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Lines and Diamonds: The Tactician's Handbook for Football Manager 2015

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THOG, this piece is just wonderful.

As a long-time user and tactically astute person myself (at least I like to think so...:D) it was really interesting to read someone else's perspective on tactical concepts and principles, plus a comprehensive guide on how to basically apply them in FM. It is amazingly well written and your passion for the game really shines through.

Plus, I suppose many real life coaches out there would certainly benefit from reading this thouroughly :lol:.

It's been a really good read. I guess it will greatly help the vast majority of FM users out there.

P.S. Kudos for the screenshots' tastefulness.

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I've been thinking about the principle of cover. How would you go about focusing on this, aside of using a DM as mentioned. Tight marking I suppose, and maybe also mirroring the opponents' formation?

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I've been thinking about the principle of cover. How would you go about focusing on this, aside of using a DM as mentioned. Tight marking I suppose, and maybe also mirroring the opponents' formation?

Mainly, I would congest the central column. Remember, when defending, your team will shift towards the ball, and cover is all about denying the immediate options to the first attacker (both the support being offered to him and the possibility of beating the first defender to break into undefended space behind). It's not a formation you see discussed a lot, but I've found a 4-1-3-1-1 is very effective at forcing the first attacker to either go direct or try to switch the point of attack with a longer, lateral ball.

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Playing Narrower might help in very specific circumstances, because you won't be as stretched after losing possession... but generally, I would say cover/balance are mainly a question of your choice of formation. Of course, attributes like Marking and Positioning are important too.

A workaround would be to use specific man-marking to assign a wide player to one of the opposition's key support players (usually an AMC).

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I'm currently planning my basic tactic and need a bit of help.

In chapter 7 you talk about different pressing styles. I want to try and install a half pitch press, win the ball back before attacking with pace! I have chosen control as the starting mentality for this. In chapter 4 you have the table with Mentality and Defensive Style. I want to use a medium defensive block, so I've chosen the Drop Deeper TI. Drop Deeper TI also drops closing down by one setting from Opposing Half to Balanced.

I guess what I'm asking is, which Pressure Intensity equals the half pitch press? Opposing Half or Balanced? And would you still play the offside trap with a half pitch press?

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I guess what I'm asking is, which Pressure Intensity equals the half pitch press?

Drop Deeper will drop you down to approximately the settings of the standard mentality, so with "Close Down More," you're basically just setting your defensive settings to Standard + "Close Down More." And I would use "Close Down More" to get the benefits you would expect from a pressing style (i.e., denying space quickly as they approach your block, winning the ball back before the opposition tries to beat your midfield).

And would you still play the offside trap with a half pitch press?

How much do you trust your defenders? An offside trap gets much riskier the closer you get to your own goal, so it depends on your DC's ability to pull it off (decisions, concentration, anticipation) as well as their ability to recover if they make a mistake (acceleration, pace, tackling).

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Drop Deeper will drop you down to approximately the settings of the standard mentality, so with "Close Down More," you're basically just setting your defensive settings to Standard + "Close Down More." And I would use "Close Down More" to get the benefits you would expect from a pressing style (i.e., denying space near your block, winning the ball back before the opposition tries to beat your midfield).

Okay, I will try and see how it works out! I was just scared it would pull my team apart.

How much do you trust your defenders? An offside trap gets much riskier the closer you get to your own goal, so it depends on your DC's ability to pull it off (decisions, concentration, anticipation) as well as their ability to recover if they make a mistake (acceleration, pace, tackling).

I don't trust them :)

Thanks for the quick answers! I have my overload tactic working very well with a full pitch press. But it's so demanding for the players to play it for 90 minutes, so I only want to use it for short spurts if I'm struggling to create chances. So thanks for all the guidance in your PDF!!

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Top marks THOG, a really well written piece!

I've got to be honest, your last thread 'The Mentality Ladder' confused me so much; I never really came to terms with it. However I found this thread far more easy to understand and interpret.

I tried to use this document to create what I plan to be my 'underdog' strategy, for the tough games where I expect to be on the back foot. Luckily for me my team has a lot pace in, therefore I'm hoping I can put together some effective counter-attacking football.

This is my initial thought:

Screen%20Shot%202015-04-16%20at%2001.37.21_zpsxzg3ppzb.png

Style: Structured (Wanted to encourage depth, more so in defence so that when I turn over possession I should have opportunities to counter)

Strategy: Counter (Straight forward choice IMO)

TIs

Pass Into Space

Play Wider

Low Crosses (I have a short attack)

I have a few concerns however:

1) The CM-A I think could provide some great mobility from deep, particularly with my DLF-S looking to drop slightly. However the player whom I'm looking to play there is a very technical player who's probably best suited to be a AP-A. Therefore I feel I may be wasting his qualities? I don't feel this game plan suits having a AP in though.

