I have drawn the tentative conclusion, then, that the defensive and central midfield bands appear to be the most important areas of the field if I want to be successful.
My theory – which of course is always open to being re-evaluated – is that I need to stack bodies into those two areas of the pitch, and what’s left of the team will have to be built around that idea.
I’ve come to this conclusion from looking at which formations were successful for Team Test, the away side in the matches I ran, and which formations were not successful for Team Opposition, the home side. In both scenarios, the amount of players Team Test had in the defensive and central midfield bands, and the lack of them for Team Opposition, seemed to be significant.
What about where Team Test, our visiting side, struggled? Which formations didn’t do well, globally, against Team Opposition, with their built-in home advantage?
Here they are, the worst eight formations, where Team Test lost at least 70 of the 168 matches when they set up in a particular way. I want to offer some ideas, based on the two areas of midfield, but the fact that four of them are narrow tactics might also be important:
No defensive midfielders at all, and only two in central midfield, meaning that the wing-backs are going to have to contribute in both the defensive and attacking phases.
Again, both the bands I consider to be important aren’t covered. And there’s a huge void between the midfield and the two forwards.
This is looking a bit better, assuming that my suspicions are anything like on the money. There’s some representation in both the defensive and central midfield bands, and yet results are still poor – it’s scoring at much less than a goal a game.
Four men in the central midfield area here, and yet it still managed to lose 76 of its 168 matches. So, I am starting to think that if you need to pile bodies into the defensive and central midfield areas, as well as having width, the only way you can do it is to play with only one central defender (which I suspect would lead you to get made into dog meat every time the AI counters you) or with no strikers.
I don’t feel any surprise that this formation falls over easily. No width at all, other than from two full-backs with unadventurous starting positions, and three strikers who aren’t getting any service. If the ball does get to them, then that’s wonderful, but I don’t know who’s going to supply it, unless they’re creative enough to set up their own opportunities.
This looks a bit better – at least there’s some width, and there are respectable numbers in the defensive midfield and central midfield bands. Still, though, it managed to lose 71 of its matches.
Four players here whose main role is more concerned with attacking than defending, and it’s very narrow. The central midfield area is left for the AI to drive a bus through, too. If you’ve got an outstanding team who are always looking to attack, you might get some joy with this – but when it’s two exactly equal opponents, I can see why this setup had its difficulties.
This is more like it, with the box midfield in the defensive and central areas. It should offer both protection and creativity, but, again, the only width comes from the defensively-positioned full-backs, and my instincts tell me that it’s better to have an attacking midfielder of some description in support of a single striker. And even though I feel that it has something to offer, it still suffered 95 defeats.
Of those eight most vulnerable formations, then, only two of them have four or more men covering the defensive and central midfield areas. So, from that, I take some hope that my ‘stack ’em up’ approach is still something that is worth working with. And, as mentioned above, four of the eight setups are narrow, too.
There is too much wall, and not enough paint, but that was always likely to be the case. It’s to be hoped that, later, delving into how the roles and duties can be allocated, can go some way to solving that problem.