Soccer formation tactics on a blackboard

The Starting Point – Real life Example

The first example used here is from FM14 and something I posted before. The reason for reposting this particular bit is, it saves me rewriting it as its not really needed, it already cover.s all the bases I want to touch upon. However the second part of this (which will be a separate article) is new and written using FM15 to show how I think about creating a tactic when I have nothing to reference and am using a concept I thought about rather than trying to imitate like the first example.

When creating a tactic you need to have an idea of how you want it to play and have an idea of the kind of football you want to see. Without knowing this you’ll feel a bit lost and struggle to have success. Everyone needs a starting point of some kind whether its an idea, tactical philosophy or a style of play. Having this thought out will make it possible to build around this and give you a starting point. This thread will hopefully show you how I create a tactic and give a few of you a couple of ideas along the way, especially if you feel a bit lost for direction and not quite sure where to start.

While I am copying Bayerns style of play to some degree I have to adapt it to suit the players at my disposal. I actually don’t have the right type of players to play this way but that’s a good thing for this thread as it will mean there are more discussion points and it should be a lot harder for me to get right. Over time as the squad gets stronger and I bring the right sort of players in that fit this system then the more like Bayern it should become. But this will take time and not something you can do off the bat and copy instantly unless you are lucky enough to have a squad with the players already in it.

Some of you might think that Sheffield United have a very good squad and they do to some extent but they don’t have the attributes to play the Bayern way. My side lacks composure, technique, decisions and creativity all of which are very important. Not only that but my midfield is lacking numbers and while I have a bit of money to spend I can’t attract the right kind of player that I need. None the less this should be fun to try and make work

The starting point

I like to attempt to replicate real life tactics but putting my own spin on them. This past few weeks I’ve been reading about Bayern and the system they’ve been using and it intrigued me a lot. Especially as people claim this is the next tactical revolution and the next logical step for tactics. So with this in mind I started to read about about how they played to get some ideas for how I would set up. For this I used such sites as;

This was more than enough to start me off with what I was trying to create and how to go about achieving it.

Setting The Base Shape

Once you have some kind of inspirations its all about setting this up in Football Manager. So what I do is create some kind of base tactic for how I try to translate the information I found in the articles above into the game. I call it a base because things never work exactly how you think and you have to make changes during games or to your initial setup should you find something isn’t working.

Firstly the shape. I went for a bog standard 4-1-4-1 because I feel this is more versatile than a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3. I can make the 4-1-4-1 turn into those formations quite easily while in the game with the use of roles/duties. So for me this is the shape I choose.



That’s the shape I’ve gone for.

The Instructions

Once the shape is sorted we have to add the roles/duties and settings we think the team use. So I need to identify what I learnt from the links above.

  • The striker closes down the opposition’s back line constant
  • The wingers judging by heat maps I’ve seen start from further down the pitch but are at times the furthest players forward.
  • The MC’s are versatile and are something that change depending on the personnel available.
  • One of the MC’s likes to drop back into the DC positions at times to act as the third centre back when defending. Yet when attacking like to push up into midfield while still being the deepest midfielder.

These are the main points so to put this into FM terms I am thinking along the lines of;

  • The striker is better suited to being a defensive forward. Some could argue they are a false 9 or even a deep lying forward. However due to the nature they press the defence then a defensive forward is more logical.
  • The wingers or inside forwards depending on you label them will be wide midfielders for me. The reason for this is they both defend and help out defensively and having them in the AMR/AML position won’t allow this. But I can influence their play from the wide midfield positions by the use of individual instructions. Maybe use the cuts inside ones and possibly the gets further forward ones.
  • This is the hardest part and the one I am undecided on. So I think I might set this up just like real life and change it depending on who I use or the team I play against.
  • I honestly think the half back is suited for this position because it does exactly that, deep when defending and pushes higher up when attacking.

So with these points the shape and settings currently look like this;



Team Instructions

I learnt that Bayern like to keep width throughout the game. I also learnt that they like to hassle opponents, play with a high line, play short passing and use a high tempo game. So these are the settings I have chosen to start with;



I also decided that I would use an attacking strategy and play very rigid. The reason for playing very rigid is simple – I need certain players do act in a very specific way so by going rigid this allows those players in those roles to really shine and be the focal points of the side. I’ve not gone for retain possession as I believe I can do this naturally due to the roles/duties we have. Plus I’d rather we focused on good dangerous possession rather than keeping the ball and not doing anything with it.

And that’s it, its really that simple……

Well actually it isn’t because we don’t know if the ideas or logic behind what I’m trying to create even works. The next part of this thread should explain more about getting it to work in games.

Hopefully the above example illustrates how I see the roles working with-in the set up I am using. I feel at times this is often overlooked by some gamers and they put too much time and effort focusing on one individual rather than thinking about how that individual works in the system. What’s best for the individual might not be the best for the team so you need to think really hard about how the roles link with each other and make the shape you’ve selected to use work.

Part 2 showing the none real life starting example is now also on the blog.

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