as in the build up the opposing striker gets in behind Sterling to get a little space, but we defend well, push him out to the edge of the box and he hits one right at Mig. Mig spills it and stands still as the rebound is tapped in from an angle. I am only half giving this one to the rebound issue, as to be fair Mig should catch the ball. Rubbish keeper though, which i already knew.

Hull Home

Goal 1 - Hmmm. We are 3 nil up, Hull get the ball wide left to Brady. Sterling is in good position, goalside. No support from hull so Johnson can tuck in and give extra coverage in the box. Sterling doesnt block the cross, which comes in from deep. Hernandez is up against 3 of my defenders but gets there first at the near post and flicks in a lovely volley. Tactically, and shape wise, im fine with where we were and how we were set up. Shame Sterling couldnt block the cross, but his positioning was fine and he should be able to count on his 2 centre backs and tucked in full back not to be beaten by the one hull attacker who was in the box.

So thats my analysis of goals conceded. At the moment, one, perhaps 2 come down to the team shape. Im fine with that over 6 games. Im sure more issues will arise over a bigger sample size, but meantime although my goals against tally looks ugly, i understand why. Partly because of 45mins with 10men against a top team away, and partly just some silly defensive goals. We are not lacking cover, just sometimes lacking ability and a bit of luck with rebounds.

Its a really worthwhile exercise to watch things back.

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So after the block of fixtures shown, i beat Wigan in the Carling cup 2 nil with a young side, and in the run up to my next league game i got a crash dump (i vented some rage in the appropriate technical forum about my lost work). It set me back to just before the tottenham game. I played through the fixtures again and actually beat spurs 2 v 1. The other results were remarkably similar. We again beat Steaua 2 v 1 and Hull 3 v 1 this time around. We also again beat Wigan with the young side. We then blew it Sunderland, dominating a game and taking a 1 v 0 lead into the 91st minute before giving a way a poor goal whilst trying to hold on.

Next up were 2 home games, but 2 of the hardest we could face. PSG in the champs league then Chelsea 3 days later.

PSG game was a tight affair, our shape held but we werent creative enough. Our solid midfield prevented them from creating anything clear cut, and Markovic sneaked a winner for us on 89mins. We just about deserved it, and great to see that the shape held firm against top opposition.

On to Chelsea, and without Stevie G as he wasnt up to a second game in a week. A few pictures to try and tell how this worked against top class opposition.

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This is an example of the shape and the width given by the CWB and WM combination. Coutinho has come in narrow and dragged men in with him (he is the one infront of Lucas). This allows Moreno the freedom to burst forward and have acres of space for a cross. In addtiion, we have 3 men forward to get on the end of a cross. And yet even if the cross is cut out, we are covered. Lucas is in position to cover the left back slot, and Coutinho and Allen (just in front of the ref) are still behind the ball comfortably.

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The final outcome. How a properly set up 4231 can beat the Chelsea version of it. The annoying part is both their goals were preventable. First was a long punt where tiny Oscar, on his own managed to win a ball in between Sakho and Loveren. Willian had a tap in once he did that. Then a set piece goal where a header off the bar fell to Oscar with no one on my side reacting. Poor individual defending from Liverpool sounds awfully familiar... :D

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Average positions - This is how i would want my 4231 (with split duties in the deeper centre mid) to look at the end of a game. The advanced position of Sterling in particular, shows how we took advantage of the opposition wide players being way to far advanced in the AI 4231 version.

Hopefully there is some useful analysis there.

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Good work so far :thup:

I'd say the 4-1-4-1 is the quintessential swiss army knife formation. The presence of a natural DM gives a bit more stability, and can act as a 4-2-3-1 just as well. In the end they both are similar and you seem to have something good going on there, keep it up.

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I think they can be quite similar, but IMO, its easier to get this formation to act like a 4231. The 4141 can act very much like the 433/451 hybrid that many strive for. In essence, i find its easier to get a CM to act like a DM than vice versa :) Always interested to hear and see others findings and methods though

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So i used the analysis of the Chelsea game to show how the formation can be used to dominate and run over the top of teams. We really attacked Chelsea and the match stats reflect a team which was on the offensive for most of the game. What about the opposite. What about those games where you just cant do that? Lets say perhaps Real at the Bernabeau.......

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The exact same shape, roles and duties as the dominant Chelsea performance. Very different route to the same result (in terms of the win). This one did require quite a bit of in game management:

- Even though its the toughest fixture in Europe, we started out with Attacking mentality for a 10min burst. Lets see if we can get ahead. Didnt get ahead so reverted to "standard" after 10mins.

- Real scored early. A bit of a downer. Ronaldo too good for Enrique on a 1 v 1, gets a cross in and Benzema bundles it home at the near post. Ok, what now? We switch to Counter. Why? because i can already see the Real fullbacks playing massively far forward and leaving huge spaces

- Counter is doing ok, but we need to really take advantage of those spaces. Switch to Direct passing and add "pass into space" and "exploit the flanks"

- Ball up to Mario, he controls it, turns, Coutinho is in behind the fullback (who has left the space, as he did all game), lovely shuffle and finish. We are level. What now? Well lets stay as we are.

- Right after the goal, its clear we are letting Real dominate possession and pin us back to much. The Counter mentality has us sitting in deep and thats too dangerous. We cant give them all that space. Add "push higher up"

- Even though "push higher up" doesnt sound like it is conducent to a counter attacking game, in this instance its fine. We dont need to draw Real out to get the space in behind, they leave it anyway by being so attacking.

- Gerrard picks a pass to Sterling who is in behind a forward charging Marcelo. Cross, Mario volley. BOOM.

- So now what? Choke the game? Go defensive? Not yet. 40mins still to go. Stay as we are. Some fresh legs in midfield as those 3 are having a tough day against the sheer class of Real.

- 20 to go. Time to switch down to defensive. Time to stick rather than twist. Not too deep, keep the "push higher up" to somewhat mitigate the DLine drop from the reduce mentality. Keep the game infront of us, but not too much space

- 5 to go. Waste time, bring on fresh legs, and go to Contain. Held on without really much of a scare to speak of. Few long shots wide or right at our keeper.

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The shape looks a bit different on average here. Henderson got drawn a lot deeper as Modric who was the DM in the Real 433 advanced a lot. We also used "exploit the flanks" meaning our attacking was focussed more on Sterling and Coutinho. I think this shows that the exact same shape, with some management of TI's can produced something very different on the pitch. No roles or duties or formation changes at any point between the Chelsea mauling and this (somewhat) smash n grab.

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This is a very good thread Jambo. I think what puts a lot of people off using the ML/R stratta is the lack of players who are accomplished at the position. Of course the effect is neglible and shouldn't put people off, though it's not altogether obvious and I can understand the reluctance.

Edit: Wouldn't making the central midfielder change to defend and the left sided one changed to attack create a 4-1-2-2-1 or 4-1-4-1 if you prefer? Very flexible, excellent stuff.

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Thanks peleJunior. The hope was that some people can look at the idea and try some things out to build from. As i said, no way is this a miracle cure or revolutionary thinking. It was just a good discussion around formation v shape. It sort of follows on from a thread i did last year where everyone got assigned a random "formation" from the default list, we all played as the same team and compared how we had managed to make each "formation work". It showed the different shapes you can create with and without the ball. Might give that another go later this year :)

One other variation on this i want to try, is to create 4321 (Xmas tree) shape. 2 WPM, tucking, 2 of the CM's being attack duty, with the remaining one probably on support, possibly defend. Could create an interesting variety of shape with and without the ball.