2) The DLF-S for some reason doesn't feel right. I think he will provide some link-up play and also look to move the defence around and hopefully encourage some space for the widemen and the CM-A to exploit. However an Advanced Forward would give the better movement thinking in terms of counter-attacking?

3) I wanted to have my DLP in the DMC strata with a B2B in the MC starta. However I feel having my main creative source that deep may be detrimental as the opposition will be pressurising me and the DLP may become stifled to quickly by the High Press and have less time to deliver his penetration?

I may be talking nonsense but it would be great to get your take.

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I've got to be honest, your last thread 'The Mentality Ladder' confused me so much; I never really came to terms with it. However I found this thread far more easy to understand and interpret.

The ML wasn't a particularly great piece of writing style-wise and, IMO (in hindsight), was still too rooted in the game mechanics of FM as opposed to pure football-speak, so I'm glad to hear this one made more sense to you.

1) The CM-A I think could provide some great mobility from deep, particularly with my DLF-S looking to drop slightly. However the player whom I'm looking to play there is a very technical player who's probably best suited to be a AP-A. Therefore I feel I may be wasting his qualities? I don't feel this game plan suits having a AP in though.

With "Pass Into Space," you'll pretty much get the benefit of an AP-A in terms of feeding through passes to the two wide players. The main difference is that this set-up will see play funneled through your DLP while the CM-A will be more likely to lay the ball off quickly rather than driving forward on the dribble. On the whole, I don't think you have to worry about wasting his qualities.

2) The DLF-S for some reason doesn't feel right. I think he will provide some link-up play and also look to move the defence around and hopefully encourage some space for the widemen and the CM-A to exploit. However an Advanced Forward would give the better movement thinking in terms of counter-attacking?

A DLF looks fine to me, though you'll want him to be good on the ball (nice first touch, passing, vision) as he'll likely be the main player supplying everyone else. The AF would be better at breaking the high line, but then, I'm not sure you really have a proper creative role in advanced positions to feed chances to your front three. The CM-A might work with Pass Into Space active (then again, his passing range might be too short), but if not, you might experiment with an AF/AP set-up.

3) I wanted to have my DLP in the DMC strata with a B2B in the MC starta. However I feel having my main creative source that deep may be detrimental as the opposition will be pressurising me and the DLP may become stifled to quickly by the High Press and have less time to deliver his penetration?

A lot depends on how your opponent is lining up and where you're actually winning the ball. I would think the ideal situation for a DLP would involve him intercepting the ball rather than winning it via a tackle, so if you're playing against a more cautious passing side, then having him in the DMC position could work. But if you expect your DMC to be putting in a lot of tackles, your reasoning here makes sense to me, as your DLP will have a moment to find space to receive the ball as opposed to having to worry about the player he just dispossessed.

The one other thing I would be concerned about is how open you're leaving yourself, in the defensive phase generally and to counterattacks yourself (especially down your right flank). For an underdog strategy, this should provide you with counter opportunities, but I'd expect it to lead to a fairly end-to-end game on the whole, especially if the aggressive movement of the 3 forwards and CM-A sees your DLP pressured into overly ambitious passes (but maybe that's kind of what you're going for).

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The main difference is that this set-up will see play funneled through your DLP

Using a 'Structured' philosophy puts a large amount a pressure on the DLP; therefore if he is taken out of the game via pressure, marked or even playing poorly, my team is going suffer greatly. Therefore I keep thinking I may need to add another creator who can share the load?

The one other thing I would be concerned about is how open you're leaving yourself, in the defensive phase generally and to counterattacks yourself (especially down your right flank).

I originally was thinking about using a WB-S for my right fullback; however after reading your 'Single Pivot' section; I thought I could afford to commit on my fullbacks. Perhaps for the making him a WB-S could give me more solidarity on that right flank?

I wanted to use AMR/Ls for quick, counter-attacking options; therefore I'm not expecting them to come back and be part of the defensive shape. I also wanted them to put more pressure up the pitch as I don't want the opposition to be able to pin me back, casually keep possession and constantly recycle any clearances I make. This is why I have them Attack duties; but also so that they are looking to get in behind the defence and utilise their pace.

For an underdog strategy, this should provide you with counter opportunities, but I'd expect it to lead to a fairly end-to-end game on the whole, especially if the aggressive movement of the 3 forwards and CM-A sees your DLP pressured into overly ambitious passes ([but maybe that's kind of what you're going for).

I can how this is a problem; which could see me gifting the ball away too often and playing quite a risky game when in possession. As an underdog I don't think this a particularly what I want, as I don't want to gift the ball too easily and let them attack me again. Would the change of making my right fullback a WB-S maybe help this? I'm pretty sure I want to keep the AMR/Ls as attack duties, as they are my main source of pace.

