It’s a bit of a cliché, but it’s true nonetheless. Strikers are overvalued. This over-valuation is an example of the ““availability heuristic”: the more available a piece of information is to the memory, the more likely it is to influence your decision, even when the information is biased. Goals tend to stick to mind, the goal-scorer tends to be the hero. The man who won the ball with a tackle tends to be forgotten, the man providing the assist tends to be forgotten, the goal-scorer sticks to mind as the victorious hero who won the day for his side. Most goal-scorers are forwards; hence they tend to be over-valued.

This tendency to focus on strikers is natural but that makes transitioning to a strikerless setup difficult, as this move challenges the beliefs you are instilled with regarding how you watch and think about football. Still, let’s presume you have fallen under the spell of the siren song of strikerless tactics. Otherwise, why would you be here, on By its very name, a strikerless formation has no need for actual strikers. So, when you are hell-bent on playing a strikerless formation, you are going to have to find solutions for your excess baggage; the strikers you have inherited in the squad you have just taken control of. What do you do with excess (most if not all) strikers? Bring them to a quiet spot on the training ground and perform a mercy-killing? Read on to find out what you can do with your excess strikers.

No need to worry Emile, you live to miss more chances another day...

No need to worry Emile, you live to miss more chances another day…

The reason I came up with this article is quite simple. Last week, an e-mail dropped into my inbox. That happens fairly often, but most of the time it’s either advertising or work-related. This time, it was a Strikerless related e-mail, sent by a loyal follower of the blog and he detailed a very good idea.

Hello Guido,

After checking out news on-line my first port of call is always your website to see if a new article has been posted and I have been wondering recently if you would be doing an in depth article about transitioning to a strikerless system. The reason I ask is because when chatting to people on-line who have tried to transition to strikerless I find that some just give up and I know from personal experience just how difficult the early days of transition can be. If you do not have large transfer funds available then I find that it takes me up to three full seasons to to fully get the benefits of a strikerless system and get the players I need and the team playing the way I want. I believe any insights that you could post on your site would help many (including myself) who have tried and failed to convert.

I am currently trying a new save and transition and one counterintuitive thing I have noticed that is helping with a much faster change to strikerless (within one season!) is that pure strikers (with no attacking midfield ability) play best as AMCs whilst being re-trained and not as Shadow Strikers and that attacking wingers (particularly those that have good ratings as Inside Forwards) play best as Shadow Strikers. Since swapping their roles and retraining schedules my previous strikers and inside forwards are scoring and creating goals just for fun. It may just be the particular set of players that I have but it might be worth checking out.

Kind regards and please keep up the good work and give my regards to DerFManager

So what are the most effective and efficient ways to get rid of those banes of my Football Manager existence; strikers? If you’re the kind of guy that’s not interested in long, winded posts, here’s the TL;DR version:

  1. Re-train them;
  2. Sell them,;
  3. Loan them away.

Re-training them

The most economical measure consists of re-training your players. It will give your team additional cover without any further financial expense. Re-training forwards (or any other players for that matter) is a straight-forward yet time-consuming process. In FM, players can play a number of different positions to a number of different capabilities. Players will always have at least one “Natural” position, the position they are most comfortable playing, but they could also have other positions they can play to differing degrees, ranging from “Ineffective” to “Accomplished”. Players can have more than one “Natural position”, and can gain this level of proficiency in new positions given time.

The main question here is: how long will it take to re-train my player? The amount of time it takes to successfully re-train a player depends on a number of factors:

  • The level of familiarity the player already has in his position;
  • The players’ “Versatility” attribute;
  • The amount of playing time in the new position.

I would like to add an extra factor I always consider:

  • Can the player fulfil the roles my tactic uses?

My tactics generally utilise central attacking midfielders in an Enganche, Attacking Midfielder or Shadow Striker role, though I often use backup tactics which feature wide players, so re-training into Inside Forwards or Wingers is also an option. These are roles that come with certain prerequisites and expectations. If a player cannot meet these, there’s no use in re-training them at all.

Just look at the requirements for the roles I want my players to play.

Role: Shadow Striker

  • Technical: Finishing, First Touch, Long Shots, Passing, Technique
  • Mental: Anticipation, Composure, Flair, Off The Ball, Work Rate
  • Physical: Acceleration, Agility, Pace, Stamina, Strength

Role: Enganche

  • Technical: First Touch, Passing, Technique
  • Mental: Anticipation, Composure, Decisions, Flair, Off The Ball, Vision
  • Physical: –

Role: Attacking Midfielder

  • Technical: Finishing, First Touch, Long Shots, Passing, Technique
  • Mental: Anticipation, Composure, Concentration, Decisions, Off The Ball, Teamwork, Vision
  • Physical: –

Role: Inside Forward

  • Technical: Crossing, Dribbling, Finishing, First Touch, Long Shots, Passing, Technique
  • Mental: Composure, Decisions, Flair, Off The Ball
  • Physical: Acceleration, Pace

Role: Winger

  • Technical: Crossing, Dribbling, First Touch, Passing, Technique
  • Mental: Flair, Off The Ball, Work Rate
  • Physical: Acceleration, Pace, Stamina

Re-training can work out just fine. Take this player for example.

