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speegs619

A Guide for Newcomers

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I have noticed in the leagues that I am in that a lot of fairly new players seem to be dropping like flies after a few bad results once they sign on to manage a team. Many times this is because they get discouraged and they end up dumping their squads out of frustration. This leaves many teams in a lot of leagues unmanaged, which takes out the "human" element of being part of SM. Often times new players are dumping these teams after they have already made a flurry of transfer signings, trades, etc. that makes the team unattractive for a takeover by a new manager. However, I think that if some of these new players only understood tactics a little better, they would try to ride out a string of below par results and stick with their team, or perhaps even try to strengthen their weak areas with new players that fit their favorite style of play.

As a support for this theory, I'll use the example of one of the leagues that I am in. I manage an FC Schalke team that (at its core) is probably one of the weakest in World Championship First Division. However, I am currently in first place in this extremely tough first division (with only 1 loss) and it's not because of the transfers I have made (I've only changed four players), it's because I'm pretty good tactically when it comes to planning for my opposition. This post is not meant to be a boast by any means, but I've had a good string of results against much stronger sides than my own such as Liverpool, Barca, Inter Milan, etc., simply because I've tailored my tactics and style to both my opposition and my own side.

On with my main point, however. When I started in this particular league, 61 of the 80 teams were managed, a great ratio. Now, we are down to 31 managers and we have only played 9 league fixtures. In fact, several teams in the first division have already had three or four different managers in four weeks because of bad results.

So, what I will attempt to do over the next few posts is to give newcomers a guide on how to understand tactics and the SM experience a little better, so that we have less and less new players dumping squads or leaving SM altogether. In the end I just hope that this will let newcomers to the game know that we have all been there and that if a new manager has some idea of what your side is, or should be doing and when, then one can be pretty succesful in this game and enjoy it more -- and thus might be more patient and/or willing to ride out an occasional bad string of results, which will inevitably come.

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Re: A Guide for Newcomers (Style of Play)

CHOOSING A STYLE OF PLAY

Before one can decide on what players should be on the pitch and what tasks those players should have, the good SM manager needs to choose a style of play that suits the situation or opponent that they are about to face.

Ultimately, your choice of style and tactics will allow you to highlight certain players over others. It will also influence which formation and systems of play you’ll use. Too often managers in this game get hung up on what is the best overall system to use without regard to the opposition. However, the simple fact of the matter is that you should always give your side the best chance to play to its strengths while minimizing its own weaknesses in relation to the opponent. How do you pull this off? One of the key ways is too always look at both the last fixture report (on the tactics page) for your opponent and going back and looking at their full match report (which can be found on your upcoming opponent's schedule page). This will help you tremendously in helping you plan for your opponent and at least get some idea of how strong they are and how they will try to play against your side.

Choosing a style depends on your own prediction of the final result. If you have a stronger side (with an average squad rating equal or greater than 2 as compared to your opponent), you have minimal problems. You’re in control and can basically ignore what the opposition side has to offer. A playmaking style is the way to go. You can plan on playing the whole match in the opponent’s half and have a lot of possession. You will also be able to dictate the tempo of the match.

On the other hand, it’s when you think that you are going to be on the wrong end of a 6-0 rout that managers in this game really earn their stripes. This is when you have to cover up and ride it out, especially if the opposition’s average squad rating is at least 2 points higher than your own. This is when you should protect your side and look for opportunities to counter attack. You will spend a lot of time in your own half and start most, if not all of your attacks close to your penalty area. When you do have possession, your side will have to work quickly because you won’t have the ball very long. Your opponent will dictate how the match will go and you must recognize that in both your plan and tactics.

Finally, and without much argument, the hardest part of this game is when you’re looking at fairly equal sides with fairly equal squad ratings of 0 or plus or minus 1 (for either side). What should you do? Two fairly equal teams, neither will dominate the other or, only a little of both for very short periods. The decision you face as a manager is when to use one style of play or another when facing a side that is fairly equal to yours in both quality and recent form.

In sum, while we all have certain favorite systems and formations, this will be a guide that will attempt to help the newcomer (and even some veterans) have the best chance of success so that they stay in the game.

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Re: A Guide for Newcomers (The Possession Game)

THE POSSESSION STYLE

Possession and getting shots are an important element of play in SM. Winning these elements will determine whether you win games and if you get to test the opposition side’s keeper. It has been well said that the best defense is an excellent offense. A side that keeps < 51% possession during a match is far more likely to win a match and, at the very minimum, is virtually guaranteed a draw. In sum, keeping possession is highly crucial when attempting to win a match because it applies pressure on the opponent and keeps the ball away from them at the same time.

In any possession system, your defenders will not push up too far. In this way, on the other hand, when your side wins the ball your offensive players won’t have to go too far in order to get to the opposition’s goal and they can keep the opponent under constant pressure in both the midfield and their own half. When done properly, this style is probably the most effective because your side is in control and can dictate the tempo of the game. You are relying on the quality of your own side and not on what your opponent may or may not do.

In order to use the playmaking/possession style, these are the key components:

1. Quality midfielders with an average rating of at least 88 or higher. This is vital because the midfield players do most of the passing around in the game. If even one of your midfielders is lacking in quality, this system will be quite difficult to pull off.

2. The best formations to use in this style are:

4-4-2, 4-4-1-1, 4-3-1-2, 4-1-3-2, 4-5-1, and 4-3-2-1

3. When selecting a tackling style for the possession game, HARD or even AGGRESSIVE are the best options.

With either of these tackling styles your players will not sit back and allow the opposition to maintain possession of the ball for any great length of time. Your players will challenge for each and every ball in an attempt to win it back for your side.

Be mindful of selecting either of these two options, however, because it will leave your side prone to receiving multiple yellow, or often times, straight red cards. If using either of these tackling styles, expect to receive a minimum of at least 3 yellow cards per game, with a red card coming at least once every 3 to 5 games.

4. When selecting a mentality for your team, always click DEFENSIVE or NORMAL. Avoid an ATTACKING mentality when using this style of play, even if you have the much stronger side. If your squad is too attack minded, shots that are quick and far from quality (from 25 yards or so) are often taken. When this happens, the ball goes right back to your opponent if and when you miss (which will be quite often). If you choose a DEFENSIVE or NORMAL mentality, however, when your side gets the ball they will take their time with it before attempting to get it forward to your strikers.

