Strikerless 2.0 For FM17; Balancing The Midfield

In the past few weeks since the release of my first FM17 tactic, I have received a fair bit of feedback regarding the initial tactic. Most of it was regarding the defensive frailties of the tactic, the susceptibility of the tactic to quick counter-attacks down the flanks. Whilst I did not experience these problems in a manner similar to the experiences of others, I was nevertheless not entirely happy with the setup I was using.

The balance between the various lines was not quite the way I want it to be. The reason why the setup with two ball-winning midfielders worked for me was probably because I had two world-class midfielders in Kevin Strootman and Radja Nainggolan. As I progressed in the Roma save, I noticed the same defensive frailties others mentioned when one or both were absent from the line-up through injury or suspension. Some of these changes may or may not be the direct result of another SI patch, we’ll not discuss that any further in this article.

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Strikerless’ Classic Revival

Yeah, let’s just get this one out of the way. I’m honest enough to admit that no matter how much I try to look at things objectively, I am a human being and I bring my biases to the table. As a child of the late 80’s and early 90’s, I grew up in a golden age of gaming. While these classics are awesome and have stood the test of time far better than I suspect most modern games will, I fully admit that part of the appeal is that I grew up with them. After all, you never forget your first love. Strikerless Sexy Football…

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A Leicester City-Inspired 4-4-2-0

Over the past decade, people have fallen out of love with the humble 4-4-2 formation. It’s a shame really, as it’s a beautiful and effective tactic. Its beauty is also part of the reason why people tend to snub their noses at it, since it’s a rather straight-forward and simple tactic. Ranieri and his marauding Leicester City team are proving quite how effective a humble 4-4-2 formation can be. So here’s my take on a Leicester City-inspired 4-4-2-0.

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The Triple Pivot Download

As I mentioned earlier in a more theoretic post about the Triple Pivot concept, a triple pivot is the deployment of three defensive midfielders, who may be used to protect the defence in a deep block, to prevent the opposition space for counter-attacks, to keep possession by overloading in the first phase, the reasons are almost endless, Read more about The Triple Pivot Download[…]

Strikerless; The Triple Pivot

There is no such thing as overkill. When you’re playing around with abstract concepts like say… not fielding any actual forwards during a game of football, that’s not a bad code to live by. This got me thinking, especially after being inspired by a post by Chris Darwen… What kind of tactics do real-life teams use to be successful and how can I convert/pervert (cross out the option you deem suitable) those into strikerless ideas. During the last few World Cups, 7 of the last 8 semi-finalists have used a double pivot, but they also fielded a forward. So what would happen if we were to remove the forward and instead slot him into the defensive midfield. That’s right, it’s the birth of the triple pivot system!

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Strikerless 3.0 – Introducing The Withdrawn Targetman Mk. II

The premise of strikerless football is seared into the way I play this game and think about football in general. Yet on occasion, sometimes coming upon me suddenly, but coming without fail every month or so, as rituallistically as the prayers children say on their knees before tumbling into bed; the very act of turning on the laptop and booting up the game presents me with visions of improving my earlier work.

Whilst the whole process of testing my ideas and refining the concept was time-consuming and at times frustrating, I feel I have found ways to further improve upon the Strikerless 2.0 tactic I released a while back. I hereby proudly present Strikerless 3.0.

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Dominating The Central Areas; The Box-Formation

The centre is vital to success in the majority of sports. In chess, controlling the central area is considered a strategy that allows you the the best possible access to the board and can reach the entirety of the widthm as you can easily maximise the potential spaces which your pieces can move into. When you stick to a side, you have 180 degrees of possible movement. When you stick to the centre, you have 360 degrees.

When you think of the football pitch as a chess board you can easily see that this idea makes sense. Earlier, we mentioned why the wing-backs are not exactly ideal for build-up play from the back, and the same principle applies to your creative men. You want the players with the best passing range to be in positions where they can make the most of their skill-set, to utilise their full potential. You want your players to dominate the central areas. When you’re talking about dominating the central areas, you’re talking about the box-formation.

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Hipster Overload: 3-5-2 Strikerless

In my humble opinion, footballing battles are won and lost in the midfield. The midfield is the beating heart, the living soul of any football team. It is the part of the team that dictates the play to the forwards in attack and shields the defense. It therefore makes sense to balance out your midfield as best you can. In an effort to bolster the midfield further, I have drawn inspiration from Louis van Gaal and his revival of the 3-5-2 formation. This is what I came up with.

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The result of the planning was a new 3-5-2 formation where one of the defenders can be moved to the midfield so as to add more force, and hence the physical fighting ability, in the midfield.

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FM15 Strikerless 2.0; A Download

A few patches later and a few Match Engine changes have changed the playing field that is FM15. That means I have to change things around. Naturally Mahatma Gandhi said it first.

Constant development is the law of life, and a man who always tries to maintain his dogmas in order to appear consistent drives himself into a false position.

You can always improve the things you do but this is about challenging the way you always think about things. Re-evaluate the things you have already evaluated. I am aware that I can be somewhat argumentative at times during casual conversations but I do try and see things from a new perspective. It’s often surprising to see what happens.

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Strikerless FM15; The Next Generation

For FM14, I went all-out in my magnum opus regarding strikerless football within the match engine of said game. A new year and a new version of the game, which pretty much means a new match engine as well. That means we get to re-evaluate the way we work. The theories and ideas, in fact the premisse behind the entire concept of strikerless football has not changed. What has changed is how to achieve these goals, how to make it all work within the FM15 match engine.

The premisse and foundation of strikerless

As I said before, the actual premisse of a strikerless formation has not changed. 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 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 wingers or other midfielders.

Now to get this to work in Football Manager, your tactic will rely on four pillars. Four parts of the game that have to work in order for you to be successful with a strikerless formation. I have briefly touched upon some of these concepts in a post explaining why I was struggling to create the style of play I wanted to see within the Beta match engine. These are pillars all interact in some way and they form the foundation of the entire strikerless philosophy.

A brief summary of what I want to see:

  • Movement;
  • Pressing;
  • Cohesion;
  • Possession.

I’ll work out each and every part of these pillars more detailed, including match clips and analysis. I also intend to work out the formation, the team instructions, the player roles and I’ll finish the article with a download-link to the actual tactic as well.

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