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After doing plenty of reading (again), I've started in the FMT mode (I think thats what it is). Just to build a tactic without all the extra pressure. I'm really trying to analyse the game, whats working and what isn't. However I need a little help.

My team is Sunderland, they have a pretty average squad and thats being polite. Slow centre backs that enjoy switching off, full backs who don't really know that they are actually required to play as a full back...not a winger. A very distinct lack of creativity in midfield and not enough goals in the strikers.

However!

We have some pretty decent wingers in Lens, Johnson, and Borini. As well as some hard nosed midfielders who when on their game can be very destructive without the ball.

In saying that, here is my setup and idea/s for the team.

GK: Pantilimon. Pretty stock standard here, only thing I've changed is I've added quick distribution.

RB: Jones. Not a bad full back actually. I have this positionas a WB (A).

CB: O'Shea. So old, so slow, so O'Shea. CD (D).

CB: Kaboul. Younes is interesting, can have a belter one week, and then just falls asleep the next game. CD (D).

LB: Van Aanholt. PVA is horrible at defending, I think the attribute guys are being kind to him. He's horrendous, should be a winger! Anyway this position is a CWB (A).

DM: Cattermole. I love Lee but boy he does some stupid stuff, when he's switched on he can be a very effective and disruptive holding mid, decent range of passing too. I have this position as a HB (D).

CM: Rodwell, no comment on Jack. He's a CM (A).

CM: M'Vila. Interesting player, similar to Lee but better with the ball and without the ball. Like Lee, needs to be switched on to be effective. Got this position as BBM (S).

AML: Lens. Could potentially be devastating with his explosiveness and dribbling skills. I have this position at a IF (S).

AMR: Johnson. Similar to Lens. IF (A).

ST: Borini. He's similar to Lens and Johnson but a better finisher. This position is F9 (S).

Mentality: Counter

Team Shape: Fluid

Team Instructions: Slightly deeper, Higher tempo, Use offside trap, closing down more, play out of defence.

My idea is obviously to try and sit back and counter at speed using the front 3 who are all quite small, nimble, pacey, and good at dribbling. I think they are working ok together but probably could tweak them to make them better.

The full backs are set to quite attacking roles to attack the space left by the inside forwards. Not sure if this is the right thing to do with a counter attacking idea?

I think the HB is doing his job, though Lee enjoys dragging himself out of position to make a tackle which at times annoys me because it drags him away from screening the 2 CB's.

The CM (A) gets forward into the box and supports really well, however against stronger teams I think that might leave too many holes in midfield?

I'm really not so sure on the BBM (S), I can't seem to find a role in this position that 1, suits M'Vila, and 2, is giving me what I want going forward and tracking back.

Anyways I think thats it for now, I would really appreciate some input and suggestions. I think I have a solid base and I'm on the right track (do correct me if I'm wrong).

Thanks guys.

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Lots of people are getting the concept of Counter "wrong" lately. It's all about men behind the ball in order to lure the AI forward and reach a point where a counter is triggered, so if you have a striker and an Attack Duty at AML/R, you basically always have two guys forward. That reduces the occasions on which a counter can be fired.

You open by criticising the full backs and then dish out two Attack Duties? What's the thinking? If you have two DCs who have abilities to switch off or move inordinately slowly, then leaving them exposed by having your full backs zapping up field seems a bit counter intuitive to me.

Midfield is a bit loose too. Cattermole will drop into defence and advance too slowly as your own attacks build, stretching the gap to the advancing Rodwell and M'Vila. So, to recap - two crap DCs, full backs bombing on and a hole in the middle of the pitch. It's not looking too hot :) Cattermole is a liability at the best of times, but if he's having to scamper about to cover gaps left by advanced MCs and full backs tracking back when attacks break down, you have trouble.

How does it play out? If I separate the defence and DM from the front five, I can see it working from the MC line forwards (if you had a different defensive set up). I just think the back half looks a bit ropey. The Team Instructions conflict with the Mentality a bit too; higher tempo is about what you do with the ball when you have it. If you shift it about quickly from front to back, you again reduce time to get the AI forwards and leaving space behind. Use offside in a system with a deep defensive line? It's more typically employed with a high line trying to squeeze space, not with a deep line where you're intentionally conceding space. Play Out Of Defence makes some sense as it'll reduce the directer passing at the back inherent in the Counter Mentality at the back.

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He has DR/DL players like Alex Vidal, he is a winger, but can play Wing Back Attack and will bring a lot to the attack.

