FM15 – time to revisit the tactical vision that failed?

It’s been a long time since I wrote anything for this blog so apologies to anyone who has been disappointed by the lack of activity. My absence was caused by a number of factors – a new arrival in the shape of our second child and the need to campaign for a No vote in the recent Scottish referendum on independence, but primarily because I really didn’t like FM14 at all. It was a bad game.

Towards the end of my attempts to make FM14 enjoyable, I tried to implement a truly pompous sounding “Tactical Vision” with my Alavés side. My attempts to do so failed spectacularly, hampered, I believe, by the restrictions inherent in the FM14 engine. However, shining through the usual detritus, filler and sales-pitch bullcrap of the FM15 “new feature” announcements was news of four new “roles” – one of which might actually make my vision workable.

So, ahead of FM15, and because I’m bored waiting to give the new child a late night feed, I thought I’d sketch out what exactly I hope to be able to do in the new match engine. This, for me, is likely to be the yardstick by which I gauge whether FM15 is an improvement on its scandalously poor predecessor. And by god I hope it is.

My previous idea was that I would try to achieve these basic shapes in defence and attack:

ShapesHowever, this time around, I’m going to try and refine it a little. This video shows the starting shape that I want in defence, more or less a 4-5-1 or 4-1-4-1, and then how I want that shape to change when we have the ball and are attacking.

Most of what I am trying to do there is fairly straighforward. It’s a fairly common 4-5-1 starting shape in which a central midfield runner gets up to support a centre forward flanked by two wingers, with the defensive midfielder dropping back alongside the centre backs when we have possession. The latter part of this, the halfback role, was really poorly implemented in early FM14 but I hear that it has improved and I hope that it will be better again in 15.

The really tricky part, and what made it impossible to implement in 14, is the role of the fullbacks. As you can see in the video, I want them defending in the orthodox fullback positions but then breaking into central midfield when we have the ball. If you pause the video after 9 seconds, this is the sort of shape  I want when attacking – the central defenders and halfback staying back, a central midfielder controlling play from the base of a loose diamond formed with the fullbacks and attacking central midfielder and the wingers maintaining the width.

I never managed to get the fullbacks to come inside properly in FM14 and my contingency effort of using them as DM’s set to manmark wide players failed due to the poorly implemented manmarking system. However, low-and-behold, there seems to be a very useful new role added to FM15 which may prove useful – the inverse wingback described thus:

The Inverted Wingback will function defensively much like a standard full back or wing back. However, while a normal wingback will offer width in attack, the Inverted Wingback will cut inside and make runs through the centre of the pitch, creating space for players around him.

Acting primarily as a central midfielder when attacking, this role is generally although not exclusively used to facilitate wide play from more advanced wingers.

Well blow me if that doesn’t sound like someone was reading my blog last year and decided to create a role based on what I was trying to do. Nice one. Now to see if it actually works.

To do so, this is the general shape I think I’ll try first:


Most of the roles I’ve chosen are fairly self-explanatory given my explanation above. I’ll be looking to create a terribly fashionable high pressing, high possession game and so I’ve gone with a sweeper-‘keeper to encourage him to intercept any long balls over the top of our high defensive line.

The sitting central midfielder is intended to be the deep creator so I’ve gone with deep-lying playmaker, although I may end up experimenting with some other roles – particularly if the ‘roaming playmaker’ is available at MC. I want the striker to do a bit of everything, dropping back a little to create space for the attacking midfielder to run into (as well as the inverse wingbacks perhaps?) as well as providing a goal threat himself – therefore a Complete Forward, probably on Support, makes sense.

I’m slightly concerned that I won’t have enough goal threat. The centre forward and the running midfielder are the obvious main sources of goals, while I’d expect the wingers to chip in with a few too. With so much possession (hopefully), then I’d expect to see a number of corners and free-kicks around the box so I’ll be placing even more emphasis than usual on ensuring that we have a set piece expert to take advantage.

I was going to go into a bit more detail about personal and team instructions that I expect to require but I reckon I should wait and see the game first – it’s possible that there are new instructions and, of course, there’s a new match engine whose effects are completely unpredictable without game time.

In terms of which club I’ll be trying to implement this with… well that’s still to be decided. I’ve got a few options, in current order of preference:

  • Rapid Wien and Austria club and country save… again. This time in a 16 team expanded Bundesliga without amalgamation with any other country
  • Ingolstadt – I’m a big fan of the German leagues and I like taking over smaller sides. There are a couple of Austrian players there too
  • Alternative club and country games with one of the former-Yugoslav countries – I quite like the idea of Bosnia but am worried they are currently too strong. Cyprus also appeals a little, as does Poland.
  • Maybe back to an old favourite like Toulouse…

As an aside, I’ve been trying to think of clubs who play in “foreign” leagues. So far, we have the following: Vaduz, San Marino, Berwick Rangers, Derry City, Swansea City, Cardiff City, Wrexham. Anyone know any others?

