An [Amateur] Tactician's Chalkboard for FM11

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An [Amateur] Tactician's Chalkboard for FM11

Hello and welcome. Let me introduce you to a new idea that will hopefully help and influence the FM-Base community through articles, posts and diagrams which try to replicate the modern game's tactics, styles and plays with hopeful success. Having played Football Manager for the last year since I got my first-ever copy (Football Manager 2010) I have been engulfed in this desire to achieve an authentic style of football in the game and to also achieve success at the same time through tactics and watching the game on TV, at a football match and by playing it wherever, whenever. I have seen hundreds of threads of tactics and ideas through regular members and double that in the Tactics section and always wanted to create my own idea with as much realism as possible, yet keeping success a priority too. So, whether it be a small tactic or just a way of importing player instructions into a tactic to replicate styles of movement, passing and creativity - I will try to do that and post it on this thread, whilst making it easy-to-read, helpful to those who may not be able to understand some of the context and detailed to an extent where it comes as close to the modern game as possible.

Now that I have the introduction out of the way, I can move onto the next thing. I will be, over days or weeks, posting articles on new tactics, styles of plays, or 'how-to's' that relate to the modern game. I will update the OP with the list of things I would like to achieve, whether it be related to strength in defending, passing movement, attacking through the middle/wings - whatever. Once I have done that, I will move onto the next and you can comment and give feedback.

They will most likely come with shortlists of players that will benefit, tactical templates, pictures of it actually in action on the pitch and more if I can think of it. You can post your thoughts and ideas of what I could do, such as if you were watching a match between Arsenal and another club, and you spotted something that I could try to replicate on FM. Please do not PM me about how this and that does not work for you, or how it's **** - it's supposed to be realistic, not an insta-win tactic thread.

So now that I have covered nearly everything, below will be where I will update the OP with upcoming tactics, projects or things that I would like to introduce in an article on this thread:

  • The 'modern Series: An article series that introduces the way modern-day players play, with their movement on and off the ball, passing, creating and influence on the team. The series will include 'how-to's' in re-creating modern day depictions in tactics and styles of play - ongoing.
  • The 'How-to' Series: An article series that looks at common problems in Football Manager for those who are left scratching their heads in trying to achieve a certain aspect in their tactics or player instructions. This series delves into that - ongoing.
  • Retro. Tactics: Taking blasts from the past into formations that were once the rulers of the roost, domestically, continentally and internationally. But also into the teams of the 20th and 21st Century. - TBD.
  • LL(L)M Series: Having a look into second, third and possibly non-league football in England and maybe around the continent, as is still king of the roost in being the easiest formation to deploy. - TBD.
  • The Stretford End Project: In the frameworks. - TBA.
  • Projete 'o Selecao': In the frameworks. - TBA.
  • F.C.B - The Roles: Looking at the roles and duties of the common F.C. Barcelona eleven that has made them one of the most fearsome clubs in the world, as well as the best. From the goal keeper to the centre forward - all eleven players that include Gerard Pique, Carles Puyol, Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi himself will be analysed, broken down and further disassembled to create the penultimate, realistic Barcelona. - In progress.
I have to admit that some of these may not get off the ground, and are just desirable, but I will try to do my best in at least doing one of each. I apologise to those who may have seen it and been disappointed by it not having an article to it's name, but please also refrain from PM/VM'ing me about it. Please.

This isn't a story, nor is it a guide - it's a thread dedicated to replicating the styles and tactics of the modern game and implying it into Football Manager with as much authenticity and realism as possible. Any questions can be posted on the thread, with suggestions as to any possible series.


"If you fail, try and try again." "Success is imminent with effort."

