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Young Devils - Home of Bielsa, Total Football and Brazilian Magic Box (Man Utd FM20 Experiment)

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35 minutes ago, gibson147 said:

Exactly, I was too easily sucked into trying to do what I thought I needed to do in finding the miracle tactic. And for some people that might be fine, wanting to win and enjoying that which I'm cool with.

I do use some TIs, so I set my line of engagement and defensive line as these are general instructions that make some sense for the style you might want to play. These can change depending on the opposition but at least I've got an understanding of what this will mean and why I am doing it. Same with offside trap or playing out from the back.

Exactly, those are probably the essential 3 for any Bielsa tactic, high line of engagement and defensive line. And playing out of the back. The rest can be used as a reaction to what opposition does during the match but should not be on at all times. I rather change the mentality if i need my team to go on more offensive or defensive.

Edited by crusadertsar

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16 minutes ago, crusadertsar said:

Exactly, those are probably the essential 3 for any Bielsa tactic, high line of engagement and defensive line. And playing out of the back. The rest just be used as a reaction to what opposition does during the match but should not be on at all times. I rather change the mentality if i need my team to go on more offensive or defensive.

Yes, fully agreed. I also set the intensity setting for pressing to very high which you can do either through TIs and / or PIs. I tend to set it high on TIs and adjust PIs with my back 4 and DM to low so they don't step out of the defence too much. And also I setup attacking as wide as Bielsa likes to use the full width of the pitch when in possesion. After that though I leave everything as standard and just adjust where needed depending on what happens in the game. Mentality is also set game by game depending on opposition and I will change if required depending again on what happens in the game.

Since I've been in the Prem I do tend to bottle it a bit and play a lower defensive line depending who I'm up against... I know Bielsa only has a Plan A so goes against his philosophy...

To do a true Bielsa tactic is very difficult in FM. In fact it is very difficult to do in real life as Bielsa has found out over the years!! It was one of the things I wondered the devs might do and have a 'Bielsaball' option as a tactic :D

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4 hours ago, crusadertsar said:

Then there are the front 4 who are supposed to be more direct because of their PPMs. One important thing i forgot to mention is that I tell my inverted wingers to stay wider, making them cut in much later. So the width is definitely maintained. I'll show some videos of our goals to better showcase this in next blog.

I think it would not be good enough on being wide. Afraid your front 3 on attack duty will be too much cutting inside(even with IW role) and with EG you will be too stacked in the box.

I would prefer wingers with cut inside PPM, might not be able to find or train them on the spot. Additionally I would say oftet Pablo would be playing more middle with WB overlapping while other wing is more stretching the pitch. But again wingers with cut inside PPM could cut in too late... So it is hard to pick something.

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ok... Igual seria bueno un enlace a táctica de su autor, con las modificaciones que propone, para darle curso ,opinar y corregir a gusto..

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An update coming on Friday where I build on my old overloads article, exploring Bielsa and Guardiola connection. Here's a little snippet:

 
What Bielsa, and now Guardiola have done again and again is akin to "gaming the system". They have used the way others play the game to find an artful advantage that only they can exploit. Today most teams are so obsessed with controlling the midfield, they cannot abide being outnumbered there. Thus impossible situations are created where to maintain central control they give up the flanks, leaving acres of space for the right kind of pacey player to exploit. This is not cheating, or breaking football's rules in any way. Bielsa and Guardiola are simply master illusionists, who found a minute flaw within the system's apparently impenetrable framework and zeroed in on it quickly and ruthlessly. So while our collective eye is on his colorful cape, Bielsa is pulling the rabbit from his sleeve. 
 

 

IMG_20191125_143721.jpg

Edited by crusadertsar

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Creating Overloads in FM20

The original can be found here in case some of the pictures don't work or you want to read it in better formatting - https://dictatethegame.com/2019/11/29/young-devils-creating-overloads-2-0/

This is a followup to my article for FM19:

My obsession with overloads first started in FM19 with Roma. At that time I fell in love with this simple and effective strategy. The consistent results it led to with the Giallorossi, made me even more respectful of Pep Guardiola's football philosophy and his achievements. More recently while researching for my current Young Devils series, I started to realize how much of an effect Marcelo Bielsa's ideas had on Pep's tactics. Overloads were just as important, if not more so, in Bielsa's system. When it comes to overloads, he taught Pep everything he knows. In this article I will go to the source and give Bielsa the respect and attention he deserves.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is JPG_1573779001959.jpgMentor to Student - Passing the Torch

Overloads by themselves are easy enough to create. Rather it is managing to take advantage of the freed up space that is complicated. The central focus of my FM19 Running with the Wolves series was creating overloads. Sometimes I was successful, sometimes not. I managed to build a rather successful 4-2-3-1 tactic that won a few trophies and awards. But then it was time to move on.

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I wrote extensively about it here. So you could always refer back to that article to get the basic overview on creating overloads. Although it was tested with an older version of Football Manager, the theory and concepts apply just as well in FM20. In this piece I will be fine-tuning the ideas introduced there. I will focus on how to exploit the overload by creating a 2v1 or 1v1 on the opposite side and component roles to a good overload system, such as the ones used by Bielsa and Pep. This time I will use my Manchester United side as an example in Football Manager 2020.

Overload - magic trick or cheat?

Simply put overcrowding the center creates more space out wide. Opposition manager will typically try to counteract the central overload by telling his wingers to cut inside to support their midfield. This in turn generates 1v1s on the wings where your own winger can take advantage of the opponent's isolated full back.

The trick is to make your opponent commit more heavily on one side in order to counteract your apparent threat there. You can do this by either putting your best players there or by using more support duties. Then its all a matter of quick build up and release. Build up the attack on one side and then quickly switch the play to the other side. Its also useful to have your fastest, most dangerous winger on the side opposite the overload.

The above situation puts the opposition players in an impossible Catch 22 scenario. While the team employing the inverted wingbacks is in a win/win situation either way. The opponent's winger must decide whether to also cut inside to counter the overload, or to support his fullback partner allowing the inverted wingbacks to outnumber their midfielders.

Marcelo Bielsa likes to use inverted wingbacks because their inward runs regularly lead to 1v1 situations for the winger. This connection was not lost on Pep Guardiola, a self-professed student of the eccentric Argentinean manager. So while the modern trend has been to use wingbacks to provide width with wingers cutting inside as inside forwards, Pep the Rebel followed Bielsa's lead to let wingers do what wingers do best. Stretch the play. During his time in Munich, Pep utilized not one but four traditional wingers, Ribery, Robben, Costa and Coman. By popularizing the inverted wingback Pep allowed his wingers to flourish.

With Pep, picking up the torch, we recently had a veritable rebirth of both the inverted wingback and the winger role. Bielsa's and Pep's wingers (be it Helder Costa at Leeds or Sterling at Man City) often get into 1v1s with the opposing fullback (who is often slower and easier to beat one on one). It is nothing new, as wingers were always tasked with receiving the ball out wide and taking on the fullback. We saw this as early as 1920s when Chapman's WM reigned supreme.

