FM16’s First Corner Routine

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, which is consistently getting me goals.



Direct Free Kicks; Defending

Has this ever happened to you? You concede a free kick in a semi-dangerous position and the opposition rifles the ball in. The ball seems utterly stoppable for your goalie, but instead of just holding it or punching it clear, he releases the ball and some completely unmarked forward blazes past your defenders, who have turned into biblical Sodommian salt pillars, and taps the ball into an empty net, because of course your goalkeeper isn’t back on his feet in time to make even a semblance of an effort to stop the ball. Just to re-fresh your memory, here’s a wee visual aide.


Hipster Overload; 5-2-3 Strikerless With A Sweeper

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. (more…)

Strikerless Meets Pulis; The 4-4-2-0

Over the last seasons, quite a few people have fallen in love with Barcelona, Spain and FC Bayern’s tiki-taka brand of football. After Guardiola’s departure to FC Bayern, we’ve seen the Bavarians employ a mix between the more direct style Heynckes implemented and Guardiola’s own possession-based style. Either way, possession seems to be crucial, as its importance is preached ad nauseum.

Now I am not blind to the importance of possession, but sometimes keeping the ball just isn’t enough to break down a well-organised defence. The problem with possession is that, while having the ball is certainly more desirable than not having it, you force the other team into sitting deep in a low block defence. This is the bane of possession-orientated teams such as Barcelona and Spain and to a lesser extent, Pep’s FC Bayern.

Breaking down such a team requires a different approach and in this case, I’ll be honest with you. @JLAspey‘s recent work on the Tactical Annals has been nothing short of inspirational for me. I quite enjoyed reading about his exploits with a 4-4-2 formation and I  started thinking of putting my own spin on 4-4-2 formations, naturally adding a strikerless twist. In this particular case, I decided to merge my own strikerless antics with a few pages from the Tony Pulis playbook.


Exploiting Set Pieces; The Delap Style Throw-In

It’s hardly a new tactic or a new approach to matters. In fact, you could say the long throw has gained acceptance as part of a robust approach to the game, pioneered by someone like Rory Delap upto the point where many Premier League clubs now use it as a legitimate weapon. For a throw-in anywhere in line with the penalty area, a player will be designated to hurl the ball into the box in the mode of a surrogate corner kick.

So if that works in real life, there should be a way to make it work in FM as well. The good news is, there is a way to make it work in FM and it’s pretty easy as well. You do need a few things to make throw-ins work like this, but when you get it all right, you end up with moments like these in FM.

In order to end up with moments like these, you need a mere two things:

  • The right settings;
  • The right delivery system.


Set Pieces; Making The Most Of It

In the not too distant past, I made a well-read blog post on set pieces,  which was pretty much by the book, standardised approaches to set pieces. I’m not knocking those approaches and I still stand by them, but part of me is always looking for room to improve on the setup I am using. Whilst I really do realise perfection is nigh impossible to achieve, chasing it relentlessly will improve the chances of being excellent. Just being good just won’t do.

This focus on improvement is easy for set pieces as 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 further improve upon the setup I described earlier. In this blog post, I’m trying to think outside the box.


Downloads; Chrissy’s Remix

Let me start off by saying this is NOT my own tactical work, but work by Chriss Ross, who uses the forum-handle Chrissy and whom you can follow on Twitter @Chrissy_Ross_. Chrissy has gratiously revamped my tactic and turned it into a more defensively stable formation, which looks like this. Read more…

Weaponised Set Pieces

Set piece plays are an essential aspect of the game. If you are unable to break down a particularly sturdy defence, a 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. Just look Read more…