Adapt Your Match Tactics Quickly through Football Manager Shouts
Welcome to our guide to Football Manager 2014 Team Intructions, where we will analyze each shouts and how they influence player behaviour in FM match engine.
The Football Manager team instructions and how you set them up, will be your main tools to define your playing style and football philosophy. Here, you will need to decide if you shall play fluid attacking football with high defensive line and much pressure on the opponents, or if you shall grind out results based on parking the bus and hitting on the counter.
In this guide to team instructions we will take a closer look on all the different shouts, how they work and which shouts can work with each other. By analyzing the different Football Manager shout instructions you will become one step closer to success.
Why Team Instructions are Important
As Football Manager 2013 was released last year, we were introduced to touchline instructions for the first time. This year it's been a complete tactical overhaul and the new match engine looks fresher than ever.
Because of the revamp to the way you create tactics in Football Manager 2014, 8 new player roles were introduced. This was done to accommodate the removal of the sliders. One of the main changes and huge improvements are the way you set up team instructions otherwise known as shouts.
The Football Manager team instructions makes you able to do all that during the match, by simply altering the team instructions based on event-by-event match situations. These Presets or Shouts will not only make quick changes to the team instructions and how you like your team to play in the middle of the match, but are a great way to surprise the opposition team and exploit their weaknesses.
These Team Instructions will be your main tools for determine your football playing style and philosophy and will need to be carefully attended to in order to create a successful Football Manager tactics. Team instructions will be the main tool to decide how you want your team to behave from event-by-event basis.
Note that individual player instructions and player preferred moves, alongside mentality used will influence on the success of the shouts employed, and that some instructions will conflict.
Football Manager 2014 Team Instructions
As you might have experienced in the last versions of Football Manager, a good tactic is not only about formation and shape. In order to succeed with it, you will need to adjust your preferred playing style both before the next encounter and during the match based on how the match develops.
The Football Manager team instructions will not only help you change playing style or shout out small tweaks on how you like your players to behave in-match but also make you able to swap between different kinds of styles depending on match score or occurring events. Shouts will also be a great way to exploit certain opponent weaknesses on an event-by-event basis, changing them according to how the opposition team plays or using them to your strengths.
Team instructions will determine how you would like your whole squad to behave, either you are building on the teams strength or chasing for a lead, while the Football Manager 2014 player instructions will be restricted to each individual; how you like your trequartista or advanced playmaker to behave.
There are 5 main team instruction categories, which will determine your playing style, and around 40 shouts in Football Manager 2014 to select from. We will go through each of them below and give you some recommendations on how to use them, when, and most importantly what's required of your players, in order to take full advantage of them.
While playing football Manager 2014, you will discover that some shouts will be tailored for each other or can be used together, while others will conflict, marked with red background. You can easily edit team instructions in the Team Tactics overview, or in the match panel.
General Team Instructions
The General team instructions will be more focused on the teams physic and mentality according to the tactical setup, which will underline the other shouts used. We will go through all the general shouts below.
Take a Breather
The shout "Take a breather" is all about regaining match fitness and slow the tempo of the game down. You will instruct your players to keep hold of the ball and lower the tempo when in possession. Without possession of the ball the team will stand more collective together, don't chase the opponents around by heavy pressing with as little movement as possible. It's mostly used late in game, when holding on to a lead, or when you want your players to recover physically as some /or all are exhausted, but can also be used after longer periods of high tempo in order to let the team recover a little, before attacking again.
Take a breather will also work together with "Stand off Opponents", "Be more Disciplined" and "Retain Possession" to name a few. This shout can be used no matter formation or player attributes the squad possess. Of course will players with lower stamina and natural fitness tire quicker if match conditions are hard, the tempo very high or the fixture list have been tight.
Waste Time will only be available when using Contain or Defensive mentality. It will instruct players to waste time whenever possible, which might be worthy when protecting a lead. Players will take their time, holding on to the ball, using more times at set-pieces and passes.
Be More Disciplined
From time to time, it may be important to instruct your players to be more disciplined. Perhaps you're facing the division leaders who possess excellent creativity and more individual skills that needs to be addressed to, or you got players who aren't following your tactical instructions making bad decisions time and again.
This shout will simply tell your players to follow the overall tactical instructions and keep its shape. It will make the team collectively stronger in the expense of individual creativity and expressions. "Be more disciplined" will work with any other shout, but fits better with "Stick to position" and "Play narrower". Changing to, or using the tactical strategy rigid / very rigid may emphasize this shout even more.
