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Getting a lone striker involved in the game more.


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I have developed a pretty nice 4-1-4-1 tactic that is pretty good at getting results whilst being defensively sound. The main problem I am having is that I am really struggling to get the best of the striker, whomever it may be playing there. I will try to elaborate on the tactical setup I employ, and I will then discuss the problems I have found with the striker.

The Tactic

The design and roles;

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The TIs:

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Focusing on the roles first, including PIs and the reasoning behind the choices:

GK(D): none. This is pretty obvious. I have not asked him to build from the back because I found we could be hemmed in and just launch the ball forward to nobody or out of play.

WB(S): Tackle Harder. He is supposed to be an outlet on the left hand side that compensates for the more aggressive winger in front of him, and to act as an outlet out wide when opportunity arises. As with all the defensive players with this PI, I have recently implemented this because my players were not tackling enough and it was causing issues.

CD(D): Tackle Harder. Their job is to defend, and with play out of defense they tend to try to find a short passing option before clearing.

CWB(A): Tackel Harder. The main source of width on the right. He overlaps well, and is not caught out of position often. If I am being killed down the flanks I tone this back though.

DLP(S): Tackle Harder. The pivot. To receive and recycle the ball when in possession and distribute it to the best available player.

W(A): none. Provides width and direct running on the left, and basically this is because Johnson is such an out and out winger.

CM(S): Shoot less often. The deeper lying of my midfielders, he is meant to be an outlet for passing when in possession and to be reasonably defensive when not.

CM(A): Shoot less often. The attacking midfielder. His job is to get forward to support the striker as quickly as possible when in possession and act as a goal risk. I have the shoot less often PI for both these roles since my players seemed to be taking longshots too often (especially Knockaert who has the shoots from distance PPM).

WM(S). None. This guy is supposed to provide a passing outlet deeper in midfield or out wide, and to combine with the CWB to create overlaps.

DLD(S). More Direct Passes, Closes Down More. Ideally, he should receive the ball, look up and pass it to one of the oncoming midfield players before turning up the pitch to attack the penalty area. The closes down more is to make him harry defenders, and the more direct passes was for an experiment to see if I could achieve a better array of passes.

The TIs are all to modify the way I play in possession. I want to keep the ball, and work it around my midfield until we see an opening. This works pretty well, and when coupled to the attacking mentality we score in almost every game I expect to score in.

The Problem

The problem is the striker. As I stated above, if he receives the ball quickly I want him to pick the pass to the oncoming attacking midfield players and then get forward himself to offer an option in the box. Most of the time this is not what happens. He seems to hold the ball up, either with his back to goal not taking chances to pass the ball (perhaps he sees them as covered, risky or not 'short'?) until he is tackled, or he slowly drifts across the pitch (the slow dribble, not the fast one) again neither looking to attack the defense nor pass the ball until he is tackled. I am really at a loss as to how to change this behaviour, because I think if I can get him playing the way I want then this tactic will be excellent. There is also the problem of goal-scoring, and whilst I understand lone strikers are not going to contribute as many goals as strike partnerships, I think that the return of 3 goals in 13 games combined for my 3 strikers is a little poor. This season the majority of my goals have come from the W(A) of the CM(A).

I also have a problem translating the success of this tactic at home to away games, but this is another problem for another time, I will work on it until I come up empty again!

So, I would genuinely welcome any advice on things I can potentially try to get my striker behaving like the striker I want to be, and also any other feedback is welcome!

EDIT. I have just noticed that one of my strikers has Dwells on Ball PPM, which is certainly not going to help with what I describe above. I have started training to try to remove this.

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Maybe try a DLF-a or a CF-a. They still be involved in build up, as both roles still hold up the ball/play, but they are more attack oriented and will be definitely looking to score you goals.

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I had considered switching to DLF(A), but I was concerned that it would exacerbate the problem by allowing my striker to receive the ball even further up the pitch, and even further away from passing options. It is something I will trial in a game at some point though.

