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Everything TOTAL Football (From Cruyff's 433 to Guardiola's Overloads) - Update coming Nov 30, 2020


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9 hours ago, crusadertsar said:

Thanks for the tips! I'll keep them saved for the next time I face that pesky parked bus, which is A LOT with Benfica.

Any particular reason you don't want to use strikerless? I feel like it's less of an exploit than in previous FM versions. And I found it gets my "striker" way more involved in the build-up which before not even False9 would do.

I know you face a lot of defensive teams with Benfica. Just like I do with Barcelona. But in Champions League it's different story against the other strong teams. That's why it is important to have 3 variations of the tactic loaded.

I don't like strikerless because I don't like how the AMC roles behave in this match engine. I'm happy with the False 9 role. Mind you, still needs work but it's been improved. 

Maybe I will experiment some more and see if I can make it work. Do you use any PIs on any of your roles?

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14 hours ago, yonko said:

I know you face a lot of defensive teams with Benfica. Just like I do with Barcelona. But in Champions League it's different story against the other strong teams. That's why it is important to have 3 variations of the tactic loaded.

I don't like strikerless because I don't like how the AMC roles behave in this match engine. I'm happy with the False 9 role. Mind you, still needs work but it's been improved. 

Maybe I will experiment some more and see if I can make it work. Do you use any PIs on any of your roles?

Fair enough. I basically use PIs on the AMC to make him operate more like shadow striker without actually having the very attacking mentality. Also I tell my inside forwards to stay wider to make them cut in later. I can't remember all of them. You could check with my downloaded tactic if you wish though.

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On 17/06/2020 at 18:25, yonko said:

@crusadertsar

Nice tactic and team plays. :applause:

On FM20 I'm staying away from Strikerless version. I'm sticking with False 9 instead. I like to set my flanks with some variations. One side is with IF and Overlap, while the other side is with IW and no overlap. 

However, when I want to control possession the most, then both flanks use IW and no overlap. Also in the midfield I would then use DM-D, DLP-S and AP-S combo. I average 61% possession for the season with 93% passing rate and still created the most chances in the league. I use Much Shorter Passing and half of the time I add Pass Into Space. 

 

501572140_poetryinmotiontactic.thumb.png.05b73b087f50c8bd7c1805d6da6a8c24.png   

649653147_teamstatsdetails.thumb.png.52902e1150763b79f937c84fd23b3251.png

 

When facing defensive tactics with 3 CBs then both flanks use IFs. Fullbacks move to Wingback positions and become CWBs with Overlap on both flanks. And I use 2 Mezzalas. I would add Width if necessary. Next step is to remove Work Ball Into Box. 

I believe small tweaks are needed to maintain control and breakdown sides. Also, against strong opponents like Real M, Liverpool, City, etc. I remove Focus Play Through the Middle - it is not working so well against high strong press. Removing it opens up options to play the ball wide and around the press better. 

Very similar to what I'm doing with United as a Barcelona replication too, though I start on positive.

Re: work ball into box, you might want to experiment with removing it and instead individually telling everyone to shoot less. I'm finding it get more of those nice slightly riskier short passes into the box (Work ball into box affects more than just how much they shoot)

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1 hour ago, themadsheep2001 said:

Very similar to what I'm doing with United as a Barcelona replication too, though I start on positive.

Re: work ball into box, you might want to experiment with removing it and instead individually telling everyone to shoot less. I'm finding it get more of those nice slightly riskier short passes into the box (Work ball into box affects more than just how much they shoot)

I think, that's the problem with work into box, it effects too many things in a tactic, good and bad. Sure you don't want too many crosses but them you lose out on nice killer balls too. Reason why sometimes playing with least possible tactical instructions is best.

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11 hours ago, crusadertsar said:

Fair enough. I basically use PIs on the AMC to make him operate more like shadow striker without actually having the very attacking mentality. Also I tell my inside forwards to stay wider to make them cut in later. I can't remember all of them. You could check with my downloaded tactic if you wish though.

I admit you made me revisit and try using AMC instead to see how it can work. So I played a few games to experiment. I also revisited @Ö-zil to the Arsenal! amazing thread about the Barca tactic from FM17 which was very inspirational for all of us, as all his threads are. IMO the secret to making a AMC work in this tactic the way I want is to not have the role roam from position. What I want from the role is basically what Messi did IRL as False 9 under Pep - there are plenty of video highlights from the famous multiple games vs Real M and 2 CL finals vs Man United, as well as many compilation Tiki-Taka possession Barca videos on YouTube.

For that, following O-zil's idea from the FM17 thread, the role has to be with the most advanced individual mentality as he is the goalscorer as well as the creator. There is only one role for me that does that and that's the SS role. Now in the FM17 version which I was also using well in FM18, the SS role was used with added roam from position PI. It was working wonderfully IMO as the ME in those FMs was coded. 

I think roam from position doesn't work so well, for me at least, in FM20. So I played a few games with SS role as it is, nothing added to it. Messi scored 4 goals in 2 games - two of the goals were after assists from midfield with through ball behind the defenders back. Both of those assists were by Arthur - once playing as DLP-S and another time whole being an AP-S. 

In addition to using SS role, both my flanks use IW-S with Take More Risks PI, nothing else. I think IWs are coded to sit a little bit wider than IFs by default and are also more looking to pass, whereas IFs are more looking for goals. This should affect how the SS role plays as well because it will for sure make a difference if he is between 2 IWs or 2 IFs. I have to try it but my guess is if I go for IF on one side and IW on the other, then I can recreate Villa - Messi - Pedro trident from 2010-11 season which for me is the best Barca tactic variation from real life. 

Btw, this is at the start of Season 2, so I will play a few more games and see how it goes. A Strikerless variation may return as one of my 3 setups, thanks to being motivated by you to revisit this version. :D

9 hours ago, themadsheep2001 said:

Very similar to what I'm doing with United as a Barcelona replication too, though I start on positive.

Re: work ball into box, you might want to experiment with removing it and instead individually telling everyone to shoot less. I'm finding it get more of those nice slightly riskier short passes into the box (Work ball into box affects more than just how much they shoot)

Against other big teams, I also play on Positive team mentality. It's part of my control and dominate possession variant. I even go down to Balanced when they go super attacking against me. 

8 hours ago, crusadertsar said:

I think, that's the problem with work into box, it effects too many things in a tactic, good and bad. Sure you don't want too many crosses but them you lose out on nice killer balls too. Reason why sometimes playing with least possible tactical instructions is best.

@crusadertsar @themadsheep2001

Regarding Work Ball Into Box, I don't understand why would this affect through balls into the box though. And is it confirmed that it does really? I haven't noticed it. I know it affects crosses and shots - those I can see. But not through balls. I'm ok with my players taking more shots actually because in FM20 that has been improved vs previous editions (was it FM17 or FM18 that was really bad at shots? Can't remember anymore after playing every version every years since 1993 :D).

I have to pay more attention to that I guess and see. 

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Ok, so here are all my setups currently in rotation, two of them are experimental - the strikerless ones. 

I've named the tactic "Poetry In Motion" because that is how I describe Barca possession style of play during the Pep era, especially 2010-11 season. 

It's starts with this default tactic:

211742973_PoetryInMotion1.thumb.png.be9c71460611f14db3f483ef07050911.png

False 9 - Moves Into Channels

IW, Mezzala, CWB and WB - Take More Risks

DM - Hold Position

 

Then this is my more Attacking tactic to break sides down, especially those with 3 CBs + WBs with or without DMs:

 

176762196_PoetryInMotion2.thumb.png.84ef56a67601f85a5959b6b355c1912c.png

Mezzalas and CWBs - Take More Risks

And here are couple of Strikerless versions I'm working on. One is more controlling (it used to have False 9 instead), while the other one is more like the default version but with a few specific tweaks. 

 

1606980514_PoetryInMotion3.thumb.png.be10988d4d30b1b84f360b73e386e784.png

No PIs on anyone here

 

16402891_PoetryInMotion4.thumb.png.6299090ffa94c537e55c5f3f3bb4d1cf.png

IW, Mezzala, CWB - take more risks

DM - Hold position 

This tactic is set up directly to replicate Barca 2010-11 season lineup - Valdes, Alves, Abidal, Pique, Puyol/Mascherano, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Pedro, Villa and Messi. 

The instructions give me these individual mentalities:

Attacking                 Very Attacking                Positive 

                       Positive                    Positive

                                        Positive

Balanced     Cautious                  Cautious     Attacking

 

Ideally, I would've wanted the SS and the Mezzala to also have Attacking mentality but that is not possible with the Tactics Creator. Alternatively I can use DM-D or HB-D and then have Focus Play Through the Middle to have 3 defenders and DM with Balanced mentality. However, that will have affects on the right flank as sacrifice. If I have overlap on the right then the IW drops to Balanced and I don't want that. 

Lastly, I want to state the obvious. To make any possession tactic work, having players with the following attributes is a must:

First Touch, Passing, Technique, Composure, Decisions, Teamwork and Vision. 

Anticipation & Off The Ball for Attacking players, Concentration & Positioning for Defensive Players.  

