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Cleon

The Art of Possession Football

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Taken from my blog https://teaandbusquets.com/blog/

Possession football seems a desired play style amongst the Football Manager faithful, yet it seems to cause a lot of confusion especially on a higher mentality structure like control or attacking. While possession tactics on Football Manager are simple to create, they’re not if you use a higher mentality due to higher the mentality, higher the risk and faster play will be. When thinking about possession on Football Manager you immediately think lower mentalities are better suited because they are more cautious. While this is true to some extent but it’s not the only way of having lots of possession. So for this article I will be using a control or attacking mentality to highlight how to have success this way. All the current tactics and articles we see always focus on the lower mentalities because it’s easier to achieve but that’s not what the user is always looking for.

One thing I would like to clear up before we start the article though is how possession works. People always throw real life percentages around when talking about Football Manager but don’t realise that how Football Manager and most analysis sites workout possession is very different. So if we start by looking at someone like Opta then we can see how they measure possession.

Quote

 

When you are watching a football match every once in a while you’ll see flashed up on the screen a statistic showing how much “ball possession” each team has had. Opta explains how this statistic is computed:

There are several data providers out there in the UK and across the world monitoring games, from TV companies themselves for live games, to specialists like Opta.

Each has their own method of working out possession. Some use calculations based on the data, but most use a “chess clock” approach where each team has a button which is hit when they are in possession. Some do this in the broadcast truck, others have analysts who call it out and inputters who hit the buttons.

Opta used this method originally, but the problem we found with a chess clock approach for time is that you are reliant on the person logging the data remembering to hit the button and the person doing it usually has other tasks to perform and other data to log.

Missing a couple of switches obviously skews the possession figures and it’s impossible to go back and change it. It may not sound much but one minute where the clock is wrong can affect the possession figures by two to three percentage points.

Opta now record possession in a football match by means of an automated calculation based on the number of passes that a team has in a game. We have two analysts, each monitoring one of the teams and they log each event in a game, totalling between 1600 and 2000 events per match.

Each of these events has a time code plus an xy coordinate and the collection system is rigorously monitored by our team of checkers.

During the game, the passes for each team are totalled up and then each team’s total is divided by the game total to produce a percentage figure which shows the percentage of the game that each team has accrued in possession of the ball.

For Opta “ball possession” means percentage of completed passes, and is not a measure of time, though Opta does claim that the two are very closely related.

 

 

That is how Opta work their possession out which seems reasonable enough. However Football Manager handles it different to how Opta now works.

Football Manager still uses the old method of the ‘chess clock’ to record possession. But what does that mean? Well it means that the difference in methodologies between them and Opta cannot be accounted for. One of the main differences between the two methods but be an example like this;

Team A is under real pressure and the ball is put out of play by Team B. Team A could take a minute or longer to put the ball back into play and all of this would account for possession in Team A’s favor. Because it’s the amount of time that is calculated. Were as for Opta all of this would amount to nothing and is meaningless. But in Football Manager it’s counted as possession. It’s worth remembering that when trying to figure out possession on Football Manager based on real life percentage figures. If you realise this then it’ll save you lots of time that would normally be spent banging your head against the wall.

Before we jump into the analysis and seeing how I go about creating a possession style I would like to point out that the idea of this thread, is not for you to copy what I do. But rather for you to take elements of what I do and implement them into your saves. if you just copy what I did and expect the same results then you didn’t understand the purpose of the thread. This will also mean I won’t answer any questions you have when you post something along the lines of ‘You have success with Swansea but I tried and blah blah’. So please, use this article as it’s intended and take what you learn here and implement it into your own saves with your own systems. This article is about the ideas, principles and philosophy of possession football in higher mentality structures.

The Beginning

In Football Manager there is possession that is meaningful and possession that is meaningless. I see a lot of tactics and posts on a daily basis that fall into the latter. Achieving a high possession percentage is relatively easy but creating something that is still potent and uses that possession in dangerous areas is a lot harder. For any kind of possession strategy then something based on these Team Instructions would be a good starting point for such a system;

Highly Structured Team Shape – This would allow space to open in midfield and encourages players to keep it simple.

Lower Tempo – This encourages players to look for support and not to rush with their play. Players will be looking up and accessing their options more.

Roam From Position – Encourage players to make themselves available, keeping support options available. It’s probably one (if not) the most important aspect of ball retention.

Dribble Less – You don’t want many players dribbling with the ball because you want players in support and the idea is to retain possession. Dribbling can see passing options reduced.

Pass it Shorter – It’s all about keeping it simple with the ball. The longer the pass the more likely it can be under/over hit, mistimed or even intercepted by the opposition.

Retain Possession – Again it reduces passing length making it even shorter and cutting the risk of through balls out.

Work Ball Into Box – You don’t want players shooting from distances and wasting chances. Not only that but it would give the opposition the ball, which kinda goes against possession right?

Play Out of Defence – Building attacks from the back is basic possession football.

Distribute Short – If you don’t then you will often find your keeper booting the ball long and wasting possession. Your keepers distribution will likely have the single biggest impact on your overall possession. So make sure he isn’t wasting it.

Now if you used all the above in a system then likelihood is you’d see lots of possession but most of it pointless without the roles to utilise this possession. But these are the most (well, what I think anyway) are the most important team instructions when it comes to creating a possession brand of football.

After writing the last article that I did, the counter attacking one, a lot of people have been asking me how to make it more attack minded. So with that in mind, I had the idea of using the same tactic that I discussed throughout that entire article in this one. But the further I got into this new saved game the further it no longer resembled the original 4-1-4-1 so I abandoned it after about eight games. The more I changed the player roles the more it was becoming pointless. I don’t mean the shape was pointless as the 4-1-4-1 is a great shape to use for a possession based game. What I meant was, it was becoming boring for me to write about that shape yet again. So I mixed it up slightly but it’s still basically a 4-1-4-1 due to the roles and duties used.

The Club

As you will have seen above, I decided to take over Swansea this time to create a possession tactic. The reasons for doing this is because I like Garry Monk and Swansea, I like how they try to build a philosophy and stick to it regardless of the manager is. More clubs should look to this approach because it’s proven to work over time. So what better club on Football Manager to use right? They’re not a top side yet should have enough quality to avoid relegation. The media prediction is 10th in the first season, so it should be a challenge.

The Tactic

It’s worth noting that I didn’t just arrive at this tactic and it work instantly. In fact, I still think it needs work but it’s successful as you’ll see. All I wanted to concentrate on was possession for the first year and use that as the catalyst to build from. Getting high possession numbers was always the aim but that is always a challenge when you’re classed as weaker opposition to the rest of the league.