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I play a 4-1-4-1 as well, and my striker was the league top scorer with 26 in 40 apps.

Regarding your setup two things pop into view:

- the 4-1-4-1 is a formation in which the plays are build from the back to the front, which means that if you play direct to the striker he'll be isolated. The attacking strategy might be causing some of this;

- why is the striker instructed to play direct passes? He has a DLF (s) role so he'll try through balls so that's not a problem. The question is: who do you want him to play direct passes to? He's the lone attacking outlet. It seems to me that this a very contradictory PI.

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At first glance, there is nothing seems wrong at all with the tactical setup. However is Cornelius your regular man for this job? If so, are you still in season 1 (the screenshot is cropped so cant see game date).

Couple of things about him strike me. First off, he has a horrid PPM "Dwells on ball". I dont think that is a good thing for any player, let alone a front man who you want to play in others. (NB - sorry just saw you edited the post to mention this).

He also has a few key weaknesses for your level of football (again assuming your in season one, so in the Prem). His decision making is pretty low for this level, which could be a key requirement for someone fullfilling the role you mention. Likewise 2 other attributes strike me - He has low vision and poor first touch. The former would impact his ability to play through balls to others, and the later is key for a striker you want to be able to take the ball in and hold it.

Be interested to know if you see the same issue with another player. At first glance, your bench doesnt look to have a brilliant option. Guessing S fletcher is injured?

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At first glance, there is nothing seems wrong at all with the tactical setup. However is Cornelius your regular man for this job? If so, are you still in season 1 (the screenshot is cropped so cant see game date).

Couple of things about him strike me. First off, he has a horrid PPM "Dwells on ball". I dont think that is a good thing for any player, let alone a front man who you want to play in others. (NB - sorry just saw you edited the post to mention this).

He also has a few key weaknesses for your level of football (again assuming your in season one, so in the Prem). His decision making is pretty low for this level, which could be a key requirement for someone fullfilling the role you mention. Likewise 2 other attributes strike me - He has low vision and poor first touch. The former would impact his ability to play through balls to others, and the later is key for a striker you want to be able to take the ball in and hold it.

Be interested to know if you see the same issue with another player. At first glance, your bench doesnt look to have a brilliant option. Guessing S fletcher is injured?

Yeah I noticed that he had dwells on ball not long after making this post.. I tend not to be the most attentive player sometimes when it comes to things like this. I am working on his training to see if we can remove that. I am in the second season, I took over Sunderland with ~7 games to go and just saved them from relegation. So we had a reputation hit, and not a lot of money. So he was pretty much the best striker I could get with the money I have available. I also have Fletcher and Wickham, and plan on rotating the three during the season unless one of them gets hot. I also had a 'sign young players for the first team' board promise, hence why I have remodelled the team around youth.

After progressing a month of so from the OP, Fletcher is now my only fit striker (which sucks during the December fixtures). The problem is he has not scored in 20(!!!) games, so I guess his confidence is absolutely shot so when he does get chances he fluffs them. He did get a decent assist in one of the games he started though. He has without a doubt been the worst player who has played games regularly for me though. As you note, I have a pretty shallow first team squad still, after having a mini clear-out at the end of the first season, and so I think my options are going to be limited until at least season 3. Hopefully we finish better in the league and can thus sign better players.

I can say that I have had the same problem with this tactic with all strikers I have used in this role, which includes Philadelphia. Admittedly, their strikers were not very good at all, but I had no scope to bring in a replacement there. But I have never had a properly quality striker to play in the position.

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You need at least one more player directly attacking the box and helping the striker; that should probably be the W(a) changed to IF(a)

Using a very similar setup I would disagree. The winger will attack the box when the space is available in my experience unless something is stopping him (Maybe opposition OIs showing him outside or if he has the hugs line/runs with ball down left PPMs).

@ sporadic

I don't think there is too much wrong with the setup its just a question of tinkering to get the best out of everyone. Things I would consider tinkering with:

A) Your striker issue might be simply the player and not the setup, having dwells on ball PPM is a good spot.

