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So, I'm looking for a bit of help developing a tactic.

As background (not that anybody but me cares), I started using this particular one last year in FM19, when, in my journeyman career I ended up taking over a Stevenage side that had great depth in midfield, plenty of striker options, but very, very week on the wing. Once I stumbled upon this tactic we ended up securing promotion into League One at the first time of asking. Since I started playing the game in FM14 I've always loved a 3-4-1-2 formation, but find it's the tactic that you have to build towards once you know full well that you can have world class players in every position, and it's not one I've often I get to work due to the sheer dominance of wing play that seems to go in these days.


So that's how this tactic game across, going for a flat back four, and hoping the midfield/strikers do all the work. Started a save with my beloved Blackburn Rovers, who yet again, have a distinct lack of quality on the wings, or actually wingers per se. These are all the roles I've got at the minute;

 

659306472_Screenshot2019-12-03at10_23_19.thumb.png.023fb446db24e5acc4593800e77c54cf.png

 

I started the game at the end of pre-season, so I've only had a couple of games (one a cup match, one against a struggling Cardiff) to try this new formation, and had ... interesting games. The passing I wanted almost seemed to be there, but the lack of finishing (which, tbh, typifies real life Blackburn, I suppose) is what kept us having a good result.

To explain my current decisions before people make suggestions (of which I'm more than happy to listen to)...

- Having two Fullbacks on Defend is there simply to keep a better shape, and less attacking intent from them. In FM19 when I first started developing this tactic I had them set as support Wingbacks, but they often got too far forward, and exposed me far too much on the wing. I could be horribly wrong in what I'm attempting with them, but I want them less to be involved, and only really to get forward rarely, when given the chance. Not to be a main outlet, just to keep a defence shape and pass to the midfield.

- Midfield three... I've toyed with having two MEZ on attack either side of my DLP(def), and that seemed to work better... sometimes? I don't know. Again, in my old save I found great success having the one MEZ on attack one side, and a CAR on the other. I'll more than freely admit that I don't -quite- understand the way the roles work, but from what I understand of them, they seem to work when there's no direct wing support for them.

- Front three... the roles there often change, because I can't seem to settle and find a good combo for all of them. Always seems to go that one or two of them seem to have a struggle in the game, and this (and mostly help with understanding a better midfield 3) is what I think I need most help developing. 

So, anyone got any opinions? The main thing for me is to keep this shape, and keep this formation. I know it'd probably be better if I dropped the central midfielder into a DM role, but for me that would then make it a 4-4-2 diamond, and that's not what this is meant to be. Probably being pedantic there, but I want this 4-3-1-2 to work.

Cheers for any help!

 

 

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I'd say having both of your players that can provide any width to your attack on defend duty is probably a  bad idea. They gotta bomb forward and the wider CM's have to cover for them, so no attack duties there. I'd even consider having them man-mark the opposing wingbacks. Counter-press is probably a must, so that the enemy doesn't have time to go wide on you. Up front, I'd go with a role that can keep the ball and hold onto it while the support arrives, so I'd change the F9 into a DLF(s) or TM(s), depending on who you have. I'd experiment with a Trequartista in place of the SS, because he'll go wide instead of attacking the box all the time.

I'm currently trying to set up a system not unlike Mourinho's Inter, he usually played a 4312 in the Serie A. I'll get back to you with what I've come up with if you're interested.

(Alternatively, press the living hell out of the opponent, go on an attacking mentality and count the wins...)

Edited by Enzo_Francescoli

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I'd look at using the offside trap, if you're playing with a high defensive line. I'd also play out of defence, so you're not losing possession and controlling games better. 

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On 03/12/2019 at 11:41, SuperBiggles said:

659306472_Screenshot2019-12-03at10_23_19.thumb.png.023fb446db24e5acc4593800e77c54cf.png

 

On 03/12/2019 at 11:41, SuperBiggles said:

Having two Fullbacks on Defend is there simply to keep a better shape, and less attacking intent from them. In FM19 when I first started developing this tactic I had them set as support Wingbacks, but they often got too far forward, and exposed me far too much on the wing. I could be horribly wrong in what I'm attempting with them, but I want them less to be involved, and only really to get forward rarely, when given the chance. Not to be a main outlet, just to keep a defence shape and pass to the midfield

I understand what's your idea, but... playing both fullbacks in such a conservative role as FB on defend in a narrow system runs counter to elementary tactical logic. Simply because it's precisely the fullbacks that need to provide attacking width while also being able to perform their defensive duties effectively. I don''t know your FBs, so I cannot tell you if they are good enough for a narrow formation like yours, but if they do not seem capable of persistently going up and down their respective flanks - then I would suggest you consider changing the formation in a non-narrow one (e.g. 442 or 4123 wide for example). 

