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FM 2014 Tactics: Stick Or Tinker

FM 2014 tactics, stick or tinker

Hey guys and welcome to this post on FM 2014 tactics adjusting for the opposition. Over the last couple of years SI have experienced a transition, moving away from the one tactic wonders to a more realistic and unpredictable match engine. In years gone by most gamers could find a tactic to break the match engine, a system that exploits its faults and takes advantage of its predictability.

Some players are in favour of this change, while others just can’t get to grips with it and as a result see the game as floored and bugged. I am not here to reignite that debate, but to share how you could adapt and move with FM14’s new tactics system and ever changing match engine.

Fact of the matter is there are no hard and fast answers on how to approach tactics in this years game, you just have to use common sense. In my Wigan save I started using a flat 4-5-1 which worked well, but with new patches and an ever growing reputation I had to adapt my thinking and change to the recently published dynamic 4-2-3-1.

However, even this wasn’t enough to secure glory and win trophies, I still find the need to adapt and adjust for the opposition. As mentioned I can’t tell you how to do this, there are just so many variables and possibilities we’d be here all day, but what I can do is share a detailed analysis of one very important game and how I approached it to exploit my opposition and hide my own weakness’.

To clarify, I rarely adjust my tactics but I do try and spot opportunities in the oppositions weakness’ and choose those very tough games to make tweaks and tinker with my system all of which is explained in one comprehensive example below. Its about finding balance, there’s no point in transforming your system drastically every game, you need to be selective and rely in subtle adjustments to make the difference.

This is a very long post, so please grab some refreshments and get settled.

Setting the scene

We have reached the end of the 2018/19 campaign, Wigan Athletic have already won the Carling Cup, FA Cup and Premier League title. Sounds easy, but the season hasn’t been all peaches. We still have a few bogey teams and my ‘dynamic 4-2-3-1′ has shown signs of weakness coming up against particular formations such as the 4-4-2 and 4-2-2-2 to name a few. The perfect season stands on a knifes edge as we lineup against the outstanding PSG. Our opposition have won 4 consecutive Ligue 1 titles and been crowned kings of Europe twice. This is a daunting task and we are undoubtedly the underdogs, so I have to cover every inch of their side to find weakness’ and asses where they’ll hurt us most…

Assess the opposition

My first port of call is a look back through history, just to see how we have matched up in previous encounters. This doesn’t make for easy reading as I’ve never beaten the French and European champions. In fact we have lost 3 and drawn 3 from our last 6 matches against PSG, conceding 12 goals and scoring just 6. Our opponents have bossed every season defining match to date, humiliating us in the 2016 Champions League final and brushing us aside in the quarter-finals the following year.

FM 2014 tactics change for opp, past meetings

Its plain to see that I have to adjust and adapt for the opposition this time. When against lesser opposition you can try to overwhelm and stick to your own game plan, but up against such a tough side I have to be a bit more clever and thoughtful…the consequence of not doing so is very obvious looking through our past meetings.

I reach for my notepad and start analyzing. First up the scouts opposition report that appears in your inbox days before the big match. From this I can see PSG have won 4 from their last 5 fixtures and that they generally use a 4-4-2. While the scout suggests they are vulnerable to a 4-2-2-2 I find that too risky a formation and haven’t mastered it yet so would rather adapt my 4-2-3-1. Looking at the ‘assist location’ analysis I can establish that PSG will be most dangerous down their left flank and most vulnerable down their right flank, these are where the most assists occurred for and against.

FM 2014 tactics change for opp, scout report

After finding potential weakness and strength, I need to investigate them further so enter the ‘team report’ screen. Aguero has been scoring for fun as have most of the PSG frontline, its very hard to stop strikers scoring if they get opportunities, so instead we should look to plug the source, the most common assist area which is down the left flank with Lucas Moura.

FM 2014 tactics change for opp, danger men

Before I click continue I want to check out PSG’s potential weakness’ further. A common area to find flaws is the teams ‘worst attribute’, for instance they might be very slow, or lack work rate etc. For PSG its their average height that seems to be a weakness so I’ll store that in the memory bank.

FM 2014 tactics change for opp, team report, attribute weak strengths

Pre-match analysis

Now I need more exact and detailed information, ie the predicted team selection and match day formation so I must wait for the pre-match preview. From this I find both areas I have previously picked out as danger areas and see who might fill the gap. It appears an aging Cavani and Henriquez could feature upfront while Insigne looks set for the left wing.

