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The Playmaker


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Hi, everyone.

In my two last saves I have played as Arsenal and Newcastle respectively. The Arsenal save is an original (with update as I have Chamakh) and the Newcastle save is an experimental one added £50 to the transfer kitty. (Yes, I know...) In both of those my team has played great. I developed a tactic with Arsenal which I thought wasn't going to work. It looks like this:

GK

DR DC DC DL

DMC

MC MC

AMR

ST ST

DR: Wing-back (auto)

DL: Wing-back (auto)

DC: Ballplaying Defender (stopper)

DC: Central Defender (defend)

DMC: Anchor Man (defend)

MCR: Advanced Playmaker (attack) - Fabregas

MCL: Box-to-box (support)

AMR: Inside Forward (attack)

ST: Poacher (attack)

ST: Complete Forward (support)

I won the league two years in a row, so I have huge success. Fabregas is ticked as a playmaker and I don't have target a man. I play short-passing and slow tempo. My AnM and Boxtobox has passing a few clicks from the left (short) so I would have thought they focus their passing to Fabregas. However Fabregas has few passes and very rarely a rating over 6.8 (maybe 7.2, 7.3 if he has a goal or an assist). When i look at the matches I also see him pass the ball backwards very often, but I want him to tear the oppositions defence open with his passes. Do anyone know what I'm doing wrong here? Is it the supply to Fabregas who is the problem or is it Fabregas settings itself?

In the Newcastle save I play different. In this save I can, to a certain degree, understand why my playmaker isn't working so well. Even though I had a lot of money in this save I didn't buy any particulary excellent players besides Romero as a GK, Hazard as the AM and Gignac for striker. Well, those three for Newcastle is excellent, but anyway. In this save I use more of an "exploit" tactic 41212 and currently lying second with four more games behind Liverpool in an extremely tight league (six teams still fighting for the title). Here's the tactic:

DR: Wing-back (attack)

DL: Full-back (auto)

DC: Ballplaying defender/central defender (defend)

DC: Limited defender (stopper)

DM: Defensive midfielder (defend)

MCR: Deep-lying/advanced Midfielder (support) "creative freedom: tried from normal to max" "longshots: rarely" "crossing: rarely" "roam from position: tried both"

MCL: Central midfielder (support)

AMC: Inside forward (attack)

ST: Complete forward (attack)

ST: Deep-lying forward (support)

Here I have my deep-lying or advanced midfielder (MCR)as the playmaker and tried both my complete forward and deep-lying forward as target men. "Complete" run to ball and "Deep-lying forward" to feet. I have also swapped my DM and MCR as my the DM was the deep-lying playmaker (set playmaker) and the MCR as ball-winning midfielder. I play a rigid and more disciplined tactic. The situation here is the same as for the Arsenal save. My playmaker perform the same as Fabregas does.

How do you set-up your team or playmaker to make the playmaker perform? For me he's not terrible, but I want so much more for him.

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I was actually coming on here to start my own thread about playmakers! I have had similar frustrations to you playing as Arsenal, in that it is difficult to get Fabregas playing at his potential best. The other thing that i find is that when playing the playmaker in a non-central position (even if it is as one of the Mc's in a 451), it seems that play becomes too focussed on that side of the pitch, meaning that attacking players on the opposite side can struggle to get involved in the game. I don't know if this has happened to others or not. With your example above, it could be that he has a lack of options for making attacking passes. If you have him on short passing, then he will tend to look for the closest passing option, rather than the more risky attacking option. You could try increasing his passing to mixed perhaps?

In my next save i'm seriously considering playing without a designated playmaker selected (but still with a playmaker role) to see if this makes a difference. I'd be interested to see what others see as the advantages and disadvantages to playing with a designated playmaker.

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I tried to play 4312 once with 3 in the middle. Then he performed better getting a lot more of the ball. Although that ruined my tactic, as I didn't have the DM to cover. His passing are set in the middle (mixed). I really think it's hard to get this players to dominate as much as they do in real life like Fabregas, Xavi, Pizarro and so on. I also think we should have a debate evolving this problem on how to get this role to succeed. I will try to put him in the middle with just the two central midfielders. Maybe put the AM a tad to to right to create more space for him.