As for Training, don't let your Assistant control it! Don't be lazy and set it up yourself if you want best results. It's not that hard. Every activity tells you the attributes it focuses on. Yes, pick based on attributes not description of activity. So try to have the following activities as much as possible:

Possession or Tactical from the Team category

Ball Retention, Transition Press, Transition Restrict, Play From The Back, Chance Creation, Ball Distribution

Attacking Patiently and Defending Engaged (you can replace those with Chance Conversion and Ground Defending for lighter intensity)

Attacking Shadow Play and Defensive Shadow Play

Every month you should have all of these activities at least once in your schedule. 

I have created custom schedules for 1 match a week and 2 matches per week. Attacking, Defending, Technical and Tactical theme. Also one general (based off the TikiTaka one) and Preseason physical ones. I may post example later. 

Individual Training is based on the roles I use in my tactic (it affects Tactic Familiarity). I alternate each month between two roles for most positions. Fullbacks as CWB and/or WB. AMRL as IW and/or IF. CMs as AP and/or Mez. And so on. 

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Posted (edited)

@yonko Quality possession system! Thanks for sharing. Also thank you for the training tips. There are some ideas that I will definitely be taking from there eventhough I developed my own Total Football-focused technical training routine. I'm always looking to improve it. 

Edited by crusadertsar
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8 hours ago, yonko said:

Ok, so here are all my setups currently in rotation, two of them are experimental - the strikerless ones. 

I've named the tactic "Poetry In Motion" because that is how I describe Barca possession style of play during the Pep era, especially 2010-11 season. 

It's starts with this default tactic:

211742973_PoetryInMotion1.thumb.png.be9c71460611f14db3f483ef07050911.png

False 9 - Moves Into Channels

IW, Mezzala, CWB and WB - Take More Risks

DM - Hold Position

 

Then this is my more Attacking tactic to break sides down, especially those with 3 CBs + WBs with or without DMs:

 

176762196_PoetryInMotion2.thumb.png.84ef56a67601f85a5959b6b355c1912c.png

Mezzalas and CWBs - Take More Risks

And here are couple of Strikerless versions I'm working on. One is more controlling (it used to have False 9 instead), while the other one is more like the default version but with a few specific tweaks. 

 

1606980514_PoetryInMotion3.thumb.png.be10988d4d30b1b84f360b73e386e784.png

No PIs on anyone here

 

16402891_PoetryInMotion4.thumb.png.6299090ffa94c537e55c5f3f3bb4d1cf.png

IW, Mezzala, CWB - take more risks

DM - Hold position 

This tactic is set up directly to replicate Barca 2010-11 season lineup - Valdes, Alves, Abidal, Pique, Puyol/Mascherano, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Pedro, Villa and Messi. 

The instructions give me these individual mentalities:

Attacking                 Very Attacking                Positive 

                       Positive                    Positive

                                        Positive

Balanced     Cautious                  Cautious     Attacking

 

Ideally, I would've wanted the SS and the Mezzala to also have Attacking mentality but that is not possible with the Tactics Creator. Alternatively I can use DM-D or HB-D and then have Focus Play Through the Middle to have 3 defenders and DM with Balanced mentality. However, that will have affects on the right flank as sacrifice. If I have overlap on the right then the IW drops to Balanced and I don't want that. 

Lastly, I want to state the obvious. To make any possession tactic work, having players with the following attributes is a must:

First Touch, Passing, Technique, Composure, Decisions, Teamwork and Vision. 

Anticipation & Off The Ball for Attacking players, Concentration & Positioning for Defensive Players.  

As for Training, don't let your Assistant control it! Don't be lazy and set it up yourself if you want best results. It's not that hard. Every activity tells you the attributes it focuses on. Yes, pick based on attributes not description of activity. So try to have the following activities as much as possible:

Possession or Tactical from the Team category

Ball Retention, Transition Press, Transition Restrict, Play From The Back, Chance Creation, Ball Distribution

Attacking Patiently and Defending Engaged (you can replace those with Chance Conversion and Ground Defending for lighter intensity)

Attacking Shadow Play and Defensive Shadow Play

Every month you should have all of these activities at least once in your schedule. 

I have created custom schedules for 1 match a week and 2 matches per week. Attacking, Defending, Technical and Tactical theme. Also one general (based off the TikiTaka one) and Preseason physical ones. I may post example later. 

Individual Training is based on the roles I use in my tactic (it affects Tactic Familiarity). I alternate each month between two roles for most positions. Fullbacks as CWB and/or WB. AMRL as IW and/or IF. CMs as AP and/or Mez. And so on. 

Take a bow @yonko

You are not asking players to stay wide or narrow at WB and IW/IF ? 

Edited by ferrarinseb
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7 hours ago, yonko said:

Ok, so here are your schedule. 

I have created custom schedules for 1 match a week and 2 matches per week. Attacking, Defending, Technical and Tactical theme. Also one general (based off the TikiTaka one) and Preseason physical ones. I may post example later. 

 

Can you post those example schedules? @yonko

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On 19/06/2020 at 18:38, crusadertsar said:

@yonko Quality possession system! Thanks for sharing. Also thank you for the training tips. There are some ideas that I will definitely be taking from there eventhough I developed my own Total Football-focused technical training routine. I'm always looking to improve it. 

 

On 19/06/2020 at 18:51, 04texag said:

Can you post those example schedules? @yonko

Here are some more training tips and specific examples. 

First season when you start a save is very important as we all know. You gotta get players conditioned, match fit, familiar with your tactic and develop team chemistry. I start with 1 week of very heavy physical schedule, then 1 week of physical and general activities. 

1622195942_preseasonheavy.thumb.png.9a9ab1824cbf1bab1d78cee124d5d334.png

721372936_preseasonnormal.thumb.png.6fa156321d2b3e9b38b7f78c413c9064.png

Then I set up plenty of friendlies making sure I have a day of practice in between while using this schedule. 

1363760608_preseasonmatches.thumb.png.8c05fb0781a0dea04f8db8b651efb84d.png

I also change the Training Intensity for players via Training > Rest tab to this:

28711147_earlyseasonintensity.thumb.png.3022c5e7ae8ff1ac1bb774cd84f3193d.png

This is also used early in the season when I have only 1 match per week.

Early in the season when I still need my team to learn my tactics and develop team chemistry I use the following schedules:

1124853212_attackinges.thumb.png.83865ee427930f67c944e05c1911a0c9.png

1719192939_defendinges.thumb.png.1e28036e914094155a56164762ff9188.png

2098912633_possessiones.thumb.png.c39db0f416b95eba1e57a24f14a9cf99.png

504500974_tacticales.thumb.png.48ac69fb7d9b462a2dd6ab3a3789bb17.png

Note: Even in following seasons when my team is pretty familiar already with my tactics, I still use these as they help with team chemistry and with new players coming into my team via transfers. The process is not as long as the first season but still necessary and helpful.

Usually in October I will switch to different set of schedules which I rotate each week. These are the schedules for 1 match a week:

1237178503_attacking1.thumb.png.0b6cd0fc976ef4a205667a0f4febb49a.png

49868655_defending1.thumb.png.3e9c9b7469f800b03d08602934c64219.png

691110565_technical1.thumb.png.32488eb46deee6752c6ab1132fa62459.png

1320609656_tactical1.thumb.png.95932c7a5abd38c1e1b0dc7897049316.png

I set up every week ahead of time until the end of the season and adjust as needed when fixtures change.

During International Matches week where players are returning from their national teams, I usually use the Tactical Week. I adjust Wednesday to have just Recovery and Tactical General, then the following days until match day are set up lightly with just two sessions combination of technical/tactical or match prep. I want as many of my starters able to play and if they 90% + conditioning they will start the match. 

And these are the schedules for 2-3 matches a week:

13520359_attacking2.thumb.png.517a9804453eca4a4e60667be524696e.png

1570728391_defending2.thumb.png.438bce11289a518e07eb3a7e089482ef.png

1013248716_technical2.thumb.png.37b9ccbc8bfbc7c9c39700d403e180d3.png

1468560825_tactical2.thumb.png.7d00eae173ccd5478dfe2fe3a5999a98.png

These are adjustable as well and you will notice I have Recovery plus Technical or Tactical category activity the day after a match. I also added after the weekend matches too. When I use these schedules during fixture congestion, I also change the General Training Intensity from Training > Rest tab to this:

 1540841088_congestedscheduleintensity.thumb.png.12e992db7fdfced54433b1d180802c22.png

The idea is for my starters to recover and train with half intensity, while the subs and players not involved put in a double shift. However, I make sure that the day after the match it is always with light load activity. This way I keep my rotations to minimal as my starters are around 94-95% condition, while the other players still work on getting better and developing. I will still rotate players but for different reasons - happiness and development. 

Keep in mind all these schedules are just templates and I do adjust/replace activities based on many factors. I don't set it and forget it. I spend time on this as much as on tactics. It's the two aspects of FM that I enjoy the most - tactics and training. :D

On 19/06/2020 at 18:45, ferrarinseb said:

Take a bow @yonko

You are not asking players to stay wide or narrow at WB and IW/IF ? 

For those setups I posted, I do not ask anyone to stay wider or narrower. IWs stay wider by default compared to IFs. The CWB also stays wider than WB.

