FM23: The Secrets of Successful Goalscoring – In Football Manager, finding consistent goal scorers can be challenging. Many forum threads, blog posts, YouTube videos, and streamers discuss the difficulty of getting players to score frequently. With a lot of attention given to the striker position. But the problem may not lie in the player’s role, duty, or settings, but rather in the type or level of support, they receive. This article will provide tips on how to give your strikers the best chance of scoring goals, regardless of the team, league, country or level you are managing. While initially, this will be a topic about the 5-2-2-1 formation I’ve been using, the principles apply to all formations.

FM23: The Secrets – The Obvious

A successful goalscorer has key characteristics such as finishing ability, movement, aerial ability, mental strength, and physical attributes. To evaluate these characteristics, we can use the following statistics; 

  • Goals scored: The most obvious and important statistic for a goalscorer is the number of goals that they have scored. This can include the total number of goals scored in a season, as well as the number of goals scored per game or per minute played.
  • Shots on target: A good goalscorer will be able to convert their chances into goals. So they will typically have a high ratio of shots on target. This can be measured by dividing the number of shots on target by the total number of shots taken, and it can give an indication of the player’s accuracy and finishing ability.
  • Conversion rate: Another key statistic for a goalscorer is their conversion rate. Which measures the percentage of chances that they are able to convert into goals. This can be calculated by dividing the number of goals scored by the number of chances created. It can give an indication of the player’s efficiency and effectiveness in front of the goal.
  • Minutes per goal: For players who have scored a significant number of goals, another useful statistic is the number of minutes that they take to score each goal. This can be calculated by dividing the total number of minutes played by the number of goals scored. It can give an indication of the player’s ability to score goals quickly and efficiently.
  • Expected goals: Expected goals (xG) is a statistical measure that estimates the likelihood of a given shot being scored. Based on a range of factors such as the location of the shot, the type of pass or cross that led to the chance, and the type of shot that was taken. A good goalscorer will typically have a high xG, indicating that they are able to create and convert high-quality chances.

These statistics provide insights into a player’s ability to consistently and effectively score goals for their team.

What is good?

In football, there’s no set number of goals per game that defines an acceptable level for a goalscorer. It depends on various factors such as the level of competition. Or the quality of the team and the playing style and tactics of the team. Generally, a player who scores more than 0.5 goals per game is considered to be performing well. This means they score at least one goal every two games. However, this may vary depending on the league and team. 

For example, a player in a lower-level league or weaker team may score at a higher rate and still perform well. Likewise, a player in a more defensive or possession-based team may score at a lower rate. But still, be effective if they make a significant contribution to the team’s attacking play.

FM23: The Secrets of Successful GoalscoringTypes of Goalscorers

Strikers aren’t the only goal-scorers you can have. You can make a midfielder or even a wide player the main goal scorer of the team, which may be harder but it’s still possible.

A goalscoring midfielder is a player who consistently and effectively scores goals for their team. They have a range of skills and attributes that allow them to contribute to the team’s attacking play and score goals regularly. Some of the key characteristics of a successful goalscoring midfielder include:

  • Finishing ability: This includes being able to shoot accurately with both feet. Being able to finish with power or precision. And being able to make good decisions about when and how to shoot.
  • Movement: They will be able to create space for themselves and get into scoring positions. This includes making runs off the ball, anticipating passes and making intelligent movements to create space for shots or passes.
  • Aerial ability: Many goals are scored from crosses or set pieces. So a good goalscoring midfielder will be able to score with their head. This includes being able to jump and head the ball accurately and with power, as well as being able to time their runs to meet crosses at the right moment.
  • Creativity and vision: The midfielder will also have the creativity and vision skills to create chances for themselves and their teammates. This can include the ability to pick out a pass, dribble past defenders, and create space for others to score.
  • Physical attributes: These enable them to excel in the demanding physical environment of football. This can include being quick and agile and having good stamina. While also having the strength and power to hold off defenders and score in challenging situations.