5. When selecting your side’s passing style, always choose SHORT or MIXED. Choosing SHORT passes will allow your players to pass the ball amongst themselves in an attempt to maintain possession and take advantage of defensive lapses by the opposition.

MIXED passing will also serve the same purpose as short passing, but it will also allow your side to alter their attack with an occasional direct or long ball forward to exploit the opponent’s weaker players when the situation arises.

In selecting a passing style, a word of caution would be to not use SHORT passing if the opposition side is stronger (in both numbers and quality) than your own, especially in the midfield. Given this situation, MIXED passing is always the far better option.

6. When it comes to selecting your team’s attacking style, always choose MIXED or DOWN BOTH FLANKS. MIXED attacking needs little explanation. Simply put, it allows your side to attack wherever on the pitch the best opportunity to do so arises.

Choosing DOWN BOTH FLANKS as an attacking style is extremely useful in this style of play if you have strong outside players in the midfield (Wing, RM, or LM) as well as strong outside defenders (RB and LB). This style will make sure that these gifted outside players get as many touches on the ball as possible throughout the course of a match.

7. In choosing the tempo (pace) at which your team plays, it is always best to select a SLOW or NORMAL tempo when playing a possession style.

A SLOW tempo allows your team to take their time with the ball. When your side takes possession of the ball, it is like gold to them. Your squad will make as many back passes between your midfielders and the defenders as they can in order to keep your opponent away from the ball.

Be mindful of the ratings of both your defenders and goalkeeper when choosing a SLOW tempo, however. If any of your defenders or your keeper is slightly below average (86 or lower), gifted strikers from the opposition side (88 or higher) will have the advantage. They will be able to intercept the ball and will often get unopposed shots at your keeper.

When playing at a NORMAL tempo, your squad will be cautious, but not overly cautious with the ball when they take possession. They will look for the opportunity to push a quicker or slower pace when the situation is appropriate.

8. In choosing when and how to press, it is always best to choose OWN HALF when using a possession style. All of your players will come back and concentrate on pressuring the opposition in your half of the field. Your squad will keep the opposition playing in front of them, while limiting the amount of open space available in your own half.

9. When choosing a play style, it is a good idea to choose MEN BEHIND BALL, USE PLAYMAKER, and USE TARGET MAN in the possession game.

By keeping MEN BEHIND BALL your side won’t get caught by surprise if the opposition tries to break away. In choosing USE PLAYMAKER and USE TARGET MAN, your players will look to get the ball to your best offensive players in order to create scoring chances at every available opportunity.

Your playmaker should always be a skilled attacking player of some sort (preferably a Wing, AM, or CM). A target man will almost always be a forward player (CF, F, or Fwd).

More to come...

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Re: A Guide for Newcomers (The Playmaking Style)

THE PLAYMAKING STYLE: CREATING SCORING CHANCES

This game, like any football game, is about scoring more goals than your opponent in a match. Goals are scored for any number of reasons, but the main ones in SM are a) because your squad gives the ball away too easily, or B) goals are scored after restarts (free kicks, corner kicks, or after the opponent has just scored).

Obviously, all SM managers want their squad to score goals, but often times they fail to use their entire squad in order to do so. In order to score goals, your squad has to get shots on net. Moreover, your squad must make a collective effort to create chances for your striker(s), the players who score the vast majority of goals in matches.

So, in order to help your squad score more goals, I will break down what I call the “playmaking” style and how to best achieve it. In choosing this style as a manager you have to make the decision to give all of your players the ability to come forward. In other words, everyone on your squad will push up. In this way, when your team wins the ball, they will not have far to go to get at the opponent’s goal area and they can keep the opponent under pressure in their own half for long stretches of time. The playmaking tactic should mainly be used for home matches or, any match that your squad’s average rating is higher than the opposition side by at least 2 points. This style of play will enable your squad to get more shots than your opponent, but it is usually at the cost of conceding goals and going behind in time of possession.

1. In choosing a formation for the playmaking style, basically any formation will do.

When playing against a weaker opponent, the best formations are: 3-3-4,

3-4-3, 3-5-2, 3-4-1-2, 3-4-2-1, and 4-2-4.

If you are playing against a side fairly equal to your own, these will do nicely: 4-2-2-2, 4-3-3, 4-3-3 with Wingers, 4-3-1-2, 4-3-2-1, 4-1-3-2, 4-4-2, or a 4-4-1-1.

Finally, the trick comes when playing the playmaking style against a stronger opponent. I have found that the best formations to play with this style in that situation are: 4-5-1, 4-2-3-1, 5-2-3, or a 5-3-2. However, this is a very difficult situation to come away with a victory in. At the very best, all you can do is to hope for a draw.

2. When using the playmaking style, tackling doesn’t have much to do with how effective or ineffective your squad is at playing in this manner. However, when choosing a tackling style, it is always best to choose SOFT, NORMAL or HARD in this style of play.

SOFT and NORMAL tackling will allow the players in your squad to challenge for every ball that they have at least a 50% chance of winning. These are rather safe tackling styles and will keep the amount of yellow and red cards your players will receive at a minimum, or at least at the league average.

HARD tackling is obviously a more aggressive posture to take than NORMAL tackling, but it runs you the risk of a high rate of yellow and/or red cards. I have found in my own experience however, that on average, HARD tackling increases the amount of time your team will possess the ball by about 5% per match.

3. In SM, one has the option of choosing an ATTACKING or VERY ATTACKING mentality in order to play in the playmaking style. Either one will do, but the safer of the two options is ATTACKING. An attacking posture will still leave your squad mindful of their defensive responsibilities, especially along the back line, even when they push up to join an attack.

On the other hand, a VERY ATTACKING posture is just what it says. Your squad abandons defense in favor of offense at every opportunity, even along the back line. This leaves your side very vulnerable to be attacked themselves, even by a much weaker squad. If you have the superior side in terms of average quality, a VERY ATTACKING posture will not usually result in a loss for your own side, but you could very likely end up with a match that ends in a draw, which you most likely should have won had it not been for a careless defense.

4. In terms of passing style, DIRECT is the only option here. In my opinion, DIRECT passing is far more favorable to your side in this style of play. All of your players will attempt to put the ball on the feet of your attackers immediately after your squad takes possession of the ball.

In a nutshell, the playmaking style is built on timing and the direct passing style will get the ball to the players who need it in order to score in a much quicker fashion than any other passing style. In other words, quick, simple, and accurate passes get the job done in the playmaking style.

