The Set Up

I went for the defensive strategy as I wanted to show that defensive can actually be attacking, solid and create good football. It was that simple. My reason behind going very rigid was also simple, I wanted players to have less creative freedom and stick to the jobs that I give them via the roles and duties that I’ll touch upon further into this article. If I’d have gone balanced, fluid or very fluid then they’d be playing a lot differently that I planned. I’ll actually show you what I mean by this a lot further into the article though and show you an example of this happening and how the tactic plays differently due to changing the philosophy to fluid. You’ll then understand the behaviour of the roles and what I didn’t want to happen a lot better.

Team Instructions

The instructions I have decided to start off using a base are;

I should point out that I might drop an instruction or add a new one depending on how a game is going but these are the base that I will use to start most matches with. Any changes I make will be highlighted further in the thread with an explanation to why I might have added or removed a certain instruction.

Retain Possession – The reason for selecting this is I want to keep the ball and no rush forward too quickly. I want to pass the ball around and use the space that I’ll have and be cautious. This doesn’t mean I want lots of possession though however it can be a useful shout to use as you’ll find out shortly.

Shorter Passing – This ties in with what I was wanting above and helps me create a patient game without my players looking for the Hollywood passes that might happen especially if I have 10 men back behind the ball. So I selected this type of passing as a precautionary measure to help me pass the ball around without the risk of giving it away needlessly.
Be More Disciplined – I need my players not to be too creative. I have specific creative roles that can be expressive in the tactic already so its important those who aren’t supposed to be my creative outlets actually aren’t. This will allow the more creative roles to dictate the game how I’d like them too and my less creative players to stick to their job. This is very important for what I’m trying to achieve with this defensive football set up.

Stick to Positions – Some of the roles I have selected in this tactic need players to stick to where they should be on the pitch and not stray too far away from that position. I can’t afford to have players who run the risk of being caught out of position as this would have a domino effect ripple throughout my side. If one player is caught out and in the wrong place then that means someone else can’t do their job properly as they’d have to try and cover for the player or have to do something they shouldn’t have to do. Which in turn makes what I’m trying to create hard as I need to be positionally strict with my players.

Play Narrower – When I attack I don’t want to make my players cover more ground than they have too. If my players tried to use the full width of the pitch when attacking then I’d have massive gaps between players should I lose the ball. Remember I need players to be positionally strict and be hard to break down. So playing narrower allows me to keep the players closer together when attacking which means if they do lose the ball I should be less vulnerable to quick counters as I won’t be full stretched. Something which could be a real issue especially in this narrow diamond I am playing. There might be games where I do have to play more wide though but we’ll talk more about that if and when it actually happens.

Drop Deeper – I want to create space in my own half so by having them drop deeper I lower the defensive line and create space so my players should in theory have more time on the ball. It will also mean I’m less vulnerable to quick/direct/long balls over the top or down the channels which can cause all sorts of issues on FM. So it makes sense that if I want to be solid then this team instruction sits nicely with all the others I have selected.

Hopefully those instructions and the little bit about why I selected them give a little insight into what I’m trying to create in terms of style and positional play.

Someone asked me why I’d use retain possession and pass shorter as team instructions when retain possession already does the pass shorter option. The truth is I’m using both as during games I might remove shouts, so if I do remove retain possession which slows the tempo down and adds shorter passing, I’ll still be shorter passing by default to to having the team instruction already trained and learnt. Hopefully you’ll understand what I’m trying to say

The main reason for this is I’m trying to create a brand of football here and not just create a tactic that works. It has to work in a specific way and do certain things. By having the basics already part of the base tactic it will make it much simpler. If you’ve read any of my other guides you’ll know that I tend to alter strategy rather than add or remove shouts. But for this guide I thought I’d do things different and do any changes via roles/duties and shouts this time.

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