Differences

Some of the main distinctions between a goalscoring midfielder and a goalscoring striker are;

  • Position: The most obvious difference between a goalscoring midfielder and a goalscoring striker is their position on the pitch. A goalscoring midfielder is typically positioned in the middle of the pitch, either as a central midfielder or as an attacking midfielder. While a goalscoring striker, on the other hand, is positioned at the front of the team, either as a lone striker or as part of a front two or front three.
  • Role and responsibilities: The midfielder is typically expected to contribute to the team’s attacking play by creating chances for themselves and their teammates. As well as by scoring goals. A goalscoring striker, on the other hand, is typically the main source of goals for the team. They are expected to score the majority of the team’s goals.
  • Types of goals: Another key difference between a goalscoring midfielder and a goalscoring striker is the types of goals that they are expected to score. A goalscoring midfielder may be expected to score a wide range of goals. Including long-range shots, volleys, and headers, as well as tap-ins and close-range finishes. While the striker, on the other hand, is typically expected to score a higher proportion of goals from inside the box, such as close-range finishes and headers.

Overall, the two roles may have similarities. But there are also key differences in their position, role, and responsibilities within the team. As well as the types of goals they are expected to score.

A wide goalscorer is a player on the flanks of the pitch. They can be a winger, inside forward, wingbacks or fullbacks and so on. They consistently and effectively score goals for their team. They can be an important part of a team’s attacking play. Providing an additional goal threat from wide positions and creating space for other players to score.

FM23: The Secrets of Successful Goalscoring – Is It Really That Simple?

The answer is no, it is possible to create a system on Football Manager that scores goals regardless of the striker’s skill level. My approach to building tactics is to create as many chances as possible in various different ways. The striker in these systems I create usually finishes off the chances and may not be involved in the build-up. Their job is simply to finish the chances.

Individual players aren’t as important as the system overall. A bad striker can score lots of goals if all they have to do is put the ball in the net. In my opinion, the real secret to successful goalscoring doesn’t start with the striker, it starts well before that. Let’s explore what I mean.

FM23: The Secrets of Successful GoalscoringUnderstanding the System and Striker Roles

No matter the system you are using, the fundamentals of goalscoring remain the same. This applies to any country or level you are playing in. When I first started playing, I was in the 6th tier of Brazil and these principles still worked.

I’ve already written about the system in-depth, so I will link the articles instead of covering them again.

The tactic;

The 5-2-2-1: A Comprehensive Guide

Analysis;

FM23: Data and Analysis to Enhance Team Tactics and Formations

 

FM23: Match Analysis

These topics are all about the tactic I am using and also give you an insight into how the tactic is and has evolved over time. As well as giving you an idea of the issues I’ve faced so far and how I’ve fixed them.

For me, the striker roles are split into three different kinds of strikers;

  • Creative strikers
  • Support strikers
  • Attacking strikers

Some of the roles can overlap with others, especially with the change of duty. But I still think it’s a good way of understanding a role, by thinking of them in either a creative, supportive or attacking way.

For a better understanding and more in-depth explanation check out this article I recently wrote;

Choosing The Best Striker Role

FM23: The Secrets of Successful GoalscoringCreating Space

Creating space for a goalscorer in football is an important part of attacking play. There are a number of tactics and strategies that teams can use to create space for their goalscorers, allowing them to get into scoring positions and convert chances into goals. Some of the key ways to create space for a goalscorer include:

  • Movement and positioning: A good goal scorer will be able to create space for themselves by making intelligent runs and movements off the ball. This can include making diagonal runs behind the opposition’s defence. Or making runs into the channels between the fullbacks and the centre-backs. Or making runs into the space between the opposition midfield and defence. By making these runs, goalscorers can create space for themselves and give themselves opportunities to score.
  • Attacking midfielders and wingers: Attacking midfielders and wingers can also be used to create space for a goalscorer. By making runs down the flanks, these players can stretch the opposition’s defence. This then creates space in the centre of the pitch for the goalscorer to exploit. This can be particularly effective if the attacking midfielder or winger is able to deliver a good cross into the box. Giving the goalscorer a chance to score with a header or a volley.
  • Decoy runs and dummy runs: Decoy runs and dummy runs can also be used to create space for a goalscorer. By making runs that are intended to distract or confuse the opposition defence. The players can create space for the goal scorer to move into. For example, if an attacking midfielder makes a run into the box, the opposition defenders may follow them. Leaving space for the goal scorer to move into and score.
  • Set pieces: Set pieces, such as corners and free kicks, can also be used to create space for a goalscorer. By delivering the ball into the box from a wide or central position. The attacking team can create confusion and chaos in the opposition’s defence, giving the goalscorer an opportunity to score.