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Xmas tree sounds interesting and that's what I like about this. Your starting positions, it's like a templating engine, you can morph it into most 5 man midfield formations.

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Yup, i was going to do a few more insights into dealing with things not going your way - Clearly there are games and spells in a season where you are not as good as i have been in some of the highlighted games. Its a learning process for me how to best deal with these but it doesnt seem to be stimulating a lot discussion in this thread. I may try and do a write up and some screenies later.

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Great read this.

Looking forward to trying something similar when I get some time to play on it this week.

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Really nice thread Jambo98. What it demonstrates is that what you see (on the formation screen) isn't what you get (on pitch) if you have a clear idea in mind. :thup:

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Cheers both and let us know how you get on Jonny. Be good to see some other examples, maybe with different teams.

I might go back and do some more on this, took a break from it after a bit of frustration started to set in. I need to go back and look at how to use the shape to break down defensive teams, and also focus a bit on one issue - i found the tactic falling apart a little when the striker is out of form (which will happen to all but the very elite strikers at some point during the season).

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Recently started a save with Benfica and have noticed a similar pattern. I know it is a top team in Portugal but still. Although it wasn't my objective, my initial 4-1-4-1 often becomes a 4-4-2 or a 4-2-3-1, creating good attacking movements and still maintain the defensive security that I like so much. My setup is as follows:

4-1-4-1 Control, Very Rigid

GK

CWB, DC (D) x2, CWB

RGA

WM(A), MC(D), AP (A), WM (A)

CF (S)

Against stubborn sides I make the AP a MC (A) and he goes further forward to almost become a second striker. The CWB and WM give width and occupying the space inside. Against top teams (recently beat Sporting, fierce rival, at their ground) I just maintain the AP and it becomes a 4-2-3-1 with the CWB (although with more conservative roles) and the WM providing the same offensive patterns. I believe this is because the aggressive mentality, some movement freedom and the player's charactheristics.

In conclusion, just to say that Very Rigid can have good off the ball movement too and it's great if you have a very specific idea of football that you want to be seen.

Hope you continue to test your thoughts. Nice thread you have here.

Cheers.

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Thanks jukilo, some interesting thoughts there. Couple of questions:

1)Are you still playing FM14, or when you say Very Rigid do you mean Highly Structured (the descriptors changed this year).

2) Do you find that with 2 CWB and RGA that your ok for defensive cover? At face value, the 2 CBs would seem a little exposed. Do you find the MC(D) covers back enough or are you just dominant enough that its not an issue?

I have kinda stuck to my idea that i want variation down the flanks, but the behaviour you describe from your WM(A) and CWB is very similar to what i find on my left (where i have the same players/roles). If anything, the slightly wandering nature of my Treq possibly gets in the way of some of the other movement at times. Something for me to ponder as soon as i get done messing around with my Sassuolo 4312 :D

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Answering to your questions:

1- I'm still with FM14, didn't like some stuff in FM15. It's like you say. Highly Structured in FM15.

2.1- Against stubborn sides it is good because it offers movement. On the CWB's part it is important to me that they provide much width with the WM's cutting inside or just go byline. Recently faced two 4-1-2-2-1 with wingers and changed the roles to WB (A) and WB (S). Didn't get much movement and I didn't like the result as we didn't have much width. The difference in quality is so big that I scored 2 goals with 2 crosses from my WM. So I did get width but not as much as I'd like. I believe it is a risk vs reward thing. When 3-0 up, I changed the mentality to counter and change again to CWB's. Scored 2 more goals. However I've in my notebook that one of the things that much concerns me is the space that my left defender seems to conceed. Against top teams and in CL I'll have to try out things. Maybe lower the overall mentality or get more conservative roles and duties.

2.2- Depending on the flank the attack is on, I have 4/5 players behind the ball. The RGA often sats behind and in line with the MC, the CD's keep their position and the contrary fullback doesn't go up that much. I believe that with that fluidity players, once they lose the ball, are all very disciplined and all return to their starting positions. I did start with 2 man in the defensive strata but I didn't liked what I saw. I've considered 2 playmakers in the CM's strata but I didn't want that as my 2 lines might become separated. So I opted for this setup.

Recently won 3-1 at Sporting, one of my bigger rivals. Achieved 100% in tackles and 46 interceptions, the majority in the center. I believe that with the TI's (only use Drop Much Deeper and Stand off Opponents), fluidity and mentality, this setup can have success.

I know it's in Portuguese League, where quality isn't that great but I'm pleased with this kind of statistics.

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Interesting jukilo, and i dont think you should play down the portugese league so much. There is some fine quality there, and more depth than people might think.

Unfortunately i think FM14 and 15 are slightly different ME wise, so things might not translate exactly, but your descriptions around how the 2 x CWB set up works gives me food for thought. I might give it a try and watch a game in some depth. ALso gives me an excuse to drop Glen Johnson and play Manquillo (not that i should really need one......)

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Besides the 3 big sides the other teams are a bit average. But that's another story.

With Flexible I don't know how this will work (rarely play with that fluidity) but worth's a shot if you want to try if for yourself. I believe the Highly Structured philosophy plays a part here due to their's discplined behaviour in the different phases of the game. But I might be wrong.

I've not found a 4-2-3-1 or quality wingers to cause me concerns yet but I believe that it would be against those formations that they will suffer the most (probably the 4-4-2 too).

Since it was in the defensive phase, and not in defensive transition, I'm looking to see how I can improve my left fullback as the whole clear cut chances I suffer is in his back. I need to see a few more games too. Reducing the mentality to counter proved to be a good choice, although I was 3-0 up.

So, all in all, remember my context, the formations that I've played and the league I'm playing in. In England might be different. I know you'll put all of this in the equation and do the right choice for your team. :)

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Yup, i think you touch on a key point here. It has to be right for each team, their league and conditions etc :-) The days of plug and play are over, thank goodness. More realism, even if it means massive frustration at times :D

Going to apply the new patch (another one!) and play around with my 451 some more now :)

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So after playing through a bit more of season 1 (slow progress, i am watching quite a bit of detail, plus, well, GTA V..........) I am still in love with this shape/formation. There are some things i still dont have right, but i intend to continue to try and develop it.

I am now happy with the formation, and the roles and duties (with one exception - see below). The areas i need to work on are:

  • Strategy - I am committed to being flexible here. I will alternate between all but the 2 most extreme as a starting strategy based on the match situation. I do need to better judge when to use each (Its easy to assume attack against lesser sides - it doesn't necessarily work)
  • Fluidity - I have played around with this and i am not seeing the visual differences in game when switching between structured and fluid. I clearly need to analyse more carefully, or go to the 2 extremes to see which suits my style. I am conflicted with so many different sources of info/opinion on Fluidity out there.
  • Team Instructions - I need to have a base set of 4/5 at most which underpin the tactic. I have to make some decisions to shape our sides identity. Perhaps the versatility of this shape is almost a curse. It can lend itself to counter attacking or possesion games - i need to settle on one (as the plan A at least)
  • The Central Winger - This role has promise in the system (My central CM(a)) but i need to get it working better. I have not been able to get a CM(a) be as attacking as i need in any save this year, but i need to look at how fluidity impacts this and also how the role/duty of the striker impacts this. Which brings me to......
  • The Striker - I have had spells of success with Treq, with CF(s) and even with Poacher. None remained consistent, and complicated by Mario and Sturridge being such different type players. In many ways, this player sets the table for the entire system and i have seen first hand that when he doesnt perform we suffer. I need to consider which role i want, and whether i want the option of 2 totally different types of player (which lends itself to a "plan b") or sell Mario and get a back up to Sturridge who is of a similar style.
  • Plan B - Every team needs one. I have been so focused on tweaking the 451 this season that i have been loath to ever move away from it. I actually want a "plan B" and "plan C". Plan B will be a 4141 or 4411, so almost like "Plan A+", Plan C should be a totally different shape, use to mix it up sometimes. Possibly a diamond.

