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Important FM16 Tactical Changes

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Inspired by Cleon's excellent thread on training, I suppose it's a good idea to take note of some key tactical differences between FM15 and FM16.

First, the Team Shape setting has been streamlined to make it less convoluted and easier to understand. It still affects differences in mentality and creative freedom, but now, "Very Fluid" means the team will tend to be more compact (with more creative freedom) whilst "Highly Structured" means the team will tend to spread out more back-to-front (with less creative freedom) with Fluid/Flexible/Structured simply being sequential steps between those two extremes.

In addition to that, now all team shape settings incorporate mentality differences between duties (just like the old Flexible setting used to work). So on any Team Shape setting, you should generally see more risk taking and more aggressive positioning from an Attack duty midfielder compared to a Support duty midfielder. One consequence of this is that your duties will have a greater influence on your overall style of play. A team full of Support duties will be far more possession-oriented whereas a team full of Attack duties will try to initiate attacks with much more urgency.

Second, counterattacking has been significantly improved compared to the last several versions. If you've tried to play a more tactical game on FM14 or FM15, you may have noticed that it could be a struggle to sit deep and get out of your own half against an aggressive opponent. Play was too focused on what goes on in the final third with certain attributes not being properly utilised in transition play. Now, you will have a much easier time punishing teams that recklessly throw numbers forward, and you'll also find that implementing different styles requires giving greater attention to player skill sets. On the counter, pace kills, though one-dimensional pace merchants are now more prone to poor touches and errant passes if you try to play it out of the back with a less technical side.

Third, the positive and negative effects of setting your defensive line have a much greater impact. If you instruct the team to hold a high line, your defenders will be far less likely to retreat, but at the same time, slow defenders will struggle with through balls played over the top and down the channels. Related to this, instructions like More Risky Passes and Pass Into Space will now see gaps in and behind a formation exploited far more aggressively.

Those are the key changes that stand out for me. If any others come up, I'll update the thread. Feel free to chip in if you've noticed anything else.

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I'm glad someone did this :thup:

My personal favourite change is the defensive line. It's great being punished by playing too high. You now have a choice to make during a game and see it happening to you, do you go risk vs reward or do you play it cautious so you don't give through-balls away so easily.

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One more big change:

The Play Wider and Play Narrower TIs now only affect player positioning, not passing focus. Thus, you can now tell your team to try to stretch play without worrying about the ball getting glued to the touchline. Similarly, Playing Narrower doesn't mean your overlapping fullbacks will get ignored.

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One more big change:

The Play Wider and Play Narrower TIs now only affect player positioning, not passing focus. Thus, you can now tell your team to try to stretch play without worrying about the ball getting glued to the touchline. Similarly, Playing Narrower doesn't mean your overlapping fullbacks will get ignored.

This one is my favourite.

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The AI strikers drift to flanks (behind the DR and DL) a lot more. Couple this with 100% pin point Bobby Moore-esque passing from AI defenders. This alleviates pressure and stops you sustaining attacks. If you can stop the super over powered counter attacks this year happening like this (a FB on defend helps), it goes along way to success.

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It's interesting to see the changes to counter attacking and the defensive line. Given that it seems like most people who play FM are obsessed with having all the possession and a high defensive line with a Control or Attacking mentality, which was overly effective and too easy to implement in FM15 (and other years), it should be fun to watch them struggle when they don't have the players or the tactics to pull it off and the AI consistently kills them on the counter :). I've already been caught out by it anyway :D

Also simplifying team shape and duties is a positive move as it took days of reading guides and watching matches to even get close to understanding its effects on mentality in previous years. And arguably those old settings didn't really relate well to modern football anyway.

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First, the Team Shape setting has been streamlined to make it less convoluted and easier to understand. It still affects differences in mentality and creative freedom, but now, "Very Fluid" means the team will tend to be more compact (with more creative freedom) whilst "Highly Structured" means the team will tend to spread out more back-to-front (with less creative freedom) with Fluid/Flexible/Structured simply being sequential steps between those two extremes.

So am I right in concluding that the mentality of the players doesn't affect the vertical compactness anymore, but only the team shape? In FM14 and FM15, the mentality gap on a 'fluid' mentality was quite large, which made the team very stretched. In FM16, 'fluid' would make the team quite compact then?

