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Universality - In Football Manager 2015 (Very Fluid)

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Introduction to Universality

Now we are into the dying months on FM2015 and the football season is kicking-off again, re-igniting the spark for lots of us, I decided to use the last few weeks before the new game to experiment with the concept of Universality to see if it could work on the current match engine and have been pleasantly surprised with the results.

Universality is the concept of playing 'complete footballers' all over the pitch, attacking and defending as a cohesive unit.

You want defenders who are comfortable on the ball, can help retain possession and launch attacks. Midfielders should be technically outstanding with good movement and excellent work ethic. Attackers offer multiple threats, combine as a team and hassle opposition defenders when you lose the ball.

Formation

Seen as when thinking about tactics the first thing most people think of is a formation, I will start here. When it comes to Universality, formation doesn't matter. Jonathan Wilson sums it up well:

Formations are neutral; it is their application that gives them positive or negative qualities.

That said, when I pick a formation I look for something:

  • Balanced
  • 3 or 4 central midfielders
  • Has natural width
  • Offers multiple attacking threats

Personally I like the diamond, and classic 4-3-3 / 4-5-1 as go-to formations. The more adventurous may enjoy a 3-4-3.

Team Shape - Very Fluid

Not too much debate here, Very Fluid sums up exactly what we're looking for here:

vfluid_zpsanmsswhm.png

In order to build the rest of the tactic from here it is important to understand what this selection means:

  1. All players have the same mentality (set by your Mentality setting)
  2. Increased creative freedom across the team

Point one is particularly important. All players have the same mentality. If you select attacking, your defenders have attacking mentality. if you select Defensive / Counter, your strikers have a low mentality.

Mentality - Standard

Seen as we're on the subject, the statement above pretty much explains why I go for a standard mentality. Let's review the description:

Standard_zps7etmzz1c.png

Standard mentality gives you two big advantages:

  1. Balance.
  2. Flexibility.

The entire team has a mentality which makes them responsible for both attack and defence. Defenders will get involved with play, in possession but not aggressively enough to sacrifice the defensive shape. Attackers will have defensive responsibility but not enough to subtract from their attacking play.

Another important point is that Mentality is not the only thing effected by the Mentality setting. If you read descriptions you'll also see that Mentality also effects:

  • Width
  • Tempo
  • Passing
  • Defensive line
  • Closing down

As things stand we have a team with a very balanced mentality playing with medium width, tempo, passing, defensive line and closing down. This is where the team instructions come in.

Team instructions

Now your team instructions will vary quite considerably depending on how you want to play. There is nothing wrong with continuing as standard, but you may also want to implement some of your own philosophy. I personally have two preset combinations saved:

Press & Control

High Block: Much Higher Defensive Line, Closing Down, Tackle Harder, Press Defenders etc.

Control: Shorter Passing, Pass Ball out of Defence, Slower Tempo, Work Ball into Box

Sit & Counter

Low Block: Lower Defensive Line, Lower Closing Down, Stand off

Counter: More Direct, Much higher Tempo, Pass ball out of defence, sometimes

NOTE: Width and ball distribution both depend on a) my formation, b) opposition formation.

Finally, Player Roles & Instructions

Wwfan sums this up very well in his 12 step guide. As a general rule:

In Very Fluid structures, you want 0-1 specialist roles per shape.

On other words - you're allowed one playmaker. Avoid fancy titled positions roles.

I actually prefer to play without a playmaker as it will cause your team to focus too much attention getting them the ball. Remember your players all have increased Creative Freedom so they're all playmakers to an extent.

Here are two examples of how I distribute player roles:

Diamond

Diamond_zpsk4mdll6a.png

Classic 4-3-3

433_zpsftshfghd.png

For a comprehensive guide to Player Roles I'd direct you to Llama3's excellent Pairs & Combinations. Cleon has also written a series called "Meet the X" and you can read those guides on his website SISportCentre.

Additional notes from me

  • Beware that the MC(D) has Close Down Much More as standard, add a PI if you want him to sit.
  • Box-to-Box Midfielders and Complete Wingbacks both have Roam from Position as standard. At one point I had 2 of each which left me with zero defensive structure.
  • I am not sure if the Sweeper Keeper setting actually does anything. :D
  • I recommend a DLF and an AF with 2 strikers or one Complete Forward for a lone striker.
  • The midfield trio DOMINATES games - highly recommended. Great positioning for the MCL/R when in a trio.

Conclusion

  • Formation does not matter
  • Very Fluid team shape is essential
  • Standard Mentality is recommended
  • Use Team Instructions to tailor to your style
  • Keep the player instructions simple

Now all you need to do is find the right players. This is easier said than done. Perhaps a whole new post on scouting and Player Development. Another topic for another day, i think..

Anyway, I am really interested to hear your views. If anyone else has tried this, tried anything similar let us know. It's been great for me:

record_zpsgjhsnf2q.png

:D

To close - here are some recommended clubs with squads pretty well-set, you could try this with (recommend any more and I'll add to the list): Arsenal, Liverpool, Southampton, Swansea, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Marseille, Spain, Juventus, Roma, Bayern, Dortmund..

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Jungztar   

Nice OP and I like your reasoning behind your playing style. I have also decided to stay with a Standard Fluid approach but I have a fixed preset of 5-6 TIs which never change. I change playing style by changing the players, meaning throwing in PPMs as the x-factors.

I also play 4312 (favorite formation) with Inter in Serie A..... The game changers for me are: the WBs, the MC (d) and the AMC..... With the right PPMs you can rip apart the AI. I seldom Loose and it is really a battle against Juventus (Sampdoria a close 3rd).

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rninejr   

As high creartive freedom distributed across all players, u should have mentioned about how important PPM in a very fluid team shape since players will likely to be influenced by their own PPMs

This setup is quite similiar to mine so I agree it is quite good with the right personnels. Playing with a very fluid team shape can shows clearly the differences between each mentality.

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Edinton   

So judging by the teams listed - and the high levels of creative freedom distributed - I guess this approach isn't likely to be as successful with lower ranked teams as a result of the (comparatively) poor mental stats of the players?

Or is it all relative based on the level you are playing at?

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Cleon   
As high creartive freedom distributed across all players, u should have mentioned about how important PPM in a very fluid team shape since players will likely to be influenced by their own PPMs

Makes no difference what type of fluidity is used for PPM's it'll be the same regardless. It comes down to the players decision making on how often/frequent he uses it. The fluidity/CF doesn't impact this because the PPM is already a tendency.

