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Back to Basics - A Complete Club Strategy

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Fitness - all physical attributes + Work Rate.

Tactical - Anticipation, Composure, Decisions, Concentration, Teamwork.

Ball Control - Dribbling, First Touch, Heading, Technique, Flair.

Defending - Marking, Tackling, Positioning.

Attacking - Crossing, Finishing, Long Shots, Passing, Off the Ball, Vision.

You said you train your team like Tactical/Ball Control per half-year however Ball Control contains almost all attributes not desired for all players and could be separately developed by using individual classes (except Flair). At the same time your aggressive way depends on physical characteristics. Thereby is it possible to pay attention to something like Fitness(4m)/Tactical(8m) + (of course) replaceable individual exercises to obtain more hardworking sledgehammer intelligent squad?

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You said you train your team like Tactical/Ball Control per half-year however Ball Control contains almost all attributes not desired for all players and could be separately developed by using individual classes (except Flair). At the same time your aggressive way depends on physical characteristics. Thereby is it possible to pay attention to something like Fitness(4m)/Tactical(8m) + (of course) replaceable individual exercises to obtain more hardworking sledgehammer intelligent squad?

Ball Control contains attributes that are desirable. First Touch, Technique, Heading are all important. Flair and dribbling are less important for central defenders but fine for everyone else.

Fitness training would be more important if I felt the team overall needed to help achieve my aims, but they don't. I agree with your point though that it would help to make another team more hard working. I'm monitoring the U18s accordingly and will schedule Fitness training there if they don't develop their physical attributes fast enough.

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Question: do you consider certain roles to be so key to the system that you won't alter them to suit certain players? I ask because you changed the Ramdeuter to IF to accommodate Payet, yet you admitted that Sakho and Carroll aren't suited to playing as a F9 but still kept that role intact. Had that been me in charge I probably would've changed to a DLF-s. What was your thinking there?

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Question: do you consider certain roles to be so key to the system that you won't alter them to suit certain players? I ask because you changed the Ramdeuter to IF to accommodate Payet, yet you admitted that Sakho and Carroll aren't suited to playing as a F9 but still kept that role intact. Had that been me in charge I probably would've changed to a DLF-s. What was your thinking there?

The thinking is to try things out, experiment. Everything is flexible, but I don't know what will work or not until I see it. I have a pretty good idea, but I won't know until I try.

Note - I actually do know, but I'm trying to get across principles of developing strategies to others to demonstrate thought process. Perhaps I should rewrite that part to make the point clearer.

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January 2016 Update - Part 1

Lots to get through, so I'll post this in two or three parts.

Head of Youth Development

As we've seen before, Terry Westley just isn't good enough. His personality especially (Balanced) is an issue as the HOYD's personality can have a direct impact on the personality of newgens. Terry also doesn't have very good coaching attributes, so I need to replace him before the newgens hit (usually sometime in March for England).

So I go to Staff Search, look for HOYD and sort the results by reputation. I'm looking for people with good personalities (something with high professionalism); good judgement skills, working with youth and coaching ability; and preferably free agents so I don't have to pay compensation to their current club. Westley is costing me £230k to mutually terminate his contract, so I don't want to pay much. These are the results:

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I have a quick look at likely candidates to assess their attributes. This is Alan Irvine for example:

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Good personality, would be cheap to employ (no compensation), but let down by his coaching attributes and judging skills.

Eventually I come across Brian McClair, and he's perfect: good personality, great attributes and no compensation to pay.

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He wants £4.4k a week for 4 years, I snap him up for £3.4k a week for 5 years.

Facilities

Met with my Board who have agreed to start work on upgrading both my Youth facilities and my regular Training facilities. Constant upgrades here will become more and more important as I develop my current an future Youth players. I haven't yet been given the option to improve Youth Recruitment and Junior Coaching, but as soon as I can I will.

Tutoring

All Tutoring completed successfully (always a bonus as it can sometimes be a bit random). Some young players will require a second round of tutoring as whilst their personalities and determination have improved, they still aren't quite at the level I'm looking for.

For example, one of my young goalkeepers started with a Personality of Fairly Ambitious, Media Handling skills of Media Friendly, and Determination of 7. We're now at Balanced, Level Headed and 12.

Any further tutoring (for anyone) will now be held up for a month as Tutors cannot immediately start tutoring someone else (or the same person again). They have to wait about a month to become "eligible" to start tutoring again. People who require tutoring can begin being tutored again as soon as the previous tutoring session ended. However I don't have anyone that I consider to be suitable to be a tutor able to start.

Joe Powell

Joe is progressing ok, although I'd like to see a little more progress be made. This is probably due to his relatively poor starting personality (Fairly Ambitious) and quality of coaches and facilities. He now has a Balanced personality and his Determination has improved from 10 to 14. Having spent the first part of the year working on Ball Winning Midfielder training, he'll now be switched over to Shadow Striker training. As soon as another suitable Tutor becomes available (probably Mark Noble again) he'll get started on that. However, he's seen no movement at all in his Aggression, which is a concern. This is Joes' BWM training progress:

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Squad Issues

Game Time:- Only two players have come to me so far asking for more game time: Collins and Tomkins (both central defenders, both Backup status). I told them both (Calmly) to be more patient, which they accepted.

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I plan on writing a section on people interaction (players, media, team talks etc) but suffice to say for now I kind of role play discussions - there are no "right" answers because people are different and what one person may accept, another won't. So if we end the conversation happy then fine, if we don't then that's also fine as well. And if a player goes all sulky on me I'll just sell him.

Transfers:- The January transfer window is about to open and several of my players have a lot of interest from big clubs:

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Sakho has already come to me to ask about leaving for Atletico Madrid. I told him no problem as quite honestly there aren't many players I won't consider selling - and Sakho is nowhere near that list:

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I'm also hoping I can terminate Alex Song's loan agreement. He is an absolute liability on the pitch - if he's not getting booked he's getting sent off. He even got a straight red card inside the first minute of one of my early European matches. He has to go. As replacement, I'll be looking to recall Diego Poyet (if I can) or use Reece Oxford (currently in my U18s squad) if I have to. If I free up transfer funds I could also look to buy someone - Kouyate is also interesting several clubs so buying in someone new (and better) is a real option.

