Auf gehts VfL Bochum – Part 5: Meeting the midfield – The wide men

vflbochum

Not every team needs a player capable of pulling all the strings – indeed, sometimes it’s better to have capable playmakers all over the park. But to win games you need to score goals, so at some point you start to rely on your players’ brains and feet to fashion chances, be it from a moment of magic or an overall plan coming to fruition. The best strategies normally contain a good blend of both with a well thought out structure/platform that allows certain players to provide the ingenuity needed to beat the opposition defence.

With my decision to mitigate my chosen formation’s weakness by locking down the centre, the vision was to create a relatively consistent platform that allows the two wide men to be a bit more loose in their role. I’m not letting them off the leash altogether, but the Wide Playmaker on the right will Roam From Position whereas his counterpart on the left will be given an attack duty to encourage him to take more risks, be this on the ball by trying riskier passes or off the ball by moving into more advanced positions. We’ll start this section of squad analysis by looking at the candidates for the playmaker role: Continue reading

The Stoke Chronicles: Tactical Analysis (Part 1)

I’m heading into unprecedented ground here folks. I can’t remember ever churning out articles so regularly as this, it’s a good thing, a bloody good thing. I’m enjoying it and hopefully you are too – long may this continue.

As promised I wanted to provide a bit of in-match tactical analysis to back up my last article where I broke down my team, tactic and instructions. So prepare yourself for death by screenshot.

Here I’ve looked at 2 matches from the 2021/22 season, one of the seasons with a Premier League & Champions League victory. I wanted to analyse matches before this season – but only realised when writing this article that I couldn’t go back further than 4 seasons! Slightly gutting, but a lesson learned. You’ll go on to see that I’ve analysed goals from these 2 games – as this is the easiest thing to do. In future posts I will focus on defence and weaknesses to try and give a really rounded look on this Stoke team.

Champions League Final: Stoke 3-1 Chelsea

I’ve picked this game because it was lovely to revisit, always savor a win over Chelsea, especially with Mourinho still there. We won the game comfortably in the end, 2 goals from set pieces and the first goal I’ve analysed below.

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I enjoy scoring this type of goal and it’s one that’s pretty commonly scored in this Stoke side. It’s fairly simple and direct and takes full advantage of the demonic pace in our wide players. Rene-Adelaide’s starting position between the lines is exactly what we want for him to either turn and run at the defence or to have time to pick a pass – which he does very well.

Champions League Semi-Final 2nd Leg – Stoke 4-0 Dortmund

Now for a lot more insight. Here I’m analysing all 4 goals and will hopefully give you a good idea of how my tactic and instructions contribute to the build-up and more importantly, the goals we score. Buckle up and get ready for a thrilling ride.

Stoke 1-0 Dortmund (Gabigol 4′)

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Another deadly counter-attacking goal. Against a 4-3-3 we are lethal on the break as more often that not, the AMR/AML are caught high up the pitch and leave acres of space down the flanks as the DR/DL tuck inside. I particularly enjoy how Jevdjovic is within the penalty area when crossing and not nearer the corner flag, meaning we’ve a much higher % chance of finding the man in the middle and ultimately, scoring.

Stoke 2-0 Dortmund (Cresswell 29′)

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This is a great example of how the instruction to ask my full backs to sit narrow can have a positive affect in attack. Notice how we have 5 players in their penalty box and a further 3 supporting. If an attack breaks down we may be a little exposed, so it’s a good job we have a good habit of scoring.

Stoke 3-0 Dortmund (Gabigol 51′)

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A lovely goal and an example of how our players can find space both through the initial set up positionally and from their own ability. The triangle between Romero, Rene-Adelaide & Gabigol works very well again.

Stoke 4-0 Dortmund (Gabigol 79′ – hat-trick)

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A fairly straight forward goal but one that comes about through a number of factors. Cresswell starting wide means Sane tucks in, allowing him to break into the box when he skins his man, making the ball to Gabigol a simple pass instead of a low % cross.

I hope this gives you all a bit of an insight into how the tactic works in practice. There’s a lot more to show – but only so much I can do in one post. All feedback appreciated as ever. My next blog will profile a few key players in our current squad, until then!