In fact, I fear that your defensive issues likely have to do more with your manner of defending (out-of-possession instructions), which looks too aggressive (and hence risky) IMHO, especially for a team of Blacburn's quality and reputation. I am primarily talking about the more urgent pressing, especially when coupled with your high-risk (Positive) mentality and the high DL and LOE. What can (and probably does) also make you overly exposed is the Focus play through the middle TI, because it increases the mentality of your CBs and defend-duty CMAdvice: remove the Focus play, tone down the pressing intensity (to default) and also drop the LOE a notch (to standard). That should make you more solid and compact defensively (plus create more space for potential counter-attacks for your team). It's possible that you may even need to drop the DL to standard as well, but you'll have to play and see if that would be necessary. 

So start with this setup of defensive TIs:

- higher DL

- standard LOE

- default pressing urgency

Then watch what happens and how it works, and report back, so that we could see if the tweaking has been successful or more adjustments are needed.  

Now, let's get back to the fullbacks. Assuming you follow my advice on defensive team instructions, I would suggest making the fullbacks a bit less defense-minded as your next step. But before that, I would also change the mezzala's duty to support instead of attack. First, the mezzala as a role is pretty much attack-minded anyway. Secondly - and perhaps even more important - with the support duty, your mezzala will be more responsible defensively while still fully contributing to your attacks and attacking build-ups. 

As for the 2 other CMs, DLP on defend in the middle and CAR on the left is a good combination in this type of setup. A combo you may also consider is - CM on defend duty in the middle (instead of DLP) and DLP on support in MCL (instead of CAR). 

Following all these potential tweaks, the next one should be - simply swapping the sides of your strikers, so that the F9 moves to the left, and PFat to the right (for better balance and movement between the midfield and attack). 

So, the potential new setup of roles and duties for the front 6 players would now look like this:

F9      PFat

SS

   CAR(DLPsu)   DLPde(CMde)     MEZsu

Okay, but what about the remaining 4? As I already said, overly conservative fullbacks simply do not go hand in hand with the nature of narrow systems. And now that:

1. the mezzala has been made a bit more restrained (and thus more defensively responsible as well), and

2. defensive team instrucions are less aggressive (making the system more solid and compact defense-wise)

... you can (finally) allow the fullbacks a bit more freedom to get forward and support attacks from the flanks, albeit to different degrees. And given that your MCR (MEZ) is the more attack-minded role than the MCL (CAR/DLPsu), your right fullback should logically be more conservative (defensive-minded) than his counterpart on the left flank. So - taking all that into account - here is how I would set the back-line up:

WBsu       CDde    BPDde       WBde

As you can see, the RB is still on defend duty (because he needs to cover for the mezzala), but now as a WB instead of FB. The WB as a role will make him a bit more willing to get forward and support attacks, whereas the defend duty will prevent him from doing that too often (i.e. more than necessary). By the same token, the left fullback can be allowed to bomb forward more regularly (being covered defensively by a carrilero or DLP on support). 

Note that I also changed one of the CBs from BPD into standard CD. Simply, I don't think that you need more than one BPD (if any). And btw, do you have a CB that can play the BPD role effectively at all? Does any of your CBs have the attributes for a BPD (passing, first touch, decisions, composure and some decent vision as well)? If not, then better go with regular CBs and keep it simple.

Now, tell me what you think about all these suggestions and also feel free to ask any questions you might have. After that, we can move on to the next subject - team instructions (including the mentality) :thup:

 

Edited by Experienced Defender

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I've recently switched to the 4312 and it's been a revelation. My fullbacks are very average at the minute as not had time to overhaul the squad but they've performed well considering. I've currently got them as FBa and WBs and 7+ ratings every game so far. 

I've found in this system, in attack, the 3 mids are there to recycle the ball and protect the wide areas and less of an attacking threat. I've been using CAR, DLPd and CMs (with stay wider PI amongst others) and it's kept me pretty solid. I just have trouble playing against a 2 striker system when I don't have a DM and aggressive fullbacks so there's still some tweaking to do. 

I'm not great with tactics at the best of times so I'm interested in what the next subject involves :thup:

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Thanks for all the replies and help, and sorry for not replying to people from when I posted this over a month ago. Real life got too busy.

So I ditched my Blackburn save, because these days I've got this thing for starting Journeyman saves with no badges, no experience... tried to get this tactic working in non-league, but had literally no luck.
A bit into my second season Cheltenham took a punt on me in League Two, and about halfway through my first season there I started up using this tactic again.

