Creating tactics in Football Manager can be a little complex, so the idea of this article is to give a small introduction of how to do it, accompanying it with an example.
Each new version of Football Manager offers us more alternatives in the tactical side of things that allow us to emulate those of our favourite team in real life, or the one used by our favourite manager or simply use our football knowledge to create a strategy that adapts to the vision we have of this sport.
Almost like in real life, in Football Manager, it is necessary to know before creating the tactic how we want the team to play, almost imagining the team in a game, and thinking about how we want them to act in certain phases of a game and all of this will depend on the tastes of each person.
In Football Manager, three main aspects are considered in the creation of a tactic that encompasses many of its nuances: mentality, formation and instructions.
It is a factor that is a bit general, but at the same time, it is very important for the creation of the tactic as it reflects what the manager (us) wants the team to do.
Therefore, the options range from being very defensive to very attacking, going through various mentalities such as possession or cautious.
|TIP: It's advised to a match with a balanced mentality and as time progresses that you change things up if there's a need.|
For example, if the team’s mentality is one of the more attacking, the team tends to move forward, with longer ball possessions and more open players to create spaces.
In the more defensive mentalities, the opposite occurs; players maintain their position a little more and try to close spaces to the rival team.
It is important to note that none of the alternatives is perfect, with all of them having their own set of advantages and disadvantages.
It is the tactical distribution that the team will have in the pitch, and that is usually described with the classic numbers such as 4-4-2, 4-3-3, 3-5-2, etc.
|TIP: From the dropdown menu, you can see your recommended formation and quickly change to any other formation if you need to.|
The formation must be influenced by the mentality that we select the team; that is, it must coincide. It is not convenient to select a formation with many attackers if the selected mentality is defensive since the spaces in the defensive zone will be many and very large, which will be reflected in a facility to receive goals.
Another aspect that should be considered when choosing a formation is the squad since if you have few strikers and wingers, it is not a good idea to use a 4-2-4 or a 4-3-3 where wingers are obviously essential to execute those formations properly.
Each player already has a position defined by the formation, so now it is necessary to define how each player is going to play that position since, for example, a full back can be offensive, defensive or be in a certain way balanced and hence define whether he is a wing-back, limited full-back or a regular full-back. Logically, all this is done based on the characteristics of the players we have.
Added to this are a series of instructions for each player that will define what each one does when certain situations arise, such as when the player has the ball, when the team has the ball or when the team defends. All of this will shape the team’s performance.
These are nuances that apply in a general way to the team, indicating movements that must be done as a group such as the offside trap, the location of the defensive line, what to do when reaching a certain area of the pitch, overlaps of the full-backs, etc. This should be consistent with the prior instructions given to the individual players.
To exemplify the concepts we have talked about, we are going to use Diego Simeone’s tactics at Atlético de Madrid, which is well known to most football fans since he has been with the Spanish club for 10 years and his way of playing has already become a sign of identity considering that it has been quite consistent throughout these years.
Starting with the mentality, the vast majority of us know that Atlético de Madrid’s idea of the game under Simeone’s guidance has been to strengthen itself in defence (which is not necessarily a bad thing), so the mentality is Defensive. The Counter option could also be used since the Argentine’s style of play is a hybrid of both.
Later in the formation, the most used by Simeone has been 4-4-2 (although he recently invented 6-3-1), with the back four and midfielders close to each other, leaving the two strikers up so that they can fulfil the pressure functions designated for them.
In the instructions for the players, it is important that the midfielders are two centre midfielders who are in charge of retrieving the ball and the distribution with wide midfielders and wide playmakers by the wings (roles that Koke and Saúl have fulfilled for a long time), of way to keep the line of four midfielders without losing so much creativity in that area of the pitch. Of the attackers, one is usually a classic striker (Fernando Torres, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa or Luis Suarez), while the other is the one with the most mobility (Antoine Griezmann, Correa or Joao Félix). Both can be centre forwards, but one would be for attacking while the other would be for support.
Finally, in the team instructions, it is necessary to select options so that the team slows down the rhythm of the game, usually loses time and is as narrow as possible in order to favour defensive solidity. In the same way, it is good to point out the pressure on rival goalkeepers and limit the freedom of creation to favour discipline and keep their positions. The game should be focused on looking for passes into space and work the ball into the box.
Really, creating tactics in Football Manager is a little more complex than what is seen here, and the idea of this article has been to give a small introduction of how to do it, accompanying it with an example, which allows, in a simple way, to explain the process however it requires much more work and greater detail to create a tactic that meets what we want from our team.
At the end of the day, much like it is in real life for football coaches everywhere, the tactics are down to you, and you are the one that can make them work.