He started his career as a striker, but his natural attributes made him a suitable candidate for a Shadow Striker re-training programme. I do this with most young strikers on my books, provided they have a decent measure of potential ability. This is an example of a player who has entered the club through our youth intake.

David Aranburu seems ideally suited to be retrained as an inside forward on the right side. He already has a degree of familiarity with playing out wide, and he has the pace to successfully play there. Alternatively, once he completes his Inside Forward regime or if he fails to do so, we could opt to have him train in an Attacking Midfielder regime. Again, his natural attributes indicate that he should be able to.

If you want any sort of indication which positions will suit a player, but you are too lazy to actually do any manual calculating, you can use this website, which has a calculator app for you.

Loan them away

Before looking at selling players, you should always check if you can loan players away. There are several good reasons for this strategy.

For starters, a player can attract interest from other clubs because he performs well. If this player is loaned to another club and manages to score a fair share of goals, he will undoubtedly attract interest from other clubs. If you want to loan a player away with the sole purpose of putting him in the shop window, you should consider sending him to an affiliate club. When they come back from their loan deal, you can try to sell them. If you sell a player straight off the bat, the price you can command will drop by as much as 50%, as the AI clubs sense that you are desperate to sell.

Secondly, a loan move could also help keep his wages in check. If you manage to find a club which is willing to take over his wages (or part of them), you generate more financial space for your own club. Affiliate clubs are generally a bad idea for such loan deals, as they are often not required to pay any wages. If such a player is unsellable, loaning him away to paying clubs until his contract expires is a decent way to minimise your losses.

Thirdly, and this is a subject we’ve covered extensively before, you can make a few bucks on the side by loaning players away to other clubs if you command a loan fee for them.

Sell them

Selling players is often inevitable. Strikers are often amongst the more valuable players in your squad and letting them rot away in the reserves or on the bench would be a bad idea from an economic perspective. It makes no sense to let valuable players peter away like that. Not only are you destroying their market value, but you are also still obliged to pay them their full wages. The Rule Of Djalminha (too many bitching players will eventually see your ass getting sacked) offers extra incentive to get rid of strikers quickly, as you don’t want unhappy players disrupting the dressing room harmony.

To summarise, it makes sense to sell your strikers if you can’t loan them away or re-train them before a spot on the bench can ruin morale and the players’ value. If a player cannot be re-trained, don’t wait too long before selling them to other clubs. When you are selling high profile players, you can turn a nice profit. If you’re selling squad fillers, just be prepared to cut your losses when needed. Getting 50% of his value is often better than paying his wages for a full season and having him stink up the team’s morale before said player fucks off even cheaper.

Guido is the founding father of Strikerless and main nutjob running the show.

Categories: Tactics


Guido is the founding father of Strikerless and main nutjob running the show.


Alan Butterworth · April 2, 2017 at 7:48 pm

Thanks, Guido, just the sort of clear analysis I was expecting when I suggested the subject. The only thing I would add is PATIENCE. While retraining players you will get some terrible performances from individual players but if you start to get a change to the retrained player’s suitabilty to the role as shown in the colour on the training screen then stick with it and don’t give up on him. The more you can play him in his new role the quicker he will adapt. The skill comes in identifying those that will never reach the required standard.
This link may help in indentifying suitable roles for retraining players to.

Fat_irl · April 4, 2017 at 7:55 am

I don’t play with a strikerless system (i, personally, want a different type of football than you), but I always read this blog because it’s one of the best regarding FM you can find. That said, it’s kinda weird what the email said. And he’s right. He’s so right. I retrain strikers to AMC all day but they struggle with Shadow Striker. Even if their attributes make them ideal SS (poachers who can pass). I wonder if this is just confirmation bias or if there is something else at work.

It’s probably a combination of both but it’s still fun to think about.

    StrikerlessGuido · April 4, 2017 at 8:14 am

    I wish I knew… Hell, I wish I knew of a way to figure that out… Can’t even come up with an experiment to figure this one out 🙁

The Academy; Applying What We’ve Learned – Strikerless · July 20, 2017 at 9:23 am

[…] Initially, most of my retraining was between these positions. Regular midfielders needed to be trained to play as defensive midfielders and vice versa, wingbacks needed to become more versatile and on occasion, wide midfielders needed to be trained to act as wingbacks. For the occasional striker present at the club, we went through the usual trajectory. […]

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