Football Manager 2015 Tactical Recreation of Roger Schmidts Tactics
Hello guys, I’m Ryan Tank (@ryantank100) and I’m back with the second part of my tactical analysis of Roger Schmidt’s playing style. Here I will shift focus from real life football and head into Football Manager 2015 – looking at the tactical side of the game.
In the first article, I gave you my tactical analysis of Roger Schmidt’s playing style looking closer on the match between Red Bull Salzburg (RBS) and FC Bayern, which Red Bull Salzburg won 3-0.
In this second part, I’ll try to emulate Roger Schmidts football philosophy and system into my Football Manager 2015 Persiba Balikpapan save. This piece about emulating Roger Schmidts tactical philosophy in Football Manager 2015 will focus on the setup of player roles and attributes required to play quick football with high pressing within a structured shape.
Check out how I emulated Roger Schmidts tactical philosophy in Football Manager 2015 utilizing it in a lower leagues management save
Roger Schmidt plays his football in fast-style, either it’s in possession or off the ball. Schmidt is playing with short/medium/long passing game, in high tempo. When on build up play or when his players are trying to find spaces for counter attack, RBS are seen to make short-quick passing play that combined with direct pass to the advanced areas (vertical play). Occasionally, in the proper chance, whoever holds the ball in the deeper area, is instructed to launch a direct pass to the striker (used to be Jonathan Soriano), who will stay forward.
When RBS are on possession, Schmidt licenses his players to run with ball more often. The striker duo pluss Sadio Mane, Kevin Kampl and the two full backs, are the players who are having the most chances to do such actions. In regards of this freedom to run with ball, I have not decided, whether I’ll activate ‘run at defense‘ (team instruction) to generate such action or take another approach where I micro-manage player by player, by giving them the instructions via player instructions (PI).
On attacking phase, the 4 front players are the players who are given the task of creating as much havoc to the opposing team defense. The 4 front are 2 attacking wingers and the striker duo. 1 attacking winger (Mane) hits the opponent defense with his dribbling and penetration ability through the half space. Another attacking winger is a winger-play maker. These two are free to run with ball and express their creativity ideas. There are slightly different tasks given to these two, especially in the build up phase – one breaker and one provider. For the striker duo, one of them is a deeper-positioned player (when defensive transition and defensive phase). When the team on counter, he must get into the penalty area similar to the widely-known striker. The other striker is the passing target for counter attack strategy. He is also let up front so the team could always be providing constant-pressing to the opponent defensive line.
The teams that are managed by Schmidt always have the highest amount of shot attempts (subject to dead-ball and rebound-shot). Schmidt lets his players to make long distance shots on their will. In Football Manager 2015 term this could be generated by activating the ‘shot on sight‘ instruction. Or it can be indirectly influenced by activating the ‘be more expressive‘ instruction. This would give more creative freedom to your players. I myself… so far… prefer to give the ‘be more expressive‘ instruction to my players. Why? Because, shoot on sight would be potentially really pushing my players to make more long distance shots. Which is something which needs to be carefully supervised, as it could ruin my tactical plan. The reason is so simple. Persiba are a low league management (LLM) team – a team which consist of players with low playing attributes. By letting them shoot on sight, you need to continuously watch them play and make sure it doesn’t ruin your tactic. I don’t want to do this.
When on the opponent territory and off possession, Schmidt starts his pressing play at pitch middle; zone 10, 11, and 12 (and also at zone 7, 8, and 9 – the furthest area of the team defense). Schmidt doesn’t instruct his boys to make full court press in every single moment. Such pressing is only allowed in certain situation. This is one of crucial part of Schmidt’s tactic. Letting the opponent to have the ball deep in their back line, but, then, press them intensely, when they enter the zones. Unfortunately, the match engine (ME) doesn’t allow me to do this. This is being one part of Schmidt’s tactic that is not able to be implemented in Football Manager 2015. I don’t want to detail it, as it would only make me like a very smart jerk who teach you all about Schmidt. No. Plus, pressing system is built by a lot aspects and effected by a lot variables, so, it would be time consumming to discuss about that topic. It’s not the right timing and place for having such discussion. :)
When his players are pressing it’s always done with high intensity and structured movements. 2 or 3 or even 4 players are forming a tight barricade to put intense pressing to the opponent players. They try to force mistake and hit them with a fast counter attack (gegen pressing/counter pressing). He looks to utilize the half space – the focusing area of where Roger Schmidt is trying and instructing his boys to get in and upper cut his opponent.