 However, your question made me try something in one of my variations and create a whole new one. I now have a variation where 2 IFs have Stay Wider, I use AP-A and DLP-S both with Stay Wider. WB-S at DL, CWB-S at DR with Overlaps. The rest of the roles are the same - SK-S, 2 BPD-D, DM-S (hold position) and F9 (moves into channels). 

I have also added Pass Shorter to the front 3. It affects their passing vs dribbling choice a little bit better. 

This has become my go to setup vs conservative opponents and those who play with 3 CBs and WBs. 

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Btw, can anyone recommend a team in EPL to try this approach with? Not Liverpool, City, United, Chelsea or Arsenal. 

I was thinking Leicester. They have some good young players to build around. 

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Posted (edited)
6 minutes ago, yonko said:

Btw, can anyone recommend a team in EPL to try this approach with? Not Liverpool, City, United, Chelsea or Arsenal. 

I was thinking Leicester. They have some good young players to build around. 

How about Norwich FC? I was thinking that you could build a team around someone as technical as Emi Buendia and Todd Cantwell.

Edited by crusadertsar
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6 hours ago, yonko said:

Btw, can anyone recommend a team in EPL to try this approach with? Not Liverpool, City, United, Chelsea or Arsenal. 

I was thinking Leicester. They have some good young players to build around. 

Sheffield United, Norwich , Leicester , Wolves. 

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On 19/06/2020 at 19:25, yonko said:

Ok, so here are all my setups currently in rotation, two of them are experimental - the strikerless ones. 

I've named the tactic "Poetry In Motion" because that is how I describe Barca possession style of play during the Pep era, especially 2010-11 season. 

It's starts with this default tactic:

211742973_PoetryInMotion1.thumb.png.be9c71460611f14db3f483ef07050911.png

Excellent post.

This is very similar to a tactic I have built and am using for my Man City team (2025/26). Mine varies a little in that I don't have Work Ball into Box selected - I just don't like how it seems to restrict things. I also tinker around with my defensive width depending who I am playing and a few different roles, but overall quite similar.

Can I ask what you do when you face either the other top Premier League teams (Liverpool, Man Utd, Chelsea & Arsenal in mine)? Or those top teams in Europe? I struggle sometimes, especially Arsenal (used to manage them and they have a very good team) to get results. Play is encouraging and we generally dominate possession and good chances but very seldom get a win away.

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On 21/06/2020 at 11:32, crusadertsar said:

How about Norwich FC? I was thinking that you could build a team around someone as technical as Emi Buendia and Todd Cantwell.

 

On 21/06/2020 at 18:15, ferrarinseb said:

Sheffield United, Norwich , Leicester , Wolves. 

Thanks for the suggestions guys. I picked Leicester. I developed a soft spot for them during that Cinderella 2015/16 season when they shocked the world (and themselves) by winning the title. Now IRL they are once again playing above expectations and are in 3rd place with Rogers. I'm happy for him getting another chance in the EPL. 

In FM they are a little underrated and predicted to finish 7th. But have good potential and building blocks. I already made a good start with them on the save and beat one of the top 6 teams....away! Dominated them actually. Still early though, only 4 league games but won all 4 of them allowing only one goal in the first game. 

Took me a little bit to figure out the version of the tactic I wanted to use. It's quite a change from Barcelona managing a team like Leicester. :D

For now I will just reveal the name I gave the tactic - Keep It Simple. ;)

 

5 hours ago, davehanson said:

Excellent post.

This is very similar to a tactic I have built and am using for my Man City team (2025/26). Mine varies a little in that I don't have Work Ball into Box selected - I just don't like how it seems to restrict things. I also tinker around with my defensive width depending who I am playing and a few different roles, but overall quite similar.

Can I ask what you do when you face either the other top Premier League teams (Liverpool, Man Utd, Chelsea & Arsenal in mine)? Or those top teams in Europe? I struggle sometimes, especially Arsenal (used to manage them and they have a very good team) to get results. Play is encouraging and we generally dominate possession and good chances but very seldom get a win away.

I think I've mentioned before somewhere my version and adjustments vs big teams. But in case you've missed or it wasn't clear, here it is:

I use Positive Team Mentality instead. Only a few changes to In Possession TIs - remove Lower Tempo and add Dribble Less. 

I use IWs on both flanks. In midfield the roles are DM-D, DLP-S and AP-S. The PIs are - Move Into Channels for F9 and Take More Risks Plus Pass It Shorter for the IWs. 

The reason for the changes is that I want to maintain control of possession as much as possible while also create chances to score. 

Also before games vs big teams I always make sure my best 11 is fresh and ready to play. Training sessions include 2 Match Prep and both Tactical ones - Attacking Shadow Play and Defensive Shadow Play because they are light load seasons which help with conditioning recovery. The Match Prep directly helps with the match. If it's a home match I have Teamwork and Attacking Movement. For away matches I have Defensive Shape and Attacking Movement. For cup finals I have all 3 of those. Team Talks are always with Assertive tone (Passionate gets players sent off I found so I stay away from that) - Pre-Match is "for the fans", at Halftime if I'm not winning I'm disappointed, if winning I say "don't get complacent". During the match I select "demand more" every 15 minutes or so.

Hope that helps. :)

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This thread, especially the first page or 2 on overloads was very inspiring for me. I had been too focused on creating nice symmetrical systems with predominantly support duties (not to say they cannot work, as other people have demonstrated in depth on this forum, I just can't get them to click) and completely forgot about a cornerstone principle for every Guardiola side and all the other great managers who like to dominate their opponent - overload and switch the play. Thankfully the inspiration I received from this thread has guided my Juve side (1st season with them in 2024 after they finished 6th with Sarri) to a complete crushing of last season's title winners, Diego Simeone's Inter. :hammer:

ddG6ktV.png

 

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Posted (edited)

Hey, everyone. I just wanted to share how I did with Leicester in the first season. I finished 3rd in the league and won the FA Cup. 

I used a simplified version on my tactic, which I've nicknamed appropriately as Keep It Simple:

1742225619_keepitsimpletactic.thumb.png.8add5d7d95ea89c1bde8ac0e19c4cd24.png

None of the roles use any PIs. I wanted to stay with the simple approach. 

If I wanted to be more attacking, I would make the following changes:

- remove Work Ball Into Box

- use Attacking Team Mentality

- use 2 IFs and add Overlap instructions 

On the other hand, if I wanted to be more solid and maintain control, I would make the following changes:

- add Dribble Less

- use AP-S instead of MEZ and 2 IW-S

- use Balanced Team Mentality

 

Either way these changes were not done all at once, but gradually one at a time depending on how I analyzed the games were going. I always play matches on 2D and Comprehensive Highlights. Sometimes I got changes right and sometimes I got them wrong.

Overall I'm happy how the season turned out and how the tactic played. The weakness was not scoring enough goals which cost me some points and better finish in the league. The lack of goals wasn't because of lack of chances necessarily. It was more about the quality to convert those chances. Even Vardy missed a lot of point black chances close to the goal. 

Here are some more screenshots of how it all went:

 1618773184_leagueoverview.thumb.png.1a41a4336ef4c608e65f972ab8de3db6.png

1428544853_leaguestandings.thumb.png.d054f9a5737d6f8e82443f79de709def.png

 

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There is one particular game which specifically frustrated me the most. It was an away game at Man United couple of days after the Arsenal win. I lost that game 3-1 to United after taking the lead early on. I lost despite dominating the game. Just look at this:

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Just couldn't finish my chances and they punished me on the counter or set-pieces. Just one of those games. 

Tielemans was the player of the season and I was impressed how many goals he scored as DLP. Pretty much all of his goals were with long shots (he has the trait to shoot) and some screamers too. Interestingly Maddison didn't score as much even though he likes to shoot too. I had him unlearn to come deep and hit free kicks with power (so he uses more technical approach to score more of them). I also had him learn to play killer balls more. Now in the second season I have him learning to get into opposition penalty area. I want more goals from him. 

This tactic is not really designed to get the best of Vardy really but he still managed to be the top scorer. Towards the end of the season his form dipped and Iheanacho's form picked up. 

I'm gonna continue this save because I've made some interesting signings and I want to see how it turns out. You can already see I have Fabio Silva and David Neres in January. Now I also have Telles Magno and Ansu Fati in the team. I'm also trying a more ambitious version of the first season tactic, so I may post more about it.

 

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On 30/06/2020 at 11:03, wixxi said:

This thread, especially the first page or 2 on overloads was very inspiring for me. I had been too focused on creating nice symmetrical systems with predominantly support duties (not to say they cannot work, as other people have demonstrated in depth on this forum, I just can't get them to click) and completely forgot about a cornerstone principle for every Guardiola side and all the other great managers who like to dominate their opponent - overload and switch the play. Thankfully the inspiration I received from this thread has guided my Juve side (1st season with them in 2024 after they finished 6th with Sarri) to a complete crushing of last season's title winners, Diego Simeone's Inter. :hammer:

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Great result mate 👍 If you like overloads then you will like my update on Monday. Almost totally focused on creating nice overloads through clinical use of PPMs and roles. 3rd season blues hit me hard but I'm hoping that a new tactic inspired by 70s Liverpool and Inter will revitalize both my save and thus thread :brock: 

Edited by crusadertsar
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@yonko Thank you for sharing man! That's a really well-tought out tactic. You are doing amazing stuff with Foxes, and in first season! Wow :applause: Can't wait to see how your save continues. I'm a bit jealous haha as none of my previous possession tactics overachieved this much this early on. You might be on to something. Sorry for the late reply, needed to find time to really dig into your post.