EDIT: I do have another strategy that I use for most of my home games and away game where I want to try and be more aggressive. The strategy that I posted about is just for those games where the opposition are committing a lot men forward and are looking to press high.

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You seem to have things through pretty well. The only way to know for certain is to try it and see how it works in action.

If you find the DLP-S lacking non-risky options that don't require a back pass or that your right flank is badly exposed, then yeah, you might consider pulling one of the wide men back into a support role. Keep in mind, if you trigger a counter, players will still break forward. With that said, your basic idea of using the pace of your two wingers to get behind a high line is sound... it's just a question of finding the right balance to give them the supply they without letting yourself get stretched against opponents who can very well hit you right back.

As far as the WB, the WB-S will still get forward, but he's more of a passing player whereas the WB-A will look to hit crosses.

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Sir, in your 2.1 part" Phases of play" you are talking about high, middle and low block. So in high block you say that confrontation line is in Attacking third.

My question is about mentality. Will confrontation line be on same place for defensive mentality and for attacking. If You can not understand my question would be does high block depends from push higher or drop deeper or from mentality of your team or those two are connected

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Sir, in your 2.1 part" Phases of play" you are talking about high, middle and low block. So in high block you say that confrontation line is in Attacking third.

My question is about mentality. Will confrontation line be on same place for defensive mentality and for attacking. If You can not understand my question would be does high block depends from push higher or drop deeper or from mentality of your team or those two are connected

The baseline is set by your mentality. Push Higher/Drop Deeper will move it up to approximately the same setting as the next more cautious/aggressive mentality. The defensive instruction chart on 4.1 will show you the default settings. So for defensive block, "Push Higher" = 1 row down on the chart from default, "Much Higher" = 2 rows down on the chart from default, "Drop Deeper" = 1 row up on the chart from default, "Much Deeper" = 2 rows up on the chart from default.

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You seem to have things through pretty well. The only way to know for certain is to try it and see how it works in action.

If you find the DLP-S lacking non-risky options that don't require a back pass or that your right flank is badly exposed, then yeah, you might consider pulling one of the wide men back into a support role. Keep in mind, if you trigger a counter, players will still break forward. With that said, your basic idea of using the pace of your two wingers to get behind a high line is sound... it's just a question of finding the right balance to give them the supply they without letting yourself get stretched against opponents who can very well hit you right back.

As far as the WB, the WB-S will still get forward, but he's more of a passing player whereas the WB-A will look to hit crosses.

Thanks :thup:

I was also wondering; that when I have designed my secondary tactic, which I look to use when I need to be more proactive; can I use a different philosophy? The reason I say this is that I'm structured for my counter-attacking system, in order to create depth so I can quickly turn defence into attack. However for a system where I want to be more proactive, I'm thinking I need to use perhaps a more fluid philosophy to promote more improvisation?

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Thanks :thup:

I was also wondering; that when I have designed my secondary tactic, which I look to use when I need to be more proactive; can I use a different philosophy? The reason I say this is that I'm structured for my counter-attacking system, in order to create depth so I can quickly turn defence into attack. However for a system where I want to be more proactive, I'm thinking I need to use perhaps a more fluid philosophy to promote more improvisation?

There's no problem at all with swapping team shape settings. It's not called "philosophy" these days, after all; it's just another TI. ;)

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THOG, a few quick questions for ya:

- How do you feel about having 2 attack duty players on the same flank? (assuming the team is otherwise set up to be quite balanced)

- In your guide you didn't mention the number of specialist roles in relation to the choice of team shape. It's pretty much open to interpretation right? I mean clearly using a lot of specialists in a fluid system is redundant but, it certainly doesn't "hurt" the system right? Or am I being naive? For instance.. I might want to use mostly generalist roles, but I also might want to be more structured. How does one go about balancing that properly?

- And finally, just wanted to say how great your guide is! I've got it saved in my documents and I refer back to it quite a bit when creating new tactics and etc. Brilliant stuff!

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- How do you feel about having 2 attack duty players on the same flank? (assuming the team is otherwise set up to be quite balanced)

It will create a simple overload pattern. There's nothing inherently wrong with it.

In your guide you didn't mention the number of specialist roles in relation to the choice of team shape. It's pretty much open to interpretation right? I mean clearly using a lot of specialists in a fluid system is redundant but, it certainly doesn't "hurt" the system right?

Yeah, it's open to interpretation. A structured approach will ensure a restricted specialist keeps it simple and doesn't try anything overly elaborate, but if you're not worried about that, it won't necessarily hurt you to put a restricted specialist in a fluid set-up. You can also always use "Be More Disciplined."

With playmakers, free roles and system specialists, it doesn't really matter too much, though a central playmaker will normally benefit from a team shape that opens up depth in midfield and gives them options for a direct pass.