Transfer Targets

My scouts have been hard at work in different parts of the world uncovering plenty of choice for me. I need to be careful that I don't start buying/selling and find I fall foul of league rules about home grown talent, so watching who I sell and their home grown status could be important (I need at least 8 registered players trained in England - I currently have 12, so a little wiggle room).

I also need to be aware of my Transfer funds. I currently have about £1.3m to play with (:rolleyes:) and if I sell anyone I'll only receive 75% of the value to reinvest. I have a few possibles identified and will increase my scouting attention on them now that I know who in my team are on other clubs' radars.

Players loaned in are also on my mind as come the end of the season they'll need replacing (if I can't keep them). Lanzini has been a superstar for me so far from central midfield (who knew!) and I have a £5m future fee agreed as part of his loan contract. However, this bright young thing popped up on my scout reports recently (I employed a new Eastern European scout), and is available to sign on a free at the end of his contract (small compensation):

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He's accepted just £9.5k a week so I'd be stupid not to.

Apart from a Tactical rethink, which I'll write about in Part 2, I think that about covers everything.

Part 2 will follow later and once I get through the transfer window I'll provide an update there.

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This is great, Herne. Looking forward to you changes in tactic. Thought McClair was still at Man Utd, but I guess he was booted by van Gaal.

I am curious about your striker solution here.

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This is a great read, and its interesting to see how different playing styles can work in FM. For instance:

I have never used Team Cohesion, I just play a lot of friendlies. Fitness is the mainstay of my preseason training sessions, and I find that my team is almost always the fittest team at the tail end of the season.

And when it comes to tactical familiarity, while i can see that it helps. I keep chopping and changing and playing at different mentalities and shapes with the same tactic that sometimes i end a season with a tactic on accomplished. I have something like 40 tactics saved for each team, playing a "flavour of the month" each time.And it still works..guess its the downside of writing tactical guides.

And your training schedule its so similar...Ball control, tactics and attacking, plus individual role based training programs. KUTGW

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This is a great read, and its interesting to see how different playing styles can work in FM. For instance:

I have never used Team Cohesion, I just play a lot of friendlies. Fitness is the mainstay of my preseason training sessions, and I find that my team is almost always the fittest team at the tail end of the season.

And when it comes to tactical familiarity, while i can see that it helps. I keep chopping and changing and playing at different mentalities and shapes with the same tactic that sometimes i end a season with a tactic on accomplished. I have something like 40 tactics saved for each team, playing a "flavour of the month" each time.And it still works..guess its the downside of writing tactical guides.

And your training schedule its so similar...Ball control, tactics and attacking, plus individual role based training programs. KUTGW

Rashid I am like yourself. I always change between mentalities and certain styles of play as I feel this gives me the most success. Glad to see though that many different opinions can be successful. This is a cracking read this thread and I am enjoying it so much.

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And your training schedule its so similar...Ball control, tactics and attacking, plus individual role based training programs. KUTGW

Yeh funny that, I must have read it somewhere...:D

To everyone else - read Rashidi's blog, watch his YT channel. There's probably nobody that understands the ME and tactics more than Rashidi, and he's sharing that knowledge for free.

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January 2016 Update Part 2 - A Tactical Rethink

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Pretty good start to the season right? So why the hell would I want a tactical rethink?

It's because I'm working bloody hard to get those results, practically playing each match in full, consistently making lots of tweaks & adjustments. And with the exception of Spurs (and perhaps Everton), I haven't really played anyone of note - just scraping out single goal wins. There's no way I'm going to carry on working hard during matches. I'm lazy ;).

Here's the thing - if you find yourself consistently making similar adjustments to your system during matches over a period of time, there is something fundamentally wrong. Either your system is flawed, your players aren't suited, or a combination of the two.

So I need a rethink, but first I need to decide if it's my system, my players, or both. What I am not going to do is rethink my overall philosophy, style and DNA.

I'll tackle the easy one first - my players. Overall, my players are actually pretty well suited to my philosophy. We have decent amounts of workrate, aggression, stamina and so on. Sure there are a few exceptions (Tomkins and Collins could use better First Touch and don't even talk to me about Payet's aggression) but nobody is exactly poor in all (or even even most) DNA areas. This is my worst senior squad player, but he's young and (to be frank) not good enough, so isn't someone I'll be keeping long term:

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So overall I'm happy my players are actually capable of playing in my chosen manner. Yes I need to strengthen and improve in some areas - and over time most players are going to be replaced - but they're not currently capable of playing with my exact tactical systems set up (and described above in post #7).

That's supported by my results - if they really weren't capable I wouldn't be winning no matter what tactical tweaks I made. So it must be my system.

Balls.

Tactical Rethink

Long term I can still think about playing with my original tactical systems as and when I start to improve my squad, but at the moment I'm asking too much of them. I need to make changes and for that I need to break things down into what's good and what's bad.

Good Points

- DNA is sound. Aggressive play generally is working, a high press generally is forcing good turnover. Fast transitions work to keep opponents generally on the back foot.

- Some roles and combinations are producing good football. The AP(s) / CM(a) / winger(s) in the 4123DM is especially looking good, as is the AM(s) in the 4231.

Bad Points

(This list is going to be longer)...

- I'm using the word "generally" far too much above, and it's papering over the cracks. We're getting caught far too often on the break or with through balls / balls over the top. We're also getting caught in possession too often, so there's probably a little too much pizazz at the moment for the quality of my players to deal with.

- Some roles and combinations may well be producing good football, most are not. A lot of that is probably down to the players I'm using. Carroll and Sakho (for example) are just not cut out to be a False 9. Valencia is not a Raumdeuter. In other areas I'm not using space very well - having a Raumdueter, and IF and an Attacking Midfielder all trying to run into the middle at the same time is smothering my attacking play.

- Mentality + TIs are causing too many risks to be taken. There's too much closing down and pushing up and roaming around, especially in conjunction with my Fluid Team Shape. Better players with better decision making may(?) be capable, but not my starting squad.

- The DM in the 4123DM is getting pushed and pulled all over the place. I need him protecting my central defence and he's not.

- The two defensive midfielders in the 4231 look good on paper, but in reality don't offer enough. The CM(d) is probably fine, the DLP(d) is just a bot of a wet lettuce really - not doing much wrong per se, but not doing much right either. No pizazz.

So lots to change and I need to be a little creative here if I'm going to stay true to my overall philosophy.