FM 2014 tactics change for opp, prematch predicted lineup

This doesn’t make sense when you consider the scouting report that suggested Aguero and Moura as our key dangermen. So I check the PSG squad and see both are out injured, a stroke of luck really. However, Insigne is still dangerous from the left wing as are Cavani and Henriquez upfront, so I follow my plan through despite the absentees.

FM 2014 tactics change for opp, PSG injuries

Adjusting the tactic

Lets summarize the key analysis so far.

  • PSG play a 4-4-2.
  • Their key assist area is down the flanks.
  • We’ve picked out their left flank as the main area of danger.
  • PSG have very talented and clinical strikers, meaning any chances need preventing from the source.
  • PSG have a very pacey squad, looking at the team this seems to come down the flanks, so we need to consider this too.
  • PSG’s main weakness is in height.
  • Most of their assists against come down their right flank.

Thats all the information at my disposal, how I use that and what I change will decide the outcome of the match. So I start by trying to cover for their strengths.

Our right flank (their left flank): My 4-2-3-1 usually features an inside forward with attack duty at AMR and a wing back at DR, considering the opposition this will be too dangerous to keep. I want to keep the same shape so adjust my AMR to ‘defensive winger’ with ‘defend’ duty, this will see him track Insigne down the line and offer that extra support we need to stop PSG’s most common assist area. I also decided to change the wing back to full back in an attempt to stop his marauding runs that may leave us short when PSG break.

PSG’s pace and ability to get in behind: PSG have a tendency to play at pace and we could get found out due to my formation and attacking tactic. So I decided to change the GK’s role from goalkeeper to sweeper keeper, hoping he will act as a sweeper and the last line of defence sweeping up possession before the opposition forwards can take advantage.

Now I address PSG’s weakness’ and our strengths.

PSG’s right flank (our left flank): The most common assist area against, I decided to trust this stat despite my opinion that Peruzzi is a great player. So I left the AML position as inside forward, using him to cut inside and exploit the space we’ll get due to the lack of a DMC. I do have a very, very quick AML and in my save Peruzzi is lacking in this area so it certainly makes sense to exploit that.

PSG’s height: To be explained in the team selection, I see that as the best way to exploit them in this area.

FM 2014 tactics change for opp, tactic adjustment

Team selection

Just as important as the tactic is picking the right players to suit the roles and the job they must do. There is no point in selecting a defensive winger if I don’t have someone that will get back and help out defensively for instance. Lets pick out the key areas. All the selections are highlighted in the image below. They are colour coded so you can see which options I had to choose between.

ST – My selection is limited due to injuries, but in any case I would have gone for Tairi, a young regen with great power and aerial presence. He can really run but I could see him making a difference in the air and causing PSG’s small side real issues.

DC (red) – I had four options to fill two positions here. I know PSG have great pace and play their strikers on the shoulder so I need fast defenders over strength and aerial ability. Balanta and Dow are my best players for this.

AMR (blue) – Gomez and Halilovic are my options, Halilovic is incredibly dangerous going forward but Gomez has great work rate and can handle himself defensively, so Rodrigo Gomez it is. Not to mention Halilovic is left footed so wouldn’t get a good cross in whereas the Argentine is an excellent crosser with his right foot and will provide an assist threat to take advantage of PSG’s height issue on the break. His acceleration and dribbling ability will mean the deep position he obtains won’t be an issue with getting down the wing and involved in attacking plays.

AML (green) – Perrot an insanely quick but inexperienced regen, or my trusty Spaniard Sarabia who is better crossing and sticking to the wing. This was a tough choice, I could have gone for exploiting PSG’s height and using Sarabia to cross the ball more often. However, PSG have conceded the most assists down this flank and Peruzzi does seem slow so I thought using Perrot to cut inside and use his lightening fast pace would suit best. With us using a crossing option from the right side I felt like we also needed a different and more direct dimension from the left so this position remained untouched from my usual tactic.

FM 2014 tactics change for opp, team selection

In game analysis and result

You’ve seen the game plan and hopefully my logic, but how did we fair in game? Lets start by analyzing specific player performances before we see the result.

My AMR, Gomez – We changed role from inside forward/attack to defensive winger/defend, with the aim of stopping Insigne, who played in PSG’s most common assist area. Below is an image of all the tackles Gomez made and where, he made 6 in total, all of which were successful and some in very important defensive zones.

FM 2014 tactics change for opp, Gomez tackles won

My DR, Solly – Usually deployed as a wing back I changed his role to full back to really block out any threat from Insigne, effectively doubling up on the PSG winger. This kid didn’t put a foot wrong showing that using him as more of a defensive option panned out.

