Push Them Wide

FM14 Tactics and Training Blog

I’ve seen a lot recently of “Stoke are overrated on FM” “Stoke are overpowered” “Stoke are too good”. Well, no, they aren’t. Not if you defend against them properly and cut out the long balls. When you play FIFA against Stoke they play all cutesy like Barcelona so it’s simple to defend against. Not so on FM, they play in the proper Stoke style, West Ham play in a very similar way, long ball and knock downs. You’ll see Crouch getting 10 and sometimes 15 assists a season at times, and there’s a reason for that.

Every virtual, and real, manager hopes to leave a legacy at their club by developing a squad – and reserve squad, and youth squad – that will be so beautifully, so carefully constructed that it can take care of itself for the next ten years and then carry on long after leaving. It seems particularly apt, considering the big news of the past few days, to talk about this subject.

I’m conscious of the fact that when I have written about asymmetry previously, I have stayed away from the Premier League, where most people play, thus making it potentially not as useful for everyone who is struggling tactically. However, another reason for this was that until recently I have struggled to get asymmetry working in the Premier League, therefore I wasn’t confident to release something about it without some serious work.

What this article will display is that even a simple alteration to a very basic tactic and setup to make it slightly asymmetrical can devastate the AI and its hold over a game, whatever the stature of the club you are playing with.

I hate numbers. I was always terrible in maths, especially when we got to the formulas and stuff; I wondered where the hell would we be using in the rest of our lives? After the 3rd year in high school, I had zero idea of what our maths teacher was talking about in front of the blackboard. Honestly. Now I’m even dizzy when I have to write down a phone number.

A lot is written about tactics and training, especially on this blog, but when it comes down to it, a successful team tends to be greater than the sum of its parts. There is no quick fix to how to get the best out of players, or which player types are best, but there is enduring and sensible football logic in placing fast by slow, big by small and creative by prolific. It is combinations such as these that form the basis of all success. What they do at a basic level is protect your greatest weaknesses by allying them with your greatest strengths.

It’s not a la mode but I’ve had a load of fun with the 4-4-2 recently. It can be tough to avoid the lure of the 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 variants but it wasn’t so long ago that the world’s best coaches relied on the 4-4-2 for its stability and pitch coverage. There is something charming about it that has drawn me to it, and perhaps more significantly, away from 4-3-3s and 4-5-1s.

I recently came across an article by Jonathan Wilson, which spoke about the key weakness of the 4-2-3-1 – wingers can find an awful lot of space if they drift away from their full back. In fact, that space between full back and winger is probably the only real space that the 4-2-3-1 offers to its opponents; it may well be out wide and away from the goal but there is still an opportunity to really hurt teams by using a winger that drops deep and uses the space gained to run at his opposite man and inside.

For a long time, it’s been OK to not understand tactics in FM – you could still win with the help of good signings and a downloaded tactic. That’s still true to a certain extent, but the times are a-changing; tactics are becoming a key element of playing, as they should, and reacting to in-game situations is something that is becoming more of a necessity than an optional luxury. And as people rush to try and work out where they’re going wrong, they’re finding a lot of incorrect information at one place and a lot of verbose and complicated information at another.

Reading FM and tactics posts when you’re at your PC is all well and good but what if you’re out and about or catching up on some reading in bed? We want our articles to be as accessible as possible and available in a number of formats so you can get the most out of what we have to say. That’s why we want to mark our 50th post by making our articles available in eBook form. All the images and formatting are still in place so you can enjoy everything just like you were visiting us online and you can comment and access links by saving them as bookmarks and loading them when you’re back online.

Our Youth Development series has been rather disjointed and poorly ordered, and I’m going to continue that trend with another article in the series that should probably have been the very first one!

I’ve found recently that it’s very important to look at youth development as a whole, and importantly as part of a constantly changing and developing club. Many players enjoy the youth development side of the game but it can be all too tempting to focus on the short-term, as contradictory as that seems, and to ignore what may happen in the future.

Push Them Wide is an approved Football Manager fansite. Since setting up in 2011, we have published over 50 articles dedicated to Football Manager and the wider game. For more details, visit our about page.

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