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Mentality - The whole point was to show this on a high-end mentality but due to the side I am I thought control would suit us better than attacking. Control is still attacking though so don’t be fooled by the name. It still plays fast, attacking football and uses a high defensive line. It’s really aggressive in it’s approach. It’s actually not that different to attacking.

Team Shape - I touched upon this earlier. I think team shape is the one setting on Football Manager that throws people off because it seems complicated. It’s really not complicated at all though, myself when deciding what to set the team shape as I simplify things and make the choice based on these;

Do I want players to be more creative than usual? If so I’ll go to the more fluid end. If not I’ll go to the more structured end. The hand of god on the SI forums was spot on when he said;

More structured team shapes will encourage players to keep it simple and more precise. You would choose this if you want players to stick to the basics and avoid losing the ball with technically difficult passing/dribbling. The downside is that you might restrict some players' creativity and your team's style can end up being rather workmanlike/boring.

While the more fluid approaches will make players try more tricks and play with more creativity, flair and pizzazz. There are a couple of reasons you might want this. From a tactical standpoint, it can possibly help players unlock defences by making play less predictable and harder for defenders to read. It also tends to be more fun to watch.

Honestly, it’s not a big deal and if you set team shape in accordance to the above then you’ll always be fine. If you’re not sure you can always leave it on flexible which is a bit of both approaches and is the ‘neutral’ point.

Team Instructions - These were the tricky ones because I mentioned earlier all the best TI’s to use. But using them all is overkill and would no doubt create a possession style that was creating possession for the sake of possession without ever being a goal threat. That’s not what I wanted so I narrowed it down to just five in the end.

  • Retain Possession.
  • Play out of Defence.
  • Lower Tempo.
  • Close Down Much More.
  • Roam From Position.

Those are the five I ended up using. I mentioned earlier in the article about what these team instructions offer, so I’ll not go into those details again. However I will touch upon why I’m closing down more as I didn’t mention that above. The only reason is because remember how possession is calculated on Football Manager? Time. So the less time I can give the opposition on the ball the better. That’s my only reasons for using it.

That covers that side of things. So let’s focus on the roles and duties now.

The Defence

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It’s nothing out of the ordinary here, in fact it’s rather conservative really and what you expect from most defensive players. None of them have any player instructions apart from the goalkeeper. Remember earlier, I mentioned how he was important to possession football. Well I gave him some instructions to ensure he wasn’t wasteful.

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All those are focused on retaining the ball and passing it the shortest possible distance. The reason he is selected to roll it out is because when he was throwing the ball out, he was distributing it to full backs on the odd occasion when they were a bit too advanced. So I wanted to encourage him to play it to the central defenders instead and so far it’s working better. I didn’t want him to slow the pace down though because I feel he already plays at a slow enough pace. It is something you can consider though if you feel the player might benefit from a couple more seconds before releasing the ball.

Midfield and Attack

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Those are the roles and duties that I use for the entire midfield. The interesting part is that the wide players have support duties. The reasoning behind this is that players on support duties in the wide areas will drop deep when out of possession. What this basically means is that out of possession I have a flat four in midfield so the shape resembles a 4-1-4-1 in defence. If these players had attack duties then that wouldn’t happen as the players would still more than likely be far too advanced.

While I am focused on possession I still want to actively set out to win games and in order to achieve this, I need support from the midfield. That’s why I’ve opted for a box to box midfielder because he will be the engine who goes up and down the pitch. Next to him we have the roaming playmaker, who is responsible for playing the ball around from a central position and also providing a thread in the final third.

Out on the wings we have an inside forward, who’s job is to support the striker and make himself a handful by making deep, late runs into the box. On the other side we have an advanced playmaker. He is both a creator and a goal threat. Remember I am focused on retaining possession so this role helps with this and between him, the false nine and the roaming playmaker, we see some interesting link up play which we will touch on a little later.

Up front we have a false nine, who will drop very deep out of possession and help the midfield. In dropping back with the other attackers, it stops him being isolated up front on his own at times. It means players are closer together when out of possession and this allows for better passing angles and options with ball retention being a priority.

That’s just a brief overview of things before we start the match analysis and see why this tactic works for the set of players I have. Speaking of players, it’s not been easy with Swansea on that front. Two of the biggest stars asked to leave when I rejected bids from PSG and Chelsea, so I had to sell. I could have hung on and kept them longer but I didn’t see the point in doing that, when I am trying to build a specific style of play. I need to build this around the players at the club and not base it on ones who would be leaving in the next window. So here are my transfer dealings, just so you can see the players I brought in.

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I lost quality players in Ki and Gylfi but I reinvested the money well and bought players I expected to stay at the club for a very long time. I’m not sure why I did that though as this was only ever going to be a one season save to highlight how this brand of football works. But I guess it’s hard not to approach the game like I do every other save, so maybe that’s why?!

The Analysis

When I first started out I did use a 4-1-2-2-1 for the first three games, then I had the idea of linking this article with the counter one so switched to the 4-1-4-1. Then after four games switched back to the tactic that you now see above. So for the first few games things were a bit hit and miss and not every settled. My results were fine but my ideas were all over the place so it took a while for things to really kick in. That’s why my average possession for the season, which I’ll show you at the very end, is lower than it should be.

The first real-time when the tactic felt settled was when I beat Liverpool 2-0.

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The stats and the result might not be that impressive but for me it was. This was the first time I really dominated possession against a bigger side. I’d dominated weaker ones before this game but you always expect to have the better share of possession against the weaker teams. While it was only one game and at home, it showed my plan was working and that my ideas could be put into practise. All I needed to do now was add the consistency factor so I could do this game after game. Let’s break this game down and see how the tactic I use works in a match environment.

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To build any kind of possession game you always need the players that are on the ball to have passing options. This comes from movement, without this you’d struggle to retain the ball. In the above screenshot we can see the box to box midfielder who has just passed the ball to the player on the wing, the advanced playmaker. But look at all the passing options around in this move, there are many different ones. So in a situation like this you’d expect to keep the ball.

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When Ayew, the advanced playmaker receives the ball then I immediately see three players all making different kind of movements. The roaming playmaker is coming towards the ball to offer the short option. The box to box midfielder is looking to push on and get further up the pitch. While the defensive midfielder, is jockeying around his position and being the spare man. This all means that when the ball does move central we can keep possession and then other players can be brought into the game and offer support.

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When Maia gets the ball the box to midfielder, starts to dart forward and go more advanced. This opens up space for Maia to use. The roaming playmaker also does the same, this takes his marker with him. This means that my right back and the advanced playmaker become free down this flank.

