Creating A Tactic – The Paysandu Way #2

In the last article I spoke about how I prepare for creating a tactic based on a real life team, concept, specific style of play and so on. This article will focus on how I approach creating a tactic based on just an idea I have. To start with, let me explain to you a bit about the idea I had.

The Objective

A little earlier in the series I wrote a little about why I was using the W-M formation. If you missed it, then the short version was that I wanted to give it a modern-day twist. The reason for this was mainly because I wanted to add an extra difficulty level to my saved game, so I felt it was a challenge. It all fits in with the no attributes thing I am doing. That as the reasons behind using this shape but is that really an objective, I’m not sure. So let me explain a little further in what I want to do.

I want to win games, pure and simple. I don’t want to set up not to lose, I want to set up to win. This means I will have to take risks and not be as conservative. Setting up not to lose is very different to setting up to win. Think of Jose Mourinho at Manchester United, he set up not to lose a game and didn’t try to win games that often. The same can be said about Nigel Clough when he was the Sheffield United manager. Both managers focus on playing in a negative way, I want to be a positive manager and take risks.

The objectives come down to;

  • Playing to win
  • Play a good brand of football

I don’t want to focus on the style of football I want to play as that will come in the other parts because good football can be many things. But these are the objectives.

Understanding The Roles And Team Instructions

When creating a tactic, you need to have some idea of how it’ll function on paper. It doesn’t matter that this might be proven wrong at a later date. But initially you need to have some idea of how you think the roles all link together as this is what we have to work from. There always has to be a starting point. Let me talk you through what I selected and why in the W-M formation.

Vertical Tiki-Taka offers me a balanced mentality and is quite direct at times, so this suits the ideas I have much better. I’ve not touched the team instructions yet, everything is still default. I won’t be altering any of this until I’ve seen it played for three consecutive games. That way I can build a much better picture of how it functions and pick up any patterns that I spot. The narrowness are something I want to try to keep though, it will help us stay compact and be much harder to break down, even though we might give up space in some specific areas. Giving up space is fine though, as long as it fits your overall strategy and you don’t become easy to break down.

The four important things for creating a tactic for me is movement, supply, support and scoring. Each tactic to be successful needs these elements. So really focus on this when deciding on the roles and duties that you'll use to create the base tactic.

Picking the roles is probably the part people struggle with. I find that if I am struggling, then start from the front and work backwards. So what I'd do is focus on the main priority of all tactics - Who will score the goals?!

Once you've identified this whether it be a striker, midfielder or even a wide player, then you should focus on the next stage which is the supply. Who provides that scorer with the supply he needs and what kind of supply is it. Will his goals come from through balls or crosses or even a mix of those things. Once you know this then the roles you need to use become more obvious as a lot of your choices, will not have this as part of its skill set.

Your choices automatically rule out certain roles because of what the roles do. It makes it much easier to select a role because instead of having maybe six different choices for a specific position, you are left with one or two.

Just carry this thinking on throughout the whole process and before you know it, you'll have something similar to what I've set out below.

The four important things for creating a tactic for me is movement, supply, support and scoring. Each tactic to be successful needs these elements. So really focus on this when deciding on the roles and duties that you'll use to create the base tactic.

GK - I’ve gone for a standard keeper here but I think eventually he will have to be a sweeper keeper. I think him staying on his line and playing deeper, might make me more vulnerable, especially if the central defender pushes up. I need all the defensive players to play as a fully functioning cohesive unit. Any big gaps between the players, and this is something the AI could possible exploit.

CB - I don’t want anything fancy from him, I just want a good old-fashioned no-nonsense defender.

IWB’s - I don’t want players to cross often down the wings. I want t force play into the central areas were I have the numbers. I think these roles suit that better than the others available. There is a concern here though and that’s that I could become too narrow at times or that they push too far up the pitch. So I’m not 100% set on these roles but they are the best fit as a starting point.

HB’s - The two half backs will allow me to revert to a flat back five when the opposition attack me. This will make me harder to break down and offer protection to the lone central defender who might become isolated without them.

RPM - There has to be someone who can play with the ball at their feet and bring it forward. He is very much the link player in the system. Without this type of role, I struggle to see how the ball would get to the attacking players.

Mez - A very aggressive role as I try to overload the central areas. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out, especially with the inside forward possibly taking up the same areas. It could be problematic on FM18 and forced one of them to act in a way that was the intended behaviour of the role. With the changes in FM19 though, this shouldn’t be as much as an issue as before.

IF’s -  Scoring goals and providing support to the striker while trying to cause the opposition defence issues is the main aim here. I’m not sure on the duty allocation just yet and might end up having one side more aggressive than the other. But it’s something I really need to see in action first.

