This Leicester City FM23 Tactical recreation post has been written for us by Leicester City fan and long-time FM community contributor @lutterworthfox
Whilst at Leicester Brendan has tried a few tactics, when Harvey Barnes was injured he switched to a 532 but this season, overall though, he has tried where possible to play a 4231, this has changed throughout the season, mainly when Maddison has either been injured or had to fill in at Right Wing, at this point he has switched a more defensive 433.
For this post, I am going to expect Maddison to be fit so we will be going with a 4231. This will be a flat-back four, two midfielders, one holding and one more attacking, two wide men, Maddison in the hole and a single striker.
As mentioned previously Leicester lost their talisman Kasper Schmeichel in the Summer. Although his distribution was sometimes lacking he believed, alongside Brendan, in playing out from the back. Since Kasper has gone that element of Leicester’s style has stayed even if the options we have in goal aren’t great.
For me, even with Kasper leaving, Brendan wants a Sweeper Keeper in goal, someone who is quick off his line and good with his feet. He doesn’t want his keeper to hit it long but, when the time is right, he likes his GK to play the ball out to the flanks, usually a dinked pass to the fullback.
So for me, a Sweeper Keeper on Defend is perfect.
The Back Four
On the right-hand side, Leicester have usually played Timothy Castagne this season, is he the first choice? Probably not, both Ricardo and James Justin can play there and have both been injured. This side is the more attacking side, Castagne likes to get forward and link up with the man on the right wing, this has been even more prominent when Maddison has played out on the right and he tends to drift inside creating more space for the RB to get forward.
At Left Back Leicester have Luke Thomas and Victor Kristiansen, this side is the more defensive side therefore a full back on support is perfect. They do like to get forward but are a lot more disciplined as Harvey Barnes usually plays LW as he doesn’t like to track back as much.
In central defence, as I said previously, they do like to play out with the ball. This season Wout Faes has played on the left with Amartey and now Souttar on the right. Faes is a ball carrier, he loves to get forward and play out, and he is good with his feet even if he is a bit erratic!
Amartey and Souttar are both just as good on the ball but, especially in Amartey’s case, are prone to errors. Therefore a more conventional central defender role is better. There are no frills, get the ball and pass it to someone better!
The Midfield Two
This was a hard choice, Leicester tends to play with two sitting midfielders but one of them does like to push forward at times. Therefore I decided to have one Defensive Midfielder and one Central Midfielder
In the Defensive Midfield slot, we have a Ball Winning Midfielder, first, it was Kane, then Ndidi and for parts of this season we’ve also had Mendy, all three do a similar job, drop deep to collect the ball and attempt to play it forward but be that player who closes down the opposition when they are attacking to get the ball back.
In Central Midfield we have a Box to Box Midfielder, Keirnan Dewsbury-Hall has lately taken the mantle off of Tielemens and with the latter likely to leave in the Summer Kiernan will likely continue in this role. He is a work-horse, he gets around, closing the playdown and winning the ball back but also likes to get forward and join the attacks. He also likes to link up with the play on the left-hand side, providing a three-pronged left-side attack with Barnes and the Left Back.
The Attacking Midfield Three
This is where the creativity begins but also Leicester’s biggest problem area this season. They spent nearly the whole first half of the season without a proper Right Winger, relying on Maddison to spend a lot of time out there or looking at the likes of Ayoze Perez to fill the void, it has been a problem area Brendan Rodgers knew about but due to lack of money, couldn’t fill the void….until the Winter!
Where he eventually got someone in and that lad Tete, a tricky Winger who likes to run at defenders and cause problems. He also likes to cut inside meaning I have decided, on FM, to put the RW role as an Inverted Winger on Attack. Tete is a skilful player, he likes to run with the ball but also likes to join the attacks. With the Right Back also quite attacking it makes sense to have the RW play a bit more narrow, creating the overlap and overload down the right.
On the left, we have Harvey Barnes, one of Leicester’s prime creators and a key man on the side. Barnes’ big issue is he only really likes to do one thing and that’s cut back with the ball. As a right-footer on the left-hand side, he wants to cut in on his decent foot and usually get a shot away. Therefore an Inside Forward is the role for him.
Now we come to the main man, the “James Maddison” role”! That’s if he stays fit, he has been out numerous times this season, and when he does Leicester tend to play a bit more conservatively, relying on Dewsbury-Hall to fill this role. When Maddison plays though he is the man, players will look for him to get the ball to, he is the creator in chief. I would have loved to have made him a Roaming Playmaker but unfortunately on FM this cannot be done in the AM strata. Therefore an Advanced Playmaker on attack is the way to go
Brendan Rodgers wants his Striker to not only be the goal-scorer but also to cause trouble for the defenders by closing them down. Think Vardy is in his prime but a player who wants to get involved more. When Vardy was at his best he would play on the shoulder of the central defenders, he wouldn’t get too involved in the play but was there to pounce, either on a mistake or a through ball.
With Rodgers in charge, this has kind of gone, Leicester plays a lot slower and shorter and therefore the Striker needs to drop in a bit more and connect play. He also needs to close down that defensive line and harry the opposition.
A Pressing Forward is the right role, it could’ve been either a support or attack duty but I decided to go with an attack duty as I still expect the lone striker to lead the line.
Team Instructions – In Possession
This was quite an easy one. I’ve mentioned before that Rodgers style is to play out of defence but looks to do it methodically, so a slower tempo and shorter passing is the right way to go about it. He also wants his creative players to get involved and express themselves more and he wants those attacking players to take care of the ball, rarely do we get too many crosses into the box so asking players to work the ball into the box seems the sensible route.
Leicester’s style revolves around keeping the ball but, as I’ve seen many times this season, they tend to lose it cheaply, when they do though they immediately want to try and get it back, therefore we have counter-press ticked.
I toyed with adding “counter” when we win the ball back but for me that seems to go away from the fact that Brendan wants his players to take care with the ball, adding counter would mean getting it forward too quickly.
I’ve also added a couple of goalkeeper instructions. The GK is asked to play it short, not to hoof it, he does tend to play it out wide but only when the option to a central defender isn’t there.
Team Instructions – Out of Possession
I haven’t added or changed too much here. I’ve left the defensive line as Standard but I have asked the Defensive Line to Step Up More. The reason for this is the defenders do like to try and push up when they don’t have the ball to stop gaps forming between them and midfield.
I’ve also added Trap Outside, Leicester seems happy to let players get the ball wide and then attempt to either block the cross and rely on the central defenders to win the ball from a cross.
Finally, Leicester does tend to like their forwards to press the opposition’s back-line, so I’ve increased the line of engagement by a notch.
All in all, Leicester have massively underachieved this season. They have suffered from injuries but overall they just haven’t turned up in games they should be winning. Their slow style of play has frustrated the fans at times and the lack of urgency to score has been annoying at best!
Throughout this, though Brendan has stuck to his beliefs in the way he wants to play, he trusts the players to stick to how he wants to play even if at times he knows the players aren’t good enough to play that way.
Now numerous players are coming back from injury, some key to this style, Leicester can turn around their poor form and do enough to claw themselves away from the drop zone. Brendan does need to change the way he plays sometimes though, fans want exciting, attacking football, and play without fear, unfortunately, he seems unable to change!
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