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kiwityke1983

Can we pass it, yes we can!

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I thought I'd write a bit about my last season in FM19 where I was forced via club philosophies to totally change how I'd normally operate at the lowest levels. 

I've tried to lay it out step by step and my thoughts behind every decision. 

Background

I had been Cobh Ramblers manager for 4.5 years employing a direct counter attacking style (my usual tactic when playing LLM) with various shapes to moderate success. We had one promotion and avoided relegation. I was offered an interesting job in the National South with Eastleigh which I accepted. 

The Brief

Reach the play offs whilst playing a possession based attacking style whilst signing youngsters for the first team (all club philosophies demanded by the chairman in the interview). 

Eastleigh were professional, spending the 2nd most in the league on wages and had finished mid-table for 3 seasons in a row (mainly due to trying and failing to play the way the Chairman wanted) . The media predicted the squad would finish 4th.

So most teams will probably sit deep and defend trying to hit us on the counter. This will affect how I set my team up. 

The shape 

The obvious answers here are:

4-2-3-1

4-1-4-1

4-2-2-1 wide

The squad

A quick look at the squad told me we had 2 good centre halves, 4 good fullbacks. 1 good and 1 decent DM, 2 good Central mids, and 1 good striker, everyone else was awful or decent back up material. 

We have 3k in wages and 0 transfer funds. 

Filling the gaps

Having looked at the loan market and taking around 30 free transfers on trial 2 wingers and 2 strikers were signed on free transfers. 

Only issue was neither of the wingers was comfortable playing in the AML/R positions. 

Tactical instructions

First things first we need to play attacking football as part of the clubs philosophies. So we need to play with an attacking or positive mentality. I've chosen positive for 2 reasons, firstly I've never had much luck with an attacking one and secondly we also need to play a possession based system and attacking will see players playing with too much haste and vim. 

I've decided against playing out of defence as the team just doesn't have defenders capable of doing it. I'll chose roles that give us a compromise situation which should work.

I have however decided to work the ball into the box and dribble less. These should make the players a little more cautious when passing the ball around giving us more possession. I've also chosen shorter passing. 

I've also decided to pass the ball into space. Although this seems a bit illogical, I want the team to counter and use the pace and decent off the ball stats of my wingers and strikers. I also don't want possession for possessions sake. This should give us some penetration as well as possession. 

In transition we will counter press and counter attack. Counter press to win the ball back as soon as possible and increase or possession. Plus counter attack because I like counter attacking essentially. The goalkeeper will also be encouraged to roll the ball out to the centre backs and fullbacks. Two reasons for this, firstly his kicking isn't great and secondly in conjunction with the keepers chosen role to encourage the team to play from the back without actually telling them to. 

Defensively we will push higher up and close down higher too both 1 notch from maximum, closing down will be the most intense. All of these should suit both attacking and possession based football. 

As my strikers are all fast and have decent off the ball stats I will hit low crosses for them to get on the end of. 

The shape revisited and roles

Due to the fact we have nobody really that capable or comfortable to play in the AMR/L positions I've decided we will play mainly in a 4-4-2 setup, with a 4-1-2-2-1 wide tactic also setup as back up. 

The roles will be identical for both tactics bar a DMC will be swapped for a striker. 

Goalkeeper 

I have two choices here a sweeper keeper or just a bog standard GK. Having foregone playing out from back I go for a sweeper keeper here on defend. The thinking behind this is I want the keeper to start pass the ball out and not give it away cheaply, so we can build from the back. In conjunction with roll it out to the centre backs and fullbacks the defend mentality should cover for his lack of suitable technical attributes for the role. 

Centre backs

Again we have a choice here between a straight central defender and ball playing ones. No nonsense centreback is essentially ruled out even though its by far the most suitable choice for the players we have, because we need to play from back and retain possession as much as we can. I decide a pair of centre backs is the best choice as ball playing defenders is just far too risky with the players we have. Plus the odd long ball forward will be handy with the striker combinations I have in mind. 

Left flank

The left back will be a fullback with a defend mentality. Again chosen as it offers a player who's less likely to just hoof it than the more suitable no nonsense fullback and less risky than a Wingback. The defend mentality was chosen to offer a bit more defensive stability due to roles on the right. 

The midfield left will be a winger with an attack mentality. I want some width in the team on both flanks and this offers that in conjunction with the leftback who won't venture too far forward with a defend duty. 

