Tactical Analysis: crooked 4-2-3-1

Background
For years my Wolves side had played a variant of the popular tika-taka football style implemented by Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona side during his time at the Nou Camp. As well as this, the squad was built around home-grown talent rather than big-money signings. And whilst this has been largely successful (the side has won the last eight consecutive league titles), a change was necessary. For years my ultimate goal has been to complete an unbeaten league season. Despite all the trophies, cups and awards, it has always eluded me. Be it a shoddy 1-0 loss at the Emirates or a 3-1 thrashing at Old Trafford, I’ve always struggled away at the other major English clubs. My possession-based football has always come unstuck away from home, and I felt it was time to re-create something a bit different in a bid to complete that illustrious unbeaten league system.

Over the past decade and a half of managing Wolves I’ve had a number of incredibly talented players come through the ranks. With this, I’ve had to adapt and tinker with my system over the years in order to ensure they fit the shape and style of the play. It’s led to me creating some very interesting tactical roles, and a number of those fit into this system. I’d like to think they complement each other.

This combination of interesting roles and talented players has really piqued my interest in Football Manager, and this in-depth analysis is something I’ve been thinking of doing for a while. It may not be your style of football, but I’d like to think that it’s still worth the read regardless.

Those of you who are familiar with the blog will already have read several sections of this piece, so you may wish to skip them. However, I’ve included them in the guide as they allow you to further understand the tactical intricacies I’ve attempted to consider when creating the tactic. If you haven’t read them before, I highly recommend clicking on the links provided.

Hopefully this article won’t just be me telling you about my 4-2-3-1. It’ll show you how you can create a tactic, and what you need to consider when doing so.

i. Strategy and Key Principles
The first place to start with any tactic is to ask yourself what you want from it. Once you’ve decided on this, it’s much easier to make and justify future decisions, particularly when you’re tweaking the tactic. My key principles were as follows:

β€’ Length of transitions from defence to attack would be kept to a minimum.
β€’ Players should be expected to contribute to a variety of different phases of play.
β€’ The tactic must be assymetric with different sides of the pitch creating different styles of attack.

Keeping these goals in mind really did help whilst I was creating the tactic. They often overlapped and I had to consider which would lead to maximum efficiency from the players but I felt the second goal would overrule the others if push came to shove. It’s something that’s fascinated me ever since I began to take a serious interest in football tactics. Whilst in the defensive phase of play, the attacking players are effectively wasted. And vice versa.

The likes of Rinus Michels and his Total Football system went some way towards addressing this issue, but that’s a step too far for me. Whilst I appreciate that defenders actually are better at defending, surely they have some use in the offensive phase? A number of defenders in world football today are fantastically technical players. The likes of Philipp Lahm, Mats Hummels, Gerard Pique, even David Luiz and Daniel Agger, are all very able pushing forwards. Surely they can contribute in some way?

That’s the idea, anyway.

The tactic itself is based on the Bielsan concept of high-pressing, direct play. If there is an opportunity to push forward an attack, then the players will take that chance. However, if the opposition defence is organised then the ball must be recycled through the midfield. In order for this to work, your players really do need to be all-rounders. In order to press high they need the physical skills. When the ball is recycled, technical ability is needed in order to break the opposition defensive line. And mental attributes (in particular, the decisions attribute) are needed to decide which option is most suitable. I’m sure you’ll get bored of me saying it but it’s no good creating a tactic if it doesn’t suit the players – if you’ve got Mario Balotelli or Zlatan Ibrahimovic up front, then you can stop reading now.
ii. Shape
As with any formation, the place to start is the shape. I decided to start with a 4-2-3-1. It’s a durable formation that can come up against any other and not get caught out, and it dominates a number of other simple shapes such as the 4-4-2. It allows you to play possession football or counter-attacking football, and this flexibility appealed to me.

However, the one major flaw I found throughout this process was the gap between midfield and defence. It’s plagued me. I dropped one of the central midfielders back into the defensive midfield role, but this then left a large amount of space on the other side where the central midfielder was not dropped back (see screenshot above). I also toyed with the idea of the defensive midfielder and central midfielder both playing in the centre of the pitch, but the two ended up in very similar areas and without setting their creative freedom to high levels, it was difficult to correct this. Eventually, I had to suck it up, change my central midfielder from CM – Support to DLP – Support, and move on.

