One of the prevalent developments in football over the past few years is a growing emphasis on the importance of set pieces. When you cannot break down a defence during the phases of open play, a strong set-piece routine offers you the opportunity to score a goal. After all, the premeditated nature of set pieces offers managers a level of relative consistency in preparation and planning. You can work out multiple routines and prepare your players for these routines during training sessions. In this blog post, I want to focus on the process of setting up a good corner routine, the variables that determine whether or not a routine is successful and my own routine.
For a good four years now, I have been running the weblog Strikerless.com, which is based around the ideas of strikerless football. When I started writing about strikerless football, it was deemed somewhat of a novelty, an oddity that tricked the mechanics of the match engine but had no actual foundations in real life football, barring one AS Roma team and the odd effort born out of desperation when teams found all their forwards banned or injured.
Since I started preaching the strikerless gospel, real life caught up. Several European teams play without a traditional forward and with a certain degree of formlessness. They either have no obvious focal point of attack or they can attack from so many directions that anticipating how they will attack at any given time is nigh on impossible. This is the underlying concept of a strikerless formation in a nutshell.
Instead of a traditional forward, you play a trequartista or other sort of attacking midfielder as your most attacking man on the pitch, position-wise. These attacking midfielders, be it a trequartista, an enganche, shadow striker or an advanced playmaker, tend to move into the space between defence and midfield to receive the ball, thus overloading the central midfield, establishing domination in terms of possession and creating space for surging runs by wide players or other midfielders.
That brings us to a new version of the game; Football Manager 19 is on the verge of going live. FM Grasshopper and I attended a private event and were allowed to play the Alpha version of the new game. This event and my results in playing the Beta inspired me to write this article. Please note, and I want to be very clear about this in advance, this article DOES NOT and WILL NEVER contain a download link because it was created on an ALPHA version of the game, not the finished game. What worked well in Alpha, might not work at all during Beta or the full release.
Having said that, the underlying train of thought might prove useful and insightful, so there is an added value to this article. Plus, if you are so inclined, it is not like you cannot manually write down the player roles and instructions to try this bad boy for yourself. I just don’t want to assume any responsibility if your gambit backfires. There are no proper plug and play tactics after all.
As you may or may not have heard, the weekend of October 13th and 14th was the weekend Sports Interactive released an Alpha version to a select few creators from within the community. Lord knows quality control is not a thing because somehow I managed to get invited. It was a grand weekend, where I got to spend time with some of the finest creators our community has to offer, drink copious amounts of booze, marvel at all the stuff on display over at SI HQ, talk to Miles and some of the developers and naturally get a feel of the new game.
Together with my compatriot blogger FM Grasshopper, whose blog you should be reading if you have never done and should continue to read if you are already reading it, I decided to focus my attention on one of the most influential and game-changing new features Football Manager 19 has to offer.
As you know, the new Football Manager offers a host of innovative new features. One of the options FM Grasshopper and Guido want to examine and explore is the overhauled tactical interface. As you may have gathered from the videos and play-throughs, the tactical user interface has undergone some massive changes. The most obvious difference is in the interface layout, which coincides with a new and more intuitive template-approach to creating tactics. Let’s look at the various new features and how to use them.
In the transfer market, wheeling and dealing is an art. When engaging within transfer negotiations, clearly, the buying club aims to bargain for the lowest price possible, while the selling club naturally tries to market the player for a much higher amount. The final transfer sum will be somewhere between these two, depending on the two teams’ ability to negotiate a good deal. Clearly, a manager worth his salt can earn his club millions by negotiating the right conditions for a transfer.
As we have seen in the previous instalment of this series, a transfer deal can be influenced by a number of factors. I am not going to delve into all of these again, as it would mean copy-pasting half the previous article. What I am interested in is the art of negotiation. What are the interesting tips and tricks you can use to secure yourself a good deal on the transfer market?
Being able to maximise your recruitment process – your conveyor belt of talent from either your academy or other clubs – is just one part of what makes or breaks a club in the transfer market. When engaging within transfer negotiations, clearly, the buying club aims to bargain for the lowest price possible, while the selling club naturally tries to market the player for a much higher amount. The final transfer sum will be somewhere between these two, depending on the two teams bargaining power.
