Football Manager 2016 is all about managing transitions.
Today on the forums, my attention was piqued by an issue people had with 2 man midfields, common in top heavy systems. The key to setting up any system is making sure the right areas are being covered and making sure enough players are involved in transitions.
There are several kinds of transitions, and these depend entirely on what you want to achieve, some people may want to have a transition that is quick and involves pacey strikers. This means that you need to have the right players making forward runs, more importantly you need the right ones in the right positions to make those telling passes to find them.
Too often I see people use the Ball Winning Midfielder. Using a BWM in a 2 man midfield is inefficient. First he has an enormous closing down area, and secondly, when he goes on his leg breaking runs, he leaves your defense exposed. This forces teams into funny shapes to compensate and then they lose any attacking flavour.
If those 2 in midfield can’t act as defensive pivots you are going to find it hard to release the 3 up front. In the first screenshot the opponents are going to defend transition to midfield. My 2 MCs are tracking back while the 4 in blue are taking up positions.
I like how my backline is set up, defenders are in good covering positions. In the second screenshot you can see the front strikers go to close an opposing player down.
The 2 MCs have not committed, so the team has not lost shape. They can easily control the middle if needed.
A few seconds later my entire team except for my striker have formed a tight bank to defend, our DLP has got the ball and is going to play the pass forward.
As the pass is played to the right (yellow line) the right AMR is making a run down the flanks while the rest are moving up to support. Note where my fullbacks are and where the AML/FW are. The 2 MCs are still in the shape they need to be.
A few seconds later you can see how quickly we have transitioned from defense to attack. When playing with a 2man midfield, the most important thing to be aware of is transitions. Managing these is the difference between a solid 4231 and a weak one. And in my honest opinion, the ball winning midfielder is just too one dimensional for a midfield that needs to be more than just about winning the ball.
So the next time you set up a system in Football Manager 2016, think first about transitions. Coming up in a few days will be a detailed video guide on this in my Attacking Special called the Dark Arts of Attacking Football on BusttheNet. So keep a lookout for it or follow me on twitter for the latest updates. (@Bustthenet)