After this change, we ended up with the following shape.

This shape can be shown in FM, here:

iii. Players’ Duties
Now, this is where it gets interesting. But before I get into the nitty gritty stuff, I’d like to make something quite clear.

Without doubt, this is the most important section of any tactic creation, for several reasons. The following points are all vital in determining players’ roles and duties.

1. Combinations are the key to every tactic. I’ve worked hard to create innovative new roles, such as the Inverse Wing Back and the Playmaking Defender, but without complementary roles around them, they’re useless.
2. The players themselves must be in the right roles. I’ll use the example of Cristiano Ronaldo. Whilst he is positioned on the left-wing, you wouldn’t ever dream of playing him as an out-and-out winger. That’s simply not what he’s good at. I can’t tailor the tactic to suit your players, but I can for mine. Keep that in mind.
3. When it comes to attacking organisation, you need a means to an end – know where your goals are going to come from. Brendan Rodgers talks a lot of crap but one thing he says that makes sense is that a team needs three and a half goalscorers. I prefer to think of it as three and a half goalscoring routes. It’s also vital to ensure your attacking roles will create space.
4. Defensive organisation: how are you going to defend? How do your player roles complement this? In terms of defensive organisation, the first stage is always to consider how you want to defend. Once you’ve established whether you’re going to sit deep or push high, your player roles will stem from this.

Goalkeeper (Sweeper Keeper – Defend)
I won’t go into the role of the goalkeeper much because tactically, it’s not a particularly interesting role by any means. However, one thing to note is the high line that the tactic plays. Because of this, you’ll need a keeper who’s not only a good shot-stopper but is also quick off his line. This type of keeper is extremely hard to find in Football Manager (perhaps undersupplied in comparison to the number of sweeper keepers around in real life today). I often have to use an academy product who I can mould to the role. I use a Sweeper Keeper – Defend, but if you’re particularly happy with the ball-skills of your keeper, then it’d be a good idea to adjust it to the Support or even Attack duty.

Real life examples include Hugo Lloris, Victor Valdes and Michel Vorm.

Right Back (Full Back – Attack)
The main role of the right-back in the crooked 4-2-3-1 is to provide the width on the right hand side. As you can see from the shape image above, and as I’ll go into later, the RCAM acts as a false winger. This is all well and good, but we need some width on that side. As I said before, the tactic is all about combinations and the width the RB provides allows the RCAM to complete his obligatory attacking duties.

Depending on what your RB is best at, you can either use him as a barnstorming, touchline-hugging wing-back, or you could allow him to cross from deep. In theory, either would work well – considering the direct nature of the tactic, it’s important he can cross. But if he’s not so good at taking defenders on, then you might want him to cross from deep. I know some players like to convert ex-wingers into full-backs, and that would work excellently here – if you have a RB like Antonio Valencia, Dani Alves or Glen Johnson then give them license to bomb forward and cross from the byline. However, if his dribbling isn’t up to scratch, then make sure he has the cross from deep option set.

You’ll learn more about how this role can vary depending on the opposition in part two of the article. I want to go into it now but I’ll restrain myself, so tune in for that. It’s particularly important for the RB role.

Centre Back (Ball Playing Defender – Defend)
If you’re a regular follower of the blog, or my Twitter account, then you’ll already know what this is about. My RCB is my Playmaking Defender (if you haven’t read that article already then I highly recommend you do so, because it explains the role in detail).

Despite this, first and foremost his role is to defend. So you need someone who can head, tackle, jump, all the defensive basics. The fact that he’s used as a Playmaking Defender is to eliminate the unemployed resource that he would be in an attacking transition. To be honest, due to the direct nature of the tactic he’s not actually used a lot, but if the opposition defence are well organised then he can often provide a key pass to create an attack.

Similar real life players include Mats Hummels, Gerard Pique or Sergio Ramos.

Centre Back (Central Defender – Defend)
Boring.

Here you’re looking for your standard central defenders. Preferably as big and as nasty as you can find – Nemanja Vidic, Mamadou Sakho or Vincent Kompany are all ideal.

Left Back (Wing Back – Attack)
Much like with the Playmaking Defender, there’s already an article for this on the blog, here. The role is explained in good detail there.