FM23: The Secrets of Successful Goalscoring – Applying This To Football Manager

To achieve success in Football Manager 2023, it is imperative to devise a tactic that utilises a diverse array of attacking strategies. The more varied the approach to ball movement and attacking, the greater the likelihood of achieving consistent and successful results.

From the analysis articles above and another one that will be released shortly, the tactic I am currently using is the one above. 

FM23: The Secrets – The Defence

Mainly I’ll just be focusing on the attacking metrics as we covered the more defensive ones in the previous analysis. I use six central defenders in total and they all get plenty of games a season. As we have games every 2-3 days, I rotate the whole defence rather than sub players off. This is the same all throughout the squad.

Whichever three centrebacks play, they all have specific tasks to do in this setup. They’re a big part of why we are successful and why we attack the way we do. Realistically they aren’t going to be creative from deep in our own half. Instead, the job of the central defenders is to move the ball forward. They’re also allowed to be risky with it too, that’s why we use a wide centre-back and a ball-playing defender. The metric that matters here the most for how we play is progressive passes.

A “progressive pass” is a term used to describe a pass made by a player that moves the ball forward towards the opposing team’s goal. And increases the attacking potential of the team. A progressive pass is typically longer than a short, lateral or backward pass, and has the potential to lead to dangerous attacking opportunities. This is where the ball-playing defender and wide centreback come into their own.

In the top eleven in the league for progressive passes per 90, I have eight players. Of these eight players, five of them are central defenders. The other three are central midfielders. So already we are building a picture of how we attack from the back and progress the ball forward. 

Why is this important and how does it help create a goal threat?

First, when a defender is able to make a progressive pass, it can allow the team to quickly transition from defence to offence. And put pressure on the opposing team’s defence. This can create space for the striker to receive the ball in a dangerous position, closer to the goal.

Second, a defender with a high progressive pass metric is likely able to play the ball accurately and effectively over long distances. This can allow the team to bypass the midfield and quickly get the ball to the striker in a position to score.

Third, a defender who is comfortable making progressive passes is less likely to play the ball safe and make short, lateral or backward passes, which can slow down the game and allow the opposing team to regroup.

In summary, having defenders with high progressive pass metrics can help the team to play more effectively and efficiently, create more attacking opportunities, and put pressure on the opposing team’s defence, all of which can benefit the striker.

In-Game Example

We see how space opens up when the wide centreback receives the ball. Now he can drive forward here if he wants or has multiple passing options. He can choose the safer passing options like the wingback or the attacking midfielder. But this isn’t why I’m using the roles of the wide centre-back and ball-playing defenders. I want them to be riskier to open up the entire pitch with quick switches of play. What he does here is dwell on the ball for no more than a second or so.

Once the opposition has shifted over more, he hits a risky ball between the pressing forward and the advanced playmaker, to run onto. One simple pass and he’s taken out five opposition players in one move. Now we are on the front foot and a possible 2v1 scenario.

This is why progressive passes are key here, as they’re another tool for supplying the striker or causing movement from players that could benefit him.

Wingbacks

The wingbacks play a critical role in supporting the striker and building up play. This is because the formation places a lot of emphasis on the midfield and attacking players, with just 2 defenders and 2 midfielders in front of them.

The role of the wingbacks in this formation is to provide width to the team’s attack, as well as to support the midfield and striker. The wingbacks are often the only players on the field who are in a position to stretch the opposing team’s defence and provide an outlet for quick counter-attacks.

The wingbacks also play an important role in the build-up play by providing an additional passing option for the defenders and midfielders. They are also responsible for making overlapping runs and crossing the ball into the box to create scoring opportunities for the striker.

Wingbacks in this formation are also asked to support in defensive situations, therefore they need to be able to defend, but also to quickly transition to offence.

