The last post weaved through the first ten domestic fixtures in Serie A. We had amazingly won ten out of ten. (Pardon my boast).
This post will look to show how I changed the tactic from my initial interpretation of Herbert Chapman’s WM formation in to FM19 to what I currently use with my Torino squad.
(Below sees the Under 20’s being used as guinea pigs as I look to shuffle the positions and roles into a WM for the first time.)
I literally used the base from my previous 4141 tactic that I had been using for TS Sports and started moving player positions around to resemble the WM formation. My initial movements led to me plotting the defence with one centre back, and two inverted wingbacks. The thought was that this would provide me with narrow sitting fullbacks along side a central defender. It was only when I looked further at the inverted wingback role and its description of how the role can work that the penny dropped. Two factors make the inverted wingback invert. To have a player in front of them (Check – we have wingers ahead of them). And they require less than two defensive midfielders occupying the space in front of the defensive base line. (Family Fortunes style error klaxon – We have two defensive midfielders). So, in truth the idea of inverted wing backs was great, but it was never really going to happen. And in truth I had the defensive position of the fullback being more inverted rather than the attacking position in my head. So, I went back to the drawing board.
The Inverted Wingback will function defensively much like a standard wingback or fullback. However, while a normal FB or WB offer width to an attack, the IWB will attempt to drift inside and create space for players around him. (When he has a player a head of him and where there are fewer than two defensive midfielders).
If there is no team mate ahead of him, he will support attacks in a more traditional manner. (Notes taken from the role description in the game).
I now use a fullback on support on the left and a complete wingback on support on the right. Both hold a natural narrow defensive position when defending but both have some licence to explore further forward when the opportunity allows. The right back now has the instruction to get wider then the winger to support attacks and to get the ball into the box with (hopefully) quality crosses. Whilst the left back now holds a narrower position apart from when he has the ball, where he is to keep width and space for the inside runs of the more advanced players.
Previously I had an anchor and a half back in the defensive positions. Herbert Chapman’s WM used Half backs for both, but I suspect the instructions he gave compared to the hard-coded instructions of the role in FM would differ. The idea was that both would sit in front of the central defender and not adventure too far from there set positions. My altered tactic now sees two anchors. Both are expected to break play or support the central defender when their respective fullback bolts forward.
The other notable change is to the central midfield area. I have now switched the CMA to an Attacking Playmaker set to attack. This player is now a key element of how we distribute, he is our number 10, our tempo, our heartbeat of how we try to play. If the ball does not flow through this player, then we have gone long in the hope we can catch the opposition out of position.
The other changes are around the player mentality and team instructions. Previously I mentioned how I had simply moved players into positions from a 4141 in to the WM formation, the base tactic was the one I had used with TS Sports. Which was an aggressive (Attacking) tactic that sort to camp in the opposition’s half and bulldoze through the opposition’s defence by using a narrow forward line that pressed. Without even contemplating the playing style I had built a formation without forethought of the tactic and how it should defend and attack on its own. I asked the community where I was going wrong, in short, @Cleon81 told me to change my mentality, and I did, but there were still problems at mill. And it was only until the final three matches of last season that I managed to sort the tactic.
I firstly looked to keep the vertical Tiki-Taka, then looked at the core team instructions that were left. We made sure we were playing to keep the ball, with shorter passing, playing the ball out of defence and maintaining a low tempo. Along with working the ball in to the box. Yet my previous tactic seemed to just use the base vertical tiki-taka style without considering whether it would be of any use.
The tactic now used, still has the red gaps of weakness, but I have the understanding that there will be matches where I will get counterattacked and exploited due to the gaps that are set in my tactic, but like all tactics, there is always a blend between risk and reward. One thing I now consider is for matches away and against teams that have a very quick front line I switch the mentality from Balanced to Cautious, the reason behind this is that the player instructions of certain players become more defence minded. See Below. The first picture is with the team mentality set as Balanced. The left winger operates as a winger (Support), but his individual mentality is cautious. The second picture below, the team mentality is set as Cautious. The same player is set as left winger (support) and his individual mentality is now defensive.
Below is a screenshot of the player that was used in the example. David Taddei is a natural to the position and role.
Below is a screenshot showing most of David Taddei’s activity against Bologna at home. The team were set at Balanced. you can see that David is predominantly in the oppositions half, whether that be passing or receiving the ball. David also scores from just inside the box on 24 minutes. We win the match 2-0.
The next screenshot is of David Taddei’s activity against Genoa away. The team’s mentality was set a Cautious, as I was expecting a difficult match. We went on to win 4-2. In comparison to the previous picture. David’s activity is still predominantly in the opposition half but the below picture also shows him to be more spread from deep in his own half to in front of the oppositions goal. He scores in this match too, but he also has two saved shots and one missed shot along with a crossed assist. The alterations of individual player mentality within a set team mentality are not just limited to the wingers, this slight change appears across the entire team.
The final picture shows how we now play. Within both balanced and cautious now positions are changed. The only changes I have found myself making are the odd change to the forward who gets switched between DLF(A) and CF(S), this is dependant on the player playing the position/role. And I also switch the roles of the two fullback positions. Again this is due to the individual player playing in that position. ie. Luca Germoni my back up left back is a natural IWB. So I switch the role to favour him if he is played. I also ask the team to work the underlap on the left in a hope to involve Luca in the attacking third, albeit centrally rather than out wide. Just to note my first choice left back is club captain Santiago Mina, who favours the full back (Support) role. I have the team set at overlap on the left when he plays. I have made the tactic available to download. (Fingers crossed my first attempt of a button works).
To conclude, I would like to say this tactic is not how I would normally set up. I have been fond of a three at the back with a libero in the past in a 352 or a solid 4141, so to try something different and not follow the usual crowd, this tactic has felt somewhat liberating. I am by no means a tactical expert. But I have found through this experiment that, I feel I am open to experimenting with other significant tactics from real life and attempting them in FM in the future.
After that change in direction. The next update will be how Il Toro fair in the rest of season 2024/25.
Thank you for reading, Ciao for now!