Creating a Successful Football Manager Tactic
Welcome to this fundamental Football Manager guide which is focused on how to create a tactic in Football Manager.
I presume many of you have already downloaded one or more of our Football Manager 2014 Tactics and perhaps tried our best Football Manager 2014 Attacking tactic Cobra 3-6-1.
On the other hand, perhaps you’re like us, who want to create a successful tactic based on your own ideas and football philosophies. This guide will help you to be better in finding your own dream tactical system, and let you understand how to create the best tactics for your managing club. Since teams and most importantly players will have their own sets of characteristics you will often be forced to alter downloaded tactics so they suit your club. A good manager will need to play to the teams strengths and hide any weaknesses with tactical instructions.
A good manager will also need to unite individual payers into a team tactic in order to get success. So what’s required of you in order to create the best tactics for Football Manager 2014? How shall you go about in order to analyze your team and choose the preferred playing style according to the team strengths? And finally how do YOU like to play football? Attacking football, Possession football, Counter-attacking football or just parking the bus? Or do you like to play a little of all depending on opposition? These are the main questions you’ll need to ask yourself before starting to create your excellent FM14 tactic.
I presume you’re playing Football Manager 2014 at this very moment, and you finally come to match day. You might be favorite to win over a mid-table struggling team. The difference between success and failure in these situations, and for any Football Manager Match for that matter, can come down to the essential part of football managing – your tactic.
For many years now, we’ve been used to tactical creation through use of the so-called ‘sliders’, where we could adjust every single detail of how a team and player would behave. With this years FM14 release the sliders are gone. They’re replaced with instructions for teams and players, something much closer to real life tactical creation. For everyone that struggles with that, or tactic creation in general – this is the perfect guide for you. We will take you through the most basic principles for creating a tactic in Football Manager 2014. Enjoy!
Main Questions for any Tactical Creations
1. How do you want to play?
The core question you need to ask yourself when creating your tactic is “how do i want my team to play”?. This is essential, as your general ideas about what kind of football you want to play will be reflected in the issued team and player instructions. This will be the difference between playing a deep, disciplined counter attacking system like Jose Mourinho, the old-school 4-4-2 of Tony Pulis at Stoke or the modern pressing systems utilized by German teams. Forging an idea in mind comes down to:
- Your own idea of how you want to play
- How much shall I adapt the tactic according to opponents weaknesses or strengths (which will of course be necessary to a degree in order to get something out of the match),
- or play the same system regardless of opponents
- Players available and their skills
- Match Conditions (pitch surface and weather conditions)
2. The Formation
Every tactical system is described as a formation, based on what positions you put your players in; how many players are in defense, midfield and attack. The most common and popular are 4-4-2, 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 and their different variations. (Most recently, 3-5-2 also become more popular).
By using the tactic creator, you will have 24 formations to choose from, already setup with player roles and duties that fits. But this can of course be altered to your preferences.
How you set up your tactic will depend on your playing style or what players you have at your disposal. This can be extremely flexible, as same player roles can be utilized in different positions on the pitch. Every formation has its flaws and plusses. Wingers will thrive in a 4-4-2 but can be exposed by overwhelming your central midfielders, while a 4-1-2-1-2 diamond would give you considerable advantage in the middle of the park, but can exploit your lack of width. Normally it’s often a question of where you want an extra man; do you want an extra man in the middle of the park or in attack or defense. This will also be a question of utilizing your squad strength based on where you have the best player(s).
Ultimately, most people have their favorite formations, and if you have one as well – start by using it. If you don’t have a favorite formation, try adjusting it to fit your team or playing style. There’s no limits to what formation you can come up with, as long as it performs!
There are two main options when creating a tactic:
- Create a tactic and formation which you will need players to fit within, making it a long term project for success,
- or use the players at your disposal as the foundation for success is already there.
Setting up the formation is just one of the main keys in order to find a balanced approach between defending, counter attacking and attacking. Selecting a formation should also be based on the players you possess, trying to utilize their strength and neglect any weaknesses. As every Football Manager formation is based on different player roles and individuals with their own characteristics (read player preferred moves) it’s important to select player roles that fit one another. We will come back to this in the future.
