Preferred Player Moves for my Arrigo Sacchi 4-4-2


Nov 21, 2009
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Hi all,

I've just put this on the SI forums but thought I'd whack it on here to. I've been having tremendous success with a tactic that I've created based on the coaching philosophy of Arrigo Sacchi. However there is a particular area that I've never put any thought into which is the preferred player moves. So I'd like to improve my knowledge in this area and bring out a discussion on it. Before I do this, here's a brief description of Sacchi's philosophy of which I have based my tactics on:

Sacchi played with high intensity and a high defensive line. This enabled him to squeeze the play in the middle of park, and ensured that the distance between his defensive and forward lines was never more than 25 metres. Essentially, this constituted naturally occurring pressing—perhaps one of the first in football with such velocity. Sacchi reasoned that by squeezing the pitch, in order for his opponent to get through his side, they'd need to break down three lines of players in quick succession. Not many managed it. Attacking-wise, there was no one strict way to break down the opposition. Chances were created through build-up/passing play through the middle, crosses from wide and counter-attacks. Sacchi was a proponent of multi-purpose players. Not fond of the specialist, he looked for all of his players to be capable of every job on the field, which is why his interchanging 4-4-2 worked so well.The midfielders were well-rounded and functional in every area, his forwards chased and his defenders pushed up. Teamwork was what his side were predicated on, and it was teamwork that allowed them to become one of the greatest sides in footballing history.

Implementing into FM

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Above are the strategies and tweaks I have made to it. Its a very fluid, attacking tactic, played at a high tempo and a narrow width. I want the players to be close together, particularly when defending, so all wide play is set to normal, but of course there is creative freedom to use the width where necessary. I hate wasted long shots so that's set to rarely and the DMs are set to normal tackling as on hard they are a walking red card (the tactic's aggressive enough already). The unique point of this tactic is the utilisation of two DMs (support) as opposed to a flat 4-4-2 and I believe is what has turned a good tactic into a great one. They sit in front of the two DCs and take it in turns to close down all the central play, it's very hard to break through the middle. In attack, with an attacking mentality and very fluid philosophy, they act more as box-to-box midfielders than defensive mids.

Now back to the original point of this thread, PPMs. Here's how I think they may help my tactic:

D R/L - I'm not too sure if PPMs will benefit here, they need to be all rounders. Perhaps if they are a good dribbler, a run with ball down left/right might be good, or if they are ridiculously quick = knock ball past opponents.

DC - Now I know I use BPDs but I'm not sure I would want them to a)plays out of trouble or b)try killer balls often, I'd much rather have them use their own decisions rather than try this all the time. Interestingly my best DC has Stops Play, I wouldn't train this but it hasn't seemed to have hindered him. Marks Opponents tightly will help bolster their defensive ability.

DM - The heartbeat of the team - strong defensively and lots of assists / involvement in attacking play. Perhaps a does not dive into tackles would be useful here. Maybe dictates tempo, tries killer balls often, switches ball to other flank, arrives late in the box, gets forward wherever possible.

M R/L - Here I would think its all about utilising their strengths. A rapid player = Knock Ball Past Opponent. Technique/Dribbling/Flair = Tries Tricks. Runs with ball down left/right. Now maybe some general ones? Plays One-Twos / Gets into opposition area (when the ball is out on the opposite flank they act as the third striker in the box).

ST - Here the possibilities are endless and a strong partnership is paramount to the success of this tactic. The CF could have comes deep and killer balls often, plays 1-2s. Good dribblers can have run with the ball through centre and of course the shooting moves place/power. A very quick AF could have breaks offside trap / knocks ball past opponent. Not sure what players would be better suited for lobbing the keeper or rounding the keeper.

Preferred player moves to avoid - no matter what the position, I don't think these PPMs would fit well with the tactic - dives into tackles, dwells on ball, hugs line, plays no through balls, moves into channels, stays back at all times, shoots from distance (unless they had amazing long shots) and plays with back to goal.

So, here are my opinions, what are your thoughts? How important do you believe PPMs to be? Feedback appreciated
I can only talk for my experience with Liverpool. One clear example that some PPM's improve the quality of play was with Sturridge. He already has "run with the ball". I've trained him to learn "run with the ball through the centre". His exhibitions and help in the build-up improve significantly.

Other player was Joe Allen. My coaches keep tell me that with his high offensive attributes he should learn "gets forward whenever possible". This prove to be very good because he managed to score some great goals in "second balls (lose balls)" and provide some great assists.

So, in conclusion... Obviously you can win without pay too much attention to that part of the game but PPM's, for me, may be fundamental to develop even further the tactic and the quality of play of some players.

Just an opinion, not an universal point :)
Nice, both my main forwards have run with ball through centre too so I guess that's definitely a help. Going to try the forward as much as possible with a couple of my DMs
But, in my opinion, it's essential that one of the DM's doesn't have the same PPM. To complement each other, provide other options and protect the defense. In Liverpool, for example, I never play Allen and Gerrard together due to the same PPM. Was always with Leiva, Shelvey or Henderson.

Haven't play FM for a little while, due to some extra work. Gonna try with Spurs (with herne tweak), see each player PPM's and report here at the end of the season my opinions :)
Absolutely agree with the last post. This tactic is very good (the best one in FM13 until now, with no disrespect to others). But if we manage to have all round players it's almost "unbeatable" because it brings so much consistency and we can micro-manage and choose the best players for different scenarios.

I'm with Spurs atm, and they are a perfect example for what I've said. Players like Dembele, Dempsey, Naugthon, Vertonghen are essential for the long run in a season due to their "all-roundness". In City, for example, Milner is another great example.
Just picked up on this.

