31.8.10

Tactical Theorems 10 for FM10 Download

 

http://www.ziddu.com/download/11454998/download.pdf.html

 Version 5.0 – 30/10/09
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Tactical Theorems ’10 - A Comprehensive Tactical Design and Match Strategy Guide for Virtual Football Managers
Written by Richard Claydon (wwfan), Gareth Millward (Millie) and the Tactical Think Tank at FM-Britain.co.uk
Copyright © FM-Britain.co.uk and the individual authors, 2009.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, or transmitted in any form, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner.
Distributed in the English language by FM-Britain.co.uk.
No English language version of this guide is to be made available by any other website without the expressed permission of the copyright owners. If you have received this guide, in English, from any other source than FM-Britain.co.uk, please notify the authors. Translation requests should be sent to the FM-B site via translations@fm-britain.co.uk.
Foreign language versions of this guide are available through approved partners. Visit FM-Britain for the full list of completed and approved translations.
This version: 5.0, published 30 October 2009
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Contents
Foreword by Ov Collyer ............................................................................................. 6
Foreword by Richard Claydon ................................................................................ 6
CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION
History .............................................................................................................................. 8
Philosophy .................................................................................................................... 10
Scope ............................................................................................................................... 11
Limitations ................................................................................................................... 12
Links and further reading ...................................................................................... 13
Tactical Guides planned for FM10 ........................................................................................................................ 13
Further Resources ....................................................................................................................................................... 13
CHAPTER 2: HOW TO BUILD A TACTIC
Introduction to the new creator .......................................................................... 14
Choosing a Formation ................................................................................................................................................ 14
Philosophy ....................................................................................................................................................................... 14
Playing Style .................................................................................................................................................................... 15
Roles .................................................................................................................................................................................... 15
Duties.................................................................................................................................................................................. 16
Strategy ............................................................................................................................................................................. 17
Formations ................................................................................................................... 19
How formations are constructed .......................................................................................................................... 19
Common Formations .................................................................................................................................................. 20
Philosophies ................................................................................................................ 26
The Purpose of Philosophy ..................................................................................................................................... 26
Very Rigid ......................................................................................................................................................................... 26
Rigid .................................................................................................................................................................................... 27
Balanced ............................................................................................................................................................................ 27
Fluid .................................................................................................................................................................................... 28
Very Fluid ......................................................................................................................................................................... 29
Strategies ...................................................................................................................... 30
The definition of strategy ......................................................................................................................................... 30
Standard Strategies ..................................................................................................................................................... 30
Breakdown Strategies ................................................................................................................................................ 31
Extreme Strategies ...................................................................................................................................................... 32
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Playing Style ................................................................................................................ 33
Player Roles ................................................................................................................. 35
Goalkeeper (GK) ........................................................................................................................................................... 35
Sweeper (SW) ................................................................................................................................................................ 35
Defence Left/Right (DL/DR) .................................................................................................................................. 36
Defence Centre (DC) ................................................................................................................................................... 36
Defensive Midfield Left/Right (WBL/WBR) ................................................................................................... 37
Defensive Midfield Centre (DMC) ......................................................................................................................... 37
Midfield Left/Right (ML/MR) ................................................................................................................................ 38
Midfield Centre (MC) .................................................................................................................................................. 39
Attacking Midfield/Forward Left/Right (AML/AMR & FL/FR) ............................................................ 40
Attacking Midfield Centre (AMC) .......................................................................................................................... 41
Forward Centre (FC) .................................................................................................................................................. 43
Duties............................................................................................................................. 45
Assigning Duties ........................................................................................................................................................... 45
Balance............................................................................................................................................................................... 45
CHAPTER 3: ADAPTING DURING A MATCH
Opposition Instructions .......................................................................................... 48
Identifying a threat ...................................................................................................................................................... 48
Dealing with a threat .................................................................................................................................................. 48
Tight Marking ................................................................................................................................................................. 48
Closing Down .................................................................................................................................................................. 49
Tackling ............................................................................................................................................................................. 49
Show onto foot ............................................................................................................................................................... 50
Combinations ................................................................................................................................................................. 50
Touchline Instructions ............................................................................................ 51
Passing Length Modifiers .............................................................................................................................................. 51
Retain Possession......................................................................................................................................................... 51
Get Ball Forward ........................................................................................................................................................... 51
Try Through Ball Modifiers .......................................................................................................................................... 51
Pass Into Space .............................................................................................................................................................. 51
Pass To Feet .................................................................................................................................................................... 51
Passing Length and Direction Modifiers ................................................................................................................ 52
Pump Ball Into Box ...................................................................................................................................................... 52
Clear Ball To Flanks .................................................................................................................................................... 52
Long Shots Modifiers ....................................................................................................................................................... 52
Shoot On Sight ................................................................................................................................................................ 52
Work Ball Into Box ...................................................................................................................................................... 52
Pass Direction Modifiers................................................................................................................................................ 52
Exploit The Flanks ....................................................................................................................................................... 52
Exploit The Middle ...................................................................................................................................................... 53
Run Modifiers ...................................................................................................................................................................... 53
Look For Overlap .......................................................................................................................................................... 53
Take A Breather ............................................................................................................................................................ 53
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Width Modifiers ................................................................................................................................................................. 53
Play Wider........................................................................................................................................................................ 53
Play Narrower ................................................................................................................................................................ 53
Defensive Line Modifiers ............................................................................................................................................... 53
Push Higher Up .............................................................................................................................................................. 53
Drop Deeper .................................................................................................................................................................... 54
Closing Down Modifiers ................................................................................................................................................. 54
Hassle Opponents ........................................................................................................................................................ 54
Stand-Off Opponents .................................................................................................................................................. 54
Tackling Intensity Modifiers........................................................................................................................................ 54
Get Stuck In...................................................................................................................................................................... 54
Stay On Feet .................................................................................................................................................................... 54
Extreme Shouts .................................................................................................................................................................. 54
Play Even Safer .............................................................................................................................................................. 54
Take More Risks............................................................................................................................................................ 54
Using Match Stats ....................................................................................................... 55
Not enough shots on target/clear cut chances created ............................................................................. 55
Too many shots conceded ....................................................................................................................................... 56
Not enough possession.............................................................................................................................................. 56
Too many yellow cards ............................................................................................................................................. 57
The Analysis Page ...................................................................................................... 59
Shots.................................................................................................................................................................................... 59
Passes ................................................................................................................................................................................. 59
Tackles, Fouls and Interceptions .......................................................................................................................... 60
Crosses and headers ................................................................................................................................................... 60
Conclusion .................................................................................................................... 61
Credits ............................................................................................................................ 62
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Foreword by Ov Collyer
When I was first shown the work done by Richard, Gareth and co. in previous incarnations of TT&F it was immediately obvious that here was a group of guys who were genuinely passionate and knowledgeable about both football in general and Football Manager and its community in particular.
It was clear to me that there was great scope for us to work with them in producing something that would help many more people get more out of our games and we also believe such a collaboration fits with SI's roots of being close to the community who play our games.
So fired by our collective enthusiasms we set about achieving our goals.
The Tactics Creator and Touchline Instructions in both FM10 and FML are the result of many hours of work and hundreds of emails as we took what was initially a rough idea for a 'Wizard' provided by Richard and hammered it into shape both under-the-hood and on-the-screen to become something that we feel is intuitive, fun and effective for those using it.
My hopes now that the system is out there is that the great tactical debates in the FM community can now encompass even more people - people who perhaps found the 'Classic' tactical interface a little overwhelming - and become as much about "who should I play in this role?", or "when should I shout this to my team?" as about "which slider position should I use to achieve this?"
With this in mind, it is with great pleasure that I introduce you to Tactical Theorems '10 as the perfect starting point for this debate.
Ov Collyer, Sports Interactive
Foreword by Richard Claydon
It’s an interesting feeling writing a foreword to Tactical Theorems, rather than producing the content, but one I might have to get used to.
As some of you might know, TT&F 09 was used as a springboard for the redevelopment of tactical conceptualisations within the FM and FML. My relative lack of contribution to tactical discussions on official or fan forums over the last 12 months has been due to regular communication on tactical ideas and concepts with Ov and Paul as part of the development strategy for FM10’s tactical creator. This process has been exciting and challenging, transforming TT&F’s theories into a far more sophisticated set of tools, strategies and descriptions than we had imagined possible at the beginning of the process. The collation of forum ideas that underpinned TT&F was expanded via contributions from many sources, including forum mods, FML players, Dream Team Beta testers, SI employees and others too numerous to mention. One thing that remained constant throughout the process was the enthusiasm and positive feedback for the changes we made from nearly all corners of the FM universe. Before I go on, I’d like to express my thanks to everybody who contributed theoretically or motivationally, as these ideas and attitudes made the whole process consistently enjoyable.
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All creative tasks are unavoidably imbued with a sense of tragic irony, and so it has been with the creator. The first irony I have had to deal with is one that besets all creative development, which is the tension that unites destruction and creation. Although the release of the creator comes accompanied by feelings of pride and satisfaction, it is impossible not to feel frustrated at tasks left undone. Every new stage of creator sophistication we achieve leads us towards more areas we wish to improve, with development being a constant battle between time and ideas. The satisfaction accompanying the release of the tactical creator is already being replaced by a desire to push it further and faster, and you can be assured that the project will be ongoing. Simply put, we hope you like what we have made, but will work towards making future creators increasingly more sophisticated, realistic and, most importantly, fun
Although I expected to feel this ironic tension, the second irony of not contributing to TT&F was unexpected. Despite becoming more collaborative with each version, TT&F has been my baby, a document which cemented my forum identity. It is an interpretive work, requiring detachment and distance from the developmental ideas of the creators. However, being part of the creative process, I can no longer be interpretive. There is an unavoidable gap between the creator of tools and those who master them, with the latter eventually achieving greater sophistication than the creator anticipated. A non-hubristic creator will then attempt to improve his tools by communicating with those that have mastered them. Once that communication draws the master of the tools into the domain of the creator, the detached interpretive ability that facilitated the mastery is lost and he must rely on others to fulfil that function.
Because I have been involved with the creator from its inception to its release, I am too close to its concepts to offer a viable or useful interpretation. I have biases towards certain philosophies, adjustments and shouts that I am unable to overcome, because, from my perspective, their conceptual elegance is seductive. They produce the kind of virtual football I envisioned they would and I have become over-attached to them. This over-attachment makes it impossible for me to offer an unbiased overview of the system, or a detached enough interpretive eye to evaluate how other systems of play could provide different, better solutions to match situations. The authors of Tactical Theorems 10 are able to elevate to this detached position and provide a richer interpretation of the creator than I could begin to achieve. Their work simultaneously teaches me how to better play FM and inspires ideas on how the creator might be further improved. It’s a pleasure to recommend this document to anybody wishing to learn the intricacies of strategic tactical play in FM2010 and a delight to know that the future of Tactical Theorems is in such capable hands.
Richard Claydon (wwfan)
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Introduction
History
Football is not about players, or at least not just about players; it is about shape and about space and about intelligent deployment of players, and their movements within that deployment. Heart, soul, effort, desire, strength, power, speed, passion and skill all play their parts, but, for all that, there is also a theoretical dimension.
Jonathan Wilson, Inverting the Pyramid, 2008
When Tactical Theorems and Frameworks first appeared for Football Manager 2006, it was in response to the perceived failings in Sports Interactive’s match engine. Through experimentation and, frankly, too much spare time on his hands, Richard Claydon wrote down what was to become the basis of the next three iterations of TT&F, culminating in the new tactical interface which we now see in Football Manager Live and Football Manager 10.
The frameworks it set out were designed to allow people to build simple yet stable tactics to cover most eventualities in a football match. The theorems dictated when these plans should be put into action. When one should counter attack, when one should defend; and perhaps more importantly why. Yet, with the new tactical interface there is no longer a need for such frameworks to be outlined in a 50-plus-page überdocument. And frankly, that’s the way it should be.
But there remains a need to explain the tactical system available. This does not just mean the nuts-and-bolts manual guide to what each drop-down menu can do for you, or how to switch formations. It means trying to explain the basics of football management, how to respond to in-match situations and learning to read a match using the tools the game has provided.
Tactical Theorems 10 is therefore a real break from previous versions of this guide from FM-Britain. It will concentrate on explaining the thinking behind the new tactical system, how this is interpreted via the match engine, and how to use this knowledge to adapt to the new dynamism which should, hopefully, be present in these new games.
Ironically, perhaps, this has resulted in an even longer document. But given that the frameworks are handled more effectively by the tactical interface, we have been freed to explore the theoretical components of Football Manager in much more depth.
We appreciate not everyone will agree with these interpretations. Football’s beauty lies in its subjectivity; the arguments, the passion, and the fact that there is no “right” way to play. Bolton Wanderers trying to grind out a 0-0 draw on a cold Tuesday night on Teeside is just as legitimate as watching a sublime Argentina side knock six past Serbia on a warm summer’s day in Gelsenkirchen. We also appreciate that some people would rather do battle with “the game” as coded by Sports Interactive; who would rather use the sliders and check boxes to create a tactic which requires little to no tweaking in
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order to achieve the best results. This is perfectly legitimate. But for those who would rather play a game like this need read no further. Tactical Theorems is a guide on how to manage a football simulation, designed to mimic the tactics and the role of a real life manager in as “realistic” a way as possible; not to learn how to code a computer game to achieve the best possible results.
Variety is the spice of life. As a disclaimer we should note that this guide was originally written by an Englishman from the Home Counties, and many of the contributors over the years have hailed from similarly British climbs. Yet, this guide has been helped by input from Germany, Sweden, Australia, Bulgaria, the United States and the many, many responses we have got over the years from the Sports Interactive and FM-Britain forums. We may well lapse into our Anglocentric ways at times, but we have made every attempt to map out our interpretations of “foreign” styles to help users not only recreate the form and substance of their choosing, but also to get that form to win football matches.
We welcome feedback from all quarters. Such is the nature of a predominantly theoretical text, there are bound to be conflicts, inaccuracies, and plain falsehoods. We do hope, however, that as Sports Interactive get closer and closer to replicating real life football, this guide too will evolve to concentrate solely on footballing matters rather than explaining “gamey” concepts. When that happens, Tactical Theorems will become a living document updated and amended as needed rather than a document which needs to be revised annually and published as a yearly event. Hopefully that time will come sooner rather than later.
Gareth Millward and Richard Claydon, October 2009
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Philosophy
There are five important definitions and beliefs which underlie TT.
Definition of Formation: A formation is the basic framework deciding the position on each player, i.e. a 4-4-2 has four defenders, four midfielders and two attackers. Likewise a 4-1-3-2 has four defenders, one defensive midfielder, three more attacking midfielders, two strikers.
Definition of Tactics: Tactics operate within the formation framework. A 4-4-2 at home will differ from a 4-4-2 away. In a home tactic, the wingers may hug the touchline, support the attackers and be given a fair degree of creative freedom. In an away tactic, they may be asked to tuck in, support the full backs and be ready for quick breaks, with the rewards outweighing the risks. Tactics are the style to the formation’s shape: as such, a 4-4-2 can be the name for thousands of different tactics.
Football Manager Tactics: When designing tactics, any changes to role, duty, formation, or even manually adjusting any of the sliders alters the team’s instructions. When we discuss tactical instructions, we will talk about them in the context of a single, unspecified formation.
Changing Tactics: No team ever goes through a match without some switches in tactical strategy. The extent to which these changes work defines the outcome of a match. Such tactical changes in real life may happen without the influence of the coach, as players react intuitively to a different approach made by the opposition. However, such “initiative” on the part of the players can succeed or can fail spectacularly. At this point, both real and the virtual managers are challenged to give new tactical instructions. In game, players will not be able to do this on their own to the same extent as the top professionals can in real life; so here the virtual manager may have to be more alert. In-game decision making is vital to TT theory, and to be successful you will need to learn how and when to apply each tactical change.