First, it’s important to analyze your squad, find any weaknesses and put focus on its strengths when creating a tactic. This will also be where you discover if it will be a long term project for success, or if the foundation is already there. You can read more about analyzing your squad below.
3. Fluidity and Mentality: Unpredictability vs Tactical Intelligence
The two basic things to adjust, after deciding on a formation are how fluid you want your team to be, in terms of positional play and what mentality you wish to take. It will be a matter of choosing a football philosophy which balance predictability compared to each players tactical intelligence. While the fluidity will affect your formations shape and how many players you’d like to contribute in defensive and attacking phases of play, the mentality will affect how you like your players to behave according to each specific match plan. This means that while the fluidity is normally stable throughout a season, the mentality will need to be alter according to opposition pre-match and adapted according to match incidents.
3.1 Fluidity – Predictability and Shape
Choosing the preferred fluidity will influence on the playing style, the shape of the formation when defending and attacking, and last but not least players responsibilities in match situations according to their player role duties. A more rigid approach will let you dictate more facets of a players’ role than choosing a fluid approach.
There are five different fluidity levels to pick from:
Very Rigid – With this approach, each player is expected to focus on a single phase of play within a very rigid system. Defenders are responsible only for the defensive phase, midfielders are only responsible for the transition phase and attackers are only responsible for the attacking phase. The team will be expected to keep its shape at all times, playing very precise, controlled football with players allowed very little creative freedom. The playing style might be very predictable, which is great for a defensive approach, as the players will stick to the formation chosen.
A very rigid playing style requires less of the players than a more fluid playing style. Players will in general require better teamwork, positioning and anticipation in order to keep its shape. This fluidity is more about the overall team players and their individual player attributes when choosing player roles within a very rigid playing style.
Read more about the very rigid mentality structure: production lines here.
Rigid – With this approach, players are expected to contribute to fewer phases of play than with a Balanced philosophy. Central defenders are responsible only for the defensive phase. The fullbacks and more defensive midfielders are responsible for both defensive and transition phases. The wingers and more attacking midfielders are responsible for both transition and attacking phases. The forwards are responsible only for the attacking phase. The team will be expected to keep its shape and play precise, controlled football with players allowed less creative freedom.
A rigid playing style will require more of the individual players in terms of improved technical skills such as defenders will also require improved off the ball, decisions and anticipation than a very rigid style. Read more about the Rigid Mentality Structure: gestalt tactical systems here.
Balanced – With this approach, players are expected to contribute to more than one phase of play. Defenders and more defensive midfielders are responsible for both defensive and transition phases and more attacking midfielders and forwards are responsible for both transition and attack phases. The team will find balance between movement of players within the system and keeping its shape, which is the preferred option for many playing styles.
A balanced style will demand more creativity and technical attributes for defenders as well as improved defensive attributes for supporting players of the attacking line. By choosing a balanced approach you will be able to let some players of the attacking line to roam from position in order to be more unpredictable when attacking, compared to a very rigid style. Read more about the balanced mentality structure; Asymmetric shape here.
Fluid – With this approach, players are expected to contribute to more phases of play than with the Balanced philosophy. The team is split into broad attacking and defensive units with the more creative players responsible for the attacking phase and the more defensively disciplined players responsible for the defensive phase. However, players from each unit are expected to move into the transition phase when such opportunity arises. The team will be encouraged to play more flowing football with players allowed more creative freedom.
A fluid style will demand far more of your players as they will require improved creativity, flair and technical attributes as well as off the ball and positioning. Players will also require better anticipation and positioning in order to support players who are attacking, for example by dropping back in order to protect the defensive line.
Read more about the Fluid Mentality Structure; the solid foundations here.
Very Fluid – With this approach, all players are expected to contribute to all phases of play within a very fluid system. Attackers must be able to defend and defenders must be able to attack, with players relying on their reading of the game and each others movement to shift in and out of each phase at the right moment. The team will be encouraged to play free-flowing football with players allowed high levels of creative freedom, similar to the Total Football.
