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DiStru_

Does FM favour attacking tactics over defensive ones?

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I don't know if it's just me, but it feels like no matter how hard you try, you'll always have a better chance playing an attacking system rather than the defensive one. I'm not going to discuss any specific tactics, because in theory all the advice sounds nice and well, but the more I watch and analyse the matches, the more it seems like you're always massively on the back foot playing a defensive tactic. If nothing else, there's 40-yard blooters flying in from all over the pitch or players giving away penalties. If you're playing an attacking system, you can get away with such stupidities, since you always have a chance to score more than the opponent, but for defensive ones clean sheets are crucial, since you're obviously not going to create many chances as it is.

I watch a lot of Twitch streams and Youtube series from various FM creators and the amount of ultra offensive tactics being used, that in theory should leave them incredibly exposed at the back, but yet they trash their opponents without a fail, is incredible. It's boring, honestly. I've heard even the most prominent tactical gurus like @Rashidi comment on how defensive tactics are not for faint-hearted in FM (one of his low-block videos).

But why is that so? Shouldn't that be in reverse, since nowadays pretty much all teams know how to defend? We see this again and again, in Europe or domestically, minnows know how to defend very effectively, there's no easy matches anymore. Despite the difference in quality, most teams can make themselves hard to beat. But not in FM, line up against Liverpool defensively and you'll get absolutely trashed. If you use a gung-ho tactic on the other hand, you might at least have a chance, no matter how unrealistic it is.

My question here is, does anyone actually use a defensive system? I'm not talking about a 4-4-2, more about using 2 or even 3 DM systems, where clean sheets are your main concern. I'd love to see a tactic where an underdog is able to consistently get away with 0-0 or 1-0 results.

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I actually build all of my tactics with defense in mind first and foremost. I cannot lose a game where I do not concede, after all. I build up attacking layers onto what is a solid defensive foundation. I am actually pretty crap at making ultra offensive tactics, maybe it makes me unique.

It depends what you mean by defensive here. Tiki Taka is a defensive style of football, based around keeping the ball and doing nothing with it for large periods of the game just to deny the opposition chance to possess and use the ball. Not many people would consider Tiki Taka to be defensive though, in the sense you mean. The genius of Pep Guardiola is to build an incredible layer of offense on top of this defensive tactic. He drills his players on exactly how and when to go incredibly direct and penetrating rather than possessing the ball. It is why other sides who have tried this (Martinez at Everton) rack up good passing and possession, but generally get average results at best.

Pressing, too, is predominantly a defensive strategy. Both Guardiola and Klopp use a high and hard press to win the ball back. This is both attacking and defensive in nature. Clearly winning the ball back high up the pitch helps to score goals. However you are also disrupting the attacking transition of another side, preventing them from hurting you and allowing you to find your defensive shape. Again, I doubt many people consider a high press to be defensive, but there is a significant defensive aspect to it.

When people say "defensive" football, what they usually mean are getting a lot of players behind the ball and looking to score with the few chances you get. This is actually different to the things I said above, which are proactively defending. Doing something to help your team not concede. What most people think of is passive defending. What I mean is having a compact side, flooding the centre of the field with players, denying space around the box, etc. This is inherently risky and hard to set up. The problem, of course, is that you are going everything close to your goal. Which means if you mess up, it is instant danger. For example, if my counter press does not work, I am not going to give away an instant chance for a goal. If my team loses shape when defending deep, a dangerous situation is always close.

This is why it is hard to set up a tactic like this. You need to be absolutely clear with what you want to do and know how to do it. Because one error in a setup is going to see you ripped apart. In addition, you need to be absolutely clinical up front, which means understanding how to create and score good chances. There is also the human aspect. How many of us want to watch game after game where our team is under constant pressure and not creating chances. So most highlights are you defending? I think this is fundamentally less fun than watching your team attack. It is why football fans as a general rule like attacking teams over defensive ones (although I love a good balls to the wall defensive side). That is another reason why it is not for the faint of hearts. It is going to be a tough watch, but worthwhile if you win.

It can be done though. I play with a counter attacking style when I am a small side playing a big side and I do not think I can play how I usually play. This involves low defensive lines, low LOE, wingers tracking their fullbacks with man marking assignments. Less closing down and a compact shape to deny space. Trying to force the AI into long shots. Then focusing on counter attacking with pace and pressing traps (I love creating pressing traps). I eventually plan to write about this tactic when I have time (life is busy). I went undefeated as HSV when promoted to the Bundesliga for half a season playing like this. Which actually shocked me too.

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1 hour ago, sporadicsmiles said:

Then focusing on counter attacking with pace and pressing traps (I love creating pressing traps).

@sporadicsmiles, how do you create pressing traps in FM? I've tried implementing pressing traps into FM with more or less success, but I was not completely satisfied. You may have a better way creating them. I'm really curious, thanks in advance!

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I think it all comes down to expectation going into each game.  Are your opponents happy with a draw?  If there strategy for that is defensive and so is yours it's probably a bore draw unless some gets a goal and things open up.

 Now if the opponent expects to win they're playing into your game plan, so if you setup correctly with right players you can do really well.  Creating space can be one of the hardest things to learn in FM so if teams give you it it can make things easier.

The problem is then gradually teams become less attacking and more cautious as your reputation  improves. Teams who expected to win become fewer and more teams become happy with a draw.

Counter attacking is more effective than it used to be but teams in FM won't play into your hands all season like RL when Leicester won premiership.  I do think AI goes a bit too defensive and stale sometimes. Not sure if its down to there tactics or the recruitment, ai teams chopping and changing managers and players whilst if done right a human manager can build team over many seasons.

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1 hour ago, sporadicsmiles said:

How many of us want to watch game after game where our team is under constant pressure and not creating chances.

I do, actually. I'm bored to death of classic gegenpress 4-2-3-1's, so I wanted to try something different. I won the Championship and getting promoted to the Premier League gave me a perfect chance to try and approach things with the defence first in mind.

So I overhauled my squad, I focused on Aggression, Bravery, Determination and Tackling as my main attributes. I wanted to make myself incredibly hard to beat, using an aggressive pressing style with 3 DMs.

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I thought, perfect, this group of players would rather die than let a man past them. We might struggle to score, but goalless draws and an odd win here and there should be enough to keep us up in our first year.

ZYCDnYC.png

Mentality: Defensive

Instructions: Slightly More Urgent pressing, Tight Marking, Counter

My logic here being that since the Defensive mentality sets our defensive line quite deep, we can afford to mark tightly and deny the opposition easy passes. Also, I used more Support than Defend duties, to balance individual mentalities a bit, since the Defensive mentality already sets them very low.

These roles fit my players perfectly, as well. I don't expect us to score more than 1 goal every now and then, but I'm fine with that. My main goal is to not concede. The problem is however, that it works in the exact opposite--we'll score a goal, but then concede three. Whether it be a dumb set piece, that almost feels like it happens solely because the game sees all the shots its having and therefore decides to award itself a goal, a cross into the box that my aerially superb CBs can't deal with for some reason or a GK error, despite my GK being one of the best players in the squad (yes, I had him finish the game on a 5.9 rating very recently).