The Successful Manager: Teams and managers are generally successful due to a combination of four things: good tactical management; good man-management; good transfer policy; availability of and good management of funds. Failure to manage any of the above is likely to lead to a season(s) of poor performance and disillusionment. It may be possible, particularly at lower levels, to succeed with slightly inferior players or with less attention to tactical detail, but to reach the pinnacle of the sport you will need to manage all four. We will assume that you are capable of managing transfers and recognising good players in relation to your level (or are capable of researching such topics), so we will not elaborate on these aspects here. Suffice to say, if you have the right calibre of players for your level our tactical theory should put you on the path to success. However, if you do not have a high enough standard of player you will struggle; it is possible to survive with poor players, but it will be an uphill battle. We cannot promise miracles, just good tactical design.
For help with these other extra-tactical aspects of the game, visit the forums at FM-Britain and SI Games.
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Scope
Unlike previous versions of the guide, TT10 will not cover slider “frameworks”, nor will it attempt to fully analyse the way that tactics are composed using the advanced or “classic” tactical system. We have completely re-written Tactical Theorems for the second time in two years not because we think the philosophy behind it has been superseded but because we feel we now have more room to elaborate on that philosophy. Now that Football Manager 10 can create the frameworks for us, we believe it is more important to teach people how to conceptualise football tactics using this new system and using real-world football terminology. The frameworks will, however, be covered in future Tactical Bible and Tactical Frameworks 10 articles. TT10 will therefore concentrate on the following:
Manager Style: distinct managerial styles require distinct managerial philosophies. While these philosophies are, to an extent, catered for using the “philosophy” settings, there are many other contributing factors including football culture, climate, standard of players, level of competition, importance of result, and, ultimately personal preference. We will try to help these different styles flourish by outlining the basic facets of different styles and how they can be effected in-game.
Match Strategies: Choosing the correct strategy at the correct time is vital to good football management. This is probably the most important macro-tool in the new tactical arsenal.
Formation Theories: 4-4-2, 4-5-1 and 3-5-2 are meaningless terms without the theoretical information to back them up. We will look at how formations are constructed, why they have developed in the modern game and what their pros and cons are in relation to performance, style and player abilities.
Player Role Theory: Player roles are important to giving shape and structure to formations beyond the basic positioning of players on the field. They also help add colour to different strategies within the same formation. TT10 will explore how they are used by the new interface and how best to use them in your tactics.
Individual Position Theories: TT10 explains what each of the player roles in FM10 means and how to get the most out of each player. In conjunction with duties and formation, these are the key building blocks to creating your team’s style.
Choosing Your Pitch Size: Key to getting the most of your players is ensuring they play on a suitable ground. Though it may seem trivial, both choosing a suitable pitch to play on at home and adapting to different conditions away can be a significant contributor to good results.
“Shouts”: These are the most dynamic and revolutionary instructions in the new creator, and proper use of these “shouts” can make the world of difference to your team’s performance. TT10 will explore how the touchline instructions can help turn a match in your favour by plugging holes in your own strategy and exploiting the weaknesses of the opposition.
Opposition Instructions: OIs can be vital in combating formations which do not exactly mirror your own, as well as to counter particularly troublesome opposition players. We
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will attempt to cover the basics as to when to employ them in a match and the positives and negatives of each instruction.
Reading the Match Engine: Throughout, our concern will be about trying to teach players how to better read the changes that go on during a match so that they can better use shouts and instructions; change strategies; combat opposition changes; realise the weaknesses in both their own and their opponent’s systems; and ultimately win football matches.
Football Manager Live: TT10 is a guide for Football Manager 10 first and foremost. However, its discussions of how the new system works, tactical theory and match engine reading should be of great use to FML managers – though obviously this guide is based around combating FM10’s artificial intelligence rather than other human players.
Limitations
There are a number of concepts that TT10 will not cover, but are directly or indirectly related to tactical performance. These include:
Manager Reputation: Managers with low reputation will find it difficult to attract good players to the club and players left over from the previous regime will pay less attention to your instructions until you prove yourself.
Squad Gelling: Too many signings in too short a space of time will disrupt squad harmony and affect how well they play as a team. Further, individual players from different footballing cultures take longer to settle in to your tactical master plan than others. Playing conservatively with unsettled squads is advisable to start with until they get to know each other. Also it is best to not be too hard or too expectant of new players until they feel more at home at the club. Given time, the team will become more capable of playing expansive football.
Man and Media Management: Morale has a big effect on match day performance. If your skills in this area are poor, you will not maintain morale, annoy the fans and the board and lose games. Learn how to deal with your players through team talks and the media in order to keep them motivated for each match.
Transfer and Financial Strategies: A club that overspends or builds overly large squads will foster unhappiness. Likewise, a club with no ambition in the market will fail to capture the players necessary to achieve success. Focussing on logical targets that will fit your game plan and wage budgets will ensure that squad harmony is maintained and keep the side playing efficiently.
Training Programmes: To keep the side fit as well as technically sharp you will need well planned training regimes. Training useful Player Preferred Moves, retraining players into key positions and training skills which are most suited to your tactical style will help boost performances on the field.
Set Pieces: We think logical set piece instructions should work fine. Experimentation is the key. We can’t spoon feed you everything! Future Tactical Bible articles will cover this important tactical element in more depth.
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Links and further reading
The Tactical Think Tank at FM-Britain will continue to update TT10 periodically as new information is researched and feedback comes back from our readers. Much like the infamous Sports Interactive “patches” for its games, TT10 will provide more and updated content for the main document, the appendix and related tactical guides. You can find all the latest updates at FM-Britain.co.uk. Alternatively, if you sign up to our mailing list, we will automatically e-mail you the latest versions of the guide and any other tactical guides we publish.
Tactical Guides planned for FM10
Communication and Psychological Warfare: With the return of Matt “The next Diaby” vom Brocke to the Think Tank team, FM-B will be publishing CPW in a new updated format. CPW was the ultimate guide for FM08 squad management and will be refined to cope with the new features of the game. Work has already begun, and we expect the first full version to be out in the new year.
Tactical Frameworks ’10: To supplement Tactical Theorems, FM-B will be publishing the Frameworks at a later date to complete the Tactical Theorems & Frameworks family. This will deal more specifically with the mechanics of the tactical interface and look at the construction of the sliders “under the hood”. Periodically we will release sections of this into the Tactical Bible, and eventually we will collate them into a PDF to be sent out alongside the latest version of TT10.
The Tactical Bible: We will also be reviewing the Tactical Bible which has not had a rewrite since FM08. Periodically, we will release new articles which will be available through the FM-Britain home page as well as the FM-Britain forums. Comments on the forums are directly used to formulate new articles and amend existing ones. Our dedicated team will continue to produce content throughout the year, and produce new drafts as and when new information comes to light.
Anyone interested in joining the Tactical Think Tank and working on these projects should get in touch with the staff at thinktank@fm-britain.co.uk.
Further Resources
The Sports Interactive Forums (SIG) – http://community.sigames.com
The FM-Britain Forums (FM-B) – http://forums.fm-britain.co.uk
FM-B Tactical Bible - http://forums.fm-britain.co.uk/index.php?board=42.0
Tactics at GameWorldOne.com - http://www.gameworldone.com/category/tactics/
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How to build a tactic
Introduction to the new creator
Brand new to Football Manager 2010 is the tactics creator. Whilst this does not replace the “classic” sliders from previous versions of Football Manager, it does provide a cleaner and more intuitive tactics system based on real-world football terminology.
The creator acts as a new, easy-to-use interface, but all of its instructions use the old slider system. So, every time you make changes in the creator, the sliders “underneath” the interface will change according to your instructions. What makes the new creator useful is that with one or two clicks you can make changes which would have required many different slider changes in FM09 and its preceding titles.
To begin this chapter, we will briefly go through the key elements of the new creator and how to use each of the options. Then, later on in the guide, we will provide more theoretical background behind each of the concepts the creator employs.
Choosing a Formation
The starting point of any tactic is designating the placement of players on the field in a formation. Traditionally these are quoted in a “defenders-midfielders-attackers” format. So, for example, the “4-4-2” formation has four defenders, four midfielders and two attackers. Some are a little more complex than that, but will tend to quote the positioning of players in bands up the pitch. So, the 4-2-3-1 has four defenders; two more-defensive midfielders; three more-attacking midfielders placed higher up the pitch; and finally one attacker. This is basic football terminology that most of you will know, but it is an important concept which needs to be understood. In later, more complex discussions about formation theory it will become clear that these names are rather limited.
Choosing a formation is relatively straight forward, but it’s good to think of how your squad is made up and what their strengths are. For example, if you only have one good central midfielder, is a formation that uses three central midfielders really a good idea? Either you will need to change your tactical plan or will need to use the transfer market to supplement the squad with the required playing staff.
The creator has most of the world’s most common formations already in its database. If you want to use something more complex then you can drag players around on the pitch diagram to suit your needs.
Philosophy
Philosophy is a key component of tactics in the tactics creator. It decides how the team attacks and defends and how your players behave relatively to one another. Whilst this might be a difficult concept to fully grasp at first, things become clearer once you see the available options and experiment with them in-game.
In the previous incarnation of Football Manager, teams were only set up using sliders. Those sliders are still there in the background. One of those sliders, mentality, decides
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how attacking players are and roughly how they position themselves on the pitch. In many tactics, managers would have set up their players so that their individual mentalities were spaced out to set the team's shape; but not so much of a gap that the players are too far apart and cannot communicate with each other. In other tactics, teams may have favoured a more fluid system where most, if not all, of the players had the same mentality (sometimes referred to as a “global” system).
The philosophies in the tactics creator decide how big those gaps are, how strictly you define the roles of “defender”, “midfielder”, “attacker”, and so on. Rigid philosophies tell the players to stick to their role and their position. Fluid philosophies allow defenders to join the attack and also encourage the forwards to track back.
Simply, rigid philosophies can work well with weaker players with low mental attributes, whereas players with great creativity, positioning and decision making skills may well thrive in the more loosely constructed tactic. That is a simplification, and good tacticians will quickly work out what works best for them. Experiment, and see what gets the most from your squad.
Playing Style
Formation and philosophy, of course, only say so much about a tactic. What can really define one formation from another is the style of football they play.
The creator in FM10 allows the following modifications to be made to the team’s style of play. Each of them has an effect on the team and individual instructions:
 Passing Style
 Creative Freedom
 Closing Down
 Tackling
 Marking
 Crossing
 Roaming
These options have three settings which effectively equate to “shorter/less/lower”, “default” and “longer/more/higher”. Experiment to see which settings suit your team, your formation and your own personal preferences. Bear in mind, however, that different strategies, touchline instructions, duties and roles may change these style parameters. For example, more attacking strategies will automatically employ more creative freedom. Be aware of how instructions interact in order to judge how to most effectively change your style of play.
Roles
Roles are dependent on positions. For instance, you cannot play a full back in the FC position. You can, however, have a variety of different types of player who play in the MC position. Roles allow you to dictate what you want your player to do, and as part of a general team tactic can mould your side and style of play.
Full backs provide an excellent example of this. A full back is a defender who plays in the DR or DL position. He concentrates mainly on defence, but will support the winger when
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asked. An attacking full back can play in exactly the same position. He concentrates more on supporting the wingers and putting in crosses. A wing back acts even more like a winger. So, while all these men might play the same DR position, they are playing in different roles.
The creator has many such roles which you can assign to different players on the pitch. For instance, as the AC Milan manager playing with Andrea Pirlo, one might decide to play him in the DMCc position with the role of “deep-lying playmaker”. This is because you may want him to sit deep and play balls to the wingers and forwards. You could also play him as a defensive midfielder to cover the defensive line and make lots of tackles. However because of Pirlo’s lack of height and size, it might be better for him to play with the ball at his feet rather than try to play the hard man. Genaro Gattuso on the other hand, might do things a little differently.
Experimentation is the best way to work out which of your players will perform best in certain roles. The game can help in this regard by highlighting the key attributes for each position when making your tactical selections. The section in this guide on roles will also describe them in more detail and outline which players perform best in certain situations.
Equal to the importance of choosing a philosophy, choosing roles (and duties) will define your style as a coach and the balance within your team. Defining roles will have a massive influence on how your tactics will connect or fail. In this regard, you are making similar choices to the ones a 'real' coach has to make. How many times do we have to ask whether Lampard and Gerrard can play together? Roles are the tools to answer this conundrum.
This is the essence and spice of creating tactics, and most likely it will determine your success as a manager. If you are not sure which way to go, rely on the default selections made by the creator until you gain the experience and the confidence to make more complex decisions.
Duties
Essentially, duties control whether the player is more concerned with attacking, defending, or supporting the attack and defence in equal measure. Based on your strategy, the game will automatically choose the appropriate amount of “defenders”, “attackers” and support players. Attacking tactics, naturally, have more attackers.
Finding the right balance for the right tactics and in-match tactical situations will determine your success as a coach. Duties are also crucial in adding more flexibility to a formation.
One of the common misconceptions is that all defenders must defend, all attackers must attack and all midfielders must support. This is not the case. Or, at least, you could try doing this, but the team would play in three separate units, not communicating well with one another and finding it difficult to play anywhere but in isolated bands.
Mixing duties means that the team play more evenly around the pitch, can move the ball from one stratum to the next, and, crucially, can cover and support attacks whilst being able to defend in a co-ordinated way. Lone forwards, for example, will usually be given a
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support role (instead of the “attack” role that you might expect a forward to use) because if they didn’t they would remain isolated. By dropping back a little bit they can use midfielders to help them if they get into trouble, whilst still being able to play on the shoulder of the defenders and nip forward to receive through balls and crosses.
Similarly, having a midfielder in the defensive role helps out the defence when they need cover. Attacking full backs can aid attacks in more offensive strategies. And support players dotted around the pitch provide better cover and more options for the attackers when they run out of passing targets going forward.
Duties can be affected by match strategy (more on this later). Getting the right blend of duties is very important. As far as possible, the strategy choices you make may override some of the duties you have set. If you disagree, then you can go back later and switch the duties back. Some players may be given an “automatic” duty, which will change relative to how attacking the team’s strategy is.
Even if the advanced instructions (slider settings) players get given based on their duty look odd compared to the way you used to play before FM10, it is best to give them a try before you think the system is “broken”. The roles and duties have been specifically designed to interact with FM10s match engine and are more likely to produce natural and logical results than you might think at first glance.
Strategy
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we have strategy. Strategy determines the broad outlook of the team and its general shape.
Sometimes, you will want to attack the opposition hard to get a goal. Other times you will want to desperately keep the ball out of your own net. This is one of the most basic of tactical decisions to make, but perhaps one of the most difficult. Do you go for that second goal and risk conceding the equaliser, or sit on your lead and hope the opposition don’t break you down? Or do you do something in between?
The creator has seven strategies to choose from, each of which affect how attacking the team will be, the duties of the players on the pitch, and, to a certain extent, aspects such as width, defensive line, creative freedom and tempo. Roughly, the more defensive you are the deeper, narrower, less creative and slower the team play; and vice-versa for attacking strategies. However, this is just a very rough guide, and by using other instructions, shouts and players you can play with other effects than just these bog-standard strategies.
You can split strategies into 3 rough categories. First, we have the “standard” strategies: defensive, standard and attacking. These are not too complicated and simply direct the team to hang back a bit more and be more cautious, to go forward and try to cause the opposition problems or to go somewhere in between.
Second, we have the “breakdown” strategies: counter and control. Counter looks to sit back a little more than the standard strategy and hit opponents on the break as they push forward into the space you leave them. This can give you counter attacking opportunities against sides that are coming on to you, providing clear chances to score. Control looks to attack a little more, but does so by holding onto the ball and drawing
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the frustrated opposition out of their own half: rather useful against sides who “park the bus”, since you can control possession and force them to press further up the pitch, leaving gaps which you can then exploit.
Third, and finally, we have the “extreme” strategies of overload and contain. Overload looks to throw caution to the wind and push many players forward in order to overload the opposition’s defence with waves of attacks. Contain looks to flood your defensive area with bodies to keep the ball away from your goal, but does not care if the team don’t attack: safety first is the key.