A very fluid approach will be more unpredictable and demanding of your players as each player will require both improved defensive attributes as well as more attacking attributes in additional to flair. A more fluid style will make it more likely to experiment with “weird” formations and player positioning, as shape is less important for a far more unpredictable attack. Read more about the Very fluid mentality structure here.
What you finally land on, will be fundamental to how your team plays. Will you give your players all the freedom they want and play total football, or will you be determined and disciplined with a rigid approach? What you choose is down to what you like best. But your choice should be based on your squads technical and tactical understanding and their level of creativity. Typically, it might be a good idea to play more rigid if you use a lot of specialist roles (regista, defensive winger, box-to-box midfielder, shadow striker) so they obey the tactical instructions better. This is, however, not a given rule and can be experimented with as you wish.
3.2 Match Tactic Mentality
The match mentality dictates how defensive or attacking your tactics are. It’s worthy to change the tactics mentality in the course of the match according to how the match develops; based on specific incidents, match conditions and play according to the opposition weaknesses and your team strengths. It will dictate how the team performs and the general guidelines for the team both for achieving its aims or regulate its play. The levels of mentality are as follows:
Contain – The aim of this mentality is to frustrate the opposition by reducing space, slowing things down, keeping the ball, wasting the time as much as possible and to clear the ball long when out of risk-free options. Unlike the Defensive Match mentality, it is not looking to score on the counter-attack, just not to concede. As possession and frustration is the priority, more players than usual will be kept behind the ball.
Defensive – This mentality is best employed for matches you are expected to lose and in which you expect your opponent to put you under extended pressure. It aims to keep men behind the ball, restrict space in your half, to slow things down and to frustrate your opposition. It relies on direct balls to the forwards followed by sharp and quick passing to score goals on the counter.
Counter – This mentality is best employed for matches in which you are expected to lose the battle for possession but feel you can break with some regularity. It aims to keep men behind the ball when defending but to provide quick support to attacking players when the ball is in the final third. It relies on getting the ball forward quickly enough to expose the spaces behind aggressive full-backs and wingers, with players tending to stay deeper and maintain defensive shape if the break looks like coming to nothing.
Standard – This is arguably the most important of all match mentalities. By carefully balancing risk and reward , it enables the manager to assess the match situation and how well the team is playing prior to switching to a more specialized tactical plan. It is an ideal starting mentality for all short-odds matches; by carefully watching the match the manager can decide to be more aggressive or cautious or to stick with the standard approach if things are going well.
Control – This mentality is best employed for matches in which you believe you are the stronger team but are wary of your opponent’s counter-attacking threat. It aims to move the ball around the park and to patiently probe the final third to find space as and when it opens up. Although full-backs overlap and midfielders break ahead of forwards, they will generally only do so in relatively risk-free situations and will usually sit back and help the midfield maintain possession until chances open up.
Attacking – This mentality is best employed for matches that you are favorites to win and expect to dominate possession in your opponent’s half. It aims to exploit the space in the final third by employing a fast tempo and direct, attacking passing supported by a defensive mentality aimed at recycling possession. It focuses heavily on getting players forward and into space and allows them the creative freedom to express themselves.
Overload – This mentality is intended for situations where you need to go for broke to try to score a goal. It aims to overload the final-third by employing ultra-fast tempo, ultra direct, attacking-orientated passing supported by a defensive mentality aimed at recycling possession. It focuses heavily on throwing players forward and into space to try to create goalscoring opportunities.
So as you might’ve noticed both fluidity and mentality go together, although all combinations would work if balanced correctly.
You will also notice that mentality and team instructions will influence each other. Using one mentality and some specific shouts will take the playing style to its most extreme, like what you want when re-creating the Tiki-Taka Barcelona are most famous from. Again, it is up to every manager to decide his playing style, or simply adjust it for single matches, but be aware that some adjustments might impact the team more than you could imagine. You will need to analyze the match in order to find what’s most effective for you and your team in every single matches.