This is what I ended up with, going off the advice of Experienced Defender up there:

On 04/12/2019 at 17:11, Experienced Defender said:

 

I understand what's your idea, but... playing both fullbacks in such a conservative role as FB on defend in a narrow system runs counter to elementary tactical logic. Simply because it's precisely the fullbacks that need to provide attacking width while also being able to perform their defensive duties effectively. I don''t know your FBs, so I cannot tell you if they are good enough for a narrow formation like yours, but if they do not seem capable of persistently going up and down their respective flanks - then I would suggest you consider changing the formation in a non-narrow one (e.g. 442 or 4123 wide for example). 

In fact, I fear that your defensive issues likely have to do more with your manner of defending (out-of-possession instructions), which looks too aggressive (and hence risky) IMHO, especially for a team of Blacburn's quality and reputation. I am primarily talking about the more urgent pressing, especially when coupled with your high-risk (Positive) mentality and the high DL and LOE. What can (and probably does) also make you overly exposed is the Focus play through the middle TI, because it increases the mentality of your CBs and defend-duty CMAdvice: remove the Focus play, tone down the pressing intensity (to default) and also drop the LOE a notch (to standard). That should make you more solid and compact defensively (plus create more space for potential counter-attacks for your team). It's possible that you may even need to drop the DL to standard as well, but you'll have to play and see if that would be necessary. 

So start with this setup of defensive TIs:

- higher DL

- standard LOE

- default pressing urgency

Then watch what happens and how it works, and report back, so that we could see if the tweaking has been successful or more adjustments are needed.  

Now, let's get back to the fullbacks. Assuming you follow my advice on defensive team instructions, I would suggest making the fullbacks a bit less defense-minded as your next step. But before that, I would also change the mezzala's duty to support instead of attack. First, the mezzala as a role is pretty much attack-minded anyway. Secondly - and perhaps even more important - with the support duty, your mezzala will be more responsible defensively while still fully contributing to your attacks and attacking build-ups. 

As for the 2 other CMs, DLP on defend in the middle and CAR on the left is a good combination in this type of setup. A combo you may also consider is - CM on defend duty in the middle (instead of DLP) and DLP on support in MCL (instead of CAR). 

Following all these potential tweaks, the next one should be - simply swapping the sides of your strikers, so that the F9 moves to the left, and PFat to the right (for better balance and movement between the midfield and attack). 

So, the potential new setup of roles and duties for the front 6 players would now look like this:

F9      PFat

SS

   CAR(DLPsu)   DLPde(CMde)     MEZsu

Okay, but what about the remaining 4? As I already said, overly conservative fullbacks simply do not go hand in hand with the nature of narrow systems. And now that:

1. the mezzala has been made a bit more restrained (and thus more defensively responsible as well), and

2. defensive team instrucions are less aggressive (making the system more solid and compact defense-wise)

... you can (finally) allow the fullbacks a bit more freedom to get forward and support attacks from the flanks, albeit to different degrees. And given that your MCR (MEZ) is the more attack-minded role than the MCL (CAR/DLPsu), your right fullback should logically be more conservative (defensive-minded) than his counterpart on the left flank. So - taking all that into account - here is how I would set the back-line up:

WBsu       CDde    BPDde       WBde

As you can see, the RB is still on defend duty (because he needs to cover for the mezzala), but now as a WB instead of FB. The WB as a role will make him a bit more willing to get forward and support attacks, whereas the defend duty will prevent him from doing that too often (i.e. more than necessary). By the same token, the left fullback can be allowed to bomb forward more regularly (being covered defensively by a carrilero or DLP on support). 

Note that I also changed one of the CBs from BPD into standard CD. Simply, I don't think that you need more than one BPD (if any). And btw, do you have a CB that can play the BPD role effectively at all? Does any of your CBs have the attributes for a BPD (passing, first touch, decisions, composure and some decent vision as well)? If not, then better go with regular CBs and keep it simple.

Now, tell me what you think about all these suggestions and also feel free to ask any questions you might have. After that, we can move on to the next subject - team instructions (including the mentality) :thup:

 

 

The main change I took from this advice, was doing this:

 

1746591525_Screenshot2020-01-05at11_06_22.thumb.png.a716578c8074a25d9b4e0291d1ae77f7.png

 

I ended up changing the False 9 into an AF, and changed the suggested PF(Att) into a Support duty. It works really well as a tactic, but the main issue I seem to have (also seem to have it regardless of tactic, to be honest) is getting consistent scoring from the forwards. Every game I make a decent amount of chances, there's no problem there, unless the tactic just gets totally nullified, or I'm way, way too much the underdog to attempt a passing game and switch to a more boring formation.

So anyone got any help for the misfiring strikers? They aren't the best players in the world, and I have a distinct lack of clear strikers in the squad, mostly they're either Attacking Mids and Attacking Wingers who can play up front as well.