Right flank

The right back will offer the width on the right as I have other plans for the winger here. Therefore he'll be a fullback with an attacking mentality. Wingback is again discarded as being too attacking in favour of a more moderate yet still attacking role. 

The right midfielder will be an inverted winger with an attacking mentality. As we are playing a 442 we have nobody in the Amc strata. Using this role should give us someone floating into that space whilst the fullback offers width outside him. 

The central midfield

Here we have many options but I've gone for a box to box midfielder and a carillero. A carillero as I think the ball winning midfielder is just too aggressive and will leave too much space behind us as we have no Dmc. A BMB as I want someone to offer both defensive solidity and get forward. I didn't go with a playmaker as I don't want a ball magnet in my midfield. It makes us too predictable due to the players poor technical ability and would be a risk with no cover behind him. 

The strikers

A poacher and a pressing forward both on attacking mentalities. One to tap Em in and another to press the centre backs. I've gone for both with an attacking mentality as all of my strikers are fast and have decent off the ball attributes but woeful passing ones. So are a bit pointless dropping in the hole. And I want them to sit on the defences shoulder/sit in the box waiting for tập ins. 

 

Anyway this is getting way too LONG SO I'll leave it here and update with how it all went (TLDR very well) and what ideas I've got to improve the issues I encountered later (If anyone's interested of course). 

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I’m just thinking about your left flank. With the FB on defend and the winger on attack there might be quite a large gap between the 2. Since he won’t be playing risky passes if he is too isolated he might have no option than just to hoof it. 

This might not be the case but you will have to see how this plays out on the pitch. Having the Carillero as your left CM could help as he should pull wider to fill the gap between FB and winger. 

Id be slightly concerned with 2 attack duties on the right. I might choose to put the right CM on defend for a bit more protection. Again though, you will need to watch games to determine if it is genuinely a problem or not. 

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Very cool that you took up the challenge that was sort of forced on you. Three issues regarding your tactic:

- carillero role is hard coded for tactics without anyone in am r/l or m r/l so in your tactic he wont work properly. I assume he d behave more or less like ordinary cms.

- as @AFCBeer mentioned your left flank might have too much if a gap, if so I d recommend changing fbd to wbd. Wbd is actually quite conservative and if your player is fast enough than his positioning a little high up the pitch wont hurt.

- Im not sure about the roles for strikers because actually right now both of them are tap in specialists. Both of them stay in the box and neither of them moves into channels. If their off the ball is so good than I d try dlfs - p combination or maybe pfs - afa.

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2 hours ago, AFCBeer said:

I’m just thinking about your left flank. With the FB on defend and the winger on attack there might be quite a large gap between the 2. Since he won’t be playing risky passes if he is too isolated he might have no option than just to hoof it. 

This might not be the case but you will have to see how this plays out on the pitch. Having the Carillero as your left CM could help. 

I never noticed this in the highlights as being a huge problem as we were usually so far up the field. One of the reasons I chose the Carillero is I initially developed this as a 4-1-2-2-1 wide with him on the right to cover my right flank which is very attacki. when I switched to a 4-4-2 I forgot and put the Carillero on the left, but this accidentally turned out to be a stroke of genius as the combinations on the right combined to create lovely passing triangles and overloads for us to exploit constantly.

 

2 hours ago, AFCBeer said:

I'd be slightly concerned with 2 attack duties on the right. I might choose to put the right CM on defend for a bit more protection. Again though, you will need to watch games to determine if it is genuinely a problem or not. 

The reason both my midfielders are on a support duty is both a calculated risk and real life belief (I should really have mentioned this in the OP). Calculated risk because I'm well aware it leaves us very open if they beat the press, and real life belief that football in possession is a game of triangles and out of it straight lines to sever them. So by having one midfielder on a defend duty and one a support (but who has both a Ti and trait of getting forward often) would leave my very aggressive press more vulnerable to being beaten by not being a straight line anymore. 

 

2 hours ago, Dfs said:

 

- carillero role is hard coded for tactics without anyone in am r/l or m r/l so in your tactic he wont work properly. I assume he d behave more or less like ordinary cms.

- Im not sure about the roles for strikers because actually right now both of them are tap in specialists. Both of them stay in the box and neither of them moves into channels. If their off the ball is so good than I d try dlfs - p combination or maybe pfs - afa.

I totally forgot and was going to add an addendum as to why I chose these two specific roles based on the specific players traits, I'll just add it here I guess. 