* NEW * Thread Rules

* NEW * Web Browsing and Imagery

Articles Index:

'modern Series:

Positions Explained:

'modern Centre Forward
'modern Second Striker
'modern Fullback
'modern Target Man

Tactics, 2010-11 season:

Villarreal C.F.
Arsenal F.C.
Borussia Dortmund

F.C.B - The Roles:


Vicente Del Bosque

'How-to' Series:

How-to: Play (decently) successful possession football
How-to: Create promising and effective counter-attacks

Training regimes, shortlists and tactical templates:

'modern Centre Forward: Training regime and tactical templates
'modern Fullback: Recommended players shortlist and training regime

Non-tactical articles:


Stretford End Project:

2010-11 Manchester United Database [Preliminary]
2010-11 Manchester United Database [v. 1.1]
2011-12 Club Kit Changes [As of 09.06.2011]
Real competition names [fixed database file]
2007-08 Manchester United database


How Liverpool should play from now until May
Why Brazil are still tactical innovators of the modern game since the early 1950's
Pablo Piatti: A "poor man's Messi"
Marko Arnautovic: Zlatan's Clone?

Community contributions:

The Modern 4-4-2 (posted by Mike.)

Recreating the Imminent/Hypothetical Chelsea Diamond (posted by Frankie)
Amateur Attempt at a 'False Nine' (posted by Donkarlito)
Creating the Central Winger (posted by LGFIRE)
The False 10 (posted by mvp93)
'modern Germany Tactic (posted by LGFIRE)
How Argentina should play (posted by SS19)
The Box-to-Box Playmaker (EduinJBL)

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Lovely. I look forward to this indeed.
Interested in this, im all over the modern 4-4-2, have been able to re-create it pretty well in FM10 + FM11
I accidentally posted the first article for those who saw. Sorry. Will be finished soon.

Creating the 'modern Centre Forward

  • Exploiting the AI's marking system in Football Manager, like a striker does in the modern game.
  • Replicating the movement on and off the ball from the modern game to imply it into Football Manager.

Article #1: The 'modern Series
Wednesday, 29th December 2010

Hello and welcome the first article in the 'modern series on my thread. Today I would like to introduce to you my findings and research into re-creating the modern centre forward today on Football Manager 2011 through useful diagrams, screenshots of it in-play and how to use it within your tactics. Hopefully by the end of this article, you will understand the following objectives I set out in the abovementioned and how much of a priority it is to replicate this in the game. Let's kick off.

What is the definition of today's modern striker?

With the beautiful game forever-changing with today and tomorrow's stars featuring at some of the world's best and most prestigious clubs, the positions and roles of those that have been in the game for so long are evolving into different things. Barcelona are a clinical example, with multiple roles and duties all blending into one-another to create a fluid, attractive and attacking formation that has seen many successes, with the obvious desires of those who watch it, to replicate it in FM2011. But today's striker is starting to become the centre-piece towards success.

The pairings of a tall and strong striker with a smaller and quicker forward is starting to become obselete, whilst teams adopt newer formations to accompany the containment of their opposition's formations, thus using the 4-2-3-1, the 4-3-3 and the 4-1-4-1 - sometimes wingerless formations are used, preferrably in Italy and Germany, with industrious three-man midfields becoming the latest trends in the respective top-flights. The modern striker is become an all-round entity, and requiring many attributes to even scratch past the main desires oif such a vital role.

English teams in Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal have started to look at the all-round forward as strong, quick and able to be a constant thorn in the side of defenders, and players who fill that role are often scoring 15 to 20 + goals a season. The likes of Carlos Tevez, Wayne Rooney, Didier Drogba and Robin van Persie are becoming centre-stage towards the plans of the club's respective managers, whilst grooming the younger prospects into the earlier mentioned description. The tactical side of today's striker is becoming increasingly important too. Whilst the defensive side of football is, arguably, becoming stronger, the mental capabilities of the players has become even more important. On and off the ball movement and playing off the last defender to receive the through ball is the type of play that managers and fans alike dream of in their striker. The need to have technical abilities are equally important. First touch, finishing, technique and even shooting from long distances have their fair share of priority. Not to mention now there being a huge emphasis on team play and the strikers having to become more involved in the team's efforts to score. That's justified by the way strikers, especially lone ones, tend to drop deep and receive the ball from inside their own half to drag out markers and exploit the space behind the opposition centre halves.

Even with that, the desire, determination and hunger to hit the back of the net on a regular basis is an underlying attribute that every manager around the world would die for in their striker.