Real life examples of the Inverse Wing Back include Leighton Baines, Arturo Vidal, and Kwadwo Asamoah.

Left Defensive Midfielder (Anchor Man – Defend)
This is one of the more interesting roles in that it’s not something you’d usually see. Since Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea side won the Premier League with Claude Makelele at the heart of it’s midfield, the world has gone a little bit ball-winner mad. Whilst the Makaleles of this world were previously undervalued and underrated, their role in the side is now more than appreciated.

However, this role is ever so slightly different. Florentino Perez famously dismissed Makelele for being poor at heading, and because of this, Makelele wouldn’t be suitable for the LDM role here. This is because you need someone with a bit more aerial prowess. Over the years, I’ve found the best players in the LDM role are often central defensive converts. Whilst I usually convert a DM to play in the Playmaking Defender role, there’s generally a CB who goes the other way. Their role in the side is simple – get the ball back from the opposition and give it to the players who can do things. And the way the tactic is geared means there are options all around – the Playmaking Defender, the right touchline-hugging full-back, the Inverse Wing Back, or the man I’ll come onto next, the RCM. High positioning is vital for interceptions, whilst jumping and heading are needed for aerial duels and, tackling and marking are needed for regaining possession on the ground.

It’s a difficult role to find real life examples for as I’d argue the players who’d do it well play centre back anyway. But it’d be a very similar sort of player to the one you have at LCB, although ever so slightly more agile. Phil Jones and Vincent Kompany would be excellent options, and if you could afford to put their attacking abilities to the waste, Yaya Toure and Marouane Fellaini would also do well.

However, much like the RB role, this is a role that varies quite a lot depending on the opposition. I’ve got an entire article coming up on that soon so I won’t go into it, but sometimes it’s not really necessary to have another centre-back at DM.

Right Central Midfielder (Central Midfielder – Support)
Now, this is a role I’ve had real issues with. I said earlier that I made the change to a Deep Lying Playmaker, but I lied. The CM – Support provides another attacking option for the Playmaking Defender, whereas the DLP – Support just nullifies his impact. And as I said, combinations are vital to this tactic. The space shown in the previous image in the ‘Shape’ section, I decided was not as important as this. A key part to creating a tactic is choosing between areas you wish to be strong in, as one tactic can’t fulfill every need.

What I like to think of the RCM as, is what Lee Scott puts excellently in this article, on FMAnalysis, in which he calls the player a Linking Midfielder (highly recommend you take a quick read of that). Whilst transitions are being kept to a minimum, bursting runs from midfield to attack are vital, and I don’t think that’s provided by the DLP. As a result, I’ve stuck with the CM role. His duties are detailed in the aforementioned article.

Real life examples include Arturo Vidal, Christian Eriksen, and Jordan Henderson.

Right Central Attacking Midfielder (Inside Forward – Attack)
One thing that you will have immediately noticed upon looking at the tactical shape a few sections back, is the position of the right-winger. In a standard 4-2-3-1, he would be just as wide as the left-winger. Well, not here.

In this tactic, his main role is to play alongside the CAM (who is the side’s main playmaker), and move between the lines. He’s got a large amount of attacking freedom and will usually be a deep-lying forward convert who is capable of playing at CAM. His main aim is to score goals.

In recent times, we’ve started to see great exponents of the 4-2-3-1 use false wingers. Jose Mourinho has used the 4-2-3-1 ever since he left the shores of Portugal, but recently his Real Madrid side is the home of Cristiano Ronaldo – one of the world’s great goalscoring wingers. Ronaldo is essentially told to wonder about until he finds a bit of space, and although he plays on the left-hand side, the concept is the same. Another example of a false winger would be Andres Iniesta for Barcelona who used to play at LCAM whilst Adriano or Maxwell or Eric Abidal would overlap and provide the width. This is why I mentioned that the right-back providing width is so important for the tactic. Because if he doesn’t do so, then the opposition left-sided players are going to have a really easy day.

For the role we’re looking at (ie. a goalscoring false winger), real life examples include Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale (recently), and Jefferson Farfan.

