Uncertainties in the transfer market delayed the fruition of this ideology during my first pre-season. In Part 1 of my Santa Cruz de Tenerife series I touched on the problems had with player contracts and signings, which meant that we started the season using tactics of familiarity for the existing squad. As we approach the January transfer window it’s time for that to change. I’m going to begin phasing in how I want the team to play long term, with a recruitment process for that ideology kicking in effective immediately.
There’s playing to win and there’s playing to entertain, both are desirable (and the holy grail when combined) but they can’t always go together hand in hand. I want to focus on entertainment first and foremost and hope that leads to positive results by virtue. So what makes for entertaining football (let me know your opinion in the comments below)? There’s no right or wrong answer here, it’s a perceptual opinion, we all have different ideas on how the beautiful game should be played. Mine is that you should be direct and purposeful.
The style of play I’m looking to develop is not an original idea, it’s based around the concept of pressing, with Jurgen Klopp’s philosophy of ‘gegenpressing’ (or counter-pressing as its better known) the model that excites me most. He refers to it as ‘full throttle football’.
The idea of counter pressing is actually quite simple – when the opposition has just lost possession of the ball (especially after an attempted counter attack) they’re at their most vulnerable. The sooner you can exploit that vulnerability whilst the opposition is disorganised, the more likely you are to score. This style of football has been written about in great detail many times over so I don’t want to go into a heavily detailed analysis, but if you’re interested in knowing more I’d recommend this post on Counter-Pressing In FM16 by Strikerless (a fellow FM blogger), which covers it thoroughly with some excellent analysis.
Here are a couple of examples of Jurgen Klopp’s favored formation in effect for both Dortmund and Liverpool. There are a couple of slight differences but generally speaking it’s the same setup. Klopp see’s 4-2-3-1 as the perfect formation for counter pressing.
This is how I want us to setup too. I want:
The 4-2-3-1 formation looks ideal for this so why reinvent a proven system? There’ll be some tweaks and adjustments I’m sure, but the nucleus and core principles will likely remain consistent. I’m not going to start from scratch with team instructions either. I referred to Strikerless’ blog earlier and I can’t argue with his views on the perfect marriage between instructions and counter pressing. I’ll be using his recommended instructions to start with, see how they blend with my formation and players and adjust them as required.
We don’t have the players in our squad to properly implement the 4-2-3-1 tactic straight away, but even though we’re only half way through the season (and this tactic is more for next season), there are a few things I can do now to aid a successful implementation:
At the halfway point of season 1 we’re getting by, sitting just outside the playoff places. We’ve been hard to beat but we’ve drawn a lot of games and struggled of late to find the back of the net. I’m hoping that a restructuring of the club philosophies and playing style can give us that extra push to win more games, win them convincingly, score more goals, and give the fans something to cheer. If we stand still I’m worried we’ll fail to progress as a football club.