Choosing the mentality lets you go for all-out attack Zeman style, or the desperate defensive football we’ve seen from Chelsea in their run for the Champions League. The choice is up to you, but most importantly is that you choose an approach which suits your players, adapting it in order to try exploit opposition weaknesses and abandon those who make performances drop drastically.
Creating a successful tactic is an on-going process, as changes will need to be done throughout the season and in the seasons to come, as the AI managers get used to how you play. You might need 2 or 3 different approaches to pick from in order to combat that. While the tactic is always developing as new players are arriving and others are retiring, your preferred playing style can be somewhat the same. Targeting players required for your preferred playing style will make it less likely to make dramatically tweaks to your successful tactic.
Analyzing your Squad – Find Preferred Playing Style
Your players will of course be the primary objects in any tactic in order to make it successful. Their level of player attributes will determine their skills. Their strengths and weaknesses will not only influence on how you shall approach tactic creation, but also how you want your team to play. As you’ve learned above, your choice of fluidity and mentality will set requirements to the individual players as well as for the entire squad.
As you might understand each different playing style will require different skills and attributes. Analyzing your squad can make you one step closer to finding your preferred playing style, either its a short term solution or a long term development for success. Analyzing the squad will make you able to spot what you got or don’t got in order to utilize your preferred playing style.
To help you become better at squad analysis we will use Juventus as an example to determine a playing style. We can look at the whole group (squad) and individuals and assistant managers recommendations in regard to player roles and best positions in order to get some feedback and tips for finding the best playing style. But a closer look is always important.
Secondary Elements – General Information
When starting a new Football Manager save you will need to get familiar with your new club in order to create the best possible tactic. Not only will you need to submit to the boards preference for football philosophy but also get an overview of your entire squad and general information about your players in order to choose your playing style.
Average height is not the most important aspect to look at when creating your Football Manager 2014 tactic, but it should be a general rule to look at it. The players average height may determine how you want to play. Choosing a tiki-taka playing style might not be smart if you possess tall players with much weight, which makes them less mobile. Of course this will depend on their position as well, but the average height might give you some hints of which playing style that suits your team.
As with the case of Juventus, we see that they have an average height of 182cm compared to Barcelonas 177. It may indicate that the squad in general is good in the air, which quickly turns my focus to utilizing crosses and attacking set-pieces as some of my weapons. From the screenshot above I have also highlighted average weight which in most cases are heavily linked, but this will also very much depend on each players height. A tall player like Fernando Torres, who weighs 81kg, is “one of few” who also possess very good technical attributes), so it’s not a general rule.
Another general information you might look at is the squads average age. Of course it will not be as important as each players ability and potential, but it might give you an indication of their tactical intelligence and how they will perform. A younger group of players will normally be less consistent, as performances might fluctuate, which is important to notice in regard to short term or long term development plan.
Assistant Manager’s tip for suitable formation
As you will discover having an excellent assistant manager will be as important as having the best players at your service. His recommendation for most suitable formation for your current squad can give you some tips about which player roles the current team possesses and what’s most suitable.
His recommendation of 4-1-3-2 is by now the most appealing to me. In order to see how accurate his recommendations are, a quick look at his staff profile indicates that he has excellent knowledge of the club players, but average level of tactical knowledge. His preferred formation is also 4-4-2 with a balanced playing mentality. When we know Juventus in real life is playing a 3-5-2, the 4-1-3-2 is somewhat different. Shall I listen to him or create my own formation and choose my own playing style?
Squad depth and Improved Analysis
In order to find the answer to which formation and playing style to choose, I will need to analyse my squad and see if I have players who can play 4-1-3-2 or if there are other options available.
Players Natural Positions
By starting to look at players natural positions I can quickly see what choices I have with the current squad. This doesn’t mean I can choose a downloaded tactic that I can fit players into in the long term, but if the squad has no natural fullbacks it wouldn’t be smart to choose a 4-4-2 formation. On the other hand it would be smart to choose a 4-5-1 (4-1-4-1) if you possess good wingers and few natural strikers.