The graphic above only shows three players as the other right-sided wingback was sold before I took the screenshot. As we can see they have a fair few assists between them. A decent amount of crossing and a really high completion rate. In fact, if we use @FMStags metrics we can rate them for their contributions. This article explains more on that front of how the metrics are measured etc. I’d highly recommend reading it;

Statistics – What does “good” look like in FM23?

Using Stags metrics we can see what they excel in and what is “considered good” because his metrics have been added to various skins. The attributeless one made by Gaz which I use was the first to incorporate them. That skin can be found here;

https://community.sigames.com/forums/topic/571014-fm23-hodr-skin-attributeless-starless/

Wingback Metrics

“Open play key passes per 90” is a statistic that measures the number of passes that a player makes that lead directly to a shot during open play, on average per 90 minutes played. “Open play” refers to the moments of a match when the ball is not in a set-piece situation. A key pass is a pass that leads directly to a shot, either on goal or off target.

This statistic is often used to evaluate a player’s ability to create scoring opportunities for their team during open play and is typically used for midfielders and forwards. A higher number of open-play key passes per 90 indicates that a player is more effective at creating goal-scoring opportunities for their team.

It’s important to note that this metric does not take into account the quality of the key passes, the position of the player when making the pass or the success rate of the key pass. It only measures the number of key passes made per 90 minutes.

So to see wingbacks score high here is really pleasing. As it shows they’re a creative outlet from out wide and are able to create chances.

Another metric they excel in according to Stags metrics is xAssists (P90). For the role they play in the side, on Stags scale they’d be rated as creative wingers.

“xAssists per 90” is a statistic that measures the number of expected assists a player produces on average per 90 minutes played. Expected assists (xA) is a metric that estimates the likelihood that a given pass will lead to a goal. It’s based on several factors such as the location, pass type and the receiver of the pass. The xA value is determined by using a complex mathematical model that takes into account the historical data of shots taken after a specific pass.

xAssists per 90 is used to evaluate a player’s ability to create scoring opportunities for their team and to find players that are creating chances but are not getting credit for assists. Typically, midfielders and forwards will have higher xAssists per 90 than defenders.

It’s important to note that xAssists per 90 is different than assists, since an assist is awarded when a pass directly leads to a goal, but xAssist only estimates the likelihood of a goal based on the pass.

That’s two really important metrics that both players who play the left wingback role score highly in. Again providing support for the striker and attacking players. The right side of the pitch though doesn’t score as highly.

FM23: The Secrets

On the right side of the pitch, the wingback has a support duty so this impacts what he does. He also has an advanced playmaker on this side of the pitch too. Everything the player does on this side of the pitch drastically differs from the left side. The entire build-up and link-up play aren’t the same.

He isn’t terrible in the other metrics and still contributes to play, just in a different way. This is why he scores higher for dribbles per 90 than the other two players. As he’s more involved with the actual build-up due to being deeper. So he’s in scenarios where he is encouraged to dribble with the ball more.

In-Game Example

Having one wingback deeper than the other can provide a number of benefits for a team.

First, it can create an asymmetrical shape on the field, which can make it more difficult for the opposing team to defend against. The deeper wingback can drop back and help the team to maintain possession and build up play, while the higher wingback can push forward and provide an outlet for quick counter-attacks.

Second, it can provide additional defensive cover. The deeper wingback can help to protect the team’s defence by tracking back and marking the opposing team’s midfielders or forwards, while the higher wingback can focus on getting forward and creating attacking opportunities.

Third, it can create numerical advantages in the midfield. The deeper wingback can drop back and create an extra man in midfield, which can help the team to maintain possession and control the tempo of the game.

Fourth, it can provide different kinds of attacking options. A deeper wingback can provide different types of crosses for the striker. For example, crosses from deeper positions, or crosses with more power, making it harder for the goalkeeper to reach the ball.

Having one wingback deeper than the other can also encourage the deeper wingback to dribble more. When the deeper wingback has more space in front of him and less defensive pressure, he is more likely to take on opposing defenders and try to beat them with his dribbling skills. 

This can create more attacking opportunities for the team, such as by drawing fouls, or creating space for the teammates.