Football_Formation_-_WM.png Herbert Chapman's famous WM formation was one of the 1st examples of "gaming the system". Chapman's unusual for its time tactic exploited the change in the offside law that reduced the number of opposition players that an attacker needed between himself and the goal-line from three to two (including keeper)

To illustrate this magic trick of the overloads, I tried to make my own graphic but failed miserably. Then I scoured the net and found the following image, courtesy of OutsideOftheBoot. I think it shows perfectly just how simple and effective Bielsa's overload can be. Note how narrow Red's midfield has become in trying to stop the Blue's overload in the midfield. Reds have little choice but to respond to inward-moving wingbacks as by giving up the center, they'll likely loose possession. Then via a quick switch pass from the Blue's right side, their #7 gets a 1v1 situation against Red's isolated left fullback. Same could be done for the left #11 winger.

City2.jpg?fit=662%2C479&ssl=1

And for those who prefer to see more interactive representation I think this video might give an idea. Its also I think its pretty cool seeing the clip of Pep in action!

What Bielsa, and now Guardiola have done again and again is akin to "gaming the system". They have used the way others play the game to find an artful advantage that only they can exploit. Today most teams are so obsessed with controlling the midfield, they cannot abide being outnumbered there. Thus impossible situations are created where to maintain central control they give up the flanks, leaving acres of space for the right kind of pacey player to exploit. This is not cheating, or breaking football's rules in any way. Bielsa and Guardiola are simply master illusionists, who found a minute flaw within the system's apparently impenetrable framework and zeroed in on it quickly and ruthlessly. So while our collective eye is on his colorful cape, Bielsa is pulling the rabbit from his sleeve. Bravo!

Tactical Roleplaying

One cannot talk about Bielsa's famous attacking philosophy without discussing the player roles, the cogs in the machine so to speak. There are certain roles that are so essential to his style of play that he inevitably gravitates towards them no matter which club he is at. Such are the inverted wingbacks and the enganche. Lets take a look at inverted wingback, a role which Bielsa first pioneered and Pep Guardiola made famous with Bayern Munich.

Inverted Wingbacks or Wide Midfielders?

JPG_1574787619360.jpgArturo Vidal, Bielsa's inverted wingback bossing opposition midfield while playing for Chile

Best example of Bielsa using inverted wingbacks to create overloads was Arturo Vidal with Chile's national team. Under Bielsa Chile had quiet a resurgence from 2007 to 2010. Ultimately they made it to the last 16 stage in 2010 World Cup (only losing out to Brazil) thanks for Bielsa's unorthodox tactics such as the one below. Note Vidal's position in the diagram. But I thought that Vidal was a tireless, hard-working box-to-box midfielder, you might ask. Well, that is exactly why he was so indispensable in Bielsa's 3-3-1-3 system.

chile-bielsa-1423570099.png

Bielsa is good at knowing the strengths of his players and how to use them in unusual ways to get an advantage. If he played Football Manager, he would be the one to stress the importance of attributes. And not to fill those perfect green circles. Arturo Vidal, for example, he used as a center-back, a holding midfielder, and an inverted wingback. Not surprisingly he was one Bielsa's best inverted wingbacks. To play in the midfield you need to have the skills of the midfielder.

Bielsa is also happy to play natural midfielders (eg. Jara in the diagram) in defence. He is a manager who will rarely use a pure defender in the back line. Due to the high demands placed on the centre-backs by his high line, hard pressing system, Bielsa will often favour midfielders in lieu of pure defenders. Thus he will mostly use midfielders in this role because of their superior passing and quickness in getting back from advanced position. World-class midfielders such as Gary Medel, Arturo Vidal and Marco Estrada have all been used in this way.

Another important consideration when creating overloads is your opposition. One can never talk about overloads in isolation. So you got your supporting duties on one side, your attacker on the other, and you think you are ready to go. Wait. Even if you have everything set, before you press play take a look at the opposition's scout report. Identify their slowest winger or fullback and then try to put your fastest wide attacker on the side with the weakest link. He will be exploiting this side while the overload draws the opponent to the other flank. If you pair your main goal threat, lets call him the Hammer, a pacy winger, with a wingback then it could be even better as you create a deadly 2v1 on that flank.

5aed6a446554160a79be9fe6.png?fit=662%2C3

The Anvil - Pogba

Those who read my first attempt at analyzing overloads, probably remember the Anvil and the Hammer analogy. I think it is a good way to view this concept. Think of the opposition team as the piece of raw heated metal. Hammer it all you want but you won't be able to bend it exactly how you want without putting it on some very hard surface first. On the other hand, put the metal on an anvil (like one above), beat it and watch it shaped exactly as you want it!

tact2.png?fit=662%2C673&ssl=1

In my tactic, my left side with its overabundance of supporting duties, is the anvil. Its main function is to draw the opposition to it like bees to honey. Hopefully the support duties will ensure that the ball gets passed around there, which should attract the opponent. This is why I put an inverted supporting winger, wingback on support and the mezzala all next to each other. The key player in the Anvil, is Paul Pogba, my mezzala. His role is essential in slipping into the channels between the left winger and the enganche and drawing most of the opposition's attention.

pogba-scaled.png?fit=662%2C220&ssl=1

Pic of Pogba

Also as you can see Pogba is one of my best passers. Along with the enganche he will help in switching the ball from the overloaded left side to my right winger. This winger should be your fastest runner. Which brings me to my Hammer.

The Hammer - "Rush"ford and Norwegian Beast

The Hammer is actually made up of two players, whose varying skill-sets compliment each other. As mentioned before, you need an extremely fast player to take advantage of the overload and the subsequent switch pass. Marcus Rashford is just such a player.

rashford-3-scaled.png?fit=662%2C221&ssl=

Technically he is a striker but his elite acceleration and pace make him indispensable on my right flank. Once the trap of the overload is sprung, there are few fullbacks who can stop him. His other qualities as a striker only add to his game and make it more difficult to displace him from the ball. His superior attacking movement in the final third make it easy for him to cut into the channels and link up well with my central striker.

JPG_1574783074574.jpg

Rashford's striker partner is the other half of the Hammer duo. He is our newest acquisition, the 19 y.o Norwegian sensation Erling Haaland, whom from now on I will simply call The Beast. He is tall, extremely strong and athletic. But also surprisingly agile, fast and a decent passer. In other words a definition of a total package and a complete striker.

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One thing is instantly apparent from Erling's attributes. He is one of the best young off the ball runners and finishers. The Beast can really sneak up on you.

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On his debut he scored a brace in a 6-0 victory over shell-shocked Watford. In his third game The Beast dismantled Sheffield almost single-handed by scoring 4 of 5 goals that night.

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Since then the Beast's offensive output has sputtered somewhat, although he still leads the team with 9 goals at the beginning of November.

1100600_screenshots_20191125194320_1.jpg

So while defensively we have been rock solid, only letting in 7 goals in 12 games (1st in the League), our offensive output has diminished since October. And I cannot blame everything on slumping Haaland. This is something that I am planning to improve during the current international break. I am starting to realize that making some compromises about Team Instructions might become necessary. As you will see in the tactic download below I added a few instructions. I added them partly to mirror Bielsa's style more closely. That is with a high defensive line, more pressing (without going into full geggenpress mode) and with much more width in attack. So to generate this width I changed the right inverted winger to winger (attack) and the left inverted wingback into a regular wingback (albeit with instruction to sit narrower).