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11 hours ago, crusadertsar said:

@yonko Thank you for sharing man! That's a really well-tought out tactic. You are doing amazing stuff with Foxes, and in first season! Wow :applause: Can't wait to see how your save continues. I'm a bit jealous haha as none of my previous possession tactics overachieved this much this early on. You might be on to something. Sorry for the late reply, needed to find time to really dig into your post.

Thank you for the compliments. Second season I'm doing really well. Initially it wasn't so well in the league as I was experimenting with some very ambitious tweaks to the tactic, so I had to dial it back a little bit. :D Still, I'm using a more advanced version of the 1st season tactic - getting some good results and plays on the field. 

In CL group with Barca, Dortmund and Monaco. Surprisingly lost to Monaco first game as I was still experimenting. But then I smashed Barca 3-0 at home and Dortmund 2-0 away, took revenge on Monaco, so I'm leading the group and might win it. Gotta keep in mind that I got some kids I'm developing also - Fati, Telles Magno, Fabio Silva. 

I will update in a few days after I play some more. I like this Leicester save. I'm switching between this one and the one I got with Barca, both in second season. 

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7 hours ago, yonko said:

Thank you for the compliments. Second season I'm doing really well. Initially it wasn't so well in the league as I was experimenting with some very ambitious tweaks to the tactic, so I had to dial it back a little bit. :D Still, I'm using a more advanced version of the 1st season tactic - getting some good results and plays on the field. 

In CL group with Barca, Dortmund and Monaco. Surprisingly lost to Monaco first game as I was still experimenting. But then I smashed Barca 3-0 at home and Dortmund 2-0 away, took revenge on Monaco, so I'm leading the group and might win it. Gotta keep in mind that I got some kids I'm developing also - Fati, Telles Magno, Fabio Silva. 

I will update in a few days after I play some more. I like this Leicester save. I'm switching between this one and the one I got with Barca, both in second season. 

I'm curious what do you do against super defensive sides that park the bus and don't attack you but just want to draw the game. It's weird but teams like that can actually get more possession against me. It's ridiculous. As Benfica those draws have cost me the title two seasons in a row now. I think it's telling when a team easily wins a continental competition like Europa League (was happy to win it on 2nd season :D) but then cannot win it's domestic league. It's really frustrating and I just don't know how to deal with it. I dont care about getting possession but just breaking these sides down and winning. Been trying to focus on my set pieces but didn't help much.

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3 hours ago, crusadertsar said:

I'm curious what do you do against super defensive sides that park the bus and don't attack you but just want to draw the game. It's weird but teams like that can actually get more possession against me. It's ridiculous. As Benfica those draws have cost me the title two seasons in a row now. I think it's telling when a team easily wins a continental competition like Europa League (was happy to win it on 2nd season :D) but then cannot win it's domestic league. It's really frustrating and I just don't know how to deal with it. I dont care about getting possession but just breaking these sides down and winning. Been trying to focus on my set pieces but didn't help much.

This is something I'm currently working on at the minute. Not sure I have the answer yet, but i think much of it lies in out of possession instructions, they recycle the ball (aimlessly?) deep so you need to win it without letting them bypass your front press into their deep midfield

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27 minutes ago, themadsheep2001 said:

This is something I'm currently working on at the minute. Not sure I have the answer yet, but i think much of it lies in out of possession instructions, they recycle the ball (aimlessly?) deep so you need to win it without letting them bypass your front press into their deep midfield

Great to hear that! I can't wait to see what solutions you discover. I've always been more of a Total Football aficionado so right not getting much satisfaction from my saves mainly due to how difficult it got to dominate lesser teams through possession. I mean I can still probably get enjoyment from more direct football or as playing as an underdog moving up the league pyramid, which both seems to work better currently. But that's not really my style. In the meantime will also continue to tinkering also. I'm not going to let this game beat me :cool:

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4 hours ago, crusadertsar said:

I'm curious what do you do against super defensive sides that park the bus and don't attack you but just want to draw the game. It's weird but teams like that can actually get more possession against me. It's ridiculous. As Benfica those draws have cost me the title two seasons in a row now. I think it's telling when a team easily wins a continental competition like Europa League (was happy to win it on 2nd season :D) but then cannot win it's domestic league. It's really frustrating and I just don't know how to deal with it. I dont care about getting possession but just breaking these sides down and winning. Been trying to focus on my set pieces but didn't help much.

 

49 minutes ago, themadsheep2001 said:

This is something I'm currently working on at the minute. Not sure I have the answer yet, but i think much of it lies in out of possession instructions, they recycle the ball (aimlessly?) deep so you need to win it without letting them bypass your front press into their deep midfield

I don't face that problem so much with Leicester yet. Teams are quite open against me and it's easy to get 60-65% possession whilst also creating and scoring goals. Maybe as my team gets more success and grows in reputation, then that would become more of a problem. 

I face this problem much more often with Barcelona on my other save. The way I solve this problem is to use my False 9 to man-mark one of the CB who is the better passer or on the same side as the deepest midfielder (if they use 2 CMs or 2 DMs), especially if that midfielder is a playmaker. In addition to that, I man-mark the deepest midfielder/playmaker with one of my CMs. When I say man-mark I mean select the player's name not his position. 

Against teams who use 3 CBs formations, I man-mark all 3 of them with my ST and AMRL. Alternatively I can change my formation to 3 STC and push my fullbacks to wingback positions (so my wingbacks can close down their wingbacks better). When I do that, the roles flanking the False 9 become CF-S with Stay Wider PI. 

If one of your AMRL is not Accomplished as ST, then you can keep him out side and just use 2 STC - therefore asymmetric formation. If you choose to stay with AMRL on both sides (or one side), then use them as IF-S with Get Forward and Stay Wider PIs. But still man-mark their CBs. 

I suggest you pay attention to the coach of your opposition. If his preferred playing style is Tiki-Taka, Vertical Tiki-Taka or Control Possession, then you are definitely facing someone who will try to keep the ball and use a DLP. 

Warning: If you are facing City or Liverpool DO NOT DO THIS! They will rip you apart. Man-mark their overlapping fullbacks instead and tackle hard their AMRL. Same goes for Real M if Zidane is their coach. 

One last tip: I cannot highlight enough how important Teamwork Match Prep is before matches - it effects Pressing. I use it every week before every match. And if I have to select just one activity because of fixture congestion, then that is what I select. Team Bonding is also very important. So make sure you have it every week when you don't have game on Tuesday/Wednesday. Sometimes when I have midweek game and I have only one full day for practice what I do is Possession (General) - Teamwork - Team Bonding and then Attacking Movement the day before match.  It's all about Teamwork, Pressing, Passing and Movement. :)

Hope that helps :D

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10 hours ago, themadsheep2001 said:

Tbh it's not breaking them down that I have an issue with. I just don't like teams having more possession than me 

I feel the same way. I want to dominate possession, create chances, score and win. :D

So my tips are for that. 

1 hour ago, crusadertsar said:

@yonko Thanks for the tips! I will be sure to test them out

Let me know how it goes. 

Now I'm thinking about Serie A save in Italy. I have a dilemma between Roma save or AC Milan save. Roma have the better young talents but AC Milan is revival of a giant save. Hmmmm.....I know you have done Roma saves before, on FM19 I think. I want a club that I can develop players and can build around. 

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14 minutes ago, yonko said:

I feel the same way. I want to dominate possession, create chances, score and win. :D

So my tips are for that. 

Let me know how it goes. 

Now I'm thinking about Serie A save in Italy. I have a dilemma between Roma save or AC Milan save. Roma have the better young talents but AC Milan is revival of a giant save. Hmmmm.....I know you have done Roma saves before, on FM19 I think. I want a club that I can develop players and can build around. 

Difficult choice. Roma has Nicolo Zaniolo :) IMO Best shadow striker at the start of the game. And also a lightning fast winger and son of one of the greatest Dutch strikers of the modern era. But then AC Milan probably has THE greatest pure striker ever who aged like fine wine. It really depends what kind of story you want to tell. Bring one last shot of glory to the Giant or develop the young wonderkids into world-beaters. Either way you probably can't go wrong. I chose Roma last season because they had more technical forwards for Tiki-Taka style with good passing and holding ball capability, especially Edin Dzeko who is one the best technical targetmen. 

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37 minutes ago, yonko said:

I feel the same way. I want to dominate possession, create chances, score and win. :D

So my tips are for that. 

Let me know how it goes. 

Now I'm thinking about Serie A save in Italy. I have a dilemma between Roma save or AC Milan save. Roma have the better young talents but AC Milan is revival of a giant save. Hmmmm.....I know you have done Roma saves before, on FM19 I think. I want a club that I can develop players and can build around. 

