A tactical preview
As mentioned in the previous post I’m going to try to emulate ex-Girona manager Pablo Machin’s success by pinning his “badge of identity” firmly to my lapel by using a 3-man defence. Normally, I’m a disciple of my trusted 4-2-3-1 and my few attempts with a 3-at-the-back system haven’t been a success, but hopefully through some grit and determination this time will be a roaring success and catapult us into La Liga at the first attempt.
The main aims are to make us hard to beat by being compact in central areas, having marauding wingbacks and launching quick counter attacks. As we’re predicted to finish in the playoffs this season, counter attacking opportunities won’t be as plentiful as they would be in La Liga, when we’d be constant underdogs, so this will be a work in progress as we progress throughout the first season and as we find the right players for the right roles.
But that doesn’t stop me showing my plans and highlighting what I’ve seen so far in some friendly games.
The main tactic:
As my go-to set up I opted for a 3-5-2 with a DM. The presence of the defensive midfielder, patrolling in front of the defence should allow the other two central midfielders to push on more and allow us to attack with 6 players.
From the below high level view you can see where the movement and penetration will come from.
- The defensive stopper should be aggressive enough to step into the space vacated by the attacking wingback when required, if the DM can’t do so.
- The attacking central midfielder should push up the pitch and into the hole between the oppositions defence and midfield and use his off the ball ability to find space.
- The deeper forward should also drop into the hole, with the CM(A) and hopefully give us an overload in that zone.
- With the wingbacks providing width in the entire length of the pitch, and the movements of the CM(A) & DLF(S) we should be able to get six players in each phase, meaning we’ll likely outnumber the opposition.
(Note – where I have a DLF it could be a TM or a F9, and the Pressing Forward could change to a Attacking Forward or a Poacher as we develop).
The main reason I didn’t choose a 3-4-3 formation – despite having some talented wingers – is because I want to get that compactness in the middle of the park. You can see from the below image how this 3-5-2 will defend.
The wingbacks will drop back roughly in-line with the three central defenders to give me a five man defence (in red) which covers with width of the pitch if necessary. The DM (in blue) will be told to not actively press, instead he’ll patrol the area in front of the three CBs (as mentioned earlier). This leaves the two central midfielders to press more freely and cut off passing lanes and form a box in the centre of the pitch with the two pressing strikers (in yellow). This in turn gives us two banks of two protecting the middle of the park.
As you can see from the below, we’re managing to attack with six players. Here, our ball carrying defender, Juanpe, brings the ball out of defence and is about to play a ball into the box (which we score from). As their #7 chose to commit to Juanpe, he left our right wingback open which was an excellent passing option if required.
This is something I’m wanting to achieve; the wingbacks push high and wide leaving the opposition a decision to make: do they follow the wingback and leave the half space open OR do they stay compact but leave the wingback open in plenty of space and time to pick out a cross?
With having only the wingbacks providing width for the team, up and down the length of the pitch, it’s important that we have ways of progressing the ball down field into the opponents final third when the ball is on the wings. We do this by the following passing combinations, as seen below:
- Combo 1 – Wingback, centre back, midfielder.
- Combo 2 – Wingback, midfielder, striker.
As you can see, we have Sarmiento (on loan from Man City -who is normally a winger but is being used as an attacking wingback due to injuries) who’s just received a pass from Bueno, our left sided central defender. Sarmiento now has the following ways to progress the ball downfield:
- Option 1 – he can utilise combo 1 and play the simple inside pass to Kebe (CM)
- Option 2 – use combo 2 which would involve a longer but still relatively simple pass downfield to Bustos (DLF).
- Option 3 – he can make the most of the space ahead of him and dribble down field.
If none of the three options above were available he can keep the team in possession of the ball by:
- Option 4 – playing the ball inside to the DM (in blue) who is carrying out his playmaker role well by making himself available.
- Option 5 – passing back to Bueno (CB) who can recycle the ball through the CBs to the opposite flank.
I’m sure tweaks will be made throughout the season, mainly to player instructions but you can see how I want this tactic to work and I’m looking forward to seeing how it does.
Role Values in Squad Management
What are role values?