By taking a brief look at the Juventus squad I quickly spot the strength of the central midfield with players like Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal, Claudio Marchisio and one of the best Football Manager 2014 Wonderkids Paul Pogba. I also notice that Juventus only have two natural strikers, no obvious right wingers and many players who can both play as fullbacks or wide midfielders, where players like Stephan Lichtsteiner and Kwadwo Asamoah are the best ones. From the squad depth overview below the depth of central midfield and forwards gets even more obvious. Still 4-1-3-2 might be a good choice.
Squad Analysis of Formational lines: Defensive, Midfield and Attacking lines
In order to make a better judgement of formation and playing style to choose I will need to take an even closer look at the players and their overall skills. The squad report, which gave me the general information compared to the other clubs in the Serie A, can also give me information about some key attributes for all positions.
From the Team Comparison report I can see that my team is one of the best in the league. Juventus level of work rate and teamwork quickly draws my attention. Supplemented by passing, first touch and decisions I should be able to utilize a more direct passing style with more movement, as I have team players rather than individuals. From the average age you can also spot that the team is more mature and has good tactical intelligence.
Team Comparison Defence
Even though it only compares Serie A defenses it gives me valuable information about Juventus weakest areas in regard to attributes of the defensive line. What draws my focus first is the squads poor tackling and jumping reach. This tells me that my squad will be vulnerable for crosses and defensive set-pieces and may be vulnerable to fouls if playing aggressive football (see also aggressive in overall team comparison). The players do have excellent positioning, marking and strength which is important for a man marking style. Their level of acceleration and pace is also very good, so I might play with a higher defensive line, which will also be a natural attacking weapon.
Team Comparison Midfield
As mentioned briefly above, the midfield is the Juventus’ strongest area. What draw my attention was the high stamina and high creativity. This will also be reflected in the individual player analysis, but gives me strong indication that I have a team which suits a more fluid football philosophy with players who can work hard and tire out opposition.
The teams level of long shots can also be taken into account as I can be a threat from long range. The teams level of passing, technique and creativity can also make me able to play a short passing style or a direct passing style with more movement.
Team Comparison Attack
While Juventus’ midfield could be described as the best in Serie A, the attacking line is more uneven. From the overview it looks like they’re average in aerial situations based on level of jumping reach and heading. Not even the best finishing either, but should be able to threat from outside the penalty area with good long shots. The level of anticipation might emphasize a more fluid style with much movement.
The team comparison of attacking line doesn’t directly give me the obvious solutions to playing style, so we will also need to look at individual player analysis in order to make a final decision.
Individual Player Analysis
In order to make a successful tactic, the key is to utilize each players strength in regard to the overall team instructions and tactical playing style. Below we will only show you briefly how you can analyze an individual player to spot strengths and weaknesses.
Spotting the teams key player(s)
No matter which team you manage, there will always be a key player; a player who is far better than everyone else, or is important to the squad happiness and determination because of his leadership capabilities. One decision you’ll be forced to take is to either create a tactic around that specific player or organize the team to increase the discipline and hide any weaknesses. In regard to our example, the most obvious player that could be regarded as a key player is Andrea Pirlo. Even though he’s not getting any younger, he should be regarded as the main playmaker based on his level of passing, first touch, creativity, composure and anticipation. He also possess the player preferred moves dictates tempo and is suitable for the regista player role – DM position. So if we go by this solution, Pirlo will be our spare man when attacking, but in difference from other tactics, he will be in a deeper position.
Another excellent player is Arturo Vidal who can also play as DM, who also has excellent tackling, bravery and aggression. He could be a great choice as ball winning midfielder or even box to box midfielder based on his very good finishing – Central Midfield (MC) positioning.
Up front is Carlos Tevez, a player who is familiar with playing as the supporting striker in a 4-4-2 formation. His creativity and work rate would be excellent in the available space behind a lurking striker either as an AMC or ST.
