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INDEX

Intro and First Steps - Post #1

Formation, Player Roles and Duties - Post #3

Tactical Settings - Post #6

Watching Matches - Post #12

Tactical Adjustments - Post #22

Plan B - Post #24

In Match Tweaking Part One, Against An Aggressive Team - Post #42

In Match Tweaking Part Two, Against The Parked Bus - Post #48

Keeping An Eye On Things - Post #51

The Advanced Forward and Trequartista - Post #102, Page 2

Variety is the Spice of Life - Post #113

Season 2 Review and Next Steps - Post #124

The Unsung Hero - Post #126

Don't Panic! - Post #132

Playing Against Different Formations:

1) The 4-4-2 Narrow Diamond - Post #62

2) The 4-1DM-2-3 - Post #74

3) The 4-4-2 Narrow Diamond, Man Utd Style - Post #79

4) The 5-2-1-2WB - Post #83

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The Potato Beetles - Post #152

The Short Term Plan - Post #153

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Introduction

Now work is finally settling down a bit, I have a bit more time at last to actually play FM and do what I enjoy doing - messing around with tactics.

I have my slowly developing long term save going with Espanyol (we want to be the biggest club in Barcelona :lol:) and a more relaxing save using Valencia, when I want a more immediate hit of success. I usually have 3 saves running, and I've finally settled on something for my 3rd save, which is the feature of this write up.

I have written a couple of threads before on developing a tactic, so I thought I'd take you through my step by step thought process from initial inspiration through to how I tweak things in a match. Hopefully you find it interesting :).

Inspiration and First Steps

First off, I don't do what I am going to write about for all of my saves. I tend to approach things differently, but for this save I've actually found the following to be quite rewarding.

So, I'm not even in the game, let alone looking at the tactic creator or thumbing through my players. All I have done so far is decide I want to play 4-4-2. Why 4-4-2? Well, because I like it and I think it'll be a fun change from what I am doing at Espanyol and Valencia. I've also played a Sacchi-esque 4-4-2 before and found the 4-4-2 to be quite fun and (at times) challenging. This is NOT a Sacchi write up by the way ;).

Anyway, next I have to think about what type of 4-4-2 I want to play. So I am starting to form a plan in my head about how I see players playing on the pitch. Not in terms of what Mentality or Team Shape I want the team to play with - I haven't started thinking about that at all yet - but simply in terms of how I imagine what each player does. And then I write it down:

2dj3rqc.jpg

Not exactly rocket science is it :p?

So, 2 strikers with one being a spearhead, the other dropping deep to link with the midfield. I don't like playing with a target man, so my deep striker will probably be a more creative type of player.

2 wingers, one of which (left wing) will be about pace, dribbling and passing - the other being more about work rate and crossing. Think Giggs and Beckham to relate it back to the real world (and no I'm not trying to recreate them or Man Utd, just a little inspiration ;)).

2 midfielders, one to be a runner and technically sound (perhaps a creator), the other to be a hard tackler.

2 fullbacks, one to provide overlaps down the right, the other to provide support behind the attacking winger.

2 central defenders and a goalkeeper.

What I am also trying to do here is think about player passing options. If players don't have options, they'll hoof the ball or take a long shot, and we gift possession to the opposition. Which is bad.

So, for example, who will my left winger have to pass to? Answer - the midfield runner next to him, the supporting fullback behind, or getting the ball into the box for the strikers. What about my right winger? Answer - the hard working overlapping fullback, the midfield tackler, the deep playing striker or crosses into the box. I think that through for all of my (imaginary at this stage) positions, just to make sure my starting logic is sound.

This is all pretty simple stuff, which is just what I want. That way, when I eventually come to watch matches, I can see pretty easily if the players are actually doing these things. I'm not going to be watching matches thinking "do my team look like they are playing with my chosen mentality and team instructions". Too complicated. I just want to be able to see if (for example) my right sided striker is dropping deep to link, my left winger is indeed dribbling more and crossing less than my right winger, and my players are actually passing to each other.

Which Team?

I really don't know. I don't really like LLM, but I also need to feel an attachment to the club I play, or have a specific goal in mind (like my Espanyol save) otherwise I'll lose interest. So I go back over my simplistic notes and plans, and one word suddenly stands out and makes me smile - and that word is "Giggs". Can I find a player in a similar mould to Giggs and perhaps build a team around him? Well, yes - Angel di Maria springs to mind, but I don't want to play as PSG (no attachment there).

So - and I apologise in advance to all the purists out there - I decide to use one of FM16's new features and create my own club with di Maria as my left winger in the pseudo-"Giggs" role. I'm a West Ham fan, so that will be the club I remove and replace with my new club - and so still retain the attachment I need. This also gives me a chance to put in place some other decent players for the positions I have already envisioned, rather than developing the team over a number of season (like in my Espanyol save).

Creating my own club will also present a number of challenges in itself - squad cohesion, tactical unfamiliarity, league and european rules about home grown players, club finances (I'll still have all of West Ham's debts) and so on.

And so, the "Thames Ironworks" are re-born from the ashes of West Ham. I'll even design their original all-blue kit ;).

68dg0h.png

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Really looking forward to seeing where this goes. Love that you've started on paper. I realise I do this in my head when I'm on public transport all the time! :)

442 is an interesting shape, I know its been discussed often, but I still find it quite a problematic shape in the flat version you've described. It seems almost 'untactical' in its simplicity, possibly due to the way it seems to come from the golden age of the prem when everything was exciting and it was all about just shoving the best players into your team and letting them play their game.

I look forward to seeing how you would adjust it to different opponents /situations etc, and what type of football you imagine it working with. Is it naturally a direct formation for instance.

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Developing the Tactic

Formation, Player Roles and Player Duties

My initial set up:

9zobar.png

4-4-2 is not optional, so all I can play around with are the Player Roles and Duties, which I'll explain.

I already have an idea of how I want my players to play (see the OP), and that is my starting point. So, from the top:

Left Sided Striker - Advanced Forward. This is the spearhead of the attack, and I want him to be primarily goal focussed and pushing against the opposition defence. I imagine this player to be my primary source of goals. A Poacher would be playing more on the shoulder of defenders, rather than actively pushing against them, and a Complete Forward may try to take part a bit too much in build-up play. I could experiment during matches, but an AF seems like an ideal fit - especially when paired alongside:

Right Sided Striker - Deep Lying Forward (support). The "striker" that I want to provide a link to midfield. Someone who will drop deep, provide a passing option, perhaps some creativity and maybe even hold up the ball a bit waiting for support. The "passing option" part is imperative for me.

Left Wing - Wide Midfielder (attack). My initial thought here was to set the role/duty to Winger (attack). Going back to my initial plan outline in the OP, that was my intention. However, look at the Player Instructions a Winger (attack) comes with by default, which can't be changed:

31484l2.png

That is not how I envision my left winger to play. Dribble More yes, but I don't want him running wide, staying wide and crossing more often. I want him getting the ball and scaring the life out of defenders by running at them at pace, and getting into the box to support the attack. He can also cross sometimes as well, but that's not his primary goal. In essence, I'm almost looking for a hybrid between a winger and an Inside Forward I guess, with a little playmaking creativity sprinkled on top. The only way I can achieve that is to use the Wide Midfielder role and adjust Player Instructions to fit. I'm getting a little ahead of myself with talk of PIs, so more on that later.

Right Wing - Wide Midfielder (support). Again, my initial thought here was to use the Winger (support) role. However, these are the PIs:

2cxyjdd.png

Again, these are unsuitable for what I have in mind. Yes to Cross More, but I don't want him dribbling all over the place making a mess, nor do I want him staying wider as if I did where would my overlapping fullback run to exactly? Into the stand? So again I have settled on Wide Midfielder, but this time the position will be given a different set of PIs when compared to my left wing.

