A Football Manager Tactic influenced by historical systems like Catenaccio, Italian 3-5-2 and W-M – Released for FM14
From the creator of FM13 Barcelona Tiki-Taka Possession comes a new world beater!
The history of football tactics and the football world is in constant evolution. Not only in the past 100 years from 2-3-5 and the historical W-M formation to 4-3-3, from purely attacking tactics with 8 strikers to modern tactics with no strikers at all!
No matter which playing styles the best managers employ, ideas and strategy is often based on the history of football tactics. From Karl Rappan who founded the Verrou (which Catenaccio emerged from), to the tiki-taka which was heavily influenced by Arrigo Sacchi’s high pressing style and the Total Football invented by Rinus Michels. New football tactics and strategies can be regarded as just a build-up from the past, and often past ideas and inventions is re-born as football evolves.
When I should create my first Football Manager 2014 tactics I wanted to create a tactic which was based on the different ideas within the footballing world. I wanted to merge past and future, aka create a system influenced by history, but also give you a preview of how I think the footballing world in regard to tactics will be in the future.
With the love of history, Football Manager 2014 Counter Attacking Tactic Sidewinder 3-5-2 was born. So how shall I describe this counter attacking tactic? Perhaps it’s like grandma’s best cooking recipe – a little bit of everything tasty!
FM14 Tactic Counter Attack Sidewinder 3-5-2 is not solely a tactic which hits on the break, the defensive line is set deep, but it’s also capable of pressing high. In some games will you give possession away in order to counter them with quickness and creativity while other times will you feel you’re playing a possession tactic as the opponents gets pinned back to their own penalty box. This means that your side will be superior in possession too! It’s a raw mix of short sweet passes, wide crosses into the penalty box and direct passes which unlocks any opponents. This counter attacking tactic will also promise you a good amount of clear cut chances and shots on target. But what I love with this tactical experiment is the battle between congesting areas in order to create numerical superiority versus specific one on one situations where only the best player will succeed. Similar to the Italian Catenaccio relies this tactic very much on tight man marking and players combative to win possession by harder tackles and many interceptions.
I guess you wonder why it’s called Sidewinder 3-5-2. As you will discover by reading the full article, Sidewinder is a propriate name. The name is taken from the AIM-9 Sidewinder, a heat-seeking short-distance air-to-air missile used by fighter aircrafts such as F-8D Crusader or VX-9 F/A-18 Super Hornet. The deadly range of the Sidewinder missiles launched from the wings of a speedy fighter jet can defeat any enemy. (In this tactic, the missiles are the complete wing backs, if you hadn’t figured it out yet).
Are you ready to take on the world of Football Manager 2014 with Sidewinder 3-5-2, a tactic which will make you enjoy some of the best FM14 moments? Download and give us your opinion of this modern football tactic.
“The accent in the counter attack style of play lays on the defensive team function, with the emphasis being on the defender’s own half of the field and letting the opponents keep the initiative of the game. This is to take advantage of the space behind their defense for the buildup and the attack.”Rinus Michels
The Key Features of FM14 Tactic Counter Attacking Sidewinder 3-5-2
Football Tactics in the future?
The Sidewinder 3-5-2 aims to be a peek into the future. I’ve setup the tactic on how I think modern football tactics will be. I will believe that the best footballers of the future will be “complete” players – capable of understanding all phases of play. Defenders must be tactical intelligent but also technical skills in order to play as “deep-lying playmakers”. These “complete players” will both aid your side in one on one situations, but also when your formation is unbalanced – for example in transition phases.
I will believe that the match tempo will be even higher than today. Future football matches will not only be played on a strictly physical and tactical plan but also in terms of mentality. The invention of “Total Football” was only the beginning of how important covering will be. I also believe pressing will be even more important in the future – to benefit from the few seconds no one has possession of the ball – aka they need to respond quicker and act faster in order to regain possession for the full 90 minutes. Mental toughness, excellent physic and improved technical and tactical awareness should be keys to the professional footballer of the future, in my point of view.
FM14 Sidewinder Tactic: Formation and Player Positioning
The formation of the counter attacking tactic Sidewinder could be described as a 3-5-2, 5-3-2 or even a 3-4-3, 4-1DM-2-1-2 (with a diamond in the middle), depending on how you look at it. It has 2 specific defenders, 5 players who will support both defence and midfield, and 3 more attacking minded players (two of them will support the midfield). It’s not a traditional 3-5-2 formation or a very specific 5-3-2 formation either. Instead I’ve selected 2 defenders, which makes me able to move the spare man from the original sweeper position to the AM position. It makes me able to press higher up the pitch, leaving the 2 central defenders more like a safety net. With 3 players in the attacking line I aim to create numerical superiority / similarity up front.
