What is most exciting about Football Manager 2019 for me is the new tactics revamp. New little features (gegenpress, fluid counter-attack, vertical tiki-taka, catenaccio, pressing intensity, in transition, line of engagement, counter press etc.) mean that there is just so much to try out.
Although it’s quite easy to replicate a philosophy at a club (Klopp’s Gegenpressing, Sarri’s Vertical Tiki-Taka or Mourinho’s Park The Bus), there is one club that I think can play almost every style; Bayern Munich.
Although it is a very boring choice (domestic domination seems easy enough, one of the top teams in Europe), it does allow you to try out all the new tactical philosophies (and the Bundesliga license) and features with players that are already at the club.
100mph. Choreographed headless chickens. High line of engagement, high defensive line and lots of running. Manuel Neuer can play a great Sweeper Keeper to help with the high defensive line, helping maintain pressure up the pitch. More importantly, Bayern players have great stamina to maining this heavy metal football. Lewandowski 19 Stamina, Muller 19 Stamina, Goretzka 18 Stamina, Alaba 18 Stamina, Kimmich 17 Stamina, Tolisso 17 Stamina, Renato Sanches 17 Stamina. All great physical attributes for you to put into a Gegenpress.
2008-2012. Guardiola’s Barcelona. Del Bosque’s Spain. Brendan Rodgers’ Swansea. A positive philosophy that focuses on ball possession and systematic attacking waves. Playing out from the back with Hummels and Boateng shouldn’t be an issue, both with great composure and passing ability. Inside forwards in Ribery and Robben will allow supporting Full Backs to support either by overlapping or underlapping. Pep has also coached a lot of the players with some success and it shows in the attributes of the players. Neuer can bring the ball out with ease and an orchestrator like Thiago allows Bayern to play this way with ease.
Liquid football. Intent. Sarri-ball. This is surely most people’s #1 choice when it comes to selecting their first philosophy (either this or Gegenpressing). A few years ago, the idea that Tiki-Taka is boring was (and still is) en vouge. Many teams found ways to overcome it, most through impressive organisation. But technical ability in football has greatly improved and players can play long and accurate ground passes with great first touches at the other end of the pass. Enter, Vertical Tiki-Taka. Bayern are very well suited to a slightly more direct approach than Tiki-Taka but still have tremendous technical ability. Bayern will have to be incredibly fluid with this tactic and one thing I would like to try is James Rodriguez as a False 9 to bring this philosophy to life. Lewandowski is a much better ST but this just allows more options already in the Bayern squad.
This reminds me most of Ferguson’s United. Maybe not the side of 2008, maybe a little before that. The idea to play wide, have overlapping Fullbacks all trying to cross into 1 or 2 strikers in the box has gone a little out of fashion at the top level of football although it is still a more than viable tactic in the lower leagues. With Bayern, you can have the immense overlapping Wing Backs in Alaba and Kimmich, use Wingers with Robben, Ribery and Coman all crossing into Lewandowski and Wagner (17 Jumping Reach, 17 Heading). Another option is to play the best crosser at Bayern on the wing, James Rodriguez. Only 12 Pace means beating his man might prove difficult although 18 crossing is fantastic for trying out this philosophy.
Positions of maximum opportunity. A little before my time although I think everyone is well drilled on what route one is. Extremely direct play and quick transitions are the bread and butter for this philosophy. Bayern have a “plan B” in Wagner (17 Jumping Reach, 17 Heading, 194cm), a very tall striker who helps when wanting to play a different way. He is very well suited to this and you could even suggest to train him as a Wide Target Man, similar to Mandzukic, to help play a different way.
Fluid Counter Attack
Manchester United 2008. Roonaldo. Although Manchester United were arguably more positive the philosophy would suggest, they were certainly fluid and counter attacking. This is my favourite philosophy to try in FM19. The idea of having a low line of engagement to invite pressure may seem negative although it can be devastating for the opposition. As previously mentioned, Bayern have the technical ability to be fluid from the back and also have the physical attributes to move up the pitch at lightning speed. For me, the Off The Ball attributes of Muller (20), Lewandowski (17), Goretzka (16) and Tolisso (16) mean that the GK, CBs, FBs or CMs will have an immense number of options for a defence splitting through ball.
