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Struggling very badly - help!


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Struggling at the moment with Crewe in League One.

Season had started well - after 8 matches I was 3rd and made it back up to 7th after matches 19 & 20.

dfujBDxl.png

Had a ropey run since

FUQCEzdl.png

After the Swindon match, I went from a 4-1-2-2-1 (DM, 2 x CM, AML/AMR) to a good old fashioned 4-4-2 as I felt my FBs were getting very exposed and was conceding from too much from the flanks. I do have a thread in the ME bugs forum highlighting some of the matches where the AI team has attempted 60+ crosses (here)

I thought I'd won the lottery after going to the 4-4-2 against Wigan. They didn't even register an attempt on goal in the first half. Next match I didn't great many chances but was on for a "smash-and-grab" 1-0 until Milwall scored in the 89th minute. Grrr.

My current bad run of not winning in six matches seems to be due to individual errors in defence and none of my strikers suddenly able to hit a cow's **** with a banjo.

This is my current tactic:

aC19JgAl.png

Thinking...

  • Turton is my best defender / FB and has the best rating for my of 7.14 (though I understand FBs might be too good in the current ME), so I want him getting forward down the flank for width
  • Left FB I I want a bit of width from but not too much, hence FB(S)
  • Fox is one my best players and rated 4* at DLP(D). I've got him on the right to cover the FB getting forward.
  • CM(S) - have tried a B2B(S) here as well, but want them to mix up defence duties and supporting attacks.
  • Right WM(S) is also to cover the FB, with a PI of "Cut Inside with Ball" to make space for the FB (has shoot less often as both players I use here only have single digit finishing ratings)
  • Left W is meant to hug the touchline to supply crosses (has shoot less often as first choice only has 8 for finishing) - often seems to dribble inside though
  • Poacher is there to score goals and hopefully keep the opposition CDs occupied - want somebody there for crosses
  • F9 to link up the midfield and Poacher

I have tried an AF instead of the Poacher, plus a DLF(S) to replace the F9.

Attacking : can't seem to find a balance between players thinking they are footballing gods and cracking off shots from here, there and everywhere and slowing things down too much. TI "Work Ball into Box" seems to means players waste good crossing situations (ie FB gets ball out wide and is open but they then wait too long, so are closed down and the cross fails)

Against Blackpool (most recent match), I had 19 shots but only 7 on target. 6 shots from inside the area missed the target. All 7 on target were saved :(

Against Southend - 20 shots, 5 on target, 5 blocked

Against Barnsley - 9 shots, 2 on target, 3 blocked, 2 on woodwork

Defending / GK : Plain silly errors like these

[video=youtube;w8VpdU1CkIE]

[video=youtube;xkbLyt2NPO4]

Recommendations please!

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Here's an example of a striker cracking off pointless shots. Current match, losing (surprise!). Set to Defensive, TIs are Higher Tempo (trying to stop wide man hanging on to the ball too long), Width is "Fairly Wide" and Shorter Passing

jfXVSJhl.png

He must be 40+ yards out - pointless.

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So lost that match two-nil. Second goal? An OG from my FB to add the GK howlers about.

FuXKNaAl.png

I don't believe we're getting totally outclassed, but it seems I conceded one goal to a half chance, yet my strikers either shoot from miles out or won't pull the trigger when inside the box.

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Here's an example of a striker cracking off pointless shots. Current match, losing (surprise!). Set to Defensive, TIs are Higher Tempo (trying to stop wide man hanging on to the ball too long), Width is "Fairly Wide" and Shorter Passing

jfXVSJhl.png

He must be 40+ yards out - pointless.

What does this screenshot show you. Look at it carefully. He's shooting because you have zero other options. There's no-one to pass to realistically who is a forward options. If you see this happening often then you really need to work on the support players much better than things stand.

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I'd also point out the "looking frustrated" in the widget which probably made it worse. Then again, he may be frustrated because he has to dribble through half the team to get a sight at goal.

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What does this screenshot show you. Look at it carefully. He's shooting because you have zero other options. There's no-one to pass to realistically who is a forward options. If you see this happening often then you really need to work on the support players much better than things stand.

I have wondered if I'm being too conservative but with a defensive mentality and short passing, I was expecting him to hold up the ball and lay it off to the WM or CM behind him. Perhaps a CM(A) would be better than CM(S)...