Additionally, a deeper wingback who is encouraged to dribble more can help to break down the opposing team’s defence and create space for the other attacking players. This can create scoring opportunities for the team and put the opposing team under pressure.

This is why productivity varies on both sides of the pitch. The right side is focused on the supply to the attacking players above all else. While the left side is focused on creating movement by running with the ball.

As you can see in the screenshot above, one simple pass inside and he’s taken out three players on the right. Or if he dribbles deeper with the ball, he commits them to come across to cut the cross out. Whether this move is successful or not here doesn’t matter on this occasion. 

All that matters is we see him committing the opposition players time after time. As this means fewer players to mark the striker or defend deeper in more central areas.

We’ve covered the defence now and seen how they help the striker or create movement around him. Remember that giving the striker the best chance of scoring lots of goals, all starts from the back. If these players don’t create movement or aren’t able to provide support then that means all creativity falls on the midfield.

This can mean attacks are more predictable. When building a tactic you want to supply, support and movement from every single area of the pitch. Not only that but the more varied the play, the better. This is why for most parts, I’m not a fan of mirroring roles on both sides of the pitch. I want variety and varied play. I achieve this by using different roles or duties.

FM23: The Secrets – The Midfield

The top two players are the players who play the segundo volante role in the side. While the bottom two are the players who play the defensive midfielder role. 18 goals and 44 assists between the four of them is an excellent return.

The two defensive midfielders are responsible for controlling the tempo of the game, maintaining possession, and creating attacking opportunities for the team. They can do this in a number of ways:

  1. Covering: The defensive midfielders are responsible for covering the space in front of the defence and helping to protect the defence from the opposing team’s counter-attacks. They can also help to mark and neutralize the opposing team’s midfielders and forwards.
  2. Ball-winning: The defensive midfielders are responsible for winning the ball back for the team and starting counter-attacks. They can do this by making tackles, intercepting passes, and pressuring the opposing team’s midfielders and forwards.
  3. Possession: The defensive midfielders are responsible for maintaining possession of the ball and helping to build up play. They can do this by making simple, accurate passes and recycling the ball.
  4. Distribution: The defensive midfielders are responsible for distributing the ball to the other players on the team. They can do this by making long passes to the wingbacks or forwards, or by playing the ball through to the midfielders.
  5. Support: The defensive midfielders are responsible for supporting the attack and creating attacking opportunities. They can do this by making runs forward, making accurate passes, and creating numerical advantages in midfield.

In the previous article I spoke about how we dominate the ball so have fewer tackles and interceptions than the average. That’s why the defensive metrics might look a bit underwhelming because we just have so much of the ball. Every game we tend to have 71-77% possession.

While the ball share metric is somewhere between 74-90% too. “Ball share” is a metric that measures the percentage of total possession that a team or player has during a match. It is calculated by dividing the amount of time a team or player has possession of the ball by the total amount of time played.

The ball share metric is often used to evaluate a team or player’s ability to maintain possession of the ball and control the tempo of the game. A team or player with a high ball share is likely to have a lot of the ball and be able to dictate the play, while a team or player with a low ball share may struggle to maintain possession and be more reactive.

It’s important to note that having a high ball share doesn’t necessarily mean the team or player is playing well, as it’s also dependent on the strategy and game plan of the coach, and the opposing team’s tactics. A team with a high ball share but no clear strategy or game plan, may not achieve much with possession, while a team with a lower ball share but an effective counter-attacking strategy may score more goals and win the match.

This is part of the reason the defensive metrics are lower than the average for the league as we don’t have to do them as often as other clubs. But we can still top the pressures per 90 metrics.

“Pressures per 90” is a statistic that measures the number of defensive actions (pressures) a player makes on average per 90 minutes played. Pressures are defined as defensive actions taken by a player to win back possession of the ball, such as tackles, interceptions, and challenges.

Pressures per 90 is a metric that is often used to evaluate a player’s work rate and defensive ability. A player with a high pressure per 90 is likely to be very active defensively, putting pressure on the opposing team’s players and making it difficult for them to maintain possession. A player with a low pressure per 90 may not be as active defensively and may not be as effective at winning the ball back for their team.