I have chosen this type of formation in order to create as many triangles as possible. My idea was to create a tactical system which makes as many players as possible to drop between the lines of the opposition teams formation. Making them more available to recieve passes and play the ball into space – which is vital for any counter attacking tactics.
If you look closer to the average position map, you will see triangles not only within the diamond, but also between the DC, CWB and False Nine, while the triangles between the two strikers and AMC is also very distinct.
The diamond and player positioning is done to create as many passing options and numerical superiority as possible. It will link the players together like a chain (sounds familiar?), in order to move from defensive to attacking area as quickly as possible. If it’s not possible to get the ball quickly forward, the players will look to retain possession by utilizing a direct short passing style influenced by Barcelonas tiki-taka. This means that the passing style will be most often direct with passing into space as the main threat, but also a short passing style in order to retain possession when necessary.
Spaces will be created by players running with the ball, quick accurate passes to closely linked teammates and movements found from the best attacking tactic; overlaps, plays one twos and strikers who runs wide while the other gets deep.
The Sidewinder 3-5-2 aims to overrun opponents with individual creativity and stamina, but also team work and workrate. The tactic is best utilized when the players gets enough space, both horisontal and vertical. Your players will cover the most ground as almost every player contributes to both defensive, transition and attacking phases. When defending, your team will have around 9 players behind the ball and when attacking 5 inside the penalty box with 2 or even 3 players arriving late – beneficial for supporting passes and dictating play when space is congested.
The Strength and Weaknesses of FM14 Tactic Sidewinder 3-5-2; Pros and Cons
First of, this counter attacking tactic can’t be described as 100% defensive solid. You will concede with this tactic and experience goals against. But “The best defense is a good offense” right? So why worry about a goal against if you can score 1 or even 2 more than them?
As with any tactics, there will be pros and cons depending on which formations and playing styles you face. You will need the right players and sets of skills in order to utilize it, and it will take time to make it 100% fluid. But I have enjoyed some of the best moments with this tactical system. Below will we quickly go through the most important strength and weaknesses of Sidewinder 3-5-2, but I encourage you to try it out and experience it by yourself:
- Element A)
Pros: The diamond formation will increase the chances of retaining possession and get the ball quicker from defence to attack. The box of four will make it difficult for the opposition team to break through the middle of the pitch.
Cons: The centralized player positioning leaves no cover on the flanks and less support for the complete wing backs.
Playing with many players in the center of the pitch creates a two elements you’ll need to be aware of:
- If the opposition team plays wide, you will get more space in the middle for through balls and direct runs, which might be devastating for them.
- If the opposition team plays narrow (to combat your central players), it will leave huge spaces for the complete wingbacks to blossom in – making them able to launch forward as missiles!
You will defend and attack with (almost) the full team. The 2 defenders and lack of flank cover are only noticeable if or when;
- being hit on the break (because of individual mistakes or rebounds from shots)
- The opposition team stretches their play and hit you on the flanks – which is their only option/ solution to get something out of the match. This is often the case for sides playing 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1Wide or 4-5-1, where inside forwards and wingbacks double up on the flanks.
The Reality of SideWinder 3-5-2
It relies very much of man marking in order to utilize the strength and weaknesses of the lack of cover on flanks. If you can make sure you don’t overload opposition team that much and reduce the risk of being hit on the break, you will have a world beater!
I have discovered that most often will the opposition team put most of their focus on the players positioned in the central area of the pitch when defending, which makes your side able to create overlap opportunities and crosses from wide. This is the primarily benefits of Sidewinder 3-5-2.
The space given to the complete wingbacks, which they will exploit when your side has possession of the ball, will make them an huge attacking threat. But as mentioned above, they are also the primarily weakness of this system. This means that the key to the success of FM14 Counter-Attacking tactic Sidewinder 3-5-2 lays in the players selected for the complete wingback position.
As a counter-attacking tactic it’s really an interesting system. When hitting opposition team on break (for example if possession is won in the middle of own half), 8 players are ready to overload the midfield and get forward. While the complete wingbacks will surge forward all the way to byline, 1 and 2 (in the image above) will arrive late in the area making them able to support the player with possession. A will get forward to the half way line and stay around that area in order to be available to dictate play.