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I have wondered if I'm being too conservative but with a defensive mentality and short passing, I was expecting him to hold up the ball and lay it off to the WM or CM behind him. Perhaps a CM(A) would be better than CM(S)...

He's set as a poacher, what about that role gives you the impression that he'd hold the ball up for others? :)

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He's set as a poacher, what about that role gives you the impression that he'd hold the ball up for others? :)

True, though perhaps I was expecting too much given that he's playing football, not trying a drop goal in rugby, so regardless of his duty, shooting is somewhat pointless...

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True, though perhaps I was expecting too much given that he's playing football, not trying a drop goal in rugby, so regardless of his duty, shooting is somewhat pointless...

If that was the case then why would we even have roles? A lack of options and the role he has which instructs him what to do, don't help him one bit in situations like this. Plus his body language was frustrated also. Work on his support options and he will start shooting less.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thread boing (been away on holiday)...

Into season 2 having avoided relegation by four points, though in the 17 games from the start of February to end of the season, I won 3, drew 4 and lost the rest.

I've taken some inspiration from Cleon's excellent counter-attacking thread, though have adjusted some of the roles to try to fit the players better.

We've had a really good start to the season but are now struggling to score.

tGQrYcdl.png

I understand that other teams will be more cautious against you when doing well and sit back, so I think we are struggling to break teams down.

I'm currently playing away at Oxford (they have lost the past 4 games conceding 11 goals). AI is playing 4-2(CM)-3 (IF or W/AM/IF or W)-1.

HVNAKnLl.png

  • F9 has Shoot Less Often to stop wasteful long shots
  • WM(S) has Cut Inside With Ball and Sit Narrower to try to make space for the FB(A) boming forward
  • W(S) has Get Further Forward to try to offer more around the box but also has Shoot Less Often (only 9 for finishing)
  • FB(A) has Stay Wider and Run Wide With Ball to stay outside the WM

I'm struggling to find the right adjustments to turn the game around. Jones (CM) was a DLP(S) but I moved him to AP(S) to try to support the F9 better. I also changed the DM from A(D) to DM(D). Still don't seem to create any good quality chances though. I've seen some very good potential counters (when all the players go into "overload") but a poor pass seems to kill them dead.

WdQcLoHl.png

Suggestions would be great. I've tried More Direct Passing or Shorter Passing, raised / lowered the tempo, played Wider and Narrower but I just don't seem to see improvements from the changes. :clueless:

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In all your screenshots your morale hasn't been too good, maybe your players are lacking confidence. Consider adjusting your team talks / press conferences to help.

Don't make to many changes and watch for a couple of games (not just the key highlights) or until you get a feel of how it affected the tactic.

Don't just make changes just to try something different, when watching the game think "how would this change affect the play?" Why change from to shorter then to more direct? What did you see that made you change those settings? Same with A-D to DM-D?

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In all your screenshots your morale hasn't been too good, maybe your players are lacking confidence. Consider adjusting your team talks / press conferences to help.

Don't make to many changes and watch for a couple of games (not just the key highlights) or until you get a feel of how it affected the tactic.

Don't just make changes just to try something different, when watching the game think "how would this change affect the play?" Why change from to shorter then to more direct? What did you see that made you change those settings? Same with A-D to DM-D?

I'm guilty of making changes because of what I'm not seeing. My (probably flawed) logic goes "we're not creating any (decent) chances with the current roles / choices / TI, then I need to change something to try to score".

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Who do you expect to see exploiting the space behind/vacated by your F9?

Why do you want your FBs to bomb forward?

CM(A) should be getting forward into the hole (or so I think)

FB(A) to provide width and hopefully get some crosses into the box, and/or draw defenders out to provide more space for arriving players

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CM(A) should be getting forward into the hole (or so I think)

I'm not too sure he's going to be getting that far forward and quick enough. Especially in a counter mentality. Which might explain why your struggling to create clear chances. Personally I think a F9 suits a possession game where you are trying to unpick defences, rather than trying to exploit space left behind the defenders.

Do you see your CM(A) getting far enough forward to exploit the hole created by the F9?

FB(A) to provide width and hopefully get some crosses into the box, and/or draw defenders out to provide more space for arriving players

Who are your FBs crossing to? In the Oxford match, although they were just as poor, you only had 9% of successful crosses. If your F9 is pulling out of the box, to create space, and your CM(A) may not be far enough forward, who are they aiming at?

