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Football as an Inspiration

While it’s clear that I am heavily influenced by my football background in designing this system, I thought it might be helpful for me to point out and explain some of the elements I have taken and how they inform the system.

Defense as a model for shape and space

Spoiler

 

So while it may be easy to assume that my attacking shapes come from offense in football, it’s actually the defensive side of the game that really takes center stage and is the model for much of the system. This is especially true for its shape and how I use space. The leading edge, offensive screen, and between the lines model that I feature so heavily is the same general structure of defense in football. The front defenders set the edge against the offense trying to attack the line of scrimmage. The defensive backs are tasked with ensuring that nothing gets behind them. And the linebackers are tasked with playing and defending space between those groups.

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We can see this shape and model and use it for soccer by simply changing the way we see the positions. Their roles are the same. And with the magic of MSPaint, we can see how the 34 defense from football becomes the shape for the 34 formation in my system.

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Blocking

Spoiler

 

Blocking is key to both offense and defense in football. And while it might seem a bit off to use it in soccer, the concept is surprisingly effective when applied to the sport. It’s really not that different than pulling defenders. The big difference is, rather than pulling the defenders with movement, you lock them down preventing their movement. This in turn prevents them from stepping up to challenge a ball carrier.  

It works in soccer by moving an attacker into a dangerous location. Naturally the defenders move to cover him. This takes the attacker out of the play, but it also occupies the defender. And while occupied in such a way, the defender can’t cover another player without releasing the attacker he was previously defending. This can leave gaps without defenders to actually defend them. We can design these elements into our plays relatively easily. Here is a simple blocking design from a football perspective:

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The MR and STC block out the opposing CD and DL. With no defenders left to protect the B gap, we can then blitz in our CMR. And we can see exactly that occur on the field.

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These strategies are especially effective against the opposing defensive line.

 

Passing Concepts

Spoiler

 

Another source of inspiration are the passing concepts in football. In my sweep plays I abandon my normal defensively inspired shapes to apply an aggressive Vertical Passing concept.

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In these plays, the offensive players all run deep and spread out over the field laterally. This challenges the defenders to not only fall back at pace, but also track laterally with their movement. Additionally, the defenders in the middle need to quickly recognize that the movement from the outside is going to require them to drop deep, lest they be caught out of position.

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But the defenders drift too far down and the MR passes up to the rushing CML, who relays it quickly to the ML. The DR doesn’t recognize that his man is the ML and tries to close down the CML, but that just makes it worse. The ML gets behind the DR with the ball and gets a free run all the way to the goal.

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Edited by VinceLombardi

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Final Thoughts and Links to Interesting Posts

Using Tempo to Break a Defense

I would also like to put a big "Thank You" for @wkdsoul who designed the database I'm playing. It features a Premier League modeled pyramid which includes all the teams across all the major USA sports (MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, MLS).

Edited by VinceLombardi

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Bravo. This is fantastic. 

I've been an American football fan my whole life (Go Colts!) and I can still get overwhelmed by all of the terminology and concepts. Not only is your work applying football strategy to soccer incredibly impressive, but you did it in a way that makes both reading and comprehending it easier. 

It's a fascinating way to look at FM and I'm looking forward to seeing how it plays out.

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6 hours ago, Hoosier_76 said:

Bravo. This is fantastic. 

I've been an American football fan my whole life (Go Colts!) and I can still get overwhelmed by all of the terminology and concepts. Not only is your work applying football strategy to soccer incredibly impressive, but you did it in a way that makes both reading and comprehending it easier. 

It's a fascinating way to look at FM and I'm looking forward to seeing how it plays out.

I'm glad its understandable. Its a bit long winded, but I wanted to make sure it made sense to people who had little or no football background.

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6 hours ago, crusadertsar said:

It is too bad there is no American Football Manager Sim because I think you would boss it

Front Office Football is the closest we'll get thanks to EA owning the NFL license

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Amazing work, I remember using the FM16 iteration of your playbook to great effect with my Stenhousemuir save.

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8 hours ago, VinceLombardi said:

I'm glad its understandable. Its a bit long winded, but I wanted to make sure it made sense to people who had little or no football background.

Yeah, it's a wonderful post and not long winded at all. Better than the amount of "I IZ NEEDING HELP WIV DIS TAKTIK" We've been getting recently. 

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7 hours ago, Gambit said:

Front Office Football is the closest we'll get thanks to EA owning the NFL license

Yep. There was a Head Coach game, which was super promising. But it never got off the ground as a franchise.

