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Keeping an Eye on Things

OK, so I've set up the tactic, played some matches, and made some in match tweaks. But how to keep an eye on things once I make the switch from full match to one of the highlights modes (usually key highlights) once I am happy with how we are playing?

Between highlights there is just a blank screen with no action. What if the opposition suddenly changes how they play and I need to make another adjustment? I'm not watching the action now (unless a highlight appears) so how do I know?

There are some things I watch:

1) I always have this little on screen widget open during a match:

axee04.png

This dynamically changes as a match progresses, even in between the highlights. So at a glance I can see how both my team and the opposition are progressing in terms of shots, possession, passing rates and so on. If, for example, the opposition is starting to take more shots, or our possession drops, I can quickly switch back to full match, pause and rewind the action to see what has been going on (or continue in live play) - and make further adjustments if I think I need to.

Sometimes it may not even be necessary to switch back to the action - if my shot count is remaining low against someone that I already know has parked the bus (as an example), I can make another adjustment to try to boost my chances further.

It's an incredibly useful little widget, and I never play a match without it.

2) A half time review. Prozone reports aren't just there at full time. They'll actually dynamically change live as a match plays out if you have them on screen. I don't, but I do take a look at a few if I feel the need at half time. Shots I find useful if we are struggling to score - are they decent chances, who's taking shots, are they close range decent chances, that kind of thing. Passing and crosses can also be useful.

3) Player ratings and body language. This is the widget that appears on screen in between highlights. I watch this all the time. I can instantly see who is having a bad match, who is getting tired, or who is looking moody (for example). I can always start watching the match in full again (or rewinding) to see if there is any obvious reason for this. Perhaps I need to make another adjustment. If not, then they are probably just having a bad day (it happens) and need to be substituted.

Just because there isn't any action on screen doesn't mean to say I'm not taking notice of what's going on :).

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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.

Ah, that makes sense. I'm only basing this on my own (not too successful) experience with this TI :).

Did you find that this change had an impact on the areas the supply came from? A greater spread of assists and key passes etc. One issue I seem to have with Retain Possession is an over reliance on a Play Maker (or a player with Tries Killer Balls PPM) to finally breakthrough. Obviously we're using different tactical systems etc. but it's interesting that you've managed to overcome this!

KUTGW.

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Ah, that makes sense. I'm only basing this on my own (not too successful) experience with this TI :).

Did you find that this change had an impact on the areas the supply came from? A greater spread of assists and key passes etc. One issue I seem to have with Retain Possession is an over reliance on a Play Maker (or a player with Tries Killer Balls PPM) to finally breakthrough. Obviously we're using different tactical systems etc. but it's interesting that you've managed to overcome this!

KUTGW.

To be honest, I haven't analysed if it impacts the areas that supply comes from. Without keeping a manual record, that may be difficult as well - there's no Prozone filter that says show me the assists when I've changed Team Shape for example. However, watching the action I don't notice much in the way of differences to assists, but I do see players taking a few risks - possession does drop slightly from the increase to risky passes, but it's still the same overall shape on the pitch.

Insted of changing the team shape to be more creativity, wouldn't be more expressive TI had the same effect?

I've experimented with this TI before in different saves, and I've never liked what it does on the pitch - and (more importantly) I don't fully understand it. If I don't understand something, I won't use it. It may well have the same effect, so I could be missing something potentially useful. Perhaps I should experiment some more with it in this save, but first I would need to understand the difference - this is a Team instruction after all, rather than the team shape change which affects individual creativity. I'll check it out :).

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Any plans to continue this?

Yeh definitely :). I just haven't had much time over Christmas and the New Year to do anything in game.

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I would like to say, that this is a great reading also for a non native english speaker. Good work, please go on.

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Really top stuff! Highly descriptive and informative. Hope you will use and analyse other formations too, like 4-1DM-2-2-1 and 4-2-3-1 in the future as I am interested in seeing your choice of roles and PIs in those systems. Will be following your posts :)

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I would like to say, that this is a great reading also for a non native english speaker. Good work, please go on.
Really top stuff! Highly descriptive and informative. Hope you will use and analyse other formations too, like 4-1DM-2-2-1 and 4-2-3-1 in the future as I am interested in seeing your choice of roles and PIs in those systems. Will be following your posts :)

Thank you :).

I don't have any plans for a 41DM221 at present, although I do have 2 x 4231 systems currently on the go (one using a deep 4231 at DM/MC, the other using the MC/AMC lines).

I won't be doing a full write up on them, although one is mentioned from post 119 here http://community.sigames.com/showthread.php/445500-The-Art-of-Possession-Football/page2 (a possession based system), and the other from post 45 in this thread http://community.sigames.com/showthread.php/444680-The-Art-of-Counter-Attacking (a counter attacking system).

Both those systems extensively use the principles laid out by Cleon in the OP of both threads.

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Thank you :).

I don't have any plans for a 41DM221 at present, although I do have 2 x 4231 systems currently on the go (one using a deep 4231 at DM/MC, the other using the MC/AMC lines).

I won't be doing a full write up on them, although one is mentioned from post 119 here http://community.sigames.com/showthread.php/445500-The-Art-of-Possession-Football/page2 (a possession based system), and the other from post 45 in this thread http://community.sigames.com/showthread.php/444680-The-Art-of-Counter-Attacking (a counter attacking system).

Both those systems extensively use the principles laid out by Cleon in the OP of both threads.

Mind sharing those two tactics? and this 4-4-2 ;)

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Mind sharing those two tactics? and this 4-4-2 ;)

They are already shared, they're all written down.

If you do copy them, I'll be surprised if they work for you however. Neither this thread nor Cleon's 2 threads that I posted in are about "here's a tactic, go use them". Good luck if that's what you want to do though, but you may be wasting your time :).

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Playing Against Different Formations

I started some match analysis above, showing how I made some in game tweaks against an attacking Man City side, and a defensive West Brom.

To carry this on, I thought I'd do a little series detailing what I do (if anything) against different formations. I've just started my 2nd season so I'll post these as and when I come across things. Hopefully you find it interesting.

1) The 4-4-2 Narrow Diamond

An early season away game at Aston Villa. This is how Villa line up:

ok1s0h.png

I always pay attention to this pre-match screen to see if I can start to make any assumptions about how the opposition may try to play. I'm not always right, but it's a starting point.

Here, my initial thoughts are:

- The right back may have a support duty compared to the left back's defend duty. So the right back may get forward a little more. Fine by me as he's up against my attacking left wing, Di Maria.

- There is a large gap between the MCs and the AMC. AMC may have an attack duty, I need to pay attention to him as I don't play with a DMC. Both MCs may have a defend duty.

- Their threat is from 3 advanced players. With a gap to MC, I expect long ball tactics.

NOTE - Even though I start to analyse before kick off, I never make changes to my tactic until I see what is happening on the pitch. There is no point, as otherwise I am reacting to assumptions. I couldn't care less if I am playing home or away, who I am playing against, weather conditions, what the press may be trying to stir up etc etc. My focus is 100% on if my players are actually playing as I expect them to - if they are I'll probably win. If they're not, I need to change something.

Anyway, onto some action.

This first screen shot confirms my suspicions that Villa are playing a long ball game - the match is only 4 minutes old.