Choosing the correct strategy at the correct time can make or break a side. It is dependent on the relative skill levels of the two teams, the score line and how long there is left in the game. We will return to this topic in-depth later, as it really can be the thing that clinches those tight games.
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Formations
How formations are constructed
Each team plays with its players arranged into a certain basic shape. Some players are positioned further back as defenders, some play in the middle of the field as midfielders and others are positioned high up as forwards.
Formations are split into rows or strata. They read, from back to front: sweeper; defenders; defensive midfielders/wing backs; midfielders; attacking midfielders; and forwards.
Thus, a 4-4-2 has four defenders, four midfielders and two forwards.
The diagram shows all the available positions in Football Manager 10 where the user can place their players. The only positions we have neglected are the “SW” positions on the wings – we consider it completely unrealistic that a team would play with “wing sweepers” or with more than one sweeper in the centre. Our research is yet to unearth a tactic which has used them either past or present.
Choosing a Formation. On the whole, the best formation is the one which allows you to play your best players where they can do the most damage to the opposition. However, the team must still retain some defensive shape, have enough players in midfield to aid the transition from defence to attack, and enough forward players to be potent in attack. Otherwise, Real Madrid might play a 2-3-5! The very best formations find a balance of positions and duties which allow both the team and its individuals to perform to their optimum.
The Duty of Duties: Duties modify how a player will act in their position in the formation. They come in three flavours: defend, support and attack. Defensive players drop deep, look to keep defensive shape, and concentrate on covering positions on the pitch to help thwart the opposition’s attacks. Support players play slightly further up the field. Their job is to help out the attackers by playing slightly behind them and offering them passing options, as well as playing quality balls through to them. The attackers are told to run furthest up the pitch looking to create space and grab assists and goals.
The Role of Roles: Beyond the simple positions on the pitch, different players with different instructions will play very differently. A DR for instance can play as a defensive player with the role of “full back” – this will mean he will focus more on defence and playing the ball out of trouble. Alternatively, he could be an attacking “wing back”, encouraged to dribble, run forward and help the attack with crosses from deep. Thus, when we talk about “formation”, we will speak in terms of positions (DMC, FC, etc.): however, when talking about styles and strategies we will speak in terms of roles and duties (defensive holding midfielder, attacking poacher, etc.).
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If you decide to build a new tactic or second tactic around a new formation, choosing roles and assigning duties will become the most important step for turning a formation into a working tactic. If you are inexperienced, you should rely on the automatic choices made by the creator and fine tune later depending on your needs, performance and style.
Flexible Formations without Arrows: The upshot of these role and duty decisions is that the overall shape of the side is a much more nuanced version of the specified rigid formation. Now that arrows have been completely removed from the tactics creator this is an important issue to be aware of.
For instance, the classic effect of playing a winger in the AMR position with a diagonal arrow to FC can be achieved by giving the player an inside forward role with an attack duty. A DMC with a backwards arrow can be achieved by playing said DMC with a defend duty. The descriptions of the roles will show whether there is a tendency to drift wide or cut inside (sideways arrows), and a mixture of role and duty will show the tendency for a player to surge forward or hold back (forwards and backwards arrows).
Finally, the creator will allow managers to get the effects they believe they may have lost after Football Manager 2008.
Common Formations
In Northern Europe especially, three formations have become common in modern football (since the 1970s). They are the 4-4-2, the 4-5-1 and the 4-3-3. These are not the only ways to play by any means, but many squads will come equipped to play these common formations. Other countries’ styles as well as some famous tactics are outlined in the appendix. These have been contributed by the main authors of TT10, as well as fans of the game through the forums at SI Games and FM-Britain.
The 4-4-2: Once the standard British formation, the 4-4-2 has given way in recent years in the Premier League to a 4-5-1. However, it remains popular in most other divisions, and is one of the most balanced and versatile formations. The four midfielders help patrol the centre of the pitch, while the four defenders can cover most eventualities in defence. With two forwards, it also has more potential for scoring goals than the 4-5-1.
Because of the placement of players, the flat 4-4-2 as shown in the diagram can be modified according to personal preference and the demands of individual matches. It can be made more defensive by dragging the MCs back to DMC. Or a bridge can be made between attack and midfield by dragging a FC back to AMC and playing him as an advanced playmaker. The MR and ML could be pushed on as wingers or inside forwards at AML/R, or even, if times get tough (or you just love all-out-attack), pushed on as wing forwards at FL/R. Not to mention the box midfield (two DMCs and two MCs), the “diamond” (a DMC and an AMC), or the narrow diamond (a DMC, two MCs and an AMC). There are
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many, many configurations which can be played with largely the same playing staff: though the change in style can be dramatic.
4-4-2 lends itself equally well defensive or attacking tactics and is very easy to build a good squad for, since all of the positions are pretty “standard” in every country in the world.
The 4-4-2 is based very heavily on partnerships: the partnership between the two centre backs; between the full backs and the wingers; between the two central midfielders; between the two strikers; and the interaction of each of these partnerships on each other.
Typically, the two centre backs will have the job of covering the two most attacking central players of the opposing team. One may be tall and strong; the other better at marking and tracking quicker opposition strikers. However this partnership is constructed, both need to be aware of each other and work as a team. Good teamwork, marking and anticipation stats are therefore desirable, as they are for any formation using a traditional “back four”.
The full backs and the wingers need to be deployed in such a way as to encourage the use of width throughout the team and provide penetrative wide runs and crosses; whilst at the same time providing enough cover against wing-based counter attacks. Some managers may choose to have their full backs overlap the side midfielders. Others may choose to keep the full backs deep and act only as supporting passing options should the winger run into trouble. Whichever way they are set up, they also need to watch out for opposition wingers and marauding full backs. Typically, then, these players will be quite athletic with their pace, stamina and dribbling, especially with wingers. Full backs can make up for a deficiency in this area if they possess strength, tackling and positioning attributes; and a side midfielder with good crossing and creativity may be able to sacrifice some speed if he can use his full back to do the running for him.
The central midfielders traditionally will have a mix between offence and defence. In previous versions of this guide we have referred to them as the “MCa” (attacking MC) and the “MCd” (defensive MC). Usually, one of the midfielders will be asked to drop back deeper and cover the midfield, perhaps with a defensive duty. The other, as a support or attacking player, will look to assist the forwards in offensive situations. Gone are the days in the 1980s where both midfielders would run box-to-box to help defence and attack in equal measure, but there’s nothing to stop you trying to recreate the fury of classic Football League teams of yesteryear. Even in England, however, there is a real preference for the “attacking” midfielder and the “holding” midfielder. The balance between the two can help stabilise the tactic.
Finally, there is the relationship between the two forwards. One tends to drop deeper than the other and act as a link between midfield and attack; the other pushes on as the spearhead of the team. In previous versions of the guide you may have come across these as the “FCa” and the “FCd”. There are, roughly speaking, two traditional striker combos: “big man/quick man” and “creator/scorer”.
The first will utilise a big target man with good strength and heading. He will receive balls in the air from the defence and look to flick them on to his striker partner. The quicker player will look to latch on to these balls and other through balls from the
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midfield, beat the defensive offside trap and score goals. Owen and Heskey provided this sort of linkup in the early 2000s.
With the “creator/scorer” partnership, one player will look to receive the ball in the gap between the defence and the midfield and look to use his creativity and passing ability to provide good balls to his striker partner. The “scorer” will be there to receive those balls and maybe also create a little for himself and his teammates. This setup requires less athletic ability than the “big man/quick man” combo, but it certainly needs a lot more technical ability to pull it off successfully. Henry and Bergkamp are a good example of this sort of partnership from the early years of this century, or maybe even Lineker and Beardsley from the early 1990s.
The “4-5-1”: Traditionally a more continental European formation than British, the 4-5-1 is equally versatile. The diagram shows what is fast becoming one of the most popular variations on the 4-5-1, the 4-2-3-1.
4-2-3-1 was a system used by the French and Dutch teams in the 2000 European Championship, which was won by France. Spanish teams have also used it often in Champions League football, and Liverpool have been using the system with mixed success in the Premier League. The system is characterized by the traditional “back four”; two central midfielders forming a screen in front of the defence; and three attacking midfielders ready to support the lone centre forward. Two of the attacking midfielders play on the sides (either as wingers or as inside forwards) and one in the centre. In the diagram, the side AMCs are tucked in as inside forwards.
The 4-2-3-1 can be adapted with small changes to any tactical situation during a match. For example: it can be transformed into a more defensive 4-4-1-1 by moving back the two outside attacking midfielders. In the defensive phase, this formation is similar to a “flat” 4-5-1, used to maintain possession and to stop the opponent’s attacks by flooding and controlling the midfield.
Alternatively, the side midfielders can be pushed even further forward to create a 4-3-3 formation; or the entire midfield can be flattened to produce a “flat” 4-5-1.
This 4-2-3-1 variant of the formation is most effective in offence, when the AMC and the FC have characteristics which are functionally supportive of each other. If the FC is good at playing with his back to goal, creating space and passing the ball around, then the AMC should be good at making penetrating runs (by exploiting the FCs passes), at carrying out quick passing combinations in small spaces and at attacking from deep. If the AMC is better at creating chances, then the FC should be good at getting himself free from his marker.
The two MCs in front of the defence are fundamental to giving the system balance. In the defensive phase, they must slow down the development of the opponents attack, so that the three AMs can recover and take cover useful positions. Each of them can form a
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triangle with the DC and full back on the respective side to reduce space for the attackers.
In the offensive phase, they contribute to the timing and effectiveness of the play. Typically they fulfil different roles – one of them supports the defence, the other the offence and build-up play. Both can be positioned either in the DMC position (one acting as a classic “no. 6”, one as a deep-lying playmaker); or in the MC position with one being used as a ball-winner.
The full backs in this pattern are required to have a more active role in the offensive phase as soon as the team gains possession. Besides good dribbling skills, they must have good running and technical skills in order to be effective in penetrating the flanks.
The “wingers” need to track back in the defensive phase in order to close down the space available on each side. In the offensive phase they must enable their teammates to play lateral and vertical passes. They can do this by penetrating deep upfield, by cutting in between the opponent’s midfield and defence, or by moving out towards the sideline. They need to be good at shaking off markers (pace and acceleration), beating opponents in one-on-one situations (dribbling), making crosses and providing through balls (passing). Also they should be able to finish off moves by receiving through balls from the deeper lying FC (composure). They can compensate for speed only with an extraordinary ability to receive a pass and beat the opponent one-on-one.
In a narrow setup for the 4-2-3-1, they can also play as inside forwards. Their role is then to either run on goal, to drift out wide, drawing a defender out and opening up space or to provide chances for the AMCc and FC. It is not uncommon (either in the wide or narrow setups) to have the wide men swap positions. This gives more variety to the team’s attacks, can help disrupt any “specific man marking” strategies of the opposition, and give a natural tendency for players to cut inside on their stronger foot, creating incisive passing and shooting opportunities in the centre of the field.
The AMCc needs to counter the opposition’s playmaker (if they have one just in front of their defence) in order to hamper their build-up phase. If there is no playmaker, he should help the FC to pressurise the opponent’s defence and to disturb the circulation of the ball. In the offensive phase he is the key player (read: Gerrard for Liverpool in 2009; Zidane for France in 2000). Most of the effectiveness of the attack depends on his cleverness and ability. He needs to be creative, have good passing abilities and dribbling skills and must make himself available in the build-up phase.
The FC is an important point of reference for the team in the build-up phase. His ability to receive and protect the ball is fundamental to enable the team to move upfield and attack. If the side AMs are good at crossing, he should be good at heading and jumping. If the AMs are good at playing through balls into the deep, he should be quick and make deep cuts. Also he should also be good at making lateral passes to the side AMs.
The “4-3-3”: The 4-3-3 has declined in popularity in recent years in England but is still widely used in the Netherlands and other European countries. It was, for example, put into action by Frank Rijkaard when manager of FC Barcelona, and is still used by current coach Pep Guardiola. José Mourinho also famously used a 4-3-3 variant when at Chelsea, with a DMC, two MCs and two wingers supporting a centre forward.
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At Barca, Rijkaard was able to use the 4-3-3 to accommodate three very creative and attacking forwards (Ronaldinho; Eto’o; Messi), as well as a host of central midfielders. This allowed the team to use its star players as well as providing support from the midfield in the form of two creative playmaker-types (Xavi; Iniesta) and a central holding midfield player (Edmilson). The side was hugely successful, picking up back-to-back La Liga titles and the Champions League.
The 4-3-3 includes four defenders, three midfielders and three attackers. It is potent in attack with a large variety of attacking options and has a good flexibility in the defensive phase. In many ways, it is not entirely dissimilar to the 4-5-1, deciding to designate its wide players as forwards rather than more rounded midfielders.
It is not as good at defending the wings as the 4-5-1, but it is excellent at flooding the centre of the midfield. The central three (usually consisting of a holding midfielder and two more creative players) play closely together to protect the defence, moving laterally across the field as a coordinated unit. The most central midfielder usually acts as a disruptive filter, reducing the opponent’s FC’s opportunities for receiving the ball to their feet. Often this player can be dragged back to the DMC position, such as Makélélé in Mourinho’s Chelsea side.
The three forwards are split across the field to spread the attack. Also they are expected to primarily pressure the opposition full backs rather than track further back in defence like they might in the 4-5-1.
The 4-3-3 can be played in different variations, containing a mixture of the following elements:
1. In a three-strata formation with a flat midfield and the forwards in the FCc, FCr and FCl positions, the side forwards moving out wide and/or dropping deep. The side FCs can be played as deep-lying forwards with the FC in an advanced position. Also it is possible to use the FC as a target man or deep-lying forward whereas the side FCs have a more active role in attack.
2. With a flat midfield, an FCc (either advanced or deep-lying, depending on his abilities); and wing forwards in the AML and AMR positions (playing as wingers or inside forwards).
3. Staggered, involving a DM, two central midfielders and two wingers (the “Mourinho” setup to which we have alluded). The most cautious or defensive versions of this 4-3-3 shape are often referred to as a 4-5-1, and this is how FM10 lists it.
4. As a modification of the “4-2-3-1”. Arsène Wenger has characterised his formation as such in the opening games of the 2009/10 campaign. His midfield is an inverse of the Mourinho triangle – two MCs or DMCs and a single AMC.
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5. With true wing forwards at the FL and FR positions. In FM10, the players who are classed as playing this position most naturally are those who can naturally play the FC position. This can cause some issues, since the skill set of a FC is different to that of a wing forward: however on the whole, anyone who can play both AMR/L and FC to a decent standard should play well in this position.
Generally speaking, players in the 4-3-3 are naturally inclined to press the opponent when the ball is being played in to their main areas:
- in the side zone level with the opposing defence
- in the central zone level with the midfield
- in the central zone in front their own defence.
On the other hand it can be difficult to close off a player in possession placed:
- in the central zone of your own defence
- half way between the full backs and the winger in the classic position of inside midfielder
- in depth, in the side zone above the full back.
Speed is one of the most important qualities of the full backs. As well as being able to sum up the tactical situation on the field quickly and efficiently. The fact that the wing is not moving back very often forces the full back to lengthen out the defensive diagonal so that the flanks will not be left too wide open.
The centre-most midfielder plays in front of the defence. He must be good at breaking up attacks as well as setting attacking plays in motion by making good passes to the midfielders and forwards. In this sense, he can play as regista deep-lying playmaker or as a brutish anchor man, depending on the situation. The side centre midfielders have to cover a fairly large area of the field. They need stamina and a high work rate, but also have to be technically good enough to support the team’s attacks.
The side forwards/wingers are the most important players. They must be able to create the bulk of the team’s chances through their ability to receive in space, to dribble around their direct opponents, to play in the centre forward and to cross tightly from the byline.
