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Tactics Strikerless Football


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Hello guys 🙂 i am back on vibe after a long hiatus. I kind of lost interest in football manager. You may ask why ? Well tbh after seeing so many of you guys posting 1k goal challenge and other stuff, i tried to do the same. In hope of emulating others I tried many of the tactics posted on site as well as tried to create my own tactics but none seem to work, some didn't work at all while some did but results started to falter midway. No amount of tinkering worked. Failure after failure, i grew frustrated, in some instances i just wanted to throw my phone outta window. I stopped playing the game. Thus began the long hiatus. Disinterested.

The only association i association i had with football was watching matches (not even Fifa and PesMobile). Even this was ruined up to an extent (Watching this horrendous Barca side loose so many games & their play style). Meanwhile Pep's Man city masterclass was a delight to watch. I began to rediscover my interest as i got to watch Pep's fluid total football. Eventually i  re-downloaded FMM21 last week. Realizing why i decided to uninstall it in first place, i decided not to put too much emphasis on making one guy center point of my team but rather on emulating the real life football (like pep's city) where i can enjoy it. Hence came the idea of strikerless football. I know, many times this has been posted on this forum, still im going to write it down. Whats my setup & why, tactics and set-pieces and other aspects.


P.S. - I'm not good at writing   but i will try to write down my idea.  Hope y'all don't mind.

Edited by Nick11
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Now the time has come to write down about this strikerless or false9 setup 😜.

See one thing that i have realized after trying & failing in what i explained above one after another iteration of this game is its not about scoring lots of goals rather its about enjoying the game. So it's more toward realism. Let's discuss the idea.

I have tailored this tactics after Joseph Guardiola’s philosophy at Barcelona or present Manchester city. I like to show you what it’s based and founded on – its pillars / core principles. My aim here is to merge real football with Football Manager Mobile, letting you get a closer view on the tactical aspect of the possession style of play.

Tiki Taka as described by Pep :   "Everything starts with the ball and finish with the ball. The game is 11 versus 11 with ONE ball. We try to keep the ball, we try to play with the ball, we try to make everything with the ball".  Which can be summarized as “take the ball – pass the ball.

Football is not about players, or at least not just about players; it is about shape and about space, about the intelligent deployment of players, and their movement within that deployment.

The Core Principles :

1. Player Positioning

2. Movement & Passing

3. Team Cohesion

4. Pressing


Player Positioning [2-3-2-3]

What is significant to the different variants of 4-3-3 the clear diamond structures. It’s not only the midfield diamond which is apparent, but also the diamonds created in the defensive area with the sweeper keeper and the diamonds / rhombus shapes on the left and right flank. How compact the diamond is depends on the positioning and movements of the DM and the ST, which the system revolved around. How wide the diamonds are could depend on match scenarios, if the team were in attacking phase or defensive phase or the setup of roles.


If we should take one thing with us from the tiki taka era, it’s the emphasize on player positioning to create as many lines of play as possible – making it both harder for the opposition team to regain and retain possession – as it’s harder to penetrate a block of 7 lines (see the positional template), which is compact and based on team unity, than to get through a two-dimensional formation (attack/defend) where there are only 2 to 3 lines of play.


The positional system, from Guardiola to Johan Cruyff, focused all on :

  • to create as many triangles as possible in order to maximize the amount of passing options for all players.
  • to make the pitch as big as possible when in possession of the ball giving the team the ability to utilize / exploit spaces
  • to make the pitch as small as possible to regain possession quicker by denying space to the opposition team in the defensive phase


Movement & Passing :

As explained in pep's word the entire system is based on take the ball and pass the ball. Its just not about passing the ball for the sake of passing rather its about passing the ball quickly between players, it is about interchanging positions and intelligent movement that can create space and passing lanes for others to exploit.  This is why to make this system work it's of utmost importance to have players with high movement attribute or one should train players to increase his attribute. Higher the attribute, higher will be player mobility. Higher the mobility, the more unpredictable your team will be. Along with high movement and passing another must have attribute is TEAMWORK. It's extremely imp. to have players; esp. midfielders and defenders with high teamwork. 


Now coming to passing , Player preferred moves which increases the probability of retaining possession are; Play a simple passing game, looks for the pass rather than the shot. Along the short simple horizontal passing its also important to play vertical passing so that opposition's defense can be unlocked. Player preferred movements to consider is: tries killer balls often. If the player have this trait, one must not enable Play Through Balls.  By playing too many through ball team will concede possession which ultimately may lead to counter attack.


Team Cohesion :

Team Cohesion has a minimal effect on player morale, but it does impact how well they understand each other on the pitch. When cohesion is heightened, happiness can often improve due to an increased level of performance. one may how do you increase team cohesion or Relationship (as in FMM21) ? well the more you play a set of players the more they understand each other. Cohesion is extremely important as it let players predict each others movement. It directly affects how your team defends and how your team attack. Have A-Team and B-team in your squad and play 'em in alternate matches initially, later on once the relationship builds intermix the squad.

This is how a well oiled squad looks like. Green Line depicts great chemistry b/w the player. The more yellowish the line is the lower their chemistry is. No line means no chemistry.