Direct Counter Attack
Leicester City. Vardy’s infamous party. They took the league by storm by playing a relatively simple way to a very high standard. A nice low and narrow defensive block, inviting pressure from the opposition before quickly releasing to an outlet (Vardy) meant that teams couldn’t cope with the gaps that they had left behind whilst attacking. Bayern are undoubtedly more diverse although they can play this way with players like Sule (194cm, 17 Jumping Reach) in a deep block and Coman (19 Pace) as a wide outlet.
What is this philosophy? Wenger’s Arsenal? Southampton? All i can think this would be is slow build up play, low intensity pressing, a packed midfield and not counter attacking. With Inverted Wing Backs in Alaba and Kimmich, a great passer in Thiago and Ball Playing Defenders in Hummels and Boateng, there is no reason that you could not play this philosophy (although it does seem the most boring of the positive philosophies, but that’s just my opinion).
The Door Bolt. Old Jose. With Porto and Inter Jose mastered the art of nullifying the opposition. Copying this in Football Manager can be incredibly rewarding. Identifying a dangerous player in the opposition, altering your tactics slightly and seeing the “threat” get a 5.9 match rating and a 46’ substitution is what gives us the confidence to apply for actual managerial roles in football. It is hard to pinpoint a modern tactic for this (historically 5-4-1 with Libero) but Bayern can nullify many threats with their versatile players. Alaba and Kimmich can work as Defensive Wingers against overlapping Wing Backs, Boateng can play Fullback against a Wide Target Man and Javi Martinez can help bolster the center of the pitch.
Park the Bus
New Jose. Probably a little harsh although it has become synonymous with the Manchester United manager. I suppose this would just be time wasting, cramming more defensive players onto the pitch (Alaba and Javi Martinez in Midfield) and playing a nice 5-4-1 or similar. This would surely only be used with Bayern in 2-legged European games although the versatility of players will allow them to play it to a high standard.
The Carlo Ancelotti. Cramming all of your good players into a 5-1-3-1 WB DM Asymmetric AM(L). No, he’s not that extreme but trying something new and becoming the new tactical innovator in world football is what the game is about for me. I’m personally interested to try something with a low line of engagement, high defense line, high pressing intensity, counter-press, counter, narrow width, high tempo, short passing.
Sweeper Keeper - Attack
Manuel Neuer certainly made this position his own some years ago. Plagued with recent injury, he should still walk back into the team (and out of his area) and couples well with any philosophy with a high defensive line. 20 Composure, 20 Anticipation, 20 Rushing Out, make him the best at this role in the game. In terms of Goalkeeper Distribution, he has 20 Throwing, 19 Kicking and 13 Passing meaning he can mould into any type of Goalkeeper Distribution you decide.
Ball Playing Defender / Libero
Hummels and Boateng are both excellent in this role. Playing out from the back makes this role perfect and the players fit accordingly with their high Passing (both 15) and Composure (Hummels 19, Boateng 16). If you don’t play with Defend, Boateng is more suited to Cover, with Hummels better at Stopper. For 3 defender formations, adding Javi Martinez (Ball Playing Defender) or Niklas Sule (No-Nonsense Centre Back) makes the most sense. There is also an option to play Alaba here (Ball Playing Defender), which may be useful given his pace, although his 8 Heading, 10 Marking and 10 Positioning make him very low in the pecking order. If you want to go with a Libero, Hummels is probably best suited because of his 18 Anticipation, 15 Passing, 18 Positioning and 19 Composure.
Complete / Inverted Wing Back - Attack
Alaba and Kimmich are great full backs who are incredibly versatile. Complete Wing Back, No-Nonsense Full Back, Inverted Wing Back, both Alaba and Kimmich are great for all of the aspects and Rafinha provides great cover for both sides (although he is 32). One issue with Bayern Full Backs is the positioning (10 Alaba, 12 Rafinha, 12 Kimmich). One way around this is to train Jerome Boateng as a Full Back Defend to help bolster the defence in a different way (great way to combat a Wide Target Man) Another option is to train Tolisso in either of the positions as he is extremely versatile.