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Remember that during actual counter attacks your player roles & duties mean nothing, players will make forward runs, dribble, play through balls regardless because they are counter attacking.

Your tactical instructions plus roles&duties are how you want to play with the ball when a counter attack isn't on (and of course how you play without the ball). Do you want to just hold on to it to try and draw opponents into pressing high and leaving you space behind them? Do you want to play more direct to get the ball away from your goal and potentially capitalizing on a mistake if your forward chases after it, or a piece of individual skill to beat a man and create something or just resetting for the next chance of a counter attack?

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Yeah, the F9 doesn't really suit. Even if it fits the player, it doesn't really fit the tactic. F9 is a linking role but who will he link with here?

Looking for crosses when you only have one player in the box isn't a recipe for a success, let alone if that lone forward has a tendency to drop away.

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I'm not too sure he's going to be getting that far forward and quick enough. Especially in a counter mentality. Which might explain why your struggling to create clear chances. Personally I think a F9 suits a possession game where you are trying to unpick defences, rather than trying to exploit space left behind the defenders.

Do you see your CM(A) getting far enough forward to exploit the hole created by the F9?

Who are your FBs crossing to? In the Oxford match, although they were just as poor, you only had 9% of successful crosses. If your F9 is pulling out of the box, to create space, and your CM(A) may not be far enough forward, who are they aiming at?

Interesting thoughts - thanks.

I have used a DF instead of the F9. Another instance of me trying things to see if it's better (slaps wrist)

I do moan in my head that FBs (or wide midfielders) don't seem to cross when I want them to (ie when open) - they take more touches, get closed down and the cross is blocked. I've probably thought the crosser is the problem but thinking further ahead, that player isn't crossing because (I guess) they want more than one player in the box to aim for. At which point they aren't good enough to beat the defender.

Will get the patch and review my plan. Part of the reason I've ended up as 4-1-4-1 was to have MR/ML to protect the FBs as I conceding from crosses was my major weakness.

{Edit}

I dropped my DM, stuck another forward on (classic 4-4-2) and changed to Standard (from Counter). Have just bagged an 85th minute equalizer from a great cross from my FB (who I'd knocked back to FB(S))

{Edit 2}

I'm almost giggling now... the AI just kicked off and gave the ball away. 6 pinpoint passes later we've gone from the centre circle to the right-wing and over to the left - my left winger puts in a utterly perfect cross for my DF to simply nod home to make it 2-1. FM baffles and delights me in equal measures!

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Its not bad to test things, just make sure you give yourself time to spot the difference so you can use that information in future. Don't just judge the change on if you score/win, judge the change on the play. Often there a positives and negatives, the challenge is minimizing and accepting the negatives to get the positives you want.

Remember the opponents quality, form and tactics can all affect how yours performs so 1 game often isn't enough to see a trend.

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Interesting thoughts - thanks.

I have used a DF instead of the F9. Another instance of me trying things to see if it's better (slaps wrist)

I do moan in my head that FBs (or wide midfielders) don't seem to cross when I want them to (ie when open) - they take more touches, get closed down and the cross is blocked. I've probably thought the crosser is the problem but thinking further ahead, that player isn't crossing because (I guess) they want more than one player in the box to aim for. At which point they aren't good enough to beat the defender.

I'd expect that the lack of a person to aim for in the middle is causing the wider players to hold onto the ball for longer. Be glad they aren't pumping the ball into the box willy-nilly. Might be an idea to review some of the matches where you remember that happening several times to see the cause - where there players in the box etc.

Even if there is 1 player in the box, he's got to beat 2 defenders in the air, get it on target and still beat the keeper. Difficult to do, especially if your role is to make space by vacating the box. A DF might be the answer, he'll harass the defenders more and will play closer to your midfield line. A DLF might also suit purposes as he can be made to be a mobile target man, without being a Target Man who'll have passing focussed on them.

Will get the patch and review my plan. Part of the reason I've ended up as 4-1-4-1 was to have MR/ML to protect the FBs as I conceding from crosses was my major weakness.

Makes some sense, although I exclusively play with 1 on the wings (Wing Backs) and have only conceded 6 goals from crosses in 45 matches. Sometimes matching man-for-man on the flanks isn't the answer to prevent crosses going in.