A Defensive Solution

There's been some discussion on the forum recently about "Defensive" systems which can be quite attacking (contradictory I know, but bear with me) which got me thinking, and also reminded me of an article which Cleon wrote for FM14. It's linked in the stickies at the top and I'll link it again here http://community.sigames.com/showthread.php/391083-The-School-of-the-Defensive-Arts.

Essentially it shows how using the Defensive mentality can be used to produce quite attacking football. This is where people can start to get confused, because that sounds like a complete misnomer. The important thing to understand is the difference between "mentality" and "style of football".

The Defensive Mentality is not the same thing as Defensive Football. Defensive football is an amalgamation of several different things, including formation, mentality, player roles and duties, team and player instructions.

You can apply the same logic to "Attacking Football", or "Counter Attacking Football" as well for example.

Mentality on it's own is nothing more than Risk. So before any modifiers are applied (such as Team Instructions, player roles and duties etc), the Defensive mentality is low risk, while the attacking mentality is high risk. Each mentality between those two is merely a step along how much or little risk your team will take.

I really can't stress enough how important it is to understand this.

So now, when looking at mentalities, understand that the names given to each are just that - names. They are merely labels given to a drop down box to help you make a selection. Do not confuse them with styles of football - sure they can be used as one of the building blocks to help you achieve a style of football, but they are not styles in and of themselves.

Applying this to West Ham

I'll show the Before and After formations for both my 4123DM and 4231 formations, with new player roles and duties. The original ("Before") tactics used Control / Fluid. The rethink ("After") tactics use Defensive / Structured. New TIs are also in place. All of that will be discussed below.

Before is on the left, After on the right.

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Thought Process

1) 4123DM

Starting from the top:

- F9 changed to DLF(s). Carroll / Sakho are not capable of playing as an F9. I tried Payet there as well but he lacks physicality. DLF(s) is a much more suitable role for my two main strikers, although I'll still look to change this back to an F9 once I have the player(s) for the role. I actually changed to a DLF(s) before this overall rethink.

- Raumdeuter changed to IF(s). A Raumdeuter needs to find space by his intelligent movement. Off the Ball, Anticipation, Acceleration, Composure, Decisions and so on all play a major part. Pairing with a suitable striker is also essential to help create the space for the Raumdeuter. I simply don't have those kind of players at present, so an Inside Forward instead is appropriate. I've used a support duty to compliment the attacking fullback behind (see below) and to slightly take the edge off having such a goal focused player in this position.

- DM(d) to Anchor Man. As mentioned, my DM was being pulled around the pitch too much, leaving my defence uncomfortably exposed. Whilst part if the reason here was my Mentality and Team Shape, an Anchor Man is a little less prone to run around trying to close people down.

- Both fullbacks changed to Fullback(a). This adds aggression down the flanks and good support for the midfield and more advanced wide players. With the Defensive mentality their attacking play is a little tempered, so they won't over commit - which was part of the initial problem.

- Sweeper Keeper changed to Goalkeeper. There's simply no need for a Sweeper Keeper.

2) 4231

Overall, I'm keeping (as far as I can) a commonality of roles between the two systems. So:

- CF(a) changed to DLF(a). The CF(a) role was actually doing alright, and there isn't a significant difference between the two roles. Easy to switch back if needed.

RMD changed to IF(s). Same as above.

IF(s) changed to Winger(s). This is possibly the biggest single change that has the largest impact. As I mentioned, space was getting squeezed in the centre, with everyone converging into the centre. This role will stay wider, forcing the opposition to commit someone wide and thus opening space that my other 3 main attackers can make better use of. He also scores a surprising number of goals.

AP(s) changed to AM(s). I've moved the creative player back a row to help the AM focus a little more on being a goal threat. He also uses the newly created space (from the new winger) better than if he remained as an AP. He's been given the PI "more risky passes" as well to help feed anyone running between channels.

DLP(d) changed to AP(s). Given everything we keep hearing about the central midfield pairing in a 4231, this might seem pretty crazy, and to be fair I'm still not 100% on it - but only because of other roles, not because of this role. The AP can indeed be more offensive than defensive, which could be suicidal in such a two man midfield, but lets think how I'm using him. First I have the Defensive mentality and Structured team shape. This will temper his attacking instincts and force him into a more rigid defensive structure. But he's still going to be looking to play clever through balls - and that is why I'm not quite 100% on him yet. With no Raumdeuter, plus an AM ahead who is also looking at playing throughballs, it is possible overkill. This may become better when / if I ever start playing with a RMD, or if I take off the AM's PI. He's still playing very well though, so this is merely fine tuning. Changing to simple CM(s) is something I'm experimenting with.

I'll also mention the type of player here. I wouldn't play someone who isn't industrious, tenacious, defensively sound and can pick a pass. Noble and Obiang both play well here. I wouldn't play Mesut Ozil here for example.

- Fullbacks / Goalie. Similar changes as mentioned above.

Overall, I hope you can see that I've left in good amounts of aggression, but in subtly different ways. It all feeds off the Defensive / Structured settings to help me maintain shape and form whilst targeting specific players to give me the "pizazz" I'm looking for. Of course this all needs to compliment my other tactical settings.

Team Instructions

I'm using the exact same TIs for both formations:

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Hopefully you can see how I am adding aggression and urgency back into my system.

Tempo is increased to help stop players dwelling on the ball for too long.

The Defensive Line and Closing Down are both increased - add those settings onto my desirable traits for players and suddenly we become more tenacious in our defence, harrying opponents into making mistakes.

Retain Possession is used to prevent players needlessly giving the ball away from making risky passes (although Structured will help with that anyway) as well bringing players closer together when in possession (Structured forces them further apart).

Dribble Less is again designed to help with possession - I want passing and movement, not running into trouble with the ball. Players who can dribble (or who are supposed to dribble such as the IF) will still dribble.

Team Shape

Changed from Fluid to Structured.

I was giving too many players too much creative freedom in the original system. We were getting caught out of position too often leaving myself overly exposed at the back.

Structured forces most of the creative freedom out of my players, who will instead primarily rely on their own roles and duties to carry out their tasks. I did consider using Highly Structured, but they have enough quality and decision making (ref my DNA) to give them a little bit of leeway.

Overall then, hopefully you can understand how using the Defensive mentality can be used to create attacking themes. We're conceding less and scoring just as many - that will only improve as I strengthen my squad (January is getting interesting).

