FM 2014 Tactics Guide: The Effect Of Player Movement
written by Darren Smith
This is our first FM 2014 tactics guide, a little late I know but there’s a good reason. I’ve been testing tactics on FM 2014 for weeks now, every night and weekend pressing that sticky little spacebar furiously, just to see if my tweaks and modifications have spawned something that doesn’t suck. Nine times out of ten I go to bed disappointed, laid on my back for an extra hour before the sand man comes to carry me away, just pondering where it all went wrong and plotting my next move.
Yes I am sad, one of the many who lose sleep over a computer game. What drives me to continue and persist in the face of defeat is you guys, I get a thrill from creating good downloads and tactics, but also the odd enlightened read, something to change your perspective.
Well, this article certainly won’t provide you with an unstoppable tactic in the form of easy answers and downloads. Instead I want to share a few opinions. Partly on player roles, how they can transform a tactic and I’d like to address everyone’s perception of positional play and player movement. We’ll delve into the age old debate of picking roles for the tactic or picking roles for players.
Please note what is written below is all one example, mainly of how I see tactics but also specific examples to help you visualize how you could form your own system. There really isn’t a right or wrong answer when it comes to tactics, there is just the way that gets you the results you seek. I believe visualizing each players movement is the way forward and I just want to show you how that works for me in one specific example.
FM 2014 tactics guide – Perception of positions
The beauty of tactics in FM is we can all visualize positions, roles and how they interact in our own way. Sure there is a description for each role, but how each player will interact in your tactic, within his position and considering his assigned role can be tough to judge…not to mention we then have the added stress of other players getting in the way of ones open space, or a player being stranded, doomed to lose possession time and time again. The word ‘balance’ comes to mind, find that and you have yourself a tactic.
I have tried to find balance in lots of different systems and using various positional combinations and a pattern has arisen in almost every successful tactic I’ve created this year. I generally don’t position players in ‘the hole’, that being all attacking midfield positions and all defensive midfield positions (ie AMC, DMC, AMR etc.)
For most gamers that can be a bugbear, due to the fact many talented players prefer playing in these positions. There is method to this madness and that comes in the form of a players starting position and his subsequent movement through the three phases of play.
For example, I recently created a flat 4-5-1 which some may visualize as the image below.
However, I see tactics in two stages. The first been defensive and the second offensive, the image above represents how a team will line-up without the ball, which looks very stable defensively and seems to have a lot of bases covered. You’d be right to think ‘well look at those gaps in the attacking third, there’s a lot of space left uncovered. For me that isn’t the case, I visualize the image below as being how the system will look on the offensive.
I have purposely only moved the players that get involved in the attacking phase of play in one way or another. The flat midfield includes four players’ assigned roles to actively move forward during the attacking phase. Suddenly the wingers positioned in MR and ML have become attacking midfielders, the advanced playmaker originally positioned at MC has become an AMC. I think you can see where I am going with this.
To summarize, if I was to give starting positions of attacking midfield to those three players (the MC, MR and ML,) then defensively we’d be losing out and the system would be far less stable. But because of their roles they naturally move into their preferred positions for the attacking phase of play anyway, which is when they need to take advantage of their best traits. We’ll break this down in the next section.
FM 2014 tactics guide – roles control movement
I don’t see roles purely as an indication of what my players are expected to do in their position, for example, be the playmaker, or score a shed load of goals. I actually focus more on where that role will make my player move. Tactics are all about shape and as soon as that whistle blows, your system will disperse into chaos depicted by the roles you select. As I’ve already said, the formation you select can only dictate where your players start each phase, but once the ball is in play that all goes out the window, roles are how we control the shape of our formation from then on.
Let’s start with the MC position. Lots of people have asked me to create a tactic using the AMC role, usually based around the 4-2-3-1. The main reason for this is due to the amount of talent that enjoys these positions as their preferred station on the pitch. My issue is and always has been the ease of which your opposition can mark this chap out of the game, combined with the fact he can do little defensively.
I actually visualize my advanced playmaker positioned at MC as an AMC. Makes no sense but his duties are exactly the same, only difference is he starts all phases a little deeper than his AMC counterpart, which gives him more room to move around the pitch and poke openings. Not to mention he has more space in front of him to attack direct. I know some of you may think the AMC option is better because he can easily attack with the striker, pushing beyond the centre backs and you’d be right, but so can the MC, he can attack as far forward as he likes and his natural position during the transition phase will always be ahead of any other MC role, so if you want staggered passing options that base is still covered too.
