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Is it me or the tactics?

Struggling for consistency
Started on 10 March 2022 by Managerless
Latest Reply on 30 March 2022 by jahendricksi
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Hi all, I got FM21 around Christmas time as it was free on Amazon prime gaming through the epic store and I've been playing a few months now as manager of Hibernian in the Scottish Premiership. It was a random pick and that's who the computer gave me.
I've now completed 3 seasons and about half way through my fourth and I'm really struggling to get consistent results. I started with a 532 formation that worked well in FM16 for me and at first it was great. The first half of the season I was unbeaten and top of the league. Then I got beat by Rangers and I was still doing ok until right at the end when the league splits into two where I lost most games. I still finished 3rd which is what had hoped for when taking the team. The next season the poor results continued plus an injury to my main striker so I changed formation and that worked for a bit and faultered again at the end of the season. I still just scraped 3rd. 3rd season pre season was horrid so I went back to the 352 but with higher pressing etc more like geggenpress. This went quite well for a bit and then just completely stopped. Chances created were so few and far between. So I switched to the classic 4231 but with the same transition tactics etc and went 14 games unbeaten at the end of the season in the league and euro 2 semi final. Won both domestic cups finished fourth. I thought I'd cracked it until this season where the team are brilliant in the Europa League where I just qualified top of the group winning 5 out of 6 only losing away at Lazio but my league form is terrible. Currently 5th and losing really silly games.
I can't work out why?
It's ok to lose sometimes. Trying next year to improve the squad. By attributes, not stars.
The SPFL is a tough league to win if you are not Celtic or Rangers. Celtic has a lot of good players and financial resources while Rangers also have a lot of good players and sell them to get more money. 3rd is very respectable.

If I read your post right you are playing FM 21, not FM 22. So Gegenpressing works well in that version as does the 4-2-3-1 / 4-3-2-1. I am not sure how your transition is or passing but the Vertical Tiki Taka seems to work well at creating chances, which seems to be what you are struggling with.

Based on your end-of-season form it seems like your deep Cup runs are impacting your squads ability to stay fresh. When I play in Scotland I tend to have two first team 11's since if I go far in Europe I am usually playing 2 games a week every week for months. And if injuries strike then that is even more on the team, who just wear down by the end of the year. So maybe cycle through players more and play youngsters more often against the Hamiltons, Dundees, and Particks of the League (and Cups).

I echo what FC.Cadoni mentioned about basing your purchases on attributes, not star rating. I haven't paid attention to star ratings for a few versions of the game, simply buying players with the attributes I value in my team: overall speed and stamina is good, as is natural fitness to avoid tiredness, but each position is different and each player is as well. If I find a slower but stronger striker I will consider playing 2 up top, or having my wingers cross from the byline (to allow my lumbering striker to get into position); with my typical faster strikers I instruct my wingers to hit early crosses for my faster strikers to run onto. Find how you want to play and what your players can do and play that way or buy players that play that way.

I hope this helps and good luck with Hibs!
Need to figure out why you’re losing games, and to do that you need to see how you’re conceding goals. Is it set pieces? Through balls? Crosses?

Its impossible to completely negate the opposition from scoring from certain scenarios but by understanding why and how you’re leaking goals, you will be able to adjust tactically (and personnel) to reduce the number of goals you concede
4-2-3-1 is what i had settled with. as you say i basically play two first team 11's and have done in many different versions of FM. I wondered if that might have been the problem as the players arent playing enough. Interesting that you are saying dont go with star ratings. FM 18 was the last version i was playing and in that star rating seemed to be almost everything. if a striker had 12 finishing most the time they were better than one with 17 if star rating was significantly higher. Seems things have changed and that is now more of a reputation rating.

