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As the title suggests, I'm having a go at one last FM19 save before the new iteration comes out. I want to do something a little bit different to usual, I've spent the majority of my time this year with York City, my home town team, or with PL teams expected to struggle like Brighton & Newcastle, both of which made great saves. However, as I'm not going to be playing for too long I figured I'd go for Man City and see what life is like at the top. So far I'm genuinely finding it much more difficult, which surely shouldn't be the case?! Previous saves have resulted in me playing more direct, counter style tactics but obviously Man City are much more possession based. 

Whilst results haven't been bad, in Jan and 4 or 5 points off the top but in 4th, I've not managed to get the team playing as I'd really like. I understand opponents will sit deep, I've tried to factor that in to my tactics. I'm defensively the best in the league, but I need to score more goals. With my current set-up goals are very much shared around, however I want Aguero, or Jesus, to be my main goal threat, scoring a greater % of our goals.

 

Apologies for the lack of screenshots but I currently line up as follows (4-3-3 with 1 DM and 2 Wide Forwards):-

R>L

Ederson (SK/S)

Cancelo (FB/A)

Stones (CB/D)

Laporte (CB/D)

Mendy (WB/S) - Have also tried (IWB/S) when Silva plays as a more adventurous role

Fernandinho (DM/D)

De Bruyne (DLP/S)

Silva (AP/S)  - Have also tried (MZ/S), and both roles on (A) too

Bernardo (IF/S)

Sterling (W/A)

Aguero (DLF/A)

 

Team instructions:-

Positive

Pass short

Play out of defence

Slower tempo (Sometimes)

Counter-press

Counter

Higher LOE

Higher DL

Prevent short GK distribution (Sometimes)

 

Player instructions:-

Aguero, Bernardo, Sterling, and Silva to press more

 

To reiterate, what I'm really looking for is to become more of a goal threat, with a higher % of goals coming from my ST, whilst remaining quite solid at the back. I'm not looking to recreate Pep's style so 60%+ possession is not the goal unless it helps me achieve my other aims. I've seen a lot of people comment regarding a high amount of crosses per game, I understand with an FB on A and a W on A I'll have plenty too, however I want to keep a healthy balance... hopefully with the right tactics my players will have plenty of passing options and be able to make better decisions.

Any help with this would be much appreciated. :)

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The first thing I would point out is that you have two playmakers in central midfield. Do you not think this is overkill. What is the reasoning behind this? Who are they making play for?

I am not too surprised you struggle for goals here. You do not have very well defined goal threats here, and nobody is making or exploiting space. Think for a second about what your players are doing. Aguero will start deep and end up high when you have the ball. This will push the defensive line back to handle him, and therefore you create some space between defense and midfield. Nobody is moving in to that space. Your IF will push up against the defensive line too, but it is already dropped deeper to take out Aguero, so he will have no space to exploit. He main goal source, I expect, is a cross from the left. Cancelo will get some space created for him by the IF pushing in. But he has little in the way of support around him and probably have to cross if he gets the ball in space (and teams will often cede the wide space to you).

On the left, Sterling will stretch the wide fullback, which will create some gaps in the half spaces. He also has pretty decent support around him, with the WB(S) you could force players to their right flank. This creates space on your right flank. The IF may be able to exploit this, but see above. Again, the main option will be a cross.

Your midfield is altogether too conservative. You will be able to retain the ball well enough, but that may lead to an endless recycling with no penetration. Both playmakers are going to want to come get the ball, but there is nobody creating space for them to use. They will not have many passing options to make passes except to the flanks or speculative through balls. I do not know if you need a DMC(D) in this formation. The fact that you are the best defensive team in the league is because your midfield is very safe. That is fine (I play like that often with bigger sides) in general, but clearly not for what you want to achieve.

The first thing I would change is the midfield. Make it more adventurous. You do not need two playmakers. So think about how to use or create space for other players using the midfield. I do this with a CM(A)/DLF(s)/IF(A) trio. The DLF drags defenders out of shape, and the CM(A)/IF(A) attack the spaces this leaves. However this is only one solution (and it is better to find your own).

Another example would be to play 4231. This will likely make you less defensively good, but you can be more potent in attack. You could use a DLF(A) with a T(A) as an AMC. The DLF(A) will create space for the T(A) to work in. I mean the combinations you can use are endless, as long as you think about who is creating space and who is going to use that space (and to get tricky who is going to use the space of the player who is moving to use the space created by the first player).

