When the beta comes out I always run a test save, it usually doesn’t last more than a season. I use it as a way to test out tactics, see what’s changed in the match engine and generally check out the new version ahead of the long term save I’ll start sometime after the full game is released.
I normally run my test saves with a big side from on of the bigger European leagues, I tend to stick to the bigger leagues for my long term saves too. This year I chose a team outside of my usual comfort zone, FK Partizan who play in the Serbian SuperLiga. The Belgrade based club are one of the two big sides in Serbia alongside their city rivals Crvena zvezda or Red Star.
Although we are one of the sides that should be challenging for the title come the end of the season the Serbian SuperLiga is only ranked as the 29th best in Europe. It sits below the Azerbaijan Topaz Premier Liqasi and so the real test should come in Europe, we are playing in the Europa League this season and I thought this was perfect for testing out the way I wanted to go tactically with FM17.
For the last few versions of FM my tactical setups have been very similar. My teams always had a base of:
Very fluid team shape
Close down much more (or at the very least close down more)
A high defensive line
Roam from positions
Usually they were strikerless but not always but all of the tactics I built played in a very similar fashion, this time I wanted to try something a bit different and I decided to try and setup a counter attacking side that could be dangerous going forward but when we lost the ball, instead of the relentless pressing I usually expected, the team would drop back into their positions and look to be more defensively stable. Only the most attacking players would look to press and usually only when we had lost the ball in the final third.
We used three formations over the course of the season, four if you include the strikerless version of the 4-1-3-2 I was forced into using due to injury. I’m writing about that over at strikerless so I wont get into it here. All of the formations had the same base team instructions and the player instructions were also the same based on the players role. All of the formations also featured a front two, after so long playing without strikers I wanted to see if I could get a true strike partnership to work.
As you can see I kept the base team instructions fairly simple but I frequently tweaked them during matches, maybe surprisingly I hardly ever changed the mentality. The most used tweaks were to the passing, either going more direct or shorter depending on the situation. Changes to the defensive line were often made, pushing it up if we were the superior team or looking for a goal and dropping it deeper if we were looking to hold onto a lead. Another tweak that was often made were changes to the tempo, raising it when we were in need of a goal and lowering it when holding a lead late in games.
The most attacking players, The two strikers in the 4-4-2 plus the attacking midfielder in the 4-3-1-2 and the central midfielder with attack duty in the 4-1-3-2 were tasked with trying to press the opposition back line when we lost the ball. In order to get them to do this I gave them the following instructions:
Close down much more
In all of the formations the keeper was asked to
Roll it out
Distribute to fullbacks
All of the back four were told to pass it shorter and certain players in each of the tactics were responsible for trying to unlock the opposition defences, these players were the wide playmaker and the false 9 in the 4-4-2, the attacking midfielder in the 4-3-1-2 and the false 9 in the 4-1-3-2. In order to achieve this I gave them the instruction more direct passes.
The only other player with with any added player instructions is the wide midfielder from the 4-4-2, he has the following:
Roam from position
Cut inside with ball
To make these work tactics work your team will need high ratings in teamwork and work rate in all positions but particularly in the players that have been asked to do the closing down. good ratings for bravery, determination and aggression are also useful. I made some custom views to keep track of these attributes, you can download them at the bottom of the article, along with the tactics.
The image above tells the tale of a fine season, I expected to do well in the league as we were so much better than most of the other teams. The tactic, with a lot of tweaking worked a treat. We were solid defensively, which is what I was hoping for, in fact over the normal league season we only conceded 11 goals in 30 games, which considering the quality of player I had is pretty decent.
What was particularly pleasing was our fine Europa League run. We came through a couple of potentially tricky fixtures in the qualifying against Shkendija, FC Vitorul and Mladost. Then we managed to top a tough group featuring Fenerbahce, Shaktar and Olimpija. We knocked out Mainz in two classic 1st knockout round matches, then sent Olympiakos packing in the 2nd knockout round before we finally met our match in Inter.
The first leg was massively disappointing, it was never a 5-2 game but every time Gabigol shot it he scored and ended the match with a hat trick. Our defence, who had been so good all season, were terrible on the night and the result left us with no chance in the second leg.
We won the league at a canter in the end which was pleasing but the whole point of the test save was to try and get a counter attacking style of play to work and I think I achieved that. All that’s left for me to do is offer you the download links.
If you give the tactics a go the let me know how they worked out for you. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to leave them via the form below, or you could contact me on twitter @edwardbomb Thanks for reading.