Team Cohesion + Movement + Passing = UNPREDICTABILITY


P R E S S I N G :

As the title may suggest you have to press your opponent high up the pitch to win Regain possession as quickly as possible and as close to the opponents goal as possible. For pressing the team is setup with high defensive block with their central defenders up to around the half-way line – congesting play to the middle third. The high defensive block is essential to the style in order to make it function successfully in my point of view. Despite it leaving huge areas behind the d-line, which the opposition could counter in. But it was a risk worth taking as it laid the foundation for improved ball circulation and an enhanced opportunity to regain possession quickly.





Edited by Nick11
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The formation that i intend to use is a 4-3-3 variant 2-3-2-3. In this setup we have two ball playing defender to encourage "Play From Back", behind two BPD is a Sweeper Gk to which makes a passing triangle, similar to the one formed between BPDs and DM. 2 wingbacks are there to provide necessary width as i intend to play narrow in order the reduce the chances of space exploitation. The DM is in Roaming playmaker role so that he can contribute in both, dense & attack. On Flank i'm using Inverted Winger and Inside Forward. Aright footed IW who can cut inside and look for pass/through ball unto which IF of another flank can latch or The Trequartista playing in center can. These  IW and IF provicde the attacking width This combination create load overload on one flank, leaving the other one to be exploited. Lets looks at the tactics :











In this setup which is an emulation of pep's real life tactics, we are playing high line defense along with high press all over the pitch in order to win back the possession. The passing tempo is set high for unpredictability and tiring the opponent in making them chase the ball. In final third we are playing with shorter passes which is achievable by narrow instruction although the setup is wide. Passing focus is setup central as we want to exploit defence by making vertivcal passes rather than making sideways passing which yields nothing.




a) Attack




b) Defend


























P.S.-  This tactics initially isn't much effective with mid-table team although it gets the job done. As the players develop the tactics become more effective. With big team it seems to work, although i am yet to test it out fully with big clubs.



1) Here in another save i used the same tactics to great effect. Looks at Harvey Barnes stats playing Trequartista role and how improved it's over Rodrigo's stats. It's also down to better decision making, movement which Rodrigo lacked plus Leicester City was much better team with much better players.




2) Another mid season try with sub-par Valencia team thin on players. Initially results weren't good due to lack of first team player, once i got some players on loan, mostly in under 20s, results improved drastically. solid defensively but lacking finishing touch in opponents half. Missed lots of scoring opportunity due to poor attributes.






Thanks for reading 🙃



Edited by Nick11
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Nice post. I have a few critiques and clarifications about how some of these instructions and roles work. 

Sweeper keepers and BPDs on paper make sense for what you are trying to do, but the largest difference in game from the standard roles is their passing range. Both a normal GK and a SK will leave the box to pick up loose passes and balls over the top - this is based on the player's attributes. A SK will play longer, riskier passes instead of laying the ball off to a defender. BPDs are the same. If possession and short passes are what you want, normal CDs are your role. 

Pressing is all well and good, but if you want to use a Treq, he will be working against your pressing scheme. Unfortunately there is no role that provides good movement and pressing, but the closest we have is a SS. He will stay more central and run with the ball a bit less, but will press much more and still provide good vertical running. 

Finally, while the RP is a good choice in the DM role, and works well, I wouldn't use it if the goal is to replicate the way pep plays. Fernandinho or busquets are not the guys running in between the lines to play the final pass the way this role will. Positionally, the closest you can get is actually playing a 3rd center back in game. DMs in game don't drop back in possession like they do in real life, but a middle CB will move forward out of the defense to intercept, challenge for headers, and play passes into midfield. Bizarrely, I have had far more success getting a normal CD to step out of the defense into midfield than a Libero, but I think that role is just nonfunctional. If you play a back 3 and a wide formation, BPDs can be effective in possession on the outside, and will even run down the touch line and cross sometimes. 

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A very good write up there’s a few things I have to address here:

I see you play with two BPDs there and may look reasonable on paper but it’s something I found people seems to confuse which is the use of CDs. They are not the classic tackle and clear defenders like in the old English days. That’s what NCD are made for. The CD works almost the same as BPD except they do simple passes instead of through and long balls. Since you are trying to copy Pep Guardiola’s, It is very necessary to use at least one CD with reasonable passing skills. In FC Barcelona, he had Puyol and Mascherano. Bayern had Boateng and Badstuber. Man City had Otamendi and currently Ruben Dias.

Another thing is about the midfield trio. They are very interchangeable in my opinion. Xabi Alonso and Javi Martinez were both DM but played different roles. Fernandinho and Rodri had different roles. David Silva, Kevin de Bruyne, Ilkay Gundogan, Bernardo Silva, Phil Foden and Yaya Toure all had different roles.

About the passing instructions, It really depends on which team are you replicating. Back in the days, Pep used short passing with slow tempo. Nowadays he often plays with mixed passing and normal tempo. Either way however, they have mixed passing focus. I don’t often see Pep focusing through just one way.

Finally, I’d say this one isn’t necessary but probably Advanced Playmaker instead of Inverted Winger. I’d look more reasonable considering it’s how Phil Foden, Bernardo Silva, Ronaldinho and sometimes Riyad Mahrez played. You can also use 2 IF instead.

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