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8 hours ago, saware said:

I currently line up as follows (4-3-3 with 1 DM and 2 Wide Forwards):-

R>L

Ederson (SK/S)

Cancelo (FB/A)

Stones (CB/D)

Laporte (CB/D)

Mendy (WB/S) - Have also tried (IWB/S) when Silva plays as a more adventurous role

Fernandinho (DM/D)

De Bruyne (DLP/S)

Silva (AP/S)  - Have also tried (MZ/S), and both roles on (A) too

Bernardo (IF/S)

Sterling (W/A)

Aguero (DLF/A)

 

Team instructions:-

Positive

Pass short

Play out of defence

Slower tempo (Sometimes)

Counter-press

Counter

Higher LOE

Higher DL

Prevent short GK distribution (Sometimes)

 

Player instructions:-

Aguero, Bernardo, Sterling, and Silva to press more

First off, I strongly agree with @sporadicsmiles on most points he made, especially on the overkill of using 2 PMs next to each other :thup:

Now, the tactic overall does not need too much tweaking IMHO. From my personal experience and taking the quality of your players into account, these are suggestions I would offer you to consider:

- remove lower tempo and leave it on default (standard), because your other instructions are already making your attacks patient enough, and on top of that - playing too slow allows the opposition more time to consolidate defensively and thus make it easier to defend against you;

- add the Work ball into box TI, because your players are absolutely capable of playing that way effectively, but also Be more expressive to encourage them to think outside the box (the combo of WBiB and BME really helps with unlocking tight defenses when you are a top team with plenty of world-class players in the midfield and up front);

- remove the Prevent short GKD TI, because you already use a combo of higher LOE and split press, which should be enough to put a good amount of pressure on the opposition during their build-up phase while at the same time encouraging them to try to play from the back and thus hopefully be drawn out of shape on occasion

In terms of roles and duties, this is how I would set your starting 11 up:

TQ

IFat                                        IFsu

MEZsu       RPM

HB

IWBsu      BPDde     CDde     FBat

SKat

Positive

- short pass, PoD, WBiB, BME

- counter, counter-press

- higher DL, higher LOE, offside trap

and split press :brock:

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1st of all, thanks to you both for the feedback. 

I agree with you on the playmakers being overkill, I have tried several roles and duties there but nothing seems to have really stood out, therefore I think I've just fallen into the trap of playing Silva in his supposed preferred setup. I have toyed with the Mez before so I'll definitely go back and give that another shot alongside a more progessive midfield.

My star performer is Bernardo, who is actually my top scorer, and hopefully the changes made won't has too much of an effect on his performances. @Experienced Defender, can I ask why you feel I should change the LW to an IF? I understand this will increase the % chance of a cross, but I usually have Sterling there & I thought my having him as a W instead of the IF it may make him vary his movement slightly so he doesn't always cut inside. Also, with an IWB behind would this not reduce the width too much, causing congestion in the middle? As for my ST, I've never tried using a Treq up front, always in the #10 role, so I'd certainly be intrigued to see how that would play out.

The suggested changes to the defence make sense, when I've tried the Mez in CM before I did use an IWB behind. Would you still recommend using a BPD if the CB has 'Tries Long Range Passes' as a trait? Whilst someone like Laporte is obviously very good at it I don't want him launching it long all the time.

In terms of instructions, I did only use slower tempo and prevent short GK distribution infrequently so I can understand why they're not needed, and your explanation of using something like WBIB and BME makes sense. Is there a particular reason why you would choose Offside Trap too?

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18 minutes ago, saware said:

@Experienced Defender, can I ask why you feel I should change the LW to an IF?

No, I don't say that you should change him (Sterling) to an IF (on attack btw). I just gave you an example of how I would (most likely) set up these 11 guys if I managed them. But it absolutely does not mean that you (or anyone else) has to play the way I would. There are a number of ways to create a good tactical setup, so what I put forward was just one possible example, but certainly not the only. And btw, in the particular setup that I proposed, Sterling can also be played as a winger on attack without a need to change other roles and duties. The reason I opted for the IF on attack was to encourage him to attack the space created by the roaming roles such as TQ, MEZ and RPM. 

 

30 minutes ago, saware said:

I usually have Sterling there & I thought my having him as a W instead of the IF it may make him vary his movement slightly so he doesn't always cut inside

Absolutely nothing wrong in your line of reasoning (I also like to use this type of hybrid between IF and W) :thup: 

 

32 minutes ago, saware said:

with an IWB behind would this not reduce the width too much, causing congestion in the middle?

