This tactic is featured in my story thread which can be found here.
"Possession isn't everything, it's what you do with it that counts"
* FC Energie Cottbus from bottom of the league after 6 games to promotion as champions. Full details in post 8 here.
* FA Cup win in first season with Liverpool. Undergoing a title challenge in second season.
As previously mentioned, this phrase defines the philosophy in which I set my team up to play. For a lot of people casually browsing, they will probably feel that this isn't a pretty style of play, they will much prefer their team to stroke the ball around the pitch for long periods of the game and that is entirely acceptable. What I have found, particularly in FM2013 is that although this type of football can work for certain teams, particularly the highly technical ones such as Barcelona, it isn't applicable as an overall solution.
One problem I had found with tactics that concentrate on your team having high possession and movement was that they would tire much more easily, this is proven by many users complaining about conceding late goals. This especially becomes relevant on teams playing European football, with two fixtures per week on a regular basis. The basis behind my tactic is the complete opposite, let the opponent move the ball around as much as they want providing it is in their own half where they cannot hurt you. If they do manage to encroach in your half, hunt in packs and don't allow their players any space in which to move forward any further, this pack mentality generally results in you winning the ball and having possession.
Once you have the ball, the key is to use it effectively, a more direct style of play. I don't want to see the ball moving from left, right or backwards, its just creating more work for the team and will conserve more energy as your players try and make space for the next pass. The key is that because you have just won the ball from the opponent, all of their players are caught in an attacking phase and you will have more space in which to move the ball quickly towards the front men, it is effectively a form of counter attack.
The tactic originates with Meraklija Vujevic and his Peterborough tactic which can be found here. The tactic created by Meraklija is very sound in itself and good results can be achieved from it, but I found that it lacked certain elements that I wanted for my style of play, it's just personal preference. Although the tactic originates there, and full credit is given to Meraklija for the basis of the tactic, I have changed several elements of it so they now don't really have much comparison.
Originally, I tested the tactic with Liverpool, a game that I started over and over again without success. In the latest save, I had already played a few games and then decided to try the tactic from Meraklija but still couldn't find success and after around 12 games of trying, decided to make the modifications that result in the tactic I now have. At that point we were struggling in the bottom half of the table and the board were starting to give out signals that I could be replaced sooner rather than later. After making the first wave of tweaks to the tactic, I went on a run of games with only two defeats in 17 games and after several more smaller runs, we ended the season in the top half and with an FA Cup victory.
In the second season of the tactic, the game is now saved in January. However, with continued modification of the tactic, Liverpool are now 2nd in the league behind Man Utd, and through to the knockout stages of the Europa League with only three defeats all season so far. All of this is done with a Liverpool squad that I still feel has severe limitations.
As with the original basis of the formation the tactic is based in, the setup is a very narrow 4-2-2-2, but changed to a fluid style and standard strategy. We allow the players to be mobile, and move slightly out of position, but to remain disciplined at all times. The passing style is direct, to take advantage of when we relieve the opponent of possession and then move the ball swiftly forward whilst the opponent tries to recover from their attacking phase.
This is something I feel that is much more important in FM2013, I certainly have achieved much better results with them rather than without. How dynamic they really are, I don't know, all I know is that these five shouts seem to work best with the tactic as it is at this moment in time.
Some may well disagree with me here, but I believe that team talks are one of the single most important elements in FM2013 now, in previous versions it didn't seem to matter a great deal. I have done tests where I could play as Liverpool versus Manchester City, assertively tell the players to "Do It For The Fans" and be 3-0 down at half time. Alternatively, knowing I am up against the better side, I tell them just to enjoy the game and we are 2-0 up at half time.
For this reason, I tend to try and calm and relax my players a lot, they seem to respond a lot better and don't become complacent and certainly become a lot less irate. This isn't going to work for everyone though, telling the best squad of players to relax probably won't work as they are expected to win and win easily, people will generally have to work out their own methods for this.
As already stated, the initial testing for this was done with Liverpool and then latterly in this thread with FC Energie Cottbus, where a live test of the tactic is being performed in conjunction with the story. Results for FC Energie are in the posts above this and will be posted in the subsequent replies below. Given that the two teams are poles apart in terms of quality and expectation, I am quite happy to see that the tactic is performing for both teams. For this reason, I see no reason why the tactic would not work at both higher and lower league teams.
If you wish to try out the tactic, it can be downloaded directly by clicking here.
Once again, full credit goes to Meraklija Vujevic for providing the original basis on which this tactic has evolved from. His thread can be found here and is well worth a look, some very interesting reading along with some fantastic results from both himself and those that have downloaded the tactic.