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The AI strikers drift to flanks (behind the DR and DL) a lot more. Couple this with 100% pin point Bobby Moore-esque passing from AI defenders. This alleviates pressure and stops you sustaining attacks. If you can stop the super over powered counter attacks this year happening like this (a FB on defend helps), it goes along way to success.

Remembering all the time that the things that the AI do are all eminently possible for the human user too.

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So am I right in concluding that the mentality of the players doesn't affect the vertical compactness anymore, but only the team shape? In FM14 and FM15, the mentality gap on a 'fluid' mentality was quite large, which made the team very stretched. In FM16, 'fluid' would make the team quite compact then?

The mentality of the player still matters, so on the same setting, you should see a difference between a Structured set-up with an attack duty up top and a Structured set-up with a support duty up top. Right now, team shape works like this:

Very Fluid = Most Compact

Fluid = Compact

Flexible = Default

Structured = More Depth

Highly Structured = Much More Depth

However, within that, you also have the effect of duties so the ST's role/duty in particular will have a big influence on how stretched you become in build-up play. So, for example, an F9 is still going to be an F9 on Highly Structured whilst a Poacher will still tend to hang on the last defender on Very Fluid.

The underlying design philosophy seems to be that Role/Duty are primary, at least in terms of build-up play, with everything else being a smaller modification.

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Thank You! This explains a lot. It was obvious (and not unexpected) that the same combination of mentalities/duties/instructions was not producing the same play as last year, now I understand why (mostly)....

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Do More Risky Passes and Pass Into Space do the same thing? ie. more through balls?

As far as I know, Pass Into Space increases risky passes for everyone.

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In addition to that, now all team shape settings incorporate mentality differences between duties (just like the old Flexible setting used to work). So on any Team Shape setting, you should generally see more risk taking and more aggressive positioning from an Attack duty midfielder compared to a Support duty midfielder. One consequence of this is that your duties will have a greater influence on your overall style of play. A team full of Support duties will be far more possession-oriented whereas a team full of Attack duties will try to initiate attacks with much more urgency.

Oh my, this might be why people have problems with opposing team scoring though ball goals.

My FM15 tactics has 3 D, 4 S and 3 A Standard and Very Fluid, this seems to make my team a bit lax and not all that focused on winning, they are solid in defense though.

Now after reading this thread I flip one player from support to attack and OMFG, my mostly complacent team played like they would die if they didn't score 10 goals in this match, the overall team was playing way more urgent and attack focused, the effect was quite frankly stunning, especially considering my team was leading the league and winning everything and playing against one of the worst team in the league, so lots of complacency issues.

The really odd part is even while everything else was the same except for that one AML player switched from S to A, the other team kept having though ball chances. I've been wondering about the issue and people talking about it, since my team has zero issue in this regard and now changing one player from S to A, it's suddenly an issue?

Maybe this isn't the reason for the though ball issue, but I think we might have to focus a lot on this change in FM16 to learn to create tactics in it.

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Sorry for being a noob, but what does it mean when Fluid is more compact and structured more depth?

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Sorry for being a noob, but what does it mean when Fluid is more compact and structured more depth?

Was going to ask the same thing. I interpreted it as meaning Structured is spread out more vertically (more gap between defense, midfield and strikers?) while on fluid the team would sit closer together vertically. Does this mean you'd be better with a rigid structure for counter attacking and fluid for pushing high up the pitch/ possession?

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Second, counterattacking has been significantly improved compared to the last several versions. If you've tried to play a more tactical game on FM14 or FM15, you may have noticed that it could be a struggle to sit deep and get out of your own half against an aggressive opponent. Play was too focused on what goes on in the final third with certain attributes not being properly utilised in transition play. Now, you will have a much easier time punishing teams that recklessly throw numbers forward, and you'll also find that implementing different styles requires giving greater attention to player skill sets. On the counter, pace kills, though one-dimensional pace merchants are now more prone to poor touches and errant passes if you try to play it out of the back with a less technical side.

could you please explain that TI-wise?

I try to play counter-attacking football so a set up like the following would fit the above description?

