Welcome back! If you follow me on Twitter you’d know that I mentioned a couple of weeks back that I should have this blog/tactic posted within a few days. Well, it didn’t turn out like that. I was busy with work and to be honest I could just not be bothered to play the game when I finished work or even start writing a post. But I’ve found time and here it is, hope you enjoy.
I’m not a person who has one way of playing and its down to the squad to work around me, rather than the other way around or a joint effort. I think in football you need to be flexible and you can’t stay true to one formation or way of playing throughout a career, whether that be on FM or in the real world. You have to be adaptable and flexible to your beliefs. But I do have a preference to have a 3-man central midfield, so I tend to use that as a base point for my tactics. This time around it is a 4-3-1-2 or a Narrow 4-4-2, depending on how you categorise formations.
When I was toying with the idea of a 4-3-1-2, one of the main factors in the formation what was dragging me towards it, was being able to have the ability to use a strike partnership, something which I hadn’t done on FM15 upto this point. I had a rough idea on the roles I wanted in the tactic and with that in mind I opted to manage Villarreal and right from the start they just seemed like a perfect fit. Universal players all with potential.
To cut a long story short (as I’m presuming most of you are here just for the tactic rather than me rambling on) I had an amazing season with what I thought was a very average squad bar 4-5 players. I grabbed 3rd spot in the league and reached the Semi-Final in the Europa League, where I got knocked out by my beloved Tottenham. Football is cruel sometimes eh? I couldn’t get a small version of my final standing in La Liga and I didn’t want to upload the full page because it takes too much space up so I’ve added my results to my Europa League results.
After been offered a contract to carry on with Villarreal I decided to reject it down to the ridiculous budgets they set me. Luckily for me Atletico Madrid sacked Simeone and wanted me to replace him so I’m currently mid-season with those now, hence why you’ll see Atletico players in the line-up.
So, the image above is how I set my team up formation wise. If you read my last blog you’d know I love the Central Winger in this years FM, so I hope its no shock to you all that I’ve opted to use one on either side. The main reason behind this is due to the lack of natural width. You might be thinking now I’ve said that, ‘Well why is ‘Play Narrower’ selected?’. I’ve selected this option mainly for the defensive phase as it compacts the middle of the pitch making it incredibly hard for the opposition to play through so they normally have to go wide, which I’m more than happy to let them do, but its also useful in the attacking stage aswell as it forces my team to keep the ball in the middle of pitch, meaning all my players have a vast number of options when on the ball.
What you can’t see on that graphic is the ‘Mentality and Philosophy’. I play on the ‘Control’ option with ‘Very Fluid’ to allow a lot of movement to create spaces in this narrow system. ‘Using Shorter Passing’ and ‘Much Higher Tempo’ is key to making this tactic work in my eyes. When the team has the ball they are constantly passing around quickly, giving the opposition no time to close them down enough. This allows greater ball retention but it also helps create space for my team, as when the opposition shifts across to close down, my player will have already released the ball first time meaning the receiver of the ball will have the option to play the ball in to a pocket of space for one of the on rushing midfielders.
Essentially this tactic is split up into two. 5 attackers who contribute to all the attacking play, and 5 defenders who are happy to not get involved and just keep it simple playing short passes then springing into life when the opposition attacks. I’ve found it to be very resilient in defence and really makes teams work for chances.
I would recommend using @MerryGuido (Twitter) set-piece routines as they work very well. Find them here.
You can download the tactic below, and if you decide to use it I would appreciate feedback on how it works for your side. Any questions feel free to contact me on Twitter @FMHotspur