Utilising The Mobile Targetman

https://i1.wp.com/noticias.portalvox.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/5/2014/02/Ibra-PSG.jpgPeople have been fairly critical of the ‘Target Man’ role this year on FM15. By and large, the main criticism has been that the role induces West Ham levels (though not this season) of direct football. In laymans terms, it’s been said that the game automatically thinks that your Target Man is Andy Carroll, and that you are Graham Taylor’s Watford, and will take any opportunity to hoof the ball up to him. Somewhat irritatingly, this can be at the detriment of your team instructions. I lose count of the amount of times I read people complaining about direct football (that they don’t want) despite asking their team to ‘retain possession’ and ‘work ball into box’. I loved the Target Man role on FM14 (it was a crucial part of my Defensive 4-1-2-2-1), but as a result of the reports I’ve heard, I’ve avoided it on FM15.

So, how can we get around this on FM15? Well, this role I’ve had in mind is extremely influenced by Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Yes, he’s a Target Man type player, but he’s far more than. He’s strong, good at holding the ball up, but he’s also very creative, mobile, and can set up his team mates outside of the classic Target Man cliches like ‘flick ons’ and ‘one-twos’. He’s a classically talented footballer. In Football Manager terms, a mix between a Target Man, and crucially a Deep-Lying Forward. This idea actually spawned out of some of the stats I saw when I was testing the 4-5-1 for my previous article. If you go back and see, you will notice I put Kevin Friesenbichler (an uncreative player, who was strong and fast) at DLF-S, with the responsibility of dropping deep and feeding the ball to the onrushing players in the midfield 5. Surely this wouldn’t work right?

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Well, yeah it kinda did. Friesenbichler attempted 76 passes (the most in the team), completed 58 of them for a percentage of 76.3% and 4 of those passes were key passes. I also noticed that in the DLF role, Friesenbichler played much like how I would want a Target Man to, receiving the ball to feet, and moving it on to the onrushing midfielders. Perfect. Super Kev was so effective in this role, that I felt it could easily be converted into a Target Man like role, but a more mobile version, one that used the strengths of players like Friesenbichler, that are strong, fast and mobile.

So, how could I tweak a DLF-S to create this Mobile Targetman? Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 22.01.21Well, here’s the instructions I’m using on the left. Now, I want the Mobile Targetman to drop deep like a normal DLF-S, but I don’t want him to hold onto the ball for too long. I want him to drop deep, collect the ball, and quickly move it on to an onrushing midfielder. As a result, ‘dribble less’ was a no brainer. This should ensure that he moves the ball on quickly, and that when he receives the ball, he’s actually quite static. So that’s the static element of the classic Target Man play sorted, but I don’t want this role to just be a classic Target Man. I want him to move laterally over the pitch, combining with all the onrushing midfielders in the team, particularly the Central Winger. As a result I’ve asked him to ‘roam from position’ and ‘move into channels’ to ensure that he stays mobile, and moves laterally around the pitch, moving into areas where he can play quick wall passes, before then turning and joining the attack.

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Here’s some classic Target Man play from the DLF-S, supporting my theory that not only is it an alternative to the TM-S, but it might actually be the better option in FM15. Here, the team hasn’t gone direct to the Mobile Targetman, but has worked the ball up the field into this position, and then moves the ball into Friesenbichler with his back to goal in a very dangerous position. From here, he has a couple of options, showing this is not a one dimensional role. He can take the ball and turn and shoot (as he did a few times in the match) or he can try and play someone else in. He decides on the pass in red, causing the defender to lunge in and giving away a penalty, which Friesenbichler converts.

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This hold up play is extremely consistent as well. Those of you that have used the DLF-S role in FM15 will have noticed it before and taken it as granted, but with the right roles around it, it’s basically a very effective Target Man and focal point for attacks. Again, here the ball has been moved up to Super Kev by Schnaderbeck. He doesn’t dribble, but instead turns and looks for the pass forward. The Mobile Targetman thrives with runners moving past him. Here, he plays the pass in red and the keeper saves the shot, but the threat is there and we’re looking like scoring again. Everything is going through the Mobile Targetman.

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The Mobile Targetman won’t just stay central as well. He’s not a great static lump playing up there. He moves around laterally, and here he’s taken up a position towards the left of the penalty area and is now in a position to play in 3 people, all of whom are making runs towards a similar area. You can see the amount of purple shirts that are being sucked in by the positioning of the Mobile Targetman, creating a lot of space centrally, that we can then try to exploit.