B) The two MCs & the ST seem to want to be in a similar area of the field as the ball comes forward, maybe getting in each others way somewhat. Maybe consider a different role for one of your MCs.

C) Try different roles for your ST - CF or F9 may work better or even a DF depending on the attributes of the striker.

D) Why specify shorter passing as standard, this can reduce good passing options.

E) Attacking mentality - This encourages the team to get the ball forward quickly which doesn't really seem to fit with a lone striker formation where most of your players are behind the ball when you win possession.

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Using a very similar setup I would disagree. The winger will attack the box when the space is available in my experience unless something is stopping him (Maybe opposition OIs showing him outside or if he has the hugs line/runs with ball down left PPMs).

The winger in certainly a goal threat, 7 goals thus far this season and only outscored by the CM(A) who has started a couple of games up front.

A) Your striker issue might be simply the player and not the setup, having dwells on ball PPM is a good spot.

I am suspecting this might be a major contributor. The really bizarre thing is I am having a sensational season, sitting 5th after half a season, but in spite of the striker. I am currently doing some extensive scouting to try to identify a signing for next season who will significantly upgrade the position.

B) The two MCs & the ST seem to want to be in a similar area of the field as the ball comes forward, maybe getting in each others way somewhat. Maybe consider a different role for one of your MCs.

I originally started out with a playmaker as the other CM, and the DM as a DM(S), but I did not like the way this worked (I cannot remember why now, but obviously something made me switch the playmaker back a layer). I also tried BBM, but I found that I would have so many players pushed forwards I was vulnerable to the counter. See the next point.

C) Try different roles for your ST - CF or F9 may work better or even a DF depending on the attributes of the striker.

I have changed from DLF(S) to DLF(A) to combat this dropping deep tendency which really compressed the space between midfield and attack. What now happens is that the striker gets the ball much earlier and much further up the pitch. This also usually translates into him receiving it in much more space, so he has more times to pick a good option. It also make him more of a goal threat. This also to some extent answers point E); we are not getting the ball forward quickly and have a player up front ready to receive the ball. This has helped a lot I think.

D) Why specify shorter passing as standard, this can reduce good passing options.

The original thinking behind this was that I kept seeing lofted balls towards the flanks that were being cut out easily and starting dangerous counter attacks. I also intended to have a tactic built around retention of the ball and patient probing in order to score. I actually often find that my team plays much better when we also have 'retain possession' active as well, although I am not 100% sure why this is the case yet. I have recently tried to counter-act the overly-cautious nature of the passing by adding 'More Risky Passes' PI to the striker and both CMs. Thus far, I am not really sure how much it has changed how we play, but I do now see that we play more long balls to the opposite flank when there is a load of space there.

After playing a good chunk of games today, I have managed to squeeze some goals from the strikers with the changes - 3 from Fletcher (who finally scored, hurrah!), 2 from Cornelius before he got hurt, and 3 from knockhaert (2 in a cup match extra time when the game was stupidly open). I wonder if some of the disjointed behaviour I was seeing was also due to signing quite a lot of young players in the summer and the team needing time to gel. The main worry is still goals though, I have scored 26 in 19 games in the league, which may be a decent return for a team such as mine (we are predicted to come 17th again). It is the defence that has earned us the league position, 15 goals conceded in those 19 games (Diego Reyes is an excellent loan signing).

I hope to continue and finish this season this weekend while I have the free time, and then hopefully I can buy a better striker and see how that works!

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Using a very similar setup I would disagree. The winger will attack the box when the space is available in my experience unless something is stopping him (Maybe opposition OIs showing him outside or if he has the hugs line/runs with ball down left PPMs).

I did't say the opposite, but I think a player looking to always cut inside and atack the box is way more dangerous in this kind of formation, with a lone supporting ST

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The winger in certainly a goal threat, 7 goals thus far this season and only outscored by the CM(A) who has started a couple of games up front

If you're pleased with him scoring, why are you instructing him to hug the touchline and put in alot o crosses from the byline ? Who is he crossing to ?

