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welcome to a tactic that is based on my beloved SPURS and how i can represent CONTEBALL best in FM this year, I tried it with 3 strikers, 2x inside forwards and the ratings were poor and goals were hard to come by, so I moved the IF inside and made them SS with a DLF on support and things started to take shape, the final piece of the puzzle was moving the DLF into the CAM position and make a 3rd​ SS, now its beautifully symmetrical and makes for good viewing and turned my Middlesbrough team into title winners in 1st​ year in championship and TOP of the prem after 13 games!!!

The Tactic:
So the way this sets up is from the back to the front as CONTEBALL is defence first and then work on “automated” patterns of play to move the ball up the pitch and create chances on turn overs and when in possession for sustained periods have the movement off the ball to create spaces for us to exploit and create chances to ensure that we have the best chance to beat all types of teams.

DEF – the defence is pretty basic really, 2x WCB on support and a standard CB on cover is the make up, originally had a BPD in the middle but found they were over eager to force the ball forward and take too many risks so on standard CB they will just shift the ball left and right to the other CB or a short ball into the CM or WB if the lane is on, the WCB will carry the ball until they are engaged by an opponent then they will play wide to WB or drop it back to a CB or inside to a CM, if the wide SS peals into the channel they will send the ball down the wing for them to run onto. Defensively they will sit narrow, the WCB will engage wingers if the WB are higher up, all 3x CB will engage long balls but if the first ball isn’t won they will drop off and create the bank of 3 and let the pressure come from the CM and WB… the WB are just pressing machines, they will engage often and aggressively(if on yellow SUB them off ASAP) the WB and the CM will create a lot of turn overs when the ball is played into their “zones” and with the 3x SS all pressing the ball from a lower starting position the CM don’t need to worry about a DM and just focus on any balls that find their way into CM and DM zones… the final part of the defensive phase is the 3x SS, the wider SS will press the wide CB in a back 3 or the FB/WB in a back 4 when out of possession and as they have a lower starting position they will track FB/WB all the way back if they bomb-on, the middle SS is another pressing machine of the team forcing errors from DM or CB from turnovers or missed placed passes where we are ready to strike with WB/CM/SS.


when winning the ball back the players are instructed to fan out and counter, like a firing of a shotgun, regardless of where the ball is the WB and SS all get on their bike and try to exploit space left in behind, this typically done by getting the ball wide and around the side of a defence and then balls into the box where we will have 4 or 5 players attacking different areas of box for cut backs or crosses through the 6yrd box for a tap in, if the defence gets back in time and covers off the space we are trying to exploit then the SS ort WB who will be near the touchline at this point will play it back to the WCB who will have coasted up to help retain the ball who can then put a cross in or play it inside to a CM which is where the attacking phase would start and we would look to break the low block defences.

ATT-DEF – if the ball is lost typically will be in the opposition pen area the SS and the WB will engage the ball depending on where it is cleared too if its shorter causing the opposition to play risky shorter passes or clear their lines which my 3x CB are ready and waiting for a header down to the other CB or the CM… the CM drop in rather than engage to close the space between the CB and the CM, this means they are ready to engage the ball if the opposition are trying to play out from the back and engage the CM if the ball comes in but also if they play long they are close enough to the CB to receive the header or compete for the 2nd​ ball if its loose. Once we have the ball back we will rinse and repeat the DEF to ATT transition

ATT – when in the attacking phase its all about movement, moving players to create space for them or others to exploit, this works as we have the 3x SS, they will all on occasions look to dart in behind, come short to receive to feet from the CM or peel wide to support the WB or WCB who at this point will be high and wide to create overloads in the wide areas for chances to cross the ball or move the defence over to that side so we can work the ball towards the opposite side and create spaces for through balls in between the lines or crosses from the other side. This then is rinse and repeated until break through is found, the CM are crucial for this moving the ball quickly and efficiently across the pitch to the WCB or WB for crosses or into the SS for a direct shot on goal

GOAL KICKS – The pattern of play when playing out from the back is something to behold, the GK plays short to a CB and will work its way out to the WB and then he will either play the ball into the channel for the SS who has made a run into the wing or play it behind the wide SS to the middle SS who will be running into the space that the wide SS has just made by moving into the channel, if those lanes are being tracked and covered the WB will play inside to a CM who will move the ball quickly to across to the other side to see if they can have a better look at playing the ball into the SS feet or in behind… movement is king


so in the first season in the beta I won the championship with Middlesbrough, we only had 1x defeat all season and that was against Rotherham and that was after the title had already been secured, furthermore I got lucky and dodged a lot of teams in the FA cup and managed to win the **** thing which was awesome and left me with a lot more options when coming to the prem as more players were willing to come to me. Some highlights from that season was the 4-1 against Swansea, nearly a 4xg and really should have had more goals on the day…. Missed a few sitters… the next was a 4-1 drubbing of Norwich in the FA cup, this was a comfortable win and proved that the chances that are created sometimes aren’t deemed the best quality however they are effective in getting goals. Finally is the game against spurs again in the cup, we won 3-2 and they played with kane, richy and sonny on the pitch and we nullified them to nearly nothing until they were pushing like crazy late on to get back into it… we scored some good goals in this one and they didn’t have an answer to the movement we had throughout the game.

the tactic was still being tweaked during the season but the season in the prem where we currently sit TOP after 13 games is where the tactic has come into its own!!! Here are a couple of games so far in the season… first was the drubbing of Fulham, over 3xg again and should have scored more than we did and Mitrovic scored a header from the penalty spot… then we have the home leg against JUVE in the Europa league, they came to fight fire with fire and got burned, they couldn’t deal with the balls in behind their slow defence and we recked havoc on them, finally a 4-0 win over Leicester which was really comfortable we dominated possession and should have scored more… and with better players it would have been 6 or 7
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