Other than that, let me know what your initial thoughts are for FM15. Have any of the new features, particularly the new roles, given you any ideas for the new game? Who do you plan to play as? Anyone planning on setting up new blogs to record your efforts?

38 thoughts on “FM15 – time to revisit the tactical vision that failed?”

  1. More suggestions for non-resident clubs in domestic leagues: Monaco in France, Wellington in the Australian A-League, Canadian clubs in MLS, and Malaysia’s U20s (Harimau Muda) in Singapore S-League

      1. So you did! My mistake.

        S-League is an interesting one for non-domestic sides. Used to have a lot more — satellite teams from Japan and China were recently in it.
        If you look at the below Wikipedia link for the all-time S-league records they have handily put the national flags next to the club names so you can pick out the non-Singapore ones (if you are as interested in this sort of thing as I am!)

  2. How about Ceuta and Melilla who play in Spain – normally division 2B. Both towns are tiny enclaves on the north coast of Africa (Morocco I think).

    The tactical vision is interesting. Sounds like how Alaba and Lahm played for Bayern last season when the side was in possession.

    1. Thanks, didn’t know about those two.

      Yeah I think Pep must have been reading the blog last year, clearly took inspiration from my meanderings at the time 😉 I didn’t watch much of Bayern last season – did both of them come inside? I would have thought, with Robben cutting inside from his wide position, the right back would be asked to overlap and provide the width?

  3. Congratulations on the baby, and good to see you back blogging. I think I might only experience FM15 vicariously through your blog (and a couple of others) for a little while; I struggled too much with the tactics in FM14 to invest another £35 straight away.

    What made you switch your plan from a 3-4-3 to a 4-5-1?

    1. Thanks!

      I don’t think the shape I want is very far from either 3-4-3 or 4-5-1, I’m just looking at finding the best shape that gives the formations I want both when defending and when attacking. If that shape happened to be 1-4-1-3-1 on the FM board then I’d go with it. Of course, as it’s a computer game then I have to work within the presets that exist and I guess it was this which predicated the 4-1-4-1 defensive shape. I think the use of a halfback in a 4-5-1 shape rather than a flat 3 in a 3-4-3 gives more solidity in central midfield. I was slightly concerned previously about being outnumbered in the middle should I just use two central midfielders, I’m hoping this will help balance that out.

  4. Good to see you blogging again Shrew and look forward to you hopefully being able to implement your tactical ideas. In terms of clubs, as mentioned on twitter last night, i’d be inclined to try Cyprus in a Greek/Cypriot Super League. The club to manage for me would be Omonoia as they have, data update dependent,a lot of young cypriots playing for them this season (6 Under 21 internationals) and a solid financial base. A bit more of a challenge would be Aris Limassol who have just been relegated in real life.

    Other than Cyprus i’m tempted as usual by Slovan Bratislava/Slovakia, IFK Goteborg/Sweden, Ludogorets/Bulgaria or Dinamo Bucharest/Romania but will no doubt end up back managing Panathinaikos and Greece as per usual. 🙂

    In terms of hopes for FM15 as well as better youth development(which i don’t think will happen) I want to see the modern approach to pressing be able to implemented properly in tactics. Rather than the very unpredictable pressing you get currently through hassle opponents.

    Also i’d rather the match engine just not create an opportunity than create lots of opportunities that to the human eye look easy finishes only to see them saved by a super keeper or somehow go wide to avoid cricket scores.

    In terms of clubs playing in a different countries league, Singapore Lions play in the Malaysian Super League and Brunei DPMM FC now play in the Singapore Super League having played in the Malaysian previously. Struggling to find anymore obscurer than that. 🙂

    1. My only warning on a Greek / Cypriot superleague is that the standard of newgens for each country will be based on the youth rating for whichever country you base the new league in. So otherwise the Cypriot newgens are artificially improved or the Greek newgens get worse. At least this is how it worked in FM14, not sure if it’ll change for FM15.

      Totally agree on the pressing issue. Defending is pretty haphazard in FM, you really can’t influence it that much. People talk about cutting off passing lanes or defending against the flanks but, truly, there’s no way you can influence that. You just set up the positions, pick a closing down setting and then let the game do the rest.

      More good knowledge on teams playing in ‘foreign’ leagues, good work!

      1. I guess though the youth rating of Greece isn’t particularly high so wouldn’t make as much of a noticeable difference as say Austria/Germany did. However it didn’t do that on FM13 so can’t understand why it started doing that on FM14.