Central Attacking Midfielder (Advanced Playmaker – Support)
The CAM in the crooked 4-2-3-1 isn’t a particularly interesting role – he plays much the same as a CAM would in any 4-2-3-1. His main job is to create chances for the ST and RCAM, whilst also feeding the likes of the LAM, LB and RB who will also create chances. He’s the main man in the second attacking layer, as illustrated below.

Real life examples include Mario Gotze, Philippe Coutinho and Luka Modric.

Left Attacking Midfielder (Winger – Support)
This is another fairly one-dimensional role, however it’s surprisingly important in both defence and attack. Oddly enough, the role is incredibly similar to that of the right-back – the LAM is required to hug the touchline and provide the width. If you play with an aerially strong striker (again, combinations are vital to tinkering the tactic) then your LAM will be one of your most important players. My LAM at Wolves has 20 dribbling, 20 crossing and not much else – but it allows him to play the role incredibly well, particularly when I start with my big striker.

In defence, the winger is also fairly important. This is because the Inverse Wing Back often wonders forward, which can leave the left flank fairly vulnerable. On a support duty, a hard-working winger will often track back if the potential for an opposition counter attack arises. Wingers who operate in this way are Angel Di Maria, Stewart Downing and Antonio Valencia.

Striker (Advanced Forward – Attack)
This is another position I had a bit of a problem with in determining the role. However, due to the direct nature of the tactic I eventually decided that Advanced Forward would be the best. This means he plays as high up the pitch as possible, and as a result is looking for balls over the top as well as balls played into his head and chest to hold up. On numerous occasions, he’s by far the furthest man forward and as a result, it’s vital he’s able to keep possession until his teammates provide a decent passing option.

He needs to be able to score from crosses (from the LAM and RB primarily, although others will obviously contribute too), as well as from interplay with the CAM and RCAM. Because of this, he really does need to be an exceptional player, and most of all – a goalscorer. Ideally you’d have someone like Didier Drogba, Romelu Lukaku or Robert Lewandowski.

iv. Attacking Movements
When it comes to attacking movements, you need a means to an end – know where your goals are going to come from. Brendan Rodgers talks a lot of crap but one thing he says that makes sense is that a team needs three and a half goalscorers. I prefer to think of it as three and a half goalscoring routes. Also ensure your attacking roles will create space.

In the above tactic I have three and a half distinct goalscoring routes (I like to think of the half as a ‘miscellaneous goals’ type deal). They are as follows, and in no particular order:

1. The Inverse Wing Back
This is covered in my article here. I won’t go further on this one as there’s plenty of information there. If the left-back isn’t the man scoring the goals, then he’s usually the one assisting. He’s topped the league tables for assists on numerous occasions.

2. Wideplay
Because of the direct nature of the tactic, the team puts in plenty of crosses. The main source of the crosses is the left-winger, who has been ordered to hug the touchline in order to create space for the Inverse Wing Back. However, the attacking nature of the right-back means he also makes an impact in the assists tally. Occasionally the RAM will drift out wide and play crosses into the middle, however this isn’t as regular as the left-wing or right-back.

3. The Trio
However, the main source of goals is attacking interplay between the CAM, RAM and ST. As obvious as it sounds, these three need to be excellent footballers. The striker in particular needs to be incredibly well-rounded in order to score a number of goals from interplay with the two attacking midfielders, as well as being strong aerially. Someone like Didier Drogba is perfect.

~

Well, if you’ve made it through that then you’re a hero. I hope it gave you an idea of the fundamentals of tactic creation on Football Manager, as well as an insight into my own 4-2-3-1.

There’s also second part to come on how you can change the tactic depending on the opposition’s approach. Stay tuned.

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51 comments

  1. George Roscoe

    So would you recommend me (I’m just starting a new save) to look at my team, see what they’re good at and try and fit it around them or should I look for a system I want to play and buy/sell players that fit that system?

    • Eds

      Hiya George.

      It’s a tricky one as it’s a bit of a chicken/egg scenario. However what I think you need to do firstly is identify your best players – and do this via grouping. If your best player can’t play with your other players then he isn’t your best player at all. Find the players you want to keep and then build the tactic and the rest of the squad around them. For example, if you were taking over Swansea, you might feel that although Nathan Dyer is one of the best players, he may not fit into the system that the other best players (Michu, Ashley Williams, Jonathan de Guzman) suggest you should create.