Not as much as one may think (or fear). First, there is a mezzala which is a highly mobile role that - among other things - likes to drift wide when there is space. Then, while IF tends to cut inside when he has the ball, without the ball he will not sit narrow all the time (even if you tell him to do so via the PI, let alone without it). Finally, even an IWB will not be positioned inside all the time, he will also move wider when that makes sense in terms of space. The thing is, when you have intelligent players (which you do have at City), they will use available space very wisely and know where, when and how they should move.

I'll give you an example. Recently I played a match with this setup on the right side: IWB on defend (RB), mezzala on attack (RCM) and AP on support (AMR) - basically very similar to what we just discussed. Do you know how our first goal came? The IWB on defend duty moved wide overlapping the AP (even though no overlap TI was used), received the ball and launched a cross to the far post for the AML (IF on support told to sit narrower) in the manner you would expect from an FB (or WB) on attack duty. 

46 minutes ago, saware said:

As for my ST, I've never tried using a Treq up front, always in the #10 role, so I'd certainly be intrigued to see how that would play out

I wouldn't use a TQ role if Aguero were not perfectly suited for it and if the system as a whole were not set up in an appropriate way. In a different kind of setup a TQ might struggle, that's why it's important to take everything into account when creating a tactic. 

51 minutes ago, saware said:

Would you still recommend using a BPD if the CB has 'Tries Long Range Passes' as a trait? Whilst someone like Laporte is obviously very good at it I don't want him launching it long all the time

Precisely because of that particular trait ;) 

And he will not do it all the time, because in addition to being good at passing, he is also an intelligent player who knows when it can make sense and when not. Btw, that's a key difference between BPD and NCB. 

54 minutes ago, saware said:

Is there a particular reason why you would choose Offside Trap too?

Because you play with a high DL, have intelligent defenders and a very good sweeper-keeper, which all suggests that offside trap is an idea worth considering (unless you want to play one of the CBs on cover duty, which is also a legitimate option).

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Well, that went badly! Finished 3rd, 12 points off winners Liverpool but was knocked out of CL in Feb, lost the League Cup final, and didn't perform that well in the FA Cup. Got to the end of the season and was called into the office for the 2nd time, wasn't going to beg so decided to hand my notice in and leave by mutual consent.

Made a few changes thanks to the advice above. I tried Aguero (when he was fit) as a Treq & he finished the season with 21 goals in all comps, although I'm not sure how many were pens. Kept Sterling as W-A on the left, but used a Mez-S on the left hand side of my midfield. Experimented with a RPM on the right hand side, however with De Bruyne there he seemed to shoot from distance far too often therefore I kept him as a DLP-S to try to rein him in a bit. As for the DM position, again, I toyed with the HB but it seemed as though it made me muchless defensively solid through the centre so I resorted back to DM-D. In defence, I changed my LB from WB-S to IWB-S, but I didn't notice a great deal of difference... I think Mendy may have some traits which class with that role and duty, which I'm guessing probably isn't ideal. In addition I swapped the BPD role from Stones to Laprote. I didn't quite have the guts to give Ederson the SGK-A role, and kept him as SGK-S.

I didn't change the instructions too heavily, I added WBIB and BME. I'm not sure either worked as I really wanted them to, WBIB seemed to reduce crosses a bit, however quite often I'd find teams lined up very narrow and packed the box as expected, yet I ddn't see much expression from my players other than trying a shot, dribbling into a sea of bodies, or playing it out wide for a cross. I toggled Play Offside Trap on and off depending on who I was facing and their lineup, but found when I didn't have Prevent Short GK Distribution on my team lacked the bite I desired... possibly due to Aguero and his Treq role not being able to be a part of the split press?

Anyway, I think my team probably was more of a threat going forward, and Aguro did finish as my top scorer, with the changes made, but it obviously came at a cost. Defensively we weren't as solid, and we didn't have as much possession (I wasn't initially worried about giving up the ball if it meant I could be more dangerous, however I do want to maintain some sort of control). The most frustrating thing I found was that my players were supposed to be some of the best finishers in the league and yet I was near the bottom of the table for chance conversion. I was having a lot of shots, not really from stupid distances, more from around the 18yrd mark than 35yrds, but they were either blocked or rarely on target and it all felt a bit rushed.

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