Let’s start off with a brief introduction here. As you may or may not have noticed over the past few days, #wearethecommunity is a thing now on Twitter. A bit of cross-pollination within the scene and a bunch of us trying to look beyond our own blogs and websites. In that regard, Paul from FM Central has decided to share one of his favorite posts with us, his take on tactic building. It should prove for some excellent reading.


Table of Contents

The Solid Base

In Football Manager 2015, I had success with The Five and Five tactic base and I wanted to look at creating a base again. A based which aims to stop teams playing and aims to allow you to control your games yourself. This base is tested at the lower level where players do not have the ability of the likes of Ronaldo or Messi, so imagine how solid you can be with a team of stars.

Solid Tactic Base FM16
Getting in to ‘The Solid Base’ I wanted to look back on my Football Manager success in the past, seeing what I could learn from it and build upon, so I think it is only fair to quote my previous years post for the intro;

I see many people telling me that in Football Manager it is impossible to have a good defensive record, now I know they do not mean its impossible but I also know people often find it hard to decide how to create a solid tactic whilst also making sure they can attack and score goals. What makes a successful formation, is it achieving what is expected, achieving what the team is capable of or is it walking through the divisions like Fulham of the past.I like to look at building something, these runs from the bottom to the top happen in Football Manager but do not get yourself worked up if promotion does not happen straight away, projects take time and that is what people are doing most of the time, you have projects to work on.”

We will first look in at how I have set up for this Base. I have tried to keep it simple, solid and hard to break down and results are showing it is working.

Setting up with what is now a famous defensive five is the key to me creating a solid base, you will see further down some ‘in game’ shots of how this works and how the team moves with this layout but the idea is simple: Form connections and do not break them.

The attacking five are set to work hard but, get forward when they can. The centermidfielder is positioned to offer support both ways, with the CM (Support) holding fort in the middle of midfield I find he is a great link between the defensive five and attacking five, the three other midfielders all are set to attack with my second CM as an advanced playmaker on attack.
The wingers are vital due to a team instruction found below, having ‘clear to flanks’ is something I like to use as it releases pressure from the team often and gives a great outlet for the team.
The Deep Lying forward is a position that has to be set to this or you will find massive gaps between the striker and midfield, often he will drop, receive and then lay it off to the flanks for him then to get back into the box.

The instructions again, are set up to create the base for you to build on, a few key points to mention:
Run at defence is set to stop the wingers getting early crosses in and shots from out wide at silly angles.
Work the Ball into the Box is also there as a setting to make sure we are slow at getting it in, with only one striker and him dropping deep, if we are getting early balls in, it will destroy many chances.
The rest are explained or self explained by the rules I have set in terms of what I expect from my team.

Now, we move on to how it looks and works in the matches.
With 30 games in the last 50 taking place with this formation in use, I have conceded only 23 in these games, this is a good figure for this level, with many players lacking the footballing intelligence to perform for 90 minutes, the pride I get to see them doing this regularly and keeping shape makes me feel this can be used as a base for clubs at any level.

Watching and developing

Now as the title says, this is a ‘base’. At no point do I say this is a finished product, there are many aspects that can be worked on and this can only happen with reviewing of your games, this does take time and lots of starting and stopping of your games so you can check the following during games.

The first thing I look for is the shape, now the base shape is ‘Five and Five’ so, can I see this in effect during the game?

This image is clear, showing a split between the front and back five, forming a ‘Five and Five’ formation straight away.
Watching this can only give you a view of what I wanted for the base, the next step is now looking at it in situations during the games and seeing what you can change.
Straight away you can see looking at the wings, there is a lot of space there and maybe you can look at exploiting that.

This next image is one I find shows a lot about how the players are instructed and straight away you can see some things you might like and might not like.

This is the structure of the side as the opposition begins to look for a position where to attack. Their central defenders are on the ball and the options we give them are the two full backs, now this is an option I offer on purpose during my testing of the base.
My wingers start by dropping in to a defending role, marking both wingers which gives the full backs the chance to drop in to a tight back four. This is done to prevent any chance of them playing through the middle, the players they have from the midfielders in the center to the strikers are took out of the game until the ball is played.
As soon as the ball is given to the full backs you find my wingers will remain tight to the wingers as well as my midfield center makes sure they also get tight to the central midfield of the opposition… Where can they pass? The option they seem to take is trying the ball over the top for the winger to run on to, this gives me possession back as my full backs are free and able to move over and collect often.

Now this is not a finished tactic, not close to it but it is a base and a solid base at that. If you are struggling to set tactics up, struggling to settle your side down, this could be a help to just give a few pointers which I hope can help you find the tactic you need.


Lok · January 17, 2016 at 2:56 pm

Solid tactics
can u give some advice on Defending Set piece?

    theenglishinspection · January 19, 2016 at 7:28 pm

    in terms of set pieces, I keep it very basic, four a long the 6 yard box, two on posts and two man marking and then one on edge and one up top.

    making sure the two man marking players have the best man marking skills, in my eyes this does not mean the best headers, I like them on the 6 yard box

      Lok · January 20, 2016 at 2:05 pm

      Certainly gonna try it

MattyWillo · January 18, 2016 at 2:21 pm

Have you set any specific player instructions up for this tactic?

    theenglishinspection · January 19, 2016 at 7:30 pm

    Hi, in terms of that, I like to remind people it is a base to build from and player instructions are all at the players discretion, personally yes but very simple:
    GK to pass to full backs
    FB’s to run wide, dribble more and fewer risky passes
    CM (S) fewer risky passes

      Murat · January 26, 2016 at 2:54 pm

      how could you assign FB(d) dribble more and AP(a) fewer risky passes instructions???

      theenglishinspection · January 27, 2016 at 5:20 pm

      Ah very good spot on my reply, I have replied with the edited instructions once I turned my full backs to support for a tester of a more advanced development of the tactic.

      in terms of the AP (a), it is not him set to fewer risky passes, it is the midfielder next to him

Lok · January 20, 2016 at 2:36 pm

use my ML/MR to man mark opposite’s winger?
My wingers start by dropping in to a defending role, marking both wingers

    theenglishinspection · January 27, 2016 at 5:18 pm

    Yes, I shall edit that part, not explained correctly and can be better

    I do mean I use my wingers to man mark opposition wingers but this is only done if the opposition does not have full backs who are known for assists

Chipmcc · January 24, 2016 at 10:06 am

Great piece, it is nice to see the fullbacks on defend duties. It seems most people refuse to use them that way even in 4-1-4-1 formation in fear that their offense would have no support, but the setup can be strong attacking. I used the base in Scotland, league 2, and won the league. I did switch some rolls and instructions of course but the base premise is solid.

    theenglishinspection · January 24, 2016 at 1:41 pm

    Hi, thank you for your kind words. Yeah I also feel as a base it is very solid and as you, changes happen as the season and seasons progress.

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