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michalgottwald

Saint-Etienne FM16 narrow 4-1-3-2 - losing the lesser games

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Impressed with the work rate/team work and physical ability of the midfielders available at Saint-Etienne, and in the process of buying a very talented deep lying playmaker, i decided to go for this formation:

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During pre season and the first few games of the season I settled on these TI's:

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The high d-line/offside trap/closing down has become kind of a template defending style for me in the past versions of FM - it generally works well, so I wanted to keep using it.

The DPL(D) provides cover and starts attacks. Full backs are on attacking, as playing with no wingers I absolutely need their threat down the flanks. I also need lots of runs from midfield, which is why I chose the B2B's- the thinking is that these should provide mobile support for both full backs and the AP(A) and strikers, while at the same time contributing with both attacking runs and defending. The AP(A) is motivated by initially wanting a narrow diamond, but having to pull the AM down one strata to split the two central midfielders for defensive purposes. Considered a CM(A), but found the AP(A) to suit the players i wanted in the first XI better.

I've done a lot of short passing/slow tempo in the last years, and wanted to try something different. Therefore I brought in a big, strong, workmanlike striker to provide an out for more direct play in the DLF role. He's paired with a quick dribbler as poacher. I tried playing high tempo/direct passing, but that either gave the ball away too easily or left the strikers isolated from the midfield when recieving the ball, so I went back to standard tempo and mixed passing. I have roam from positions and be more expressive on to encourage movement for my playmakers to utilise - but writing up this(always a great way to concretize my thoughts and ideas) it might be good to try and turn off "Be more expressive", or even go "Be more diciplined" - and leave the creativity to the designated(and far superior to the rest of the team passing and creativity wise) playmakers?

Width is fairly narrow, as I want a compact, hard working midfield unit that is hard to play through. Pass into space to encourage through balls for my quck poacher and runners in numbers.

After an initial period with tinkering and getting the players to know the tactic this started to work beautifully against the bigger teams. Eleven games vs. LOSC, Marseille, Monaco and Lyon(three cup games) produced 7 wins and 4 draws. Against PSG we had one narrow defeat and one cup final win - but more important - in all of these games the tactical side of things really worked out. Whenever a team set out to beat me, and I got some space when attacking, I was not only countering really well but making chances from established play. The defensive side of things(with some tweaks like playing wider or having a full back on support when needed) was good.

When playing weaker teams it was another story entirely. Any side that defended deep meant trouble - my full backs suddenly couldn't get a cross in(even when having space, so this was weird - they would go past their man, stop, wait for their marker, shift the ball to their weaker foot and then either get their cross blocked or pass it out to a supporting player. Why not cross when in space?), the ball just went sideways outside the penalty area, and penetration became near impossible. Then I would lose the ball, get countered down the flanks and lose the game to a cross.

I guess what I'm asking is - will I have to change up the way I play completely when playing the lesser teams? Or are there things you would try inside the chosen formation and general playing style that would help in these situations?

Comments on role distribution are also welcome. I'm very unsure about the AP(A) in particular - he hasn't managed to make much of an impact and his playmaking role isn't really visible in games - he mostly stays in line with my BBM's and offers unneeded support in a far too congested part of the pitch.

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The system as a whole looks fine. I used something similar last year with probably 6 or 7 of the same Roles / Duties. It's very narrow, exacerbated by the two central Playmaker's, so that possibly makes it a bit too predictable. In the long run, you might want to look at the AP again if play is too obviously focused down the middle.

Against lesser sides, you seem to be getting a taste of your own medicine, but you've actually identified the issues: flanks and being countered. I'd consider tweaks but not wholesale changes. Maybe use WB (S) at fullback and ask them to cross less and take fewer risky passes. It's hard to get round a massed defence and crossing is pretty inefficient, so it might be better to play through them. Another option is simply a change in Mentality; you are countered because you are having a go at the smaller sides. If you drop to Standard you can potentially force them to step up and try to play.

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Thanks, very helpful as I'm managing St Etienne with 4-3-3 so this will make a very god alternative

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Thanks for your input RTHerringbone - still in preseason, which is why I haven't answered in depth yet, but the initial signs are that WB(S) with standard mentality and fewer risky passes goes a long way in these games. For one it has greatly enhanced crosses from deep, which are creating a lot of chances in the friendlies.

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Nice, im trying to get this to work with Fiorentina, also a version with a AMC instead of DM. Struggling to get must out of my strikers though, seems I have the ball and pass it around a bit but nothing happens other then that. I kind of just play to make it awkward of the opposition

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Thanks for your input RTHerringbone - still in preseason, which is why I haven't answered in depth yet, but the initial signs are that WB(S) with standard mentality and fewer risky passes goes a long way in these games. For one it has greatly enhanced crosses from deep, which are creating a lot of chances in the friendlies.

How did it go?

I found I had the same issues as you did when it comes to the AP (A) - He just doesn't seem to be very impactful in the sense that I thought he would be. He was often in line with or behind the B2B midfielders, going to places where he wasn't really needed.

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I've had the same experience as isignedupfornorealreason. I'm currently trying the same formation as OP with Sampdoria, with an AP/A in the same position, and I find that the AP/A sometimes positions himself literally next one of my other midfielders.

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