NOTE - I have had a look at the other possible roles for the left & right wings, but again they are somewhat lacking. The Wide Playmaker role is a possibility for the left wing, as it is instructed to dribble more, cross less and so on. However More Risky Passes is a risk, as may roam from position. A WP(support) on the right is a complete non-starter due to cross less often instruction, which only leaves the Defensive Winger option on the right (there is no "attack" duty for the left wing role), but again there is a set PI to dribble more.

Left Sided Midfield - Roaming Playmaker. As I said in the OP, this is my runner and (perhaps) a creator. I'm starting with the Roaming Playmaker role, however the Dribble More set PI concerns me. I have a dribbler on the left wing beside this player, so I'm not keen on a 2nd one next to him. Yes I want him to get up and down the pitch, but I primarily want him as a support player using passing and movement rather than dribbling to find space. Something I'll keep an eye on when we start playing matches.

Right Sided Midfield - Ball Winning Midfielder (defend). The midfield destroyer. The intention here is for someone to actively get in the face of the opposition midfield to break up attacks. He's given a defend duty as I also have an attacking fullback on that side of the pitch, so he'll need to provide some cover. A Central Midfielder (defend) role could be an option here as well, however my gut instinct means I like the more in your face attitude of the BWM.

Left Sided Fullback - Fullback (support). Primarily defensive, he needs to get up the left flank to provide support behind the ball to both the left winger and RPM. Going back to what I said about passing options, this is his role. If the winger runs into a cul-de-sac (which he will), he has an out ball behind to the supporting fullback. I can consider a wingback (support) here instead, however I tend to have a personal preference for having a fullback behind a winger, with wingbacks preferred for formations without wingers or that have inside forwards. As my left winger will be playing as a kind of pseudo-IF/winger hybrid, I'll watch in matches how these two interact.

Right Sided Fullback - Fullback (attack). Here, he needs to provide overlapping runs and decent support for my right wing. Again I could consider the wingback, but the Fullback should provide a little more defensive stability as well. This is linked to my other tactical settings and intended way of playing, but more on that later.

Centre Backs - Central Defender (defend) x 2. Nothing fancy here. They just need to defend and pass the ball to the keeper, fullbacks or midfield. No need for risk taking ball playing defenders or a stopper/cover combination.

Goalie - Goalkeeper. Again, just a plain old fashioned 'keeper. No need for sweeper keepers as I don't plan on playing with a particularly high line.

Summary

Hopefully you can see how I am starting to transfer my thoughts and plans into action. My main goals here are to stay true to my plans, give my players passing options and follow a logical progression for player roles to interact well with each other. If I can transfer the pictures in my head onto the field of play, it should at least fit.

Team Shape, Mentality, TIs and PIs will follow in my next post.

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Nice start.

Are you potentially going to change the roles/duty depending on your mentality, team shape and TI's ? I personally feel some roles don't suit certain playing styles.

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I'll be following this closely as the initial ideas and roles you use, share some familiarity with the Invinsibles 442 I did. A good post Herne, it's always nice to get an insight into how others play the game and learn a bit about their thought process as a whole :)

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Tactical Settings

How Do I Want the Team to Play?

Good question. So far I have only looked at how I want individual players to behave on the pitch. But what about how I want the team to play? What about pressing, tempo, counter attacking, creative freedom and so on?

Well, I've been very focussed on how I want players to play and interact with each other, so why not use that as my starting point? I have very specific player roles in mind, with specific duties attached to control how they should play. So why confuse things with trying to overlay all sorts of fancy tactical settings? I plan on watching matches (well, the first 15-20 mins or so) and potentially adapting things as I see matches develop (more on that later), so I need tactical settings to be fairly basic to start off with. If I throw too many team settings at the tactic, I won't be able to see the wood for the trees when the action starts. I like the word "basic" so lets start there.

Team Shape

To me, Team Shape is simply about individual player creativity and space. More structured systems have less creativity and more space, more fluid systems the opposite.

Before Cleon's The Art of Possession Football thread (http://community.sigames.com/showthread.php/445500-The-Art-of-Possession-Football), I would have said it's about player creativity and contribution to different phases leading to team compactness. But now (rightly or wrongly) I simply think of it in terms of creativity and space. In more structured systems, players play a bit further apart (ie., more space between them), with the opposite being true of more fluid systems.

For my tactic, player roles and duties are taking the lead and most individual creativity will stem from that. I don't need to artificially add much creativity, therefore I will play with a Structured Team Shape. I won't go the whole hog and set Very Structured, as I don't mind letting the players off the leash a bit - I just don't want them moving too far from their set roles.

Now, and this bit is important, because I am going with Structured, I have to be very aware of the fact that this forces my players a bit further apart, thus creating extra space between them. In a 4-4-2, where players are fairly spread out by default and there is no DM to protect my defence, this can be bad - so I need to take account of this in the rest of my tactical settings.

I have one other consideration here as well. If I watch matches and make adjustments, I may come across opponents who are hard to break down. If I have set a low/neutral Team Shape, I could easily add creativity to help break down these sides by simply changing Team Shape. If I had gone with a more Fluid Team Shape, I wouldn't be able to do that, and I'd find it more complicated to work out. I like basic :).

Mentality

My player roles and duties help me here. I already know which players I want to attack, which ones I want in support and who is going to defend. I don't need to add in under-the-hood settings to get my players to act in a more attacking or defensive manner. It will just add an extra layer of complication that would be a stumbling block to me seeing what is actually going on on the pitch. Standard mentality it is, and again I can change this easily in a match if I think I need to be more or less attacking overall.

Team Instructions

rjmxdc.png

I'm starting with just these 3. I'm keeping them fairly basic so that they won't distract me too much from what my players are up to on the pitch, but they also need to compliment my other tactical settings and help me play a bit of football. I also want them to help me define how my team will play - I know how I want my players to play, but I still want an overall theme for the team.

I have in my mind that I would usually like to have the majority of possession. I'm not setting out with any intentions of 70% possession or keeping the ball just for the sake of it. Far from it. But I do want my players to have the ball so that their roles and duties can really kick in. To do that, I can't be too passive from my neutral mentality / team shape starting point.

1) Retain Possession. I am not using this TI to help me "retain possession" - that is a side effect as far as I am concerned. Re-read that sentence, it's important. Rather, I am using this TI to help reduce the space between my players. Remember what I was saying about using my Structured Team Shape above? My players are going to be a bit more spread out in a formation that already has a fair amount of space between them (the 4-4-2). So this shout is primarily being used to reduce that space - it makes the players play shorter passes. If you kick a ball less hard so that it goes a shorter distance, the intended recipient has to come closer to you to receive the ball. Therefore, the space between players is reduced.

I may add in Shorter Passing as well, as that would have an additional effect in reducing the space, but I'll leave it as just Retain Possession for now.

2) Push Higher Up. Again, this is about space. In a 4-4-2 there is no one in the DM strata to protect my defence from those pesky attacking midfielders. The Structured Team Shape will move the lines further apart. If I tell my defence to push up a little bit, I'll reduce the space for those attackers to play in. The downside will be balls over the top or passes in behind, so I'll need to watch for that, but with a Standard mentality my defence aren't going to be overly aggressive so I should be ok.

3) Close Down More. Finally, something that's not about space! I would like to have the majority of possession, so if I can force some turnover ball by being a bit more aggressive with the opposition and closing down their space to force errors, then I'd like to do that. Hmm, so this is about space after all...:brock:.

Player Instructions

This is where I need to get a little creative with a couple of positions to get players playing in the way I originally envisioned. 4 of my players will get PIs.