5. In choosing an attacking style to play a playmaking system, your options can vary. The best options are MIXED, DOWN BOTH FLANKS, or THROUGH THE MIDDLE.

A MIXED attacking style enables your team to vary their attack as the situation dictates. In sum, it is a balanced attack.

When attacking DOWN BOTH FLANKS, your outside players will see more of the ball than normal over the course of a match. Like in the possession style, if you have a highly rated outside player or players (RM, LM, LB, RB, and Wing), this style is extremely effective. In fact, if you have a highly rated outside player, for example Jonas Gutierrez (91 rated Wing for Newcastle United), you could even simply choose DOWN (RIGHT or LEFT) FLANK, depending upon which side you play him on and provided he was chosen as your PLAYMAKER.

I have found, however, that THROUGH THE MIDDLE is a slightly more viable attacking option in the playmaking style. This is simply because it is easier (and quicker) for your squad to get the ball to your striker(s) in the position they need it in order to score.

6. In choosing a tempo or pace, much like the passing style, FAST is the only option that will do here. A FAST tempo provides for a swift and quick delivery of the ball to feet (or head) of your attacking players.

7. When choosing where to pressure your opponent, pressing ALL OVER the pitch is the best option. This does not give the opposition side any time to develop any concentrated or sustained attack as your players are constantly bearing down on them and they are constantly putting themselves in a position to try and take the ball away.

A word of caution when pressing ALL OVER at a FAST tempo is to be mindful of the “wear and tear” on your squad. Very often you will find that at least three of your players will be considered NOT MATCH FIT when playing these two styles together.

If you play a Wednesday match and then a Saturday match, or vice versa, they should be back to at least 85% by their next match when this happens. However, if you have a Monday Cup or Shield match following a Saturday match, be prepared to have to go with substitute players to take the place of the NOT MATCH FIT players as they will only get back to about 65% - 75% fitness by game time.

8. In choosing a play style, there are several options that will help you in the playmaking style. Choosing COUNTER ATTACK, PLAY OFFSIDE, PLAY MAKER, and TARGET MAN are essential.

Choosing COUNTER ATTACK is important to ensure that if your own attack is cut short, your defenders will recover promptly in an attempt to turn the tables on the opposition side in short order.

PLAY OFFSIDE will ensure that your striker(s) stay forward and that your defenders will play up further than normal in order to keep the opposition’s attackers in an offside position.

Making use of the PLAY MAKER and TARGET MAN will serve the same purpose. They are extremely beneficial in getting the ball forward in order to creating scoring chances for your striker(s). Utilizing both of these players contributes immensely to your team’s build up and gets your squad that much closer to scoring goals.

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Re: A Guide for Newcomers (The Attacking Posture)

THE ATTACKING STYLE

The attacking system requires your squad to get the ball, maintain possession of it when you have it, and get high quality (not a high quantity) of scoring chances on the opposition side. The basic task that you assign your squad in the attacking style is to threaten the back of the opposition side’s defense and to score goals.

The attacking style, however, does not apply when your opponent has the ball. Your squad must always be mindful of countering what your opponent has to offer. Nevertheless, if you extend the attacking tactic throughout your whole squad, you will easily see an increase in the number of goals that your squad scores, but it may or may not pay off in terms of favorable results in the long run unless you utilize this tactic in the proper way and in the right situation(s).

1. In terms of a formation, basically any formation that places 3 or 4 players at the back can be applied to an attacking style.

One should not use a formation that places 5 players at the back in an attacking posture, except in one instance. That is, when you are prepared to use offensive players in the 2 widest positions along the back line. In this case, and in this case only, you will be providing width in your attack, stretching your opponent’s defense to account for the additional firepower in your side.

2. When choosing a tackling style, it is always best to opt for HARD tackling in the attacking style. This is to provide for all of your players aiming to win the ball from your opponent. Just as a great offense will beat a good defense, it can also be argued with merit that a quality defense is the best offense because you are effectively limiting the creative instincts of the opposition side.

3. Obviously, when choosing your side’s mentality, you should use the ATTACKING mentality.

4. In selecting a passing style, it is best to choose either DIRECT or SHORT passing.

If your side has excellent strikers who finish well (rated 89 or above), then DIRECT passing is the best option. This will ensure that your striker or strikers receive the ball as quickly as possible from either the midfield or defensive players once it has been taken from the opposition.

On the other hand, if you have a strong midfield and defense, SHORT passing is more suitable. This ensures that the players who are supporting the attack will make crisp, accurate passes to one another over short distances as they seek to get the ball to the striker(s) in the opposition’s half.

5. When selecting the attacking style, it is best to tailor your attack to the strength of your squad and/or to the weakness of your opponent. If your squad is stronger than your opponent in the midfield (particularly your DM, CM, or AM) then THROUGH THE MIDDLE will provide the most favorable results.

On the other hand, if your outside players (Wing, RM, LM, RB, LB) are your strongest suit when compared to the opposition, then choosing DOWN BOTH FLANKS is extremely viable.

Finally, if your squad and your opponent’s squad are roughly equal on the flanks and in the midfield, then by all means select a MIXED attacking style. This will provide for an attack that is generated according to the situation that arises in the match engine.

6. In terms of tempo or pace, when using the attacking style you can choose either a SLOW or FAST tempo with slightly different results.

If you are interested in achieving the lion’s share of scoring chances as compared to your opponent, then without question a FAST tempo is best in the attacking style. However, this will result in a greater number (quantity) of shots "that go begging" for your squad, and not nearly as many shots on target – and there is a difference.

On the other hand, choosing a SLOW tempo will not generate as many shots as your opponent, but your number of shots on target will be significantly higher. Choosing a slow tempo will still enable your squad to attack at every opportunity, but it will generate a higher number of quality scoring chances that allow your striker(s) to really test the opposition’s keeper because of the patient build up.

7. In choosing where to pressure your opponent, always select ALL OVER when using the attacking style. This is an aggressive, force-the-error approach. In choosing to pressure your opponent on every area of the pitch, your squad will constantly be seeking to generate offense from their defense. This also does not allow the opposition to control the ball for any great length of time and greatly diminishes the number of sustained build ups they can muster.

8. In selecting your team style, in the attacking posture you should always choose to COUNTER ATTACK, utilize TIGHT MARKING and PLAY MAKER at a minimum.

