Du Malone writes: A common theme in FM content online is the inter-relationship between historic tactics ITRW and tactics on FM. This is a theme I’ve touched on before, for example in my posts on the 1960s Inter Milan and 1950s Hungary.
An excellent current example is FM Eadster’s series of posts in which he attempts to apply the approach of Soviet coach Valeriy Lobanovskiy.
Real-world history and FM
Motivations vary. Many content creators are at least as interested in exploring how the tactics of the RW must have worked as they are in FM success. For me, it’s rather the other way around: I have very little interest in the past, per se — ‘Let the dead bury their own dead’, as the Gospel according to St Matthew has it (8:22); but I have a pragmatic interest in creating tactics that are novel for FM.
My thinking is that if I come up with something distinctive, it might take the AI by surprise. Also, I’m not perceptive when it comes to tactics, so it makes sense to seek to learn from other people’s success.
Because of my lack of perceptiveness, I tend to rely on other people’s textual accounts of tactics, rather than on my own observation — though I do sometimes watch videos of RW football to supplement my understanding of the texts I read.**
Learning from Arrigo Sacchi
Recently my interest has been drawn to an article on Football Bloody Hell by Raghunandhanan Narasimhan. Though the article, entitled ‘Tactical tale of Arrigo Sacchi‘, was published in 2017 I have come across it only recently.
Here I’ll explain what attracts me to this article. In subsequent posts I’ll explore how the content can be applied to FM.
Four aspects of Narasimhan’s post attract me:
- It’s a good piece of story-telling, in which the tactical content is framed by a biographical account of Sacchi, including his work before, during, and after his AC Milan days.
- Narasimhan’s exposition is very clear. He makes effective use of graphics and their inter-relationship with text. I sometimes find tactical writing frustratingly vague (which, BTW, is why I don’t fully buy in to praise of Jonathan Wilson’s Inverting the pyramid), but Narasimhan’s presentation is helpfully explicit.
- Narasimhan recognises that tactics are fluid and that how they look during one phase of play is different from how they look during another. This point, which implies that we should think of a formation less as a static pattern and more as a bundle of potentialities, will no doubt sound banal to tactical aficianados — but in popular discussion of football, for example by television commentators, the static mentality predominates.
- In a great many places the question of how to apply Sacchi’s tactics to FM seems rather clear. Perhaps Narasimhan himself plays FM? I don’t know, but to my ears his article sometimes sounds as if it’s written in FM speak.
Not just tactics
I do, however, have one reservation about Narasimhan’s article. I sense in much discussion of football (ITRW and, in fact, even more with FM) a tendency to over-rate the importance of tactics. Perhaps this occurs because tactics are more observable than some aspects of management, such as psychology and player management.
Narasimhan’s account places a great deal of stress on tactics (‘Sacchi’s sides were based on pro-activity and reactions to how the ball was positioned, both in and out of possession’) — which is fair enough: except the thought arises that it doesn’t half help if you have players of the quality of van Besten and Gullit!
My reason for mentioning this is two-fold:
- Naturally, tactics are more likely to succeed if you have quality players to implement them.
- A corollary: a tactic might not be suitable if you don’t have quality players. In other words, some tactics might assume quality.
Since on FM I tend to manage (and always start) in lower leagues, it follows that some adaptation may be required.
That, indeed, will be the topic of the second post in this series…
**A favourite example of mine concerns a Sportlens article from 2011, dealing with Liverpool’s use of a wide target man (Dirk Kuyt). My attempt to apply these tactics to my Aris Salonica save proved successful (by which I mean, for the first time ever I made it into a fourth season before getting sacked).