This season Stafford have been using basically 2 formations, a 41221 and a 4312. I have decided to hold off on 442 formations since their physical attribute demands are so high. The logic in using both formations has been pretty basic.
The 4312 is one of the most dangerous formations in the game, its a fairly old formation and used to depend on an old fashioned AMC who would “carry” the ball around the box making room with his intelligent passes and creativity. In today’s modern game he can either take on a more restrained role which sees him with his back to the goal playing others in or he can be the old fashioned Gerrard.
I use a 4312 when I want to play narrow and exploit middles. This way I can lock down my fullbacks and decide whether or not they should go up and take part in attacks. The challenge of the 4312 has always been the huge gap that can potentially exist between the midfield players and the defenders. Having these 3 midfielders standing in a line is “a sin”, you need to make sure they all have different roles, thats the key to this formation. Having different roles will ensure different mentalities. The central player should be a central midfielder on defensive duty, and one should be an AP and another can be a B2BMC or an attacking MC. That sets those 3 up, what I typically do is to reduce the mentality of the central MC further and remove all HUB ball instructions, since the other two are better suited to it.
What teams have done in the past has also been to give one of the DCs a more attacking mentality, where one defender typically goes further up and is sometimes required to run with the ball and keep in touch with the central mc, there probably are distinct set ups like Limited Defender that you can choose, but I dont since I haver an MC dropping deep, I make sure that the defender whos set to a central defender has a mentality setting thats the same as the MC, and then I add RWB and mixed RFD. This gives me the settings that I want.
Personally, there aren’t enough passing/pressing down setups in the game to make me sit up and call it the solution of all tactical setups. The TC limits me too much in terms of my creativity. I want my attacking group to press strongly, so I have them all on max closing down, and tight marking. This makes me a dangerous side when I am in their half. Upfront I prefer having first one touch passing, so i set them to passing 1. Its a good setup for a team that wants to play it fast in the opponents half.
When I start games, I immediately set up these shouts: Exploit the Middle, Push up higher (Control), Stay on Feet. OI is set on hard tackling and tight marking for all crossers of the ball. Push up higher compresses playing area that makes my pack more dangerous to handle in the opponents half, exploit middle ensures that my fullbacks stay locked at the back. If I want more options, I just go to one fullback and set him to attacking, electing always to go to the side where the DC is not going up. My whole team is set to stay on feet, but those “players” targeted in OI will be tackled hard, which is ideal. This has proven to be an excellent choice, and a great tactic for sides that intend to push through the middle.
This formation has been covered fairly rigorously in this thread and in a fair number of threads on the forum. I elect to go to this formation when I am faced with an especially tough side. I have chosen to go with a 4312 against sides like the Mancs, but only after a lot of background work. If in doubt, the 41221 takes precedence.
The 41221 is a really solid deadly formation, since you have an AM and FB, you have the potential of playing both exploit the middle or go down the flanks. I NEVER use exploit the flanks, simply because it depends on pumping ball out from the back with direct passes, and since my team arent that good…The good thing about having a defensive trident in the DMC,DC.DC is that you can build your play out. I however remove HUB on my DMC, because I want him to move the ball up quickly and I also dont want him to hold onto the ball too long when he wins it.
In midfield once again, its a cardinal sin to have two players with the same role. Since the 3 midfielders will have differing mentalities from default, I rarely find the need to do anything apart from changing hold up ball. I pick an AP and a regular MC in midfield to support him. Upfront its an attacking DLF and 2 support IF.
This formation can be pretty rugged, and can sometimes struggle to score, since i lock down my fullbacks in case of emergency. It however has a lot of potential when you unlock the fullbacks giving you options. Almost all the instructions are default TC ones. The shouts I use are exactly the same, except I alternate between overlap and exploit for this one. OI instructions are also similar.
I will be uploading both tactics to my blog once I have time, but the threads won’t turn into what kind of player should I get help kinda things. Oh btw, Liverpool Burnley and Blackburn, just gave us 9 points are we are thankful for their generosity.