It’s important to note that Pressures per 90 is not the only metric that measures a player’s defensive ability. It should be used in conjunction with other defensive metrics, such as tackles, interceptions, and clearances, to get a better understanding of a player’s overall defensive performance. Additionally, having a high pressure per 90 doesn’t necessarily mean that the player is a good defender, as it also depends on the efficiency of the pressures, and the success rate of the pressures.

I bet you’re wondering why I’m focusing on pressures per 90 and what it has to do with creating a goalscorer right?

Pressures per 90 are important for supplying the striker with the ball because they help to win back possession of the ball and create attacking opportunities.

When a player makes a pressure, it can force the opposing team to make a mistake and lose possession of the ball. This can create an opportunity for the team to counter-attack, and quickly get the ball forward to the striker. Additionally, pressures can disrupt the opposing team’s build-up play and make it difficult for them to maintain possession, which can lead to more opportunities for the team to win the ball back and attack.

Another aspect is that pressures can also push the opposing team’s defence deeper and create space for the striker to receive the ball in more advanced positions, this can lead to more goal-scoring opportunities.

In-Game Example

This is a simple example from in-game that we see happen often. But it highlights two key things. Originally the segundo volante won the ball back from a pressure. He then played the ball to the advanced playmaker. There was nowhere for the advanced playmaker to go.

So he plays the ball back to the volante. When he receives the ball he has two passing options. He can play in the striker or the shadow striker. Whichever option he chooses, he plays the player in for a 1v1.

Earlier on, I spoke about having variety in your play and the way you attack. I touched upon why it’s important but I didn’t say why it was vital. The reason I believe it’s vital to have as much variety as possible is that you want to force the opposition into making bad decisions. 

Take the above example for instance. Whatever decision the opposition’s defender makes here, it is the wrong one. It’s a two-on-one situation already. But when the volante receives the ball, the defender has to make a decision. Does he;

  • Stay and try to mark the striker and shadow striker
  • Does he try to press the volante

Ultimately it doesn’t matter which he chooses, as we have options. Every decision the defender can make will be the wrong one because we’ve variety in our attack. Due to us winning the ball back high up the pitch, we gained the positional advantage. That’s why the AI is so disjointed as they’d committed men forward ready to play out from the back. But they lost the ball.

Decisions are the key to Football Manager. I’m not talking about the attribute. I’m talking about giving the opposition multiple-choice decisions and everyone being the wrong one. Due to how you’ve set up and the way you attack.

Attacking Midfielders

The attacking midfielders are responsible for linking up with the wingbacks and forwards, and creating scoring opportunities for the team. They can do this in a number of ways:

  1. By providing accurate passes and through balls to the striker, the attacking midfielders can help to create goal-scoring opportunities for the striker by putting him in on goal.
  2. By making runs forward to support the striker, the attacking midfielders can create additional passing options for the defenders and wingbacks, and can also make runs into the box to create scoring opportunities.
  3. Linking up with the wingbacks to create width and stretch the opposing team’s defence, can open up space for the striker to receive the ball in dangerous positions.
  4. By providing accurate crosses, the attacking midfielders can help to create goal-scoring opportunities for the striker by putting the ball into the box.
  5. By creating space for the striker, the attacking midfielders can draw the attention of the opposing team’s defence, and open up space for the striker to receive the ball and create scoring opportunities.

The top player is the advanced playmaker. The second one is the shadow striker and so is the bottom one. Leaving the third one, to be the backup advanced playmaker. They all have similar numbers for goals and assists apart from the top player. He’s been phenomenal with assists and is the team’s main set-piece taker.

Cano is Elite. We are a passing team so he doesn’t have to dribble much, especially when he is positioned high up the pitch. His passing is perhaps lower than I’d like but then this is a byproduct of allowing him to do risky passes. 

It comes to dow risk vs reward and the reward is definitely worth it, as is reflected by his stats.

In-Game Example

In this example, we’ve just won the ball back from a goal kick. The volante gets the ball and immediately plays it to the advanced playmaker. Once he receives the ball there is only one thing on his mind and that is playing a ball over the top to the striker. It’s the risk vs reward I spoke about before. On this occasion, the defender beats the striker to the ball. But that’s not the end of the move…

We win the ball back again high up the pitch and the ball is played back to the advanced playmaker. And just like last time, he attempts the same pass again. But this time to the shadow striker who runs onto the ball and slots it home.

