With the Youtube function of FM still messed up, proper tactical articles are still on hold until I can afford to buy a SnagIt copy. This does leave me with work to do to maintain a regular schedule of updates, so I’ve decided to treat you to some casual reading on the origins of my love for strikerless formations.
To be fair, it’s mostly because a strikerless formation often allows me to shoe-horn at least one trequartista into the line-up and sometimes even two. Trequartista’s are just my favorite type of footballers. The masters at pulling strings from their positions in the hole, trequartista’s have always been a sight to inspire dreams and engulf kids (like me) into what is possible with a ball. Elusive for much of a game yet so often the match winner, these players are the embodiment of technique, grace and skill.
Growing up, I saw players like Gheorge Hagi, Michael Laudrup, Jari Litmanen and the very much underrated Matthew Le Tissier play and I loved to be a player just like them. Relying on touch, vision, control and, most importantly, speed of thought, they tried to create and score where possible. Teammates sprang into life around the player, anticipating knife-through-butter killer balls and deft touches to open up defences.
These guys player would drift around and find space to receive a pass and look to create between the lines. Their ability to unlock defences and turn a seemingly innocuous attacking phase into a goal required them to be kept higher up the pitch, which also necessitated a player to do the dirty work for them.
This is probably the main reason why we’ve seen in a decline in true trequartista-style players in Europe. The speed of the game has increased, tactics have changed and demand for all players to chip in defensively and in an attacking sense. Power, pace and endurance are becoming more prevalent, which has lead to the downfall of true trequartista’s, barring the odd exception ofcourse. You never saw guys like Hagi, Totti or any of them engage in lung-busting activities, simply because it wasn’t their job to do so (and let’s be honest, most of them didn’t want to either).
Still, these maestro’s personified football the way I like it, players with skill and precision, dropping between the lines in an eternal quest for a bit of space, looking to turn an attacking move into a goal with a delicate through-ball or a cheeky shot on goal. These are the players that could mesmerize a crowd in real life and these are the players that appeal to me in the game as well.
I do realise that football as a whole is different now. The success of teams such as Barcelona, Dortmund and Bayern Munich is based on the ability to press high and win possession closer to the opponent’s goal. There’s no time or space to carry passengers, as every player has to contribute. Even in FM, I had to experiment with a Plan B in case the regular passing motions didn’t work, which lead to the rise of the Targetganche for FM14.
Still, the players spearheading my teams were always the trequartistas of the world, players I was 100% loyal to and hardly ever dropped from my team, because a single flash of their brilliance could turn a game around. They were even semi-excused from the relentless counter-pressing I wish to enforce.
Like in real life, the the central figure who was the focal point of every attack is a player in decline, even in FM the amount of tactics really using a true trequartista is decreasing. Moody, elusive, volatile and lazy, yet exquisitely skilful and effortlessly intelligent, the classic number 10 may be a dying breed but I for one will do my best to keep their legacy alive in my save-games by trying to cram one or two into my formations every time. That is why I play strikerless.