Football Manager currently offers you a multitude of roles to choose from, gone are sliders so people need to adapt. When you start any game you are take to the tactical creator and once you’ve chosen the formation you want to play, you make decisions on roles and your team instructions.
The history of the tactical creator comes from all the templates that used to be put on the Sports Interactive forums, by posters who would set up unique styles of play which offered a multitude of roles that could only be set up via some detailed configurations of the sliders. For many it was a complicated process. The tactical creator in fact is a graphical user interface that makes it easier for people to get the same kind of utility but with less complication.
So we now have a variety of mentality settings and an option to set the shape (which I will simplify later). These broadly set your system up. Lets keep things simple. Mentality affects risk and shape affects how much creativity you want your side to have. Don’t try to bog your mind down and ask stuff like how many notches does that translate to, cos you’ll end up in a gurney.
As you shift mentality up you can elect to turn creativity down, so if you have an attacking setup and you can’t find the goals, just shift your shape up, more players get involved, there’s different passing variations, and you still maintain your risk posture. If you choose to use very fluid which is the extreme settings of shape, you run the risk of giving everyone too much freedom to do what they think they should.
This brings me to my next point. Shape is something you can afford to experiment with. Personally I like higher shape settings for poorer sides, since they are technically not so good, so I am encouraging them to try something different. For stronger sides I will elect to go more rigid since these sides are loaded with creative talent I don’t want everyone to play like Messi.
There is so much to master in FM, that its vital to keep things simple on this broader spectrum, because what I am about to list further, adds greater complexity to how you play so its important not to get too bogged down by something I consider trivial.
Since Mentality = Risk, it follows that you can have very attacking systems way the risk tolerance is so low it forces as many dots back to defend as possible. Hence, its possible as well to create defensive systems where the ball possession is high, at times this can be abnormally high.
When we use the TC, we are offered a whole bag of roles to choose from. At its most basic level we are asked to choose between, Auto, Defend, Support and Attack. I have never liked Auto, since it leaves the entire decision making process to the AI, when you are attacking, the Auto setting just encourages the dot to decide based on a variety of variables what action it should take. I just hate this. None of my systems have ever used auto, I stopped the moment the TC was introduced. For every system you have defend, support and attack. Each of these serves to modify the risk appetite further. Lets assume if the mentality scale was 1-6 with 1 being the most risk averse, and you had chosen Counter which is say 3 on the risk meter, then the players with defend will be slightly less than 3 and those on support would be 3 and those on attack would be higher than 3. Thats what these settings do, they slightly modify their risk appetite.
You can play with the basic roles on the tin, nothings going to stop you from having a decent game, but the AI is probably doing the same. So its an even game. This is how I kick the AI’s butt. We have the ability to offset a lot of these settings via Player Instructions and Player Preferred Moves. And this is what you need to do, to make things even more dynamic.
Lets use a very simple example. Say we are playing a 4312. When you set up the system as a defensive system, you could set it up with. 2 Fullbacks, 2 central defenders, say 2 B2BMC, 1 DLP and a DLF and an AF, thats pretty much a basic setup. The average player will then go to Team Instructions and choose his shouts.
- Short Passing
- Retain Possession
- Work ball into box
- Play ball out of defense
- Play Narrow
- Stay on Feet
Now these are all very basic, fine and dandy. You could play the game as is, and do ok. Here’s some advanced ideas kicking in:
- High Block
- Bypass Midfield
These are 2 shouts that are not in the game. And you can get these done easily via Player Instructions.
Looking at my 4312, I realise that whilst my midfielders are doing the basic stuff of winning the ball, I could launch deep attacks from my fullbacks, and I want them to bypass my midfield, in this case I go to my fullbacks Player Instructions and choose:
- Play more Direct
- Take more risk
To get the high block settings I go to my front two strikers and set them to :
- Tackle harder
- Close down much more
Player instructions allow you to create unique effects on your game and give you the option of creating more dynamism in your game, and is easily the best way of kicking the AI’s butt