‘Playing The Patch’ – The Strikerless 4-5-1-0

I’ve had a few problems with FM15 lately. There’s been a few things that have really been irritating me, particularly relating to player positioning, and how SI have interpreted certain positions. This article isn’t going to be a rant, but there’s several positions that I’ve become very annoyed by. I don’t like AMR/L’s on FM15. I find them largely useless when defending, and for someone as focused on defending (shamelessly a defence first manager) as I am, it’s meant I haven’t used them. Last year, I used them in a very successful 4-3-3 with *coughSalzburgcough* but I won’t use them this year until a patch sorts out their farcical efforts in defence. A bunch of successful teams throughout football history have used what SI would consider to be AMR/L’s, and they don’t act anything like they do in FM15. I also don’t like the positioning of AMC’s. With an ‘attack’ duty, they end up too far away from the rest of the midfield, and again, don’t contribute at all defensively. On ‘support’ they’re too close to the rest of the midfield, leaving me to think why on Earth would I bother using an AMC then? With Stuttgart, Roguljic was set as an AP-S, and he ended up being in the same line as the double pivot when I looked at average positions. If he’s going to end up in the same position as a central midfielder, why am I using an attacking midfielder?

Well, That Was Unexpected…..

156Well, I’ve finished the 2016/17 season with Sturm so it’s time to update once again. I think it shows how much I’m enjoying writing these updates that I’m playing FM faster than I have in a long time. Usually it takes me forever to actually play a season on FM, and I’m already through 3 of them with Sturm. So, last time I updated we were 4 points clear of RBS, had been beaten to end our undefeated run at 56 games, and had made our way through to the first knockout round of the Europa League, having been knocked out of the CL by Celtic in the final qualifying round. I’d also started to use a 3-5-2, that I felt got the best out of our new striker ‘Super Kev’ Kevin Friesenbichler.

Why Can’t It Just Be Simple?

156First off, Happy New Year to everyone. Although this blog is only a few months old, it’s received some fantastic support in 2014, and I’d like to thank everyone that has supported this blog in any way, be it commenting, favouriting, retweeting or following. It really does mean a lot to me. I hope to bring you more quality tactics based FM content throughout 2015 and onwards.

Anyway moving on. I’ve reached the Austrian mid-season break in the 16/17 season, so it’s time to update you on where we stand with Sturm. The last update on this save outlined my transfers beginning the season, and I think it came across how excited I was for the next season with the players I’d signed. I was expecting big things after signing Dibon, Wydra, Spendlhofer (now here permanently), Ligeon, Sallahi and Gregoritsch. I also covered a new 3-5-2 formation I was looking at trying alongside the 4-1-4-1, particularly in the games against Salzburg. I ended up betraying my own ideas in the Salzburg game, but I’ll cover that later on.

A Brainstorm

Before I begin this post, I feel it’s probably best to explain that I’ve always been a Pep/Bielsa disciple. I’ve always particularly believed in Pep’s style of football, and his philosophies. Looking at my Sturm save, you can identify this. I put my best players (Alar, Lovric and now Wydra) in the centre of the park as a midfield 3 in order to achieve numerical superiority there. I’m a firm believer that, like chess, achieving dominance in the centre is a sure-fire way of giving yourself a good chance of victory. It’s now become a football cliché, but this is something I’ve believed since I first started to watch Pep’s legendary Barca side. I’ll always maintain that the Barca/Real 5-0 is the best I’ll ever see a team play, and watching that match in a full pub at University confirmed my allegiance to Pep Guardiola.

https://i1.wp.com/www.spox.com/de/sport/fussball/international/1312/Bilder/roger-schmidt-600.jpg

Lately however, I’ve started to become influenced by a different style of football, that has moved me away from wanting my teams to play just like Pep. This probably started with the first time I watched Mourinho’s Madrid perfect the counter attack, or the first time I watched Dortmund’s gegenpressing. Now, I always make the point that possession isn’t everything to me, and I always look for that point of perfection between vertical movement and possession play. The epitome of this other style of football is former Red Bull Salzburg boss (I won’t hold that against him) Roger Schmidt, someone who Pep has openly admitted his admiration for.

Hmmm, Upgrades…

If you got that Matrix reference, then well done. 156

I’ve finished all of the transfers I plan to make for the Summer at Sturm, and it’s been a very busy Summer, so I felt it was probably best to do a quick update, outlining what’s changing for the next season, and look at how the club as a whole is progressing. As you will have read from the previous post on this save, we won the league last season, going undefeated and still only beating RBS by one point. Worrying in a way, but winning the league is still a huge achievement in the second season of the save, as well as going undefeated on top of that.

