Chrissy Ross shares his take on the classic 4-4-2 with us, as it’s a tactical with a significant cultural interest to this day. It has given us great teams such as Sacchi’s Milan side and Ferguson’s Treble winning Manchester United team, as well as giving its name to one of the world’s most successful football lifestyle magazines. This article will provide not only an in-depth description of a functional flat 4-4-2 tactic that can win the Premier League with Bournemouth first season without transfers but also will justify and state why we should not look to discount old formations but instead should look to reinvigorate them with our modern tactical understanding of the game.
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.
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.
Last week, I was offered another opportunity to work with Daljit Singh, Rashidi. Naturally, I agreed. I mean, we had fun the last time when I helped his Gloucester team win its first ever Champions League trophy, so it seemed like a good idea to have a follow-up. After I had agreed, I noticed his smile, which was akin to how I imagine a shark smiling when it sees tasty morsel swim by.
He had saved the kicker for after I had agreed to do the videos. I had to create a conventional tactic, no strikers allowed. Bollocks. You can watch the video to see how I set up. (more…)
Strikerless football is not a style that appeals to everyone. Some are set in their ways and feel forwards are an integral part of their team. Others feel it’s an exploit to play in this way. There are also people who don’t like the aesthetics of this particular brand of football. Whatever their reasoning may be, there are plenty of people who would prefer not to play without strikers. Fortunately for them, all strikerless tactics can be converted to more conventional with-strikers tactics. This article focusses on changing tactics from strikerless to a more traditional style.
When you play FM long enough, you are bound to encounter opponents who park the bus against you. With the knowledge that they are hopelessly outclassed against your star-studded squad, they opt not to be lead to the slaughter like the proverbial lambs. Where football romantics would love to see the smaller sides go for the jugular as well, some teams choose to erect a human wall in front of their own penalty area. In some cases, even such defensive antics prove unsuccessful as the attacking side manages to penetrate anyway or get a lucky goal in early on.
In other cases, the structure and integrity of the defensive format remain intact. How do you batter down the gates in such scenarios? Is there a sure-fire way to break down these dogged defenders and their tenacious efforts? That’s what I want to focus on in this article. How do you tow away that parked bus?
Most managers, myself included, prefer aesthetically pleasing brands of football. We are not content with merely winning a game, we want to win in style, preferably a grand style. Okay, I am not really sure if this applies to most managers, but it bloody well applies to me. I blame my Dutch genes for that little quirky trait. The Dutch are quite apt at losing games but declaring themselves the moral winners because their style of play looked better. I mean, Van Gaal anyone?
Anyway, enough of my ranting and back to the topic at hand as promised in the title. What many people seem to forget is that there can be beauty in clean defending. The same ideas and principles so often associated with the attacking phases of football are just as easily applied to the defensive phase. The fluidity of positions, rotations and covering your teammates, maintaining a tight and cohesive formation, it’s just as much a hallmark of a strong defense than it is a characteristic of a strong offense.
That brings me to the concept of the phalanx. As an avid gamer, I played my fair share of the Total War series and well, you can’t play these games without picking up a thing or two regarding shield walls, testudo’s or phalanxes. The phalanx formation was a close-rank, dense grouping of warriors armed with long spears and interlocking shields. The Spartan phalanx was legendary in classical antiquity and renowned for hammering home the importance of keeping one’s shield up. It was not for the protection of the warrior carrying it, but for the warrior at his side. When the shield was dropped it created a gap in the impenetrable defense, which could be exploited.
I want to apply the concept of the Greek phalanx to how I organize my teams defensively. If that sounds intriguing (or just sufficiently hipstery), read on!
Ah, the 4-4-2. Title winner. The bane of the naive manager. The bread and butter of every Dad who has ever put his hand up to manage his son’s under-12s side, and suddenly found himself out of his depth. One might describe it as the herald of the modern age Read more…
I’m all about sharing quality content and one of the better tactical videos lately is one made by Matthias (@DerFM on Twitter, +DerFM on Tifo). Strikerless has plugged his work before and damn it, we’ll plug it again because it is just that good. Matthias mentions how he has built a possession-based tactic, explaining in detail what he does and why he does it. I highly recommend you watch this video and if you like what you see, I reckon you should watch the other videos he makes as well. Some of them are criminally underrated.
I will try to keep my introduction short and sweet, because boy, have I got a treat for you. I am really into interacting with the people who read my inane ramblings and sometimes, these interactions result in a thing of beauty. People giving their own unique perspective on my ideas. They add their own specific flavour to the exisiting ideas and damn, it’s lovely. This time, I am proud to showcase work by Edward (@edwardbomb) and his strikerless and semi-strikerless 4-4-2. Give it a read, give it a go and don’t be afraid to comment.