FM 2014 tactics change for opp, Solly tackles won

PSG’s ML, Insigne – I think the screenshots above give everything away, but for clarity I’ve taken a screenshot of Insigne’s movement. The Italian made just two successful runs into a decent crossing position….when you consider Solly and Gomez made at least 9 tackles between them that were within our half and tight to the wing where Insigne would attack its very obvious how effectively they kept this threat at bay.

FM 2014 tactics change for opp, Insigne movement

PSG’s DR, Peruzzi – Established as a weak link, how did we manage to exploit this position. Best way to show you that is display our AML’s movement, all his successful runs are shown below. As you can see around 6 of Perrot’s successful runs started in an area Peruzzi is responsible for, so he created havoc cutting inside, see below image.

FM 2014 tactics change for opp, Perrot movement

Match stats: Before seeing the result lets see how the stats stacked up. First off, we limited PSG to 7 shots, 2 of which were on target compared to our 17 and 5 on target. PSG managed one CCC and one half chance, well down from previous matches whereas we had two CCC and three half chances. Finally the possession was fairly even but we did have the edge with 55%. We also had a far greater pass completion rate, which for me is testament to how well we blocked them out and stopped their game without destroying our own attacking game.

FM 2014 tactics change for opp, stats

The result: We lost! Ha, only kidding, that would have been hilarious. We actually won 2-0. Both goals came from incisive break away’s including quick one touch passing and the goalscorer starting on the defensive shoulder before turning his man and slotting home. Gomez was a threat crossing from the right for Tairi all match, Perrot was too hot to handle cutting inside and PSG just couldn’t get the better of my defense, a) due to the extra cover from Gomez, b) because of the fast CB’s to cover and c) because my GK had been set to sweeper keeper and came out quick to clean up any through balls the DC’s did miss.

FM 2014 tactics change for opp, result

I know you can’t go away from this post and implement some set instructions, but hopefully you have gained a few ideas and at least been inspired to give the difficult match engine another try. I’ll reiterate that this is by no means a guide on how to approach your tactical adjustments, it is just a step by step example of how I approached mine in one very specific example. You really need to stop and analyze every area of your game and your opponents strengths and weakness’. Hope you enjoyed the read and as always I look forward to your comments.

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rrph3rtbkr
Guest

A brilliant idea and it has been implemented greatly and it shows great result .. did u put any specific opposition instruction or it has been handled by ur assistant manager

Noal
Guest
Noal

Lovely article! Very inspiring, I’m going to load up the game now.

Your 4-5-1 is pretty much my go to system if I want to keep things tight, so I hope that it is still good on the latest match patch!

I always play with big teams but I think this time I’ll pick a decent mid-table side to buy myself a bit more time to have a fiddle with the tactics.

Robbie
Guest
Robbie

Excellent post! I never used to look at where the opposition had assists against them, only where they attacked. Thank you very much for explaining this.

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[…] FM 2014 Tactics: Stick Or Tinker […]

Sher Khan
Guest

Why don’t you play with width (wider, narrower)? It seems a vital part of tactics IRL and your tactic doesn’t really address this.

Andrew Norman
Guest
Andrew Norman

Great read think there going for realism to be honest and this is a big help you have to scout the opposition sometimes I fall in to the habit of hitting the continue button to quick this has reigned me in thank you :-)

jamie
Guest
jamie

whilst i understand the things u r saying i also cant help but think how many save/realoads occured??? do u play online? if you are really that good as u r offering advice u must b able 2 back this up?

jamie
Guest
jamie

me vs u post results on ere???

jamie
Guest
jamie

why do you keep harpin on about playin 2 games against me? as i said in the 1st place then u keep repeatin 2 games is irrelivant. delete my posts as im sure u will coz u want 2 b lookin good. i can understand changin ur tactics etc wen u r a lower league club but in the example above u are a top team? u are in the european cup final? if u have a team of that calibre u will drop more points worryin n adjustin 4 the opposition if u r that good let the opposition worry bout u

jamie
Guest
jamie

my 6 yr old nephew went a season unbeaten wi fulham 2013-14 did the domestic treble took bout 3 weeks n a million reloads but ill post u his tactic n philosophy if u like

Screwby
Member

Brilliant post, Darren!

I usually go about the same business when facing a tough opponent in Europe, although you now gave me a couple of more things to keep in mind.

Analysis and smaller tactical adjustments to counter specific threats, it must in many cases be more efficient than completely change your tactic.