The FC is the only point of reference in the middle. He must be very good at receiving the ball ahead of his teammates and laying it off to the forwards and midfielders around him. He also acts as the main target for crosses and through balls in the centre of the pitch, and is usually the top scorer in the squad come the end of the season.
Other Formations: Three-man defences are more common outside Northern Europe – while these are widely used, we have tended to concentrate on formations based on the “flat-back four” defence. Other styles are covered in the appendix, which is available as a separate file in the TT10 download package.
However, most discussions over player roles, strategies and reading the match engine are universal concepts. Where possible we will try to note the differences between different formation shapes.
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Philosophies
The Purpose of Philosophy
Philosophy is difficult to define in the real world and could cover a wide range of concepts. In Football Manager it defines how rigid or loose players are at sticking to their specific position on the field.
The philosophies employed by the creator in FM10 come in 5 varieties: very rigid, rigid, balanced, fluid, and very fluid. In very simple terms, sides that want to improve their shape and defensive stability may prefer rigid philosophies; sides which want to add more attacking flair will prefer more fluid ones. The reality is obviously far more nuanced than this, however, and player ability, other tactical instructions and personal preference will all affect the decision on which philosophy to employ.
The differences between each of them and the implications for tactical strategy will be explained here. In Tactical Theorems and Frameworks 2009 (TT&F09) these philosophies roughly equated with “mentality frameworks”. We will mention the equivalent structures in these explanations, but we will not go into too much detail about their inner workings. This is, after all, a guide about football, not in game mechanics. For more in-depth discussion about mentality frameworks, refer to TT&F09. Future Tactical Bible and eventually Tactical Frameworks 10 articles will also dissect the mechanics of philosophy in more depth.
We will also mention a high-profile manager from the real world whose philosophies could be equated to each of these settings. Of course, this is difficult to prove with certainty because of the fact that there is always something lost in translation from the real world to a computer game. As far as we can possibly say, we believe the style of play produced from these philosophies roughly mirrors that of the managers mentioned here.
Very Rigid
In very rigid philosophies, each player is instructed to keep to his position as much as possible. The team’s shape is deliberately structured. In order to do this, the players’ mentalities are regularly spaced. The defenders will be told to hang behind the midfielders who in turn play behind the forwards. Players are discouraged from venturing too far from their zone and from overlapping with players in front or behind them.
In previous versions of this guide, you may have seen this referred to as “Rule of One”. As with all philosophies, you will find some deviation from this original TT&F09 version of the framework depending on your formation, duties assigned and roles chosen.
The advantage to such a rigid system is that you can accurately place your defence, midfield and attack. The team will maintain its shape and structure and this will make it harder for the opposition’s team to break you down. For teams looking to be defensively solid or for teams with players who have poor movement it can add steel to the side.
However, such a lack of movement can make the attacking play predictable and can leave teams undermanned in attack (or overmanned in defence) if the formation does
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not space players out evenly. This might be desirable (for instance, if you want to flood the defence and midfield to hold out for a draw), but for sides needing a goal it could leave the team lacking in attacking potency. This can be overcome by using more roaming or midfield roles and duties which encourage forward runs and creative freedom, especially for the forward and attacking midfield players.
Real World Equivalent: Martin O’Neil (Aston Villa)
O’Neil’s sides have been characterised over the years for their hard work and graft. They may not be the most technically proficient teams in the world, but O’Neil has compensated for that by having a rigid tactical plan and making each of his players perform a specific role for the good of the team. This philosophy has led Aston Villa to be considered one of the “best of the rest” in the Premier League, as well as winning the League Cup with Leicester City and providing success at Celtic, including a UEFA Cup final defeat to a certain José Mourinho.
Rigid
As one might expect, rigid is less rigid than “very rigid”, but more rigid than “balanced”. The emphasis is on holding shape, but a certain degree of overlap between defence, midfield and attack is encouraged for certain players in order to help give a little more movement in attack.
In previous guides, you may have seen this referred to as “Bands of Two”. Again, this will not be an exact recreation of the TT&F09 framework, and will depend on formation, role and duties.
With this philosophy there is more interplay between the different parts of the team. In a basic 4-4-2, the full backs will have a higher mentality than the centre backs to encourage them forward. The central midfield will be staggered as one player goes forward and the other hangs back as a holding player. There is still an emphasis on structure (the full backs are still considered defensive players, for example), but a certain amount of flexibility is accounted for.
As with the very rigid philosophy, teams may find that they lack attacking flair with this system. Like we mentioned before, however, extra creativity and roaming instructions can help combat this. Rigid may be a good option for those who find that their team shape is being too easily broken by the opposition.
Real World Equivalent: Sir Alex Ferguson (Manchester United)
It may seem odd to equate a “rigid” philosophy with a team famous for its attacking football in recent years, but one of the other traits of Manchester United has been their stability. Players such as Nicky Butt and Darren Fletcher over the years have thrived in their specific roles despite being far less illustrious than some of their teammates. Everyone has a role and a purpose, which has led United to be as famed for their clean sheets as their goals. The extra freedom given to their forward players has meant that, given the superb technical and mental attributes of their squad, the team can produce aesthetic attacking football as well as grinding out results when needed.
Balanced
The balanced philosophy bases itself not around the physical position of the players on the pitch but on the duties assigned to each player. In the rigid philosophies, players are
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staggered from the back to the front of the field in order to keep team shape. In this philosophy, the attacking players are told to push up, the defensive players to stay back and the support players to occupy the space in between.
The upshot of this is that you can give attack duties to wingers or full backs, for example, and have them attack the opposition much harder than in the rigid philosophies. The obvious weakness of such a system is that it is possible that the team may get caught on the counter.
The shape of the team can be held together by effective use of duties, therefore. By using more defensive duties when needing to defend and more attacking duties when chasing the game, the team can quickly adapt its shape to the game’s circumstances. This also provides a level of attacking flair that the previous settings may not provide.
The TT&F09 equivalent to this is “Role Theory”. Some adjustments will be made based on roles and the formation, but for the most part this is a good equivalent.
Balanced therefore offers as much or as little overlapping as the manager dictates. This is a good middle ground between the free flowing movement of the fluid options and the rigidity of the more rigid ones.
Real World Equivalent: Arsène Wenger (Arsenal)
Wenger’s sides offer a certain amount of shape, but the emphasis is more on the player’s role than on the player’s position on the field. Players that are told to attack will tend to do so with less regard for their defensive duties, and similarly the defensive players hold their station when needed to. When working well, the passing options offered by the support players coupled with the greater attacking impetus on certain players can produce magical football, but can also when needed provide the stability needed to see off the threat from the opposition.
Fluid
As we move to the more fluid options, position and role have less of an effect on the placement of players. The mentality settings are closer together and the players are trusted to use their own judgement as to what they do. This can encourage the team to both attack and defend as a unit, whilst providing much more attacking flair and movement to break down the opposition.
In the fluid philosophy, the team roughly breaks itself down into two groups of five. The defensive players are told to hang further back while the attacking players are told to push forward. This varies slightly based on the formation and the roles chosen, but effectively it gives licence for the forward players to attack the opposition whilst providing enough cover from the defensive players to mop up any counter attacks.
This roughly equates to the “5x5” theory in TT&F09. The system can offer a little more attacking movement than previous systems, but still retains some defensive shape by telling the back players to concentrate a little more on their defensive duties.
Real World Equivalent: Rafael Benitez (Liverpool)
Again, Benitez may not readily come to mind as a “fluid” manager, but his teams do rely on this sort of methodology – half defend, half attack. As the holding midfield players and
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defence stay back and hold the fort, the attacking midfielders and striker look to open up the opposition defence. When it plays well, it is quite fluid as the forward players move in and out of each other looking for space, but it also provides the defensive steel which means that Liverpool only lost two games in the 2008/09 league season. A lack of creative freedom, width and attacking intent, however, can lead Benitez’s side to look sluggish and boring at times.
Very Fluid
The final philosophy, and I think you get the idea of where the pattern is going. With this system, the team are told to attack and defend as a unit. Their mentalities are virtually the same throughout the side, and they move as they see fit. This can allow for some great attacking play, with players moving in and out of each other, but can leave the team vulnerable if the players are not disciplined enough to keep their shape when on the defence.
This is virtually equivalent to the “Global” mentality structure in TT&F09. Nearly all the players are on the same settings for mentality except for some staggering of strikers or the midfield to offer a little more link up play between the different parts of the team.
When things are going well in a very fluid formation, it can be superb to watch with very aesthetic flair based attacking football. However, if the team struggle to get going they can be caught out defensively.
Real World Equivalent: Kevin Keegan (Newcastle United)
Kevin Keegan’s sides have always been of the “you score three, we’ll score four” school of football, and his leaky defences have been almost as legendary as his stylish forward lines. There is, of course, nothing wrong with being committed to “the beautiful game”, but beauty can often come at a price. By simply letting the players “get on with it”, and being far less proscribed with positioning, the system can produce some beautiful football when things are going well. The pay off was often the odd lame defeat at the hands of more disciplined opposition.
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Strategies
The definition of strategy
The words “tactic” and “strategy” can almost be synonymous in certain situations. However, in Football Manager, strategy refers to the style of attacking and defending that a team will employ.
The strategies employed by the creator come in seven different flavours and are used to tell the team how hard to attack (or defend). This can be a simple but vital change to make during a match in order to change or maintain the score in your favour.
Simply, the more you need a goal, the more you will want to attack; and the more you need to maintain the score line, the more you will want to defend: though you will need to take into account the style of play of your team, the skill level of your players, the relative skill of the opposition, whether you are at home or away, whether the game is a league or cup tie, and the importance of the match.
When describing the tactical instructions in these strategies, remember that these are generalisations. Depending on philosophy, playing style instructions, duties, roles and in-match touchline instructions, the manager has a great deal of control over the specific way the team plays. Logically, it makes sense (for example) to play narrower and deeper when defending, and the creator will automatically change these settings to save you having to fiddle with the sliders. If you find you need or want to play higher or wider, the other settings will allow you to modify this.
Strategies fall roughly into three categories: “standard”, “breakdown” and “extreme”. In the strategy drop down menu, the options are listed from the most defensive through to the most attacking. Here, we will mention them by category.
Standard Strategies
Defensive: Defensive strategies are good for holding on to leads or for cautious play against a side much better than you. Especially if playing a bigger team away from home, defend can keep your side tight and defensively solid. The team will attack only when the attack is on and will concentrate most on keeping the opponents marked and keeping the ball away from goal.
By selecting defend, your team will play with a low mentality setting. They will tend to have a lower defensive line, slower tempo and narrower width. The side will close down less and will concentrate on holding its shape and frustrating the opposition rather than chasing after the ball and risk leaving gaps.
Most Useful: Away from home against better teams; when playing out a game against an aggressive opponent; home against much stronger teams.
Standard: Standard is the middle ground when it comes to strategy. The side will look to maintain its shape at the back but will also give licence for the attack to try to create chances. When playing at home against a side of roughly the same ability, or away against weaker opposition it can give that balance to a side which wants to try to win the game but is also aware of the opponent’s attacking threat.
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Most of the other strategies are described in relation to standard, since this is the middle: mid range mentality, normal width, normal tempo, normal time wasting, normal defensive line, etc. The defence looks to close down an average amount, with normal tackling.
Most Useful: Home against a slightly stronger team; away against a weaker team; as a starting strategy to gauge the attitude of the opposition; holding on to a lead against a weaker team.
Attacking: The third “standard” match strategy is attack, which logically is the opposite of the defend strategy. Shape is sacrificed for attacking impetus. When playing against weaker sides or when in need of a goal, attack will push players forward and get them to try to break down the opposition.
As may now seem obvious, attack has higher mentality, more width, a quicker tempo, low time wasting, a higher defensive line and more creative freedom. The defence will more aggressively seek to close down and tackle the opposition in an attempt to regain possession as quickly as possible – since without the ball, you can’t score.
Most Useful: Home against weaker team; away against a much weaker team; when chasing a result; against a side who are playing more defensively.
Breakdown Strategies
Counter: The use of the counter attack can be a very useful way of breaking down an aggressive opponent. When a team is attacking you, they can leave gaps at the back. Counter looks to hang back and encourage the opposition to attack, but then regains possession and breaks quickly up the field to score while the defence is out of shape.
The instructions are mainly in between the defensive and standard strategies. However, it will be virtually redundant against a team who is making no attempt to attack. Defensive sides rarely try to attack, so hitting them on the break is next to impossible.
Most Useful: Home against a stronger opponent; when the opposition is chasing the game; when attack is not breaking down a slightly stronger opponent.
Control: Control is an attacking strategy which is designed to be more patient. Occasionally, the opposition will be well organised and “parking the bus”. They make no attempt to attack, so very rarely leave their positions. Constantly hammering them with attacking players, however, can often fail.
Therefore, control looks to attack, but does it by dropping slightly deeper, dropping the tempo and feeling out the opposition, looking for a good pass to open them up. By doing this, the defence will have to come out in order to get the ball; and once they do, they may create an opening for you to exploit.
Most Useful: Against a weaker side who refuse to attack; at 0-0 in a game where you expect to win but are struggling to break the opposition down.
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Extreme Strategies
Contain: The “shut up shop” strategy. This is an ultra-defensive strategy used simply to try to keep the ball out of the net later on in the match. A team would invite far too much pressure onto itself playing contain for 90 minutes, but when desperately clinging on to a result it can be enough to get the memorable victory or draw against a much larger club.
Contain doesn’t look to attack at all, telling all its players to get themselves behind the ball and “park the bus”.
Most Useful: Late on in the game when under immense pressure and needing to hold on to a result; against ultra-attacking teams.
Overload: The exact opposite of contain, overload looks to flood the opposition with wave after wave of attacks. Caution is thrown to the wind, and everyone is told to bomb forward. Again, playing overload for 90 minutes is likely to result in a fair few goals being let in, but for controlled bursts at 5-10 minutes at a time, or when chasing goals late on, it can break down the opposition just enough to get the desired result.
Most Useful: Late on in the game when in desperate need of a goal; against ultra-defensive teams.
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Playing Style
The manager has the ability to make certain playing style adjustments according to personal preference, the demands of the game and the skill of his players. Each is reasonably self-explanatory, and each has three options: essentially “less”, “default” and “more”.
Each of these playing style options is also affected by the other tactical instructions chosen, such as formation, strategy, roles, duties, etc. For instance, an attacking team will naturally play with more creative freedom on the “default” setting than a defensive team will. What these playing style options do is give a little extra or a little less to each of these particular parts on top of the changes made by other instructions. Experiment with each to see which instructions best fit your team and preferred style of play.
Passing Style: By changing the length of passing, the team can dictate whether they play more direct, using longer passes to try to reach goal as soon as possible, or whether they prefer shorter, possession based football.
Options: shorter; default; more direct.
Creative Freedom: Creative freedom instructs the players how much of their own decision making, flair and creativity they are allowed to use on the ball and with their choice of passes and shots. More disciplined sides will tend to stick more to the game plan and be more defensively sound, but will struggle to break down the opposition if they cannot use their own intelligence to do something unpredictable.
Options: more disciplined; default; more expressive.
Closing Down: How quickly or aggressively the team will press the opposition. The higher the closing down setting, the sooner the players will attempt to chase the player with the ball. This can be useful for putting the opposition under pressure, but can lead to the defence being pulled out of position if the other team are good at holding on to possession and switching the ball from one wing to the other.
Options: press more; default; stand-off more.
Tackling: This setting dictates how hard the players will go in for the tackle. Easy tackling means the player will jockey the opposition player and not go sliding in unless he is relatively sure he can get the ball. Heavy tackling means the player will go in hard as soon as he gets a whiff of the ball. Easy tackling teams will hold their positions and make it difficult for the team to be broken down, but are likely to get far less of the ball as a result; hard tackling teams can win the ball back quickly and intimidate the opposition, but will concede far more free kicks and yellow cards. More aggressive teams will use more hard tackling instructions, more cautious sides will use more easy tackling.
Options: more aggressive; default; more cautious.
