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I send my players out in a very simple 4-5-1 formation. Using my wingers as more attacking players rather than wide midfielders offers great support for the lone striker. Plus this helps get more bodies forward on the counter. I tend to keep a flat three in central midfield rather than pulling one into defensive midfield or attacking midfield. I find this helps my FM 2011 tactic flow better, my side can also dominate the centre more like this.
Lets start with the team instructions. I always use the ‘balanced’ philosophy while managing a Premier League side. My strategy tends to change slightly depending on the opponents and whether we are home or away. A ‘standard’ starting strategy is applied if I think we can win the game. However, I use a ‘counter’ strategy if there are any doubts. I like to see my players make an effort and pressure the ball, so setting the closing down to ’press opponents’ is very important. I find zonal marking a disaster, therefore only ever use ‘man marking’. Playing more ‘direct’ is also quite important, however this may depend on your team selection. I would suggest considering if your side are more like Arsenal (if so play short) or like Stoke (in which you need to be more direct.) Basically if they can pass the ball around well you may need to change this. A lot of Premier League pitches are huge and therefore benefit a more direct passing game to get in behind the defence. The defensive line, width and tempo below are my default settings. I only change these if coming up against a fast side or if my assistant recommends something the contrary.
This part is probably the most flexible section of my FM 2011 best tactics guide. It really is down to trial and error, however I will share with you what has worked best for me so far. Both the right and left defender should be set to ‘full back’. I find having one as ‘automatic’ or ‘defend’ and the other as ‘support’ provides a good mixture and doesn’t leave the defence too short staffed when going forward. The most important roles are in central midfield, two players should be set to a role of ‘central midfield’. The third midfielder can be the same or set a role of ‘advanced playmaker’. However I would recommend setting three different duties to this central midfield trio. One should have a duty of ‘defend’, a more versatile player should be set to ‘support’, while your most attacking player should have a duty of ‘attack’. With these duties your central midfielders should blend quite well and everything that needs doing in the centre is covered. I always set one winger a role of ‘winger’ and the other a role as ‘inside forward’. This way the lone striker gets more support. While we’re on the lone striker I only ever use two roles, these are ‘target man’ or ‘poacher’. The reason being because other roles don’t get the most out of my strikers in this formation. Obviously you should only set the role accoring to your players strengths.
Now it’s time to talk about a Football Manager feature that is usually ignored by many managers, but that can turn a draw into a win or even a loss into a win! I’m talking about the Touchline Instructions in Football Manager: what is their effect on the play and when should you use them?
Before proceeding, have in mind that most of the instructions you select from the game menu will not have any effect on the players that have individual instructions set (they will not override your instructions!) so for those players you might have to change the instructions individually. Now let’s see the Touchline Instructions guide below!