The Shout "Be more disciplined" will increase the defensive orientation as the team will decrease their level of creativity and can be worthy to assign when players are becoming exhausted, for example when facing a better opponent and need to ensure your players to stick to their position in regard to the formation used.
Important Player attributes: Teamwork
Be more Expressive
The Football Manager shout "Be more expressive" instructs your players, and more specifically creative ones to use their creativity and flair on the expense of the tactical setup and shape in order to break down defensive minded opponents who only aim to park the bus and play narrow.
Be more expressive can be one of the tools when chasing for a late equaliser or chasing goals. Be more expressive can work with Roam from position and Pass into space in order to use the creativity to increase the amount of through balls and players running forward exploiting space. The shout "Be More Expressive" can be used no matter formation, but will emphasize the attacking outlet of your playing style. Choosing Attacking or Overload may aid your team in additional to changing to this shout, depending on the shape of your formation and player positioning.
Important Player attributes: Creativity, Off the ball
Take More Risks
Take More Risks will only be available when using match mentality "Overload". It will instruct the players to take whatever necessary actions and risks in order to attack. By using overload you will instruct your players to stay very high with their defensive line, which will increase the risk for being counter-attacked. Take more risks increases the players use of their creativity and take more risks in passing (more direct), shooting (quicklier) and earlier through balls. Players will look to run from deep ofter, run with the ball more and use their flair and creativity on their own, as players will abandon the preferred tactical instructions trying to surprise the opposition team with some "not expected actions".
It may be worthy to employ it late in game when looking for a late equalizer, going all out attack in order to score goals. Overload and take more risks should be used with care as players without the required player attributes might hurt the team rather than benefit it. Strictly speaking this shout will target individual skills more than overall teamwork.
Play Even Safer
Play even safer will instruct the players to be even more disciplined and careful, playing on the sfe side instead of taking any risks. It reduces the individual players creaivity level in additional to reducing passing length to safer and shorter - less through balls and less direct. It's primarly a defensive shout used to keep shape and protect a narrow lead late in game. Overall attributes such as teamwork and anticipation will be more important than individual skills.
Football Manager Shouts: Setting Tempo
The tempo of the game will normally be associated with the shouts in the possession category and which team strategy you've employed. By setting the tempo by using one of the shouts below according to how the game develops makes you able to finetune the teams passing tempo. These shouts can be used with all the different mentalities, while some are more recommended to use for some than other. There are four different shouts and levels specifically related to setting the tempo of the passing and movement;
- Much Lower Tempo will instruct your players to be more patient in the attacking build-up. Players will lower the tempo by being more disciplined when passing and retaining possession just by keeping hold of the ball with no short-term purpose, making it easy to control the match through low tempo. "Much Lower tempo" will be a great tool to keep control of the game, for example when leading with 2 goals.
This shout can work well when you want to disrupt the oppotition teams eager to attack at all cost, or when they want to keep a higher tempo than your team would be capable of. "Much Lower Tempo" is one shout that will work with "Take a breather", "Retain Possession" and "Shorter Passing".
- Lower Tempo will instruct the players to keep control of the match, be considered and patient when in possession of the ball. Tempo will be a little higher than previous level discussed, but will make the team be able to keep high amount of possession which is useful in a possession tactic.
Important Player Attributes: Positioning, First Touch
- Higher Tempo instructs the players to move the ball around quicker by trying to unsettle the opposition team with higher intensity. Players will be more decisive when in possession of the ball, looking to use as little as time delving on the ball. The team will go about their business in an urgent fashion. This shout can be worthy when dealing with stubborn defences who stick to their positions, or when chasing for a goal. It can also be a good shout to employ if you're outnumbering or superior of the opposition team. The Football Manager shout "Higher Tempo" will work with "Play Wider" and "Roam from Position" to name some few appropiate shouts.
Important Player Attributes: Off the ball, Creativity, Passing, Technique
- Much Higher Tempo will ask the players to be even more decisively when attacking, moving the ball as quickly as possible at a urgent fashion. It's often used to tire the opposition out by much movement and quick passing; more one-twos and quicker runs in order to desperately trying to score, or unsettle the opposition. It can be a great shout early on in the match when facing a smaller club or against an opposition with lower condition than you, or late in game to tire them out.