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Nice OP and I like your reasoning behind your playing style. I have also decided to stay with a Standard Fluid approach but I have a fixed preset of 5-6 TIs which never change. I change playing style by changing the players, meaning throwing in PPMs as the x-factors.

I also play 4312 (favorite formation) with Inter in Serie A..... The game changers for me are: the WBs, the MC (d) and the AMC..... With the right PPMs you can rip apart the AI. I seldom Loose and it is really a battle against Juventus (Sampdoria a close 3rd).

Thanks! Sounds like we're doing something similar. I actually found that once I got the MC(S) in place (previously box-to-box) everything else just clicked. Prior to Cleon's Meet the Attacking Playmaker I was using a Playmaker role at 10 and getting a bit 'one dimentional' - stop him, stop the team, so swithcing that to an AM(A) opened the flood gates, so to speak. Same with Target Man to DLF.

So judging by the teams listed - and the high levels of creative freedom distributed - I guess this approach isn't likely to be as successful with lower ranked teams as a result of the (comparatively) poor mental stats of the players?

Or is it all relative based on the level you are playing at?

I would say it is relative. As with anything it is always going to be easier with better players. That said, if you can find 'complete players' for their level then go for it. In fact, good attributes for Stamina, Determination, Work Rate are relatively more common at lower levels so the pressing game could be easier.

Makes no difference what type of fluidity is used for PPM's it'll be the same regardless. It comes down to the players decision making on how often/frequent he uses it. The fluidity/CF doesn't impact this because the PPM is already a tendency.

Agreed. Well said.

I do find that the higher creative freedom and lack of specialists mean different players played in the same role perform very differently. Using midfield as an example, a DLP generally plays like a DLP, regardless of the player. A Box-to-Box midfielder is also pretty similar who ever you play there. However, consider the MC(S) Support role with high CF and no specialists influencing decisions, I start Wilshere and Ramsey who play like box-to-box midfielders, I generally have Romero who plays like a ball-winner and Rosicky/Cazorla as playmakers and they completely change the dynamic of the midfield.

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lennon67   
Nice OP and I like your reasoning behind your playing style. I have also decided to stay with a Standard Fluid approach but I have a fixed preset of 5-6 TIs which never change. I change playing style by changing the players, meaning throwing in PPMs as the x-factors.

I also play 4312 (favorite formation) with Inter in Serie A..... The game changers for me are: the WBs, the MC (d) and the AMC..... With the right PPMs you can rip apart the AI. I seldom Loose and it is really a battle against Juventus (Sampdoria a close 3rd).

Just curious, what TIs do you use that you never change? I'm still on FM14 but the 4312 is the only formation I like using, I aim for about 4-5 TIs as well, can't have too many TIs for some reason it just annoys me lol.

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iMan   

A few fms back I had an attacking/very fluid 3-4-2-1

3 cd d, 2 wingers a, cm s and cm d, 2 if a in the amc positions and a CF s.

Some mental football. The best was getting spanked 3-0 by Barca away in the CL semis and then beating them 5-1 at home in the 2nd leg.

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A few fms back I had an attacking/very fluid 3-4-2-1

3 cd d, 2 wingers a, cm s and cm d, 2 if a in the amc positions and a CF s.

Some mental football. The best was getting spanked 3-0 by Barca away in the CL semis and then beating them 5-1 at home in the 2nd leg.

That was exactly my experience until I turned the Mentality down to Standard. It was fun but not overly competitive!

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rninejr   
Makes no difference what type of fluidity is used for PPM's it'll be the same regardless. It comes down to the players decision making on how often/frequent he uses it. The fluidity/CF doesn't impact this because the PPM is already a tendency.

Oh, thanks for the correction

Now if that is the case, ppms are really affect the match. Now I regret some of my decisions ._.

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What are you actual preset TI's?

They dont seem very clear in the OP, despite only putting in 4 or 5 in the presets section, you can see there are around 12 in the Screenshot.

Really enjoyed reading this thread though. The Very Fluid/Standard is very appealing and I like the simplicity of the roles you have given, the explanations as to why is also an eye opener.

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wakesta   
Introduction to Universality

Now we are into the dying months on FM2015 and the football season is kicking-off again, re-igniting the spark for lots of us, I decided to use the last few weeks before the new game to experiment with the concept of Universality to see if it could work on the current match engine and have been pleasantly surprised with the results.

Universality is the concept of playing 'complete footballers' all over the pitch, attacking and defending as a cohesive unit.

You want defenders who are comfortable on the ball, can help retain possession and launch attacks. Midfielders should be technically outstanding with good movement and excellent work ethic. Attackers offer multiple threats, combine as a team and hassle opposition defenders when you lose the ball.

Formation

Seen as when thinking about tactics the first thing most people think of is a formation, I will start here. When it comes to Universality, formation doesn't matter. Jonathan Wilson sums it up well:

That said, when I pick a formation I look for something:

  • Balanced
  • 3 or 4 central midfielders
  • Has natural width
  • Offers multiple attacking threats

Personally I like the diamond, and classic 4-3-3 / 4-5-1 as go-to formations. The more adventurous may enjoy a 3-4-3.

Team Shape - Very Fluid

Not too much debate here, Very Fluid sums up exactly what we're looking for here:

vfluid_zpsanmsswhm.png

In order to build the rest of the tactic from here it is important to understand what this selection means:

  1. All players have the same mentality (set by your Mentality setting)
  2. Increased creative freedom across the team

Point one is particularly important. All players have the same mentality. If you select attacking, your defenders have attacking mentality. if you select Defensive / Counter, your strikers have a low mentality.

Mentality - Standard

Seen as we're on the subject, the statement above pretty much explains why I go for a standard mentality. Let's review the description:

Standard_zps7etmzz1c.png

Standard mentality gives you two big advantages:

  1. Balance.
  2. Flexibility.

The entire team has a mentality which makes them responsible for both attack and defence. Defenders will get involved with play, in possession but not aggressively enough to sacrifice the defensive shape. Attackers will have defensive responsibility but not enough to subtract from their attacking play.