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Getting to players to move laterally has always been a difficult task on Football Manager. Usually you have to utilise marking, or in the olden days you’d ask them to ‘hug the touchline’ in order to force them a bit wider than their usual position. However, the Mobile Targetman doesn’t have any of these issues. He will move out wide (usually left with Friesenbichler) and combine with the wide players. Here, he’s moved wide and collected the ball from Sallahi the left winger, and is now in a position to play a quick wall pass into the Central Winger Schnaderbeck before himself turning and joining the attack as it rushes forward, utilising his pace and power. You can also imagine the sheer amount of central space that is left when the Mobile Targetman vacates that area. It’s the classic False 9/Strikerless scenario where the defenders have no idea who to mark, and usually end up making a mistake in their positioning.

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Here’s another example of why the Mobile Targetman can be so effective. Here’s he’s drifted over to the left again and we’ve worked the ball into him. There’s no passes on centrally and he switches the angle of attack, moving the play back to the Wide Playmaker Sallahi, who then plays our left back in behind the defence and we’re now in a position to score, with Friesenbichler now free to turn and go for a header from the cross. It’s very basic football, using him as the wall to play off and rebound to create angle for attacks, but it’s also very effective. By not allowing him to dribble, we ensure that this ball movement is swift, keeping the defence off balance.

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This is exactly the kind of movement that I want from the Mobile Targetman. He’s vacated his central position and moved out to the left in order to help the build up. Our left midfielder Sallahi plays the blue pass into Friesenbichler (who has drawn in two defenders), and he quickly plays the red pass for our left back Klem. In one pass we can now get in behind their defence. This rebound type of passing off the Mobile Targetman is very common, and it allows us to draw in defenders, play quick passes and change the angle of attack at will.

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Here you can see the sheer mobility of the Mobile Targetman. He’s covered a lot of area centrally, and spends a lot of time on the edge of the box, but you can also see that he’s moving into the channels (particularly the left) as I’ve asked him to. This movement is extremely difficult for the opposition defence to cope with, especially when a fast player such as Friesenbichler then turns and runs at the defence from those positions.

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Friesenbichler’s passes also show quite how much he moves around the pitch. It’s interesting to see that he’s moving out to the left a lot more than the right, perhaps affected by the fact that he’s left footed. You can see there’s a fair amount of backwards passes, but that’s exactly what I want – quick passes to the onrushing midfielders. Despite this, there’s still some forward passes thrown in there, showing that the Mobile Targetman can still be a threat in terms of keeping the defence honest and stretching them vertically.

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This is the kind of performance that you’ll see from the Mobile Targetman. He hasn’t passed the ball as much as much as when he was a standard DLF-S, but his passing percentage is sky high and he’s made 6 key passes, a ridiculous statistic for someone who’s basically there to move laterally, stretch the defence and make passes to our marauding midfielders. It certainly seems to me to be a fantastic alternative to the TM-S role. It won’t force your team to be unnecessarily direct, he’ll be far more mobile, and he’ll also have an added creative side (even if like Friesenbichler, he only has 9 for vision).

This is certainly going to be a role that I use going forward on FM15, and a role that combines beautifully with the movement of the Central Winger. I honestly think it’s a much better option than the classic Target Man. Thank you for reading, and as always, should you have any questions, please feel free to ask either here or on my Twitter (@JLAspey).

Utilising the Central Winger on FM15

Apologies to everyone for the wait for this article, but there’s been a few reasons why it’s taken me until December to write this. Firstly, I’ve wanted to make sure I get this right after the success of the FM14 article, and have all the material needed to show why the Central Winger is such a fantastic role. Secondly, I’ve actually had some problems using the Central Winger on FM15. I developed a 3-6-1 on the BETA with Manchester United, with Angel Di Maria as the CW. I’ve always said that Angel Di Maria was the archetypal Central Winger, and to my surprise, well, it didn’t work very well. Januzaj ended up being far better in the CW role, but on the whole, I didn’t see many of the movements I saw on FM14, and I worried that my favourite role was going to be largely useless on FM15.

In the end, I figured out that the CW’s ineffectiveness was as a result of two things, both my fault in a way. In an attempt to avoid horrific Back 3 spreading that I’d seen on FM14, I decided not to ask the team to ‘play wider’, condensing the diamond midfield in the centre, meaning that the Central Winger didn’t have the space he needed, and therefore was largely useless.

