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Fine tuning my tactics 4-3-3 (or 4-1-2-3 DM Wide)

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First of all I've tried fine tuning a lot of times but with FM 2016 out I'm just going to do it all over again!

Introduction

What do i want out of my tactic?

Before we can fine tune anything we have to know what we want to accomplish with our tactic. The most easy answer ofcourse would be to dominate every other team out there! Since this is however hard to accomplish we will settle for a bit less. I want us to play possession football which can generate chances through a nice cross or with a nice through ball through the middle. To be more specific I will go down every position I have and list what I want them to do.

Formation

Keeper: Just keep the balls out and try to keep possession whenever he gets the ball (nothing exciting here)

Central Defenders: Keep the opposition from scoring and try to keep possession whenever they get the ball. Would also be nice if they scored once or twice from a set piece (pretty boring here too)

Full backs: Primarily keep the opposition flanks in check. Secondary (maybe even primary) overload the flanks and put in a cross and generally offer wide support. 5 to 10 assists per season.

Defensive midfielder: Extra defensive stability and primary ballwinner in the team. On top of that I expect him to keep our attacks going with deep support and collecting balls that have been cleared by the opposition. Cherry on top would be a goal once or twice from some long range attempt, but not necessary.

Central midfielder 1; The playmaker: This is the guy that should give that amazing throughball or launch that winger. He needs to have 20+ assists per season if he can add some goals to that it would be even more amazing but that's not required.

Central midfielder 2; The support: I want this guy to offer support to our striker and get on the score sheet, also he should offer and extra man to pass the ball to. I expect this guy to score 10+ goals per season and have just as many assists.

Attacking midfielders; The widemen: These guys should provide both width and help the striker out by giving assists and getting on the score sheet. 10+ goals per season and 15+ assists.

Striker: Our main goal threat, clear and simple. He should put away 30 goals per season (20+ in the league) and since it is a 1 striker formation, setting up a couple of goals would be nice.

Now that we know what we want, let's inspect our tactic.

Roles and instructions (most of this is based of the Pairs & Combination guide)

Goalkeeper/Defend - PIs: Pass It Shorter, Fewer Risky passes, Distribute To Fullbacks. Basically what I said, I want to keep possession when I have it and not throw it away by letting my keeper just shoot the ball to the opponent.

Full Back/Attack (DL) - I chose Full Back since it still gives the most safety in a defensive aspect. The Attack duty is because our AML is on a support duty and I want to balance that out.

Central Defenders/Defend - Again pretty basic. We don't want Limited Defenders, cause they would squander possession too much, also no Ball Playing Defender since we have better qualified people (like the DM) to do that.

Full Back/Support (DR) - Role same as DL. Duty is balanced with DL duty.

Defensive Midfielder/Defend - We need a role that doesn't get too far back and can still help us when we attack, so it comes down to DM. Duty is defend because he will be our holding midfielder.

Roaming Playmaker/Support - PIs: More Risky Passes, Shoot Less Often. We want a playmaker and this is one of the roles with it, I basically chose this one because I've had some success with this in some earlier games (more than other playmaker roles). RP only comes with a Support duty so this is an easy choice.

Central Midfielder/Attack - PIs: Roam From Position. To round off our midfield we need an attack duty, so that comes down to AP/A or CM/A since I don't want another playmaker I'm going for CM/A. This should get him the box often enough and hopefully accomplish what we want with this player. The PI is there because the player I have in mind for this position has a high Off The Ball rating so I want him to have more freedom.

Inside Forward/Support: Since we only play with 1 striker I basically want this guy to be kind of a second striker but coming from wide. The player(s) that I have in mind playing here is/are good at dribbling but not that great in crossing so I chose a Support duty.

Winger/Attack: To bring in some variety I want a winger on this side, we'll take the Attack duty to balance things out again.

Complete Forward/Support: Single striker systems usually need a support role here so we are left with either DLF, TM, CF, DF or F9. TM is basically out because it would get our players to play long balls, which we don't want. DLF is like an upgraded TM without the negatives but I'm looking for a little more. DF is too defensive. Basically it comes down to CF and F9. Due to having players that can fill the CF role pretty well I chose for that, but I might come back on that.

8jVTy3T.png

Control - I would like to "control" the game but not be too exposed and balanced feels just too boring.

Fluid - To offer some freedom to the squad but not too much.

