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Where did it all go wrong? Im taking a team predicted to finish 11th down

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Hello Everyone.

I cant lie, what frustrates me a lot (but in an admiration of their talents way), is that people on here can take any team, no matter how utterly crap they are, and make them win everything, whilst seemingly doing nothing different to what I am doing.

Ive been testing different tactics in readiness for FM20, and was inspired by the Catania thread which I thought was excellent.

So I loaded up Italy down to Serie C, and pressed the choose team for me button.

I got given Cremonese. I thought that's not bad actually good long term project to get involved in for 3-4 seasons, get them into Serie A etc etc.


We are now starting at a relegation battle.

We cannot score.

We cannot run.

We cannot pass.

We cannot do anything.


Yet I was predicted to finish 11th out of 19 teams in the Serie B.


Ive tried not to chop and change the tactics, but I'm at my wits end because we are going down.

I'm looking to play a patient possession football game. Ive selected a 4-1-4-1 formation


The reason I have opted for the patient build up is four fold:

1) My best striker has a long term injury. so I only really have one "quality" (use that term loosely) striking option.

2) My striking options don't have pace and acceleration, so the run in behind option wouldn't be appropriate I don't think.

3) I have some reasonably good passers of the ball in midfield, with decent technical skills, first touch, vision etc.

4) Playing a more patient passing game I believe will help keep the structure of the team so when we lose the ball, we can defend more efficiently.


In fairness, we DO keep it tight at the back. Weve only conceded at a goal a game ratio, which I don't think is too bad all things considered.

Unfortunately I'm not at home I'm at work so cant do screenshots, but I started the season with this tactic:


Its a 4-1-4-1 asymmetric.  (The attacking midfielder has a support duty, not an attack duty).

In this tactic, the mentality is BALANCED. the only team instructions are to focus play down the left, standard defensive line with lower LOE, and I lower the pressing down 1 notch from standard to get them to retain shape more than press, as there are gaps that appear otherwise.

The thought process is build up through the left hand side, to take advantage of my better players who are all left footed but good technically, for a quick switch of play to be finished by the inside forward and the poacher:


This tactic I believe suited my players, and for the first 6 or 7 games it worked LOVELY. we registered some really good wins, against Empoli who are predicted to win the league and against Sampdoria from the league above in the Copa Italia. we actually dominated.

Then, out of nowhere, we started to get BATTERED. we lost 4 of 5 and didn't put up a fight in any of them. Couldn't score, and conceding 2 and 3 a game.


I couldn't understand it.

So I thought I needed to shore up the defence, whilst still trying to retain the overloading of the left side, to play to the right side.

Not because the right side of the team is any good, but just because my better players were left sided creators.


So then, I ended up going to this formation, which HAD worked well for me at other teams and I felt fitted the players reasonably well too:


This tactic is played on balanced mentality. only instructions I add are to focus the play down the left, to raise the defensive line to higher with a standard LOE, and to raise the pressing just by one notch.


This tactic has shored up the goals going in. but we look absolutely impotent going forwards to the point where we have now failed to score in 4 of the last 5.


We are really, really struggling. I don't want to make changes again as they'll take time to bed in.

What can I do, to prevent the inevitable sack?


Id love to build a Catania-like dynasty like the other poster. But all I am heading for is oblivion.



Thank you everyone


Edited by FMunderachiever

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 I assume the reason why you started losing after those first 6/7 games is because the other teams realized that you focus build up on the left and thus have adapted to counter your approach.

 So I'd remove the the 'focus play down left instruction.'

I'd also change your WM(S) to a WP(S) since you said that left sided players were creators.

30 minutes ago, FMunderachiever said:

We are really, really struggling. I don't want to make changes again as they'll take time to bed in.

What can I do, to prevent the inevitable sack?

welp, there's basically two things you can do IMO

1) Since you are unable to score, try changing your team to an ultra defensive side and draw your way to survival

2) Reload an old save and try to redo it all again


Sorry if I'm not much help, others probably can give you better advice.

Edited by Ali Dia

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Although this is a 4-1-4-1, I would say it's risky defensively.  On the right side of the formation, you have a MEZ-A and WM-A in front of an IWB-D - so I could see the AI countering down that side and giving you problems.  I would be quite tempted to change the IWB-D to a FB-D or Su to give you a better defensive platform with your DLP.

I don't know if you have the personnel, but having a WM on both sides might be a bit vanilla.  I played a 4-1-4-1 with 2 different teams.  With one, I had an inverted winger on support on the left, with a FB-A taking advantage of the space created.  For another, which was a really poor team in San Marino when I took over - I had a 6'3" inverted left winger with 12 pace - so I set him as an Inverted Winger on Attack - the full back behind on defend - with a Winger-Su and FB-Su (PI sit narrower) on the right - kept it simple and tight - not many goals either end and we scored mostly the same goal (right winger crossing for left inverted winger to score), but we did win the league in my first season with nothing in the squad and then had a decent little run in Europe.  I would say, it's about self awareness - given you are in such a bad run, I would take a 0-0 draw or two just to half the decline and get the morale up a bit - then you can always get a little more risky to pick up wins.  I'm currently playing in Serie C with San Marino Calcio - and against the top teams, you might have to be more cautious - but against teams in the bottom half of the table, you can go for it a bit more.  I would say the league is top heavy (in my save anyway) - so see who you are playing and set your table out accordingly.