COUNTER ATTACK ensures that your team will always be attack-minded, even when they are on the defensive. The moment that your squad regains possession of the ball, it is seen as a golden opportunity to go on the attack. Your opponent’s defenders may be too disorganized to stop a quick strike by your offense as the back line may be spread out after supporting what they thought would be a scoring opportunity.

TIGHT MARKING goes hand-in-hand with pressing all over the pitch, as well as hard tackling. You cannot have the other two without this one. With tight marking, your players will immediately attempt to tackle the ball away from the opponents. It also ensures that your players attempt to get to the ball before the opposing attackers, essentially turning the tables and switching roles with them.

All teams that choose to play the attacking style as described here must designate a PLAYMAKER. However, the good manager has to be sure that his/her attacking style corresponds with who you designate as your playmaker on the pitch. For example, if you choose to play this style and select DOWN LEFT FLANK for your attacking style, either your left back, left midfielder, or left winger must be your designated playmaker so that they can be relied upon to get a good cross into your striker(s) from the left flank. Similarly, if you would like to designate a CM or AM to be your playmaker, then you should have selected THROUGH THE MIDDLE as your attacking style.

Making use of a TARGET MAN is optional in the attacking style. If you are playing a formation that has 2 or more forwards (F or CF) then do not designate one of them to be your target man. However, if you are playing with 2 or more forwards and one is rated significantly higher than the others (by 2 points or more), then by all means you should be designating the strongest forward as your target man.

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Re: A Guide for Newcomers

Ive only read the first 3 posts but all I can say is that this thread is of exceptional quality, especially for a new signing :) . You have raised several interesting points that even I haven't been aware of :P and Ill try and read the rest later today.

This thread is a 'must read' for all of us 'die hard' Soccer Managers. One possible improvement could be to use bold and underline as I usually find that newcomers or 'Guests' often want straight to the point answers rather than reading long texts.

Nevertheless, Briliiant thread and effort :eek:

Hope it gets stickied.

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Re: A Guide for Newcomers

Ive only read the first 3 posts but all I can say is that this thread is of exceptional quality' date=' especially for a new signing :) . You have raised several interesting points that even I haven't been aware of :P and Ill try and read the rest later today.

This thread is a 'must read' for all of us 'die hard' Soccer Managers. One possible improvement could be to use bold and underline as I usually find that newcomers or 'Guests' often want straight to the point answers rather than reading long texts.

Nevertheless, Briliiant thread and effort :eek:

Hope it gets stickied.[/quote']

Thanks... I would use bold and underline, but it messes up your posts because it's done in HTML code. I may try to go back and edit later.

I will have a couple of updates later after work.

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Re: A Guide for Newcomers (The Counter Attacking Style)

COUNTER ATTACKING: THE DEFENSIVE TACTIC

A counter attacking or defensive system is used in SM a fair amount of the time, especially when managers are up against a much stronger squad than their own. One could also use the defensive system effectively against a team that they are equal to in terms of quality as well. However, making use of this style will rarely result in long-term league success as it usually results in low shots on goal tallies and a lot of drawn games.

On the other hand, organizing a defensive system is a lot easier than attempting to organize an attacking system. Your squad will not have many supplemental tasks; they only need to concern themselves with the most important basic task at the moment – preventing the opposition from scoring. Your squad will guide or encourage the opposition into making mistakes rather than trying to force errors. While this style will assuredly cut down the number of goals that the opposition side scores, when your team does win the ball they will have a much longer distance to go in order to reach the opponent’s penalty area and you likely won’t keep possession for very long. Therefore, you should be prepared to accept a lot of drawn games and/or 1-0 wins or losses if you use a defensive system for any extended stretches of time.

1. When choosing a formation to play in the defensive style, it is best to use formations that place numbers at the back and/or assume a defensive posture.

In a four-back system, the best formations are: 4-4-2, 4-4-2 Diamond, 4-3-2-1, 4-1-3-2, 4-5-1 defensive, or 4-2-3-1.

When using a 5 back system, the best formations are 5-3-2, 5-3-2 Defensive, 5-3-2 with Sweeper, and the 5-4-1.

2. In terms of tackling style, it is always best to choose TIMID, SOFT, or NORMAL tackling when playing a defensive system.

TIMID or SOFT tackling ensures that your players will only challenge for the ball when they are sure that they have an excellent chance of winning it from the opponent. Your defenders are going to get beat from time to time, and more often than not they will get beat if they go in for tackles with reckless abandon. Therefore, HARD tackling is not an option in a defensive system.

NORMAL tackling can also be used with some degree of success when playing a defensive system. In this case your players will only go in for balls in which they feel that they have at least a 50% chance of taking it away from your opponent. There will not be the reckless slide tackles that rarely come up with the ball and only result in a yellow or straight red card.

3. Obviously if you are committed to playing a defensive system for the match, you are choosing a DEFENSIVE mentality for your team.

4. In choosing a passing style, there are two viable options available to you in a defensive system.

If you are attempting to play for the lone goal and a clean sheet for your keeper, then it is best to use LONG BALL. There will be a more in depth explanation of this style in a later post. However, needless to say, attempting long passes a majority of the time is there to be used so that both your defenders and keeper are looking to clear the ball out of your own end at every opportunity. This is a surefire way to relieve the pressure the opponent is placing upon you.

On the other hand, if you would prefer to keep possession of the ball when you do win it, SHORT passing is the best option. If your side can string together a high number of passes in succession, then that is less time that the opposition side has the ball. The opposition’s offensive rhythm will be disrupted and this helps to further limit the number of shots and scoring chances they can get.

5. An attacking style really has little effect when playing a defensive system, however I have found that using a MIXED or DOWN BOTH FLANKS approach is quite effective in scoring the lone goal.

In a defensive system the idea is to prevent the bad pass, poor control, or losing the ball in a tackle, which is 50% of the way to conceding goals. Therefore, MIXED attacking will enable your team to look for the best area on the pitch in order to begin an attack. When your side is careful with the ball and makes the most of their opportunities with a balanced attack, the opposition can’t score.

Choosing to attack DOWN BOTH FLANKS in a defensive system is also used to some degree of effectiveness, especially if you are using a five back system (5-3-2, etc.). Your outside backs will be playing in a high and wide position throughout the match, providing width against the opposition team’s back line. This will create space for your striker(s) and 1 vs. 1 opportunities for them as the outside players attempt to get crosses into the area.

6. When selecting a tempo or pace to play a match in the defensive style, you should always select to play in either a SLOW or NORMAL tempo.