        I think that strikes me about defending on FM currently is the lack of options. In terms of shouts you have 6 specific defensive shouts and yes then you have the defensive line but then that gets confusing dependent on what strategy you use. How high is a line on Counter/High Line versus Attacking/Drop deeper etc.? Seen a lot of debate on the SI games forums this year as to what instructions do what but i don’t think it should be that ambiguous in the first place. Bring back With and without the ball from CM01/02 🙂

        If they are going down this tracksuit/tactical manager then they need to get some actual real life managers and coaches (the forward thinking ones) providing their inputs on the tactical side of the game. CCC can do it so i can’t understand why SI can’t get a few involved on a consultant basis? Whatever happened to the days where Ray Houghton was their pin up boy?

  5. Just a curiosity, I’ll admit I’m not a regular follower of the blog, and although I’ve gone a few pages back and skimmed a few articles, I couldn’t find your views on the FM14 match engine. I don’t like it neither, am just wondering if the issues you have with it are similar to mine, or if I’m imagining things? I’d post it on the SI forums instead, but people there seem to be a little on the brainwashed side either pro-SI, or in troll mode anti-SI which leads to a terrible debate.

    – through balls to forwards are not effective enough even with pacey players upfront and vs high-up defences, in particular long passes are too inaccurate. The exception is short through-balls to the wingers which seem to happen often, even vs deep packed defences!

    – lower skilled players and teams are able to play their way out of pressure way too easily. This leads to weird situations in which it’s too easy to find yourself being under a siege in defence out of possession, even playing with a big team vs a small team. In general it feels there’s too little difference between high skilled players and low skilled players (and it was like this in FM13 too). This leads to results that often seem a little on the side of random, and often it seems like you have too little control of what’s going on.

    – I’ve had a very hard time trying to get any sort of consistent results with any strategy higher than Defensive/Counter, which seems to be the sweet spot for this match engine. This tends to lead to football which is very unsatisfying to watch. I miss my much more positive Control/Fluid game which I used to have as my default mode in FM12.

    – Feels too much like a rock/paper/scissors game where you need to adapt to the opponent’s tactic and make wildly different tweaks, depending on every game how it plays out.

    – I’ve had a very hard time trying to get a defensively sound side without a DM, they seem obligatory. I’ve ended up playing with 2 of them!

    Yeah that’s enough bitching for now.

    1. I think I’ve maybe done most of my ranting on twitter and haven’t really put it down in writing on here. I think I’ve posted a few of the more obvious gripes in videos – there are a couple of beauties like this:

      Now these things will happen in computer games but it’s the regularity of them happening in FM14 that annoyed me.

      Plus, I wrote a fairly scathing piece on the removal of sliders for, I think in edition 3.

      I’d also agree with your points, in order:

      – absolutely agree but I think the through balls you think are successful are down to the fullbacks being absolutely hopeless at defending the channels with the diagonal ball between them and the nearest centre back being absolutely lethal. They fail to position themselves properly and react far too late.

      – again agree. FM can’t show the difference in quality between teams so when you come up against a team that is much better than you, the ME tries to show the gulf in class by making the poorer team absolutely abysmal – unable to connect 10 yard passes, running straight out of play, etc. Next week against an equal side and they are back to passing like Xavi.

      – each game has their idiosyncrasies which lead to a certain setup or approach being more ‘powerful’ than the others. I think it’s just an inevitable side effect of a computer games unfortunately.

      – agreed on both

      Lastly, I have issues with the basic mechanics of things like deflections where a ball that is diverted from its initial trajectory is ignored by players in its vicinity, allowing a player 30 yards away to come in and pick the ball up.

      I have issues with basic laws of the game not being implemented, like a goal kick being received inside the box and play continuing.

      I have issues with basic ‘keeper positioning like standing towards the near post at corners and failing to properly close the angles.

      I wouldn’t have been so concerned about some of these things had there been an improvement from FM13 but the engine went backwards and I think it’s because of the path the developers wish to take with the game. Very frustrating.

      1. The last paragraph made me curious: “(…) but the engine went backwards and I think it’s because of the path the developers wish to take with the game.”

        What path do you believe that is?

    2. Hi Luiz – it seems to me that the game is clearly going for a mass-market appeal that can be ported onto a tablet, touchscreen format very easily. The new UI, whilst I like it, is very clearly similar in many ways to Windows 8 which I don’t think is a coincidence.

      I also think the tactics engine is becoming more and more restrictive. The argument on this has been regurgitated many times but I think attributes will be removed sooner or later and you’ll only get a star rating for a role plus some information in the report format.

      It might be that I’m just old school but I don’t like these changes!

      1. That does not sound good. Personally, I’m not really attached to any specific mechanics or resources. I am, however, very attached to the game’s overall, feel. If they dumb it down, or turn it into a different experience, that may be the end for me.