Before I go into the Central Winger for FM15, I’d like to sum up how I developed the role last year, and exactly what it is, for those that didn’t see the FM14 article. The Central Winger came about when I first saw Angel Di Maria play central midfield for Real Madrid in their 4-3-3. Being the football hipster I am, I went on Twitter and said that Di Maria played almost like a ‘Central Winger’. Naturally from there, I wanted to develop this role and style of play on Football Manager, and create a midfielder that ran directly at defences, moved out wide at times, and provided a goalscoring threat from midfield, bursting past the forward line. I developed the role in my save at Red Bull Salzburg *spits*, and it became a key part of many of my tactics towards the end of the game. I tweaked a CM-A, with ‘get further forward’, ‘press more’, ‘run wide with ball’ and ‘dribble more’ selected.

The story of the Central Winger on FM15 is largely a result of my save with Sturm Graz, and the 4-1-4-1 I’m using. As those of you that have read will know, it started off as an attempt to recreate Real Madrid’s 4-4-2, which moulded into a 4-4-1-1/4-1-4-1, and eventually into a conventional 4-1-4-1. Until moving to the 4-1-4-1, I hadn’t used the CW, but next to a Roaming Playmaker, I felt I needed vertical movement, and so the Central Winger was my only option. I had my reservations though. Once again, it’s gone on to become a key element of my tactic, and I’ve finally figured out what makes it tick in comparison to FM14.

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Here is how I set the role up this year. As before, it starts off as a CM-A. I select ‘dribble more’, ‘close down more’ and ‘run wide with ball’. I would have selected ‘get further forward’ as before, but this year, it’s already selected. I select ‘dribble more’, rather obviously, to get the dribbling and running at the defence that I’m after. Funnily enough, this didn’t happen that much on FM14. I select ‘close down more’ in order to increase the pressing, which is a direct influence of me attempting to make this role play like Di Maria. Di Maria would often move out towards the left with the ball as well, which is why I selected ‘run wide with ball’. This was something that wasn’t overly obvious in gameplay last year, but things have changed this year.

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I posted this screenshot in my latest Sturm update to illustrate how I’d been using the Central Winger, and it really is the CW at it’s very best and most direct. Alar, the CW, picks the ball up in central midfield and spots the hole in the defence between the FAK left back and centre back. He then drives with the ball into that space, running directly at the defence. This threat is so severe that five defenders track Alar’s run, completely ruining their defensive organisation. A simple square pass inside to Schmerbock, and we get a decent shot on goal. Very simple, but very, very effective. The CW running at a defence, committing bodies, before laying off a pass to allow us a shot on goal. Exactly what I want. This utilisation of space is far better than it was on FM14, and the right CW will be able to spot these open gaps in defences.

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Because of his instructions, the CW will also be very effective when play breaks down. Here, we’ve had a shot on goal and the ball has rebounded out to Alar. He’s pressed by 2 defenders, with one covering deeper. Alar however, recognises the space in the centre and dribbles his way into this space. The defender next to Molina comes across to block and Alar simply squares the ball to Molina, who finishes easily. Again, simple but effective. Directly running at a defence, and laying a simple ball off for a goal. Perfect Central Winger play.

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I’ve always found the CW to be most effective when combined with a striker that drops deeper off the front line. In my 4-1-4-1 with Sturm, I’ve used a CF-S and DLF-S, both designed to break off the front line, and create space either in front of, or behind the defence. Here, you can see very basically how well this works. Our RPM Offenbacher plays the pass in white into the DLF Molina (don’t ask me why he’s facing the wrong way). Seeing this, Alar breaks forward, and moves past Molina making the run in red. His marker doesn’t go with him, leaving Alar completely open. Unfortunately, Molina’s pass is poor and Alar is forced to pick the ball up out wide, but the threat is always there. This happens less than it did last year, but it’s still a key element of what makes the CW so effective.

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The Central Winger is not just a threat when dribbling with the ball and when near a striker either. The Central Winger contributes to the overall play of the team by providing vertical movement throughout the attacking phase, starting from deep. Here, the CW Alar has picked the ball up in his LCM spot. Rather than dribbling this time, he moves the ball out wide to the winger Akiyoshi, who subsequently moves the ball inside to our other central midfielder, Schnaderbeck. Once again, the CW Alar moves without the ball and bursts forward making the run in blue, moving past Schnaderbeck as the ball comes to him.