Way too much info on PPMs can be found here - seriously, information overload oO).

I guess the main task of PPMs is to compliment the individual and team instructions that are set in the tactic.

Some initial thoughts:

Fullbacks - their main job seems to be defending, with some support for the DMs and wingers.
"Likes to switch ball to other flank" will help I think.
"Likes to knock ball past opponent" or "dribbles down left/right flank" (not both) could be ok, as would "runs with ball down left/right" as they are set to run from deep / run with ball "sometimes".
"Likes to mark players tightly" should probably be a nono as their tactical instruction is no tight marking.
"Does not dive into tackles" may help defensively as we want our FBs on their feet to deal with those tricky attacking wingers.

BPDs -
"Mark opponents tightly" (if the BPD is pacey) and "runs rarely with ball" are probably must haves.
I always like "does not dive into tackles" as well, but that may be more personal choice.
Never have "likes to play way out of trouble" as some centre backs seem to have.

DMs -
"Mark opponents tightly" would normally be good for a DM I believe, however the tactic is set to no tight marking for the DMs, so may be contradictory here.
"Dives into tackles" is useful, but to be used carefully in case of particularly aggressive players. Good tackling attribute is needed.
Some DLP PPMs may also prove useful for at least one of the DMs, as that's really the intention of the tactic I think.
"Tries long range passes" if the player has good passing and technique.
"Likes to switch ball to other flank".
"Dictates tempo" may also be useful as they are set to hold up the ball in their player instruction.

Wingers - needed for defence and offence, so probably defensive winger PPMs are potentially more useful.
"Runs with ball down left/right".
"Knocks ball past opponent".
"Gets into opposition area", although this may contradict the cross ball often instruction.
"Dives into tackles" (?)
"Gets forward whenever possible".
"Plays one twos".

AF - Possibly the position who's PPMs will be most affected by their attributes.
"Places shots", but needs good finishing, technique and composure.
"Beat offside trap".
"Plays one twos".
"Moves into channels".
"Knocks ball past opponent", needs good acceleration and pace.
"Likes to round keeper", good dribbling, technique, acceleration required.

CF -
Far too many possible PPMs here, so will be dictated by individual player attributes. For example, quick players should probably go for "likes to round keeper", whereas slower players would probably have "likes to lob keeper".
Good input Hernes79, I've just had my first season where I've got lots of my players to learn some PPMs. I think it has been successful :)
I have to say though that I'm not completely convinced as to the effectiveness of PPMs.

For example, in my wingless 4231 tweak I have the two AMCs "move into channels". In my Madrid save, I use Ronaldo and Di Maria in these positions who both have the "Cuts Inside" PPM, which is contradictory to the player instruction, yet they have both had excellent seasons for me.

Another example - both my fullbacks have the "mark opponents tightly" PPM, but the individual instruction is set to "no tight marking". We've barely conceded a goal all season - most have come from set pieces and I don't remember any scored from crosses. Further, neither fullback has "gets forward often", yet they are often seen up around the opposition penalty box in support.


One other thing - I sometimes get messages from my coaches telling me that Player X has just learned/unlearned/failed to learn PPM Y when I haven't even instructed them to start learning or unlearn it.

Bottom line is I've pretty much given up on PPMs and only think about them if one of my coaches recommends one during team meetings - and I only agree if I think it sounds ok for my player and the role I play him in. 9 times out of 10 it just ends up with a ****** off player from training overload anyway ;).
See I think Moves Into Channels and Cuts Inside could work well together. Moves into channels without the ball (movement) and cuts inside with it.
I've noticed some good results from PPMs. Training my AMC to get forward when possible has noticeably increased his number of goals, even though my tactic was already telling him to do this often. It's been a huge help since he has good finishing, composure and long shots. Perhaps the PPMs are just an extra tweak to the tactic settings, but they've helped me to get individual players to do what they're good at more often.
Very useful thread. I think its important that tactic creators take time to consider what PPMS might hinder or increase the effectiveness of the tactic. They really do have a massive effect. Imagine, such as in your tactic, playing 2 dms and both DMs have "gets forward whenever possible" and "gets into opposition areas"...your defensive cover would be screwed and the tactic wouldn't work.

I do disagree with your consideration of "Moves into channels" for the striker. In my experience you definitely want this for your strikers, especially you main goal threat (AF or poacher), it literally just means your player looks to make runs at angles inbetween opposition players to be put through on goal. Think Javier Hernandez, but the best i've seen it in real life is from Mario Gomez and Huntelaar. This combined with " looks to Break off side trap" makes for a deadly striker.

Id say a perfect (poacher) striker would have:

Plays one twos
Moves into channels
Looks to Break offside trap
Knocks ball past opponent
Looks to round the keeper
Places shots

A more complete forward (Rooney for example) should have at least some of these combined with some of the ppms of the poacher:

Comes deep to get the ball
Likes to switch ball to the other flank
Tries killer balls
Plays with back to goal
Plays one twos
tbh the a more complete forward can have most of the ppms expected of a CAM
Good insight there Jimmy and yes PPMs in my opinion can help give that winning edge if they fit well and boost the tactic, or they could hinder it.

I'm not convinced on the move into channel one for my tactic, as it's imperative that the CF & AF are close to each other in and around the box. Though I may give it a try.

One I don't like for the CF is the ''play with back to goal''. I'd much rather they had an open body position so that they can move the ball forwards or backwards easily. With the back to goal, they may be able to knock the ball forward with flick ons, but when he receives the ball at his feet he's got a lot of work to do to turn the defender and play it forward and is much more likely to favour a backward passing option.