Another important point is that Mentality is not the only thing effected by the Mentality setting. If you read descriptions you'll also see that Mentality also effects:

  • Width
  • Tempo
  • Passing
  • Defensive line
  • Closing down

As things stand we have a team with a very balanced mentality playing with medium width, tempo, passing, defensive line and closing down. This is where the team instructions come in.

Team instructions

Now your team instructions will vary quite considerably depending on how you want to play. There is nothing wrong with continuing as standard, but you may also want to implement some of your own philosophy. I personally have two preset combinations saved:

Press & Control

High Block: Much Higher Defensive Line, Closing Down, Tackle Harder, Press Defenders etc.

Control: Shorter Passing, Pass Ball out of Defence, Slower Tempo, Work Ball into Box

Sit & Counter

Low Block: Lower Defensive Line, Lower Closing Down, Stand off

Counter: More Direct, Much higher Tempo, Pass ball out of defence, sometimes

NOTE: Width and ball distribution both depend on a) my formation, b) opposition formation.

Finally, Player Roles & Instructions

Wwfan sums this up very well in his 12 step guide. As a general rule:

On other words - you're allowed one playmaker. Avoid fancy titled positions roles.

I actually prefer to play without a playmaker as it will cause your team to focus too much attention getting them the ball. Remember your players all have increased Creative Freedom so they're all playmakers to an extent.

Here are two examples of how I distribute player roles:

Diamond

Diamond_zpsk4mdll6a.png

Classic 4-3-3

433_zpsftshfghd.png

For a comprehensive guide to Player Roles I'd direct you to Llama3's excellent Pairs & Combinations. Cleon has also written a series called "Meet the X" and you can read those guides on his website SISportCentre.

Additional notes from me

  • Beware that the MC(D) has Close Down Much More as standard, add a PI if you want him to sit.
  • Box-to-Box Midfielders and Complete Wingbacks both have Roam from Position as standard. At one point I had 2 of each which left me with zero defensive structure.
  • I am not sure if the Sweeper Keeper setting actually does anything. :D
  • I recommend a DLF and an AF with 2 strikers or one Complete Forward for a lone striker.
  • The midfield trio DOMINATES games - highly recommended. Great positioning for the MCL/R when in a trio.

Conclusion

  • Formation does not matter
  • Very Fluid team shape is essential
  • Standard Mentality is recommended
  • Use Team Instructions to tailor to your style
  • Keep the player instructions simple

Now all you need to do is find the right players. This is easier said than done. Perhaps a whole new post on scouting and Player Development. Another topic for another day, i think..

Anyway, I am really interested to hear your views. If anyone else has tried this, tried anything similar let us know. It's been great for me:

record_zpsgjhsnf2q.png

:D

To close - here are some recommended clubs with squads pretty well-set, you could try this with (recommend any more and I'll add to the list): Arsenal, Liverpool, Southampton, Swansea, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Marseille, Spain, Juventus, Roma, Bayern, Dortmund..

What is the training schedule for pre- season & the main season?

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I am no expert in Training. I find playing games has a bigger impact on improving a player, I just use training to control the distribution of the attributes.

My priorities are as follows:

  • Conditioning / Fitness
  • Team Cohesion & tactical familiarity
  • Attribute distribution

Conditioning / Fitness

In my opinion, squad management is more important than training for conditioning and fitness. I aim for 1 game per week, plus a sub appearance if necessary to maximise condition and match practice. More than that and conditioning suffers. Less and match practice suffers. Playing more at key points is going to happen but make sure it's not all the time.

You can help with training by keeping first team players to Medium total workload. Others can be High.

Team Cohesion and Tactical familiarity

During the pre-season I have 2 days of match day training. When the season starts I have 1 day, until 100% familiar then 0.5 days to maintain.

My General Training is always Team Cohesion. Generally Medium to start, sometimes shifting lower as the season goes on.

Attribute distribution

Everyone has an individual training program. Position based for the majority, unless there are any gaping holes in their attribute profile.

With youngsters I also Tutor extensively and I find using the Preferred Move training to make players two-footed particularly effective.

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jpcote09   

Good post. I also really enjoy Very Fluid, although I haven't been able to use it successfully for a while. I haven't been playing FM as much recently due to other commitments taking up a lot of my free time, and when I play it's usually lower league stuff (trying to slowly build dynasties from lower league minnows is kinda fun), so whenever I try Very Fluid I end up getting frustrated because of poor decision making and bad passes giving up free counters/goals.

However, my best tactic/squad from FM15 was a Very Fluid/Control 4-5-1 with Dortmund. It destroyed any opposition and almost any formation/playing style. I don't remember what were the instructions, but I remember loving that tactic, because as you said, the high levels of CF allowed me to tailor the playing style just by using different players in the same spot, without changing instructions at all. (Note : this happens with any flluidity setting, but with Very Fluid it is absolutely clear-cut).

I would also tend to recommend a midfield trio (well, at least three men in central/defensive midfield) because Very Fluid somewhat encourages more movement and roaming, so I think you're better off with some cover in the centre of the park. A tactic could work with a 2 man midfield I guess, but it's riskier in my opinion...

Anyway, glad to see that other people are having success with a similar approach :)

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Mick4   

Do you think the ball playing defender is a necessity in this set up, or could you perhaps get away with two limited centre-backs and hope the overall team instructions and mentality would keep them from lumping long balls and going against the grain?

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Personally I'd not use 'Limited Defender' - it may sound like what you're looking for but I am not sure how it effects the instructions. Wouldn't be surprised if it meant you start lumping long balls.

Certainly nothing wrong with the DC (D) role for a standard defender.

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Mick4   
Personally I'd not use 'Limited Defender' - it may sound like what you're looking for but I am not sure how it effects the instructions. Wouldn't be surprised if it meant you start lumping long balls.

Certainly nothing wrong with the DC (D) role for a standard defender.

Thanks for the reply.

I fancy giving a similar formation and style to this a try at some point, but I might actually make an effort to look for a ball playing defender rather than the big thugs I normally opt for!

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Quick update, I am having a lot of success using the same principles in a 4-3-3 formation so I thought I'd share..

I am managing Ajax and Holland, both famously well suited to 4-3-3.

Ajax

Ajax433_zpscowdurll.png

This system uses the same principles as the diamond I used with Arsenal.