I know not all of that is strictly about the 451 tactic which is the title of the thread, but i was hoping that by listing some of the ways to re-assess your tactic, some of the areas to make sure you have covered, you can take a save/team to the next level through development and natural evolution :)

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  • Fluidity - I have played around with this and i am not seeing the visual differences in game when switching between structured and fluid. I clearly need to analyse more carefully, or go to the 2 extremes to see which suits my style. I am conflicted with so many different sources of info/opinion on Fluidity out there.

  • You have no specialist roles, but a balanced philosophy - in general, you should either introduce specialist roles (BBM is a 0.5), or, change philosophy to be more fluid.

llama3 in the quote above gives this advise in a similar question at his http://community.sigames.com/showthread.php/375632-Pairs-amp-Combinations-FM2015-UPDATED

Since I followed this rule of thumb (the less specialist roles the more fluid you have to set) I have created two very fluid tactics in my last two saves that have been

extremely successful for me. Considering, that in your case the T (a) and maybe the CWB (a) are the only specialist roles in your tactic I would give it a try to set

the fluidity at very fluid.

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Thanks tasic, yes i have read that thread and its a good reminder in terms of one of the generally "accepted" ways of choosing the right time shape.

I have a huge amount of respect for the work that has gone into that, but for me its a little too........generic? For me i dont want to choose based on a "rule of thumb" based on how many of X roles i have. I absolutely think there is validity in that, but it takes away the individual team aspect. I want to build it to exactly suit my squad of players and the overall way i want things to move on the field.

The other sticky, by jpcote, is a mammoth read but it has some brilliant detail on some of the things that can be impacted by the change in team shape (or fluidity as it was then known). I am still musing it! Having good results with Structured at the moment, but i have some of my other bullets still to work out, and they all go hand in hand :)

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Cheers llama3, all the understandings come for reading others posts in these forums at the end of the day :)

So i thought i would post an update of the decisions i made on how i take this tactic forward, why i made them, and perhaps even show a potential pitfall that i fell into with tactical development.

So above, i set out some questions for myself. I wanted to create a more clear identity for out team/club and to reflect that in the tactic, including the mentality and team shape. I also had a couple of position specific issues and the alternative plan issue to handle.

I started by thinking long and hard about my ideals. The identity for this club. In doing so, of course i had to consider the type of players at my disposal, and those available and realistic for me in the transfer market. I looked at my current squad and their key attributes and some PPMs. I scribbled on a note pad some thoughts and shapes. I came to an idea, a principle and framework. To confirm it i went and looked at my transfer options, a bit of scouting. Found that a player or 2 were available who would compliment this approach. That was my mind made up.

I decided i wanted my team to be:

  • Based on the principle of high press
  • High Energy
  • Short passing, interchanges, but not pointless possession
  • Compact vertically
  • Potentially Explosive
  • Pass and move principle
  • Teamwork, Teamwork, Teamwork (no prizes for guesing which LFC player had to be jettisioned to make this work...)

So then i had to try and impliment that. I was still very happy with my 451 shape/formation so had no intention of changing that, and after some experimenting late in the season, thanks to the excellent thoughts and advice of jukilo earlier in this thread, i was settle on using 2 x CWB and 2 x WM(a) on my flanks. I was also set on using my "central winger"

So with those in mind, i started with the basics.

Mentality - Control - I want to start out with attacking intents. The higher Dline also supports the high press principle. I will change mentality in game, in particular if we hit "parked buses" i might need to notch it back a bit, but Control is my starting point

Team Shape - Very fluid - This was the first big change. I want us to press as a team, to work as a team. I want players to take part in multiples phases. I want creative freedom. So i opted for very fluid, and i feel that i have the players with the attribute range to pull this off

Then onto the TI, and my first "mistake".....i went with a base set of:

Shorter Passing - I want short fast interchanges. We are not a counter side. I might balance this with a PI for one player though

Pass into space - This might seem a little contrary to my statement above, but with overlapping wingbacks i find this TI very effective

Play out of defence - I want football from my defenders, not hoofed clearances. We are setting up with some players in midfield who can pick a pass and i want my defenders looking for them

Higher Tempo - I like to avoid endless possesion. I want t move the ball quickly with a purpose, but generally shorter distances.

Push Higher up - I wanted a high press. This, as i would come to see, was my first mistake.

Close down more - The second essential part of a high press of course

Roam from positions - I want lots of movement from my midfield and forward. I trust my players enough to allow them this

Be more expressive - very much inline with, and to compliment the above.

I needed a few Role and position changes to reflect my new vision (some of which were made earlier, just not posted about it).

GK - Keeper (Defend) - slightly strange at face value that i go from a sweeper keeper to a normal keeper when implimenting a high press, but i find the sweeper keeper ignores his passing instructions and trys to start counter attacks with long passes all to often.

DL - CWB (Attack) - Overlapping runner, who contrary to my initial fears, does not leave me exposed much defensively. I always had this guy on the left and Moreno has performed well

DR - CWB (Attack) - After reading the post by jukilo i changed this guy to match the other side, and it really did help us going forward without much defensive cost.

DC x 2 - CB (defend) - Still nothing fancy. An upgrade in personnel but not a change to any instructions.

MR - WM(Attack) - The role that i loved Coutinho performing on one side, now mirrored on this side with Lallana or even Henderson able to do it effectively

ML - WM(Attack) - Coutinho in this role was exactly what i wanted, so much so that i had to fight off £48million from Juve to keep him

MCR - DLP(Support) - The first change. I had a CM(s) then an RPM here, but both were not quite doing what i needed. The RPM was taking up some space i needed for my central winger, so a supporting DLP positions himself a touch better

MC - CM(Attack) - My central winger, who with some tweaking is now doing exactly as i wanted and looking a real asset

MCL - DLP(Defend) - Changed from a CM(D) as i was not getting performances out of that role, and felt that perhaps it was closing down too much. DLP(d) should be one of the shape keepers for me

ST - F9(Support) - The other main change. I decided i wanted this guy coming deep and we could have 3 runners going past him. With Sturridge, he can also turn and run from a deep position. It fitted into my compact quick passing technical vision and its worked very well initially

I also developed a plan B, which was the same shape, but dropping deeper with direct passing rather than high press/short passing. Then developed a Plan c which was a totally different shape (442 diamond narrow) for the odd complete change.

I recruited a couple of new players, the main addition being Thiago from Bayern to play as my DLP(s) and be my real creative force, with a couple of other squad pieces, and with that i had ticked back all my list of thigns to cover off.

I will do another post shortly about how it call came together (or in this case, crucially did not in one area) and how i reacted (or didnt react!) to try and fix it. Hopefully the thought process helps some others.

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Thoroughly enjoyed that post Jambo. Your midfield and wings are very similar to my current save but I'm playing 4-4-1-1 with F9 and AMa, basically your central winger is moved up a stratta in my set up. I love the control in the centre provided by the deep playmakers, the discipline. And they really compliment the F9, it's a powerful controlling triumvirate in the centre. It is the platform for those aggressive wings.

