Rebuilding the Thames Ironworks – Intro

This is written by guest author Herne79 off the SI forums. He is a very talented writer and tactician who has an eye for detail. I hope you like this series. 


Now work is finally settling down a bit, I have a bit more time at last to actually play FM and do what I enjoy doing – messing around with tactics.

I have my slowly developing long-term save going with Espanyol (we want to be the biggest club in Barcelona ) and a more relaxing save using Valencia, when I want a more immediate hit of success. I usually have 3 saves running, and I’ve finally settled on something for my 3rd save, which is the feature of this write-up.

I have written a couple of threads before on developing a tactic, so I thought I’d take you through my step by step thought process from initial inspiration through to how I tweak things in a match. Hopefully you find it interesting .

Inspiration and First Steps

First off, I don’t do what I am going to write about for all of my saves. I tend to approach things differently, but for this save I’ve actually found the following to be quite rewarding.

So, I’m not even in the game, let alone looking at the tactic creator or thumbing through my players. All I have done so far is decide I want to play 4-4-2. Why 4-4-2? Well, because I like it and I think it’ll be a fun change from what I am doing at Espanyol and Valencia. I’ve also played a Sacchi-esque 4-4-2 before and found the 4-4-2 to be quite fun and (at times) challenging. This is NOT a Sacchi write-up by the way .

Anyway, next I have to think about what type of 4-4-2 I want to play. So I am starting to form a plan in my head about how I see players playing on the pitch. Not in terms of what Mentality or Team Shape I want the team to play with – I haven’t started thinking about that at all yet – but simply in terms of how I imagine what each player does. And then I write it down:


Not exactly rocket science is it ?

So, 2 strikers with one being a spearhead, the other dropping deep to link with the midfield. I don’t like playing with a target man, so my deep striker will probably be a more creative type of player.

2 wingers, one of which (left wing) will be about pace, dribbling and passing – the other being more about work rate and crossing. Think Giggs and Beckham to relate it back to the real world (and no I’m not trying to recreate them or Man Utd, just a little inspiration ).

2 midfielders, one to be a runner and technically sound (perhaps a creator), the other to be a hard tackler.

2 fullbacks, one to provide overlaps down the right, the other to provide support behind the attacking winger.

2 central defenders and a goalkeeper.

What I am also trying to do here is think about player passing options. If players don’t have options, they’ll hoof the ball or take a long shot, and we gift possession to the opposition. Which is bad.

So, for example, who will my left winger have to pass to? Answer – the midfield runner next to him, the supporting fullback behind, or getting the ball into the box for the strikers. What about my right-winger? Answer – the hard-working overlapping fullback, the midfield tackler, the deep playing striker or crosses into the box. I think that through for all of my (imaginary at this stage) positions, just to make sure my starting logic is sound.

This is all pretty simple stuff, which is just what I want. That way, when I eventually come to watch matches, I can see pretty easily if the players are actually doing these things. I’m not going to be watching matches thinking “do my team look like they are playing with my chosen mentality and team instructions”. Too complicated. I just want to be able to see if (for example) my right-sided striker is dropping deep to link, my left winger is indeed dribbling more and crossing less than my right-winger, and my players are actually passing to each other.

Which Team?

I really don’t know. I don’t really like LLM, but I also need to feel an attachment to the club I play, or have a specific goal in mind (like my Espanyol save) otherwise I’ll lose interest. So I go back over my simplistic notes and plans, and one word suddenly stands out and makes me smile – and that word is “Giggs”. Can I find a player in a similar mould to Giggs and perhaps build a team around him? Well, yes – Angel di Maria springs to mind, but I don’t want to play as PSG (no attachment there).

So – and I apologise in advance to all the purists out there – I decide to use one of FM16’s new features and create my own club with di Maria as my left winger in the pseudo-“Giggs” role. I’m a West Ham fan, so that will be the club I remove and replace with my new club – and so still retain the attachment I need. This also gives me a chance to put in place some other decent players for the positions I have already envisioned, rather than developing the team over a number of season (like in my Espanyol save).

Creating my own club will also present a number of challenges in itself – squad cohesion, tactical unfamiliarity, league and european rules about home-grown players, club finances (I’ll still have all of West Ham’s debts) and so on.

And so, the “Thames Ironworks” are re-born from the ashes of West Ham. I’ll even design their original all-blue kit .


7 thoughts on “Rebuilding the Thames Ironworks – Intro”

  1. Thanks Cleon.

    For those unaware, West Ham Utd were originally known as the Thames Ironworks when the club was founded back in 1895.

    So around the time Cleon started writing about FM.

  2. Nice and very easy to understand… I am still struggling building my own tactics, but this article really open my mind how to scratch simple tactics and playing it with FM. Seems gonna sleep late tonight 😀

  3. Started using this tactic with St. Albans in Conference South and you’d be surprised (perhaps) how effective it is with less technical players. Lots of possession and far more efficient in shot selection. Bravo!

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