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Due to all the movement, the move continues as the defensive midfielder passes the ball back to the advanced playmaker. He then shifts the ball out to the fullback. When the fullback gets the ball the advanced playmaker moves forward offering himself as the short passing options. The roaming playmaker does the same. The box to box player then pushes on and becomes the most advanced player on the pitch. While the defensive midfielder drops off ever so slightly.

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This is still the same move. You can see my side is being patient with the ball and not really forcing play, as we try to play our way up the field. We are seeing lots of movement and link up play, which highlights the tactic and player roles are working as I want. The ball comes back to Ayew, the advanced playmaker. This time though, when he receives the ball he passes it forward to the roaming playmaker and suddenly the opposition is on the back foot. The false nine starts to push forward and is looking to get between both centre backs. At the same time, the box to box midfielder is going to drop off his marker and make himself available as a passing option.

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The false nine realises he ran too early so drops back off so he can support the box to box midfielder. While over on the far side, the inside forward if on the blind side of everyone and makes a run between the fullback and central defender. This means the box to box midfielder slips the ball to the false nine, who then plays in the inside forward. He then shoots from just outside the box and forces a save from the goalkeeper. It’s a shame the move didn’t amount of much other than just a shot at goal. But it does highlight how important passing options and movement are.

You’ll have seen that my defensive midfielder is involved heavily in the move and early on in the above scenario, he was a pivotal part of it. Someone yesterday (RTH) asked me if I suffered due to using a mobile defensive midfielder, because most advice we see given out on the forums or in articles always suggest you should have a holding player. Now I do have a holding player obviously but he meant my choice of a support duty rather than a defensive one. So we thought it might be a good idea to expand on this and go into details about his role more.

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Thiago Maia is the number nine. As you can see he is a lot closer to the midfield players rather than sitting and screening the defence. This is because I like him to push our possession play forward that’s the main reason he is on a support duty. But what exactly does pushing possession play further forward actually mean?! Let me try to explain a little clearer.

I don’t have as many attacking duties in the tactic as you might think I would have, considering I use the control mentality structure. This was on purpose so I could focus on retaining the ball because an attack duty with a control mentality increases the player risk for everything they do and makes play fast. So to get the correct balance I decided to be more conservative with the duties used on the attacking players. But this also allowed me to more risky with the defensive midfielder role without being badly exposed. I might get slightly exposed as times and we’ll take a look at that in a bit, not I believe the risk is minimal compared to what the defensive midfielder offers me in this system.

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Forty nine received passes, with four of them being intercepted. The above shows that he is a passing option in his own half more than he is in the oppositions which is understandable and what you’d expect. At the start of most moves he is involved heavily.

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Those are his passing completed stats. They almost mirror the received passes map from above. This shows he keeps it simple after he receives the ball. Quite a lot of these passes are in the oppositions half, again which shows he’s important in the build up play. If we take this Liverpool game, we can look at what he actually does in-game to add some context to the stats above.

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When he intercepts the ball he is very forward thinking and this also allows to build moves and apply pressure on the opposition. In the above screenshot he has just won the ball back and passes it instantly to the false nine. If he was on a defensive duty he wouldn’t be winning these sort of balls in these kind of areas, as he would be deeper positionally. But by winning the ball in these areas was can push forward. In this particular move when the false nine gets the ball, the inside forward, box to box midfielder and roaming playmaker all stream forward into free space and we cause Liverpool all kinds of issues.

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Another example but this time showing him dictate play in the final third. He ends up using the red dotted line for his pass this time but again, it highlights he has several passing options to choose from. He offers me much more by being allowed to push forward than he does screening the back four. It allows me to build attacks as he is always the deeper options. It also means if the opposition doesn’t clear the ball correctly he is well placed to pick the ball back up and keep the pressure on the opposition's back line by keeping the move going for those who are already in advanced positions.

It does have drawbacks at times though and isn’t all plain sailing. He might get caught out of position, or be stretched,  if we are counter attacked quickly by the opposition. But I have confidence in the defence. It all comes down to risk versus reward, for me the risk is worth it for the bigger picture. While someone else in a similar setup might prefer a more cautious approach and opt for the defensive duty. Neither is better than the other because both have pros and cons. You just need to decide which approach will benefit your own style the most.

Let’s look at an away match to Arsenal now. This was a very tricky tie and a lot relied on this result. I was two points clear of them in the league with two league games left. If I lost the game it would mean the title would be out of my own hands and I’d need to rely on other results.

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I only had 59% possession here but considering it’s still the first season and Arsenal are a better, stronger side than I am, it was a great dominant performance. I was unlucky not to win in all honesty. Not only did we win the possession side of things but we also created lots of on target chances. Sometimes in possession oriented tactics, especially on high mentalities, you see the quality drop because everything is more rushed just by pure definition of what the higher mentalities offer. That’s why it can be hard (not impossible though) to make them work.

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Sometimes we do go more direct though if the opportunity presents itself. It’s not needless possession just for the sake of it. In the above screenshot it doesn’t look like much is on at the moment. However the left back who is currently on the ball plays it to the false nine, who then plays it to the inside forward on the far left.

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I’ve mentioned this in various articles over the years but this shows why having runners from deep is a vital part of any tactic. It’s because it opens up space and you can catch players out of position and make the most of it, like in this screenshot.

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The box to box midfielder is in acres of free space, he receives the ball and slot it home for the equalizer. I wanted to show a more direct goal so people don’t think it's always possession stuff and that we waste good counter attacking opportunities because we don’t. We still take advantage of them and capitalise on the opposition's mistakes.

Here are a few more screenshots of our possession throughout the season.

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Those are just some of the games were I had high possession. There was a lot more but rather than list them all, I’ll now show you the average possession for the league for the duration of the season.

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That’s not bad going at all and if I started the season without changing as much, I’d have expected this to be more in the region or 60-62% for the overall season. But all the uncertainty and swapping about I did, really did harm us to begin with and then we were always playing catch up. However that’s still an incredible amount of possession for a side who was predicted to finish mid table. The league table didn’t look too shabby either.

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I had a strong defence and didn’t let many goals in at all. I also didn’t score that many either which is understandable but for the players I currently have, which also lacks squad depth then it’s a decent return for a club the size of Swansea.

The tactic still isn’t perfect either and still has lots of issues to iron out. But overall that’s a fantastic first season. If I was carrying this save on then there are a few things I’d work on for the upcoming season.

Shots - I have a decent ratio of shots to shots on target it’s currently at around 50%. That’s the bare minimum that everyone should be aiming for. The lower the mentality you use the more that should be closer or above 60% as it's much easier to sort out. Were as in the more attacking mentality structures your look at the upper end of the 50% range really. Unless you are dominant with the top side in the world I think you’ll struggle to get anything over 60% on attacking or control mentalities. That’s not to say you shouldn’t aim for higher though, it might just be extremely hard to work on improving above those figures. It should never be lower than 50% regardless of the mentality you use though.