By the way did you get Thiago in season 1?

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I've been following this thread for a while but never posted. Some really great detail especially the thinking behind how and more importantly why you choose something or changed something. I like to see this kind of thinking on the forum as it allows us to see how you view the game and what sort of reasonings you have for selecting the settings/roles you have. Good work :)

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Thanks Cleon :) About to type up the example of where i got it wrong, because i think its always important to learn from that :)

Pele - Yes got Thiago at the end of season 1. I was surprised he was available. £22.5million. He had missed 5 months of season 1 through injury. So far he hasnt set the world on fire, but have big hopes!

So far i am hoping for the same powerful/controlling influence from my 2 x DLP that you are describing :)

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Ok, so

Getting it wrong

So i laid out above how i set my season 2 tactic. We started out the season and initially my focus was on how it performed, rather than outright results. I fell in love with the attacking play of my new tactic. We were creating chances, and not just half chances. Real proper chances, and lots of them. Below is a typical game from the first 5 games of the season:

9FADDE44A0D74218BB152E4491ABC0B433961B26

Now i am the first to caution about looking at the stats alone, but i watch all my games on at very least "extended" and this game the stats pretty much reflect it. We had a lots of shots, but crucially for me, very few were long shots. We are creating chances in the opposition area. Now in this game, we took 5 of them. We had some issues in other games with our finishing not being great. We would create 7 or 8 proper chances and sometimes only score 1. I wasnt overly concerned as i would rather be creating and missing, than not creating.

What was equally clear though, was that we are far from secure at the back. Looking at that screenie, we gave up 6 CCC (accepting that the ingame definition is not perfect, in this game i would pretty much agree - we were carved open too many times). This was the pattern over the first 5 games. We had such a high line that teams were getting in behind, and over the top. This is where i made essentially 2 related mistakes:

Mistake 1 - Doubling up the Dline

So looking back, and having typed out my tactic and the reasons why this was obvious. I wanted a high press, but nothing extreme. We are not Dortmund. But i used the TI to increase the Dline. However i also chose "control" philosophy which of course, as we know, increases the Dline automatically. Now i knew this, it wasnt a case of a lack of knowledge or reasearch. I have ready the stickies which detail the fact that mentality (understandably) will change your Dline. I conciously chose to go for the double effect. In hindsight that is where the first mistake was. I left us too exposed. It was clear early on, from the first goals we conceded in the season, that we were pushed too far up. Teams got in behind us. Long balls over the top caught us out. I had set us up to fail with my mentality and TI choices here. However, that mistake would likely have had much less impact without mistake number 2......

Mistake 2 - Failing to read the game

So quite early on, in our very first 2 games competitive games infact, i had spotted that we were conceding chances and goals as a result of our line. What i should of course have done, is realise this was from the double effect, and move it back. However i fell into a silly trap. I was still in love with how superb we looked going forward, and lulled myself into believing that this attacking play would be blunted if i dropped the Dline. Afterall, it was one of the main changes from last season. I convinced myself that actually the dline issues would settle as my players adapated. I even convinced myself to go out and buy another centre half to just increase the quality of player to try and solve it.

Of course i was wrong. This wasnt about the familiarity, or the players learning to play the high line. We were just too high for our setup. By the time i slapped myself around the head to wake up to this, it was already costly. We had lost games in the league to Villa, Soton and Sunderland within the first 6 games. After the last defeat i decided it was time to look at my system again. We were still swashbuckling going forward, more games like the screenie above with loads of chances, and proper ones, not just long shots. We still were not converting enough, but that will come with confidence i believe. But i had to do something about the defence. So i took my time and accepted "mistake 1". I needed to drop the TI "push higher up". At the same time i also looked at how suited my CB are to playing a high line game. Now i am not a great subscriber to the fact that you need pace to play a high line. IF your DC needs his pace to catch a runner then he has already made his mistake. His positioning was wrong or his anticipation was too slow.

For a high dline, i would say you need:

  • Anticipation
  • Positioning
  • Decisions
  • Teamwork (The back 4 really need to operate together - although i am open to being corrected in how this attribute actually works)
  • Concentration (only in terms of the fact that a lapse late in the game with a high dline is more likely to be costly than with a low line)

I looked at my 2 starting CB and how they ranked in those attributes

  • Anticipation - 15 & 15
  • Positioning - 15 & 16
  • Decisions - 14 & 12
  • Teamwork - 14 & 13
  • Concentration - 13 & 12

At first glance, those figures are not bad. But remember i am competing at the top of one of the toughest leagues in the world. I would say that 15 is the very minimum i would want in a "key" attribute for player in my team if i want to win the premier league. So overally, my centre backs are barely suited to a "high" dline, let alone "very high" which i had created.

Bad management all in all. I made the wrong choice, and i did not react in time.

It is also worth spending a moment thinking about my potential "excuse" - Its not really that obvious in game how much a change to mentality will impact your Dline. This is true. We dont have sliders as we well know, and there is nothing which quantifies how much your dline changes when you move up the mentality ladder. Likewise there is no way to tell how that incremental change compares to the size of increment when you use the dline specific TI. There is some validity to that argument, and i would love to see a solution ingame which makes it clearer, but in all fairness to SI, i have never been able to come up with a clear answer as to how it should be done. Anyway, there is a way you can tell the impact. You can watch the match and see......... I did that, i just didnt quite take it in and process it and react, so no one to blame but me!

After rectifying my error, first game:

66D82B394A9DE978359621E23FCD32395E6CD6B5

Note that the attacking side of my game has not infact suffered. Because i still am doing a high press, i am just not doubling up on the Dline depth (or lack of). The interesting change between screenshots is the opposition chances. Wolfsburg barely had a sniff this time, as we controlled the defense much better. No long balls in behind and no easy through passes. Much happier with that, and followed it up with a league win to hopefully get things back on track.

So there we are - There is how to make a managerial mistake, and how to look back on it and learn. There is no point rage quiting or getting fed up with the game because after all your careful pre-season planning, you went and lost 3 of your first 5 and already have a massive amount of catch up to play. Watch, study, learn, implement changes and keep going.

Hopefully a few others can relate to the concept of managerial mistakes!

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So i have 3 more posts in mind at the moment for this thread, to hopefully share some learnings on different aspects of the game. I am concious i have run away a bit from the concept/title being specifically about the 451 shape, but i hope some of the examples and learnings i have posted do give others food for thought. In that spirit, the next piece of learning that i encountered:

Pinpointing problems - Morale v Tactical

Firstly, apologies that this particular bit of analysis doesnt overly lend itself to screenshots so might be a bit text intensive. But one of the most important aspects of football (not just Football Manager the game), is what in the game is termed "Morale" but in reality might better badged as "confidence" or even "swagger". We hear it all the time - How the "swagger" has gone from Liverpool. How Man Utd are suddenly now playing with a "confidence".

So to the example at hand. Most people, when they have a new tactic or system to set up, do it at the start of a season or start of a new save. They do it pre-season, and when game one comes along morale will likely be good (assuming a decent use of pre-season). So right off the bat they can go in and the performance/results will likely be a good reflection of how your tactic works (although you must also be cautious of single results - sometimes players just have a bad day). The scenario i found myself in following the above set of screenshots, was that i was some 9 games into the season (5 league and 3 Champs League and 1 Cap cup) by the time i reacted to my tactical issues. We had lost 3 of 5 in the league, so morale had really gone south, to the point that the players demanded a meeting.