Playing that kind of player purely defensively, just means you will have less chance of scoring goals, without really ensuring better defense.

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Thanks for the replies guys. I've taken what you've said on board and am about to try some things out!

Well the thinking of the full backs is to attack the space left by the inside forwards, but I guess on a counter attacking tactic that doesn't make too much sense?

The changes I've made are:

Both full backs are on FB (S).

The front 3 are all now on support duties.

I took off offside trap, and higher tempo.

Now to see how this plays out!

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I am struggling with a few things here.

Should I have my AML, AMR, and ST on a support duty? Or will that be too stagnant? As I have noticed I can't seem to get enough movement within my team.

I also can't figure out what to have my 2 CM's as, and the DM isn't screening anywhere near as well as I want. I've tried a few roles but I'm not happy with how they're going. I think part of the problem possibly is that Sunderland don't have any creativity from the middle of the park?

I have gotten Borini to be playing really well, and Lens to some extent.

With a counter attacking based tactic, should I be standoffish completely, or have some closing down? How deep should I sit, or does that depend on the pace of my DC pair?

I think I'm SLOWLY learning the tactical stuff by analysing things while I watch, but I'm not sure what to do when I've seen a problem. As I mentioned above, lack of movement when my CM's pick the ball up in the middle of the park, and a little forward of the centre of the park. Sometimes my front 3 can get crowded out due to lack of support and distance between the lines.

Not sure if this is good analysing or not?! Haha.

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A counter mentality will make your defence sit deeper automatically anyway. You want to let the oppo come onto you a bit so you can steal it. Yes, you want to win the ball back and counter but you don't want your players to come charging out of position and leaving gaping holes all over the field to be exploited.

I tend to have my strikers and inside forwards on opposite duties to each other. If you have a striker on Support then they'll be coming deep leaving space for the Inside Forwards to attack. Similarly, if your striker is on Attack then having your Inside Forwards attacking will mean they just get in each other's way. Put the IFs on Support so they cut into the space left behind by the striker.

I always find the Anchor Man role is the best DM role just because they don't go mental and charge after people. Cattermole is a liability in that team and you should try to get rid ASAP. I tend to see the Anchor Man get pretty low match ratings (rarely above a 7) but when you watch the game you'll see that the opposition tries to pass around him which slows their attack down and allows you to regroup.

You are right... Sunderland have very little creativity in the middle of the park. Larson is probably their best passer. Until you can improve that, their strengths lie on the wings with Johnson and Lens amongst others.

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A counter mentality will make your defence sit deeper automatically anyway. You want to let the oppo come onto you a bit so you can steal it. Yes, you want to win the ball back and counter but you don't want your players to come charging out of position and leaving gaping holes all over the field to be exploited.

I tend to have my strikers and inside forwards on opposite duties to each other. If you have a striker on Support then they'll be coming deep leaving space for the Inside Forwards to attack. Similarly, if your striker is on Attack then having your Inside Forwards attacking will mean they just get in each other's way. Put the IFs on Support so they cut into the space left behind by the striker.

I always find the Anchor Man role is the best DM role just because they don't go mental and charge after people. Cattermole is a liability in that team and you should try to get rid ASAP. I tend to see the Anchor Man get pretty low match ratings (rarely above a 7) but when you watch the game you'll see that the opposition tries to pass around him which slows their attack down and allows you to regroup.

You are right... Sunderland have very little creativity in the middle of the park. Larson is probably their best passer. Until you can improve that, their strengths lie on the wings with Johnson and Lens amongst others.

Thanks for your input mate.

I've settled for an anchorman (I've used this in previous years and it seems to give me the simplicity that I need in that position). I've dropped Cattermole, and using M'Vila in that spot. He's been better, unsurprisingly!

I've also gone with a DLF (S), 2 IF (A). Then I've got a BBM and a DLP (S) as my midfield pair. My RB and LB are both now FB (S).

It seems to be working a lot better. I went 2-0 up away at Tottenham before losing 3-2. I've been unlucky in a few games after that, creating more chances but not capitalising.

One problem is I seem to get exposed on the flanks. Son absolutely dominated me after I went 2-0 up against Tottenham, my guys couldn't contain him. I think that might be the fact that my back 4 as a unit aren't great, more so than the roles and setup?

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Thanks for your input mate.

I've settled for an anchorman (I've used this in previous years and it seems to give me the simplicity that I need in that position). I've dropped Cattermole, and using M'Vila in that spot. He's been better, unsurprisingly!

