I’ve wanted to avoid listing out details about tactics that I’ve been using, cause it inevitably leads to requests for detailed information, and then more requests on vetting other peoples selections, but this is for my own personal log more than anything else. One feature I plan to request from SI is a log that lists out how your team has done with specific systems you’ve created. At present there isn’t anything detailed like that, and it would be nice to have. At least it gives you a view on how your systems have fared.
I avoid detailed discussions of tactics till a final patch is released, and by now we should be expecting to see some stability in the game and its always a good time to reflect on whats still working.
As a manager I’ve played Barcelona, Liverpool, Atletico Madrid, Wolves, Sporting Lisbon and West Bromwich Albion. With WBA being my latest team, the tactics I’ve listed have really only been tested there. I don’t plan on firing up another save to do detailed tests as these are time consuming and they make FM feel more like a job than anything else, it was the prime reason why I stopped playing when 12 was released. Whilst my participation was limited, I just didn’t have the time to do blogs and detailed posts. Things have changed, I have a new wife who won’t be citing FM in another divorce case, or so I am hoping. Its still early days.
West Brom are a side that’s stuck in that zone between teasing with Europe and flirting with relegation. They aren’t bad enough to be chucked into the Championship, but they aren’t good enough to secure a champs league spot with ease. So managing them, required some defensive thinking, and that’s how my systems there began. This led me to the unique revelation that defensive systems in FM are now too good to pass up, even for top sides. The players come back too well into defensive shapes.
4132 – Mamba
I initially began with this system in Sporting Lisbon, in a league where we were one of the top sides, it wasn’t a really hard system. Defensive in nature featuring a halfback its prime creative inputs came from the attacking fullbacks and the central attacking midfielder. I opted for TQ and a F9 combination here because the TQ does drop a lot deeper than the F9 and can still play a defensive role, even though the descriptor says otherwise. The only downside to picking this up was his failure to tackle hard, and this proved to be a game breaker with inferior sides. When I went over to WBA, the system changed.
In our first season, I opted for a DLF instead of a TQ, the goal was simple, I needed him to do a lot of hard tackling, my system was based on winning the ball, and I had a single minded purpose of breaking play up in the opponents third. And, getting the DLF involved like that helped. The only downside to this was the absolute absence of any closing down, unless we were in the opponents final third.
This led to some major chances to the system: we increased closing down from the central mc and from the front two: close down much more. We also opted to go the direct route from the back, whilst the Sporting system had EVERYONE pass short, the one WBA played was a lot different : we created the “bypass midfield” game, where I got the fullbacks to play direct and take more risks. With the DLF and the F9 now closer to the midfield, this allowed us to ping balls directly via the flanks to those 2, creating a lot of chances. We had matches where we only had 5 shots on goal, but we would almost always score on the counter. It became a huge feature of WBA’ system.
In our third season, I made some more changes, largely due to personnel loss/gain. This time around, we are trying to increase the potency of the 4132 whilst maintaining some defensive stability. Its seen some changes: The left sided midfielder is now no longer a BBM, instead he’s now a central midfielder on support. Its a subtle change, but it gives me a slightly more forward MC, plus access to more Player Instructions.
At the back we still maintain the CWB combo, however this combo has now got personalised instructions, only players who can play the direct pass are allowed to play those heat seeker missiles. The whole goal now is to play defensive football, but its possession based and to a large part a more resilient system. When we are faced with a challenging flank attack, I tend to hold my CWBs back and give them more defensive instructions.
The inherent risks of the system remains, it plays well against any system deploying a 3 man backline and a 442, but its biggest challenge comes when its faced with a 4231 or a deep 4231. Both systems require me to tight mark the AMC, and force him back. The two MCs can’t be allowed into the game, so they need to be hard tackled out and we need to nullify the passing of the back four by having them closed down for the entirety of the game. Its hard, and it forces us out of our defensive shell, forcing us to play higher up the pitch. Its the one system you need to pay attention to. Failure to shut out the AMC will lead to a poor result.
The strengths of this system lie in the fullbacks. If you don’t have players with good pace, acceleration and crossing. Then this system will struggle. My fullbacks are the second most important group of assists. The first is actually the two strike pair, the F9 usually gets the most assists in the team. So you absolutely need to get the chemistry right, when you do, you will fall in love with the flying backs.
4312 – Samba
Another system which we played with regularly was the 4312, its a lot more offensive, and I am actually waiting for my 3 central midfielders to get a lot better attribute-wise before using this regularly. This is a system I plan to be using once my side gets a lot better. The whole goal is to score more. I feel confident that this system will see me pop 100+ goals a season easily.
It features a flank attack, with width provided by the 2 wingbacks, who have on occasion been switched back to FB. Midfield is the primary weakness of this formation, because of the gap between MC and Defense, it requires a high degree of concentration, work rate and anticipation to get things right. We usually play this system during our cup runs, and when I find teams locking up defensively. It will reduce your possession count, but it ups the shots count. The main attacking pivot is the DLP who plays alongside a defensive minded side midfielder. The reason is obvious enough: the flying wingback. Its a system thats worked, and will be the system we will be using soon.
41221 – Defiant
This was Sportings first system, in fact it was the source of our strikerless system, and its one of the systems I deploy when I feel like having fun. In one crazy league match, it scored 5 goals in its first 5 shots. We were 5 nil up inside 8 minutes. There is a lot of movement in this system, featuring 2 play makers, one deep and one on the left flank.
Its another defensive system, but it plays wide and has a lot of hard running in it. The F9 is critical to this system. If he’s on song he will bring in the RD and IF , and they will score loads. Another great assist generator is the RD on the left flank. Its a system thats served us well, and it has a lot of sentimental value.
442 – Diego
Now this was the Atletico system we created, and WBA have also used this system, with some slight changes. The Atletico system generated a higher possession percentage, we changed that by getting the back line to go a bit more direct, and the possession % dropped. However, for WBA I brought the possession numbers back by getting them to play short. The whole goal was got get chances to come from CM(A) and from WM(A). with the CWB also contributing a fair bit, thus replicating how Atletico does it.
This is still one of my favorite systems. One funny thing, WBA are now fluid in 4 tactics ;-), I am wondering if I can get that number up a lot more.
COMMON THEMES IN ALL SYSTEMS
Flying fullbacks –
To get these done right, you don’t need anything fancy, just make sure they have space to run. For more defensive counter attacking systems, I get them to do direct passing with more risks. If I want to be a bit more aggressive, I set them to hard tackling, but since patch 15.3, I have opted to use OI for this because of the higher incidence of cards
I do a high block for all systems, in every system where there is either an AM or strike pair, they are set to max closing down and hard tackling. So if I am playing with an MC(A) he gets close down max, along with any strike pair regardless of duty.
As far as shouts are concerned these are situational