Enganche - The Hook

EIIkSk6XUAE_SQB.jpgJuan Mata, my enganche, the only role in FM that gets better with age

I will leave this one for the upcoming article. I am now realizing that I will need a whole article to gush my love for this awesome role and its history.

UPDATE: So the tweaking of the tactic has bore fruit! A month has passed and Red Devils are playing like a team on fire, compared to the start of the season. After the international break when I made the tactical changes, between Nov 23 and Dec 29, we played 10 games. We won 8 of them, drew 1, and lost 1. In the process we scored 30 and conceded 8 goals. On the other hand in the three months between August and November, we only scored 26 goals.

1100600_screenshots_20191128211444_1.jpg

As you can see our only loss was to Arsenal (who are currently 2nd in league, 4 points behind Liverpool). The 2-2 draw against Chelsea was especially hard to swallow. They are not doing as well but they surprised us with the quality of their youth. The beatings of Liverpool and Spurs (3-1 both) were the highlights so far.

The New Hammer & Anvil Tactic Download - https://uploadfiles.io/z7pmsrgd

Hope you enjoyed my articles so far and continue to follow this series as it develops and my Young Devils go from U23 to Champions League glory! 

Edited by crusadertsar

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Muy bueno....

Conceptos, variantes, roles.....:thup:.....

Táctica incluso que se presta para variar en cambio de posiciones dentro del campo..., respetando formato de instrucciones--

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14 hours ago, carloshcorbalan said:

Muy bueno....

Conceptos, variantes, roles.....:thup:.....

Táctica incluso que se presta para variar en cambio de posiciones dentro del campo..., respetando formato de instrucciones--

Muchas gracias, amigo :) 

Edited by crusadertsar

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this is where i am with Valencia now, early August.

3kq7NNL.jpg

I also thought to try and strecth the field diagonally.

The first couple of friendlies were mediocre to say the least, so i am glad that thisseems to be working for you it also gives me courage to go on. I dont quite fancy the engache role,  i m thinking of trying a more mobile role there

Edited by Hunter T

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12 hours ago, Hunter T said:

this is where i am with Valencia now, early August.

3kq7NNL.jpg

I also thought to try and strecth the field diagonally.

The first couple of friendlies were mediocre to say the least, so i am glad that thisseems to be working for you it also gives me courage to go on. I dont quite fancy the engache role,  i m thinking of trying a more mobile role there

It takes a while for this tactic to get going but if you persist it's worth it. I lost a few friendlies too. But now it's March and I'm 3rd in League and just recently beat Arsenal 3-1 in Europa League. You do need good personnel. Being United helps I guess.

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On 29/11/2019 at 22:00, crusadertsar said:

tact2.png?fit=662%2C673&ssl=1

In my tactic, my left side with its overabundance of supporting duties, is the anvil. Its main function is to draw the opposition to it like bees to honey. Hopefully the support duties will ensure that the ball gets passed around there, which should attract the opponent. This is why I put an inverted supporting winger, wingback on support and the mezzala all next to each other. The key player in the Anvil, is Paul Pogba, my mezzala. His role is essential in slipping into the channels between the left winger and the enganche and drawing most of the opposition's attention

 

But what if, for example, the opposition's left back is superior to Rashford in terms of ability and is played on defend duty, while, on the other hand, their right back could be more exploited. And at the same time, you would have a squad that is more suited to overload the left, so all of your wingers would be right footed, and all of your right backs would be more suited to play as IWBs and all of your left backs would more suited to play as WBs.

Would you mirror your tactic (overload right flank, exploit left) in the expense of players not perfectly suited to their roles, or would you rather stick to your original tactic?

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9 hours ago, cocoadavid said:

But what if, for example, the opposition's left back is superior to Rashford in terms of ability and is played on defend duty, while, on the other hand, their right back could be more exploited. And at the same time, you would have a squad that is more suited to overload the left, so all of your wingers would be right footed, and all of your right backs would be more suited to play as IWBs and all of your left backs would more suited to play as WBs.

Would you mirror your tactic (overload right flank, exploit left) in the expense of players not perfectly suited to their roles, or would you rather stick to your original tactic?

I would definately use a mirror. In fact i did that already in my victory over Man City. Didn't want Rashford to be on the same side as Sterling so put him on my left wing and overloaded the right (City's left where they had their best players). Ended up winning that one 3-1 with two assists from Rash. Sorry I thought i mentioned it in the article. I guess will have to do an update.

Edited by crusadertsar

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I have really been looking into overloads after reading this. I feel my left side overload works a treat the right sided one is getting there now. But I have went about setting up a central overload trying to free both flanks up. I was wondering what your thoughts on this is. 

9daec460bd39ca87f26f1558c68a0cc6.png

 

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14 minutes ago, SixPointer said:

I have really been looking into overloads after reading this. I feel my left side overload works a treat the right sided one is getting there now. But I have went about setting up a central overload trying to free both flanks up. I was wondering what your thoughts on this is. 

9daec460bd39ca87f26f1558c68a0cc6.png

 

Nice balance of roles! Love the symmetry. It should work very well indeed. The shape and the central overload is actually closer to Bielsa's current formation at Leeds. 4-1-4-1. I can see why Bielsa uses it. It is a very versatile formation. Can change into 4-3-3 like yours when he wants to be more attacking or even into his usual 3-3-1-3 during attacking phase when wingbacks move up  and defensive midfielder drops. You could also try the opposite, twin inverted wingbacks and wingers to create central overloads. Bielsa does both.

I'm actually starting to gravitate towards 4-3-3 and 4-1-4-1, as you will see in my next update which should be up late tomorrow ;)

Edited by crusadertsar

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51 minutes ago, crusadertsar said:

Nice balance of roles! Love the symmetry. It should work very well indeed. The shape and the central overload is actually closer to Bielsa's current formation at Leeds. 4-1-4-1. I can see why Bielsa uses it. It is a very versatile formation. Can change into 4-3-3 like yours when he wants to be more attacking or even into his usual 3-3-1-3 during attacking phase when wingbacks move up  and defensive midfielder drops. You could also try the opposite, twin inverted wingbacks and wingers to create central overloads. Bielsa does both.

I'm actually starting to gravitate towards 4-3-3 and 4-1-4-1, as you will see in my next update which should be up late tomorrow ;)

If only I had another tactical slot to give me the 4. Left right and the double central. Suppose I can tweak them all form what I need game to game and in game. Every tactic I’ve kept the same team instructions as well. Like that’s my core style the roles and duties I tweak to suit the opponent or what am seeing in game.  Enjoying it so much more knowing what am wanting to see. I used to crave total Dutch football and had relative success with Heerenveen a few years back. That was the last time I went to create a certain style. Last year I just done won at all cost with Kaiserslautern and although the save was good in terms of success I didn’t enjoy it as much tactically. I did flutter with a newells save towards the end with a bielsa 3-3-1-3 so it got me looking into him so much. Mans a genius. 