This was a great example because we saw all sides of the advanced playmaker’s game here and the midfield in general. We won the ball back with pressures and then gave it to the most creative player on the side. He failed with the first attempt, which is unusual. But then at the second time of asking, showed his pinpoint passing ability. This highlights why he gets so many assists. He constantly has the advanced forward and shadow striker making runs into the box.

FM23: The Secrets – The Striker

When creating a tactic, it is essential to consider the specific roles and how they interact and complement each other. An unbalanced distribution of roles, such as having everyone designated as a playmaker, can lead to a lack of support and cohesion in the team. 

Support refers not only to pass the ball to a player but also to create opportunities for him by building play around him and providing him with multiple options when in possession. A useful approach when planning a tactic is to ask yourself questions such as:

  • Who is going to score the goals?

For the system, I’m using, that is the striker mainly with all other players chipping in.

  • Who will supply those balls?

The ball-playing defender, a wide centreback, wingbacks, segundo volante, shadow striker and attacking playmaker.

  • How will they provide that support?

It’s all varied. We have risky balls from the ball-playing defender and advanced playmaker. We also have crosses from the wingbacks for him to get onto the end of.

There is also good play that comes from just passing and moving throughout the team too. The attacking patterns are varied and we don’t follow one type of support of a specific way of attacking. We do it in many different ways as highlighted throughout the articles.

  • Does the role allow the player to create his own space or does he need it created for him?

All we need the striker to do is be the end of the moves. Anything else he does is a bonus i.e creating his own chances. All he is needed to do is be in the box and the ball will find him. He doesn’t need to be involved in the build or anything. Just score the chances you get.

  • Will this happen from deep positions or will he be positioned high up the pitch?

He needs to stay high up the pitch ideally. If he’s lower than the other players or drops deep and is in line with them then he cannot do what he has been tasked with.

  • Does he have options behind him, alongside and more advanced than he is?

He should always strive to be the most advanced player 90% of the time. He has options like the shadow striker getting alongside him inside the box. Behind the has the advanced playmaker, volante and wingbacks too.

Scoring Stats

In the last two analysis articles I wrote, which are linked at the start of this article. I spoke about changes I needed to make to the system to make it more efficient. After making those changes this happened;

This was a phenomenal season but also an anomaly so far. The strikers have always scored goals though all throughout the levels. Even when we were in the 6th tier of Brazil. Perhaps not this many but still score a lot of goals.

51 goals in 49 appearances.

59 goals in 54 games

Historically, my striker has always scored roughly every game. The reason for this is the system I’ve created. Doesn’t matter who plays the role, they’ll score goals.

So what makes a good goalscorer?

The answer is everything we have discussed so far. The player you use doesn’t really matter as much, as all the support and supply do. Everything we’ve spoken about throughout this article is the key to creating a goalscorer. Regardless of the level you’re at, the league you’re in and so on.

But to answer the question, the system makes a great goalscorer.

  1. Attacking width: The team should have a good attacking width, with the wingbacks providing width and crosses from the flanks, this can create space for the striker and midfielders to make runs into the box and score goals.
  2. Midfield support: The midfielders should provide good support to the striker, making runs forward and creating scoring opportunities with accurate passes and through balls.
  3. Possession-based play: The team should have a good possession-based play, maintaining possession of the ball and controlling the tempo of the game can tire out the opposing team’s defence and create more opportunities to score.
  4. Counter-attacking play: The team should have a good counter-attacking play, winning back possession quickly and getting the ball forward to the striker can create scoring opportunities.
  5. Direct play: The team should have good direct play, getting the ball forward quickly and creating goal-scoring opportunities with through balls and long passes.
  6. Set-pieces: The team should have a good set-pieces play, with good delivery and good movement off the ball, this can create opportunities to score from free kicks, corners, and throw-ins.

You can do all the points above without playing that specific playstyle. By that I mean, you can play a possession game like I do but still have a direct play too when it’s needed. This is the job of the ball-playing defender and wide centreback for me.