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If you're pleased with him scoring, why are you instructing him to hug the touchline and put in alot o crosses from the byline ? Who is he crossing to ?

He is often the first player to get up in support of the striker, and as such the first to receive the ball. As a W(A) he liked to run directly at the defence, which gives time for the rest of the team time to get forward. He does not only run down the line and cross from the byline though, he also dribbles inside, or stops and cuts the ball back inside or behind to the midfield or to the WB(S) behind him. And with the changes I have made, the DLF(A) is often in a more advanced position, and all my strikers are pretty decent in the air. I should also note that he is the free-kick taker, so 2-3 or those likely come from free-kicks.

The role is also in part determined by the fact that Adam Johnson is probably the best player on my team, and he is a winger. I felt it would be better to let him work in his best role to get the most from him. I can give him (or someone else) a try as a WM(A) though in a couple of games and observe what the difference is in the way we play. Although I guess I will have to be careful with the positioning of the WB(S) on the left to make sure he is not going too far up the pitch and leaving me very exposed at the back.

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If you have an attacking forward,it make sense to use a classic winger; but I would play 4411 in this case

I have started playing with an attacking forward, which has indeed seemingly helped a little with the issues of my striker.

My current team is not particularly strong, so I would be worried that moving a player from DMC to AMC would compromise the defensive stability of the tactic (defensively we have been excellent). I would guess that such a move would also have to include a lowering of the mentality?

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Definitely don't use an attack duty for that lone striker. He'll be too isolated.

A few ideas...

- the striker needs to drop deep. False Nine, DLF-S, CF-S are all good options.

- The team needs to be playing a style of football that fits in well with a lone striker. So a counter attacking style could work well, or a style of defending the middle. On the other hand, if you're trying to play a possession game high up the pitch you'll probably want to use a different formation because you've only got 1 player in the STC / AMCLR strata who is going to press the other team's back line early on.

- the striker needs support from deep, obviously. So that needs to happen. Whether it's a CM darting forward, or a wide player, you need to make sure the striker is getting adequate supply.

- relating to the point above, your team's style is critical. If you're playing tons of short passes it may be harder to get the STC involved. However, if you like to play direct and looking to unlock defenses with long balls / through balls to run on to, then the lone striker is probably going to be more involved.

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@Bababooey

The idea would be that we win the ball back by patient defending, so I am not looking to chase players around, rather limit space and either intercept, block tackle or force a long shot to get the ball back. I would then be happy to get the ball forward quickly if the opposition has over-committed. If not, then I would like to not rush things too much and patiently probe for chances. This is why I have a more aggressive tackling back 5, and why I have shorter passing. Without shorter passing I find that too many balls are going long and wayward, either in the area of the striker, or in the direction of the wings. Most of the goals we score are coming from the the build up, rather than counter attacks. But we suck badly away at times (not altogether unexpected for this team though).

I wonder if attack is the mentality to choose. I originally chose it because I was simply always too deep when I set anything lower and would really struggle to get out of defense. I thought I might be able to achieve something similar with standard and playing a higher line, but somehow it did not seem to work out. But since attacking is direct by default, I have a conflict. I do not really know how to fix that, or what the best thing to do is.

I should state that I do not really expect that my striker is going to be a massive 30 goal a season player, with the setup I have. But as a focal point to start attacks and distribute the ball intelligently.

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Definitely don't use an attack duty for that lone striker. He'll be too isolated.

I think that is too broad a statement. Attack duty for a sole striker can work. It needs a quite specific skillset, carefull use of PPM and understanding of the roles and duties behind him but it can work very well. Most things can if you apply them in the right situation, with the right players and understand the impact on your overall system. I have a sole striker Treq working very nicely.

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I was having similar issues with my CF/S dropping far too deep and ruling him out of scoring. I now have him on CF/A and he still helps with link up and is more in/around the box.

