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#FM13, Red Pill, Blue Pill

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I am actually quite surprised, counterattacking tactics are very powerful, if designed right they dont need to be punt and forget. Lets assume for argument’s sake you are leading 2-0, there is a 100% chance the AI is gonna come gunning for you. If you stick to your attacking formation, chances are you are gonna have to do loads of things like shouts go tight, but these arent going to be enough. You will be the Kevin Keegan of Newcastle. For each goal you score the AI will get a chance to score another against you. If you opt to stay attacking and keep a high pressing game, you absolutely need to be on your game.

You need to be able to identify and adapt to these threats. And if you are watching the game on key highlights its gonna be very hard.

Highlights are there to tell a story, most people just pay attention to their goal mouth. I pay attention to defensive lines, has the AI moved up…look at their fullbacks. Are more highlights being shown of the AI attempting to that doesnt mean that you are defending well, it just means its trying and you should pay attention to how its coming at you. If you dont cut down those crosses coming from the right you will concede to them eventually. So what do you do?In my hand I have a red pill and a blue pill, but let me explain to you what each pill does so you can decide

Red Pill: you have the players and you have the skill, (imho thats super rare) then you will need to be very lucky as well. All three things are in short supply. Watching the game on key highlights when you are defending a lead is gonna = goodnight. Adapting to these changes needs to be done on more than just key highlights. If you opt to keep your strategy then you need to identify where the threat is coming from and neutralize it. If your wingers are getting skinned, then you need to find out why? Is it cos they are beaten by raw pace? Then tight mark them. Do they have more acceleration? Close them down. But honestly its not gonna be a 100% guarantee, cos they may have more flair, they’ll just nutmeg you. Unless you are the demi-god of tactics, staying to an attacking shape is not for anyone but the most experienced players. Having a great team doesn’t mean you are a great manager. So if you want to stick to the red pill then understand why things happen. And, that requires a great deal of analysis that cant happen on key highlights. If you dont have the patience to figure that then please find out what the Blue Pill does.

Blue Pill. Well highlights are still important to watch especially if you want to learn how your tactic is faring. However the Blue Pill is all about having a second plan. Go make a counterattacking tactic with good options for outlets. A counterattacking tactic allows your defensive line to hold its shape. So while you may have that rampaging fullback coming down your flanks, you also know you are going to have a few players standing behind the defensive line, holding their position. Better to have less closing down than more. More bodies means more blocks. Keep your formation tight and narrow. Tight meaning, tight marking. Its no good just choosing the the option counterattacking strategy from your wonderful 4231 formation. Some formations are just not built for counterattacking play cos they don have good receiving outlets. Look at your team, do you have a wealth of pace? do you have height? then you can put those pacey men out as AMs, make bloody sure they dont have RFD from deep Often, cos you run the risk of triggering offside traps. So you want it to be on normal so they run TO THE LINE. Then you also want to have good passers of the ball. Whoever says you cant have a counterattacking tactic with short passing, doesnt understand the term…..(m.e has no choice, therefore calculates the least risky pass = long ball).

Put the forward line on short passing, in fact give everyone short passing, 1 seems like a simple number. I do that with Stafford and they dont screw up. Then look around your team for players who have decent ttb and passing…flair would be good too since that almost guarantees reception of the pass. Dont go liberally applying TTB like a mosquito balm in a tropical rainforest. Be a scrooge. Give it to 2 players who can launch it. Now those balls are gonna go up way up, maybe they dont get to the player whos supposed to receive them, but then again, maybe it might. That short passing you gave the front line..its gonna make them pass the ball around short and look for openings. Its not always gonna be effective, but hell if i was protecting a 3 goal lead thats what i would do. Incidentally I have played a counterattacking game against another counterattacking side, twas fun. In the end, my short passing in front won the day by 3-0.

Ah some of you more knowledgeable people are gonna ask me now..hey what about shouts? Well if you recall, I have another thread on the forums about shouts. You dont need to use all the shouts, just the shouts you need for your tactic. So if you do customized pass routines a few shouts will become irrelevant….go read the thread for more information. Incidentally for those still wondering..that CA tactic on mine is using default width, tempo, defensive line.

Moral of the story: Make sure you take the right pill, or you’ll just keep playing sick football.