Player Requirements and Skills needed
FM14 Sidewinder 3-5-2 might be one of the most demanding tactic ever created. Not only shall the players be capable of defending, but also participate in the attack and transition phase. Players wth overall skills should be primarily considered, while players with excellent stamina, work rate, decisions and anticipation should be prime candidates for almost any positions. Since this tactic relies on individual skills put into a system, it’s worthy to look at all the different roles:
Goalkeeper – GK Defend
Because of the distribution method and risky positioning have I yet again selected the goalkeeper defend, when 99% of the community would have selected sweeper keeper. This is just a personal preference rather than what suits the tactic best. In my point of view, shall the goalkeeper stay inside the 12 yard area. The goalkeeper will have to deal with many crosses and corners. It’s required of him to have excellent aerial ability, command of area handling and reflexes. You may have to withstand heavy pressure for a longer period of time, both from long shots and players congesting the penalty area: positioning, agility, reflexes and composure will also be beneficial. Last but not least will the GK require good communication and anticipation. He may also have to deal with strikers who are clear on goal (because of mistakes in attacking third) and therefore requires good one on one capabilities and the ability to decide when its appropiate to rush out.
Player Recommendations: Wojciech Szczesny (23, Arsenal), Julio Cesar (26, Fluminense), Jose Manuel Reina (30, Liverpool/Napoli)
Central Defenders – DC defend
The central defenders will be your safety net – positioned deep and shall only involve themselves when necessary. Their presence is of course important, but they are instructed to stick to their positions rather than close down players or tight mark strikers. When defending will they need to move from side to side, keep track of the players in front and make sure they can’t turn around. They will be forced from time to time to move wide to counter, tackle and intercept movements by narrow wingers – often the case if possession are lost high and complete fullbacks are of no chance to get back in time. The central defenders of Sidewinder 3-5-2 must often deal with one or even 3 opposite players, depending on opposite formations.
When in possession, they will be available for supporting passes – changing direction of play from side to side, player to player. They will also have to deal with rebounds and have the required quickness to track down opponents, if possession are lost when defensive line is very high.
They shall not only be good with their feet, but also take advantage of their height and aerial ability for dealing with crosses.
Search for: defenders similar to Giorgio Chiellini.
Player Recommendations: Samuel Umtiti (19, Olympique Lyonnais), Frederik Sørensen (21, Bologna/Juventus), Bruno Martins Indi (21, Feyenoord), Inigo Martinez (22, Real Sociedad), Aleksandar Dragovic (22, Dynamo Kiev), Sergey Ignaschevich (34, CSKA Moscow)
Complete Wing Backs – WB Attack
The complete wing backs will need to be both defensive solid and capable of being an attacking threat. He will cover around 13 to 14 km per match (stamina and natural fitness). In defensive situations will the CWB pressurize their markers, making them unavailable to cross. They will look to win possession on the flanks and get forward quickly with the ball at their feet in order to launch crosses into the penalty box or shoot from the side. When not in possession, the complete wing back will look to man mark opposite winger or fullback depending on opposite formation. He can be regarded as a defensive minded midfielder with excellent speed and off the ball.
Tackling, marking, positioning and concentration is important when defending, while off the ball, dribbling, first touch, passing, decisions and crossing are valuable attributes when attacking. Since he will assist your team in all phases of play, he should have excellent teamwork and anticipation.
Search for: wingbacks similar to Stephan Lichtsteiner.
Player Recommendations: Darijo Srna (31, Shakhtar), Cesar Azpilicueta (23, Chelsea), Gino Peruzzi (21, Catania), Coke (26, Sevilla), Davide Santon (22, Newcastle), Leighton Baines (28, Everton)
Regista – DM Support
The defensive minded playmaker – regista is selected in order to win possession earlier. He lies in front of the two defenders, being the first player of the diamond. The regista will stay in the hole between the defenders and midfielders and can be described as the first defender. The regista will operate mostly on its own half intercepting moves, tackle hard and tight mark attacking midfielders or secondary strikers. He will normally not contribute in the attacking third, but will dictate play by pinpointed direct passes to the box to box midfielders or pass quickly out to the CWB. The regista needs to stay calm, be focused and determine to win possession back quickly. His main strengths will be creativity and passing – His positioning and ability to make himself constantly available is vital.
This player must also be able to play as half back, in order to provide more cover for the two defenders, if necessary.
Search for: playmakers similar to Andrea Pirlo.
