It is important to me to base my work on these ideals. I am aware that I did not discuss the formation and balancing of the roles as guiding principles. However, I believe that every team should adhere to these guidelines regardless of the preferred playing style. In one of the follow-up articles, in which I will elaborate on the aforementioned concepts in greater detail, I will, of course, discuss the formation as well as the balance of the roles. However, this article will focus on the team instructions.
My priority is configuring the game’s actual playstyle, and work on that has begun. At this point, I was able to make use of FM’s pre-installed preset styles. There are many different styles that are pre-installed on your computer that you can use successfully. Catenaccio, Route One, Fluid Counter-Attack, Direct Counter-Attack, or even Park the Bus are all viable options here. But look, let’s not beat around the bush: if it were that simple, more people would engage in that activity, right?
In addition, rather than utilising a template provided by SI, developing your own unique product presents its own unique set of challenges. In any event, in order to make successful use of a template, you need to have a solid understanding of the ways in which particular instructions and player roles complement or compete with one another. If it still doesn’t work, how else will you know what to convert or change? In my opinion, if you’ve put together the playing style yourself, you won’t be troubled nearly as much as you would be otherwise.
In this regard, I try to convey the aforementioned game ideas using FM-specific terminology. I make an effort to make it the foundation, if you will, of my playing style, the base on which it is built.
The illustration that you see above is an example of what I mean. When I switch over to Football Manager, I do my best to keep these concepts in mind. I have the concepts arranged in such a way that I can also locate them using the FM drop-down menus that I have created.
The following section of text has the potential to become cluttered because a number of different ideas fit together pretty nicely in theory, but I am not quite sure if they translate well. In my head, everything makes a lot of sense, but if my mental gymnastics turn out to be incomprehensible, I would appreciate it if you would ask for clarification.
Table of Contents
The offensive principles
I will need to set everything up offensively in such a way that I can genuinely play counter-attacking football, rather than having too many players move forward and leave my team vulnerable in the transition. On the other hand, we also want to prevent a forward line lacking power because we didn’t commit enough men to the attack.
To clear up any confusion, “counter-attacking”, to me anyway, means that after gaining possession of the ball, my team works toward making as many rapid breakouts as possible. This strategy is most effective when the adversary defends with a smaller number of players and, as a result, is left exposed if your team quickly advances forward with a large number of players.
One of the first things that I want to work on is the Mentality setting that I want to use. Simply said, the offensive intentions of the team or the amount of risk that a team is willing to take in terms of attacking is defined by the Mentality. As a result, the attitude also has a direct impact on a number of sliders under the tactical menu. When seen from an offensive vantage point, Mentality influences aspects such as width, passing, tempo, time squandering, and the positional freedom of your players.
Without delving too deeply into the specifics of this topic, it is obvious and undeniable that Mentality can have a significant bearing on the variables we’ve already discussed in this paragraph. I’m going to give you a quick rundown on the impact of each slider. In addition, I would like to talk about how I plan to make use of this right away.
An attacking mentality ensures that your team maintains a wider position in possession than a defensive mentality. Although we will be playing relatively defensively, I do want us to remain a degree of width when attacking. We are going to be reliant on the supply that is brought to the target man. A large chunk of the supply will come from the wingers, who are more effective when there is space between them and the defenders. A configuration that is somewhat wide offers greater room for the wingers to operate in.
When it comes to passing, having a more attacking Mentality leads to attacking players making more direct passes, whereas defensive players make more short passes. This is because an offensive mindset encourages attacking players to take risks. When a team is playing with a defensive mindset, the defensive players will opt to make a more rapid direct pass, and the offensive players will concentrate on playing short passes and maintaining possession. The attacking mentality operates exactly in the opposite way that this one does. I want, above all else, for the ball to be quickly moved out of the back, and in order to make that happen, I’ll have to experiment with giving instructions to the team, and potentially even instructions to individual players as well.