And I'm not working as hard during matches to get results :).

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Mentality is just a risk framework, its just a small piece of your system. The football system you are trying to play is a combination of the amount of risk you want to take, the amount of people you are willing to commit to achieving your goals and the kind of assignments you have given them. That defines whether you are attacking or not.

A defensive mentality with a pushed up defensive line with well positioned roles and duties can be more attacking than an attacking mentality with a deep dline and congested backline.

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Mentality is just a risk framework, its just a small piece of your system. The football system you are trying to play is a combination of the amount of risk you want to take, the amount of people you are willing to commit to achieving your goals and the kind of assignments you have given them. That defines whether you are attacking or not.

A defensive mentality with a pushed up defensive line with well positioned roles and duties can be more attacking than an attacking mentality with a deep dline and congested backline.

I always wanted to make a tactic with a defensive mentality with a pushed up defensive line that is more attacking than a attacking mentality. Rashidi could you give me some guidance please on how to achieve this. So far I have a 4231 wide formation. I am starting with Defensive/Structured. Could you let me know if I am on the right track here. I have been going back and reading some of your post and feel like I am getting better understanding but I just need that final push over the line.

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I think Rashidi is commenting on my next post about my tactical rethink that I haven't yet finished and remains hidden from view (but not from mods).

All will become clear.

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I think Rashidi is commenting on my next post about my tactical rethink that I haven't yet finished and remains hidden from view (but not from mods).

All will become clear.

Actually I haven't even see that, I was just stating elements that are part of my guide coming out later, I am still working on it...once i finish it it will detail how you can play one match on various mentalities and shape combinations. In order for people to be able to do that they have to abandon the rigid thinking that concludes that a teams style of play is defined by mentality.

I need to ensure our everything I say is rigorously tested. It includes combination plays. All everyone needs to know for now is this:

Your style of play is defined by the aggregate of Mentality/Shape/D-line, Roles and Duties and Player Instructions. At its most basic level a manager can create basic workable systems without having to change PIs very much, but to overachieve regularly, that needs to be done. It also requires people to abandon their obsession with tactical familiarity. If they can do all that then the fun they derive out of this game will be unique. And this will make online competitions more interesting, because users who download tactics will be at a permanent disadvantage.

@James9, and I can't do that at the moment, there is too much to write down and explain, and I just want this guide done soon. So my efforts are on coaching and to finish this guide.

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I bet 90 % of FM players think defensive mentality is there just and exclusively to defend a lead or a draw.

I seriously can't wait for your guide. Judging by bits and pieces I've picked up over the last year from your blog/YT channel/posts here, it should be immensely helpful, beyond anything we've had a chance to read on the forums so far.

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Actually I haven't even see that, I was just stating elements that are part of my guide coming out later, I am still working on it...once i finish it it will detail how you can play one match on various mentalities and shape combinations. In order for people to be able to do that they have to abandon the rigid thinking that concludes that a teams style of play is defined by mentality.

I need to ensure our everything I say is rigorously tested. It includes combination plays. All everyone needs to know for now is this:

Your style of play is defined by the aggregate of Mentality/Shape/D-line, Roles and Duties and Player Instructions. At its most basic level a manager can create basic workable systems without having to change PIs very much, but to overachieve regularly, that needs to be done. It also requires people to abandon their obsession with tactical familiarity. If they can do all that then the fun they derive out of this game will be unique. And this will make online competitions more interesting, because users who download tactics will be at a permanent disadvantage.

@James9, and I can't do that at the moment, there is too much to write down and explain, and I just want this guide done soon. So my efforts are on coaching and to finish this guide.

When can we expect the guide

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Tactical re-think now updated in post #59.

Using the Defensive Mentality to attack.

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Looking forward to how this progress. I have Ben wanting to set up a defensive attacking that attacks like a attacking tactic. I am playing as Arsenal. Some might say why defensive tactic with Arsenal but I say why not

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Looking forward to how this progress. I have Ben wanting to set up a defensive attacking that attacks like a attacking tactic. I am playing as Arsenal. Some might say why defensive tactic with Arsenal but I say why not

It's not a defensive tactic. That's the whole point. It just uses the "defensive" mentality, which is a completely different thing.

If you actually do want a defensive tactic with Arsenal, that's something else entirely.

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It's not a defensive tactic. That's the whole point. It just uses the "defensive" mentality, which is a completely different thing.

If you actually do want a defensive tactic with Arsenal, that's something else entirely.

First thing first, this thread is absolutely incredible!

My question is, why play on a Defensive mentality with Agressive TIs rather than, say, Control mentality that already gives you a high Closing Down, Tempo and D-Line base?

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It's not a defensive tactic. That's the whole point. It just uses the "defensive" mentality, which is a completely different thing.

If you actually do want a defensive tactic with Arsenal, that's something else entirely.

Sorry Herne for the mis understanding. That is what I meant. I always wanted to set up a tactic with the defensive mentality that attacks as well as a tactic that uses the attacking mentality

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First thing first, this thread is absolutely incredible!

My question is, why play on a Defensive mentality with Agressive TIs rather than, say, Control mentality that already gives you a high Closing Down, Tempo and D-Line base?

Yeah I'd like to know the answer to that too!

Besides, especially your 4231, wouldn't it be a little wasted to play Structured on a top heavy formation like that? Wouldn't they find it hard to create space with that shape?

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herne79, how do you build entire squad around the DNA in a cut of different positions or blocks (holding, defensive support, runners (w/wo ball), creators, scorers) including a set of parameters, individual training and PPMs? You have written about one player (Joe Powell) but it would be interesting to read about others (perhaps less detailed).

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First thing first, this thread is absolutely incredible!

My question is, why play on a Defensive mentality with Agressive TIs rather than, say, Control mentality that already gives you a high Closing Down, Tempo and D-Line base?

Because you are starting from a very low risk base, rather than a high risk base. Changing mentality affects more than just the obvious default TI settings, there is much more that goes on "under the hood".

Yeah I'd like to know the answer to that too!

Besides, especially your 4231, wouldn't it be a little wasted to play Structured on a top heavy formation like that? Wouldn't they find it hard to create space with that shape?

Structured increases space between players. I also changed an IF to a winger - again designed to increase space.

herne79, how do you build entire squad around the DNA in a cut of different positions or blocks (holding, defensive support, runners (w/wo ball), creators, scorers) including a set of parameters, individual training and PPMs? You have written about one player (Joe Powell) but it would be interesting to read about others (perhaps less detailed).