If someone can show me an FM19 tactic, that will enable a heavy underdog (that's very important, I'm sure this system would concede much less with a good side) to consistently get clean sheets, I'll be very thankful. But the more I think about it, the more it seems like this game simply doesn't reward defensive play well enough.

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You can be successful playing any kind of block in the game. Attacking tactics have always been strong, but that's usually down to the fact that they either have very good players or you are just willing to take more risks.

When my stalybride side needed to get promoted in consecutive seasons I was playing a low block on a high mentality. This is something that escapes most people. I play defensively by sticking to a low block and hitting teams quickly, my decision on how to commit my players depends on my defensive line and the roles and duties. 

We played a low block for a whole season, but i don't like playing the low block when i am a heavy underdog because it requires your team to have very good workrates. The notion that a heavy underdog should always play a low block is also a bit strange. You don't need to, and we have seen time and time again how really good teams stack up in a low block because they have positionally better defenders. Look at how Milan played against Barca in the 2010 semis. Milan had good defenders, were heavy underdogs played a disciplined low block, and won the game.

FM19 and in FM20 this will probably remain the same.  90% of the people who try to play the low block do it unsuccessfully because they immediately start with a defensive mentality with zero outfield options. You can even play a 4123 as a low block, a 442 as a low block. The block is set up by your line of engagement and the aggressiveness of the block comes from your pressing intensity and your tight marking instructions. IF you are an inferior side playing a low block with an aggressive press then you are probably going to give up space allowing better sides with off the ball to shut you down, so you end up gifting space for them to run into win set pieces or score from range. Its something that happens to every team that sits back against City. They even have routines that specialise in scoring goals from outside the box against low blocks.

The balance then is how do you protect the zone directly in front of goal and outside the box? In a low block this area will be one that long range marksmen will have fun in when you play the low block.  I played a 442DM in a low block, but set my LOE to lower and played with a normal defensive line, disciplined instructions.  This way my players don't do crazy 3 on 1 closing downs and they hand over the marking instructions to the next players zone when the opposition player moves there.

A low block will always concede control in your third to set pieces, long shots etc, so you need to set yourself up to counter off these too.  My corners are set up to hit off the counter, and so are my freekicks, even my offensive throw ins are safe. The low block can be played, just because the majority of people prefer the normal block doesn't mean that an underdog can't win playing defensively. How defensively you are playing depends on how you use LOE/DL and roles and duties together. And i do all this playing on positive, even great low block specialists like Mourinho hated to see their wider players having to track all the way back following opposite wingers, because it left them with nothing on the counter.

To play a low block well you also need to effective outlets in attack. There are so many elements here and there is little point in showing you a tactic. 

Here's another scenario how do you play a low block effectively on a pitch that is short and wide, as opposed to a pitch that is long and narrow? There are actual strategies that affect how your block will operate in all these situations, so showing you a tactic is not enough.

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6 hours ago, cocoadavid said:

@sporadicsmiles, how do you create pressing traps in FM? I've tried implementing pressing traps into FM with more or less success, but I was not completely satisfied. You may have a better way creating them. I'm really curious, thanks in advance!

My favourite pressing trap is to get my goalkeeper to distribute to my centerbacks, but not to have play out of defense activated. Typically the first pass for the defender is to the other defender or back to the keeper when he is pressed. This will allow the other team chance to push up and press. I then I have my fullbacks out in space on the flanks. Very often the next ball my defense plays is to them. But the AI has already committed to the press, so this ball will often take 4-5 players out of play and give me an automatic counter attack where we usually outnumber the AI. This is a risky one, but it can be absolutely deadly. If the AI presses high from a 4231 you can sometimes take 6 players out of the game with a single pass. At the risk of your defender messing up and you concede (it happens). It does not always lead to goals, but it will punish a high press, and I love punishing teams for trying to beat me!

This is the one I use the most. You can make a variant with a DMC and the wingers too, or directly to wingers/midfield if you distribute to a fullback.

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Should I really be required to read paragraphs upon paragraphs of text to know how to set up a defensive system? Not only that, apparently mentalities are also misleading to the point where you have to go against them, because if you think that Defensive mentality will make you more solid, well, surprise, surprise... You're apparently shooting yourself in the foot and what you should really be playing with a low block, is a Positive mentality. Man, this micro puzzle of a game really knows how to suck the absolute life out of you, if you even try to understand it.

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9 minutes ago, DiStru_ said:

Should I really be required to read paragraphs upon paragraphs of text to know how to set up a defensive system? Not only that, apparently mentalities are also misleading to the point where you have to go against them, because if you think that Defensive mentality will make you more solid, well, surprise, surprise... You're apparently shooting yourself in the foot and what you should really be playing with a low block, is a Positive mentality. Man, this micro puzzle of a game really knows how to suck the absolute life out of you, if you even try to understand it.

This is a fair point.  Everything in the game leads us to believe that a defensive system = defensive (or similar) mentality.  In game descriptions, screen loading tips, how AI managers set up, even these default tactics we have now.

And that could be an idea - start with one of the default (defensive) tactics, understand how it's set up, tweak a little to suit your team (if needed) and see how you get on.

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Posted (edited)
19 hours ago, DiStru_ said:

If nothing else, there's 40-yard blooters flying in from all over the pitch or players giving away penalties.

While this does happen. Stay on feet can prevent the penalties, whereas having one pressing midfielder (BWM or BBM) in 3 with two sitting midfielders can prevent those long-shots.

 

19 hours ago, DiStru_ said:

My question here is, does anyone actually use a defensive system?

I do. I play San Marino youth challenge. We basically just soak pressure all games, hoping to score on a set-piece or counter-attack.

 

19 hours ago, DiStru_ said:

I'd love to see a tactic where an underdog is able to consistently get away with 0-0 or 1-0 results.

I can't show you that. We lose most of our games. get a fair amount of draws and the odd win. Sometimes I'm going 10 games without a win but 6 or 7 draws. It's just about enough to get to the 40 point mark.

 

19 hours ago, DiStru_ said:

We see this again and again, in Europe or domestically, minnows know how to defend very effectively, there's no easy matches anymore.

Not really. Teams get relegated every season. Teams get knocked out of tournos more often than not. I mean there's a reason managers praise their defensive teams when they get dominated most of the game and come away with a credible result---its because it doesn't happen often.

 

19 hours ago, DiStru_ said:

line up against Liverpool defensively and you'll get absolutely trashed. If you use a gung-ho tactic on the other hand, you might at least have a chance, no matter how unrealistic it is.

Eh? In real life, Liverpool have won 17 games in a row. Last season they lost one league game and scored 89 goals. Unless you have a very good attacking tactic, with really good players, you won't be beating them. By gung-ho tactic, do you mean, a very good attacking tactic? 

Edited by Guerin

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Posted (edited)

And. To be a bit more constructive. If you want to play on a defensive mentality, it might be worth looking at real life examples of good defensive teams/ managers. Pulis, Sam Allardyce, Sean Dyche. I mean, they don't use wingbacks do they.

 

 

Edited by Guerin

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@DiStru_ maybe you need to clarify the opening post?  Not everyone replying is following the same path.