When on defensive phase, RBS players are often seen to loose their pressing intensity and make sure they narrow the basic shape according to what Schmidt wants. By playing with narrow formation you are reducing your opponent moving space, which also means you are closing the vulnerable spaces that potentially created, as the following negative impact by your opponent movements or your own players actions. When the defensive shape is created perfectly, the pressing intensity is raised immediately. RBS players would try to stop the ball carrier as soon as possible. On this such phase, physical-challenges are allowed.
In the match against Bayern, when his team are defending, 8-9 players are tracking back. The one who always stays forward, getting ready to be the passing target for counter attack strategy, is, Jonathan Soriano. Another player, Sadio Mane tracks back occasionally or he chooses to stand between Soriano and the highest layer of RBS defensive formation. Alan, the Soriano partner, is the deep lying striker who transforms into a midfielder on defensive transition and defensive phase. He will run into the opponent box when on counter.
The next big question is how would I try to implement Roger Schmidt tactical vision into my my Persiba of Football Manager 2015 save. Ok, before we discuss it together, one thing to realize, is the limitations of the current match engine (ME), as mentioned above. It is impossible to recreate all 100 % of Schmidt tactical vision into Football Manager 2015. In fact, in my opinion, the things which can be recreated is only the very small parts of Schmidt tactic. Those things which can be implemented will be the things I’ll discuss below.
Formation & Player Role Duties
For me, in terms of Football Manager, there are 2 basic formations to suit what Schmidt wants – it’s 4-4-2 modern and a wide asymmetric 4-1-2-2-1.
Roger Schmidt’s 4-4-2 Modern Formation
Goal keeper is the sweeper keeper (SW) in support duty. I’ll play with attacking mentality. It pushes my defensive line as near as possible to the opponent territory. One of the impact is the creation of gaps between the GK and the deepest defender. With this comes into mind I need to make sure my goalkeeper will keep his distance and reduce the gap between him and the defensive line. That’s what an SW could do, roams from his respective position and moves forward to reduce the gap. Is it really happening? I’m not sure indeed :). At least, that’s how the manual tells me the sweeper will play.
Central Defenders. One on cover duty and one with defend duty. Stopper duty seems to be more appropriate with what Schmidt’s RBS CDs are doing, especially in regard to how they played against Bayern Munich. As I often see one of them going forward and taking part on build up play. But once again, I must remember Persiba are a lower league club, not a team packed with players with high playing attributes, as too much aggressiveness set up on defensive line might cost me a lot.
Complete wing backs (CWB). Against Bayern in the first half, Schmidt preferred his two wing backs to hold themselves and stay more at the back. They tend to hold them self to not making too much run from deep that might create gaps and vulnerable spaces behind. In other matches against weaker opponents, Schmidt wing backs are displaying different style of play. They tend to be aggressively attacking the flanks. Support duty is my choice, so far. As I see it’s already enough if I need them to give support to my attacking line.
Let us look on the central midfielder duo. I originally used central midfielder-defend (CM-D) and central midfielder-support (CM-S). But as the time went by, CM-D role seems to not be involved enough in the different phases of play – staying more back. It in turns forces him to be the player with lowest performance rating. The worst of this is his statistic of interception, passing and tackling are really low too. And I personally don’t like such thing. I’m far from satisfied. Although I must admit CM-D is a very balanced role. CM-D will guarantee the balance of your shape. As he prefers to stand between his partner and in the defensive line. How about CM-S? One thing I don’t like from a CM-S is when it comes to the moment he makes forward run and leaves his partner alone. The problem is he often chooses the wrong timing when he does it. It just doesn’t suit me.
It might be different, let’s say if I play with 3 central midfielders. In 3 central midfielders, I’ll let one of them to constantly run forward and surges into the box (false 8 role), as there are still two players to supervise behind him. But in the shape of two central midfielder I choose to be careful of doing such strategy. With only one man on central midfield it may cost you – depending on how your opponent are playing.
