Opposition instructions are a powerful tool to counter the threat of your opposition in Football Manager. The instructions you give before a game will act as an extension to the player instructions you have set in your own tactics.
There are different ways to set the opposition instructions and in this Football Manager guide, we will explain what they do and different ways to set them.
Although setting opposition instructions could be a good way to take out any of your opponent’s star players, it could also create flaws and openings in your own tactics.
Before you think about setting opposition instructions, make sure your players are able to follow the instructions you would like to set. For example, before you go in hard on an opposition player, make sure that you have players with good defensive abilities in that position otherwise it will result in needless cards and giving unwanted set-piece opportunities to the opposition.
There are 2 types of opposition instructions in Football Manager,
- Player Specific Opposition Instructions
- Positional Opposition Instructions
As the names suggest, player-specific instructions are designed to specifically mark opposition players (generally star players) regardless of which position they play.
Positional opposition instructions are used to mark or cover a specific position regardless of which player plays in that place.
Note, player-specific instructions will always override positional instructions in the game.
Let us take a look at the different opposition instructions in Football Manager
This will instruct your players to mark even closer while marking a player.
Use this opposition instruction against players who love to work with open space.
For example, midfielders who play in a Playmaker role or Attackers that are proven goal scorers. You don’t want to give these players too much space, so it is advisable to mark them closely at all times.
It is advisable to set tight marking to never if you encounter a player that has much more speed than the player you have defending him. Marking him too closely will result in the faster player having more space to run into. It’s better to leave these players some space in front of your defender, so the defender has a bit of a head-start if the attacker decides to run.
Also, it could be useful for an opposition that has poor creativity, technique or ball control. Not marking a specific player could force your opponent to give him the ball, as he is the only one with enough free space. That way you can force your opponent into making poor decisions.
- Never closely mark players with relative speed compared to the players that would mark them.
Closely mark players who have high pass completion percentages (most often CMs) so they receive the ball less.
This will instruct your players to close down opponents as they receive the ball.
Closing down a player who is nervous can be very effective. You will put him under pressure, forcing him to make a choice. The immediate pressure will force the nervous player to make a panicked decision, which will often be a poor one. Look for players with player traits like ‘Dwells on Ball’ or ‘Stops Play’. By putting these players under pressure you could force them to make a bad choice.
It is also advisable to look to close down players with poor technical attributes like Creativity, Passing, Decisions, First Touch and Composure. Putting them under pressure can force them into mistakes.
Lastly, this tactic can also be used to pressure opponents who are just back from injury and will lack match sharpness.
- Close down on players with relatively poor pass completion percentages or who get a lot of assists.
It is advisable to never mark an opposition player closely if he is a Speedy Dribbler. The player may freeze up with the space you give him, not knowing what to do with such a lack of pressure. (also partially due to the fact that he will be able to beat his marker with relative ease).
It is also good to avoid closing down opponents with high agility or traits such as “does the unexpected with the ball” or has a high flair rating.
It may also be useful to never close down a poor player if they are surrounded by more dangerous players in other positions. That way you can instruct your players to concentrate more on the higher quality players instead of the poor player. This may force the poor player to be the only passing option for the higher quality players. Once he receives the ball, he will have a higher chance of making a mistake which may gift you possession of the ball.
This will determine how aggressively you want an opponent to be tackled when in possession.
Could be useful to ‘scare’ an opponent. Look for players with low Aggression, Bravery, Composure, Determination and Work Rate.
It may also work against a player that is a good passer or crosser but lacks mobility. By going in hard on him, you can neutralize him by exploiting his flaws.
Tired players or players that have picked up a knock are also good choices. It’s a bit mean and definitely underhanded, but tired players have an increased likelihood to get injured, whilst a player that has a knock could be forced out of the game by a hard tackle.
Could be effective against a player that has better mobility or Dribbling ability than the player you have covering him. Going in too hard could result in fouls and cards, so it is better to be a bit more careful when tackling these sorts of players.
If you want to alter the tackling instructions for your entire team for a specific player. For example, when using the Get Stuck In team instruction, your players will tackle harder in general. By adding the Normal (or Easy) instruction you will alter that for a specific player or position.
- Hard tackle those with low bravery and secondarily aggression and anticipation
Ease of tackles against high bravery and secondarily aggression and anticipation
Show onto foot
This will instruct your players to force their opponent onto a specific side. Ideally, you would like the player to be forced onto his weaker foot.
1. Left foot/ right foot
This can be useful if an opponent’s Strong Foot is Left Only or Right Only. That way you can force a player to move onto his weaker foot, making him less effective. But you can also use this to force a player to the outside or inside of the pitch.
2. Weaker foot
Essentially the same as previous, this can be useful for players who are in the centre of the pitch (a midfielder or striker). But be careful of players who can shoot/pass with both feet.
Take for instance an inverted left winger/inside forward who plays on the left side of the pitch but is predominantly right-footed. If you force him onto his weaker foot (his left in this example) you are taking away the ability for the player to cut in and shoot and forcing him to cross using his weaker foot which may not be as threatening.
- Show to weaker foot on players who are "right only" or "left only" as well as players who have an incredible goal or assist record.
Ensure you check prior that the opposition player is not learning/has not learnt to 'develop weaker foot'.
Instead of going through all this hassle, some managers just let one of their coaches take care of the ‘opponent instructions’.
However, do note that a high “tactical knowledge” combined with a high “judging player ability” is vital so that the coach’s instructions can be effective. Otherwise, it is just like shooting in the dark and can backfire miserably in crucial matches.