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Wealdstone Raiders: Hideous Long Ball Football Gains Promotion, But Not A Stable Base For Long Term Development?

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Hello Everyone

Ive spent most of FM2019 managing big teams and competing for the big trophies.

However, ive had a desire to manage at a low level, and develop a long ball tactic. So many tactics online are based around styles of tiki taka and passing, I wanted to do the opposite and and play at a low level and took inspiration from reading the "guide to hoof ball" thread which I think is great.

I decided to take on Wealdstone. Knowing nothing about them except the Wealdstone Raider popping up on youtube, I thought that would be an interesting team to manage. But predicted to finish 14th out of 22, and not being that good at the game, I didnt think id last very long to be honest.

I had a think about what I wanted from my tactic, which was based around:

  • Getting the ball forward as quickly as possible. Looking to play into space and out wide, and sticking it "in the mixer" by wide midfielders to attack.
  • Having a big man little man partnership up front. Seems like a dying form of the game, but one that is old school and effective. I want to bring it back.
  • With having a low pass conversion rate (I expected) we would need to be relentless in winning back the 2nd ball and "playing the percentages"
  • Playing for set pieces, and making the most of corners and long throws
  • I wanted to turn games into a basketball match. I speculated that teams would be poor at the back, and we would be ourselves. Outgunning the opposition, rather than being tactically clever, was the way we would achieve success



With that in mind, I went with the following tactic, which looks absolutely hideous, yet has proved very, very effective:


  • Both full backs push up the field and deliver deep crosses into the box. If we win the header, excellent. But the key is picking up the second ball, hence the formation looking so top heavy.
  • The two shadow strikers drop deep enough to just about play as central midfielders, yet push forward aggressively enough to support attacks from crosses and cutbacks and to compete for 2nd balls.
  • Every player in the midfield and front two has closing down turned up as high as possible, and a PI to mark tight. The intention is to box in the opposition and not let them escape, to win the ball back after it has been delivered high up the pitch and play from there
  • Going in forcefully into the tackle was a calculated decision to stamp our authority on the game. This was combined with pressing as hard as possible, way up the field.
  • Making sure our set pieces are good. Im still learning how to make these as effective as possible, but having the big lads attacking corners. Im also lucky to have a good free kick taker, Geoffrey Monakana, who I felt could chip in with goals (and did)
  • Both centrebacks are told in no uncertain terms, hoof it.


Despite being predicted to finish 14th in the league, it led to a magnificent campaign where we pushed Dulwich Hamlet all the way for automatic promotion, before finishing second and winning the playoffs with great wins vs Billericay and Chippenham.

Bradley Bubb was league top scorer, and overall, we scored most goals in the league.







The issue now, is the unlikely promotion has meant that my squad isnt really ready for the step up, and im worried whether this style against better opposition will be sustainable.

I played 2 games against Vanarama National opposition during the season, losing both in the FA Cup and FA trophy against Boreham Wood, and Wrexham.

The main weaknesses i see from my tactic are:

·         The obvious weakness is when teams beat the initial very high press up the field, they can advance through midfield on our goal. At Vanarama South level, this hasnt been happening a great deal but im worried it will when we step up.

·         Having little to no plan B when things arent working. Having only 5 players on the bench doesnt really help this either

·         Not so much a tactics weakness, but 90% of our games at home are on an absolute pudding of a pitch.



I feel like making the step up, this tactic will struggle. What is success, staying up? and what kind of players would you advise me to look for? I feel like if this tactic isnt going to work and we move to a more conventional 442, i will need central midfielders. But how do you keep them happy if they arent being used?

Also, what would you say are the KEY positions to strengthen? the centreback pairing is a decent partnership at Vanarama South level, but would you look to have one Vanarama National ready player?

Also, the target man Elliott Charles doesnt really chip in with goals. He doesnt need to he brings everyone else into play. But should i look to upgrade him to someone with target man qualities but more mobility and more goals?

Is having more depth the key? given i work with a squad of roughly 16 first team players and a couple of kids.



Would be grateful for any thoughts/help you can give, and an honest appraisal of the tactic and its good points/failings



thank you




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It might be okay for the first half season. Sides are going to come aggressive at you since you are newly promoted. This will give you plenty of space to attack into. By midseason, if you are doing well, they are going to tighten up. Hopefully a good table position might allow you to attract more talent at the midaeason transfer window and give you what you need to stay up.

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I like a wacky formation... As long as there is some thought behind it. Which you have done and I like the explanation of the high counter press etc. 

Good achievement in a fun way. 

It's similar to my Leverkusen 'defending from the front' tactic which I found really successful. 

In terms of next season... You can maybe sacrifice a striker for a DM or third CB and push the wbs up as iwb to give more cover. Still have a 5 man heavy press high up

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