Push Them Wide

FM14 Tactics and Training Blog

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.

Therefore for this we will be using Fulham, mid table and with two good wingers (which as you will see is pivotal to this) in Ruiz and Emanuelson.

The shape

Now I’m not going to go into massive detail on the instructions for individual players as I don’t feel that is helpful and can be rather confusing for people. As you can see, the team instructions are very much defaulted, and hopefully this explains to you why the wingers are so important to this formation. Simply by skewing the midfield we will alter the AI defence dynamic in such a way it affects what happens massively. Most of the positions are fairly standard, and have the expected instructions. Long shots reduced on all players, through balls increased on the right midfielder and the defensive centre mid, and also on both strikers. The only difference between the instructions of the wingers is the duty assigned to them. What this is trying to do is help people who are struggling tactically, by keeping the instructions as simple as physically possible.


I’m aware that the best way to explain a tactic is to show you how it works in a game, and I hope the following series of parts will help with this, as it visualises what happens. Examples come from the first game using this tactic, a friendly against Sedan-Ardennes, and from the opening league game of the campaign, against Manchester City. I’m also going to try and keep it relatively brief so as not to confuse everyone.

The opposition Right Back is all over the place

One key thing to look for is to see what happens with the right back, especially if you know it is someone who likes to get forward. This is where playing Man City is useful as they lack defensive discipline against an unusual formation. In this example Maicon has overcommitted by far too much and Sidwell has intercepted a pass meant for the Brazilian, and immediately releases Emanuelson down the left, which results in Berbatov hitting the post.


The AI defensive line is dire

And it is not just the right back who gets pulled around the pitch, here Emanuelson has forced Lescott and Maicon to stay back and not push up for the offside, however Kompany and Kolarov push up on their men. This leaves two free players, Petric and Sidwell clear of the defence on the left, and the Croat gets released. This is helped by Berbatov liking to come deep to get the ball. This happens on multiple occasions and I could have given 10-15 screenshots from the City game alone of it, some more extreme than this one.


In this next example, Maicon is again in no man’s land, leaving Kompany to have to take Emanuelson, immediately forcing a three on three. As can be seen, the Belgian is easily bypassed, and only Hart denies an overloaded attack, This and more extreme scenarios (see the second screenshot) are common throughout this tactic, as Emanuelson will often act as a third striker, and the attacking centre mid can come forward to add the extra man (in this case Sidwell takes Nastasic).



Increasing the pressure

One thing you might be worrying about looking at the shape is “surely the defence down the left is significantly weaker”. Mostly incorrect, the pressure is just transferred up the pitch. In the first of these examples Emanuelson forces the defender into a backpass resulting in a goal for Petric. The second is more interesting from my point of view. If you look at the right hand side, Ruiz is doing not much, Riether has that man covered and every other man is marked by someone, except the left back, who Ruiz should be on. Therefore the only out ball looks like the right back, but Emanuelson’s starting position puts him straight onto the ball, and Petric scores again.



The Attack Overload

Even when the right back defends properly (I’ve had to use Sedan here as Maicon didn’t once!) then Emanuelson is often on the shoulder of him. The key attributes for the AML are his crossing, acceleration and pace. If he has these you are onto a winner. Here he is just off his man, and goalside as well, this results in an easy goal.



What am I trying to show? Well I am trying to show you that tactics can be simple, you don’t need to make it over complicated, especially if you are struggling as I know some are this year. This is very close to a basic 4-4-2. The only real change is the left winger, yet it can be demonstrated just how effective this is. It still takes time for players to get used to it, and you need a certain type of left winger and attacking midfielder to make this work, Sidwell and Emanuelson are the right kind of style for this. The history behind this tactic is multiple CLs and completed Dafuge with Stourbridge, a WC semi-final with San Marino, multiple CLs with San Marino, and 9 promotions with Tain Thistle, so I hope that shows it’s not just an England-centric formation.

Last updated on May 13, 2013

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Foxo is an admin on The Away Stand, and regular reader of PTW articles. He is a Villa and Sampdoria fan and contributes tactical articles to Push Them Wide every so often, usually on some weird asymmetric ideas or shapes

  • http://twitter.com/ThroughPocket Through The Pocket

    This is excellent Foxo. Brilliant light reading.

  • http://twitter.com/Cleon81 Cleon

    Great article really enjoyed reading it :)

  • Unbelievable Jeff

    Great stuff Foxo, Asymmetric formations are something I have been a fan of since using one to great success in Brazil back on FM12.