The SLOW or NORMAL tempo distributes the responsibility of “taking care of the ball” among every player on your side. They will always be in control of what they are doing so as to prevent mistakes, which can result in scoring chances for the opposition side.

7. In choosing where to apply pressure to the opponent, it is always best to press ALL OVER the pitch in the defensive style. This will keep your opponent off of the ball in all areas. Moreover, if you have already chosen a SOFT or even TIMID tackling style, the least your side can do if they cannot win the ball is to control the situation by controlling the attacking side’s options.

8. In playing style, you also have a few essential options to consider when playing a defensive system. You should always play COUNTER ATTACK, MEN BEHIND BALL, and TIGHT MARKING. Never utilize a PLAY MAKER or TARGET MAN in the defensive style.

COUNTER ATTACK is used because your side is always on the defensive and your entire strategy is an attempt to strike back at the opposition when they are in weakened position, i.e. they are weak at the back because their defense was spread out to support the now defunct attack.

TIGHT MARKING is also a must in a defensive system because again, you are attempting to control the opposition side’s options. Moreover with timid or soft tackling, your defenders will be patient and restrained and more able to guide the opposition into committing turnovers.

MEN BEHIND BALL is utilized in a similar fashion because the attack will always be coming in front of them and within eyeshot. Your defenders will repeatedly force the attackers into the least dangerous space and use self-restraint in order to buy time so that the rest of your defense can reorganize itself.

Using a PLAY MAKER and TARGET MAN are not necessary in a defensive style because all of your players will be attempting to clear the ball from the danger area at all times. Moreover, when you are on the counter attack, your players will be constantly looking for players that are in open space. There will be relatively few defenders between your squad and the opposition’s goal; therefore the ball will be given to whoever is in the best position at the time of the counter.

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Re: A Guide for Newcomers

What an incredible thread. This is exactly what I needed!

I've read it twice now and cannot wait for your next instalment!

(Page added to my internet favourites!) :)

Pete

Thanks, I'm just trying to help some people out.... It's sickening to me what is happening in some of the leagues I am in. Aside from the one league I mentioned above, I just checked another one of my leagues after the cup matches today and 19 of the first division squads are manged (PSV vacant) and there is only a total of 6 other managers (3 each in Division 2 and 3). All of the fourth division sides have been abandoned because there were about 6 resignations just today.

You'll never stop "club hopping," but at least this will give some newer managers hope and some tools to help them stick with it, because believe me, I've been there when I first started out....

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Re: A Guide for Newcomers (Stretching the Opponent: The Long Ball)

STRETCHING THE OPPONENT: THE LONG BALL

Playing the long ball system is very defensive system that should be used when you are playing a much stronger opponent. This system has been used by me, as well as many other SM managers, with a surprising amount of success. This has often come at the expense of many of the stronger sides in SM, i.e. Man Utd., Barca, Chelsea, and to the benefit of many weaker lower division sides, particularly in Cup and Shield matches. Just so we are clear, however, this is an extremely defensive system, so you should not expect 4-0 wins. Rather, you are going for a draw, or even a 1 goal victory in an extremely tough match, either at home or away.

In using the long ball system you are making a conscious effort to keep the ball out of the middle of the pitch and away from both your own and the opposition side’s midfielders. Your objective is to get balls from the back line to your striker(s) in the shortest amount of time possible. Moreover, the long ball tactic is extremely useful in helping to establish width in your attack by stretching the opponent’s defense across the entire width of the pitch because no one can be absolutely sure where the ball is going to end up.

You should also be mindful that using this tactic will keep you behind in time of possession, so it is best to employ this tactic when you have both an above average goalkeeper and defenders because you do not want to concede too many goals. What I am hoping to do here is to offer you some tips on how to make the long ball effective, but the manager should remember that this tactic is used when you are clearly going to be the outclassed team (when your squad is outclassed in average rating by 3 or more). You can also use the long ball to great effect when your midfielders lack quality, meaning their average rating is 87 or below.

1. When setting up for a long ball system, you should use a formation that has a lot defenders and more than one striker. This leaves you with a few options to choose from: 4-3-1-2, 4-1-3-2, 5-2-3, 5-3-2, 5-3-2 Defensive, and 5-3-2 Sweeper.

2. In selecting a tackling style, you should alter it from a normal defensive posture, and select a HARD tackling style. This will allow you to keep constant pressure on your opponent. In using the long ball system, your goal is to try and keep your defense compact when the opposition side has the ball and limit the space that is available between and inside the side lines. Hard tackling enables your players to attempt to close down the opponent as soon as they receive a ball on their foot.

3. In terms of selecting an attacking style in a long ball system, this varies according to where the match is going to be played. If you are the weaker side in a home match, you should always assume the VERY DEFENSIVE or, at least a DEFENSIVE posture. Your goal is to defend the home turf, so to speak, and you are looking to secure at least one point for a drawn game against a much stronger side.

On the other hand, if you are the weaker side in an away match, you should always assume a NORMAL mentality. Here your objective is to attempt to steal a point away from a stronger side that by rights should win the match handily because they are playing on their own pitch. Therefore, you have lost nothing if the result is not in your favor because you were supposed to lose anyway.

4. Obviously when opting to play the long ball system, when you have to choose a passing style for your team, you will be selecting LONG BALL.

5. For attacking style in the long ball system, it best to choose either a MIXED or DOWN BOTH FLANKS attack.

A MIXED attack will at the minimum assure that your defenders and keeper are not randomly punting the ball down the field in the hope that one of your players will run onto it. They will at least attempt to look for the open man downfield.

If you select DOWN BOTH FLANKS, the majority of the balls that are sent long will be down either the right or left hand side, which will give both your outside backs and outside midfielders time to run onto the ball in the match engine. It will also place your striker(s) in a somewhat wider position than they would normally play so that they too can attempt to run onto a ball punted up the pitch.

6. In choosing a tempo or pace for the long ball system, it is always best to select a SLOW tempo. This is useful for enabling your defenders to pass the ball back and forth between themselves along the back line as they look for the open man downfield.

Selecting a SLOW tempo will also enable your keeper to get touches on the ball as he will obviously be the player who is relied upon to punt the ball the farthest distance downfield, especially because - as strange as it may sound - your keeper will be designated as your PLAYMAKER in this system.