Roma , Lazio, Atalanta , AC Milan would be picks in Serie A 

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Posted (edited)

The writing on my next Total Football Journeyman has finished, mostly. Here is the introduction to what is going to come out tomorrow:

 

THE ENGLISH WAY

What is the English Way? A rather wholesome moniker, suggestive of hot tea and delicious hobnobs on a chilly autumn morning. It's also a good name to encompass the bygone football style of the time and place that was 1970s England. It is not as poetic a term as "Total Football", mainly because some might easily confuse it with the Hoofball "anti-football" that predominated the latter period of 1980s and 90s. But to me the English Way, evokes the great teams of the 1970s like Clough's Nottingham Forest and Paisley's Liverpool. It was a magnificent period in the history of English football when clubs from England ruled the footballing world. It was also a time when the fluid Pass and Move counter-attacking style was associated with English football. So 1970s England is where Total Football Journeyman is heading next. But not before I finish this cup of tea.

0_h_01127839.jpg?fit=662%2C497&ssl=1
Having a nice old cuppa in the Boot Room... and planning how to destroy their next opponent. (Major bonus points if you can name everyone)

For Liverpool, change came in 1973 when facing Red Star Belgrade in European Cup. Red Star played with slick fluid counter-attack style against Bill Shankly's gung-ho "lump it towards the front", very traditional 4-4-2. The long story short, it did not go too well for the Scousers.

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17 hours ago, crusadertsar said:

Difficult choice. Roma has Nicolo Zaniolo :) IMO Best shadow striker at the start of the game. And also a lightning fast winger and son of one of the greatest Dutch strikers of the modern era. But then AC Milan probably has THE greatest pure striker ever who aged like fine wine. It really depends what kind of story you want to tell. Bring one last shot of glory to the Giant or develop the young wonderkids into world-beaters. Either way you probably can't go wrong. I chose Roma last season because they had more technical forwards for Tiki-Taka style with good passing and holding ball capability, especially Edin Dzeko who is one the best technical targetmen. 

Well I don't use Shadow Striker, but Zaniolo is an amazing talent and can make a great Mez or CM-A. It would be a goal to turn him into the Italian Lampard - goalscoring midfielder. Pellegrini looks like a promising playmaker and there is also Kluivert on the wing. Roma has an amazing potential and it would be a fun save. Milan is more of a challenge in general, let alone for Tiki-Taka tactic. I'm leaning towards Roma...for now. 

What are some of the good Italian talents I should be looking to bring into the team?

16 hours ago, ferrarinseb said:

Roma , Lazio, Atalanta , AC Milan would be picks in Serie A 

Well my favorite Italian team is Parma. I fell in love with them in early 90s. But they are a different kind of project. 

13 hours ago, denen123 said:

Florentina and Inter, too.

These are the two teams I dislike the most for some reason. 

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12 hours ago, 04texag said:

Isn't Sebastian Esposito in the Italian leagues?

Esposito is a great shout. He can be developed into a very well-rounded striker to fit almost any system.

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22 hours ago, crusadertsar said:

The writing on my next Total Football Journeyman has finished, mostly. Here is the introduction to what is going to come out tomorrow:

 

THE ENGLISH WAY

What is the English Way? A rather wholesome moniker, suggestive of hot tea and delicious hobnobs on a chilly autumn morning. It's also a good name to encompass the bygone football style of the time and place that was 1970s England. It is not as poetic a term as "Total Football", mainly because some might easily confuse it with the Hoofball "anti-football" that predominated the latter period of 1980s and 90s. But to me the English Way, evokes the great teams of the 1970s like Clough's Nottingham Forest and Paisley's Liverpool. It was a magnificent period in the history of English football when clubs from England ruled the footballing world. It was also a time when the fluid Pass and Move counter-attacking style was associated with English football. So 1970s England is where Total Football Journeyman is heading next. But not before I finish this cup of tea.

0_h_01127839.jpg?fit=662%2C497&ssl=1
Having a nice old cuppa in the Boot Room... and planning how to destroy their next opponent. (Major bonus points if you can name everyone)

For Liverpool, change came in 1973 when facing Red Star Belgrade in European Cup. Red Star played with slick fluid counter-attack style against Bill Shankly's gung-ho "lump it towards the front", very traditional 4-4-2. The long story short, it did not go too well for the Scousers.

Kenny Daglish , Ronnie Moran, Bob Paisely, Ron Evans in order. 

Now where are the Bonus Points :D 

 

Looking forward to your new guide :) 

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3 minutes ago, ferrarinseb said:

Kenny Daglish , Ronnie Moran, Bob Paisely, Ron Evans in order. 

Now where are the Bonus Points :D 

 

Looking forward to your new guide :) 

Haha wow :applause:I'm sending them over as we speak :brock:

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Total Football Journeyman: The English Way

As always, if the pictures or videos don't work you could check out the original article at: https://dictatethegame.com/2020/07/06/total-football-journeyman-the-english-way/

What is the English Way? A rather wholesome moniker, suggestive of hot tea and delicious hobnobs on a chilly autumn morning. It's also a good name to encompass the bygone football style of the time and place that was 1970s England. It is not as poetic a term as "Total Football", mainly because some might easily confuse it with the Hoofball "anti-football" that predominated the latter period of 1980s and 90s. But to me the "English Way", evokes the great teams of the 1970s like Clough's Nottingham Forest and Paisley's Liverpool. It was a magnificent period in the history of English football when clubs from England ruled the footballing world. It was also a time when the fluid Pass and Move counter-attacking style was associated with English football. So 1970s England is where Total Football Journeyman is heading next. But not before I finish this cup of tea.

 

0_h_01127839.jpg?fit=662%2C497&ssl=1 Having a nice old cuppa in the Boot Room... and planning how to destroy their next opponent. (Major bonus points if you can name everyone)

For Liverpool, change came in 1973 when facing Red Star Belgrade in European Cup. Red Star played with slick fluid counter-attack style against Bill Shankly's gung-ho "lump it towards the front", very traditional 4-4-2. The long story short, it did not go too well for the Scousers.

Shankly's Liverpool had no answer to the Yugoslavs' ability to patiently absorb pressure and maintain possession until a decisive break. Clearly something was not working for Liverpool's more direct style when facing the possession-focused, collectivist approach. I like to think that the post-game discussion in the Boot Room must have been rather heated. Later that year Shankly left his post as Liverpool's manager. The transfer of managerial reins to his assistant manager Bob Paisley marked the end of an era. But also the start of something new. It was the beginning of arguably most glorious period in English football. Once again, proving the truth in the old mantra of "if you cannot beat them, join them". Paisley certainly did.

The Glorious Decade

I can hardly think of another country that dominated world football more than England between 1975 and 1985 (the year of the infamous Ban). It was a dominance, largely manifested through its professional clubs, and not so much at the national team stage unfortunately. But nevertheless world dominance it was.

terry-mcdermott.jpg

In the years between 1975 and 1985, English clubs won 7 out of 9 European Cups (present Champions League trophy). The trophies were divided between Liverpool (4), Nottingham Forest (2) and Aston Villa (1) but the record is still amazing. And if not for the 1985 European ban, it might have been even more impressive.

What Tactics?

There's no plan, just give it to John Robertson. He can play.

Nottingham Forest's Brian Clough in reference to his game plan.

That famously dismissive attitude towards complex tactics was not solely the view of Brian Clough. It was shared by that whole generation schooled in 1970s English football. Thinking too hard about tactics was viewed as the domain of Continental football hipsters. At the same time, the idea that you won matches through hard work alone has been a part of English football mentality since the very inception of the game. And you had to attack and keep on attacking. Because that is what entertained the people. Not to say that managers like Bob Paisley and Brian Clough, did not view the game at a more cerebral level. If anything that is probably the furthest from the truth. Both Clough and Paisley were master tacticians.

In fact, Paisley was quick to borrow latest ideas coming from the Continent, and specifically Netherlands. He modelled his training routines after Total Football ideals to encompassed every area of the game from how to keep possession on the ball to hard pressing (called "countering" by Paisley) when the ball was lost. It may not have been Cruyff's Barcelona yet, but Liverpool was still ahead of its time.

Fusion Cuisine

So what changed in the 70s? It was likely the influence of the Dutch philosophy that was taking Europe by storm. Red Star played the way they did, collectively as a team, because they saw Ajax's succeed playing this way. And Liverpool had no choice but to adapt if they ever wanted to capture that elusive European Cup. So Bob Paisley did this by marrying traditional English workrate with a supreme technicality that only a club like Liverpool could afford. So the team he picked could work their socks off just as easily as they could pass their way exquisitely through most opponents.

Even-though Clough's and Paisley's sides were so influential in defining English Football, they were actually the outliers of their league. Both managers turned their respective teams into dynamic, passing outfits, at the time when this was far from the case in the rest of English football. And this is probably why they were so successful. Liverpool was playing on a whole different level from their domestic competition. They were like wolves among sheep. Wolves that could pass and move... move and pass. It was like poetry in motion, that was sometimes quite devastating for Liverpool's opponents. I think the following classic speaks better than a thousand words.

Here what turned into an infamous day for Everton supporters, was a moment of glory for Liverpool's Ian Rush. His unprecedented haul 4 Merseyside Derby goals in a single match was never repeated.

This video illustrates perfectly how Paisley's Liverpool could use their possession to lull their opponent, create an overload and then launch a lightning fast counter. Thus in a very short time, the Liverpool side integrated the lesson learned from the Yugoslavs very well. Most importantly Paisley took the old and tested English 4-4-2 formation and started using it in novel ways. So while on paper it still looked like Liverpool lined up in the classic 4-4-2, on the field it turned into a whole other beast, more suggestive of the modern 4-2-3-1. And every player held a key role. As you can see below, in transition, there would not be much difference between 4-4-2 and 4-2-3-1, especially because one of the forwards would always start deeper than Rush or Heighway. While Keegan was the stereotypical Target Man, Dalglish was a different beast, operating more like a shadow striker.