While the "Much Lower Tempo" is the extreme version of passing the ball for passing sake in order to retain possession, the "Much Higher Tempo" will look to play attacking football to its extreme, similar to Borussia Dortmund. You may loose the ball quicker by deploying this shout, but can make wonders in terms of fading the opposition out, in the long run of the match. Suitable shouts to use it with may be "Pass into space" and "More Direct Passing" to name some few.
Important Player Attributes: Off the ball, Acceleration, Pace, Technique
Team Instructions and Shouts related to Possession
The shouts you can choose from in this department will be all related to possession and more specifically how you want your players to deal with the ball when in possession of it. There are 14 different shouts, all related to passing, crossing or movement. We will break the available shouts into sub-categories possessional playing styles, passing styles and crossing types in order to make it easier to grasp.
Playing Styles for Possession:
Retain possession instructs the players to prioritize holding on to the ball when in possession of it. Similar to the lower tempo, the players will look to hold on to the ball or pass to an available teammate nearby. Not only will the passing length be shortened, but also the tempo will be lowered.
This is normally used for any possession tactic, but might be worthy to employ when looking to hold on to a narrow lead or when you want to make sure players don't make risky passes for an counter-attacking opposition.
Retain possession can be used together with "Pass shorter" and "Play narrower".
Go Route One
Go route one will instruct the players to heave the ball over the midfield with increased urgency to get the ball into the attacking third. Players will look to play extremely direct and risky passes, often long balls and crosses from wide into the penalty box as quickly as possible, when the right opportunity arises.
This shout may be useful to employ when you need to grab a goal (often late in game), but can also be used against teams with stronger midfield than yours, as you look to play the ball over (or around them) instead of between them, in order to stretch their shape.
It should work great together with "Pump ball into box" and "Hit early Crosses" but can also be used with "Play Wider" and/or "Exploit the Flanks".
Important Player Attributes: Crossing, Heading, Passing, Technique
Recommended Player Roles: Limited Fullback, Wide Target Man, Limited Defender, Target Man
More Direct Passing
By employing this instruction you will tell your players to play more risky passes, more through balls and longer passes at a higher tempo. More Direct Passing will adopt a playing style based on quicker transition from back to front. You will instruct the players to get the ball forward quicker often passing infront of the player rather than to their feet. It's useful when counter-attacking opposition team or when you want to exploit spaces. It will work well with instructing them to "Pass into Space" and "Play wider" in order to stretch both width and length to increase available passing space.
Important Player Attributes: Passing, Technique, Off the ball, Decisions
Recommended Player Roles:
Team Instructions - Passing Styles:
Shorter Passing will instruct the players to adopt a short passing playing style similar to the tiki-taka, where the ball is passed to feet rather into space (infront of him). As the passing style will be shorter, it will be useful to play narrower and use a formation based on triangles and double or triple pivots in order to succeed with it.
Pass shorter can be worthy then employing "Taking a breath" but also when "exploiting the middle" as the ball retention will be better, and the tempo automatically decreased, but can also be used as the preferred playing style dominating opposition teams by much passing in shorter space.
Important Player Attributes: Passing, Anticipation, First Touch, Decisions
Recommended Player Roles: Advanced Playmaker, Deep-Lying Playmaker, Regista
Pass into Space
This shout will instruct the players to adopt a more direct passing style, where the ball is passed into space (normally infront of an on-running teammate). As the passing length will be increased, it will be useful to play wider and let the defensive line drop deeper.
Pass into space can work great with both "Pass shorter" and "More Direct Passing". It may be a worthy shout to employ to increase tempo a little and exploit available space better both between the lines and in-between opposite players. Players should be instructed to Roam more in order to take advantage of the passes played into space. The high movement will help the team retain possession better.
Important Player Attributes: Anticipation, Off the ball, Decisions, Technique
Recommended Player Roles: Regista
Work ball into Box
Employing this shout may be worthy when you want to play a patient passing play. You will instruct the players to work hard for the opening, retaining possession until available space and the right opportunity arises, and the attacking line can penetrate and finally break through the opposition defense. Players will look to pass shorter passes, more through balls and less long shots.
Work ball into box can be worthy if you spot your players taking many poor long shots. This shout should be unclicked if the opposition team uses a deep and narrow defensive line, which is hard to penetrate.