Do you want to use a Defensive (team) mentality to create a team that is hard to score against?  And to the title of your post, does FM favour Attacking (team) mentalities over defensive ones.  Or another way perhaps, can defensive (mentality) tactics be as effective as attacking ones.

I ask because Rashidi's reply was along the lines that defending can be achieved with an attacking mentality (which is perhaps not the question).  Sporadicsmiles also questions what you mean by defensive and then references tiki-taka, pressing, Klopp and Pep, none of which necessarily address your question?  

I think @herne79 is also looking to (re)steer the thread's direction too.  Of course, I may have entirely missed your point myself, which if I have, I apologise to all concerned.

2 hours ago, herne79 said:

Everything in the game leads us to believe that a defensive system = defensive (or similar) mentality.  In game descriptions, screen loading tips, how AI managers set up, even these default tactics we have now.

 

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2 hours ago, DiStru_ said:

Should I really be required to read paragraphs upon paragraphs of text to know how to set up a defensive system?

The problem is that there is no universally good tactical system (either defensive or attacking or whatever) that fits each single team. I may create a tactic that works nicely for my team, but there is no guarantee that it will work for yours. 

Another problem is this - you can create a (relatively) good defensive tactic that can work (with varying degrees of success) against clearly stronger opposition, but what happens when you encounter another underdog? Are you going to use the same defensive system as against the strong sides? Or maybe you are going to need a (not so defensive) plan-B tactic for these instances. 

 

10 hours ago, DiStru_ said:

ZYCDnYC.png

Mentality: Defensive

Instructions: Slightly More Urgent pressing, Tight Marking, Counter

Here for example, you are not only playing on the defensive mentality but also using a very defensive formation (with as many as 3 DMs). It's reasonable to assume that most of the time the ball will be in your half and around your penalty area with the opposition bombing you with all possible weapons and from all positions in an attempt to break your "parked bass" down. Which is okay, because you intentionally wanted that. But then - 2 of your 3 DMs are played in the most aggressive of all roles in the game, namely BWM. So when all this is taken into account, I can easily imagine you conceding too many free kicks in dangerous areas (and sometimes even penalties). 

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7 minutes ago, Guerin said:

I mean, they don't use wingbacks do they.

I went for WBs thinking we'll have an easier time keeping the ball (making themselves available sooner than FBs would, I guess?), but looking at it now, we concede from a lot of crosses, so maybe defending deep with 2 WBs was never going to work. I admit, WBs vs. FBs/DFBs is one of the areas I still struggle to understand. I understand the differences when it comes to offence, but perhaps I underestimated how aggressive the WBs actually are, when it comes to closing players down and tackling.

Would this make more sense for a low-block, counter-attacking system?

ZssqJrT.png

Mentality: Positive

Instructions: More Direct Passing, Be More Expressive, Counter, Lower Defensive Line, Much Lower Line of Engagement, Close Down Much Less, Stay On Feet, Defend Narrower

  • Positive mentality to encourage faster, more risky attacking transitions
  • Two PFs should hopefully be able to do stuff on their own, which is why I want them both running forward, rather than one of them than holding up the play and give defences time to regroup
  • More expressive play to encourage players to "go for it" when they see an opening
  • Lower DL + Much Lower LoE for a low block
  • Much Less Closing Down + Stay On Feet to keep our defensive shape and force the opposition into long shots

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15 minutes ago, Robson 07 said:

I ask because Rashidi's reply was along the lines that defending can be achieved with an attacking mentality (which is perhaps not the question).

I guess his point was that using such a defensive formation with a very low mentality gives us no "out ball". My only worry here is that while a Positive mentality will make us considerably more dangerous when it comes to counter-attacking, it might make my defenders too aggressive (since they'll take more risks and I assume that means defending in a riskier way as well). But I guess you have to cut your losses somewhere and hope for the best, until eventually your players are good enough.

Mentality makes more sense now, though. I didn't necessarily want a system built around a Defensive mentality, I just wanted a low-block, counter-attacking system. I naively thought that a Defensive mentality will suit that, but I guess the only thing it does is encourages everyone to take no risks at all, meaning even when there might be a chance for a counter-attack, they'll either play it safe or mindlessly hoof it out of play, to clear the lines.

14 minutes ago, Experienced Defender said:

But then - 2 of your 3 DMs are played in the most aggressive of all roles in the game, namely BWM. So when all this is taken into account, I can easily imagine you conceding too many free kicks in dangerous areas (and sometimes even penalties). 

What I wanted to achieve, was us dropping deep to invite teams onto us, then press them heavily (which is what a lot of my DMs excel at) and hit them on the counter. But perhaps high pressing isn't that well suited for low-blocks, since if that press fails, there's no space to recover, since we're playing very close to our goal? Maybe I need to make a decision between:

  • High pressing & high defensive line

or

  • Low pressing & low defensive line

Maybe it's that mix between the two that I wanted to achieve, that was never really going to work.

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Posted (edited)

To be honest. I've never experimented with these kind of "inverse" systems that @Rashidi mentions. It's a bit above my paygrade. What I can say, is I've had success, or rather the results I wanted over a season, using two types of defensive system. The first was by keeping the ball.

36 minutes ago, DiStru_ said:

I went for WBs thinking we'll have an easier time keeping the ball

Which I guess was your first tactic. I used 41221 with a a HB, playing out from the back, more roaming shorter passing, etc. Defensive mentality.

The other way, which got better results for the team I had, was by the more traditional defending method, of just sticking men behind the ball fustrating the opposition. Which is what this second tactic seems to be doing. I used again a 41221 but with both FB on defending duties, wingers on support (to track back and help out the fullbacks) and then hoping to use my striker and one of my midfielders getting up in support of the striker to make some chances.  More Disciplined, Stick to Positions, Stay on Feet, Counter mentality.

Your second tactic looks better to me because you're balancing it more. For example, the attacking winger on the left isn't going to track back, so you need someone to help out your fullback on that side, the BWM can do that. Equally on the otherside, your wide midfielder is going to cover your fullback, so your anchor man won't get pulled out of position and can stay in his role in the centre of the park. Not sure about the two strikers on attack duty (how are you linking your attack to your midfield with that combo?) Or how a positive mentality, going more creative is going to suit a setup that wants to sit deep and soak pressure, but I've been wrong before.

I think most important is to figure out exactly how you want to defend and what you want each of your defenders to be doing specifically and as a unit. because there's many different ways to defend well. 

Edited by Guerin

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Posted (edited)
58 minutes ago, DiStru_ said:

I admit, WBs vs. FBs/DFBs is one of the areas I still struggle to understand. I understand the differences when it comes to offence, but perhaps I underestimated how aggressive the WBs actually are, when it comes to closing players down and tackling.

It depends on the rest of your setup. Wingbacks seem to push up a bit higher, sit a bit wider, and close down quickly. Well that can work really well in a more positive framework and they defend by closing the amount of space between themselves and the winger in front and not giving the opposition time on ball to play crosses or passes.

However, in a cautious framework, I feel like those advantages become disadvantages.