  1. Very Fluid shape
  2. Standard mentality
  3. Dominant midfield
  4. Combination of pace & power in my attacking trident

Holland

Holland433_zpswcrjjvw6.png

The team attacks and defends as a unit. We typically dominate possession but we will also attack quickly, key to this is a very aggressive press. The wingbacks provide width. The inverted wingers are the main goalscoring threat, sitting narrow and taking advantage of the space the complete forward makes. The complete forward is essentially a False 9 with slightly more goal threat himself. The midfield is a simple 1-2 set up. A deeper 'quaterback' and two creative, box-to-box players. Standard back 4.

Notes on the Press

The main reason I prefer this shape to the diamond is that pressing is much more effective. I have also tweaked the system.

Instructions are as follows:

  • Mentality = Standard
  • Team Instruction = Much Higher Defensive Line, Close Down More
  • Front 3 PIs: Close Down Much More
  • DL, MCL, MCR, DR PIs: Close down more
  • DMC PI: Close down much less
  • Match day training = Defensive Shape

Rather than simply having the entire team Close Down Much More, I now have them just Close Down More. The reason for this is that I want more control, and to create 3 waves of pressure.

The combination of Team and Player instructions mean that the Front 3 closing down is increased 3 notches, as much as they would if I was on Overload mentality. They're 100%, all in. When they turn possession over it creates a real chance.

The main pressing unit is the combination of fullbacks and outside MCs - they press as if they're attacking.

The DCs press as if they're on control and the MC drops as deep as possible creating a defensive triangle. Essentially the MC is a centre back playing in midfield. Holds a very key position.

The result is the shape looks something like this:

Holland4332_zpsz5avpuos.png

The pressing allows me to be more aggressive with the ball as we are very good at getting it back when we lose it. Also the further up the field we are when we lose it the more dangerous the press becomes..

So far results are good. Two seasons; two League Titles, one Europa League and won Euro 2016 with Holland.

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You're Ajax and Holland setup looks interesting. I am tempted to go the universality way by playing very fluid and generic roles. I have one question: if you use for example an advanced playmaker support in midfield, how will he play differently compared to a cm support when you use very fluid. I hope you understand what i mean...

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JWVG   

Hi,

two quick questions:

Do you use the "retain posession" TI or would it be an overkill?

Why a CM(d) and not a DM(d)... (the position not the role). Does it really make a difference?

thanks

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You're Ajax and Holland setup looks interesting. I am tempted to go the universality way by playing very fluid and generic roles. I have one question: if you use for example an advanced playmaker support in midfield, how will he play differently compared to a cm support when you use very fluid. I hope you understand what i mean...

I avoid using playmaker roles.

The reason being that being a playmaker means possession will funnel through that player as he always gets the ball, if available. It makes the team much more one dimensional. At the moment my team can create chances from all over the park which, in my opinion, is more more effective.

Same goes for Target Men.

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Hi,

two quick questions:

Do you use the "retain posession" TI or would it be an overkill?

Why a CM(d) and not a DM(d)... (the position not the role). Does it really make a difference?

thanks

1. No. I want the team to play possession & probe when nothing is on, but break quickly when there are spaces.

2. I like the width in the midfield trio. If you look at the Heatmap you'll see the CM(D) plays like a DMC anyway. The CM(D) actually holds a very effective position on the pitch. During the Euro 2016 championship Blind was possibly my most crucial player.

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This is really fascinating reading. Made me reconsider the very fluid setting as I previously thought it was not for me and the way I want to play but you're really changing my mind on that one. I've been testing it out a bit and it works extremely well for high pressing, possession football, but seems much shakier for counterattacking. Although I think counterattacking is unnecessarily trick to get right in general in FM, but that's a whole other thing entirely.

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Miravlix   

I went very fluid before I saw this thread, but the thread gave me the idea for going to standard.

I feel like /D /S /A is completely redefined in this setup. I constantly find my DM/D being very involved in attacks and AM/A is defending all the way down to our box.

WB/A CD/D CD/D WB/A

DM/S CM/A

IF/S AM/S IF/S

CF/A

Seems perfectly fine defensively and I can't actually tell the difference between that and DM/D CM/S AM/A defensively, it does make a difference offensively.

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Quick update, I am having a lot of success using the same principles in a 4-3-3 formation so I thought I'd share..

I am managing Ajax and Holland, both famously well suited to 4-3-3.

Ajax

Ajax433_zpscowdurll.png

This system uses the same principles as the diamond I used with Arsenal.

  1. Very Fluid shape
  2. Standard mentality
  3. Dominant midfield
  4. Combination of pace & power in my attacking trident

Holland

Holland433_zpswcrjjvw6.png

The team attacks and defends as a unit. We typically dominate possession but we will also attack quickly, key to this is a very aggressive press. The wingbacks provide width. The inverted wingers are the main goalscoring threat, sitting narrow and taking advantage of the space the complete forward makes. The complete forward is essentially a False 9 with slightly more goal threat himself. The midfield is a simple 1-2 set up. A deeper 'quaterback' and two creative, box-to-box players. Standard back 4.

Notes on the Press

The main reason I prefer this shape to the diamond is that pressing is much more effective. I have also tweaked the system.

Instructions are as follows:

  • Mentality = Standard
  • Team Instruction = Much Higher Defensive Line, Close Down More
  • Front 3 PIs: Close Down Much More
  • DL, MCL, MCR, DR PIs: Close down more
  • DMC PI: Close down much less
  • Match day training = Defensive Shape

Rather than simply having the entire team Close Down Much More, I now have them just Close Down More. The reason for this is that I want more control, and to create 3 waves of pressure.

The combination of Team and Player instructions mean that the Front 3 closing down is increased 3 notches, as much as they would if I was on Overload mentality. They're 100%, all in. When they turn possession over it creates a real chance.

The main pressing unit is the combination of fullbacks and outside MCs - they press as if they're attacking.

The DCs press as if they're on control and the MC drops as deep as possible creating a defensive triangle. Essentially the MC is a centre back playing in midfield. Holds a very key position.

The result is the shape looks something like this:

Holland4332_zpsz5avpuos.png

The pressing allows me to be more aggressive with the ball as we are very good at getting it back when we lose it. Also the further up the field we are when we lose it the more dangerous the press becomes..

So far results are good. Two seasons; two League Titles, one Europa League and won Euro 2016 with Holland.