Madden 2005(?) let you design plays. That was pretty awesome too. Sad to see it go.

Edited by VinceLombardi

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2 minutes ago, wkdsoul said:

Awesome Vince :) 

Thank you for the database. I'm having a great time with my Green Bay Packers. 

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20 hours ago, VinceLombardi said:

I would like to put a big "Thank You" for @wkdsoul who designed the database I'm playing. It edits the US to feature a Premier League modeled pyramid which includes all the teams across all the major US sports (MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, MLS).

 

Edited by VinceLombardi

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Great read and thanks for sharing. Much to take in! Have been trying the 34 for a few weeks now and a big fan and it works well. 

The difficult bit is now working out when to use the right packages, formations, plays etc. There are so many options! Think I will concentrate on 34 and Nickel and get to know them first before delving any deeper. Maybe also use the Dime package against the many 442s you get in Germany. 

Do you give the Libero any PIs?

 

Brilliant post. 

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4 hours ago, loisvale said:

Great read and thanks for sharing. Much to take in! Have been trying the 34 for a few weeks now and a big fan and it works well. 

The difficult bit is now working out when to use the right packages, formations, plays etc. There are so many options! Think I will concentrate on 34 and Nickel and get to know them first before delving any deeper. Maybe also use the Dime package against the many 442s you get in Germany. 

Do you give the Libero any PIs?

 

Brilliant post. 

Yeah. I still need to work on that stuff too. I'm trying to have more options than I need, but still avoid too many options. Each revision cycle allows me an opportunity to cut the fringes and work with the best parts of the previous cycle as a starting point. With so much stuff, I don't want to waste my time improving something that might never be good enough. And each revision cycle I more or less follow the layers improving each area in turn before moving on to the next. 

So being in the revision 3 cycle, layer 2 currently, when I get around to revamping the plays in this cycle, I should have a much better toolbox for designing those plays.

The Libero (a) has close down less, so that it operates like the rest of the CD, focusing on A gap control in defense. And also more direct passing, so that he has the passing range to work the entire field from his spot at the back like a DLP. Even if he doesn't have the skill or mentals, I want him to have all his options. It doesn't take a brilliant or skilled passer to get the ball to a free WB on the far flank. But without more direct passing, he won't even be looking for him. And with less options, I expect he will be more likely to try to force a pass into a tight spot, something he clearly lacks the ability to do.

IMO, the less I let him do, the more likely he is to do something bad.

Edited by VinceLombardi

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7 hours ago, VinceLombardi said:

Yep. There was a Head Coach game, which was super promising. But it never got off the ground as a franchise.

Madden 2005(?) let you design plays. That was pretty awesome too. Sad to see it go.

FoF has now been bought/partnered with the devs who make OOTP, so their next game should be good!

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@Vince Lombardi out of interest what packages, formations and plays do you have the most faith in at present. I feel the Base 34, base Nickel and the inside blitz for both work the best at the moment. Top German sides away from home are very difficult at the moment and having to work very hard to get points off them.

As it should be. 

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4 hours ago, loisvale said:

@Vince Lombardi out of interest what packages, formations and plays do you have the most faith in at present. I feel the Base 34, base Nickel and the inside blitz for both work the best at the moment. Top German sides away from home are very difficult at the moment and having to work very hard to get points off them.

As it should be. 

In terms of formations, 34, Nickel Base (not wide or deep formations), and Singleback have had the most testing. For all 3 I have spent a lot of time in Base play. Crashes are likely next as they have been used as jumping off points for other plays. Sweeps less so, but also tested more than the rest.

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Ok completed first season with this system on journey man season with Dortmund. 

3rd place 5 points behind Schalke. 21 wins 7 draws and 6 losses. Didn’t lose at home all season. Both 34 and Nickle are really strong at home. 

Nees to work on away strategy especially against the big boys. Think it is mainly down to poor choices I make. Will be trying the cover TI much more to focus the defence and carefully pick the plays. Overall really enjoy this system. Have just moved to Liverpool as Tuchel skipped over to Barcelona. Very surprised to get the job as reputation lower than the other candidates but maybe as it is listed as my favourite club and I said what they wanted to hear!

anyway am now where I wanted to be since starting the save and will not move again. 

@Vince Lombardi do you have a particular thought process when away from home and tips/suggestions?

Really enjoying it and the football is tremendous. 

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Away vs big boys, you are likely facing a more aggressive attack. Cover is the answer. Honestly it's likely my most used TI.

