Rashidi Meets Strikerless

Over the course of the weekend, I have linked up with Rashidi from BustTheNet to talk tactics and more specifically, strikerless tactics. In one of his video series, Rashidi uses community tactics in his Gloucester save. Naturally, strikerless tactics were included. We recorded two videos and in this first video, Rashidi picks my mind regarding the setup and settings of my Wolf Pack tactic.

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The Art of the Defensive Midfielder in a Strikerless Formation

For a long time in the world of football, defensive midfielders didn’t receive the credit they deserved. It wasn’t until N’Golo Kante burst onto the scene two seasons ago that the hype returned for these defence-minded midfield maestros.

Everyone now knows Leicester City’s story: rising from relegation candidates to suddenly winning the richest and toughest domestic competition in the world, the Premier League – a story that could’ve been taken right out of a Football Manager save. Among the stars highlighting the greatest of underdog stories, N’Golo Kante’s elite-level play in defensive midfield allowed the Leicester back line to sit deep, where the lack of speed from Wes Morgan and Robert Huth was less exposed.


Watford 1 Chelsea 2 20.8. 16‘ by Chelsea Debs (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The diminutive Frenchman’s play earned him a mega, multi-million move to Chelsea last summer, and in Sportsbet’s most popular football category of news and betting tips, it was predicted that Chelsea would clinch the title against West Bromwich Albion, which they did. He played a pivotal role in Antonio Conte’s three-at-the-back formation, acting once again as the stone wall first line of defence.

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Taking Hipster Football From Six To Midnight

July 2030.  Swedish-born, Manchester United supporter Hakan Telleus has just won the World Cup with his native Sweden, to follow on his 2026 triumph with the Dutch, and Champions League-winning campaigns at Malmö FF, Fiorentina and Borussia Mönchengladbach. 

At the height of his career, no doubt, with club directors offering the dashing Swede a generous pay package and their most comely daughters in hopes of enticing him to sign on the dotted line.

Suffice to say; jaws hit the floor when Telleus announced that he would not be setting up shop in Manchester, Madrid, Paris or Munich, as many expected.

No, much to the delight of bookies everywhere, he was off to Yorkshire.  To newly-promoted Leeds United.  Worst of all, he had vowed to discard the Sacchi-inspired tactics that he had relied on thus far.  Instead, he promised the angst-filled Yorkshire masses to play hipster football – hipster football of a calibre to cure erectile dysfunction throughout northern England and beyond.

From the depths of Telleus’ madness, glory would spring. Champions League titles at Leeds, Saint-Étienne, Stade de Reims and Eintracht Frankfurt.  European Championship and World Cup glory with Greece in 2044 and 2046.

The method to his madness?  Obscene quantities of grapefruit, an unhealthy dose of self-confidence, and a suite of tactics featuring a libero, two inverted wingbacks, and not a single striker.

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The Decapitated Buffalo – A Strikerless Production

Originally posted at https://drpoods.wordpress.com

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Been quite busy at Poods HQ for a while, what with trying to resurrect saves that had gone the way of the dodo and I haven’t got around to writing anything for a bit. But I am back and here we go with another tactic for you all that guido has kindly allowed me to post here for your edification.

As a bit of background, I initially took my Buffalo Wing tactic that you can find here and simply “decapitated” it changing the striker to an AMC. Hence the rather colourful name. Having done so, I had a chat with the inestimable Lord of Strikerless himself who had a look at it and dabbled with some of his usual tactical alchemy to come up with what we have here.

Guido also used it as a test bed for some experiments with the overload philosophy and my word did it deliver. Extreme pressing and heaps of bodies pouring forward made for a really delightful tactic that has been quite successful, if I may modestly say so. Enough of that though, on to the tactic!

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The Wolf Pack Tactic

In an effort to make the most aggressive counter-pressing tactic I possibly could within the FM17 match engine, I ended up taking my inspiration from a BBC documentary on wolves and more specifically the way they work together within a wolf pack. It is during a hunt where co-operation between wolves within a pack is most apparent. A wolf pack may trail a herd of elk, caribou or other large prey for days before making its move. During this time, they are already hunting, assessing the herd, looking for an animal that displays any sign of weakness.

Such an approach is not dissimilar to how a well-executed counter-pressing tactic should function. As counter-pressing is intended to win the ball back as quickly as possible when possession is lost, you can easily see how this setup would benefit from players working together to bring down an opponent.

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Exploring The Limits Of My Tactical Knowledge; The Stuka Tactic

Back in October, I posted on this site my ‘Revival Of the Four Horsemen’ tactic where I took Guido’s Original tactic as a base and turned it into a winning machine with Arsenal. I outlined at the end of the post that my main save in FM17 will be with Espanyol, and my first season I will be testing the ‘Four Horsemen’ for its reliability. The outcome was a success, achieving a  4th place finish with Espanyol in the first season.

Following that season I outlined in RCD Espanyol 2.1 that our tactics would change into a Strikerless 4-1-3-2 with the same foundations laid from the ‘Four Horsemen’. This tactic was then in use for the next two seasons where we achieved a 3rd placed finish followed by winning the league in our 3rd year, along with 2 Copa del Reys. Something which I thought was somewhat premature. So that is when I decided to test my tactical skills and attempt something completely out of my comfort zone. ‘Out of my comfort zone’ ended up developing a tactic I have dubbed Stuka (reference Guido for the name).

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Debunking The Formation Myth; The Medusa

When you have followed this blog, you will have noticed that I have a quirky kind of love for strange formations, for peculiar settings and for tactics that are different than they might appear at first sight. The entire blog is named after a rather alien concept in football, so I guess it shouldn’t come as a complete surprise that I generally try to think outside of the proverbial box. The Medusa tactic, which is bound to cause a few fits for people with tactical OCD, is a nice example of my desire to push the limits of what FM is capable of.

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A strikerless 4-1-3-2

I’m back, and I have a new strikerless abomination™* for you to check out. When I started messing with tactics for FM17, I decided I wanted to try something different. For the last few versions of FM, my tactical setups have been very similar. My teams always had a base of:

  • Control mentality
  • Very fluid team shape
  • Close down much more (or at the very least close down more)
  • A high defensive line
  • Roam from positions
  • Shorter passing

Basically the sort of thing you’ll see in most of Guido’s tactics on this site, they had been an enormous influence on my tactical thinking ever since I found this blog a few years ago.

This formation started life with strikers, it was one of the tactics that I used over the course of my beta test save.  Due to a series of injuries, I was forced into fielding it as a strikerless system. This didn’t last long, a few matches at most, but when my test save finished, and I couldn’t decide on my long term save I thought I’d investigate it further, the team I chose to do this were Sporting CP.

I chose Sporting as they’re one of the better sides in their league, I wanted to test it out with good players but not elite level. Also, they’re in Europe, The Champions League to be precise and I thought that the counter-attacking nature of this tactic would be well tested against the bigger clubs in the competition.

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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.

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Project Libero; The Tactic

Back in the days, liberos were a truly majestic sight to behold. Step into your time machine and go back in time a good 20 or so years. Turn on the tv 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 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 liberos and their style of play and rightfully so, as they were often stylish and elegant players, epitomised by the likes of Franz Beckenbauer and Franco Baresi.

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