For the good of my life, I tweak them. CM-D is tweaked to ball winning midfielder (BWM) and CM-S is tweaked to deep lying midfielder (DLP). By playing as a BWM, I find my player manages to raise the amount of interceptions and tackles meaning it is not as low as what I see from a CM-D. But one thing you must remember is that the ball winning midfielder is a rather aggressive role, as he tends to charge for the ball. So in specific situations he might be caught out of position, which may harm my tactical plan. The BWM partner the deep lying playmaker prefers to hold position in the central area of midfield, as he does not make a lot of forward moves, compared to a CM-S does.
This exactly is what Ilsanker and Leitgb doing. They give enough coverage to the central midfield. “Letting” the 4 front players to be doing their attacking-job and being the shield for the back line, as well.
When I say this combination suits to my tactical vision it doesn’t mean I’ll stand with it from time to time. In different matches I might tweak these roles. Depending on how my opponent are playing. For a simple example, if I see my opponent are playing extremely deep I may play with a CM-S. But, if I see I only need to tight the central midfielder, CM-D and DLP-S would be more appropriate combination.
Obioma Buhari, the right inside forward (IF) replicates Sadio Mane, the left midfielder of RBS. Ramdani Lestaluhu, the wide play maker (WP) on the left, is Kevin Kampl, the right midfielder of RBS. I give Buhari the IF role because this is the role which I might get the maximum result of Buhari. He is very capable as striker and a natural AMR. But he doesn’t has the ability to play on midfielder strata. Kevin Kampl is a roaming winger and moves to the more central area acting like a winger playmaker. In terms of Football Manager the suitable role for such style of play is wide midfielder (with specific instruction) and wide play maker (WP). I chose the WP because the passing stat (attempted and completed) for the wide playmaker is better than the WM one. I must remember, Kampl is the player with the best passing stat compared to whole squad.
One thing I like from this year match engine (ME) is the players are intelligent enough to make use of the half spaces as their way to attack the opposing team.
Deep lying forward (DLF) and complete forward (CF). The alternative role for DLF is the defensive forward (DF-D), especially if I need my striker to give extra pressure to the opponents midfield. One another role is CF. I’m not sticking with certain role. In real life, in regard to the match between RBS and Bayern, the way of play of Jonathan Soriano is advanced forward (AF). But if you use the AF role in Football Manager it means that the striker is not getting involved as much as I want in the build up play, as I want the complete opposite. In fact, Soriano actually is asked to stay forward and has to be getting ready for the counter attack strategy. In my save I tend to choose my front liner to take part in build up play. This is why I choose complete forward. Sometimes I give him support duty, as I want him to drop even deeper and be even more involved in the build up play. But I won’t avoid using an AF. Because from what I see AF is an effective role to stretch the opponent defense if you have pacey striker. This is exactly what I got now in Abdul Rahman Lestaluhu, Seun Falodun, and Obioma Buhari, whom are speed-demons of the Indonesia Super League (ISL) level.
Roger Schmidts 4-1-2-2-1 asymmetric Formation
Basically the formations of modern 4-4-2 and this asymmetric one is similar, but the two main differences are at the AM and DM strata / slot. A striker dragged down and given the attacking midfielder (AM) role in additional to one of the central midfielders who is put in the DM slot as a BWM.
I actually prefer to play with 4-4-2. So this shape is the alternative shape which would be played when I see I really really need it. To fight against a team with strong midfield, this asymmetric shape seems to be more appropriate with some adjustments on it. I can tweak the role and duty of my AM/DM/LM to make sure they overload the midfield.
Not much I can say, as this is basically the same with my modern 4-4-2 basic shape. I’ll be writing more about this formation (and also the 4-4-2) when we discuss how these two tactics are performing in the real match.
Recreating Roger Schmidts Philosophy Through Configuring The Team Instructions
Short passing and pass into space are my interpretation to how Schmidt combines his short-direct passing play. Short quick passing combined with direct pass (vertical play) when the right moment comes up. With pass into space you are instructing your players to make more through passes which is great for counter attacking style of football. Counter pressing (as the tactic that relies on counterattack) would pair it extremely well.
Play narrower. Narrow shape is how Schmidt tries to close the way through into his defense system and it’s how Schmidt asks his two wingers to play and hit the opposing team half space.