1. Whats the best way to setup a system?

  • Understand you need a offensive, control and defensive setup
  • Understand where your players are vs the rest of the league (you can access this option in-game from Squad>Comparison
  • Have a clear understanding of how you want to play and what your opposition is like

2. Tis my first week as manager whats the most important thing to do?

  • Get your system up, make sure you use the tactical creator, then run a few friendlies to assess your team
  • After you have decided a system, go through your squad with a fine tooth comb be ruthless and decisive
  • Set up training for fitness 2 weeks on moderate, then teamwork for 2 weeks and 2 weeks for match cohesion. Opt for more friendlies instead of intensive training.
  • Try all systems on all players and assess each player to see how they perform. If the role requires a person with flair make sure you try a few out.
  • Identify who is in first 11 and who isnt and plan b, recruit or sign someone up to fill up empty slots
  • Make sure you can secure as many coaches as possible
  • If a player is cant play the role, but his attributes indicate he can, then change his position and play him in the new position till his training kicks in

3. What are the tactical dos and donts?

  • Do not use the custom creator if you have no idea how to spot a defensive line
  • Do not use the custom creator if you dont know how what 8 on creative freedom does vs 15
  • Do not use the custom creator if you don’t want to watch the game on full highlights or comprehensive highlights
  • If you are new to the game or new to the TC, do keep it basic and use the right shouts for the right time
  • Before you make any tactic/system, understand what how you want the tactic to play out, visualize it on a piece of paper if you need to
  • Do not leave your defense without a defending screen in midfield
  • Do not play square, always make sure your system has a logical balance.
  • Do have a staggered midfield, use the roles in the TC to set it up. If you have two players there they should support one another, do not have two APM there for example cos they will get pulled apart with a simple ball and leave your defenders exposed
  • Do use the shouts during the game
  • Do understand what the shouts do and how they can wreak havoc on your tactic
  • If you dont understand the previous point look for my blogpost on shouts
  • Do remember the most important facet of your tactic is the defense, once you sort that out creating goals isnt a problem
  • Do not cry when you lose

4. How can i tell whats going wrong in the game?

  • Understand how the highlights, if it shows more of you defending you are toast. Its warning you to look for whats wrong on the pitch
  • Do not listen to your assman all the time, be selective. Sometimes he will say things that conflict.
  • When highlights are playing look for, whether your players are making space for each other.
  • If your players are always going offside – Reduce their forward runs to normal
  • If your players are not running around like headless chickens – then reduce your defensive line and your strategy
  • If your players are not making inside runs – then check to see if you are playing them on the right flank. Right foot goes to left flank and vice versa
  • If they are still being stubborn observe where they receive the ball vs the opponents defensive line. If its square then you are too far up. You can opt to be patient or drop back to make the opponent come to you, freeing up more space
  • If all my balls are aimless hoofs, then reduce ttb and passing on the players make sure if you want the player to make that glorious through ball he has passing AND flair. Not all great passers can play the great through ball
  • If your defenders are always not intercepting through balls – then look for whether your midfield is getting bypassed to early. If yes, make sure you have a staggered midfield, if it still happens, your closing down is too high, reduce strategy.
  • If your striker isnt getting in on goals because he is tightly marked, change his role to DLP let him drag the man marker out and create chances for other players.
  • If your striker isnt scoring goals, assess your system through highlights to determine quality of chances. If the chances arent good then you need to modify your system. The longer a striker goes without a goal the harder it is for him to bounce back.
  • You need to make sure that your defenders and midfielders are not having to track back too far to get a ball, if they are the opponent is trying to get behind your defensive line. Assess if your defenders are good enough, if they are talented, you can use Offside traps, if they aren’t safer option is always reducing your closing down why a strategy change. Or using a shout. Use the shout first.
  • If you are being overwhelmed on the flanks, turn your defenders to support/defend and use hassle opponents or tight marking on custom. Work on reducing the threat by looking for their passing outlet, shut it out via OI or use specific man marking.
  • If you are being overwhelmed through the middle, you can opt to: lock down the midfield by going narrow setting up manmakring on their influence and going to the flanks. Or you can attack from the midfield disrupting their flow. Either way works, decide on this based on where your strengths are
  • Always be calm during half time teamtalks, identify who is underperforming : <6 is underperform; >6<7= Performing to expectations; 7>is exceeding expectations. Warn underperformers after the game, assess training as well, check their personalities to tailor the right team talk to them as well.
  • Use same yardstick during a game to assess who needs to be subbed
  • Have a sub strategy which is system driven, allowing you to change the attacking or defensive focus of the game.

I should be adding on to this in the near future, for now back to my fm save with Stafford

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About BusttheNet - Rashidi (177 Articles)
Rashidi is an mod from the SI forums who began this site as a way to collate all the information and guides he's written for Football Manager over the years.

4 Comments on #FM13, Red Pill, Blue Pill

  1. Good work

  2. Really great work!

  3. WOW thanks…Awesome article…

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