Looking around the forums for inspiration I came across this posts once again. The basic premise of it was that because this guy couldn’t beat any of the big teams no matter what he did the game must be cheating him in someway, a common theme on so many forums from those who a quick to jump and blame the game without analysing their own part in it all. But back in Premiership football with Tottenham Hotspur I have not done so badly against the big teams. So I thought that I would share my knowledge with you about my approach to big games.
Well before I go on I must really clarify that this post is not about how to win against Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal or whoever the big teams are in your league. But more my a strategy when playing the sides that are obviously better equipped then my Spurs side. I have played the first half of my season so far and this is how my team has done against these sides.
Manchester United loss 0-3 at Old Trafford
Liverpool win 1-0 White Hart Lane
Arsenal win 2-1 White Hart Lane
Chelsea loss 1-2 White Hart Lane
UPDATED SINCE WRITING
Manchester United Draw 0-0 White Hart Lane
Arsenal Win 3-0 The Emirates
Liverpool loss 4-2 Anfield
Manchester City loss 2-1 Eastlands
Manchester City Win 2-0 White Hart Lane
Successful results? What do you think, a great run at home and fantastic to do the double on The Gunners.
So I have only played one game each against these teams and 2 wins 2 lost, I don’t think is such a bad record taking 6 vital points at home. I think that this does me pretty well and shows that you can beat the big sides in your league, Beating fierce rivals Arsenal was a big boast for the side and the fans and has spiraled our team to fantastic form.. The loss to United was early in the season when I was still finding my feet at Spurs and Manchester is never a easy place to go to, I would probably consider them the hardest team to beat in England and I don’t think I often have gotten the better of them in my long FM Career. We played well though, Crouch and our midfield really did shine, but Rooney’s talent was just too much for us.
Listen to your Scout
I employ a particular scout Barry Whitbread, who not only has good judging ability and fantastic at judging potential but he also has a handy tactical knowledge of the game. This helps, as he is my scout gather the information on the next opposition. He will bring useful advice on who the players are to nullify, how a particular pitch maybe suit particular styles of play. One important piece of information that I received from him for both the wins against Liverpool and Arsenal is to play a direct football against them, which in the end proved a big difference in getting the ball down to my 3 AMC and FC setup to create chances quickly.
I have found a new love for opposition instructions lately using them for each and every game. But unlike some I don’t have a uniformed way of setting up opposition instructions. Instead I feel it is important to look at the oppositions attributes before you think about setting up your opposition instructions.
The main points to consider is what you want to cut off, I like to see that supply is cut from the strikers provided by the wings and that when the strikers are in position they don’t have space to move into. For the wingers I will look at how fast they are, tightly marking wingers can be a great way to reduce the supply to the strikers as you make sure you are always on top of them, but if these wingers are pacey and strong they will more often then not leave the marker for dead and exploit the space left. Instead it maybe then a good idea to close down the winger unless he is very technically great and able to jinx past you like or just to make sure you are showing them on to their weaker foot.
This rule I find works on many parts of the pitch and don’t forget the full backs if you are expecting them to make runs forward themselves. One other thing that I find works everytime is when you have a player in the middle of the park, a playmaker who can’t move too well. Stick a man on him and he will quickly become non-existent, the likes of Scholes or Riqulme who is currently at Man City on my game.
For any big game you are always going to keep yourself glued to the computer screen watching your side play to ensure you don’t take a battering. Therefore it is important to react to the way you see the game going, if you take a lead being able to keep it secure against these big sides. This can be a big difference in the game and knowing when to make changes. If you are playing a flair team such as Arsenal, I found it good to hassle them, hit them hard and keep the team frustrated and off the ball as much as possible. Whereas Liverpool I pushed forward reducing the space in the midfield where Gerrard and co like to operate in the gap and keeping them to long distance shots, as even though these can have a tendency of flying in with the likes of Gerrard they were less dangerous then allowing them in on goal.
Show respect, but not to much
People tend to panic when the come up against the big sides, looking not to lose a game instead of setting out to win. But you need to balance sitting back and soaking up the pressure with attacking these sides yourself. Allowing these sides control and waiting to hit them on the counter can work in their favour as the quality players will find ways to break you down. If you are able to get the ball and grab your own chances, especially at home play a standard balanced games instead of showing these teams too much respect. I find a mix of strategies in the game can give a reactive balance in the side.
In conclusion the big teams are the big teams for a reason, they will be the hardest to beat and majority of times it will go their way because they have the best players, and AI wise hopefully the best tactical managers. But they are not unbeatable as you can see above, but as it does with any side you need the right mix of players, strategy and luck to win games. Numbers can be numbers on the screen and you may find that you don’t dominate these games, but if you dominate the scoreboard it is the only thing that matters this is what is important come the end.
How would you setup against the big sides? I be interested to hear from managers of relegation candidates and bottom half sides to how you handle the resourceful teams in the league.