Are Traditional Strikers Dying Out?

There was once a time not too long ago that having a dynamic, lumbering striker was almost necessary for success. The likes of Fernando Torres, Carlos Tevez and Robin Van Persie were some of the most prolific goal scorers on the planet in most of the decade spanning from 2000 until 2010.

Since then, however, things have changed. While many of the world’s best clubs still deploy traditional strikers, others have opted for a strikerless attack. In the 2018 FA Cup Final between Chelsea and Manchester United, Blues boss Antonio Conte opted to deploy a starting XI sans a traditional striker. With Alvaro Morata on the bench, Conte chose to play winger Eden Hazard as a de-facto “striker” instead. The Belgian would go on to score the game’s lone goal in the 1-0 victory.


Understanding Roles In Football Manager (And Real Life) (Part 1)

One of the toughest parts in playing Football Manager (FM) is understanding the roles of the players and how they work in-game. For a better understanding, I’ll be trying to describe each role here, focusing on their movement and their needs in the game. For instance, I’ll start this part one explaining the strikers and Attacking midfielders wide roles inside FM18, then in the next days I’ll be publishing the ones relative from the other positions in the field.

First of all, there is something quite catchy to understand in the FM world that is the duties of the players. Defend, support and attack have their importance in what the player will do but also defines which part of the field the player will act. If in an attack duty, a player might be pushed forward than others in the same position, but with a support duty. Thinking the spaces the players start combined with the pockets of space in the field they will move into is fundamental to the task of perfecting a tactic whilst making the most of your squad.

In the first roles described here, you will see two lines in white crossing the field, to show this spatial distance between players in different duties and how they tend to act. After these few examples, I think the understanding of this concept will be a bit easier and the lines won’t be needed. Having said that, let’s begin with the AMRL roles existing in the game (as of FM18).


Marcelo Bielsa’s Tactical Philosophy

Welcome to – what I should imagine is – my last tactical work before Football Manager 2018.

So far, I have enjoyed looking at some of the most exciting and interesting teams in football history and looking at how we can implement their playing styles in the Football Manager Tactics Creator and see it played out in the match engine.

As always – if you have yet to read along so far – I would recommend you start here as I will not spend too much time explaining already-discussed concepts.


The Magical Box Makes Another Comeback

One of the greatest teams to ever grace the World Cup was the 1982 Brazilian national team. They failed in winning the World Cup, but they succeeded in winning the hearts and minds of football fans all over the world. They played the game the way the Seleçao should play it, were stuffed full of incredible individuals and they were the architects of their downfall. Brazil was so good they had to beat themselves to lose.

Their squad was a fantastic mixture of incredible personalities. Zico was the superstar whose every touch prompted screams. Junior sported a terrific beard-and-afro combo that made him look like a percussionist for a 1970s funk-rock fusion band rather than an outstanding defender. Falcão, Cerezo and Oscar charmed. But Sócrates and Éder were the ones who stood out – the former a chain-smoking doctor and political activist who in his spare time was one of the world’s greatest footballers, while Éder was the undisciplined rogue, operating on a knife-edge of artistry on one side and self-destruction on the other.


Facing Off Against Superior Opposition; Parking The Bus 101

It’s a phrase that has been around for a bit more than a decade, “parking the bus.” It’s not a phrase with a positive connotation as it is used to describe teams employing a highly defensive minded tactic. These tactics usually involve at least two defensive banks sitting deep in their own half, inviting pressure and letting the opposition keep the ball and passing it around, waiting for them to make a mistake.

When the opposition has made a mistake and lost possession, the team parking the bus only commits a few players to the counter-attack. These advanced outlets further up the pitch will then break quickly towards goal. The tactic is based on the beliefs that when you do not concede a goal, you cannot lose the game, and you can limit the chances your opposition creates by restricting the amount of space in your own final third.

Since this brand of football is generally not as aesthetically pleasing it is often branded as a negative approach to football, anti-football even. That is rather harsh since it is a well-drilled approach, which requires the right personnel, hours and hours of practice, and a good amount of insight into the setup of both your own team, the opposition’s team and various other circumstances surrounding the match.

In this article, we are going to look at what makes up a good tactic to park the bus, how to set one up of your own, various factors to take into consideration when opting to play such a tactic and ultimately you get the chance to download my own strikerless take of parking the bus.



Rewriting History: Scottish Strikerless

An introduction to start us off. My name is FM Samo and you can find my own inane ramblings on all things Football Manager over on my site, Occasional FM. One thing you’ll notice very quickly if you follow me on Twitter or read my blog posts, is that I’m Scottish. When I first came across the brilliant Strikerless site Guido has built up here, my initial reaction was that someone had set up a shrine to Craig Levein and the one of many painful nights it was to be a fan of the Scottish national team. This proved, of course, not to be the case, but if you aren’t sure what I’m talking about, read on to find out!

In March 2016, Scotland traveled to the Czech Republic for an international friendly. As our opponents, the rest of the home nations, and 19 other countries are preparing and gearing up for a summer competing in France to become champions of Europe, we’ve got a summer of crying into our Tennent’s to look forward to.



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.



Going Down A Gritty Road; Compensating For Lesser Players By Instilling Fighting Spirit

Whilst beauty is certainly in the eyes of the beholder, not every team has the players to play Joga Bonito. It makes one wonder, is playing beautiful football a goal in itsself? What is beauty? Sometimes, beauty is being efficient and making the most of the material you do have. The results achieved by fighting spirit and team mentality rather than finesse on the ball can be as beautiful in their own way as a technical and tactical masterclass by a FC Bayern or Barcelona.

Take for instance the style of play the Uruguayan national team employs. The football character of Uruguay throughout history was established as a defensive and combative though not without some attacking flair. The mix of different European cultural immigrants entering Uruguay, combined with the spread of association football globally, meant that Uruguay, as a nation, (along with their neighbours’ Argentina) created a new and unique style of football. They turned their back on the direct game brought across by the British and developed a brand of football built around short passes, player movement and attacking play.

These technical developments mixed well a key source of pride for Uruguayans, the national characteristic of “amistad” or “friendship/togetherness.” When looking at match clips from their national team, the concept of amistad seems to be a key ingredient of their style of play. They play as a cohesive unit, even established international stars, like Forlan and Suarez, fought tooth and nail for the shirt, eschewing any of the egotistical pretensions of grandeur seen by the so-called superstars of some other nations, taking one for the team if needed.

Add “amistad” to a pretty un-South American, gritty style of football, a style sometimes physical enough to make the toughest Argentine or Italian teams quiver, and you have teams that are pretty tough to beat… So what happens when you employ such a style in FM? Is it enough to compensate for a lack of absolute world stars against the very best teams out there? @diegomendoza1969 and yours truly look into things.


Tweaking Your Strikerless Tactic

The following article is something I do not often do; it’s a special request piece. People kept asking me if my tactics are plug & play and if they require any tweaking. The answer is yes, they do require tweaking, which is 90% common sense and 10% trial & error. Still, people kept asking me how I did it, so here we are. An article on how to spot the strengths and weaknesses of your own system, how to see what is wrong with your setup and, most importantly I suppose, how to fix whatever is not working.

Please note that the following ideas are by no means universal or a sure-fire way to fix whatever is not working, these are just my ideas on how to remedy shortcomings on the pitch.