Our last tactical review dates back to 2015 which is a bloody outrage. The concept is still strong, but the delivery is perhaps ready for a new approach. This is where my good friend Matthias (@DerFManager) comes in. We’re going to try a video format now. Both of us have prepared our scalpels and wits, and we dissected the craziest tactic we could find as a warm-up. Give the video a look, like it and share it if you like what you see, let us know your feedback when you don’t, and feel free to suggest other tactics for us to review in the future.
Part 2 of the Wingerless Series
This is the second part of my wingerless series where I write about how I’ve challenged myself to play football manager without wingers nor to score or conceding from the dreaded cross.
As a Chelsea fan from about 2003 (queue the taunts), I got used to the gritty defensive style of the game where even conceding one goal is considered an ink stain on a white shirt. Unfortunately, in football manager, the defensive style which I love is a disaster to replicate. Sitting deeper and absorbing pressure, which is a hallmark of a defensive masterclass in real life, is just begging for trouble in football manager because of the match engine’s obsession with goals from crosses. I roughly estimate that between 70-80 percent of the goals conceded in football manager are from crosses especially if you don’t set up correctly to defend them. Continue reading
Back in October, I posted on this site my ‘Revival Of the Four Horsemen’ tactic where I took Guido’s Original tactic as a base and turned it into a winning machine with Arsenal. I outlined at the end of the post that my main save in FM17 will be with Espanyol, and my first season I will be testing the ‘Four Horsemen’ for its reliability. The outcome was a success, achieving a 4th place finish with Espanyol in the first season.
Following that season I outlined in RCD Espanyol 2.1 that our tactics would change into a Strikerless 4-1-3-2 with the same foundations laid from the ‘Four Horsemen’. This tactic was then in use for the next two seasons where we achieved a 3rd placed finish followed by winning the league in our 3rd year, along with 2 Copa del Reys. Something which I thought was somewhat premature. So that is when I decided to test my tactical skills and attempt something completely out of my comfort zone. ‘Out of my comfort zone’ ended up developing a tactic I have dubbed Stuka (reference Guido for the name).
I once asked long time Football Manager enthusiasts Guido Merry on Twitter ‘How would you explain the role of the Defensive Forward’ to which he unsatisfactorily replied ‘don’t know, don’t use strikers’. Now call it making the most of few twitter characters, or call it rude but I ended up hypocritically doing the same thing on Reddit when a user asked me in a sub-thread about the use of wingers. To each his own I guess. Guido abhors strikers, and I loathe wingers. But why? You’d have to ask Guido or probably read his first ever football manager blog post, but here I’ll let you know why I call myself the Wingerless Manager.
As an ever-increasing number of foreign managers have sought to make an impression on the English Premier League, more and more attention has been given to the concept of counter-pressing. Previously, such tactical musings were the domain of pretentious hipsters trying to be interesting by brandishing such terms or the odd tactical aficionado. With the arrival of the likes of Mauricio Pocchettino, Jürgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola, the act of pressing and closing down the opposition immediately after the ball is turned over is receiving more attention, which inevitably leads to people trying to emulate such a concept in Football Manager.
Counter-pressing is intended to win the ball back as quickly as possible when possession is lost, simultaneously aiming to win back possession as well as snuffing out potential counter-attacks. For the concept to work as designed, the team needs to play as a compact and cohesive unit, reacting as quickly as possible whenever the ball is lost. Can we make this work in FM17?
When you have followed this blog, you will have noticed that I have a quirky kind of love for strange formations, for peculiar settings and for tactics that are different than they might appear at first sight. The entire blog is named after a rather alien concept in football, so I guess it shouldn’t come as a complete surprise that I generally try to think outside of the proverbial box. The Medusa tactic, which is bound to cause a few fits for people with tactical OCD, is a nice example of my desire to push the limits of what FM is capable of.
In a way, football is a sport of the mind as much as it is of the body. Football thrives on creating and exploiting space for yourself and for others. A successful tactic finds ways to generate space where there was thought to be none. This objective can be achieved by patiently passing the ball around, by hoofing the ball forward to a big guy, by stretching the opposition until holes appear, by immediately counter-attacking once the ball is won or in a dozen other and distinctive ways. The fact remains that every tactic exploits space somehow.
The match engine of Football Manager is no different than an actual football match in terms of tactics, the key to creating a successful tactic is finding a way to generate and exploit space for your team, whilst simultaneously restricting the space the opposition gets. Every version of the match engine has its weaknesses, a specific tactic or approach that is overpowered, a bit too effective. In FM16 you could score for fun just by launching a barrage of crosses into the penalty area, CM03/04 had its Diablo tactic with the insanely effective central midfielder scoring for fun and in the 17.2 match engine you have another example of this tactical kryptonite; the inverted wingback.