Lower Tempo - To keep possession

Play Wider - I want to take advantage of most of the pitch

Play Out Of Defence - Don't squander our possession

Shorter Passing - Good for possession

Work Ball Into Box - Be patient when looking for the goal

Whipped Crosses - Our guys aren't the biggest and strongest but they are pretty fast

Let the fine tuning begin!

We could try and fine tune everything at once, but we would probably fail, so I'm going to break it up in little parts and move on from there. With the games I played I always have 2 major issues; my striker doesn't seem to be my main goalscoring threat and my supportive/attacking midfield seems to never really be great. Since I am a huge fan of the attacking midfielder of this club and he's one of their best players I will start to try and fine tune my midfield first. Hopefully once I'm done fine tuning him he will not only perform better but also support our striker better and maybe kill 2 birds with 1 stone (wishful thinking probably).

We are going to fine tune our midfielder simply by looking at full matches (yes full matches!) so this better pay off because this will be time consuming.

The first game is a friendly game vs Parma, I feel like their team are at least as good if not better than us. Friendlies aren't the greatest way to fine tune but I feel they are still adequate, so let's get started.

KVIkKKn.png

Well good start after only 20 seconds we see our RP/S (#8) on the ball and our MC/A (#7) in the box, but you can also see he kind of takes the space from our striker (#11) as he's very close to him. He would be better of at the edge of the box or even a little deeper. I see a little more after this and basically what I see is that my MC/A is either in midfield or right in the box taking space away from my striker, he's not using the space in between at all. This is clearly not ideal so after about 15 minutes I decide to switch my MC/A to a AP/A (remember I want to balance out midfield with an attack role).

A8EhF4n.png

Well that doesn't look good.

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STOP! Don't move more to the right... Totally not what we want to fine tune right now but my CD/D (#3) seems completely lost making our other CD/D (#4) and FBL/A (#5) get out of position and clearing the way for a rush down the opponents right flank.

oOOu1H5.png

Ok back on track, my now AP/A (#7) is looking to use some space, great! But what is this? Why is my RP/S (#8) getting so cozy with my DM, that doesn't seem right. Let's keep an eye on that.

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They do say great minds think alike, but this is rather silly.

plGjV6l.png

Look at that great use of space, I think we've got it!

zJSQILW.png

Nope.. I take that back...

oN3Neap.png

Ok, this is getting ridiculous. They got the ball played to them from the FBR/S (#2) and collided with each other which lost us possession. Actually every time the ball was on the right side of the pitch the RP and the AP would both move to the same spot taking each others space, while the ball was on the left side of the pitch all was pretty fine regarding using the space on the pitch. Also there were some other things not quite going as I'd like; the AP/A comes with more dribbling which I don't want our guy to do since he's bad at it, another thing was the AP/A didn't seem to get in the box much. So all these things considered I decided to once again change the role but this time I also changed the role of the other midfielder. I changed the RP/S to an AP/S and the AP/A (former MC/A) to a BBM/S. Now this goes a little against all I know since there isn't an Attacking duty on my midfield, but I do know the BBM does make runs so it could still be ok. The change to AP/S is because I feel it is the most attack minded of the playmakers, I decided against an attack duty because that would mean he would dribble more and like his other CM buddy he is not very good at dribbling either. Let's see how it works out.

HVXFIYE.png

Alright looking decent. Here the BBM gets the ball from the W/A and plays it back to the W/A and he himself makes a run into the box. The W/A takes the shot himself but the move looks good.

IMyl1Gu.png

Another offtopic little quirk I notice, we're not using our flanks (the ball should move to the left flank here) very well we seem to be wanting to move everything through middle. Let's keep an eye out for that.

BljTEai.png

Here again, all the space available on the left flank but my AP/S plays in my IF/S on the edge of the box. Even after my IF/S gets dispossessed and my AP/S gets a second chance he still goes for it a second time with the same result...

ROlXb1l.png

So great to see how much better we are using the space right now. My substitute BBM/S (#15) is in the perfect position lurking outside the box and my AP/S (#19) sits nice and close to the ball to receive a backpass if needed. In this case the ball gets to my BBM who plays in my W/A who gets a shot on goal. Now that's what I want to see.

New positions

It was great seeing the BBM work. Sometimes he would rush into the box for a second and then seeing him realize the ball isn't coming and he was better off dropping deeper to support the attack. Also the general better usage of the space was a real good thing to see. Ofcourse it was only 1 match (and not even a full match) but I think we are on the right track. Further more the changing of the roles meant I could drop PIs since the PIs that the CMs had are already part of the role they are in now, seeing as I'm not very fond of PIs I'm really happy about this side-effect.