7. In choosing where and when to pressure your opponent, it is always best to press your opponent only in your OWN AREA in a long ball system. This is because if you press all over or even in your own half, pressure will be coming in the middle third of the pitch, leaving no one downfield to receive the long ball forward.

By choosing in your OWN AREA your defenders will be relied upon to do the majority of the pressing for your side while freeing the striker(s) and outside midfielders to receive the long ball.

8. Finally, when selecting your overall playing style, you should select MEN BEHIND BALL, PLAY OFFSIDE, and USE PLAYMAKER.

MEN BEHIND BALL is necessary so that all of your players maintain their numerical advantage against the opposition’s attackers. You will have a concentrated block of defenders, both backs and midfielders, between the opposition and the net so that you do not concede any goals.

PLAY OFFSIDE is the least used option in SM, but it is used in the long ball system so that your defenders will play higher up the pitch in a compact defensive line in order to try and catch the opposition’s attackers in an offside position. When they are caught offside, this will result in a free kick and another chance at getting a long ball forward. Moreover, in PLAY OFFSIDE, your attackers will attempt to beat the back line of the opposition’s defense at every opportunity.

USE PLAYMAKER enables you to put the ball on the foot of your most important player as much as possible during the course of the match. In this very defensive system, you will be designating your goalkeeper as the playmaker. This assumes that your goalkeeper is the one player on your squad that can punt the ball the furthest up the pitch, so you obviously want to give him every opportunity to do so in a long ball system.

Finally, using TIGHT MARKING is an option that you could use in the long ball system, but it is not a necessity in order for this to be successful. It is useful in the defensive end and when pressing in your OWN AREA. However, marking too closely in other areas of the pitch will draw your players’ attention away from looking to receive the long ball when it does come forward.

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Re: A Guide for Newcomers (Every Human Manager's Nightmare: The Unmanaged 4-4-2)

EVERY MANAGER’S NIGHTMARE: THE UNMANAGED 4-4-2

Inevitably throughout the course of a season, every SM manager is going to have the dreaded (or welcome, depending on how you look at it) fixture against the unmanaged side that plays the basic 4-4-2 formation with the default settings. In this case, this is when you, the human manager, really have to do your homework.

As I said in an early post, this is when looking at your upcoming opponent’s last fixture report and full match report is a necessity. This will give you all the information that you need in order to try and do the best that you can according to what the opposition side has to offer. There’s no need to fight an opposition side that you know nothing about when all of the information is right there for you to use to your advantage.

The key factors that will lead to success against the unmanaged 4-4-2 is your squad’s defensive capabilities and ability to control the tempo of the game, two factors that go hand in hand on the pitch. By speeding up the game against a side that may have players that are “not match fit” and applying pressure on an unmanaged opponent side that cannot make substitutions during the course of a match, you can feel pretty good about your chances of at least coming away with a draw.

The question is how do you apply that pressure and attempt to knock down the seemingly impenetrable fortress that the 4-4-2 formation (at least if you ask fans of the English Premier League) presents. In knocking down the walls of this fortress, as a manager you have to have the right balance between attackers and defenders and pick a system of play that is mindful of the strengths of the unmanaged opposition side.

So, in this post I will attempt to break down a strategy that you can use that will be more successful that not when attempting to defeat the monster that is the unmanaged, generic 4-4-2 side.

1. In selecting a formation, there are three formations that can be used to combat the 4-4-2 which will pose problems for the unmanaged opposition side. They are: 4-2-2-2, 4-3-3, and the unconventional 3-2-2-2-1.

Both the 4-2-2-2 and 4-3-3 are formations that will give you good coverage in the back.

In the 4-3-3, you will always designate one of your midfielders as a defensive midfielder (DM), which will give you an additional defender, thus really giving you 5 players charged with doing the defensive “dirty work” for your side. You will then have at least 5 offensive players attempting to penetrate through the opposition’s defense. With a tactical adjustment discussed later, however, you will soon turn 5 attackers into 7.

On the other hand, the 4-2-2-2 gives you the option of placing 2 defensive midfielders in front of the back line, thus giving you 6 players to defend your end of the pitch. However, this will seemingly weaken your attack as you will only have 4 players in an attacking position. But like the 4-3-3, with a tactical adjustment you can easily get the number of your attacking players back up to 6.

In the unconventional 3-2-2-2-1 formation (which is very similar to a 3-4-2-1), you will have 3 players across the back, but you can designate 2 defensive midfielders in front of the back line which will now give you 5 players charged with defending your area of the pitch. This would seemingly leave you with only 5 attackers to harass the opposition’s defense, but with a tactical adjustment, this number can easily be brought back up to 7.

2. When selecting a tackling style in preparing for an unmanaged 4-4-2 opponent, it is always best to opt for HARD tackling. Often times you will be facing these opponents in the middle or the end of a season. The first team members of the opposition squad have played every minute of every game thus far for their side so there will be several members of the starting eleven that will be starting the game in a “not match fit” condition. This is your opportunity to pounce on a weakened opponent, and challenging for each and every ball is the way to take advantage of this dying beast.

3. In choosing a style of play, it is always best to choose an ATTACKING mentality if your sides are relatively equal (within 1 average rating point of one another).

If the other side has the advantage by 2 points in average quality, a DEFENSIVE style will be more suitable.

You must keep in mind that the unmanaged 4-4-2 is locked in a normal mentality, so whatever route you take, you are already starting down the path of dictating how the match will played to the unmanaged opponent side.

4. In choosing a passing style, it is best to use DIRECT passing when matched up against an unmanaged opponent in the 4-4-2. This ensures that your players will try to play passes up field whenever possible to your striker(s) in order to get scoring chances.

Again, you are attempting to take advantage of an opponent in an already weakened state, and as discussed earlier, midfielders posses the ball the most in SM, so the midfielders will be the players most likely to be in a “not match fit” condition.

5. In choosing an attacking style, when playing the unmanaged 4-4-2, your selection will depend on which of the three formations you choose from above.

In the 4-2-2-2 formation, it is best to use a THROUGH THE MIDDLE approach in your attack, and preferably in an ATTACKING posture. This will provide for the 2 designated defensive midfielders (DM) joining the attack, accompanied by the two outside midfielders (AM, RM, LM, or Wing(s)) just in front of them. All 4 of these midfielders will now be looking to get the ball to your strikers in the match engine. When using this formation and scheme, it is best done when you have two highly talented forward players (CF or F) rated at 89 or better.