Close down much more. I tried to activate the close down more. Unfortunately I don’t get the “feel”. I then, decided to raise the notch and ask my boys to close down much more. But again it never really satisfies me. This years match engine doesn’t quite allow my players to close down to the level I need. :(
Get Stuck In. As I don’t see there is enough closing down applied by my players. I have to find one or two alternatives to deal with such issue. I choose to instruct my players to get stuck in and stop the opponent players at all cost. If you see the match of where RBS beat Bayern 3 goals to 0, you can see their players would make hard sliding tackles to stop Bayern from playing.
Higher tempo. Schmidt would be happily asking his players to play as fast and accurate as possible. This instruction brings your players into fast style of play. They’ll play fast and try to hit the opponent as soon as the team regain possession. In fact, attacking mentality will bring fast playing tempo to your team. But as I see it, it is not as fast enough as I want, so I decided to activate this instruction.
Outside of these 6 instructions, there are some instructions to be activated depending on how the match situation is going on.
Run at defense As I have mentioned earlier, Schmidt front liners seem to be allowed to dribble with ball more often. If I play against a much weaker side, this instruction will suit it very well. As it might weaken my opponent in game morale, especially when my players constantly succeed to take on the their players.
Exploit flanks or exploit middle, depending on where the weakest side of the opponent formation is. 1 simple example. 3-5-2 tends to be weak on its wings. As it only has one layer there. You can try to exploit the flanks to hit it with your two-layer basic shape.
If I feel my back line is exposed too easy by the counter strategy of my opponent, I might try to ask my players to Drop Deeper or much deeper.
Setting Up Player Instructions To Recreate Roger Schmidts Football Philosophy
Player instructions is a specific set up for you to adjust your tactic to the max. One way I look at the player instruction is the ability to adjust players who seem to “break” the tactic. For example, I ask my players to make short passes, but one of them keeps trying to make a lot of wasted long passes. This is where the player instruction comes in and plays its role.
I don’t specify what instructions to be activated for each players. But I have given my point of view (conclusion section on the first part of Schmidt article), how Schmidt asks his players to play and how they are moving – read more here.
There’s one important variable to remember; in both real life football and Football Manager 2015, every match always creates specific in-game situations – so no match is similar. With different situations you need different adaptations to deal with them. You can’t avoid it. You have to live with them. Roger Schmidt, is known to be a man who loves to hit the opponent half space. But I bet you, if he can dismantle the opposing team by making more crossings into the center area of the box by exploiting the opponent flanks, he will be absolutely happy asking his boys to do it. This is no different with what we are supposed to do when playing Football Manager matches. There are many specific weaknesses which can be exploited. There are different formations with different kind of weakness. When you see it, set the proper strategy and find the appropriate way of execution to realize it, you can consider player instruction to be one of the weapons to support your action.
The Required Player Attributes to Utilize Roger Schmidts Systems of Play
Player attributes are the important part for players – the objective aspect of the game of where you can determine the quality level of each players. I believe, a firm believer, that players are the core of tactic. They are the part of it. They are the ones who are running the tactic. They are the most crucial part of the tactic. In Football Manager, each different style of play requires different attributes. Each tactics need different attributes.
Long story short, guys. When you are playing with Roger Schmidt way, you realize that you are playing with extreme level of closing down style. A style of play that means your players might would ‘forget’ their basic shape. A style of play that your players would push their endurance to the limit, and the style of play that your players need to be quick and smart enough to live with it for the whole 90 minutes.
When you play a top tier league and manage a big team, you have much more options to choose. You can “freely” choose. But when you are managing a lower league management (LLM) club, you’ll find more circumtances to deal with. A lot of limitations to overcome. So you need to come with different approach when it comes the moment to analyze your player attributes.
The Pressing Game
Roger Schmidt is playing his football with high-intensity of pressing. He also wants his players to break the opponent as soon as possible, which means he also relies on his team counter strategy. With these two factors + LLM side factor come into mind, I then identify which attributes to take into consideration. Here they are.
Mental attributes: I actually absolutely agree and will be happily to take concentration into consideration. But sadly I’m forced to forget about it and let life continues, as I can’t find players with decent concentration attributes who are willing to join Persiba. In this level of LLM, concentration is an expensive one. I have to forget it and take my eyes to the other attributes. After taking closer look at player search screen and see the realistic transfer players one by one I end up with these attributes. Aggression, Decision, positioning, workrate, and teamwork.