How have you set up your wingers? You mention that they sit narrower. Have you given them PI sit narrower? Have you given your striker any PI? Also, do you have any other TI than close down more and push much higher up?

I will start a new save with my beloved Chelsea with your set up. I will also look at Thomit's assymetric formation. Both use very fluid which appeals to me.

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Help333   
I avoid using playmaker roles.

The reason being that being a playmaker means possession will funnel through that player as he always gets the ball, if available. It makes the team much more one dimensional. At the moment my team can create chances from all over the park which, in my opinion, is more more effective.

Same goes for Target Men.

This is less true if you are playing with very fluid, the high level of creativity means that players will be less inclined to simply feed the ball to the playmaker and more inclined to do what they think is best. I have a very fluid tactic which I will often play with three playmakers in a diamond. That team wins every game by multiple goals.

The key to playing very fluid is this:

1) Very fluid does two things: It increases support while decreasing depth (this is one thing) and it increases creativity. These things go together. Never choose be more disciplined on very fluid. Because it reduces depth you need to choose roles/duties to increase depth. You won't need as many support duties on very fluid as you would with a different mentality. Above all make sure you attack the space behind the defense. If you don't you will be vulnerable to teams that try and compress your space.

2) Attacking/Very fluid will create the best press that can be done. In addition to a high line (provided by attacking), pressing requires coordination and teamwork, very fluid encourages this more than any other mentality.

3) You need to have the right players. They'll be making their own decisions. They have to be up for it. A lot will be asked of them. They have to be good enough.

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In Very Fluid structures, you want 0-1 specialist roles per shape.

This is something I see quoted often, and something I strongly disagree with.

In most of my saves, I eventually end up with a very fluid style. Over the last five iterations of FM, I've played countless saves with that style, with different players, different formations and different teams. I've had sometimes 5 or 6 specialist roles and it worked great.

It is not the specialist roles you must avoid, it is the specialist players.

In my current Dormund save, I have 2 specialist roles (possibly 3, depending if we count CF as a specialist role) within a Very Fluid system 4-2-3-1 formation. It works perfectly. What doesn't work in my system is Sven Bender. He's a world class destroyer, but he is a specialist. He can't play any other role. His vision, passing and off the ball are simply too low. No matter what role he is assigned, he's still Bender. Basically a world class one trick pony.

A type of player who works well with this type of system is Busquets. Busquets is worse than Bender as ball winner, but better all-round player. Better passer, better movement, better vision, better reading of the game in general.

In a very fluid system, all your players will be expected to do a bit of everything, regardless of the roles. They will have high creative freedom to do that. Roles assigned are less important than player attributes in that case. A difference between a BWM and AP is much smaller in Very Fluid than in Structured.

Stay away from specialist players and you should do fine. Of course, don't overdo specialist roles. Less specialist roles in a Very Fluid system is still generally a good advice, but you don't have to go out of your way to limit yourself 0-1 specialist roles. It's not really important.

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It is not the specialist roles you must avoid, it is the specialist players.

Excellent point. Fluid and Structured basically tries to mirror coaching systems in real life where players are either pretty one dimensional or very well rounded. Usually lesser players might excel in one area of the game ie being really fast wingers, but can offer nothing defensively, aren't amazing passers etc. So for players like that it works better to have structured systems which also tells them exactly what they need to be doing and use less creativity. You can stop them doing things they are less good at and get them to focus on things they are best at.

Fluid systems are trying to do the opposite, having players who are comfortable all over the pitch and can fill in for each other.

So its more about the capabilities of the players you have available to you.

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This is really fascinating reading. Made me reconsider the very fluid setting as I previously thought it was not for me and the way I want to play but you're really changing my mind on that one. I've been testing it out a bit and it works extremely well for high pressing, possession football, but seems much shakier for counterattacking. Although I think counterattacking is unnecessarily trick to get right in general in FM, but that's a whole other thing entirely.

To be honest, counter-attack isn't something I could talk about with experience. I am something of an idealist. I like aggressive pressing, and creative, attacking football.

Theoretically, counter-attacking with a very fluid shape would offer a compact, defensive shape and have the entire team defending as a unit.

I would probably change shape from 4-3-3. 4-3-3 is perfect for pressing and possession. The front 3 press the opposition defence and the midfield dominate possession.

4-4-2 may be a more appropriate counter attacking shape. Two banks of four with a DLF(S) and an AF(A) ahead of them. Might be quite interesting to try it out..

I went very fluid before I saw this thread, but the thread gave me the idea for going to standard.

I feel like /D /S /A is completely redefined in this setup. I constantly find my DM/D being very involved in attacks and AM/A is defending all the way down to our box.

WB/A CD/D CD/D WB/A

DM/S CM/A

IF/S AM/S IF/S

CF/A

Seems perfectly fine defensively and I can't actually tell the difference between that and DM/D CM/S AM/A defensively, it does make a difference offensively.

Absolutely - I suspect you could get away without a holder. I actually find the holder more beneficial in possession, than out of it.

Do you find the attacking shape works well? You've got lots of players playing very far forward? What's the shape like?

How have you set up your wingers? You mention that they sit narrower. Have you given them PI sit narrower? Have you given your striker any PI? Also, do you have any other TI than close down more and push much higher up?

I will start a new save with my beloved Chelsea with your set up. I will also look at Thomit's assymetric formation. Both use very fluid which appeals to me.

Wingers are simple Inside Forwards (Attack) with Sit Narrower and Close Down Much More. They're a huge goalscoring threat.

This is less true if you are playing with very fluid, the high level of creativity means that players will be less inclined to simply feed the ball to the playmaker and more inclined to do what they think is best. I have a very fluid tactic which I will often play with three playmakers in a diamond. That team wins every game by multiple goals.

The key to playing very fluid is this:

1) Very fluid does two things: It increases support while decreasing depth (this is one thing) and it increases creativity. These things go together. Never choose be more disciplined on very fluid. Because it reduces depth you need to choose roles/duties to increase depth. You won't need as many support duties on very fluid as you would with a different mentality. Above all make sure you attack the space behind the defense. If you don't you will be vulnerable to teams that try and compress your space.

2) Attacking/Very fluid will create the best press that can be done. In addition to a high line (provided by attacking), pressing requires coordination and teamwork, very fluid encourages this more than any other mentality.

3) You need to have the right players. They'll be making their own decisions. They have to be up for it. A lot will be asked of them. They have to be good enough.