These players are all players who play the best in the center of the pitch. With the lack of obvious wingers / inside forwards the attention shifts quickly to utilizing the midfield, playing to its strength – stamina, work rate, creativity and flair.
Setting up a formation based on Player abilities
Further analysis is needed, even though we might have 3 positions covered, in order to decide on the preferred formation and playing style. By taking a closer look on Fernando Llorente it’s easy to spot his main strength – aerial situations based on his 195cm, 19 in jumping reach and 18 in heading. I could take advantage of his main strength from set-pieces or from crosses from wide. From the squad depth above you’ll notice that the lack of good wingers and inside forwards forces me to either use wide midfielders or (complete) wingbacks. This decision is based on Paolo de Ceglie, Kwadwo Asamoah and Stephan Lichtsteiners average tackling. Their stamina, work rate and speed on the other hand is very good. This forces me to use a crooked and narrow 4-1DM-3-2 formation or a narrow 3-5-2 formation with wider midfielders which can turn into a diamond in the center of the park.
As you will see some choices might come natural to you. I won’t get any further analyzing the squad but what I finally decided on was to use a 3-5-2 / 5-3-2 formation with players who control the middle of the park, and which most often provide much spaces for an overlapping complete wingback out wide. I chose a back two in order to use Asamoah, Pirlo, Vidal, Pogba and later Marchisio when injury free, and decided to use a more “defensive” left wingback with the likes of Paolo de Ceglie.
When setting up the team tactic you can use the player role overview to get recommendations of their best player roles, and use that recommendation when setting up your tactic. Do know that it’s important to try to balance your team by assigning attack, defend and support duties in each of your lines. This means that you have players who can contribute to more phases of play still when choosing a more rigid style.
Choosing a Playing Style
When deciding on your preferred formation, it’s time to chose the preferred playing style of your new Football Manager tactic. Sometimes the decision will come by itself based on your managing team; the overall squad analysis done by going through all players in order to get a better knowledge of their skills (player attributes and player preferred moves).
Choosing a playing style is done by setting up team instructions and individual player instructions based on mentality chosen. Creating a tactic is also the case of risk versus reward, unpredictability versus efficiency and finally adapting it throughout the match in order to exploit weaknesses.
In the case above I decided to use complete wingbacks which should provide the width of the tactic with players who run off their markers just like rockets of a fighter aircraft. It’s a big risk to be counter attacked on the flanks when facing 4-2-3-1 formations, but the reward by providing that extra width can be higher. In order to tire the opposition out, I decided to use a direct passing play with much movement and crosses into the box.
A successful tactic is most often the case of choosing a playing style rather than trying to exploit bugs within the match engine. Your playing style will be closely linked to strategy, reflected by mentality. Below we will just go briefly through the most common playing styles in todays football.
Possession football is one of the playing styles closest to my heart. It can be described as a way of holding the ball in order to retain condition and tire out the opposition through low risk short passes. When speaking about possession football, I guess everyone’s mind goes to the Barcelonas Tiki-Taka tactic. This playing style aims to keep control of the ball with a slow build-up before shifting quickly to a higher tempo with through balls to inside forwards who cut inside. It will be a fine line between patience and movement, passing and creativity.
Possession football demands more of your players, where some of the keys are technique and passing. You can read more about the tiki-taka playing style here. Possession tactics most often uses a 4-3-3, 4-4-2, 4-3-1-2 or any other formations which creates triangles and rhombuses, which create multiple passing options in front of the player with possession of the ball.
Counter-Attacking football could be described as the complete opposite of possession football. Here you let the opponent have possession of the ball, letting them come to your own half before catch the opponent on the “break”, either by waiting for a mistake to be made or by physical play; tackling and marking. While possession football is well-known for it’s heavy pressure, counter attacking football pressures deeper on the pitch hoping to intercept passing play or win possession of the ball when the team is unbalanced.