Team Instructions:

Counter

Fluid

Slightly deeper def. line

direct passing

much less closing down

pass to space

using mainly 4-5-1/4-4-1-1/4-4-2 formations

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Also does that mean that the old link between the number of specialist roles and the team shape no longer exists?

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could you please explain that TI-wise?

I try to play counter-attacking football so a set up like the following would fit the above description?

Team Instructions:

Counter

Fluid

Slightly deeper def. line

direct passing

much less closing down

pass to space

using mainly 4-5-1/4-4-1-1/4-4-2 formations

Apparently ,playing counter mentality doesn't mean you'll actually be using counter attacks. Why is it even called counter then, I have no idea.

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I interpreted it as meaning Structured is spread out more vertically (more gap between defense, midfield and strikers?) while on fluid the team would sit closer together vertically. Does this mean you'd be better with a rigid structure for counter attacking and fluid for pushing high up the pitch/ possession?

Yes, it means the team spreads out more vertically (front to back) in possession. It doesn't necessarily mean one is better than the other for possession/counterattacking. It mostly applies to open play situations (non-counterattacking build-up phases) and transition-to-defence. Structured will create more space between the lines, perhaps making it easier for midfielders to circulate the ball, but fluid will let a team get defensively compact more quickly and see overlapping patterns occur more quickly. Either can work with any style, depends on what you want to prioritise.

could you please explain that TI-wise?

Counterattacking itself does not require much attention to TIs. If a counter triggers, all players go ultra-attacking and all players will look to play through balls into gaps. However, to trigger counters, you normally want to drop back and encourage the opposition to send numbers forward, though how you win the ball back depends a lot on how the opposition play. If you play a direct opponent who is happy to send balls down the flanks or over the top, you probably want to close down more so you win the ball ahead of your midfield. Against a short passing opponent, you'll probably get more opportunities for your midfield to intercept/win the ball just by keeping shape. As always, it depends on context, so there's no clear cut better/worse.

Also does that mean that the old link between the number of specialist roles and the team shape no longer exists?

No, the thinking behind that guideline still applies given that it mostly concerned creative freedom.

Apparently ,playing counter mentality doesn't mean you'll actually be using counter attacks. Why is it even called counter then, I have no idea.

Counter increases the chance that your team will attempt to break in force when the opposition is exposed. If the opposition isn't exposed, they switch to the Plan B specified by your normal role/duty/TI set-up. Over the past couple of versions, there have been issues with the counter not triggering or ending too quickly. This has been greatly improved. There's still room for improvement, in my opinion, but I think the posts complaining about overpowered counters indicate that it's far more of a viable strategy than it had been.

Attacking/Overload instructed to Drop Much Deeper are both still options for indiscriminate counterattacking.

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Counter increases the chance that your team will attempt to break in force when the opposition is exposed. If the opposition isn't exposed, they switch to the Plan B specified by your normal role/duty/TI set-up. Over the past couple of versions, there have been issues with the counter not triggering or ending too quickly. This has been greatly improved. There's still room for improvement, in my opinion, but I think the posts complaining about overpowered counters indicate that it's far more of a viable strategy than it had been.

Hi The Hand of God, thanks for this explanation , I have a curious query in that I was counter attacking really well but sometimes it just lead to losing the ball, I tried work into the box, which I guess in real terms means dont waste opportunities and it has improved my attacking in those situations where the counter has not worked... would you expect to see that?

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Hi The Hand of God, thanks for this explanation , I have a curious query in that I was counter attacking really well but sometimes it just lead to losing the ball, I tried work into the box, which I guess in real terms means dont waste opportunities and it has improved my attacking in those situations where the counter has not worked... would you expect to see that?

It makes sense, though I would say it also has a lot to do with the composure of your ST.

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Ah ok, I am struggling to decide on 2 positions at the mo, one of which is whether to play with a DLF-S or an F9... so I will take that into consideration as well :)

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This is awesome stuff to know, much appreciated for sharing. Was already working on a counter-attacking tactic so this makes me feel even better about it.

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So what about overlapping, would using that on Counter attack contradict the counter then, I have always seen overlapping as a possession instructions to create movement and greater numbers around the final 3rd...