The same for possession play. That doesn’t mean you have to dominate the ball. It just means retaining it as well as you can for what you are needing. If you play counter-attacking football then you still need to have possession of the ball at times. You aren’t constantly going to counterattack, you still need to pass and probe yourself when a counter isn’t on.

Vice versa with possession too, you still need to attack and use the ball while taking risks. If not you’ll just be passing the ball around with no product.

Perhaps this didn’t quite turn into the topic you were expecting eh? If so, the reason is probably due to you focusing on the individual rather than the system. The key to scoring goals is all down to what the team is doing and the way you attack.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the topic. It’s another deep dive, so apologies if it’s got quite long again. 

In the next article, we’ll talk about breaking sides down, isolated strikers and incoherent setups.

 

 

 

 

 

Author

  • Cleon

    Cleon is a distinguished figure in the Football Manager community, known for his tactical acumen and profound understanding of the game's intricacies. With a penchant for sharing knowledge, Cleon has authored "The Football Manager Playbook," offering a deep dive into crafting effective tactics. He's the brains behind the well-regarded blog "View From The Touchline," where he elucidates on football philosophies, game strategies, and more. Beyond the written word, Cleon engages with enthusiasts through social media, making complex football management concepts accessible to many.

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9 thoughts on “FM23: The Secrets of Successful Goalscoring

  1. I’m now ready to apply your analysis wholesale to a save. I’ve started and abandoned three lower-league saves all on the basis that they were too easy -unfeasible recruitment, mostly. I believe I’ve now hit on the ultimate formula – HEAD COACH (manager responsible for team selection and tactics only), YOUTH-ONLY (no recruitment other than youth intake), LOWEST-LEAGUE (level 10 and all that implies facilities, staff and player-quality wise), ATTRIBUTELESS and minimal qualifications and experience – hence I’m not allowed near training until I’ve got some badges.
    I got my first job in February 2023 near the end of a season, so the squad and staff are established and can’t be altered. They are as bad as you’d imagine.
    My players don’t appear to be suited for your system; however, I’ve spent hours trying to fit them into other systems and nothing has worked, so I’m going for a ‘nothing to lose’ attitude and am due to implement your philosophy lock, stock and barrel!
    I’ve copied & pasted your series into a Word.doc to carry around and study when the wifi is down – up to 64 pages so far, without the screenshots!

    1. When I started, my players weren’t suited to the style, tactic or anything either. No team ever is. But you can still use it and it gets better/more refined once you start improving, recruiting players you need etc. Good luck 🙂

  2. GREAT article! Top Stuff 😉
    But I can’t understand FM22 & 23, it seems impossible to have success with Chelsea. No matter what tactic I use or try to make it never ever works, get trashed at home or away against small teams that play like Real or some other BIG team.
    I tried to use this one but no, the game screams “forget about it”, can’t score or if i do i get battered the last 10 minutes. (Trust me, I’ve played FM or CM since the beginning)
    A team like Chelsea should be able to play this way or in a 5-2-2-1 like tactic.
    I’m lost 😉

    Keep Up The Good Work mate

  3. Chelsea are elite so opposition give you less space and hit you on break, its why u lose to smaller clubs. Maybe you need to use more risky passing and better overloads to cause havoc for the opposition. Maybe also check the training and recruitment to make sure players fit your system.

  4. I’m puzzled here. Your 5221 tactic is posted last year in December if I’m not wrong but this one is 2023 and you used 3421 version of the tactic. You post about 5221 says you changed the DMs to CMs to tweak the tactic but you use the DMs as an example at a more recent post. Which tactic you believe as more comprehensive?

    1. The entire series for the 5221/3421 is the same and linked in the article you are replying to. There are 4 articles all about the shape and style and how it’s evolved over time. I didn’t say I changed the DM’s to CM’s. I changed CM’s to DM’s. If you read all the Ibis stuff about the 5221 you’ll see how it evolved over the 15 years I used it.

      11th of December, 31st of December, 10th of January and 23rd of January are the dates from when the articles were published. They’re all one series.

  5. In the next article, we’ll talk about breaking sides down, isolated strikers and incoherent setups… Guess you never came about finishing that part?

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