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For someone like Fabregas who you want to be involved in everything then you should have him as a deeplying midfielder and not have him attack. By allowing him to play deep he should see more of the ball allowing him to influence the game much earlier than he would if he was an advanced playmaker. Also by not having him on attacking duty you allow him to sit deep and when he recieved the ball back will be able to start the process all over again. If he attacks then most of the time he'll be too far advanced to have a direct impact as a playmaker.

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For someone like Fabregas who you want to be involved in everything then you should have him as a deeplying midfielder and not have him attack. By allowing him to play deep he should see more of the ball allowing him to influence the game much earlier than he would if he was an advanced playmaker. Also by not having him on attacking duty you allow him to sit deep and when he recieved the ball back will be able to start the process all over again. If he attacks then most of the time he'll be too far advanced to have a direct impact as a playmaker.

Yeah, I agree with you. But if you look at the Newcastle one you'll see that I use a deep-lying playmaker or advanced playmaker on support. I read a thread once about mentality, I think it was you or sfraser who wrote it, which states that mentality is how attacking the player should be on the pitch. This goes for both passing and positioning. When I first created the tactic for Newcastle I wanted my deep-lying playmaker at the DM spot and two "runners" in front of him (ball-winning mid (defend OR support?)and box-to-box both) to do the midfield battle with the deep-lying playmaker spraying the passes around him. I wanted him to sit deep and get passes either to the deep-lying forward so that he could get pass through-balls to the inside forward or other striker. I also wanted him to get the ball wide to my extremely attacking right wing-back or wide to the complete striker/poacher who often gets out to the left. What happened is that:

- The ball-winning midfielder saw more of the ball than the DLplaymaker

- Struggled to find space even if he was the spare man in midfield (opposition had no one to close him down)

- When he found space he just pass the ball backwards to my defenders who knocked the ball to the BWmidfielder or AM who passed the ball further forward again

I don't care too much about the player ratings, but when I looked at the match, analysis and player statistics it showed that he didn't do what I wanted him to do.

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When I first created the tactic for Newcastle I wanted my deep-lying playmaker at the DM spot and two "runners" in front of him (ball-winning mid (defend OR support?)and box-to-box both) to do the midfield battle with the deep-lying playmaker spraying the passes around him. I wanted him to sit deep and get passes either to the deep-lying forward so that he could get pass through-balls to the inside forward or other striker. I also wanted him to get the ball wide to my extremely attacking right wing-back or wide to the complete striker/poacher who often gets out to the left. What happened is that:

- The ball-winning midfielder saw more of the ball than the DLplaymaker

- Struggled to find space even if he was the spare man in midfield (opposition had no one to close him down)

- When he found space he just pass the ball backwards to my defenders who knocked the ball to the BWmidfielder or AM who passed the ball further forward again

I think that the location of the playmaker role in the "chain" of possession is important. The playmaker is most effective as the catalyst that breaks the attack wide open. It is the point in the chain that something really exciting happens that beats your opponent and starts the final moves of the attack. It is the move from midfield to the attackers that is most crucial, the move into the dangerous (from your opponent's point of view) position that may well result in a goal. This is where you want your playmaker, with his vision and high level of technical ability make the toughest move of the sequence.

Considering your Newcastle formation and starting with the ball in the defense, the ball will move from DC to DMC (essentially your defenders) to MC (your midfielders) to AMC/FC (your attackers). This progression is probably especially highlighted by the narrow diamond formation. The movement of the ball from DC or DMC to MC is probably under less pressure and is less of a significant or tricky move to make. It is when your MC gets possession that the key move is needed to continue attacking deep into your opponent's half, into the heart of his defence. I am not surprised that it was your ball-winning MC that found himself with the ball most often, looking to make a play, but without the instructions to be the playmaker.

If the playmaker is too far back in the sequence, his ability is underutilized; if he is too far forward, the ball may not get to him frequently enough to turn on that magic. This "tipping point" at which the playmaker and his skills are best utilized will probably vary from formation/tactic to formation/tactic, but I have always found the point in the sequence to be evident.

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