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The Mentality Ladder: Understanding Fluidity and Duty

This Football Manager guide analyzes a practical framework which will help you organize a tactic under different fluidity/mentality combinations and give you tips on applying specific tactical settings.

By on Apr 11, 2014   140504 views   2 comments
Football Manager Guides - The Mentality Ladder: Understanding Fluidity and Duty

Tactical Priorities in Detail

In this section, you will find a brief description of the various tactical priorities for both outfield players and goalkeepers. Each tactical priority serves as a general point of reference that clarifies how a player is supposed to function within a broader tactical system. However, again, it is important to distinguish between tactical priority and role. While a tactical priority tells a player what he's supposed to focus on doing within a given system, the exact details regarding how a player goes about doing it is further refined by role and duty.

Accordingly, effectively putting the mentality ladder into practice requires considering a player's tactical priority in relation to his role. For example, while a trequartista can be given a "defensive" tactical priority, the particular instructions of the role will typically cause him to emphasize more passive aspects of defending like hunting down clearances, denying passing angles, discouraging forward runs from defenders, etc. Similarly, a ball-winning midfielder told to sit deep and help contain incoming attacks will be much more defensively aggressive relative to teammates with the same priority and more inclined to break from the defensive shape to do what he's been told to do.

The relationship between duty and tactical priority is less nuanced and more easily outlined in broad terms. Simply, as discussed in the prior section, it controls the willingness and urgency with which a player progresses beyond his tactical priority during attacking play. To this extent, the following duty descriptions can be appended to any tactical priority description. Note, again, that the playmaker roles (i.e., the Regista, Deep Lying Playmaker, Advanced Playmaker, Enganche and Trequartista) should all, in practice, use the Support Duty description.

Attack Duty
With an attack duty, the player will look to immediately advance into an attacking position after helping to carry out his tactical priority.

Support Duty
With a support duty, the player will aim to securely carry out his tactical priority and wait for sufficient defensive cover before advancing forward to provide close support to players in attacking positions.

Defend/Cover/Stopper Duty
With a defend/cover/stopper duty, the player will mainly stick to his defensive position during the attacking phase and only advance forward when there is minimal risk involved.

And now, the outfield tactical priorities:

Obstruct Shots
Under the current team mentality and fluidity instructions, this player will be inclined to position himself very deep with an aim towards simply blocking passing and shooting angles in and around his penalty area.

Slow Attacking Movement
Under the current team mentality and fluidity instructions, this player will focus on containing runs into the defensive third with a greater emphasis on simply impeding the momentum of the attack until there is enough defensive support to safely deal with the threat.

Contain Attacking Movement
Under the current team mentality and fluidity instructions, this player will focus on containing runs into the defensive third by impeding the momentum of the attack and, if enough defensive support is available, diverting attackers into areas where they will pose less of a threat.

Divert Attacking Movement
Under the current team mentality and fluidity instructions, this player will focus on containing runs into the defensive third with a greater willingness to hold his ground ahead of the penalty area to force attackers into areas where they will pose less of a threat.

Restrict Space Cautiously
Under the current team mentality and fluidity instructions, this player will focus on denying opposition attackers space in which to play the ball with a greater emphasis on attempting to simply force technical errors without giving away a foul.

Restrict Space
Under the current team mentality and fluidity instructions, this player will focus on denying opposition attackers space in which to receive and play the ball while being careful not to give away a foul in a dangerous area.

Restrict Space Aggressively
Under the current team mentality and fluidity instructions, this player will focus on denying opposition attackers space in which to receive and play the ball with a slightly greater willingness to challenge for the ball when the opportunity presents itself.

Disrupt Attacks Judiciously
Under the current team mentality and fluidity instructions, this player will focus on challenging opposition attackers as they venture deep into the defensive half and promptly clearing the ball from dangerous areas.

Disrupt Attacks
Under the current team mentality and fluidity instructions, this player will focus on challenging opposition attackers as they venture into the defensive half and, if no safe passing options are available, promptly clearing the ball from dangerous areas.