Switch one thing at a time so you can see the effect it is having on play. Changing several aspects of your tactic at once usually leaves you feeling a bit lost if it all goes wrong and may make you rule out something that could have fixed the original problem.

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I think that is too broad a statement. Attack duty for a sole striker can work. It needs a quite specific skillset, carefull use of PPM and understanding of the roles and duties behind him but it can work very well. Most things can if you apply them in the right situation, with the right players and understand the impact on your overall system. I have a sole striker Treq working very nicely.

the Treq drops deep, sometimes even deeper than a supporting striker;actually it's a supporting striker with no defensive responsibilities

maybe an attackin ST(RFD-often) could work, but it should be hard to achieve considering there are no players in the AM strata

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I think that is too broad a statement. Attack duty for a sole striker can work. It needs a quite specific skillset, carefull use of PPM and understanding of the roles and duties behind him but it can work very well. Most things can if you apply them in the right situation, with the right players and understand the impact on your overall system. I have a sole striker Treq working very nicely.

I was just about to post this myself when I saw the comment :)

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I have had great succes playing with a Trequartista role up front. I'm not sure how well Andreas Cornelius would fit in this role, but you should definitely try it out. If you have decent wingers the Trequartista will fit very well for a lone striker. I tried it out on my save where my striker played 22 games, scored 16 and made 10 assists. One of my wingers scored 22 goals in 17 games. These results were from my savegame with Ferencvaros (Hungary).

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Cornelius is my backup anyway (well when I have 3 fit strikers, which seems to be never!), Fletcher would probably fit the bill as a Treq a bit better.

At the moment we are going through a tough run of games and a period of bad form, so it is actually hard to tell if changes are having any influence on the game. We had an insane comback from 3-0 to 3-4 away to Tottenham, which was nice. The midfield is working pretty well going forward (except maybe the CM(S), which I could work on a little more), and Knockaert is a great CM(A). The issue with getting the striker involved is being compounded by the fact I keep having injuries to 2 of my 3 players, usually just after some good form has kicked in. Given we are in 5th, and I am expecting a tough close to the season, so should end up somewhere around 10th at worst, I should be able to sign an improved striker. The question is going to be what attributes should I focus on, I will need to think hard about this.

A tangenital problem I am currently having is being completely blown away my teams who play narrow with a packed midfield and their width supplied entirely by their wing-backs. In such games I cannot keep the ball, and I do not present any kind of goal threat. I have tried a good number of things to combat this (man mark wing backs, play narrower, exploit the flanks, drop deeper and clear ball to flanks) but to no avail. Perhaps moving my MR/L to AMR/L to push them closer to the wing-backs would help? I have no idea how to deal with 5 central midfield players though (that is a bad admission right there!)

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I had similar problems with the same formation and i made one change to my striker (CF support), moves into channels, and he started being all over the place and getting involved more in the game. Also you should consider changing one of your mids or the defensive mid to a defend duty.

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I had similar problems with the same formation and i made one change to my striker (CF support), moves into channels, and he started being all over the place and getting involved more in the game. Also you should consider changing one of your mids or the defensive mid to a defend duty.

If I had a player good enough to play CF, I would try it =P. At the moment only Flecther is probably capable of playing that position well, but it is one of the things on the list of things to try.

The mentality of the DM and left full back are interchangable depending on the team I am going to be playing and where there strengths/weaknesses lie. If I expect to struggle in the middle, more defensive DM. If i expect trouble down the flanks, more defensive full back. If I expect both, both. If I expect to do well, I usually have both on support and take it from there, change as required.

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the Treq drops deep, sometimes even deeper than a supporting striker;actually it's a supporting striker with no defensive responsibilities

maybe an attackin ST(RFD-often) could work, but it should be hard to achieve considering there are no players in the AM strata

This is not necessarily true. I had no issue with my Treq coming to deep in a single striker set up. The vast majority of his movement was lateral rather than dropping in. It might depend on your set up behind, but i had no players in the AM strata and Balotelli roamed around but stayed high. If anything at times he was too high and a bit isolated looking, but he was strong enough to hold up the ball when he got it for a few seconds so it worked well.