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It will create a simple overload pattern. There's nothing inherently wrong with it.

Yeah, it's open to interpretation. A structured approach will ensure a restricted specialist keeps it simple and doesn't try anything overly elaborate, but if you're not worried about that, it won't necessarily hurt you to put a restricted specialist in a fluid set-up. You can also always use "Be More Disciplined."

With playmakers, free roles and system specialists, it doesn't really matter too much, though a central playmaker will normally benefit from a team shape that opens up depth in midfield and gives them options for a direct pass.

I've started thinking more in terms of space than in number of specialists / generalists and it's been a HUGE addition to my tactics now. For example.. normally I'd be inclined to go more fluid on a possession system, but I'm finding that flexible is much more effective given my frequent changes to player duties (and sometimes roles, because I like to have a squad where players can do many things).

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It seems Dropbox won't let me download the pdf. unless I sign into it?

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It seems Dropbox won't let me download the pdf. unless I sign into it?

Just close out the message asking you to sign up and it should let you download.

I've started thinking more in terms of space than in number of specialists / generalists and it's been a HUGE addition to my tactics now.

As it should be. :thup: Space, supply and movement is what it's all about.

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Just close out the message asking you to sign up and it should let you download.

Sadly, no. The page then starts to reload itself in an endless cycle.

Edit: Got it - I just had to switch of some security add-ons in my browser. Seems Dropbox is full of trackers and crap like that.

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I am trying to implement double pivot system in 4-2-3-1/4-4-1 shape. I read thoroughly part 6 (systems in the attacking phase) and while I understood how to set up back 6, I still have few confusions on setting up attacking four. If I play with a DLP do I need some sort of false 9/false 10 partnership or I can play with playmaker in AMC position and more traditional striker upfront? How to set up my wide midfielders/wide forwards accordingly?

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The most traditional method would create a 2-4-1-3/2-2-3-3 attacking shape with a creative #10 linking the front three and the two wide players on attack duties pushing up and inside to create space for the wingbacks to quickly push forward. The risk of a false ten is that you won't utilise the space between the forwards and holding mids effectively, but if you're playing direct, this may not be much of a concern. Opposite-footed wide players dropping off to pick up the ball will also utilise that space if it's open. With the wide players, again, it depends on what you want from them, though with a traditional #10, you'll want at least one of them on an attack duty making runs into the area.

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THOG,

Quick question here. In the section about playmakers you talk about making sure they're in the proper space to actually cause problems for the opposition. Would it be unwise to use 2 playmakers if they're not at least 1 strata apart? So like.. you might use 2 playmakers (one AMC one DMC) in a 442 diamond, but what about in a 433 with one playmaker at CM and one at DM behind him? In your opinion, are they too close?

*For the record, I've used both of those above examples before, I'm just curious what your thoughts are. :D

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THOG,

Quick question here. In the section about playmakers you talk about making sure they're in the proper space to actually cause problems for the opposition. Would it be unwise to use 2 playmakers if they're not at least 1 strata apart? So like.. you might use 2 playmakers (one AMC one DMC) in a 442 diamond, but what about in a 433 with one playmaker at CM and one at DM behind him? In your opinion, are they too close?

*For the record, I've used both of those above examples before, I'm just curious what your thoughts are. :D

A player in a holding role and a player in an advanced supporting role should be operating in different areas, so it shouldn't be a problem. What you want to avoid is just cramming all your creative and linking players together with similar roles in central positions, so the opposition can just shift onto them and mark them out of the game. For example, if you're playing a 4-4-1-1 or a 4-3-2-1, you would want to avoid having something like an AP-S at AM and AP-S at MC. They would just render one another redundant in terms of passing options and neither would be effectively creating space for the other.

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A player in a holding role and a player in an advanced supporting role should be operating in different areas, so it shouldn't be a problem. What you want to avoid is just cramming all your creative and linking players together with similar roles in central positions, so the opposition can just shift onto them and mark them out of the game. For example, if you're playing a 4-4-1-1 or a 4-3-2-1, you would want to avoid having something like an AP-S at AM and AP-S at MC. They would just render one another redundant in terms of passing options and neither would be effectively creating space for the other.

That's what I figured! Cheers.

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This is somewhat oversimplified, but here's another way to look at it. Imagine the attacking component of your system in terms of a 5x5 grid:

epQEGc6.png

In most situations, you'll have about five strata to your attack. There's the forward line (attack duty strikers, attack duty MLR/AMLR in most cases and support duty strikers at times), the attacking support (support duty MLR/AMLR in most cases, support strikers in most cases, attack duty AMC/MC in most cases), the linking support (support duty AMC/MC/DMC in most cases, attack duty DLR in most cases), the defensive support (defend duty MCs/DMCs, support duty DLR) and the defensive line (DCs, SWs and defend duty DLR in most cases).

