Debunking The Formation Myth; The Medusa

When you have followed this blog, you will have noticed that I have a quirky kind of love for strange formations, for peculiar settings and for tactics that are different than they might appear at first sight. The entire blog is named after a rather alien concept in football, so I guess it shouldn’t come as a complete surprise that I generally try to think outside of the proverbial box. The Medusa tactic, which is bound to cause a few fits for people with tactical OCD, is a nice example of my desire to push the limits of what FM is capable of.

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Tactical Kryptonite To The FM17.2 ME; The Inverted Wingback

In a way, football is a sport of the mind as much as it is of the body. Football thrives on creating and exploiting space for yourself and for others. A successful tactic finds ways to generate space where there was thought to be none. This objective can be achieved by patiently passing the ball around, by hoofing the ball forward to a big guy, by stretching the opposition until holes appear, by immediately counter-attacking once the ball is won or in a dozen other and distinctive ways. The fact remains that every tactic exploits space somehow.

The match engine of Football Manager is no different than an actual football match in terms of tactics, the key to creating a successful tactic is finding a way to generate and exploit space for your team, whilst simultaneously restricting the space the opposition gets. Every version of the match engine has its weaknesses, a specific tactic or approach that is overpowered, a bit too effective. In FM16 you could score for fun just by launching a barrage of crosses into the penalty area, CM03/04 had its Diablo tactic with the insanely effective central midfielder scoring for fun and in the 17.2 match engine you have another example of this tactical kryptonite; the inverted wingback.

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The Life of Youth Developer

Youth development is such a favourite hobby for me in FM17. Just imagine the excitement you get when you get a youth from the academy youth intake, and then you congratulate your Head of Youth Development for a good job. All the prayers you done has been answered , and with a huge luck , you will be grateful for the youth candidates. And then you decide where can he be, your u18 or is he good enough for u21 or even crazier talent who deserves to be in first team squad.

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A strikerless 4-1-3-2

I’m back, and I have a new strikerless abomination™* for you to check out. When I started messing with tactics for FM17, I decided I wanted to try something different. For the last few versions of FM, my tactical setups have been very similar. My teams always had a base of:

  • Control mentality
  • Very fluid team shape
  • Close down much more (or at the very least close down more)
  • A high defensive line
  • Roam from positions
  • Shorter passing

Basically the sort of thing you’ll see in most of Guido’s tactics on this site, they had been an enormous influence on my tactical thinking ever since I found this blog a few years ago.

This formation started life with strikers, it was one of the tactics that I used over the course of my beta test save.  Due to a series of injuries, I was forced into fielding it as a strikerless system. This didn’t last long, a few matches at most, but when my test save finished, and I couldn’t decide on my long term save I thought I’d investigate it further, the team I chose to do this were Sporting CP.

I chose Sporting as they’re one of the better sides in their league, I wanted to test it out with good players but not elite level. Also, they’re in Europe, The Champions League to be precise and I thought that the counter-attacking nature of this tactic would be well tested against the bigger clubs in the competition.

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Facing Off Against Superior Opposition; Parking The Bus 101

It’s a phrase that has been around for a bit more than a decade, “parking the bus.” It’s not a phrase with a positive connotation as it is used to describe teams employing a highly defensive minded tactic. These tactics usually involve at least two defensive banks sitting deep in their own half, inviting pressure and letting the opposition keep the ball and passing it around, waiting for them to make a mistake.

When the opposition has made a mistake and lost possession, the team parking the bus only commits a few players to the counter-attack. These advanced outlets further up the pitch will then break quickly towards goal. The tactic is based on the beliefs that when you do not concede a goal, you cannot lose the game, and you can limit the chances your opposition creates by restricting the amount of space in your own final third.

Since this brand of football is generally not as aesthetically pleasing it is often branded as a negative approach to football, anti-football even. That is rather harsh since it is a well-drilled approach, which requires the right personnel, hours and hours of practice, and a good amount of insight into the setup of both your own team, the opposition’s team and various other circumstances surrounding the match.

In this article, we are going to look at what makes up a good tactic to park the bus, how to set one up of your own, various factors to take into consideration when opting to play such a tactic and ultimately you get the chance to download my own strikerless take of parking the bus.

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Project Libero; The Tactic

Back in the days, liberos were a truly majestic sight to behold. Step into your time machine and go back in time a good 20 or so years. Turn on the tv and watch teams defend. The majority of them will feature a type of player that seems to have been lost from the modern game. You’ll see an elegant defender sitting behind the defensive line, picking up stray through balls from an attacker. As he effortlessly brings it under his control, he marches forward with it, stepping past the other defenders and moving into the midfield zone. From there he acts as a modern day deep-lying playmaker, initiating the play and spreading it out to the flanks, or playing it forward into midfield or attack. This is the libero. People tend to get nostalgic about liberos and their style of play and rightfully so, as they were often stylish and elegant players, epitomised by the likes of Franz Beckenbauer and Franco Baresi.

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