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Here is the continuation of the above move. Schnaderbeck is pressed by 3 defenders and smartly moves the ball into Alar, who then spots the pass in red into our right midfielder, who unfortunately is offside. However, this shows the movement of the CW within the attacking phase, following the ball forward, from central midfield to the edge of the box, and creating good chances for our goalscorers. In a few seconds we’ve gone from central midfield to the opposition box. The CW is not necessarily a ‘creative’ role, but it will create chances for other players simply by committing opposition defenders.

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The CW will also move into the Number 10 zone at times, which can cause absolute havoc for the defence. Here, the CW has moved into this 10 zone late in the attack, and receives the ball from Schnaderbeck. The opposition defence can either come out and close him down, leaving space behind them, or allow him to keep running (which they do). He then moves forward towards the edge of the box and fires a shot past the opposition keeper. It’s always a danger with a 4-1-4-1 that the striker can become isolated, but the CW’s fantastic movement avoids this problem.

I will admit that the Central Winger has changed somewhat from FM14. I wouldn’t say it’s quite the same goalscoring threat as before, but it has become so much more effective in overall play, dominating midfield, working box to box, creating opportunities for other players, and completely ruining the opposition’s defensive organisation. The right player in the CW role will constantly commit defenders, eventually leading to someone being unmarked. When 5 AI defenders cover the run of one man, you know the role is effective. Combined with a Roaming Playmaker, the Central Winger will run your midfield, and cause serious problems for the opposition.

I have always said that the ideal Central Winger would be Angel Di Maria, and on FM15 it remains the same. Classic winger/inside forward attributes are needed, with good finishing ability and decent passing. In simple terms, a box to box midfielder, with better dribbling. Having said that, in a midfield 3, the CW’s tackling really isn’t important. Although he presses the ball, it’s a bit passive in my system, in order to retain shape. Increasing the pressing of the CW would be a very interesting experiment, something I might have to try someday.

I hope you all enjoyed reading about the Central Winger again for FM15. If you have any questions about how I use the CW within my tactic or anything like that, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Creating the David Silva role

For me, one of the most interesting things to watch this season has been Manuel Pellegrini’s use of David Silva in an inside left role in his abstract 4-4-2. Starting on the left, Silva has been given the freedom to move inside, often taking up a Number 10 role. Along with the width provided by Jesus Navas, City have provided us some of the best attacking football we have ever seen in this country.

For some time now, I’ve been thinking how I can recreate this role on FM. I want a player that will start wide, and then move inside once we have the ball. I’d thought of using an AP-S from the AML position, but I felt this wouldn’t give me the movement between the lines that I was looking for. I don’t so much want a ‘wide playmaker’ as a wide player that becomes a central playmaker. I’m also thinking of defensive stability, and the player in this role has to help by providing cover along our left wing. Ironically, this is something Silva doesn’t always do for City, but it’s something I believe is key on FM. I believe I’ve developed a way to use this role, but it is by no means the finished article, and I’ll update this thread as I develop the role.

In my procrastination of how to develop the Silva role, my thinking over how to implement it has changed. As I said, I had initially thought of using an AP-S role from the AML role. This wouldn’t bring the lateral movement I was looking for though, and so I’ve switched the role to an AMC that moves wide once we lose the ball. It may seem a backwards way of going about it, but when you watch City, most of the time you see Silva floating around central areas, and it’s his passing combinations with those around him that help unlock opposition defences. The screenshots I’m using in this post are from the team’s first friendly against Zenit, so the team isn’t used to the tactic, and Zenit are tough opposition. However, the match showed plenty that suggested the role could be effective.

Tactically, the team was set up like this, with David Silva’s instructions set like this, being asked to make more direct passes (mainly to increase his passing range), to roam from position (in order to encourage him to move laterally as Silva does), and importantly, I asked him to mark the opposition’s right back Anyukov, in order to encourage him to get over to the left side of the field once we lose the ball. This will give us (in theory) a solid 4-4-2 shape once we lose the ball, a shape that is extremely solid in defence. I also thought that having Silva initially lined up in the AMCL position would cause him to stay slightly left of centre, but I hoped I’d still see that lateral movement I was looking for.

Almost immediately, I saw the movement I was looking for. From kick off, Silva attached himself onto the right back, but then moved into the AMCL position quickly once we’d won the ball, ending up in plenty of space. You can also see that the gap to Aguero and Negredo isn’t very big, allow for quick interplay between the 3 of them should we get the ball forward. It’s also good to see that Kolarov got forward in order to fill the space left by Silva.