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1 hour ago, VinceLombardi said:

Away vs big boys, you are likely facing a more aggressive attack. Cover is the answer. Honestly it's likely my most used TI.

Agreed. Thanks for the response. 

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How much affect do player traits have on PIs? Does it mean they ignore instructions? 

Tactic is working very well with   Liverpool on journeyman save and leading league after 16 games with only one loss. However very difficult to find a dlp that doesn’t have contrary traits. Fabinho should be perfect but his traits of plays one twos, knocks ball past opponent and gets into opposition area all conflict with what I want him to do. That is a lot of coaching of a 30 year old to reverse and now play him as a box to box instead. All my first ream defenders have some issue or other with their traits but can be coached. 

Basically how much attention to traits should be paid?

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How much affect do player traits have on PIs? Does it mean they ignore instructions? 

Tactic is working very well with   Liverpool on journeyman save and leading league after 16 games with only one loss. However very difficult to find a dlp that doesn’t have contrary traits. Fabinho should be perfect but his traits of plays one twos, knocks ball past opponent and gets into opposition area all conflict with what I want him to do. That is a lot of coaching of a 30 year old to reverse and now play him as a box to box instead. All my first ream defenders have some issue or other with their traits but can be coached. 

Basically how much attention to traits should be paid?

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1 hour ago, loisvale said:

Basically how much attention to traits should be paid?

Currently I don't pay hardly any attention, but that's because I'm still developing the system. If somebody is doing unexpected stuff, then I check to see if traits explains it. Once I get settled into a regular roster and the system is clicking right, then I will turn my attention there.

I would agree with your analysis of that player though. That's a lot of traits that wouldn't be useful in that DM-DLP (d) spot. Just based on them, the CM position seems a much better fit.

Edited by VinceLombardi

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Using Tempo to Break a Defense

So I mainly use either Cover or Control TI, as they work in 70-80% of situations for me.  But sometimes I need to break out the No Huddle to fill in a few gaps. Here I use the higher tempo to break a stubborn defense and get 2 quick goals to break a tie. 

Spoiler

 

This was an away match against a team further up the table that I was slated to lose. They come out reasonably aggressive, but I am able to use the Cover TI to stifle their attack and turn the game into a defensive slog. It works in that regard, but I'm never able to get off any of my own opportunities and all I've got is longballs, longshots and/or set pieces to get that upset goal based on how the match played out in the first half.

1VOksHg.png

Rather than rely on luck, I look to see if I can identify why my attack is breaking down and what I can go to resolve it. Simply put, they have really good defensive shape. They are matching up well with my attackers and trading them off between defenders well. I've got no advanced players to cleanly pass the ball up to. They are essentially doing what I do, take away the passing outlets and then pressure the passer to force a bad pass. This slows down my buildup and prevents me from moving my attack forward like I would like. This in turn causes my players to bunch up and gives them even more time to get into their good shape. It really is my defense come back to get me. 

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If I can get to it, there is space behind the defenders. I play direct, but I'm not really a long ball/hoofball team. And the only way I could exploit it with a play change is a shift into a Nickle or other 2+ STC formation, as I don't have any 1 STC plays with a poacher or similar (yet). Plus honestly, their defenders are as good or better than my strikers and at least as fast. It would be unlikely for me to really get a good long ball opportunity even if I made that switch. I have a rather average roster for my league and they have better quality players. So that option is kinda out, or at least non-optimal. Plus my defense has been playing very well and a play or formation change risks upsetting what is working there.

Instead, I'm going to try to prevent them from getting into their shape by raising the tempo. I make the switch right after halftime as I fear going down a goal will be insurmountable (and I just yelled at them at half and I wanted to use the morale boost). In the next 4 mins I am rewarded with 2 goals. The first is a long range effort following a fortuitous turnover, and admittedly it was a lucky long shot goal.

The second goal is exactly what I was hoping for. We collect a loose ball in our own half and the team springs into action to prevent them from ever getting a chance to set their defensive shape.  Instead of mucking about in the midfield and waiting for my play to develop, we just use our workrate and the morale boosts from the team talk and goal to out effort them. We push quickly up the field, and though they have the pace to repeatedly challenge us on our attack, they never all get set at once and get into their previously dominate defense shape. My guys crash the box and I'm rewarded with a second goal.