Now i have a problem on my hands. Because i have made an important tactic change to rectify my tactics issues, but i also have to battle a morale issue. One can mask the other. There is a real risk that the poor morale can be mistaken for poor tactical choices and cause me to over react or react wrongly. Despite the first game after the changes being a huge success (Wolfsburg screenie above), i knew that i still wasnt 100% right tactically so further analysis and tweaks were needed. My real challenge was to watch games and identify which issues/mistakes were happening because of tactical reasons, and which were morale/confidences/player performance. I found this to be quite challenging. First off, in the spell immediately after Wolfsburgh i noted we were not doing as well in possession as i wanted. IN laymans, we were giving the ball away too many times. I had to watch the examples closely each time, and i decided to break them down into 2 categories:

Right passing decision, wrong/poor execution - Times where the pass the player was attempting was exactly the one i would want him to try. Soemtimes it was a simple 10 - 15 yard cross field pass which was intercepted. The act itself is poor and we should not lose the ball like that, but i was able to come to the conclusion that many of these were just poor execution. The pass wasnt released quite at the right time or was overhit/underhit. I viewed these as performance related, caused by the morale. I took the view that i had to ride out the morale and would not make changes based on these.

Wrong decision / option - These were the ones i was worried about. We were making some rash decisions passing wise. At times we were going back to front to quickly, trying the hollywood pass. This wasnt what i had in mind tactically, and i did not believe these were confidence related.

Armed with that analysis and having decided which areas of my game were the real problem. It was time to take a look at the tactics again. The passing instructions are short, so i dont believe that was the cause. I looked at each instance where we chose the longer pass and noted that there were shorter options available, so it wasnt a case of the player having no other option. The players we are talking about have good enough attributes and composure etc to mean it likely wasnt player related. I settled on the fact that it was tempo related. We were trying to move the ball back to front too quickly. I wanted quick, but again it came back to using "Control" as the mentality and having the double whammy of "Higher Tempo" TI.

This time around, i decided that rather than move the TI (as i did for "push higher" in the earlier examples) it was time to move the mentality. I kept "higher tempo" and moved the mentality back to "standard", whilst remembering to re-add "Push higher up" as a TI to counter balance the decrease in DLine which comes from the reduced team mentality.

I was happy with this change, however i still had to be mindful of the morale issue. The game in which i mainly identified the issue was infact another loss. We lost 2 v 1 at Home to Arsenal in an even game, where they scored through defensive howler (thanks Mr Lovren....) with the last kick of the game. That defeat, mainly came from morale. We matched them tactically and had marginally the better chances, but low confidence meant we still gave the ball away too much and were not clinical upfront. We also played Lovren which is always a mistake....

Next up, armed with my change to Morale, we had to go to Barca. A great place to go when your morale still isnt great. We lost an epic game 4 v 3, but i watched it in some detail and was not discouraged. Our passing was much better. Of the 4 goals, 3 were rebounds from keeper saves (a known/logged issue) and the 4th was Messi from 40 yards (a known real football bug which no one can ever fix :D)

After the barca game we had a much easier couple of games. Blackburn / Southampton / Hull. We won all 3 as our tactical tweak (plus one other which i will talk about seperately) paid off and the morale came flowing back. Goals started to fly in, and we started to regain our swagger.

Morale to the story - Think about and understand Morale and its impacts. At times its ruddy difficult to do much about, but try not to mistake it for tactical issues! Often you will face both together, and you have to be quite forensic at picking it apart.

Next up the method of identifying 2 other tweaks, and i promise less text with some more pictures!

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Why the switch to Standard instead of just the shout? Were you looking to double tape? By that I mean were you concerned it was either mentality or tempo and decided to cover both eventualities? You ended up with perhaps Control style tempo with standard mentality - whereas before it was more Attacking tempo with Control Mentality. Or was it simply a move to standard was a "notch" down on my previous setting?

Morale side is tricky to write about, there is a lot of variables going on there. I thought it was good idea to talk about not throwing a tactic out before checking things like morale, I think it will be helpful to others.

Finally, leave Dejan alone :)

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Hey Pele, good question.

Thinking back, it was a combination of things. I had already been concerned about the Dline setting which "control" brought to me. To add on top the concern that the impact this was having on tempo was making me think about why change 2 shouts when i can change the mentality. I like the middle ground that "standard" gives as a base, modified by the shouts makes it more......adaptable? It is a little tricky to know how the "notch" change from Control to Standard compares to the "notch" change brought about by the TI, but all i could do was try it and study in game, and i liked what i saw.

As an LFC fan in real life, i would quite happily leave Dejan alone......prefferably alone at the end of the of the M6 somewhere :D

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Very good thread Jambo. I tried something similar like this a while back where I wanted the 4-5-1 without a DM to emulate a lot of different formations but in the end I have to admit I didn't quite get it done the way I wanted it to and I really found it hard to get a good attacking game going. But I'll keep an close eye on this thread and maybe try my hand on this formation again with all the great information you provide here.

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Excellent thread, Jambo.

I've been trying to do a very similar thing recently with Forest where I've been using 4-5-1 to try and create a kinda asymmetrical 4-3-3. The crucial part is definitely how you set up the middle three in the formation and by tweaking their roles in particular, you can radically alter the shape of the team in different phases. As you point out in your thread title, this does make the 4-5-1 a "Swiss Army Knife" of formations.

For a bit of interest as to it's tactical malleability, this is my set-up:

GK - GK(D)

DL - CWB(A)

CB - CB(D)

CB - CB(D)

DR - FB(S)

ML - WPM (A)/WM(A)

CML - CM(S)

CM - DLP(D)

CMR - CM(A)

MR - W(A)

ST - AF(A)

It's not perfect yet. I'm still ironing out tweaks but in attacking transition, we get a more direct option on the right flank and a more considered option on the left. I partly settled on this because of Forest's lack of a fast left-footed player for the ML slot (and Andy Reid's genius as a WPM/WM), but also because I wanted some solidity through the middle without having to use a DM or sacrifice my width.

Food for thought anyway. Good luck with your continued tweaks - once again - great thread

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Very good thread Jambo. I tried something similar like this a while back where I wanted the 4-5-1 without a DM to emulate a lot of different formations but in the end I have to admit I didn't quite get it done the way I wanted it to and I really found it hard to get a good attacking game going. But I'll keep an close eye on this thread and maybe try my hand on this formation again with all the great information you provide here.

I think its worth keeping trying. If there is one thing i would put across from this thread it is that often times creating a tactic/system is not a quick process. It wont always happen for everyone in the first few months, or even the first season. You need to tweak, learn, adapt, refocus, refine. I am now at December in season 2 and for the first time pretty much fully happy with what i have created. This might not last though. I still dont have a clear "plan B" and i am sure other teams will start to play me differently even after a season and a half. Likewise personnel change and develop which impacts how your tactic translates. The attacking game was something i didnt always get right in season 1, but now after my latest tweaks i am finally in love with the attacking threat. Combining the central winger, the F9, wide men who get into the box and fullbacks who overlap. I will do a post later with some screenies and examples of how this has almost become 4213 when i attack, all from the same base 451 formation. In summary - Keep at it. Took me plenty time to get there and im still learning lots :)

Excellent thread, Jambo.

I've been trying to do a very similar thing recently with Forest where I've been using 4-5-1 to try and create a kinda asymmetrical 4-3-3. The crucial part is definitely how you set up the middle three in the formation and by tweaking their roles in particular, you can radically alter the shape of the team in different phases. As you point out in your thread title, this does make the 4-5-1 a "Swiss Army Knife" of formations.