It can be influenced by the possible available substitutes (i.e. other players), the talent and skills of the player(s) in question, and the estimates that the respective clubs assign regarding the marginal utility of the player’s talent. Considering that it is a team sport, the value of individual talent and skills greatly depends on the team the player is contracted to. The extent of how much the buying and selling clubs’ bargaining power influences the signing price is still debated and vary according to a number of factors that may even come from the player himself.
The start of the negotiation process, from the selling point of view, is the part where a good manager (or Director of Football) is also able to negotiate a reasonable price, as this can earn his club many millions extra. Negotiating a good deal is a complicated game between guestimating the value of a player, assessing what the buying club is willing to pay for him and being able to extract as much money as you can out of the deal.
Looking at modern football – how is it possible that the richest clubs own more wealth than the rest of the clubs combined? The circumstances are often in their favour, whether that be in terms of the country they are from, potential markets they can access and financial windfalls that can be generated as a result. Yet, at times, they still lose out to smaller, financially less powerful clubs, be it in individual matches or even over the course of a season. Is this a fluke, some random event where the underdogs were favoured by Lady Luck? Or do some clubs continue to defy the odds and is there a lesson to be learned here?
Clubs, such as Basel, Sevilla, Porto, Ajax, are entrepreneurial – they attempt through the lens of time, the need, and aspiration of the market. Their achievements over the past decade or so, both domestically and internationally, did not happen by chance. They all laboured strenuously to get to and stay in the position they are in this world and remain there. Opportunity is created daily and it’s all around us. Yet, only a few are able to seize it and turn it into a blessing. Football management is nothing different.
Most avid FM players have encountered situations like these before. Whatever the exact circumstances, you desperately need to score a goal but the opposition is stifling your forwards by erecting a living wall of human bodies in and just outside of their own penalty area. Despite hopelessly outclassing the other side in terms of possession and shots on goal, your team is just not scoring any goals. These defensive exploits are frustrating you and your team, as the opposing team refuses to be led to the slaughter. In an effort to break down the opposing defence, you could employ an old-fashioned battering ram. It makes sense; when finesse is not sufficient to break down an especially tenacious and dogged defence, brute force might offer an effective alternative.
To say that transfers are an essential aspect of world football would not only be a massive understatement but also quite evident. Now more than ever, clubs spend enormous, almost obscene sums of money to attract good players. The record fees for players continue to rise every season, as the amount of money splashed around by the select few at the top continues to skyrocket to levels deemed preposterous a mere decade ago.
One of the effects of this gradual influx of money is the inflation of the transfer market. The transfer fees that both clubs and fans consider normal for relatively good players have risen exponentially in the last decade or so. Clubs like Real Madrid and the tycoon-lead English clubs have initiated this tendency to spend outrageous fees on often lukewarm players. Often, clubs will flex their respective financial muscles as much as they can to lure a specific player in or even keep players away from the competition. A club like FC Bayern, for example, is renowned for simply buying up the best players from potential competitors, even if they have no direct need for a specific player.
With this sort of panorama, it has become more and more important for clubs to anticipate their own needs and plan ahead. Swift and decisive action in the transfer market has become the deciding factor in getting great players’ signatures in contracts. In this regard, Football Manager is no different from the real world it attempts to simulate. The central question is, how do you plan ahead exactly?
Those of you who follow the blog or my Twitter feed are well aware that I enjoy creating “new” roles by tweaking existing ones or using regular roles in extraordinary situations. I have dabbled with the Targetganche in the past, which was basically a Targetman-type player in the attacking midfield stratum but I was looking for something new and interesting for FM18.
In terms of football tactics, I try to think outside the box, which also means making use of underutilised resources. This train of thought automatically leads me to look at the central defenders. When your team is on the attack, the central defenders are almost always tasked with remaining behind to protect the defensive line and ensure the team is not caught by a counter-attack. The wing-backs are often tasked with adding to the offensive phases of the game but what if we could get the central defenders involved somehow to gain an extra edge?
When the team is pressing an opposing side, the offensive line is generally the first line of defence, as they pressure the opposition defence and try to either win back possession or force a long ball. When we mirror this idea, there has to be a way in which the defensive line or at least elements of the defensive line can act as the first layer of the offensive phase. The idea I had was hardly an original one, as people like Guardiola and Klopp use the same principle. I was going to use one of the central defenders as a sort of quarterback.