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Tactics Cavalier 4-2-3-1


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In my first save on this year's game I took over Billericay and played a fairly defensive 4-5-1 that simply didn't work. Instead of getting frustrated and persisting with it I started a new save and completely changed my philosophy. I was now going to play an attacking 4-2-3-1, press teams all over the pitch and focus on getting bodies and the ball forward at every opportunity. This time I took over Darlington in the National League North. I note they had the worst facilities possible and not a great squad to start with. I prefer to find teams that have the biggest scope for improvement on this game so I have something to work with over a long period. I always create a tactic first then fit players to the model. If they don't fit they're out, I will always be able to find other players. So this is what I developed:



I think this is pretty self-explanatory based on what I said above. I will sometimes swap the AMR/L depending on which one is more suitable as an inside forward or a winger.



When I first started with this tactic I did play with a high defensive line and the offside trap on, but I was conceding too many goals to counter attacks. While I am prepared to accept that I will concede goals with an attacking tactic, the pros were clearly not outweighing the cons so I changed this quite early in the first season. I think with a better team, and particularly better defenders, I will be able to change this back later.



Once again, my big idea here is to overwhelm opponents. With players getting forward at every opportunity and having the awareness and ability to play different kinds of passes my team should almost always find chances to open defences up.

I won't post pics of all of the set piece positioning but the main changes I make are to always have my ST stay forward on defence, and on attack I always have a couple of defenders hang back. All attacking set pieces are set to short, except for free kicks on the edge of the box which are set to shoot.

For this tactic to work I emphasise that my players must have good stamina, beyond that I just look for typically good players to suit each position.

In my first season, we gradually improved from midtable to promotion contenders as the season progressed. I moved into 1st place for the first time after the penultimate game of the season, with two teams two points behind me. Unfortunately I lost that last game and got pipped for automatic promotion, but we managed to win our two play-off games to get promotion. I was a bit concerned that my squad simply wouldn't be able to handle the step up, and my concerns appeared warranted after losing the opening three games. But we then went on to win the next three games with 8GF and 0GA, and the table now looks like this about a third of the way into the season:


This should also give you a hint not to expect many draws if you run a tactic like this.

These have been some of my favourite players with this tactic:


MC (box-to-box), Free transfer. Been injured most of this season and I'm not sure he's going to adapt to this level, but he was my star performer last season and that '10' you can see is for the two goals he scored to win us promotion.



AMC (advanced playmaker), occasional AMR (inside forward). Free transfer. Not quite performing at the standards he reached last season but he seems to be growing into this season. Was a livewire in the first season, constantly involved in goals with 18 scored and 16 assists.



AML, inside forward. Free transfer. Possibly my favourite one, he's now begging for a transfer but seems to have been appeased by his new contract so hopefully I can at least keep him for the rest of the season, but I think his £300k release clause will eventually be met.



ST, pressing forward. Started at the club. I'm not sure if he's really good or this tactic simply guarantees goals for any striker who plays. My other striker, Luke Charman, is probably better on paper and does also score when he gets a chance, but Maguire seems to score more at crucial moments and is now on 11 in 14 this season.

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Quick update incoming. 

Into season five now and this is how the table looks:



This is how each season went:

Season 2: 6th in National League, lost in play-offs, won FA Trophy, FA Cup 3rd round.

Season 3: 1st in National League, a nailbiting run-in with Sunderland for the title, won the FA Trophy again, FA Cup 4th round.

Season 4: 7th in League Two, won the play-offs (that's 3 Wembley wins in 3 seasons).

I haven't made any changes to the tactic. I've focused on youth and gradually improved facilities as I've progressed. Here are a few of the better players I have now:


Signed on a free after the first season from Spurs. Threw him straight into the team and he's been fantastic all the way through. He's been trying to force a move but I managed to stop it, until now. He got his way after Barnsley met his £3.2m release clause.



Signed from Chelsea on a free a few seasons ago, sent on loan a couple of times but I've brought him into the team this season. I'm using him at left back for now but not sure if it's his best position.



Signed from Colchester for £3k. Another one who's just come into the team this season at centre back.



Signed from Scunthorpe for £9k. Played all of last season and this season at right back. Another one I'm about to lose as his release clause of £900k has been met.



This guy is amazing. I signed him a few years ago but he's only just made his debut this season, completely dislodged Charman and Maguire who were my main men still even after 10 games of this season. He's scored two hat tricks in the 6 games he's featured in and I'm convinced he's going to end up in the Premier League.

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