I'll be doing a write up soon about January transfers, and how I've been relating it back to DNA. The market is still fairly limited to me, but I'm quite pleased with my new "striker" and anchor man / cm(d). I'll focus on those two for now, then when I (eventually!) get to the end of the season I'll look at the rest of the squad and my plans for developing them / bringing in new faces.

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Because you are starting from a very low risk base, rather than a high risk base. Changing mentality affects more than just the obvious default TI settings, there is much more that goes on "under the hood".

So, basically, playing Defensive mentality with more aggressive shouts then previous should see you play a more tame version of your previous tactics, without retracting from you general, aggressive style of play?

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So, basically, playing Defensive mentality with more aggressive shouts then previous should see you play a more tame version of your previous tactics, without retracting from you general, aggressive style of play?

Yup, pretty much :).

I purposely didn't mention this before, but I'll mention it (briefly) here as it might help understanding now questions have been asked.

It's not just your team overall that has a "mentality". Individual players do as well. For example, if you set a Fullback (attack) and then select the "Control" mentality, that fullback's own mentality is going to be very attack minded. It's a separate thing to the duty given. But if you change to, say, the "Defensive" mentality instead, that same fullback's own mentality will be reduced, making him a little more cautious overall - even though he still has the attack duty. He'll still go bombing up the wing, providing overlaps etc, but he might pick and choose his moments a bit better.

So attack duty player + high risk mentality = very aggressive/attacking player. Attack duty player + low risk mentality = more cautious/attacking.

The same principle applies for support and defend duty players.

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I see. This still confusing to me, when it comes to when to go Control + passive roles and when to go Counter + aggressive roles, but I undestand it better now. Thanks for the help and I can't wait for the next update!

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herne I think this might be the best thread (from how it has started) that I have ever read. There's so much in here which has reignited my interest in playing my save again. Taking on board firstly just your Squad page of all the info, following onto the coaches and scouts work (although that for me will be very much work in progress but something I want to now implement) and also the tactics description, just the way you've worded it all feels like it has just switched a light bulb on in my head. So now I'm going to get stuck in, then come the end of the season I will probably look to start the youth teams info you've added as well.

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Mentality is just a risk framework, its just a small piece of your system. The football system you are trying to play is a combination of the amount of risk you want to take, the amount of people you are willing to commit to achieving your goals and the kind of assignments you have given them. That defines whether you are attacking or not.

A defensive mentality with a pushed up defensive line with well positioned roles and duties can be more attacking than an attacking mentality with a deep dline and congested backline.

I think the mentality needs to be re-written to avoid confusion.

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I agree. Mentality needs to be written again so people with less tactical knowledge can understand what goes on under the hood of the game.

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January 2016 Transfer Window

It soon became clear that the big clubs (and some of the smaller ones) were awash with money. Having closed the starting transfer window, clubs seemed eager to make up for lost time, and once the likes of Bayern, PSG, Arsenal started sniffing around some of my players I was in for a battle to keep them.

So why bother? With the possible exception of Mark Noble, there is nobody I wouldn't consider selling. So my only task becomes getting as much money as possible from the buying club to fund replacements.

Selling

I think many people view selling players as a bit of a dark art and something to be feared. As such it frequently leaves people frustrated thinking the AI is just trying to screw us over by offering stupidly low amounts way below a player's value.

If that happens (and it will) the AI is only doing to us what we would do to the AI in a heart beat. How many of us want to sign players for the lowest price possible, maybe trying to unsettle someone else's player to get a favourable reaction? So why would the AI think any differently? And something else - don't think of it as "the AI". It's just another Manager, just like you, trying to do what's best for their club.

But sometimes we don't want to sell our best players, and sometimes we don't have to. Players don't always want to leave, in which case they'll be quite happy for you to reject offers. Sometimes you can talk them round, convincing them they'll be better off with you. And sometimes, no matter what you do, they want out - especially if a big club comes calling. So let them go. Never become so attached to a player that you believe you can't do with out them.

And always have a fair and reasonable price that you would be ok accepting. Be realistic. Think how much you would be prepared to pay for that player. Sure, everybody likes to see big numbers, but be sensible - would you pay £50m for your star player who's only valued at £20m? Then why expect someone else to?

Anyway, I have some big clubs with "major" interest in a few of my players (Sakho, Valencia, Kouyate, Reid, Cresswell) and two of them (Sakho, Valencia) have already approached me to ask about leaving if an offer is made. And I've agreed, because 1) they're not irreplacable; 2) I need to generate transfer funds; and 3) if I refuse they'll just throw their toys out of the pram and give me a headache to manage them.

For reference, their game values are: £19.5m (Sakho); £25m (Valencia); £8.5m (Kouyate); £12.5m (Reid); £10m (Cresswell). Here's how I got on:

357h9ja.png

It doesn't show here, but I also negotiated some add ons for each of those deals, such as appearance money, monthly payments and so on. Wold I have liked to get more money for those transfers? Yes of course. Am I happy with the money generated? Absolutely.

Luckily no offers for Cresswell materialised.

Buying

So I have some rather large holes to fill, and I've also terminated Song's loan. I'm not paying someone £140k a week to sit in the stands every other week because he's been banned again (one of the reasons why you should never just rely on someone's current or potential ability).

Because I've had my scouts having a good general look around, I've already got a nice selection of initial reports stored to help target my replacements. I can also set my databse to look for players that match my DNA, which I need to think about when purchasing:

2cj1w8.png

Ideally I also want players with high levels of professionalism.

Now that's my general club DNA. Something I expect everyone to have in varying degrees. Individual roles and positions need their own secondary DNA as well - attributes that will help them perform their tasks that I set them. That area probably deserves it's own write up, so for now I'll just focus on my pressing needs: a new striker; a new defensively minded midfielder; and a central defender. Valencia's absence I can cover from within my existing squad.

So what am I looking for?

Striker: I'm after a player capable of playing as a False 9. Being able to also play as a DLF or CF would be a bonus. My secondary DNA here becomes: Off the Ball, Anticipation, Composure, Passing, Dribbling. A False 9 needs great movement, with the ability to play others in (as well as himself). This is who I snapped up from Ajax for £12.5m (plus £2.5m over 12 months):

1zdt839.png

Great all round ability, ticks all the DNA boxes, good personality, and stays within my wage structure. I'm not overly keen on his PPMs, but they'll be fine (I'll see if I can unlearn his Gets Forward Whenever Possible PPM, but it's not the end of the world).