Player Recommendations: Michael Carrick (32, Man Utd), Sergio Busquets (25, Barcelona), Lucas Leiva (26, Paris SG), Cristian Ledesma (30, Lazio), Felipe Melo (29, Galatasaray)
Box to Box Midfielder – MC Support
The box to box midfielder will be the lungs of this tactic. Without them it will not be as defensive or attacking solid. They will cover the full pitch, be involved with passing and interceptions, marking and shooting. They shall both be able to tackle and dribble forward creating space for others. The BBM’s will also move forward and wide providing support to the complete wing back (create 2 on 1 situations) and get in the space besides the AP.
When not in possession he will require good tackling, marking and positioning, but also anticipation, decisions and work rate in order to intercept balls, win possession and protect the defensive line. With possession they must create space and provide a little more width to the attacking line. BBM’s will run with the ball forward, but also assist the more creative outlet of your team.
Search for: players similar to Paul Pogba.
Player Recommendations: Mads Albæk (23, Stade Reims), Pedro Obiang (21, Sampdoria), Marouane Fellaini (25, Man Utd), Mousa Dembele (26, Tottenham), Darron Gibson (25, Everton)
Advanced Playmaker – AMC Attack
The advanced playmaker will provide support to the midfield when defending. He will look to win possession early by putting pressure on the defensive midfielder or track down passes between central defenders and central midfielders. In attack he looks to get the ball quickly to the strikers or receive the rebound from the striker and change direction of play from central areas to flanks. He will be more stationary than the box to box midfielder and false nine, but is instructed to search for spaces between the opponents lines and move forward between the two strikers.
The advanced playmaker requires to be creative, utilize his excellent work rate, possess good first touch and dictate play in congested areas. His positioning will make him able to get into goalscoring opportunities and will be able to finish off attacks. He will also required the vision to pass to a better positioned player and will record a lot of key passes and assists. Do note that I’ve used Carlos Tevez in this position.
Search for: playmakers similar to Paul Pogba.
Player Recommendations: Alessandro Florenzi (22, Roma), Lucho Gonzalez (32, FC Porto), Markus Henriksen (21, AZ), Keisuke Honda (27, CSKA Moscow), Tomas Martinez (18, River)
False Nine – Striker Support
The false nine is primarily chosen to pressurize the opponents and force mistakes. He will drop behind the advanced playmaker when not in possession and cover nearly as much ground as the box to box midfielder. The False nine is selected as the link between the advanced playmaker and advanced forward. By dropping very deep, it will create a problem for the opposite marker. The False nine will be the most creative player in the team and shall primarily fashion out chances, play through balls behind the opponents defensive line directed to the closest complete wing back or advanced forward.
As a striker he will also score some goals, but shall ordinary support the advanced forward. Normally the false nine will drop deep to receive passes for then to play rebounds which makes his marker pushed up, leaving space for the AF to move into.
Search for: attacking midfielders similar to Carlos Tevez.
Player Recommendations: Kevin Volland (21, Hoffenheim), Diego Costa (24, Atletico), Nilmar (29, Al-Rayyan), Eduardo (30, Shakhtar), Gabriel Barbosa (16, Santos), Ademilson (19, Sao Paulo), Luis Fernando Muriel (22, Udinese)
Advanced Forward – Striker Attack
The advanced forward will be the main goal scorer. He will look to stay high up the pitch and be the focal point of passes. He will require good first touch and will look to pass supporting passes when the team has won possession deep. The complete wingbacks will look to cross the ball onto him, so he should be tall with good heading and jumping reach.
The advanced forward will be a mixture between a good old target man and a creative technician excellent with the ball at his feet. He will rarely play in others in the final third, but will be capable of running with the ball at his feet when hitting the opponents on the break. This means that he shall be a threat from all positions of the field and in aerial situations. His movements will be very important to succeed in attacking situations. While one of the strikers drops deep, the other shall move forward in order to increase unpredictability. Most often is the false nine who drops deep, but
Search for: strikers similar to Fernando Llorente.