Shoot on Sight
Shoot on sight will instruct your players to quickly shoot as soon as they got a clear opening when in attack. This shout can be compared to the player preferred move "tries first time shots". Players will shoot as soon as an opportunity arises in stead of waiting for a more clear cut chance. It will increase the pressure on the opposition team and can be used as an element of surprise after longer periods with playing patient passing game. Shooting from long often will also decrease the amount of through balls.
Shoot on sight can be worthy to employ when chasing for a goal or when you're stronger in the central midfield, on the flanks or is struggling to pressurize inside the penalty box because of a stubborn opposite defense. It can work together with "Much higher Tempo" and "Be more expressive".
Important Player Attributes: long shots, finishing, technique, decisions
Recommended Player Roles: Attacking midfielder, Box to box Midfielder, Inside Forward, Shadow Striker
Play out of Defence
Play out of defence will encourage your defensive-minded players (defenders and defensive midfielders) to pass their way out from the back, with short simple passes rather than direct long clearance(s).
Play out of defence might be advatageous when you want to keep possession for example when you want to hold onto a lead or play a possession based playing style and you got players with the technical skills to do so. Other complimentary shouts are "Pass shorter" and "Drop deeper". It should be unclicked if the opposition team pressures high up on your defensive line.
Important Player Attributes: Anticipation, Passing, Technique
Recommended Player Roles: Ball Playing Defender, Wingback
Pump Ball into Box
Pump ball into box will encourage the players to launch more high long ball passes into the opposition penalty area. Players will be instructed to pass long balls and cross more early from deeper positions. Players will look to play fewer through balls, and is a great shout late in game or when you want to take advantage of aerial superiority.
This shout will work good with "Hit Early Crosses", "Play Wider", "Go route one" and "Float Crosses" in order to create space for the forward to get in position to head the ball onto goal.
Important Player Attributes: Crossing, Heading, Off the ball, Anticipation
Recommended Player Roles: Fullback, Winger, Target Man, Complete Forward
Clear Ball to Flanks
Clear ball to flanks will make the players adopt a playing style where they look to retain possession by taking advantage of the players on the flanks. It's a great tool to combat opposition dominance in the central of the pitch as you look to stretch the play. It is mostly used for counter attacking formations where defensive wingers, complete wing backs or wingers have much space to run onto, for example in a 3-5-2 formation. Defensive players will be encouraged to play longer passes or make their clearances to the flanks where more attacking players are ready to get forward.
Clear ball to flanks will work with "Exploit the flanks" and "Pass into space", but can also be used with "Hit Early Crosses" if you're formation is being stretched in length.
Football Manager Crossing Types
Hit Early Crosses
Hit early crosses is a useful shouts to use if you are looking to take advantage of both wide space and aerial dominance in attack. You will instruct the players to cross the ball into the penalty area as soon as they receives it. By taking advantage of the higher tempo you can surprise an unorginased opposition team and launch early crosses to a better positioned forward.
This shout will be beneficial at times when you're side is looking for a goal either late in game, or an equaliser. Perhaps the opposition team uses a formation which makes it worthy to exploit the flanks and shift tempo and passing style in order to disrupt their flow. It will work with "Float Crosses", "Pump ball into box" and "Go route one".
Important Player Attributes: Crossing, Heading, Off the ball, Anticipation, First Touch
Recommended Player Roles: Fullback, Wingback, Defensive Winger, Wide Midfielder, Winger
Float crosses will be a beneficial shout if you have forwards with superior height but might lack quickness to run onto a quick cross. By floating crosses into the penalty area (often to the far post) will let forwards to position themselves sufficient according to the ball, making them able to hang in the air and head the ball better. By employing this instruction, you will let wide players to make higher crosses with less speed.
It's often used when playing against an opposition defence who aren't strong in the air, or might lack the height to combat your tall forward(s). It works well with "Hit early crosses" and "Pump ball into box" but can also be used as stand alone no matter passing style.
Important Player Attributes: Crossing, Heading, Off the ball, Anticipation
Recommended Player Roles: Fullback, Wingback, Defensive Winger, Wide Midfielder, Winger
Drill crosses is often used when you got pacy strikers with excellent movement and positioning. You will instruct the players to cross quickly and powerful (often to the first post or in the center) to an on-rushing striker. This shout can be used as an element of surprise by also employing "hit crosses early" and "Play Higher tempo", in order to catch opposite defenders off-guard by much movement, which will eventually tire them out because of the extreme tempo. The crosser will most often cross from the byline.