Defensively Minded Midfielder: Here I need a player who is equally happy breaking up opposition attacks in either the central or defensive midfield positions. Tenacious, strong in the tackle, taking up good positions and will lay the ball off to a teammate with simple passes. Secondary DNA here is: Marking, Tackling, Positioning, Strength, Bravery. And as luck would have it, the following player pops up on the Transfer List for just £3.6m. I can't believe my luck:

2s9vus4.png

Again, ticks all DNA boxes (I'll work on his First Touch), fantastic personality and well inside the wage structure. Dortmund, what were you thinking.

Central Defender: This proved a little troublesome, and I ended up going for raw youthful talent with decent ability and bags of potential rather than a more established player. I was coming up against clubs who wanted ridiculous fees, agents who wanted ridiculous wages for their clients, or both. Perhaps I was trying to be a little too picky with my general and secondary DNA, but I'm not prepared to compromise on that. Secondary DNA is: Pace, Anticipation, Positioning, Tackling, Marking, Strength. My Argentinian scout spotted this young player who has a great starting point and bags of potential:

21encro.png

£5m for someone I can slot straight into the first team and fast track his development. He needs no tutoring either.

Right side Fullback: I made one further purchase here, which I was kind of forced into. At the end of the season I'll be losing my right fullback Jenkinson when his loan finishes. So a new fullback was always going to be a priority, but I was happy to wait until the end of the season. I'd already identified a few possibles, one of which was transfer listed and English (needed for squad registration rules). However, a rival club came in with a bid - I knew this as I had put the player on my shortlist and so received notice of the rival bid (always put your possible transfer targets onto your shortlist otherwise you may not know about rival bids until it's too late). So my hand was forced. For an attacking fullback, this is my secondary DNA: Crossing, Pace, Stamina, Tackling, Positioning, Off the Ball. Here's the player, who had the good sense to leave Spurs and join the Hammers:

24bvleg.png

Transfer listed for £6m and even took a pretty hefty wage cut he was that desperate to get away from the Lane (understandable ;)). His personality is a compromise, but you can't always have everything and maybe my squad personality will rub off on him a bit.

Oh and before all you Spurs fans start crying (as usual) about my little digs, both my wife and my twin brother support Tottenham, so there's nothing I haven't heard ten times over before :D.

Hopefully that gives you all a little insight into how I went about my transfer business. Everyone is a tradeable commodity; everyone has a price; and all new players brought in must be for a reason.

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That's amazing herne. Some great sellings and signings, i really like Sven Bender.

So those are the 5 main attributes you look for ALL positions? Wouldn't you consider composure equally important?

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herne79, so are you trying to cover each player by replaceable schedule for primary and secondary DNA (initially)? And what about other midfielders such as a Metronome (I suppose major traits are Flair, Teamwork, Vision, Technique, Composure), CMa/AMs (maybe Vision, Finishing, Technique, Off The Ball, Pace) and IF/W/RMD (Pace, Off The Ball, Dribbling, Vision, Composure, Finishing)?

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Herne, coukd I ask you a question about playing with a structured team shape. I have read that formations with a DM are best formations to use with a structured team shape. Could you confirm if this is the case. Can you or have you had a success with playing structured with a 4231 wide. I just see the 4231 wide as a top heavy formation that is set up to press opponent and camp in their half of the pitch. This does not strike me as a formation that would suit a defensive/ structured set up. I could be wrong about this all so would like to hear your thoughts.

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That's amazing herne. Some great sellings and signings, i really like Sven Bender.

So those are the 5 main attributes you look for ALL positions? Wouldn't you consider composure equally important?

Pretty much yes. There is a little flexibility (central defenders don't require high levels of aggression in the same way as central midfielders do in my system for example) and the goalkeeper is an exception.

Composure I've included for my striker only at this stage as it'll help him keep calm under pressure, although I may consider this for other roles when I start looking for upgrades as well.

herne79, so are you trying to cover each player by replaceable schedule for primary and secondary DNA (initially)? And what about other midfielders such as a Metronome (I suppose major traits are Flair, Teamwork, Vision, Technique, Composure), CMa/AMs (maybe Vision, Finishing, Technique, Off The Ball, Pace) and IF/W/RMD (Pace, Off The Ball, Dribbling, Vision, Composure, Finishing)?

Yes, and as mentioned I'll be writing a piece about all roles when I get towards the end of the season and start to ramp up my search for other new players. Of course if you have your own ideas for your own team, get stuck in :).

Herne, coukd I ask you a question about playing with a structured team shape. I have read that formations with a DM are best formations to use with a structured team shape. Could you confirm if this is the case. Can you or have you had a success with playing structured with a 4231 wide. I just see the 4231 wide as a top heavy formation that is set up to press opponent and camp in their half of the pitch. This does not strike me as a formation that would suit a defensive/ structured set up. I could be wrong about this all so would like to hear your thoughts.

Where have you read this? It's not something I've considered or experienced before and am a little baffled as to why that would be the case. Perhaps whoever wrote that (this is pure guess work btw) was concerned by the space between the central defenders and midfield, which can be exaggerated by a Structured team shape, and so felt the only way to plug that gap in their system was to put somebody there?

However, there is more than one way to skin a cat. My 4231 is performing very well without anyone in the DM position, as does my 442 in a different save. Pushing the def line higher; using shorter passing and/or retain possession to close gaps; employing the right type of players are all examples of how you can manage that pesky gap around your DM area. You could probably use an OI to mark a specific opposition AMC player as well, but I never use OIs.

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I think one of the best pieces of advice I have ever been given on football manager, was given to me back for Football manager 2008.

"There can't be any sentiment with players"

It's stuck with me ever since, football manager is a numbers game and getting those numbers high as you can in key areas as quick as you can is important. I support Newcastle, I have my favourite players in the squad, I'd love to take them to the champions league and beyond success, but in truth they aren't good enough, but they are in my head. No room sentiment.

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Pretty much yes. There is a little flexibility (central defenders don't require high levels of aggression in the same way as central midfielders do in my system for example) and the goalkeeper is an exception.