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So what about overlapping, would using that on Counter attack contradict the counter then, I have always seen overlapping as a possession instructions to create movement and greater numbers around the final 3rd...

Interesting question, but I haven't tested this. I don't think it would contradict it outright, and the Counter phase would still cancel out Look for Overlap's effect on the wide player's tendency to get forward. However, it would probably make a wide player more likely to hold up the ball and look for runners rather than running with the ball himself, so that might be something to watch out for.

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Counterattacking itself does not require much attention to TIs. If a counter triggers, all players go ultra-attacking and all players will look to play through balls into gaps. However, to trigger counters, you normally want to drop back and encourage the opposition to send numbers forward, though how you win the ball back depends a lot on how the opposition play. If you play a direct opponent who is happy to send balls down the flanks or over the top, you probably want to close down more so you win the ball ahead of your midfield. Against a short passing opponent, you'll probably get more opportunities for your midfield to intercept/win the ball just by keeping shape. As always, it depends on context, so there's no clear cut better/worse.

So if I have a TI that is kinda contrary to what I want the team to do on a counter attacking, it won't matter? I've been debating whether to use shorter passing, retain possession, and work the ball into the box as I felt it might blunt counters, which is intended to my primary attack. But how I want to attack when not on the counter.

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So if I have a TI that is kinda contrary to what I want the team to do on a counter attacking, it won't matter? I've been debating whether to use shorter passing, retain possession, and work the ball into the box as I felt it might blunt counters, which is intended to my primary attack. But how I want to attack when not on the counter.

It depends on the instruction. A Counter phase sets everyone to run forward, run with the ball and pass the ball into space. You should still see shorter passing and your normal long shot/crossing instructions have an effect.

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One more big change:

The Play Wider and Play Narrower TIs now only affect player positioning, not passing focus. Thus, you can now tell your team to try to stretch play without worrying about the ball getting glued to the touchline. Similarly, Playing Narrower doesn't mean your overlapping fullbacks will get ignored.

If only "Exploit the <left, mid, right>" would finally set a preferred attacking area instead of simply changing movement patterns of a handful of players, that would be lovely. Still no way to quickly, for example, set your team to play narrowed up, but in certain areas of the pitch to create local overloads whenever possible.

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One more big change:

The Play Wider and Play Narrower TIs now only affect player positioning, not passing focus. Thus, you can now tell your team to try to stretch play without worrying about the ball getting glued to the touchline. Similarly, Playing Narrower doesn't mean your overlapping fullbacks will get ignored.

So, if you want your team to stretch your opponent (i.e. he is down to 10men, or uses a narrow formation with only one player on each side) you should for example

use something lke: Play wider-exploit the flanks-overlap?

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So, if you want your team to stretch your opponent (i.e. he is down to 10men, or uses a narrow formation with only one player on each side) you should for example

use something lke: Play wider-exploit the flanks-overlap?

Yeah that one example of what you could do.

i dont like new match engine.beta version was much more better than now.

No it wasn't now it's much better but still has a long way to go.

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On beta engine, my tactics worked fine. On this, I can't get a break. I don't really see a big difference between this and beta in game except the fact that I suck big time on 16.1. :D

Also I found some tactics on FMbase which goes against any reasonable advice you can get here but apparently are crushing the AI. You make normal default tactic, you get hammered and at the same time some illogical set up is unbeatable. I'll keep trying with normal set ups but I'm really close to use this unbeatable tactics to keep my mental health.

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This is great to hear.

I know a lot of people complained about defensive tactics simply not working very well in previous versions, although partly that is down to gifting the opponent too much space and time and inviting too much pressure, I do think that there was a bit of a bias towards high pressure attacking tactics previously. Hopefully there is a little more balance now.

Also glad to hear about the defensive line thing, I'm not sure if I was just seeing things I wanted to see, but often even with massive changes to my defensive line players wouldn't push up or drop deeper than normal a lot of the time.

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Regarding to these changes in team shape, which team shape would best represent this seasons Man Utd side in your opinion The Hand of God? Or for that matter Barcelona and Bayern Münich?