Replicating the modern striker in Football Manager

There are obviously going to be some boundaries in replicating the modern game into FM, as the game engine is not as enhanced as many would like. This is especially the case when it comes to re-creating the Barcelona tactic of modern day and achieving the fluid play that the Spanish giants can only do. But with the hours of research I have tried to dedicate, I have been able to make a close re-creation to the modern day centre forward - with much to come after this article. More versions of the 'modern Centre Forward will be available after further testing and desirable constructive criticism in the way from you guys. I experimented this in two saves on Football Manager. One with Arsenal and one with Manchester United. The reason not being because I favour both clubs, but because of their style of play in today's game and their constant use of a more advanced team-playing centre forward. For now, let's take Manchester United:

Manchester United: Explaining it through the 4-4-2

With Man Utd using the 4-4-2 in real life and the frontman partnership of Dimitar Berbatov and Wayne Rooney, I have tried to make it as close to their tactic in the modern game as possible. Spending a good enough amount of time on customising the player instructions and experimenting with it in pre-season, I focused the tactic more on the on-and-off ball movement of Rooney and him being the target man in this formation.


This is the formation after my 4-2 away win against Stoke City. Hence why Park Ji-Sung is playing as a Centre Midfielder on Automatic duty and Kuszczak in goal. Now, as you can tell, Wayne Rooney is in support duty to Dimitar Berbatov. Like in real-life. Nani is playing down the left, with Valencia the opposite and Paul Scholes is the deep-lying playmaker to an adventurous yet hard-working Park Ji-Sung.


Being Rooney, I set his role and duty to Complete Forward on Support as this allows him to be anm all-round forward, unlike Berbatov. With him squaring up to the majority of the attribute requirements by 14 +, it seems a good pick for him. As, his on and off the ball movement will be helped by the role and duty.


Like I said, I played about with the player instructions to see what would best suit today's forward. To make him drop deeper into his own half and into the midfield, I lowered his mentality to two clicks into Defensive and give him a more responsible role of coming deep to receive a pass from the likes of Scholes, Carrick, Giggs, Nani (etc.) his Creative Freedom was slightly lower too, not giving him total freedom would also be beneficial. Despite having high physical ratings with 18 stamina, I decided not to make him run the whole pitch, incase he became tired very quickly and was in need of being substituted - although you can change this to your liking. As he does, I got him to run from deep often and left run with ball on often so that he could possibly split a through ball to Berbatov if on the break. 'Move into Channels' is an interesting one because, even if he does have it in his PPM, he is more likely to do it within his player instructions because it more or les forces him to move into the channels and sometimes play off the shoulder of the last defender when trying to run onto a through ball.

Exercising (and emphasizing) the importance of service to the frontmen


The 4-4-2 is a simple, yet dynamic, so with it comes the importance of the midfield. The midfield is, quite obviously, the backbone of the formation and often dictates what kind of formation it will be. If the wingers tuck in a little bit more than usual, it's most likely a narrow, counter-attacking formation. If the wingers play out wide and start to run often to the byline, you're looking at an open, free-playing 4-4-2. In this formation, the wingers are stretched out, with a playmaker to supplement that width and also the two strikers up-top. The centre midfielder playing parallel to the playmaker (Park Ji-Sung) is a player that moves into the channels and joins attacking moves with the wingers and the two strikers. If the playmaker (Scholes) passes to him, then the centre midfielder is most likely going to pass it to the target man (Rooney) for the attacking move to start. It is vital that the playmaker gets the ball to the wings as much as possible to exploit the pace, agility and skill of Nani and Valencia and to give Rooney and Berbatov the chance to score - whether it be via the head, from long range, inside the box (etc.)

If for example the opposition shut out the centre of the midfield, the playmaker is most likely going to drop deeper and, when he receives the ball, pass it directly, if not over the defenders to Rooney or Berbatov and give them a chance at scoring. This enables them to get constant service from the midfield even if the team are dropping deeper or are playing directly. It is vital for Rooney and Berbatov to receive ground or aerial service in order to reap the rewards. Regardless of the player instructions Rooney has, service to him is like blood is to the organs.