1) Left Wing (Wide Midfield attack). I want him running at defenders with pace, scaring the life out of them and getting into the box to support the strikers and be a threat. I expect assists and a few goals from this player. I therefore instruct him to:

Dribble More

Cut Inside

Cross Less Often

Complimentary PPMs and attributes will be of benefit here. Di Maria comes with Knocks Ball Past Opponent; Runs with Ball Often; Cuts Inside; and Tries Killer Balls Often, along with 18 for Dribbling + 17 in Acceleration and Pace. Great stuff.

2) Right Wing (Wide Midfield support). This Winger is about passing, crossing and work rate. With a support duty I'll expect him to help out almost as much in defence as in attack. So he needs great crossing ability, passing and vision. His Player Instructions are:

Shoot Less

Dribble Less

Cross More

The PPM to Switch Ball to Other Flank could also prove useful and will be taught to the player if he doesn't have it already. James Ward-Prowse is my pick here, thanks to his work rate, passing, vision and a massive 18 for crossing. Perfect.

3) Roaming Playmaker. He's the runner and creator, I don't really need him shooting as well, so he gets Shoot Less Often.

4) Goalkeeper. Goalies can waste silly amounts of possession by just hoofing it up the pitch. I tell him to:

Distribute to Centre Backs

Roll It Out

Slow Pace Down

And that's it.

As West Ham's replacement, the Thames Ironworks have entry into the Europa League qualifiers. This is great as I can use some early (and easy) competitive matches to see how the tactic performs. This will help me iron out kinks far better than friendlies would, so that when the season proper begins I should have an almost complete tactic.

I will also need to spend most of pre-season working on Team Cohesion (all the players are new to the club so there is no cohesion at all) and getting the tactic as fluid as possible. Again, that will take a while as there is always little tactic familiarity at the start of a save, but even less so when there are loads of new players.

More updates will follow and thanks for reading :).

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Awesome post.. quick question on your choice of passing however.

You said you chose retain possession to bring your team closer together.. but will it actually have that effect? Won't it actually just mean that your players will look for a short passing option, not find one, and then just lump it anyway. Or, your players will too often have to leave their designated positions in order to get a pass, leading to a bit of chaos.

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Nice start.

Are you potentially going to change the roles/duty depending on your mentality, team shape and TI's ? I personally feel some roles don't suit certain playing styles.

Thanks. All settings - roles, duties, mentality, shape, TIs, PIs need to compliment each other. I know you commented before I wrote up my tactical settings, so hopefully you can see how I;ve pulled it all together. I've played matches already and made some (small) adjustments - they'll be written up soon :).

I'll be following this closely as the initial ideas and roles you use, share some familiarity with the Invinsibles 442 I did. A good post Herne, it's always nice to get an insight into how others play the game and learn a bit about their thought process as a whole :)

Cheers Cleon. I haven't come across your Invisibles 442 before so I'll have to look that up.

Awesome post.. quick question on your choice of passing however.

You said you chose retain possession to bring your team closer together.. but will it actually have that effect? Won't it actually just mean that your players will look for a short passing option, not find one, and then just lump it anyway. Or, your players will too often have to leave their designated positions in order to get a pass, leading to a bit of chaos.

I understand where you are coming from, and hopefully when I do some match analysis write up you'll see this isn't the case. I like to think of retain possession making the team a bit more squished together - so no one has to leave their designated positions, or not find passing options, because their starting points are closer in the first place. You should also see how the 4-4-2 becomes kind of lop-sided as it were so natural passing triangles appear.

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Nice explanation.

On the team shape for a 442, I was just thinking if its worth selected Flexible to bring the team together, but then use the TI "Be More Disciplined" to lower the creative freedom so its like Very Structured?

I hope you don't mind me asking here, your post just got me thinking about it

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Although Di Maria is a great pick for the left wing, I can't envisage him cutting inside because of him beeing left-footed...

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Very interesting thread ,lets see how it goes with the very difficult 2-man central midfield pairing,

i would choose MC(D) instead of BWM(D) because is mainly a holding midfielder ,and a AP(A) because is better creator than the RP

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Testing the Theory

It's all well and good making these plans, and setting up the system, but at some point I actually have to play some matches and (more importantly) win them. All the planning and theory in the world is pointless if the team wilt quicker than a wet lettuce.

Friendlies can usually only tell you so much, but luckily the Thames Ironworks launch almost immediately into competitive matches for the Europa League qualifiers. They'll (mostly) be against weak opposition, so I shouldn't be too concerned about losing, and the players will actually be trying a bit so I can start to see how the system works in a fairly safe environment.

Watching Matches

This is where I know a lot of people struggle, as did I for a very long time (and still do on occasion). But I realised I was over complicating it. I was trying to see everything, which for me at least is just impossible - far too much going on.

Eventually I stripped it all back and started to just focus on what my players are up to. Cleon especially talks in terms of this, but I could never quite get the hang of it until I started to understand that rather than trying to look at how my players are acting in terms of the overall team system, I started looking at how they are playing almost individually.

Let me explain. Throughout this thread I have talked about how I planned what I want my players to do individually before creating the tactic and linking it all up. Because I know how I envision my players to play due to all the planning, I should therefore be able to see if they are behaving like that on the pitch.

I don't mean "is the defensive line high enough"; "are we closing down as expected"; "how do the Team Shape and Mentality settings look?". None of that. I'm simply talking about "is my STCR dropping deep"; "are my left and right wingers behaving as their PIs tell them to"; "do we have decent passing options"; "is my right fullback providing overlaps". That kind of thing.

Further, if at any point I miss something, or something looks a bit screwy, I can hit the Pause button and Rewind the action. I can even review the match after it has finished by watching it over again.

Once I started breaking matches down into these more simplistic terms, the fog lifted and I started to take notice of how things play out.

Prozone Analysis

To back up what I think may or may not be happening on the pitch, I can look at some Prozone reports. In particular, I want to look at:

- Movement. Is my left winger making more dribbles than my right winger?

- Crosses. Is my right winger doing this.

- Average Positions. To get a feel for overall team balance I'd expect to see some depth variation, For example is my STCR deeper overall than the STCL.

- Completed Passes. Do we really have the passing options I'm expecting.

I also use an in-match Widget on screen to keep an eye on things when I switch to highlights mode.

Enough Whaffle, How Does it Play?

OK, first up is Europa FC in the EL qualifiers. Things I particularly want to look out for:

- My DLF dropping deep.

- Left winger scaring the life out of defenders.

- Right winger providing crosses and passes.

- Right fullback overlapping.

- Left fullback in support behind the left winger.

- Not many hoof balls (related to passing options).

Screen Shot #1

This is just 30 seconds into the match after Europa kicked off. We just won the ball with Gil Romero in possession. The DLF is directly ahead of him, but if we let play continue, the DLF doesn't drop to find space, he runs forwards pressing the backline deeper. Gil Romero runs with the ball a little before eventually offloading it to the right winger. Not happy with that, but we're only 30 seconds in...

9ib8jq.png

However, this keeps occuring during the match - the DLF (support) isn't dropping deep as I would expect. In fact sometimes the AF seemingly drops deeper. Here's the average positions - look how level the 2 strikers are (numbers 19 and 27):

Screen Shot #2

1rteyx.png

I'm not panicking just yet, but it looks weird behaviour and I need to watch that really closely next match.

Screen Shot #3

Remember me talking about my left winger running into cul-de-sacs? Here's one with Zivkovic on the ball - but look how far away my supporting fullback is. That's him in the bottom right of the picture - way too far away and so offering no passing option. Zivkovic launched a speculative cross instead which was easily defended. Again not panicking yet, but there may be cause for concern here. The average positions report also looks to support this and so something else to watch.

bex66c.png

Screen Shot #4

Here we can see how many dribbles my 2 wingers have performed. Left wing at the top (loads), right wing at the bottom (one bad one). Just what I want.