In addition to the positional strata, you can also divide the pitch into five vertical columns: the flanks (wide players who stay wide), the channels (central players who move into channels, wide players who sit narrow and/or make runs at goal, outer central players if the ball is on the flank) and the centre (central players who stay central).

Generally, with an effective set-up, you will want to avoid having two players almost always occupying the same box, and beyond that, you generally want any critical players to be linked and avoid isolating anyone except maybe some poacher-type player or a fullback whose sole attacking responsibility is to make a late overloading run. If you do that, you can be certain that you've got a well balanced attacking system.

Now, from a defensive perspective, a team will usually be protecting an area about like this:

3OCMQtQ.png

So you can see that some spaces will tend to be unmarked depending on where the defence has shifted and, crucially, that the centre is almost always going to be marked. So if you're wanting to get the most of central players, you'll want to do one of three things:

a) Shift the defence so the central players are being marked by defensively weak players.

b) Ideally, overload a channel or the flank to force the opposition to unbalance their formation and leave that space unmarked.

c) Encourage central players to roam and move into channels to free themselves from markers.

Alternately, if the theoretical spaces between the yellow lines are typically left unmarked by the opposition formation, a player with good movement should be able to make an impact.

Does that make sense?

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This is somewhat oversimplified, but here's another way to look at it. Imagine the attacking component of your system in terms of a 5x5 grid:

epQEGc6.png

In most situations, you'll have about five strata to your attack. There's the forward line (attack duty strikers, attack duty MLR/AMLR in most cases and support duty strikers at times), the attacking support (support duty MLR/AMLR in most cases, support strikers in most cases, attack duty AMC/MC in most cases), the linking support (support duty AMC/MC/DMC in most cases, attack duty DLR in most cases), the defensive support (defend duty MCs/DMCs, support duty DLR) and the defensive line (DCs, SWs and defend duty DLR in most cases).

In addition to the positional strata, you can also divide the pitch into five vertical columns: the flanks (wide players who stay wide), the channels (central players who move into channels, wide players who sit narrow and/or make runs at goal, outer central players if the ball is on the flank) and the centre (central players who stay central).

Generally, with an effective set-up, you will want to avoid having two players almost always occupying the same box, and beyond that, you generally want any critical players to be linked and avoid isolating anyone except maybe some poacher-type player or a fullback whose sole attacking responsibility is to make a late overloading run. If you do that, you can be certain that you've got a well balanced attacking system.

Now, from a defensive perspective, a team will usually be protecting an area about like this:

3OCMQtQ.png

So you can see that some spaces will tend to be unmarked depending on where the defence has shifted and, crucially, that the centre is almost always going to be marked. So if you're wanting to get the most of central players, you'll want to do one of three things:

a) Shift the defence so the central players are being marked by defensively weak players.

b) Ideally, overload a channel or the flank to force the opposition to unbalance their formation and leave that space unmarked.

c) Encourage central players to roam and move into channels to free themselves from markers.

Alternately, if the theoretical spaces between the yellow lines are typically left unmarked by the opposition formation, a player with good movement should be able to make an impact.

Does that make sense?

You've hit it out of the park again THOG. Excellent post! Extremely helpful, and I appreciate it :)

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Finally had the time to read it all. Fantastic thread THOG, it really is!

Now, i've decided to design a tactic based on fast transitions and i've got this:

ZTQNvfu.png

l58qLpF.png

Mentality: Standard

Team Shape: Structured

A couple of questions:

1) On the document you highlighted that it is useful to have a big striker able to fight for long passes in order to hold the ball and wait for his team mates. Alcácer isn't particulary strong nor he has the ability to keep the ball through technique and dribbling to play him as a deep-lying forwad (Though he has the bravery and team work to work hard for the team and fight for those loose balls). What i'm seeing in matches is that Alcácer gets isolated because my wingers aren't able to support him quick enough on the counter. What would be your advise on this subject? I though about turning André Gomes into a support Advanced Playmaker, but i was worried that it might make my attack too focused down the center, when what i mainly want is to counter down the wings.

2) I'm having trouble when the opposition sit back. Now, this is something expected for a team based on fast transitions, but my main problem is that because both my wingers are on an attacking duty, they behave mostly like forwards, so they don't contribute much on the build-up process. This is putting too much creative responsablity on my MC's, as any opposition team can congest the midfield and cut away the support. I thought about a playing my wingers on support, but that would make Alcácer the only player making constant forward runs. Perhaps a change of team structure or team shape is the way to go?

3) I'm thinking about turning my wingers into attacking wide midfielders, as i want them to be more dynamic in attack, rather than hug the line and deliver a cross. Since the wide midfielder is a very generic role, what type of player or team instructions would you recommend?