For a bit of interest as to it's tactical malleability, this is my set-up:

GK - GK(D)

DL - CWB(A)

CB - CB(D)

CB - CB(D)

DR - FB(S)

ML - WPM (A)/WM(A)

CML - CM(S)

CM - DLP(D)

CMR - CM(A)

MR - W(A)

ST - AF(A)

It's not perfect yet. I'm still ironing out tweaks but in attacking transition, we get a more direct option on the right flank and a more considered option on the left. I partly settled on this because of Forest's lack of a fast left-footed player for the ML slot (and Andy Reid's genius as a WPM/WM), but also because I wanted some solidity through the middle without having to use a DM or sacrifice my width.

Food for thought anyway. Good luck with your continued tweaks - once again - great thread

Thats actually a very similar formation to how i started out. I started out with asymetric approach of one winger and one WM, and also going with split roles behind them to compliment. It can certainly work well with the right players. The key there to me is that as you say, the formation can lead to radically different shapes when attacking, yet this formation always should hold enough defensive shape to avoid you being exposed (unless you play an unsuited high line like some did.... :D).

I ended up changing away from the asymetric for 2 reasons - One was players. I didnt have a good CM(a), and i happened to have 2 excellent WM type players. So i adapted. Second reason was an excellent post further up from jukilo who talked about his experience in Portugal and made me see that 2 x CWB does need to mean you are too attacking.

Good luck with your development at Forrest. Let us know how it goes :)

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Thought i would add another post, this time about the next stage of development of the tactic

Dont rest on your laurels - If something is wrong fix it

So i posted already about fixing a couple of issues i found - Tempo and DLine. However i had also started to notice another slight issue. In the arsenal defeat which i touched on above, and in a couple of the wins which followed, i had a nagging concern about the positioning of my midfield 3. They were seeming to be in each others way at times, not making the best use of space and not working together. The heatmap below from the Arsenal game shows an idea of what i mean (look at the average positions of Tiago and Sterling

2CE3C1EBED4A0F6B5A10EDA142B8343197129C95

This was a new issue to me. I had previously been quite pleased with my middle 3, and was striving towards the solid base of 2 DLP. After the Arsenal game, i let it run a couple of more games to make sure it wasnt a one off issue, or Arsenal movement pulling us into wrong positions, but i could see visually that it was not. It was a problem for us, of our own making. I looked at my TI and roles and duties. Roles and duty i am happy with, should not cause this issue. Before this season, i detailed above that i added the TI "Roam from positions" and "Be more expressive". Ah ha..... The Roam from positions TI seemed like a candidate here. My middle 3 were roaming too much and really that wasnt a suitable instruction for my entire team. It might be for my front 4, but that being the case i should have added it via PI.

I did have an initial twinge of doubt again. I thought off all my good attacking play, and had these TI actually benefited me there. This time though, i immediately decided to act. I removed the 2 TI mentioned. I was of course assisted because in this particular case, by the fact that i had the option to simply add PI to the relevant players to balance it. However i wanted to change one thing at a time, so i did not re-add the PI right away.

The result was that my middle 3 went back to being a lovely balanced structure. I still got the vertical movement i needed, with the central winger coming into his own and the 2 DLP covering just the sort of vertical range that i wanted, but the 2 DLP now stayed much more solid laterally. The CM still moves a little more latteral, because his PPM and a couple of his other PI tell him to. Similarly with my 2 WM, they have PPM and TI which already force the movement i want, so why do i need to give them additional freedom? I dont.

Below is an example of movement, post the latest change (which in theory might sound like it constrains players).

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Tiago and Romero (the 2 DLP are in a nice solid defensive shape, in line with each other. Markovic is off like a whippet into the space infront of him, and you can see from the angle of Coutinho's run exactly where he is headed....

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Move on a few frames, Sturridge, who in his F9 role has come deep (without the need for additional roaming instructions or freedom), has left the defender on his backside and my plays it in for Coutinho who is heading for the box. This is a lovely example of why you dont need players in the AM strata for them to be a huge threat attacking wise.

66C966125799F69D597222B558F6F7172CFD286F

A few frames further and Coutinho is way inside (by the way, how quick did the Everton defender next to Sturridge get to his feet - check the timestamps!). Markovic is ahead of him, and the third player in a dangerous position is my WM from the other side (Henderson in this game). This is great movement and 3 players ahead of the F9 is exactly what i hoped for and had in my head as i created this. Took a while to get here mind... Also, worth noting that in the event Coutinho loses the ball at this exact moment, i wouldnt be concerned. My cored of 2 x DLP are still in good deep positions, and my fullbacks are nicely half way between attack and defence.

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Coutinho finds Markovic with about his second touch - the movement has pulled the Everton defence to bits, and Henderson is going beyond the last man to his side.

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With his very first touch, Markovic flicks it through to the on rushing Henderson, who finishes with his first touch. One of my favourite goals in a long time, because it shows how deadly this shape can be attacking, and it shows that without over doing the roaming and creative freedom, the natural instincts (PPM and attributes) and some small PI can get players moving into all the right places.

So, what was the morale this time (besides a bit of overly self indulgent showing of a goal against the blues...)

  • Dont be afraid to tweak a winning tactic at times. Trust in your judgement. If you can talk something through in your head and it makes logical sense, it likely will work
  • Think very carefully about the effect roaming will have on all your players, not just the flair type attackers we all love to see roaming around
  • Trust in your PPMs and PI to deliver what they say on the tin.

After tweaking the "winning" tactic, we have now won 10 of our last 12 (2 draws - City and Chelsea). 32 goals scored in those 12 matches gives me the confidence that it is ok to tweak somethign which has started looking good. Dont sit back and smile for 2 long at the success of one thing. It will bite you on the backside. This is football afterall!

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In the first pic from your Everton match you can see the F9, DLPx2 triangle of control I talked about earlier when describing my similar 4411. I love this triangle. I would say hendersons goal was the prototype goal for this set up and it's a joy when it all comes together like that. That poor bitters defence :lol:

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Fantastic thread there Jambo. Really enjoyed reading it and gives a lot of food for thought. I am finding myself starting to think a bit along these lines when creating tactics, so I guess that is a good sign for me!!

How is your central winger performing? Not just in numbers, but in terms of where he is popping up, creating or finishing etc?

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This is borderline litterature. Such an enjoyable read, as well as interesting ideas. Big fan of the Ronny Deila 4-2-3-1 from his time in Norway, going to use this as inspiration to create something similar to his vision. (The way you describe it it is already very similar)

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Another great post. I have to say, my initial thoughts (when you set out with a Very Fluid structure with "Roam from positions" and "Be more expressive") were that you may have made the system a bit extreme in terms of creative freedom.

Good to see you got it working. I'm a big fan of Very Fluid team structures, it's always been the way I've envisaged football being played.

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Hi Jambo :)

Big thumbs up for this thread. It's really amazing and I hope it gives insight and will to others to start building their tactics. More threads like this should be created. It's different from seeing Cleon and others having success than seeing people that struggled in the past with tactics now having success. So, I hope you continue with this showing your findings, up's and down's and (I hope) your success.

I have a couple of questions if you don't mind:

1- How are you finding the movement from you cb's with the very fluid philosophy? Is it the case that they're starting attacking movements or they just pass it simple and don't contribute that much for the attacking part?

2- How the specialist roles are doing in this kind of philosophy? I know you said that it's for dominating the midfield but which are your thoughts about the specialists in this kind of philosophy?