14ybz20.jpg

My team just lost possession. Gil has a huge amount of space to run into (my BWM had drifted wide - that's him just to the right of the fullback at the bottom of the shot). If Gil does make a run, my central defenders are going to be in trouble from a 3 v 2 overload. But Gil doesn't run. He just hits a long ball towards the forwards, hoping one will latch onto it. They don't and my defence easily picks off the pass.

If Villa are just going to play long balls, I'm not worried at all. My defence and midfield are good enough to cope, although I need to keep an eye on my BWM. He'd drifted out wide here in support of our previous possession and has been caught out of position. He doesn't usually do that, so no need to panic, but I have to keep an eye on him.

(As it turned out, that was a bit of a one-off, and he played well in midfield after this, closing down space nicely).

Next shows how narrow Villa are playing, and how I will be exploiting things. This is from a Villa goal kick (again early in the match):

27zad5f.png

The midfield is packed. Villa are just trying to overload the area, and get the ball up to their attackers. This is why my Assistant Manager keeps telling me I am outnumbered in midfield (which I ignore). If Villa were actually trying to play a passing game, I may be concerned by this. But they aren't - they are just kicking it long giving my players easy turn overs from interceptions.

So, we're getting easy interceptions, but what do we do with the ball? Well, look at all that juicy space out wide. Di Maria's going to have a field day down the left, and I expect plenty of crosses from Ward-Prowse and his overlapping fullback down the right. And that's how things panned out - Ward-Prowse picked up the PoM award thanks to two cross assists from which we scored, with Di Maria getting on the end of one of those crosses.

We score the first after 5 mins (Ward-Prowse cross to Di Maria on the far post) and before that we've already had a goal disallowed for offside (another Ward-Prowse cross). I don't change anything at all during the match and we win 3-0. Again, I keep an eye on my widgets once I switch to key highlights - this is how things look after 30 mins of play when we're 2-0 up:

n5hies.png

Villa have 60% pass completion and 32% possession, which just backs up what I see as their attempted long ball game. They've had 2 shots (both off target) compared to my 7 shots with 5 on target. I can sit back and relax.

Conclusion

Because I use tactical settings that aims to control the space, lining up against a team with an AMC and 2 strikers is just fine - especially if they play a long ball game. My team are compact and play with a slightly higher defensive line, so the potential threat from an AMC gets snuffed out. 3 players in advanced positions simply plays into my winger's hands, and I annihilate them down the flanks.

There's no need to make changes because my team are doing what I expect them to do. I don't have to (for example) tell the team to Exploit the Flanks because they are already doing so - there's no space in the middle to exploit so my players act accordingly.

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Playing Against Different Formations

I started some match analysis above, showing how I made some in game tweaks against an attacking Man City side, and a defensive West Brom.

To carry this on, I thought I'd do a little series detailing what I do (if anything) against different formations. I've just started my 2nd season so I'll post these as and when I come across things. Hopefully you find it interesting.

1) The 4-4-2 Narrow Diamond

An early season away game at Aston Villa. This is how Villa line up:

ok1s0h.png

I always pay attention to this pre-match screen to see if I can start to make any assumptions about how the opposition may try to play. I'm not always right, but it's a starting point.

Here, my initial thoughts are:

- The right back may have a support duty compared to the left back's defend duty. So the right back may get forward a little more. Fine by me as he's up against my attacking left wing, Di Maria.

- There is a large gap between the MCs and the AMC. AMC may have an attack duty, I need to pay attention to him as I don't play with a DMC. Both MCs may have a defend duty.

- Their threat is from 3 advanced players. With a gap to MC, I expect long ball tactics.

NOTE - Even though I start to analyse before kick off, I never make changes to my tactic until I see what is happening on the pitch. There is no point, as otherwise I am reacting to assumptions. I couldn't care less if I am playing home or away, who I am playing against, weather conditions, what the press may be trying to stir up etc etc. My focus is 100% on if my players are actually playing as I expect them to - if they are I'll probably win. If they're not, I need to change something.

Anyway, onto some action.

This first screen shot confirms my suspicions that Villa are playing a long ball game - the match is only 4 minutes old.

14ybz20.jpg

My team just lost possession. Gil has a huge amount of space to run into (my BWM had drifted wide - that's him just to the right of the fullback at the bottom of the shot). If Gil does make a run, my central defenders are going to be in trouble from a 3 v 2 overload. But Gil doesn't run. He just hits a long ball towards the forwards, hoping one will latch onto it. They don't and my defence easily picks off the pass.

If Villa are just going to play long balls, I'm not worried at all. My defence and midfield are good enough to cope, although I need to keep an eye on my BWM. He'd drifted out wide here in support of our previous possession and has been caught out of position. He doesn't usually do that, so no need to panic, but I have to keep an eye on him.

(As it turned out, that was a bit of a one-off, and he played well in midfield after this, closing down space nicely).

Next shows how narrow Villa are playing, and how I will be exploiting things. This is from a Villa goal kick (again early in the match):

27zad5f.png

The midfield is packed. Villa are just trying to overload the area, and get the ball up to their attackers. This is why my Assistant Manager keeps telling me I am outnumbered in midfield (which I ignore). If Villa were actually trying to play a passing game, I may be concerned by this. But they aren't - they are just kicking it long giving my players easy turn overs from interceptions.

So, we're getting easy interceptions, but what do we do with the ball? Well, look at all that juicy space out wide. Di Maria's going to have a field day down the left, and I expect plenty of crosses from Ward-Prowse and his overlapping fullback down the right. And that's how things panned out - Ward-Prowse picked up the PoM award thanks to two cross assists from which we scored, with Di Maria getting on the end of one of those crosses.

We score the first after 5 mins (Ward-Prowse cross to Di Maria on the far post) and before that we've already had a goal disallowed for offside (another Ward-Prowse cross). I don't change anything at all during the match and we win 3-0. Again, I keep an eye on my widgets once I switch to key highlights - this is how things look after 30 mins of play when we're 2-0 up:

n5hies.png

Villa have 60% pass completion and 32% possession, which just backs up what I see as their attempted long ball game. They've had 2 shots (both off target) compared to my 7 shots with 5 on target. I can sit back and relax.

Conclusion

Because I use tactical settings that aims to control the space, lining up against a team with an AMC and 2 strikers is just fine - especially if they play a long ball game. My team are compact and play with a slightly higher defensive line, so the potential threat from an AMC gets snuffed out. 3 players in advanced positions simply plays into my winger's hands, and I annihilate them down the flanks.

There's no need to make changes because my team are doing what I expect them to do. I don't have to (for example) tell the team to Exploit the Flanks because they are already doing so - there's no space in the middle to exploit so my players act accordingly.

Do you do any pre match team instructions?.I do several depending on how the opposition lines up.How villa lined up, strong in the middle, so I'll play narrow to defend the middle, also possibly have my full backs sit narrow, as that can help defend the middle too.Then their weakness, the flanks, so I'll exploit left and right flank.Do you think that's the right way to go, something you do or would do?

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Do you do any pre match team instructions?.I do several depending on how the opposition lines up.How villa lined up, strong in the middle, so I'll play narrow to defend the middle, also possibly have my full backs sit narrow, as that can help defend the middle too.Then their weakness, the flanks, so I'll exploit left and right flank.Do you think that's the right way to go, something you do or would do?

