I can imagine that building a new tactic from scratch can be a very time-consuming effort, which might not lead to satisfactory results in most cases.
However, an individual that possesses basic tactical football knowledge and has a bit of Football Manager experience should be able to nail it in a few weeks.
But some Football Manager editions are much more difficult and challenging than others.
So, where do you start?
First, you need to understand the Roles and Duties. Read the in-game description for each and try to analyse them on the pitch.
You then need to understand Mentality and Team Shape. After that, combine common sense with analysis and you will eventually pull it off. (taking notes can help a great deal)
Step 1. Observing The Match Engine
I came with these conclusions after playing a bit of Football Manager 2016:
- many goals are coming from crosses, rebounds and all kind of set pieces
- the full-backs (especially when the ball is on the opposite flank) are closing down too much leaving far too much space in the wide-area (where an opposition winger will often be left unmarked)
- you need at least one man on the Edge of Area and one to Close Down Corner when defending corners, otherwise, the opposition will quickly recycle possession in a dangerous area
- playing away is much more difficult because your players tend to miss many good chances easily (this means you can’t get the most out of your squad if you play the same way both home and away)
- there’s not much you can do to stop a fast winger
- a goalkeeper that often sends long kicks must have a high Kicking attribute, otherwise, your team will lose possession many times and you will often get caught on the counter;
Use the same principles to decipher what the match engine on your current Football Manager edition favours.
Step 2. Building a Suitable Tactic
Once you’ve realised how the Match Engine works, you have to design tactics that will take advantage of its preferences.
Now you have two choices:
- One would be to focus on a more attacking approach, knowing you will concede but thinking to score more than the opposition.
- The second option would be to try and keep things tight at your back, attempting to block the most vulnerable scoring threats while relying on counters to score.
These are some of the things you have to consider when sketching your formation and assigning roles:
- team’s shape when attacking
- team’s shape when defending
- team’s shape in both transition phases (when your team loses the ball and when they recover it)
- team’s shape when attacking/defending set-pieces
- compose your build-up plan (starting from the GK) and design a route of passes that leads to the finishing position
- make sure that every player will have someone relatively close or free to pass the ball to (in most situations)
- avoid being overlapped as much as you can
- try to have cover in situations where a man is taken out of play
Step 3. Evaluating Your Squad & Further Tweaking
Check if your players are suitable for the Match Engine (and for your tactics):
- try to see which player is ruining your attacks and why: because of the tactic or because of the player?
- find out which player loses most balls
- is there a player at the end of your team’s crosses?
- have you got sufficient cover when caught on a counter-attack?
- how does your team concede?
- does your goalkeeper send useful long kicks or is he just gifting possession?
- you don’t score from set-pieces, but have you got a decent set-piece taker?
- who is responsible for your poor finishing: the suppliers, the finishers or your tactics?
- why are these players shooting so often when they can’t ever get a shot on target?
- my full-backs are often in the final third, but are they capable of sending quality crosses?
- are you losing possession because your players’ can’t jump high enough and you (and the opposition) are playing direct?
- which are the players who have sent the most passes – are these the ones that should act as your playmakers, can they pass good enough?
Ask yourself all these questions and anything else that comes through your mind. Analyse, take notes and try to find the most adequate solutions.
- Use the 2D Camera to get a clearer idea of what’s going on.
- Get the formation and roles right first, then worry about tweaking the team instructions.
- Start with no team instructions and tweak them only after analysing your team’s performance.
- Don’t expect to annihilate the most common goalscoring methods, but focus on trying to reduce them.
And remember this: when a player is being asked/trying to do more than he’s capable of, the team’s performance will suffer.
And it’s your fault because you are his manager. If he’s a poor player, then, why do you rely on him? Or if he’s lacking some qualities and you’re not preventing him from dwelling on those, it’s also your fault.
So, regardless of who’s fault it is, a player should not be asked/allowed to do more than he is capable of!
However, if you haven’t got enough time or patience to test tactics till you succeed, feel free to download our Football Manager eBooks.