Its a strange one when it comes to conceding. I think counter attacks have been my most recent issue. Through balls previously. Crosses before that. set pieces are normally pretty good.

the 3-5-2 used to always be an issue with crosses. I call it 3-5-2 but its 3 centre backs 2 wing backs. when playing rangers or celtic it doesnt matter. they can score from anywhere. they are just simply better.

anyway the 4-2-3-1 im playing is counter and counter press, high line of engagement, normal defensive line, offside trap. play ball out of defence, distribute to centre backs and full backs, look for overlap, standard passing, be more expressive, run at defenders, fastest passing possible. extremely urgent pressing, work ball into box, force opposition outside, prevent short distribution and get stuck in.
Looking at your tactical set up there are some concerns. In no particular order:

1. You have too much space between your defenders and midfielders. You have a high line of engagement but normal for your defenders. This means when you lose the ball your defenders are normally positioned midway between the keeper's box and halfway line. Your midfielders are on the other side of the halfway line. There is a good 20-30 yards between lines of your players so while you are pressing high you are not limiting the space they can use (the purpose of the press) since they can dump into space behind your midfielders and before your defenders. Tighten up that line or have more defensive minded midfielder.

2. You have a very attacking oriented team focus for your individuals: be more expressive and run at defenders is good if you have players that are good technically and can dribble. If not, you will give up the ball more often and the be subject to the counter to your counter.

3. I understand you are trying to create a Counter-attacking focus, but that has (frustratingly) not been an overall team focus for a few versions of the game. Having fast passing works for that but standard passing and look for overlap undermines what you are trying to do. Standard passing means short or even side-to-side will be OK while you are thinking quick, lightning passes up the field. Overlap is one of the worst selections you can pair with counter as your players will naturally do that depending on their position instructions: a DL on Attack will naturally charge up the left flank whether you have overlap selected or not. All overlap does is tell your winger or AMC to hold up play and wait for the person to overlap them, negating your quick, counter focus.

4. You are playing a super fast, high intensity pressing game. Your team is going to get TIRED. It is no surprise that you struggle at the end of the year since they are probably knackered from all the pressing they have done for the past 8-9 months. I would suspect a lot of your goals are conceded the last 10 minutes of each half as your players wear down.

5. You are exposing your centerbacks to counter attack and putting them in dangerous situations. If you managed to keep Ryan Porteous he is good but not nimble and not fast. With the space between midfield and defense he and other defenders are having to face even or outnumbered attacks on goal. With his lack of agility he is likely being turned around and your team's (assuming here) overall defenders' lack of pace will bite you against faster attackers: if your DC has a pace/acceleration of 12 and the opposition forwards have 15 (most wingers or strikers) your defenders will be caught out if they have to cover 30 yards between their keeper and the midfield. If they have 12 agility, and the attacker has 15 agility, they are getting turned around pretty easily. Know your defenders' weaknesses and play them in situations that will minimize that.

6. Offside trap can be tricky, particularly without smart, quick DC's, which I don't think Hibs would have. Maybe remove this as your defenders would lack the acceleration and pace to make up the space when one defender with low positioning and decisions plays someone onside.

7. "Its a strange one when it comes to conceding. I think counter attacks have been my most recent issue. Through balls previously. Crosses before that. set pieces are normally pretty good." Counter attacks and through balls point to your defenders being too slow and out of position. This would support what was covered in points 1, 5, and 6. Limit the space the opposition has to work in and your team needs to make up when they lose the ball.

Hopefully these suggestions help and good luck with Hibs!
Sorry for not answering before but thanks for all the advice. It's the first time I've ever found that I haven't found a way to win in any FM.
Any way I took advice on board and looked for a downloadable tactic that sounded like what had been advised above for me to use or tweak. I found the Nagelsmann 4-2-3-1 and implemented that. First couple of games it worked brilliantly. Then started to tail off a bit but watching my team I made some tweaks. Nothing mega but made them more positive so instead of having only having my left back as a wing back attack I had my right back doing the same thing rather than full back support. It was mainly roles of players that changed but same fundamental instructions like play narrow, play out using centre backs etc.
After finding this working at the end of the season I took it into my 5th season. After a good pre season and some useful signings to help fit the tactic a bit more we hit the ground running. I finished the season today and it was a very good season. Finished second with apparently the highest ever total to not win a league. F ing Rangers. Beat me to the title by 2 points. But I won both domestic cups again and also got to another semi final of the euro 2 (conference league). I got to the semi of the euro league the previous season. So 3 semi finals in each respective European season in 3 seasons. So I'm a happy manager again.
Thanks all.
Yay! That is great news. I'm glad we could help and good luck next season. :)

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