Counter attacking football is more direct than possession football, and aims to catch the opponent off-guard by higher tempo and more movement in order to work the ball on the quickest way towards the opponents penalty area. Counter-atacking football will demand other attributes than when playing a possession football. Players would require more acceleration and pace, off the ball, dribbling and flair in order to exploit the unorganized defense and enter the final third aiming for a goal or come to a clear cut chance. Players will also require excellent anticipation, decisions and determination in order to intercept moves at the right time.
Counter attacking tactics can use many variations of formations but is most often used for 4-2-3-1, 4-5-1 or 4-1-4-1 tactics, where you have a lone striker who drops deep in order to receive and flick the ball to an on-rushing central midfielder who might have intercepted or regained possession of the ball some steps back. While the most famous possession tactic is the tiki-taka, the most famous counter-attacking or score-one-more-than-the-opposition tactic is the catenaccio, which used a roaming sweeper.
Direct Passing Football resembles the counter attacking football, but involves a more lenient to utilizing vertical passes to get from defense to attack quickly without involving too many players. A direct play would often use long balls from defensive line to a target man with midfield who supports him. While possession football uses short passes, the direct passing play will prefer to pass the ball over longer distance with diagonal passes to a better positioned teammate who can get the ball into the final third quicker. Players will require better first touch and technique in order to utilize passes over a longer distance.
Direct passing play will not let players dwell on the ball but use high tempo as the main attacking weapon often using touches of counter-attacking football. Direct passing play can be used no matter formation. While players within a possession football style tend to pass the ball to a fellow teammates feet (no risk), a direct playing style will pass the ball into space, in front of the team mate, often making the team able to exploit space by movement and passes.
Parking the buss or anti-football is taking football to it most extreme by outnumbering the attacking opposition with 10 men behind the ball (at all times), with a lone striker up front which can turn defending into attack depending on whats most convenient. The anti-football is most often compared to an aggressive, physical and robust style of play with defensive minded players who mark out opponents key players and decrease the space to exploit.
It’s not a playing style per se, but similar to the direct passing football, it can be used from time to time, or in general, in order to both defend and attack with less risk. While counter-attacking football is both defensive and attacking, and together with direct passing play uses higher risks to achieve results, the anti-football will be more about defending than attacking and play efficient football based on less risky play. It will try to use physical football, tactical intelligence, team work and player positioning in order to park the bus; often defending deeply with deep pressure from the central midfielders. As all Norwegians we’re used to the playing style from the golden years of the Norwegian national team under our manager-legend Egil “Drillo” Olsen.
Anti-football will most often use variants of both short and long passes – depending on what’s most efficient and less risky – when attacking. The team will attack with fewer players then what’s natural from the other playing styles above.
The anti-football will demand a united team with high tactical understanding, good positioning and much strength. They don’t need to be speedy, but make the correct decisions and tire out the opposition by decreasing their confidence and use work rate and aggression to make them prone to do mistakes late in game. This playing style is often used for minor teams with more mature players (see also West Ham or Celtic).
As you will see, the best teams often use variations of all the above playing styles depending on scoreline, pitch conditions, weather conditions, players condition and specific opponents in order to exploit weaknesses and play according to their strength. Choosing your preferred playing style should be the primary aim when creating your tactic – how can I get the best out of every player on my team – not only perfecting the style of your key player. When deciding on your tactic, it will be a matter of decisions which needs to be taken balancing between risk and reward, predictability in defense and unpredictability in attack, discipline and flow and at last player positioning versus movement – making the tactic better than the players you possess.
Creating a world beating tactic in Football Manager 2014 will be more difficult than ever!
You will need to analyze the match, you will need to let your players be accustomed to the tactic and you will need to understand which players roles that works best with each other. Using more than one preferred tactic will of course be needed in order to change playing style according to opposition – shifting through 2 or more tactics in the long season. By taking advantage of the tools available, such as setting up match preparations according to opposition strength or weaknesses with the aim of making the tactical familiarity levels fluid – which shows you how well the players understand the tactical instructions.
By using the available tools in Football Manager, you can create a superior tactic! In the coming weeks, we will delve deeper into the art of creating a successful Football Manager tactics! We’d love to get your personal tips on tactical creation for FM15 below!