Du Malone writes: This post is the fourth in the series on the application to FM20 of Arrigo Sacchi’s managerial approach.

I am basing my understanding of Sacchi’s approach on an article in Football bloody hell written by Raghunandhanan Narasimhan. As I wrote in my introductory post, for me one of the attractions of that article was that it seemed at times to be written in FM speak.

The team-training function

Nowhere is this more relevant than with regards to team training, which happens to be one of my favourites functions on FM. It

But from my consumption of FM content, I sense that may be a minority view: some people ignore team training; more either take a fairly robotic approach or just leave it to their assistant managers.

I don’t get that. In my saves, at least, team training plays a crucial role in short-term (i.e., next match), medium-term, and long-term development.

Specifics of team training

Here are some phrases from Narasimhan that stood out to me:

  • “I didn’t want solo artists; I wanted an orchestra”.
  • It was equally, if not more important how the team behaved when they were out of possession than when with it. Sacchi’s sides were based on pro-activity and reactions to how the ball was positioned, both in and out of possession.
  • He was a firm believer in his doctrine of Universality that his players be tactically and technically proficient.
  • He focused heavily on shadow play where the team position themselves without the ball. Sacchi would tell them where the imaginary ball was and the team had to adjust themselves according to the position of the ball.
  • [Sacchi insisted on] backwards pressing from the striker

When I read these comments in the context of team training on FM20, I think:

  • teamwork!
  • shadow play: defensive and attacking!
  • tactics in general!
  • defending from the front!

Now that I employing a Saacchi-based approach, I use all these modules more frequently than I did. More specifically:

  • With regard to tactics, I tended previously just to use the plain vanilla module, ‘Tactics’. Now I tend more often to use the two unit-based shadow play options.
  • Previously I most often used ‘match tactics’ for match preparation. Now I use ‘teamwork’.
  • I used to schedule ‘defending from the front’ rather rarely. Now it features at least once a month.

As I explained in the second post in this series, I decided to depart from Sacchi’s tactics in one respect; I decided not to base my approach on pressing, but rather on restricting space. Consequently I don’t schedule the ‘transition — press’ module; rather I use ‘transition — restrict’.

To fulfil the requirement for technical proficiency, in the international break weeks and, in selected weeks, in the pre-season and mid-winter periods, our schedule focuses heavily on further technical skills, such as ‘ball retention; and ‘play from the back’.


Next in the series: formations and player instructions


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