I never use Opposition Instructions. Because I have planned how I want my team to play right from the start in the OP, using OIs would add in a level of complexity that I don't need. I'd find it harder to watch what is happening during a match.

With regards your other question, you may have missed this:

NOTE - Even though I start to analyse before kick off, I never make changes to my tactic until I see what is happening on the pitch. There is no point, as otherwise I am reacting to assumptions. I couldn't care less if I am playing home or away, who I am playing against, weather conditions, what the press may be trying to stir up etc etc. My focus is 100% on if my players are actually playing as I expect them to - if they are I'll probably win. If they're not, I need to change something.

Also, as you mention exploiting the flanks, I'd re-read my final sentence as well ;).

I know you ask if "that's the right way to go", but I wouldn't be that presumptuous. Hopefully nothing I've written in any of these posts come across like that - I'm merely saying this is how I play and if it helps others with different ideas then great, although there is of course no guarantee of success :brock:.

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With each post you make you begin to resemble how I play the game more and more :D

It's great to see someone else focusing on what his players is doing only though and if they do what you want then you know they'll win. It allows you to build a proper identity and get a solid playing style locked down. Something which I believe you can't do if you focus on what the AI is doing.

Another great post above btw, I'm loving the detail.

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I never use Opposition Instructions. Because I have planned how I want my team to play right from the start in the OP, using OIs would add in a level of complexity that I don't need. I'd find it harder to watch what is happening during a match.

With regards your other question, you may have missed this:

Also, as you mention exploiting the flanks, I'd re-read my final sentence as well ;).

I know you ask if "that's the right way to go", but I wouldn't be that presumptuous. Hopefully nothing I've written in any of these posts come across like that - I'm merely saying this is how I play and if it helps others with different ideas then great, although there is of course no guarantee of success :brock:.

I don't use opposition instructions as I agree with what you said in what it does to team shape.Just add several team instructions that might counter opposition weakness and strengths.Just think sometimes a bit of common sense doesn't go a miss.If the opposition had 4 central midfield players on any of the midfield stratas, that's a strength to them and if your playing a midfield 2, chances are you'll be out numbered and out played, so without changing your shape/formation a shout that may help with that.Like I said, if a team plays just one wideman on the flank, it's a weakness, one to exploit.

Just read that that you are all ready exploiting flanks.

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I don't use opposition instructions as I agree with what you said in what it does to team shape.Just add several team instructions that might counter opposition weakness and strengths.Just think sometimes a bit of common sense doesn't go a miss.If the opposition had 4 central midfield players on any of the midfield stratas, that's a strength to them and if your playing a midfield 2, chances are you'll be out numbered and out played, so without changing your shape/formation a shout that may help with that.Like I said, if a team plays just one wideman on the flank, it's a weakness, one to exploit.

Just read that that you are all ready exploiting flanks.

I'm not using the TI to exploit the flanks. I don't know if you have read all of my posts, but it may help your understanding of what I am doing if you have a refresher :).

In this situation of so-called "exploiting the flanks", the team does it by default, so I don't need to add in a TI to tell them to do it. The space is on the flanks, so that's where the team plays - not because I tell them to.

I agree that you can use "common sense" sometimes to change things before a match starts. I used to play like that on occasion. However, all I do now, which is what I'm writing about, is that I never change anything until I see how my players are actually playing - which you could say is a reactive way of playing.

Changing things before the start of a match could be considered a proactive way of playing, but the downside (for me) is that I would be changing my system based on guess work which could therefore lead to other problems. If it ain't broke don't fix it, as the saying goes. I don't know if anything's broken until the match starts, then if I know something is, I can fix it. To me, anything else is just "common sense" guess work.

I simply see things now as why change anything unless I need to :).

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- The right back may have a support duty compared to the left back's defend duty. So the right back may get forward a little more. Fine by me as he's up against my attacking left wing, Di Maria.

...

There's no need to make changes because my team are doing what I expect them to do. I don't have to (for example) tell the team to Exploit the Flanks because they are already doing so - there's no space in the middle to exploit so my players act accordingly.

Great post and I particularly enjoyed these two points. On the first, many people's first instinct is to think about how to defend a more attacking opposition player. I love that your first thought was about the potential space it opens up for your attacking player on that flank.

On the second, I think it illustrates the potential harm selecting too many TI's can cause. If you tell your team to exploit a specific area it may prevent them from exploiting the space your opponent may be giving up naturally.

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Great post and I particularly enjoyed these two points. On the first, many people's first instinct is to think about how to defend a more attacking opposition player. I love that your first thought was about the potential space it opens up for your attacking player on that flank.

On the second, I think it illustrates the potential harm selecting too many TI's can cause. If you tell your team to exploit a specific area it may prevent them from exploiting the space your opponent may be giving up naturally.

100% this :thup:.

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Hey Herne79, I really enjoyed reading this. Well constructed thought process and really good at articulating what you are trying to achieve. Contrary to some of the others here, I'm really happy that you decided to go from your original 4-4-2 to the slightly different formation with the TQ in the AMCR slot. To me it shows that you're trying to get the team to play in the style which you set out in the beginning rather than try to get the DLF role to work, which then messes up your whole system. Basically I guess I'm saying, well done for staying true to the system YOU want to implement. Some really good tactical observations made too.

I look forward to following this thread in future as there is some really good food for thought and I like your simplistic way of looking at things! Really top job mate.

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Thanks Vincenzo.

You are completely right. As a friend of mine put it, there is a world of difference between a formation on a chalk board, and a system on the pitch.

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Between this and Cleon's Invincibles thread, I have an overwhelming urge to go and make a 4-4-2, I usually prefer 4-2-3-1 or 4-1-2-2-1. Just had a lot of fun getting an extremely attacking 4-3-1-2 going and really enjoyed the 2 forward combo. Maybe it's time to go and whack up a simple 4-4-2. Thanks to you and Cleon for the inspiration!

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This is such a great thread.

While I really liked that you allowed for a lot more creativity in order to break down a stubborn defence, I'm wondering you didn't consider other options than the ones you mentioned. What about going wider, increasing tempo or closing down more, without exposing yourself to too much risk. I think there are so many ways of approaching that type of defence, that its hard to know what to do.

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2) The 4-1DM-2-3

This formation is, quite possibly, my least favourite to play against. If set up properly (which the AI invariably seems to do against me :rolleyes:) it can be quite formidable. There's no real weakness, and plenty of strengths. Solid through the middle, defensively sound, strong on the flanks, nasty in attack. If it's good enough for Barcelona...

Anyway, this is how Everton lined up against me. We're playing at Goodison Park in the Capital One Cup.

1h30d4.png

There's some good players in there, and Everton can be a bit of a bogey team for me. Combine that with the 4-1DM-2-3 and I'm not really looking forward to this.

Again, I start by having a quick look at this formation to see if I can get any initial impressions of what I may expect.

a) Lukaku is well advanced. If I can get him isolated, the match will be much easier. Clearly the AI hasn't read Llama's Roles and Combinations guide ;).

b) Deulofeu seems to have a more attacking duty on the left than Lennon on the right. My attacking fullback on the right may be an issue.

c) Rangel is more attack minded than Baines. Probably not to the point of causing lots of overlaps, but there may be some space there for me to exploit.