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@SixPointerIndeed he is my favourite manager. I'm a huge fan of Dutch Total Football style too (as you can probably tell from my last article lol). What i love about Bielsa is actually how much he borrowed from Rinus Michel's philosophy. I'll actually go into quite a bit of this in my next update. 

Edited by crusadertsar

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Creating Total Football DNA and Two Johans

Or how to use Club DNA to keep your FM20 save interesting

The influence of Total Football has been far-reaching in both time and place. Since its dramatic entry into the world in 1974 it changed the face of the sport as we know it. Marcelo Bielsa, Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola were all influenced by Johan Cruyff and Rinus Michels in 1970s Netherlands. If not for them, Spanish Tiki-Taka would not have existed. In this followup to my last introductory piece, I will expand on the practical side of Total Football and its application in FM20. But rather than dealing with the specifics of tactical instructions I will focuse on the players. If anything, defining a clear club DNA to mold your team around can be more important to the long-term effectiveness of the tactic than team instructions.

 

Previously on Young Devils:

What is Club DNA?

Before I begin I think I have to explain a little what I mean by "Club DNA". It is a term that gets thrown around a lot on FM-related blogs and forums. But outside of long-term FM fans, it will probably be unfamiliar to those new to football manager. So what is it exactly and how can it help your team to win in FM20?

Club DNA is that defining features of your team that you set in stone. A sort of house rule that you want your club to follow. It can either bring a challenge or simply more focus to a long-term save. As in real life, it can be anything really. Historically, some clubs committed to transfer based DNA such as with Athletic Bilbao's Basque only transfer policy. Usually it affects player recruitment, where club DNA will define the attributes to look for to match the club's playing style. For instance, Barcelona dedicated themselves to promoting pressing possession style of play to the point where it became synonymous with the club. Their youth academy will try to train and develop players fit to play this type of football. And it is very unlikely that Barça manager will buy a pure target man.

1510945999106.jpg

Image above shows a popular training routine, el rondo, at Barcelona's La Masia Youth Academy. It is one of many meant to make keeping possession nearly instinctual in its pupils. Some of the best playmakers in the world have graduated from Barcelona's Academy. Attacking possession football is in their DNA.

Thus "DNA" acronym takes on a clever double meaning. Literally, the word itself means the genetic programming that is unalterable at the core of every human being. But in the context of a football club's culture it can stand for Do Not Alter. Meaning the aspects of the club identity which cannot be altered. They are core elements which define the club and can influence everything, from the transfer policy to tactics.

At end of my 1st season with Young Devils, I started to ponder the elements of my own club's DNA. I realized that the mission I started with might not be enough to keep me interested long-term. Unfortunately, this is always a risk with long FM saves. I am sure it led to many an abandoned save. The challenge of simply winning might be sufficient at first. But as in-game days add up, it's normal to lose focus. I started out with a few initial goals, such as developing home-grown youth players, recreating Bielsa-style tactic and winning hardware. Yet they might not be enough to carry this save for more than a single season. Not without adding a clear club DNA to focus my recruitment and development plan that is. So as I usually do I looked to football history to seek some inspiration.

Argentina's Darkest Hour and Birth of Bielsa-ball

Total Football

Like many young Argentinean footballers growing up in 1970s, Bielsa took inspiration from Rinus Michel's Flying Dutchmen and their "Total" victory over Argentina in 1974. Early on, Bielsa's tactical philosophy was clearly drawn from Total Football. In his early managing days, his most used shape was a classic Dutch 4-3-3, which Cruyff's Ajax popularized. He used it extensively at Newell's Old Boys. Although at the time, Bielsa's unique twist to it was already apparent. No matter the formation, Bielsa uses the same formula for his attackers, the front three in front of an enganche. Clearly you can take Bielsa out of Argentina but you cannot take Argentina out of Bielsa. The Argentinean playmaker role is the wild-card in his take on Total Football. Otherwise his style is very Dutch through and through.

Upon leaving his native country, and during the recent decade of his European tour, Bielsa has become famous for his fluid approach. It's a practical take on Total Football, which does not require a team full of world-class players to achieve. What he requires is a nearly obsessive dedication to training routines and fitness.

With Bielsa-ball (lets call it) what may start as 4-3-3 or 4-1-4-1 becomes 3-4-3 or 4-2-3-1 as the game progresses. Bielsa always prefers having one more defender than the opponent. Thus he will change his tactics according to the opposition, requiring his midfielders to drop between the centrebacks or fullbacks to aggressively join the attackers in stretching the field and creating overloads. Stylistically, Bielsa-ball is more like Total Football than any other football seen in the last decade. Other than Barcelona's Tiki-Taka of the first decade of 2000s.

“Football rests on four fundamentals: 1) defence, 2) attack, 3) how you move from defense to attack, 4) how you move from attack to defense. The issue is trying to make those passages as smooth as possible.” - Marcelo Bielsa

Bielsa's answers to this dilemma are tactical versatility and rotation. Everything from his insistence on players swapping positions to having his midfielders play as defenders or wingbacks, can be traced back to the legacy of Dutch Total Football. It is very reminiscent of Ajax's Rinus Michels' emphasis on constant movement of players rotating and interchanging. Also like the Dutch of 1970s, Bielsa demands very intense pressing. One of the main tenets of Total Football was indeed high press. The idea being that the ball needed to be pursued with utmost intensity. The Dutch sought to make the field as small as possible when out of possession, and largest possible when attacking.

When Bielsa-ball works, it's a whirlwind of passing, movement, interchange and improvisation resembling Total Football at its finest. Image below is an example of a typical Leeds passing map versus Sheffield Wednesday during 2019-2020 season (courtesy of Totalfootballanalysis.com). Can you count all the triangles?

Leeds Bielsa

Bielsa-ball also requires his players to be very fit and technically adept. This is where the need of a proper Club DNA comes in. With a tactical system as intense as Total Football or Bielsa's take on it, it's all about players, not instructions. Preparation starts at the training field and player attribute analysis. Success rests on how closely you are able to mold your players to Total Football template. So can it be done at Man Utd, and Total Football achieved at Old Trafford? Before I can answer that lets take a trip to the 70s when Johan was a popular name in Europe.

The Tale of Two Johans

Total Football

While Johan Cruyff was the tactical brain of Total Football, Johan Neeskens was its beating heart in the midfield. He was the first truly "box-to-box" midfielder, a tireless runner with great technical skill and eye for goal. At Ajax, Dutch National Team and eventually Barcelona, Neeskens took up the central midfield role in support of Cruyff. But he helped Cruyff and his team in more than just assists.

Neeskens was very tough when it came to pressing and regaining possession. Starting his career as right-back, he was able to transition seamlessly to midfield. There he used his great fitness, skill at running and hard-tackling to great effect. In other words, a complete footballer whom Bielsa would have loved to manage.

