This Man City FM23 post was written by one of our Twitter followers @Andy_Hobs and is the latest in our tactical recreation articles.
Recreating ‘Guardiola ball’ is probably one of the most popular trends for football manager content creators. So the task of wading in on this debate is a daunting one. No matter what conclusion I come to here the likelihood is people will scream at me for getting it all wrong, which is fun. So let’s delve into it, shall we?
First of all, we have to understand how Pep has got to his current 3-2-3-2/3-2-4-1 shape. The introduction of the Norwegian, goal machine, Haaland has posed a challenging tactical question for pep. Without a false 9, how does he create the extra man in midfield? The answer he went with was to steal a defender. City is no stranger to the inverted wing-back but in recent months the right/left back role has wholly been abandoned for what is now more recognisable as a “verted midfielder” ( yes I know verted isn’t a word). So we need Lewis, Stones or Bernardo to play alongside Rodri rather than drifting towards midfield.
We also need to ensure Rodri is getting as many touches on the ball as possible and isn’t sitting too deep behind the rest of the midfield. Rodri tops the charts for passing and touches for PL players and plays further up the pitch than most 6’s in possession.
Finally, we have to try and introduce ‘pausa’. Pep believes ‘pausa’ (break in English) is crucial to effective play. He wants teams to take an extra second to allow them to make better more considered decisions that strategically benefit the team. It is why we mere mortals may think Foden is better suited to being a 10 or mezzala but Pep plays him out wide. Pep feels Foden still needs to learn that ‘pausa’ rhythm that balances flair with strategy.
So we know we want a 3-2-3-2 shape but how does that look in FM23? Here we see the Frankenstein formation that is a 3-2-1-3-1. It’s not pretty to look at but it’s what I see as the best representation of what Man City have recently switched to. And this whole tactic is designed to resemble the current city one best, not be the best version of a city tactic to work on FM.
We have in the Team instructions much shorter passing, slightly slower tempo, playing fairly wide with an emphasis on both playing out of defence and working the ball into the box. We are set up simply to keep the ball and control the game.
In transition, It’s no surprise we want to counter-press and hold position when the ball has been lost or won. We want the goalkeeper to mainly take short kicks but give him the freedom of who he is passing out to. We ask Ederson to slow things down, however, as we want that ‘pausa’ thinking throughout the team.
Out of possession, we have gone high for both our defensive line and our press, fairly standard for a Pep team. We are pressing more often and we have both ‘get stuck in’ and ‘step up more’ on. City has recently looked back to its best with the reintroduction of Dias, who has brought that aggressive feel back to the city defence (but more on that later)
Man City FM23 Positions
GK – Sweeper Keeper – Attack
As easy as it gets with this team. Why have Ederson if you don’t play him this way?
LB – Full Back – Defend
Instructions – Sit Narrower
We have gone for a Left Back not a Left Centre Back. Ake has largely been deployed here and he has been slightly wider than a centre-back would usually be. And we do want him to support Grealish down the left and I found that any version of a WCB was either overlapping too much leaving us exposed or just not getting involved in the game enough.
CD – Central Defender – Stopper
Now rather controversially we haven’t gone for a Ball Playing Defender which is what Pep is known for. This is because BPD’s on FM can sometimes be guilty of “yeeting” the ball up the pitch and we need better patience than that. We have also chosen a stopper… Now this is the first role that changes depending on who we face. If you are playing a team you expect to dominate then keep him on stopper. We want to isolate the forward into a 1 vs 1 tussle with an aggressive Dias knowing any second balls will be picked up by the other 2 defenders or Rodri. If you are playing a decent team who tries and take you on in a more man-to-man fashion or who just has numbers high up the pitch. Then switch the CD to defend. Otherwise, he will step up onto the striker leaving the gap between him and the LB very exposed to runs from midfield.
RCB – Ball Playing Defender – Defend
Instructions – Stay Wider
In possession, this centre-back needs to fill that right-back space you want a smart pacey defender here any of Stones, Akanji or Walker will do. We have allowed them to be ball-playing centre back to allow that extra freedom to play diagonals or find the RW who is slightly further away from him.
DML – Regista – Support
The absolute heartbeat of this team the Regista may not be the best player but he is potentially the most vital to the system. He needs to be able to sit in the pivot with the full-back/midfielder but also drives forward and break the lines. Because of all the other players we have up the pitch, he should be able to pick up the ball in space often, getting as many touches as humanly possible.
DMR – Defensive Midfielder Support.
Instructions. Dribble less, Take fewer risks, Shoot Less Often. Hold Position.
The Impossible job of recreating Pep’s latest innovation. We can’t have John Stones as a half-back because he doesn’t fill in as a centre back and against Liverpool he was involved in the high press. We can’t have him as a playmaker as we don’t want him taking influence off Rodri or KDB. So we have gone for the basic DM. We have firm instructions set on him to keep this role tame. But what excels here is the incredible mental attributes of Stones and Rico Lewis (after the update) and that is what is crucial for this role more than anything.
CM – Roaming Playmaker.
Just let Kevin De Bruyne be Kevin De Bruyne. Does he want to join the attacking midfielders? Fine. Does he want to drift into the Right-wing channel? Fine. It’s all fine Kev you just, do you.
LW – Winger Support.
Instructions – Shoot less often.
We have gone for Gucci boy Jack Grealish as a winger, not an inverted winger. This is to maximise the time he spends keeping the width and getting chalk on his boots. Try it for yourself he still cuts in ALOT.
AML – Attacking Midfielder Support
Take fewer risks, Hold up ball, Shoot less, often
Gundogan is the on-field coach for this City side and therefore has to take a leading role in creating the Pausa style. He also often plays as the closest player to Haaland which leads to him also getting in on a few chances. Some city fans may get frustrated but he is there to weigh up risk and reward and keep control of the game even high up the pitch.
RW – Inverted Winger Support
Instructions – Stay wider, Shoot less often
Foden especially but Mahrez too sometimes drift inside more than Grealish (off the ball). Foden, in particular, has often created rebound chances for Haaland by playing closer to the striker and both often receive floated passes to the corner of the box from Rodri.
STR – Poacher Attack
Haaland can of course play as any kind of striker. But we want him to achieve his dream of “ 5 touches and 5 goals”. Hence we have him playing as a poacher. We want him firmly playing between the width of the 12-yard box (or even the posts) and rarely getting involved in the build-up. Opposition Instructions.
I suggest creating a press plan of some form with the “mark-specific player’ player instructions. At the very least get the 3 right-sided players (CBR/DMR/RW) set up to cover the left flank so you aren’t left alone. The last thing you want is Akanji marking a striker and both Stones and Foden pressing the LB leaving an LW totally free.
The Coward’s way out
If you are ever feeling nervous I have created an IWB version as well. I don’t like it as the Avg position for Stones is still a RB which when you have 70% possession should just not be the case. But it’s there if you need it.
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