Possession - This will hopefully rise this season and I should see the season's average go well beyond that of the first season with a bit of luck. Remember that building towards a possession system can take time to get right because a lot of it falls on the quality of players available. The system you use still matters as well, but players are also a big part of it. There is also a chance I might go backwards slightly this season too with the added games from European Football. So it’s worth remembering that if you have a small squad or lack of funds to add the squad depth. Try and be realistic in what you can achieve because if you don’t you might be in for a nasty shock. I still expect my side to do well in the league and carry on what we’ve built so far. But I’m also aware that things might be a bit up and down this season.

Those are the two things I would monitor now the overall style and approach is sorted out.

There’s a lot of talk on the forums currently about how their sides only score and concede from crosses. So before I wrap this article up I wanted to show you a couple of screenshots showing the type of goals I score.

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Those are the assist and it’s through balls that is high here and not crosses like many might suspect.

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It’s a lot more centrally focused that you’d expect. Not much comes from the wing compared to the central areas. This is because of the roaming playmaker and the box to box midfielder being late runners and linking well with the players on both wings. All the roles used in the tactic link well and the examples we looked at in the Liverpool game, is the reason why we see a more central heavy focus on play.

I’ll leave it as that for now as I’ve waffled on long enough. I really hope you enjoy this article

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Hope you all enjoy it. Special thanks to THOG and RTH though, I'm always pestering them with my ideas :D

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Good stuff, Cleon.

I tried a tactic last night in anticipation of this thread - a 4-4-2, so not exactly known for possession.

Control mentality

--------Treq/A---DLF/S--------

-------------------------------

WM/D---DLP/D---CM/S---WM/A (but later changed to WM/S)

-------------------------------

FB/A----DC/D----DC/D----FB/S

No TIs, except Work Ball Into Box.

Kept the ball well and that overlap created lots of problems.

Was a very different way of playing. You'd see brilliant through balls and risky passes at times, but obviously prone to losing the ball at times too.

Ended up with 60% possession, and this in the depths of Portugal, even after I had the left back (was a 16yo on his debut) sent off.

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Good stuff, Cleon.

I tried a tactic last night in anticipation of this thread - a 4-4-2, so not exactly known for possession.

Control mentality

--------Treq/A---DLF/S--------

-------------------------------

WM/D---DLP/D---CM/S---WM/A (but later changed to WM/S)

-------------------------------

FB/A----DC/D----DC/D----FB/S

No TIs, except Work Ball Into Box.

Kept the ball well and that overlap created lots of problems.

Was a very different way of playing. You'd see brilliant through balls and risky passes at times, but obviously prone to losing the ball at times too.

Ended up with 60% possession, and this in the depths of Portugal, even after I had the left back (was a 16yo on his debut) sent off.

Wide midfielders on a support duty is the best role you can use for ball retention out of all the current options. I can see why your set up would work and keep the ball, it's because it's almost a strikerless 4-6-0 when out of possession.

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Hope you all enjoy it. Special thanks to THOG and RTH though, I'm always pestering them with my ideas :D

I believe this is even better than the Counter Attacking thread, and that's saying something. Between them, those two threads will open a few eyes and minds, and I'm sure it will change the way many people think about the game. There are always long exchanges going on in General Discussion about things like counter attacking, what Mentality means, and (of course) possession, so these threads are perfectly timed.

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I believe this is even better than the Counter Attacking thread, and that's saying something. Between them, those two threads will open a few eyes and minds, and I'm sure it will change the way many people think about the game. There are always long exchanges going on in General Discussion about things like counter attacking, what Mentality means, and (of course) possession, so these threads are perfectly timed.

Cheers. Hopefully those people can use the basics of this thread and apply them into their own saves.

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Fantastic as always.

One thing to touch upon;

Shots – I have a decent ratio of shots to shots on target it’s currently at around 50%. That’s the bare minimum that everyone should be aiming for. The lower the mentality you use the more that should be closer or above 60% as it’s much easier to sort out. Were as in the more attacking mentality structures your look at the upper end of the 50% range really. Unless you are dominant with the top side in the world I think you’ll struggle to get anything over 60% on attacking or control mentalities. That’s not to say you shouldn’t aim for higher though, it might just be extremely hard to work on improving above those figures. It should never be lower than 50% regardless of the mentality you use though.

I took this advice to heart when you mentioned it a while back. I just wanted to point out (for others) that it is a good idea to have a look at the shots in the match rather than rely on the numbers themselves. Sometimes, you may find a lot of the shots off target are coming from things like direct free kick attempts, which you may or may not prefer to have rather than lots of misses from open play moves.

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Wide midfielders on a support duty is the best role you can use for ball retention out of all the current options. I can see why your set up would work and keep the ball, it's because it's almost a strikerless 4-6-0 when out of possession.

Yeah, in fact, I changed it later to almost a strikerless tactic. Had the Treq drop deeper to become a SS/A, but still had the DLF up front to be an outlet where we could build from higher up the pitch.

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Great post again, well done Cleon.

I've always thought possession football was the easiest style to achieve however, maybe after reading someone mentioning using lower mentalities and more support roles a few years ago. I've always found it to be a very effective way of playing.. which is probably why I don't like doing it.

Thats two threads in a row now where you've basically gotten rid of attack duties! :) When WOULD you use them?

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The idea (to me) behind it is that Support duties will make runs, but they'll do so more often with a riskier/more attacking mentality.

For this reason, you shouldn't have that much of a problem breaking down defensive teams (the bigger question mark against this, I'd guess) either? The threat of runners from anywhere and everywhere means that they need to be awake at all times. Just one run forward, pulls a defender and that allows someone else to take the risk to burst into that opening.

Thoughts, Cleon?

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Great post again, well done Cleon.

I've always thought possession football was the easiest style to achieve however, maybe after reading someone mentioning using lower mentalities and more support roles a few years ago. I've always found it to be a very effective way of playing.. which is probably why I don't like doing it.

Thats two threads in a row now where you've basically gotten rid of attack duties! :)When WOULD you use them?

It depends what you are creating and why. The key is to use duties and roles that suit what you are creating overall. I'm not sure why people think you have to use lots of attack duties though? You can have the same if not better balance without them. I like my team to play as a unit, so I like everyone to have similar mentalities to begin with.

Attack = Taking more risks

Support = Still doing stuff but with less risk involved.

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The idea (to me) behind it is that Support duties will make runs, but they'll do so more often with a riskier/more attacking mentality.

For this reason, you shouldn't have that much of a problem breaking down defensive teams (the bigger question mark against this, I'd guess) either? The threat of runners from anywhere and everywhere means that they need to be awake at all times. Just one run forward, pulls a defender and that allows someone else to take the risk to burst into that opening.

