I don’t post very often any more and I certainly don’t start many threads. However I've just finished what I would whole heartedly call my greatest achievement in FM13 and the Football Manager series as a whole since the split from Eidos.
Since the release of FM13 there have been countless threads with users posting grievances with the game and in particular, the match engine. Too hard, not fun any more, the engine is flawed, nothing is working or my personal favourite “ I've had 99% possession and 30 shots to their 1% and two shots, this game is so unrealistic” (slight over exaggeration alert) but you get my point.
I was one of these users, although I wasn't AS vocal as others, I was hitting a bona fide rage gage with my lack of success in what I thought were flawless systems/set up’s and who can blame us? We don’t play computer games to lose, we certainly don’t play them to lose 5-1 at home at the Philips Stadion to a team you can barely pronounce in your head that presumably play Sunday League and were the lucky team to win the “Enter the Dutch Cup Lotto”
Owned by that guy!
Like so many others, I’d grown used to downloading the latest exploitable tactics with the trendy name like “Athena Goddess of war net buster 7.0 “ that found ways of exploiting the games engine, rather than playing to it’s strengths. You find yourself playing the game, but not really as all you seem to be doing is clicking the space bar to continue through it, almost guaranteed a victory every week, until one day SI patch the game and you are left waiting until version 8.0 is released, new and improved showing great victories to reel you in once more.
The new match engine appears to have brought down Athena and her minions with a thunderbolt and users like me have to fend for themselves! And that my friend is exactly what I have done.
Although I eventually ended up at Swansea, my original plan was to go Stoke. I was over at a friend’s house and he had FM fired up at the time. He happened to make a remark about being afraid for his Spurs side, away to Stoke on a wet Wednesday night funnily enough. He was concerned about the height and sheer physical presence they seemed to have over his team and that got me thinking “ I've seen about 1000 different versions of possession football but not once have I come across a tactic which looks to take advantage of strength, power and height”
As you can imagine, I failed miserably. Rage Gage strikes again.
Then a few days later, I got back on the wagon and decided to go one of my favourite teams over the past four or five years…Swansea.
Since Roberto Martinez took charge of Swansea, they have gained numerous plaudits for the brand of football they play, which now appears to be part of the clubs overall philosophy. They have been known on occasion as the “British Barcelona” which of course is ludicrous because no-one can truly match the way Barcelona play. To do so would require the sort of chemistry that they have, as well as the ridiculous ability of Xavi, Iniesta and of course Messi.
I do feel that they play similar in certain degrees, playing possession football, trying to find space or breaking at speed when an opportunity presents itself. So in the end I came up with this…
I actually decided on Balanced/Counter after a discussion with TheBetterHalf. In all honesty I have never used the counter strategy before. I’ve always thought of Defensive and Counter strategies as negative and something to be avoided, when in complete contrast, counter is perfect for what I require. I want everyone to be that bit deeper when in possession, looking to split the opposition’s midfield or burst away with my inside forwards/full backs.
Balanced has always been my point of call for style. It’s exactly what it says on the tin, the middle ground. This allows my Full Backs to push forward without worrying about defensive laps.
I used the Report > Comparison screen to decide my Team Instructions. On previous occasions, I have decided that I know best on these matters & would pick options depending on whatever mood I was in when creating the tactic. This appears to be one of my major flaws when creating tactics in the past.
As you can see from the report of all 20 sides, Swansea are extremely high in decisions, first touch, passing, work rate and team work. Which lead me to the following…
As you can see I have completely ignored the sliders. Major flaw number two was complete lack of awareness regarding the sliders. Messing around with them ‘Willy Nilly’ I probably destroyed any hope my formations had, right from the get go. I don’t feel comfortable using them, however I am using shouts which should make up for it. My only amendment is to make my Deep Lying play maker my key play maker since he will be a lot deeper and most moves will go through him, just like Barcelona.
My advise: Don’t use them unless you are 100% comfortable with them.
Shouts I have taken directly from Raikan007's Possesion discussion thread. which is a great insight for anyone looking to play possession football on football manager.
FYI - I have made only one Player Instruction amendment and that was for my Keeper to distribute to my most attacking Full Back - Neil Taylor.
How Does It Play?
I'm not sure what the reason is, perhaps someone with greater knowledge can explain? but my team do not keep as much possession as anticipated. Instead they press high and hard, hoping to pounce on the opposition’s lack of focus or concentration. When we are in possession of the ball however, we play some amazing football as you can see from the clips I've uploaded below.
In this clip, we play some great passing football, with my full back overlapping my inside forward before picking out Ki who floats the ball in perfectly for Michu to score an amazing header. This was on of my favourites.
Here we see my wing back at the heart of things again, his pass to Ki is amazing vision but then Ki plays a perfectly timed pass back to Hernandez who drills it in to Taylor to tap it home.
This final clip shows my team's high pressing at work, in my result of the season. At the start of the clip you can see that I have 6 players in Man United's half, pressing hard and eventually capitalising on an error and going onto score.
The season ended better than I could ever have expected, 5th place. I was in fourth for a lot of the season but fatigue managed to play it’s part with such a small squad. That and injuries to key players, but I don’t want to make excuses. 5th (prediction 19th) was amazing.
Hold The Line
I decided early on that I wanted one of my full backs to play attacking and the other support. This was due to Swansea being predicted with such a low finish, I wanted to play it safe and avoid being exploited by the bigger sides in the league. There for as Taylor had better attacking attributes than Angel Rangel (come on, you can’t say his name without including the full thing) he was set to support while my central defenders played Stopper/Cover and that was chosen based on player attributes.
I believe having Vorm as a sweeper keeper helped in start plays from the back but also his rushing to collect the ball saved me a few times. (also cost me on a few occasions) Which is also worth noting if your keeper is a bit eccentric?
As you can see from the pictures, we scored on of the fewest amount of goals in the league and watching Taylor and Vorm in particular is very enjoyable if you like to view matches.
The Three Musketeers
The Tequartista & attacking inside forwards was a Barcelona inspired idea. I figured I could make it work fairly well with Michu as my Tequartista, even though he wasn't fully comfortable in the forward role, he often dropped deeper, dragging defenders away, looking to feet the inside forwards. He managed to bag himself 15 goals over the season with 11 assists. Watching him in action was amazing and his link up play, magical at times. Given his height, he was also ideal for hold up play on the occasions that Vorm was forced to play the ball long.
As you can see from the pictures below, my inside forwards also benefited well from him.
Here is a selection of pictures from my results against some of the bigger opposition.
I've had my most enjoyable season of FM for a very long time and cannot wait to continue and test further with different sides. While I still believe it to be very challenging to create the right formation, anyone can succeed if they try. Never give up, keep learning and follow whatever advice you can. You’ll have much more enjoyment and fulfilment if you accomplish things with your own tactic.
A few weeks ago I was overly critical of a match engine which I now think, because I took the time to consider my team, set up and style before hand, works wonders when done correctly.
I have uploaded my formation for anyone who wishes to use it. I'd love to know how it works with other teams.