In general, we are defending great (2 goals conceded in 7 matches), but i have problems in attack which i don't know how to fix, mainly on the wings, so any kind of help is hugely appreciated.

Thanks in advance!

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If your striker isn't suited to play as a lone striker, then yeah, you should give him some kind of support in the form of either an AM or second striker. The fact that you're playing him as an AF is going to exacerbate matters since his inclination is going to be to push up as much as possible, often ensuring he's closely marked by opposition defenders.

Generally, I would question your mentality/TI choice for a fast transition style. For the most part, Standard is geared towards checking the pace of the game and keeping things flowing at a moderate tempo. I look at your tactic and see an obstruction tactic that could potentially do some damage against an opponent trying to press with a high-ish line, but generally, your team isn't going to be inclined to break forward quickly except in the most obvious situations... and that's assuming the AF can control and hold up the ball. Otherwise, it's a fairly static system that's generally going to isolate your striker and keep players behind the ball.

With that said, that very likely has a lot to do with the fact that you're defensively solid. You're likely controlling matches well but at the cost of a goal threat, especially against weaker opponents who will absorb the first wave of movement from the front three and leave your CM-S looking to finesse a ball to them or your wingers hitting crosses to an isolated striker. In the following image, you can see your tactic lined up against another 4-1-4-1. The blue triangles represent effectively covered areas that are unlikely to be penetrated by a ball played along the ground, regardless of how hard it's drilled. The yellow lines indicate likely penetration options for the DLP if he can manage to side step the player who will be closing him down:

GqOdEqe.png

That's rather sparse, and you can see a lot will depend on getting into space behind the opposition or ensuring your AF has the skill to control a deep ball played to his feet and beat his defender.

Against weak opponents, you will want more movement from midfield and defence with a more advanced player in a support role.

As far as wingers vs. WMs, it depends entirely on the type of player and the style you're trying to achieve.

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I was using standard because i wanted to defend on a medium block, but you're right, transitions have been very slow even when playing against teams that press. Would increasing the tempo and TI to pass into space be enough? Or is it better to change the mentality altogether (considering the increase in pressing and d-line)?

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I was using standard because i wanted to defend on a medium block, but you're right, transitions have been very slow even when playing against teams that press. Would increasing the tempo and TI to pass into space be enough? Or is it better to change the mentality altogether (considering the increase in pressing and d-line)?

It could potentially do the trick, but it comes down to a question of whether they're just not moving the ball quickly enough or if they're seeing the quick ball forward as being too risky. If it's the latter, you might need to tell them to take more risks (increase mentality). You could also play more AMs/STs and try to rely on proper counterattacks triggering, but that will probably only work against larger sides.

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If you want to defend with medium block, you can always use Control mentality+Drop deeper. Or counter+push higher up.

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THOG, in your discussion of playing styles (pressing vs containment and fast transitions vs complex) you're saying little about intermediate styles. Is that because you believe all styles basically fall under either category, or were you merely presenting the far ends of the spectrum?

When it comes to linking holding players and attackers does an attack duty DLR also serve the purpose?

I also think you should consider writing a piece about real-life examples of managers using the various principles, systems and styles you've been discussing.

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THOG, in your discussion of playing styles (pressing vs containment and fast transitions vs complex) you're saying little about intermediate styles. Is that because you believe all styles basically fall under either category, or were you merely presenting the far ends of the spectrum?

I would say it's a bit of both. There's no clear line where one type of style becomes another, though generally, I would say an intermediate approach would have more in common with containment/complex build-up than pressing/fast transitions given that the latter are more of an all-or-nothing proposition given that if they're not employed quickly enough, they're not going to be effective. What constitutes quickly enough? That depends on a lot of factors, including your opponent. In other threads, for example, there's been a lot of discussion about counterattacking styles lately, but what's often neglected in these discussions is that a counter style doesn't lend itself as easily to a plug & play approach since it inherently involves ceding some element of control to the opposition while having a clear plan for how you're going to exploit any space they intend to give you.

Generally, if your players don't think they can press or don't have the greenlight to do so, they'll stand off, and if they don't see an opening to attack, they'll look to create one. So the further you move away from "pure" pressing or "pure" counterattacking, the more likely you'll end up depending on a defence that can stay organised or an attack that can pick apart an opponent.

As I wrote in the containment section:

While balanced or mixed defensive styles tend to have more in common with a containment defence than a pressing defence, a “pure” containment style tends to defend in a low block with the defence and midfield more concerned about keeping shape and denying space in front of goal than putting pressure on the first attacker.

The match strategies section also outlines what you might consider "mixed" styles. An obstruction tactic, for example, compresses space near the halfway line but doesn't involve intense pressure unless the midfield is breached.

When it comes to linking holding players and attackers does an attack duty DLR also serve the purpose?