      There’s certainly no right answer to the question but that’s what I always tend to do. It’s about identifying the spine of the team and then realising what tactic can stem from that, then re-visiting the players you have at your disposal.

  2. Tahun

    MrEds can you email me your tactic link? I would be so very grateful. It would help me so much. Cheers.

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  4. declan

    Hi can you email it to me as well please?? it looks awesome but im not getting anywhere creating it from scratch

  5. Sondre L. Bjordal (@batiSondre)

    You know what? This is exactly the sort of tactic I’ve been looking forward. Trying to implement an 4-2-3-1 for Liverpool. Based on recent events, I have sold Suarez, bought Iago Aspas, Papadoupolous, Atsu who we’ve been linked with. I have also bought Lukaku and Lamela, and astonishing as it might sound De Sciglio on loan from Milan. They offered him to me! Wow. Also looking for a quality DM. Thinking about this eleven. Reina(or a new goalie) – De Sciglio – Papa – Agger – Johnson(do you think he fits the inverted wing-back role?) – DM – Gerrard – Atsu – Coutinho – Lamela(think he fits perfectly as the RAM) – Lukaku. What do you think? Could you please e-mail me the tactic? would be ever so grateful! Thanks in advance

  6. Jack King

    Was going to subscribe after a great read but I really can’t understand why you won’t upload the tactic for your readers to use and implement within the game as I for one would love to try this out.

    • Eds

      It’s taken me a long, long time to create this article. To create it in such detail so that every role, every duty, every decision is covered so that everyone can understand. To ask for a download link when every role is described in such detail is, quite frankly, an insult. I’ve bitten my lip until this point but I put lots and lots of work into this piece only to be bombarded with download link requests. That’s not what it’s about.

      If you want to play with the tactic – create it yourself! That’s what FM is about.

      If all you want is downloaded tactics, and articles such as the above don’t interest you, then you’re in the wrong place.

      • Poma

        If it’s an insult when people asking you if they can use YOUR tactic, how on earth do you get trough with your everyday life?
        You are insulting me for being dumb if I can’t understand the article and then create the tactic in FM. It’s many people out there who have dyslexia = http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dyslexia
        It can be VERY hard to read and then do something with it! Think about it!!
        Pathetic to read some of the comments, either your share or you don’t.
        I’ve been around the FMscene since Championship Manager and now days people sometimes wanna have money for making a tactic or training schedules they share. WTF (read, I’m not talking about you here.)
        Keep it up, be nice and help others is the best way.

        //P.

      • Eds

        You’re missing the point completely. Not only the point of the article itself, but of my comments, and why I don’t want to release the tactic.

        It’s not some break-the-system downloadable. As with the vast majority of the things I write about, it’s mainly theory. My main aim was to help others, with this article – how does it help if you plug in a tactic which isn’t even likely to be successful anyway?

        For you to suggest that I’m not trying to help others and labelling me “pathetic” is really quite disheartening. Not sure why I bothered.

  7. united762000

    Eds can you post a screen shot of the player instructions for both the inverse wing back and the ball playing defender role?

    • Eds

      Sure. As I’ve said before, though, this is just my take on it. It may not (/probably will not) work for you. If it doesn’t, then have a play with the settings until it does.

      Playmaking Defender:

      Inverse Wing Back:

  8. Push Them Wide (@PushThemWide)

    I am a little disappointed that many of the commenters above have asked for the tactic link. I think they have missed the point entirely – it is the thought process and the logic that one needs to pick up from the post. Dear god.

    This is quite simply one of the best articles I have seen in the FM community for a long time. It is truly fantastic that the onset of the “blogging era” to bring content like this to the fore. Simply sublime.

    I feel like much of what you said are points that deeply resonate with the way I play FM. Often I don’t follow them as much as I should, but here it was very refreshing to see such clarity of thought when setting up a team (this is why it is a shame that many of the other commenters did not understand).

    Many of the questions you pose here are questions that are so deeply linked to a successful team, that I would actually advocate writing them down on a notepad.

    “how are you going to defend? How do your player roles complement this?” shows this attitude best. Why are you doing this? What are you going to do about it? How are you going to guarantee the success of this strategy with the way you sign players and the way you play them?