2 minutes into the game, and this happens:

2uysxw2.png

My BWM (Gil Romero) is on the ball. Instead of the easy short pass to my right winger (Passlack), he decides to try to make the longer pass to my attacking fullback (Holgate) who is on the run and overlapping. Baines easily intercepts the pass, lays it off to Odegaard, who passes to Deulofeu in space. Luckily nothing came of it, and my BWM covered across shepherding the ball out of play.

I'm not panicking into an instant change yet (the match is only 2 minutes old after all), but something I need to watch.

Now, as things turned out, there was no real cause for alarm. As the match wore on, we started to dominate and Deulofeu was forced back more and more from my pressure. However, it does demonstrate the type of thing you can see to draw attention to danger zones.

After 15 minutes, Everton hadn't had a single shot and were sitting on about 30% possession. We were dominating, but we're up against a defensive formation. I decide to free things up a little, and change mentality to Control, plus I drop Shorter Passing. We have an advantage already, so I want to press it home. We don't need extra creativity (we're having shots already), so no need to change Team Shape. I watch the match for a further 10 mins to make sure my right flank isn't exposed.

After 42 minutes, it's still somehow 0-0 when this happens.

efnd35.png

Lukaku in a seemingly innocuous position, spanks the ball with his left foot and we're suddenly down 1-0. It's Everton's 3rd shot of the match, and their first on target. Ho hum.

However, there's no need for me to change anything. We're still dominating with plenty of possession, plenty of shots on target and defensively solid. 2 mins later we're level 1-1 thanks to a cross from my right winger and an unbelievable overhead bicycle kick from my striker.

I'll mention my half time team talks here. If I am losing or drawing at half time I am always aggressive with my players, it doesn't matter who I'm playing. I prefer the hair dryer to encouragement. I honestly have no idea if that is the best way to do it, but I find that's what works best for me.

Anyway, after 75 mins it's still 1-1 with a similar pattern to the first half. With extra time looming, and us still in total domination, I change up to an Attacking mentality. However, this time I change my right back from a Fullback (attack) to a Wingback (support). Deulofeu is still a threat and not changing my fullback's duty on that side would be too much of a risk.

1-1 at fulltime, I make 3 substitutions for fresh legs in key positions (striker, left wing, right fullback) and we end up winning 3-1.

I still dislike playing against this formation - it's very solid to get through and dangerous in possession I think - and if this had been a league match it would have been a draw. Still, I'll take the win and remember some lessons for the next time I face this formation.

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My BWM (Gil Romero) is on the ball. Instead of the easy short pass to my right winger (Passlack), he decides to try to make the longer pass to my attacking fullback (Holgate) who is on the run and overlapping.

This stuff exactly is what I can't seem to grasp in FM. I know it's all about the context, roles and duties and all, but whatever the context is, my midfielders always pass it direct and long if I have players in AML/AMR spots. The fact the team is supposed to pass it short and the fact he has two other options don't seem to matter.

What I'm asking is what would you do if your BWM plays those long balls too often, even though he has an easy option?

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This stuff exactly is what I can't seem to grasp in FM. I know it's all about the context, roles and duties and all, but whatever the context is, my midfielders always pass it direct and long if I have players in AML/AMR spots. The fact the team is supposed to pass it short and the fact he has two other options don't seem to matter.

What I'm asking is what would you do if your BWM plays those long balls too often, even though he has an easy option?

Remember I'm not using the AML/R spots.

Re. the BWM question, difficult to say. In the screen shot above, it's actually not a bad decision by the BWM - it's just the execution was poor. My fullback had made a good run and the right ball was a pass to him - albeit a bit risky.

But you are right, I wouldn't want my BWM doing that often. If he did (he doesn't), I'd start by checking his PPMs and then at my system to make sure there are actually short passing options available. I spent a lot of time making sure this system has passing options - it may not seem like it in my OP but the planning took me ages.

There may also be pressure from the opposition with tight marking his short passing options. As you say, it's about context but there should be a reason for it if that's what you are seeing.

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This is a great thread. Very well done sir!

It's right up there with some of the great guides and studies on here.

4-4-2 is the only formation I have managed to get working the way I want it to so far on FM16 and it started off on a spiral bound notepad with little arrows on it too. :D

That said, I'm still not tactical genius, despite great threads like this but I do fancy a crack at a 4-2-3-1 to get away from the 4-1-2-2-1which was my go to tactic on FM15.

I found the way you approached the team shape and mentality in particular very informative. KUTGW :)

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Great thread! Just spent a lot of minutes reading it all through.

The main reason I did this is you play almost identical to my 442 where I really struggle with my dlf..

Have many other positions similar and really had my hopes up you'd figured this out..

In FM14 I had great success with f9 instead of dlf but not in FM16..

Any ideas about this now that you've spent some time in this save?

I don't have any AMC options in my team so feel a little stuck..

Thanks and kutgw!

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

I know I've already had a look at the 4-4-2 Narrow Diamond, but I thought I'd look at a different style of it - this time away at Man Utd. Not so long ball based as earlier, but this time more possession based with a far more threatening AMC (Mata).

Or so I thought...;).

2e6g402.png

Not much I can draw from this, apart from some assumptions about the players themselves. Probably a couple of midfield runners, a dangerous AMC and a strike partnership I imagine will involve one who drops deep (Rooney) while the other possibly plays on the shoulder of my defenders.

In this first screenie, the game is just 38 seconds old. Di Maria in possession but already I can see Mata is dropping very deep along with Rooney, leaving Berahino up front.

2je4f8l.png

This starts me off with a few thoughts:

a) Mata must be on a support duty to drop that deep in defence, possibly an Attacking Midfielder role, rather than a playmaker role. He has the PPM to drop deep to get the ball, but that kicks in when his team are in possession.

b) Because of how deep Mata is coming in defence, this could be good for me. If Mata is that deep when Man U win back possession, he won't be in a threatening position to do me much damage. He can have the ball as much as he likes if he's that deep in his own half.

c) If my players can knock the odd cross field pass, my opposite wing will be in great shape to attack. Look at all that space for my winger and fullback on the other side of the pitch.

Next up are two screen shots taken within seconds of each other. The game is just one minute old.

Schweinsteiger has hit the ball long to Berahino. He had to as Mata was too deep in his own half to offer a passing option.

1zftwmt.png

Following this, we see some action from Utd's midfield. 3 runners getting ahead of the ball, plus Rooney. Berahino has done a good job of holding up the ball by simply jogging along the half way line with it.

25u6xiq.png

Looking dangerous, although ultimately my BWM (who was tracking Berahino) won the ball ans snuffed out the problem.

This could be reason for concern - 3 midfield runners has the potential to spoil my day by overloading the midfield, especially with the quality of player Man U have there. However, there is one other point that I like. If you look carefully, right beside Schweinsteiger is a blue shirt. That's my right sided Wide Midfielder tucking in and tracking the runner. Good to see that, and eases my mind somewhat.

Finally, the last screen shot shows what I consider to be Man Utd's main problem throughout the match.

2e3bz0m.png

Schneiderlin has cleared the ball long to Berahino. Why? Because (in my opinion) Mata has come too deep in defence, so when turnover happens Man Utd have nobody in a decent midfield position to play the link between defence and attack. This happened all match long - the forwards had to hold the ball up waiting for support, by which time my players had recovered back into defensive positions.

We started to dominate the match in terms of possession and chances created to the point where I removed Shorter Passing.

