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The False Counter FM14 Tactic by Passion4FM(Domestic double with Inter first season)
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  1. The False Counter FM14 Tactic by Passion4FM(Domestic double with Inter first season)

    Hello and welcome to yet another great Football Manager 2014 tactic from This time, we present to you the 'False Counter', which has brought me a first season double with Inter Milan, finishing the league with 95 points - 16 ahead of Juventus in second place. The name comes from the fact that we use a counter attacking mentality, but in fact dominate possession and usually the game as well. If you're looking for a rock solid tactic - look no further and keep on reading.

    The FM14 False Counter Formation

    We play a somewhat unusual, narrow 4-1-2-2-1, packing the middle of the field, relying on our fullbacks to provide the width. I took some inspiration from Marcelo Bielsa here, so we want to press the opponent as high as possible, while playing quick, technical passing football. We have 7-8 players in attack, so the passing options are open everywhere. We play wide to stretch the opposition and create space for passing and runs.

    When attacking, the fullbacks position themselves high up the pitch and stretch the defence, while our striker will drift around and draw out defenders for the attacking midfielders to attack the space left behind. The attacking trio will interchange, move around and feed off each other to score and create goals. The opposition defence will have a dilemma - they can pack the middle and restrict the options for my attacking trio, but give away loads of space for my fullbacks, or they can try and cover the width, blocking the wide supply, but give away space in the middle. Either way - you create chances.
    "My aim is to counter the opposition team as far upfield as possible by relentless pressing through restricted space between formation lines."
    In defence, we lock the opposition midfield in a box, reducing space, and closing down the man in possession. We try to win the ball high up the pitch. Usually, the opposition has nothing else to do other than launching the ball long, where our central defenders are happy to intercept. You will notice that the opposition will have very few chances to score. More often than not they barely have shots on goal at all. The downside of the approach is naturally the risk we take playing the high defensive line. If somehow the opposition manages to play around our pressing, then the opportunities will present themselves. Mostly, we only give away chances through individual mistakes of our players, rather than the opposition outplaying us.

    If one of your players gets a red card, remove one of the attacking midfielders, and leave the other in his spot, don't shift him centrally into AMC.

    Brief Tactical Analysis of The False Counter

    Formation and Passing Triangles

    Even though this is a much more direct and attacking tactic than the short passing build-up play of a possession orientated tiki taka tactic, the resemblance to it is still there. The tactical template of 'False Counter' is adopted to create as many triangles as possible, something that makes you able to retain possession easily.

    The player positioning also shows us how this system tries to outnumber the opposition team. It's not possession just to have the ball, but to dominate areas to create as many obvious shot opportunities as possible. Playing into space rather than being positioned in congested areas where the only option is a short passing playing style.

    Tactical Transition from Defensive Block to Attacking Shape

    The tactical transition from the defensive block to the attacking shape is basically influenced by three player roles: the false nine and the half back who drop deep and the complete wingbacks who push up - featuring like the main wingers. As you will notice further down, their importance is considerable. While the midfield area is congested, the complete wingbacks will provide the main width to the attacking shape.

    While the halfback drops deep becomming a third defender, the midfield square stays rather compact. The shadow strikers will then have licence to exploit the space the false nine leaves when he drops behind and the complete wingbacks create by staying wide.

    Defensive Block: High Defensive Line With 4-1-2-2-1 Formation

    The many lines when defending make it hard for the opposition team to exploit space and play through the middle. The compact midfield square with the two ball winning midfielder and shadow strikers can press opponent relentlessly, as they know they have great cover behind them. The halfback sits deep and restricts space for the opposite AMC while covering the high pressure from fellow players infront.

    Opposition team is often forced/triggered to play long balls because of the high defensive line and pressure, which the defenders can easily intercept. Opposition team is often pressured to play down the flanks, both because of the midfield box and the defensive unit of BWM, SS and CWB who seek out wide.

    Attacking Shape: False Counter's 2-1-2-4-1 Formation

    Central defenders will always sit back and provide excellent defensive cover when your side is attacking. The triangle between ball winning midfielders and the halfback reassures this defensive security and improves the chances for better ball retention.

    What we would like to hightlight in this screenshot is the two channels on the flanks for the complete wingbacks. They will provide both defensive cover and become an attacking outlet the opposition team can't overlook. This is further highlighted below.

    Attacking Transition Phase: Importance of Complete Wingbacks who Stretch Opposition Team / Exploit Space

    The complete wingbacks have alot of of space on the flanks, as the opposition team is forced to handle the congested space in the middle, much similar to the basic idea of our other FM14 Counter Attacking Tactic Sidewinder 3-5-2. They will be the ones who set the width and stretch the opposition team. This leaves space for the shadow striker and false nine to roam into, either it's behind opposition teams defensive line or in the channels.

    The complete wingback will therefore have many passing options. He can pass to nearby ball winning midfielders to retain possession or switch play to the other side. This can often be very advantageous as the player positioning of our tactic drags the opposition team to one side in order to not be outnumbered. The other CWB has acres of space to get forward.

    The last alternative for the complete wingbacks / ball winning midfielders / halfbacks in the attacking transition phase is to play the ball into space, which shadow strikers will run onto. Either way, it's highly effective and will in the end dominate the opposition team with sharp accurate runs, which creates both many shots on goal, half- and clear cut chances.