Disrupt Attacks Quickly
Under the current team mentality and fluidity instructions, this player will focus on promptly challenging advancing opposition attackers and carefully getting the ball forward without needlessly compromising the team's defensive shape.

Recover Possession After Defensive Transition
Under the current team mentality and fluidity instructions, this player will focus on venturing forward and challenging for possession in the centre of the park once the team has securely transitioned into a cohesive defensive shape.

Recover Possession
Under the current team mentality and fluidity instructions, this player will focus on venturing forward and regaining possession in the centre of the park when sufficient defensive cover is available.

Recover Possession Immediately
Under the current team mentality and fluidity instructions, this player will focus on venturing forward and regaining possession in the centre of the park before the opposition can coordinate its attack.

Keep Possession Away from Pressure
Under the current team mentality and fluidity instructions, this player will focus on winning and holding onto the ball in the centre of the park with a greater inclination to securely play it back deep into his own half in order to draw out the opposition defence.

Keep Possession
Under the current team mentality and fluidity instructions, this player will focus on winning and holding onto the ball in the centre of the park until it can be securely moved into a more advanced area.

Keep Possession Under Pressure
Under the current team mentality and fluidity instructions, this player will focus on winning and holding onto the ball in the centre of the park with a greater emphasis on luring nearby defenders out of position in order to create space for advancing teammates.

Shuttle Ball into Space
Under the current team mentality and fluidity instructions, the player will focus on taking possession of the ball near or inside the opposition half and promptly moving it into the attacking third while being careful not to needlessly play it into the path of a defender.

Shuttle Ball
Under the current team mentality and fluidity instructions, the player will focus on taking possession of the ball near or inside the opposition half and promptly moving it into the attacking third.

Shuttle Ball Through Defence
Under the current team mentality and fluidity instructions, the player will focus on taking possession of the ball inside the opposition half and promptly moving it into the attacking third with a greater willingness to take on or thread the ball between defenders.

Suppress Counterattacking Options
Under the current team mentality and fluidity instructions, the player will focus on sitting behind the attack in the opposition half before moving to aggressively deny space to opposition forwards looking to break forward on the counter.

Suppress Counterattacks
Under the current team mentality and fluidity instructions, the player will focus on sitting behind the attack in the opposition half before moving to aggressively mark or close down opposition forwards and attacking midfielders looking to initiate a quick counterattack.

Suppress Counterattacking Outlets
Under the current team mentality and fluidity instructions, the player will focus on sitting behind the attack in the opposition half before aggressively moving to close down opposition players attempting to receive passes or recover clearances in the hole between the midfield and defence.

Isolate Advancing Midfielders
Under the current team mentality and fluidity instructions, the player will focus on sitting behind the attack in the opposition half before quickly moving to disrupt the opposition's build-up play by aggressively marking and closing down opposition midfielders attempting to get forward to support a counterattack.

Isolate Midfielders
Under the current team mentality and fluidity instructions, the player will focus on sitting behind the attack in the opposition half before quickly moving to disrupt the opposition's build-up play by aggressively marking and closing down opposition midfielders attempting to advance play out of their own third.

Isolate Holding Midfielders
Under the current team mentality and fluidity instructions, the player will focus on sitting behind the attack in the opposition half before quickly moving to disrupt the opposition's build-up play by aggressively closing opposition midfielders attempting to hold onto or play the ball from within their own third.

Hassle Dawdling Defenders
Under the current team mentality and fluidity instructions, the player will focus on sitting behind the attack in the opposition half before quickly moving to disrupt the opposition's build-up play and initiate counterattacking opportunities by closing down defenders who either appear hesitant to move the ball forward or are purposefully attempting to waste time by passing it around in the defensive third.

Hassle Defenders
Under the current team mentality and fluidity instructions, the player will focus on sitting behind the attack in the opposition half before quickly moving to disrupt the opposition's build-up play and initiate counterattacking opportunities by aggressively closing down defenders attempting to play the ball out from the back.