2f03ul4.png

We did of course run out very comfortable winners (6-0) and overall I am pleased with how the tactic is playing out. Plenty of passing options for players (86% of passes were complete), with by and large players behaving how I anticipated. The right wing especially is looking good through the combination of the overlapping fullback, right winger and BWM, although the DLF on that side is a concern.

Things I was not comfortable with, and requires another couple of matches to see how things work out are:

- DLF not dropping deep very often.

- Left fullback perhaps too far apart from the left winger.

- Players perhaps a little too spaced out.

I'll report more after a couple more matches.

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Nice explanation.

On the team shape for a 442, I was just thinking if its worth selected Flexible to bring the team together, but then use the TI "Be More Disciplined" to lower the creative freedom so its like Very Structured?

I hope you don't mind me asking here, your post just got me thinking about it

Ask away :). I see where you are coming from - to me it is perhaps more difficult to do it that way around than benefit from the already low creativity of a more structured system. I picked that up from Cleon's possession thread.

Although Di Maria is a great pick for the left wing, I can't envisage him cutting inside because of him beeing left-footed...

His footedness his little to no bearing on his ability to cut inside - that is down to role selection, PIs and PPMs. I'll show you later how Di Maria gets on ;).

Very interesting thread ,lets see how it goes with the very difficult 2-man central midfield pairing,

i would choose MC(D) instead of BWM(D) because is mainly a holding midfielder ,and a AP(A) because is better creator than the RP

All good choices, and something I watch. I do develop the midfield later, and hopefully you will see how things link together better.

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Nice stuff herne79. Not a formation we see a great deal of these days on the forum. Like roggiotis, I'm interested to see how the BWM develops for you, as one of the old FM adages is that you can't really use a BWM as your "responsible" midfielder in a midfield two.

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Very interesting thread ,lets see how it goes with the very difficult 2-man central midfield pairing,

i would choose MC(D) instead of BWM(D) because is mainly a holding midfielder ,and a AP(A) because is better creator than the RP

3. Role Combinations

The theory above can be used to create balanced role combinations in each of the central midfield structures introduced in the Structuring Your Team guide.

3.1. Central Midfield Partnership

With only two players in central midfield it can be fairly difficult to allocate the key tasks.

3.1.1. Flat Midfield

In a flat partnership the following role combinations provide a good balance:

Central Midfielder (MC defend) - Advanced Playmaker (MC support) - The first player is the holding midfielder and his partner performs the other three tasks, including creator.

With this setup creative, risky passes will be made mainly by the more advanced player.

However, there is only one possible combination from the available midfielder roles. Alternatively, you could assign the task of creator to a striker by using the Complete Forward, False Nine or Trequartista roles or to a wide attacker by using the Wide Playmaker, Advanced Playmaker or Inside Forward roles. This would then give you more options for the more advanced central midfielder. If you use the Wide Playmaker then it is advisable to give him an attack duty so that he will move ahead of your central midfielders rather than into congested space.

Deep-Lying Playmaker (MC defend or support) - Central Midfielder (MC support) / Box-To-Box Midfielder (MC support) / Ball-Winning Midfielder (MC support) / Roaming Playmaker (MC support) - The first player is both the holding midfielder and the creator, meaning there are more possible roles for his partner. He too could be made a creator by giving him the Advanced Playmaker role with a support duty, but this may result in too much creative license being given and therefore a lack of control in possession.

With this setup creative, risky passes will be made mainly by the deeper player. Since there are no players in central defensive midfield it is advisable to give him a defend duty so that he will stay closer to your defence.

As an alternative to using the Deep-Lying Playmaker role as the deep creator you could use the Libero or Inverted Wing Back roles.

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That's very prescriptive; is it taken from one of the stickied guides? They are only intended as a solid basis from which to start, not the be all and end all of Role / Duty allocation.

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That's very prescriptive; is it taken from one of the stickied guides? They are only intended as a solid basis from which to start, not the be all and end all of Role / Duty allocation.

yes mate,well from the football manager guide.I'm sure and i know your aware of it.I tend to set my team up from what is guided on there.Would you not ideally reccomend that?I'm trying to get a 2 man cm balanced right.At the min i'm like this and seels ok

-----------gk-----------

fbs---cdd-----cdd---fba

wma--cms----cmd--wms

--------------teqa------

------dlfs---------------

So far seems good,cmd is the holder,the cms is the def support and the tequestra is the runner(link player) and creator.

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it depends also from the players you have and the mentality you choose, but i think is difficult to work with 2 CMs, maybe the 2STs better 1 ST and 1 AMC to be also a creative and 2nd striker ?

but lets see how herne is going

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the tequestra is the runner(link player) and creator.

the treq sometimes not link at all

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His footedness his little to no bearing on his ability to cut inside - that is down to role selection, PIs and PPMs. I'll show you later how Di Maria gets on ;).

It's not only down to role selection etc, left footed right wingers will always cut inside no matter the instruction. And a left footed left midfielder will have much

greater tendency to run wide, no matter the PIs. :) And Di Marias PPM says he cuts only in from the right side.

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Nice stuff herne79. Not a formation we see a great deal of these days on the forum. Like roggiotis, I'm interested to see how the BWM develops for you, as one of the old FM adages is that you can't really use a BWM as your "responsible" midfielder in a midfield two.

Yup totally agree, and I'm kinda surprised with what I've been seeing. It may deserve it's own post.

It's not only down to role selection etc, left footed right wingers will always cut inside no matter the instruction. And a left footed left midfielder will have much

greater tendency to run wide, no matter the PIs. :) And Di Marias PPM says he cuts only in from the right side.

I really wouldn't get too caught up with a player's footedness.

(Ignore the date, this relates to season 1, 2015/16):

2iurt04.png

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After watching 4 competitive matches, I can update the following:

1) The DLF is a very real issue. He is not dropping off towards the midfield anywhere near as much as I would expect. I don't know why this may be (there are no PIs or PPMs getting in the way), so I need to make changes. Will swap this role to an F9 or Trequartista, and use a player with a PPM comes deep to get ball.

2) The left sided fullback support whilst ok is too often too far away from my left winger. This is reducing passing options and causing issues for my left winger. Will swap this to a wingback support to get the player a little further forward.

3) The Roaming Playmaker is trying to dribble too much and feels a little weak in defence, which puts too much pressure on the BWM. With a creative striker (TQ), I can afford to take away some of the creativity that is defined by the midfield role, and instead use a Box to Box midfielder.

4) Players are still, on occasion, making a few too many longer passes than I would wish for. The gap between defence and midfield especially also feels a little too big at times giving opposition players a bit too much freedom there. Fine when I am playing the likes of Shamrock Rovers, not so good when the opposition is Arsenal. I will add in the TI Shorter Passing to help reduce a little more space. Having this set by default could also help if I need to make changes during a match - for example, if I needed a little more creativity I could increase the Team Shape and remove Shorter Passing (as players would be closer in a more fluid team shape).

4) In terms of what is working well, the right flank is fine, players generally have good passing options (apart from perhaps the left winger) and the BWM is bossing the midfield. Easy to say these things against weak opposition, so I need to use a pinch of salt here, but promising all the same. Possession is good (around 58%) which for a 4-4-2 isn't bad at all and perhaps help show that player positioning overall is alright.

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

After 2 more matches, there is a serious issue with my supposedly deep-dropping striker, as in he isn't dropping deep often enough.

Here's a fairly typical example:

5e7n1g.png

We've just won the ball back, Ward-Prowse in possession. Instead of the STCR (who is set as F9 by this stage) dropping into all that space where there is nobody at all between him and Ward-Prowse, he keeps jogging along the defensive line in a slightly forward looking diagonal run near the half way line. Ward-Prowse off loads the ball with an attempted long range pass, and possession is lost.