Total Football

Former Ajax team-mate Sjaak Swart called Johan Neeskens "steel-hard" midfielder "worth two men in midfield." His fearless tenacity and grit served Rinus Michel's philosophy perfectly. In Total Football smooth passing and flair often went hand-hand with ruthless pressing and tackling when not in possession. As Johan Cruyff, Total Football's poster boy, lead from the front, amazing everyone with technical skills and creative artistry, it was Johan Neeskens, the tough, ferocious dynamo in both defence and attack, who did the dirty work to get the ball from the opponent. He also made most of his chances when Cruyff's smart movement opened up space for his attacking runs. Good examples being his goals against West Germany and Argentina at both 1974 and 1978 World Cups. Total Footballer Extraordinaire!

When Ajax won the Champions League in 1971, it prompted Rinus Michels to leave for the sunny shores of Catalonia. Cruyff and Neeskens quickly followed him there to resume their epic partnership at Barça. Their chemistry remained strong as the Dutchmen won more trophies and personal accolades in Spain. It was however Johan Cruyff's later contributions to Barcelona that forever endeared the two Johans in Barcelona fan's psyche. He not only introduced the uniquely Dutch fluid attacking possession style to Catalonia but also forever redefined Barcelona's Club DNA when he later managed it. Cruyff helped establish La Masia, Barça's academy where youngsters learned to play Total Football. It is thanks to Cruyff that Barça, and Spain's National Team, continue the legacy of Total Football to this day.

Total Football

Developing The Young Devils Club DNA - The Attributes

To aknowledge Bielsa's debt to Total Football, my Bielsa-ball DNA will reflect what I think are the three pillars of an ideal Total Footballer like Neeskens or Cruyff. Naturally such a player needs to be well-rounded, capable in playing in almost any position on the field (except keeper). By well-rounded I mean possessing at least two-digit values in all attributes required to play in attack, midfield and defence. Furthermore to excel, he will need excellent technical skills; primarily Technique, Passing, Dribbling and First Touch. He needs to be a hardworking team player who is capable of intelligently reading the play at any given time. The former can be summed up in Teamwork and Workrate. While the latter are a combination of Vision, Decision, Anticipation, Positioning and Off the Ball - his Football Brain.

FM20 Total Football If you are interested, you can download this view below (and put it in your views section).

The above view gives a good idea of how the Man Utd team fits the Total Football style. There are a lot of green and orange numbers which is very good. It definitely gives me something to work with. Yet there are also gaping holes in key areas such as positioning and vision, which will need to be addressed. In due time.

When trying to redefine the identity of your club to reflect a particular DNA, one cannot act hastily. It can be disastrous for team morale if you try to get rid of many players at once. Even if it is to send them on loans. Caution and patience is required, as you phase out those who do not match club's new identity over 2-3 seasons. I haven't identified who will need to move on, but expect the next two summer transfer periods to be busy. Luckily I start the summer with 120 million pound transfer budget. Some new faces will need to be brought in.

Searching for a Perfect Total Footballer

After defining the key attributes, the next step in creating a new Club DNA, is identifying the Core players. These are the players around which you will build your tactical system. In a counter-attacking system, they might be your fastest wingers. While in one based around heavy possession they will be your top play-makers. Not suprisingly this task can be very difficult for a Total Football-inspired system. The ideal core player for such a system, is basically a very-well rounded jack of all trades like Johan Neeskens. So for Manchester United the search is on!

One player that I have had my eye on for a while, is Real Sociedad's golden boy, Mikel Oyarzabal. Sociedad are asking a pretty penny for his services, but in my opinion he is more than worth it. Mikel is probably one of the most uniquely complete footballers currently in FM20.

FM20 Total Football I just can't get enough of how perfectly round his attribute analysis circle is in the lower right of that screen.

As you can see he remarkably possesses 13-14+ values across all attributes! Literally you could slot him into any position or role and except him to perform well in it. If that was not enough, take a look at his partner in midfield, and incidentally another Mikel (although looking at his attributes, might as well call him Neeskens).

FM20 Total Football

So even if Oyarzabal is not quite Cruyff, the two Mikels together could give Man Utd the core that it needs to build the rest of team around. Could the two Mikels do for Manchester what two Johans did for Barça? Only my next article could show ;)

Total Football He just got a call from Manchester, so definite reason to celebrate.

To Be Continued...

Also in my next article, I will show how Bielsa-ball DNA is taking root at Old Trafford. The preparation work for the second season has started, on the tactical board, training field and in the transfer market. I have also made some changes to the Hammer and Anvil tactic which I will discuss at length. Hope you enjoyed my series so far and continue to follow it as it develops! And my Young Devils continue their journey from U23 to Champions League glory! 

Here is my custom Bielsa-ball player view: https://ufile.io/ebgektoi

 

Just realized that something is wrong with pictures again. They are all compressed and can't be expanded when clicked on :( As you probably know from my past articles I'm a big fan of old historical pics. They are often integral part of the experience. If you click on the link to original article on Dictatethegame then you should be able to view them in their full glory :D Thanks for reading!

Edited by crusadertsar

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:eek: can we have the next article now...! excellent analysis. I think Saul Niguez is also a very good option. £89m release clause, pretty doable for a team with the economic powers of man utd!

Edited by milestobudapest

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10 minutes ago, milestobudapest said:

:eek: can we have the next article now...! excellent analysis. I think Saul Niguez is also a very good option. £89m release clause, pretty doable for a team with the economic powers of man utd!

Thanks mate! I'm working on it lol. But will need to do some testing first. Saul is on my list too. As is Koke. And Napoli's Fabian Ruiz haha. I have to be careful or Man Utd might turn into Spanish National Team :lol:

In fact as a little clue, here is the title of my next article: 

Young Devils - The Spanish Armada ;)

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18 minutes ago, carloshcorbalan said:

Hola...

Descarga  pero no me permite usar archivo bielsa ball en tácticas... 

Oh it is not a tactic. It goes into "views" folder. It is a custom view in the player list

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I'm a big supporter in utilising the two Mikels...taking them away from San Sebastian though? Probably only acceptable because its to my favourite team :lol:

From previous memory I'm thinking Donny van de Beek should be on your shortlist (although I haven't seen him on FM20 as I don't have it), but I bet that filter gave you a new appreciation for Lindelöf's abilities. 

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10 hours ago, zlatanera said:

I'm a big supporter in utilising the two Mikels...taking them away from San Sebastian though? Probably only acceptable because its to my favourite team :lol:

From previous memory I'm thinking Donny van de Beek should be on your shortlist (although I haven't seen him on FM20 as I don't have it), but I bet that filter gave you a new appreciation for Lindelöf's abilities. 

I'm also really tempted to try another save with two Mikels at San Sebastian (or Real Sociedad). Its a really great little team and probably capable of much overachieving. Regarding Donny It was actually a close call between him and the two Mikels but they won out in the end. I'll monitor him and he will probably be my future season transfer. And don't start me on Lindelof :). He will be in my backline for a long time. 

Edited by crusadertsar

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7 hours ago, crusadertsar said:

I'm also really tempted to try another save with two Mikels at San Sebastian (or Real Sociedad). Its a really great little team and probably capable of much overachieving. Regarding Donny It was actually a close call between him and the two Mikels but they won out in the end. I'll monitor him and he will probably be my future season transfer. And don't start me on Lindelof :). He will be in my backline for a long time. 