Marking: Marking options are difficult to explain in real world concepts because Football Manager as yet has not quite sorted out the real mechanics of the system. Essentially, zonal marking strategies will look to mark the opposition player who comes
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in to the player’s “zone” on the field. Man marking strategies mean that each player is assigned a particular person to mark. In Football Manager, however, man marking tends to be a more aggressive zonal marking system, whereby a player will stick to the man who enters his zone, but stay with him until the danger is cleared. The best advice with marking is to experiment with which settings work best. For more in-depth analysis of the inner-workings of Football Manager’s marking, please refer to future Tactical Bible articles.
True, real life man-marking is actually “specific” marking, which can be set before or during the upcoming match, either by manually setting the marking settings for an individual player or by using opposition instructions to target certain individuals.
Options: zonal marking; default; man marking.
Crossing: When choosing crossing options, the game will either assign a mixed setting to allow the player to choose the best cross, or it can use the settings you specify here. Drilled crosses will tend to be aimed for a player at the near post to direct into the net; floated crosses will tend to be aimed at the far post for a tall player to head in.
Options: float crosses; default; drill crosses.
Roaming: Finally we have the roaming settings. By setting more roaming, the game assigns more roaming instructions to the forward players to allow them to find their own space and be more creative. This can be useful for teams with a lot of highly skilled forward players, and the roaming instructions will typically be given to the most attacking forward players first. More attacking strategies will naturally add more roaming instructions than defensive ones.
“Free role” was the term used for roaming in Football Manager 09. It does not mean a player who will run anywhere and ignore tactical instructions, however – it simply gives him more licence to move away from his tactical position and look for space to receive the ball. To reflect this, in FM10 “free roles” are now referred to as “roaming” settings.
Options: stick to position; default; more roaming.
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Player Roles
Choosing the correct player roles is crucial to developing a balanced tactic and imposing your style of play on the team. A 4-4-2 with two holding midfielders in the centre of the park will play very, very differently to the same formation with a box-to-box midfielder and a deep-lying playmaker.
The following player roles are used in Football Manager 10. Where possible, examples have been given of current and classic incumbents of the roles, with the teams they best played that role in brackets (not necessarily every, or the most recent, team they played for).
Goalkeeper (GK)
Goalkeepers only have two basic settings: goalkeeper and sweeper keeper.
Goalkeeper: The simple settings for a goalkeeper. A reasonably neutral setting which should see the ‘keeper patrol his penalty area. He will be asked to do little more than be a shot-stopper and to distribute the ball to his team mates to start attacks.
Contemporary/Classic Example: most traditional goalkeepers
Sweeper Keeper: Alternatively, you can set the keeper to come out and sweep up balls which get behind the defensive line. Especially useful if you play a high defensive line, the sweeper keeper will be willing to come outside his area to pick up the ball and get it forward to your outfield players as soon as possible to try to maintain attacking momentum. If he is too slow, however, he leaves himself prone to being rounded or lobbed if he is beaten to the ball by an opposition attacker.
Contemporary Example: José Manuel Reina (Liverpool)
Classic Example: Tommy Lawrence (Liverpool); Fabien Barthez (France)
Sweeper (SW)
Sweepers tend to fall into two categories. The defensive holding player who sweeps up balls which elude the backs or the ball playing “libero” who breaks out of defence to play in more of a defensive midfield position. The sweeper is something of a dying breed in modern football, though he is still retained in the Balkans and Italy where three and five-man defences are reasonably common.
Sweeper: Sweepers are defensive stoppers. Usually part of a five-man defensive setup, he waits behind the centre backs, mopping up any balls that beat the defensive line. Usually a more mobile player than the typical centre back, he needs to be able to move around to cover the defence; however, he doesn’t require a developed set of technical skills, since his main job is to sniff out danger and remove it.
Contemporary Example: Philippe Mexès (Roma)
Classic Example: Franco Baresi (AC Milan; Italy)
Libero: The libero is a ball playing sweeper. In defensive mode, he sits behind the centreback(s) just like the common sweeper. However, if he receives the ball he looks to move forward with it, playing out of trouble and looking to feed the midfield. He needs more technical skills than a normal sweeper, therefore, and the centre backs will need to be able to cover him should he get caught further up the pitch. Contemporary examples are hard to find, but Rio Ferdinand is an example of a defender comfortable enough on
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the ball to play the position. The lack of liberi at top European sides shows that the position is a dying one (with Napoli being perhaps the most high profile exception).
Contemporary Example: The libero has virtually died out at the highest level in modern football. As such there are no stand-out examples of liberi playing in the top leagues.
Classic Example: Franz Beckenbauer (West Germany)
Defence Left/Right (DL/DR)
Commonly called the “full backs”, the DR and DL positions can actually accommodate two roles in FM10. One is a more reserved role, effectively using the wide defenders as holding players to mark opposition winger; the other utilises the players in a much more attacking role designed to support the forwards and use their dribbling and crossing skills to make openings.
Full Back: Full backs are more restricted in their forward runs and dribbling, and look to move the ball on to the more creative players in front of them in the midfield. They will support wingers by offering a passing option in the final third, but will tend to stay behind them and look to cover any breaks that come down the wings from lost possession. Full backs tend to have more strength and tackling skills than wing backs, but need to be more mobile than centre backs. For this reason, they tend to be shorter and quicker than centre backs, but not as tricky and pacy as wingers or wing backs. The modern game, since the decline of out-and-out wingers has tended to favour the quicker and more attacking DR/L, but this does not mean that the position is anywhere near dead, and is very important in forming a good solid defensive line in games against attacking sides with lots of width.
Contemporary Example: Tony Hibbert (Everton); Gary Neville (Man. United)
Classic Example: Denis Irwin (Man. United; Ireland); Lee Dixon (Arsenal; England); Lilian Thuram (Juventus; France)
Wing Back: The wing back is becoming very important in the modern game – with the decline in the use of wingers, the wing backs offer width by powering on from deep positions to provide crosses and wide passing options for the team in attack, whilst offering some cover to the team on the wings. Most modern players who are cited as playing left/right back now have tended to be famous for their running ability and crosses; indeed, many can be asked to play left/right midfield without many issues. However, what separates a wing back from a winger is his defensive awareness and his instructions to track back vigorously whenever position is lost. Wing backs therefore tend to require great stamina and fitness, as well as speed, vision and passing/crossing abilities.
Contemporary Example: Patrice Evra (Manchester United; France); Glen Johnson (Liverpool; England)
Classic Example: Cafu (AC Milan; Brazil); Carlos Alberto (Brazil)
Defence Centre (DC)
The “centre back” is one of the few positions that has retained some constancy over the years, but there are still many ways to play the role. A lot of modern DCs are over 6’ 0” (1.8m) tall, and very strong, but equally there are shorter, more nimble and intelligent defenders. How you set up your defenders has a large bearing on the way your defence will play as a whole. All DCs can be set up as having “defend” duties, “cover” or “stopper”. Cover players drop slightly deeper, acting a little bit more like sweepers, making interceptions on balls that beat the defensive line. Stopper players are more aggressive and chase down the attackers with the ball and look to make headed
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clearances away from goal. And defend players look to do both. On the whole, stopper players tend to be taller, better in the air and stronger than cover players who tend to have more pace and mobility and are better at reading the game.
Central Defender: The central defender is the “normal” centre back, designed to act as the last line of defence (unless you are also employing a sweeper), usually alongside another central defender. Most centre backs around the world play this way, although the use of the duties like “stopper” and “cover” will affect their positioning and how aggressive they are, to a degree.
Contemporary/Classic Example: most past and present centre backs
Ball-Playing Defender: The ball-playing defender is slightly different. He will be given a little more creative licence to come with the ball out of defence and look to lay the ball off to the midfielders to help start attacks. He can also act as a deep outlet for recycling possession if the attack runs in to trouble. Similar to the libero sweeper, he is however slightly more restricted in his movement because of his greater defensive duties.
Contemporary Example: Rio Ferdinand (England); Thomas Vermaelen (Arsenal)
Classic Example: most ball-playing central defenders tend to be classed as sweepers or liberi. However, Lothar Matthäus (Germany, post-1994) is perhaps a good example.
Limited Defender: Some centre backs are not good for much else than simply being the big rock who intimidates the attack. This is not a problem if the player knows his role. Usually very strong, very tall and very aggressive, the limited defender is designed to win the ball and get it to safety: for this reason he tends to have limited skills in other areas. It might seem cruel to characterise some rather talented players as limited defenders. We are not making judgements on their rounded skill sets, more commenting on their primary function in their team’s defence.
Contemporary Example: Jamie Carragher (Liverpool)
Classic Example: Jack Charlton (Leeds United; England)
Defensive Midfield Left/Right (WBL/WBR)
The wing back can only fulfil one role in football manager, and is described under the Defence Left/Right section. In the wing back position, the player gets further attacking impetus and even less obligation to track back on the wing when the opposition have the ball. Usually a key component of the 3-5-2, the position has become less popular at the highest levels because of the supreme levels of pace and stamina needed to play it, especially when in a formation with no other wide midfielders.
Wing Back: See Defence Left/Right
Defensive Midfield Centre (DMC)
Defensive midfielders play behind the normal line of midfielders and provide extra defensive cover by sitting deep and leaving the team less exposed to counter attacks. Note that despite their deeper positioning this does not necessarily mean that they are defensive in their outlook, nor does it mean that they cannot be vital tools to creating and maintaining attacking plays.
Defensive Midfielder: The common defensive midfielder will act much like a normal midfielder but will sit deeper. His primary role is to provide cover, and he will tend to mark (or at least cause problems for) any opposition player playing in the AMC position. He will tend to look to play the ball out to the more attacking players around him to set up attacks, and will not push on too far from his default position. Most DMCs tend to
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specialise in either being a deeper play maker or an anchor man, so finding good examples is difficult. A good defensive midfielder is one that can perform both of these roles adequately, though specialises in neither.
Contemporary Example: Torsten Frings (Germany)
Classic Example: Nicky Butt (Manchester United; England)
Deep-Lying Playmaker: The regista is the fulcrum around which the rest of the team operates. Taking the ball deep, he looks around for good passing options and lays in quality balls to the forwards and attacking midfielders. This player will need excellent creativity and passing skills. In many tactics which employ a DLP, it is common to have another DMC alongside them acting as an anchor (such as the Pirlo-Gattuso combination at AC Milan, or Vieira-Makélélé in the 2006 World Cup final), but this does not necessarily have to be the case. However, because of his primary role as a creative player he will probably need some defensive help in the centre of the park. The deep-lying playmaker is a relatively new tactical innovation, so the contemporary examples are actually probably the best classic examples as well.
Contemporary Example: Andrea Pirlo (AC Milan; Italy); Marcos Senna (Villareal; Spain)
Classic Example: Andrea Pirlo (AC Milan; Italy)
Anchor Man: The other type of specialised DMC is the anchor man – a bigger, stronger, more defensive player with good marking, tackling and positional skills. He acts as the first line of defence, protecting the defensive line and harrying the opposition’s attacking midfielders. The anchor man is the much more traditional version of the DMC, also known as the “holding midfielder” or the “Makélélé position”.
Contemporary Example: John Obi Mikel (Chelsea; Nigeria); Gennaro Gattuso (AC Milan; Italy)
Classic Example: Claude Makélélé (Real Madrid; France); Antonio Rattín (Argentina)
Midfield Left/Right (ML/MR)
Wide Midfielder: Not quite your classic “winger”, the wide midfielder plays on the left or right side of midfield and looks to use his passing ability and awareness to set up attacks for his team. Usually not as quick as a winger or as defensively sound as a defensive winger, the wide midfielder will not be looking to bomb down the wing or put in big tackles on opposition full backs. Players like David Beckham have never been blessed with blistering pace or tackling ability, but their sublime passing and crossing skills have provided penetrating balls from out wide for the opposite wing or the forwards to latch on to and create chances with. Central midfielders with good vision can also be converted into wide midfielders and do a reasonable job as a stop gap, such as Steven Gerrard has on occasion for Liverpool and England. In both cases, the wide midfielder has been asked to also use his work rate and sound tactical brain to perform rudimentary defensive duties as well.
Contemporary Example: David Beckham (England)
Classic Example: The wide midfielder is a reasonably modern tactical evolution, and as such it is difficult to identify a “classic” proponent of the position.
Winger: In years gone by, the winger was classed as a forward. Now, he is often played in the M or AM stratum on the left or right side. Usually very quick with good dribbling skills and an eye for a cross, wingers do not have to always be blessed with good mental skills if they are incredibly quick and good with the ball at their feet. The classic winger is not as favoured as he once was, with wider midfielders being asked to contribute
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more goals by cutting inside more. However, particularly at lower levels, a player with good, quick ball skills can terrorise opposition full backs and keep them penned in to their own half, whilst putting in quality balls from out wide for the forwards to score from. Those with a little more of a footballing brain can also be relied upon to chip in with a number of goals throughout the season, just by virtue of their ability to beat the offside trap and bear down on goal.
Contemporary Example: Aaron Lennon (Tottenham Hotspur)
Classic Example: Ryan Giggs (Manchester United; Wales); Garrincha (Brazil)
Defensive Winger: Occasionally, it may be necessary to cover the wing with more than just a full back; or, perhaps the team is playing without full backs and needs support out wide. In either case, the defensive winger plays almost like an advanced full back: not quite as attacking and quick as the wing back, but with enough technical skill to be utilised as far deep as a full back. Defensive wingers have not really made a name for themselves in their own right, but they are an important tool when playing in a difficult game against a side who you know to have a lot of fire power down the wings. Usually found in pressing tactics with a high defensive line, the defensive winger will look to win the ball back and hold it up for more creative players to use, but when given the licence to burst forward in the final third of the pitch he can still cause trouble. He will, however, look to win the ball first and concentrate on attacking second.
Contemporary Example: Park Ji-Sung (Manchester United)
Classic Example: Again, a modern tactical evolution with few if any “classic” examples.
Midfield Centre (MC)
Central Midfielder: The bog-standard central midfielder will look to do a little bit of everything. With an attack duty, he will look to get forward and help the attack. With a defend duty he will look to hold his position and act as cover in the centre of the park. Most of his instructions are simply to do what a central midfielder does best. Cover the defence, but also look for good balls whenever possible to set up attacks. This duty is good to give to a player who does not seem to have any outstanding talent anywhere in his attributes, but is a good solid player who can perform most duties well. He probably lacks the stamina to run box-to-box, the creativity to be a playmaker or the strength to be a ball-winning midfielder: but if the need arises during the match, he could probably do all of these things reasonably well for a short period.
Contemporary Example: Darren Fletcher (Manchester United; Scotland)
Classic Example: David Platt (England)
Deep-Lying Playmaker: As with the DMC the regista will look to drop deeper to find the ball and to find space for himself before looking for the perfect pass to the opposition. In the MC position, he will be slightly further up the field, so may require a little more strength to cope with the reduced space afforded to him by the opposition midfield.
Contemporary Example: Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid; Spain)
Classic Example: Andrea Pirlo (AC Milan; Italy)
Ball-Winning Midfielder: The ball-winning midfielder is akin to the anchor man. His more advance position here means that he will also need to be useful with the ball at his
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feet. More rounded than the anchor man, the ball-winning midfielder has to be strong, a good tackler and good at positioning himself, but he will also need to be a half-decent passer of the ball to keep the team’s attacks alive. Very useful in attacking tactics or pressing tactics with a high defensive line where the team need to win the ball higher up the pitch and do something with it much quicker. For this reason, most of the classic ball-winning midfielders have also plied their trade as successful DMCs.