At the start of the second half, Utd did come out with a more attacking intent. Suddenly they were pinging more shots at my goal, with Mata a little more involved. I simply switched to a Counter mentality, and the second half was fairly even. We nicked a goal from a corner and we saw the match out with a 1-0 win.

In all honesty, with Man Utd playing so cautiously, I should have killed the game off in the first half by upping my mentality a bit, but I was too slow to react. I'll take the win, but I'll also take a learning point.

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With each post you make you begin to resemble how I play the game more and more :D

It's great to see someone else focusing on what his players is doing only though and if they do what you want then you know they'll win. It allows you to build a proper identity and get a solid playing style locked down. Something which I believe you can't do if you focus on what the AI is doing.

Another great post above btw, I'm loving the detail.

Thanks Cleon.

I think what really helped me in this particular save is how long I spent planning it. Because I had planned how I want each player to act, and then not overloaded them with all sorts of fancy tactical settings, I can easily see if they are actually doing what they should be.

It really does bring a whole new level of enjoyment to the game.

This is such a great thread.

While I really liked that you allowed for a lot more creativity in order to break down a stubborn defence, I'm wondering you didn't consider other options than the ones you mentioned. What about going wider, increasing tempo or closing down more, without exposing yourself to too much risk. I think there are so many ways of approaching that type of defence, that its hard to know what to do.

You're right, there are so many different ways of approaching things it can be hard to decide.

For me, because I've set the team up in a certain way, it becomes a bit easier and I simply change Team Shape (and remove a TI). I know what that will do, whereas because I haven't planned for increasing width, or tempo, or closing down, or anything else for that matter I don't know what impact that will have. Therefore I just stick with what I know which simplifies my decision process.

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That could also be the problem, you know. You can plan all you want if you don't know exactly what each instructions will do to your team. For example, the change of Team Shape in order to break down the opposition is something very few people would even think of doing, but you did it because you knew exactly what would it do. Playing the way you play is extremely rewarding, but it requires a lot of matches watched in full with various instructions tried out before you can even think of any contingencies for different match scenarios.

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That could also be the problem, you know. You can plan all you want if you don't know exactly what each instructions will do to your team. For example, the change of Team Shape in order to break down the opposition is something very few people would even think of doing, but you did it because you knew exactly what would it do. Playing the way you play is extremely rewarding, but it requires a lot of matches watched in full with various instructions tried out before you can even think of any contingencies for different match scenarios.

I'm simplifying, I do know what impact on my system most other changes would have. Perhaps it would have been better for me to say this is how I have chosen to act given numerous alternatives as it's what I find works best. I over simplified my previous answer.

If I make changes, all I tend to do is change Team Shape, Mentality and/or the Shorter Passing TI depending on how I read the situation in any given match. Mentality will of course change numerous TIs along with individual player settings - using a wide ranging change such as this actually keeps the team playing in much the same manner, you're just gradually increasing the overall dial to 11 rather than just one or two parts of it.

Of course any changes made I need to keep an eye on for a short time to make sure things improve.

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4) The 5-2-1-2WB

Newcastle turned up at the Olympic Stadium fortress (I haven't lost a match there) with this formation:

4toaih.png

Spoiler alert - we lost the match 1-0. Some fortress :rolleyes:.

I already know that 3 at the back can be a sod to play against. I spent previous FMs extensively winning things as Conte's Juventus, so I should know.

From Newcastle's set up, I can see the only real space for me to try to use is in their DM strata - which is fine as that's where my Trequartista tends to operate.

On the other hand, I'm expecting their threat to come both from their wing backs and through the centre. I'm not unduly concerned as I play against AMCs all the time and I have double cover out wide.

3 minutes into the match and, in this series of 3 screenshots, I can start to see Newcastle's pattern of play - but also (more importantly) how my team deal with things.

#1 Andone has the ball and passes inside to Carroll. Cabella has started a forward run, with Dabo and Anita keeping pace with the ball - but not running ahead of it. My back line is good and my BWM will close down Carroll. Newcastle are playing patiently, no long ball stuff.

33mxzjt.png

#2 Under pressure from my BWM, Carroll has passed back to Andone. This sucks my left back inside, leaving Dabo unmarked. However, my BBM has tracked back to cover Cabella's run, and my left winger is busting a gut to get back and help. My DCL is also running across to help cover. Dabo should be making a forward run at this point, but he doesn't. He holds position in line with the ball and receives the pass from Andone.

afc7lh.png

#3 Because Newcastle are playing patiently, Di Maria has made it back to help out, freeing up my left back to deal with Dabo. Cabella is still making a forward run, but remains covered by my BBM. My BWM is paying close attention to Carroll, and my back line are keeping a good shape. Dabo plays the ball back to Andone who is tackled (and fouled) by Di Maria.

It's also worth mentioning Sissoko and Tiote. They are just holding position in front of their back 3, which is going to make things tough for me.

2mg88qr.png

Overall, I'm not unduly concerned by this pattern of play. My players are covering positions well, but my weakness is through the middle, and that's ultimately how Newcastle scored - some intricate short passes between their front 3 in the 41st minute, a little shimmy and dribble from Carroll (of course :rolleyes:) and he beat our keeper.

They only had 2 shots on target all match (we had 9), but there was just no way to break them down. After 15 mins I had ditched Shorter Passing, after 30 mins I had moved to a Fluid Team Shape. However, even though Newcastle's shooting was poor they were still getting into shooting positions. I needed to try to press them back to reduce this so I switched to a Control mentality in the second half. That worked wonders and Newcastle were really pinned back during that half, but I still couldn't find a way through. Eventually I threw the kitchen sink at them, ditching Retain Possession and moving to an Attacking mentality for the last 15 mins, but to no avail.

Sometimes you just have to accept defeat.

What could I have done differently?

- I could have dropped to a Counter mentality to try to draw them out. However with 3 at the back and solid cover from deep sitting central midfielders that would probably have been impossible.

- I could have not changed anything. We were actually playing well after all - my TQ picked up the PoM award, whilst their goalie was their highest rated player. However, this was also a non-starter for me as Newcastle were getting into dangerous positions.

- I could (and probably should) have altered some player roles or duties. Changing Di Maria to an attacking wide playmaker works nicely on occasion, as does making one or both fullbacks more attacking. That's possibly where I lost it, although Newcastle's keeper (Szczesny) did play out of his boots. It happens.

- I could (and probably should) have switched to Control mentality earlier. It worked to pin back Newcastle in the 2nd half, so perhaps if I had done that in the first half I'd have avoided the goal and eventually worn them down.

I love hindsight. I win the Lottery every week because of it :brock:.

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After a 2 year hiatus from the game I've been sucked back in after being bought it for Christmas, it's certainly a much deeper game. I just wanted to praise you on the depth you've gone to in this topic. I'm still very much stuck in the mud with wanting to play 2 strikers and wide men so 4-4-2 seem to be the only viable option, this topic is going to be my bible for a bit I feel.

Keep up the good work!

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After a 2 year hiatus from the game I've been sucked back in after being bought it for Christmas, it's certainly a much deeper game. I just wanted to praise you on the depth you've gone to in this topic. I'm still very much stuck in the mud with wanting to play 2 strikers and wide men so 4-4-2 seem to be the only viable option, this topic is going to be my bible for a bit I feel.

Keep up the good work!