You should. We seem to be drawn to similar teams and I’ve always found them a good club to build with - even before they changed their transfer tactics to looking at fm wonderkid lists with Januzaj, Ødegaard and Isak. 

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2 minutes ago, zlatanera said:

You should. We seem to be drawn to similar teams and I’ve always found them a good club to build with - even before they changed their transfer tactics to looking at fm wonderkid lists with Januzaj, Ødegaard and Isak. 

Isak is a beast! Second coming of Zlatan. Also quite creative for a target man. I think he could develop into a great complete striker. Their midfield is very strong too. With two Mikels and that Igor guy as a perfect half back. Also fast smooth-passing defenders. I think they would do very well with Bielsa-ball

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52 minutes ago, milestobudapest said:

How does your current Bielsa-ball tactic differ from the total football one you experimented with Tottenham?

I kind of took my old 3-3-1-3 tactic and combined it with what I learned from total football 4-3-3 one. I'm still testing but it looks promising. It's much closer to how Leeds play in real life now :) 

The big factor is having the right players to fit Total Football style. Unfortunately from the start Man Utd does not exactly fit the style but hoping that the Spanish Armada will help.

Hoping to write more about it and the tactic in my next update

Edited by crusadertsar

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hi,

 

fantastic thread and detail.  delving further into game than before which is just so fresh.  Could you please repost your tactic as the link doesn't seem to be working for mysef.

 

thanks

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17 minutes ago, scottc87 said:

hi,

 

fantastic thread and detail.  delving further into game than before which is just so fresh.  Could you please repost your tactic as the link doesn't seem to be working for mysef.

 

thanks

Thanks for the kind words friend. Here is the link from the previous update.

The New Hammer & Anvil Tactic Download - https://uploadfiles.io/z7pmsrgd

The one in this was actually the custom view and not the tactic.

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The Spanish Armada
The original article: 

The summer 2020 has been one of many changes at Old Trafford, both in the locker-room and tactical drawing board. As a result of endless tactical tweaking, I think I arrived at a tactic that I am finally happy with. It is a good old 4-1-4-1! This article will show you I think it is the best formation in FM20, and how one particular Player Trait can make it even better. Also there has been a veritable invasion of new faces into the First Team squad. And as you might guess from the title, most of them originating from one particular country. Before I start on that, I would like to give a quick summary of my 1st full season with Red Devils.

 

Previously on Young Devils Series:

Summing Up The First Season

We did it! Man United is back in the Champions League for 2020-21 season. We finished in 4th position. In achieving this, we failed to win any hardware, at least on the team level. However, on the individual level my tactics got recognition to a number of United's players. Erling Haaland turned into a real goal machine with 41 overall goals, 27 of which were in the League. This earned him the Premiership's Top Goalscorer Award, as he beat out Harry Kane by 6 goals.

In terms of goalscoring, Marcus Rashford also had a successful campaign with 18 goals. Which is rather impressive, considering that I used him as mainly winger support to Haaland. His task was to use his speed on the right wing to win 1v1 and cross to Haaland in center. Sometimes he chose to shoot, which shows in his goal tally. As an aside, Mata was a revelation in his Enganche role, assisting on 16 goals.

It was definitely a year that started off with a bang and ended with somewhat less of a bang. Nevertheless it was a worthwhile season despite coming away without any trophies. Getting back into Champions League was key as it will allow me to test my tactic against bigger teams. Also the season gave me valuable experience experimenting with the match engine and getting to know Man Utd players well. By May I knew better who will be integral to my Bielsa-ball system in Season 2. As you saw in my last article, the final result was the new Club DNA at Old Trafford. A clear central identity that I hope will guide all future player development and recruitment for this save.

Spanish Invasion

"I am Dutch, but I will always defend the football Spain play." - Johan Cruyff

bhc0262.jpg?fit=662%2C519&ssl=1

With the set goal of recreating Total Football I needed to look to a side that played it most recently either at club or international level. Everything directed me towards Spain, specifically its great National Team of 2010. In the World Cup Final, Spain faced off against Netherlands, in a one of a kind historic match up. At the end of the day, it was Spain that won, due to its own brand of Total Football. Branded Tiki-Taka it started at Barcelona under Johan Cruyff's guidance. Barça's focused on the possession aspect of Total Football while high pressing and patient short passing became its main tools. As such Tiki-Taka was never meant to be a faithful recreation of the Dutch system. Rather it took what was essential about Total Football and attempted to refine it to the point where one team's style of play became a national symbol.

Even today, due to the legacy of Cruyff, Barcelona and Pep Guardiola's Tiki Taka, Spanish National Team remains a staunch supported of very technical, attacking, possession-focused football. It has all the elements that made Total Football, and it is also what drives Bielsa in his own tactical philosophy. Ideally, Bielsa looks to players who are extremely fit, hard-working teamplayers. They also need to be highly technical to be able to play in his demanding systems, considering that sometimes he asks them to play roles they are not used to, turning midfielders into fullbacks and fullbacks into central defenders.

So naturally I went to Spain in my search for well-rounded Total Footballers (ones which best fit my Bielsa-ball DNA's mold). My plan was not to replace the whole Man Utd First team, but rather to give it an injection of young talent. The talent that would power the core of my Total Football-style tactic and help mentor and shape future young players. In this, I was hoping to recreate the experience of the two Johans at Barcelona. Johan Cruyff and Johan Neeskens, were basically the creative core of Ajax Team of the 70s. They were Total Football's biggest proponents. It was a game-changer when Barcelona acquired them in 1973-74. You could say that Barça's Total Football era started then. So what if Red Devils had their own version of Johans?

JPG_1576678451306-1.jpg

Lets call them the Two Mikels. Mikel Oyarzabal and Mikel Merino from Real Sociedad. They are not my only Spanish acquisitions, but they are definitely key.

By August 2020, Man Utd's starting Spaniards De Gea and Mata were joined by José Luis Gayà (£86M, January 2020), Sergio Reguilón (Free Transfer, Summer 2020), Mikel Oyarzabal and Mikel Merino (£65M and £68M, Summer 2020).

Total Football = Total Shape

"I want the ball for 90 minutes. When I don’t have the ball, I go high pressing because I want the ball." - Pep Guardiola

Why choose 4-1-4-1 over 4-3-3 to recreate Total Football in FM20? Or for that matter, why does Bielsa himself play 4-1-4-1 at Leeds? Isn't his favourite formation supposed to be 3-3-1-3? Part of it is probably a question of limited personnel in Championship. But I think there is more subtlety to Bielsa's choice of shape. I think that 4-1-4-1 is one of the best, most versatile shapes in football. This is a fact that is not lost on the Argentinean manager. He has set Leeds up with a 4-1-4-1 formation that morphs into a 3-3-1-3 with the ball and a 4-5-1 without it. It is perfect as it is both capable of all out aggressive attack or impenetrable defence. All in the same match. The wingers and wingbacks go forward to form a six-pronged attack, or defensive midfielder can drop back with the wingbacks to form a solid back five.