The satisfaction of succeeding making tactical adjustment like this, it’s undescribable.

Gaurav Chaddah
Member

Great read Darren, this has really inspired me. It’s come at a big of a shit time for me, FM for me is currently a no go due to exams but this has got me itching to get back on the game, well anyways I can’t wait for exams to be done with so I can get back to fm and put this ‘theory’ if you like into test. Thanks for the post, really good information which I’m sure we can all take and improve as gamers. .

Ryan
Guest
Ryan

Great read as always Darren, your tactical nous is superb! Will you be doing any tactics for lower league clubs this year and/or do you have any tweaks for the tactics created to suit the lower league?

Ryan

Matsby
Guest
Matsby

Hi Darren

A thoroughly enjoyable read mate. I have often wondered how the opposition scouting info can be best used and this way of analyzing gives me some great ideas to employ against the bigger sides (especially away from home) other than switching to defensive and hoping!

On a related topic, the latest patch does appear to have fixed up most of the annoying bugs. My team plays with much smoother passing and movement and whilst they still make the odd mistake, I’m not seeing these happen in an unrealistically repetitive way.

By the way, I know this isn’t usually the place to mention it, but do you think there will be another tactical analysis post at any point this year? I only ask because I’m testing up a new tactic and getting a bit of joy out of it, and when its ready i’d like to share it with the FMS community.

Chris/Morozov95
Guest
Chris/Morozov95

Solid read Darren. I notice in this particular case, you chose to keep your formation the same as the 4-2-3-1 is generally good against a 4-4-2, and adjusted the players and roles instead.
If for example, the opposition had most of tier assists coming from the middle, would you consider changing formation allow for an extra DM/CM or simply change the roles/players?
Again, great read Darren. In the words of Hannibal, I love it when a plan comes together!

Mohammad Pishdar
Guest

Very detailed and interesting tactical analysis…thanks for sharing us your views… I can now better understand the importance of match analysis in the game

Wint
Guest

Very interesting Darren. Just to clarify a point in the comments above. You set your team to exploit both flanks, rather than to exploit the left flank due to the perceived weakness?

Noal
Guest
Noal

Darren,

I’m sure that guy Jamie’s 6 year old nephew writes better English than he does to be honest.

Keep up the good work.

Martin
Guest
Martin

Well said!

TheLimey
Guest
TheLimey

Hi Darren

Great post. I am of the school of choosing a tactic to suit the team initially and then developing that tactic and buying the players to suit the roles. This has worked well in previous years but not so well in 2014, i have learnt by tinkering with tatics slightly against better opposition definatly helps even if it is a slight tinker. But I really cannot get to grips with the 2014 tatics screen! In past editions when i go into player instructions there used to be a defensive / attacking slider bar that can be moved to determine if you want the player to be more defensive or more attacking. This has gone and i have a real problem getting my creative / attacking players to defend more. I have tried changing to a support role or defensive role but i feel in attack they do not provide the same service. Am I missing something?

Max
Guest
Max

In your 4-2-3-1 you said you based this on Chelsea. Jose tweaked his tactics against Man City away to negotiate the threat of Silva, it worked in the league but not in the cup. So what you say about scouting the opposition is correct and happens in reality.

I use your tactics as I couldn’t create a successful tactic myself, so the website is a big help for me. The only thing I change with the tactic is that I use a sweeper keeper in every game as I play as Spurs and this suits Lloris.

At the end of the day it’s a computer game. So whether people reload or not (and I’m not suggesting that you do) shouldn’t matter to anyone else.

Matsby
Guest
Matsby

HI Darren Just to add to my post above, Since your post went up I have been tinkering with making slight adjustments against opposition and can confirm that it does pay dividends if used as part of an overall strategy. For example: I tend to play with attacking wing backs and a central midfield pair (CM (d) and DLF (s)). I’ve used your method of reading the opposition report to find their most vulnerable point (it is usually one or the other flank) and switching the WB on that side to a CWB and ensuring the holding CM (d) is covering him (i.e swapping the CM and DLF around if needs be). If they are most vulnerable through the centre I simply keep the roles as is and exploit the middle to take advantage. Its by no means fool proof, but results have improved dramatically. Picking up on Wint’s comment above, I to have found that exploiting both flanks works better. Restricting your team to just one side can stifle attacks and makes your players try to force the issue even if a better option is on elsewhere. Chances created and, most annoyingly, possession therefore takes a real hit.I think… Read more »