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In addition to that, now all team shape settings incorporate mentality differences between duties (just like the old Flexible setting used to work). So on any Team Shape setting, you should generally see more risk taking and more aggressive positioning from an Attack duty midfielder compared to a Support duty midfielder. One consequence of this is that your duties will have a greater influence on your overall style of play. A team full of Support duties will be far more possession-oriented whereas a team full of Attack duties will try to initiate attacks with much more urgency.

In this version we must more carefully when assigned a duty ? I guess in this version having more support duty is vital for possession game more than FM2015. What do you think about that ? I asked it because I am the bad one with TC. I cant observe truly.

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The mentality of the player still matters, so on the same setting, you should see a difference between a Structured set-up with an attack duty up top and a Structured set-up with a support duty up top. Right now, team shape works like this:

Very Fluid = Most Compact

Fluid = Compact

Flexible = Default

Structured = More Depth

Highly Structured = Much More Depth.

Is this new? I remember reading something like this many FMs ago.

I've always thought this is ridiculously counter-intuitive. Imagine you want an extremely disciplined defensive 4-4-2 with the least amount of space between the lines possible. You want your players to be complete robots and follow your instructions to the letter, whilst focusing everything on diminishing space for the opposition to play in. If I want players to be robots = zero creative freedom = Highly Structured. BUT at the same time, least amount of space between lines = extremely compact = Very Fluid. So this is impossible in FM then? If I wanted to replicate this, I'd have to go for Very Fluid + the More Disciplined shout + specialist/static roles in every position?

Conversely you could also want huge gaps between your players but give them lots of creative freedom. And don't even get me started on how the amount of space between the lines, in real life football, doesn't necessarily need to be linked to how much overlapping I want between the lines.

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Is this new? I remember reading something like this many FMs ago.

I've always thought this is ridiculously counter-intuitive. Imagine you want an extremely disciplined defensive 4-4-2 with the least amount of space between the lines possible. You want your players to be complete robots and follow your instructions to the letter, whilst focusing everything on diminishing space for the opposition to play in. If I want players to be robots = zero creative freedom = Highly Structured. BUT at the same time, least amount of space between lines = extremely compact = Very Fluid. So this is impossible in FM then? If I wanted to replicate this, I'd have to go for Very Fluid + the More Disciplined shout + specialist/static roles in every position?

Conversely you could also want huge gaps between your players but give them lots of creative freedom. And don't even get me started on how the amount of space between the lines, in real life football, doesn't necessarily need to be linked to how much overlapping I want between the lines.

You have brought up the sort of points which confuse me as well (I'm easily confused!). The tactical advice which people give is, I am sure, absolutely sound, but I honestly quite often find it hard to understand. Now I have an idea of how I want my team to play but am very unclear as to how to do it. So I'll put a few simple questions and would be very grateful if some kind soul could answer them in as idiot-proof a way as possible, so that I have some chance of getting my head round them.

I want to defend stubbornly and hit teams on the break (having lousy players). I'm likely to use a 3 CD at the back plus wingbacks setup of some sort. As I will be managing a lower league team, my players will not exactly be geniuses). So:

1 Should I set to Fluid?

2 Should I use Direct passing, Mixed or Shorter? And, linked to this, will the 'Retain Possession' TI be counter-productive?

3 Should I use Faster Tempo?

4 Should I set my defensive line to Much Deeper?

5 Should I set the mentality to Counter or Defensive (which seems intuitive) or use a 'Defensive' sort of setup with an Attacking mentality (which I think someone said was the way to go but seems very counter-intuitive to me, somehow!).

6 Will the 'Work the ball into the box' TI slow my counter attacking (of course, my players will be pretty lousy finishers which means that if they shoot from a less than ideal position they are liable to hit the corner flag).

Sorry if these questions seem to be very basic. But, as I said earlier, I am easily confused!

Thanks in anticipation....

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You have brought up the sort of points which confuse me as well (I'm easily confused!). The tactical advice which people give is, I am sure, absolutely sound, but I honestly quite often find it hard to understand. Now I have an idea of how I want my team to play but am very unclear as to how to do it. So I'll put a few simple questions and would be very grateful if some kind soul could answer them in as idiot-proof a way as possible, so that I have some chance of getting my head round them.