There is no escape.

One of us, one of us, one of us ;).

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Brilliant thread as always herne - No idea how i missed it until now. You have a great way of explaining yourself and demonstrating the simplicity of things which might appear complex to others.

There are a few things i found interesting about this thread:

1) The formation debate - I am on the side of it makes no difference. Formations are antiquated. They relate only to the rough shape your team takes up when you do not have the ball, and even then that is distorted if you play a pressing game. If any tactic ends up as the same "formation" when defending as when attacking (in terms of numbers), then it is likely not going to be successful. The key to many a successful system is to take a player in one "position" and make him perform in a function which belies that "position" - Whether that is making a "striker" become a creator, or making a "winger" become a goalscorer, or a "fullback" become a deadly assist machine - Generally the best systems will ensure that at least one "non traditional" becomes key. You have not highlighted it too much here, but i would guess your Di Maria role is that for you.

2) Your use of team shape - A really good and clear description and execution of this. I must admit that i read the "Key tactical changes in FM16" thread about 12 times and i still wasnt getting my head round it? How the heck can "Very Fluid" = "more compact". What? Eh?....well, you lay it out quite nicely. It would be cool to see some screenshots of when you change up from Structured to Flexible or Fluid, maybe highlighting some of the changes in terms of the team compactness

3) The second striker - Interesting issue, and i cant overly say i have used 2 strikers this year so cant contribute much. With a sole striker, i have had issues with a DLF(s) in a 4141 not coming deep enough, but i put that partially down to a PPM of "likes to beat offside trap" in the player in question. One thing that interest me in your current setup, is whether you see this guy as a creator or goalscorer. Or as you have Tevez, and playing him as Treq, would i be correct in assuming you are looking for that lovely blend of both in the same player? A rare creature indeed :)

Always great to read your stuff. Makes me want to be less lazy and have a proper go. FM16 has driven me bonkers with certain aspects, but i have little doubt that it is partially down to laziness - i wanted to take all the good work i did last year and just overlay it, making the odd adjustment. That doesnt work. The ME and tactical changes mean i really need to start with a new base and build from it. You also make the very key point about the need to carefully watch at least parts of your games in the early going. I need to get back to that, and interestingly i have noted that the new "Prozone" camera option lends itself quite well to this :)

Look forward to future posts:thup:

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Cheers Jambo, about time you pulled your finger out and got back in the dugout ;).

1) The formation debate - I am on the side of it makes no difference. Formations are antiquated. They relate only to the rough shape your team takes up when you do not have the ball, and even then that is distorted if you play a pressing game. If any tactic ends up as the same "formation" when defending as when attacking (in terms of numbers), then it is likely not going to be successful. The key to many a successful system is to take a player in one "position" and make him perform in a function which belies that "position" - Whether that is making a "striker" become a creator, or making a "winger" become a goalscorer, or a "fullback" become a deadly assist machine - Generally the best systems will ensure that at least one "non traditional" becomes key. You have not highlighted it too much here, but i would guess your Di Maria role is that for you.

Yeh exactly. There is a world of difference between a formation on the chalk board and how you want players performing on the pitch.

Di Maria is blinding. He is creator, scorer, defender and opposition defence-scarer all rolled into one. Who'd have thought that from someone played at ML rather than AML... I learned that from you :brock:

2) Your use of team shape - A really good and clear description and execution of this. I must admit that i read the "Key tactical changes in FM16" thread about 12 times and i still wasnt getting my head round it? How the heck can "Very Fluid" = "more compact". What? Eh?....well, you lay it out quite nicely. It would be cool to see some screenshots of when you change up from Structured to Flexible or Fluid, maybe highlighting some of the changes in terms of the team compactness.

Difficult to screen shot that. Perhaps if players are all nicely lined up waiting for a goal kick... I don't know, it's hard to define I think - maybe the difference between Very Structured and Very Fluid could be obvious, but just a single step change is very subtle in player positioning. The only real noticeable difference (and it's still marginal at best) can be a slight drop in the possession % as we start to get a little more creative (ie., a few more risky passes), especially if I take off the Shorter Passing shout as well.

3) The second striker - Interesting issue, and i cant overly say i have used 2 strikers this year so cant contribute much. With a sole striker, i have had issues with a DLF(s) in a 4141 not coming deep enough, but i put that partially down to a PPM of "likes to beat offside trap" in the player in question. One thing that interest me in your current setup, is whether you see this guy as a creator or goalscorer. Or as you have Tevez, and playing him as Treq, would i be correct in assuming you are looking for that lovely blend of both in the same player? A rare creature indeed :)

The TQ is both creator and goalscorer - and a blimin' hard worker as well. Work rate I value just as highly as passing and vision - if not more so. I'm in game at the moment (2-0 up at half time, I'm barely paying attention lol) and the TQ (Malcom, my rapidly developing back up to Tevez) is 4th in distance covered behind only both wingers (1st and 2nd) and my right back. He's covered more ground than my Box to Box midfielder and left wingback. "Someone the team has to carry" indeed.

It's interesting to compare Tevez and Malcom. They're different types of player (Malcom starts off essentially as a winger) but they both nail the role. I may do a write up at some point to compare the two.

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In this situation of so-called "exploiting the flanks", the team does it by default, so I don't need to add in a TI to tell them to do it. The space is on the flanks, so that's where the team plays - not because I tell them to.

How do you achieve this? Only with define wide midfielders?

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There is no escape.

One of us, one of us, one of us ;).

As I sit here at work off the back of 4 hours sleep I realise I have fallen off the wagon again...

I've been trying to replicate some of your ideas as they resonate with my own as to how I want to play but without much success. True I've only played 2 preseason games against inferior opposition but as you've made clear the success of any tactic comes from the players individually doing as you'd expect and so far I've had a couple of issues.

Apologies for lack of screen shots (I can add later) but I tweaked the roles slightly to suit my own team's attributes so that may well be root cause of my problems. Namely both my FBs are set to Support as I have two wide men (WMs set to Att) who are both good pacey dribblers and neither FB is amazing getting forward but are solid defenders. I also have a good target man so I'm using him as my deep lying forward in a support role. Centrally I've got the BWM combined with a AP set to Support. I've tried to replicate your Di Maria set up by telling my left WM to cross less and dribble more as he's got the attributes to make as good an IF as WM.

Observations so far:

1) Team average positions are as expected and the "shape" looks right during matches. The target man plays deeper than the other forward and the AP plays in advance of the BWM giving a nice staggered spine down the middle.

2) After 2 games my WM left has 0 dribbles. Watching him play, he seems to look play short balls inside rather than take his man on.

3) My BWM constantly gets the lowest rating of the team, I'm not sure if this is a product of the teams I'm playing going for the direct approach and playing long ball over his head. Positionally he seems to be in the right spots but doesn't have much affect on play.

4) I didn't initially have the shorter passing shout on and I was only getting ~50% possession, against weak opposition it's a very worrying sign. I dropped to shorter passing which seemed to slightly improve things. Even with retain possession on it seems my team likes to hoof it. I wonder if that's down to playing a target man?

I'm considering switching up my WMs to wingers as they are both poorly rated as WMs (I guess due to low tackling?), I was curious as to how highly Di Maria rated as a WM vs Winger?

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How do you achieve this? Only with define wide midfielders?