Thoughts, Cleon?

The Arsenal example shows this yeah. I ripped their midfield apart in one pass and my own central players reacted first and it cost them a goal, that would have won them the league.

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Perfect as always Cleon ! In the article, I see some things in my mind for a few days like front 3 all off support duty but I could not fix up also I asked you in your previous article maybe remember :D. It seems this great article help me a lot to do this. Thank you very much. :)

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Interesting thread and very well presented. Makes a lot of sense, well done Cleon.

It will be interesting to see how many players use the exact same set up and instructions etc as you Cleon without mentioning in this thread ;)

Completely agree however, these are just ideas and basics which should be implemented into players own ideology.

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Cleon, what effect would changing highly structured to fluid have on this tactic? Would you see much of a difference in terms of possession?

It would only be a minimal visible change at best. But if it makes players closer together then that can be a bad thing as possession requires space and movement. You risk reducing that in a more fluid system. But like I mention in the article, think of the team shape settings as highlighted in the article and it's simpler and much easier to understand what it does.

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Cleon, probably there is no quick answer because it would be kinda domino affect, also you gave us new opinion but would you go defend duty DM if you choose other fullback a WB role ?

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Another great thread.

I like the subtlety in this - using Very Structured to reduce individual creativity/risk taking at the expense of the team being less compact, but then using shouts (eg., retain possession / shorter passing) to bring the players closer together again.

Clever stuff :thup:.

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Absolutely wonderful article. I've learnt so much from this and your counter-attacking one.

Articles like this just add 110% enjoyment and longevity to the game!

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Possession football, highly structured, almost every player on support. How you doing, Mr. Van Gaal? :D

First thing is I think it's extraordinary you've managed to build two successful systems in two different playing styles in the little time since FM's been out. It's very helpful and thanks for that. Here's a bunch of comments and questions:

1. You mention "dribble less" is a possession TI (though you didn't apply this in your tactic). I was a bit surprised by that, even if it makes sense to tell the players to constantly keep the ball moving around by eliminating the alternative of a dribble. But most real life successful possession teams have 1 or 2 dribbling wizards to offer some variety and unlock defences, you think of possession and you think of Messi and Iniesta. You think it would be conflicting or self-defeating, to tell 1 or 2 quality players to dribble more in a system like this?

2. Just like in your counter system, almost everyone is on support and almost nobody on attack. Again this makes sense as counter and possession are actually a bit similar, it's not the exact same concept but both rely on patiently manipulating the opposition to create space so you definitely need supporting players in both. But this goes against the old theories that you need an attack duty on every strata to create penetration, etc. Is this just something new for FM16, something that's started working now? Maybe attack duties are a little bit overly aggressive now and you need to be more restrained in using them?

3. You mention your roaming playmaker as one of your runners from deep. Does a RPM makes forward runs by default? I had no idea. Is this what differs a RPM from a Regista then? (and the fact you can use it in the MC position). I always thought the 2 were so similar I never understood what was the point of why they introduced a new role in the RPM. Both are deep-lying players with high creativity who roam around...

4. I've tried to create possession systems several times and always struggle deciding whether to use "retain possession" or "shorter passing". I know it's a bad idea to stack them up together as that makes the team toothless, but what's the reasoning on picking one over the other, trial-and-error? I presume maybe you went for "retain possession" because since you don't have anyone on attack roles making constant runs beyond the defence, it doesn't make sense to promote through balls?

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One question about roam from position. Does this require that all of your players be exceptionally good at off the ball movement and mental skills? Its the one setting I was surprised about you including.. except maybe the structure.

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It would only be a minimal visible change at best. But if it makes players closer together then that can be a bad thing as possession requires space and movement. You risk reducing that in a more fluid system. But like I mention in the article, think of the team shape settings as highlighted in the article and it's simpler and much easier to understand what it does.

Yes, I had the thought that it may create less space and become quite dense thus not allowing players to move into space for the receiving option.

Just a observation if I may? Why did you set the RB to attack mode? Was this to fit in more with the player you had at your disposal or was there a tactical reasoning behind this?

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I'm obviously not Cleon, but here are my answers:

1. You mention "dribble less" is a possession TI (though you didn't apply this in your tactic). I was a bit surprised by that, even if it makes sense to tell the players to constantly keep the ball moving around by eliminating the alternative of a dribble. But most real life successful possession teams have 1 or 2 dribbling wizards to offer some variety and unlock defences, you think of possession and you think of Messi and Iniesta. You think it would be conflicting or self-defeating, to tell 1 or 2 quality players to dribble more in a system like this?

Cleon was more referencing the sort of TIs you could consider to bump possession. Your point is valid and of course you can still encourage dribbling (Cleon didn't use the TI, as you point out, because he didn't want possession just for the sake of it), but be mindful of the fact that it increases the potential likelihood of players running into trouble which may compromise possession. Again, it all depends how much you want to focus on possession versus potency.

2. Just like in your counter system, almost everyone is on support and almost nobody on attack. Again this makes sense as counter and possession are actually a bit similar, it's not the exact same concept but both rely on patiently manipulating the opposition to create space so you definitely need supporting players in both. But this goes against the old theories that you need an attack duty on every strata to create penetration, etc. Is this just something new for FM16, something that's started working now? Maybe attack duties are a little bit overly aggressive now and you need to be more restrained in using them?

It's not really new. I think the "guides" have only ever been general suggestions, but over time people have become fixated by them and once that gets embedded in your head, it can be hard to consider anything else.

3. You mention your roaming playmaker as one of your runners from deep. Does a RPM makes forward runs by default? I had no idea. Is this what differs a RPM from a Regista then? (and the fact you can use it in the MC position). I always thought the 2 were so similar I never understood what was the point of why they introduced a new role in the RPM. Both are deep-lying players with high creativity who roam around...

If you set up a throwaway save on FMT and set up a deep 4-2-3-1 with a Regista beside a RPM, if you watch a match for 5 minutes in full you'll see the difference :)

4. I've tried to create possession systems several times and always struggle deciding whether to use "retain possession" or "shorter passing". I know it's a bad idea to stack them up together as that makes the team toothless, but what's the reasoning on picking one over the other, trial-and-error? I presume maybe you went for "retain possession" because since you don't have anyone on attack roles making constant runs beyond the defence, it doesn't make sense to promote through balls?

Retain Possession affects tempo as well as passing length, and lower tempo naturally means more time on the ball to consider a pass, which in the "chess clock" measurement of FM bumps possession.

