FM15 – Spatial Control and Adapting

So here we are its the year 2023, and honestly, there are few teams that actually match us in terms of pure ability, but there have been quite a few matches in FM15 where we have almost thrown away the 3 points.


This match stands out as an example, it finished 1-1, I narrowly escaped a defeat.  The stats seem to suggest that we had most of the ball, but we were lethargic, slow and wasteful. Surprising, coming from a team thats scored 100 goals between three players and its only March.

Arsenal lined up in a deceptively defensive 4141, so I resorted to my normal attacking stance, seeing that they appeared to be defensive, oh how this turned out to be a match of control.


By all accounts I reckoned they would be defensive relying on some overlapping play.


15 mins in and I keep playing offensively, I should have known better. I went back onto a counter strategy when I noticed how offensive they were. My players were continually tracking back, at this point I was willing to concede possession thinking that it would be the right thing to do.

I stopped paying attention to basics. we carved out our first chance on the 44th minute, for the first time this season we failed to register a SOG within the first 15 mins, by now several things were apparent: my passing completion numbers in defense were shocking, arsenal’s were brilliant. We were giving them too much time to build passes together. I had given them too much respect and had conceded the flanks.

Playing counter, but you need to make chances, and you also need to find a way to block their best outlets, Arsenal was having it too easy creating chances and were defending in numbers. I dropped off counter and started to play attacking once again. We needed to deny their defense easy passing outlets. Right on the stroke of half time we struck, fortuitously, Nathan once again coming to our rescue in the box. through a packed defense of 10 players.

I was chasing the goal, we got it, but at the restart I failed to counter a threat. Looking at their formation, I should have pulled my left back into a more defensive posture, Arsenal were obviously playing wide and we were narrow. Acres of space were gifts waiting for exploitation as I sound found out at the restart.


Either I should have gone back to counter or tell the CWB to switch to a FB(S), and, in both cases he had better be lightning fast. I failed to account for this and was appropriately punished.


The ball would find its way to the flanks, and the winger launched it to a gleeful pair of strikers who gobbled up the easy chance.

Spatial control is a vital aspect of any system we design. Playing with a narrow system I am well aware of the threats I face on the flanks, and I load my side up with players with good anticipation, workrate, pace and acceleration. However even the best of players will find it hard to get back into position if you give the opposition a running start, as we had done.

We need to pay attention to the parts of the pitch we are weakest at. And, this is vital to nail down. I love to overload my attacks, playing an attacking mentality with as many as 9 players charging into the opponents half, sometimes 10. While I’ve had astounding success with it, I’ve nearly escaped a few times, by reacting to obvious flaws late in the game. When looking for spatial control you need to stack your side up against the opposition. In this game, Arsenal played a 4141, astoundingly solid down the middle and notoriously wide. What should have I done instead?

Instead of going attacking using my bombing wingbacks I should have made them FB(S) and stacked them up with more defensively orientated players, at least on the flank which was most likely threatened, our left. I didn’t. I definitely couldn’t allow them the time and opportunity to build attacks patiently, so playing attacking and pressing was a good option. I could have used Opposition Instructions, but I have not been using them now for three seasons, next time around I need to pay better attention to the 2D screen.

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