Composure I've included for my striker only at this stage as it'll help him keep calm under pressure, although I may consider this for other roles when I start looking for upgrades as well.y

Yes, and as mentioned I'll be writing a piece about all roles when I get towards the end of the season and start to ramp up my search for other new players. Of course if you have your own ideas for your own team, get stuck in :).

Where have you read this? It's not something I've considered or experienced before and am a little baffled as to why that would be the case. Perhaps whoever wrote that (this is pure guess work btw) was concerned by the space between the central defenders and midfield, which can be exaggerated by a Structured team shape, and so felt the only way to plug that gap in their system was to put somebody there?

However, there is more than one way to skin a cat. My 4231 is performing very well without anyone in the DM position, as does my 442 in a different save. Pushing the def line higher; using shorter passing and/or retain possession to close gaps; employing the right type of players are all examples of how you can manage that pesky gap around your DM area. You could probably use an OI to mark a specific opposition AMC player as well, but I never use OIs.

For the Central Midfield pair what type of players would you recommend and what attributes do I need to look for. At the moment I have Ramsey and Coquelin playing as my CM pair. Ramsey is usually a DLP S or CM S and Coquelin is CM-D. I do not know if I need a more physical presence in the middle of the park. Both Ramsey and Coquelin do not look like the physical all action midfield types. Sometimes I even Cazorla in there but he is not suited to the midfield engine room.

I am looking for a Central Defender with some pace. I am going to try and steal Kurt Zouma from Chelsea.

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I think one of the best pieces of advice I have ever been given on football manager, was given to me back for Football manager 2008.

"There can't be any sentiment with players"

It's stuck with me ever since, football manager is a numbers game and getting those numbers high as you can in key areas as quick as you can is important. I support Newcastle, I have my favourite players in the squad, I'd love to take them to the champions league and beyond success, but in truth they aren't good enough, but they are in my head. No room sentiment.

I see no problem with playing the game with some degree of sentiment. If I have an affinity towards certain players and decide to stick with them what's wrong with that? It's just a different style of management.

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For the Central Midfield pair what type of players would you recommend and what attributes do I need to look for. At the moment I have Ramsey and Coquelin playing as my CM pair. Ramsey is usually a DLP S or CM S and Coquelin is CM-D. I do not know if I need a more physical presence in the middle of the park. Both Ramsey and Coquelin do not look like the physical all action midfield types. Sometimes I even Cazorla in there but he is not suited to the midfield engine room.

I am looking for a Central Defender with some pace. I am going to try and steal Kurt Zouma from Chelsea.

It all depends on what type of football you want to achieve and how you go about setting it up. However I'll ask you something in return - if I were to use the Control mentality what MC combination do you think I'd use? And if I were to change to the Defensive mentality, would I use the same combination? What type of players do you think I'd use?

One final question - if you are looking at Kurt Zouma, why are you looking at him? Not saying it's a good or bad idea, just interested in your reasoning.

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I see no problem with playing the game with some degree of sentiment. If I have an affinity towards certain players and decide to stick with them what's wrong with that? It's just a different style of management.

I scrupulously tend to follow career of sold players, frequently buy them back after a few years, perhaps a dozen, of parting.

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Goalkeepers

What I didn't mention above in the Jan transfers update was that I also signed a goalkeeper. Or more accurately I signed a keeper from when his contract expires in July, so he joins me on a free transfer.

I didn't mention this above because I wanted to write a little about goalkeepers and how I view them because, well, when did you ever see anything written about keepers? I haven't. And yet they are arguably the most important player on the pitch - take an outfield player away and you can still reasonably expect to get a result, but take a keeper away and you'll lose.

This is who I've signed:

2ura0p2.png

2lxh7pt.png

So what am I looking for?

Well to answer that, the first thing I did was assign a scout to him to achieve 100% scouting. Look at the top left corner of the scout report where it says "Knowledge Level 100%". I've scouted this guy to make sure no stone is unturned to help me make an informed decision. I actually assigned a scout to watch him for a month (right click a player's name, select Scouting, select the scout and time period).

This tells me everything I need to know about his ability. His personality is just perfect; massive potential and current ability (I'm not talking about CA/PA there, I really couldn't care less about those numbers); he's going to adapt well to living in England; he's consistent (too often this gets overlooked by people - always pay attention to that); and he's not going to wilt under the pressure of big matches. Always always always read scout reports. Did I mention always? :brock:

Now in terms of club DNA I'm not too concerned here. Work Rate, Stamina and Aggression just don't come into my decision making process - Decisions remains important as does (to a lesser extent) First Touch. Keepers still need to decide what to do, but they only really need First Touch if a defender gives them a dodgy back pass (in my opinion).

For me, I only have three key attributes that I look for in a keeper: One v Ones, Reflexes and Handling. Strikers are going to break through my defensive line now and again, so I need my keeper to be able to stand up to them. He'll also need cat like reflexes to stop those close range shots/headers that will inevitably come his way. And finally I don't want him spilling the ball by mistake at the feet of an opposition striker - grab the ball and hold onto it. You can see for yourself just how good Rulli is here.

Bravery also has a part to play in selection, although the same could be said for any player. Aerial Reach (c'mon, the guy is 189cm + arm stretch + jumping, there is no issue there), Command of Area and Communication all have an impact, but for me at least they are of lesser importance compared to his ability to actually stop shots.

And what about Rushing Out for Sweeper Keepers? Well yes I agree, but in all honesty I'm really not sure how effective the "sweeper" part of that role actually is. I'm not sure the game is much good at simulating Neuer's (to use a real life example) movement, although if anyone has good examples of this I'm very happy to see it :).

However, having said that, if I were using a tactic with a high def line I'd still use a SK - just in case.

Hopefully you can see why I wanted to write a little section on the oft-forgotten Goalkeeper. They really are incredibly important, plus this should give a good insight into how to go about using scouts to help you make informed decisions.

And remember - always read your scout reports ;).

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I have a question - maybe a stupid one, but then it should be easy to answer.

If im a smaller club or in a smaller league than the Premier League, does the scout reports adjust to that? - Can they still get the enjoys big matches, consistent etc?

Even though the players scouted is on a lower level than the ones you have been looking at.

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I have a question - maybe a stupid one, but then it should be easy to answer.

If im a smaller club or in a smaller league than the Premier League, does the scout reports adjust to that? - Can they still get the enjoys big matches, consistent etc?