The role fullbacks will play depends on your style. If you're looking to transition quickly, then it's less likely that the fullback will get forward in time to do much more than offer a late overloading run. If you're holding onto the ball deeper, an attacking fullback or wingback will make runs to offer a link to the attack. With that said, the more isolated your attackers, the more likely that your attacking wide defenders will be called upon to act as linking players. And if you're looking to depend on your fullbacks to play this role, you should use a team shape that gets them forward as quickly as possible (so Flexible or Very Fluid).

It's also very important to consider the relative attacking ability of your fullbacks. A mistake a lot of people make is just to focus on the duty balance of their tactic, but then end up sending a workmanlike fullback forward to hit crosses into a packed area. Even if you have a fullback who would make a decent winger, you have to consider how much responsibility you want to put on a decent winger to pull the strings in your attack.

I also think you should consider writing a piece about real-life examples of managers using the various principles, systems and styles you've been discussing.

I would love to and plan to, but I have to find the time and I have a lot on my plate at the moment.

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Thank both THOG and Milted20.

I would like to ask a couple more questions if it ain't out of place.

1) What are the deferences between a fullback playing as FB-A and WB-S? And going with the same logic, what are the differences between playing a fullback in WB-A and CWB-S?

2) In my Valencia save i had problems playing a lone striker as an Advanced Striker and i ended up changing both the player and the role to a support role (DLS-S). Im curious though, how would you set a 1 striker system with a central midfield unable to make forward runs and a striker unable to drop deep?

3) Is it recommendable to drift away from the single-pivot principles you've outlined on the PDF of playing with an attacking fullback and a more defensive one in order to play with both fullbacks on attacking duties, and if so, are there any suggestions on making the midfield more defensive to compensate?

4) What individual instructions would you use on a wide midfielder (playing on the "CMs" line) in order to "turn him" into an inside forward? (both attacking and support version)

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1) What are the deferences between a fullback playing as FB-A and WB-S? And going with the same logic, what are the differences between playing a fullback in WB-A and CWB-S?

The WB-S is better suited for being involved in passing plays and the FB-A is based more on hitting a cross into the area.

The CWB-S will have more freedom to express himself on the ball than a WB-A, so he'll try more ambitious techniques. However, he's slightly more restrained in his forward movement than a CWB-A.

2) In my Valencia save i had problems playing a lone striker as an Advanced Striker and i ended up changing both the player and the role to a support role (DLS-S). Im curious though, how would you set a 1 striker system with a central midfield unable to make forward runs and a striker unable to drop deep?

For a fast transition style, I would use a second striker to support the main forward.

3) Is it recommendable to drift away from the single-pivot principles you've outlined on the PDF of playing with an attacking fullback and a more defensive one in order to play with both fullbacks on attacking duties, and if so, are there any suggestions on making the midfield more defensive to compensate?

It's impossible to say anything general. It's going to leave you more exposed, but if your opponent is slow and you've got defenders who can recover positions quickly, you can get away with it.

4) What individual instructions would you use on a wide midfielder (playing on the "CMs" line) in order to "turn him" into an inside forward? (both attacking and support version)

The only significant difference between the two is "Dribble More" and "Cut Inside."

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I would say it's a bit of both. There's no clear line where one type of style becomes another, though generally, I would say an intermediate approach would have more in common with containment/complex build-up than pressing/fast transitions given that the latter are more of an all-or-nothing proposition given that if they're not employed quickly enough, they're not going to be effective.

That makes perfect sense. When a team is struggling to find its rhythm, you also see it tend to drop deeply and build up slowly.

The role fullbacks will play depends on your style. If you're looking to transition quickly, then it's less likely that the fullback will get forward in time to do much more than offer a late overloading run. If you're holding onto the ball deeper, an attacking fullback or wingback will make runs to offer a link to the attack. With that said, the more isolated your attackers, the more likely that your attacking wide defenders will be called upon to act as linking players. And if you're looking to depend on your fullbacks to play this role, you should use a team shape that gets them forward as quickly as possible (so Flexible or Very Fluid).

This creates some interesting dilemmas. For instance, when you want to transition quickly you may want give your wingers attack duties as to have create as many outlets for attacking moves as possible. However, doing so reduces link-up play, increasing the chance the attack breaks down in progress. This is dilemma is exacerbated by the fact that structured and very structured shapes are more conductive to fast transitions. An attack duty fullback could still be useful when the initial wave of attack fails though.

PS: have sent you PM (possibly 2) or at least tried to, did it got through?

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THOG, i have a couple of questions which i would really like you to answer if you can. To contextualize you a bit, i normally play a 4-4-2 formation with Wide Playmakers.