It doesn't matter whether I set this role as DLF(s), F9 or TQ, the results are pretty much the same, which is baffling. I chat this over with a friend of mine online, and we decide on a Plan B which I will come on to later.

That's the bad stuff. On the good side things are looking much better.

The switch to a left wingback is excellent and provides much closer supporting play for the attacking winger on that flank. He remains solid in defence as well, and interacts very well with the:

Box to Box Midfielder instead of the RPM is also excellent. More solid in defence, energetic in getting forward in support. Helps to relieve some pressure from the BWM who was trying to do perhaps a little too much. I think as well that adding in the TI shorter passing has also perhaps helped here. With players a little closer together the BWM seems slightly less inclined to go chasing around as much as BWMs can sometimes do. Happy with this and if I can nail the problematic STCR role I have high hopes for the coming season.

The afore mentioned Plan B follows next.

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Could the Structured team shape be a contributing factor to your forwards play since they are expected to contribute less to transitional play?

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Plan B

1441kxj.png

My last remaining option is to drop the STCR down slightly to the AMCR position. Because I have also changed my RPM to a BBM, and thus lost my midfield creator, I am happy having a more advanced creative player to provide the link - and so I use a Trequartista.

In doing so, I am quite aware that I am using 4 players with an attack duty which seems quite a lot - especially for a Standard mentality system. However, I am still happy with the overall balance of the team and it still refers back nicely to my original handwritten plan. Further, I also cinsider the TQ role to be a little misunderstood. If used in the right manner, the TQ is far from the "player who needs to be carried by the rest of the team" as the in-game description would have you believe. Especially with the right player (good aggression and work rate) I expect to see the TQ cover as much ground as anyone else in the team.

I make the change in time for my first Premier League match of the season against Crystal Palace. We win 3-1 with the TQ ending up as man of the match. Here is the new average positions map:

30jjo8m.png

This pleases me not just because it shows how deep my TQ is now dropping, but also because of player positioning. We're pretty compact now, with everyone having good passing options. This is reflected in my 61% possession for the match. More than I was originally wanting. My shot placement is also great with 24 shots, 14 on target, 1 blocked, one hit woodwork and just 8 missed (remember I am not using work ball into box):

29szmc.png

I thought I'd also take a little time to mention the BWM. Previously I have always thought of BWMs as overly aggressive, apt to leaving their position to go running after the ball and so leaving the defence exposed - especially in a 2 man midfield like here. However, my opinion is changing. Take a look at this screen shot from the Palace game:

316n5h2.png

Kranevitter is my BWM. Wickham has received the ball, and Puncheon has started a dangerous looking run in behind Kranevitter. Usually I would have expected the BWM to close down Wickham, dangerously leaving Puncheon running at the defence. However far from it - what Kranevitter actually does is turn and track Puncheon's run leaving Wickham to my BBM to deal with. I like this and seems to be a bit more typical of BWM behaviour. I'd be interested if anyone else has noticed this?

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

Summary So Far

I think the planning of how I wanted players to behave has worked wonders for me. I know what to expect, therefore I can see if it happens (or not). In that Palace match (for example) I can see in the first 15 minutes that we are playing well and as expected, so there is no need for me to make any changes. Palace are clearly trying to play deep and hit me on the counter - which isn't really going to work given my Standard mentality. Playing deep, passing the ball around slowly in their own half. They end up with just 5 shots all match, and a miserable 62% pass completion.

A great start, and the switch to a TQ at AMCR has worked wonders, really bringing everything together.

Next, I'll report on how I observe the need to make small changes during a match, and what changes I make.

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My last remaining option is to drop the STCR down slightly to the AMCR position.

So ,very soon we ended with the conclusion that the 4-4-2 is very difficult to work?

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So ,very soon we ended with the conclusion that the 4-4-2 is very difficult to work?

If you wish to draw that conclusion, you are welcome to do so.

On the other hand I like to think that pairing an Advanced Forward with an attack minded creative striker (ie., a Trequartista) retains the overall 4-4-2 look and feel that I originally planned. The fact that for whatever reason the TQ (or DLF or F9) basically refused to drop deep when positioned in the ST strata, but does do what it is supposed to do when moved slightly to AMCR is neither here nor there for the Trequartista role. A TQ is basically exactly the same beast whether it is in the ST or AM position (or should be).

I understand your confusion though and how you could re-interpret the basic "Plan B" formation as a type of 4411.

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I've had zero issues partnering a DLF with an AF and having the DLF drop deep. Are you sure you weren't missing anything glaring that could have made your striker play like an AF? I find it weird.

How often was it actually happening? What's his PPMs? Average position? Have you switched the BBM to his side? What was his off the ball rating? Teamwork/ Workrate?

Also, duude, what sort of a squad have you assembled? I'm not having a dig.

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Could the Structured team shape be a contributing factor to your forwards play since they are expected to contribute less to transitional play?

I really don't know. I'd be surprised if setting a Structured Team Shape would basically over write player roles in such a manner as this, but perhaps it does? I haven't come across it before.

I've had zero issues partnering a DLF with an AF and having the DLF drop deep. Are you sure you weren't missing anything glaring that could have made your striker play like an AF? I find it weird.

How often was it actually happening? What's his PPMs? Average position? Have you switched the BBM to his side? What was his off the ball rating? Teamwork/ Workrate?

Also, duude, what sort of a squad have you assembled? I'm not having a dig.

I find it weird as well. I've checked and double checked that I'm not being dumb (still a possibility of course :p). Switching the BBM around would have unwanted knock-on effects to the rest of the system, and I'd end up worse off. My main man here is Tevez (so cheap to bring in when creating your own club it's unreal) who has all the necessary attributes along with the PPM comes deep to get ball.

To be honest, if I were really concerned by it, I'd upload some pkms to the bugs section, however I don't think there is a bug at play here - there's just something screwy going on that I haven't got my head round yet. It happens, and I've found a solution anyway :).

And duude, I've assembled a squad good enough to challenge for honours. There are some real bargains to be had, although Di Maria wasn't exactly cheap ;).

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Yeah looking at the position map its very strange, I thought you meant he wasn't coming deep enough but doesn't look to be dropping deep at all.

I'm not sure if tactical fluidity would affect this? There's a report I think under assistant manager that reports the players comfort in the last game (player used to playing at a higher tempo etc), could that affect dropping deep vs making forward runs?

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Or perhaps PPM's?

The same thing happened to me when I tried using an AF and DLF. There would be times the AF was deeper than the DLF and it made no sense to me. After I changed it to F9 it seemed to help though. He dropped into the 10 position a lot more consistently.

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In my game (I play as Lincoln City) I've noticed that my players are more likely to drop into positions they are comfortable with. So I have a striker who is also comfortable playing right wing and amc so he drops into those positions more readily. He rarely goes to the left to find his space. Could it be that you're asking a player to drop into the amc role that is not comfortable playing there. This could be down to my players not being as intelligent/skilful as top class players but would be interested if anyone else is seeing this.

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I A TQ is basically exactly the same beast whether it is in the ST or AM position (or should be).

- Is he ? I think the SS works better in combination with a F9 who drops deep and creates a lot

- i didn't say ironically about the formation , but reading Cleon's 4-1-4-1, 4-1-2-2-1,and especially the defensive philosophy with the 3 STs !!! i thought you would do the same .(stick to a flat 4-4-2) .Also RTH played a whole season using the same formation (4-4-2-0) and the same mentality tweaking only some roles. And i think thats the real challenge ,playing whole season(s) with the same formation AND mentality (if you can) and making some tweaks according to your players.

- I'am very interesting about this thread and the way you explain issues , and i'm sure that in the end you manage to close the gaps between the lines and make the 4-4-2 play as a unit .