The 'modern Centre Forward in a match (4-4-2)

Going through pre-season it was time to try out the player instructions I had given to Wayne Rooney and for him to put it into practice in a match vs. Chelsea in the Community Shield. Just to spoil, I was able to win the match 3-0, and all the goals were scored by Rooney. Now I am going to show you how he did it and what led to his marvellous hat-trick.

Goal #1


In this first picture, these are the events leading up to the point where Rooney scores the first of three goals. Carrick plays a pass to Ryan Giggs, who is a left winger. As anticipated, Paul Ferreira goes to close down Giggs in an attempt to intercept the ball and to counter United. Alex is watching the space behind Ferreira, also trying intercept, keeping a half-eye on Rooney, who is just ahead of Giggs.


Within a few seconds, the ball is received by Rooney from a through ball by Carrick, who is then able to exploit the space that he can so easily do. Alex is already back-pedalling to try and quell the danger, but with Rooney on the run and nearly every Chelsea player rushing back to stop a Man Utd charge, Rooney turns on the pace to defeat Alex and try to get close enough into a scoring chance to beat Petr Cech.


Not failing to score, Rooney puts it past Cech to put United ahead for 1-0. The easy exploitation of space down the left wing allowed the centre forward to defeat an unsuspecting Alex and define the usefulness of moving into channels by strikers.

Goal #2


A pass from Paulo Ferreira to Salomon Kalou has been spotted by right back Rafael. As the ball moves mid-way, Rafael goes to close down Kalou in an attempt to intercept the ball. Nani's failure to do so leaves him available should Rafael retain possession for United. I specifically highlighted Rooney in this move to show you what he does to score his second goal.


Kalou, in a knee-jerk reaction upon his realisation that Rafael has tried to close him down, passes the ball back into the Chelsea defence in hope that the ball will be picked up by either Terry or Alex, despite Terry being slightly injured and marked by Berbatov. A few seconds later, Rooney will move into the space designated by the yellow lines.


Rooney intercepts Kalou's poor pass and has, once again, Alex on the backfoot with the rest of the Chelsea defence. Lampard, Alex, Ferreira and Terry are all now chasing Rooney whilst he bears down on goal to score his second goal. And he does.

Goal #3


Coming close to the half-way line, Rooney comes deep to receive the ball which is in United's possession. This time, Alex watches Rooney's movement (as shown) behind him to track his run as Man Utd try for a third goal. Terry has Berbatov in his sights and Ferreira has Giggs behind him.


When Rooney receives the ball, he passes it back to a Man Utd player in Giggs and starts to make his run. Alex goes to close down Rooney but, once he learns that the ball is not in his possession, he goes back to trying to track his run and stop the Man Utd attack. Ferreira stands off Giggs who is to be the receiver of the ball in order to also track Rooney's movement. The space behind Rooney is the focal point of the move.


Giggs tries a lofted through ball into the path of Rooney, who is already on his bike to get past the defence and into the box to beat Cech for goal #3. Ferreira and another Chelsea player try to close down Giggs before he passes it through, but are too late, and Rooney is once again the main man. Rooney eventually scores for three and typifies today's modern striker with off the ball movement as explained.

Post-match analysis of Rooney, and his movement


After the game against Chelsea, I ran through Analysis to see, analytically, what kind of game Rooney played. A small example is here through the average position of every Manchester United player during that game. Including substitutes. So if you are wondering why there are more than eleven players on the pitch, that's the explanation. Ignoring everyone else bar the player circled in yellow (Rooney) you can see that his average position was far less into the opposition territory of Chelsea than Berbatov, who is second from right. Close enough to the halfway line than I could ever really go without actually turning him into an attacking midfielder, Rooney was supplemented the ball by Nani, Park, Giggs and Scholes during the match and ran just under 10km in distance. It's enough to convince that the 'modern Centre Forward is more of a team player than five to ten years ago.

Arsenal: Explaining it through the 4-3-3

Like mentioned earlier, I made a save with Arsenal to explain it through the 4-3-3. I used Robin van Persie and similar player instructions, alongside a fluid attacking formation that is accompanied by the creativity and uncanny passing abilities of Cesc Fabregas and wing play via Andrey Arshavin and Theo Walcott. I had similar success with this, winning a Champions League game against Serie A outfit A.S. Roma 3-0 at the Emirates, which will be explained again through a poorly-drawn daigram on Paint. Apologies.


