Du Malone writes: In my previous post, I outlined the attraction of seeking to apply to FM20 the tactics, and overall approach, of Arrigo Sacchi’s AC Milan period. The post is here.

I said there that my goal was pragmatic rather than purist. I’m looking to create an approach that works, and that I like, rather than one that is necessarily faithful to Sacchi’s own practice.

Divergence

In that spirit, I have decided from the outset to depart from his practice in one respect Raghunandhanan Narasimhan’s article about Sacchi makes it clear that his team pressed with intensity.

I have decided not to seek to implement this aspect of his approach.

Rationale

My reasons are two-fold.

From an objective point of view, the achievement of effective pressing on FM20 is not straightforward. From online FM-community sources it’s evident that it can be done. But it takes works.

It’s certainly not as simple as just using the ‘transition – pressing’ training module and then choosing the ‘counter press’ team instruction.

Implementing a pressing strategy would require a major effort in terms of training and player acquisition. The problem I have with that is that it would have an opportunity cost. We would, for example, have less time available for other forms of training, such as set pieces.

And, from a subjective point of view, I’m just sick to death of hearing people talk about pressing! It’s almost as tedious as VAR. I have a distinct impression that whenever sports journalists want to make it sound as though they’re knowledgeable about they game, they start trying to use the word ‘pressing’ s often as they can.

Alternative

So I will take the contrarian route and stick to my favoured emphasis on controlling space rather than necessarily regaining possession.

We’ll do a lot of ‘transition — restrict’ training. And I’ll instruct the team to ‘regroup’.

To anyone who might counter that taking the pressing out of Sacchi’s tactics removes the essence, I offer the following argument:

  1. early experiments suggests that the two strategies are not at opposite ends of the spectrum. Restriction of space is not necessarily so very different from pressing: both require attentive response to (or, ideally, anticipation of)  opposition play and a good deal of effort (organised, team, effort — not just individual).
  2. To implement Sacchi’s approach, I’ve adopted both a high defensive line and a low line of engagement (Narasimhan writes that “Sacchi had his team remain very compact making sure they did not have more than 25 metres in between the defensive line and the forwards”). I’ve also asked the groundsman to prepare a short pitch. This certainly keeps things compact.

Alt-pressing

Overall, my observations from a few experimental matches suggest that this combination of measures produces a kind of “pressing without pressing”.

I’m not sure, though, that everyone will like that phrase.

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