In a defensive set up I want to give the opposition space and time on the ball in certain areas of the pitch because I've set up in a way that gives them no forward passing options (flat back four, wingers tracking back etc) Sitting midfielders denying space. In that kind of setup, having my defensive player sitting wide is creating space between him and CB, there's also space behind him, and he's going to run out of position, which means that player on the ball (who I wanted to have time and space) suddenly has loads of passing options as his team mates can find all kinds of spaces behind my wingback.

It all comes back to how you want to defend. Either give them space and time but no forward passing options OR give them no space and time but lots of passing options that they're too rushed to make OR never give them the ball. You have to pick one tho because you can't have all of them. And, each type of defending is suited to specific set of mentalities, TI's and Players,

 

Edited by Guerin

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I think this is definitely a fair question, I constantly get bored of whenever i want to try any other style of play other than high pressing or a possession style nothing ever gets results if youre a top club. 

 I found this thread and I would love nothing more than to make a style like Dyches work, but unfortunately it seems like at a certain point the game only rewards high defensive lines and high pressure using inside forwards.

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Posted (edited)
9 minutes ago, mc22 said:

whenever i want to try any other style of play other than high pressing or a possession style nothing ever gets results if youre a top club.

Yep. Well the problem with a defensive setup is that it doesn't win you titles. Mourinho is widely regarded as a defensive coach, but he only really used defence against top opposition or closing out games. The idea that you could or should, set up Man City like Dyche's Burnley and expect to get the results you need to win a title is ridiculous. I only use defensive because if I don't I lose every game 3 or 5 to 1- probably the same reason Dyche sets up his Burnley team defensively :lol:.

Edited by Guerin

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I think this is a really good discussion. I'm probably one of those players who feels like they can set up a reasonable system using a Balanced mentality, but the second I move away from that, everything falls apart because I don't know how to supplement the mentality with the 'right' positions, roles and duties, etc.

I don't disagree with what's been said above, but for me this is more about team building than tactics, and we perhaps don't pay enough attention to that.

I'm another who would love to set up like Dyche or Simeone and to have success with it. I don't mean winning leagues necessarily, but taking a team tipped for relegation to just over half way up the league playing defensive football should be possible. I know, it is. Just not for me.

As ever, I believe the trouble is translating what someone like Dyche does into FM. If you're telling me any single one of those Burnley players plays with an attacking mentality, I'd be left scratching my head, and indeed the game tells us to reduce the number of attacking mentalities in defensive systems, effectively doubling down on keeping it tight. I believe the latest advice is to ignore this 'advice'. Fine. But what to do, then?

It's mentioned above that we need to look for players with good defensive stats like bravery, teamwork, determination and positioning. But here's the key thing for me... in the front six positions you need players who can do something else on top of that.  You need a winger who will get back and support the full back, but you also want him to be quick to offer a threat in behind. Or maybe you want someone with good vision and crossing ability. Maybe you want a midfielder with a high passing stat and good decision making, and then maybe you want someone with good off the ball movement to support the front two when the opportunity presents itself. And so on.

And here's the kicker. It can be really hard to find those players. In a case of tail wagging the dog, I'd suggest many of Burnley's players have their defensive stats exaggerated because they play for Burnley. It would be interesting to go back a few years and see what Jack Cork's defensive stats were like. We can all go and find that ideal wide player only to find his positioning is only a 7, or his teamwork is an 8.  Recruitment is key, but very difficult. If you don't get it right, you're likely to pay for it.

The glass half full view is that it is possible, but we need to recognise it's a highly specialised system that many managers try to play, but few manage to pull off. As such, it'll take a few seasons to get the right players in, and you need to supplement this with the right training. As some commentators on here are probably tired of saying, Player A will perform the box-to-box role differently to Player B based on his stats.

What I'd like to see is the ability to effectively remould players into something else. I feel like each player's stats dictate the player they will be for their entire career. There are certain stats which should be easier to make an impact on as a coaching team. For example, a player with poor decision making will probably always suffer from it, but I should be able to train a player to dramatically improve his positioning if I have good coaches and the player is receptive to learning. It might come at the expense of, say, flair.

 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Guerin said:

Yep. Well the problem with a defensive setup is that it doesn't win you titles. Mourinho is widely regarded as a defensive coach, but he only really used defence against top opposition or closing out games. The idea that you could or should, set up Man City like Dyche's Burnley and expect to get the results you need to win a title is ridiculous. I only use defensive because if I don't I lose every game 3 or 5 to 1- probably the same reason Dyche sets up his Burnley team defensively :lol:.

I one hundred percent agree, What i wish though is that it was more rewarding to build teams like Burnley or Atletico where building teams that thrive off teamwork and work ethic over huge expensive superstars. I always find myself looking and signing players that would suit one of those two teams, mainly looking for high work rate and teamwork and determination, and basically hoping that what is playing out in the game is what i imagine it would be like if I had a team with that attitude

Edited by mc22

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1 hour ago, Guerin said:

To be honest. I've never experimented with these kind of "inverse" systems that @Rashidi mentions. It's a bit above my paygrade.

I think the biggest argument for using higher mentalities for defensive systems is that if you do not, your only attacking option might be automatically generated counter-attacks. I can see why, since Defensive mentality for example, will take away a lot of risk taking. Instead of getting it forward and into space quickly, players might be inclined to play it safe, waste time or first and foremost clear the lines, without any real attacking intent. Not really sure to what extent you can counteract that with using More Direct Passing, Higher Tempo and similar offensive-minded instructions, because players individual mentalities (which dictate pretty much everything?) still remain the same--defensive. Higher mentalities on the other hand encourage players to have a more attacking outlook, while you then set up the defensive part of the tactic with your formation and instructions. Perhaps Balanced would be the way to go, for something in between that doesn't either leave you sterile in attack or too aggressive in defence?

That's how I understand it at least, if I'm wrong, I'd appreciate getting corrected.

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2 hours ago, DiStru_ said:

ZssqJrT.png

Mentality: Positive

Instructions: More Direct Passing, Be More Expressive, Counter, Lower Defensive Line, Much Lower Line of Engagement, Close Down Much Less, Stay On Feet, Defend Narrower

  • Positive mentality to encourage faster, more risky attacking transitions
  • Two PFs should hopefully be able to do stuff on their own, which is why I want them both running forward, rather than one of them than holding up the play and give defences time to regroup
  • More expressive play to encourage players to "go for it" when they see an opening
  • Lower DL + Much Lower LoE for a low block
  • Much Less Closing Down + Stay On Feet to keep our defensive shape and force the opposition into long shots

Here you went into a different sort of overkill. 

If you play on a high-risk mentality (positive in this case), you don't need more direct passing. Standard (default) passing should suffice, because the higher mentality already makes the players proportionally more inclined to take risks, including more forward, attack-minded passes. 

The same goes for the Be more expressive TI. A higher mentality automatically sets your players' creative freedom (as well as that of movement) to the proportionally higher level. And given that you want to play essentially defensive football, you need a reasonable degree of tactical discipline on the part of your players. 