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I'm obviously not Cleon, but here are my answers:

Cleon was more referencing the sort of TIs you could consider to bump possession. Your point is valid and of course you can still encourage dribbling (Cleon didn't use the TI, as you point out, because he didn't want possession just for the sake of it), but be mindful of the fact that it increases the potential likelihood of players running into trouble which may compromise possession. Again, it all depends how much you want to focus on possession versus potency.

It's not really new. I think the "guides" have only ever been general suggestions, but over time people have become fixated by them and once that gets embedded in your head, it can be hard to consider anything else.

If you set up a throwaway save on FMT and set up a deep 4-2-3-1 with a Regista beside a RPM, if you watch a match for 5 minutes in full you'll see the difference :)

Retain Possession affects tempo as well as passing length, and lower tempo naturally means more time on the ball to consider a pass, which in the "chess clock" measurement of FM bumps possession.

I think I'm mixing up "retain possession" with the old "pass into feet" instruction, which the only thing it did was to reduce through balls (not sure why SI removed "pass into feet"). So what retain possession does is lower tempo + shorter passing, then? Isn't that a bit redundant, you can achieve that through the other instructions?

100% agreed on people following the old guides too strictly. Don't get me wrong those were some great works, and helped people think the game in a more footballing way rather than in a mathematical way as in the slider era. But I think it's counterproductive to stick to them as hard set rules, and not think around it. One example of a recommendation I never understood, is why should we use more specialist roles in structured systems, and more generalist in fluid (though Cleon seems to be following this somewhat). Surely the only thing that'll happen if you use specialists with fluid is that they'll play a slightly less specialist game, and if you use generalists in structured is that they'll still use their decision skills to figure out what to do, just with slightly lower creative freedom? I'm sure FM won't automatically make you lose matches just because you go a bit against that... just strikes me as a low priority thing to think about when designing a system.

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If I may be so bold, I'd like to query your ideas with a couple of questions.

I know you say attack duties just increase the risk taking of a role and you can make a perfectly good tactic without them as you obviously have here. But the lack of attack duties between your midfield and forward line goes against alot of what is usually advised here. .. even by you. It just seems like besides your defender, there's no one really breaking lines here. Breaking lines is the key point here. .. which wwfan bangs on alot about. Even in real life possession teams, you usually have at least 2 outfield players consistently breaking lines in a way that you can only achieve with an attack duty in my opinion.

Secondly, it just seems like with the roles n duties of your frontline, they all want to occupy the same space in possession. They are all #10 type of roles looking to create and make passes but nobody really looking to consistently take advantage of them. And I think you have infact advised along these lines in your 'what makes a goalscorer' thread.

There's is also the fact that there is really nobody holding here. It just seems like the same kind of critique of a tactic I'd get from you or any of the mods if I posted a tactic like this with the same role and duty selection regardless of what type of style I was trying to achieve.

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Another great thread, and with my Swans to boot!

Re: Retain possession above, it seems that what SI has done is given options for "full tick" adjustments with some "half tick" options in key areas. So while Lower Tempo and Shorter Passing can result in something similar to Retain Posession, both of them are "full tick" options in each of their respective categories. Retain Possession is a half tick of each of those, so not quite as a severe difference based upon the mentality one has chosen.

In FM15 I would use Shorter Passing and Retain Possession together all the time, with mixed results. In FM16 the visual bars for tempo and passing give a good indication of what the "base" is depending on mentality and how the TI's effect them. Doubling up on SP and RP in Standard results in a bright bar about 1/8 of the length and a faded bar extending to almost 3/8 of the pass length bar.

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I think I'm mixing up "retain possession" with the old "pass into feet" instruction, which the only thing it did was to reduce through balls (not sure why SI removed "pass into feet"). So what retain possession does is lower tempo + shorter passing, then? Isn't that a bit redundant, you can achieve that through the other instructions?

The other instructions used to change other things too. I'd expect the team instructions to become streamlined at some stage as some are not need any longer.

100% agreed on people following the old guides too strictly. Don't get me wrong those were some great works, and helped people think the game in a more footballing way rather than in a mathematical way as in the slider era. But I think it's counterproductive to stick to them as hard set rules, and not think around it. One example of a recommendation I never understood, is why should we use more specialist roles in structured systems, and more generalist in fluid (though Cleon seems to be following this somewhat).

I'm actually not following it and I've always favored the more structured shapes. I like the idea of my players sticking to what I've instructed them to do and stick to the creativeness that their roles set. I've also done posts that are the opposite too and gone fluid with 5 or 6 playmaker roles. I've never followed any guide and have always stated that people should only use them as a reference if they are struggling. Anything beyond that as a set rule of any kind though is a wrong assumption that people make. I'm normally one of the first to tell people that.

The questions you asked earlier btw RTH nailed them :)

Yes, I had the thought that it may create less space and become quite dense thus not allowing players to move into space for the receiving option.

Just a observation if I may? Why did you set the RB to attack mode? Was this to fit in more with the player you had at your disposal or was there a tactical reasoning behind this?

It was to create passing options for the playmaker on the wing. If not he might have become more isolated at times without the support.

One question about roam from position. Does this require that all of your players be exceptionally good at off the ball movement and mental skills? Its the one setting I was surprised about you including.. except maybe the structure.

It helps yeah because you need to know the players can make the most of it and are using the space correctly.

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Cleon, I take some of your suggestion in my save. Too early for comment but would you take a look ? or someone wanna interpret, be my guess.

I have standart mentality and flexible TeamShape. Also I have retain possession and roam from position

G-d(to CD, roll it, fewer risky pass)

WB-s-right

CDs-s

WB-s-left

HB-d

B2B-right

DLP-s

IF-s-right

AP-a-left-(Sit narrower)-to make sure link between DLP and CF

CF-s(moves into channels)

We are doing OK with possession but creating changes not our strong side. If you give me some advice I can improve my tactic(or maybe I am on good way I dont know) I have some question;

1) Am I lack of support on the midfield? If I am which role I need to keep on eye ?

2) Without any changes on midfielders, Would I go DLF-a instead of CF-s, especially with standart mentality ?

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I know you say attack duties just increase the risk taking of a role and you can make a perfectly good tactic without them as you obviously have here. But the lack of attack duties between your midfield and forward line goes against alot of what is usually advised here. .. even by you

No it doesn't. I've never ever said anything of that sort, I'd like you to provide me links to such threads please. I might have said the players need to link better but I've never once said you have to do that by using attack duties. That can be achieved many different way. So please don't make stuff up as that's how rumors and misinformation is spread.

It just seems like besides your defender, there's no one really breaking lines here. Breaking lines is the key point here. .. which wwfan bangs on alot about

So you think the only way to break lines is by using attack duties? That's utter rubbish. The roaming playmaker, box to box midfielder, advanced playmaker, false nine etc are all breaking the lines. I even posted examples of this, look at the Arsenal stuff I posted. If that's not breaking the lines then I don't know what is.