0_Leeds-XI.png Image courtesy of https://www.leeds-live.co.uk/

In a 4-3-3, the wingers are well inside the attacking third of the field while in a 4-1-4-1 the wingers start in a much deeper position. This allows teams to build attacks from deep. This formation is conducive to possession-based football, something we know Guardiola favours. Additionally Guardiola's 4-1-4-1 has been favourable to creating overloads. And Bielsa adapted this shape at Leeds United for exactly the same reason. That is 4-1-4-1's ease to keep the ball and its inherent ability to stretch the field, creating essential overloads. Overloads and the resulting 1v1s is how both Guaerdiola's and Bielsa's teams score the majority of their goals. Overloads is something that I will naturally focus on in all my Young Devil's tactics. So how does my 4-1-4-1 work?

tactic-3.png?fit=662%2C648&ssl=1

To stay true to both Bielsa and Total Football, I went with a fluid attacking possession style. This included using minimal team instructions and specialty roles. Generalized roles such as complete forward and defensive midfielder grant players the flexibility to move between attacking, transition and defence phases without being locked into any particular task. It also allows the ball to move around organically from defence to attack. To help with this I avoided any playmaker or target man roles. Each player should get a chance to act as a playmaker dictating the game as he sees fit. Aforementioned importance of strong mental attributes such as decision-making and anticipation play into this aspect of Total Football.

Ideally, all players should be simultaneously creator, runner and tackler. Some of my players already conform to this (new transfers especially) but the whole team is not at this point yet. There is still a lot of work to be done.

In the image above, my tactic can be broken down into two general phases of play. The ball is drawn to the 1 Overloaded Flank (simply by having more support duties there) and then quickly switched to the 2 Unlocked Flank (with the only two attacking duties). The ball switch should occur via the two roles of Mezzala and Inverted Winger. Right now I am experimenting with giving them more creative freedom via individual instructions such as direct or risky passing. So far, I only left direct passing selected as I do not want my tactic to turn into a Route One.

What actually makes these two roles essential to the whole tactic are the unique traits possessed by Merino and Oyarzabal. Both have the rare "Likes to Switch Ball to The Other Flank" trait and it is probably the best PPM in the game.

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

The Best Player Trait and How to Use It

Once either Oyarzabal (Inverted Winger) or Merino (Mezzala) have the ball, there is a chance that they will attempt to pass to either my attacking winger or complete wingback. Both of these players are set up aggressively to take advantage of the space along the flank that could be freed up when opponent's defenders and/or midfielders shift to deal with my overloaded right flank. Having the winger-wingback combo ready to attack the left side, could lead to 1v1 or even 2v1 against the opposition fullback. Here what looks like a harmless play quickly turns into a decisive breakthrough on the left flank. You can see clearly how the overload on the right leads to Rashford (my winger) finding space to score. Yet the key to the play was Merino's cross-field pass. It leaves no time for the opposition defenders to regroup and block Rashford's approach. Watch it play out below.

 
I consider the Switch Side trait one of the best if not the best player trait (PPM) in the game. It can be a game-changer in how with the right player it can make a good tactic into a great one. But what I love most about is in how it gives a ton of tactical instructions without further need of team or player instructions. Basically telling the player to pass more directly and to target a specific flank. Without the trait you would probably need at least 2-3 team instructions to recreate such play. In helps greatly in cutting down on useless instructions.

Some team instructions such as Pass Shorter or Play Through The Middle can even be detrimental to the side-switching passes. The only individual instruction I would give both Mezzala and Inverted Winger is more "direct passing". And if the player already possess "more through balls" trait, it might not be needed at all.

8511EF5B7190DD089C67A9C01EEAD7F58E148E2F

As this great Football Manager Guide states, this PPM really allows your team to break down stubborn defences, especially parked buses. Creating the overload is often the easy part. The more tricky part is in how you take advantage of the opposition that already shifted to one side. In this case a simple player trait can help shift the focus of your attack to the side that momentarily has more space available. But to take advantage of this space, you still need some pretty special players. Here are where my other Spanish acquisitions come in. Jose Gaya, is currently one of the most complete wingbacks in the game. He is fast, great passer, crosser and very solid in defence. He could slot into midfield box-to-box role just as easily. His backup is Reguilón who is another example of a Total Footballer and can even become better due to his potential.

39BAC2C854FB9E519B2AD6D011BD72A3E5EEF2D0

Marcus "Rush Hour" Rashford

rashford-3-scaled-1.png?fit=662%2C221&ss

Ahead of Gaya, I have my fastest, most dangerous winger, Rashford. His best quality is probably his speed and off the ball movement. And he is probably another key to the system working so well. His four goals this season so far are a fair indication to how well the setup works. In our typical attacking play, Rashford is often found unmarked on the left flank and with loads of space open for him to cross or run towards goal. He managed to get 4 goals in two games before getting injured. I am hoping that Martial will work as well in the meantime but only time will tell.

And here is another beautiful goal by "Rash Hour" (from the same 5-0 dismantlement of Fulham). Rash actually managed to score a natural hat trick there, one with his left foot, one with right and a header. Cannot wait for him to recover from his injury! What a tremendous player.

E5D8568BF5CFF62F3964A32F00C0A45B9A44ECAD

This is the Premier League table just before going into September international break. The new tactic is shaping up quite well. Its far from fluid but I really like what I have seen in our four victories so far. It may not be Bielsa-ball yet but further testing will show. So thank you for reading and let me know what you think of my 4-1-4-1 by downloading it and commenting below. It is always welcome to have more people testing it with in different league levels. Happy managing and Merry Christmas!

4-1-4-1 Bielsa-ball Tactic Download - https://ufile.io/fq5h8g3u

Manchester-United-Christmas-Ole-Gunnar-S BONUS QUESTION: Can you tell which Man United players are in this photo?
 

 

Edited by crusadertsar

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Great thread, I have aways been fascinated with Bielsa's tactics so this is making for an interesting read. What skin is it you are using? It reminds me of older FM/later CM skins!

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1 hour ago, ChrisCo said:

Great thread, I have aways been fascinated with Bielsa's tactics so this is making for an interesting read. What skin is it you are using? It reminds me of older FM/later CM skins!

Thanks! I like the skin too, especially the meaty retro attribute buttons. It's actually called Yacs skin. I got it from steam workshop but you can download it from fmscout too.

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16 hours ago, crusadertsar said:
 
 

 

 
Manchester-United-Christmas-Ole-Gunnar-S BONUS QUESTION: Can you tell which Man United players are in this photo?
 

 

Based on the name and numbers on the kits behind the "Santas" - David May, Ryan Giggs...David Bellion (appears to be a 12 to the left of May 4) and Ruud van Nisterlrooy .

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16 minutes ago, milestobudapest said:

Excellent article! How are you finding the current tactics? Do you have any sort of plan B, does this involve a change or shape or just mentality?

Thank you! I like to follow El Loco Bielsa's advise on this. "I only believe in Plan A. Plan B is to get Plan A to work." 

