Rebuilding the Thames Ironworks – Developing The Tactic

This is the second part of the series from guest author Herne79.
Formation, Player Roles and Player Duties

My initial set up:


4-4-2 is not optional, so all I can play around with are the Player Roles and Duties, which I’ll explain.

I already have an idea of how I want my players to play (see the OP), and that is my starting point. So, from the top:

Left Sided Striker – Advanced Forward. This is the spearhead of the attack, and I want him to be primarily goal focussed and pushing against the opposition defence. I imagine this player to be my primary source of goals. A Poacher would be playing more on the shoulder of defenders, rather than actively pushing against them, and a Complete Forward may try to take part a bit too much in build-up play. I could experiment during matches, but an AF seems like an ideal fit – especially when paired alongside:

Right Sided Striker – Deep Lying Forward (support). The “striker” that I want to provide a link to midfield. Someone who will drop deep, provide a passing option, perhaps some creativity and maybe even hold up the ball a bit waiting for support. The “passing option” part is imperative for me.

Left Wing – Wide Midfielder (attack). My initial thought here was to set the role/duty to Winger (attack). Going back to my initial plan outline in the OP, that was my intention. However, look at the Player Instructions a Winger (attack) comes with by default, which can’t be changed:


That is not how I envision my left winger to play. Dribble More yes, but I don’t want him running wide, staying wide and crossing more often. I want him getting the ball and scaring the life out of defenders by running at them at pace, and getting into the box to support the attack. He can also cross sometimes as well, but that’s not his primary goal. In essence, I’m almost looking for a hybrid between a winger and an Inside Forward I guess, with a little playmaking creativity sprinkled on top. The only way I can achieve that is to use the Wide Midfielder role and adjust Player Instructions to fit. I’m getting a little ahead of myself with talk of PIs, so more on that later.

Right Wing – Wide Midfielder (support). Again, my initial thought here was to use the Winger (support) role. However, these are the PIs:


Again, these are unsuitable for what I have in mind. Yes to Cross More, but I don’t want him dribbling all over the place making a mess, nor do I want him staying wider as if I did where would my overlapping fullback run to exactly? Into the stand? So again I have settled on Wide Midfielder, but this time the position will be given a different set of PIs when compared to my left-wing.

NOTE – I have had a look at the other possible roles for the left & right wings, but again they are somewhat lacking. The Wide Playmaker role is a possibility for the left-wing, as it is instructed to dribble more, cross less and so on. However More Risky Passes is a risk, as may roam from position. A WP(support) on the right is a complete non-starter due to cross less often instruction, which only leaves the Defensive Winger option on the right (there is no “attack” duty for the left-wing role), but again there is a set PI to dribble more.

Left Sided Midfield – Roaming Playmaker. As I said in the OP, this is my runner and (perhaps) a creator. I’m starting with the Roaming Playmaker role, however the Dribble More set PI concerns me. I have a dribbler on the left wing beside this player, so I’m not keen on a 2nd one next to him. Yes I want him to get up and down the pitch, but I primarily want him as a support player using passing and movement rather than dribbling to find space. Something I’ll keep an eye on when we start playing matches.

Right Sided Midfield – Ball Winning Midfielder (defend). The midfield destroyer. The intention here is for someone to actively get in the face of the opposition midfield to break up attacks. He’s given a defend duty as I also have an attacking fullback on that side of the pitch, so he’ll need to provide some cover. A Central Midfielder (defend) role could be an option here as well, however my gut instinct means I like the more in your face attitude of the BWM.

Left Sided Fullback – Fullback (support). Primarily defensive, he needs to get up the left flank to provide support behind the ball to both the left winger and RPM. Going back to what I said about passing options, this is his role. If the winger runs into a cul-de-sac (which he will), he has an out ball behind to the supporting fullback. I can consider a wingback (support) here instead, however I tend to have a personal preference for having a fullback behind a winger, with wingbacks preferred for formations without wingers or that have inside forwards. As my left winger will be playing as a kind of pseudo-IF/winger hybrid, I’ll watch in matches how these two interact.

Right Sided Fullback – Fullback (attack). Here, he needs to provide overlapping runs and decent support for my right wing. Again I could consider the wingback, but the Fullback should provide a little more defensive stability as well. This is linked to my other tactical settings and intended way of playing, but more on that later.

Centre Backs – Central Defender (defend) x 2. Nothing fancy here. They just need to defend and pass the ball to the keeper, fullbacks or midfield. No need for risk taking ball playing defenders or a stopper/cover combination.

Goalie – Goalkeeper. Again, just a plain old-fashioned ‘keeper. No need for sweeper keepers as I don’t plan on playing with a particularly high line.


Hopefully you can see how I am starting to transfer my thoughts and plans into action. My main goals here are to stay true to my plans, give my players passing options and follow a logical progression for player roles to interact well with each other. If I can transfer the pictures in my head onto the field of play, it should at least fit.

Team Shape, Mentality, TIs and PIs will follow in my next post.

4 thoughts on “Rebuilding the Thames Ironworks – Developing The Tactic”

  1. Great work so far. I have also just started using this way of setting my tactic up. I have found that putting it on paper defo helps when you then watch the games. Looking forward to the rest of your work.

    1. Thanks.

      I think that’s been the key thing for me all the way through this – plan what you want players to do, and then see if they actually do it.

      Then, for me at least, it becomes easier to watch matches.

  2. Good read!

    I’m someone who finds his formation and exact way of playing along the road with a lot of trial and error. I do always start with a plan but I’m having a hard time making those work. This sounds like a good way of approaching the next save.

    I’m curieus how you change your plans when the don’t work as foreseen. Is there a future update(s) about that?

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