Imagine a formation that takes you back to the times of the early nineties, to the times of teams like the 1990 West German squad. A sturdy, defensively reliable squad, with a proper defensive sweeper like Klaus Augenthaler. The Germans won quite a few trophies in their day playing, according to the pundits, a particularly cynical style of football. But in Italy 1990 the cynical defensive football prevailed, while the Germans began playing more offensive attacking football, but without losing their organisation and discipline. I’ve tried to marry this ruthlessly efficient and defensively solid style with my own strikerless ideas in the same fashion a master whisky blender tries to take the best flavours to create something new and genius. The end product of my whisky-fueled brainstorming-session looks like this.
Now before reading on, please don’t expect this tactic or any Football Manager 2015 tactic to provide instant results. This is a system involving a strikerless formation, which by default takes time to implement but has a proven track record of success in Football Manager 2015. This specific tactical system has been designed around the concept of an Auspützer as described by Jonathon and myself earlier. I will go into a detailed breakdown, covering both the formation and the various roles below.
The Complete Wing-Backs stop the wide spread of the central players somewhat, without sacrificing the offensive width we badly need. We realise this sounds very nifty on paper, but it’s untested in reality. In an effort to show you that this actually works in the Match Engine in the exact way we envisaged and described, we’ll walk you through some match screenshots.
In this match screen, we can see the opposing team trying a long ball over the top. This is the basic defensive setting our setup generates in the current Match Engine. We can see the basic premisse in action. When you cannot make the libero/sweeper move, move the other players around him. The two central defenders aggressively move forward, whilst the sweeper stays behind them, covering the space behind the defensive line. The presence of the Complete Wing-Backs stops the defenders from spreading too wide, despite the space behind the wide players. Again, the sweeper can cover these spaces if needed.
When the team is going forward, the Complete Wing-Backs surge even further forward, adding some much needed width to an otherwise largely centralised setup. What is encouraging, is the positioning of the remaining three players. They are situated on the half-way line, with the sweeper slightly behind the other two. In a setup with no wing-backs, the three defenders would spread to cover the flanks as well, creating gaping gaps between them, large enough to sail an aircraft carrier through unscathed. Despite the attacking runs by our wing-backs, the defence remains centralised, with the gaps between the players small and manageable.
This holy Trinity of defending looks quite sturdy. The Ausputzer is not the mobile player the libero is. He does not move laterally behind and in front of the defensive line. Instead, he is the focal point of the defensive line, the pivot so to speak. Whilst he does make covering runs to clear dangerous situations, he remains largely static , whilst the others form the line around him.
Offensively, we’re going for the tried and tested approach with a Withdrawn Targetman dash Targetganche, flanked by two Shadow Strikers. Basically, we wanted a cross-pollination of the targetman role and the enganche role. In a way, it makes sense, as the enganche already encorporates some of the qualities a targetman is supposed to offer to a team. A targetman is a striker who is the target of passes from his teammates. A good target man will possess the strength to hold up the ball, hold off opponents and bring team-mates into play. Target men are often tall, physical players who operate with their back to goal.
The “enganche” is the term in Argentinian Spanish for a playmaker. The word “enganche” is apparently derived from enganchar, which means in South American Spanish: “to hook”. The idea is that the enganche has to hook the strikers into the supporting cast of players who are there to support them in their efforts. He is the player that receives the ball and chooses how and when to pass the ball to maximise the potential of the attacking movement.
Mix those two up and you get the Targetganche™, or the Withdrawn Targetman we want to see in the game. He will hold up the ball and bring his team-mates into play, choosing how and when to pass the ball to maximise the potential of the attacking movement, whilst the Shadow Strikers run onto the balls headed through or flicked on. The midfield setup with a Roaming Playmaker and a Box-to-box midfielder should generate plenty of movement around our Targetganche.
So does this interest you? Why not give the tactic a try?