I want to defend stubbornly and hit teams on the break (having lousy players). I'm likely to use a 3 CD at the back plus wingbacks setup of some sort. As I will be managing a lower league team, my players will not exactly be geniuses). So:

1 Should I set to Fluid?

2 Should I use Direct passing, Mixed or Shorter? And, linked to this, will the 'Retain Possession' TI be counter-productive?

3 Should I use Faster Tempo?

4 Should I set my defensive line to Much Deeper?

5 Should I set the mentality to Counter or Defensive (which seems intuitive) or use a 'Defensive' sort of setup with an Attacking mentality (which I think someone said was the way to go but seems very counter-intuitive to me, somehow!).

6 Will the 'Work the ball into the box' TI slow my counter attacking (of course, my players will be pretty lousy finishers which means that if they shoot from a less than ideal position they are liable to hit the corner flag).

Sorry if these questions seem to be very basic. But, as I said earlier, I am easily confused!

Thanks in anticipation....

Ok I'll say what I think the answers to your questions are, but there are much better guys out there.

1) Your structure (fluid etc) has a relatively minor effect on the way your team plays as far as I'm aware, and it seems too many people get hung up on it. All it does is move mentalities closer or further apart. So in very fluid, most players will have very similar mentalities, based on the overall mentality. On highly structured the mentalities will be further apart. This is probably ok for a defensive mentality if you set your roles correctly, don't have a bunch of attack duties or player roles that don't defend much, unless thats what you want. It would also give you a couple of players you could use as an 'out' for a counter.

2) Again I think it depends on your team etc. For counter, the passing is longer from defenders, shorter for attackers. Direct will increase the passing length universally. Maybe this is what you want. But when a counter is on, the passing gets a bit more direct, players become more attacking etc. It might be you just want your side to pass around the back until a good counter arises, or you might want to get the ball to you higher players quicker.

3) Tempo changes when a counter is on. So outside of that situation, a defensive mentality has a slow tempo, keeping the ball and being unadventerous. When theres a counter on tempo increases. If you increase tempo outside of that situation you will pass the ball around faster, which is good if you want to create more opportunities, but less good if you are playing safe.

4)Defensive mentalities are already deep, going deeper will possibly make you too deep. I'd only do it if I was consistently having strikers run in behind me.

5) Defensive is a bit more extreme than Counter. Matter of choice, you can get that effect with both. Attacking mentality creates a lot of counter opportunities, but its more of a countering in a sort of Gegenpress manner than a sit back way.

6) Work ball means you'll get less crosses and less long shots. Once your counter is on this shouldn't affect it, just the quality of the shots taken.

Hope that helps.

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Thanks for that, it certainly makes things clearer!! Two other things spring to mind.

1 Does the 'Pass into Space' TI encourage players to knock the ball behind the opposition defence and, if so, is it worth putting it in?

2 Similarly, does it help to instruct the keeper to launch the ball behind the opponent's defence line?

Thanks very much!

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Thanks for that, it certainly makes things clearer!! Two other things spring to mind.

1 Does the 'Pass into Space' TI encourage players to knock the ball behind the opposition defence and, if so, is it worth putting it in?

2 Similarly, does it help to instruct the keeper to launch the ball behind the opponent's defence line?

Thanks very much!

I guess both depend on what the opposition are doing and the quality of your players. Pass into space increases throughballs as far as I'm aware.. but if you don't have players good enough to find that space or make that that pass accurately then you'll end up losing possession a lot and having to defend again.

You'll need a goalie with good kicking skills to achieve that too.

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Thanks again! Keeper has kicking 13 which is actually pretty fair for the Vanarama South!! :)

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Thanks again! Keeper has kicking 13 which is actually pretty fair for the Vanarama South!! :)

Also I meant to say that you need to bare in mind that kicking behind the opposition will only work if they are pushing up and creating that space to run into, otherwise you will just be giving it straight back to them. To be honest I've never seen my keeper manage to kick it that far anyway. Just past the halfway line is where he usually gets it.

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Also I meant to say that you need to bare in mind that kicking behind the opposition will only work if they are pushing up and creating that space to run into, otherwise you will just be giving it straight back to them. To be honest I've never seen my keeper manage to kick it that far anyway. Just past the halfway line is where he usually gets it.