So I stick with my original plan no matter what. I like to think that 4-1-4-1 is balanced enough to offer both good defence and attack. Furthermore I prefer to dictate the game and force the opponent to react to me rather than other way around. This is how I beat Liverpool last season 3-1. Of course sometimes it backfires and you get beat by Barca 4-0. But that's the beauty of football :)

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5 minutes ago, DominicForza said:

Based on the name and numbers on the kits behind the "Santas" - David May, Ryan Giggs...David Bellion (appears to be a 12 to the left of May 4) and Ruud van Nisterlrooy .

Wow good deduction mate :applause:

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Ruud was the only one I "recognized."   It was only after Ruud that I even noticed the kits behind the players.  

 

I got Bellion by using a kit number search, using David May's ManUtd career as my time window for #12s.  

 

I think it's David May on the left and Giggs on the right, but I say that with very little confidence.  

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7 hours ago, DominicForza said:

Ruud was the only one I "recognized."   It was only after Ruud that I even noticed the kits behind the players.  

 

I got Bellion by using a kit number search, using David May's ManUtd career as my time window for #12s.  

 

I think it's David May on the left and Giggs on the right, but I say that with very little confidence.  

I think you right. The only one missing is Sir Fergusson :lol:

It's definitely a rare photo. Don't see United doing anything like this these days. They would probably have to pay Pogba a few million to convince him to don a Santa suit haha

Edited by crusadertsar

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I think your tactics and especially the Bielsa style are great. What would interest me, how do you react when you're behind? :)

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16 hours ago, TheMadJoker1872 said:

@crusadertsar can i ask on your opinion on these roles please, ignore the expressive TI was for the specific opponent.

Screenshot (5).png

I'm not a fan of using ball-playing defenders. They will just end up hoofing it up to your striker and you will lose the ball. I like the advanced playmaker and mezzala interplay, shall create some nice overloads on the left but I would switch dlp into carrilero. also not sure why you play a regista. with aggressive wingbacks you need a sitter not a runner there or else you will get torn apart by bigger teams on a counter. 

Edited by crusadertsar

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On 25/12/2019 at 05:27, Saargamer said:

I think your tactics and especially the Bielsa style are great. What would interest me, how do you react when you're behind? :)

Usually I use play wider and more direct passing instructions. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. 

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5 hours ago, crusadertsar said:

I'm not a fan of using ball-playing defenders. They will just end up hoofing it up to your striker and you will lose the ball. I like the advanced playmaker and mezzala interplay, shall create some nice overlaps on the left but I would switch dlp into carrilero. also not sure why you play a regista. with aggressive wingback you need a sitter not a runner there or else you will get torn apart by bigger teams on a counter. 

Thanks, what would you suggest as the sitting midfielder ?

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1 hour ago, TheMadJoker1872 said:

Thanks, what would you suggest as the sitting midfielder ?

Halfback could work really well in your setup, although a simple Defensive Midfielder on support would work too. That's what I'm using now and i find it a good balanced role for keeping possession.

Edited by crusadertsar

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2 hours ago, crusadertsar said:

Halfback could work really well in your setup, although a simple Defensive Midfielder on support would work too. That's what I'm using now and i find it a good balanced role for keeping possession.

Will experiment with both thanks for your help, really enjoying the young devils save 

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@crusadertsar I've been giving your 4-1-4-1 a crack with Real Sociedad. They start with the two players you said were key so I thought it'd be a natural team to start with.

 

My biggest issue was I didn't have a CWB for the left back position and my left wingers were all left footed (your were either right footed or either footed). Initially, the tactic just didn't look right to me but I gave it a go. I couldn't put my finger on what I felt wasn't right but it was a "vibe" I had. As I played with Sociedad I felt I was getting too many balls over the top of my CB's so to me it seemed the defence wasn't quite right. I had a bit of a think and wondered why more urgent closing down was set. I couldn't work it out. I was more interested not in closing down the ball carrier but closing down the options he could pass to. I achieved this by lowering the closing down to Slightly More Urgent (default) and selecting Tighter Marking. I also lowed the defeensive line to try and prevent getting caught too high up and moved the LOE to much lower. I figured that letting the opposition have the ball in their half before tightening the marking would both be of little threat and also let the team as a whole not try and run all over the pitch marking tighter for 90 minutes.

 

Now, some people thing tighter marking means straight man-on-man marking but this isn't strictly true. Here is an example of Tighter Marking vs a 4-4-2 (Getafe, me in green):

image.thumb.png.d7104fedf6deed31d1582639846b117b.png

 

And vs a 4-1-2-3 (Real Madrid me in lighter blue):

image.thumb.png.ed07fd8374632545f2af131f9d22be24.png

 

In both images it is a kick off from goal so the ultimate timing for tighter marking. Real are playing out from the back but my players are yet to pick them up to cut out passes as the much lower LOE means they don't have to yet (note their full backs are extremely wide and none of my players bothers trying to mark them yet). Vs Getafe the marking is closer but the backs are still all left loose as they don't cause a threat to me in this part of the park.

 

I also asked for passing into space as my attack works better running onto loose balls and quicker tempo as the players seemed to be dwelling on the ball a bit much for my liking. Bet result was the forst 60-odd minutes against Real where I was 3-0 up before my poor tactical decions (or lack thereof) prevented me from closing out the match and finished in a 3-3 draw. If I was smart I would have done something to prevent their main goal threats for the match (Jovic mainly) from finding loose ball too much (most likely change the CWB to a WB-D). The LB is the real weak link.

 

My changes may move away from Bielsa but it is working for my sde.

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On 23/12/2019 at 20:26, crusadertsar said:
 
tactic-3.png?fit=662%2C648&ssl=1

Great article mate. Really enjoying this series as a whole and I hope to take many of the principles into my save once I get my laptop back up and running in the next few days. Just a quick question about the 11 in the image above really. You've got Maguire as your DM, is that where you play him generally? Is he your first choice there? If so how come? I'm definitely intrigued by this as the idea of having a technically sound, physically imposing centre back in front of a back four and it's something I've considered implementing in the past.

Also on your overloaded and unlocked flanks. Do you think they could work in a 3 at the back shape with wingbacks? Or would that leave you too exposed defensively? In your opinion

Cheers mate

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@nick1408 Thank you for testing the tactic! It gave me some insights into what i can do better. I think that counter-press was also the culprit so i took it off and also lowered the closing down to "more" only. The defensive line I am keeping higher because I think it is integral to Bielsa style. I will lower LOE to much lower to naturally make the team more aggressive in closing down while better retaining their shape. Marking closely is a good idea in this case. Although the offside trap will need be turned off if we are marking closely.

@OJ403 Indeed I use Maguire as a Half-back or Defensive Midfielder. I find he is a great defensive presence and has great creativity for a defender (especially his regista-like PPMs) but he is way too slow as a CB for a Bielsa-like tactic (especially given our high DL). Bielsa would probably play him in DM too and put a much faster midfielder or creative fullback in CB slot. 

Also yes I believe you could easily play 3 in the back with wingbacks and still be able to create overloads. Unless you meant one cb and two wingbacks which would probably be quite risky?

Edited by crusadertsar

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