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- Is he ? I think the SS works better in combination with a F9 who drops deep and creates a lot

- i didn't say ironically about the formation , but reading Cleon's 4-1-4-1, 4-1-2-2-1,and especially the defensive philosophy with the 3 STs !!! i thought you would do the same .(stick to a flat 4-4-2) .Also RTH played a whole season using the same formation (4-4-2-0) and the same mentality tweaking only some roles. And i think thats the real challenge ,playing whole season(s) with the same formation AND mentality (if you can) and making some tweaks according to your players.

- I'am very interesting about this thread and the way you explain issues , and i'm sure that in the end you manage to close the gaps between the lines and make the 4-4-2 play as a unit .

I agree, an F9 and SS can be an excellent combination. However, I'm aiming for a slightly different style of play where my primary striker is someone in an advanced position who will push against the defenders coupled with someone a bit more creative who will drop deep to act as a link to midfield (and score a few goals). I'm not trying to say that's the best way of going about things (and I know you aren't either), that's simply my chosen method for this particular system :).

My original intention certainly was to play with a "flat" 442 - however "flat" is a bit of a misnomer. In terms of the player positioning on the tactic formation screen then yes I originally used the ST position for both strikers (therefore "flat" in the TC). However the intention was always to have a staggered playing shape on the pitch with one striker playing deeper than the other, so it would never look "flat" in play. For some reason, the only way I have been able to achieve this is by moving the deeper "striker" down to the AMCR position in the tactic creator, which I shouldn't have had to do.

I still need to understand why the ST position proved to be useless. I'll be loading up a dummy save at some point to properly analyse this to find out what's occurring, but for now I remain baffled. I'll get there in the end ;).

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i think the key is to find the balance between the 4-1-4-1 and 4-4-2

- we want the defensive stability of 4-1-4-1

- we want the dual wide men pairing (the 2nd in ML/MR , not AML/AMR) ,

-the DM position is very important

- we want a 2nd ST ,or at least 1 in AMC to help the other ST

so i imagine a role in MC (in defence ) but in attack becomes a 2nd ST

but we dont want another playmaker role ,we want a more goal threat like the SS,

among the roles in MC position is it the MC (A) with some P.Is the right one ?

What you think?

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I'm not 100% sure what you are asking here roggiotis.

You want a 4141 in defence, but something more like a 442 in attack? If that's the case then yes I can see a Central Midfielder (attack) working very well as a runner from midfield and becoming almost a shadow striker in attack - especially if he has a suitable PPM or two. Obviously that would need to be properly balanced with your other central midfielder and your player in the DM position.

If you are asking how my 4-4-2 here looks in defence and attack, I'll upload some screen shots if you like? In defence, obviously the BWM(d) drops deep and provides an effective screen, the B2B tracks back well, as do both wingers - so it still retains it's 4-4 shape, just deeper positioned. The TQ drops deep as well.

Hopefully this screenshot will demonstrate - I don't always like screenshots however as they can be quite subjective and not have context. I could (for example) stop the action at any point and you'd see different shapes, but this may give you an idea of how the defence positions itself when an opponent starts attacking. Indeed, if I continue playing the action, Bacuna makes in inside sideways pass to his teammate which my B2B then closes down with the BWM staying deeper, which staggers my deep MC line.

Anyway, note our two close banks of 4, the TQ dropping deep to help (circled) and the AF staying fairly high as a threat on the halfway line.

28tx8nd.png

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This is great stuff, I just read through the whole thing and wanted to chime in.

First, I love the presentation and thought process, it's great to see how other people work things out in the game, and for whatever reason I can really relate to what you've done here.

Second, it's far too late for this to be insightful, but my first thought was that your original midfield was going to be trouble - actually it was likely to be vacant at points with two roaming players. Having said that you have illustrated perfectly that the BWM has gotten a bit of a bum rap (something I have been guilty of as well). BWM's can be the devil if they are used in a system that leaves a lot of space to be exploited around them - say a 4231 - because they will always be trying to cover that space, but in a system like this, after you changed to a BBM beside him and with wide midfielders, I have found them to be quite capable holding midfielders.

Lastly, the DLF situation is very interesting to me as well. I have not had a tactic in 16 yet that I was happy with a DLF in, either as a one striker or as part of a partnership. I have actually had much more success with Defensive Forwards this year, but I haven't gone into any in depth analysis to see why. In any case I find the behavior you are seeing very interesting, even though I have no idea what it means.

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You want a 4141 in defence, but something more like a 442 in attack?

This yes ! Excellent explanation .

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This yes ! Excellent explanation .

Then I think you would need to set your formation using the tactic creator to a 4-1-4-1 with someone placed in the DM position. Remember - the formation you see in the TC is your defensive formation, so as you want a 4141 in defence, that would need to be your starting point.

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This is great stuff, I just read through the whole thing and wanted to chime in.

First, I love the presentation and thought process, it's great to see how other people work things out in the game, and for whatever reason I can really relate to what you've done here.

Second, it's far too late for this to be insightful, but my first thought was that your original midfield was going to be trouble - actually it was likely to be vacant at points with two roaming players. Having said that you have illustrated perfectly that the BWM has gotten a bit of a bum rap (something I have been guilty of as well). BWM's can be the devil if they are used in a system that leaves a lot of space to be exploited around them - say a 4231 - because they will always be trying to cover that space, but in a system like this, after you changed to a BBM beside him and with wide midfielders, I have found them to be quite capable holding midfielders.

Lastly, the DLF situation is very interesting to me as well. I have not had a tactic in 16 yet that I was happy with a DLF in, either as a one striker or as part of a partnership. I have actually had much more success with Defensive Forwards this year, but I haven't gone into any in depth analysis to see why. In any case I find the behavior you are seeing very interesting, even though I have no idea what it means.

Cheers Ed.

I'm glad you commented on the BWM, as I'd been looking for some other thoughts there - good to see you are getting similar play to me. You mention space, and I think that could well be the key. I've made quite an effort to manage the space in this system, which is paying dividends now - and my impression is the BWM benefits quite a lot here.

A DF could be another option up top, although perhaps not quite as creative a player as I am wanting. I mentioned above I want to set up a test save to really get to grips to what has been happening with my deeper striker, and I'll give the DF a spin during that.

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Watching Matches and Tweaking Things In Play

This is where I know a lot of people have problems, as did I for a very long time.

However, if you have followed this thread, I have already covered making adjustments to the tactic after watching matches, so this simply follows that same principle. The only difference is you now need to change things in a match rather than after one.

BUT, you still have Pause and Rewind buttons. Use them to go back over something you may have missed or want to see again, they really help.

Anyway, I'll start off this section by looking at my first big challenge of the season - away at Man City. It's a particular challenge for me as all the players are new, they still aren't a fully cohesive unit, and the tactic isn't at 100% fluidity yet.

We ended up winning 1-0, thanks to an 86th minute set piece. But if you look at the stats, we got hammered - it was one of those matches where if I had been the City manager, I'd be cursing at the lucky AI manager ;).

or6qvs.png

So, onto the start of the match and the first screen shot - still inside the first minute of the match:

2ecive0.png

Here we can see Zabaleta (right fullback) having overlapped Navas (right wing) trying to latch onto a speculative long pass. And, even though one minute hasn't ticked by yet, that is the 3rd time the ball has gone out to the right. The first, Navas picked it up, ran deep with it and sent in a dangerous cross. The 2nd again Navas received the ball, but this time passed it back infield. The 3rd (above) resulted from that pass back from Navas with Zabaleta overlapping.

