FM24; Short Corner Love

Short corners remain a neglected aspect of the game despite a slew of improvements and innovations appearing to enhance the beautiful game. While they frequently frustrate stadium supporters when they fail to produce results, the perfect short corner kick routine can benefit any team by creating an overload before blasting the Read more…

My Throw-In Setups For FM23

Set pieces in football, and thus in Football Manager, have received much attention and study. But what about the innocuous throw-in? Apart from when a team develops a long throw-in programme (see Delap, Rory, or last year’s trebuchet-styled throw-ins), it is largely ignored. This doesn’t do the humble throw-in justice, as they are essential to your Football Manager game.

Just throwing the ball somewhere willy-nilly not only robs you of a potential goalscoring opportunity (depending on your location, of course), but it also increases your risk of losing the ball and ending up on the wrong side of a devastating counter-attack. So again, throw-ins are far more important than you might think.

Bully-Ball & The Human Trebuchet

Over the past decades, we have seen ample evidence of the long throw-in and its effectiveness. Most notably, Rory Delap’s bullet throws long proved a useful piece of weaponry for Stoke City. Launching howitzers into the box towards tall and powerful players turned out to be a winning strategy.

The success of Delap and Stoke proves that football need not be complicated. Find someone to lob the ball into the box and have your strongest players shove around defenders and the goalkeeper. Since you can’t be offside from a throw-in, you can bring up your strongest players to cause mayhem in the opposing box.

The Corner Setup That Became A Throw-in Routine

Now that we have all been sucked into the enslaving obsession we all know FM can become if the game is good enough, it is time to look at another yearly seasonal tradition; the hunt for superb set-pieces.

I am no stranger to the subject, I have tried (and succeeded on occasion) to create successful set-piece routines. FM21 was no exception to the rule and I tried my hand at creating a corner setup. You have probably heard of the famous saying “necessity is the mother of all invention”? Well, if necessity is the mother of all invention, blind luck is the drunk uncle of invention. Not exactly something to be proud of but there’s a surprising number of such cases. This is the case of the mysterious throw-in routine that started as a corner setup.

Breaking The Deadlock With Set Pieces

Set piece plays are an essential aspect of the game. If you are unable to break down a particularly sturdy defence, a well-executed set piece may be all you need to pry open the defence. Hell, you can win games by making sure your offensive set pieces are good. In this blog post, I am running through the plays I am using in FM20.

The Accidental Set Piece Routine

Some scientific discoveries come about after painstaking, goal-oriented lab work finally yields the result that a researcher is trying to find. But many of the most incredible discoveries in the world came about when someone found something they were not looking for. In some cases, these are the result of a true accident. Lucky accidents have allowed people to discover unexpected but useful side effects. That is certainly the case for my new corner routine.

Short Corners; My Plan B

Short corners have to combat a negative reputation in world football. Just as a back-pass is seen as an inherently negative manoeuvre, corners which are not crossed directly into the penalty area are often met with disdain by supporters worldwide. Sadly, this opinion is shared by too many managers in the virtual universe as well; by opting against putting the ball into the danger zone you instantly forego a greater opportunity to score seems too much of a common place.

In my eyes, when a team takes a short corner it may be a wise decision in terms of goalscoring opportunities. Taking a short corner by no means gives up an opportunity, but instead creates a new and different one. Especially when your team lacks an aerial presence, a short corner offers up new avenues to scoring a goal.

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Defending Corners (And Other Set Pieces)

We are all afraid of it, and I am fairly certain we have experienced it as well. The dying seconds of the game have started, your team is up by one goal, and the opposition is about to take a corner kick. Deep inside you are dreading this final play of the game; your gut feeling is a very negative one. ‘This is going in’. So how do you defend against these situations, especially since the AI seems awfully good at scoring from set pieces in this latest instalment of the Football Manager series.

Unfortunately, corners (and indirect free kicks) are an abundant source of conceded goals, with the default defensive routines coming up grossly inadequate to counter the AI’s routines. To balance the scales somewhat, I have decided to take a more in-depth look into corners. Last week, I posted my offensive corner setup. In this article, I will be focusing on the different defensive systems and concepts – man-marking/zonal-marking etc.

Defending corner kicks is a more fluid and irregular process, as it mostly depends on the manager’s personal style and preferences, and the level of football. For example, it is pretty tough to implement a zonal-marking system at a lower level, because this system needs to be practised every single week and demands quite a bit of spatial awareness from the players.

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