1) I've recently instructed my goalkeeper to distribute the ball to a very strong and tall striker i have that is instructed to play as an Advanced Forward, however, i've found that my goalkeeper tends to kick the ball more towards the sides of the pitch, where my Wide Playmakers are. I assume it is because they are ticked as playmakers. Is there a way to solve this problem without turning my striker into a Target Man?

2) What role would you choose and which instructions would you use if you were to turn a Wide Midfielder into a Wide Playmaker/Interior WITHOUT him being ticked as a playmaker? Think of James Rodriguez and Isco when Real Madrid plays a 4-4-2.

3) Is there a problem with playing with more than 3 playmakers? or playing too many playmakers squeezed on the same area? (For example, 3 central midfield playmakers on a 4-3-3)

Thanks in advance.

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Tempo is less relevant once your players are taking on defenders and coming under pressure simply on account of the fact that the time isn't there. They're forced into decisions, so I'm not sure higher tempo will really help if the issue is them running into cul-de-sacs deep in the opposition half.

An alternative approach would be just to turn the PI on/off based on context. If you expect the opposition to sit deep and you don't want your WMs trying to dribble into the area, then turn it off. If you expect them to find space behind the last fullback or inside the channels, then leave it on.

You could also try telling them to "Run Wide with Ball" against deep defences so they use their on-the-ball movement to open up the channels for the treq and CF-A, or dropping them to support duties against deep defences to ensure they have time & space to accelerate at their defender. Generally, dribbling is going to be more effective when you are literally running at the defender instead of attempting to turn him at a stand-still. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, it forces the defender to make a quick decision (commit or continue backing off into increasingly dangerous shooting areas), and second, it ensures he can be decisively bypassed if the take-on is successful since the attacker will already be traveling at pace. With WM-A, the problem might be that they're pushing up against a deep defence, receiving the ball and having very little chance at getting past the defender.

Interesting. Run wide with ball is an instruction I've actually never used. I guess it gives me another option for situations when teams sit deep. Thanks for the reply.

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1) I've recently instructed my goalkeeper to distribute the ball to a very strong and tall striker i have that is instructed to play as an Advanced Forward, however, i've found that my goalkeeper tends to kick the ball more towards the sides of the pitch, where my Wide Playmakers are. I assume it is because they are ticked as playmakers. Is there a way to solve this problem without turning my striker into a Target Man?

Not sure, see if you have more luck with "Take Long Kicks" + "Distribute Over Opposition Defence."

2) What role would you choose and which instructions would you use if you were to turn a Wide Midfielder into a Wide Playmaker/Interior WITHOUT him being ticked as a playmaker?

"Sit Narrower," "More Risky Passes" and "Cut Inside w/ Ball." For attack duty, "Dribble More." You can't get the same creative freedom boost though.

3) Is there a problem with playing with more than 3 playmakers? or playing too many playmakers squeezed on the same area? (For example, 3 central midfield playmakers on a 4-3-3)

It depends on what you're going for. With multiple playmakers, there's a risk that they might pass between one another more than you want since everyone will be slightly more biased to feeding the ball to each of the playmakers (including the playmakers themselves). There's also a risk that you would end up with a lack of runners for the playmakers to actually target, especially if they're all bunched into the middle (read the section titled "Supply & Demand" for more on this). That being the case, if you do opt for multiple playmakers, you'll benefit if one or two have the ability to create for themselves if necessary. The treq, WP-A and AP-A can all do that (assuming the skill set to fit the role, of course).

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Hey all, looking for help. Playing in League of Ireland,( a mix of league 2 and 2 with a few players good enough for championship) i'm finding the balance difficult.

How does

Gk(d)

FB(s) LD (d) CD (d) FB(s)

BWM(d) DLP(d)

IF(a) AP(a) IF(a)

AF (a)

Control

Fluid

Narrow

Shorter passing

Stay On Feet

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Okay, be honest, how many took the time to read this, made changes, spent hours tweaking stuff, then played a game, got destroyed, and stopped playing?

Will have a proper read of this in a little while, though I find with a lot of well thought out FM posts I end up more confused about what I want to do than before I started reading. Will give it a go though.

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If you're currently struggling, it's a good idea to start simple and build from there. Whenever someone tries to account for a hundred different details, there's always a risk that you can end up with a Rube Goldberg tactic. I still fall prey to that from time to time, especially when trying something different with a new team.

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Here's a good example of what you might see using "Prevent Short GK Distribution" as the only TI on a Counter mentality. Instead of dropping off along with the midfielders, the AMLR will stay high and close down if the opposition tries to play it out of the back:

Tl7ec8w.png

Of course, the TI depends on the opposition actually trying to play it around the back, but if you're finding yourself struggling to get possession against a defensive opponent playing it short, it can be very helpful to bump up some players to AMLR and use this TI.

What camera/skin are you using here? Looks incredible.

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