Over the past few years, I have been an avid follower of the Strikerless blog. In a way, you could consider me a disciple of the strikerless path to darkness. Initially, that meant that I downloaded the tactics available on the blog and slightly altered them to suit my specific needs. Although I have had some measure of moderate success in the past with developing my own strikerless tactics, this is the first one I have actually felt any pride in. This my strikerless tactic; the Three Amigos.

Team Shape

I have spent hours trying to get the classic Strikerless shape (four at the back with a DM) to work but despite my unrelenting and continuous efforts, the team keeps leaking the odd goal, ultimately producing too many draws and 1-0 defeats. I have gone with three at the back and wing-backs, which is rock solid in comparison. Just have a look at its setup on the pitch.

Those three central defenders are always flanked by the two wingbacks when defending, while the central areas in midfield are well covered. The wingbacks can generally step out into midfield should the central midfielders be outnumbered. Similarly, one of the attacking midfield amigos can drop back to help out defensively.

Team Instructions

I have gone back to my pre-strikerless days and used/adapted my favourite Team Instructions. This tactic works best on an Attack duty but Control or Counter-Attack can also be used, depending on the way the opposition is playing and the state of the game. I usually start with Attack and change if necessary throughout the game.

Shape flexible – As everyone needs to contribute in all areas of the pitch I have gone for a flexible shape. Using Counter Attacking I need the defenders not to get too involved further up the pitch (hence, no more than Flexible) as I am already operating with a Higher Defensive line.

Tempo and Passing – I have always been a fan of a short passing higher tempo game. Short snappy passing looks great when it works. Unless I see something in-game to exploit or need to react to, Tempo is the only thing I change if necessary. If I am having trouble opening up a defence I will change to Much Higher tempo for a short while and if the opposition is getting too much possession and chances I will slow the Tempo down. Sometimes the AI takes a little time to react to a change of tempo and goal scoring opportunities can arise in the first 10 minutes after a change.

Width – Fairly narrow I want to channel the opposition into my solid back three and channel my attacks into an overloaded centre.

Defensive line – Slightly higher. I do not like giving up space for the opposition to operate in especially when using a Attacking mentality. We are looking to dictate the play not just react.

Use Offside Trap – To link with the higher line and the GK being a Sweeper Keeper.

Closing Down, Prevent Short GK Distribution and Use Tighter Marking – Again I want to deny the opposition the time and space to take advantage of my Counter Attacking mentality.

Exploit The Middle – I am looking to overload the central areas of the pitch and either get my attacking midfielders to chase balls passed into space in the middle of the park or to overwhelm the defence with numbers and short quick passing.

Play Out of Defence – I am trying to encourage the central defenders to keep it simple and give the ball to the wing backs or central midfielders and not hoof hopeful balls down the pitch.

Pass Into Space – To compliment the idea of quick counter attacks or telling through balls when operating on the edge of the opposition area.

Be More Expressive – As the central areas can get congested we need to give the more creative players the freedom to do something unexpected.

Look for Underlap – See Player Roles, wing backs

Low crosses – This or whipped Crosses seem to produce better results when playing Strikerless. Players are running onto the ball not standing around in the box waiting to challenge 190cm tall central defenders to a heading contest.

Roam from Position – To link with and for the same reasons as using Be More Expressive.

Note that I have not used Retain Possession (I want to get the ball down the other end quickly) or Work the Ball into the Box (the attacking midfielders have a Shoot Less Often instruction and WTBITB would be like butter on bacon – too much fat).

Player Roles, Duties and Instructions

Sweeper Keeper – I am using a Higher Defensive Line and an Offside Trap and none of the central defenders has a cover duty so using a sweeper keeper makes him a little more responsive to through balls. Also, sweeper keepers with a support duty are ideal when using  Attacking tactics.
Additional Player instructions – Distribute to Full Backs and Roll It Out. To link with Play Out of Defence (see above). Distribute Quickly – To aid counter-attacking.

Central Defenders – Right and Left central defenders on Defend and the central one as a Stopper.
Defend rather than Cover because as I have said before I do not want to give up too much space to the opposition. The central Stopper is to try to force the attackers onto the two defensive central defenders or even the wing backs. If he can win the ball and start the counter-attack even better. I have tried a ball playing defender here but the really good ones are few and far between and too expensive. Besides I just need the defenders to snuff out the attacks and get rid of the central midfielders and wing backs.
Additional Player instructions – Only Close Down More for the central Stopper. If he gets dragged out of position there are two other central defenders and a sweeper keeper to cover for him.

Wing Backs – Support duty. As we are playing Counter Attack they must be neither too defensive nor attacking. In many respects, these are key to this tactic. Using the Look for Underlap team instruction and their individual Player Instructions they contribute massively to helping to overload the middle and deliver balls early to central midfielders and attacking midfielders running onto the pass at pace.
Additional Player instructions – Cross from deep complements Look for Underlap in theory but I notice little difference whether this is used or not.

Sit Narrower. The two things with this are that (without any evidence other than observation) Sitting Narrower appears to nullify somewhat the crossing power of the opposition wingers and since changing to this the Wing Backs are scoring more often. Instead of powering shots into the side netting their angle of attack and running onto passes in the area is slightly more straight onto the goal than from the side.

Ball Winning Midfielder – Again the need to deny the opposition time and space and get the ball back so that we can start our own attacks. No additional Player instructions.

