If Football Manager fora and Twitter are a reliable gauge to the mood of the gaming audience, one of the main gripes of gamers everywhere seems to be deadly accurate long balls played over the top, only for a striker to escape and end up in a one-on-one situation with the goalkeeper.
Granted, before one-on-ones were fixed it was less of an issue since over half of these goalscoring opportunities were wasted but with strikers having found their shooting boots, it’s becoming an issue. Just in case it doesn’t ring a bell, look at these clips.
Surely this rings a bell somewhere? The culprit to such goals was easily found. Many managers emulate each other’s style and one style that has been working rather well for the past few iterations of the game has been a counter-pressing approach, which means a high defensive line and aggressive pressing.
In this version of the Match Engine, it also means deadly accurate balls over your defensive lines and essentially playing a game of Russian roulette with the AI manager.
People have tried to remedy the issue at hand; setting your defenders to Cover instead of Defend / Stopper in an effort to have them drop back just a tad more, just in time to intercept those dastardly laser-guided long-range passes. I have tried that recipe as well and while it showed an improvement, it was not a sure-fire fix.
At times, the defenders still missed their interceptions because they stepped forward in an effort to pressure the opposing defence. So while it did work at times, it was also prone to monumental cock-ups.
In a way, the AI behaviour makes sense as the obvious response to the counter-press is to go over it instead of through it. The defenders’ behaviour makes sense as well. Counter-pressing is a team effort and not having the defenders step forward will create gaps between the lines, thus making counter-pressing less effective.
Fixing the issue was easier than I thought. I wish this moment of enlightenment came from some profound moment of inspiration. Sadly, it was just trial and error and retrospectively reasoning why that could work. Anyway, instead of Counter-Pressing, I had to instruct my team to Regroup. It really was a simple as that.
You can still maintain some sort of counter-pressing style. With a high Line of Engagement and Defensive Line, you can still pressure the opposition, just less aggressive than you are used to. It will balance out your defence though.
I have highlighted a typical match from the moment I applied this “fix” of sorts. I have highlighted both of my defenders and I have shown their interceptions and more importantly, their missed interceptions. They have intercepted the ball a number of times in situations that would usually result in a long ball over the top, as well as not missing any interception moments.
While it may not be perfect or pretty, it is a workable solution to the situation at hand. Happy hunting.