  6. Great to see you back posting again Shrew. No doubt you have also read the FM Coffeehouse blog on inverted wingbacks from FM12 iirc. I haven’t tried to replicate it in FM14. Why couldn’t you get it to work? My personal preference would be to have 1 of your Wingers as an IF but I guess that would mean you could only have 1 inverted WB. Newport County I suppose would be another “foreign” club. I haven’t decided yet what to do in FM15 but I’m leaning towards a Central European save starting at the bottom in maybe Hungary or Poland. I definitely want to avoid having to employ a DM and might try and get a Sweeper system up & running.

    1. Hi, I’m sorry I missed your post originally. Apologies for that.

      Yeah I hosted Eds’ inverted wingback post here before he set up Coffeehouse. Although I think the IWB’s that we’re trying to implement in FM15 are different – at that point is was a player who was to stay wide until high up the pitch and run inside with the ball or get into the box. This is more about using the FB as an extra central midfielder when you have the ball.

      Poland appealed to me as a C&C, Hungary would also be great. Let me know what you end up choosing!

  7. I like your new layout, surely easier on the eyes than your last one, maybe it’s still a bit “flat” but I’m sure that with the right banner you could custom it adding more personality to the site.
    Of course I’m waiting to read more regarding your new FM 2015 career.

  8. Evening!
    First of all, I just want to thank you for all the work you have put into all these posts! I found your site 2 days ago, and I just got done reading all of your posts. One word “Fantastic!” I love reading about tactics and trying out new systems etc. I must say I learned a lot from your. And I will be looking for more posts in the future. So looking forward to the FM15 release.

    Again, thank you,

    1. Hi Alex, thanks for the comment. I really appreciate it.

      It’s always nice to know that people take the time to read my ramblings and enjoy my writing. I really just do it as a creative outlet and a cathartic exercise but it’s really pleasing to receive such positive comments.

      Hopefully I can maintain your interest through FM15!

  9. Great to see you blogging again. I like your tactical vision (have been thinking of something similar for FM15), but I foresee one potentially big issue.

    In FM14 (final version) the HB really does work well for me, but he does not behave exactly like you seem to want him to. He acts rather like Thiago Motta does for PSG, in that he drops between the centre backs in the attacking transition, but returns to the holding position once the ball is further up field (causing the centre backs to return to more central positions). This in combination with the fullbacks moving inside will most likely leave your flanks very open for counters.

    Any ideas on how to avoid this?

    1. Hi Fabian, thanks for the comment.

      I hadn’t really tried out the HB on 14 much before I gave up on the game completely but I’ve been coming across the problem you’ve described above on beta. Unfortunately, I think you might be right and what I want from the role is not what is coded into the game.

      Essentially I think I’m going to have to change approach – either just accept the way the halfback operates; use an anchorman instead; or switch to 3 CB’s. The last is my least preferred option so I’ll probably experiment with the first two during the first season and see how we get on.

      At least it will be fun experimenting!

      1. Right, too bad, but you’ll get there! 😀

        What’s the first impressions on the fullbacks, do they work how you want them to?

    1. You *should* be able to trust the role descriptions, though, seeing as they are all the information that we have at hand to try and understand how SI have interpreted phrases which may not be immediately obvious to everyone or are ambiguous at best.

      Unfortunately, you are right and we cannot. The IWB’s just don’t work. At all. SI are aware of this but chose not to fix this in time for release. Make of that what you will but you can probably understand my frustration!! 🙂

  10. Hi Schrewnaldo,

    Kinda late to the party but just felt I would leave a comment for you.

    I’ve tried for the past week to get a shape going similar to yours, inspired by Bielsa. I do use slightly different roles, but the basics of the concept of play are the same. I’ve tried EVERYTHING and came to the same conclusion as you. The inverted WBs does not do what the describtion says. I often find my IWB(s) occupy the same space as my W(s) does… and he is positioned in AM strata.

    This is so very frustrating to say the least! For the past couple of FMs I’ve tried to get a libero (attack) going, but that role also do not do anything like the describtion says.

    Also just found your thread on the SI forum:

    It’s been quite awhile since the beta went live and they still haven’t done anything in regards to this. I really want to enjoy FM15 but I’m so close to just giving up. Anyway I just wanted to let you know you are not alone and I share your frustrations. If they take away the sliders PLEASE make sure the created player roles does what the description says.

    1. Thanks Egy, sorry for taking so long to get back to you!

      Unfortunately, no. On this occasion SI intervened yet again. You see the Inverted Wingback doesn’t actually exist in FM. Despite being advertised as one of FM15’s “new features”, it doesn’t do anything like what it is supposed to. In fact, from what I can see, it’s a duplication of the FB(S) and nothing else. I think they’re just hoping no-one notices that it’s utterly, utterly broken.

      Without that role, I couldn’t do any of what I proposed. Shame really.

    1. I like the idea, I just don’t think I’ll ever be able to do a C&C game with anyone other than Austria!!

      I think my next game will either be a journeyman or an MLS save, perhaps a combination of the two.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s