Interesting to see that works for you. Do you play as a very top side? Personally I find Attacking & Very Fluid to be overly aggressive. Attacking centre backs is a risky strategy!

This is something I see quoted often, and something I strongly disagree with.

In most of my saves, I eventually end up with a very fluid style. Over the last five iterations of FM, I've played countless saves with that style, with different players, different formations and different teams. I've had sometimes 5 or 6 specialist roles and it worked great.

It is not the specialist roles you must avoid, it is the specialist players.

In my current Dormund save, I have 2 specialist roles (possibly 3, depending if we count CF as a specialist role) within a Very Fluid system 4-2-3-1 formation. It works perfectly. What doesn't work in my system is Sven Bender. He's a world class destroyer, but he is a specialist. He can't play any other role. His vision, passing and off the ball are simply too low. No matter what role he is assigned, he's still Bender. Basically a world class one trick pony.

A type of player who works well with this type of system is Busquets. Busquets is worse than Bender as ball winner, but better all-round player. Better passer, better movement, better vision, better reading of the game in general.

In a very fluid system, all your players will be expected to do a bit of everything, regardless of the roles. They will have high creative freedom to do that. Roles assigned are less important than player attributes in that case. A difference between a BWM and AP is much smaller in Very Fluid than in Structured.

Stay away from specialist players and you should do fine. Of course, don't overdo specialist roles. Less specialist roles in a Very Fluid system is still generally a good advice, but you don't have to go out of your way to limit yourself 0-1 specialist roles. It's not really important.

Excellent post. You're right about the specialist roles vs the specialist players.

My rational behind avoiding specialist roles is more about how I want the team to play than a hard-fast rule.

For example, Complete Wingbacks and Box-to-Box midfielders sound perfect, however both roam from position. These positions hold key positions on the field so I don't want them roaming too much. As a result, I prefer Wingbacks and Central Midfielders as roles.

I have nothing against playmakers as a role, but I don't like the way the rest of the team passes them the ball, if available. It funnels possession and makes us easier to stop. All 3 of my midfielders are capable playmakers, they just don't have the role.

My striker plays as a target man / false 9 hybrid. Strong, powerful, holds up the ball but also plenty of movement creating space. Very much an attacking facilitator. Target man in particular I experimented with. As with the playmaker, I have no problem with the role but don't like the effect of the team. We started hitting long balls more regularly and again, funnelling possession to him. I have no problem with False 9 but in most cases want more of a goal threat.

Out of interest, which specialist roles are you using and how is it working?

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Help333   

My attacking/very fluid side is Everton. However, it's about ten years into a career save, we got taken over and had an influx of money and now I have a dominant team with more money than I know what to do with. So yes, a top side. And it is true I wouldn't play attacking/very fluid without top players. However, if you do have top players there is no better system to recreate the way that top teams like Arsenal, Barcelona, or Germany play (i.e high line with everyone involved in the play).

Attacking/very fluid + pass it shorter, lower tempo, work into box equals domination. But the players really matter. Right now I have two squads worth of players that could win the champions league but when I first started with this tactic I could really struggle when I placed it with younger players. So that's the number one rule--the tactic must fit the players.

As to the playmaker roles on very fluid, I'll just say that the ball isn't really funnelled to them in the way it would be in other mentalities. The key to the playmaker roles, or any role really, is what does it do that can't be done in any other way? And the answer to that is movement. So for instance if you have an AMC, an AM (A) will constantly be pushing forward acting almost as a striker, an Am(S) will be dropping deep acting as a third midfielder, but the AP (A) will do both. If you want the player to play this way you have to choose AP (A).

The way I look at roles and duties is that they are ways to ask the player to either do more or to do less. The better the player the more you want to ask them to do. It is your job as the manager to fit that into a tactic in which these things complement each other. A midfield diamond of AP (A) BBM (S) AP (A) DLP (D) can be a thing of beauty on very fluid because the very fluid which encourages support and coordination prevents everyone from wandering off. I also have a complete forward (s) and a CWB (A) so if you count those that's five specialists in very fluid. Works great. But again, you have to have the players.

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The way I look at roles and duties is that they are ways to ask the player to either do more or to do less. The better the player the more you want to ask them to do.

That's a great insight.

I agree with what you're saying. That's certainly a system focused on top quality players. At the moment my squads are a few tiers below. We're successful in the league and europe but by no means dominant. I actually used to play attacking and lots of playmakers with Arsenal (initial squad) but the players just aren't at that level yet. Simplifying things was a significant improvement.

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Help333   

The tactic evolved for me too. I used to play it as control/very fluid. I had good results, won the premier league and the champions league, but I wouldn't call it dominant, it really went down to the wire with many showdowns against Manchester United.

But every preseason I try out a new idea to see if I can make it work and whether it is an improvement. So this past year I started with the same tactic but on attacking. The improvement with the pressing was immediate but the offense struggled a bit. My strikers kept playing the ball back to the midfield instead of turning and making something happened. They were making this decision very fast so I lowered tempo (The original tactic was control + pass it shorter which had good tempo, attacking + pass it shorter was too quick, not because I was giving the ball away, quite the opposite they weren't taking enough risks because there wasn't enough time for the play to develop), and attacking + pass it shorter + lower tempo did the trick.

At that time I had a midfielder who I also played at AMC sometimes with good dribbling. I would alternate between CM/A and BBM/S but I wasn't getting that much. I swapped him to AP/A in the midfield and he became more dynamic.

Anyway, with basically the same really good team I went from winning the premier league and champions league in hard fought battles to crushing Man U 5-1 with 10 CCC and beating the next best team in my champions league group 6-1. So I had the players all along to make it work, I just didn't know it.

I still don't play the midfield with AP/A all the time, sometimes I switch it to CM/A or BBM/S depending on how I'm controlling the midfield.

The other key, and this has been repeated many times by others, is that watching the whole game is really important. It's the only way to understand how and why your tactic works the way it does.

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I'll have a go at the 4-4-2 counter. Whereas attacking, creative football is your favourite kind of football mine is very much counterattacking. Sides like Atletico Madrid n that. Not to say I don't like fluid first touch stuff too; Atleti certainly play a bit of that. Gotta have a good balance innit :thup:

If you were trying to go counter with the 4-4-2 Very Fluid Standard would you go deeper defensive line or much deeper to replicate the low(er) block of the counter mentality?