Role values was something which jumped into my mind a few months ago whilst reading a brilliant article about Jose Mourinho in his early days with Roma and as I added more meat to the bones I realised it would be a good tool for a manager wanting to adopt a degree of soccernomics.
Assigning role values will be a method of squad management which I intend to use in this Girona FC save. As there isn’t much money to spare – which may not matter in La Liga 2 but will be a huge factor when/if we make it to La Liga – I’ll need to be careful (and intelligent) in making sure any money is spent in the proper place.
By analysing my planned tactic(s) I can assign a value to each role based on it’s importance to making the tactic work to it’s full potential.
These role values are:
Key players –
These are the main cogs in the formation and the spine of the team. Without very good players to fill these roles and carry out all the instructions to a high level, there’s a good chance the tactic will fail.
Regular starters –
Safe, dependable players who tick all the boxes and are capable of carrying out their designated roles well. They should all meet (and exceed) the attributes which make up the team ethos (which will be introduced later).
Role players –
These should be players who are quite easy to replace and won’t be too costly. Not quite plug and play but there should be a large selection of players who can be signed to fill these roles to a good standard. Ideally, a top 10 player in that position from the division below, or our B-Team, should be able to step into these roles if needed without too much detriment to the performance of the team.
You can see that this will allow me to make decisions as which bucket to put money into and were I can possible get by with a cheaper (or preferably free) option or blood promising youngsters into the first team.
How have these roles been assigned?
Using the same tactic image as in my previous post will give the best visual aid when I’m talking about the roles and how I expect them to operate.
Now, here’s the same tactic with values assigned to the roles:
As we’re forcing opponents wide I need a keeper who is confident in coming to claim crosses and also has good distribution to help launch counter attacks. Obviously, shot stopping is always required with a goalkeeper, but as I’m looking to make the middle hard to play through I’m hoping it won’t be the main factor (as that’s what will drive the costs up).
Wingback attack –
As the wing backs are important to this tactic in terms of providing width and helping progress the ball downfield we need at least one who is very good. He should be very quick to be a threat to the opposition and also be a very good crosser. The reason I haven’t put this as a key role is because I think I can retrain an average winger into this role, as long as he has passable defensive abilities.
Wingback Support –
An athletic wingback with a good engine. As he’ll be supporting a key player in midfield I only need him to get up and down and be comfortable on the ball enough to maintain possession and make the right pass or cross. Again, as the roles main function isn’t a strictly defensive one I should be able to use an average winger if required.
Ball playing defender –
Will be a very important player in the team. As well as being a very competent defender and great in the air, he also need to be able to use his passing abilities to launch counter attacks as well as carry the ball into midfield to commit opposition players, which will open up gaps elsewhere.
Central defender –
The centre of the back three he’ll have better players either side. His role will require having decent speed and aerial ability but won’t require the technical abilities of his defensive partners. Head it and make simple, short passes.
Central defensive stopper –
As he’ll stepping up to cover the space left by attacking wingback he’ll need to be able to read the game well in order to move up and make the interception or tackle. He’ll also need to be quite aggressive and comfortable on the ball as could be pressed pretty often.
Defensive midfielder –
The heartbeat and brains of the team. As well as being very competent defensively he’ll need to be able to make defence splitting passes and switches of play to keep the opposition off balance. Such a player won’t be cheap.
Central midfielder –
The role of this player will be to support the players around him be doing the simple things right. Make tackles, pass the ball to the wingback or more creative players around him and have a decent engine. He doesn’t need to excel in any particular area and therefore I think there should be a conveyor-belt of players who can fill the role requirements.
Attacking midfielder –
The driving force of the attacking game. Quick, creative and a good dribbler who gets into good positions to exploit and gaps. Should make driving runs and dribbles from midfield and make the oppositions life a misery.
Deep lying forward –
Good off the ball skills, decent vision and has a trick or two up his sleeve. His role will be to find gaps between the defence and midfield and create chances for this attacking partner. As such he doesn’t need to be a great finisher.
A physical attacker who can unsettle the defence. A burst of pace and clinical finisher. Definitely a key player.
Note – the striker roles may swap over, depending how they perform and the players available.
There we have it, my concept of role values in a tactic in FM22.