I chose the Carillero initially because the tactic was developed as a 4-1-2-2-1 wide and he wa sơn the right to cover my right flank. He also crucially has the player trait "controls tempo of the game" (not sure of the exact wording) so I felt like this role and that trait would combine to make him a great playmaker without actually giving him that role. (which in practice worked perfectly). 

The 3 strikers I have all have the trait "try to break the offside trap" so it seemed logical to give them roles in the team that gave them the most opportunity to us those traits. I don't think even if I gave them a role that encouraged them to drop deeper they would anyway due to their traits plus their off the ball skills are just good for this level not amazing IE above 10. (I did try a DLF the odd time and it was a bit disappointing as they never really dropped deep I guess due to their traits). 

(I've actually finished the season and it worked perfectly well with both on attacking mentalities to be honest, the poacher scored 44 goals and the PF - 20 in all competitions. Not that it couldn't be improved and I'll write about that later) 

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The results

Were nothing short of spectacular to be honest. We smashed the league only losing 4 times all year (twice to Ebbsfleet 3-0 who finished second), won the FA trophy and reached the FA cup 5th round beating championship Sheffield Utd 3-1 at home.

The good

We scored lots, 99 goals in the league in total with goals being well spread around the team and assists coming mainly from crosses - 33 and through balls 17. We also scored 13 goals from opposition mistakes with our very aggressive press forcing opposition defences to cough up the ball and the TI's counter attack and pass into space, in conjunction with 2 strikers who were on attacking duties, leaving our strikers to have an easy one on one with the keeper. Set pieces added a further 20 odd assists. The assists were well spread throughout the team with the right-mid, carillero, BBM, pressing forward and right fullback all getting between 9-11 assits. The left-mid ended the season with 19. Goals were also well spread around the team with the poacher getting 45 goals, the left-mid 20 and the pressing forward 19. 7 players in total scored more than 10 goals.

As I mentioned above the carillero as planned due to his player traits acted as the quarterback for the team and lots of goals came from the accidental overload combination I'd created on the right. Both in terms of players being at the back post for tap ins and in space to provide assists.

We also managed to have a possession total of 54% in the league across the season. Some games we had over 60% and others under 50% and this was fine by me as I wasn't interested in possession for possessions sake and still wanted to retain an attacking threat via counter attacks, which we did. The defence and goalkeeper also worked well playing out from the back with many moves being started with the keeper rolling it out then the ball being passed to the carillero.

The defence was in the main fairly solid only conceding 37 goals in the league. 

The bad

Conceding an insane amount of goals from long range shots! This was always going to be a risk as we didn't have a DMC to cover the defence if the opposition beat the press. We also conceeded 5 or 6 goals where the goalkeeper and defence made an absolute mess of playing it out from the back and dallied on the ball. Basically all of our defensive issues came from a lack of anyone covering the two centre-halves. The large gap on the right hand side never seemed to be as much of an issue.

 

We also struggled occasionally to break down  teams who sat back and defended deep. Again this was always a risk and one I couldn't do much about due to my players traits. Even when I gave them a DLF-S or PF-S/D role they still insisted on playing on the defenders shoulders.

The ugly

We got a fair few red cards for horror tackles, more than I'd like to see anyway. Even though I hadn't used the TI "get stuck in" to avoid this very scenario. I'm guessing this was due to a combination of using a very aggressive press and more aggressive mentality in conjunction with woeful tackling attributes (some are as low as 2 or 3).

 

General observations and future plans

At the beginning of the season the AI sat very deep as I thought they would but used strikers that were trying to break into the space behind our defence, and we conceded very few goals. Later in the season teams started to pack midfield by using 3 man midfields and deeper lying strikers. As I didn't have any DMC in my side or anyone even tasked with dropping into that hole this caused us some problems defensively if teams broke the press.

My plan here is to try an Inverted wing back on the left hand side, in the hope he comes across and acts as a DMC giving cover for our centre-backs. This will of course leave both my flanks horribly exposed but the carillero should at least cover one of those and again its a risk reward situation and I always err on the side of I'll score 3 if you get 1.

The strikers due to their trait of always wanting to break the offside trap rarely came deep, this meant some teams could make it very difficult for us to break them down and they hit us on the counter when we got frustrated and tried silly through balls. Nothing much I can do here with the players I have so I plan to sign either a DLF or a TM in the summer to offer us a different option up front.

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21 hours ago, kiwityke1983 said:

4-2-2-1 wide

Don't like fielding 11 players aye? Do you mean 4-1-2-2-1 or 4-2-2-2?

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