Technical attributes: tackling.
Physical attributes: acceleration, pace, and stamina. Acceleration and pace (quickness) are actually crucial for LLM. Or I can say physical attributes will be your big support to conquer your LLM save. As we are discussing the Schmidt way, it’s better to talk about attribute and its importance for an LLM next time.
Counter Attacking – The Fast Style of play
As soon as Schmidt regains possession, he will asks his boys to launch a fast counter attack. In regards of this kind of playing style, speed and precision are two primary factors to take into consideration.
Mental attributes: aggression, anticipation, decision, and off the ball.
Physical attributes: acceleration, pace, and stamina.
Technical attributes: first touch, finishing, and passing.
Those are the attributes I choose when I try to find appropriate players for my tactical recreation of Roger Schmidt Philosophy in Football Manager 2015. I won’t define them one by one and describe the why in detail, as you can find a more detail description on this website or read Cleons piece about player attributes for preferred playing style here.
On the other side as I am managing a LLM side, it’s too difficult to match all the attributes I need. Because I have to say it again, it’s a LLM club, not a top tier team with packs of highly-playing attribute players. But anyway, before going too far moaning about such limitations it’s better for me to show you some example of how I search the players I need.
Buying by Attributes
For central midfielders, we have had Marcelo Augusto and Evan Dimas for the ones to be relied on their creative ability. The issue is we don’t have decent central mids with decent defensive ability. Rendy Siregar and Fauzi Lamaruna are the two existing players we currently have. But I really don’t feel they are good enough to cope such extreme style of play.
As my effort is to improve my central midfielder area the first step I do is to go to the player search screen and search by attributes, like this.
Have I found them rightly after I push the OK button? No, I have not. I adjust them, until I found the best available to sign in. I reduce the passing to 10 and tackling + anticipation to 9. The search engine is now providing me with two players. Egi Meigiansyah (a central midfielder) and Johan Alfarizi (a left back-midfielder).
I by no doubt put my bid on Meigiansyah, one of the best central midfielder in Indonesia competition. I finally got him with £30K, a relatively-cheap signing for such a calibre player as Egihas still some years on his top of his game – being 27 years old.
I finally decided to snap up Johan, as I also need a new left back. I choose Johan because his acceleration (11) and pace (11) are at the level of attributes which could still be maintaining our comparison at the around top level (not the best but still satisfying and not worrying me). The best team with the best acceleration and pace at defense are Barito Putra, 11.67 and 11.50. The best team with highest acceleration and pace at attack are Persib, with 14 for both attributes. Should I be worried? Not so much because my central defenders are all at score of 11-12 for acceleration and pace. Ramdani Lestaluhu our left midfielder got 12 for his acceleration and pace.
Ramdani Lestaluhu, the one I mentioned above, is another new signing. The player I need to be a left winger. When I was in the process of finding him I once again go to the player search and adjust the filter. As I don’t need him to be good at tackling I eliminate it from the filter. I add dribbling on it. Long story short, I decided to buy him. An ideal signing in my opinion although he only got 8 score at anticipation. But he got 9 at passing (compared to PSM, with average score 9 point, as the best team with midfield line as the best at passing). Ramdani also got 12 at decision, which is better compared to Persipura 11.64 point, as the team with the best decision on their midfield line.
All the new players I have signed in are the best I can buy. Not actually the best. Because there are more players who are better than them. But for some specific reasons (foreign players restriction, price and age), it doesn’t make sense if I decided signing them. These all new players are the best I could do. Which in turns hopefully are more than enough to build a cohesive team.
Okey, folks. That’s all of my second part of emulating Roger Schmidts tactical philosophy in Football Manager 2015. See you in my third part, which might be the last part (or maybe not.. who knows?) of the project to recreate Roger Schmidts tactics in FM15. In the currently final chapter part 3) I will detail my football Manager 2015 4-4-2/wide 4-1-2-2-1 asymmetric tactic and analyze how it works in the different phases of play – showing you how the players act within this FM15 tactic.
Which team shape do I use to emulate Roger Schmidts tactic in FM15?
I use fluid team shape.
What match mentality do I prefer?
My default approach is Attacking, but I might change to Control if I like to conserve energy or overload if I like to push vertical play to maximum.