Let’s start off with a brief introduction here. As you may or may not have noticed over the past few days, #wearethecommunity is a thing now on Twitter. A bit of cross-pollination within the scene and a bunch of us trying to look beyond our own blogs and websites. In that regard, Paul from FM Central has decided to share one of his favorite posts with us, his take on tactic building. It should prove for some excellent reading.
Defending in football is not just about parking the bus á la Mourinho and placing as many players as possible in front of the goalie, forming a sort of human wall between the opposing offence and your own goal. Defending is too complicated and sophisticated to simplify it in terms as simple as stacking players in front of the goal. Normally, it’s a fairly decent strategy to force the opposition wide and rely on the strenght and power of your central defender to deal with those pesky crosses. In FM16, that may not be a smart move as your defenders turn into vampires, who petrify whenever a cross comes in.
In Football Manager 2016, two observations regarding wide play are that the effectiveness of attacking play down the wing has greatly increased, often ending with cross and goal, as the striker (or anyone who receives it) easily slots the ball to the goal and secondly the rather appalling and overall ineffective closing down of the player who crosses the ball. The two bothering issues which oftenly cause negative impact on the defensive line. How then I set up the play to face against such issue, here we go.
Defending is absolutely not only waiting for crosses then hacking them away. It’s not only waiting on the deep area then get stuck in to the opponents with the ball on his feet. Defending is about all 11 players. Defending is about a unit of players. It is about collectivity. Defending is about understanding attacking tactic so you can overcome and beat it at the right moment and come out as the winner. It’s about nulify the opponent plan and break it.
When people talk about Total Football, they are usually referring to the attacking phase of play. The positional switching and movement off the ball it delivers has always captivated managers around the world and it’s always been an ideal people are trying to replicate in FM. The whole concept is based on fluidity of positions, rotations and covering your teammates runs. In this way, players use the movements of their colleagues for reference rather than zones on the pitch. In addition the concept is also about balancing the heart, which wants to attack, and the mind, which tends to focus more on defence. You can’t be on the offence all the time, but neither can you defend for 90 minutes and come out on top (hello José, that means you too!).
Yes, many people tend to forget that these same ideas and principles so often associated with attacking can and should also be applied to the defending phase of football. Fluidity of positions, rotations and covering your teammates, maintaining a tight and cohesive wall of players between your own goal and the opposing team. In an ideal situation there ought to be no more than 25 to 35 metres between the forward line and the defenders. The reason for this is to constrict the space in a vertical sense, hence reducing the distances between players thus making it difficult for the offensive team to pass or dribble through the middle of this compacted space.
With the arrival of Jürgen Klopp in the Premiership, more and more attention is given to one of the major developments in football tactics in recent years; counterpressing. Before Klopp’s move the Premier League, counterpressing or its German equivalent gegenpressing was already hot topic for the football hipsters among us. The act of pressing and closing down the opposition immediately after the ball is turned over has been made popular by managers like Guardiola, Klopp and Heynckes. Just for reference, this is what I mean.
The aim of said counterpressing is to prevent the opposition from counter-attacking, and to win the ball back as quickly as possible. It relies on the team in possession reacting as quickly as possible to the moment of transition when possession is lost. Ideally, a team needs to play as much as possible in the opposition’s half to get them in a low block where their striker is detached from their midfield line. Once they are in this position, it is about having ideal positioning with the ball ergo players in positions where they are impacting the game and finding spaces with the ball but also where they are able to prevent a counter-attack.
Managers, coaches, players and pundits alike often make reference to the importance of set plays, which can be a crucial means to force in a goal when things don’t look good during open play. Set plays by their premeditated nature offer a relatively consistent level of defensive and attacking opportunity and by looking at the effectiveness of teams against a variety of different opponents, we may be able to start to characterize what constitutes good set play defence and attack. In this article, I will look at a few attacking setups, why they are effective and of course the necessary downloads.
Imagine a formation that takes you back to the times of the early nineties, to the times of teams like the 1990 West German squad. A sturdy, defensively reliable squad, with a proper defensive sweeper like Klaus Augenthaler. The Germans won quite a few trophies in their day playing, according to the pundits, a particularly cynical style of football. But in Italy 1990 the cynical defensive football prevailed, while the Germans began playing more offensive attacking football, but without losing their organisation and discipline. I’ve tried to marry this ruthlessly efficient and defensively solid style with my own strikerless ideas in the same fashion a master whisky blender tries to take the best flavours to create something new and genius. The end product of my whisky-fueled brainstorming-session looks like this.
Now before reading on, please don’t expect this tactic or any Football Manager 2015 tactic to provide instant results. This is a system involving a strikerless formation, which by default takes time to implement but has a proven track record of success in Football Manager 2015. This specific tactical system has been designed around the concept of an Auspützer as described by Jonathon and myself earlier. I will go into a detailed breakdown, covering both the formation and the various roles below. Continue reading →
It really is a majestic sight. Go back 30 or 40 years and watch teams defend. The majority of them will feature a type of player that seems to have been lost from the modern game. You’ll see an elegant defender sitting behind the defensive line, picking up a stray through balls from an attacker. As he effortlessly brings it under his control, he marches forward with it, stepping past the other defenders and moving into the midfield zone. From there he acts as a modern day deep-lying playmaker, initiating the play and spreading it out to the flanks, or playing it forward into midfield or attack. This is the Libero. People tend to get nostalgic about Libero’s and their style of play and rightfully so, as they were often stylish and elegant players.
But what about the Libero’s less fashionable and unpretentious cousin, the Ausputzer? The Beckenbauers of the world were stylish and elegant players, venturing forward and contributing to the offensive phase of the game, basically acting as additional midfielders when their team was in possession. The Ausputzers were far more gritty, as they just stayed behind the defensive line and just cleared anything that got past the other defenders. Not very stylish, but darn effective. Jonathon Aspey and Guido Merry team up to see if they can realise such a role in Football Manager.