Pedro Fontan
Guest
Pedro Fontan

Fantastic post Darren made me think about paying more attention to being tactically aware against different opponents. Especially with the new patch out now this post couldn’t have come at a better time. And by the way having seen the Napoli stream i am very compelled to believe that Darren does pay attention to every detail possible which is what needed to succeed in this game. By the way you can see you are in charge of the Scouting Network with the amount of players in your team that are on the SN :D And just looking back at the comments there are always going to be idiots who misunderstand what you are trying to write about. I think you say about 4 times that this is not a guide and only a way of how looking at tactics in more detail can help and yet resident knobhead continues to “speik”. And by the way SamCHammer that response was top quality. “which bridge do you live under” I mean i am not even from England and the guy’s spelling made me want to poke my eyes out so i couldn’t agree more Sam. P.S- It would have been kind of… Read more »

Wayne
Guest
Wayne

Darren

Excellent post as always! I have been using your 4-2-3-1 to good effect over the last few seasons with my (now unrecognisable) Aston Villa side.
I thought that the Community Shield against my rivals for the title last season (they finished 8 pts clear, but I was a comfortable 6pts clear in 2nd), would be a sound game to try ‘tinkering’ as they have bettered me on 12 occasions, and I have only managed 6 wins (all at home).
The facts were pretty much what you had above with Man City. Most assists from the Left flank, Pace as highest attribute. Danger men were not populated as it is the start of season 8.
So I switched my WB to FB def and IF Att to DW Def…. Result!

3-1 to me! They had a grand total of 3 shots to my 9, 1 on target to my 5!

Cheers!

pedro roriz
Guest

mate, you did a great job with this review! and, i can say for myself, you’ve really done what you’ve set yourself to; you’ve inspired me to be more cautious with the details and reports.
it is always really nice when you’ve played so much of the game and still can find lots of people who can still teach you so much about the game. so, thank you!

btw, this community is 100% behind you. so, the ‘foreign’ haters represent the asshole quota of the world, but are by far a minority. you are a great asset to us, a good gamer and a good friend.

cheers

SamCHammer
Guest
SamCHammer

Thought I’d open this up for discussion again. Seen mention of tweaking to nullify a particular tactic, and wondered whether anyone has noticed that 4312 seems to be bloody effective – especially in the Championship against a high line. Well, always trumped me anyway. Yet this formation never seems to crop up. Countered this by dropping in a DM in front of a flat 4 and sitting deeper.

One for you geniuses to explore….?

pedro
Guest
pedro

Hi Darren,
First time i’m seeing this post.Well, I’ve been playing fm since CM :)… I’m the type of guy that wants to pick up a tactic in these foruns, and plug-it and play. What i really like is (besides winning trophies), is to see how players develop. So for me tactics, is just push and go. I’ve just made 1season in this fm2014 (I’m going on the January of the second season with arsenal), it has been harsh. The 1st seasson I ended in 3place,this season i’m in 6place 10 points behind the 1st. I’ve just loaded your tactic for this 2nd half of season, but since I have no routines, the opp creats a lot of opportunities even with weak team, so I normally change it during the game for my previous one (the traditional 4def-1anchor-2Mdf (1dlp and am) (amr cut inside and aml winger att) 1poacher. (some ticky
Seeing this post made me realise that “losing” 30sec looking to exploit the weakness of your opp, could really make the difference. Just one question, where do you see the attributes (best and worst) of your opp?

SamCHammer
Guest
SamCHammer

Who wants to take on recreating Liverpool’s 442 diamond formation then?! Anyone….? Better brains than me out there…

Chip
Guest
Chip

Hi Darren

Yet another great post which I loved reading! I do have a few questions though…

Do you do most of your research for the bigger games? I could imagine it would take a lot of time to do it for every game so do you usually do it for the games you’re expected to lose and the big games?

With your example in the post, did you add a team instruction to exploit both flanks or maybe even just one flank?

Also, do you have any suggestions on how to stop teams who’s best attribute are passing? I’ve came up against a lot of teams which are great at passing and I can’t seem to find what counters it!!

Thanks

nugraha
Guest
nugraha

Hi Darren, great article! I do have a few questions though..

I play using 4-4-2 with Feyenoord and with 2 winger (Attack Duty), DLP (Defend duty) and a BBM (Support). Sometimes in an away match against some though opposition who uses 4-3-3, my midfield tend to be outnumbered (as my assistan said) then lost possession far too often then lost the match. I play with control and fluid mentality. How do i counter this problem? Should i change my formation and add more midfield player ? Or should i stick with my formation but tinker it with some changes in instructions or players’ roles and duties perhaps?

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