Counter-Pressing In FM16

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. 

(more…)

The Libero’s Slightly Less Fashionable Cousin; The Ausputzer

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.

(more…)

Mechanising The Play; The Defensive Enganche

In the past few weeks, I have started posting content originally written by Lee (@FMAnalysis). To be more specific, I have started re-posting his Mechanising The Play-series, which is probably one of the best FM-tactics-related series I have ever read. Lee’s ideas are still relevant, regardless of the Match Engine and version of the game, because they are ideas that apply to football in general. Despite my name being listed as the author, I find it is important that you realise that the actual author is Lee Scott (@FMAnalysis). So, without wasting anymore of your precious time, I present to you the third article of a brilliant series.

(more…)

Mechanising The Play; Defensive Block

As you may or may not have noticed, I have recently started posting content originally written by Lee (@FMAnalysis). To be more specific, I have started re-posting his Mechanising The Play-series, which is probably one of the best FM-tactics-related series I have ever read. Lee’s ideas are still relevant, regardless of the Match Engine and version of the game, because they are ideas that apply to football in general. Despite my name being listed as the author, I find it is important that you realise that the actual author is Lee Scott (@FMAnalysis). So, without wasting anymore of your precious time, I present to you the second article of a brilliant series.

(more…)

Mechanising The Play; Transitions

I was recently approached by Lee (@FMAnalysis) with the question if I was interested in re-posting his Mechanising The Play-series, which is probably one of the best FM-tactics-related series I have ever read. It didn’t take me long to respond with a “FUCK YEAH!!!” Lee’s ideas are still relevant, regardless of the Match Engine and version of the game, because they are ideas that apply to football in general. Despite my name being listed as the author, I find it is important that you realise that the actual author is Lee Scott (@FMAnalysis). So, without wasting anymore of your precious time, I present to you the first of article of a brilliant series. (more…)

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.

formation

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.

(more…)

Lessons Liverpool (Should) Have Learned; Which Players Do You Need To Make Strikerless Work

Over the past few months, Liverpool tried the whole strikerless approach on several occassions. With Steven Gerrard struggling, with Rickie Lambert off the pace and with others either injured or on the bench then Liverpool were even more reliant on Raheem Sterling. In a way it makes sense and for me, Brendan Rodgers was right in pushing him more centrally some of these matches, playing furthest forward in fact, as he was being marginalized on the wing where he was doubled-up on by opposing teams who were able to contain his threat more comfortably. By playing him more centrally, in a trequartista / false nine role, Rodgers aimed to get more out of his set of talents. Lionel Messi has infamously played in a similar role at Barcelona under Pep Guardiola, which saw them enjoy their most prolific period of trophy success, so why not try it with Sterling?

Every football romantic in the world will be adamantly against the whole concept and while I agree the absence of a striker would seem to be a more negative approach in the pursuit for goals, Liverpool placing emphasis on a false nine or trequartista in combination with midfielder runners could well prove to be a deadly alternative. It would see the young starlet dropping deeper than a conventional centre-forward, linking up with the midfield and making off-the-ball-runs to bamboozle the opposing defence when attacking, or basically the usual strikerless nonsense you’ve all grown accustomed to over the past year or so.

Now before I end up with hysterical Liverpoolfans (are there any other kind of Liverpool fans really?) cluttering up my Twitter time-line or the comments section of this blog post, the idea of this post is to high-light why the players Rodgers sent out do not match the requirements for a strikerless style of football, not to look at actual tactical mistakes or short-comings. So basically it’s an FM article in which I highlight the type of players you need with a bit of a Liverpool sauce to make it more relevant.

(more…)

Using Set Pieces To Break Open A Match (And Preventing Your Opponent From Doing So)

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 blog post, we look at a good attacking setup, a good defensive setup and why both setups are effective.

corners003

(more…)

Why I Love Strikerless; Some Enganche/Trequartista Love

With the Youtube function of FM still messed up, proper tactical articles are still on hold until I can afford to buy a SnagIt copy. This does leave me with work to do to maintain a regular schedule of updates, so I’ve decided to treat you to some casual reading on the origins of my love for strikerless formations.

To be fair, it’s mostly because a strikerless formation often allows me to shoe-horn at least one trequartista into the line-up and sometimes even two. Trequartista’s are just my favorite type of footballers. The masters at pulling strings from their positions in the hole, trequartista’s have always been a sight to inspire dreams and engulf kids (like me) into what is possible with a ball. Elusive for much of a game yet so often the match winner, these players are the embodiment of technique, grace and skill.

(more…)

Making Your Wingers Contribute Even More; Tracking Back

Whether you love them or hate them, there is no denying the prowess of all-out wingers dash inside forwards such as Arjen Robben and Eden Hazard. Despite all their brilliance, these players are often described as selfish, egotistical and players who don’t work hard in defense by many football fans. Yet both of these players I mentioned have added another dimension to their game, by becoming more aware of their defensive positions and actively contributing to the defensive phase of the game. So some of the best wingers in the world have taken to tracking back and helping out their defenders. Why don’t their FM15 counterparts behave similarly?

(more…)