While the higher mentality does automatically increase pressing intensity, I fear that much less urgent would make your players overly passive, especially when coupled with stay on feet, (much) lower LOE and DL. For that reason, I would rather opt for slightly less urgent pressing, default tackling (i.e. neither stay on feet nor get stuck in), lower LOE and standard DL. 

An in-possession instruction that would make sense in relation to fast (counter)attacking transitions is - Hit early crosses. You can occasionally also add the Pass into space as an option (especially when you notice that the opposition are leaving a lot of space behind themselves while attacking you).

When it comes to the setup of roles and duties, playing both strikers on attack duty absolutely makes sense. What I would never do though is playing both in the same role. Simply because you need some variety in attack. 

Now, let me quote you: 

2 hours ago, DiStru_ said:

I didn't necessarily want a system built around a Defensive mentality, I just wanted a low-block, counter-attacking system

Okay. So you first tried to create a defensive tactic under a low-risk (defensive) mentality. Then you wanted to do basically the same, but under a high-risk (positive) mentality. However, as you yourself admit, you are not quite adept at setting up tactics. If so, why not keep it as simple as possible and try to create something reasonable under the good old Balanced mentality? :)

Let's take your (new) 4222 formation and see how it could be set up to produce a defensively solid but at the same time direct counter-attacking style of football. Here is one - and certainly not the only - possible setup:

TMat      PFat

 

IWsu                                    WMat

ACM       DMsu

WBsu       NCBde     CDde      NFB

SKde

As we said, the mentality is Balanced. What about instructions? How many of them should we use? Well, I would start with just as few as 4 overall:

- higher tempo

- hit early crosses

- counter

- lower LOE

The rest would be left on default. 

Some player instructions maybe? Both DMs to mark tighter. IWsu to sit narrower.

NOTE: I don't say that you should use this particular setup of roles. This is just an idea to give you some (hopefully useful) food for thought. You need to analyze your players' strengths, weaknesses and overall abilities to see what kind of tactical setup would suit them optimally. I am just trying to help by offering a concrete example, that's all :)

 

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21 hours ago, DiStru_ said:

I do, actually.

Each to there own :D. Playing against multiple DMCs can be a nightmare as a user so it makes sense you can set something up to win using the same strategy. I usually avoid a gegenpress too, for the most part. One of my favourite tactics involved swift counter attacks and solid defending. I will admit I like watching my team score after many highlights only defending.

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8 hours ago, Experienced Defender said:

Now, let me quote you: 

10 hours ago, DiStru_ said:

I didn't necessarily want a system built around a Defensive mentality, I just wanted a low-block, counter-attacking system

Okay. So you first tried to create a defensive tactic under a low-risk (defensive) mentality. Then you wanted to do basically the same, but under a high-risk (positive) mentality. However, as you yourself admit, you are not quite adept at setting up tactics. If so, why not keep it as simple as possible and try to create something reasonable under the good old Balanced mentality? 

I'm not a lot clearer about what the thread is trying to achieve.  :D

I take one look at Experienced Defenders tactic and think it will not keep possession and it will counter attack.  However there is a fair chance it will allow the opposition a lot of shots and probably ship goals.

I agree with Sporadicsmiles where he notes it is hard to set up a defensive tactic.  Personally I'd use less attack roles, no more than 2.  I think you need to try and take care of the ball a bit better too.  If you can try to get a minimum of 40% possession you'll at least be under a bit less pressure.  Also take a lot of care with set piece instructions.  You'll be conceding a lot of corners so be tight and equally you will not get so many therefore you need to be effective with attacking routines.  Lastly don't be afraid to shoot.  It may concede some possession, so keep a close eye on it, but it does 2-3 things for you.  Firstly you may catch a bit of luck with a pot shot.  Secondly if it misses, conceding a goal-kick your defence gets time to reshape and maybe win a 50-50 ball from the resulting restart plus you are not so easily counter attacked.

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Posted (edited)

Defending, in General Terms, is easier than an attacking. This goes for all Sports, but low scoring Sports such as Football amplify this by their very rules (which haven't dramatacally changed since their original Inception -- even the Goal Posts are the same despite keepers on average being much bigger than they were in the 19th century, and that's just their physical stature). Which is one of the reasons why even the best Forwards roughly convert 1 in 5 of their attempts Long-term, and why you should rarely ever bet on the Forward to put one past the keeper, a cheater also allowed his Hands ffs. To overly simplify, all the defendingn side has to do is to generally deflect the ball away from its target. The attacking Team meanwhile tries to hit that target, in a way that it doesn't hit the keeper between the Posts, at pace, with their head and feet. 

Therefore, if the game were to make it harder to defend as to attack/score, that perception would be somewhat reasonable. It may come down to the input. There may be less leeway in "error" as to attacking tactics, and more so in defensive ones; in particular if one would try to balance out that defending with some attacking oomph still left (e.g. not actually targeting a 0-0 --- but trying to Sneak a 1-0 win on a counter or set piece). That said, I don't think it's reasonable for an average Team to be able to achieve loads of clean sheets. If the main objective is just that, the clean sheet, then just sticking added men behind the ball could be Pretty efficient depending on the release. If that weren't the case, there wouldn't be so many "Why do I always Need 30 shots to score, broken ME Posts" after all against AI inevitably just doingn that. However, what arguably hurts the game here too is the lack of collision detection between Players (which Limits aspects of physical defending simulated) and -- oft times -- the lack of unified "intelligent" zonal Team defending proper.

 

As a General musing, from my experience FM will be Always slightly biased towards attacking Play, as that is what is typically being "reported". Players don't report that they cannot replicate Burnley 2017 (conceding 12 goals until way into December, the same as Pep's City, despite averaging 20 SHOTS AGAINST per match -- the most shots conceded in Europe's top leagues). They report that Messi doesn't score enough, that Barca don't Tiki-Taka their way to bliss, that they cannot trash every Opponent 4-0, and that the Football in General was too boring to watch. Similar to how SI may adress injuries (nerfed to 80% of their real-life rate longterm as "Players would prefer it that way") -- SI may follow suit. :D 

Edited by Svenc

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13 hours ago, Guerin said:

Either give them space and time but no forward passing options OR give them no space and time but lots of passing options that they're too rushed to make OR never give them the ball. You have to pick one tho because you can't have all of them.

I think that makes a lot of sense. I can see why my original tactic went against that, since I firstly wanted to give the opposition time and space with dropping very deep (Defensive mentality + 3 DMs) and then suddenly change that with a lot of aggression (2x BWMs + 2x WBs + More Urgent Pressing). Perhaps the issue was, that with dropping deep, I gave the opposition's runners time to get forward, so when my players finally started pressing, they had plenty of passing options to exploit the gaps we were leaving (I guess with "pick one" you mean either press early or keep shape at all times, to avoid exactly that)?

I apologise if all of this is really basic football stuff.

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1 hour ago, Svenc said:

Players don't report that they cannot replicate Burnley 2017 (conceding 12 goals until way into December, the same as Pep's City, despite averaging 20 SHOTS AGAINST per match -- the most shots conceded in Europe's top leagues)

I doubt anyone has tried to do that, and it takes more than a bit of good luck to achieve it. I did once go 15 games without conceding a goal, but I was playing as Dinamo Zagreb and had a wonderful squad, so it was not something worth bragging about! That does sound like an interesting challenge though, so set up a team to defend and counter only, invite pressure and make it work.

