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Simplicity leads to first success

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It may be a little premature and it might have taken me almost a year but i think i might have made my first successful tactic. Its been a rocky road and a real love hate relationships with the game the last few years as i have tried to come to terms with the games tactical side.i have read hundreds of posts, watched hours of youtube and still couldn't get my head around building my own successful tactic. I had loads of supposedly well thought out roles and duties, playing to the strength of my players, supposedly well thought out shouts to get the team playing exactly how i could see it in my head but nothing worked.

The eureka moment came when i watched some YouTube clips on Guardiola, searching for that magic formula that he uses to creat such intricate football. Two clips inparticular showed me i had been thinking about it all wrong and making the very simple very complex. Firstly Thierry Henry spoke about how structured his system in terms of people staying in position to create space, the wingers had to hold the touch line, players were not allowed to cross on to the other side of the pitch, you had to trust your team mates to find you. He said the first two thirds of the pitch belonged to Pep, you had to follow his instructions, when his instructions got them to the final third then the players could move freely and use their imaginations. The second clip was Guardiola talking to fans at an event during his time with Bayern Munich. Again he spoke of simplicity, when they tried to analyse great moves on a screen and ask him about them he just spoke of the quality of the players, how they decide on the field the right pass and when to pass it. He also spoke about small tactical changes to deal with the opposition, not like the game of chess i was trying to lay out in my planning.

With this in mind i started a new game, i was going to keep it simple, select the roles that got the movement i wanted and then let the players play them naturally, not with me piling on more and more for them to think about. FC United were the chosen team, predicted to come 9th and with a pretty average squad when comparing stats, usually lower half of the division i had wondered where they got 9th from! Anyway i decided to set up the formation that would fit the existing squad and just see what they could do before i start looking to improve it. As it turns out the first dozen games have gone much better that i could have ever imagined


As you can see we are top after 11 games only dropping 2 points to a late equaliser 7 games into the season, we have also won the first qualifying round of the cup 5-0 to a team in our division. The reason we went with this shape was that i wanted to use wide players and i had a lot more options in the AML/AMR positions than in the ML/MR positions. So ill talk you through why i did what i did as a result of the formation i chose and why i think it worked.

Firstly i chose to go Attacking and Structured, firstly Attacking because of the AML,DLF/AMR combo, with these three high up the pitch I don't think its a shape that can sit deep without leaving gaps to exploit, also with these three players i can pressure the opposition back line early and hope the give us the ball back under pressure. With the quality of my defenders its better to be proactive and soak up the pressure.

I went with two wingers as opposed to inside forwards because i wanted to make the space in the middle for my centre forward and midfielders to exploit, also as a result if they go really narrow i can go around the outside of them. I found that wingers act like the players Henry was talking about too, they hold wide positions but they do get into the box in the final 3rd, not moving inside too early and cluttering up space. 

The Deep Lying Forward has also worked great and in combination with 2 Box to Box midfielders behind him causes the defence all sorts of problems. If he comes deep and drags a centre half with him one of the midfielders overlaps and provides an easy throughball, if they don't come deep with him he can recycle possession and get back in the box or sometimes find good through balls in the channel between centre half and full back for the winger to run on to. He also still tries to run in behind sometimes and that keeps my play nice and varied. The Box to Box midfield option was pretty easy, i wanted to pick the role that got the two central midfielders forward and running into the channels created by the wingers staying wide, into the space left by the Deep Lying Forward coming deep and into the box to get on to the end of crosses. The other option would have been CM Attack but i wanted support duties on all my players baring the defensive trio to help keep shape, encourage a bit more ball retention and keep the players a bit closer together. 

Behind them i have 2 supporting Full Backs that provide support and the odd overlap when its safe, two standard Center Backs and a Defensive Midfielder screening them. I have no shouts and i have only 4 player instructions. Close Down Much More on the Deep Lying Forward, as im high up th pitch I don't want to give them time on the ball to spot a through ball to unlock me. Get Further Forwards on the AML/AMR as although i wanted them on support to keep shape and not try anything too spectacular i did want them getting beyond the Deep Forward. The last one i had was Distribute to Full Backs for the Keeper, I didn't want him launching big kicks to the forwards and loosing possession, i also didn't want to take the risk of giving it to poor footballing center backs at this level so i thought give the ball to the Full Backs would be safer.

In game i have tried to keep my decision making simple too. I have only used shouts every few games and tried to do it if needed or an advantage can be gained. For example against a team with only one player on each flank i will look to exploit the flanks. If in struggling to break a team down i will go from structured to flexible, this will give them a little more creativity and let the Full Backs join in a little more. If they are sitting really deep and i still cant break them free i will either Look For Overlap or give my Defensive Midfielder a little more licence to join in by putting him on support. And that's about it, i tend to rotate my squad quite a bit as they are poor physically and i want players going into a match that can get through it but other than that nothing out of the ordinary.


I may have gone on more than i intended to in this post and it may well be premature to say i have made a great tactic built its the first time i have had so much success so early with such an average team. If like me you have always struggled building tactics and your head spins trying to get your head round it just try keeping it really simple and you might be surprised. I am average at best at this game but at last i feel like i know how and why something is working.

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Great. Really love the thoughts behind your formation, role choices and PI's. 

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Simple solutions are born from simple people. Only complex people argue for complex solutions.

When I was doing my apprenticeship at the steelworks they had a motto "do it right the first time".

Look at the Olympic situation.

The first modern Olympics were held in Athens in 1896. Since then, Greece has called for the Olympics to be permanently brought back home to Greece.

The best solution to end Olympic waste, eliminate deficiencies in bidding processes, and be cost effective, is to base all Olympic activities, including Olympic headquarters, in a permanent location... Greece.

Infrastructure would only be needed to be built once and then updated and maintained and the Greeks can recoup the costs through recurring use and tourism.

From Greece's perspective looking at obstacles and not miracles, there is a lot of national ego from potential hosts that would oppose the idea. 

However there are numerous examples of the prerogative of heritage being respected. An obvious example, The Vatican, headquarters to millions of Catholics, is permanently located in one place.

Back to your post Landskill... may you have a long and successful career and get your chance to perfect your invention.

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This is very similar to the tactic I evolved with my new EPL promoted team.

I already was playing a 4-1-2-3 DM as well, but after losing 4 of my first 5 games in EPL with no wins, I made my tactic much more conservative.  STC is a F9 and my wingers went from IF-A to IF-S.

I have a CM-S with PI to move into channels and to look to shoot, and an AP for my other midfielder.  DM is a Half-Back and I originally went with WB-D on my defensive flanks (I now use FB-S/A this season but I have much stronger wide defenders now).  It was really interesting because the tactic became much less aggressive, but my offensive opportunities (shots, shots on targets) went up a lot.  I had also set my mentality to defensive, but no other team instructions.  After the first 5 games I went on an 8 or 9 game unbeaten streak, including some wins against teams like Everton. I got a draw against Arsenal which I considered a win too hahaha.

I've become a big fan of the 4-1-2-3 DM though.  It seems like it has a lot of coverage while opening up easy tactical shifts.  With my team being a bit stronger this season I moved my AML back to IF-A, and set one of my FB to S to help provide some wide support and it's cool to see that pay off with some crosses and nice coverage.  I can also shift my CM to attack role to help press the defense if I feel I need it, or drop him back to defense role if I've notched a goal or two lead and want to make sure I don't give up one myself.  Lots of flexibility with wide spaces though!

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