1679-1.png 4-4-2 or 4-2-3-1?

Refining the old 4-4-2

Bob Paisley was players' manager through and through. He would do anything for his team and his players. This fact was immortalized in his statue (and the photo it was based on) outside of Anfield. Not every manager would carry their injured player off the field, as Paisley did with future Reds captain Emlyn Hughes.

EPiNvH4WsAAt66R.jpg?fit=662%2C883&ssl=1

He carried this approach into his tactics as well, where he viewed football as the players game. Not an inhumanly mechanical system of tactical instructions pushing the people around like some interchangeable cogs in the machine. Rather he viewed the game as very personal. The exact personnel you had defined how your team would play. Thus firstly you needed to pick a team of highly-technical, determined and hard-working team-players. Then put them in a formation that would allow them to use space to its maximum. It is a very Total Football-like idea that the space liberated by one player should be filled by another one. And when one player passes the ball, the other has to move to receive it. This is how fluidity is created, when you have a team of like-minded individuals acting with one mind.

Once you achieve that by molding the team to your system, anything is possible, and especially beautiful flowing moves like in this clip.

Keeping the above in mind, I will try my best to strip the layers of tactical complexity from this tactic. The goal is really to try to put the highlight on the players in this system. As you can see in the clip above, the aim is to create a fluid style while keeping tactical simplicity. It is by no means meant to be a faithful recreation of that particular Liverpool tactic. Besides, other than its general shape and style, we don't have much detailed information about specific roles or instructions. Paisley really just put his players in the general formation of two attackers supported by two banks of four. He chose his players painstakingly and then let them do what they were best at.

Thus I would keep the instructions to a minimum, only using those necessary for the disciplined, hard-working, style. Then you need to look at the general player archetypes you will need for each position on the field. The main aim of this tactical experiment is to see whether I could have my players using space more smartly. That is I want every meter of the field, used by one of my players. Also, if a player liberates an area for whatever reason (to attack or to chase the ball) I want another one to fill that space. To achieve this, it's best to go to the basics and think of how each role typically moves and behaves.

For example lets say you have a traditional winger pushing high and hugging the left side-line. Then it would be perfect to have a mezzala move into the left half-space opened up by your winger's movement. At the same time you could play an inverted wingback on the same side as that mezzala. Then IWB could move into the space liberated by the mezzala and offer defensive cover. It all seems rather simple. It only gets complicated when you have to do this for all 10 outfield players in your formation. At the same time, we need to keep tactical instructions to an bare minimum allowing the roles to stick to their natural tendencies.

Untitled4.png?fit=662%2C372&ssl=1

Once a good balance in attack and defence is achieved, some nice things are possible even against the best teams. And while the tactic has been doing rather well in my long-standing Real Sociedad save, it can probably kick on even better with the right set of players. So definitely much more experimentation is in order.

In keeping with minimalist philosophy of 1970s English football, the theme for this tactic is "keeping it simple". The only instructions I include from the start are the ones absolutely necessary to define the style. The rest will be situational. It is definitively the case of the overall system taking precedence over the tactical details. To achieve the fluid counter-attacks of Liverpool during Paisley's era, you would need the right set of players. That is most important and I will discuss it at length in this and future articles. But first the System.

The Nitty-Gritty

Here is another example a team play where almost all of our players were involved in passing. The passing is done at speed so it only takes about 20 seconds from our keeper's initial throw to the attempt at the opposition goal. It really should have resulted in a goal.

So as a short recap of what I want to achieve with my "English style" is a type of fluid counter-attacking football with the emphasis on strategic possession and teamwork. I am not looking for defensive football. That is not really viable with a Top-6 clubs I have been testing this with. Rather I am after a Total Control style that is both strong in attack and defence. It should include:

  1. Limited split block pressing, which is still relatively intense, from 4-5 specific positions. My aim is not for universal geggenpressing. I still want my defenders to keep a structured shape in the back.
  2. Vertical positional play to recreate Liverpool's "Move and Pass style". Here is where my role selection comes into play to ensure a good balance of passers, holders and runners. I don't want the ball to gravitate to a specific side of the field and stay there needlessly. Or for my attack to peter out in its build up phase, allowing the opposition to prepare their defences.
  3. On the other hand creating strategic overloads that attract opposition press are welcome. The goal is always to release my attacking players through direct side-switching passes and one-twos. This is the fast counter-attacking part of the strategy.
  4. In the end I am looking to play quick, attractive football using the classic English 4-4-2 formation. In defensive phase at least. And while possession is welcome, it is not the objective. What I want is to score more goals than the opposition. And to keep a clean sheet as much as possible. I do not care so much if we win by 1 or by 5 goals. I guess my inner Mourinho is finally winning over.

In terms of instructions I selected the ones I thought would help us achieve the proper level of aggression from the whole team. In this, 1970s Liverpool was not all that different from Klopp's Liverpool. Paisley did not talk about "pressing" but rather "countering". All the forwards, and even some midfielders, were instructed to heavily pressure the opposition while the defenders mostly kept their disciplined shape. Working hard was not seen as a dirty word. Yet Liverpool were no Wimbledon "Crazy Gang". Paisley got everybody working hard and channeling their aggression creatively. But they also were very technical and could REALLY play. Again much like Klopp's current team.

Keeping a clean sheet started with your front men being your first line of defence. And playing attacking football meant your defenders had to be your first line of attack. It's not rocket science.

Tony Woodcock

In the game, the above can be conveyed easiest by setting up the split block on your 4-5 most advanced players. That is by telling them to press more urgently (via "close down more" PI). Also much higher defensive line and only higher line of engagement contribute to vertical compactness and a closer distance between the defence and attack. This becomes key when trying to play out defence as the passing distance between my DMs and wingers becomes shorter and less risky. To further ensure that we stay compact in both defence and attack, I add defend narrower and attack narrower (or very narrow) instructions.

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Similarly, counterpress and higher tempo are needed to define the vertical nature of the tactic. Paisley's system was probably one of the earliest forms of what we currently call Vertical Tiki-Taka. Or Dutch Total Football if you will. When the ball is regained, the team must not waste possession passing it sideways and backwards endlessly. At the same time I use work ball into box and play out of defence to temper the tactic's directness somewhat and prevent the attack from becoming too direct and bypassing my free playmaker role. But once the ball is in the final third, the attack must come decisively and precisely. There is no time to lose, particularly when facing a parked bus.

P.S. I should also add offside trap simply because it compliments my high defensive line. Play through the middle is there to make sure that my DLP operates at a higher mentality (Balanced on Defend duty and Positive on Support). It's generally a good idea to have your playmakers play on a higher mentality to ensure more pro-active and aggressive decisions from them. Again this is to improve our vertical penetration. Mark tighter is a bit tricky and should be used with caution. My general rule of thumb is only to use it if you have players for it. Meaning players who are fast and on average possess good levels of marking attribute. Since my attacker have less than average marking, I will hold off on it.

The Gamechanger - The Free Role

The choice of the club for this step in my Total Football Journey was rather difficult initially, but in the end I settled on Arsenal. It was not because it was an English club, but because they possessed one special player, who I think will become integral to my 4-4-2 Total Football system.

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In the two formations above, the instructions (which I already discussed) are exactly the same. The main difference comes in the positioning of my "Free Role" player, Mesut Ozil. While his starting position will differ, the amount of space available for Ozil to exploit is the advantage in both tactics. One of the main objectives in the future testing is to see how this exceptional player performs when the formation is built around giving him ideal room to operate.

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And here are a few other things I hope to see during my initial testing:

  • Granit Xhaka will drop deep during the build-up, allowing the left-back (Saka or Kolasinac) to bomb aggressively as a veritable winger in all but name.
  • Playing beside Xhaka is David Luiz, BPD, who should use his great passing range to play long diagonals. Luiz excelled in Antonio Conte’s 5-2-3 at Chelsea before he brought his unique skillset into Arteta's Arsenal. He is another key element in creating verticality in my tactic.
  • Bellerin's right-back role might still change from Defend to Support duty as testing continues. IWB on Defend could be a bit too conservative, as I require the Spaniard to provide support in midfield after Xhaka becomes our 3rd centreback.
  • The right-back and a right defensive midfielder (Guendouzi or Ceballos) will contribute to attack build-up by offering passing options and sometimes sending the ball directly to Arsenal's forwards.
  • Whether we have Aubameyang or Ozil (as Wide Playmaker) cutting inside with or without the ball, their movement should pull the opposition right-back inside, creating space for the Gunners' left-back to bomb forward.
  • In both tactics, Ozil will operate between the lines and have the full freedom to roam around and create. I am planning to use the Wide Playmaker version for games where the opponent uses one or more Defensive Midfielders to mark Trequartista Ozil out of the game.