I'm asking this because the next thing to implement on FM for myself will be the italian way (Trapattoni and Capello, specially) of coaching. From what I've studied they play with great teamwork and all of 11 players must participate in all phases of the game, with all of them being elements of "a team" and not working for themselves. This head to Very Fluid of course. But I'm not seeing Capello tell a center back to start an attacking move from deep or make an hollywood run. I reckon that even in that Fluidity the order in play can be great but I don't see any of them just saying "right, you know your initial positions, now do want you want and improvise". All is very specified. I'm toying with the idea of playing Highly Structured without specialist roles.

So, in conclusion, regarding this last point, how are you seeing the football being played? I know you encourage movement but would like to see your thoughts on Very Fluid.

I might start my thread soon in a similar way of yours.

Cheers and keep up the good work.

P.S: Thanks for your kind mentions :)

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Fantastic thread there Jambo. Really enjoyed reading it and gives a lot of food for thought. I am finding myself starting to think a bit along these lines when creating tactics, so I guess that is a good sign for me!!

How is your central winger performing? Not just in numbers, but in terms of where he is popping up, creating or finishing etc?

Thanks Mark, The central winger is doing very well now that i have given him/them (Sterling and Marko rotate a bit) the PPMs i wanted. My visions for this was a lot of central dribbling, with occasional Di Maria style forrays to the flanks. This is what i am seeing in game a lot. Markovic in the screenshots for the goal v Everton is quite typical of this role. He gets beyond the F9 either with or without the ball. Numbers wise. They have combined for 11 goals and 7 assists so far this season. They also rank in the top 6 of dribbles per game, and interesting both in the top 5 for distance covered per 90 (for the league overall). Marko is actually number 1 in the later category.

I think one of the keys to this is the movement of those around the central winger. The 2 x DLP stay deep enough to give him some lateral space. Although the WM are cutting into that space, they are often ahead of the winger so he can still drift wide and even link up with the attacking wingbacks.

This is borderline litterature. Such an enjoyable read, as well as interesting ideas. Big fan of the Ronny Deila 4-2-3-1 from his time in Norway, going to use this as inspiration to create something similar to his vision. (The way you describe it it is already very similar)

I was not overly familiar with Deila in his days in Norway, but have obviously seen quite a bit of him in Scotland. He seems to play a slightly different set up at Celtic, in the domestic games at least, but that is understandable as he does have a vastly better team than all of the opponents he will face. Good luck in creating it, remember of course that the actual choices i made likely wont be an exact match, its more about the thought process and analysis :)

Another great post. I have to say, my initial thoughts (when you set out with a Very Fluid structure with "Roam from positions" and "Be more expressive") were that you may have made the system a bit extreme in terms of creative freedom.

Good to see you got it working. I'm a big fan of Very Fluid team structures, it's always been the way I've envisaged football being played.

Thanks felley, although next time feel free to put me right on that a bit sooner and save me the lost points :p:D

Hi Jambo :)

Big thumbs up for this thread. It's really amazing and I hope it gives insight and will to others to start building their tactics. More threads like this should be created. It's different from seeing Cleon and others having success than seeing people that struggled in the past with tactics now having success. So, I hope you continue with this showing your findings, up's and down's and (I hope) your success.

I have a couple of questions if you don't mind:

1- How are you finding the movement from you cb's with the very fluid philosophy? Is it the case that they're starting attacking movements or they just pass it simple and don't contribute that much for the attacking part?

2- How the specialist roles are doing in this kind of philosophy? I know you said that it's for dominating the midfield but which are your thoughts about the specialists in this kind of philosophy?

I'm asking this because the next thing to implement on FM for myself will be the italian way (Trapattoni and Capello, specially) of coaching. From what I've studied they play with great teamwork and all of 11 players must participate in all phases of the game, with all of them being elements of "a team" and not working for themselves. This head to Very Fluid of course. But I'm not seeing Capello tell a center back to start an attacking move from deep or make an hollywood run. I reckon that even in that Fluidity the order in play can be great but I don't see any of them just saying "right, you know your initial positions, now do want you want and improvise". All is very specified. I'm toying with the idea of playing Highly Structured without specialist roles.

So, in conclusion, regarding this last point, how are you seeing the football being played? I know you encourage movement but would like to see your thoughts on Very Fluid.

I might start my thread soon in a similar way of yours.

Cheers and keep up the good work.

P.S: Thanks for your kind mentions :)

hey jukilo, interesting questions

1 - I dont see any variation at all in the CB behaviour or performance since the switch to very fluid. Its probably important to look at what the team shape actually governs, and jpcote sticky can explain it far better than i. Essentially the main impact is on the mentality split/spread. Of course Very Fluid brings it closer together, to the point where i think every player will be given the same level of "mentality" (the actual level being governed by the overall team mentality i assume). In my experience, even going back to the bad old slider days, mentality does not have as big an effect on a defend duty player (particularly in the back 4) as it would on a support or attack duty. I dont think fluidity alone will impact your defenders liklihood to suddenly charge forward or try a long pass - It may have a slight impact but things like Attributes, PPM and TI are far more likely to impact this.

2 - In honesty, whilst i respect the work of those who work on the theory of "specialist" roles, it is not a theory that i personally work to. In my view, every role in a team is both specialist and general. I think if you focus too much on this, you risk losing sight of the fact that a role is only one part how a player and how a team performs on the pitch. The same role can be made to look vastly different by a combination of duty, PI and PPM. The central winger is a great example of this. The way Sterling plays for me now as a CM(a) bears no resemblence to how Henderson did as a CM(a) in the first season. Do some areas in a team potentially need more freedom in order to flourish? Possibly, but not essential in every instance. I looked at the roles as one part of the big picture, and i used them to manipulate the attacking transition shape in the main. I considered the impact that something which i suppose is conisdered "specialist" like the F9 would have but i didnt feel the need to change anything else to allow for this role. As part of the system i wanted, the role gives me the behaviour i need. Same could be said of the WM(a) which is presumably not specialist?

Thats just my own working theory and by no means the right way to do it. It also wont always work out that way for every set of players and every situation

In terms of the italian approach, i suppose the difficulty is understanding "fluid" as opposed to "hard working". The coaches you mention are big fans of every single player working hard to support their team mates, but i think thats more about the player attributes and coaching style the impliment. If i take Capello as an example, i dont think he necessarily mandates that his fullbacks must be able to contribute to every phase (he picked Glen Johnson afterall...) but he demands hard work, high work rate players who cover each other. I am not sure you can fully put a single "fluidity" badge on this, which makes it all the harder to create! Be great to see how you go about doing it!

I will try and post up a few more examples of bits and bobs. If it is helping a few people get thoughts going then its all worth it, although i do always warn that its more a process i am describing not an outcome. It is not flawless at all, i havent one a thing yet for example! But it is enhancing my enjoyment of the game.

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How are you finding playing players outside of the AM/WG roles where they are natural?

I've long struggled to get Wingers to play as midfielders effectively. Does Sterling for example take much of a performance hit playing further back out of natural position?

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How are you finding playing players outside of the AM/WG roles where they are natural?

I've long struggled to get Wingers to play as midfielders effectively. Does Sterling for example take much of a performance hit playing further back out of natural position?