Contemporary Example: Owen Hargreaves (Manchester United)
Classic Example: Roy Keane (Manchester United; Ireland), Patrick Vieira (Arsenal; France)
Box-To-Box Midfielder: The box-to-box midfielder is a dying breed in modern football. With the increasing propensity to split midfields into “defensive” and “attacking” bands, the classic box-to-box MC is being rejected in favour of specialised midfield positions such as using a holding midfielder alongside an attacking midfielder. In days gone by, the box-to-box midfielder was a player with immense stamina who was equally adept at winning the ball, playing it out to other players, and arriving late in the box to score crucial goals. As a result, he needed to be supremely fit, have a decent amount of pace, be a good passer and also have good movement. They tended not to be the most technically gifted players in the world, or the most flair based, but their hard industrious work provided not only great cover for the defence but also an extra option in attack. For this reason, in FM10 he is only available with a support duty, such is the need for him to help both attack and defence.
Contemporary Example: Michael Ballack (Germany)
Classic Example: Bryan Robson (England)
Advanced Playmaker: The advanced playmaker looks to get forward and receive the ball before using his vision to lay it off to the attackers. He needs to have great creativity, passing and crossing ability and vision. In the MC position, he is the classic midfield playmaker, looking to thread people in and use his creativity to receive and use the ball. Usually, he will need protection in the form of a more defensive midfield partner in case he loses the ball, since he will not be asked to track back too much. His primary role is to be in space so he can work his magic. For these reasons, physical stats such as strength and pace are not entirely necessary, though a bit of pace is useful for attack-minded playmakers who look to run into the “hole” between the attack and defence. Much more important are mental and technical attributes.
Contemporary Example: Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal)
Classic Example: Juan Roman Riquelme (Argentina); Didi (Brazil); Paul Gascoigne (England)
Attacking Midfield/Forward Left/Right (AML/AMR & FL/FR)
Winger: As with the ML/R, the winger is an advanced player looking to burst forward with the ball. However, in the AMR/L or FL/R positions, it is even less important that they have good defensive skills. It is more important to be good off the ball and have good anticipation so that, if needed, they can come inside a little and receive crosses to put into the back of the net, or run themselves behind the defensive line and score goals.
Contemporary Example: Theo Walcott (Arsenal; England); Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid; Portugal)
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Classic Example: Garrincha (Brazil); Ryan Giggs (Manchester United; Wales); Johnny Rep (Ajax; Netherlands)
Inside Forward: Alex Ferguson asserts that the player that finds space by going from a wide position in to the centre is far more dangerous than the player who starts in the centre and pulls wide for space. As if to prove his point, Cristiano Ronaldo scored 42 goals in the 07/08 season, many of which were from this sort of position. The role is becoming increasingly popular, with Messi, Henry and Ribéry all famed for their ability to score goals. The inside forward needs the pace and ball skills of the winger, the composure of the striker and great creativity and technical ability to boot. When all of these are combined, the winger who cuts inside is absolutely lethal. What makes Ronaldo such a great player is that he can play not only this role, but also the role of the classic winger because of his great crossing ability. In FM, the inside forward can open up defences, but may also lack a little bit of width if both wide players are constantly cutting in. This can be counteracted by using the full backs as attacking players to offer support.
Contemporary Example: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid; Portugal); Thierry Henry (Barcelona; France); Franck Ribéry (Bayern München; France)
Classic Example: The inside forward on the wing is quite a new phenomenon in modern football tactics. However, Cristiano Ronaldo will probably become known as the classic example of the role over the next few years.
Advanced Playmaker: The AM version of the advanced playmaker is very similar to the MC version. However, being on the wing means the player will need more pace and more dribbling ability. From out wide, the team will look to play the ball to the advanced playmaker and he will then try to put in good crosses. If needed, he can beat a man and then put in a good cross, or he can simply play the ball to someone inside of him for the quick one-two or to set up the attack. This role is similar to a mix between the inside forward and the winger, and tends to be given to an outstanding creative talent on the team who can play out wide and cause trouble for the opposition full backs and centre backs in equal measure.
Contemporary Example: Lionel Messi (Barcelona; Argentina); Niko Kranjčar (Croatia)
Classic Example: George Best (Manchester United; Northern Ireland)
Defensive Winger: Much like the MR/L version, the defensive winger will look to put the opposition full back under pressure. With him being further up the pitch it will also be necessary for him to have greater technical ability, crossing, dribbling and creative skills. Still, his primary role is to keep the full back in check: only when he has space himself will he look to do something with it.
Contemporary/Classic Example: A difficult tactical evolution with no long-term classic or contemporary examples. The “defensive winger” position is more a tool to add more cover on the wings than a position one would expect a player to play in throughout a career, or even over a season. Perhaps, on occasion, one could use Dirk Kuijt (Liverpool) as a contemporary example.
Attacking Midfield Centre (AMC)
Attacking Midfielder: The standard attacking midfielder will be asked to find space for himself and support the attack. He can either drive into the box himself to try to score,
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or he can sit in the hole and receive the ball before laying it off for others. Much like the central midfielder role, the attacking midfielder probably doesn’t have any stand-out talent in any particular area, but is a good, solid, natural AMC who can do a little bit of everything. As the game says, with an attacking duty he will look to drive on in to the box and score goals, with a support duty he will hang a little further back, looking for passes or long shot opportunities as they arise.
Contemporary Example: Frank Lampard (Chelsea; England)
Classic Example: Paul Scholes (Manchester United; England)
Advanced Playmaker: Very similar to the MC version of the advanced playmaker, except he will probably need even fewer defensive qualities. The AMC version will sit in the hole looking to receive the ball and spray it to whoever is in the best position. The AMC is probably the classic advanced playmaker. It was a position that Zinedine Zidane played so well in the late 90s/early 2000s, and it has been the position of many great players such as Riqelme, Didi and, more recently, Kaká and Modric. Allowed the space to roam around between the defence and the midfield, the advanced playmaker will certainly need other midfielders in support if the team is to retain shape and possession in the centre of the field.
Contemporary Example: Kaká (Real Madrid; Brazil); Luca Modrić (Tottenham Hotspur; Croatia); Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal; Spain)
Classic Example: Juan Roman Riquelme (Argentina); Zinedine Zidane (Real Madrid; France); Didi (Brazil)
Trequartista: The “three-quarter forward”, or trequartista is the attacking version of the regista or deep-lying playmaker. Where he differs from the advanced playmaker, however, is that he is essentially a forward and not a midfielder. Though his deeper position means he is not a true forward. He uses his great creativity to fashion chances for other midfielders or strikers, and will never track back to help the defence. Such is the nature of the TQ position, that many of the players who we could call trequartistas have similarly been noted as strikers and midfielders. In Football Manager, the TQ has a roaming instruction and will move around for space even more than the advanced playmaker. In the right team, with the right player this can be a deadly role. It is also the key role for the most advanced player in the “4-6-0” formation.
Contemporary Example: Francesco Totti (Roma; Italy); Kaka (Real Madrid; Brazil)
Classic Example: Roberto Baggio (Italy); Diego Maradona (Argentina); Denis Bergkamp (Arsenal; Ajax; Netherlands); Pelé (Brazil)
Inside Forward: Unlike the AML/R version, the AMC inside forward is a withdrawn striker. He does not need to cut inside because he starts from this position. This is the classic role for a player as the support striker in a 4-4-1-1 formation. He will look to roam around a little more than a normal attacking midfielder, but he is essentially a withdrawn forward. He will therefore need typical forward attributes such as finishing, composure and technique, but will also need creativity and passing skills to play in his forward partners when the opportunity presents itself. While the position the inside forward may look similar to a TQ, the inside forward is most concerned with scoring goals, while able to fashion chances for others; the TQ on the other hand is primarily concerned with creating goal scoring opportunities for his fellow teammates.
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Contemporary Example: Wayne Rooney (Manchester United; England)
Classic Example: Bobby Charlton (Manchester United; England); Teddy Sherringham (Manchester United; England); Nándor Hideguti (Hungary)
Forward Centre (FC)
Deep-Lying Forward: The deep-lying forward looks to come back towards the midfield to pick up the ball, and then distributes the ball to the players behind him, or looks to hold up the ball so that players can run on in front of him. Very useful as a lone forward or as part of a strike partnership, the DLF tends to be pretty strong but also a little creative. He can also score goals himself when needed. Like a target man, he tends to play with his back to goal, but is more comfortable with the ball at his feet rather than jumping up high to flick the ball on. Usually the DLF will not score a huge amount of goals on his own, but as a lone striker he can allow creative midfielders to thrive (such as the French national team in the 1998 World Cup with Guivarc'h), or as part of a front two (such as Sherringham’s link up with Alan Shearer or Andy Cole).
Contemporary Example: Carlton Cole (West Ham; England); John Carew (Aston Villa; Norway)
Classic Example: Teddy Sheringham (Manchester United; England); Stéphane Guivarc'h (France)
Advanced Forward: This player usually hangs on the shoulder of the last defender, looking to latch on to through balls from the midfield or his strike partner. He can be isolated if used entirely on his own, so he will need support from the attacking midfield stratum or a fellow centre forward. Usually quick, pretty decent on the ball and a lethal finisher, he is slightly more well rounded than the “poacher” as he will drop back a little bit if absolutely needed to put pressure on the centre backs or to receive the ball. This player is likely to be the top goal scorer for any team that employs him, and will be the focus of many attacks. Therefore, he needs to be reliable and able to handle pressure.
Contemporary Example: Fernando Torres (Liverpool; Spain); Samuel Eto’o (Internazionale; Cameroon)
Classic Example: Ronaldo (Real Madrid; Brazil); Gerd Müller (Bayern München; West Germany)
Target Man: The target man is the big guy up front who can hold up the ball as well as flick it on to his strike partner. With excellent jumping, heading and strength, he is in the perfect place to deal with long balls coming from the goal keeper and the defence. He is also good at terrorising defences with his height when the ball comes in from crosses and corners. The target man does not need to be the best finisher in the world, nor does he need great technical ability. His size and strength are enough to disrupt the opposition long enough for his more creative teammates to score. As a lone forward, the target man would struggle. Without support, there would be nobody for him to create space for. However, as part of a strike partnership, especially with an advanced forward or a poacher, he can be very effective.
Contemporary Example: Emile Heskey (Aston Villa; England)
Classic Example: Jan Koller (Czech Republic)
Poacher: The poacher is dying out in modern, top-level football, but there is still room for a man who “only” scores goals. The tendency has been for forwards to become more
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well-rounded; helping the midfield, being creative and moving around to create more space for other players. The poacher, however, does little of this. His job is to hang around the penalty area creating a yard of space at the last moment to pick up a through ball or cross and score goals. A good poacher can easily get 30 goals a season, but the whole team needs to be set up for him. He will absolutely need a strike partner, otherwise he will be totally isolated, and the midfield need to work the ball into the box to provide him with lots of opportunities to score. He needs to be incredibly composed, have great finishing, be brilliant off the ball and be very consistent.
Contemporary Example: Raúl González (Real Madrid); Michael Owen (Manchester United; England)
Classic Example: Gary Lineker (Everton; England)
Complete Forward: Occasionally, a team will be lucky enough to find a player who is tall, strong, quick, brilliant with the ball at his feet and in the air and a lethal finisher. When this does happen, a team has a lot of versatility. The complete forward could play on his own, or with striker partner. He can play with his back to goal or off the shoulder of the last defender. Essentially, giving him the complete forward role allows him to do whatever he feels is necessary to help the midfield, score goals and lay on assists for his team mates. Most teams will not have a player who can do all of this: but if you do, allowing him to play to all his strengths could really give your team an edge.
Contemporary Example: Didier Drogba (Chelsea; Ivory Coast)
Classic Example: Johan Cruijff (Ajax; Netherlands)
Defensive Forward: When a team is playing against a much stronger team, it may need even more help in defence. One option is to tell the striker to track back as much as possible and put pressure on the midfield. In doing this, the team will lose some attacking bite, but if you are expecting to be heavily beaten anyway this might not be too much of a sacrifice. The player will need to be a decent tackler, have quite a bit of stamina and be willing to work his socks off. If employed as a lone striker, he will need help from the midfield to create chances. With a strike partner, he will try to feed him in as much as possible. A useful tactical tool, the defensive forward is an even more defensive version of the deep-lying forward. Nobody has really made their name in this position, but there are plenty of forwards who can play this when required.
Contemporary Example: Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)
Classic Example: Again, this is more a tactical tool than a long-term position that someone could build a career around. As such, we can point to individual games where individual players have excelled, but there are few definitive “classic” defensive forwards.
Trequartista: Much like the AMC version, the TQ in the FC position will look to roam around looking for space to create movement for his teammates. What many have termed the “4-6-0” at Roma is probably more accurately a 4-5-1 with Totti as a trequartista. Similar in position to an inside forward, the TQ is more concerned with creating chances first, and scoring if the opportunity presents itself, while the opposite is true of the inside forward.
Contemporary Example: Francesco Totti (Roma; Italy); Kaka (Real Madrid; Brazil)
Classic Example: Roberto Baggio (Italy); Diego Maradona (Argentina); Denis Bergkamp (Arsenal; Ajax; Netherlands); Pelé (Brazil)
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Duties
Duties affect what the primary attacking a defensive duty of the player is on the team. They come in three types: attack, support, and defend. It is also possible to set certain players to “automatic”, which means the creator will choose the most appropriate duty depending on the strategy employed.
Players using the defend duty will have limited forward runs and run with ball instructions. They are asked to concentrate on staying back, keeping their shape and making sure that the team has enough cover when the opposition has the ball. Their role will affect the specific placement of the classic tactical sliders.
Support players are required to hang further back than the attackers, but play ahead of the defenders. Their job is to receive the ball and find good passes when in attack, but to track back and act as the first line of defence once possession is lost. Because of this, they will be asked to play more through balls than anyone else, looking for the right pass to open up the defence, but will also have fewer forward runs than attackers so that they can offer an outlet should possession be lost or should the attackers need a passing outlet behind them to recycle the ball.
Finally, attack players will look to get forward whenever possible and put pressure on the opposition’s defence. They will tend to play with more forward runs (unless their role already places them on the shoulder of the last defender) and will be looking to score goals or set up fellow attackers.
Assigning duties, alongside roles, can really add spice to tactic building. Changes to duties can dramatically change the shape and feel of the side. These changes can help players push forward, push wide or pull back from their proscribed position on the tactical diagram. For most managers, this will allow subtle but important changes in shape, effects that in the past could only have been achieved by changing formation or using the “arrows”.
Assigning Duties
It is very important that the team has the right balance of duties depending on the match strategy. Unsurprisingly, attacking tactics will need more attack duties, while defensive tactics will need more defend duties. Last year’s guide recommended that defensive tactics have around 5 defenders, 2 support players and 3 attackers. Attacking tactics would have 3 defenders, 2 support players and 5 attackers. And the tactics in between would have more support players.
The creator will look to assign roles like this anyway, and may also assign some automatic roles. These are generally given to the full backs, who will then be defensive in cautious tactics, look to get forward a little more in standard tactics, and look to attack the wings in attacking tactics.
Balance
This is the key word with everything in football tactics. Finding the right balance between attacking intent and creativity on the one hand and defensive shape and stability on the other is the ultimate juggling act. In general, it is important to use the
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duties to make sure that nobody on the team gets isolated and that there is always cover in key positions on the park. This is why the choice of duties is so vital to tactical success.
It is certainly not the case that all defenders should be on “defend”, all midfielders on “support” and all attackers on “attack”. This would leave the team very static and with no communication from one stratum to the next. The following outlines the standard practice for setting up the basic duties for a 4-5-1 or 4-4-2.
Defence: As has been explained in the previous section, full backs tend to be given “automatic” roles in FM10. This is because attacking full backs add necessary width to a team: and, usually, if you are attacking the opposition will be defending, meaning having four players permanently stationed in a line can unnecessarily restrict passing options. However, the two centre backs are told to stay back during open play. Their extra duty options are therefore variations on the defensive roles: stopper and cover. The stopper will look to step out of defence and confront the attacker as he comes through, while the cover will look to take a yard or two back in order to “sweep” up any through balls.
Midfield: It is important that the midfield has both support for the front line and keeps somebody back to patrol the centre of the park. In previous guides, you may have heard this referred to as the “MCa” and the “MCd” system.