Unless I completely misread what happens on the pitch (which is always possible) play naturally moves away from packed areas of the pitch. In the example you are referring to, the midfield is packed because of the oppositions' formation. This leaves more space out wide for my team to attack through, so for me it's just a natural progression. I don't have to tell the team to exploit the flanks because I can see they are already using the space on the flanks. Now, they also do this anyway in other matches because of my formation (there is natural strength on the wings after all), however in matches against this type of opponent it becomes more obvious.

As I sit here at work off the back of 4 hours sleep I realise I have fallen off the wagon again...

I've been trying to replicate some of your ideas as they resonate with my own as to how I want to play but without much success. True I've only played 2 preseason games against inferior opposition but as you've made clear the success of any tactic comes from the players individually doing as you'd expect and so far I've had a couple of issues.

Apologies for lack of screen shots (I can add later) but I tweaked the roles slightly to suit my own team's attributes so that may well be root cause of my problems. Namely both my FBs are set to Support as I have two wide men (WMs set to Att) who are both good pacey dribblers and neither FB is amazing getting forward but are solid defenders. I also have a good target man so I'm using him as my deep lying forward in a support role. Centrally I've got the BWM combined with a AP set to Support. I've tried to replicate your Di Maria set up by telling my left WM to cross less and dribble more as he's got the attributes to make as good an IF as WM.

Observations so far:

1) Team average positions are as expected and the "shape" looks right during matches. The target man plays deeper than the other forward and the AP plays in advance of the BWM giving a nice staggered spine down the middle.

2) After 2 games my WM left has 0 dribbles. Watching him play, he seems to look play short balls inside rather than take his man on.

3) My BWM constantly gets the lowest rating of the team, I'm not sure if this is a product of the teams I'm playing going for the direct approach and playing long ball over his head. Positionally he seems to be in the right spots but doesn't have much affect on play.

4) I didn't initially have the shorter passing shout on and I was only getting ~50% possession, against weak opposition it's a very worrying sign. I dropped to shorter passing which seemed to slightly improve things. Even with retain possession on it seems my team likes to hoof it. I wonder if that's down to playing a target man?

I'm considering switching up my WMs to wingers as they are both poorly rated as WMs (I guess due to low tackling?), I was curious as to how highly Di Maria rated as a WM vs Winger?

1) Remember, I've done a cheeky shortcut here and created my own team with my ideal player for each position installed, rather than going through the long term process of building a team over a few seasons (which I am doing at Espanyol). When looking at your players, you'd need to consider if they are suited to the role or not and adapt accordingly. I also haven't mentioned much about PPMs which can be important.

2) If you are playing with the Target Man role, your team are basically going to lump the ball to him. That won't do much to help your possession figures. I didn't set out to create a "possession" tactic - I only ever wanted the "majority" of possession to help my team play. The fact I am averaging over 60% possession is to me almost accidental and something I will probably look to address in the future.

3) Your main weakness in a 442 is central midfield (from both a defensive and an attacking point of view), so I went to great lengths to try to mitigate that.

In defense you need a sound screen for your centre backs - I use a combination of player roles and tactical settings to help achieve this. I'm not sure an Advanced Playmaker would fit into that.

In attack, a runner from midfield is important to support possession and provide an attacking threat. With an AP, he'll be more of a ball magnet (kinda like your Target Man), so he'll be receiving the ball early and then thinking "who am I going to pass to - ah yeh of course, silly me, the Target Man".

4) I found that a fullback (support) behind an attacking wide midfielder didn't offer as much support to him as I wanted, and changed to a wingback (support). Your attacking WM will eventually run into a cul-de-sac, so without a nearby supporting fullback to provide an outball, he'll either get tackled or play a speculative risky pass or cross. Remember, I'm always looking to make sure my players have passing options. If they don't, they'll be tackled or do something daft. Review some matches you have already played and see if you notice something similar. Also remember, your WMs are probably just looking to pass to your target man or AP.

5) My BWM frequently gets the lowest rating on my team, but it still isn't a bad rating by any stretch. I think it's just how the game calculates ratings. So long as he is actually doing what you want him to do, that's the important part.

6) I tend to ignore what the game tells me is a suitable role for someone. If they have the right attributes, I'll play them. The game doesn't rate Di Maria very highly as a WM compared to the winger role, but he nails it. Similarly, Tevez (for example) gets I think 1.5 stars as a Trequartista in the AMC position, and his backup doesn't have any gold star rating at all, just 5 silver ones and is only "competent" in the AMC position. Using Wingers may be better for you, they may not. I explained above why I chose not to use that role as it didn't fit my system - perhaps they would fit into yours, you'd need to experiment.

Hope that helps.

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1) Remember, I've done a cheeky shortcut here and created my own team with my ideal player for each position installed, rather than going through the long term process of building a team over a few seasons (which I am doing at Espanyol). When looking at your players, you'd need to consider if they are suited to the role or not and adapt accordingly. I also haven't mentioned much about PPMs which can be important.

2) If you are playing with the Target Man role, your team are basically going to lump the ball to him. That won't do much to help your possession figures. I didn't set out to create a "possession" tactic - I only ever wanted the "majority" of possession to help my team play. The fact I am averaging over 60% possession is to me almost accidental and something I will probably look to address in the future.

3) Your main weakness in a 442 is central midfield (from both a defensive and an attacking point of view), so I went to great lengths to try to mitigate that.

In defense you need a sound screen for your centre backs - I use a combination of player roles and tactical settings to help achieve this. I'm not sure an Advanced Playmaker would fit into that.

In attack, a runner from midfield is important to support possession and provide an attacking threat. With an AP, he'll be more of a ball magnet (kinda like your Target Man), so he'll be receiving the ball early and then thinking "who am I going to pass to - ah yeh of course, silly me, the Target Man".

4) I found that a fullback (support) behind an attacking wide midfielder didn't offer as much support to him as I wanted, and changed to a wingback (support). Your attacking WM will eventually run into a cul-de-sac, so without a nearby supporting fullback to provide an outball, he'll either get tackled or play a speculative risky pass or cross. Remember, I'm always looking to make sure my players have passing options. If they don't, they'll be tackled or do something daft. Review some matches you have already played and see if you notice something similar. Also remember, your WMs are probably just looking to pass to your target man or AP.

5) My BWM frequently gets the lowest rating on my team, but it still isn't a bad rating by any stretch. I think it's just how the game calculates ratings. So long as he is actually doing what you want him to do, that's the important part.

6) I tend to ignore what the game tells me is a suitable role for someone. If they have the right attributes, I'll play them. The game doesn't rate Di Maria very highly as a WM compared to the winger role, but he nails it. Similarly, Tevez (for example) gets I think 1.5 stars as a Trequartista in the AMC position, and his backup doesn't have any gold star rating at all, just 5 silver ones and is only "competent" in the AMC position. Using Wingers may be better for you, they may not. I explained above why I chose not to use that role as it didn't fit my system - perhaps they would fit into yours, you'd need to experiment.

Hope that helps.

Thank you for your help, although much more time consuming I'm glad I've taken the time to watch games on comprehensive highlights (do you watch full games?), as you've said it really does become common sense to see what's going wrong.

My LM should be able to play the Di Maria role well, he's got the attributes and is both footed, the only thing he doesn't have is any PPMs. If I push him up into an AML and play him as an IF then he plays exactly how I'd expect. Not a major problem as he's still getting good ratings and making a contribution. I might just make him into an out and out winger.