CF - When creating a lone striker formation, this is probably the role most will struggle with. Any number of roles could possibly work. I’ve tried to select a role that offers a bit of everything. I didn’t want to use one who dropped off the front constant and was more focused on linking play with the IF’s. As I have the Mez who will be venturing forward a lot too and space is likely to be limited to begin with. The last thing I want is someone else constantly dropping into the same areas. It might be a role I change after a few games but I think whatever role I end up with, will be one that is very attack minded and focused on occupying the central defenders and playing in and around the box rather than outside of it.

As you can see, I have a vague idea how the roles and settings should link together in theory. This gives me a basic idea of who is creating the goals, scoring them, which players are creating the movement and so on. Whether this works in reality as I think it would, doesn’t actually matter at this point. As you’ll see later in the series, when we start the analysing stuff.

What Does The System Offer

After I’ve done all of the above, I need to take a look at the shape I’m using and see what the system actually offers me, as well as focusing on the areas we will struggle with. This is a very important part of creating tactics because it allows us to know what we are good at and potentially what we could struggle with.

If we take a quick look at how I’m set up I can talk you through what the system offers me.

W-M formation
These are the roles and duties I currently use

The key to the W-M is how I’ve set up to create overloads in the central areas of the pitch. This is one of the biggest advantages the system offers me currently. The majority of my play and goals are likely to come from these areas. The inside forwards, roaming playmaker and mezzala will all look to overwhelm the opposition in the final third. Using inverted wing-backs will also see them reinforce the midfield and central areas in attacking phases of play. This allows us to keep recycling the ball in the central areas and keeping the opposition under relentless pressure.

The above screenshot shows us overloading the middle with six players attacking players in the final third. The IF (on the right when looking at the screenshot) is dropping off the front to receive the ball. He is creating space and movement by dropping deeper towards the ball, as the defender is following him.

The players who aren’t labelled with roles, along with those who are, are also in good positions to recycle the ball should the move break down. Or if we lose possession and the ball is then cleared, these players will either be able to retreat to cut out the threat or chase the ball down and play it back to the advanced players.

Remember though, just because I showed you an in-game example of how this worked out in this scenario, doesn’t mean it’s a constant thing. It’s still very much an idea just on paper for now and showing an in-game screenshot is jumping the gun slightly. But I just wanted to show you a visual to help you think about how the roles and settings you initially choose, could play out in the match engine.

Another strength of the initial shape is when the opponent attacks, the midfield drops right back, clogging up the centre of the pitch, keeping two half backs in-front of the centre backs, essentially making a solid flat back three at times. Due to this, it makes it hard for the opposition to penetrate me from central areas. And when the inverted wing-backs regain their position, I have a flat back five.

For me those are the two main benefits of the shape and while there are a few more benefits, I don’t think it’ll be beneficial to speak about them just yet. The whole idea of this series is to talk you through each phase of the tactic creating process a step at a time. This will allow you to build better tactics without being overloaded with information to begin with. The important thing is to focus on a couple of the strengths you have with the shape, roles and settings you’ve decided to use.

Naturally Exposed Areas

Understanding any potential weakness you could have in your system is every bit as important as understanding the strengths. This will allow you to understand were the opposition might hurt you with their play. Then you can decide whether the risk vs reward side of things is worth it. Something I’ll focus on in a lot more detail later on.

The W-M is very vulnerable to attacks down the flanks, especially to the quick, direct counter attacking styles of play. It can also be susceptible to quick changes of play to the opposite flanks. You only have to look at the system overview earlier in the article to be able to automatically see this. The roles and duties you use will further impact this and make the issue more bearable or more exposed depending on how it affects your overall balance.

Another area that could potentially be exposed is the space between the central midfielders and the defenders, should the half backs drop deep to form a solid three or five with the rest of the defenders. This could give up important space just in front of the defence.

Now we’ve got enough of a picture to know what we should and shouldn’t expect from the system we are creating. The next step is to analyse if your ideas do work when you play games. Or whether you need to make slight changes based on what you actually see happening in a game. In the next article it will focus on that next step as we dive into the analysis stage. It’ll be a different type of analysis than you have seen from me before though, as I will be breaking things down into key stages so it’s easy to understand, follow and more importantly, easy for you to do in your own save.


4 thoughts on “Creating A Tactic – The Paysandu Way #2”

  1. Good stuff as always – I’m curious how it will play out in the end. Love the way you take us through your thought process. Lot of food for thought right now and more to come. Can’t wait!

  2. In my own saves I keep seeing the mezalla and the IF clogging the same area af the pitch in the attacking phase. What makes you say that now it’s better than it was on FM18? Could you elaborate on this or perhaps point me towards a source?

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