Even in real life possession teams, you usually have at least 2 outfield players consistently breaking lines in a way that you can only achieve with an attack duty in my opinion.

I have more than this in the set up I posted. I think you need to go and understand what the roles actually do that I have used. As your current thinking couldn't be any further from the truth.

Secondly, it just seems like with the roles n duties of your frontline, they all want to occupy the same space in possession.

No it doesn't, are you being serious with your post? It's like your trolling and I'm having a hard time to believe you can't see how it's all different and links up?

The IF doesn't cover the same space as the F9 or the AP. The F9 doesn't occupy the same space as the IF or AP. The AP doesn't occupy the same space as the IF or F9. Why would you even think they would? The pitch is big you know.....

They are all #10 type of roles looking to create and make passes but nobody really looking to consistently take advantage of them. And I think you have infact advised along these lines in your 'what makes a goalscorer' thread.

Yes I do have players consistently taking advantage of them. Just because someone is a creator it doesn't mean they also can't be on end of chances created for them by other people. I also have two players in midfield consistently taking advantage of the chances being created.

There's is also the fact that there is really nobody holding here. It just seems like the same kind of critique of a tactic I'd get from you or any of the mods if I posted a tactic like this with the same role and duty selection regardless of what type of style I was trying to achieve.

Stop labeling all mods as me. I'd take the whole picture and understand why someone wouldn't need a holding player. I spoke about this in the article and explained why I didn't need one. I also spoke about the drawbacks of doing this and being hit on the counter. I even said for me the reward of no proper holding play far outweights the risk factor.

I think you don't really grasp player roles and what they do by your responses. You look at them in black and white terms and don't realise there is much you are missing in between. I'd go away and play with the roles to get a better understanding of them. Then you'll realise it all makes sense :). I aplogise for sounding so negative against you but it seems you don't have the basic understandings of roles and what they actually do.

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Cleon, I take some of your suggestion in my save. Too early for comment but would you take a look ? or someone wanna interpret, be my guess.

I have standart mentality and flexible TeamShape. Also I have retain possession and roam from position

G-d(to CD, roll it, fewer risky pass)

WB-s-right

CDs-s

WB-s-left

HB-d

B2B-right

DLP-s

IF-s-right

AP-a-left-(Sit narrower)-to make sure link between DLP and CF

CF-s(moves into channels)

We are doing OK with possession but creating changes not our strong side. If you give me some advice I can improve my tactic(or maybe I am on good way I dont know) I have some question;

1) Am I lack of support on the midfield? If I am which role I need to keep on eye ?

2) Without any changes on midfielders, Would I go DLF-a instead of CF-s, especially with standart mentality ?

1 - Watch a game and you'll know in seconds if you are lacking support or not.

2 - Again, it all depends on what you're trying to create for the players you currently have. You should select the role that allows and compliments the style you have created.

Also it's no surprise you aren't scoring many and I mentioned this to you yesterday. Why would you have the striker who is leading the line move into the channels if you have no-one else who will lead the line? It makes no sense to have the person you expect to score the goals, move away from goal when attacking.

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Another great thread.

I like the subtlety in this - using Very Structured to reduce individual creativity/risk taking at the expense of the team being less compact, but then using shouts (eg., retain possession / shorter passing) to bring the players closer together again.

Clever stuff :thup:.

I wondered if someone would pick up on this :)

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1 - Watch a game and you'll know in seconds if you are lacking support or not.

2 - Again, it all depends on what you're trying to create for the players you currently have. You should select the role that allows and compliments the style you have created.

Also it's no surprise you aren't scoring many and I mentioned this to you yesterday. Why would you have the striker who is leading the line move into the channels if you have no-one else who will lead the line? It makes no sense to have the person you expect to score the goals, move away from goal when attacking.

Thanks for reply. My english is very bad and I am struggle to understand, sorry. But I am trying to understand with dictionary bla bla. Of course that is not your problem :) I guess I would go some other striker role without this PI.

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Hi Cleon,

Very interesting post, congrats for that.

i'm trying to implement a similar setup up, but with a little twist.

I know i will loose some possession, but i would like to have the full back with attack duty.

The idea is to have both overlaping the midfield, giving some more width to the tactic.

For that i was thinking droping the DM to defence duty and perhaps change the BTB Midfielder to DLP, with support duty to give more cover in my midfield.

Another thing i have some doubts is the combo "tight marking" and "closing down".

For example, the fullbacks, if i increase the closing down, should i untick the tight marking?

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Another excellent thread. Certainly going to be extremely helpful.

I am a touch curious on the conservative wide defenders. Would using Wingbacks on support compromise the defensive integrity too much? I would have thought having them a bit further up the pitch as another passing option would be helpful.

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Interesting. I'm currently doing a Wolves save and wanted to create a possession based side and have achieved that quite successfully - however I am using a very fluid team shape (mainly because I want to "swarm the ball" and win it back instantly - not have too much spaces, keeping it a bit more compact). After about 40 games I am averaging around 62% of possession - which is incredible, never achieved anything like it in FM.

I have my team set up as a 4-2-3-1, with 3 playmakers (DLP(D), AP(S), AP(A)) in the middle and inside forwards (both on support). I have 4 players on attacking duty, 3 on support, and 3 defending. What really makes the tactic work is attacking fullbacks. So I have set my FBs on attack - and they sort of negate the compactness of very fluid and help me stretch teams out. I have currently scored the most goals in the league and also conceded the least, so it seems to be working. The slightest problem seems to be that my players aren't clinical enough - we seem to create 3-4 clear cut chances, maybe 4-5 half chances on top of that, and we'll score 1 or 2 of those, and we usually face the repercussions of that by conceding late on. Something I'm still working on. I have created 90 clear cut chances, and it seems we are converting around 2/3 of that, so that's something we need to work on. Not sure where I can find how many half chances are created. I think the issue is that my team is very young so they're still working on their decision making and other mental skills which would really allow them to be a lot more clinical. I'll give the tactic a spin with a more talented team soon.

Here's how I've set up:

TM: Counter

TS: Very Fluid

GK (D)

FB (A)

CB (D)

CB (D)

FB (A)

DLP (D)

AP (S)

IF (S)

AP (A)

IF (S)

AF (A)

TI:

Retain Possession

Dribble Less

Lower Tempo

Close Down More

Tight Marking

Push Higher Up

Play Out Of Defence

Work Ball Into Box

Roam From Position

Whipped Crosses

I'm still tweaking it here and there, but I'm just giving people an alternative - it doesn't have to be a highly structured team shape for you to play possession football :).