From this, my defence are under pressure from the extra players City are getting into and around the box - you can see 3 of them running into the box, with Navas just behind Zabaleta. All my defender could do was clear the ball long - and this is the result:

j6h504.png

Toure easily picks off the clearance and recycles the ball back into a very dangerous looking position. The match is just one minute old, and I can already see where this is going - Toure bossing the midfield, wingers being very dangerous, my defence under pressure and that is indeed how the match started to play out. I could barely get out of my own half.

One other point of note. I always have this little onscreen Widget displayed during a match - it helps me double check the action I am watching, and helps me keep track of developments when I switch to a highlights mode.

mlj9fr.png

Tweaking

I'm getting hammered by City and I need to do something, otherwise it'll be a rugby score. Of course it still could be even after I make changes, but I'd rather be proactive than reactive.

My defensive positioning is actually ok - alright we are getting battered, but because I have taken the time to plan how I want my players to act, I can see they aren't actually doing anything dumb. It's just that City are coming at me and my team can't do much about it with their current tactical settings.

Therefore, I decide (rightly or wrongly) that I don't need to change player roles or duties, but I will change mentality. And for that I have two options:

1) Be more defensive and so tougher to break down. I'll have to soak a lot of pressure, but I could also hit them on the break.

2) Go on the attack. Attack is the best form of defence as the saying goes. I could still lose, but at least I'll go down fighting.

Now, I have a decent team, but this early in the season I'm still unsure just how good they're going to be. If I had confidence in their ability, I'd take the game to City and try to attack them more. But I'm not that confident yet, so I chicken out and switch to Counter.

As expected, I have to soak a lot of pressure - and I probably got lucky as well (although "luck" doesn't come into a computer program). I did, however see some nice goal attempts by us - 9 shots with 6 on target all from inside the box was actually ok. We defended well, City had some great chances and worked my Goalie, but we gave City a game and put them under some pressure as well. I'm certain that without the change we'd have lost - and lost badly.

Hopefully you found that useful. I'll do another write up when we faced opposition who just sat back, defended deep and look to hit us on the counter. If you have read Cleon's Counter Attacking thread, I call it "playing Cleon" :brock:.

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Hi herne79,

A fantastic post here started by which I think is everyone's first love - a picture of a system worked out on paper ! Anyway I would like to touch upon a question that you have asked that I believe no one has replied to - the defensive role in centre midfield.

In Fm16 I have too started using the BWM D as I found in FM15 with a CM D he started too deep and almost gave the opposition midfield too much time on the ball, then with his higher closing down settings, gets to the player who then passes it past him! I ended up using a cm(s) with hold position highlighted.

In fm16 I have found the bwm (d) exactly what I would want from my defensive screen in midfield - its just a shame I cannot get the other parts right!

All the best !

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How many of the City's shots were from long range? I don't think those stats overall are bad and you certainly didn't get hammered in my opinion. You seems to have better accuracy than them with the shots on target ratio. You more than held your own and it looks like you attempted a good passing game, although a few went astray.

Here we can see Zabaleta (right fullback) having overlapped Navas (right wing) trying to latch onto a speculative long pass. And, even though one minute hasn't ticked by yet, that is the 3rd time the ball has gone out to the right. The first, Navas picked it up, ran deep with it and sent in a dangerous cross. The 2nd again Navas received the ball, but this time passed it back infield. The 3rd (above) resulted from that pass back from Navas with Zabaleta overlapping.

This is brilliant it really is, the fact you identified a very serious issue in the opening minute. I've said it in the past but I'll say it again, most games on FM are won or lost in the opening 15 minutes. I don't mean goals come in this time frame but what you see or don't see during this time, sets the tone of the whole match. The more potential issues you spot here the better and easier the game will be.

Toure easily picks off the clearance and recycles the ball back into a very dangerous looking position. The match is just one minute old, and I can already see where this is going - Toure bossing the midfield, wingers being very dangerous, my defence under pressure and that is indeed how the match started to play out. I could barely get out of my own half.

Imagine the repercussions if you only started the game on key highlights and missed this? Toure would have ripped you apart.

Tweaking

I'm getting hammered by City and I need to do something, otherwise it'll be a rugby score. Of course it still could be even after I make changes, but I'd rather be proactive than reactive.

My defensive positioning is actually ok - alright we are getting battered, but because I have taken the time to plan how I want my players to act, I can see they aren't actually doing anything dumb. It's just that City are coming at me and my team can't do much about it with their current tactical settings.

Therefore, I decide (rightly or wrongly) that I don't need to change player roles or duties, but I will change mentality. And for that I have two options:

1) Be more defensive and so tougher to break down. I'll have to soak a lot of pressure, but I could also hit them on the break.

2) Go on the attack. Attack is the best form of defence as the saying goes. I could still lose, but at least I'll go down fighting.

Now, I have a decent team, but this early in the season I'm still unsure just how good they're going to be. If I had confidence in their ability, I'd take the game to City and try to attack them more. But I'm not that confident yet, so I chicken out and switch to Counter.

Boooo :(:D

In all seriousness though I think you made the correct call. Your player positional play actually looks pretty solid so there's no real need for being extreme just yet.

As expected, I have to soak a lot of pressure - and I probably got lucky as well (although "luck" doesn't come into a computer program). I did, however see some nice goal attempts by us - 9 shots with 6 on target all from inside the box was actually ok. We defended well, City had some great chances and worked my Goalie, but we gave City a game and put them under some pressure as well. I'm certain that without the change we'd have lost - and lost badly.

9 shots with 6 on target and all in the box is a fantastic return, especially against one of the best sides in the league away from home. I'm also pretty sure you'd have got annihilated had you not been paying attention. The fact you saw the overlap and wide threat happen three times in the space of a minute really tells you everything about City's game plan. You can have the best organised side ever but when you face a side who play a crossing game you can be run ragged.

Hopefully you found that useful. I'll do another write up when we faced opposition who just sat back, defended deep and look to hit us on the counter. If you have read Cleon's Counter Attacking thread, I call it "playing Cleon" :brock:.

:D

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@Letissier1980 - thanks for the feedback. Good to hear you also are getting joy from a midfield BWM :).

Imagine the repercussions if you only started the game on key highlights and missed this? Toure would have ripped you apart.

This. Totally.

I should probably also correct myself a bit - City did indeed hammer us before I made the change around 15 mins or so in. Sure we were under the cosh after this as well, but not quite so dramatically.

I'll post the shots map later for completeness. City's shots were mainly from inside the box and worked my goalie well on occasion - but then we also gave Joe Hart a few scares too.

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I enjoyed reading this thread from the start, but I must admit that it was disappointing to see you giving up on the flat 4-4-2 so easily, before even the PL season kicked off. Kind of beats the purpose of the thread. But still interesting read :thup:

I wonder if your DLF(s) would drop deeper if your MCR was a CM(d). In my experience, whatever role you pick for them, your players' behavior will always be affected by their teammates. Simply observe the behavior of a FB(s) when there is an MR in front of him, vs. when there are is nobody there on the wing. He will step up to the midfield to support the attacks a whole lot more when he has nobody ahead of him. Or observe a BBM, with a single striker ahead of him vs. 2 strikers. He will enter the box much more frequently when his running path is not blocked by his own teammate. Maybe a similar thing is happening with you DLF.

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I enjoyed reading this thread from the start, but I must admit that it was disappointing to see you giving up on the flat 4-4-2 so easily, before even the PL season kicked off. Kind of beats the purpose of the thread. But still interesting read :thup:

I wonder if your DLF(s) would drop deeper if your MCR was a CM(d). In my experience, whatever role you pick for them, your players' behavior will always be affected by their teammates. Simply observe the behavior of a FB(s) when there is an MR in front of him, vs. when there are is nobody there on the wing. He will step up to the midfield to support the attacks a whole lot more when he has nobody ahead of him. Or observe a BBM, with a single striker ahead of him vs. 2 strikers. He will enter the box much more frequently when his running path is not blocked by his own teammate. Maybe a similar thing is happening with you DLF.