Depending on the oppo's formation, you could also think about changing where your DLP is situated.  If you are playing against a 4-2-3-1, their AMC will be sitting on top of your DLP - but if you changed the CM-S to a DLP, particularly if their 2 DM's are just in front of their back 4, then you will find he has more time and space to do his thing.  If you've got the DLF ahead of him - and then the inverted winger and full back outside to his left, and CM/MEZ and winger to this right, he has good options.

Good luck!

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@Ali Dia @duesouth @Experienced Defender

Thank you for the feed back, much appreciated.

Interesting developments are happening at the club. Are we turning a corner? (a mini corner).

I managed to get my best striker, Montalto, back from a long term injury. This at least gave me the POSSIBILITY of a two striker system.

The patient passing game i wanted to play in my head wasnt working. We didnt look threatening going forward and always looked vulnerable at the other end. My creative players were not creating the quality of chances i was hoping for, and scoring low ratings.

I steadied the ship by grinding out a couple of very dour draws, but then had an idea.

I was going to play the percentages more.

My idea was to get the ball forward at every opportunity quickly. It was to win the first ball if we could. But if we couldnt, we would get around the 2nd ball.

We were going to get in the faces of the opposition and impose ourselves onto them.

So i had a think about how i would achieve this "backs against the wall style"......and i went for this:


The idea is still to have some play building up through the left side of the field, but the idea is still to look for the quick switch of play, and to get the ball forward quickly in the hope of winning 2nd balls, fouls around the box, etc etc.

Why did i choose the instructions i chose? I chose positive mentality because i dont want any wasted sideways passes. i want the ball banged forward without delay. As team instructions, i thought the way to achieve this would be early crosses. the idea of being "very narrow" is to get players in and around loose balls with pressing.

In transition, i chose "counter press" because i expect to lose possession from the first ball quite regularly. so this is a means of getting hold of the ball.

Defensively, ive lowered the LOE to draw the opposition forward a little, and leave a little space in behind for balls over the top and diagonals. Because we defend as a compact block which is vertically more compact and narrow, i felt we could afford to mark tighter and press with more urgency as we were closer together positionally.

Then, i chose the midfield roles based on the following:

Migliore as a defensive winger on support, because he has good crossing ability to hit the long diagonal and early cross, whilst also being good in the tackle. I tell him to sit narrow, get forward, and close down more.

Arini as a central midfielder on defend, he merely sits in the middle of the pitch with no PIs, offering a little support against the counter attack whilst mostly pinging balls into the front 2

Deli as a central midfielder on support, he has a PPM to get into the box and get forward. I feel this is ideal as he will want to run forward onto loose balls. So i tell him to get further forward, mark tighter, and close down more.

Carretta as a wide midfielder on attack, he gets onto things at the far post. I tell him to sit narrower, and also to close down more and mark tighter.


Both strikers have PPMs to get forward more often, but i chose the Pressing Forward support roles so both of them hold the ball up. Ive not seen a reduction in their attacking capabilities by putting them on support, so currently dont feel the need to switch either to attack (where hold up ball is not an option).


I fully admit 1) its not a pretty tactic and 2) when you put a tactic up online, its there to be shot down.


So far, tentatively, it seems to be working.

I cant play many games in a session as i like to watch all games on at least comprehensive highlights and i have other commitments, but i played some games after moving to this tactic and got the following results:


The result against Cittadella was a bit of an outlier, as we had a player sent off very early in the game stupidly. it cost us big time.

Other than that, we are putting together some ok results. Solid at the back, carrying a goal threat. And, we have a big Copa Italia money spinner away to Roma to look forward to.

We are very slowly climbing the table too:


So there has been a little bit of a revival.

What do you think about the direction the team is going in now? it seems to be working nicely at the moment.

Its primitive, but at least we are looking ok.


Any thoughts very welcome

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You have a concept/philosophy, keep watching the games and adjusting until it stops working. 

I'd have a PF-Su and a more advanced player, but if it's working out for you don't change it. How's the crossing game working on very narrow tho? I'm curious because normally more direct 4-4-2s play wider. 

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8 hours ago, lferreira said:

You have a concept/philosophy, keep watching the games and adjusting until it stops working. 

I'd have a PF-Su and a more advanced player, but if it's working out for you don't change it. How's the crossing game working on very narrow tho? I'm curious because normally more direct 4-4-2s play wider. 

Hi thanks for contributing.

The crossing game works pretty well, but not in the way you might think.

The crossing is largely left sided crosses to the attacking right wide midfielder, who has a good knack of ghosting in at the back post and either finishing, or squaring the ball for one of the on rushing strikers.

Crosses into the box for the forwards mainly come from deep, but what ive noticed is when looking to play "early crosses" this can translate itself into playing wide through balls into the forwards, and I find these have been particularly useful over the last 6 games.

The narrowness of the formation is just to ensure we get bodies around loose balls as quickly as possible. this has been working well so far.


We do have a very tough stretch of games coming up, particularly away with Roma in the cup, then Frosinone and Empoli in the league, so it could be a bit of an "acid test" scenario



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