Important Player Attributes: Crossing, Heading, Off the ball, Anticipation
Recommended Player Roles: Wingback (Complete), Winger (attack), Advanced Playmaker (wide)
Run At Defence
One of the main tools to break down the opposition team is by movement of the players. This shout will instruct the players to move more than set in the overall tactical instructions (mentality and player instructions). Players will look to get forward and run at the defence either by dribbling with the ball or run off his marker when the team is in possession of the ball.
It can be worthy when counter attacking, when opposition team lacks tackling skills or there are huge spaces to exploit. It can make you able to stretch the opposition formation and can be useful to increase individual mistakes in the opposition team either by poor positioning or eventually fade them out through much movement. A great combination can be "Pass into space", "Play more direct" and "Shoot on sight" together with higher tempo and more width.
Important Player Attributes: Off the ball, Dribbling, Anticipation, Creativity, Flair
Defending - Team Instructions
These shout instructions will be more focused on how the team shall behave in order to get possession of the ball, pressurize the opposition team when not in possession and how to specifically deal with situations such as marking, tackling and closing down. There are 6 different team instructions related to defending.
Use Offside Trap
Use offside trap will instruct the players to push defensive line forward in order to set opposite forwards in offside position. This defensive strategy is worthy when the defenders got great acceleration, pace, positioning and anticipation. It may be useful when playing with a high defensive line, but might backfire if the opposite striker(s) has excellent off the ball, anticipation and quickness. By pushing the defensive line up when opposite team is making through balls, you can combat and intercept these through balls better preventing a slower striker to use his main strength, finishing.
The defenders will need to be disciplined and well-organised in order to set the offside trap at the right time. This shout might make wonders together with "Push higher up".
Important Player Attributes: Anticipation, Decisions, Positioning
Use Tighter Marking
Employing this shout instruction will make the players adopt a man-zonal marking. They will look to stay closer to the opposite player in defensive situations (when in not possession of the ball) in order to prevent the opposite player to attack the ball.
This can be useful in order to pressurize the opposite players to use their creativity and off the ball in order to get by your players, and will make it easier to win possession of the ball, if opposite players are physical weaker or poor first touch.
Use tighter marking can work good together with "hassle opponents" and "push higher up" if you got defensive players with good positioning, marking and tackling.
Important Player Attributes: Marking, Tackling, Strength, Positioning
Get Stuck In
This Football Manager shout will instruct the players to close down players more and pressurize the opposite players with harder tackles and more aggressiveness. Of course will you increase the risk for fouls and disiplinary actions, so it should be used with care. "Get stuck in" might be benefitial in order to win possession against an opposition midfield with low bravery, balance and determination, as you can make them more nervous and afraid to involve themselves. I would recommend not to use it against an opposition packed with technical, speedy players good in dribbling and has excellent physical attributes such as good balance. Be also aware of the referees lenient to card givings, as players with poor tackling and much aggressiveness may be proned to cards.
This shout can work together with "Hassle Opponents", "Use Tighter marking" and "Be more disciplined". Get Stuck in can also be a way to decrease individual condition of the opposite team, but can also make your side exhausted if employed too long. To counter specific individually weaknesses by using tackle harder, see our FM guide to opposition instructions.
Important Player Attributes: Tackling, Aggression, Bravery, Stamina
Recommended Player Roles: Defensive Midfielder, Ball Winning Midfielder, Anchor Man
Stay on Feet
As mentioned above, there is not always smart to go all in by strong tacklings and much aggression. Stay on feet will instruct the players to decrease the space to the opposite player, and not dive in when tackling. This is what you want of your players when dealing with players who are capable to beat his marker by dribbling, quickness and raw physic, such as good balance, agility and strength.
You will tell the players to be more careful and most important pick the right moment rather than get stuck in; takle the ball at every opportunity. It should work well with "Be More Disciplined", "Stand off opponents" and select a proper defensive line according to match analysis; make space for the opposition team to get the ball and then stay compact in order to make them play on their weaknesses rather than strength - might force them to shoot from long and use their wings (if they got any). It may be advantageous to employ if you're the weaker side hoping for a draw, or if the referees are lenient to card givings.