In the 4-3-3 formation, you will always want to select DOWN BOTH FLANKS as the attacking style. Because you have designated 1 of your midfielders as a defensive midfielder (DM), you will have to account for this missing attacker who will be reluctant to join an attack, especially in a DEFENSIVE posture. The way that you do this is to enable your outside backs (RB and LB) to join the attack on the flanks, where they essentially become wingers. In order to be really successful in using this tactic, it is best to have outside backs that are listed as being both LB/LM and RB/RM, and preferably at a rating of 88 or higher.

Finally, in the 3-2-2-2-1 formation, you will also want to choose to attack THROUGH THE MIDDLE. Again, this will provide for the 2 designated defensive midfielders (DM) joining the attack, accompanied by the two outside midfielders (RM, LM, or Wing(s)) just in front of them, and the 2 attacking midfielders in front of them. All 6 of these midfielders will now be looking to get the ball to your now lone striker in the match engine. When using this formation and scheme, it is best done when you have an extremely talented forward player (CF or F) who is rated at 90 or better, as well as skilled attacking midfielders (AM) who are rated at least the league average of 87.

6. When choosing the tempo at which your squad will play for the match against an unmanaged 4-4-2 squad, it is best to play at a FAST tempo. Just as it was in choosing HARD tackling, you are seeking to take advantage of a weakened opponent who will most likely have “non match fit” players taking to the pitch.

7. When choosing where to press your opponent, obviously keeping with the well-established theme here, you will be looking to press the opposition side ALL OVER the pitch in order to take advantage of their weakened state.

8. Finally in choosing a play style, you will want to select COUNTER ATTACK, TIGHT MARKING, USE PLAYMAKER, and USE TARGET MAN (especially in the 3-2-2-2-1 formation).

COUNTER ATTACK will enable your squad to play on the break when they regain possession of the ball. You’ll guide the weakened unmanaged side into mistakes and attempt to take advantage of those mistakes on a quick break out.

By using TIGHT MARKING, you are not giving an already tired side a chance to dictate the pace of the game. You will be pressurizing the opposition attackers at every opportunity and will not allow them to make any aggressive runs at the back of your defense.

USE PLAYMAKER will put the ball onto the feet of your most skilled attacking player at every opportunity, even on the counter attack. Moreover, if your designated playmaker is playing with a high morale and recent good form, the opposition side will not be able to keep up with his pace, thus allowing him to dictate how the match will go.

Finally, USE TARGET MAN will put the ball to your striker in the best areas on the pitch in order to score goals. He will make aggressive runs toward the heart of the opposing side’s defense and often times he will be unable to track down and the opposing defenders will just let him go, giving him a fair share of 1 v. 1's with the opposition keeper.

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Re: A Guide for Newcomers

Okay...

I tried your possession tactic tonight against a slightly weaker team.

Here is some very conclusive evidence, that you know what you're talking about!!

I have never ever had player ratings that superb throughout my whole team before!

Romamatchlineup.jpg

I have never ever dominated a team in possession and shots like this before!

romamatchstats.jpg

One word of caution though, the opposition team wasn't in the greatest shape before the game, but still to dominate the game like that! It has really helped to cement my place at the top of the league!

I have a couple of questions for you though Speegs if you would be kind enough to help? I know you have basically answered most these question within your posts (which I have re-read numerous times), but I'd like your personal opinion).

What is the best tactic to play when:

A. My team (player rating wise) outclasses the opponent by at least 3 or 4 avg rating points? Possession? (I ask this because one of my teams has had some bad results against opposition much weaker).

B. An opponent has alot of NMF but the team is of equal ability? Possession?

C. A team has better ability by 2 or more avg rating?

Thanks once again, this thread is overwhelmingly brilliant, and please keep your different tactical suggestions coming!!

Kind Regards,

Pete

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Re: A Guide for Newcomers

Okay...

I tried your possession tactic tonight against a slightly weaker team.

Here is some very conclusive evidence' date=' that you know what you're talking about!!

I have never ever had player ratings that superb throughout my whole team before!

[img']http://i359.photobucket.com/albums/oo39/Pete_M_B/Romamatchlineup.jpg[/img]

I have never ever dominated a team in possession and shots like this before!

romamatchstats.jpg

One word of caution though, the opposition team wasn't in the greatest shape before the game, but still to dominate the game like that! It has really helped to cement my place at the top of the league!

I have a couple of questions for you though Speegs if you would be kind enough to help? I know you have basically answered most these question within your posts (which I have re-read numerous times), but I'd like your personal opinion).

What is the best tactic to play when:

A. My team (player rating wise) outclasses the opponent by at least 3 or 4 avg rating points? Possession? (I ask this because one of my teams has had some bad results against opposition much weaker).

B. An opponent has alot of NMF but the team is of equal ability? Possession?

C. A team has better ability by 2 or more avg rating?

Thanks once again, this thread is overwhelmingly brilliant, and please keep your different tactical suggestions coming!!

Kind Regards,

Pete

Congrats on the big win... Thta's actually impressive too, because Roma and Schalke are actually about even teams -- I know because my Schalke team plays Roma on Saturday as well.... :) I just hope my result is as good as yours!

As far as your questions go, this is just my opinion and how I have played the situations you've proposed

A. When you outclass your opponent by 3 or 4 points, I have always gone with a playmakming system with 3 across the back line. I have had some really good results playing this way -- my "souped up" Independiente squad (Division 4 with an average player rating of 89 on the first team) played Panathinaikos (average rating 87) last week and won 6 - 1 playing a 3-4-1-2 with the playmaking style ticks that I put in the post. If it worked with a team that is only two points better than the opposition, I can only imagine what it would do to a team 3 or 4 points worse.

B. With a team that is basically on an equal footing with you but having a lot of NMF's, you can play exactly how you did tonight, going for possession. However, you might try treating it as an unmanaged 4-4-2. If you go that route, I would play with a 4-3-3 formation to cover you in the back. I have used a 4-3-3 against equal teams and teams 1 or 2 points better than me and half pulled it off abou 70% of the time playing that way.

C. As far as when you're outclassed by 2 points or more, I have always gone defensive in that case in a 5-3-2 regular or 5-3-2 sweeper formation. The only system that I would play that was not a five back sytem would be the 4-2-3-1 because you can put 2 DM in front of your back line. Then I would follow the counter-attack defensive ticks.