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1 hour ago, SuperBiggles said:

1746591525_Screenshot2020-01-05at11_06_22.thumb.png.a716578c8074a25d9b4e0291d1ae77f7.png

 

1 hour ago, SuperBiggles said:

This is what I ended up with, going off the advice of Experienced Defender

Using instructions such as Focus play through the middle and Hold shape certainly cannot be based on my advice and tactical approach.

But apart from that, I fear that your team is not good enough to play within an "exotic" system such as the narrow 4312 (or narrow diamond as well). So you should perhaps consider switching to a more ordinary formation for starters. Or at least have a reserve tactic that employs a more ordinary formation.

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2 hours ago, Experienced Defender said:

 

Using instructions such as Focus play through the middle and Hold shape certainly cannot be based on my advice and tactical approach.

But apart from that, I fear that your team is not good enough to play within an "exotic" system such as the narrow 4312 (or narrow diamond as well). So you should perhaps consider switching to a more ordinary formation for starters. Or at least have a reserve tactic that employs a more ordinary formation.

 

Sorry, should have said used most of the advice that you gave. To explain my choices;

I ended up adding the Focus Play Through The Middle because my best players in the first season ended up being my midfielders. Got Stefan Mols who has great passing, technique and vision, and the other midfielders were pretty great in that regard, too. More often than not the play that would end up with a goal would start with those guys, either passing to a forward, receiving it back and scoring, or spreading it to the wingbacks who'd be coming forwards.

The Hold Shape... it was a weird one to put in, but for me the team when asked to press would keep running themselves around, winning the ball back, but then being unable to find another pass to build anything. Especially the forwards. They always seemed to be so out of position, so there was no option for a forward pass, because there was nobody to receive. I could've been wrong, but as soon as I added the Hold Shape, my possession stats went up, chances were up, and opportunities were way better. 


And yeah. Won a.miraculous promotion from League Two to League One with Cheltenham. 8 games in and I've only really risked using the 4.3.2.1 against one team in a cup game. I've tried it a couple of times for the first half of a match, or second half if I'm a couple of goals up, aaaaand.... it doesn't seem to be happening. The front three seem to just be completely non-existent.

My only other question is... I know my team is awful for the league, but even in the previous season in League Two I seemed to massively struggle against 4-2-3-1 as a formation. I could never get anything going from it. Is it just this tactic is just too inherently weak on the wing to beat a team that plays 4-2-3-1, or could it be doable? I know I can't at this stage because the players are just far too poor to make it work.

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1 hour ago, SuperBiggles said:

I ended up adding the Focus Play Through The Middle because my best players in the first season ended up being my midfielders. Got Stefan Mols who has great passing, technique and vision, and the other midfielders were pretty great in that regard, too. More often than not the play that would end up with a goal would start with those guys, either passing to a forward, receiving it back and scoring, or spreading it to the wingbacks who'd be coming forwards.

The Hold Shape... it was a weird one to put in, but for me the team when asked to press would keep running themselves around, winning the ball back, but then being unable to find another pass to build anything. Especially the forwards. They always seemed to be so out of position, so there was no option for a forward pass, because there was nobody to receive. I could've been wrong, but as soon as I added the Hold Shape, my possession stats went up, chances were up, and opportunities were way better

 

1 hour ago, SuperBiggles said:

Won a.miraculous promotion from League Two to League One with Cheltenham

Okay, so the tactic actually works. Great :thup: 

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I'm running a Newcastle save at the moment where I'm running 4312 (I have a bit of a love affair with it thanks to a save back on FM11 or 12 where I had great success) and I'm currently in 6th with 7 games left to play. I've been wheeling and dealing to improve the squad to cope with the formation as best I can. My general formation is similar to yours but the playing style is different

The current formation is

   PFa AFa
      Ta
 CARs CMd MEZa
WBs CDd CDd WBs
      SKd

Positive mentality

In possession: pass into space, run at defence, be more expressive

In transition: counter, distribute to centre backs and full backs

Out of possession: higher DLine, extremely urgent pressing and tighter marking

I've gone through various iterations through the year, the left back was WBa for ages with the right back on WBd until the left became a defensive liability and there wasn't enough man power going forwards. The AMC started as APs but he was disappearing for ages so the hope is that as trequartista he'll have the freedom to do as he wants to get involved. The left forward was CFs but I signed Haaland and he's perfect as a pressing forward so I'm rolling with that at the moment.

I'm happy to let teams come on to me before I press them like crazy, win the ball back and counter with speed. I did have a lower LOE with standard DLine but higher DLine with standard LOE seems to work better at the moment. The formation needs the vertical compactness as there's no DM to cover the defence. I started on balanced but found I was getting swamped too close to my goal so positive pushes everything a bit further up the pitch and increases the press as well.

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