Final Note to The Reader

So aside from the half season with mid-level Sociedad (which is going rather well as we are sitting comfortably in 5th place), I have not done real testing with a more reputable club with better players. Arsenal are such a club. The Gunners can be a real contender from the get-go, so it should make for an interesting test. And besides, there has not been a version of Football Manager where I have not had an Arsenal save. If reading this inspired you to try something similar then you are welcome to grab the two tactic downloads below. Just please keep in mind that "Pass and Move" System is still a work in progress. The roles are not set in stone, and I will certainly be tinkering with them. But perhaps you could draw your own conclusions, and adjustments. I would be happy to hear about them.

4-2-2-2 Tactic: https://ufile.io/v22edssj

4-2-3-1 Tactic: https://ufile.io/rr0f5y3s

Now I am finally signing off to the sound of this great jingle from the Boot Room Boys. Its lyrics say it best: "Pass and move, we are talking Total Football!"

Go Robbie, go Robbie!
 

 

Edited by crusadertsar
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I’m playing as arsenal and I’ll like to try your set up when do you use the 2 tactics and do you play Pepe as the wide midfielder? Love what you’re doing with this series it’s really good 

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40 minutes ago, Amazingortega said:

I’m playing as arsenal and I’ll like to try your set up when do you use the 2 tactics and do you play Pepe as the wide midfielder? Love what you’re doing with this series it’s really good 

Thanks for reading man! I haven't tried it with Arsenal yet but the way I've been using the two with Real Sociedad is depending on whether AI uses a DM. So for DM formations I use the WP version and for the rest I use the Treq version. And yes I think Pepe would do great on the right side as the winger/wm on attack. He has perfect PPMs for it.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Posted (edited)
Total Football on a Budget, is it possible?
 
The original article can be found here:

So far in my Total Football Journeyman series, I had covered some pretty great historic teams like Ajax, Barcelona, and Liverpool. But I feel that in recounting the stories of these giants, I lost track of something important. All those sides played beautiful fluid football but were already established world-class clubs. Yet the question remains, can a Total Football style be achieved by a club that is good but not world-class? And can Total Football be achieved on a budget? To answer this I will go back in time a decade to 2011. This was the year when Barcelona, Manchester United, and AC Milan were the champions of their respective leagues while a little team called Les Dogues shocked France by breaking the duopoly of Lyon and Marseille. And they did it in style.

 

Before I had the idea for this article's topic, I planned to either write about Viktor Maslov's Dynamo Kiev from 1960s or Brazil's 1970 World Cup winning team. Maslov's was a pioneer pressing side with an innovative, for its time, 4-4-2 shape. And the Brazilians, arguably the best team ever assembled. But on second thought I realized that enough has been written about both topics. And Jonathan Wilson did it far better than I ever could in his seminal "Inverting the Pyramid". In fact, there are whole chapters devoted to both teams in this amazing book. So I decided to look for a Total Football story that did not already have so much coverage.

The French Dark Horse

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Also I was looking to emulate a manager who is not as well known as my usual suspects, Guardiola, Cruyff or Bielsa. The name of Rudi Garcia, the current manager of Olympique Lyonnais, came to mind. He does not have many articles written about him although I think he should. Not every manager can boast three French Manager of the Year awards, having achieved one league double and one Europa League runner-up.

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It's a shame because the story of Rudi Garcia's Lille has all the makings of a blockbuster. What's more interesting than a story about a team that overcame all odds and were crowned champions of France in 2011? Perhaps a team that played beautifully while operating on a shoestring budget? So lets find out about how that Lille formation worked and about its players. And more importantly lets see how you can play some beautiful Total Football in FM20 without actually being a world-class club.

When Rudi Garcia got the job managing AS Roma, he not only brought his star player Gervinho, but also his title-winning formation. Unfortunately, the 4-3-3 (or 4-1-2-3 DM) that brought a domestic double to Lille and crowned Garcia as the French Manager of the Year was not as successful in the sunny Italian capital. It just goes to show that in real life as in Football Manager, plug-and-play tactics don't usually work. It is the specific collection of players on the field that makes a successful tactic. The magic formula. So what made that team from the small, cold city in northern France so good?

479d8c88057db68708586fd8978d99bb4c2becc1 Rudi Garcia - manager who combines both Guardiola's style and Simeone's dogged attitude. And in a tactical sense too.

Dynamic Attack

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What drew me towards Lille in FM20, was above all its youthful squad full of potential. Wonderkids like Victor Osimhen, Jonathan Ikone and Timothy Weah definitely stand out. They can all develop into world-class player bound to dominate European football for years to come. I am even going to go out on a limb in stating that the current Lille OSC First Teamis better than the one in 2010.

In some positions the current Lille squad mirrors that legendary 2010 side. While in others not so much. For instance, lets look at the central striker position.

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In the screen above, you can see Moussa Sow as he appeared in FM12. One year after leaving Lille, he presents a picture of a very physical, yet versatile striker in his prime. These are qualities with which he led the line of attack from his central striker position. The current frontman is Victor Osimhen. He has remarkably similar attribute profile to Sow. But his main advantage is his age. Unlike Sow, he still has plenty of potential to grow into a more complete striker. Below is how Victor looks just a few months into 2019-2020 season. The hints of a well-rounder striker who will be much better than Sow are already starting to show.

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On the right Garcia usually used the up-and-coming Ivory Coast star, Gervinho. At 23 years old, he had already reached his prime. Interestingly his attributes have not changed that much over the last 10 years. He is currently terrorizing defenders in Italian Serie A. And still known for his blistering quick acceleration and tricky running. Also due to his excellent ball control, agility and sudden bursts of energy, Garcia had him cutting inside from the right. He also moved centrally to the edge of attack just next to the central striker. This movement coupled with the left winger dropping much deeper into the traditional #10 slot between midfield and attack. It was almost as if Lille transformed into 4-1-2-1-2 when in attacking phase.

Untitled3.png Gervinho, still as great as 10 years ago

Of the current batch of Lille attackers, the one that approaches Gervinho the closest is the wonderkid Jonathan Ikone. The Frenchman, similarly pacey and tricky dribbler, also prefers to cut inside to attack. And he looks like he could become even better than Gervinho. Unlike Gervinho, he is stronger mentally, being a much more hard-working team player. In every one of my previous FM20 saves, he earned a move to a bigger European side within a year. So it will take some effort from you as a manager to keep him at Lille. Just look at those attributes! Jonathan has been been absolutely deadly for us in the Champions League, scoring in big games against Borussia and Barcelona.

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Going back to 2010 again, on the left wing, there was of course the boy wonder, Eden Hazard. I do not think I need to say more to introduce him. Except that he was undoubtedly the crowning jewel in that Lille team. Even at 19 year old he was already showing signs of being one in the generation type of talent.

EdenHazardOverview_Profile-2.png Belgian Messi

Hazard was touted as some kind of Belgian Messi, especially due to his unbelievable pace, dribbling and creativity. While he never truly developed to the same level as Messi perhaps, he still turned into one of the best attacking playmakers in Europe. Rudi Garcia was very lucky to have his services in that defining season. For as we know in retrospect the diminutive Belgian wonderkid would not stay in France long, moving on to foreign coasts and greater things. Finding his equivalent now will be tricky, but I have a few ideas already.

The Pressing Game and Midfield Trio Roles

As I mentioned earlier, Garcia's Lille's played more like a narrow 4-1-2-1-2 (or even 3-2-5 in-possession) than a typical 4-3-3 that it was supposed to be on paper.

Fm6r7JJ.png

This was due to the movement of Eden Hazard, who cut into the zone between the strikers and midfielders. At the same time the right winger, Gervinho moved forward and narrow to join Sow at the front. And the two wingbacks got involved in attack by bombing forward and wide almost like wingers, or old-fashioned Brazilian wingbacks. While Emerson (playing like a true-to-name Brazilian wingback) was probably the more attacking of the two, both him and young Debuchy would often reach the byline and ping crosses and lay-offs to the strikers and central midfielders. 

And speaking of the central midfielders, they were key in Garcia's formation. There was Mavuba - the more defensive holding midfielder and the two supporting midfielders, Cabaye and Balmont. The key aspect of the formation was that when these two more offensive players pushed forward and got involved in high pressing (defending from the front if you will) the defensive holder had to stay back and help the centrebacks. It provided balance in what was otherwise a rather aggressive attacking formation. Something not that different to how the midfield worked in Sarri's Vertical Tiki Taka at Napoli a decade later. 

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Thus relatively High Line of Defence and High Engagement Line were essential to Lille's game plan. It helped that the two central midfielders were very technical. But it was their high workrate that mattered more. So even if they got high up the field, they would also get back when defending. Garcia's Lille was a very hard-working team. Starting with the forwards and the central midfielders, the whole team pressed hard and tried to meet opposition's attack high up the field. The pressing started in the opponent’s half. Thus I chose extremely urgent closing down to compliment our High DL and LOE. 

As a holding midfielder, Mavuba was hands down the hardest working one. Firstly, he focused on covering the central position in front of and between the central defenders. Such as when the central defenders went high and wide to help support the full-backs. Secondly, he needed to provide a creative link between the defence and midfield, as well as the occasional long ball to the forwards. The main source of verticality in the formation will be coming from this role. Some might think that the half-back role might be more suitable here but I currently prefer the greater creativity that DLP (even on Defend duty) brings to the team. Especially with a player like Xeka in the position. 