You can also see the space that Silva was able to take up here, ahead of Fernandinho. Unfortunately, in the first half, these were isolated incidents, and Silva’s positioning map highlights that he wasn’t able to get forward as much as I’d have liked. Yes, he clearly covered the space down their right flank well, but he’s also got to be the main creative hub of the team, and he didn’t make anywhere near as many passes as I’d have liked. Zenit were playing a deep 4-2-3-1, and it was clear he was moving straight into the double pivot, and therefore wasn’t in the game. I also wasn’t seeing any of the lateral movement that I needed from the role. However this defensive positioning is exactly what I want to see. Against teams with adventurous full backs, I need the player in the Silva role to drop back wide and cover the flank. It was pleasing to see we were already nullifying their full backs.

Before the end of the first half, I made the switch to move Silva into the AMC spot, in order to get him right into the double pivot. That may seem strange, but I felt I needed to split it, and I also wanted to encourage his lateral movement by moving him central. At half time, I had to sub Silva as his fitness was dropping, and brought on Nasri in his place, still playing the same role with the same instructions.

Pleasingly, despite moving the role into the AMC spot, the marking instructions still yielded exactly what I wanted. Without possession, Nasri would quickly track back and latch himself onto Anyukov, Zenit’s right back in the centre of the picture. This forms the same 4-4-2 (sometimes 4-2-2-2) in defence that I’m looking for.

What was more pleasing, was that almost immediately, I started to see the movement that I was after from the role. Nasri started to go looking for the ball, and often found himself in positions like that to the left, where he could turn into plenty of space. You can see more examples here and here. It’s also worth noting that the second goal to make it 2-1 was scored by Nasri. We also had a goal called offside from Navas, but the goal was entirely made from Nasri’s creativity in the centre of the park, slipping through a lovely pass for Navas. Nasri was now controlling the game in the same way I wanted the role to, linking up well with both Toure and Fernandinho in midfield, and Aguero and Negredo upfront. The excellent marking of the full back also continued, and if you would like me to post anymore examples (there’s about 10 more I haven’t posted) then please let me know. The role was becoming the creative hub and wide defender I was looking for.

We finished the match winning 3-1, rather comfortably, with Nasri achieving a < 7 rating, having played the entire second half in the AMC position. The 2nd half was absolutely the kind of performance I’m looking for from the role. Above you can see Nasri’s positioning map and passing map from the game. You can see the contrast to Silva’s in that not only has he covered the important space on the left hand side as I wanted, but he’s controlled the game from the center, drifting over to the right at times, exhibiting that lateral movement that you see from Silva on a weekly basis. In addition, here is the average positions for Zenit, and you can see how far back we’ve kept their full backs. That could either be down to the excellent play of Nasri/Silva (also Navas on the right side), or it could simply be that Zenit’s full backs weren’t being very adventurous. The true test will be when we come against the Barcelona’s and Bayern Munich’s.

So for a first test, I’m very happy with how the role performed. Ideally, I’d perhaps like to get a bit more roaming from the position, but I think that will come with familiarity with the tactic. Other than that, perhaps a touch more lateral movement over to the right, but there was enough in the first match to keep their midfield stretched. The man marking worked exactly as I wanted it to, and there’s definitely potential here. If anyone has some suggestions, I’d be more than happy to hear them, and I’ll do my best to keep developing this.

Creating the Mario Zagallo role

Recently, I’ve been watching a lot of Sky’s ‘Greatest ______‘ series. Originally, the series started off celebrating the world’s greatest ever players, ranging from Puskas, to Ronaldinho and everywhere in between. Following on from that, the program has diversified into covering the careers of great managers, and more recently, football’s greatest teams. Roughly two weeks ago, there was an entire afternoon dedicated to the great Brazil teams of ’58, ’62 and ’70. Of course, Mario Zagallo was interviewed throughout these programs, being a winner with the ’58 and ’62 sides, and manager of the famous ’70 team. Split between all of these programs, was the episode dedicated to Zagallo’s storied career as a manager.

The episode started off discussing his playing career, how he was a Botafogo legend, and was an extremely intelligent player. However, it then discussed his role within the Brazilian 4-2-4 system, and explained how Zagallo would work so hard and help out in midfield that he would effectively make it a 4-3-3 without the ball. This wasn’t the first time I’d heard Zagallo’s role described this way, as Jonathan Wilson’s Inverting the Pyramid spends several pages on the development of Brazilian football, and therefore the iconic World Cup winning sides. Wilson also includes diagrams that illustrate Zagallo’s movement back into midfield to form a 4-3-3. This immediately gave me the idea of replicating it on FM.