So what's next? Well it would be making my ST more efficient, but I'm not quite sure on how to do that. Maybe play another match and just fiddle around roles like I did here, anyway that's something for another time. If anyone has any suggestions let me know!

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Interesting thread, will be keeping an eye on it for tips on how to fine tune my own tactic, which seems very up and down so far, sometimes works and sometimes not.

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Nice thread ! I have been using same setup, 4-1-2-3 DM wide. Been trying some of your roles and so far and it has just improved my tactic, have you tried exploit flanks for better use of full backs and wingers ?

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I've also been playing the same formation most of the time.

Your last screenshot with b2b midfielder is the most similar thing to mine.

I also had great deal of success with two b2b midfielders, especially in close games where you're not dominating that much. But both of them need amazing physical stats.

One thing I haven't managed to accomplish is short-passing, low tempo possession game. I had a lot more succes with mixed passing and playmaker just distributing the ball around quickly, with more direct, long passes if necessary.

Even managed to win CL with Inter in the second season.

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Interesting thread' date=' will be keeping an eye on it for tips on how to fine tune my own tactic, which seems very up and down so far, sometimes works and sometimes not.[/quote'] Thanks, that's kind of the thing I wanna get from this thread, a bit of a guide on how it's possible to fine tune.
Nice thread ! I have been using same setup, 4-1-2-3 DM wide. Been trying some of your roles and so far and it has just improved my tactic, have you tried exploit flanks for better use of full backs and wingers ?
Thanks. I will definitely look into it, but I do feel the exploit shout isn't one that should be on at default maybe I'll change my mind about it though :)
I've also been playing the same formation most of the time.

Your last screenshot with b2b midfielder is the most similar thing to mine.

I also had great deal of success with two b2b midfielders, especially in close games where you're not dominating that much. But both of them need amazing physical stats.

One thing I haven't managed to accomplish is short-passing, low tempo possession game. I had a lot more succes with mixed passing and playmaker just distributing the ball around quickly, with more direct, long passes if necessary.

Even managed to win CL with Inter in the second season.

Personally I like some diversity in my team, but I might try this if I get suitable personnel for it.

My most successful careers so far have been on mixed passing, but I like possession because of the idea that when you have the ball the opponent doesn't have it and so they wont be able to score. Will definitely keep this in mind and most likely tinker around with it.

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You should use another kind of tempo, like normal or higher tempo, or you will be a little predictable.

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I've been having some trouble fine tuning because basically I couldn't really figure out what was going wrong. What I can see is that the team isn't playing like I want them to be. The playmaker isn't giving the killer passes, the winger isn't giving crosses, the striker isn't being the main threat so all in all we're just not playing like I want them to and I'm not seeing too many glances of it either. There for I'm now looking at this thread again, hopefully pick up some things on what to pay attention to and move on from there.

What I did do however is do so some result based testing (just put your tactic in and let the computer play out a game over and over in commentary mode) and picked up some interesting things; like short passing wasn't having the greatest result. Also have been browsing this forum a bit and came across something interesting.

Well if you want to go for "pure" Ajax, then 4-3-3 is mandatory (everyone from Van Gaal to De Boer have used this). Although really it's always been far more flexible than is possible in FM. So by 4-3-3 I mean (in FM terms) 4-1-2-2-1 (DM and AML/R). Not meaning to promote myself or anything, but it's probably easier to show you how I've set it up in my Let's Play for Ajax:
(tactics start 1:40, and note that I actually end up making a bunch of changes to this in the second season, but shape and principles remain the same).

It's been interesting, however, that (to me) De Boer has been much more willing to switch things around this season. It may have come about from PSV winning the league last time around, but they've played a bunch of different formations at times this season, from 4-2-3-1 (2 DM's), to ditching a DM altogether and playing with an AMC in a 4-3-3. So up to you which route you want to go down really :)

I watched some of his let's play and saw a very interesting formation.

p5MszAJ.png

It's interesting because the DM is set as a DLP which gives some more responsibility to that position instead of being primarily a defensive role. That is something I have tried in the past and have failed at, so I do want to see if I could incorporate this into my vision. Another really nice thing with the roles is the CWBs which gives the backs a whole lot more to do, I like this very much because I love the upcoming backs (Dani Alves and one of my childhood heroes Michael Reiziger for example). I Will definitely look into this formation and maybe try some things out.

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