Having one of you central midfielders use a defend duty (be that a DMC or an MC) is incredibly useful in acting as a holding midfielder. This means that if the opposition do launch a quick break there should be enough men back to at least slow down the counter attack until the support players arrive. In attacking tactics, the “defend” central midfield would be the third of the three players on the defend duty, along with the two centre backs.
Similarly, having the other midfielder on a support or attack duty acts as a good link with the central forwards. In a 4-4-2, support may be enough – the second forward can act as the proper link between attack and midfield. However, in a 4-5-1 or other lone striker formations, having an attack minded MC or AMC can help bridge that gap and supply the forward with passes as well as passing options.
Wingers or side midfielders are very often given attack duties, since it is important to allow them to get forward whenever possible and cause trouble out wide. Not everyone may be given the attack duty (especially in a 4-5-1 where you have more options), but attacking wing play can be very useful in breaking down the opposition or giving you the option for the counter attack down the wing to exploit any space left by marauding opposition full backs. Alternatively, when playing against defensive full backs, it may be necessary to use the support duty to find space in the resulting hole in front of the defence.
Attack: With two forwards, it is important to “split” the duties. One will usually act as a support player, the other an attacker. This serves two purposes. One, it can create the link between the midfield and the attack. And two, it staggers the attack which makes it difficult for centre backs to defend. Remember, of course, that the “two” players up front may be arranged in a AMC-FC combination, which would allow the AMC to be a support player and the FC to be the attack player. Usually, the attacking player will be the goal
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scorer (the quicker player or the poacher), while the support player will be the link forward (the creative forward or the big target man who flicks the ball on).
With a lone forward, it is important to either give him an AMC in support or to give him a support duty of his own. Attack duties will make him press on and play on the shoulder of the last defender, but they will also leave him isolated if there is a huge gap between him and the midfield. If there are no AMCs in the formation, one of the midfielders will almost certainly need an attack duty in order to give him the required support.
How you set up your duties ultimately is up to you. Strategy and other playing style changes will tend to keep players further back or further forward in different tactics anyway – but keeping a balance is always useful in making the team work well as a unit.
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Adapting during a match
Opposition Instructions
Never underestimate the power that opposition instructions can have. Either because of an individual’s skill or simply the position he finds himself in, certain players will need specific marking, closing down and tackling solutions. A skilful forward, for instance, may need to be shepherded out towards the corner flag to neutralise him; or, because you aren’t playing with any wingers, it becomes important to tell the team to close down more heavily on opposition full backs. Whatever the reasons, it helps sometimes to be able to deal with a specific threat. The assistant feedback is usually pretty good at giving you ideas on this front.
Opposition instructions override any individual or team instructions given. Therefore using too many at once may radically change the dynamic of the team, or end up giving your players conflicting instructions.
Identifying a threat
A key tool in identifying a threat can be the pre-match reports or press conferences. Often, the journalists will identify a player who is considered to be the opposition’s main weapon at any given time. Using this information may help you to specifically deal with this individual. Or, perhaps, you prefer to ignore the advice and concentrate on playing your own game. Should you pre-empt how good a player will be? Will you be dragging your team out of shape by obsessing over one player? These are decisions managers have to make on a game-by-game basis.
Remember, of course, that you also have at your disposal statistics on the player’s average ratings, goals-to-game ratios, assists, man of the match awards and, of course, skill attributes: all this information can help you manually identify a threat, or make an informed decision on the scouts’ and journalists’ analysis.
Once the game has started, it may become clear who the threats to the team are. This could be a subjective reading – i.e. the match highlights show a particular player is causing a lot of problems. Or it could be more analytical – i.e. the individual player stats show that a certain player is getting a lot more of the ball than his team mates and your team are not putting him under enough pressure.
Dealing with a threat
There are four opposition instruction types you can use to deal with any particular player.
Tight Marking
Always: Tight marking forces one of your players to stick to the player like glue when the opposition have the ball – usually this will be the same man, but by using this instruction other players will help out should the target roam to a different area of the pitch, or should the designated marker be out of position. It severely reduces the space in which the opposition can work, and makes it more likely that you can intercept a pass made to him. In order to break through, the opponent will have to look for space, which might drag him into a less dangerous area, or will nullify his attacking threat.
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Pros: Puts the opposition under pressure; makes a passing game difficult for the man concerned; can allow effective marking against formations which do not mirror your own.
Cons: Quick or skilful players will leave the man for dead and create holes in your defence; requires good levels of marking and positional intelligence; can leave holes if players start to roam or switch positions; tall players may win every header and create too much space for an effective flick on to exploit.
Never: Much like closing down, it can be useful to give certain players a little more space. If a striker is constantly beating his marker and getting in behind, or if tight marking a player is dragging a key man of yours out of position, it may be best to leave them alone. Keeping your own defensive shape and forcing the opposition to play through you may prove too difficult for them to overcome.
Pros: Keeps team shape; allows slower defenders the chance to react to a quicker player; requires far less skill.
Cons: Harder to win the ball back; may allow skilful players too much space to play well.
Closing Down
Always: Telling the team to heavily close down a player can put him under pressure so that he runs into trouble, makes a poor pass or somehow loses possession of the ball. It can be incredibly effective against players who are slow, poor technically or panic under pressure. It can also be good for getting your players to chase down the ball in areas of the pitch they would not usually cover, such as closing down a wing player when using a narrow tactic or formation.
Pros: Good at putting the opposition under pressure; good on players who are completing or attempting too many passes; good at harrying opposition in key position to win the ball back for quick counter attacks; excellent for providing good cover on the wings against full backs and wingers.
Cons: Players can get dragged out of position, leaving holes for the opposition; players with poor stamina can get tired very quickly if expected to do the brunt of the work; quick opposition players may leave your man for dead with a burst of speed.
Rarely: Sometimes, however, you may feel that a player needs more space. Either this is because you don’t see him as a threat and would rather concentrate on other targets, or conversely because you see him as a major threat but he has been skinning your players all day. Backing off means that your players will stay between him and the goal, forcing him to do something special to get through you to score or to use his teammates instead.
Pros: Quick players can be monitored, which can stop them breaking through midfield or defensive lines; your players can conserve energy; the team will hold its defensive shape and force the opposition to play through or around you.
Cons: Players who are good with the ball at their feet may revel in the space afforded to them; the team will find it difficult to regain possession quickly.
Tackling
Hard: Some players don’t like it up ‘em. Hard tackling on players with low bravery can be useful. Similarly, it can be useful to put in hard challenges on players who can be a threat if given any space: a quick hard tackle reduces his time on the ball. Also very useful on players who have had too much of the ball. Hard tackling can win the ball back quickly for counter attacks or simply make sure that the team cannot pass the ball through one particular avenue.
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Pros: Increased likelihood of winning the ball from a particular player; can scare less brave or less skilful players; good against time wasting opponents when you need to get the ball back.
Cons: Increased likelihood of giving away fouls; skilful players may ride an overzealous tackle and find themselves in space.
Easy: If a certain player is causing a lot of problems by either leaving your player sliding on the floor or winning free kicks in dangerous areas, it may be better to stand off a little more. By staying on his feet, the defender will put himself between the player and goal, shepherding and jockeying the player to somewhere safer. The opponent will either have to use a teammate or use great skill to get around your defender.
Pros: Keeps team shape and allows the defence to shepherd threatening players; reduces fouls.
Cons: Will take longer to win the ball back; may give the other player increased confidence to play the ball around.
Normal: Normal will, naturally, be somewhere in between these two extremes – but it will override your normal tactical instructions. So, take normal as either “harder” or “softer” depending on your natural style.
Show onto foot
With the guide already at over 60 pages, we have decided to leave “show onto foot” for a future Tactical Bible article, available through FM-Britain. This will include descriptions of the difference between wing players and central players, the full positional implications for both attacking and defensive players and, crucially, screenshots and diagrams to help describe the concept in full. This will explain the key link between defensive positioning and the show onto foot opposition instructions.
We do not have enough space here. But check back regularly at FM-Britain for new Tactical Bible articles which will explain this and more tactical concepts in deeper detail.
Combinations
Some believe that certain combinations of opposition instructions are counter intuitive. Experimentation to see what works best for you is always advised. However, there is nothing inherently “wrong” with using any combination of OIs.
For example. If I want to close someone down often and tight mark, then I am telling my team to stay very close to the player – and if he breaks from his marker then I want the rest of the team to chase him down. I could also say that I want the team to close down often and loose mark – telling my team to stand off the player initially, but to put him under pressure once it is clear where he is going on the pitch.
All sorts of combinations are possible. Each manager has his favourite and each manager will use certain combinations on certain individuals and certain positions based on his and the opposition’s style, formation and tactics.
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Touchline Instructions
The touchline instructions or “shouts” are used to modify your tactics even further to react to unexpected situations and individual threats, press home an obvious advantage, or simply to make your approach less predictable. Some of them may be used all the way through the game, others may only be used in specific situations to counter temporary threats.
The touchline instructions will be a new powerful tool for you throughout your FM10 career. The effects can be dramatic and can modify your game plan to suit specific threats posed by particular opponents at particular times. This can provide very powerful changes with minimal manual tweaking of the sliders.
These changes can be exploited to ensure you turn those losses into draws and those draws into wins. Yet, with poor planning they can also have the opposite effect. The key question for many players will be when to switch and when to stick - and of course how to judge it all.
Each of the shouts is listed here along with what they do to your tactics and some brief discussion as to when it is best to use them.
Passing Length Modifiers
Retain Possession
Effect: Instructs the team to try to hold on to the ball rather than making rushed long passes.
Action: Shortens passing length, slows tempo.
Useful: When struggling to hold on to possession; when having low pass completion percentage; to keep the ball from the opposition when leading to hold on to a lead.
Get Ball Forward
Effect: Instructs the team to get the ball up to the forward line quickly to put pressure on the opposition.
Action: Increases passing length, increases tempo.
Useful: When not penetrating the opposition; when having high possession and/or pass completion rates but few good shots; when needing a goal later in the game; when playing on a large pitch.
Try Through Ball Modifiers
Pass Into Space
Effect: Instructs the team to play the ball in front of the receiving player so that he can run on to it and create space for attacks.
Action: Increases try through balls.
Useful: When not penetrating the oppositions; when having high possession and/or pass completion rates but few good shots; when playing against a side with far less acceleration or pace than your own.
Pass To Feet
Effect: Instructs the team to make passes directly to a player rather than in front of him so he can run on to it.
Action: Reduces try through balls.
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Useful: When struggling to gain high enough possession or pass completion percentages; when many passes are being intercepted; when your team has far less acceleration or pace than the opposition.
Passing Length and Direction Modifiers
Pump Ball Into Box
Effect: Instructs the team to play long balls in to the opposition penalty area to try to get an advantage.
Action: Large increase in passing length but decrease in try through balls for defenders and defensive midfielders, tells players to play with less wide play, makes full backs and wingers hold up the ball, increases forward runs for forwards, sets maximum crossing for full backs, focus passing through the centre.
Useful: When needing a goal late on in the game; when possessing taller and/or stronger forwards than the opposition defenders.
Clear Ball To Flanks
Effect: Instructs the team to clear the ball to the flanks in order to reduce the possible danger.
Action: Large increase in passing length but decrease in try through balls for defenders and defensive midfielders, tells players to play with more wide play, focus passing to the wings.
Useful: When trying to hold on to a lead late on in the game; when the opposition is countering through the centre; when possessing quick wingers who are good on the counter attack.
Long Shots Modifiers
Shoot On Sight
Effect: Instructs the team to take the opportunity to shoot whenever they get anywhere near to the goal.
Action: Increases try long shots.
Useful: When playing against a side who are “parking the bus”; when struggling to get any shots in at all; when needing a goal at all costs.
Work Ball Into Box
Effect: Instructs the team to only shoot once they get close to the goal.
Action: Decreases try long shots.
Useful: When shooting far too much from range; when creating a lot of shots but few clear cut chances; when playing with a team who are poor at shooting from range.
Pass Direction Modifiers
Exploit The Flanks
Effect: Instructs the team to play the ball out wide in order to try to play the ball down the wings.
Action: Focus passing down the wings, increases forward runs, crossing and mentality for full backs and wing backs, increased wide play for wing players, central midfielders hold up ball.
Useful: When the opposition are flooding the centre; when playing with good wide players; when playing with a team who are good at crossing; when playing on a wide pitch.
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Exploit The Middle
Effect: Instructs the team to play the ball through the middle of the field.
Action: Focus passing through the centre, increased mentality and try through balls for defenders and defensive midfield players, decrease forward runs for wide players, increase forward runs for non-defensive central players in midfield and attack, decrease wide play for wing players.
Useful: When not playing with any wider players; when the opposition are leaving gaps in the middle of the field; when playing with a strong side with good central players; when playing on a narrow pitch.
Run Modifiers
Look For Overlap
Effect: Tells deeper wide players to run beyond the wide midfielders to offer more passing options and crossing opportunities.
Action: Increases mentality, more crossing, cross from further up the field and maximum forward runs for full backs and wing backs, hold up ball and decrease of mentality, forward runs and run with ball for wide midfielders, attacking midfielders and forwards, reduces wide play for wing players.
Useful: When using excellent attacking full backs and needing extra penetration down the wings; when needing more passing options in the final third; when playing against a side who are weak or undermanned down the flanks.
Take A Breather
Effect: Allows the team to slow the pace of the game down to conserve energy.
Action: Decrease forward runs, decrease tempo.
Useful: To try and slow the pace of the game when playing in very hot conditions; to keep players fit when well in the lead; to calm the game down before radically increasing the tempo and catching the opposition cold.
Width Modifiers
Play Wider
Effect: Instruct the team to play with more width.
Action: Increases width, focus passing down both flanks.
Useful: When the opposition is attacking down the wings; when the opposition is flooding the centre of the field; when needing more space to break down the opposition; when playing on a narrow pitch.
Play Narrower
Effect: Instructs the side to tighten up through the centre.
Action: Decreases width, focus passing through the centre.
Useful: When the opposition is attacking through the centre; when the opposition is leaving holes in the centre; when needing to keep the game tight and reducing space for the opposition; when playing on a wide pitch.
Defensive Line Modifiers
Push Higher Up
Effect: Tells the defence to push higher up the field when in possession.
Action: Increases defensive line height, increase closing down.
Useful: When playing against slow strikers; when playing against a team sitting deep; when needing to reduce the space of the opposition.
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Drop Deeper
Effect: Tells the defence to sag further back when in possession.
Action: Decreases the defensive line height, lower closing down.
Useful: When playing against quicker strikers; when playing against a team pushing up; when looking for more space with a team packing the midfield and defence.
Closing Down Modifiers
Hassle Opponents
Effect: Instructs the team to close down the opposition and reduce the space available.
Action: Vastly increases closing down settings, changes marking to tight-man, increases tempo.
Useful: When needing to regain possession quickly; when playing against a slow, technically inferior team; when needing to reduce space for the opposition.
Stand-Off Opponents
Effect: Instructs the team to hold back from the opposition and try to direct them away from danger.
Action: Vastly decreases closing down settings, changes marking to loose-zonal, decreases tempo.
Useful: When playing against a quick, technically superior team; when needing to hold team defensive shape; when looking for more space to break down a team who refuse to come out of their own half.
Tackling Intensity Modifiers
Get Stuck In
Effect: Instructs the team to tackle hard to regain possession.
Action: Increases tackling intensity to hard.
Useful: When needing to regain possession quickly; when playing against a team with little bravery; when not getting a high enough tackles completed percentage.
Stay On Feet
Effect: Instructs the team to only make tackles when they are definitely “on”.
Action: Decreases tackling intensity to easy, except for the “ball winning midfielder”.
Useful: When conceding too many free kicks; when looking to hold defensive shape; when playing against very quick players good at riding a tackle.
Extreme Shouts
The following shouts are only available when playing the contain or overload strategies.
Play Even Safer
Effect: Tells the team to play even more defensively when using the contain strategy.
Action: Sets forward runs and try through balls to minimum for all players except forwards, decreases run with ball.