Analysing Altrincham: The Wing Backs

Ahhh, much better to jump in with a post after a few days rather than weeks! You join me on my quest to turn an old tactical idea into a functional tactical reality – the catch being I’m managing Altrincham who are relegation fodder in the Vanarama Conference. After putting the finishing touches to the basic 4-1DM-3-2 outline, my initial idea was to provide a broad analysis of the tactic in action with pointers as to what is working and what isn’t. However after reading several articles recently that champion the merits of breaking down the tactic into its constituent parts, I felt it would be a nice idea to write a series of posts about each position and the issues I found. First up: The Wing Backs.
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And Now For Something Completely Different

It happens to all of us at some point. You have a phase where you don’t play the game and it just doesn’t grab you; the thought of starting a new save seems desperately long-winded and your current saves don’t quite have the “X” factor. After the Wolfsburg experiment hit a brick wall, I drifted away from FM, had the obligatory crazy back half of December (flights, booze, flights+booze) and came back to it in January with minimal desire to perfect the disciplined 4-2-3-1. I’d been away too long and couldn’t get back into the rhythm of testing – the lack of Bundesliga at the moment certainly doesn’t help either!

But never fear, I’m going to continue my tactical blogging with something that I just have to do every year – take the helm at my beloved Altrincham FC and (attempt to) mastermind success with their astonishingly limited resources. I usually go for a classic 4-4-2 as their squad is geared towards it, but after tidying my desk I found some scrawly notes from a few years ago (that’s how often I clean up) and decided to resurrect a tactic I used in FM14 in the Belgian lower leagues (hipster alert).

Now as the game changes slightly with every edition/update, it’s important to use my notes as a starting point and not simply copy the tactic over from a previous version and expect it to function well. Also, it’s much more exciting to go on a tactical journey rather than plug-in and let the points rain down (or more likely, slip away). So, what was contained within these scrawly notes?

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VfL Wolfsburg and their balanced, disciplined 4-2-3-1 – Part 2

In the last article, I discussed the basic style and approach of VfL Wolfsburg, generating a base tactic for FM16 in the process. After having blitzed through pre-season and moved a few games into the season proper, it feels a good time to start analysing whether or not the tactic is both stable and a faithful representation of the real life Wolfsburg. We start however with an aside with a relevance that will be established later…
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VfL Wolfsburg and their balanced, disciplined 4-2-3-1

First of all, I reckon there’s a small apology in order as it’s been an awful long time since the last post about Mönchengladbach, but with FM15 giving way abruptly to FM16, there was always going to be a crossover point in this Bundesliga tactics series… So we soldier on anyway beyond Gladbach and their “deep-lying gegenpress” and onto something that will seem much more familiar (and with less hipster sparkle) to fans of the English Premier League in particular – VfL Wolfsburg’s 4-2-3-1.

For a bit of background, Wolfsburg are one of those teams that German’s have reservations about because they’re not very German in their foundation and finances. Like Bayer Leverkusen, they are one of two top flight teams that are entirely owned by a company – in Wolfsburg’s case, Volkswagen. Though simplistic to say their recent success has been bankrolled by a multinational automobile conglomerate, it certainly hasn’t done them any harm having plenty of money behind the scenes. The peak of their success was a Bundesliga championship in 2009, but both Dortmund and the now virtually unstoppable Bayern have kept them at arm’s length in recent seasons.
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Recreating the Deep Lying Gegenpressing of Borussia Mönchengladbach – Part 2

In the first part of this series, I used the FM tactics creator to cobble together the shape and the settings that would hopefully mimic Lucien Favre’s Mönchengladbach side of recent years. Various articles and diagrams informed my decisions beforehand, but the important part is the subsequent analysis where I get to see if it actually plays out how I envisaged. Football Manager is as funny an old game as the game of football itself, replete with unforeseen consequences that would make Gordon Freeman’s eyes water (yes, that’s a Half-Life reference). You can choose the settings with the best intentions, but end up with problems that you did not expect.

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Recreating The Deep Lying Gegenpressing of Borussia Mönchengladbach

First of all, hello and Guten Tag. I’m Felley and I think I have just written the most hipster-titled article of all time.

As for the actual content, I have been entrusted – if that’s the right word – by Ed and George to recreate some real life tactics in the marvellous game that is Football Manager. Based in Germany, I’ve been slowly absorbing the football culture like a sort of travelling nerdy sponge. Spending afternoons soaking in both the kitschy, wheat beer fuelled discussion on Sport1 and training with a local non-league side on a sodden, sandy Aschenplatz, one quickly learns the value the Germans place on football intelligence – both on and off the pitch. It is against this backdrop that I am writing my first batch of articles for The Deep Lying Podcast as I look to recreate the tactics of the Bundesliga. In the first of what will hopefully be a long and fulfilling series, I’ll be taking a look at Borussia Mönchengladbach, recreating their playing style and looking at their recent tactical exploits…

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