This idea has also developed as a result of my recent annoyance at many footballing ‘experts’ seeming to think that 4-4-2 leads to an automatic defeat. Every time England lose whilst playing it, the formation itself is always blamed. For weeks, people suggested that City ‘couldn’t‘ play their 4-4-2 against Barcelona otherwise they’d be soundly beaten. What many don’t seem to understand or realise, is that it’s the implementation of the system, not the formation itself that is to blame. The two men in midfield are only overrun if you allow them to be, and that’s what I’m trying to avoid with the use of the Zagallo role.

In order to test this, I’ve used Liverpool, and Jordan Henderson in particular. Henderson has all of the work rate required to play the role, and if you watch the ’58 Brazil side, you’ll notice that Zagallo stays slightly more narrow than a normal winger, but remains in that spot whilst they have the ball. He’s not overly used in the build up play, as the team seemed to focus much more down the right, with the ball moving to Pele, and the team as a whole looking for Garrincha on the right wing. However, what I’m looking for from Henderson is that defensive movement, and he seems perfect for the role. He’ll press and work hard, exactly what I need.

The team was set up in a simple 4-2-2-2 system (basically 4-4-2), with Henderson set as a Defensive Winger in the AMR spot. Initially, I’d wanted a Winger-S, but for some reason, he can’t ‘sit narrower’. Here are Henderson’s instructions, with him asked to sit narrower, in order to ensure that inside positioning when we’re attacking. In addition, he’s also asked to ease off tackles, as Zagallo wasn’t the type to go flying into tackles, and then crucially, I’ve instructed him to mark the opposition’s deepest midfielder, in order to bring him inside. It’s the same theory and method I used with the David Silva role, but almost in reverse.

In addition, the second part of the theory is that the right sided forward (in this case Sturridge) is asked to mark the opposition left back, forming what should be a 4-3-3 without the ball. Usually, the idea with a 4-4-2 is to drop a striker deep to cover a midfielder, but surely the winger is closer to tuck in? In addition to this, if you have a quick striker be the one to mark the left back, he’s in a far better position to counter attack than if he’s central and marking a defensive midfielder. At least, that’s my theory of looking at it.

Within the first couple of minutes, the team formed exactly the shape I’m looking for. We lost possession of the ball and Henderson (circled in blue) tucked inside and formed a solid midfield 3 covering the centre of the pitch. Sturridge has also moved outside to mark the left back, avoiding him exploiting the space left by Henderson. In addition, you can see that this has formed the 4-3-3 shape I’m looking for. Our central strength is cutting off passing angles, especially into their AMC, sat behind Lucas Leiva.

As usual, I’m not going to post several different screenshots of the same thing, but you can clearly see here, here and here that Henderson was regularly moving into central midfield once we’d lost the ball, and formed a solid central 3 that the opposition couldn’t break down. You can also see the dangerous positions a pacey striker such as Sturridge gets into out wide as a result of his marking instructions.

That dangerous positioning paid off after only 4 minutes, when Joe Allen managed to find Sturridge’s run behind the left back, putting him through on goal. This may look like a long ball by Allen (and it is), but it clearly shows the counter attacking potential of having a pacey striker such as Sturridge mark wide. This lead to the first goal of the match.

This counter attacking threat as we transitioned from the defensive 4-3-3 shape was something that could be seen throughout the game, especially with Suarez in a DLF-S role. This meant that usually he dropped deep and turned into plenty of space, with an IF-A role on the left cutting in, and Sturridge doing the same as he came away from his marking instructions.

I took more screenshots of the team ending up in fantastic positions to counter as soon as we won the ball back. These can be seen here and here. This system could work wonders for any team with a pacey striker and winger.

Also, not only did I see the positives of 4-3-3 in defence and in transition, but should that not work, then the team switches to the 4-4-2 shape, and gets all of the positives of 4-4-2 going forward, with width and two strikers upfront. Here you can see the team in the 4-4-2 shape when attacking, with Henderson is providing width on the right, and Suarez dropping deeper to collect the ball. Sturridge is also stretching the defensive vertically, preventing them from stepping up.

The average positions map also shows the combination of the 4-4-2 and 4-3-3 shapes, with Henderson (7) tucked in, and Sturridge (10) positioned further to the right than normal. Henderson also covered plenty of space centrally, and grabbed himself a goal, also providing width and attacking threat.

The Zagallo role (and therefore the role Sturridge played) clearly need further work and testing, but the theory itself is definitely working on FM14. I’m hoping to take this into a proper save to test it over a prolonged period of time, and I’ll update this with further results and findings.