    I was reading an old article the other day of mine, and I had said in one of them “make space, use space”, which perfectly sums up the thought process that should go into tactics. What am I doing to create space? Who’s exploiting it? As a team, are we getting the most out of that space? You have done that here fantastically well. I don’t find it surprising that you are enjoying success.

  9. OFO

    Brilliant article; you clearly know your stuff. But I can’t help feeling a little depressed after reading it – when did Football Manager become so insanely difficult and complicated… it is a game after all.

    It seems to me that if I actually understood more than 50% of what you have just told me, I would be able to have a pretty good go at managing an actual football team, in real life 😦

    I miss the good old days, back in 2012, when I could take over a mid-table conference team and spend 20 seasons building them into a european superpower. Totally unrealistic, but hey, it’s a game.

    Meh.

    Anyway, like I said, great article.

    • drinkmixer84

      This is such an excellent article, with FM13 the days of downloading and plugging in a tactic are gone. The only way I’ve found success is through making my own.

      You can still take over a club and make them European juggernauts. I’ve currently taken Blackburn to the Champions League after 6 seasons (although I don’t see us winning it yet).

      Anyone can create a tactic just remember this: the Tactic Creator is your friend. I started with a TC created 4-2-3-1 and each season have made very small changes to the point that my tactic is very similar to Eds’. Although I’m excited to see what an inverse wingback could do in my own tactic.

      Thanks again for a very thorough article on my favorite formation.

  10. ste white

    Great article- this is the sort of philosophy I’m trying to create with the tactics I’m using, but I’m struggling big time! Currently I’m sitting mid table with Liverpool- find it hard to heat my tactics right for away games

    I’m going to try and implement some of your ideas into my current tactics on the weekend, to seeing that helps

    Do you alter your tactics for away games? Or games where you are the underdog? Or do you just try and control the game regardless?

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  12. Kiltman67

    Great article! Was interested in the point you made about the DLP(S) nullifying your playmaking defender. Can you say a little more about what you mean by that? I’ve been experimenting with a pairing of DLP(D) and DLP(S) in central midfield positions, and it seems like the defending playmaker contributes very little, but if the supporting playmaker has a different role, e.g. ball-winning midfielder, then the defending playmaker does a lot more. This is in the context of a high possession, high passing, Barca-esque tactic, but seems like it might be a similar issue.

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  14. Ben

    Eds, thanks for such a clear guide on how to approach tactics in Football Manager. I’ve only used plug-and-play tactics as my attempts to create a tactic never seemed to work, but your big picture strategy for creating a tactic is inspiring! Particularly your analysis of how different roles work together, which explains so much about why my tactics were never effective. Thanks for taking the time and making the effort to share your knowledge!

  15. Sergey

    So how well do your CDM and CM do against opposition’s attacking midfielders? It seems that in FM13 when the opposition uses a tactic with a lot of central midfielders they end up scoring on you by just running/playing through your center. Do you find that happening to you?

    • Eds

      Well the main reason I put the DM into the tactic instead of going for a flat 4-2-3-1 was due to the space that the opposition CAMs were getting in the hole between midfield and defense. Since I put the DM into the tactic, they’ve had less and less space, and with the addition of the high pressing, they rarely get much time on the ball. The majority of my goals conceded come from; set pieces, well worked plays from wide, and balls over the top.

      • PeeDub

        I’ve been playing with some asymmetric tactics myself, but I tend to also drop the opposite “winger” into a wide midfielder role. Haven’t tried just dropping the CM.

  16. JJ

    Another very interesting article from one of the best FM tactical writers.

    One question – I notice you use a wingback behind the winger with a fullback on the other flank (with no wide man ahead), yet the game itself describes a wingback as “usually playing out wide with no wing support”. Because of this I have always tended to use wingbacks with no wingers, and fullbacks when I do employ wingers. Yet you have flipped this and I’m intrigued as to the reasoning?

    One other point of note – I’ve been working on something akin to your “Inverted Fullback” since coming across this little video piece from Pat Nevin on the BBC Sport website http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/21838331. He calls it an “underlapping fullback” and is markedly similar to the “Inverted Fullback” except it clearly uses same foot/same wing rather than opposite foot.

    • Eds

      Glad you enjoyed it.