This is the formation (post-Roma match) where I played a normal Arsenal 4-3-3 accompanied by the customised striker via player instructions. RVP played up top by himself but the all-round supply of passes through Andrey Arshavin, Samir Nasri and, evidently, Cesc Fabregas, helped him during the Champions League match.


Like I said, the importance of the midfield play cannot be stressed enough. Fabregas has customised player instructions as well, given the ability to roam into the channels and get forward as often as possible. Arshavin and Nasri acted as Inside Forwards whilst van Persie was a Complete Forward on Support. To note, even if the role was Advanced Forward, the results wouldn't be dissmilar from Complete Forward. It's just that as a Complete Forward, the hidden attributes help Rooney and RVP's movements on and off the ball.

Robin van Persie goal vs. Roma


As you can see from the first picture, Arshavin is on the ball for Arsenal. Closing him down is centre back Philippe Mexes, who is drawn out of position to close down Arshavin to deny him of passing it through to a team-mate. As instructed, Clichy could overlap Arshavin to add width to the play and put in a possible cross to RVP but, again, as shown, Arshavin cuts inside to run at the other opposition defenders.


As Arshavin cuts inside, the other Roma defenders are drawn into waiting upon Arshavin to run at them and, therefore, tackle him to deny the Arsenal attack. As this is done, Van Persie anticipates Arshavin's intentions, as he signals for a pass into the defended area. The dotted line shows the pass going into the space ahead and the scoring chance.


As the defenders draw in closer, Van Persie is a few seconds away from receiving the ball, as opposed to half a minute ago when Arshavin was on the ball, where RVP was deep to collect the ball from either the wings or from the heart of the midfield. Eventually, RVP scores.

To wrap up ...

I hope you enjoyed this article as much as I did uploading the diagrams and writing about it. Soon to come will be a training schedule and shortlists to players who can play in the 'modern Centre Forward position, but for now, as I rest, I thank you for taking the time to read this article (the first of many) and hope can succeed with my research and findings. There will be a half-part coming soon that includes tactical templates, a shortlist and a training regime.

Again, thanks,
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You uploading the Utd Tac?
You uploading the Utd Tac?

No, I am showing how to replicate today's striker into Football Manager. People can just imitate the Player Instructions into their tactics and try them out.

Read the OP if you're not sure.

'modern Centre Forward: Training regimes and tactical templates post

  • A minor post allow those who want to to download the tactical templates and training regimes for the 'modern Centre Forward.
  • Now available in this post.

As promised in the OP, I have now created a training regime and tactical templates for those who would like to use it in their tactics. The training regime is now available via Mediafire and the tactical templates via straight download from this post. Those who wish to use them can do so and work their tactic around the PI that I have created. I have done this because there is not yet a feature (unfortunately) in Football Manager where you can save player instructions and have them available for download. If there was I would use it.

Moving on. The tactical templates are in a pack of three. The 4-4-2, the 4-3-3 and the 4-2-3-1. You can now use these at your disposal and download them to your Football Manager files (Sports Interactive > Football Manager 2011 > tactics) and the training regimes to your 'schedules' file. If you do not have a schedules file already, which allows you to import and export training schedules by people either on FM-Base or customly made by yourself, simply create a folder inside Sports Interactive > Football Manager 2011, create a folder called 'schedules' and download the regime through MediaFire to Sports Interactive > Football Manager and your new file, 'schedules'.

If there are any problems, simply just post on the thread.

Training regime download here.

So that is e.g. Rooney's setting basiclly.
So that is e.g. Rooney's setting basiclly.

And for Robin van Persie. It's not just for Rooney, it's for all centre forwards who tally up to the attributes.

Anyway, shortlists will be up soon, with at least 20+ players who could play in the role.
Great read, great effort put into it which makes for good reading.

For those who cannot see the pictures in the first article, I have saved the match so you can actually see Rooney against Chelsea. Feel free to watch.
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