I've also gone with a DLF (S), 2 IF (A). Then I've got a BBM and a DLP (S) as my midfield pair. My RB and LB are both now FB (S).

It seems to be working a lot better. I went 2-0 up away at Tottenham before losing 3-2. I've been unlucky in a few games after that, creating more chances but not capitalising.

One problem is I seem to get exposed on the flanks. Son absolutely dominated me after I went 2-0 up against Tottenham, my guys couldn't contain him. I think that might be the fact that my back 4 as a unit aren't great, more so than the roles and setup?

Read the pairs pdf guide by llama3.For the 41221 formation he recommends

Gk d

Wbr a

Cb d

Cb d

Wbl a

Dm d

Dlp s

Cm a

If a

If a

F9 s.

That's what I have just started using.Against big teams or away games I may potentially look to put the wing backs on support rather than attack and cross from deep option.If maybe support too to hopefully make them contribute to the defensive side.

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Thanks for your input mate.

I've settled for an anchorman (I've used this in previous years and it seems to give me the simplicity that I need in that position). I've dropped Cattermole, and using M'Vila in that spot. He's been better, unsurprisingly!

I've also gone with a DLF (S), 2 IF (A). Then I've got a BBM and a DLP (S) as my midfield pair. My RB and LB are both now FB (S).

It seems to be working a lot better. I went 2-0 up away at Tottenham before losing 3-2. I've been unlucky in a few games after that, creating more chances but not capitalising.

One problem is I seem to get exposed on the flanks. Son absolutely dominated me after I went 2-0 up against Tottenham, my guys couldn't contain him. I think that might be the fact that my back 4 as a unit aren't great, more so than the roles and setup?

No problem... Essentially yes, Sunderlands back line is pretty flimsy. Attribute-wise they're alright but their mentalities and cohesion isn't great. Van Aanholt isn't great and Kaboul is inconsistent. Unfortunately they'll be ripped apart by good players so aim to strengthen there. I wouldn't say it's really to do with your tactics but more to do with the personality of your team and their ability.

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Lots of people are getting the concept of Counter "wrong" lately. It's all about men behind the ball in order to lure the AI forward and reach a point where a counter is triggered, so if you have a striker and an Attack Duty at AML/R, you basically always have two guys forward. That reduces the occasions on which a counter can be fired.

This is a mistake I'm just realising I've been making for a long time. As a result RTHerringbone, would you suggest dropping AML / R back into midfield strata and giving attacking duties? SO 41221 becomes 4141 with WM (a) on flanks?

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This is a mistake I'm just realising I've been making for a long time. As a result RTHerringbone, would you suggest dropping AML / R back into midfield strata and giving attacking duties? SO 41221 becomes 4141 with WM (a) on flanks?

Exactly that. It's what I do and the 4-1-4-1 has been a favourite of mine for a good 2 or 3 years now. Never really looked to master a 4-4-1-1 (which is the ML/R equivalent of a 4-2-3-1) but need to get round to that.

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Exactly that. It's what I do and the 4-1-4-1 has been a favourite of mine for a good 2 or 3 years now. Never really looked to master a 4-4-1-1 (which is the ML/R equivalent of a 4-2-3-1) but need to get round to that.

They're both formations I'm trying to perfect this year... I think I remember seeing in one of your 4-1-4-1's that you used two attacking CWB's and maybe even an attacking CM? Forgive me if I'm wrong. In a counter tactic I know I need to get men forwards but wondering if attacking CWB's might be a bit too aggressive?

I'm thinking:

Counter / Flexible

TI - Wider / float crosses

GK (d)

WB (s)

CB (d)

CB (d)

WB (s)

DM (d)

W (A) -

CM (A) /or AP (A)

CM (s)

WM (A)

TM (S)

My thinking is:

TM is an outball and holds up for on-rushing WM / CM / W (who also provides width) then CM (s) and WB's provide late support for recycling.

Now I'm playing as Villa and we're not great at passing so I'm wondering if I need a playmaker in there so we don;t just hoof it mindlessly.

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They're both formations I'm trying to perfect this year... I think I remember seeing in one of your 4-1-4-1's that you used two attacking CWB's and maybe even an attacking CM? Forgive me if I'm wrong. In a counter tactic I know I need to get men forwards but wondering if attacking CWB's might be a bit too aggressive?

