Set Pieces; How They Can Help You Break Open A Game

Managers, coaches, players and pundits alike; none of them are blind 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. The premeditated nature of set pieces offers managers a level of relative consistency in preparation and planning. You can work out multiple routines and prepare your players for these routines during training sessions. In this blog post, I want to focus on the process of setting up a good corner routine, the variables that determine whether or not a routine is successful and my own routine. […]

Cerberus; The Three-Headed Beast

In Greek mythology, Cerberus was often called the “hound of Hades”. Cerberus is the monstrous multi-headed dog that guards the gates of the Underworld to prevent the dead from leaving. Cerberus is my first FM18 tactic to be released and like the three-headed beast, it revolves around three deadly forwards carving a path of mayhem and destruction through opposing defences.

As a pragmatic football manager, I found myself struggling during beta, torn between trying to make individual stars shine and maintaining a tight and cohesive system. The fanboy in me wanted to make the stars shine as they do in real life, wanted to emulate the insane records set by the likes of Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, whereas the dogmatic strikerless zealot in me did not want to compromise the ideas that made strikerless as good as it was in previous iterations of the game.


An Inspiration; Dazza’s Strikerless

When I started a number of years ago, it was merely a way for me to unwind, to put my thoughts to paper and to create some order in the perpetual chaos swirling around in my mind (hello ADHD!). Eventually, this blogging got a bit more serious, as apparently, people thought and still think that I have sensible things to say. I try to interact with people as often and as polite as I can and one of those interactions has resulted in this blog post.

One of the biggest compliments you can make me is saying that I have inspired you to do something you enjoyed doing. It’s a quality I strive for in my professional life as a teacher and it’s even more flattering when I hear I have inspired people I have never met to change their views on how to play a football manager simulation game.

Anyway, back to this post. @DazzaFM contacted me and said I had inspired him to create a strikerless tactic. He felt it worked well enough to create a tactical video over, so that brings us to this blog post. I am going to share this video with you and I hope to have many more conversations like this one over Football Manager.


American Football – Part IV; Evolution of the System

While my goals for the system were constant from the beginning, it can evolve considerably from the first season to its current iteration. Particularly in the early years, the system was extremely cumbersome altogether lacked much of the variation and complexity, not to mention actual functionality, that the current system has. There were numerous roadblocks and hurdles along the way and the team had to endure some pretty ugly football at times working out the kinks. To date, there have been 3 versions of the system, each a significant step forward from the last. I do not expect to need another complete version moving forward as I really like where it is now and I think any changes will be within the existing framework, but who knows.


Farewell FM17 you have been a good friend

As we are slowly but surely inching towards the release date of FM18, I have been looking back at my FM17 saves and how much fun this version of FM has been. For probably the first time I think a lot of that fun has come from being part of an online community. For a game that is in the main a single player game I think is quite a feat.

Being part of the FM community for me is great fun and showed me there are so many ways to play the game. Most of which I had never ever thought of, so here is a list of ideas that have woken me up to the vast array of ways you can play this wonderful version of FM. I hope these also bring you more fun to your final days of FM17


American Football – Part VIII; Executing the System

So all the preparation in the world is no good if you can’t execute on game day. Part of what I enjoy about this system and makes it fun for me is that it really challenges me as a coach to step up and get involved in what is happening on the field. I have a role to play as much as any player on the field. If I’m not making the calls to give them favorable match-ups, the players are going to struggle to win their one-on-ones and the team will struggle.

It is also important to note that this is very much a “by feel” thing and there aren’t any unbreakable rules. I still have a lot to learn and am continuing to test the bounds of the system. I’m constantly looking to add or subtract things and discover new ways to make the system work in my favor.

For those interested, I always watch matches on comprehensive highlights, but I am often doing something else outside of the game while the match runs, particularly if I feel good about the direction the match is going.


American Football – Part VII; Building the System: Team Instructions

All of my formations are designed to be run with any of the 3 different TI setups. The differences between them do not fundamentally change what we are trying to do as the tactic and style of play is determined primarily by the PI and formation. The specific TI set-ups are just the last little bit to get everybody on the same page and add some more versatility to our tactics without requiring substitutions or formation changes.


American Football – Part VI; Building the System: Formations

Where most of the system is in the player instructions, the formations are designed to create and exploit match-up problems for opposing team. To this end, I have 4 “Base” formations which constitute the core of my various line ups. Well over 90% of my time on the pitch will be in these base formations. After those, I have what I refer to as 3 “Sub” formations as well as 2 “Goal line” formation. The Sub and Goal line formations are used situationally and rarely used as the starting formation when beginning a match. In total, these 9 formations create the tactical adaptability to create the mismatches my system requires.


American Football – Part V; Specific Positions and Player Instructions

Before I get into the roster and PI, I want to point out that you will not find any AMR/L or WBR/L players/roles in my system. Nothing against either, but those players were harder to find in the lower leagues and I found them less customizable than the MR/L and FB roles. I also wanted to make it clear to the players and the match engine that those players are expected to have responsibilities in the build-up and defense. Plus, I’ll be honest, the AMR/L roles/players were (and still are) difficult for me to understand and conceptualize because I don’t have much soccer background.

For the most part, players in certain positions are expected to play more or less the same way no matter what the formation is. For example, my AMC is always a Shadow Striker with the instructions to roam, mark tighter, tackle harder, and close down more. So despite having 9 different formations, each position will only have 1 or 2 role/PI setups and they are universal across all tactics. I’m not going to post screenshots of all the setups, but I will bold and underline specific PI settings that are set other than the defaults.

Also, with my wide players you will notice a “support w/gets further forward” and “attack” duty. Unless otherwise indicated, they are set up exactly the same and are used to control how aggressive the player is attacking gaps vs sitting in zones in front of LOS, balance out their defensive responsibilities, and get them to play nicely with the team TI.

Additionally, you will notice that I avoid ball-magnet roles. This is to allow my team the freedom to play where the defense is giving them space, rather than force it into a predefined space that may or may not be there.

The base of the system is that every player has a role and responsibility to fulfill. If they succeed in their individual jobs, then the team as a whole succeeds. For this reason, the Player Instructions are the most important part of the entire system. At the end of the day, players make this system work rather than plays. The rest of the tactics in later sections are about helping the players accomplish these goals through favorable matchups.


American Football – Part IV; Building the System: The Roster & Player Roles

The constants within a system are the roster and universal tactical goals, which each formation/tactic is designed to deviate slightly to allow for variations in play or match-ups. Because the roster and universal tactical goals will depend on one another, I end up with a chicken and the egg situation. The tactics determine the roster as much as the roster determines the tactics. Because they are so intertwined, I try to think of them in conjunction with one another.

Although I will get into the specifics of the TI and the formations with the next section, I want to give a quick and dirty, high-level analysis of some of the macro team elements before I get into the specific players.