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, DiStru_ said:

I gave the opposition's runners time to get forward, so when my players finally started pressing, they had plenty of passing options to exploit the gaps we were leaving (I guess with "pick one" you mean either press early or keep shape at all times, to avoid exactly that)?

Precisely. Older versions of the game were a bit clearer with pressing imo. Used to be own half, sometimes, opposition half or something like that. Which means all players press at somepoint.

In a defensive mentality, you want to let them have the ball in the middle third of the pitch, so that, in exchange, you can pack your defensive third with players. That means you are outnumbering the opposition in your defensive third of the pitch. The opposition want to drag your players out of the defensive third, or out of position. You want your players to stay there as much as possible.

All players press at somepoint. In the above defensive principle,You want your players to press only when oppenents enter your defensive third, but then stop pressing and fall back into position when the opponent is forced back to the middle third. Wingbacks and BWM's, and more pressing TI will tell your players to continue pressing into the middle third which clashes with the principle of outnumbering the opponent in your defensive third.

A good way to think about mentalities and playing styles is this:

Divide the pitch into three thirds. Attacking mentalities should focus on creating 2 v 1's in the opposition third of the pitch. Possession mentalities should focus on creating 2 v 1's in the middle third of the pitch. Defensive mentalities should focus on creating 2 v 1's in your defensive third of the pitch.

 

 

 

Edited by Guerin

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So just to make sure I'm following this thread so far correctly, based on my own projects. Say I want to build a team in the mold of a burnely or a simeone type team based on high workrate, determination, aggression, team work, and went with something like this for my roles:

                 CFat      PFsu

WPat     BWMd       BBM    WMat

FBsu       CBde     CDde      FBsu

                       GK

Could I in theory have this lineup, use "be more disciplined" "higher tempo" "more direct" "defend narrower", but then depending on opponent just adjust how low the block is/ and the mentality to affect how defensive we play while sticking true to the general style I look for in a team? Cause i fully understand that dropping deep and countering wont work against all opponents especially if they are worse than you. 

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13 minutes ago, mc22 said:

Could I in theory have this lineup, use "be more disciplined" "higher tempo" "more direct" "defend narrower", but then depending on opponent just adjust how low the block is/ and the mentality to affect how defensive we play while sticking true to the general style I look for in a team?

No.

:D

The game doesn't work in a way that one lineup of roles and duties can work for one style and also flex across different team mentalities and shifting out-of-possession lines.  Sorry, I'd like to dress that up better but basically that won't work. Sorry.

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30 minutes ago, Robson 07 said:

No.

:D

The game doesn't work in a way that one lineup of roles and duties can work for one style and also flex across different team mentalities and shifting out-of-possession lines.  Sorry, I'd like to dress that up better but basically that won't work. Sorry.

Just as I thought, so basically its back to the original discussion here that no matter what you do, the game prefers one style over another style

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It's impossible to claim that the game favors one style (attacking) over the other (defensive) without hard evidence. But if it does, the reason is most likely of a commercial nature, as most FM players obviously prefer attacking/possession football (a.k.a. "score one more") over defensive, which I assume the SI developers are aware of.

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I think attacking styles are more common, thus more successful.  Also reckon defensive (mentality) tactics are tough to set up. 

You can try your theory @mc22 but I don't think one setup, without tweaks, simply works across different mentalities and that by adjusting the DL + LOE to somehow compensate will work.  Give it a try though by all means but I don't know how to direct you down that road.  I think if you want to play attacking that's one tactic.  To play a defensive way is another approach.

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24 minutes ago, Robson 07 said:

I think attacking styles are more common, thus more successful.  Also reckon defensive (mentality) tactics are tough to set up. 

You can try your theory @mc22 but I don't think one setup, without tweaks, simply works across different mentalities and that by adjusting the DL + LOE to somehow compensate will work.  Give it a try though by all means but I don't know how to direct you down that road.  I think if you want to play attacking that's one tactic.  To play a defensive way is another approach.

Yeah I think ill play around with it, but I feel like ill just end up getting myself sent down a rabbit hole and get confused instead of of approaching things reasonably

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On 08/10/2019 at 11:16, Svenc said:

Players don't report that they cannot replicate Burnley 2017

2017, August 19. Burnley - WBA. Shots : 20 - 8. Shots on target : 0 - 1. Shots off target : 15-5. Shots blocked : 5 - 2. Goals : 0 -1

I think it's really difficult to replicate this

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I don't think attacking is overpowered against defensive (or vice-versa) in FM19. But I do believe it's unbalanced and unrealistic.

On one hand, It's fairly easy to defend. If you set up your team to shut up shop, you can keep the ball in your defense, due to higher number of players there, the lower tempo and the lower risk mentality. Keeping the ball you won't concede. And there has been many players complaining that they can't get high possession numbers, precisely because the weaker teams are happy to stay back with the ball.

But on the other hand, if you are playing your normal game, 442, 4231, 433 whatever and winning, the AI will change to a 433 narrow or a 424 or other ultra attacking tactic (along with mentality) and suddenly look like prime Barcelona. Why? because you're still on your normal tactics and you concede a goal after battering them all game. For this i set up a 541 defensive strategy for when AI goes full attack.

Bottom line, I think it's way too easy to score against attacking teams and too difficult to score against defensive teams. In my Puskas Akadémia save, second season, barely any transfers, i beat a full strength Roma in their stadium. In terms of attributes my team is below Championship level. I also beat Celtic 6-0 and other similar results. But against minnows in the league? a complete nightmare. They change to a 433 narrow and they score with their first shot.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, KyleHyde said:

too difficult to score against defensive teams

So, why do I then concede an average of 3 goals per game with a "park the bus" 4-4-2 with 2 DMs? Because I'm bad at the game, obviously, but I really don't think it should be that difficult to set up a basic defensively sound system. The match engine does me no favours either, I'm better off banging my head against the wall on the Analysis screen, trying to figure out where the issues are, rather than actually watching the game. Good luck telling whether the animation is trying to show you an individual mistake or a tactical error, unless you're a seasoned veteran who knows exactly what each animation is trying to portray.

I think the main problem here is that there needs to be a balance, you also have to have a way of keeping the ball. I read Cleon's The School of the Defensive Arts and he was very successful with a narrow 4-1-2-1-2, with 2 Complete WBs, a Regista and a Treq. In my head these roles seem like anything but defensive, but yet he kept clean sheets and dominated teams on top of it. It's that puzzle of mentalities, roles and duties and how they all impact each other and work differently under different circumstances that just makes my head hurt.