Thanks for confirming my suspicion about the TM, I thought it would be as much, shame as he's dropping into the area of the pitch you were having issues getting the DLF to move into. I'll experiment with other roles, I've got 3 strikers to rotate and one I've used as a DF which seemed promising.

I too aren't looking for an out and out possession tactic, but when you're playing a much lower standard of opposition I would have expected to be more dominant, I took it as a warning sign something wasn't quite right. That's when I realised how much I was lumping it long.

I'll try out using WBs instead of FBs, I agree that there seems to be too large a gap between them and the WM in attacking positions.

Thanks again!

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I watch the first 15 mins or so on full match. This allows me to see if my players are playing as I expect. If they're not, I can make a small adjustment. If I used a highlights mode from the start - even comprehensive - I may miss something crucial. Take a look at my Man City report above to see what I mean. Once I'm happy, I'll switch to key highlights (I could actually switch to just commentary, but I like to see a little action ;)).

If you find your "Di Maria" role fits better into your system at AML rather than ML, then great. As I've said before, it's far more important to get your players playing how you want on the pitch, than worrying too much about where they fit on a chalkboard diagram.

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Reading your talk SteelCityColt and herne79, I think you are right about the two pairings. I'm using a 442 with Ipswich and laid it out as follows

FB-S LD-D CD-D FB-S

W-S AP-S CM-D W-A

P-A DLF-S

I completely agree with the DLF, I thought initially I wanted a striker who dropped quite deep as a link and initially had a F9 but he just seemed to be missing, he did however drop (McGoldrick played here), then I realised I didn't want him to be as deep as you have needed in your OP, instead I wanted him to be a little deeper but not dropping to an AMC type position, as my Poacher will feed off of him a lot.

With my midfield pairing I used an AP (mainly due to what I had available in Maitland-Niles and Kevin Bru), to be a link from midfield to attack and as a result of this I felt he helps defensively but I need someone much more of a sitter, so opted against a BWM and used CM-D as he is more likely to hold his position. This also made me realise I have little running in midfield to support attack, so both my wide players are wingers to compliment that, also I want these guys crossing as much as possible.

I'm also using a Structured team shape on Standard mentality and I have no TI's because I don't really want to play in a specific way as I have a nice balance to go direct or play short and I'm definitely not expecting to keep the ball but I don't want my team to sit back and hit on the break.

I think SteelCityColt once you've decided on the key roles they can do and look like herne79 has said and see what you would expect that role to do and build around them a little. I think people should really look at the first post though, using a notepad and just drawing lines. I often think I want to use the 41221 (1 DM 2 CM's AML and AMR) but I've always forgot the TC screen, the formation is much more the defensive shape, which makes me realise, how I like football, I would probably see it more as a 4141 in defence, then on the attack it becomes a sort of 4231/433 depending on how you attack.

It's a fantastic read though and it's making me look at my second tactic a lot more for Ipswich which will be now, a 4141 tailored to attack like I imagine a 4231 type.

I use OI's unlike yourself though, mainly to try and force players into not having a stronghold on the game like showing onto a weaker foot or closing down more, but I've always felt you shouldn't have to worry about the opposition if you get your game right, so I may try using the 4141 to become this tactic where I don't need OI's! Would be nice to have 2 tactics I feel comfortable with!

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Good stuff Conflictinbanno. Interesting to see other variations of the 442 - it really can be quite flexible.

If I were setting up a "4123", I'd definitely start by looking at the 4141 first (or even the 451) and adapting it.

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Hey Herne, just dropping in to say this is one of the best threads i've read in a long time.

I've been obsessed with creating a 4-4-2 similar to yours for the past few editions and I've also found that the key is to focus on the areas both ahead and behind the midfield. The space in between the two banks of four is negated with relative ease by pushing the defence up and using 1-2 more cautious centre mids (like you have done), but a link to the forwards can be problematic (as you have also found out!).

I would usually end up either dropping a striker to AMC(L/R) or pushing up one of the wide men to AML/R. I've found this sort of formational staggering to be crucial in attack... not to say it can't be achieved using a flat version, just tended to use a similar workaround to you.

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Thanks felley.

I completely agree, it's all about managing the space which in this case as you say is above and behind the midfield.

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I would be interested to see / hear a bit more about how your AF works in this system actually Herne.

The lone striker is something i am struggling with in FM16. I need to look at it more, but getting them involved in goalscoring is a challenge. I have rarely used an Advanced forward over the last few years, and be interested to see what player type and PPMs you utilise, and whether any specific PI.

Am i right in assuming the AF also helps create the space for the Treq?

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Hey Herne, just dropping in to say this is one of the best threads i've read in a long time.

I've been obsessed with creating a 4-4-2 similar to yours for the past few editions and I've also found that the key is to focus on the areas both ahead and behind the midfield. The space in between the two banks of four is negated with relative ease by pushing the defence up and using 1-2 more cautious centre mids (like you have done), but a link to the forwards can be problematic (as you have also found out!).

I would usually end up either dropping a striker to AMC(L/R) or pushing up one of the wide men to AML/R. I've found this sort of formational staggering to be crucial in attack... not to say it can't be achieved using a flat version, just tended to use a similar workaround to you.

Using my current 4-4-2 with Aston Villa, the best way to manage this problem has been applying Very Fluid. Of course, as is mentioned in the OP, that leaves you less room for scope if you want to increase creativity later in the game. To tackle this problem, I start with "More Disciplined" and then remove it later in the game if necessary.

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I still can't quite get it playing how I want, however, from reading this and Cleon's posts it really does seem the tactical/ME side of things has come on a lot since I last played and there isn't really any more plug and play insta success tactics. More you have to understand the principles and then apply them to get a system playing how you want :thup:.

Right now toying between a 4-2-3-1 Wide/4-3-2-1 DM Wide and the 4-4-2.

I can't say enough how I appreciate posts such as yours that go into depth as it's really helping understanding why things work/don't work.

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Using my current 4-4-2 with Aston Villa, the best way to manage this problem has been applying Very Fluid. Of course, as is mentioned in the OP, that leaves you less room for scope if you want to increase creativity later in the game. To tackle this problem, I start with "More Disciplined" and then remove it later in the game if necessary.

Yep also a good solution. I prefered to go with a more Structured shape as I didn't want the extra creativity affecting my chosen player roles too much. If Very Fluid works for you then great :).

I still can't quite get it playing how I want, however, from reading this and Cleon's posts it really does seem the tactical/ME side of things has come on a lot since I last played and there isn't really any more plug and play insta success tactics. More you have to understand the principles and then apply them to get a system playing how you want :thup:.

Right now toying between a 4-2-3-1 Wide/4-3-2-1 DM Wide and the 4-4-2.

I can't say enough how I appreciate posts such as yours that go into depth as it's really helping understanding why things work/don't work.

Stick at it, I'm sure you'll get there.

If you are looking at a 4-2-3-1, moving the midfield back a line can be an option if you are struggling. So your 2 x MC become 2 x DM, your AML/R move to ML/MR, and the AMC goes to MC. You could even use a 4-5-1 and adjust roles to create the 4231 shape.

Alternatively, if you really want to stick with AML/R + AMC, giving both MCs a defend duty can help.

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