    Required Types of Players

    As in every other tactic, you will need players that will fit into the tactical system. For this one, look for players that will thrive playing the style we want to present. In general, your players should have good stamina, work rate, teamwork, decisions, determination as well as good passing skills. This will make them able to move the ball around with pace and precision. Each player role will naturally benefit from certain highlighted attributes, but the ones mentioned should be a good base.

    Goalkeeper - The sweeper keeper on attack duty will just have to be a good goalkeeper. The role is set just so he will position himself higher up the pitch. Look for attributes that make up any good goalkeeper so reflexes, hanlding, aerial ability/command of area, rushing out, communication etc. For a good read on goalkeepers, visit our guide.

    Central Defenders - The pair is set up as ball playing defenders with a cover duty. They both need to be quick defenders, as they need to be able to cut out long balls behind them as well as quickly close down attackers. They should have some good aerial ability as well, to win headers after long balls are played. Look for defenders with good attributes for tackling, heading, marking, concentration, positioning, anticipation, strength, pace/acceleration. Passing is a good bonus as well. Good examples of players like that are Doria, Campagnaro or Virgil van Dijk.

    Fullbacks - They are set up as complete wingbacks, and will bomb up and down the pitch all game. They will provide the much needed width for us, and be responsible for all phases in the game. They will recquire tackling, marking, anticipation, positioning, passing, dribbling, crossing, decisions, concentration, pace/acceleration and stamina. Examples of players who will be good here are Luke Shaw, Leighton Baines or Gotoku Sakai.

    Defensive Midfielder - The halfback. This hybrid of a central defender and a defensive midfielder is a very useful role in the system. He will mix covering the defence and supporting attacks. When we play out of the defence he drops deep to help circulate the ball in defence and offer extra protection. Also, he will join the pressing, and will try to win the balls to regain possession. You should look for a player who is competent in defence, and comfortable on the ball. This is a player like Busquets or Xabi Alonso. Look for good stats for tackling, marking, passing, composure, positioning, anticipation, work rate, teamwork and concentration. I used Cambiasso in the role, where he's had a very good season.

    Central Midfielders - The midfield pair is set up as ball winning midfielders on support duty. These two players will be the punching part of your tactic. You want mean players, who will hassle the opposition and bully the midfield, as well as being able to retain possession and exchange quick technical passes to create chances. Look for players who have good stats for marking, tackling, work rate, teamwork, anticipation, positioning, determination, aggression, strength, stamina and passing. Good examples are Victor Wanyama or Mudingayi.

    Attacking midfielders - The shadow strikers are very important in this tactic, as they will be responsible for scoring and creating goals, as well as spearheading the pressing game. They will drift around looking for space, feed teammates, as well as being a nightmare for opposition defence with their technical abilities. Look for players with high ratings for finishing, off the ball, composure, dribbling, first touch, passing, anticipation, flair, work rate, teamwork, stamina and creativity. Good examples here can be players like Isco or Guarin.

    Striker - The false nine sits on the top of our formation. He will drop deep and boost our midfield numbers, drawing out defenders and feeding other players as well as getting on the scoresheet himself. This player will look to create space with his intelligent movement, as well as help the pressing. Look for a player with good off the ball, composure, finishing, dribbling, first touch, passing, creativity, teamwork and anticipation would be a good bonus as well.

    The combination of players like that should make this system click.

    Training Setup to Maximize Team Performance

    As usual with my tactics, I like training my players individually to suit the role they will need to play. What is unusual however, is that PPMs aren't a big deal here. You should look to avoid those that will make the tactic worse. These include tight marking for central defenders, players taking long shots, wing backs cutting inside or players dwelling on the ball or stopping the play.

    Team Training:

    Pre-Season: Fitness - Very High. Match preparation: Tactics 50% until fully fluid, then teamwork 50%. No rest before or after games.
    During Season: Balanced - High. Match preparation: Attacking Movement 30%. Rest after games.

    Individual training:

    Goalkeeper - Sweeper Keeper
    Central Defenders - Ball Playing Defender
    Fullbacks - Complete Wingback
    Defensive Midfielder - Half Back
    Central Midfielders - Ball Winning Midfielder
    Attacking Midfielder - Shadow Striker
    Striker - Complete Forward

    Opposition Instructions

    I don't use any. We want to play our own style, not bothered by the opposition.

    FM14 False Counter Tactic Results

    Italian Serie A Winner - Season 2013-14

    Coppa Italia Winner - Season 2013-14

    Original article:
    Download link:
    Last edited by pollackattack; 27/04/2014 at 12:16 PM.

  2. You may provide the players filter also..

  3. Quote Originally Posted by vitoco View Post
    You may provide the players filter also..
    here you are Football Manager 2014 Player Role Search Filters

    i don't use filters myself, i like to 'judge' the player individually
    Extinction76 likes this.

  4. i love this tactic, i use the 3-6-1 from ur main site now i try this whit Milan or underdog english team
    pollackattack likes this.


  6. i will use it with sassuolo
    pollackattack likes this.

  7. what about lower leagues? does it fit to teams with low quality players?

  8. That looks interesting. I'll try this with Leeds and then post results.
    pollackattack likes this.

  9. Quote Originally Posted by silenceborn View Post
    what about lower leagues? does it fit to teams with low quality players?
    using it with AFC wimbledon, no problems there. another user commented on our site that he is using it with welling if i recall, and it works for him too. just get the right players
    silenceborn likes this.

  10. What was your Inter team im getting dicked with the ball over the top all the time and cant create fuck all did u have Milito or Icardi as F9 or Convert Hernanes

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