Hassle Defenders Relentlessly
Under the current team mentality and fluidity instructions, the player will focus on sitting behind the attack in the opposition half before quickly moving to disrupt the opposition's build-up play and initiate immediate counterattacking opportunities by aggressively closing down defenders attempting to get the ball out of their own third.

Force Clearance
Under the current team mentality and fluidity instructions, the player will focus on sitting behind the attack in the opposition half before quickly moving to force either the defender or the goalkeeper into a hasty clearance.

Join Attack
This task is not available as a tactical priority in any mentality structure. If teammates take up the player's responsibilities and provide sufficient defensive cover, a defend duty player will momentarily assume support duty attacking responsibilities or, on rare occasions, attack duty attacking responsibilities if a good opportunity presents itself.

Create Chances Patiently
Under the current team mentality and fluidity instructions, the player will focus on finding space ahead of the defence from which he can receive the ball and, if possible, wait for a clear opportunity to craft a chance before he is closed down by opposition defenders.

Create Chances
Under the current team mentality and fluidity instructions, the player will focus on finding space ahead of the defence from which he can receive the ball and look for an opportunity to craft a chance before he is he closed down by opposition defenders.

Create Chances Urgently
Under the current team mentality and fluidity instructions, the player will focus on finding space ahead of the defence from which he can receive the ball and look to quickly craft a chance as soon as a credible opportunity emerges.

Force Half Chances When Necessary
Under the current team mentality and fluidity instructions, the player will focus on getting onto the ball in advanced areas and crafting chances with a greater willingness to attempt to force a chance when support is lacking and no clear opportunities appear likely to emerge.

Force Half Chances
Under the current team mentality and fluidity instructions, the player will focus on getting onto the ball in advanced areas and crafting chances, though rather than patiently probe a stubborn defence, he will be more inclined to attempt to force a chance to sustain the momentum of the attack.

Force Half Chances Without Hesitation
Under the current team mentality and fluidity instructions, the player will focus on getting onto the ball in advanced areas and attempting to craft a chance at the first possible opportunity.

Test Defence with Precision
Under the current team mentality and fluidity instructions, the player will focus on finding occasional opportunities to test the opposition defence's concentration and discipline with carefully placed shots and precise passes intended to cause panic and indecision.

Test Defence
Under the current team mentality and fluidity instructions, the player will focus on testing the opposition defence's concentration and discipline by periodically taking a shot on goal or playing a hopeful ball into the area with the intent of provoking panic and indecision.

Test Defence with Power
Under the current team mentality and fluidity instructions, the player will focus on testing the opposition defence's concentration and discipline with a much greater willingness to simply blast the ball goalwards or lob it into the area when other options appear limited.

Rush Ball Forward
Under the current team mentality and fluidity instructions, the player will focus on simply overwhelming the opposition defence by playing hopeful balls into the area at every opportunity.

Surge Into Box
This task is not available as a tactical priority in any mentality structure. If teammates take up the player's responsibilities and provide sufficient defensive cover, a support duty player will momentarily assume attack duty attacking responsibilities if a good opportunity presents itself.

Spearhead Attacking Moves from the Hole
Under the current team mentality and fluidity instructions, the player will focus on utilizing space between the opposition midfield and defence to make himself available for passes before either running at the defence or attempting to quickly link up with another advancing attacker.

Spearhead Attacking Moves
Under the current team mentality and fluidity instructions, the player will focus on finding space near the opposition defence to make himself available for passes before either running at the defence or attempting to quickly link up with another advancing attacker.

Spearhead Attacking Moves Closer to Defence
Under the current team mentality and fluidity instructions, the player will focus on persistently pushing up against and dropping back from the opposition defensive line to both lure defenders out of position and make himself available for passes before either running at the defence or attempting to quickly link up with another advancing attacker.

Penetrate Gaps Intermittently
Under the current team mentality and fluidity instructions, the player will focus on staying forward and, when not needed to help link up the attack, looking for openings to run deep into the attacking third.

Penetrate Gaps
Under the current team mentality and fluidity instructions, the player will focus on staying forward and, when sufficient support is available, moving deep into the attacking third to either stretch the defence or get on the end of chances.

