This article is very different to what I used to be doing but, I wanted to give this a try. So this is my first “gaming” article if you like.
I am a massive fan of the Football Manager game, which is really popular to any real football fan across the globe. I have been playing it since the 2010 verison. Since I am an Everton fan, I wanted to recreate Roberto Martinez’s tactical approach of possession based, passing game, but also by being more sound defensively xD. I am also a big fan of Mauricio Pochettino’s high pressing game, which is something I wanted to implement here as well.
But to make it an even bigger challenge for me, I took the once prolific Nottingham Forest. So I had to get promoted first from the Championship (which was easy), before testing out my tactics in the top flight.
So here is the overview of my tactics.
Formation : 3-1-4-2
This is definitely my favorite tactic. It works very well, but you need use the right roles to bring stability and you need to have the right players in the right roles.
The key players here are:
- Both wide central defenders, that I use as “Ball-Playing defenders” in a Stopper duty. Apart from having good defensive abilities, Ball playing defenders must have a passing abilities and also a good amount of pace, since you will see them very often defending the wide areas. Here are the instructions for this position.
Using these instructions, I managed to turn my center backs (esp. Tomàs Kalas) into a virtual version of Everton’s John Stones. He takes risks, and has an average passing completion ratio of 83 % which is pretty handy for a young defender.
- The defensive midfielder plays a massive role in this kind of tactics. He has to protect the back four, thus having good anticipation in order to read the game. Stamina is also an important factor, because you cover an awful lot of ground when you are the only defensive midfielder. I don’t expect him to make defense-splitting passes, but just to lay off simple passes to his more creative colleagues in front of him. I set this position as “Anchorman” which I believe is the most complete role for a defensive midfielder.
- The False 9 is also playing a big role in my tactics. Since there is no apparent number 10 player, somebody has to link up the midfield and the advanced forward. What I like with the False 9 role is that because he drops in so deep to try and win the ball, the opposition center backs don’t always mark him. You will find your false 9 in acres of space in the opposition final third, and he will be a massive threat, as he scores and also creates a lot. You can try other similar roles for this position, such as Trequartista, Deep-lying forward or defensive forward, as long as they link up the midfield and the attack, it will work. (There’s no point of playing him as Advanced forward, Poacher or worse, Target Man). As you can see in the figure below, your False 9 will tend to drop deep and win the ball for his team, acting both as a number 10 and a striker.
- In order to be a bit more sound defensively, I used my wide players as Defensive wingers, rather than out and out wingers, but you can try that if you feel confident in the defensive abilities of your team.
This is mainly an attack-minded team that I have set, so you would usually use the following settings:
The following instructions insure a possession based and passing tactics, with high pressing.
How the team shapes up on the pitch:
As you would expect, the team is shaping up as a very offensive side, especially while having the ball. It looks more like a 3-3-4 rather than a 3-1-4-2 in this case. The wide players are encouraged to push forward as much as they can. The right and left-sided center backs have to stay a bit wider in order to cover the advancing wing backs in the case of a counter attack from the opposition, thus it is important for them to be very quick.
The midfield 3 stay really close to each other in possession, to offer passing possibilities to the anchorman. Then, the deep-lying playmaker and the advanced playmaker are allowed more freedom to split up opposition defenses.
You expect your team to dominate possession, have a high pass completion ratio (>80%), and… win games. I should warn you that due to the quality of the Premier League, you cannot expect to dominate every single game, even though you intend to dominate the game.
In this game against Everton, my team won 3-0, and dominated possession (62%). You should also notice the impressive pass completion ratio of 89%. This gets even more interesting when we see each player’s pass completion ratio: All three center backs have a pass completion ratio of at least 89.5 % !!!
This tactic, if you get it right, will get you into the top of the possession table, my team averages 54.5 % possession.
You are maybe wondering how I did with my team in the Premier League and in other competitions. In my first season after winning the Championship, I finished 5th and qualified for the Europa League.
My second season has been a success, finishing runner-up (2nd) in the PL, and incredibly, winning the Europa League.