Important Player Attributes: Tackling, Concentration, Positioning, Decisions
Hassle opponents will make your side adopt a playing style where they will close all opposition players in as fast as possible. It will give them little time on the ball and more opportunities for you to win the ball by them making mistakes, either by forcing them to us their weaker foot or pressurize them enough to make a wrong pass. Players within the reach of the opposite player with the ball will pressurize him and close him down.
It can be worthy to employ from time to time throughout the game in order to tire the opposition out mentally, but might also backfire as your own players might get exhausted too. It can also be worthy to employ late in game if your team has better conditions and your chasing for the final goal.
Hassle opponents will decrease the space to the opposite players and can be used alongside "Push higher up", "Get Stuck in" and "Use tighter marking". It can also be worthy to use if the opposite players are good with the ball; high passing completion, many assists from deep and good technique, but perhaps poor concentration.
Important Player Attributes: Stamina, Aggression, Marking, Anticipation
Stand off Opponents
Similar to "stay on feet" reduces the aggression when tackling, Stand off Opponents will reduce the space to the opposite players. You will instruct the players to not close down as much. As the players won't hassle opponents it will improve the defensive shape, making it harder for the opposition team to penetrate you, and they will need to work harder for their openings. But notice also, that you will let the opposite players get more time on the ball and time to use their creativity.
Stand off opponents can be worthy to employ against a quicker and more technical side, in order to force them to either play over your players, shoot from long or exploit smaller spaces. It will minimise the risk for being opened up, which is advantageous when holding on to a narrow lead or in the last 10 minutes of the match when you're only hope is to claim a lucky draw. Should be used together with "Stay on feet", "Drop deeper", "Stick to positions" and "Be more disciplined".
Important Player Attributes: Concentration, Anticipation, Decisions, Teamwork
Team Instructions for Formation Shape
The team instruction category shape will be more focused on setting width and defensive line proper to the opposition team together with player movement. I've decided to split this category into three sub caegories; Setting width, setting defensive line and player movement. There will be a total of 8 different Football Manager shouts to choose from.
Player Movement and Player Positioning
Stick to positions
Stick to positions will instruct the players to stick to their primary duties in their assigned position. It won't allow fluidity of movement, but will counteract that your players will be dragged out of position. The mentality will be changed to rigid, similar to the stand off opponents.
Stick to positions will be worthy for any side looking to keep defensive shape and control the game by a good defense. It could be employed together with "Stand off opponents", "Drop deeper" and "Be more disciplined" but can also be used as a stand alone shouts no matter playing style. Stick to positions might be a smart choice when opposite team is counter attacking, using their advantage of players with good creativity, quickness and off the ball.
Important Player Attributes: Concentration, Teamwork, Positioning, Composure
Roam from positions
Roam from positions will allow players to be more creativie and fluid with their positioning. It will change the mentality to fluid and players will roam around looking for space when attacking. It requires far more of your players as they might need to cover more ground, but by taking advantage of the players creativity and flair you can add depth to your attack making more players involved by high movement. This will also make it more difficult for the opposition team to defend against, as they need to decide; shall I track down or stick to position.
Roam from positions can be used together with "Be more expressive", "Higher Tempo" and "Pass into space" often helped by the setting of the width. It can be a great tool to open up the most stubborn defences, but you will also require players who are tactical aware and understand where to position when a teammate fills in to a space.
Important Player Attributes: Creativity, Flair, Positioning, Decisions, Teamwork, Anticipation
Allow Wide Players to swap Position
Allow wide players to swap positions will only be allowed if using wingers. It will instruct players operating in wide attacking areas to swap sides during the course of the match by allowing left wingers to participate on the right side for shorts spells while the right winger will operate on left.
This is primarly helpful if wide players are man marked, which will disrupt the opposition teams defensive shape and tactical instructions. By letting wide wingers swap positions you can make it more difficult for the opposition team to defend against. When playing on the side with their preferred foot they can make curling crosses outwards, while being on the side with their weakest foot they can cut inside in order to pass, shoot or make inwards crosses.
It can be a smart solution in order to break down a strong opposition defense, or add some unpredictability when attacking.
Setting width is necessary in order to reduce and exploit space. It's one of the basic tools no matter playing style and should be analyzed before employed. There are two options in regard to set the width specifically.