Even though the players scouted is on a lower level than the ones you have been looking at.

Yes. Just remember that the quality of your scout will have an affect on the accuracy of your report.

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Why do you use a Sweeper Keeper if the sweeper aspect of the role isn't very effective? For their starting position?

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Why do you use a Sweeper Keeper if the sweeper aspect of the role isn't very effective? For their starting position?

Have a read of the Tactical Rethink section ;).

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It all depends on what type of football you want to achieve and how you go about setting it up. However I'll ask you something in return - if I were to use the Control mentality what MC combination do you think I'd use? And if I were to change to the Defensive mentality, would I use the same combination? What type of players do you think I'd use?

One final question - if you are looking at Kurt Zouma, why are you looking at him? Not saying it's a good or bad idea, just interested in your reasoning.

Herne I think with a control mentality I would say both players will need to be on defend duty. Because Control is quite an aggressive approach it would be safer to have some additional protection when playing a top heavy formation with an aggressive mentality like control.

When it comes to defensive mentality I am going to say one player on defend and the other on support. Not quite sure about the roles and duty.

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Have a read of the Tactical Rethink section ;).

Not sure what you mean. I know that you changed from SK to GK when you switched mentality. I assumed that was because your defensive line wasn't as high. What I was trying to ask is would you still use a Sweeper Keeper if deploying a high line and if so is it for their starting position on the field (since you've said they don't actually sweep up effectively) or did you generally mean that there's no need for a Sweeper Keeper?

Hope that's more clear.

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Not sure what you mean. I know that you changed from SK to GK when you switched mentality. I assumed that was because your defensive line wasn't as high. What I was trying to ask is would you still use a Sweeper Keeper if deploying a high line and if so is it for their starting position on the field (since you've said they don't actually sweep up effectively) or did you generally mean that there's no need for a Sweeper Keeper?

Hope that's more clear.

Ah sorry, I get you now.

With a really high def line I'd probably still use a sweeper keeper. Whether it actually makes a difference or not is what I'm not convinced by, however just to dot the i's and cross the t's I'd put one in. There's no downside.

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Pretty much yes. There is a little flexibility (central defenders don't require high levels of aggression in the same way as central midfielders do in my system for example) and the goalkeeper is an exception.

Composure I've included for my striker only at this stage as it'll help him keep calm under pressure, although I may consider this for other roles when I start looking for upgrades as well.

Interesting thanks

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Youth Intake Day

Is there ever a day so looked forward to, and disappoints you so much when it arrives?

Yep, Annual Youth Intake Day has arrived. Or more accurately, the day in which we all look at Man City and think "Really? Again?" ;)

I'm not expecting too much this year. The quality of "newgens" is dictated by such things and club reputation; league reputation; and quality of facilities and whilst West Ham are in a high rep league, club rep and facilities are still lacking:

slo1lj.png

I'll mention a few things here in terms of how to gauge your level of facilities and what they affect.

Youth Recruitment

Affects how wide you cast your net when looking for new talent, and the potential ability of youngsters. It's also modified by your club's reputation, so you could have the best facilities in the world but if your reputation is very low you'll be unlikely to attract top talent. TL;DR - it affects PA.

On a scale of 1-20:

1-2 Limited

3-5 Basic

6-8 Fairly Basic

9-11 Average

13-14 Above Average

15-16 Established

17-18 Well Established

19-20 Extensive

Junior Coaching

This relates to the quality of coaches at your club at a junior level. We all have our U18s / U19s Youth squads and coaches we recruit individually. However imagine there are lower levels of youth teams below what we see (eg., U12s, U15s and so on) - that is what this area relates to: the quality of those coaches. In game terms then, it impacts upon the ability of Youth Candidates. TL;DR - it affects CA.

On a scale of 1-20:

1-2 Minimal

3-5 Basic

6-9 Adequate

10-13 Average

14-16 Good

17-19 Excellent

20 Exceptional

Youth Facilities

As you may expect, these facilities are your Youth Team(s) training facilities. As such, this has a direct impact on the rate of development of your young players. As mentioned above, these facilities will be used by at least your youngest squad (eg., U18s) and, depending on the league/country you are managing in, may be shared with your second youngest squad (eg., U20s).

On a scale of 1-20:

1-3 Basic

4-5 Poor

6-7 Below Average

8-9 Adequate

10-11 Average

12-13 Good

14-15 Great

16-17 Superb

18-19 Excellent

20 Top

Training Facilities

Your Senior Squad training facilities. Has a direct impact on the rate of development of your senior players. These facilities will be used by at least your Senior squad and, depending on the league/country you are managing in, may be shared with your second youngest (or "Reserve") squad (eg., U21s).

On a scale of 1-20:

1-3 Poor

4-5 Basic

6-7 Below Average

8-9 Adequate

10-11 Average

12-13 Good

14-15 Great

16-17 Superb

18-19 Excellent

20 Top

(The same scale as Youth Facilities, except the wording for the first two categories are switched. Go figure).

Youth Intake

iwhm69.png

I've sorted my intake by "Potential". However, this has to be taken with a big pinch of salt. Potential is reliant on two things:

1) The ability of your Assistant Manager to be able to judge ability. My AM isn't very good at that.

2) Accuracy of comparing against the rest of my squad. This "potential" isn't a star rating of the fabled "Potential Ability" that all players are limited to (up to a maximum of 200 - ie., Messi). It is merely a comparison of potential - judged by your Assistant Manager - to the rest of your squad. So these potential star ratings can (and will) change as we both improve the quality of your staff and our senior playing squad.

For example, and assuming we have an AM who is capable of making judgements, if you have a newgen with a PA of 150, and the rest of your squad that plays in a similar position have a max PA of 140, you'll probably see a 5 star rating. But after two years and lots of senior squad transfers which now gets youup to around 180 PA, the potential star rating for that 150 PA newgen will have dropped dramatically down to 3? 2? stars.

This can also explain why after a few years people start to believe the quality of their newgens drops, even though they've improved their facilities. Newgen quality doesn't drop (although it can be pretty random), it's the quality of your squad that has improved.

Anyway, back to my intake. Because I'm concerned about the quality of my AM's assessment, I'm going to sign everyone with a star rating of 2.5 and above (everyone down to and including Adam Taylor). This will give me a good opportunity to assess players myself, and see how they train over the next few months. It'll also pad out my U18s team which is looking a little thread bare.

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