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This is not necessarily true. I had no issue with my Treq coming to deep in a single striker set up. The vast majority of his movement was lateral rather than dropping in. It might depend on your set up behind, but i had no players in the AM strata and Balotelli roamed around but stayed high. If anything at times he was too high and a bit isolated looking, but he was strong enough to hold up the ball when he got it for a few seconds so it worked well.

That's a particular case, maybe he's moving laterally because of AI's crowded middle,your MC's moving forward or something else;team style,opp style,stage of attack,etc all influence play

but the role instruction is RFD-rarely and usually has a lower mentality than an advanced forward(or something similar) who's instructed to RFD - often;

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False 9 perhaps?

imo, you should first use a DLF(s) - it's the least specialized role with all instructions on mixed except through balls - and focus more on getting the right player to play as a lone striker; I consider the following very important:

strenght - pretty obvious when facing 2 CD's

quicknes,determiation and workrate - ability and desire to attack the box after dropping deep to link play

other obvious forward skills - you probably won't find one to have it all,get the best you can

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I find a DLF-A a very effective lone striker role.

It still drops deep, closes down, links up play and look to create chances for others. But also it's more of a genuine goal scoring threat as well.

It seems to be a simplified Complete Forward role in essence, which is useful for perhaps lesser players (or lower league) that don't have the all round attributes to carry out a Complete Forward role.

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I find a DLF-A a very effective lone striker role.

It still drops deep, closes down, links up play and look to create chances for others. But also it's more of a genuine goal scoring threat as well.

It seems to be a simplified Complete Forward role in essence, which is useful for perhaps lesser players (or lower league) that don't have the all round attributes to carry out a Complete Forward role.

in what formation ? remember, this is a 4141 discussion, he's pretty far away from anyone else and the ideea is not to isolate him

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In the exact same shape as the OP.

The DLF-A still is a deep lying forward. It's in the name. Just instead of solely been a link man, he gets into goal scoring positions.

It's a nice all round role to have, without the need for a high range of speciality attributes required for the Complete Forward roles.

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I have also found that a DLF(A) can be quite effective if he is either able to run into space to stretch the defense, or hold the ball up well to pass to oncoming midfielders. The advantage with this is that you have an outlet further up the pitch to aim balls to when you clear it, and also that the DLF(A) tends to receive the ball in more space than would a DLF(S) .The other advantage of the DLF(A) is that he clears more of a space for the CM(A) or WM(S) to operate in, which can be beneficial in creating chances. It is contextual thought. If he is being marked out of the game by an able centre-back, there is no point leaving him as a DLF(A) and it is better to change his role to try to bring him into the game.

As an update to my own personal progress, I have decided to start with the DLF(A) for the remainder of the season and then try to improve the striker in the post-season - probably by selling Fletcher and using the procedes (unless I get a bigger budget from my likely top half finish). It has been difficult to judge the performances of late due to injuries, which has either forced me to continually change the striker so nobody gets settled, or to play young players in midfield who do not put in optimal performances. Thus results are mixed, we absolutely killed Norwich away 4-0 by moving both wide players up the pitch to completely nullify their wing-backs - in my game Norwich play 4-2-3-1 narrow. But we lost the league cup final to Arsenal 3-1 after being absolutly pasted in midfield - which is really not unsurprising given the relative strength of the teams.

I have also taken to using the drop deeper TI when playing away from home, or when I am being stretched by the opposition. This has helped me draw away games I would have lost earlier in the year. I think the next thing I need to work out is the best combination for the midfield trio; I am not really happy with the CM(S), but right now I am not sure exactly what I want this player to be doing. This will need some thought, I guess ideally he roaming the spaces between the DLP and CM(A) to link them, and to link midfield and wide players.