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@Cleon..would a DLP/D instead of DM/S be a better shield in fron of defence and still be involved in build up play with other midfielders as DM/S?

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@Cleon..would a DLP/D instead of DM/S be a better shield in fron of defence and still be involved in build up play with other midfielders as DM/S?

Interesting question, I'm interested to see the answer. I stayed away from playmakers on my counter attacking tactic that I often use to kill off games because I was afraid the tendency to move play through them would hinder counter attacks.... (and because I wanted to keep it simple)

Oof..Obviously I am interested in both possession and counter attacking threads and don't keep things straight...

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Cleon, what's the thinking behind having your lone attack duty for the wide defender right, and not for say, one of your AMLR ?

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Hi Cleon,

Very interesting post, congrats for that.

i'm trying to implement a similar setup up, but with a little twist.

I know i will loose some possession, but i would like to have the full back with attack duty.

The idea is to have both overlaping the midfield, giving some more width to the tactic.

For that i was thinking droping the DM to defence duty and perhaps change the BTB Midfielder to DLP, with support duty to give more cover in my midfield.

Another thing i have some doubts is the combo "tight marking" and "closing down".

For example, the fullbacks, if i increase the closing down, should i untick the tight marking?

It comes down to what you see happening in game with the players you use. Tight marking can be good or bad, it depends how well the player plays the role out with those instructions. Best bet is to try your ideas and tweak, that's how I do it.

Another excellent thread. Certainly going to be extremely helpful.

I am a touch curious on the conservative wide defenders. Would using Wingbacks on support compromise the defensive integrity too much? I would have thought having them a bit further up the pitch as another passing option would be helpful.

@Cleon..would a DLP/D instead of DM/S be a better shield in fron of defence and still be involved in build up play with other midfielders as DM/S?
Interesting question, I'm interested to see the answer. I stayed away from playmakers on my counter attacking tactic that I often use to kill off games because I was afraid the tendency to move play through them would hinder counter attacks.... (and because I wanted to keep it simple)

Oof..Obviously I am interested in both possession and counter attacking threads and don't keep things straight...

Yes it will but that's not what I wanted. I already have a roaming playmaker slightly infront so didn't need the need of another behind as it would distract from his overall game. Instead I went for a natural passing option with the DM Support. If you want a proper screen either use a DM defend or Anchor.

Cleon, what's the thinking behind having your lone attack duty for the wide defender right, and not for say, one of your AMLR ?

How would having either of those on attack duties help? They'd be isolated and that goes against what I have created.

The fullback is attacking so he links with the AP. What's the point of a playmaker who has no support?

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Great post, really learned a whole lot.

I always thought that team shape covered roaming to a certain extend and figured that was the basic building block to having a lot of movement in your side, now I know that is not the case. Glad to see that you advocate not holding on to too many guide lines and simply seeing what works. Guess it really comes down to knowing what roles do and implement that properly, that's going to be a really hard thing to do.

Well I'm off to see if I can get similar results. Which probably is going to result in copying your tactics, failing and giving up I guess. Maybe one day I'll truly get it though :)

If I understand correctly; Playing with a winger (instead of the AP) seems to be kind of a no-no in this tactic right? Since a winger would dribble a lot and would sit wide which would make it hard to get balls to him and he wouldn't contribute in a another way. This is ofcourse just theory, but I'm trying to see if I get the idea of this tactic right.

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Another excellent thread. Certainly going to be extremely helpful.

I am a touch curious on the conservative wide defenders. Would using Wingbacks on support compromise the defensive integrity too much? I would have thought having them a bit further up the pitch as another passing option would be helpful.

Sorry I realised I didn't actually answer you even though I used your quote above. Wingbacks can work but in the set up I posted the DMC is the one who is allowed to move about more, so automatically he is the one who compromises the defence in a way. So if I then had someone else then doing the same, I'm not sure I could have had the great defensive record I finished the season with.

Also fullbacks aren't conservative, they still do the majority of things a wingback does, just from lower down the pitch.

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Something I didn't mention that I meant to about season two if I was to do one, was the defensive line. During the first season I didn't need to push the defensive line up or anything because teams happily came at me so I didn't feel like I had to reduce the space and give the opposition less time on the ball. As the default control settings allowed this. However now teams sit back a bit more against me, it is something to explore in any future seasons I did and it's a real possibility I would push the defensive line up. That would help with penning the opposition back in their own half and giving them less space and time. This could change how the original tactic played though as my own space would be reduced too, so it's food for thought.

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Well this is on time!

Just started a save with another club that tries to have a philosophy of maintaining possession, Rayo Vallecano, and I was looking for some inspiration here and this was just it. Quality post.

I'm trying to find my tactical groove. I would like to play a 4-2-3-1 sort of shape, and play with a Pirlo like presence in midfield, so I'm thinking about 4-2-3-1 with DMs. Do you think a formation that is naturally spread in midfield will be do better with a different team shape?

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Its interesting how many years ago 3 defense, 4 support and 3 attack (outfield) duties was pretty much standard in tactics, now its all changed, and i also just have 1 attack duty in my current tactic.

It's also interesting how the in-game info and descriptions havent really changed, are very vague and are actually pretty bad at explaining things.

So while i am glad for these guides by really smart folks.....im also annoyed at SI for their poor in game info.

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Well this is on time!

Just started a save with another club that tries to have a philosophy of maintaining possession, Rayo Vallecano, and I was looking for some inspiration here and this was just it. Quality post.

I'm trying to find my tactical groove. I would like to play a 4-2-3-1 sort of shape, and play with a Pirlo like presence in midfield, so I'm thinking about 4-2-3-1 with DMs. Do you think a formation that is naturally spread in midfield will be do better with a different team shape?

Any shape where players can be in close proximity and move around will work. The shape isn't that important in the end, it's the movement that determines possession.

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Its interesting how many years ago 3 defense, 4 support and 3 attack (outfield) duties was pretty much standard in tactics, now its all changed, and i also just have 1 attack duty in my current tactic.

It's also interesting how the in-game info and descriptions havent really changed, are very vague and are actually pretty bad at explaining things.

So while i am glad for these guides by really smart folks.....im also annoyed at SI for their poor in game info.

Can we not go over how bad documentation etc is again. We all know and were all in agreement. No point banging on about it though in threads, it doesn't help :)

The support, attack and defensive numbers you was supposed to use was never that at all. People took something that was written as a guide to help new players or those struggling to give them some kind of base to work from, and the users over the years have made out it was something you have to do. That's not true and myself and RTH have always been quick to point out to users that it was only intended as a rough guide. We always tell people you can go out side of those guidelines as they aren't set in stone and never will be.

My duties and roles in tactics have always been based on what I was trying to achieve nothing else.

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