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What changes do you guys make to your tactic when you've become a better team in a division and teams are setting up more defensive?

I'm West Ham and just qualified for Europe,, it's 2022 to so due to fixture changes for the WC and added Europa League games, it is a congested fixture list which may be affecting performances a bit but I'm proper struggling overall.

This is how I'm set up, it's worked a dream for me for 2 seasons now. I'm just wondering what changes I could make now that teams seem to have found a way of stopping me play. I'm still doing well in Europe, winning every game without conceding a goal but in the premier league, we're having too many poor games that end in a bore draw where all our shots are from too far out or teams have got so many bodies in the box all our shots get blocked. Our full backs and wingers now struggle to cross the ball, with loads of them being blocked by opposition full backs and although I'm asking them to press more and get stuck in, players are too easily running through us.

I've tried a few different approaches but I've hit that rut now where I'm at a loss at what is going wrong and could do with some fresh ideas thrown my way.

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Another thing I notice is the half time analysis always seems to state that "we're struggling for possession in the oppositions half"

Edited by LeeWHU888

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1 hour ago, LeeWHU888 said:

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You have 2 attack duties in a 4-man midfield with no DM. Then you play with higher DL on a high-risk mentality while at the same time using more urgent pressing and get stuck in. This was about the defensive risks of your tactic.

Now on the attacking side... first, what's the reasoning behind playing wingers (role) on both flanks? 

Also, if you have fast strikers - which I assumed based on the low crosses TI - why don't you use the Counter TI in transition? 

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Yeah it has been risky but it's worked so well for me for 2 seasons, it's only now that teams are set up different that I'm unsure how to go about it. Will play around with the TI's mentioned.

Again, mainly because it's worked for me, so many goals we've scored have been from balls played behind the backline, my wingers get in behind, low cross across goal and a tap in for my strikers.  I did try using Anderson as an IW with Robertson pushing on from left back (before his injury) to try to create another option but their every time it seemed the opposition full back was happy to Anderson go inside to a crowded middle and Robertson was left ineffective.

I have just started using counter as a TI. I use low crosses as I've never had height in the box so every cross is so easily dealt with I decided to try a new approach which again, worked well last season but now most of my crosses seem to be getting blocked.

In a nutshell, the idea behind my set up is 

LB gets up to the byline to help with Anderson as them 2 seem to play really well together, my right back is on support and hold position, which tends to help against a counter. Maguire and Rudiger do the defensive side well and Maguire also has the ability to pick a long ball over the top out.

LM is aggressive when attacking, getting at his man and causing a bit of carnage, he tends to drift inside hence the IF before which is meant to give the LB the space needed to get up, again, worked well until now so I've reverted to a winger to try and mix it up a bit. . RM as a winger, again, the centre of the park seems congested so I try to get my wingers out wide to stretch the play. Plus Wilson has played his best football on the current role, a few times he's assisted with a ball in from deep floating over to Anderson who taps in as the back stick. 

The Mezzala was something that I tried as I had no one coming in from midfield to attack the box, I used him as a B2B initially but the change to Mezzala really saw a drastic improvement in the player and then the team. I thought about having the DLP on defend but didn't want the 2 cm's to be split too far apart from each other (as in Mezzala pushing up while DLP sits in)

The 2 strikers was needed as like I said, the 1 on top was so isolated and numerous games on recent FM's I've struggled to nail the 1 up top so I went with the 2, 1 dropping in and 1 pushing on. The only problem now is, as teams are sitting deep, the DLF is dropping into space occupied by 5 or 6 players so I'm thinking that may need a tweak.

Does that make sense to you?

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45 minutes ago, LeeWHU888 said:

In a nutshell, the idea behind my set up is 

LB gets up to the byline to help with Anderson as them 2 seem to play really well together, my right back is on support and hold position, which tends to help against a counter. Maguire and Rudiger do the defensive side well and Maguire also has the ability to pick a long ball over the top out.

LM is aggressive when attacking, getting at his man and causing a bit of carnage, he tends to drift inside hence the IF before which is meant to give the LB the space needed to get up, again, worked well until now so I've reverted to a winger to try and mix it up a bit. . RM as a winger, again, the centre of the park seems congested so I try to get my wingers out wide to stretch the play. Plus Wilson has played his best football on the current role, a few times he's assisted with a ball in from deep floating over to Anderson who taps in as the back stick. 

The Mezzala was something that I tried as I had no one coming in from midfield to attack the box, I used him as a B2B initially but the change to Mezzala really saw a drastic improvement in the player and then the team. I thought about having the DLP on defend but didn't want the 2 cm's to be split too far apart from each other (as in Mezzala pushing up while DLP sits in)

The 2 strikers was needed as like I said, the 1 on top was so isolated and numerous games on recent FM's I've struggled to nail the 1 up top so I went with the 2, 1 dropping in and 1 pushing on. The only problem now is, as teams are sitting deep, the DLF is dropping into space occupied by 5 or 6 players so I'm thinking that may need a tweak.

Does that make sense to you?

It makes sense in the sense that I understand what you want to achieve. Now the question is what's the "best" way to achieve that. So let's go step by step...