      Honestly, I didn’t think about it the way you’ve explained it. But I knew I wanted the LB (Inverse Wing Back) to be more attacking than the RB (Touchline-hugging). I wanted my IWB to be as attacking as possible, so Wing Back – Attack seemed the most logical conclusion.

      As for the right-back, the thought process was as follows. I knew I wanted him to be attacking, this rules out Full Back – defend and Full Back – support. However, I did not want him to be as attacking as the IWB, this rules out Wing Back – Attack. From this, the only two remaining roles were the Full Back – Attack and Wing Back – Support. I looked at the player instructions for those two roles and the main differences are as follows:

      – Full Back – Attack will have less long shots.
      – Full Back – Attack will play less through balls.
      – Full Back – Attack will cross the ball more.

      I like to avoid using the sliders unless absolutely necessary and so the best thing to do seemed to go with Full Back – Attack because of the aforementioned differences. It’s as easy as that, really.

  17. Miso

    Interesting find and read. Not sure if anyone has ever told you this but your tactic is very Shakhtar Donetsk/ Roberto Di Matteo -like.

    Both use similar tactics and actually run into the same issues you did. I don’t want to critique your tactics, just thought I should share that interesting tidbit, that you may or may not have know or heard before.

  18. GrazDozTrez

    I just wanted to say, first of all, I agree that people are to quick and too lazy in just expecting a tactical result and/or someone else to just load up a win all tactic and go with it.
    Secondly, I thank you for your tactical analysis and theory. I have struggled off and on with FM13 depending on which club/league I’m in, I’ve played FM since 01/02 and consider myself a good manager, but this year’s has proven tough. I read this article yesterday, and took from it some new ideas thoughts and theory’s. I started a new save with Lyon, a team I’ve played before a few times in FM13, and struggled with them every time. At best finished 3rd, and got sacked the following season. More frustrating is that I more often then not play a dual game with my housemate, and he went on to win 5 consecutive Ligue 1 titles with Marseille and seemed to find it all too easy. So, I started a new game yesterday, and using some new concepts to edit/tinker my current 4-1-2-2-1 “Y” formation, so far we’re top on Ligue 1, 10 points clear of 2nd place Lille after 15 games. Only lost in the league once, and twice all season (Coupe de Ligue vs Arles – Ligue 2 side, classic FM).
    Thanks for the insight. I’ll be moving on to read the ball playing D, and inverse wing back next…

  19. krav panos

    Very interesting article man! I like how you explain everything and how you thought about every move you made.
    Im now playing with Dortmund, just started. I tried use the info you are sharing with us about your system. Ive changed a bit some positions to suit in my squad. I think Piszczek is good for the Inverse Wing Back role, so i changed everything from left to right side. gotze is Ap and reus the inside forward. My problem is on the winger-support role. Blaszczykowski is perfoming very good although he has good stats for the role. I also followed your blog coz i like everything you write. I would love to have your tactic as you use it just to see some details.
    Thats all, im looking forward to any suggestion from you. bb

    • Eds

      Not sure I see your problem? If Kuba is performing well in the winger role, then just keep him there? I think he’d be well suited to it. Dortmund 12/13 is certainly a side that would do well with this formation.

      • krav panos

        sorry my mistake. instead of ” is perfoming good ” put “isnt perfoming good ” . πŸ™‚

      • Eds

        Ah, no problem.

        Well that’s odd. He’s one of the players I’d have thought could play the role well. I suppose the next stage for you is to look for a replacement, then. As I mentioned in the article, what you want from the article is a player who can run, dribble and cross. If Kuba is getting plenty of crosses in and beating plenty of men, then he’s actually playing well. Sometimes you have to look beyond the average rating of a player because it doesn’t always tell you what you need to know.

        If he’s not doing those things, then you need to look for a replacement who can.

  20. krav panos

    In 10 games i have 5 wins, 2 draws, 3 loses.. I score 1-2 goals per match but i also concede 1-2 goal per match.. Most conceded from passes and crosses and most of them just before first half.. I have high tempo, small width and now deep def.line. also Fluid – control away , fluid-atck home.

  21. mehdi somally

    Very very good article, appreciate the time you have done to create this. Just a question on your marking system. Do you use man or zonal marking ?

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