Player Recommendations: Mario Mandzukic (27, FC Bayern), Aleksandar Mitrovic (18, Anderlecht), Alvaro Morata (20, Real Madrid), Andreas Cornelius (20, Cardiff)
Setup of Opposition Instructions
The setup of opposition instructions will of course vary from opponents to opponents and their style of play. I feel opposition instructions are very important in regard to the success of this tactic. I tend to use this setup:
- Counter Central defenders: Close down always + Tackle normal
- Counter Fullbacks: Show onto opposite foot of side he’s playing in
- Counter Defensive midfielders: Tackle normal + Close down always + show onto weaker foot
- Counter Central Midfielders: Show onto left foot for MCR / right foot for MCL + Tight Mark best passer + Tackle normal
- Counter Wingers: Tight Mark (specific) + Show onto opposite foot of side he’s positioned on. For example Show onto left foot for right wingers
- Counter Attacking Midfielders: Tight Mark (specific) + Show onto weaker foot
- Counter Strikers: Show onto weaker foot
Besides opposition instructions will specific tight man-marking be important to get success. Positions I like to man-mark are wingers, attacking midfielder and the best midfielder in the central line. But I encourage you to spend some time, figuring what suits you in order to counter the opposition team in order to win possession before they enter final third.
Training Setup – Team and Match Preparation
The counter attacking tactic sidewinder 3-5-2 is both defensive and attacking solid, it concedes few goals and create lots of chances. Player development is always important to make success of this 3-5-2 / 4-1-2-1-2 diamond. The squad requires ahigh number of varied player attributes for the counter attacking playing style. Not only do they need to cover a lot of ground, but also regain possession early in the transition phase or be defensive solid if regaining possession is not possible.
Setting up team training for your side will often depend on your squads weaknesses, which would be important to improve. But you can also use it to ensure better performances by building on the current strengths. First of, as you might understand from the article above is this tactic very physical demanding. Buying the right players with good workrate, teamwork and natural fitness (stamina and strength) is always important.
Team training should be changed every other other month in order to ensure better development, but this if often more of a subjektive matter according to how the players progress in training. My general training preferences for the Sidewinder are;
- Team Training – Balanced, which focus on all of the general training categories from fitness to attacking
But other than that there are some specific team training categories worth prioritized, listed below from most to less important:
A) Tactics in order to improve composure and decisions. Tactics is often used in the early months after pre-season in order to increase the tactical familiarity to fluid.
B) Attacking since the tactic focus on direct passing style. Attacking team training looks to improve creativity, passing and off the ball, to mention some important aspects related to style of play.
C) Defending should be preferred as I like to regain possession in the formational line before central defenders. Looks to improve marking and tackling which is highly used for this tactic.
Match Training and Preparations
Match training is often used to counter specific opposition weaknesses. Since the fixture list is often very tight it’s often smart to set up match preparation based on the playing style, and in different to the team training, and if you play home or away.
Match training will ensure that the players get more confident in a specific area of play, according to how you think the next match will develop. But it will also give the players a boost on the specific related player attributes. My recommended setup for match preparation (if you look beside next opposition scouts recommendations and opposition team weaknesses), are:
A) Attacking Movement in order to take advantage of the transition phase and make the players more confident in attacking – improve get off the ball and co-ordination between the players. Often used when playing home.
B) Defensive Positioning when facing creative opponents with much quickness in order to increase understanding of how the players needs to act when defending – concentration, positioning and tackling. Often used when playing away.
C) Set-pieces is always important. To take the advantage of the chances you’ll get at attacking set-pieces can be very rewarding. As mentioned before, this tactic may often concede many corners. Defensive set-pieces will make the players more confident and make it more likely to counter from defensive set-pieces.
Records and Achievements
Brief list of Other Achievements
- Personal record of clear cut chances: 10 (14.1)
- Promotion 2. Bundesliga (winner 2014)
- Finished 8th Bundesliga 2014/15
- Winner UEFA Europa Leauge 2017
- Winner UEFA Super Cup 2017, 2019
- Bundesliga Winner 2018, 2019, 2020
- German Super Cup Winner 2018, 2019, 2020
- German Cup Winner 2019, 2020 – UEFA Champions League Winner 2019
- Club World Championship Winner 2019
- Treble with Juventus first season (Italian Super Cup, Serie A and Euro Cup)
- FM14 Achievements: Iron Curtain + Unstoppable
- Italian Manager of the Year Serie A
- 111 goals / 47 conceded in 56 matches (38 won)
Published: 06.01.2014 21.35PM GMT
How to Import the file?
Download above tactic and import it to this specific folder:
“Your Documents” > Sports Interactive > Football Manager 2014 > Tactics
Open Football Manager 2014 and go to Overview screen of Tactics. Click Manage Tactics and load “Passion4FM’s FM14 Attacking Counter Attacking Tactic Sidewinder 3-5-2″
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