An Introduction to Football Tactics
Football Manager 2010 sees a seismic shift in the way tactics are approached from the human perspective, seeking to replace ‘slider think’ with football speak. The focus is no longer on finding the correct settings to master the simulation, but on understanding how to create a coherent tactic using proper football terminology. The best way to understand the new tactical system is to look at what the real tacticians do. The aim of this article is not to tell you how to play, or which system is best, but to provide a solid platform on which to build your own ideas. If you’ve read ...view middle of the document...
Football was quite simply a charge towards goal, based on bravery and iron will. For all the technical innovations of the last century or so, the only change in requirement to describe the modern English game is to replace the word ‘was’ with ‘is’.
Tactical Visions 3
Formation – A Means to an End
Formation Neutrality Ideally your first question should be “how do I want to play” rather than “what formation should I play”. Though formation is the first step in the Tactics Creator, this is merely functional as player roles and duties cannot be assigned without defining the formation first. Throughout the history of football the great tacticians have used formation to answer a specific problem or requirement, usually finding space to attack or denying space for opponents to attack. The formation should come about as a conclusion to your chosen style of play and overall aims and in itself is neutral. That is, no formation is overtly defensive or attacking, but rather it is the instructions that are issued to the players that make it so. Rappan’s ‘Verrou’ (a.k.a. Swiss Bolt) employed the same 1-3-3-3 formation as the imperious Dutch brand of ‘Total Football’ that dominated the 70s, yet it was employed as a rigid spoiling tactic and was vastly different to the fluid football of Cruyff and Neeskens.
Likewise, playing more forwards does not automatically mean you will be able to attack more. Indeed, it may be difficult to get the ball far enough forward to take advantage of the extra men. Withdrawing forwards may actually increase possession and therefore create more attacking situations. Formation is, as the heading suggests, merely a means to an end.
Pragmatism and First Steps Before you get too carried away, it is worth noting two things - firstly that you will be inheriting a squad designed to play your predecessor’s preferred formation and secondly that most tactical innovations came as a result of subtle alterations to the previously employed formation. Alterations to style and formation may require some aggressive action in the transfer market, so in the meantime it is worth considering the formations suggested in the Backroom Advice section, if only as a pragmatic short term solution. New managers playing players in their preferred position is often credited with a turn round in form. Notation versus Shape As football fans we have become accustomed to referring to formation by numerical notation. Many of the top managers see this as a rigid media device that does not reflect the true complexity of their tactical master plan. Alex Ferguson claims that he has never played a standard 4-4-2 at Manchester United, but rather he has always employed split forwards. In fact, it could be argued (and has been) that the formation employed in the midnineties was actually 4-2-3-1 and not a 4-4-2 at all. Eric Cantona played in ‘the hole’ behind strike partner Mark Hughes, Ryan Giggs and Andrei Kanchelskis played as...