Never had any issue with this at all. The only thing it impacts is the decision making attribute, and even then only likely to be a noticeable difference if they are completely awkward. I have had Sterling playing superb from the MR slot, even Fabio Borini was fine playing both RM or LM. I think there are few players who are natural at AML/AMR and have no positional ability at ML/MR than people think. The ones who do fall into that category probably should not be wide men in most cases anyway :)

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Ok, so havent had time to do a good write up or learning today, but i have played a bit and thought id least share a screenshot, which whilst a little self indulgent again, can hopefully show why its worth puting in all the effort, not giving up, continuing to tweak and strive for something. I watch every game on at least "extended" and i very rarely look away during a match. Its time consuming, but somtimes its worth it.

We had been on a very good run, since the loss to barcelona which was covered above, we had gone 25 games unbeaten (i only realised the milestone because it triggers a steam achievement). We were still not in the top 2 in the league, because our poor start still had us lagging behind an incredibly consistent Utd team and Arsenal were also still a couple of points clear of us. Then January came along and the fixture gods threw us up one of those "14 days from hell" type sequences. We had 4 games in 2 weeks, across 3 competitons. They were:

Man U (away)

Chelsea (away)

Arsenal(away)

Chelsea(home)

Talk about acid test..... The 3 hardest games i could get domestically (City are no where in this save). Away from home to the big 3. Was out system ready for this?

uaKzjqe.jpg

You bet your arse it was.

There are some learnings amongst these about squad management which i will try to write up tomorrow on a long train journey. At that stage of the season, you dont get through 4 tough fixtures in 2 weeks without using your squad to its absolute best. Hopefully i can share some of my experiences in that area and it might provoke thoughts for others. :)

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Jambo,

Just another bit of Kudos for you. Last night I decided to start what I am hoping will be my long term save for 15 (usually start in the new year). Having just recently read this thread it changed my approach to a more methodical, systematic and logical process to how I am going about things. In previous saves I do all the usual (staff, training etc) and then proceed to purchase 800 players that tickle my fancy (well ok, more like 5-10, but you get the point).

This time round I have gone to the extent of writing my plans down, especially how I want the team to play, then comparing that with my side and adjusting my vision if needed (Playing with Arsenal by the way)

It has meant I have spent a lot more time not really progressing in the game at all, but it has been very rewarding. I have decided, like you that the 4-5-1 suits what I have and where I want to go. What I probably like most about it, is just how flexible it really is. I was kind of torn on how I wanted to distribute my key players and kept flipping between a couple of arrangements, then realised that, hey, as long as they are logical combinations, why not just change them depending how I intend to lineup on the day.

Would love to hear more on how your midfield trio are working out and combining. I feel this is the area in the 4-5-1 where there is just so much versatility.

Also, how much variation do you see between your two Wide Midfielders? Are you finding it heavily influenced by PPM and footedness of the players? (I am assuming you have the same instructions for both?)

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A bit relucant to post here as I don't want to derail, but I guess some of this would be interesting/relevant.

Don't have the chance to see Celtic as much as I would like(because of Deila), but I did watch their game against Motherwell a few weeks ago. Can't comment on tactical consistency and what he's done in other games, but in that game at least I saw a lot of what I consider to be his philosophy:

- Pressing high up the field

- Very high tempo

- Very attacking wingbacks, often going past their opponent counterpart a lot of the time, doing one-twos with more inside forward/wide midfielder oriented teammates

- Loyal teamwork in all phases of play

Trying to set up something similar to what I saw in this game(which was pretty awesome) with Celtic. Started out with pretty much your current setup, but have made some changes based on what I've seen in pre-season:

Johansen/Brown when he gets back from injury aren't playmaker types(in the game, Johansen can actually do this irl), and I would like them to play to their strengths instead of too much play running through them. Therefore changed the DLP(D) to a BWM(D), which should help to focus transition play more through the DLP(S). Also changed from Very Fluid to Fluid to hopefully increase specialization a tiny notch and further enhance this. Moreover, I imagine a BWM(D) will match the philosophy of aggressive pressing and break up the opponents play/deny him time on the ball when attacking, which I hope will also make the defensive strengths of this shape and role distribution(mainly wide midfielders who track back more) more visible by slowing down the opponent team. I also gave the DLP(S) the PI "Close Down Much More", but also added "Ease off tackles" as I want him to stay on his feet rather than both my more defensive minded midfielders going to ground easily.

The other big difference is the CM(A), a role Johansen played in the game I mentioned and isn't really a central winger the way I visualize it. Considering changing this to an advanced playmaker, which would be more in line with Deilas philosophy and the players I have at my disposal, but is a little bit worried that this would focus play through the middle too much. Maybe with a fluid team structure it shouldn't be much of a worry? Also curious as to what PIs you give to this role.

Also going to test what effect it would have giving Van Dijk a BPD role.

Want to thank you for providing some inspiration for approaching the game in a little bit different way than before, thoroughly enjoing this now. :thup:

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Hey Mark. Cheers for taking the time to comment.

I can relate to what you are saying - I have been guilty of that in the past. Not only that, i would do all the things you describe at the start of a save, then after 10 games where which have usually left me mid table, i would quit and start again....... This time i wanted to be far more determined, keep working until i had a system that i was happy with and proud of. In all, it took me about a season and a third to get to where i wanted. A long time for sure, but since i got things where i want, i am now unbeaten in 31 games and have won 26 of those (including a spell of 15 consecutive wins). It is so rewarding to grind away and see things slowly click then see the fruits when it all comes together. Sounds like you are on the right track to do something similar :) Just be mindful that likely your first idea wont be perfect, and you might need to tweak and change one or two of your original concepts :)

In terms of the 2 questions you raise.

The midfield trio

In truth, with the way the tactic developed its more of a duo. The CM(a) is very much part of the attack and almost makes up a duo of his own with the F9.

The CM(a) - Central Winger

The CM(a) is a runner. He plays most of his game in the AM strata, but coming from the deeper position gives him more space to get motoring. He frequently gets alongside and beyond the F9 and there is some lovely combo play between the 2. So far i have 19 goals and 12 assists from this position. However because formation wise, he is in the M strata, he also contributes enough defensively to keep us solid (we have the best defensive record in the league). He wont be making lots of tackles, but he closes down the space and keeps us very compact when we are defending. It is a very versatile part of the tactic. You could easily opt for a creator type in here i would think, and change one of your wide men to be the runner.

For me though, someone running at a defence in that area of the pitch, with great dribbling skills, can be deadly. Below is the list of the top "dribbles per 90mins", and the one thing that strikes me is that there is not one central midfield (or even AMC) type on the list. Hazard and Nasri could both play there, but i know from lots of matches against city/chelsea that they are both deployed as wide men. In this respect, we have a type of threat that other teams dont have.

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The DLP combo

These 2 are less flashy, but absolutely vital to the tactic. They provide the stability, the recycling of possession and the crucial link between defence and attack. In defence they drop in and fill the space between the Dline and midfield, nullifying other teams AMC very successfully. In possesion they are all about pass,pass,pass. They dont provide much movement which is fine, its what i want. Thiago (the DLP(s)) has more freedom to pass the ball a bit more direct, as he has the real ability to do so. The 2 of them average around 85% - 86% in pass completion, and a high number of passes per game. Anything between 65 and 80 passes per game for the support duty, and between 40 and 60 for the defend duty.

The differentiated duty is also key when we go forward. The support player moves forward to support the attack from deep - often sitting about 10 yards behind the play, getting up near the edge of the box for any second balls. The defend duty stays much deeper and guards against quick counter attacks or long balls/clearences.

Below is an example of how they are positioned as we attack

3UFd8dC.jpg

Hopefully some of that helps give you an idea of how it works for me. Good luck in creating something yourself :)

The differentiated duty between the 2 is also key.

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