When compared to having a defensive attitude, having an offensive mentality obviously results in a faster tempo. When we are on the offensive, I expect my players to play with a sense of urgency, even if it is just to move the ball as soon as possible away from their own goal. It is sufficient to move at a pace that is either average or somewhat faster than usual.
When it comes to squandering time, having an offensive mentality rather than a more conservative mentality leads to far less time being wasted. I don’t want us to spend time going for long drives on offence, despite the fact that we are going to play defensive football. I do not anticipate that we will be able to break out very frequently; nevertheless, when we do manage to do so, I want to primarily see tempo and not a player who will click at the corner flag in order to get the tempo out of an assault.
When players are thinking offensively, they have more leeway to choose their positions on the field. To put it another way, an offensive mindset provides your players with more possibilities to depart from their position, and roaming away from position is not red blocked when this occurs. If you have a more defensive mindset, you should stick to your position, and you should avoid roaming too much outside of it.
In the end, it does make a difference from a mentality standpoint how you go about doing things. Considering that the objective is to coax opponents out of their comfort zones, the most daring thing I want to accomplish is to establish a Default mentality. After all, I want to get in deep, force my opponents to get closer to me while I absorb their pressure and then counterattack.
The following guidelines were decided upon based on that generally accepted mentality as well as the factors mentioned above.
As my British friends are wont to say; self-explanatory.
The defensive principles
When compared to the attacking possibilities that the game gives you, the defensive alternatives that you may configure in Football Manager are very restricted. This is especially true when the quantity and depth of the options are weighed against one another. So let’s just go with the perspective that is held by the majority of people, which is that most managers have a strong preference for attacking football.
However, there is no reason for those dedicated disciples of the defensive football philosophy to despair. It is conceivable to move our concept from the drawing board into the real world, despite the fact that there aren’t too many different possibilities. In general, I decided to go with these parameters.
It seems sensible to force the opposition wide. We have previously discussed the significance of controlling the middle of the field and forcing the opposing team to fling fruitless crosses into the box in situations where your central force enjoyed numerical superiority. In most of these situations, your team maintaining its defensive positions would have been sufficient to just prevent the bulk of these crosses from causing trouble.
A strategy of this kind was considered to be a type of sporting hara-kiri in earlier iterations of the game, in fact, in early match engine versions of FM22. My impression is that the defenders were frequently unable to do a good job of defending, particularly against exceptionally mobile attackers and crosses that were sent just slightly behind the defensive line. At this point in time, with the current match engine build, it appears to be a strategy that genuinely has a chance of succeeding, which is why I’ve decided to put it into action and see how it goes.
In any case, the Line of Engagement and the Defensive Line are the most important variables for me to adjust on this page. These two settings will determine where your defensive block is positioned. All of the variations of the block, including the high block, the low block, the middle block, and all of the intermediate ones, can be traced back to the positioning on the field, which is regulated by these two sliders.
The phrase “balance” sums up this situation perfectly, as it does throughout Football Manager. If the two sliders are placed too far apart from one another, there will be spaces between the lines, and the opposition team will be able to tap your players from the cupboard to the wall. If the sliders are too near together, you may have a compact block of players; but if you have a high defensive line and the sliders are too close together, a long ball that falls over the defenders can be quite dangerous. As so, strike a balance.
My best guess is that my strategy falls somewhere in the middle of a middle block and a real low block in terms of difficulty. In a typical defensive formation, the defenders will form a low block around their own sixteen-yard line; however, I have decided to place them approximately 10 meters outside of their own penalty area. If a long ball goes over the back line guard, the striker is not yet directly within the penalty box; therefore, a defender or the goalkeeper still has the opportunity to make a save.
I allow the attackers to sink in more than is typical in order to construct that dense block, but I keep the attackers positioned just beyond the halfway line. Our adversary cannot afford to shift an unlimited number of players forward, while we have the ability to put pressure on any controllers or midfielders dropping with our attackers.