Finally, I am going to consider removing the shorter passing option in the next pre-season and see if I can get better direct football going when applicable. We will see whether this leads to my deep players reverting to long balls all the time due to lack of composure or vision or whatever is causing that.

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Another update on this. After finishing the second season, I managed to finish 5th (which is a miracle!). One thing that became clear is that pressure really affects performances, both up front and in defense. Obviously in the final few games we had the pressure of needing results to get into Europe, and this coincided with a down-turn in performance of my team - some players went missing, others seemed to be nervous a lot. This makes sense, I have a young squad who are not used to success of this sort.

In the game where I finally guarenteed the UEFA cup, we played very poorly until we got a goal, and then we seemed to come alive and quickly scored 3 more. In the remaining two games of the season we played so much better; losing 3-2 away to a rampant Man Utd and consigning Huddersfield to relegation with 1-2 win away (it should have been more comfortable, they needed to win to avoid relegation so when they went behind they went incredibily attacking and ultimately got a goal when we could not finish our countless counters). I guess the point here is that you have to be aware of these things when considering your performance; not everything is a tactical issue, or something that needs to be fixed. I think this is something a lot of users do not really take into account when posting about tactics. It also takes a lot of games to understand if your changes are successful.

With the lone striker, the thing I have noticed is that he is either absolutely dire, or fantastically amazing: there is almost no middle ground. I suspect this has a lot to do with how the opposition play against him. There can be games where he is closed down instantly and tackled, and games where he has time to pick a pass, or gets a couple of goals. I am hoping having a better more consistent player will iron out some of these issues. I think it is Fletcher who I will replace, he is a temperamental little s**t, approaching 30, has 1 year on his contract and wants an unreasonable wage increase.

I do not have a huge budget to replace him with, and have the board promose "buys youngsters for the first team" which I will be trying to follow. I am going to focus on finding a young player with good Stength, Vision, Composure and Decisions. Anything else you guys would suggest is important for a long striker (besides the obvious such as finishing)? Perhaps First Touch also, so he controls balls that come his way well.

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It kind of sounds like you want a "wall forward". That is, a forward who operates as a wall for the midfield to bounce the ball back off of - a kind of more technical target man who has the intelligence to make runs beyond his marker after releasing the ball back to the midfield.

In that case it might pay to instead deploy a wide player with strong finishing attributes (perhaps let your daughter roam?) and convert an AMC to be your wall forward (as Fabregas did in the past for Spain and on occasion for Barcelona) - preferably one with "looks for the pass instead of trying to score" PPM to try to minimize the inevitable wasting of chances if you cannot find one with goodish finishing. "Plays with back to goal" might also be a useful PPM, as well as "looks to play one-twos".

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It kind of sounds like you want a "wall forward".

Kinda, yes. I am being greedy and want a player who can both make intelligent runs when required, and who can also get the ball and play in others. At the moment I am gravitating towards a complete forward. The part of the game that was not working was the good linking of forward and midfield. As you suggest, I have just successfully completed giving one of my forwards the 'plays with back to goal' PPM to see how this affects his play (sadly I cannot make Cornelius forget his 'Dwells on Ball' - sigh).

I did have the thought of converting a good AMC to striker for this purpose, the problem is I only have one player in my team who would be suitable, and he is the key member of my midfield! This transfer window sorting out my defence for the long term (I had 3 loanees last season) was the priority, and bringing in a better striker (Berahino was the best I could get for the money I had). Thus far, I have taken off the 'shorter passing' TI, with some positive results in pre-season, so I will see how it goes!

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Argh, dwells on ball? That kind of explains his behaviour all up!

Yes this taught me to always check the PPMs of players I am going to buy xD. When I play him, I tend to play him as a DLF(A) so he is more advanced and so him dwelling on the ball is not always a bad thing, since he usually has to wait longer for support. He is going to be third choice this year anyway, Wickham and Berahino should be taking the majority of starts I hope. Wickham should be able to adapt nicely I think, if I can keep him fit (which I did not last season).

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