For what you want on the left flank, you can go either with FB on attack and IW on support, or WB on support and IW on attack with the Overlap left TI (in the latter case only).

On the right, I would also use a winger (role) provided IW is on the opposite flank. I only tend to avoid wingers on both flanks. So it's okay to play Wilson as a winger in that case.

A mezzala is a beautiful role if you have the right player, but like any other role - it should not be considered in isolation from the system as a whole. So if you want to use a mezzala on attack duty in a flat 442 system, then the fullback on that side should be on defend duty (ideally IWB role, provided you have a suitable player). And even more so when playing on a high-risk mentality (such as positive or attacking). Also, if you use a mezzala in the flat 4-man midfield, then the other CM should definitely be on defend duty (even if the mezzala was "only" on support duty, let alone attack).

Now, there are basically 2 (similar) ways to set up a tactic you are looking to implement. One could be this:

DLFsu/F9      AF

 

IWat      DLPde     MEZat      Wsu

 

WBsu     CDde    BPDde     (I)WBde

GK/SK(?)

In this system, I would start with the following team instructions:

mentality - balanced (to compensate for two attack duties in the midfield)

- play out of defence, slightly more direct passing, (slightly) wider width, overlap left (and depending on what exactly you want, you can play around with higher tempo; you also need to decide if you want to play with early crosses or to work ball into box - or simply leave both unselected and let your players play as they see fit in the final third)

- counter (definitely a "must"), distribute to CBs and FBs (why limiting your GK's options?)

- higher d-line, standard LOE, use tighter marking (optionally use offside trap)

Player instructions can also be important. For example, I would tell the ML/IWat to sit narrower; DL/WBsu may be asked to cross from byline (though not necessarily); the support-duty striker (DLF or F9) can be allowed to roam from position (especially if he has good off the ball, decisions and anticipation). All 4 midfielders could be told to mark tighter (it's a lot safer way of putting pressure on the opposition than more urgent pressing and/or get stuck in, especially when playing with a higher d-line; finally, both strikers and at least one attack-duty midfielder (if not even both?) should be told to close down more (so-called "split press/block").

Another variant of the tactic could be this:

AF     DLFsu/F9

 

IWsu     DLPde    MEZsu     Wat

 

FBat     CDde    BPDde     (I)WBde

GK/SK(?)

In this case mentality could be positive. Team instructions would remain same, only the Overlap left should be removed and possibly added the Overlap right instead (but not necessarily).

So that's what I would try first, and then just make small tweaks when I feel they are needed.

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13 hours ago, Experienced Defender said:

Now, there are basically 2 (similar) ways to set up a tactic you are looking to implement. One could be this:

DLFsu/F9      AF

 

IWat      DLPde     MEZat      Wsu

 

WBsu     CDde    BPDde     (I)WBde

GK/SK(?)

Does the IWat & DLFsu/F9 get in each others way?

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1 hour ago, djpdavey said:

Does the IWat & DLFsu/F9 get in each others way?

Id say the combination of the IW/A, the DLF/F9 working in the same area combined with the addition of the "overlap left" instruction, will create the ideal left sided overload you need to release space on the right for your two attack minded players, the MEZ and the AF.

The opposition will have to commit numbers over onto their right hand side which should make tracking the forward runs more difficult for them.

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18 hours ago, Experienced Defender said:

It makes sense in the sense that I understand what you want to achieve. Now the question is what's the "best" way to achieve that. So let's go step by step...

For what you want on the left flank, you can go either with FB on attack and IW on support, or WB on support and IW on attack with the Overlap left TI (in the latter case only).

On the right, I would also use a winger (role) provided IW is on the opposite flank. I only tend to avoid wingers on both flanks. So it's okay to play Wilson as a winger in that case.

A mezzala is a beautiful role if you have the right player, but like any other role - it should not be considered in isolation from the system as a whole. So if you want to use a mezzala on attack duty in a flat 442 system, then the fullback on that side should be on defend duty (ideally IWB role, provided you have a suitable player). And even more so when playing on a high-risk mentality (such as positive or attacking). Also, if you use a mezzala in the flat 4-man midfield, then the other CM should definitely be on defend duty (even if the mezzala was "only" on support duty, let alone attack).

Now, there are basically 2 (similar) ways to set up a tactic you are looking to implement. One could be this:

DLFsu/F9      AF

 

IWat      DLPde     MEZat      Wsu

 

WBsu     CDde    BPDde     (I)WBde

GK/SK(?)

In this system, I would start with the following team instructions:

mentality - balanced (to compensate for two attack duties in the midfield)

- play out of defence, slightly more direct passing, (slightly) wider width, overlap left (and depending on what exactly you want, you can play around with higher tempo; you also need to decide if you want to play with early crosses or to work ball into box - or simply leave both unselected and let your players play as they see fit in the final third)

- counter (definitely a "must"), distribute to CBs and FBs (why limiting your GK's options?)