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I'll have a go at the 4-4-2 counter. Whereas attacking, creative football is your favourite kind of football mine is very much counterattacking. Sides like Atletico Madrid n that. Not to say I don't like fluid first touch stuff too; Atleti certainly play a bit of that. Gotta have a good balance innit :thup:

If you were trying to go counter with the 4-4-2 Very Fluid Standard would you go deeper defensive line or much deeper to replicate the low(er) block of the counter mentality?

I would experiment with counter as a mentality. The pro is that you have the counter attack mechanism activated. The con is that the entire team will be on a lower mentality, including strikers.

If I decided Standard was the way to go then yes, I would certainly lower the defensive line and closing down to create a low block.

Defensive shape is clearly going to be important, as well as a quick transition and attacking threat. I'd start with the following as a template.

              AF(A)          DLF(S)

WM(S)      CM(D)         CM(S)          W(A)

WB(A)       DC(D)         DC(D)         WB(S)

                       GK(D)

That should give you a solid two banks of 4, a few good options in transition and a threatening attack. I'd use the DLF as a Giroud-type player, facilitating the attack and providing areal threat. The AF a quick striker, threatening the space in being the defence.

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Out of interest, which specialist roles are you using and how is it working?

Enganche and DLP.

It worked pretty good until Reus and a couple of other first team players got injured. Since then I had to balance the squad just to keep those playing over 90%. I hate these changes to condition. FM was bad with player condition for some time now but in FM15 it is atrocious.

Although I must say I'm not playing like I used to. Due to lack of time, I almost exclusively play on Key, and don't spend much time on scouting or analyzing my tactics.

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rninejr   

what usually overlooked by most ppl is the important attributes required for the desired style.

i've been playing with very fluid team shape for a long time. what I can tell is how different a team with good overal teamwork attribute compared to a team with average overall teamwork attribute. it was frustating to see my side rarely play quick 1 touch passes inside opposition penalty box. oftenly they would just run with ball or recycling it until the ball was eventually being crossed by the fullbacks or being shot by my CMs. also my F9 at that time was like to run with ball to the opposition box even though there is no teammates ahead of him. it was very fluid/standart, low tempo, short passing, n the said F9 has no run with ball often PPM n he is described as an intelligent player by my coach but seems so stupid

as the game progress further, squad regenartion happened n I found a replacement for F9 role. Now his teamwork attribute is 16 compared to the former F9 which is only 12. same case with both wide forward, as I found replacements with better teamwork attribute (14 and 17 compared to 10 and 13). the new ones also have slightly higher work rate. both of my old playmakers with high teamwork are still remain (17 and 18). after being moulded n nuctured for several years with only few transfers to keep high cohesion, I finally noticed how important teamwork attribute is for playing a very fluid team shape. the quick one touch passes inside opposition box now is no more a rare sight. even with low tempo+short passing TI (I rarely combine short pass+retain possession). the Inside Forward - Attack and F9 are now more willing to quickly pass the ball if being pressed rather than breaking through a tight defense by themselves.

the other thing about very fluid is, the team will gradually drop back together when they lost possession except those who are closing down opposition's player who brings the ball. Sometimes I found this make defense agaisnt certain teams harder since i want them to stay high rather than going deeper

aside of teamwork, workrate is also important attribute for this team shape. not for all position but just several ones must have competitive work rate attribute

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Sean1967   

I decided to give this a try midway through my 2nd season with Celtic; so that if successful I could start shaping the squad to suit it. I already played a 4-2-3-1 so switching to the 4-3-3 formation shouldn't require much modification to the squad.

I used the basic 4-3-3 shape with a balanced and very fluid philosophy.

- Shorter passing

- Work ball into box

- Play out of defence

- Play wider (I found with 2 IF (a) and 3 CM (s/d) the middle of the park became quite crowded)

- Push up higher

- Lower tempo

All players, excluding the SK (d), CB(d) and CM(d) have been set to close down more. The CM (d), I have used close down much less to try and distance him a little from the CM (s). The front 3 have been instructed to look for the shorter pass, in hope of creating short sharp passes around the edge of the opposition area. The GK is instructed to distribute play to the defenders.

All players have general roles similar to above excluding Kris Commons as RMD (a) when he plays, as he is just fantastic in that role of the left of the front 3. I also have Ryan Gauld coming in at the end of the season, his stats look like he will be most suited to AP (a) in the same position. I am trying to keep things simple and have went for 3 defensive, 4 supporting/automatic, and 3 attacking players. I think this should bring a good balance in terms of universality.

As for my players passing, work rate and composure is essential across the boards, albeit different levels for different positions. As for other requirements:

- Defenders : positioning

- Midfielders : technique and stamina

- Forwards : acceleration/pace and finishing

Heres how the Starting XI line up

2q2n8s4.png

First game Hamilton (A)

iptixz.png

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I'll watch this thread with interest. I tried some of the ideas with my 4312 and beat Swansea 5-1 away from home playing some fantastic stuff. Next game I lost 5-1 away to Stoke and played some horrendous stuff!!! Baffled as always in FM15!!

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Sean1967   

Had a horrendous gap between the front and midfield 3, ended p losing 2-0 away to Partick Thistle. We were beat in terms of possession for the first time I can remember (domestically). So I changed the CF (a) to CF (s) and added in close down more back into team instruction. We beat ICT 7-1 and had 61% of the ball, I'll play it out until the end of the season and see how it pans out. Most importantly the hole in the middle reduced dramatically.

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It is important to note that FM15 has one of the worst match engines I remember, so don't feel too bad if there's an odd result or two (or three or four and up, for that matter).

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alinp   
Had a horrendous gap between the front and midfield 3, ended p losing 2-0 away to Partick Thistle. We were beat in terms of possession for the first time I can remember (domestically). So I changed the CF (a) to CF (s) and added in close down more back into team instruction. We beat ICT 7-1 and had 61% of the ball, I'll play it out until the end of the season and see how it pans out. Most importantly the hole in the middle reduced dramatically.

Pretty sure the OP has a CF(S) as well, so perhaps this isn't that surprising. I note you've gone the Auto Wing Backs whereas the OP has WB(A)'s - any reason behind this? Due you change mentality within the game?

