There is a lot to cover and I don’t think covering every single match I played would be that beneficial to everyone. However what I will do is now focus on how and why the above setup works and then take a look at a lot of games and see how it played against certain types of formations, teams who are higher up the leagues than myself and also those games were the opposition sit back and defend. So we can see a wider spectrum of games and see how diverse this shape was over the season.
So I think first up we’ll take a look at a random match and just get a feel for how it plays out and have a look at what the roles are actually doing.
For those of you who’ve followed my other threads or on Twitter you’ll know that my bogey team on Football Manager is Colchester United. They cause me more issues than any other side and I’m never sure why. I always have a bogey team on every version of the game, on FM11 it was Spurs, FM12 was Avai, FM13 was Vitesse and now on FM14 I can add Colchester to the list. So the game against Colchester would make a good starting point, so here goes;
Those are the lineups that we both used. I know it also tells the result but that’s because I am looking back at the result rather than trying to document it in real time as that would have took far too long. So I made notes while playing and kept a note of what I changed and what not.
I tend to get a lot of PM’s or responses from people asking me what the best settings are for something. Now I don’t think like that as I don’t believe there are such things as best settings because its the context of the overall final product that matters. So when I don’t answer or reply with questions people assume I’m being an arse on purpose. I’m not. What I am trying to do is get people to think logically about stuff and getting someone to think differently isn’t something I can do. I can show them how I think and approach things but its down to them to make the change and be more open minded themselves. All I can do is show them how I do things, the rest is upto them. I’d never dream of telling someone they have to play a certain way. The user is responsible for that and its down to them to think about what’s the best way of achieving what they want. I will guide them as much as a I can but I do it by questioning someone’s thinking and asking them why they choose something. This is because its the best way for learning by asking questions and challenging someone’s thought process. That is always my aim.
You’ll see me mention logical choices quite a lot. Now to me this kind of thinking comes natural to me after spending a lot of time learning what something does/doesn’t do via trial and error. I don’t believe its something I can teach someone but by putting down my own thought process it might make people think differently and question their own reasonings. Let me give you an example of a little change I made for this game against Colchester. This came natural to me and just seemed like a logical sensible way of thinking;
Changes – For this game I removed play narrower shout and that was the only change made. The reason for this was as i stated above Colchester are my bogey team and I want to try and use the space between the IF’s and full backs that they have when I’m attacking. This will mean I occupy their full backs and keep them busy. If I’m narrow I could run the risk of being double up down the flanks if I lose the ball and hit with a quick counter. So to try and reduce this risk happening I felt a more normal width would be better suited. As a fullback with nothing to do defensively is a dangerous fullback when they break quickly as they’ll not be out of position or be being picked up.
It was that simple and very effective (something I’ll go into more detail about later), its not the big changes what win games and make the difference imo. It’s the smaller subtle changes that will have the biggest impact on the outcome. I try and take this approach with everything. Normally I only tend to make changes in games based on what is happening but just wanted to highlight this important bit above as I actually did this before the game this time as I already knew it would be an issue if I didn’t start the match in the correct way.
I hope that bit makes sense to you all, not sure how well its actually translated across
From those stats you can see that my wingbacks, Regista and the other two central midfielders saw quite a lot of the ball, as expected. And this is how the average position mapped looked like for this this;
On the face of it this looks very attacking due to the complete wing backs positioning high up the pitch close to the halfway line, which is what I want. Just because I want to play defensive doesn’t mean I have to be camped on the edge of my own box. There are various different types of defensive games you can play, it all depends on what it is exactly that you are wanting to achieve. For me its clean sheets and to win every single game. It might seem a bit weird to some that I claim to want to play defensive then use roles that can be deemed aggressive like a Regista, complete wingback but this can also help.
On the average positions map above I have seven players in my own half which means I am compact and deep in general. But it also means my midfield is almost a flat four with the two wing backs and both central midfielders making this flat four. Then I have the regista just behind them, so that’s a five man midfield in essence which will always be hard to break down regardless. And if we add the Treq dropping deep at times then I have a six man midfield.
If the complete wing backs weren’t positioned so high then the oppositions wide players would have a free run until they got closer to my 18 yard box, which will invite unnecessarily pressure. So I’d rather avoid that if possible and make it easier for myself.
This shows what I was speaking about above. You see how deep the Treq is and the numbers I had in midfield? In fact would you believe that the above resulted in an actual goal and it was finished off by the Treq? You can view the full move here;
There are actually a lot of things going on in this video. We can see the midfield six like I mentioned. You can see the deep runners from midfield. You can see us use the width of the pitch. The DLF dropping deep and linking up with the AF who stays in the gap between the defender. And you can see the complete wing backs bombing forward to provide extra support.
All of this can be seen in this screenshot take from the above clip;
Then we can see runners creating space and the support players using the space wisely in this next screenshot;
This is why myself and others can’t stress enough how important creating space is and having players who can use it and who run from deep positions. Space opens up and the oppositions always struggle to deal with later runners or players who use space intelligently.
That is just one aspect of one goal I scored. It doesn’t look very defensive when attacking does it?! Well that’s kind of the point. I could sit back and absorb 30 shots from the opposition in the hope we can sneak up the pitch and snatch one late on in the game. But the risk with this is that the players could buckle under the pressure early in the game and then the original plan needs to be changed as you’d be chasing the game. Or they could make a mistake which is just as costly, so why not just be solid when defending only and lethal when attacking? This is the defensive style I have created.