Yep! Itried it for about 5 mins and took the instruction to the goalie out! :)

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Is this new? I remember reading something like this many FMs ago.

I've always thought this is ridiculously counter-intuitive. Imagine you want an extremely disciplined defensive 4-4-2 with the least amount of space between the lines possible. You want your players to be complete robots and follow your instructions to the letter, whilst focusing everything on diminishing space for the opposition to play in. If I want players to be robots = zero creative freedom = Highly Structured. BUT at the same time, least amount of space between lines = extremely compact = Very Fluid. So this is impossible in FM then? If I wanted to replicate this, I'd have to go for Very Fluid + the More Disciplined shout + specialist/static roles in every position?

Conversely you could also want huge gaps between your players but give them lots of creative freedom. And don't even get me started on how the amount of space between the lines, in real life football, doesn't necessarily need to be linked to how much overlapping I want between the lines.

This. Vertical compactness should be an instruction on his own. At the moment, the role of a player defines his mentality in all team shapes, a player on attack always has a higher mentality than a player on support, even on (very) fluid, so I don't see any reason to define vertical compactness by team shape. Being extreme tight in a vertical way hasn't got anything to do with high creative freedom. As a matter of fact, a 'vertical compactness setting' could be a more straightforward - and more realistic - replacement of the actual team shape settings.

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This. Vertical compactness should be an instruction on his own. At the moment, the role of a player defines his mentality in all team shapes, a player on attack always has a higher mentality than a player on support, even on (very) fluid, so I don't see any reason to define vertical compactness by team shape. Being extreme tight in a vertical way hasn't got anything to do with high creative freedom. As a matter of fact, a 'vertical compactness setting' could be a more straightforward - and more realistic - replacement of the actual team shape settings.

The interesting thing is that to do this they don't even need to add any more settings. There already is a button for "more disciplined" / "more expressive". All they need to do is get rid of "very structured / structured / flexible / fluid / very fluid" and replace it by a setting purely about vertical compactness, without affecting creative freedom at all, so you'd have "very spread out / spread out / balanced / compact / very compact". This would be the exact same as width except about verticality, so you could have it in a nice graphical form like width is now.

And maybe expand "more disciplined" / "more expressive" to 5 settings, ie very disciplined / disciplined / normal / expressive / very expressive.

Of course this means the old tactical theorems would no longer apply, as you'd now get a lot more possible combinations, but times move on and this would give you greater freedom as a manager without the UI being as counter-intuitive as it is now, or without it giving you overly specific settings to work with as a manager (ie, it's not unrealistic like the sliders - footballers are dumb but if they can understand width they can understand vertical compactness, certainly more so than "be flexible", "no no let's now change to fluid")

As for setting more / less overlapping between lines in yet another setting, that's a whole other story, but I concede that there is a natural tendency for more overlapping in real life if the lines are tighter; and you can do a lot of things to overlapping through the roles as it is anyway; so perhaps a new setting for this would be overcomplicating things and they can keep it as it is.

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The changes to the d line and counter attacks are properly bumming me on 16.

I've had loads of success in previous versions pushing up closing down heavily while having two wingsbacks on attack on the overlap.

On 16 I just get destroyed with through balls and counters.

I've been found out m8s. Just like Brendan after Suarez left.

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Couldn't agree more with you, noikeee. Replacing team shape by a setting about vertical compactness would be very intuitive, and, indeed, something you could realisticly tell the players, something you could practice on the training ground. It would make things way much clearer for everyone.

I think expanding creative freemdom options would be a necessity though. It should be possible to play attacking, very compact, but extremely structured. Now, you can try attacking, very fluid and adding 'be more disciplined', but that makes the team 'relatively disciplined', not very disciplined. And it shouldn't be linked to mentality. I don't know if I'm right, but I consider creative freedom as a setting that defines how 'planned' tactics are. There are as much managers who just tell their players to stay behind the ball, without being very specific about what they should do, as there are who tell their players to 'attack', 'to give all they can'. That's my interpretation of freedom. Disciplined is about managers like Mourinho, Guardiola, van Gaal, Villas-Boas etc., who draw lines on the training pitch and are very clear and strict about the exact movement of each player.

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