Don't worry, I haven't given up on it easily. Remember, I never said I wanted a "flat" 442 - right from the get go I wanted one of my strikers to drop deep.

At the moment I have simply found a work around to achieve the overall balance to the system that I wanted. Without that, I was indeed getting a "flat" 442, which was never the intention and causing problems. It's also very useful to validate that a deep dropping creative "striker" is indeed the final spoke in the wheel. A TQ in the STCR or AMCR position really shouldn't make much difference, although in my case it clearly is for some (as yet) unknown reason.

A workaround is of course just that, and as mentioned I'll be loading up a test save to analyse the STCR problem in full when I get the time. Doesn't Christmas just get in the way of the things...

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Watching Matches and Tweaking Things In Play #2 - "Playing Cleon"

Why "Playing Cleon"? Here's how West Brom are lining up against me:

27zgn6x.png

Look familiar? ;)

And here are the match stats (we won 2-0):

30iga4p.png

In all honesty, West Brom didn't come out playing like Cleon's own 4141 in his counter attacking thread, I'm just being a bit cheeky. West Brom had little to no interest in getting out of their own half, let alone trying to score. They were however clearly trying to stay in a solid cohesive shape, dropping deep and hoping to hit me on the counter.

I was going to have to work hard for my goals (15 shots with just 6 on target is poor for me), and I'd need a tweak to get past the bus. But first I need to understand what is happening on the pitch.

Screenshot #1. This just seconds after we kick off. My right winger has the ball, but he is coming under no pressure from the opposing left wing, who just keeps his distance and stands off. In fact the whole of the West Brom defence is more intent on keeping a defensive shape (look at how those red shirts are positioned) than doing anything overly aggressive. My TQ simply drops deep into the space ahead of Ward-Prowse and receives the ball.

wgz5g7.png

Already I am thinking - even this early in the match - that I'm going to be facing off against the parked bus.

Screenshot #2. This is about 3 minutes in. My central defender has just made an interception. All the West Brom players have turned to start running - but they are not running to close down my players. They are running to get back into their defensive shape. We play it out to the left wing, by which time all West Brom players (except the striker) are back in their own half and in their defensive shape.

xyvde.png

Screenshot #3. Again, just a few minutes into the match. Here, West Brom are in possession. I like my defensive shape (2 solid banks of 4), and you can see how West Brom's midfield are clearly retaining their line of 4 players when in possession. To me, this shows they are only advancing in a careful, low tempo way, without players running ahead of the ball. There is no midfield runner, and no overlapping fullback. Watching the action, West Brom just play short low tempo passes to each other until they inevitably lose possession.

2re1752.png

I'm going to be in for a long match - and unless I'm careful I could be on the wrong end of a nasty West Brom counter and score.

I need to decide how I'm going to tackle this without leaving myself open. These are my options:

1) Go more passive myself in an attempt to draw out West Brom and hit them on the break instead. The idea has merit, but I instinctively don't like it. I also doubt that this well-drilled West Brom defence are going to fall for it. At most they are using a Counter mentality, and possibly even Defensive. They may even be using a quite structured Team Shape as well, as I'm not seeing much evidence of individual player creativity. I don't think it will work.

2) Go more attacking and cut them down with faster paced, more risky attacks. I think that's just what Cleon (err, West Brom) are hoping for. Leave myself exposed at the back and hit me fast on the counter - probably down my left flank where their very pacey winger is. I'm not falling for it.

3) Change some player roles and duties. More attacking players? I already have 4, plus that could start to unbalance my team which wouldn't be good. Add a more creative player or two? That might have potential, especially changing my left sided WM(a) to a Wide Playmaker (attack), and/or my BBM back to the original RPM. Perhaps even my attacking fullback to a complete wingback. These ideas have merit, and I'll keep them on the back burner for now because of what I choose to do first:

4) Change my Team Shape to add creativity to all my players. I like this idea the most. Giving everyone a little more creative freedom whilst retaining my overall shape and system I think will help to break down even the most stubborn of defences. We attack in a variety of ways anyway - so that variety of attacking play plus some additional creativity could bear fruit.

BUT (and this is important), if I do this I have to be aware of what else upping the Team Shape will do - it will make me play in a more compact fashion. I have already added in two TIs (Shorter Passing and Retain Possession) to make me play more compactly, so I need to remove one of these TIs at the same time as when I change Team Shape otherwise my players won't have enough space to play in.

I move to a Fluid Team Shape and remove Shorter Passing. Whilst West Brom remain stubborn to play through, we do score 2 goals (my B2B gets both from open play).

One other thing to note. If I had been playing with a more Fluid system in the first place, I wouldn't have been able to do much with the Team Shape when trying to add creativity in matches like this. This is what I wrote back in post #6 when discussing how I decided to play with a Structured Team Shape:

"I have one other consideration here as well. If I watch matches and make adjustments, I may come across opponents who are hard to break down. If I have set a low/neutral Team Shape, I could easily add creativity to help break down these sides by simply changing Team Shape. If I had gone with a more Fluid Team Shape, I wouldn't be able to do that, and I'd find it more complicated to work out".

I love it when a plan comes together ;).

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Watching Matches and Tweaking Things In Play #2 - "Playing Cleon"

4) Change my Team Shape to add creativity to all my players. I like this idea the most. Giving everyone a little more creative freedom whilst retaining my overall shape and system I think will help to break down even the most stubborn of defences. We attack in a variety of ways anyway - so that variety of attacking play plus some additional creativity could bear fruit.

BUT (and this is important), if I do this I have to be aware of what else upping the Team Shape will do - it will make me play in a more compact fashion. I have already added in two TIs (Shorter Passing and Retain Possession) to make me play more compactly, so I need to remove one of these TIs at the same time as when I change Team Shape otherwise my players won't have enough space to play in.

I move to a Fluid Team Shape and remove Shorter Passing. Whilst West Brom remain stubborn to play through, we do score 2 goals (my B2B gets both from open play).

A highly enjoyable and informative thread.

A quick thought on the above: I would have thought that removing the Retain Possession TI would have had a greater success in achieving the desired results.

I find that with retain possession that spark of creativity needed to unlock teams is extinguished by the need to keep the ball at all costs. Another downside of this is a horrifying mimicry of the way England have played for the last 10 years or so (perhaps longer).

I know your philosophy calls for high possession, though against teams sitting back, did you find that this was a given without the extra complication?

A penny for your thoughts.

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A highly enjoyable and informative thread.

A quick thought on the above: I would have thought that removing the Retain Possession TI would have had a greater success in achieving the desired results.

I find that with retain possession that spark of creativity needed to unlock teams is extinguished by the need to keep the ball at all costs. Another downside of this is a horrifying mimicry of the way England have played for the last 10 years or so (perhaps longer).

I know your philosophy calls for high possession, though against teams sitting back, did you find that this was a given without the extra complication?

A penny for your thoughts.

Thanks.

A good point. If I had gone the whole way to Very Fluid then yes I'd have ditched the Retain Possession shout. When making changes, I think in terms of changing one step at a time. If changing to Fluid and losing Shorter Passing didn't work, I still have another option to go to if you get my drift. Despite the in game tool tip, Retain Possession isn't really about keeping the ball at all costs - it's really just about shorter passing, lowering the tempo thus reducing risk a bit, although for me I primarily use it to reduce space.

I'm not looking for high possession by the way. I'm happy if I usually get the majority of possession but that's all I am actively looking for. Having said that, I actually do get quite high possession numbers (I average around 60% which for a 442 I'm quite surprised by), but that is a side effect brought about by the system as a whole. TIs play a part in that of course, but the shape of the team on the pitch, particularly in relation to all the passing options my players have, has just as large, if not more of an effect.

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