Regista / Anchor Man / Half Back / Segundo Volante
In terms of defensive options Javi Martinez seems to be a safe bet. Best suited to Anchor Man with his 17 Concentration, 17 Positioning and 18 Anticipation, although he can play as a Half Back to a high standard. Regista would be an ideal fit for high pressing teams, and a good option would be to train Thiago in this position. An obvious playmaker with 19 First Touch, 18 Passing and 19 Technique, playing him in a Regista role with attacking Wing Backs would give him 7 forward passing options in most attacks. He can also play in a deep lying playmaker role with the same technical requirements. Other options would be to play Renato Sanches as a Roaming Playmaker or Tolisso as a Segundo Volante.
Mezzala / Roaming / Advanced Playmaker / B2B / Ball Winning
Bayern’s versatility is shown heavily in CM. My favourite role is the Mezzala and Goretzka, Sanches and Tolisso are all fantastic in that role. All 3 double up with another role as well, Tolisso can easily play as a Box to Box, Sanches as a Roaming Playmaker and Goretzka as a Deep Lying Playmaker. The key to Bayern’s CM is Thiago and he was born to play in the Advanced Playmaker role with 18 Passing, 19 Technique, 19 First Touch, 18 Composure, 18 Flair and 19 Vision. If Javi Martinez is carrying water behind him, then Thiago can more than live up to his Midfield Entertainer title. James (Advanced Playmaker), Javi Martinez (Central Midfielder), Alaba (Carrilero), and Kimmich (Carrilero) can also play in CM for even more depth. If you want to play with a Ball Winning Midfielder, then Renato Sanches is the best option.
Raumdeuter / Inside Forward/Winger
THE original space investigator. Thomas Muller is a fantastic choice for Raumdeuter. Off The Ball 20, Anticipation 19, Stamina 19. With Mezzalas in half spaces and quality playmakers throughout the side, Muller is a very interesting option. Robben and Ribery are quite old now although they are both phenomenal Inside Forwards. Robben has 20 Dribbling, 19 First Touch, 19 Technique, 17 Finishing, and still 16 Pace. Ribery isn’t bad either, with his 19 Flair and 2 feet. Coman can offer a more natural Winger option, with 19 pace and still only 22. The understudy of Gnabry (Inside Forward) is more than capable to play when the fixture list clogs up. Wagner could also be
Shadow Striker / Advanced Playmaker
If you play want to play with Attacking Midfielders, you have a lot of options at Bayern. Shadow Striker role can easily be filled by Goretzka, Lewandowski or Muller. Goretzka would be my personal choice, extremely tireless and can improve massively. The best AM in Bayern’s ranks is James Rodriguez. Both he and Thiago can play in the Advanced Playmaker role and the former has stats like 19 First Touch, 19 Vision, 18 Flair and 18 Composure to justify his place in the team. James and Thiago are also the best options if you want to play an Enganche or Trequartista. Players like Ribery, Tolisso and Sanches can also play here if needed (though I wouldn’t recommend any of them to)
Complete Forward / False 9 / Target Man
Robert Lewandowski can play pretty much all of the ST roles. He is one of the most Complete Forwards in the game and can play both Support and Attack in this role. I won’t even bore you with his stats he’s just unreal. If you want to play with a Target Man or with Wing Play, then Wagner is a great option. Good Strength and Heading, otherwise uninspiring. Another option is to train James Rodriguez to play in the False 9 role. He can more than play in the role with 19 Vision, 19 First Touch and gives you a different dimension. This would also open up Lewandowski to learn a new role. I’m very interested to try Lewandowski as a AML as a Raumdeuter. 20 Balance, 19 Stamina, 18 First Touch, 18 Work Rate, 18 Decisions, 17 Off The Ball, 17 Finishing are all great attributes for that.
All attributes were taken from FM18. Please feel free to comment below on which philosophy interests you most.