Defensive Football; Applying The Principles

The following article regarding the application of defensive principles 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. Enjoy!

Defensive Football; The Principles

I am not someone who is willing to walk blindly into the unknown. I make an effort to read up on the possibilities as well as the potential problems, I make every attempt to plan, and I strive to figure out a strategy for the long term in ahead of time. How then do I go about playing this game? Which fundamental princples will be the core of my setup, which is so unlike traditional strikerless?

Defensive Football; the intro

Attacking complete football is rooted in Dutch culture and national spirit, according to the British author David Winner, who wrote the book ‘Brilliant Orange’ several years ago. By analogy, defensive football is not a part of the Dutch national identity.

The statement contains a grain of truth; the Dutch despise the often business-like hardness with which teams from Southern Europe, as well as Germany, are able to win a game. Shutting up shop at the back (or at times, even parking the bus), playing to keep a clean sheet first and foremost, and delivering an unexpected knockout to the opponent with a few rapid counterattacks; this is something that happens quite often to Dutch teams rather than adopting a similar plan themselves.

It goes without saying that Football Manager is no exception to the rule in this sense. Generally speaking, a Dutch manager will opt for a somewhat offensive style of play in the vast majority of circumstances. As a result, scoring goals is more important than preventing goals from being scored against you.

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Replacing The Irreplaceable; Zlatan 2.0

If you have been following me on Twitter somewhat, you will have noticed my ongoing digital love-affair with Zlatan Ibrahimovic over the course of my FM21 save with AC Milan. Ever since returning to Milan from his MLS exploits, the Swedish frontman has rolled back the years, playing like a man 15 years younger.

I always knew that Zlatan wouldn’t last forever and that the time of his impending retirement drew nearer every time I hit continue. Like any manager worth his salt, I saw what needed to be done. Who could replace Zlatan?

Bully-Ball & The Human Trebuchet

Over the past decades, we have seen ample evidence of the long throw-in and its effectiveness. Most notably, Rory Delap’s bullet throws long proved a useful piece of weaponry for Stoke City. Launching howitzers into the box towards tall and powerful players turned out to be a winning strategy.

The success of Delap and Stoke proves that football need not be complicated. Find someone to lob the ball into the box and have your strongest players shove around defenders and the goalkeeper. Since you can’t be offside from a throw-in, you can bring up your strongest players to cause mayhem in the opposing box.

FM21; I Play It My Way 02

Earlier I wrote a brief piece on my intentions for FM21. This the first proper article in this series, in which I want to look at the defensive aspect of things. Defensively, I want to look at the three defensive principles forcing the opposition wide, restricting the opposition’s space and maintaining a cohesive formation, how I am to achieve those and which performance indicators I use to make sure my players are performing the way I want them to.