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Rebuilding Aston Villa

This is a new piece written by guest author Sam. You can check him out on Twitter here Twitter Link

Hello guys this is my first long-term save in FM16 so far, as I have struggled with this game massively this year. I’m fairly new to the FM scene and writing, so I’ll apologize in advance if it doesn’t look the best compared to the things you see usually on this site. I really haven’t had any successful saves this year, and my frustration had went to a point where I simply refused to play FM for a couple of days. But recently, I have read some  excellent articles from Cleon and I think that if I just simplify my ideas and pay attention to what I’m doing tactically, I think I can finally have a successful save on this year’s’ game.

  So the team I have chosen to manage is Aston Villa. I hate starting with big teams, as it is too easy and in my opinion I feel that there isn’t a lot of room to improve these big teams. Aston Villa is a great team to start out with I feel because it’s a team that’s considered to go down with relegation. But with a good few signings, I feel this team could go far. So anyway I have already played the first game against Crystal Palace and I lost 2-0. It wasn’t a game that I looked at in-depth very well, and so I thought I would analyze the next game against Liverpool and see how my side stacks up. So this is how two sides lined up against each other.

The Line-up against Liverpool

My game plan is for the inside forwards Grealish and Gil to get behind Gestade and play a high tempo, counter attacking game. The wingbacks help provide the width, the CM-S links the attack and DM-D helps shield the back four. I think we have the squad to play this way even though this squad could use some improving in certain positions. I will also be watching the midfield set-up to see how it goes on as well as I’m not sure if these roles work well together. So I will be writing this live and see how I get on

41 seconds in and I notice this straight away. Coutinho cuts in inside and I instantly notice how attacking Liverpool’s fullbacks and wingers are straight away.

41 seconds in

They are quite aggressive down the flanks and as a result, they are leaving huge gaps which I can exploit . However, I’m more focused on what my team is defending then what Liverpool is doing offensively. So far it looks good defensively so far but the only concern I have is that my fullback left his position to close Coutinho down and now it’s left a massive gap for Moreno to exploit. I’ll keep an eye on this as the game progresses.

70 seconds away

30 seconds later and the same thing happens. Coutinho cuts inside and Moreno has a lot of space down my left flank. If it starts to become an issue, then maybe I’ll switch my wingback to defend mostly because Liverpool’s players are better than mine and it might hurt me in the long run. On the other hand, I really like the position that my inside forwards have taken up. When we win the ball I’m hoping that we can give their defense something to worry about and exploit their flanks.

In the 5th minute Liverpool score off a corner. I won’t really change anything because it came off a corner. However, I might have to look at my defensive set pieces and figure out if anything needs to be changed.

In the 8th minute I notice just before Carlos Sanchez gives it away that my midfield is painfully close and narrow to each other.

Midfield too close together

I’m not really sure why they are this close together, and this can severely hurt my build-up play as being this close together limits passing options for the other players. In addition, this makes things harder for my striker as now he’s isolated up top. I guess my options are to tick play wider on the team instructions to try to spread them out. Or, I have a look at the midfield roles and change a couple of things around. For now, I’ll leave it alone and monitor the game but another thing to keep in mind.

Liverpool attacking

This screenshot shows Liverpool attacking intent, as everyone has bombed forward except for their center backs and one midfielder. I’m already on counter but one change that I have decided to make is to tick the exploit the left and right flanks. Hopefully I can try to catch them out and get a goal to equalize soon.

 In the 16th minute Liverpool make it two-nil. Clyne flies past Amavi like he’s not even there and crossed it in for Benteke to score. At this point, I have no clue what to change really.My fullback wasn’t really out of position, as it was just a case of clyne being much faster than him. Nothing else to do but to carry on and hope something changes.

18 minute

In the 18th minute Benteke unleashes a vicious shot to make it 3-0. This is looking worse and worse….


Again, I’m not certain that I see anything wrong tactically. One of my players is closing him down and trying to close down the angle so again I don’t see anything that I could change.
I decide to put in on key highlights to try to end the game quicker and the game eventually did finish 4-0 with Benteke grabbing a hat trick. Looking at the stats, I do feel like we have done alright watching this game. The no shots on target concerns me a lot, but we had more clear-cut chances apparently, we just couldn’t put them away.

Full time

My left back Amavi was absolutely terrible this game in my opinion, but he’s young and he had Clyne to mark to be fair to him. The issues that I found in this game was that my midfield was too close to each other and the striker seemed isolated at times.

I think the changes I will make is to change the CM-S to CM-A and monitor the changes carefully.