Xeka.png?fit=662%2C372&ssl=1

To me the role of Balmont is better recreated as a dynamic Mezzala, because I envision him as player that needed to get high up to press and support the right fullback. But also he needed to be more pro-active and attack-oriented to help with the attack. He did this by moving into the right half-space and staying closer to the opposition penalty area. A bit like Guardiola's hybrid Free Eight role. 

The Joker

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At 2010 Lille, Cabaye was also this type of Free Eight role that created from the front and pressed relentlessly. He was definitely more creative of the two, thus I chose Advanced Playmaker(Attack) to recreate him. Rather than a RPM or DLP. I neither wanted my "Cabaye" player to roam around too much or be too static, holding his position. 

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Yucuf Yazici, of current Lille squad, was my perfect Cabaye. He already has 5 assists two months into our campaign. And he might have even developed into a better player than Cabaye. Until this happened on one fateful night in October. 

Injuredd.png?fit=662%2C372&ssl=1 Absolutely devastating

I never like to write off a young player due to long-term injury... but 10 months does seem kind of long. Oh well, only time will tell. But for now... Good Bye Yucuf, I hardly even knew you.  

So the search is on for Yucuf's replacement and my "Cabaye" successor. Or do I even need to use a "successor"? Maybe not. Not when the original is still around and kicking.

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How was I able to get him third of the way into the season and between the two transfer windows?

French rules allow clubs in Le Championnat to sign a player out of the regular transfer window and this is referred to as a joker - although each club is only allowed one.

Definition of The Joker Transfer Window, Wikipedia

Thank God for The French League 1 Joker Transfer rule, as our season might still turn out alright. So the club legend, Cabaye is back! And just look at those attributes and traits! And besides being a great mentor for the youngsters, he only cost me 1.5 million. Now if only we could somehow get Hazard back, before he completely loses his legs from age.

Total Football on a Budget

Transfer.png

So sticking to my original plan, I am trying not to overspend with Lille. 5.5 million so far. Although as you can see, Olympiakos has another 4.5 million owed in 50 games. But I love those kind of transfer clauses since it allows me to control how many games Tsimikas will play, before I need to pay the rest. So essentially I can choose not to pay his full price for another year, or more. So a player like Tsimikas for less than 5 million up front is actually a pretty good deal. Especially if you consider his attributes. This Greek International is probably one of the best cheap Complete Wingback options available at the start of the game.

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Results

The far more satisfying part of this equation is in the kinds of results we have been getting after this seemingly meager investment.

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I was starting to think that my Borussia victory was going to be the sole highlight in that uber-hard Champions League Group G, but then this happened at Camp Nou, of all places:

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And before we knew it, we topped our group and are moving to the next stage. It's also interesting to note that we finished the match shorthanded after Bamba got a red card in the last 20 minutes. Finally, this goal by the player of the match, Ikone, is probably the finest sliding goals I have seen in all my saves with FM20. Enjoy:

In The Next Article

So in my next update, I will continue to explore how the rest of the current Lille squad measures up to that historic 2010-11 side. I will also expand further on the "Hazard role" and who I see as my best alternative for it. And of course I will show how this recreation of Rudi Garcia's 4-3-3 tactic holds up for the rest of the season. My objective for this save is simple. Prove that you don't need to overthink and use a gazillion of team instructions to achieve a fluid, short-passing style. In this, I was inspired by a guy on a forum who while managing FC Kaiserslautern was able to be successful with a simple, hands-off tactical approach. That is by trying to keep the team and player instructions minimal and making no tactical changes, except subs, during matches. So let us see how far it takes Lille.

Tactic.png How my formation looks mid-way through the season. The roles are more or less solidified. The TIs might still change as I tinker to achieve maximum efficiency.

Here is my tactic'a download link for you guys to try: https://ufile.io/2cia078q

So what do you think? Is Total Football possible in FM20 without a budget of Manchester City or without min-maxing every decision like Pep Guardiola? Let me know in the comments below. 

 

 

Edited by crusadertsar
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Posted (edited)

I guess the other thing that I should mention is that the Barca game was somewhat bittersweet. The reason why John Bamba was ejected was that he did a really bad number :herman:on Lionel Messi.

Leo will be out for at least 3 months due to a torn thigh muscle. I really like him, even as a virtual player so hopefully he recovers not too badly.

Maybe Get Stuck In is a bit too much for this tactic. Especially when coupled with a very hard working, determined squad. It's sure nice to beat Barca 4-2 at their own stadium, but I don't want us to turn into the second coming of Wimbledon "Crazy Gang" :lol:

Edited by crusadertsar
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2 hours ago, Vico Vito Pep said:

I'm definitely a proponent of simple tactics @crusadertsar. The only TI that never seemed to work for me was Hold-Shape...which is something I noticed works great with Serie A clubs but not necessarily for Bundesliga for some reason...

Hold Shape works in Spain, England and Italy. It wouldn't make sense for it not to work in Germany. I doubt that it's the instruction by itself. What's different in the way teams play in the Bundesliga compared to other major leagues? 

Btw, this prompts me to ask for recommendation for a Bundesliga team to try my tactic with. @crusadertsar Exclude Bayern M and Dortmund for obvious reasons. 

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Posted (edited)

What I'm finding is that French Top league is a much more "open" league than Italy, or even England. Much less teams playing very defensive tactics. Could be because of how the starting managers are coded or just more equivalent level of competition (outside of PSG). @Vico Vito Pepbut inherently I don't think one instruction will work better than another in a specific league. Maybe you just don't do well against teams that press hard? 

 @yonko I expect Germany to be similar to France although I haven't played there much this year. In Germany, equivalent team to try this would probably be Bayer Leverkusen or Borussia Monchengladback. Both have their share of very hard working, technical players but neither is a worldclass club. Monchengladback probably more so.

 

Edited by crusadertsar
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1 hour ago, crusadertsar said:

What I'm finding is that French Top league is a much more "open" league than Italy, or even England. Much less teams playing very defensive tactics. Could be because of how the starting managers are coded or just more equivalent level of competition (outside of PSG). @Vico Vito Pepbut inherently I don't think one instruction will work better than another in a specific league. Maybe you just don't do well against teams that press hard? 

 @yonko I expect Germany to be similar to France although I haven't played there much this year. In Germany, equivalent team to try this would probably be Bayer Leverkusen or Borussia Monchengladback. Both have their share of very hard working, technical players but neither is a worldclass club. Monchengladback probably more so.

 

Generally no... tend to not use Hold Shape much in my tactics anyhow since it was an option in FM19.. I've found that when I've played with Gladbach, teams that press hard (e.g. apart from the top 2..RBL B04 Freiburg) give them trouble in FM20...like in real life! Lol.....Much depends on how well you develop Zakaria & Neuhaus being mentored by Christoph Kramer (who's a favorite DM to use in most Bundesliga Club saves since FM15 or earlier) One transfer I did pursue was getting Dominik Szoboszlai from Salzburg to add more depth to the midfield corps. Ginter-Elvedi is as solid a CD partnership as it gets in Germany. 

When I've used Roma or Sevilla, not so many issues.   

 

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15 hours ago, Vico Vito Pep said:

Generally no... tend to not use Hold Shape much in my tactics anyhow since it was an option in FM19.. I've found that when I've played with Gladbach, teams that press hard (e.g. apart from the top 2..RBL B04 Freiburg) give them trouble in FM20...like in real life! Lol.....Much depends on how well you develop Zakaria & Neuhaus being mentored by Christoph Kramer (who's a favorite DM to use in most Bundesliga Club saves since FM15 or earlier) One transfer I did pursue was getting Dominik Szoboszlai from Salzburg to add more depth to the midfield corps. Ginter-Elvedi is as solid a CD partnership as it gets in Germany. 

When I've used Roma or Sevilla, not so many issues.   

 

I don't think Hold Shape has anything to do with being pressured by opposition. In theory it should actually help as players hold their positions while transitioning to attack, rather than rushing into attacking positions and further away from each other/the ball. Maybe you needed to use higher tempo so players move the ball quicker. 

Just curious to see all the tactic and instructions you were using that led you to believe the problem is Hold Shape. 

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On 25/07/2020 at 09:42, yonko said:

I don't think Hold Shape has anything to do with being pressured by opposition. In theory it should actually help as players hold their positions while transitioning to attack, rather than rushing into attacking positions and further away from each other/the ball. Maybe you needed to use higher tempo so players move the ball quicker. 

Just curious to see all the tactic and instructions you were using that led you to believe the problem is Hold Shape. 

All I was saying is that I didn't like how it worked on my Gladbach save when I used a emulated Gasperini tactic that had TI Hold Shape. Stuck with a more Rose tactic (actually @crusadertsar Total Football 4-3-3 emulating Barca in 2010s has worked splendidly with this squad) 

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2 hours ago, Vico Vito Pep said:

All I was saying is that I didn't like how it worked on my Gladbach save when I used a emulated Gasperini tactic that had TI Hold Shape. Stuck with a more Rose tactic (actually @crusadertsar Total Football 4-3-3 emulating Barca in 2010s has worked splendidly with this squad) 

Ok I'm interested to know more details and reasons why. What was the overall setup? Is the emulated Gaperini tactic a possession tactic? I haven't followed any threads about his tactical style so I'm not familiar.  

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