Penetrate Gaps Persistently
Under the current team mentality and fluidity instructions, the player will focus on staying forward and immediately exploiting any defensive gaps that open up in the attacking third.

Draw Off Defenders
Under the current team mentality and fluidity instructions, the player will focus on staying forward and pushing up against the opposition defensive line while looking to either immediately break forward on the counter or drag defenders out of position to create space for teammates' runs and passes.

Overload Defenders
Under the current team meantlity and fluidity instructions, the player will focus on staying forward and pushing up against the opposition defensive line while looking to either break forward on the counter, drag defenders out of position or simply provide a physical presence to occupy and obstruct them as teammates look overload the opposition penalty area.

Challenge Defenders
Under the current team mentality and fluidity instructions, the player will focus on staying forward and pushing up against the opposition defensive line while looking to either break forward on the counter or provoke panic among opposition defenders by providing a persistent, aggressive presence poised to get on the end of any balls played into the opposition penalty area.

Bypass Last Defender
Under the current team mentality and fluidity instructions, the player will focus on simply sitting on the shoulder of the last defender at all times with the intention of pinning back the opposition defence and breaking forward into space at every opportunity.

And finally, the goalkeeper tactical priorities:

Shield Goal
Under the current team mentality and fluidity instructions, the goalkeeper will mainly rely on his defenders to obstruct shooting angles as he focuses on stopping shots from the line and claiming balls played across the six yard box.

Limit Pressure
Under the current team mentality and fluidity instructions, the goalkeeper will focus on minimizing the risk of being exposed by defensive errors with a strong tendency to dwell on claimed balls and kick it long after his teammates have assumed attacking positions higher up the pitch.

Distribute Safely
Under the current team mentality and fluidity instructions, the goalkeeper will focus on securely distributing the ball to defenders as soon as possible, though he will still kick it long if the defence finds itself under pressure.

Cycle Possession
Under the current team mentality and fluidity instructions, the goalkeeper will focus on securely distributing the ball to the defence and helping them keep possession when under pressure from opposition forwards.

Initiate Attacks
Under the current team mentality and fluidity instructions, the goalkeeper will focus on quickly distributing the ball to facilitiate rapid counterattacks and offering a deep outlet for possession passes to help his team keep hold of the ball during elaborate build-up plays.

Support Attacks
Under the current team mentality and fluidity instructions, the goalkeeper will focus on quickly distributing the ball to open teammates across the pitch with a much greater willingness to leave his area to help sustain offensive pressure.

CONCLUSION

Philosophy, style, fluidity.

My intention in creating the mentality ladder was to provide a more accessible foundation for understanding and utilizing the common concept to which these terms refer. Hopefully, if you were totally confused before, this guide has provided you with a greater degree of clarity and a useful tool for getting what you want out of your tactics. If you were already comfortable with the fluidity setting, then at the very least, I hope this guide has inspired a few ideas for using them in new and novel ways.

However, as I said in the introduction, this guide is only an initial, exploratory attempt at outlining and clarifying the practical foundations of fluidity in terms of the ordinary language used between coach and player. While the mentality ladder is rooted in my experiences playing the game and testing various tactical settings within the confines of the Tactics Creator, it will undoubtedly need to be further adjusted and refined (certainly, it has already undergone multiple revisions prior to this initial publication).

With that said, even in this early state, I hope it will prove to be an accessible and entertaining heuristic framework that will better enable you to avoid unnecessary guesswork and just have more fun with the game.

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About Stam

I started FM Scout for fun in the distant 2004. I'm proud of how this place has grown into a vibrant community and I try my best to improve it every year. Husband and father of two.

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Discussion: The Mentality Ladder: Understanding Fluidity and Duty

2 comments have been posted so far.

  • paolope83's avatar
    Great job Stam. A useful and perfectly written and shaped guide. Kudos
  • Ziechael's avatar
    As per usual, a world class summary(/detailed breakdown!) of one of FM's vaguer areas.
    1
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