That must have been a year or two ago, I'm a lot less aggressive now! At the moment, I'm using this in my third season with a very good Arsenal side:

GK (D)

DL FB (S)

DR WB (A)

2x DC (D)

Anchor

ML WM (A)

MR WM (S)

MCL BBM

MCR CM (A)

ST CF (S)

It's still aggressive but I would steer clear of CWBs out of personal choice, but from the DC line they are safer than from the DM line. The system you suggest looks good. All I'd watch is the twin attack Duty flanks and the Target Man. Check the ML/R aren't both conceding too much space behind, and that the passing to the TM isn't being cut off or detracting from your general play.

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After trying with the 4-1-2-2-1 I can't seem to get what I want, especially with a counter attacking style, I'm not creating enough, and for a counter tactic I'm way too loose at the back.

I've changed to a 4-1-4-1. Dropping the AML and AMR back to the midfield spots allows me more bodies in the middle that can at least try and get in the way defensively, as well as hopefully linking up with the CM's a bit better. I've got the left side at a WM (A), the right as a WM (S), and to cut inside to allow my RB to get forward with a WB (A) duty.

I'm not sure if I should go with a CF (S), or a DLF (S), this will be something I trial to see which is more effective.

I'm going to have to retrain Borini and Lens to play in the MR and ML slots as well so hopefully that works out ok.

This already seems a little more balanced, and in theory has more variety in attack with both wingers offering something different, as well as the full backs.

Quick question, how do I stop getting exposed on the flanks? It seems all there attacks come from out wide. It's something I've never quite understood how to stop. Probably a stupid question I know.

And if I'm getting beaten with balls over the top of my centre backs, do I sit deeper or?

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For those of you interested. I'm still playing a 4-1-4-1 Counter, flexible. TI's: Slightly deeper, clear ball to flanks.

GK (D)

DL: FB (S)

DC: CD (D) x2

DR: WB (A)

DM: BWM (D)

ML: WM (A) dribble more

MC: BBM (S)

MC: CM (A) dribble less

MR: WM (S) cut inside with ball

ST: CF (S)

It's been working quite well, I'm 9th in the league after 13 games. Still playing around with it, but it's having some success.

Some of the football is great to watch as well.

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In regards to your DM player: don't you find a BWM role here to be too aggressive and positionally indisciplined? Or is he held in check by the counter mentality? I'm currently using an Anchor Man or a DLP/D here, who are great in recycling the ball and - in the case of the DLP - setting up the play from deep.

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In regards to your DM player: don't you find a BWM role here to be too aggressive and positionally indisciplined? Or is he held in check by the counter mentality? I'm currently using an Anchor Man or a DLP/D here, who are great in recycling the ball and - in the case of the DLP - setting up the play from deep.

Good question. So far he's been ok, I think its risk and reward kinda situation. If he wins the ball back he can spring a counter attacking chance, if not then he can at times expose the back 4. It's something I'm still playing around with, I'm yet to try a DLP there, I've had an anchor man there but it wasn't giving me much to be honest.

I guess because the player I have there is a natural ball winning midfielder, he's playing quite well.

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Ok so I've noticed that my striker isn't scoring enough goals. My main goal scorer is from the ML position (Lens), with my leading assist the RB (Jones).

I'm not sure if its because my striker is too forward with the CF (S) role, and I should perhaps change to a DLF (S). Also think I could get more from the MR position, would it be too predictable or unbalanced if I changed him from a WM (S) to a WM (A) like the ML? Baring in mind I have him to cut inside with the ball, and the MR has no specific instructions on where to dribble.

I don't want to attack too much though as it will likely leave my full backs exposed out wide, which I have mentioned in previous posts is a problem (getting killed out wide).

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That must have been a year or two ago, I'm a lot less aggressive now! At the moment, I'm using this in my third season with a very good Arsenal side:

GK (D)

DL FB (S)

DR WB (A)

2x DC (D)

Anchor

ML WM (A)

MR WM (S)

MCL BBM

MCR CM (A)

ST CF (S)

It's still aggressive but I would steer clear of CWBs out of personal choice, but from the DC line they are safer than from the DM line. The system you suggest looks good. All I'd watch is the twin attack Duty flanks and the Target Man. Check the ML/R aren't both conceding too much space behind, and that the passing to the TM isn't being cut off or detracting from your general play.

What players are you using for the ML/MR spots ?

Im in my second season with Liverpool, playing the same tactic, but got problems finding the right player(s)

Would love some quick feedback! :)

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