The transition principles
Let’s start off with this very vital topic. In point of fact, the Football Manager menu interface is inconsistent with the real world in this regard. The switch should, in reality, apply both ways, from the offensive to the defensive position and vice versa. The user interface of the menus in Football Manager jumbles everything up, leaving you to choose between two entirely distinct switching moments on the same screen.
Only one of the four instructions gives any information on what the team is supposed to do when possession is lost, and the changeover to defence is made, whereas three of the four instructions are actually related to the transition from defence to attack.
In any case, putting my own annoyance to the side for a moment, the menu is not particularly complicated. My preferences for the settings can also be understood in a reasonably straightforward manner.
It is a common misunderstanding that a defensive team should not use counter-pressing, and I want to clear that up for you. Bear with me because I’m going to go into way too much detail about it once more, but since this is my own work and anyone is free to choose whether or not to read it, I ask that you do so.
The strategy of counter-pressing is one that can be used to reclaim control of the ball. That, in its most basic form, captures the heart of the matter. If a player on your team loses possession of the ball, the other players and the ball itself come under intense pressure from the entire team in a concerted effort to win back possession of the ball as soon as possible.
I think up to this point; I haven’t stated anything that hasn’t already been said before. The ability of one’s own players to respond faster than those of their opponent is frequently a crucial component in a successful counter-pressing strategy. Aggressively putting pressure on the ball and opponents surrounding the ball, as well as aggressively restricting the space to move the ball by covering passing possibilities and applying pressure to the person in possession from several angles, exerting pressure on the ball and opponents around the ball. This will be much simpler to accomplish in a formation in which the mutual distances between the players and the various lines are kept to a minimum.
At this point, we begin to interact with our fundamental principles, which are the same principles that we discussed earlier under the more wide heading of general principles. We play in tight quarters, and our defence is organised by the team rather than by zone or line. There is no information provided regarding the location of the field in which this pressure is to be applied. Contrary to popular belief, counter-pressing does not involve running around like a headless chicken in an attempt to get to the ball.
Therefore, it is possible to stop putting pressure on the ball once it has entered an area where the defending side doesn’t really want to put pressure on it from a tactical point of view. This is because the ball has entered an area where the defensive team has less control. Even if the other club loses possession of the ball in their own defensive third, a counter-pressing team like Liverpool will not let up on the pressure they are applying. A more cautious squad will be eliminated since, in the alternative, the entire squad would be enticed to move forward, which is against the tactical agreements.
Comparatively speaking, defending teams frequently exert a great deal of pressure along the axis of the field, whilst the attacking side is put under far less pressure, which undermines the opposing side’s ability to maintain their tactical integrity. Teams like Atlético Madrid and a great number of Italian clubs almost beg you to swing the ball high in front of the goal in this manner.
Together, the locations of the defensive line and the line of engagement establish which portion of the field is subjected to the greatest amount of pressure as a result of counter-pressing. You are able to add intricacies to this by utilising Opposition Instructions; but, such instructions can also induce players to wander out of position, which can then undermine the cohesiveness and defensive integrity of the entire team.
Therefore, defensive football and counter-pressing work well together, given that the settings of your squad are adjusted appropriately and that the field occupation is arranged in the appropriate manner. I’m going to make an effort to demonstrate that I, too, did this.
The other three orders, all of which I verified, concern what should be done by the team when we have either obtained or regained possession of the ball. Also, in this instance, I will return back to the fundamentals; we are going to make an effort to escape as swiftly as possible. We defend rather near to our own goal; therefore, we want to avoid giving up possession of the ball in that area as much as possible. Consequently, it makes perfect sense for us to focus on speedy breakouts and the passing option that would allow us to gain the most ground in the quickest period of time possible.
If our target man loses his duels because of the structure of the game or is not there since we are playing without an attacker, the primary thing I focus on is where the gap is. Typically, this occurs on the opponent’s flanks; but if the opponent is very courageous or worn out from life, it can also occur behind the opponent’s defensive line.