- higher d-line, standard LOE, use tighter marking (optionally use offside trap)

Player instructions can also be important. For example, I would tell the ML/IWat to sit narrower; DL/WBsu may be asked to cross from byline (though not necessarily); the support-duty striker (DLF or F9) can be allowed to roam from position (especially if he has good off the ball, decisions and anticipation). All 4 midfielders could be told to mark tighter (it's a lot safer way of putting pressure on the opposition than more urgent pressing and/or get stuck in, especially when playing with a higher d-line; finally, both strikers and at least one attack-duty midfielder (if not even both?) should be told to close down more (so-called "split press/block").

Another variant of the tactic could be this:

AF     DLFsu/F9

 

IWsu     DLPde    MEZsu     Wat

 

FBat     CDde    BPDde     (I)WBde

GK/SK(?)

In this case mentality could be positive. Team instructions would remain same, only the Overlap left should be removed and possibly added the Overlap right instead (but not necessarily).

So that's what I would try first, and then just make small tweaks when I feel they are needed.

Thank you mate, can always rely on you to provide some top advice.  Will have a play around with that later on and see how it goes.

i did have the GK distributing to both CB’s and FB’s but I noticed that as he was playing it to them, they were facing the GK, then the opposition closed them down quick, 1 would pass to the other CB, he’d be closed down, then he’d knock it to the GK who would boot it long so I took it away. 

 

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4 hours ago, LeeWHU888 said:

i did have the GK distributing to both CB’s and FB’s but I noticed that as he was playing it to them, they were facing the GK, then the opposition closed them down quick, 1 would pass to the other CB, he’d be closed down, then he’d knock it to the GK who would boot it long so I took it away. 

Okay. If you notice that your defenders are struggling to keep the ball under pressure, then just remove the instruction.

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On 14/05/2019 at 00:12, Experienced Defender said:

- higher d-line, standard LOE, use tighter marking (optionally use offside trap)

Would you drop the d-line and LOE if you notice the speed of the opposition's wide men and Strikers?

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7 hours ago, djpdavey said:

Would you drop the d-line and LOE if you notice the speed of the opposition's wide men and Strikers?

If I believe (or notice during a match) that my defense is not good enough - both in terms of speed and intelligence - to deal with them, of course I would drop both lines a bit. Dropping d-line to reduce the risk of fast oppo forwards getting behind my defense, and dropping LOE to maintain the vertical compactness. Of course, there are other instructions - both team and player-related - that I might consider tweaking as a way to deal with the issue you mentioned.

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On 14/05/2019 at 00:12, Experienced Defender said:

mentality - balanced (to compensate for two attack duties in the midfield)

So if you up the mentality you'd always remove a midfield attack duty? Is this just because of the 2 in the centre with no-one in DM strata? Is there any articles on here that go into depth on this? The why and what happens if you don't?

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1 hour ago, djpdavey said:

So if you up the mentality you'd always remove a midfield attack duty? Is this just because of the 2 in the centre with no-one in DM strata? Is there any articles on here that go into depth on this? The why and what happens if you don't?

Not always. Depends on the formation I use, the mentality and (in part) on the abilities of my players. Specifically in a 442, the lack of DM is something you need to take into account when setting up both roles and duties, always having the mentality in mind as well (even more so in a 4231). (My) general principle is to ensure I have sufficient defensive cover for the players bombing forward (either because they are on attack duties or the role itself is more attack-minded).

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Tried both formations and roles and we're still struggling. 

How do you set up so you can draw teams on to you? It's clear that our problem lies in the fact teams are throwing numbers behind the ball and we can't break them down which results in 20+ shots per game and only 5 or 6 on target because players are just shooting from long range or, a cross is blocked and rebounds to their player and we get done on the counter.

If I know how to draw teams onto me I think I can work something to counter but I just need an idea on how to set up that way.

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4 hours ago, LeeWHU888 said:

Tried both formations and roles and we're still struggling. 

How do you set up so you can draw teams on to you? It's clear that our problem lies in the fact teams are throwing numbers behind the ball and we can't break them down which results in 20+ shots per game and only 5 or 6 on target because players are just shooting from long range or, a cross is blocked and rebounds to their player and we get done on the counter.

If I know how to draw teams onto me I think I can work something to counter but I just need an idea on how to set up that way.

I am just in the process of experimenting with my own version of fluid counter-attack - and btw writing a thread about that - and by pure coincidence I picked the very West Ham as the team to test the tactic in an experimental save. For now however, I've had time only to play a friendly against our reserve team, so I will need to test it in a more serious match before I can be sure it's set up in the right way. But even in this rather easy match, I was very pleased with what I saw in terms of how my players behave on the pitch. The reason I picked WHU is that they (the current squad) have the players that suit the style of play I am looking to implement. So I can share the tactic with you here if you want. Or you can wait until my thread has been published (possibly tomorrow (Saturday)).

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Btw, my tactic utilizes a 4141dm wide formation, not a 442. There is another version though, which is made for a narrow 442 diamond.

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19 hours ago, Experienced Defender said:

Btw, my tactic utilizes a 4141dm wide formation, not a 442. There is another version though, which is made for a narrow 442 diamond.

I'll wait until you post mate, if you can link it here when you've published it that'll be great.

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