The Quest For 1000 goals. Big Five, FM22 Edition is written by guest author Peter Prickett.
Way back when I took up the 1000-goal challenge. Inspired by the antics of some infamous FM content creators I decided to give it a go. I reached 1000, had a lovely write-up, and then forgot about it.
Parked and abandoned to rust in the English damp.
While playing one of my many FM22 saves (I get so bored, so quickly) I ended up at Arsenal. I had made a really good 4-2-3-1 at Ajax having messed around with 4-2-4s and diamonds. The Ajax team won the Champions League and I decided to move to Arsenal. At Arsenal, I was massively impressed with Martinelli and his goal output from wide.
“I wonder how many goals he could score for me through the middle?”
A new save began, with the 4-2-3-1 from the start at Arsenal and Martinelli as the forward. He was good, but one of my regular signings caused my flakey FM mind to be distracted again. Karim Adeyemi was playing in the right of the 4-2-3-1 and he was outscoring Martinelli. We are not talking about 30 off-goal seasons, Adeyemi was scoring 50 from wide.
“Could he score 1000? Could he do it playing for a Premier League team?”
Yet another new save was cracked open.
First of all, I knew I would have to combat my own tendencies. I would have to stop the boredom and inability to stay focused. I chose to take Liverpool, the team I support in the real world. The hope being that the combination of a goalscoring challenge plus the connection to the club would keep me engaged.
There are a few keys to getting a player to 1000 goals. We need to give that player as many advantages as possible. Creating a formation or shape that funnels to the forward will give them the maximum opportunity to score. Similarly putting the player on free-kicks and penalties can be a great help. Keeping the player fit is vital. Keeping the player at the club is even more important, so keep offering those contracts and avoid those release clauses. Finally, remember that the save is not about winning titles, but at the same time also remember that the further you go in competitions the more opportunities the player will have to score, and the more he scores, the further you will go.
Except when I opened up the original 1000-goal challenge I had broken the first of the rules. Funnel the ball into the striker. The striker. Not two strikers. With the Lincoln 1000 goal challenge, I played two strikers. Not only had I played two strikers, but I had also scored 1000 goals playing a basic 4-4-2.
Convinced this was not the way I started the Adeyemi challenge with a 4-1-4-1, with the second set of four comprised of attacking midfielders and wingers to feed the ball into the striker. Right at the beginning of FM 22, I had used this system with Haaland up front to bag over 100 goals in a season.
I persisted with this for the first two seasons. Adeyemi was good in the first two seasons. That first season strike rate was never going to be good enough to get to the 1000 but he was only a teenager with lots of developing to do. The second season numbers were much more encouraging, but I needed more. Mind-blowing numbers on a consistent basis where needed.
Also, the game had presented me the opportunity to sign Robert Lewandowski on a free…. And I do love a striker….
Previously on FM, I had made a 4-1-3-2 system, similar to the 4-1-4-1 but with one of the attacking midfielders pushed into the striker position. The original version was designed to score heavily but also be as defensively sound as possible. It was also not designed to get high-scoring levels from a specific player. Elements of both systems would need to merge to create a super system. Also allowing me to play Lewandowski and Adeyemi at the same time.
The system attempts to feed as much into the Poacher as possible while still having multiple attacking threats. Dropping the Complete Forward into a support role means that they will look to create as well as be a goal threat. The attacking midfielder and wide players are both creative and attacking threats while the IWBs sit narrow to help the DLP maintain pressure and prevent counterattacks.
Supposedly the overlap instructions wide have no effect, however, I found that the system scored more heavily with these than when they were disabled.
I wanted the team to attack and be creative. High-quality players are able to play short passing at a high tempo. The flair players can express themselves (be more expressive) which created more scoring opportunities.
As I am Liverpool counter-pressing is the natural thing to do. Most systems I create use counter-pressing. I always find that the attacking midfielder is the key player when it comes to pressing. He is close enough to the strikers and wide players to overwhelm teams who look to play out from the back or use short possession. The key to the whole system is having five players against their back four as much as possible, whether in or out of possession. The numerical advantage leaves AI teams unable to cope.
A hot tip from the legend of Cleon on the line engagement. Due to the way that FM operates a standard line of engagement rather than a high line of engagement keeps the units of the team closer together. This is more important for pressing than having a high line of engagement. When you are seeking 1000 goals you take every advantage you can get.
Here is the key role. The poacher was Karim Adeyemi’s position. I only tweaked it slightly by adding tackle harder and mark tighter. When I am pressing I use these with my forwards as I feel it encourages them to hassle the opponent’s defenders more aggressively.
This system was used for the rest of the save.
I’m just going to drop the spoiler now. No suspense. No, build up. Adeyemi made it to 1000 goals.
He got there at the age of 30. I could have kept going to see what number he might have finished with. Could he have reached 1000 league goals? Could he have scored 1500 goals? If he played until he was 38 I think the answer to both of those questions would be yes. However, I was done. It was a slog. I couldn’t take it anymore. I enjoyed the challenge but after a while it becomes repetitive. The side achievements of his teammates become more interesting towards the end than what Adeyemi was doing.
Martin Odegaard as the attacking midfielder was an absolute assist and goal machine.
Moukoko’s numbers are stunning considering he was a rotation option.
Then there is Erling up top. I used Haaland as the Complete Forward. The support striker. Yet such are his beastly ways that he still scored over a goal a game. I have no doubt that it would be a very simple task to score 1000 goals with Haaland.
In other saves, Adeyemi has developed slightly better than this. In my Arsenal save his finishing was 17 and composure 15. His freekick taking was also far too weak to put him on them. None of this really mattered as he was able to reach 1000 goals in 11 seasons.
He had three seasons of over 100 in all competitions. As you can see I was able to keep him fit by picking games to rotate him (generally cup games) and also taking him off if he had a hat trick already or if we were in deep fixture congestion (even when he had two goals). I would also throw him on for the last half-hour of games when he wasn’t quite fit to start. This often produced a goal or two.
His career biography is unsurprisingly trophy and award-laden.
None of that mattered to me. These were not the point of the save. I was prepared to lose games 5-4 as long as it meant Adeyemi was scoring one or two goals every game. The whole point was to attack and be aggressive. I knew that as a high-reputation team with high-quality players that over time the defence would take care of itself. The aim was to get the team scoring and in doing so get the main man pounding in the goals.
Adeyemi was regularly supplied by long balls over the top from the wingers, inverted wing backs, and AM. The wingers would often roll the ball across the six-yard box for simple tap-ins while the AM and CF were adept at slipping low, short pass into the area for opportunities when attacks were well built up.
Before I took on this challenge I thought that it was only possible to score 1000 goals in a league like Brazil. Clearly, that is not the case, with the right player and with the right tactic.
The only question remaining is; with who and where will I do it on FM23?
Be sure to check out Peter on Twitter as he’s very active and very approachable. He can often be found sharing his vast coaching knowledge on there. He has recently started selling bespoke schedules too. For more information about those contact his on Twitter.
Peter is also an established author too and has many books out. The Football’s Principles of Play is a personal favorite of mine and one I would highly recommend purchasing. The link for that can be found here;
Peter is a trailblazer and was also one of the first coaches in the UK to really focus on 3v3 coaching and has written several books about them, again these are highly recommended too, especially if you coach a football team and want a fresh approach. The links to those can be found below;