Setting Defensive Line
Setting the defensive line by using team instructions will be as important as setting the width. Of course will you need to analyze the risk and reward of setting the height of the defensive line, but it is one of the main tools to increase and reduce space to the players of the opposition team in order to counter their strength and weaknesses. Setting the defensive line will also depend on mentality selected and to some degree fluidity choosen. There are four ways to set the defensive line in Football Manager 2014.
- Drop deeper will instruct them to retreat to their own half, but higher up the pitch than the previous shout, when in not in possession of the ball. I recommend to use this shout for any playing style where you want to be aware of counter attacking opportunities by the opposition team. It's also a great tool in order to lure the opposition team out of their defensive approach in order to increase the space behind them which opens up for more direct balls and through balls. Your side will still be defensive safe, but also close enough in order to intercept passes (depending on the other shouts used).
- Push Higher Up will instruct the defensive line to move up closer to the halfway line in order to pressurize the opposition team when in possession. It will force the players higher up the pitch, but still make more players available in the attacking build-up compared to the "Much higher defensive line". It's a worthy tool together with higher tempo as you might both have space behind the oppositions defensive line and perhaps in front of them (depending on their level of defensive line).
This team instructions focus mostly on how to exploit space when in possession of the ball. These shouts is often used together with setting the width and choosing passing or crossing types depending on your sides strength and opposition weaknesses. There are five shouts accossiated with penetration.
Exploit The Flanks
Exploit the flanks will instruct the players to play wider, taking advantage of available space on the flanks. By taking full advantage of the wing play, the opposition team will need to decide wether they shall stretch their (often narrow) shape in order to counter act crosses from wide. It can also be a good option in a 3-5-2 / 5-3-2 formation as the midfield will most often be very compact.
You will instruct the players on the flanks to run off the ball, making themselves available to get in passing reach. The winger will then be your main attacking weapon crossing the ball more, together with forwards who are good in the air. I would recommend to use exploit flanks with a narrow width, or as stand alone shout if you got better wingbacks/wingers than the opposition team.
Exploit the flanks can work together with "Look for Overlap" and "Hit early crosses" to name some suggestions.
Exploit the Left Flank
Similar to being able to exploit both flanks can you also target the left, perhaps due to an opposition weakness or an opportunity to exploit space. All focus will be on supplying the players on the left flank in order to take full advantage of left wide play. It will force the opposition team to move their team to the left in order to counter the strenght of the left wing, which may open up space on the right side, surprising the opposition team in the final third by crossing to the far post.
It will instruct the players on the left wing to run from deep and cross the ball more often, and central midfielders to hold onto the ball before looking to make passes to the left.
Exploit the Rigth Flank
Similar to being able to exploit the left flank can you also target the right, perhaps due to an opposition weakness or an opportunity to exploit space. All focus will be on supplying the players on the right flank in order to take full advantage of right wide play. It will force the opposition team to move their team to the right in order to counter the strenght of the right wing, which may open up space on the left side, surprising the opposition team in the final third by crossing to the far post.
It will instruct the players on the right wing to run from deep and cross the ball more often, and central midfielders to hold onto the ball before looking to make passes to the right.
Exploit the middle
Exploit the middle will look to take full advantage of playing through the middle perhaps due to an opposition weakness in the middle of the pitch or due to strength of your team. Players will look to make more through balls, while the width will be narrower. For a possession tactic it may be advantageous to use exploit middle together with play wider, in order to increase space for creativity players in the middle of the pitch.
Exploit the middle will also be worthy to employ if your midfield is stronger than the opposition or if your formation has no wingers, or it's much space to exploit between the opposition teams central defenders and central midfielders, often the case in a stretched out linear 4-4-2.
Look for Overlap
Look for overlap will instruct players to hold onto the ball before supplying a forward running wingback or winger. It will often be a good opportunity to create 2v1 or 3v2 on the flanks and more crossing opportunities (whatever crossing style you choose). Wide players will look to overlap eachother which will create problems for the opposition team, especially if playing narrow or possess weaker players on the flanks than your side.
This shout can be used together with one of the opportunities to exploit flanks in additional to setting the width according to what's appropriate. Look for overlap may slow the tempo down for a bit, but can be worthy if central midfielders are marked out, making them more of a supply and support players rather than playmakers. It may open open the most stubborn defenses as you will exploit the flanks.
Important Player Attributes: Anticipation, Acceleration, Pace, Off the ball, Stamina
Recommended Player roles: Wingback, Winger, Inside Forward, Wide Midfielder