{Edit}

I dropped my DM, stuck another forward on (classic 4-4-2) and changed to Standard (from Counter). Have just bagged an 85th minute equalizer from a great cross from my FB (who I'd knocked back to FB(S))

{Edit 2}

I'm almost giggling now... the AI just kicked off and gave the ball away. 6 pinpoint passes later we've gone from the centre circle to the right-wing and over to the left - my left winger puts in a utterly perfect cross for my DF to simply nod home to make it 2-1. FM baffles and delights me in equal measures!

Glad to hear you've had some instant success making a few changes. Although, do note as the above commenter has said, don't have 1 game (and 5-10 mins in that match alone) as being proof that it now works. Give your team time to adjust, consider why you are doing things and how they link up, and then watch it over a few matches. It seems you are on the right direction now though for a set-up that'll attack on the break while also having players in/around the box to collect crosses.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Back again...

Now in season 3 three with Crewe.

rFuf4mLl.png

Season started off so well - great win against Bolton in the Capital One, with this winning goal being my BBMs hat-trick (which came straight from the kick off after Bolton made it 3-3):

[video=youtube;-d4i0YNwYEM]

I went to a 4-4-2 as my Achilles-heal was crosses. Goals conceded for the last 50 matches:

8bKDns1l.png

I have got a new left FB (Aidan White) to try to shore up that side of the defence.

So this has been working very well:

Klbg8O5l.png

Ca8oKHVl.png

Look for overlap : Make the most of the FBs coming outside the W/WM (my WM has a Cut Inside PI which seemed to cause huge problems for defenders in early matches)

Play out of Defence : I don't want random punts up the field

Play narrower : Bring players closer together to be more solid at the back and mesh with playing out of defence by offering more passing options

Lower Tempo : Again, hopefully tie in with the two above to create a considered passing game

Low crosses : I've got a bunch of short-arsed strikers (I'm 22nd out of 24 teams for heading in attack), so no point launching stuff into the box (another reason for playing out of defence)

I have the same formation but dialled-back to Defensive to be less gung-ho.

KMYxlgYl.png

The last two games I've lost I've started with the Defensive 4-4-2 to be less aggressive and, in theory, more solid but it's not worked. Wide play still seems to be my nemesis eg:

Southend - both goals from deep crosses (though I managed to win 4-2)

Swindon - 1st goal header from corner, 2nd goal from cross, 3rd goal OG from cross

Blackpool - both goals from crosses

Goal conceded against Gillingham wasn't a cross but can be put down to a player mistake.

y1nZoObl.png

Two good banks of four at this point, my DF(D) is also dropping back to pressurise the CMs, so not alarmed.

WymDx2Wl.png

Ball passed up to the attacker

Yz0N8NKl.png

Danger here as the two forwards have linked up.

HyALS0Fl.png

Even more danger as my CB has not followed his man, leaving him enough time to score. No matter what I tried this point, I couldn't seem to create anything. That just baffles me as we've gone from creating some lovely goals to looking like we're wadding through treacle. For instance, the BBM doesn't seem to burst late into the box anymore. I've watched some of the last game in full and even simple stuff like 10 yard passes seem to miss the target.

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  • 2 months later...

By some fluke, I got promoted via the play-offs and we've now survived two seasons in the Championship. Finished just about the relegation zone - 19th (54 points - 11W, 21D, 14L) and 20th (53 points - 15W, 8D, 23L).

Two tactics I've used most:

hilOajgl.png

I have changed the AP from A to S and the IF from S to A. Also tried Illiev as a Treq to see if he creates more space for others.

yhU48VCl.png

Matches so far this season:

mEzhHL4l.png

The Wolves match was good - 10 shots, 7 on target, 4 goals. But then we seem to struggle to hit a cows arse with a banjo. The Charlton loss was 14 shots, 3 on target. Against Sheffield Utd (who played 4-4-2), I just seemed to get beaten up all match, no matter what I tried. It didn't seem to be a case of getting countered (with playing Control), we just seemed to be so poor and not able to build anything good, even trying TIs like Retain Possession and/or Play Out Of Defence.

I think I've clicked through almost every TI in frustration :lol: Perhaps the new players need longer to settle in, but even basics seem to be go wrong - watching chunks of games in full, I'll see players missing what should be a simple five yard pass.

Are my tactics that bad?

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