Advance Playmaker Support/Roaming Playmaker. Either one will do depending on what you have available on your team. There are more APs around than RPs so I have gone with that. The tactic needs that added flair that only a playmaker can bring to the table and is (in my opinion) absolutely essential in breaking down a stubborn defence. Also, I am overloading the centre of the park and things get very crowded on the edge of the opposition box. An inspired bit of playmaking is often just what is needed.

Additional Player instructions – Tackle harder to help out the BPD.

Attacking Midfielder Attack. That is right no Shadow Strikers. Playing around with different tactics I noticed that Attacking Midfielders start their runs onto through balls slightly deeper than SSs. Changing to this role has reduced the number of offsides particularly useful when using Counter Attack with Pass Into Space. Also, I prefer to utilise the skill sets of the players than force them to play a role they are less suited to. Well suited (according to scout reports) SSs are much fewer than AMs or APs and AMCs can be given instructions to make them operate in a similar fashion to SSs albeit from a slightly deeper position.
Additional Player instructions – Shoot Less Often. I am not using Work the Ball into the Box and this is trying to create a little more creativity in the attack.
Dribble Less. We are Counter Attacking and looking for short snappy passes to open up the defence.
Close Down More. I want that ball off their defenders and force them into mistakes. If it does not work then there is no great loss to the AMCs being out of position as the other team members should be behind the ball as when playing Counter Attack.
Tackle Harder – See above
Mark Tighter – See above
Roam from Position – Creativity and movement in and around the opposition box.
More Direct Passes – When an AMC gets the ball in our half I am looking for a long through ball into space for one of the other AMCs to run on to.
More Risky Passes – As per Roam from Position
Move Into Channels – As per a Shadow Striker.

I also use swap positions between the Left and Right AMCs

Opposition Instructions- Exactly as Guido’s 20 June 2017 article “Opposition Instructions, Pressing Triggers And Pressing Traps

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Categories: Tactics

13 Comments

Mark Rennolds · December 24, 2017 at 7:23 pm

Nice article Alan!
Which set of Guido’s OI’s do you use – High / Middle or Low block?
Will be interesting to give this a go.
Thanks for taking the time to upload & explain.

    Alan · December 26, 2017 at 3:40 pm

    Opposition Instructions- Exactly as Guido’s 20 June 2017 article “Opposition Instructions, Pressing Triggers And Pressing Traps”
    Not the one with high/middle/low blocks.
    Please try Attacking, Control and Counter depending on how the opposition is playing.

      Mark Rennolds · December 27, 2017 at 11:31 am

      Got ya, thanks Alan.

Marcelo · January 6, 2018 at 5:32 pm

Very interesting tactic. Are most of the goals scored via through balls? Someone has results to share after a full season with it?

    Alan · January 6, 2018 at 6:58 pm

    A lot of goals are scored either by long through balls out of defence, usually passed by one of the AMCs or if we are putting the defence under pressure, then a short through ball from the edge of the box. A few goals come from rebounds from shots by the WBs. As the defence is put under a lot of pressure the you should gets lots of chances from corners.
    I am using a different tactic now but the last season I used this P34 W25 D9 L0 F61 A13. Not a lot of goals but then I am happy to score one or two and sit back on Counter Attack.

    Alan · January 6, 2018 at 7:12 pm

    Also I cannot stress enough that this tactic is very responsive to the way the opposition are playing. Sometime you have to go toe to toe both teams attacking, sometimes you have to hit them on Counter. Sometimes you have to batter your way through a Park the Bus defence sometimes patience with a Control mentality. Watch and respond. The more you play it the easier it becomes to see what mentality you should use.

      Brendan · January 16, 2018 at 3:25 pm

      Would you recommend training an Attacking, Control and Counter Attacking versions of this tactic in the theee slots? Also which part of Guidos pressing article has the OI instructions? Could you leave OIs to assistant?

Mark Rennolds · January 16, 2018 at 3:47 pm

Hi Brendan
I missed the link that Alan posted initially as well. Here’s the OI’s that he used from Guidos article on it.
https://strikerless.com/2017/06/20/opposition-instructions-pressing-triggers-and-pressing-traps/

Alan · January 16, 2018 at 6:00 pm

I train three different tactics. One Attack, One Counter and one Control. The training of the mentality spills over into into each tactic so that you can switch seamlessly between the different menatalities whichever tavtic you use.
If you scroll to the bottom of his 20 June 2017 article “Opposition Instructions, Pressing Triggers And Pressing Traps you will see a screen shot of the OIs.
You could leave it to the AM if you want I suppose (I never have) but you will score goals just by winning the ball back high up the pitch.
Good luck

Rich · March 2, 2018 at 11:53 pm

Hi Alan, for this tactic which type of player do you try and sign for the AM role? Do you look for attack midfielder stats or shadow striker? Apologies if it’s a silly question.

    Rich · March 2, 2018 at 11:54 pm

    Love it btw! Two promotions, two years running with Swindon Town! However think I might struggle in the championship

      Alan · March 3, 2018 at 12:45 am

      Rich, glad you like it. For the championship change the central midfielders to a mez and car on support duty. Player instructions very similar to the original. Train these as Central Midfielders as this gives .more flexibility switching roles. Also I have recently found that standard mentality works well when you are outclassed or are just running down the clock. Good luck!

    Alan · March 3, 2018 at 12:35 am

    Hi Rich, as long as they can play in the position I just get the best I can afford. 10 finishing or above is a minimum though. I also like good composure as there will be lots of one on ones with the keeper. A bonus would be 10 or above crossing as the two outside AMs tend to get wide. At least one of the AMs should have good strength to help win the ball high up the pitch.

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