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Sean1967   
Pretty sure the OP has a CF(S) as well, so perhaps this isn't that surprising. I note you've gone the Auto Wing Backs whereas the OP has WB(A)'s - any reason behind this? Due you change mentality within the game?

Yeah I was wanting more of a focal point to my attack but it just didn't work out like that. As for the WB (au), I am looking for a bit more defensive stability in the back line also I don't have the players suited to that role.

Results so far: 3-0, 0-2, 7-1, 3-0, 7-1.

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Help333   
what usually overlooked by most ppl is the important attributes required for the desired style.

i've been playing with very fluid team shape for a long time. what I can tell is how different a team with good overal teamwork attribute compared to a team with average overall teamwork attribute. it was frustating to see my side rarely play quick 1 touch passes inside opposition penalty box. oftenly they would just run with ball or recycling it until the ball was eventually being crossed by the fullbacks or being shot by my CMs. also my F9 at that time was like to run with ball to the opposition box even though there is no teammates ahead of him. it was very fluid/standart, low tempo, short passing, n the said F9 has no run with ball often PPM n he is described as an intelligent player by my coach but seems so stupid

as the game progress further, squad regenartion happened n I found a replacement for F9 role. Now his teamwork attribute is 16 compared to the former F9 which is only 12. same case with both wide forward, as I found replacements with better teamwork attribute (14 and 17 compared to 10 and 13). the new ones also have slightly higher work rate. both of my old playmakers with high teamwork are still remain (17 and 18). after being moulded n nuctured for several years with only few transfers to keep high cohesion, I finally noticed how important teamwork attribute is for playing a very fluid team shape. the quick one touch passes inside opposition box now is no more a rare sight. even with low tempo+short passing TI (I rarely combine short pass+retain possession). the Inside Forward - Attack and F9 are now more willing to quickly pass the ball if being pressed rather than breaking through a tight defense by themselves.

the other thing about very fluid is, the team will gradually drop back together when they lost possession except those who are closing down opposition's player who brings the ball. Sometimes I found this make defense agaisnt certain teams harder since i want them to stay high rather than going deeper

aside of teamwork, workrate is also important attribute for this team shape. not for all position but just several ones must have competitive work rate attribute

This is an excellent post. Very fluid emphasizes teamwork. It says so right in the description. Teamwork is going to matter. This is true both with respect individual attributes and team cohesion. And if you are going to press, well I hope you have players with a good workrate.

If you play very fluid you should definitely set team training for tactical.

It's also a good observation to say the team drops back together. I find this a feature. It's a wonderful thing to see your CF/S make an interception deep in your half, turn around, and start a counter attack.

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alinp   
Yeah I was wanting more of a focal point to my attack but it just didn't work out like that. As for the WB (au), I am looking for a bit more defensive stability in the back line also I don't have the players suited to that role.

Results so far: 3-0, 0-2, 7-1, 3-0, 7-1.

In that case, I'd be inclined to have them as WB(S). The problem with Auto roles is that they take on the current mentality, which is fine with yours at Standard as they'll be WB(S), but if you (for whatever reason) decide to go Attacking, they'll become WB(A)'s in an attacking mentality team, whereas you may be more comfortably with them staying a Support, even tho your overall mentality has now changed.

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Regarding Wingback Attack vs Support, for me it depends on the aerial threat my striker offers.

Regardless, due to my Inside Forwards I need the Wingbacks to provide attacking width. If I striker is threatening in the air I will chose Wingback (Attack) as they will get to the byline and get crosses in. If I have a smaller striker I would chose Wingback Support + Get Forward + Cross Rarely PIs.

One thing that might be interesting is to work on a list of clubs with intelligent, technical players with good work rate therefore good candidates for this system:

So far I have used Arsenal, Barcelona, Ajax and Holland. Swansea, Southampton, Crystal Palace (FM16) and Bournemouth seem like they could be good options on the Premier League.

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I have a question about Closing Down in FM 2015. Since your approach relies heavily on high pressing and closing down when off the ball, perhaps you can help me here. Are the modifiers changing closing down by equal amounts for team and individual players?

Let's take an example. Depending on overall mentality, we start from some base level of closing down for all players, for Standard mentality it could be 0. When I add a Team Instruction to Close Down More, this changes to 1 for all players. Close Down Much More would then mean +2. Is it twice as much? Player Instructions would increase or decrease it exactly as much as would Team Instructions, that is either +1, -1, +2 or -2. That is, if a team has Close Down Much More, and a player has Close Down Much Less then they just cancel out each other for that particular player, others would have Team level. Correct?

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It is an ambiguous area at the moment. If it helps, the way I think about it is in terms of level, based on Mentality. You've got mentalities, as follows:

  • Overload
  • Attacking
  • Control
  • Standard
  • Counter
  • Defend
  • Contain

As you move up to more aggressive mentalities, you increase the closing down setting. You can then use Team Instructions and Player Instructions to go into the next mentality / pressing banding.

In my tactic, I use standard mentality which sets my "base" level for closing down (and width, tempo, defensive line etc). I add a Team Instruction to Close Down More, so without the ball every player close down as if we are on Control. My Main pressing unit is the wingbacks and MCR/MCL who have the Player instruction to Close Down More, taking them up another notch to Attack. My front 3 have the PI close down much more, upping them another 2 notches to Overload. I set the DCs and MC(D) as a defensive triangle (MC(D) closes down much less).

You could think of it as:

  • Overload +3 => TI + close down much more Player Instruction
  • Attacking +2 => TI + close down more Player Instruction
  • Control - +1 => Close down more, Team Instruction
  • Standard - Base Mentality / Closing Down
  • Counter
  • Defend
  • Contain

The end result is 3 bands of pressure:

  1. AMR/AML/FC pressing on Overload
  2. WBR/MCR/MCL/WBL aggressive pressing i.e Attacking.
  3. DC/MC/DC creating a solid defensive triangle behind, on Control.

Couldn't say if this is 100% accurate but it helps me organize my defence and seems to work.

I also train defensive shape regularly as it is so important. Finally, pressing is the reason I switched from Diamond to 4-3-3 as preferred formation as it allows me to press the full backs. 4-3-3 seems optimal pressing shape, I cannot see a more effective configuration.

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Corner   

That's interesting. So effectively, your team presses in a 3-4-3 shape? Could you provide screenshots of your pressing shape?

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