If you are outclassed by 3 or 4 points, that's when I go long ball. I did that this past week against Chelsea (average rating 94) with my Fiorentina squad (average rating 90) and I was able to pull off a surprising 2 - 1 victory in an away Shield match. If that wasn't good enough, I came back just 2 matches later and did the same thing to them again at home in a regular league fixture, only this time I won 1 - 0.

Hope that hlps you out some.

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Re: A Guide for Newcomers

So far so good, I've tried the possession style with Club America (4-4-1-1) and drew away, when my squad rating was 89 and Dynamo Kyiv was 88 (4-4-2). I had 59% possesion! Which was amazing as I'm a big fan of the possesion theory. I used to play 3-5-2 short passing, slow tempo, through the middle, hard tackling, defensive mentality away and normal mentality home, pressing own half with only men behind ball ticked, and they've kind of collapsed recently... something to do with the game engine, cause I wasn't getting too much possesion, and I was scored on a lot.

So I decided to take your theories to another level, and challenged my division leader with a friendly, he had 91 rating (4-3-2-1), I had 89 rating, and a home game. I played defensive style (4-5-1 defensive) and managed to pull off 1-1 again. This time I had 57% ball possession.

Coming up I have a league game, and with a few games left and at 3rd place in the league (level on points with 2nd place), I hope I win it. I have a higher squad rating by 2, me 89 the opponent 87, it's a home game, and the opponent is playing 4-3-3 winger. I guess I'm going to try playmaking style with 4-4-1-1.

By the way I have a question speedgs619, when should a team play an attacking style. I get what kind of situations that playmaking, possession, defensive and long ball are used, but there doesn't seem to be a clear explanation for attacking style. Please help clear my queries :)

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Re: A Guide for Newcomers

So far so good' date=' I've tried the possession style with Club America (4-4-1-1) and drew away, when my squad rating was 89 and Dynamo Kyiv was 88 (4-4-2). I had 59% possesion! Which was amazing as I'm a big fan of the possesion theory. I used to play 3-5-2 short passing, slow tempo, through the middle, hard tackling, defensive mentality away and normal mentality home, pressing own half with only men behind ball ticked, and they've kind of collapsed recently... something to do with the game engine, cause I wasn't getting too much possesion, and I was scored on a lot.

So I decided to take your theories to another level, and challenged my division leader with a friendly, he had 91 rating (4-3-2-1), I had 89 rating, and a home game. I played defensive style (4-5-1 defensive) and managed to pull off 1-1 again. This time I had 57% ball possession.

Coming up I have a league game, and with a few games left and at 3rd place in the league (level on points with 2nd place), I hope I win it. I have a higher squad rating by 2, me 89 the opponent 87, it's a home game, and the opponent is playing 4-3-3 winger. I guess I'm going to try playmaking style with 4-4-1-1.

By the way I have a question speedgs619, when should a team play an attacking style. I get what kind of situations that playmaking, possession, defensive and long ball are used, but there doesn't seem to be a clear explanation for attacking style. Please help clear my queries :)[/quote']

I usually use the attacking system when I am playing a managed opponent that I am at least one squad average rating point better than, either home or away. I have also used it with success against unmanaged teams in the same situation(s).

The post about playing unmanaged 4-4-2 teams is just another option, but should be looked at more when your squads are about equal.

Hope that answers your question.... :)

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Re: A Guide for Newcomers

1.which style to play if up agaisnt a team with same overall team rating as mine both home & away?

2.which style to play if up agaisnt a team with +1 more overall team rating as mine both home & away?

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Re: A Guide for Newcomers

i have a liverpool side with 4 DM/CM rated 93 n 94 . the only CMs i have are Gerrard n V D Vaart.so i always play a 3-2-2-2-1 formation.... i just change the playing style.....my team overall rating is 93. which style shud i play up agaisnt a team with a rating of 94 home/away?

i can also play a 4-2-3-1 according to my squads depth....

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Re: A Guide for Newcomers

1.which style to play if up agaisnt a team with same overall team rating as mine both home & away?

2.which style to play if up agaisnt a team with +1 more overall team rating as mine both home & away?

In case #1, I've been pretty successful using a possession system (either when home or away) against teams that are equal to mine. However, if you look at their average squad rating and you find that they are weak in a certain area, for example in the center midfield, then I would by all means try to exploit that and try an attacking system.

In the second instance, a team that is only one average rating point better than your own is no great obstacle. They could have one player rated 91 or 92 and the rest average, but that will bump up their average squad rating. So you actually may be the stronger overall side. But to answer the question, in an away match in this case I usually play the possession game and go with a defensive mentality. If it is a home game, I've had some good success against teams while attacking them with the playmaking system.

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Re: A Guide for Newcomers

i have a liverpool side with 4 DM/CM rated 93 n 94 . the only CMs i have are Gerrard n V D Vaart.so i always play a 3-2-2-2-1 formation.... i just change the playing style.....my team overall rating is 93. which style shud i play up agaisnt a team with a rating of 94 home/away?

i can also play a 4-2-3-1 according to my squads depth....

I actually have a very similar situation coming up with my Fiorentina squad against Liverpool this weekend' date=' only my avergae squad rating is 90 and Liverpool's is 91.

[b']Anyway, I would play a 4-3-3 against them with the attacking ticks in place[/b]. As far as positioning goes, I'd play two of my DMs, one in the RM position and the other in the LM position. Then I would place Gerrard or Van der Vaart in the CM position and be sure to designate whichever one you play as your playmaker.

On my squad I do this often b/c I have Christian Riveros (89 rated CM/DM, but a left-footed player) and Enrique Vera (89 rated CM/DM and right-footed player). Both are in my top 3 goal scorers for the season. This works in a 4-3-3 formation because the midfielders do not play as wide as they would in a 4-4-2 set. I've knocked off a bunch of teams that were one point better than me this way...

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Re: A Guide for Newcomers

hi. great guide! I have read the guide and understand how to set up the styles for games against teams better than yours, but I was wondering what style to use when playing an unmanaged 4-4-2 with almost 10 less rating points than your squad and to guarantee a big win?

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Re: A Guide for Newcomers

hi. great guide! I have read the guide and understand how to set up the styles for games against teams better than yours' date=' but I was wondering what style to use when playing an unmanaged 4-4-2 with almost 10 less rating points than your squad and to guarantee a big win?[/quote']

Any attacking style using three players at the back will do the trick... I've had big wins (6-1, 7-0) using this method against teams that are below me by two or three points.

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