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I immediately return to my Cover TI as I don't want to give them a chance to get back in the game. They are the better team, but my defense is solid and should be able to hold a 2-0 lead if I don't take any chances. I never got another good shot off in open play, but I didn't need it. Turns out I broke their back and spirit in that 4 minutes.  My defense holds them to no shots in the second half and I get 2 more goals off set pieces (a corner and free kick), for a dominating 4-0 victory. 

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As a nice side note, they were the #1 defense in the league and hadn't conceded in nearly 500 minutes of soccer before I unleashed that double salvo.

I never changed a single role all game, and just 4 min switch from Cover to No Huddle turned the game entirely around -- which substantively was just a quick shift to a higher tempo and freedom to play a bit more creatively. Both TI setups have the same mentality, directness, and the counter transition. And both the attacks I show took 12 seconds and are only a few mins apart in the match. But that tempo shift completely changed the way my team approached the build up, the attack, and most importantly the result. 

 

Edited by VinceLombardi

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Interesting.

I have experienced this kind of thing many times in the season with Liverpool on the journeyman save. What you have described above works well. The team has a great deal of pace and skill and given we have won 23 games drawn 2 and lost only one in the league I am coming up a against a lot of parked buses home and away. I almost exclusively use 34 formation away from home and the nickle at home.  My experience of dealing with matches is mostly based around decisions taken on TIs and using the base formations. 

If really trying to force things then really attacking space on the left or the right along with tempo changes (no huddle) or changing to two strikers is very effective. If the opposition is backing off control TI works very well. The cover TI and base formations is very solid when protecting what you have or taking on difficult matches. Beat Man City away doing this and they are very strong in my save which is now in 2024.Pep still there and have won EPL last four years.

in game shouts of demand more and get creative have an effect. 

Finally attention to player traits and getting the right personnel for the positions is critical. 

Football is great and this team is having great success but keeping Man City at bay is challenging in this save as despite the run of wins I am only 4 points ahead.Hopefully on track to end Liverpool’s long wait to win title in my first season.

All in all the system is brilliant has lots of variety and is great fun to use and experiment with. Love it.

Congratulations -many people would get a lot of enjoyment using it . I know sharing has helped you sort it out in your own head but very glad you did!

 

Edited by loisvale

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I play with 4-4-2 I changed my AF to PF(s) with roam from position and lowered passing just by 1 click and it seems like they are making "one -twos" passing, it looks much better now :) forwards are little bit deeper and if I would have BBM with better finishing I will be scoring a lot more since they run passing each other with strikers and completely losing opponent defense and shot :) before I think I had more long failed shots now I think they run more into the penalty area...will check with more games:)

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Edited by LukasZ_VCF
Simulated few games - ALL won ;O even CL final with PSG

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12 hours ago, loisvale said:

I am coming up a against a lot of parked buses home and away. I almost exclusively use 34 formation away from home and the nickle at home.  My experience of dealing with matches is mostly based around decisions taken on TIs and using the base formations. 

I am playing this league season almost exclusively from my base 34, 43, and Nickel as I've thrown out the rest of the playbook to more or less start over. I have found it to be very successful, and I really like the defensive stability they offer. The attacks can get a bit boring, especially against other good defenses, but quick tempo shifts or the like can create the edge I need. In this way it plays very similar to my FM16 version. 

 

13 hours ago, loisvale said:

If the opposition is backing off control TI works very well.

Also has been my experience. If they give me time, this setup really takes advantage and works the ball around well. In my U23 league I am very dominate, so a lot of teams play back, which is great because this is my preferred TI setup for evaluating plays and I do most of my creative testing in those matches.

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Not read this yet, only skimmed some of it but I must say, it looks like you've gone into some real detail here. Will have a proper look through now. 

Edit: So yeah I've just gone through all of this, very impressive stuff @VinceLombardi, really interesting take on things and very detailed. :thup:

Edited by craigcwwe

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7 hours ago, craigcwwe said:

Not read this yet, only skimmed some of it but I must say, it looks like you've gone into some real detail here. Will have a proper look through now. 

Edit: So yeah I've just gone through all of this, very impressive stuff @VinceLombardi, really interesting take on things and very detailed. :thup:

Yeah it's a lot to take in. Hopefully it mainly made sense. My limited soccer knowledge forces me to overexplain what I'm doing. I appreciate you taking the time to check it out and glad you found it interesting. 

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Sigames should make an (American) Football game too... If it is about licensing and stuff, just use "fake" nicknames and stuff and let users edit that out with an included editor. Would absolutely love it, as these are my two favorite sports. Would have to have College included too in my opinion. 

Great read!

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