It’s important that for the first game I try and leave stuff untouched the best I can so I can get a real feel of how stuff is working and what’s going on. I’ll still make the odd changes in game if I feel I’m losing the game. But for most parts I like to let the game play out without changes if possible so I can view it back after. Watching a game after its happened is easier than watching one that’s in play because sometimes you view it differently because the result doesn’t matter as the game is over.
So here we go;
The opening game of the season I managed to win 3-0 which isn’t bad and most people might be happy with that. I’m not though because I don’t yet know why it was won, it could have been down to opposition errors, a bit of luck on my part. I like to understand why I win/lose/draw games because then you fully understand the ins and outs about the system you use. It’s the manner in which my side play which I am most concerned about throughout my managerial careers on FM. I can accept defeats if I know its not down to me neglecting the visual side of the game.
These stats give a very quick and brief overview as to what happened in the game but without knowing the individual stats of the players then these match stats can be very misleading.
The first thing I want to focus on though is not the stats this can come later. What I’ll do first is watch the first 5 minutes of the game in real time so I can see the positions of my players in both defensive and attacking phases of play.
This screenshot is straight from the kick off and tells me a lot already. On the left side it shows that the wide midfielder is looking to get forward and taking up a good position. The striker is dropping deep to find space and considering Notts County are playing a 4-4-2 this is ideal because he’ll be unmarked. On the right side though the wide midfielder is deep and the right back is very close to him. he could be going past him looking for the overlap though so this is something I need to keep an eye out for during the game to make sure its not an issue. Both the central midfielders are unmarked which is good and should allow them to find space and pick passes out. The half back has dropped into the back line to make it a flat 3 which is good due to how wide I seem to be playing. The space between both centre backs would be too big otherwise.
So already 10 seconds into the match it has given me a lot to look at and consider while watching the game.
My first real attack caused the opposition quite a few issues and showed my side to make good movement and utilise the width of the pitch. You can view the clip here;
In that move you can see my half back, advanced playmaker, deep lying playmaker, striker and left winger all combining and showing some encouraging signs. Especially the amount of space the central midfielders seem to have. They tend to be unmarked when watching this back which should allow them to dictate the game more.
So the above clip highlights the advantage of playing wide and using the space well but this can also be a downside when hit with a quick counter attack when you lose possession or a simple long back which is quickly taken. The next screenshot will highlight the issue I’m talking about.
The defenders are naturally pushed wider do the role of the half back so this means if he doesn’t drop back far enough then the gap between both centre backs is a MAJOR issue and cause for concern. As you’ll see in the screenshot if Campbell-Ryce wins the header he has a few options which can se seen with the blue dotted lines. Each one of these options could cause potential issues should I not win the header. Luckily I did win the header and the right sided central defender actually dropped back and picked up the wandering striker.
There are a few points that I need to make you aware of at this stage. Remember my team instructions of pushing the defensive line even higher? Well the above screenshot highlights this too and shows just how risky it can be and how easy it is to exploit it if one of your players misses the header, tackle, challenge or just under performs on the day. It comes down to reward versus risk so you need to fully understand the implications of using risky team instructions and the issues you can be faced with.
Next up I can see the effects of having a wide midfielder on a support duty and with the cuts inside instruction. He receives the ball then moves central while the advanced playmaker pushed forward. This is exactly the reason I wanted the widemielder to cut inside for, allowing him to link up with the advanced playmaker.
This does mean that if the right sided wingback doesn’t push on then I lack width. This isn’t an issue here because he’s covering the oppositions left wide player. But later in the game or in tough games were sided are hard to break down then the lack of width might be a real issue because I’ll have no-one stretching the opposition. For this move though its okay because the advanced playmaker can feed a simple ball between the two centre backs and my striker is through on goal. My deep lying playmaker is also pushing up to support.
You’ll often see me mentioning in various threads that your tactic needs to have good movement between the lines and if you use a lone striker then he needs support from the midfield. I think the above shows this well and you can see the striker, deep lying playmaker and advanced playmaker have all made runs and are now in space when the move continues. The striker created his space by dropping deep, the advanced playmaker creates his space by pushing up and the deep lying playmaker has gone around his marker. Murphy who is my striker gets the ball from Baxter when its played into the path he’s running in and the keeper does a good save.
The next screenshot is me just randomly pausing the game to see how I line up in defensive situation;
The defender at the top of the screen looks like he’s actually lost the opposition’s players which is a worry. I’ve not watched the whole clip yet but this is what I’ll be looking out for during this move. The rest of the players positions seem good enough and there is no real threat it seems. I’m covering space well. The only real option the opposition have is to play the ball forward so their striker can run onto it.
The move actually comes to nothing and my players are actually running back to provide cover. The opposition doesn’t really have any options but to shoot or look to pass it backwards. I’m confident my side can deal with any kind of cross because the opposition doesn’t have anyone to really aim for.
The first goal I scored came from a corner and ended up being an own goal. However this is the second goal I scored;
The third goal I scored came from a goalkeeping error. So while I won the game 3-0 onegoal was an error and one was an own goal. So in this sense the 3-0 win seem flattering.
From watching the rest of the match it seems like it all played out like the examples above and I was never really troubled throughout the game. I had a sense from watching things what was wrong and possible stuff to look out for. So I’ll list them below;
Defenders too wide at times when the half back is caught in two minds or was caught out of position.
I might be pushing up too high at times but it wasn’t an issue in this game. However against a quickly team or a side who counterattack this might a risk.
The width on the left is fine because the wide midfielder on that side pushes a lot higher up than the one on the right side. But against more narrow teams or teams who park the bus I’ll need him to be more adventurous or I’ll have no width down the right.
Those are the only real issues I had from watching the game and I was pleased with how things seemed to work together. You also have to remember these issues might not occur against other formations and might be specific to playing against a 4-4-2. This is one of the reasons I always use a base tactic and work from that and any changes I make are due to what is happening in a game. You are being naive if you think your formation works the same against every single opposition. I believe this to be one of the reasons we see people post along the lines of ‘I won 3-0 to Man Utd away but lost 2-1 at home to Coventry’. It’s because people don’t really understand that each team will play different even if the shape is the same and if you don’t make minor changes you can be punished heavily.
I guess that’s it for this game though and I’ve learnt and analysed everything I can. WRONG……