So, I now have my own version of the AMC position filled, in the form of an MC, but what about the AMR and AML positions that we love so much. I featured them heavily in my tactics for FM13 and to great success. Again, this is a position that just hasn’t worked for me this year. My alternative is the MR and ML positions, just a little bit deeper yet they don’t offer any less going forward and can provide a lot more defensively.
The other negative some may draw is that a player who prefers the AMR position with a role of inside forward will be left footed and can’t work if just dropped back to MR. This isn’t correct though, I have personally done that and seen the player cut inside and attack the defence just as the AMR does. Only difference is his starting position is deeper, offering more defensive stability.
In some cases you don’t even need to set a player instruction for him to cut inside, he’ll naturally do that seen as it brings him onto his strongest foot. As a result, he can choose to cut inside from the halfway line, ergo evading any full backs, or dribble along the flank before cutting inside further up field…this is more flexible than using an AMR, because the winger at MR can cut inside based on multiple opposing formations, no matter where the opposition would stop him going central he can find a way around the problem. The MR has much more room and space to choose the right moment to cut inside and find his way infield unopposed (see below.)
And just to cap this section off, a heat map of my flat 4-5-1 in action. The image below shows the average position of each player in my formation, highlighting what I have explained…note we dominated possession in this match, hence the positions on average were more inclined towards our attacking shape, which turns into a 4-2-3-1.
FM 2014 tactics guide – tactic over players
I have always been a believer in the tactic takes president over individual players. Yes the two go hand in hand, but for me you should always adapt a position around the tactic as opposed to one players preferred role, within reason of course.
This year there is added emphasis on using the right players in the right roles and yet I still find that adjusting roles for players doesn’t work, at least for me. If roles dictate player movement and you wanted that player to move in a particular way within your system then changing the role will change the movement and in turn a system that works.
Of course, you are wasting your time if every single role is filled with players that can’t play the position or fulfill the duties. The ideal scenario is where you can buy new players to suit or at least accept under par performances for a year while the player learns the role and adapts or until a new player can be bought. What I am saying is that its better to maintain the stability of the tactic over one players average rating and performances.
For example, in my Toon Army save I have two players that prefer the wide attacking midfield positions and a role of inside forward. They are not natural in the MR and ML positions either. Instead of changing my system I will make them learn the position I expect them to fulfill. As mentioned both my players like to cut inside, if my tactic didn’t suit that then I’d have a big problem, so its all about finding the right balance and what adaptations you can and can’t expect from both your tactic and your players.
Equally, if like myself you enjoy the movement of a false nine then you are left with a conundrum. A false nine is like an AMC and needs attributes including very good long shots, creativity and passing etc. There is barely a mention of finishing, dribbling and physical attributes, but of course these are very important too as this guy is a striker at the end of the day.
So what do you do, fulfill the requirements of the role, or go for a prolific striker hoping he’ll also play the role well. I ended up going 50/50, having a forward who can shoot reasonably well from range and link up play OK but his main attributes are as a poacher, so in essence he’s a creative poacher I guess. That is just another example of a question I may be asked that can’t be answered, its all about finding your own personal way around problems and if they don’t come off, learn from the mistake.
The focal point of this post was to show you all how player movement can transform a tactic. Everyone wanted a 4-2-3-1, well in my opinion they already have it in my flat 4-5-1. I used this thought process to create my best tactic yet and I am trying to implement it into my next tactic also. But how will you use it to create yours?
Well, that should do for now I do hope you enjoyed this FM 2014 tactics guide. Feel free to leave any comments below and as always I’d truly appreciate any shares and likes on social media such as Facebook and Twitter, you can do that by clicking the icons at the top and bottom of the post. Thanks for reading.
Darren is the co-owner of Football Manager Story. He merged with Johnny Karp in 2011 after moving from his own successful site named Allthatisfootballmanager. A football fanatic, whether it be the real thing or video games. He has been playing Fifa and Football Manager for donkey’s years. Deriving from the North East Darren supported Scarborough. However turned into a dedicated Newcastle fan from the age of 7. He enjoys watching Soccer Saturday and any live games. However Football Manager is his real passion. You can contact Darren at darrensmith360[at]googlemail.com