Touchline instructions are a new, dynamic way to influence your players without the need to fiddle around with sliders in the tactics screen. You can keep watching the match and in a couple of clicks you can move from a defensive strategy to an attacking one, bring on a substitute, specifically target an opposition player or simply tell the lads to push up a bit.
As we did last week, here’s a brief run through the options and how you can use them in the match.
These are the little modifiers that can make a big difference. Each shout changes something about the way the team plays, but can be very effective in countering the opposition’s strengths and exposing his weaknesses. Some shouts cancel each other out, but many can be used at once. To use a shout, drag down the “click to issue instruction” menu. To delete it (once chosen) click the little “x” next to the relevant shout, or change it to a different one by using the menu once more.
Retain Possession: Shortens the passing and the tempo to encourage the team to hold onto the ball. This can be useful when trying to hold onto a lead when you are a bit stronger than the opposition. It can, however, cause players to dawdle from time to time, and the passing will not be very incisive. But as the old saying goes, “if you have the ball, your opponents can’t score”. Unless you make a horrible back pass, of course…
Get Ball Forward: Lengthens the passing to get the ball up to the forwards as quickly as possible. Useful if chasing the game and needing chances, but also good if it looks like the passing game you are playing is not getting anywhere. This is more likely to lose you the ball, since long balls are easier to cut out, and could be redundant if you don’t have someone tall and/or strong up front to receive these forward passes.
Take a Breather: Slows down the tempo, tones down the closing down and gets the side to calm down a bit. Useful if you ordinarily employ very aggressive, quick strategies which can tire out your players if used for the full 90 or even 120 minutes. Makes it far less likely that you will score, and may cause players to dwell on the ball, giving the opponent chances, but if you’re a strong side in a comfortable position it can work well to keep the energy reserves high enough for the next assault.
Play Wider: Widens the width setting to get the ball out to the flanks and look to exploit the space on the wings. Useful if you just cannot break down a narrow side.
Play Narrower: Tightens the side to get more bodies in the centre of the park. Very useful against flooded midfields and sides who like to play the ball through the middle on the ground.
Push Higher Up: Raises the defensive line to put more pressure on higher up the pitch. This obviously raises the risk that the opposition might get in behind you. However, against sides who sit back it can put a lot of pressure on, especially against teams who like to play a short passing game with few forwards or attacking midfielders, especially when used in conjunction with “play narrower”.
Drop Deeper: Lowers the defensive line. Good to stop the opposition coming in behind you, but gives the opposition more space in which to play in front of you and find openings. Can be useful, however, to attacking teams, particularly in conjunction with the “retain possession” shout: dropping deep gives more space for your defence and midfield to look for passes, draw out the opposition and hit them through the resultant gaps.
Hassle Opponents: Greatly increases closing down. Very useful when trying to break up the opposition’s slow and methodical passing game, or just for putting pressure on the opposition. Shouts such as “play narrower” and “push up” will make it feel very claustrophobic for your opponents. But high closing down is tiring and can leave big gaps in the defensive shape which good players can exploit ruthlessly.
Get Stuck In: Put the tackles in hard. Hard tackling can cause fear in the opposition and injure them. However, it can also result in fouls, cards and injuries for your players. It encourages early tackles too, which is useful when needing to regain possession, but can mean missed tackles, allowing the opposition gaps in which they can exploit your defence.
Block Passes: Moves players to easy tackling. Block passes encourages players to hold their positions and wait for a misplaced pass from the opposition to regain possession. This is less tiring than tackling hard or closing down heavily, but takes longer to receive the ball, and can result in your opponents just passing it around you anyway. However, when the tackle is definitely “on” they will stick a boot in, which increases tackle percentages, lowers the risks of fouls, cards and injuries, and generally keeps players in their defensive shape.
A really useful tool, especially when playing a formation which doesn’t exactly “mirror” your own. This helps set opposition instructions (OIs) against the other team’s players. You can set how tightly marked they should be, how much they should be closed down, how hard to tackle them and whether to try and make them play with their wrong foot.
Personally, I like to take a look at the opposition’s player stats during a match. If an opposition seems to be attempting a lot more passes than his colleagues, I single him out for special treatment. It can also be useful for targeting wide players if you have a narrow formation or trying to neutralise players who are a particular threat.
When a player has been targeted, he should have a ticked box next to his name in the menu.
Remember those strategies you could choose in the tactics creator? Well, you can change them on the fly during a match. This modifies the sliders and certain player roles without you needing to completely re-create your tactic, and is useful for larger changes of strategy such as needing to attack when needing a goal, or simply changing up to plan to suit the game situation as it stands.
On the fly you can change a player from one role to another. This is pretty self explanatory. In this example, I’ve decided to make my deep-lying forward into a poacher. A few clicks, and it’s done!
When using a non-mirrored formation, it may be necessary to specify which players take responsibility for which opponents. One common example I find with my asymmetric formation is that I need to specify my AMC mark the opposition DMC to stop the DMC getting too much of the ball and dictating play. Or, if you play three defenders, you may need to specify which of your defenders is responsible for which opposition forward. It all depends on your shape and the shape of the opposition. If you can see through the match or the stats and see one player is getting too much of the ball or causing issues, it may be time to make one man on your side mark him specifically to neutralise him.
Subs can now be made without going into the tactics page. Simply follow the menus and click the options. If your side needs re-arranging (say, you’re bringing on a defender for a midfielder, or you need to re-arrange your strikers) the old system is still probably best. But for that quick change of striker, this is easily the quickest way to get things done. You’ll also get the option to modify the in-coming player’s role and duty if you want to make a quick change of strategy, or for example you are bringing on a tall target man for a short-but-nippy poacher type.
And that’s it. Your new tactical system explained. On next week’s Chalkboard, I’m going to start discussing how to use this system, and over the next few articles I will explain how the system works, to an extent, and why it makes the changes it does. Why are the defenders on such a high mentality? Why do the forwards not have forward runs? And will the 4-5-1 always remain unbeatable? I’ll try and address these issues soon.
|Written By Gareth Millward
"Millie" is a long-standing member of the FM community and a co-founder of Gameworld One.Com. As part of FM-Britain, he was a contributor to TT&F and involved with the new tactical interface in FM2010.