Say this system, for example:

----------PFa-TMa----------

WMs-----------------WMs

-----DMd-DMd------

FBd-CD-NCB-FBd

Defensive mentality, Defend Narrow, Close Down Less, Stay On Feet, More Direct Passing, Higher Tempo

Why is this not defensively solid? Probably because we can't keep the ball, but why should I want to dominate possession, if I want to keep men behind the ball, frustrate the opposition until they eventually overcommit and then hit them on the break? I think the issue is that counter-attacks are entirely automatic and I should instead set my system up without them in mind. Because when the conditions are met and the the counter-attack is triggered, the passing directness and individual mentalities will be maxed out anyway (The Art of Counter Attacking), so More Direct Passing and Higher Tempo no longer make sense and maybe I should instead use Shorter Passing and Lower Tempo, to give my team time to get up the pitch and into attacking positions. But how does that make sense for a counter-attacking system and why do I need to read countless forum guides to sort of, maybe, on a good day, half-understand how my team will behave?

Edited by DiStru_

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21 minutes ago, DiStru_ said:

Say this system, for example:

----------PFa-TMa----------

WMs-----------------WMs

-----DMd-DMd------

FBd-CD-NCB-FBd

Defensive mentality, Defend Narrow, Close Down Less, Stay On Feet, More Direct Passing, Higher Tempo

Why is this not defensively solid?

Why should I want to dominate possession....?

That just looks like an ineffective long ball system to me.  Defenders will punt to safety or vaguely towards a targetman who is not adequately supported.  The gap from central midfield to striker is alarming as it looks like you are trying to play with six central defenders.

The forwards will help little defensively and your wide midfielders are hardly going to protect you.  So six defenders just kicking it long and holding out for 90 mins?  You can't just sit back like that, you'll be swamped, fatigued, drawn out of position and overran in no time.

Maybe people get hung up on that Inter Milan performance a few years ago under Jose against Barcelona.  Personally I don't see that as a blueprint to follow, at all.  You don't have to dominate possession by any means but why would you just kick and hope?

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2 hours ago, DiStru_ said:

Say this system, for example:

----------PFa-TMa----------

WMs-----------------WMs

-----DMd-DMd------

FBd-CD-NCB-FBd

Defensive mentality, Defend Narrow, Close Down Less, Stay On Feet, More Direct Passing, Higher Tempo

Why is this not defensively solid?

Because it's sort of extreme. This (type of) defensive tactic is an inverted version of extremely unbalanced attacking tactics where you have a top-heavy system with literally all forward players on attack duties, a very high mentality and an overkill of attack-minded in-possession and overly aggressive out-of-possession instructions, whose users are surprised why their tactic does not work even though they manage a top team with world-class players. 

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Yes it absolutely does. It's way harder to implement a defensive system in FM compared to an attacking one. Reverse of what it's like IRL.

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Wasn't my hoffenheim team set up to be a counter attacking 442?  I set my 442 to have a lower line of engagement against tough sides and just hit off the break, kept my transitions tight by choosing the right combination of roles and duties that did not bomb forward like lunatics. We only had 2 attacking duties in attack, the rest of the team was on support and defend, and we used conservative roles to get that done.

@DiStru_ That system you created isn't defensive, its basically going nowhere. You have two defend duties thats fine, but all you get is hurled balls, you are playing deep, hoping to win off crosses and headers so that you can recycle the 2nd ball, but your DMs are too deep and your strikers are so far forward. Essentially you are hoping for lucky punts and that odd lucky break. Thats not being defensive, its something else entirely.

When sides are defensive, they have a plan. 
I had someone pop in on my twitch stream, he had a 4231 and he wanted it to be counter attacking, which in itself is another kind of challenge. So i had FB(D) on both sides but I gave them the overlap. They won't necessarily overlap but they might if we have control. Its very rare that you see a FB(D) overlap, but their higher position in transition would mean they are closer to the 2 MCs. Up top we had 3 attack duties, 1 TM(A) 2 IF(A), very basic but it worked. we played with a low line of engagement and a low defensive line. This kept my backline in check. So each time teams attacked we would hit into space, because thats where my IFs were.

That is a plan. I am looking at your system and scratching my head, because no one is going forward.  You need some kind of plan. Defensive counter attacking systems work even better on FM19 than FM20, in fact they can be too strong if set up right.

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So I was finally able to find this tactic from I think like FM16 or 17, but this tactical remake was one of the best i think I've used until last years edition, and then am trying to remake it in fm19 but having less luck with it: https://thesetpieces.com/gaming/football-manager-tactics-set-like-atletico-madrid/

This style I think is what I strive for and what I'm getting the general idea that everyone here is talking about, that regardless of how defensive your team instructions are you still need players bombing forward in attack. I think up until this years game this general set up worked wonders for my teams with a really strong defense and then had the most beautiful counter attacks if you had the right players for each role. Maybe this is what is getting me confused because I had such success with this in previous years that with the new tactics screen and set ups I cant recreate this style of play as well as before and its just leading me to get frustrated when it doesnt work.

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On 07/10/2019 at 08:41, DiStru_ said:

Should I really be required to read paragraphs upon paragraphs of text to know how to set up a defensive system? Not only that, apparently mentalities are also misleading to the point where you have to go against them, because if you think that Defensive mentality will make you more solid, well, surprise, surprise... You're apparently shooting yourself in the foot and what you should really be playing with a low block, is a Positive mentality. Man, this micro puzzle of a game really knows how to suck the absolute life out of you, if you even try to understand it.

I really suggest that you do take the time to read through paragraphs, if not more on how to set up tactics. It won't suck the life out of you when you have the satisfaction of building an effective tactic or tactics. 

I also suggest that you read through Rashidi's posts and watch a few of his video (as time allows because they can be long and involved) because he has more "stick time" with FM than anyone else who I can think of who posts here. 

Successful tactics require an understanding of team and player instructions instructions, along with player roles and how they interact with a given match engine. Since I haven't had the time to play FM19 even though I own it, I'm not a person who should be outlining specifics here but there is an example from FM2013 (or was in FM12 or FM14, I forget). A fellow from Norway created two tactics, one attacking and the other controlling (now positive). Both had balanced team shapes and neither had a single player in an attacking role, yet both were great counterattacking tactics because of the underlying mentality and individual player instructions. In the following version of FM they wouldn't work because the key role of defensive winger had been removed from the AM strata and match engine had changed. 

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10 hours ago, KyleHyde said:

I don't think attacking is overpowered against defensive (or vice-versa) in FM19. But I do believe it's unbalanced and unrealistic.

On one hand, It's fairly easy to defend. If you set up your team to shut up shop, you can keep the ball in your defense, due to higher number of players there, the lower tempo and the lower risk mentality. Keeping the ball you won't concede. And there has been many players complaining that they can't get high possession numbers, precisely because the weaker teams are happy to stay back with the ball.

But on the other hand, if you are playing your normal game, 442, 4231, 433 whatever and winning, the AI will change to a 433 narrow or a 424 or other ultra attacking tactic (along with mentality) and suddenly look like prime Barcelona. Why? because you're still on your normal tactics and you concede a goal after battering them all game. For this i set up a 541 defensive strategy for when AI goes full attack.

Bottom line, I think it's way too easy to score against attacking teams and too difficult to score against defensive teams. In my Puskas Akadémia save, second season, barely any transfers, i beat a full strength Roma in their stadium. In terms of attributes my team is below Championship level. I also beat Celtic 6-0 and other similar results. But against minnows in the league? a complete nightmare. They change to a 433 narrow and they score with their first shot.