Now looking at the stats more carefully I see that Carlos Sanchez, my BWM-S had 5 shots while my striker Rudy Gestede only had one. Looking back at his shots it was more long shots then anything else, so I’ll just tick shoot less to his instructions. This was the overall issues I found in this game.

  • Not a lot of crosses were completed, as only 3/15 were received
  • A lot of mistakes were made, including 11 missed interceptions, 7 lost the ball, 1 mistake leading to goal and 1 mistake leading to a penalty
  • Keeper only completed 60 percent of his passes
  • Striker looked isolated
  • Midfield too close together

Changing the CM-S to CM-A will probably help with my striker isolation issues, as its instruction is to get further forward will probably reduce the gap between the midfield and attack. I’m also tempted to add move into channels for him to go into those pockets of space and create some separation from his teammate, but I will make one change at a time and go from there.

This is my first game that I played and overall, we didn’t play too badly against Liverpool besides the result. Although I’m very disappointed with the result, I think with some tinkering around I could possibly avoid relegation with this team. I doubt that I will make it that far, since I’m terrible at this game but if I keep tinkering around maybe eventually I will get a string of results going.

Please leave constructive criticism and any feedback in the comments, as it will help me get better as a writer and player. Hopefully this shows how an amateur player thinks in terms of tactically and helps out the newer players flesh out their ideas. I’m a terrible player in my opinion, but at least I think I know what’s wrong in my system  and I can tinker around accordingly to see how to fix it. Unfortunately, you can’t really expect to play on key highlights all the time and expect to get good results. Unless you’re experienced in this game, it’s more likely that you will have to change one or two roles and really analyze your team to get better at this game. Thanks for reading this article.

6 thoughts on “Rebuilding Aston Villa”

  1. I think you can afford to be a bit more expansive with the roles for the midfield 3 as you have 1 anchoring. Maybe bring in a playmaker type as you lack creators.

    1. The reason that I didn’t put a playmaker role is because my plan is to play on the counter and a playmaker role might slow the play down, something Cleon has talked about in his counterattacking posts. However, this might be something I still might try because I’m not sure that I have found the right balance in the midfield yet.

  2. Great post mate! I know exactly how you feel. I’ve played FM since 2012 and the most i’ve ever completed is 2 seasons. It’s crazy though, I want to play the game so much… but a few bad results and i get disheartened. I still don’t think I fully understand the ME yet too, and i’ve read tons of guides and put about 300 hours into FM16 😛
    I guess it’s a simulation so you have to take it with a pinch of salt really… i mean if it was that easy to win managers would do it in real life right 😛

    Look forward to seeing more posts man! 😀

    1. Thanks I’m pretty much the same I’ve spent much time on FM13, FM14, FM15, and FM16 and I still feel like I haven’t learned much because I have never had a successful save. However, hopefully if I start taking more notice in how I set my team up then I’ll start playing better.

  3. I share your frustration, my first save in FM2016 was with villa, the only positive I could take out of it was I lasted longer than tim Sherwood! Although amavi is a good young player I found he wasn’t very good defensively and often made mistakes. I tried playing counter but as a whole villa lacked goals, but check out the premier league table! I’ve been a villa fan my whole life and FM2016 made me realise what a tough job managing the club is. Good luck with the save!

  4. Hey mate. Really enjoyed the read and have had similar struggles understanding some of the new concepts that have been explained by Cleon and others in FM16.

    One thing that I believe I have taken on board from Cleon’s post is that for a counter attacking tactic to be successful, you need to look at the defensive position of your team (i.e the way it looks on the tactics screen) and keep that in mind when building your style.

    AML/AMR positions are not really suited to a counter based tactic in FM16 due to their more advanced position in the pitch, but this would also affect the style of play you’re after. A 4-1-4-1-1 or 4-2DM-3-1 would be better suited.

    One change I can see potentially working with your formation is the following;

    DR – FB-S
    DM – Anchor
    MCL – CM-S
    MCR – B2B-S
    AMR – IF-S

    All other positions keep the same as you have.

    It’s also recommended to have between 0-2 (2 is an absolute maximum) attack roles in a counter attacking duty. Remember when a counter attack is initiated all your instructions go out the window anyway and your players involved in the attack go Gung-Ho!

    Focus on building from the back and being defensively solid and the goals on the counter will come!

    Good luck on the rest of your Villa save, great team to get started with in FM16 as its hard to keep them up 1st season but if you manage that you have a big club with good tradition to continue managing.

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