Useful: Late on in a game when facing an onslaught.
Take More Risks
Effect: Tell the team to be even more gung-ho when using the overload strategy.
Action: Sets forward runs to maximum for support players, through balls to maximum for all players, increases run with ball.
Useful: Late on in a game when absolutely desperate for a goal.
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Using Match Stats
The statistics that the game compiles during a match can be very good for indicating certain problems with your tactics. While these are no substitute for effective subjective reading of the match engine, they can help tell you where to look. Some of this information is used by the assistant manager in his advice page. This is a brief guide to what the statistics might be saying to you: but as always, watching a match in more detail is far more useful than trying to manage by numbers.
Not enough shots on target/clear cut chances created
A common criticism of sides is that they cannot get enough shots on target or enough clear cut chances. While there’s nothing to say that your strikers might miss those opportunities even if they were given them, creating two or three CCCs during a match significantly improves your chances of scoring. Check the following stats in conjunction with the SoT and CCC count, and try these potential solutions:
Number of shots low: Check the number of shots you are getting. If this is also low, it can indicate that either the team are not shooting enough or that they are rarely in a position to shoot. Try playing more attacking or perhaps using the counter attack; changing strategy so that the team is better able to attack the opposition will open up more opportunities to shoot.
Number of shots high: Despite getting opportunities, the team are not shooting well. Check the long shots statistics and make sure you are not creating too many shots from range. Try working the ball into the box or using shorter passes so that the amount of chances created is fewer but of a higher quality; or consider using the control or more defensive strategies.
Long shots high: Try working the ball into the box. This will tell the team to shoot from range far less.
Long shots low: Consider telling the team to shoot on sight for a little while. This will at least test the goal keeper. Especially if the amount of shot attempts is low, it can be helpful to just get some strikes in from wherever you can. This should, however, be considered almost an act of desperation. On the whole, fewer shots from close range will be more effective than lots of shots from distance. But as they say, you can’t win the lottery unless you buy a ticket...
Blocked shots high: This may indicate that the opposition are flooding the box with players, forcing you to shoot from the edge of the area into a sea of bodies. You will need to check the highlights. However, it may be useful to work the ball into the box, use a control strategy or generally find a way of opening up the opposition for a better quality of chance inside the box in a yard of space.
Possession low: You might be getting a lack of shots because you can’t hold on to the ball. Consider changing passing settings or strategy to hold on to the ball better and work it into better positions. Or, consider changing formation to have more forward players (F, AM) so that the team can play with the ball closer to goal.
Possession high: The opposite problem to the above: the team is getting lots of the ball but doing very little with it. Take a look at the action zones and make sure you aren’t playing with the ball too much in the defensive or middle third of the pitch. Still consider using more forward players, but also try making the team more attacking or increasing passing length somehow. Telling the team to shoot from range a little more may help them get at least a few shots off.
Crosses completed low: You may be trying too many crosses, which is distracting the team from shooting. Try working the ball through the middle a little more instead of
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always looking for the pass to the winger for him to cross. Alternatively, you may need stronger and/or taller forward players and better crossers of the ball in the side. Judging what constitutes a “low” amount of crosses, however, is incredibly difficult and subjective. In order to fully utilise this advice, it is best to use the analysis pages and to keep an eye on the highlights. Narrow formations, for instance, may attempt and complete far fewer crosses than wide formations designed to pump balls into the box from the flanks.
Too many shots conceded
The opposite problem is that the opposition are getting too many shots. This will mean you need to use more instructions to tighten up the defence. Always watch the highlights to check how you are conceding chances, and when making changes use the highlights to check that the changes are having the desired effect. You will always need to find a balance between team shape and getting the ball away from the opposition.
Their number of long shots high: If you’re conceding a lot of chances from range this isn’t necessarily an issue. You are at least keeping the opponents outside the area. It is always helpful to reduce chances even further, though. Consider using opposition instructions on any opponent getting a lot of long shots in, playing with a defensive midfielder or pushing the defensive line up to reduce space even further around 20-30 yards from goal.
Their number of SoTs/CCCs high: This would suggest that there is something fundamentally unsound with the defence. Consider playing more defensively, and use opposition instructions on anyone getting too many attempts. Try to use the highlights and the analysis sections to work out how the opposition are getting their chances, and take steps to combat them.
Their cross completion high: The opposition are getting too much space on the flanks and/or too easy a ride in the centre. Find taller/stronger centre backs and consider playing wider to push the full backs out towards the wings. Opposition instructions on the winger(s) who are putting in most crosses could also help, as could playing a formation which uses both full backs and side midfielders.
Their possession high: When the opponent has the ball significantly more than you do, it is very likely that they will get chances. Close them down earlier and perhaps tackle them harder. Also, check which players are getting most of the ball and consider a formation or opposition instruction change to neutralise them. Try playing more defensively.
Their pass completion high: Check which opposition players are making the most pass attempts and use opposition instructions on them. Try to disrupt the team’s flow by closing them down more. Push higher and play narrower to reduce space. At all times, check the highlights to make sure this does not leave your side exposed.
Their possession/pass completion low: It could be that you are being hit on the break far too often. Drop the defensive line to provide more cover when you are attacking, or try playing with a holding midfielder. Consider playing with less attacking intent or targeting players who appear to be best at starting these attacks.
Not enough possession
Without the ball, you cannot score. Given that if your possession is low the opposition’s possession must be high, the statistics of your side as well as your opponent’s will have to be considered. Viewing match highlights will more accurately tell you why you are losing possession and who is losing it for you; you can then adapt accordingly.
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Your pass completion is high: If you’re completing a good number of passes but still struggling for possession then you aren’t putting enough pressure on the opposition when they have the ball. Close down and/or tackle harder. Perhaps play more attacking and consider playing with players who are good at disrupting the opposition’s flow.
Their pass completion is high: You aren’t doing enough to disrupt them. As above, try playing a spoiling player, being more attacking and more aggressive with closing down and tackling. Check which action zones the opposition is getting most of the ball and consider flooding those areas with players. Also, check the player stats and use opposition instructions on players who are making and completing the most passes.
Your pass completion is low: This means that you aren’t holding on to the ball well when you get it. You need both more space and better passing. Make your passing shorter and perhaps more patient by playing a more cautious strategy. Use the highlights and player stats to see who is misplacing most passes and why. Change their settings to help them find better passing options: shorter passing if they are not using easy options around them; longer passing if they have no passing options and so are just lumping it. Consider making more space for yourself by either dropping the defensive line, widening your play or both.
Player’s positions, roles and duties can also be a factor. Many sides find that they are pushing too many players forward, which means their teammates have no passing options available. Reducing some duties in key areas can create “triangles”, allowing better movement and passing; this may be far more effective than pushing everyone forward and lumping the ball up to them.
Your heading percentage is low: You’re playing too many long, high balls and cannot win these battles. Get the ball on the floor, or consider playing with a bigger and stronger target man. Shorten passing and perhaps use the shouts to make the team more patient in possession.
Your tackling percentage is low: Either the team are being too aggressive and being beaten by the opposition, or the team is tackling in the wrong areas. If fouls conceded is low, try being more aggressive with your tackling. If it is high, then be a little less aggressive. Watch highlights and see whether this is because the team is being pulled out of shape. If it is, try reducing closing down and/or playing a more defensive strategy. Consider also that you may need to change your marking system. Look at which players are missing most tackles and/or committing most fouls and check the highlights to see why they are doing it.
Too many yellow cards
Suspensions can hurt you late on in a season, especially when key players are also injured. Keeping discipline is therefore important to the team. Players get cautioned all the time, but you can make sure that they get cautioned less often.
Tackling percentage is high: Clearly you’re winning a lot of tackles, but when you lose them you end up taking out the opposition player. Try playing less aggressively with the tackling so that the team only make the tackle when it is definitely “on”. On the whole, you would want your tackling percentage to be high. However, if certain players or the team are getting a lot of cards despite a high tackling percentage, it may be worth sacrificing some bite in the tackle to avoid suspensions, and sendings off.
Fouls conceded is low: Same as above. Mostly the tackling is good, but when it goes wrong it goes very wrong. Check the stats and the highlights to make sure it isn’t one player being the culprit. Ask whether this is the player’s aggression or the position he is
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playing, and work out why he gives away so many yellow cards. It may, therefore, be worth looking for a pattern in the player’s behaviour over several games.
Tackling percentage is low: The team are being pulled out of position constantly and are making bad challenges; obviously a few of these are fouls, and serious ones at that. Work on team shape by playing more defensively, maybe with a more rigid philosophy and by reducing closing down. If it does not appear to be a positioning problem having viewed the highlights, somewhat ironically it may help to increase tackling intensity. Sometimes a half-hearted challenge is more likely to give away a free kick than a fully-committed one.
Fouls conceded is high: Same as above. In addition, use the player stats to check the players conceding most fouls. In professional football, most referees will consider cautioning for persistent fouling after three or four fouls, regardless of how trivial they may seem. Pre-emptive action may prevent a yellow turning into a red. Alternatively, watch the highlights to work out why they give away so many fouls and take steps to reduce it.
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The Analysis Page
New to Football Manager 2010 is the analysis page, found in the stats tab of the classic match view. It is a brilliant tool for dissecting your side’s performances and working out where the holes are in your tactical plan. A lot of the information is more subjective than the raw statistical data, and so can be more useful in pinpointing the specific areas in the side that need improvement or explaining statistical anomalies in the match stats. In conjunction with watching a game’s highlights, it is now easier than ever to fix problems that occur during the course of a game or a season.
Clicking on a “blob” in the analysis screen shows a replay of the incident – so there are plenty of opportunities to see where things have gone right, and where they’ve gone wrong.
Shots
The shots page can tell you quite a bit about why you are or aren’t scoring (and the same about the opposition). The little blobs on the screen can let you know which shots were on target, which were blocked, which went wide, which were saved and, most importantly, which went in. You can tell which individuals contributed most (and least) to your SoT count, long shot count and goal count.
It is best to try to keep shots from range to a minimum for players who are regularly missing the target. You can individually set their “try long shots” slider, or generally tell the team to work the ball into the box if it seems to be a general problem. Consider also removing players who fail to live up to these instructions, lowering their creative freedom or training them using PPMs to stop taking so many long shots.
For the opposition, using this page can help analyse your weak points with regard to conceding shots. If most are from long range then this is probably a good thing, but if too many of these long range shots are on target you may need to put more pressure on the opposition by pushing higher up and closing down certain individuals more often. If the shots are from close range, establish how the team were able to get into those positions and make tactical changes to either cut off the supply or more effectively neutralise the shooters.
Passes
Through showing the length and outcome of each pass, it can be easier to decide which players are making too many long passes or which simply are rubbish at passing. Ideally, you want lots of green blobs here. If you don’t, look at what types of pass are being missed. If there is a general problem, try changing passing systems or using shouts to make the team more cautious in possession. Using the replays, you can also see if the problem is being caused by isolation; make sure that all your players have a passing option. If they don’t, consider role, duty and formation changes to add more balance to the attacking shape of the side.
A by-product of the passing chart is that it shows player movement. A midfielder who runs from end to end will have a wide spread of blobs; a centre back holding his position will only have a few blobs concentrated in his own half. Depending on how you want your players to perform, you can adjust roles and duties to make players move around more or less: and work out which players are seeing a lot of the ball and which are not getting involved in the game enough. This is a very useful tool for showing the
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coverage of your players, and highlighting potential areas for improvement with regard to the balance of the side.
Similarly, you can check which areas of the field the opposition is best exploiting you in. Use opposition instructions on players who see most of the ball, and consider formation, duty or role changes to cover areas of the pitch where the opposition are getting too much space.
Tackles, Fouls and Interceptions
This shows the players on your team making a good defensive contribution. Check where the “green” and “red” tackles are being made, and adjust setting accordingly. A lot of red tackles suggests a player who is poor at making challenges or a player being caught out of position too much. Try reducing tackling intensity or making changes to stop him having to chase back and make risky tackles.
A lot of interceptions suggests good team and player positioning. A lack of them, combined with a lot of missed tackles suggests that the team needs to work harder on retaining its defensive shape. Consider playing more defensively, maybe playing with a more rigid philosophy and reducing tackling intensity and/or closing down.
As for fouls, this goes hand-in-hand with tackles. Bear in mind that the position of the foul can make a difference in the colour of card shown, as can the amount of fouls made by the player during the game. Hovering the mouse over the blob tells you the time of the foul and may enlighten the situation. In professional football, most referees will caution after the third or fourth foul – use this to try to reduce the tackling intensity of repeat offenders or pull them off the pitch before they get themselves in trouble.
Crosses and headers
These two are good for tweaking tactics. Some teams don’t like the crossing game and will get few crosses. If you are getting too many, consider reducing wing play by playing narrower or playing with fewer wide players: or change individual crossing settings to “rarely”. If you aren’t completing enough, ask whether this may be due to poor crossing or poor positioning on the part of the central forwards.
This is where heading can come in. A lot of missed attacking headers may suggest that the team needs to play more crosses and passes on the ground, or that the team needs taller and stronger players. A lot of missed defensive headers suggests an aerial weakness which will need to be addressed, either in the transfer market or by cutting off the aerial supply to the opposition target men. Tactically, you can lower the defensive line, to provide cover behind the opposition target men, or using OIs to mark less tightly the taller players. If you cannot win a direct aerial confrontation, it makes sense to make any potential flick-ons or headers less effective.
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Conclusion and Credits
Conclusion
As we said last year, TT10 is not supposed to be the last word on tactics, rather the first. We have tried to show you all the pieces that make up the jigsaw puzzle of tactics, but it is up to you to arrange them as you see fit. Much of what we have covered barely scratches the surface with regard to real life tactics, the mechanics of the FM10 match engine or the complex changes made to the underlying slider system by the new tactics creator.
This year, more than any other, we are actively encouraging our readers to participate in the upkeep of this document. We want criticism and fresh ideas to help expand upon the basic framework we have provided for you here. In time, the Tactical Bible and Communication and Psychological Warfare will help supplement the advice here and help more advanced users get the most out of their tactical strategy.
Experienced managers may disagree with our advice; they may choose to use the “classic” settings to create much stronger and well-rounded tactics. That’s fine, and we welcome that. All we ask is that you let us know your findings so that we can improve upon the tactical literature available in the Football Manager community, and provide help to all those who need it, regardless of their experience or ability.
We will continue to update TT10 as we get such feedback. New drafts will be released periodically as we get more information, and we will use this to drive the latest articles from the Tactical Bible as well as providing an even more accurate guide for FM11. If you want to help us in that endeavour, e-mail us at thinktank@fm-britain.co.uk or subscribe to our mailing list so we can send you the latest versions directly to your inbox.
Good luck, and play well!
Richard Claydon (wwfan) and Gareth Millward (Millie)
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Credits
Writing and Editing – Tactical Think Tank Contributors
Millie
The next Diaby
playmaker
Crouchaldinho
zagallo
cagiva
Abramovich
Further Writing
wwfan
Feedback and Support
Ov Collyer
Help on the 2009 version, the basis of this guide and of the FM10 tactics creator
wwfan, Millie, zagallo, Justified, Jaswarbrick, Asmodeus, Rashidi, crazy gra, Leroy1883, Law Man
General Thanks
The admins, mods and contributors at FM-Britain.co.uk
Jordan Cooper for his work on maintaining the site and generous support at GameWorldOne.com
Ov and Paul Collyer for believing in the guide and developing the new creator – aside from the obvious!
Neil Brock, Glen Wakeford and all the testers at SI Games
Cleon, heathxxx and all of the other mods over at SI Games’ forums
All the beta testers over FM09, FM10 and FML.
The foreign language translators, who have expanded TT&F way beyond this Green And Pleasant Land.
GarryWHUFC/Hammer1000, for driving us to prove that the game can become a realistic tactics simulation.
Anyone who has posted on the tactics boards on the forums at SIG and FMB over the years – even if it was harsh criticism!

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