When the save began, the club was not in a good position financially, and very quickly reduced my transfer revenue to 30%, which wasn’t ideal considering we weren’t getting very much money in to begin with. Good league performances over the last two seasons and the Europa League run last season helped the financial situation severely, to a point that we now sit with a good amount of money in the bank, and the club gave me £6.06M to invest over the Summer in order to allow us to withstand the demands of Champions League football, and continue to compete for the title with Salzburg. It really is exciting times at Sturm.

Utilising the Central Winger on FM15

Apologies to everyone for the wait for this article, but there’s been a few reasons why it’s taken me until December to write this. Firstly, I’ve wanted to make sure I get this right after the success of the FM14 article, and have all the material needed to show why the Central Winger is such a fantastic role. Secondly, I’ve actually had some problems using the Central Winger on FM15. I developed a 3-6-1 on the BETA with Manchester United, with Angel Di Maria as the CW. I’ve always said that Angel Di Maria was the archetypal Central Winger, and to my surprise, well, it didn’t work very well. Januzaj ended up being far better in the CW role, but on the whole, I didn’t see many of the movements I saw on FM14, and I worried that my favourite role was going to be largely useless on FM15.

In the end, I figured out that the CW’s ineffectiveness was as a result of two things, both my fault in a way. In an attempt to avoid horrific Back 3 spreading that I’d seen on FM14, I decided not to ask the team to ‘play wider’, condensing the diamond midfield in the centre, meaning that the Central Winger didn’t have the space he needed, and therefore was largely useless.

Well, I Was Right

156Well, I’ve reached the end of my first season in charge of Sturm Graz. First off, I’d like to say thank you to @Shrewnaldo for creating this edit. I’ve had a lot of fun this season, and I can tell it’s going to be a challenging save. When I last updated, we were at the end of December, were pushing Red Bull Salzburg as hard as we could in the league, and were 3 points behind, having suffered two horrible losses against them. I was also having issues deciding whether to stick with the 4-4-1-1/4-1-4-1 I’d been using at the start of the season, or switch to the Hidden Diamond I’d started using once Stankovic broke his foot.

At the end of my procrastination, I ended up doing neither, but I’ll cover that later in the update. So, most importantly, how did the league go, and did we manage to achieve the Champions League qualification I was so focused on?

A Tactical Brainstorm And Preview

I’ll admit it, I was hoping to have had a tactical piece out by now. Whether that was the FM15 Central Winger article (which is coming) or something altogether different, I wasn’t sure. I was only a few matches away from being ready to do the article on the 4-4-1-1/4-1-4-1 I’d been using with Sturm Graz, but then FM intervened, taking away my star Number 10, and forcing me to change tactics, meaning I hadn’t managed to test the 4-4-1-1/4-1-4-1 enough before writing an article on it.

To compensate for this (and also because I’m missing writing about tactics) I thought I’d give you a preview of what I’m hoping to use down the line on FM15. I’d use it now if I could, but there’s certain elements of the game that don’t work quite as SI said they would, meaning for now at least, they’re largely useless.

First off, I’ll show the formation and roles I’d want to use, before explaining the theory behind it.

So, Change Of Plans….

In my FM15 preview post, I said that I would be starting this year managing Austria Salzburg in @Shrewnaldo’s edit of the Austrian league structure. At the time of writing, Shrewnaldo planned to put Salzburg in the Bundesliga, however, when he holidayed the Austrian leagues, and saw the level of the club in general, he decided that it would be better to put them in the Erste Liga (the second tier).

That left me with a bit of a dilemma. I’m notoriously slow at completing seasons on Football Manager. I spend too much time messing about trying to make the tactics perfect, daydreaming about how to make them better. Plus, with the tactical ideas I had in mind, the level of players at Austria Salzburg wouldn’t have allowed me to have it play quite how I’d like. To me, tactics is everything in Football Manager.

So Here’s What I’ve Been Up To

In my FM15 preview post, I spoke about wanting to do something along the lines of the current Real Madrid setup, which is basically a 4-4-2. I’m an avid supporter of 4-4-2, and I’ve always believed that the formation gets a bad reputation, especially amongst British fans/media (I’m looking at you Gary Lineker). I’ll go further into my support of 4-4-2 when I do the full article on this tactic when the game releases, but I believe Arrigo Sacchi’s Milan are one of the best teams to watch that I’ve ever seen, and they used 4-4-2. It’s about the system, not the formation. I’m sure Pep Guardiola could use 4-4-2 at Bayern, and they’d still produce wonderful football.

Anyway, back on topic. After a brief dabble with my 3-6-1 with Manchester United, I switched saves to try out this ‘4-4-2’ with Real Madrid. I put 4-4-2 in inverted commas, because it’s not a standard 4-4-2 and is quite asymmetric. I’m not doing this just to be complicated (although that’s probably a factor), I’m doing it to try to accurately recreate the performances of specific players, particularly Kroos, Modric and Ronaldo.

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