So you’ve read our article on How To Keep Clean Sheets and you’ve sorted things out at the back, but now you find yourself drawing every game 0-0 and your fans are dreaming of replacing you with Tony Pulis or Neil Warnock, because their football is much more exciting than what you’re producing. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Today I will share my secrets of how to get your forwards firing in FM18.
First of all, my credentials:
Recently my Ajax side went 30 games without failing to score. I’m trying to recreate Total Football with the Amsterdam side, so attacking possession football is very much the aim.
I’ve also done a tactical analysis of my Coventry save, in which we scored 114 goals in my first season in charge and won the league by 24 points. Basically, I’m a big fan of scoring goals. As a Newcastle fan, I guess it’s quite fitting that I’d rather win a game 4-3 than 1-0, but I digress. In this post I will try and give you an overview of how I am successful, what tips and tricks you can use to get the best out of your forwards and play that attacking football that get the crowds on your side. Without further ado:
Don’t Be Afraid To Tweak Your Tactics
One of the main mistakes I see beginners make on FM is finding a tactic online and choosing it, even if their players don’t fit the Tactic, and then looking for another when it doesn’t work. This is not the answer. Below is a before and After of my Tactics at Ajax. I made the changes over the course of the season, from things I was picking up on during games. I noticed my Wing-Backs weren’t getting back enough so switched them to support which helped a lot defensively. I wasn’t happy with the contribution of the CMs so switched them both to Mezzala, and switched my Raumdeuters to Wingers to compensate. Huntelaar is more effective as an AF, and he has improved since the change.
The main point here is, don’t be afraid to make changes. If it’s not going your way and you aren’t scoring, try changing players to more attacking roles or tweaking your player roles slightly. Watch your build up play. Are you shooting from outside the box too often? Add Work Ball Into Box. (A necessity this year) Struggling to break teams down? Add Run At Defence. Try out different Roles and Instructions and see what works for your squad or your desired formation. It might take you a few games to get it right, but stick with it. Don’t throw your whole tactic away if it doesn’t work in the first game. There’s certainly not one trick to scoring goals. Although, having said that…
Play Three Upfront
FM Scout released a tactic a while back that basically broke the game. It was a 5-2-3 Formation and it was a plug and play, instant wins and very easy titles. Normally I wouldn’t use what is essentially a cheat, but with FM19 just around the corner I thought I’d give it a go. I was not disappointed. Below is my Formation from my Coventry save.
Playing three Strikers gives you a much better platform for playing attacking football. Wing-Backs are essential to compliment the front line. Three strikers works so well because the opposition back four will sit very narrow to compensate, giving your WBs all the space they want out wide. Using this formation with some pretty generic instructions and an Attacking Mentality generates some pretty amazing results. My three first choice forwards at Coventry got 82 goals between them in their first season, most of them assisted by one of the other two.
You can be exploited by teams playing Wide Forwards (AML/AMR), as they will find the half-spaces in between your Wing-Backs and Centre-Backs, especially on the counter. However you will win more than you lose and score plenty along the way. If you’re all about goals, then this is the formation for you.
Take Time To Set Up Set Pieces
Set Pieces are definitely neglected in Football Manager, especially on my saves, but using a half decent corner or free kick tactic can get you a lot of goals for minimal effort. You can see my Ajax save corner tactic below.
The general idea is that an in-swinging corner will be flicked on by the man on the front post, and the three guys arriving at the back post will feed off the scraps. Should an opposition player win the ball, we have a man on the edge of the area to try a shot or play it back out to the corner taker. My DM offers a short option to drag a defender out of position. Here it is in action:
Spending 5 or 10 minutes setting up your corners and free kicks can be invaluable come the end of the season, and if you’re struggling to score goals from them, taking a bit of time to test some different ideas isn’t going to hurt. It’s easily worth an extra 10-15 goals a season if you get it right, and that can make a massive difference.
All About Pace
Looking at recruitment, Pace is essential, particularly at a lower level. Having quick strikers can really exploit opposition defences, especially when you’re coming up against old and slow Centre-Backs, who aren’t very good with the ball at their feet. When looking to sign strikers and wingers, always look for good physical stats, like Acceleration, Agility, Balance and Pace. Off The Ball is also important, as this will help your forwards beat opposition defenders to the ball. You may find your forward gets flagged offside a lot but that’s just part of the deal. These guys will reek havoc with opposition defences and get you bags of goals. If you can find a pacey striker, with good Finishing and Composure then you’re on to a winner.
A good example from my Coventry Save is Keziah Sterling. He’s picked up 7 goals and 7 assists from 12 starts in League One so far and has the best Shots On Target Ratio at the club, at 61%. Quick strikers will make scoring goals on the break a breeze and can turn a clearance into a 1-0 lead.
Playing a Fluid or Very Fluid Team Shape can really help you create chances. Playing a fluid style on FM basically means you expect players to play in all areas of the pitch. In a structure style, defenders defend and attackers attack. With a fluid shape, if you are attacking then the whole team is attacking, and this means you have a lot more options in the final third.
Here you can with my Ajax side, my RWB is able to push much higher up the pitch. My midfielders push higher up into the box and we overload the back post.
If you are more defensive and prefer a Structured or Highly Structured Shape, try positions that allow the players to be fluid, such as Trequartista or False 9, or try adding Player Instructions such as Move Into Channels to create some fluidity in the final third whilst retaining your structured shape.
My last piece of advice would be if you have a tactic or a style you want to play, then stick with it. There’s all sorts of extra things to do, such as improving coaching and facilities, training Attacking and adding certain player and team instructions to your tactic. Don’t bin it off after a few games because you haven’t scored as many as you hoped. Stick to these ideals and your Tactic will come good.
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