I do feel you on this and hopefully SI addresses the issue in FM20. Specifically, the use of the narrow 433, a totally unrealistic tactic IRL because of it's inherent vulnerabilities, has been a cheat when used either by human players or by the AI. 

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@mc22 its hard to comment on a tactic like that from a previous version.  I did open the link and immediately noted he was using 5 attack roles which, I dunno, maybe he was able to mitigate that somehow with how team shape used to work or something.  Personally if I'm playing on 'Defend' I would not have my fullbacks attacking like that as they'll end up making too many forward runs, leaving vulnerabilities in behind and they'll get tired quickly with the runs + tracking back into position.

I've been following this thread fairly well these past couple of days and I know there is some very good "do's" and "don'ts" already contained in here.  Try making a sort common sense version, fairly conservative roles, some people holding position, no more than a couple of attack duties, a little bit of slower play / ball retention & good set pieces.  See how that goes?

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@Robson 07 yeah I think my obsession with this tactic is why this thread is so interesting. Definitely in the new tactical set up it doesn't have the same effect, and when I try to implement it in the current engine it either leads to beautiful counter attacks, OR failing miserably, no middle ground. That being said I will try firing it back up and tweaking it around a bit, maybe just having supporting fullbacks for starters.

Thanks for the input, this might be the most fascinating yet oddly respectful thread I've seen on this forum yet.

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On 06/10/2019 at 14:52, DiStru_ said:

I don't know if it's just me, but it feels like no matter how hard you try, you'll always have a better chance playing an attacking system rather than the defensive one

Personally, I've encountered all sorts. However, I find that often the match I experience doesn't always align with the tactical approach I take.

My recent save I was playing as one of the weakest teams in the league. I was regularly instructed by my AssMan to approach games with a Defensive mentality and lower defensive line/ LOE. I adopted this approach initially - although with a Cautious rather than Defensive mentality. Results were more or less as expected - the odd win, a few draws, a couple losses - but the performances weren't. I'd expected to be played off the park in most of these games, but generally my team would have the majority of possession and create the most chances, with the opposition barely threatening beyond the occasional long shot/ counter. The football, however, was often dull and uninspired - from both teams.

Likewise, when I played a team 2 divisions higher than me in the cup, I adopted a Defensive mentality, hoping for the best, but expecting (actually, even grateful for) a hammering. Again, my team bossed possession and chances and ended up winning the game. Not by a fortunate counter attack, but a really dominate performance. Even in the dying moments, with opposition about to be knocked out by my little team, they were just passing it around between the defence and midfield with no urgency whatsoever. Bizarre.

As I got more bold with my tactics - and began to trust the judgement of my AssMan less and less - I started playing a more Balanced/ Positive mentality - and all of a sudden my players started to play a lot better - wingers would look more dangerous, direct passes from midfield would connect instead of just being punted into touch, etc. etc.

In one particular game I'd approached with a Balanced mentality, I recall sitting through some of the worst football I've ever witnessed. After about 60 minutes, I got fed up and simply switched to a Positive mentality. The difference was staggering. All of a sudden my team woke from their slumber and began to play like Barcelona in their Pomp. I know the answer is likely "it's your tactics" but it seemed strange to me that such a minor change could have such a major effect on general performance. The ability to pass the ball 10 yards accurately, for instance. 

Similarly, when I had been forced to chase a game, adopting an Attacking or very Attacking mentality - coupled  high tempo and with super aggressive pressing and high defensive line/ LOE - my team seems to play much better... with very little push-back or threat of counter from the opposition. I must admit, at times it felt like I was taking advantage of an OP tactic or something.

 

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9 hours ago, AlexJames said:

 it seemed strange to me that such a minor change could have such a major effect on general performance.

Switching to another mentality is a major change

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Okay, getting slaughtered by Chelsea made me take a step back. I realised that being stubborn and sticking with the 4-4-2 DM will take me nowhere, because we simply aren't good enough to withstand that much pressure.

hbNsGJe.png

While we might be solid through the middle, we get absolutely destroyed down the flanks. On a Defensive mentality my FBs defend very narrow, which gives the opposition's wide players all the time in the world for crosses.

I'll instead try the 3-5-2. Additional body in the CB position should increase our chances of winning headers and WBs should defend wider. I'm thinking about something like this:

------------P-PFs------------

---------CAR-CMa---------

-CWBa---DMd---WBs-

------CBc-CBd-CBc------

Defensive mentality, Play Narrower, Shorter Passing, Distribute to CBs

+Mark Tighter PI on all three CBs

Defensive mentality to minimise our risk taking. We're the weakest team in the league, so I don't want us trying anything too crazy. Play Narrower to keep it tight down the middle and not get too stretched in case of lost possession. This is the TI I might remove when playing against wide formations, since we could have space to exploit between the FB-AMR/AML (idea from Cleon's 4-1-2-1-2 thread). Shorter Passing to give our players time to move up the pitch (Lower Tempo default on Defensive). Distribute to CBs to make the most out of our numbers at the back, they should have plenty of safe passing options. I didn't pick Play Out Of Defence because I don't want to put too much pressure on them--try to play from the back, but if you find yourself under too much pressure, clear the ball long. Mark Tighter PIs on CBs to make sure we don't give the opposition time and space for easy headers. We'll defend very deep anyway, so there won't be too much space to expose by pace.

In terms of attack, I imagine left CWBa giving us a good passing option with his Roam From Position PI. On Defensive team mentality his individual mentality is only Balanced, meaning he shouldn't be too aggressive despite the Attack duty. To cover for him, I picked CAR, rather than another roaming role such as BBM. Despite the Support duty, he will be Cautious, so a Defend duty might be an overkill on this team mentality. Next to him, CMa, hopefully giving PFs a good passing option. To balance the right flank, I went for a more conservative WBs.

My only dilemma was a DM position. Anchor Man might be too conservative for our already very conservative team mentality and we have 3 CBs, so I probably don't need anyone anchoring my defence. Maybe a more creative DLP/Regista, but I'm afraid that will slow our transitions down too much ("ball magnets"). I want us to either hit teams on the break or create our chances with cautious play, so I don't see any need for defence-splitting passes from the back (we only have one striker on Attack, so a lot of them would probably go to waste). I'm thinking either a BWM or a DM. I went with a DM for now, since a BWM might be too aggressive for our sit-back style (I want to force the opposition wide rather than needlessly exposing myself down the middle). Also, are outer CBs on Cover a good idea (to cover for aggressive WBs, I don't want them sucked up into the midfield) or will they be too stand-offish on a Defensive team mentality (deep defensive line by default)?

If you have any suggestions or spot flaws in my logic, please let me know. A lot of you have been really helpful so far. I admit I didn't think about the consequences such static "hoof it" style would have on my defence. My main goal was to be defensively solid, but I can definitely see that you simply can't give the opposition ALL the possession (we are lowest in the league in that regard, with 44%), because they'll break you down eventually (at least using a 4-4-2, maybe something even deeper such as 5-4-1 would be better for parking the bus).

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